Sunday, December 13, 2009

Tumble Time

Kiersta seems to have overcome her fear of being on stage. Last week she was in a Nativity show AND a gymnastics show! This week she will be singing on stage with her kindergarten class for the parents. It's so much fun to watch her confidence grow!

Kiersta with her gymnastics team and coaches.

The gymnastics class did a choreographed routine. When it is Kiersta's turn to do her "special skill," she is attempting to do a handstand into a forward roll but it comes out looking more like a head dive. :) ENJOY!!!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Where Has the Time Gone???

I'm embarrassed to admit that I haven't written since the beginning of October. At first just getting through October was reason enough to not write, but I did get through it, with flying colors. The family went hiking to commemorate the one-year passing of my dad. Somehow that hike and having gone through a full cycle of not having my dad around was strangely cathartic. I feel much more at peace but I'm still not sure why.

Kiersta with her Uncle Anders and Aunt Heather at Memorial Park on the one-year passing of my dad.

After surviving October, I just thought that I didn't really have anything to write about, so I continued to not write. However, when I was recently looking at the multitude of photos I have stored on my computer, I realized that there were more than a few post worthy events that had occurred. I thought and thought about writing, but how could I justify spending time to blog when I still haven't sent out the birth announcements (solution: send them out as our Christmas cards), have unpaid bills (solution: pay the bills-duh!), and all the duties that come with having two kids, working full time, and running a household (solution: well, those are all on-going and have to be managed on a daily basis). This morning I got out of bed at 5:30 AM and came downstairs to have some peace and quiet. I wrote the Christmas card letter (Brian will do a final edit when he crawls out of bed), caught up on emails and Facebook, made some coffee (though I have yet to drink any of it), and now I am blogging--YEA ME!!!! :)

So, I don't want to go back in time and write posts for these past events, so I'll just give a quick summary with the use of pictures. Here goes:

Kiersta, my mom, and I spent a lovely afternoon at Don Edwards Regional Park hiking, letterboxing (1st finders!), and running into other letterboxers on the trail (2nd finders) to honor the one-year anniversary of my dad's heart attack that led to his death a week later.

Kiersta needs to open a hat shop! She made us all these ghost hats (they're saying "Boo!") without measuring any of our heads first.

Brian, Kiersta, Kyle, and I went to our local pumpkin patch (Spina Farms) to pick pumpkins. While there we went on a train ride as well as a hay ride (our very first ever). We had a beautiful sunset to accompany our chilly ride.

Halloween was spent with parades and trick-or-treating. We went with a family theme costume this year: Kiersta was Fern, Kyle was Wilbur, I was Charlotte, and Brian was Fern's dad from E.B White's Charlotte's Web.

Brian's birthday is in October, but we celebrated his 41st birthday in November at The Elephant Bar with a few close friends.

Mid-November found us in Jackson for an Amazing Race style letterboxing event. Teams had to travel in one car. My mom, Kiersta, and I were part of an 11 person team that rented a van to hold all of us. This is Kiersta with the two other kids on our team. The big girls were very good about tolerating the younger one.

Me, Kyle, Team Eye Spy, and my mom at breakfast. We all wore matching t-shirts and inflatable antlers as part of our team uniform.

Princess Lea, Team Eye Spy, Bokmal, SJ Honey Bunny (holding Cotton Tail), Ramona the Pest, Disheveled Anime Queen, and Wassamatta U show off their winnings (yes, we were the winning team). The three girls (Princess Tata, Monkey Me, and Kitty Witty) were next door watching a movie while we were dividing our loot.

Kyle started eating solid food. This is his first time having cereal. The high chair wasn't set up yet, so I fed him in the swing.

Kiersta finished her first season on an indoor soccer team. Kiersta was definitely the star player on her team (no, I'm not just being a proud mamma). She was an excellent goalie! I think we'll tackle outdoor soccer in the spring.

Kiersta's "cousin" Anthony, Kiersta, and my dad's cousin Bob and his wife Carol at the Railroad Museum in Sacramento.
My mom, Kyle, Kiersta, and I went up to Sacramento to spend the day with relatives from my dad's side of the family. Since my dad's passing, it seems even more important to stay in touch and make the effort to spend time with the Johnson side of the family.

Kiersta was in her first Nativity play at the Mormon Church. Our neighbors invited Kiersta to take part and while we don't share their beliefs, we didn't see any harm in letting Kiersta participate. She was super excited to be on stage with her friends

Becky, Kiersta, Kyle, and I went to Hidden Villa for a winter solstice celebration. We made gingerbread cookies and yule logs. Here, Becky is blowing glitter off "the best yule log a Jew ever made."

So, those are some of highlights of my life for the past few months. Hope you enjoyed! :)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Dreams of My Father

My dad taking pictures at Bodie State Park

October is going to be a hard month for me. We're coming up on the one year anniversary (I hate using that word, an anniversary seems like a celebration not a sad occurrence) of my dad's death.

My dad walking me down the aisle

I remember sitting in KFC with a few of my co-workers on a Friday at lunch and getting the phone call that forever changed my life. While my dad officially passed away on October 18th, I almost feel like October 10th is the actual date of his passing since that is when he had his heart attack and never recovered.

Dad holding his granddaughter for the first time

A couple of nights ago I dreamt of my dad and woke up sobbing. I dreamt that my dad, whom I couldn't directly see--only reflections--but I could hear, like in a Ken Burns' documentary, was telling me how proud he was of me and of Kiersta. He also said that he knew about Kyle and that he was watching over all of us, looking out for us. He told me that I could let go of missing him so much. It was a good dream, but it still made me so sad.

Kiersta and my parents on a hike in Alum Rock Park

To commemorate my dad's passing, my family will be going on a hike and/or having a picnic, having dinner, and looking at old slides--these were some of my dad's favorite activities and seem like a good way to memorialize him. This is all still so hard. I know it has to get easier, but when?

The whole family

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Bad Parenting Admission

"I like this!"

OK, I admit it, I broke down tonight and specifically put TV on for Kyle for the first time in his short life. I didn't want to do it, but I was feeling desperate for some respite. I think Kyle may be coming down with the same virus both Kiersta and I have had this past week. So much crying on Kyle's part, near tears on mine, lots of sleep on his part, too. His skin also felt warm off and on throughout the day though maybe that was due to the weather or all of the crying.

"If you're happy and you like it..."

Anyway, 9:00 and I still haven't eaten dinner, I'm hungry, finally!, and feeling frustrated because every time I put Kyle down he starts screaming. What's a poor mom to do? So, yes, I broke down and popped in the Baby Mozart DVD and...IT WORKED!!!! A little too well. So much talking and kicking of legs and grins and squeals of happiness. It made me so happy, in a sad kind of way (because he likes the TV so much and he's not even 4 months old yet), to see him so happy. I don't have any kind of belief that watching Baby Mozart will make Kyle smarter but for tonight I'll take the 30 minutes of relief it provides me.

"This is so exciting!"

I think we both will cry a little when it is over.

Changes in Latitude, Changes in Attitude

Last week I got my wish of going back to work full time. My change in work schedule meant changes in the rest of the family's schedule too. Brian started working from home 3 days a week. Kyle started going to daycare on the two days Brian had to go into work. Kiersta would be picked up from school by a neighbor twice a week. So much to juggle!

Last week started off smoothly enough. I went to work on Monday morning full of good spirits, so happy to be back. With the half-time schedule, I had had little to no prep time, so I stayed at work until the early evening planning and prepping for the next two weeks.

Tuesday also went well, though I did have to leave quickly after work for a doctor's appointment. Wednesday, Kiersta woke up early and complained about her stomach hurting. Next thing I know, she has thrown up in my bed and on my arm (which didn't even phase me after being spit up on so much by Kyle). No school for Kiersta. Brian opted to stay home with her even though it was one of his actual work days. I went to work but rushed home afterward to take over. Kiersta was still sick on Thursday, but since it was Back to School Night I had to go to work. Friday was my day to stay home with Kiersta. Kyle still went to daycare on Friday, but I had forgotten the breast pump at work so my boobs were incredibly full and sore by the time I picked him up in the late afternoon. Luckily by this point, Kiersta was feeling better so we went to her school for a kindergarten information event, a school picnic, and an author presentation.

Saturday was a great day!!!! Everyone was healthy, we went out to breakfast (my favorite meal to eat out), looked at paint samples for Kyle's room, relaxed, played, walked to Baskin-Robbins after dinner for ice cream, rented movies on the way home, and I actually hung out with Brian after we got the kids down for bed.

Then, KABLAMO!!!! Things took a turn for the worse. I got sick. Whatever the virus was that Kiersta had, I got. However, her fever never got past 100 degrees, mine was at 102.3. I couldn't keep any food down, not that I wanted to eat.

I'm on day 3 of being sick and feeling a ton better now. My fever hasn't gone above 99.3 today. I still don't have much of an appetite, but I'm beginning to feel a little bit hungry. The worst part is that I've had 3 different subs for the 3 days I've been out. I tried to go into work this morning before school started to prep for the sub, but the custodian never showed up and the school was locked. After waiting around for 30 minutes, I gave up and went home and crawled back into bed. I'm hoping that I really am getting healthier and that it is not just the Advil talking.

I hope I can go to work tomorrow, but I'm worried about what I'll be faced with when I walk in my classroom door (especially knowing I can't stay late since Kiersta has gymnastics tomorrow). I'm hoping that these new schedules will work out for our family, but this apparently was not the right week to test everything out.

Not wanting to end on a down note, here's a recent picture of Kyle just after a bath. I LOVE how his hair gets all sticky-uppy on top. :)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

It's a Spitty World

My clothes, his clothes, everything is constantly soaked due to the overwhelming amount of drool this boy produces. This video doesn't do complete justice but Kyle is pretty darn cute.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Shocked the heck out of me!!!

I've been thinking about writing this post for a little over a week now, had a title picked out and everything. Today I am finally finding the time to sit down and write a little and I can not remember for the life of me what that title was going to be. I know it started with a "D" and is a verb or an adjective. Dependable? Diabolical? Dismayed? Nope, none of those, but I know it has something to do with the topic. Ahhh! It's right on the tip of my tongue. Pregnancy brain is making my life difficult, or perhaps I'm just distracted by the lights and sounds of MarioKart being played by Kiersta?

Anyway, I've been teaching full-time since 1997. In all that time I've always thought that teaching is not what I want to do for the rest of my life, but since I can't think of anything else that I'd rather do, I continue to work in the classroom. I don't mind teaching and I think I do a good job, but I don't necessarily feel like it is my "life calling."

Towards the end of the last school year, before Kyle was born, I had to make a decision about what I was going to do about taking a leave at the beginning of the school year. I am a bit of a control freak and decided that I didn't want to take full-time leave for a month, instead I decided to work half-time, mornings only, with a sub in the afternoon. I do all of the planning and the majority of the prep (in other words, I still have some control), I'm not a stranger to my students, I'll still have sick days when I return full-time to the classroom, and I still get to spend lots of time with the baby. Really, it seemed like the perfect solution. So, imagine my surprise when I found myself struggling to leave, day after day, at the right time to go home because I wanted to be in the classroom with my students. As the title says, it shocked the heck out of me! I truly did not expect this reaction. I thought I would be ecstatic to be able to spend so much extra time at home, but I'm not. Now I'm hoping that my sub will be offered a teaching position of her own and that I can then come back full-time!

Enjoying a drink on my birthday last month

As I wrote this, I finally remembered the word I was searching for, "dedicated." I didn't know I had it in me. Then again, maybe the better word would be "certifiable." :)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

We Survived

Kiersta got up with her alarm this morning without any hesitation. She was cooperative and got ready quickly enough that she actually got to watch a bit of TV before we had to leave for "THE BIG DAY!"

The whole family drove to the school. We had wanted to walk but just weren't ready in time, no big surprise there. Don't worry, we did make it to school on time still. Driving to Kiersta's school was somewhat surreal. As a teacher, I am very used to being at school on the first day of the year, but this time I was tackling the event as a parent! Tons of kids in our neighborhood walk to school and it was quite difficult to turn left into the parking more reason to leave early in the morning.

As we waited for the classroom door to open, I noticed that many of the parents were sizing each other up, or maybe that was just me? Which parents looked friendly? Who had cute kids that seemed like they could be good playdate fodder? Who was wearing what? Three little girls, including Kiersta, had on the same pair of Payless Shoe Source shoes--so cute, I bought myself a pair as well! I guess we now have Mommy/Daughter shoes. LOL

We were finally admitted into the classroom where Kiersta was given a name tag and was instructed to find a cubby. The teacher took a picture of Brian, Kiersta and me together and then Kiersta had a seat on the carpet to wait for class to start. The teacher sat down and the parents were dismissed. Kiersta didn't cry. I didn't cry, much. It was a good start to a momentous day in our big girl's life.

The First Day of Kindergarten

I used to be little, but not anymore,
Tomorrow I'll get up and walk out the door.
I'm going to Kindergarten - it's the first time for me.
It's great to be big, but I'm scared as can be.

My tummy's in knots. You want to know why?
I'm thinking that maybe, just maybe I'll cry.
When Dad leaves the school and I'm there all alone,
I'm thinking that maybe I'll want to go home.

But wait - Mommy said I'll play lots of new games,
And meet lots of friends - I can learn all their names.
The first day of Kindergarten, oh there's so much to do!
There's painting and books and a big playground, too!

I used to be little, but not anymore.
Tomorrow I'll get up and walk out the door.
I'm going to Kindergarten - it's my first day, you see.
It's great to be big! I'm so glad that I'm me.

Monday, August 17, 2009


Tomorrow Kiersta starts her first day of Kindergarten. She's nervous and excited, so am I.

Today I took Kiersta shopping for a new dress and shoes to wear on her first day of school. I hadn't planned to buy Kiersta any new clothes as she doesn't need anything, but who doesn't start kindergarten with a new outfit? We also went and met her teacher and checked out the classroom a couple of days ago. Unfortunately, Kiersta's teacher is out on maternity leave through most of October, so Kiersta will have a long-term sub. Fortunately, the sub is a retired kindergarten teacher from the school who has been spoken of very highly by my friends who have older kids. While visiting the school, Kiersta learned how to do the monkey bars and was a pro by the time we left (turning around and going back the other way without putting her feet down in the middle)!

Here is Kiersta on the monkey bars.

Being the sap that I am, I can't help but remember my little bundle of joy and the many milestones she has reached in her nearly 5 1/2 years of life: first smile, sitting up and rolling over, first tooth, learning to walk, potty training, learning to swim, first day of daycare (where I REALLY cried), playdates, first words...oh I could just go on. Needless to say, Kiersta has come a long way and I am very confident that she is ready for kindergarten, even if she doesn't know it yet. I just have to wonder if I am ready.

-Wendy Silva

I wonder what you're doing right now
and if everyone is treating you kind.
I hope there is a special person,
a nice friend that you can find.

I wonder if the teacher knows
just how special you are to me.
And if the brightness of your heart
is something she can see.

I wonder if you are thinking about me
and if you need a hug.
I already miss the sound of your voice
and how you give my leg a tug.

I wonder if you could possibly understand
how hard it is for me to let you grow.
On this day know that my heart breaks,
for this is the first step in letting my baby go.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Never Again

It's Sunday afternoon. We have four diapers left. I am in a race between running out of diapers and making it to Costco before they close to buy more.

The phone rings. I glance at the caller ID and see that it is Brian and answer despite the fact that I am attempting to calm Kyle down with one hand and the other is reaching for the bulk package of diaper wipes.
"Never again" I say when I pick up the phone.
"What?" replies Brian.
"I am never going to Costco again on a Sunday afternoon by myself with a small child and no help!"
"Things aren't going well?" asks Brian as Kyle wails in the background.
"That's putting it mildly," I say. "I've got to go! Love you! Bye!"

My eyes are darting around looking frantically for a place to nurse the baby. I briefly consider the bathroom but I don't want to abandon the shopping cart piled high with necessities such as pre-made meals, label maker tape refills, fudgesicles, and a discount pass for Golfland; You know, the bare necessities. "Could I sit in the middle of an aisle and nurse?" I wonder. I'm not overly modest and I have a "Hooter Hider" with me, but the thought of sitting on concrete while leaning against 50 pound bags of dog food just doesn't sound appealing. Luckily, Kyle quiets down after a couple of minutes once I pick him up in one arm and steer the cart with the other, not an easy thing to do in the middle of rush hour traffic with a cart that has one wonky wheel and a car seat blocking your view.

I manage to pick up the last few things on my list (shampoo, conditioner, B-vitamins), plus a few extras that were purely impulse buys (macadamia nuts and dark chocolate pomegranate candy--though these were now a necessity due to my state of mind). I find a cashier with no line and have someone else unload the cart while I continue to hold the baby.

I survive my trip to Costco, but I will not willingly subject myself to that misery ever again. Oh, and remember those diapers I was there to buy? Apparently size 1 diapers are not sold in bulk, so I didn't even purchase the one thing that was the biggest necessity of all!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

No Longer a Lump

I'm happy to report that at just over 6-weeks of age, Kyle is no longer a lump (as one of Brian's friends so lovingly referred to the baby). Kyle is a stereotypical baby in that he actually says, "Ah-goo" in a very quiet voice. He is smiling at us too; real smiles, not just gassy ones. All of this, plus the intense gazes, just make my heart melt.

Kyle continues to sleep a lot, both day and night. Last night I put him down around 11:30 PM. He didn't wake up until nearly 8:30 AM! I was a little worried, but still chose not to wake him up. I don't know if tonight will be as good, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Today Kyle attended his first kids birthday party. He wore a festive Hawaiian shirt to the celebration. He doesn't look so much like David Cook here, now he kind of looks like a drunk movie star, Brian and I are thinking Nick Nolte.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

1 Month

Having two kids, you can't help but compare them. My memory of Kiersta during her first month is probably spotty at best, but this is what I remember.

Kiersta was a horrible sleeper, still is. She was awake, alert, and crying much of the time (she had colic). She still cries more than her brother does! As a result of being up so much of the time, Kiersta had a lot more tummy time and her neck muscles were much more developed than Kyle's are at one month. Kiersta was also quite a bit more photogenic than Kyle is, not sure why though.

Kiersta at just over 1-month old

Kyle is a good baby, that's not to say that Kiersta wasn't, but they just have very different temperments (as most siblings do). Kyle tends to sleep away most of the day away and much of the night, too. He wakes up to eat and have his diaper changed. He tends to not cry much. He'll cry for short amounts of time, but once his needs have been met, he stops. Kyle is beginning to be awake for longer amounts of time but he is still not particularly demanding during those times. Kyle is cute (I'm obligated to say that as his mom), but he is not very photogenic. When I try to take his picture, he just looks a bit like David Cook.

Here's Kyle just after a bath

Kyle at one month old looking like David Cook

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Happy Anniversary

Me 8 Years Ago...Contemplating the Future

Today Brian and I celebrated our 8-year wedding anniversary. We didn't do much, no presents, no cards, no flowers, which is exactly what I wanted. We did, however, go out to dinner with the kids (it still feels weird to say "kids" plural). However, with kids in tow, we couldn't go any place too fancy. We ended up at The Counter at Santana Row, which was so super yummy!

The Counter is right next to the tiny playground and a grassy area (fake grass that has sprinklers-why does artificial turf need sprinklers???). Kiersta had a fantastic time playing both before and after dinner.

It's hard to believe we've been married for 8 years, together for 13 years. We have our ups and downs, but despite everything, Brian is still my best friend.

Eight Years Ago Tonight...So Happy Together

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Custody Battles

Brian and I are fighting for custody of Kyle with our daughter. Kiersta absolutely adores her brother. We don't need to worry about her being over-jealous, if anything, she is over-zealous! Kiersta wants to help in all aspects of raising Kyle, which is great in theory, but often she ends up being in the way. In the 2-weeks since Kyle has been home, Kiersta has calmed down a lot and is learning the boundaries of what is and isn't acceptable. Brian and I are trying to keep her pre-baby routine as close to normal as possible and we are also trying to spend special one-on-one time with her.

First Meeting
"He's the same size as my dollies!"

I know I should appreciate the love and attention that Kiersta showers upon her brother more than I do. I'm sure that in just a couple of years when Kyle is idoling Kiersta and following her around everywhere, she will probably refer to him as her "little bother" instead of her little brother. I really am very lucky to have such a caring daughter to help out so much. :)

The adoring big sister!

Holding Kyle at his second picnic.

"Mommy, take our picture!"

Brushing Kyle's hair after his first bath.

And Then There Were Four

I am proud to announce the arrival of Baby Kyle! I can hardly believe he is 2-weeks old already. He was born at 5:38 PM on June 9th. He weighed in at 7 pounds, 3 ounces and was 20.5 inches long. The funny thing is, he was supposed to be huge (according to the ultrasounds) and so I was induced two-weeks early (yes, today was his actual due date). Instead of being my big boy, he ended up being over half a pound lighter than Kiersta. I'm totally good with him coming early though; I was a miserable pregnant lady, plus he came out face up and ripped me up pretty good during his journey into the world--I can not imagine him being any bigger!

So far, Kyle sleeps a lot! He wakes up every 3 hours to eat and is beginning to be alert for an hour here and there. Input and output are all good and he is gaining weight (he was nearly back up to his birth weight at his one-week check up).

I haven't been resting enough, but with a 5-year old, it is hard to find the time to sit back and relax as much as I should. Kyle has managed to lead a very active life already; I have been taking Kyle out and about since he was 3-days old! So far, we have gone out to lunch with friends and family at least 3 times, had 2 picnics, gone to swim lessons and gymnastics classes with his sister, attended my mom's birthday party, visited with relatives who were here from Sweden, lost his umbilical cord, and gone to the park/playground a few times. We've managed to stay home and not go anywhere exactly twice in the past 2 weeks!

Enough about our days though, here are the pictures:

Minutes after Kyle was born!

Kyle's face all munched up from being face up in the birth canal (good news though--no coning of the head = bigger diameter coming through = much ripping).

Relaxing on Mom's legs.

All set to go home--he doesn't really fit in the car seat very well.

Dazed and confused after his first bath.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

We've Got Babies!!!

Babies????  Plural????  Really????  Yup!

About a month and a half ago, we noticed one of our hummingbirds flitting about with bits of fluff in its mouth.  These bits were being placed atop one of the wind chimes located on our back patio. Turns out this little bird was building a nest in what seemed to be a quite perilous location.

Our little hummingbird atop her nest.

After waiting for about 3 weeks, we finally noticed that there were baby hummingbirds in the nest.  Unfortunately my pregnant belly does not allow for me to climb ladders right now, so I sent Brian up a ladder to take a picture or two of the little ones.

Two Baby Hummingbirds.

It's been a lot of fun watching the mama come and go, I just wish I could get a closer view.

As for my baby, well, I'm scheduled to be induced at 4:30 in the morning on Tuesday, June 9th!
And, for the record, I am only having one.

Friday, May 1, 2009

First Camping Trip of the Year

A couple of weeks ago Brian, Kiersta, and I headed over to Henry Coe Park for a one-night camping trip with two other families.  Since I am quite pregnant, we decided to take the old VW Vanagon and sleep in the car instead of a tent.  Another plus, little set up or tear down time was involved.  I also have to point out that it had been 6-months to the day since my Dad passed away and it seemed very appropriate to be camping, something my dad loved nearly more than anything else.  The two other families have girls who used to go to Kiersta's pre-school and were her best friends while they attended the school.   They don't see each other too often these days, so it was really fun to see the three of them having so much fun together for an extended period of time.

Isabella, Amne, and Kiersta on the top bunk of the Vanagon.

After a night of relatively little sleep, those mattresses are hard!, we went out hiking, and letterboxing.  We hiked for about 3 miles total in over 95 degree heat.  We found all three of the boxes we were looking for as well as a rattle snake--the first I've ever seen in the wild! 

Henry Coe is known for its spring wildflowers and we saw many.  Here are a few:


Wildflowers that I don't know the name of.


Towards the end of our first hike of the day, Kiersta and I took a little rest near an old gate as we waited for our friends to catch up with us. After this hike, we had lunch, and then our friends left.  Brian, Kiersta, and I went for one more hike.  There was one more letterbox to find in the park and I wasn't going to let it pass me by. Henry Coe is only a few freeway exits away from where we live, but it takes nearly an hour to drive into the park down a long windy road. We had a lot of fun on this trip, for the most part, and I think it would be well worthwhile to come back and explore this park further when the weather and my body are more cooperative.