Sunday, January 29, 2012

Winter Wonderland

I hate to jinx myself, but I have to say that we've definitely had one of the nicest winters that I can remember. Other than a couple weeks of really cold weather, it has been gorgeous (for Canada, that is ...). Mark's youngest brother, Thomas, just returned from his two year mission for our church in Australia. The poor guy got home right in the middle of a brutal cold snap and definitely has some adjusting to do! He left the Australian weather of +34 degrees, with 100% humidity, to come home to -41 degrees, with a freezing wind chill. I remember returning from my mission in Panama in the late spring and I still took at least a few months to adjust. I was decked out in a hoody or sweater all summer long! Needless to say, I feel for the guy!

We've really had a great time catching up with Thomas. Zach was only 4 months old when he left, so he has been especially excited to get to know his uncle.We prayed for him every night while he was gone (although I think Zach thought we were praying about Thomas the Train ...), so now he's finally been able to see who the real Thomas is.
It was so fun to welcome him at the airport ... although we missed him by a couple minutes! How embarrassing!! Here we are waiting for his luggage to arrive off the plane. Zach loved his wheels!

Last weekend we ventured out in the cold to attend the Ice on Whyte Festival. Sadly, Mark was on call, but some of his family was able to join us. Zach did awesome and Blake slept in the stroller the entire time. I admit that I wasn't really looking forward to being out in the freezing cold with my kiddos, but once we got there and I saw how excited and mesmerized Zach was, it was all worth it!
Check out one of the many beautiful ice carvings - AMAZING!!
Poor Thomas is still adjusting to the cold weather, so he preferred to spend a lot of the time next to the warmth of the fire pit. He was so good about taking Zach on some of the slides for me though. What a great uncle!!
Brielle was so bundled up with her daddy and all you could see were her cute little eyes peeping through. That's a true Canadian right there!!
I was a little nervous to let Zach go on the slides, but to say he loved it would definitely be an understatement! He was literally jumping up and down and probably would've lasted a couple more hours if we'd let him. We did take a short hot chocolate break, but after one small sip he was ready to head back to the slides.
He even wanted to go on the really big slide and was still all smiles!

Zach and I enjoyed a very quick rest on an icy bench ... I definitely should've worn snow pants! Brrr!
They even had an ice maze and all sorts of fun! Zach was loving it all!
We checked out a few more ice sculptures before heading home for the night.
We're most definitely coming back here next year!!

Earlier this week Mark was able to get off work a little earlier than usual, so we decided to hit Snow Valley for a couple hours of skiing fun. It was Zach's first time and he can't wait to go again. We weren't sure how he would take to wearing ski boots, but other than having a difficult time walking, he didn't seem to mind them. He did so awesome and I was sure a proud momma watching my little guy come down the ski hill!!
He had no fear and kept asking to go by himself.
Blake and I had a fun time watching from the sidelines. I have a feeling my sons will be surpassing my level of skiing in no time!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

My Favourite Things

Recently, I have discovered two AMAZING products. If you have a baby or toddler, you may want to invest in what I believe has truly saved my sanity!!

A huge thanks to my dear friend, Rachel, for introducing me to this fabulous alternative to swaddling. With both of my boys, I have tried absolutely every manoeuvre to secure them in a swaddle blanket (I even tried the blankets with velcro), but nothing could keep them securely swaddled. With one use of a woombie, I knew I'd finally found something that would work and still be safe for my little guy. I know it looks more like a straight jacket for babies but Blake honestly LOVES it and settles down as soon as I zip it up. The convertible woombie is great as I can free his arms when he is ready to transition and it can be used as a regular sleep sack later on. The two-way zipper is also handy for the middle of the night diaper changes.
Here's Blake and Rachel's son, Luc, sporting their sleepwear.
This one has legs in case you want to strap them in a swing or bouncy chair. They think of EVERYTHING!!

Zach has never been a fantastic sleeper. He's never been known to sleep in and I am thrilled if he makes it to 7am. I heard about this clock about a year ago and finally found one in August. The first night I brought it out Zach started crying and screaming "No!!! Take away!!!" I have no idea what scared him so bad, but I almost took the clock back. I ended up just storing it for a couple months and I tried it again in October (right around the daylight savings time change). He had been waking up at 5am and with the new time change I knew I was not going to be able to cope well with waking up everyday at 4am. This clock has been a lifesaver!

You can program the clock for the time that you want your child to get up in the morning and teach your toddler to stay in bed until the sun comes out. We used the included book for awhile to reinforce the message, and now every night, after the simple push of a button, we simply have Zach say goodnight to the sun and hello to the star. He knows he needs to stay in bed until the sun comes out the next morning.

I won't pretend it works all the time, but it has definitely helped him stay in bed longer and he is so excited to show us when the sun comes out. Most mornings when he calls out to us before 7am, we just remind him that he needs to stay in bed until the sun comes out and he almost always goes back to sleep ... or at least lies quietly in bed. It's not super cheap, but it was worth every penny!
We are all much happier campers now!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Happy New Year!!

Since Mark was going to be on-call the next day, we had a pretty low key New Year's Eve at our house. Mark's parents joined us for some Chinese food and then we all rang in the New Year at a whopping 7pm! Zach had a fun time trying to use the noisemaker, but Blake was more scared by all the commotion.
Try as he might, Zach had a hard time getting his noisemaker to work.

Zach is definitely my motivator when it comes to New Year's Resolutions. Almost every morning he begs me to exercise and he even joins in for the majority of the workout. When I do push-ups he likes to flop on top of me, so it's like I've got my very own personal trainer too!
Here is my little muscle man working out to one of my favourites, Jillian Michael's 30-Day Shred. You gotta love his choice of weights!
Another one of my long list of resolutions is to get more sleep ... if only it was so easy!! Nevertheless, I started Blake on some rice cereal last week and he LOVES it!! Zach had a harder time getting started on solids, so I was expecting it to be a more difficult process. Unfortunately, at this point it hasn't made any difference on his sleep patterns ...

This mischievous little man decided to give me a gift on New Years Day and chose to lather himself in Blake's diaper cream. His face was definitely 'soft as a baby's bottom'!!

Last week we were so lucky to have our good friends, the Kutarna's, come stay with us for a few days. Zach and Natalie had so much fun playing in the tub, it was hard to get them to come out!
One night the guys went out to a movie while Alex and I watched the kids and had a spa night at home.
A girl's night is never complete without a whole lot of ice cream!
The following night the guys 'babysat' the kiddos while Alex and I got away to do some shopping and treat ourselves to Moxie's white chocolate brownies. Sooooo Yummy!!

We were able to go to West Edmonton Mall a few times and here are the kids waiting to go into the water park.
I haven't been to this water park for years, so I was SOOO excited to be there. Zach had a good time in the kiddy pool, but the waterslides and wavepool were a little too cold for him. He spent the majority of the time wrapped in his towel on the chair. Oh well - we'll have to try again in a couple of years.

The next day we went back to the mall to go to the Galaxyland Amusement Park. On our way through the mall, Zach and Natalie insisted on holding hands and walking ahead by themselves. It was pretty cute! Both kids were so excited to go on the train ride and carousel.
The kids started a jamming session on the keyboard. They were playing and dancing up a storm!
It was such a fun few days and we miss them already!