Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Letter 2010 by Colin

Click on the image below twice to enlarge and read:

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Disneyland & Ridemax Review

We don't normally do huge, extravagant and eventful things to celebrate a birthday, BUUUUT ... This past August when Colin's parents were out here visiting we planned a trip to Disneyland.

However, Micah got sick with Roseolla and had high fevers off and on and the temperature was supposed to be in the hundreds, so I was planning on staying home with him. I got online the day Colin, Jackson and his parents were heading out for L.A. and bought 1 child and 3 adult tickets to Disneyland.

Minutes after I printed them out Colin's dad hurt his back somethin' fierce and we all ended up staying home. Instead of a wonderful and memorable trip to Disneyland, my in-laws got a wonderful and memorable trip to the local chiropractor.

Of course time with family is still precious time with family whether you're at Disneyland or not and we made the most of it. But, the tickets are non-refundable.

So, our next trip down to L.A. was planned for Micah's birthday and that's why we decided to go to Disneyland then. We had one extra adult ticket, so we invited my sister and her husband along too. It was a special time seeing as our families won't be geographically close for much longer. (Side note: we'll be staying in California until this coming summer. I'm hoping our little girl will be around 3 months old when we move ... or at least sleeping through the night.)

Anyway, while I was planning the trip to Disneyland in August I knew that it was going to be crowded (1. because it was the last weekend before school started and 2. we were going on a Saturday) and I began researching tips on making the most of your Disneyland trip. That's when I came across Ridemax (a download-able software program that helps you make an itinerary for your Disneyland and/or Disney World trip so that you avoid long lines, most large crowds and spending an exuberant amount of money). I want to say it was about $15.00 for a 90 day software download and I think it was well worth it.

Although we ended up going on a day when it was not very crowded at all (it being the Friday after Halloween weekend) the tips from Ridemax were still very helpful. We arrived at the park around 9:30am and left a little before 8pm. Even with a 2 year old, a 4 year old and two pregnant ladies we were able to hit at least half a dozen rides (if not more), see the parade and a show. All at a somewhat leisurely pace with plenty of potty breaks and time to sit and eat our meals.

Anyway, enough of the commercial ... I promise Ridemax didn't pay me anything to mention them in my blog ... here are a few pictures from our trip:

Ridemax recommended doing either the "Nemo" ride or "Peter Pan" but not both because they tend to have the longest lines and they recommended riding them first. It was our longest wait in line (about 20 minutes)all day.

The armada of strollers outside of "Peter Pan."

Micah loved all of the rides (with the exception of "Winnie the Pooh"). Here we're on "Casey Jr. Circus Train."

Oh yeah! I forgot to mention above that we were first in line to see Winnie the Pooh, Tigger and Eeyore and it wasn't even a part of my itinerary ... extra BONUS and the boys LOVED it!!!

Jackson steered the whole way on "Autopia."

We planned "Tom Sawyer's Island" during Micah's nap time because we knew all of the walking may put him to sleep. SUCCESS!

"Tom Sawyer's Island" was definitely one of Jackson's favorite places. So many things to explore including caves. He was very adventurous! However, if he was at all apprehensive about a dark cave he'd say, "Dad, can you go in there and check it out?" As soon as Colin gave the all clear sign he was off to the races.

The two times we've been to Disneyland we've always gotten Mickey ice cream bars, so it's sort of become a tradition.

We didn't have the best seats in the house for the parade, but that was by choice and we didn't have to stand behind anyone either. The boys loved all of the music and dancing.

If you ask the boys what their favorite ride was that we went on they'd say "Buzz Lighyear," hands down. It had a laser gun you could use to shoot Zurg and all of the aliens and it had a joy-stick for moving the car around in circles. Even though it was near the parade route and the parade had just ended so there were crowds headed toward the line we used FAST PASSES to get through the line in about 7 minutes.

Here's the birthday boy at Grandma and Grandpa K's house. Notice the Mickey Mouse cake pop. ;)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Micah at 2 Years Old

2 Year Check Up:
Weight: 27.7lbs 50%
Height: (I can't remember the inches) 50%
HC: 49cm 50% (The doctor made a comment about him growing into his head. Haha.)

All of the questions asked concerning development raised no red flags for autism. Micah is ahead in his verbal and cognitive development. Dr. Macias was impressed that he can already count with little assistance to 10 and knows at least 2 colors and can recognize almost all of the upper case letters in the alphabet. He's also impressed that he's been saying 7 word sentences pretty consistently. He said a 3 word sentence is usually a sign of a 200 word vocabulary so Micah has obviously exceeded that. I just pointed to his big brother as the attributing factor because as much as I would LOVE to take credit for giving Micah one-on-one attention in that area it doesn't always happen.

Potty Training

Micah shows an interest in potty training every once in awhile, but it's definitely on his terms. He has gone pee several times in the potty and poop only twice, but he has to sit there a looooong time. I'm okay with letting him choose when he wants to be trained, but I've also got a few tricks up my sleeve (like a few toys he can only play with while he's on the potty). I know Jackson being potty trained at 2 years old was an anomaly and I'm not going to rush Micah because that could back fire on me big time.


Micah is my strong willed boy. He can be stubborn when it comes to saying "sorry" and when asked to do something specifically. Discipline takes longer because of that sometimes, but I know it will all pay off later.

A positive spin on the strong will is that he usually knows what he wants and rarely changes his mind about it. That made his birthday and will make Christmas really fun this year. (He's been eyeing a toy guitar in the Toys R Us ad as of late.)

He loves anything with buttons and anything having to do with music. Singing, the piano, the guitar, etc. He regularly makes up songs about random things he plays with or sees and loves it when the rest of the family makes up songs too. Although he can be pretty bossy about what bedtime songs he wants sung to him at night. :) But he also loves to sing along and I think that's adorable!

He is such a goof ball sometimes and gets the giggles right before bed. I love it and probably give in to it too often making it harder for him to settle down for the night, but I just treasure the times we have alone in his dimly lite room giggling about his silliness.

However, he's pretty shy around strangers and it takes him awhile to warm up to even family members, so don't be surprised if you don't hear him singing or even talking when you first meet him.

He ADORES his older brother and wants to do what ever he's doing. Most of the time that makes for a great play situation, but sometimes it can cause conflict over toys or my attention. I've resigned to the fact that I may have to buy multiples of the same toy to keep the peace (cheap toys that is ... I'm not that crazy). For example, one of my smarter purchases lately were two $1 flashlights. They will play in a closet with those together for at least an hour. I love that my two boys are such good buddies.

One of Micah's favorite things to do is find a place to hide and be alone. He loves forts and I think for his sake we might have to have a club house/tree house in the future. I remember doing that myself as a child and even now I tend to be rejuvenated more when I'm by myself than when I'm with other people.

Micah is almost hyper observant at times and catches on to things I would have never thought he would. He is such a little sponge lately ... the other day he was trying to say "hypothesis" and "ominous" because he heard us talking about it. He has a great memory too. That mixed with his strong will may be a challenge for Colin and I as he gets older. We're just praying he uses it for the greater good.

Our Prayer

Dear Father,

Thank you for Micah. Thank you for 2 years of life with him. He belongs to you and is a gift to us. Use him and everything about him for your glory. Help him to desire to know you more and be more like Jesus all the days of his life.


Monday, October 25, 2010

Birthday Cake on a Stick

Micah turned 2 years old today! We celebrated his birthday yesterday since Colin was home all day.

The day started out with birthday signs (made by Jackson and me) and decorations,

blueberry muffins with birthday candles and scrambled eggs (made by the boys) and pears (a few of Micah's favorites).

Then we opened presents and played until it was time to go to church.

We enjoyed a wonderful worship together as a family and then came home and had a quick lunch and long naps. After naps we all had cake pops!

Why I haven't heard of cake pops until now is still a wonder. It is SO much easier for a young child to eat and easy for Mommy to clean up afterwards. It helps with portion control and it's just plain fun to eat just about anything on a stick. It was my first attempt at making them and I think I'll have to make a new batch for the celebration we have with family on Novemeber 5th. If your adventurous and want to try them out and get lots of good decorating ideas you should check out the Bakerella website here. It's where I got the idea for the Mickey Mouse shaped cake pop.

After cake pops, Micah picked out a movie of his choice and we sat in front of the TV and ate chicken nuggets, mac-n-cheese, broccoli and smoothies (more of Micah's favorites) as a special birthday dinner treat.

That night as Colin and I were reflecting on the joys of the day he said, "I've come to realize that my parents probably got more enjoyment on my birthday than I did growing up." SO TRUE! What a blessing to be able to celebrate LIFE! May we never take it for granted.

P.S. Micah has his two year check up on Thursday, so I'll be sure to post another blog with his stats then.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

"School" Part 2

A while back I wrote a blog entitled "School" laying out the fact that Colin and I haven't decided what we are going to do in regards to schooling for Jackson yet.

We still don't know.

Partly because we still don't know where we'll be living, but partly because we just haven't made up our minds.

Since my first post I was able to go to a homeschooling conference here in town. Here are a few things that I got out of the event:

1. We've got time! Jackson is FOUR! Most states don't require you to declare your intent for education until age 6. I think I was just feeling a little peer pressure watching friends and family send their kids (who are actually older than Jackson) off to school this fall.

2. We can make our educational decision one year at a time. If we choose to do homeschooling for the first year that doesn't mean we have to commit to it for the rest of Jackson's academic life. However, I've heard from several parents that it's much easier logistically to start homeschooling first and then move to public or private schooling because of the hoops the government requires you to jump through when you change (each state is different though).

3. Homeschooling is a lifestyle. It will affect our family as a whole ... perhaps not more than public or private school, but differently. It will be a lot of work on my part.

4. Homeschool communities are essential. Parent's swap tips, curriculum, set up co-teaching arrangements, group field trips, events, sports, etc. You name it, they do it. I'm not sure I'd even consider homeschooling if there is not a homeschool community where we will eventually live.

5. Every body's reasons for homeschooling are different and not all of them are because they want to "shelter" their kids from the world. I wanted to walk away from the conference with "my reason to homeschool" or even "my reason not to homeschool", but I didn't want to walk away on the fence or with someone else's reason for homeschooling. After a looooooong talk with my husband, I think we both concluded that our reason for homeschooling and what excites us most about homeschooling is being able to tailor our children's education to their strengths and weaknesses.

Like I said before and contrary to what it sounds like from the list above, we STILL have not decided officially what we'll be doing once Jackson turns 6 years old, but we've got a little time.

In the mean time I decided that I needed to do "School" this year with Jackson to see if I could handle having more structure in my days, weeks and months as the "teacher."

So, at the beginning of September we started the "Five In A Row" curriculum that I mentioned in my first blog. Only this time I am much more consistent and structured in what I'm doing for Jackson. It also means that I take weekly trips by myself to the library to load up on books for the week's lessons.

We've also started "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons." Jackson has had a grasp on phonetics for a long time now, but has yet to have the confidence to just put the sounds together and start reading. We're only on lesson 8 of 100, but so far I can already see his confidence level growing in reading AND writing.

Anyway, here is what we do for "School" in a typical week. Note: "School" lasts about 45 minutes to an hour depending on how much I want to get accomplished and how quickly we can get Micah down for a nap in the afternoon.

Everyday: Calendar, Prayer, Weekly Bible Verse, Reading and Writing

Mondays: Review the Sunday School lesson from church.
Read the story for the week.
FIAR Christian Character and Bible Supplement

Tuesdays: Read the story for the week.
Social Studies

Wednesdays: Read the story for the week.
Supplemental worksheets (optional)

Thursdays: Read the story for the week.

Fridays: Review/ Catch Up

Friday's are typically my days to clean the entire house, so we don't have "School" on those days. However, Jackson does get some time to play on the PBS Kids website and they have a lot of fun educational games on it that I'm comfortable with.

Here are a few pictures from the week we read through "The Rag Coat" by Lauren Mills

Jackson's "Quilt" he made during his art lesson. He LOVES to cut with scissors!

Pretending to be a "coal miner" in my closet during his science lesson on coal was one of his favorite lessons for this book.

Anyway, I know this was a long post and I know it may seem like I've dropped off the blogging planet, but I'm here! I have SO much I want to blog about and so little time ... isn't that just about every blogger's mantra?! ;)

Friday, August 20, 2010


We've had a few transitions in our household over the last couple of months that I wanted to take note of.

Micah Night Lights

After we returned from our vacation to the Midwest, Micah had a rough time going down for naps and bed time. He would cry and cling to me almost as if he was scared. If Colin put him down he seemed to do a little better, but he'd still wake up early or in the night and cry until we settled him down.

Out of pure desperation one night (I think Colin was out of town for work) I put a night light in Micah's room thinking perhaps he was just getting to the age where he was scared of the dark. It didn't solve the problem immediately, but after a couple of days the crying and clinging stopped.

We don't have a timer on it like Jackson's. We'll probably start doing that once he's in a big boy bed which we'll be after we move to wherever we're going next ... that's another blog for another time. However, I do turn off the night light before I get him out of bed and turn it on when it's time to get into bed just so he gets used to the idea.

Jackson Shorter Naps

Lately Jackson has been taking FOREVER to go to sleep at night and it's not without being called into his room a MILLION times for water or a shadow or just one more hug.

Jackson has been a good napper for most of his life. He's 4 and he still takes a 2 hour nap every day. About a month or so ago I tried to cut his nap by an hour and that just made him weepy, so I stuck with the 2 hour nap. UNTIL this past week when he was taking longer to fall asleep.

This week I've cut his nap by 30 minutes by setting his night light to go off that much earlier. The first day he had a playdate and slept right through the night light going off (which is really rare) and woke up at his normal time. I guess he played hard. Today he woke up with the night light. We'll see how bedtime goes tonight.

Me Exercising During Pregnancy
I'm 9 weeks pregnant as of tomorrow. Before I became pregnant I was doing circuit training 4 days a week and doing cardio 1 day a week for about 45 minutes each workout.

Since I've become pregnant I've continued to circuit train for 3 days a week and cardio for 1 day a week for about 30 minutes each workout. I've noticed that my heart rate goes up pretty quickly and I lose my breath just as easily. It's kind of annoying actually, but only in the beginning of the workout.

There have been a few days that I opted to sleep in instead of work out and although it was probably the right choice I did notice a change in my mood and energy level.

I'm still "Shredding" but have taken the intensity down a notch especially during the cardio sections. Around 12 weeks I plan on modifying any abdominal workouts that are done on my back. I'm thinking I may need to find a prenatal workout DVD, so if anyone has any good suggestions let me know.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Fun Vacation Memories

I realize my blog can be overly practical at times and my last blog about vacation didn't mention any of the fun stuff we did. So here is a list of the fun memories from our family vacation in no particular order.

1. Playing on the beach every day with the kids.
2. Micah's excitement as lake waves reached his chin and he'd smile and say, "More!"
3. Sun bathing with the other moms as our children took long naps in the warm cabin.

4. Going running with those same moms after our kids went to bed.
5. Learning how to play "Hand and Foot."
6. Sneaking into the bedroom at 11:30 at night as 3 boys slept in nooks and crannies.
7. Finding those 3 boys playing when they were supposed to be napping in the bedroom.
8. Papa telling stories at midnight to help Jackson be brave during a big storm.
9. Taking Lilly and Jackson to their first evening movie "Despicable Me" in 3D.

10. Jackson shouting, "I wish Papa were here, he likes M&Ms" at the movies (my in-laws stayed home to watch the 4 younger kids).
11. Going out to eat for my mother-in-law's birthday and announcing that we are expecting our 3rd child in March.
12. Caravaning with my sister and her husband to WI.
13. Jackson shouting, "My mommy has a baby in her tummy" right when we arrived at the Door County cabin ... so much for timing.

14. My brother teaching me how to play "Texas Hold 'Em."
15. Playing dominoes with Becky, Lora and Jackson.
16. The AMAZING burgers and steaks Brian and Lora made.
17. Getting alone time with my sister.
18. Learning how to make "Cloud Nines" (chocolate chip cookies, Reece's Peanut Butter Cup and roasted marshmallow) over a fire pit.
19. Playing "BS" with Taryn, Caitlin, Diana and my dad (turns out he's not very good at it).

20. Witnessing Caitlin and Taryn becoming teenagers.
21. Seeing Ericka with the rest of the family even though my brother wasn't there.
22. Bible Story times as a large family.

23. Watching my two boys bond with other family members!!

There really were so many good memories to mention them all in this blog. I will truly treasure this trip for a life time.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Vacation Notes

We just got back from a lengthy vacation to the Midwest and I wanted to be sure to take note of the things that I'd do for next time.

For the first leg of our trip we flew out of Ontario (which was a lot less hecktick than LAX) and flew into Omaha and drove to Spirit Lake all in one day. We didn't actually arrive at the cabin until around midnight, but it felt like ten o'clock to us. We stayed there for one week with the rest of the Doughan families arriving about a day and a half after we arrived. We had a total of 8 adults and 6 kids (under the age of 5) in a small two bedroom cabin.

At the end of the week we drove 4 hours and stayed in a hotel and then the next morning drove another 4 hours to a cabin in Door County. We were there for only a weekend and the adults out numbered the children almost 4 to 1 which was a nice change of pace. After a short weekend we drove 3 1/4 hours to my dad's and spent about two days there.

Overall, (if you include the night we spent at my grandparents' in LA) our trip spanned 14 days and we had about 32 hours in an airplane or a car.

If you know me or spoke to me or read my facebook at all before we left you'd know that I was a little stressed about the possibility of the craziness that could have arose from the long trip we had planned. I truly tried to give my worries to the Lord and enjoy each and every moment I had with family and by God's grace the vacation was a lot less challenging than I thought it would be.

For next time I would:

1. Guard our schedules before and after the trip to make sure we get plenty of sleep and eat healthy well balanced meals. This helped us all have much happier hearts and also made sure our immune systems were in shape.

I was nervous that my boys would get sick like they usually do when traveling on airplanes, but I think it helped that we weren't traveling during cold and flu season.

Arriving at the cabin a day or so before the rest of the family helped with this too. The boys were able to get a good night's sleep and get adjusted to the two hour time change before they gained some roommates/playmates at night time.

2. Be okay with snacking while we travel and bring healthy options for snacks so we don't fill up on junk (airport security had no problems letting me bring pre-sliced apples and carrots on the plane).

The time zone changes, pressure changes in airplanes, motion sickness, being out of routine, etc. all lend to snacking. I'm okay with it the days we travel all day long, but I try to quickly get us back on regularly scheduled meals as fast as possible.

3. If we have to eat out make sure we choose healthy options because vacations tend to lend themselves to having lots of "treats" be that chocolate brownies or hot dogs and potato chips. Subway was a lifesaver for us many times on this trip.

4. Be okay with watching more DVDs than normal in order to give the kids a little down time after a long day of play and to get through long car rides. Our portable DVD player came in VERY handy.

Note: I did bring some new toys and even wrapped them so the boys could open them and play with them in the car, but they lost interest in them very quickly.

5. Drive a bigger vehicle if possible for long road trips. We ended up renting a Ford Flex (about a mini-van size) and I put Micah in the third row behind Jackson in the second row on the right side of car so that I could reach both of them easily without making myself get motion sickness (which can happen to me pretty easily).

As a result we all got a few naps in in the car (with the exception of Colin who drove), but I'll know for next time not to rely on those naps because they may or may not happen.

6. White noise is a MUST! The Spirit Lake cabin had lots of fans running and even though most of the kids were sleeping in the same room with each other I think the fans really helped them stay asleep even if someone woke up crying.

It was an adventure when we had a huge thunder storm the first night (100 mph wind) and we lost power for 24 hours. Luckily our sound spa can run off of batteries and my sister-in-law's dad was able to bring over a generator so we could run the fridge.

7. 14 days is LOOOOOOOOOONG vacation for little kids. By about day 10 Micah was having random melt downs every day and Jackson was more irritable ... to be honest, so was I.

I loved having that much time with family, but I may either have to mentally prepare myself for that again or cut the trip by about 2 - 3 days for my sanity. We may have to see my dad first next time though since he had the "burnt out end of the trip" this time around. :)

8. Make sure to give our family about 3 - 5 days AFTER our vacation to fully adjust back to our normal routines. Time zone changes are hard and Micah's been having some big issues with napping since we've been home.

However, I must say that even though it seems anal and can be a frenzy to do a good house cleaning before we left on a long trip it was a huge sigh of relief to come home to.

We had SUCH a good time on our trip!!! It was so good to see everyone especially the Fanning side in light of the past years' events. It may sound crazy to me know, but I really am hoping to make this more of an annual event.

Spirit Lake, IA

The one-year-olds! These three boys are each 4 months apart in age starting with Micah then Orin and then Tucker.

The two oldest cousins ... 4 years old and also 4 months apart in age.

Micah making "soup" with sand and lake water.

Jackson having some bonding time with Great-Grandma Heyer.

Door County, WI

Union Grove, WI

BOYS! Jackson loved to wrestle and play with his older cousins.

I think Micah's favorite part of the trip was Gomez ... my dad's dog.

Grampa Fanning giving the boys fresh blueberries and raspberries from his garden.