Friday, December 28, 2007

Christmas Pictures!

Here they are! Our Christmas Pictures! :-) I'll describe them all, though they are fairly self-explanatory.

We didn't decorate for Christmas until the Thursday before! Everything was spread between a few boxes, in various piles in our storage closet, and neither one of us had any motivation to do anything about it until that night. Then, I went crazy! I insisted on finding the stockings, and then everything else just kind of snowballed!


This is our Christmas "Tree". We didn't get a tree this year, so we put everything on our table. (Not like we use it anyway. ;-)) This was Christmas Eve before my family took everything over to their place. It's a mixture of gifts for us and from us.

This is Jilly, trying to get to the good stuff. But Mama and Daddy are mean, and wouldn't let her play with any of the breakable decorations.

This beautiful porcelain nativity was my mom's for years, but she gave it to me over the summer and I am proud to display it!We strung up some twinkling Christmas lights over our sliding door and they looked awesome! You can even see the flashing from outside. :-)

Here are our stockings, hung on our entertainment center. All three of us have stockings made by our grandmas! We've put all the Christmas cards & letters that we've received in that Santa basket (though Santa's face is kinda obscured) and we have another nativity. The stocking holder for Jilly is the stocking holder I had growing up. Steve's and my stockings were held there by glass statues on top of paper clips. A little precarious, for sure, but we didn't have anything else yet. Hehehe. Think I need to hit the after-Christmas sales for some new ones? ;-)


We opened our stockings at home, before going over to Granny's. Jilly had a great time checking out her fun stocking.

She loved reaching in to grab new things, but sometimes needed Mama to take the things she'd already pulled out from her hands. She's such a hoarder.

She LOVED her foam animals. She kept playing with them and chewing on them. They're awesome! She also got some Ghiradhelli chocolate squares. She refused to let go of one of them all morning! It took opening presents at Granny's to pry it out of her hands. Hehehe.

At Granny's, wanting everyone else to come out to the living room so we could open presents.

Grandpa Paul, aka The GrillMaster, opening his new Barbeque set from Katie and Andy. Check out all the chrome!

Jilly loved reading all her new books.

Paul and Katie smiling. Notice who won't let go of his new bbq set in the shiny chrome case? ;-)

Jilly got pretty tired and cranky during the lengthy present opening session, so she laid down to drink her bottle. But she ended up getting buried in wrapping paper! We had to dig her out.

At long last it was time to open her present from Mama and Daddy. She enjoyed ripping the paper off.

Again, Mama had to help just a little. Look! It's a walker car toy!
Here is the living room, after all the destruction. Auntie Katie, Granny and Jilly are stranded in the corner! ;-) Now, it was time to test out everything. Jilly right away loved her walker/riding toy. Auntie Katie helped push her forward, and Auntie Juliet would push her back.

Vroom Vroom!! Look at her go!

After brunch, it was finally time for a nap. So Auntie Juliet cuddled Jilly while she drank her bottle, to calm down for sleeping.

Well, turns out she didn't really want to nap, so she played with Grandpa instead. Look out! Crazy woman driver!

Finally! Time for a yummy dinner!

What a wonderful way to cap off a cozy and wonderful holiday. :-)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Remix

Happy Boxing Day everyone!

I thought I would take this time at work to fill you in on our Christmas holiday. It was a lot of fun. Unfortunately I don't have any pictures right now, they're home on the computer, but I will put them up lickety-split.

Christmas Eve we got up and got going later than planned but early enough to accomplish what we needed. We went to Walgreens to pick up some photos I'd ordered and a couple other little things for stockings. Then we went to Safeway to shop for our Mexican Feast. Safeway was crazy crazy busy, but they got us through quickly and Jilly was in a good mood. We bought tons of food, but it was so good. Then we got home, put Jilly down for a nap, and Steve and I cleaned and cooked and even strung up a string of twinkling Christmas lights. Here's all that we cooked: Mexican Pot Roast (later carved into fajitas), chicken and cheese enchiladas, tortilla soup and homemade salsa. (Trey- The Tortilla soup was a major hit with everyone! We loved it! Thanks for the recipe) My brother came over and played Xbox for the afternoon, he just wanted to hang out with us I guess. It was fun though, and he just gets cuter and cuter with Jilly all the time. He'll scoop her up and play with her or cuddle her while she's drinking a bottle, etc. SO CUTE! :-) While we were in the midst of everything, my work called and told me I didn't have to come in for the afternoon! WAHOO!! It was so awesome.

So I told my family they could come over earlier. I think they ended up coming around 7ish. We ate the food, which was so so so good, and then just hung out. Jilly was in heaven because she could make the rounds, scavenging and begging food off everyone. ;-) After the food and relaxing, we read the Christmas story in Luke 2. About 9:30pm, Steve got a call and turned out it was his brother Greg, a missionary in New Zealand! They ended up talking for like 4 hours! My family left soon after the call came in and took our Christmas presents over to their place, so we didn't have to deal with them in the morning (we have enough stuff with just the baby and ourselves!). I put Jilly to bed, then settled in to watch TV while the lights were twinkling. I figured I'd stay up until Steve got off the phone. I ended up watching several episodes of "Kids By The Dozen" on TLC, following different families with 12 or more kids. It was on all day long, so I saw quite a few. Looks crazy to me, but everyone seemed happy with it. ;-) Anyway, finally after 1am, I was falling asleep, so I went to bed. Steve got off the phone then and came to bed a little later. We were both exahusted!

The next morning, the alarm went off at 7:30am, but I didn't actuallly get up until 8:45am. Oops! Hehehe. We left for my mom's about 10am. We had to wake up my sister when we got there, but my aunt was already there, unloading her laundry basket of gifts. After everyone was up, assembled and settled in with their coffees or other hot drinks, we started opening presents. It was a lot of fun! Jilly was so spoiled! She got SO many books! I unfortunately lost track of which ones were from who, she got 19 at the final count!!! Crazy spoiled girl. And she LOVED the walker toy Steve and I got her. My aunt gave me a cute crafty project , with wooden letters spelling JILLY that go on this stand, plus an earring holder (a screen in a picture frame). Steve got a gift card for Barnes & Noble from her. What else... The Simpsons Movie, Silver Platters gift cards, money, a couple cute snowman bell ornaments that say "Mom" and "Dad", and the Indiana Jones boxed set of DVDs. There might be more, but I'm not remembering right now. After presents, I cleaned everything up while breakfast was made, waffles, eggs, bacon, pineapple, etc. We didn't finish "brunch" until after 1:30pm!!! We decided to push dinner time back a little, because we didn't want to start cooking immediately.

It was decided to watch The Simpsons Movie and let Jilly nap. The little turd would not have it!! She was so so so tired, but wouldn't sleep. She finally cuddled with Auntie Katie (my sister) and fell asleep while drinking a bottle, for about 30 minutes, but then was bright eyed and bushy tailed for a little longer. We tried 3 or 4 times, throughout the afternoon to get her to sleep, but she was not happy with that plan. Luckily, we had no shortage of people to cuddle her and play with her, so she was never bored. Katie and I got everything ready to cook, but eventually ran out of things to do, because we had to wait until right befor the roast was done. So we took Jilly and drove around looking at Christmas lights for about 45 minutes, hoping Jilly would fall asleep in the car. She finally did....15 minutes before we got home! But then I was able to move her into the playpen (miracle that she didn't wake up when I pulled her out of the carseat) and she slept for over an hour there.

Everyone pitched in to finish the meal and get it on the table. We had Roast Beast, Creamed Corn, Mashed Potatoes, Asparagus, Green Beans, Caesar Salad, and rolls, with various sparkling juices. Soooooo yummy. We woke Jilly up for dinner and she was cute, munching on her green beans and asparagus. After dinner, we played Apples to Apples; Juliet wonb the first round, Andy won the second (shortened) round. Funny story: we got Apples to Apples for my bro & sis and so did my aunt! They were both thrilled though, so now Katie can take one to school and Andy can have one at home. It was funny. After the game, we had peach and blueberry pies and then all went home and to bed.

Overall, it was a fun, fairly relaxing day spent with family. We definitely miss our family and friends scattered across the globe, but are happy we have some nearby to spend this time with. We feel very grateful that we were able to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and feel such gratitude for our knowledge of Him and His gospel.

This week will be more of the same. Steve was lucky to get the entire week off for vacation! Since he was going to be home, I told my boss I could work some extra hours since I knew people would be out of town. So it's ended up with me working Wednesday, Friday and Saturday all day. Thursday, I'm taking Juliet to a dentist appointment at 8am, then Jilly has her follow-up appointment with Dr. Cronyn. (side note: I am a little worried about this one, because she doesn't seem really better from the ear infection. She never acted all that sick to start with, then got a little sicker after starting antibiotics, then back to the same. Not better, but not really worse. Hrm....) We will have our evenings home, all together, and it never hurts to have the extra hours, so there you go!

Well, that's pretty much our story. We can't wait to hear all of yours!

Merry Christmas, Happy Boxing Day and Happy New Year to all!!

Love, The Halls

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Weather Delays and other work related gripes

This is normally a place where we update you all on our family. But today I'm commandeering it for my own selfish purposes.

*climbs up on soap box*

I am not God.

I cannot control or predict the weather.

This seems to be a difficult concept for many people to understand. Today we experienced pretty intense weather delays at work. The wind was so bad that we couldn't fly for several hours. One pilot, who flew early this morning before it got worse, was getting nauseous from the turbulence. Uh...That's not good, when the pilot thinks it's bad. It's just not safe to fly.

I feel bad when these things happen. It's tough for everyone. People can't get where they need to be, often home or to Sea-Tac for connecting flights. This understandably stresses people out. All sorts of plans get thrown out the window, some events will be missed, and so on. Here's the thing people don't seem to keep in mind: it stresses out the agents just as much as the passengers! Seriously folks. When I know there is going to be a delay, my heartrate shoots up and I start talking really fast and waving my hands around like a crazy person. I know people are going to be upset, inconvenienced and I truly feel bad for them. I also get stressed automatically because I know people are going to yell at me. I do my best to get as much information as possible from the dispatchers because I want to anticipate my customers' needs. But sometimes, there just isn't information to be had. Weather is so fickle, especially in the areas we fly, and we go to so many different places that things can be thrown totally honky in a hurry. I just don't know when the weather will clear up and when we're be able to fly! And yelling at me doesn't change anything. And guess what else: it's not my fault! I didn't spend the morning thinking of ways to screw up your travel plans. I didn't conspire to bring in fog or high winds, just to dick around with your flight home. So stop treating me like I did!!

So I ask people to be patient and calm when they encounter delays, especially if they're caused by weather. We don't have any control over the weather, we can't guarantee exactly what's going to happen or when, because we can't predict it. We wish we could! We wish we could get you out and on your trip because trust me, the agents don't want you to be sitting in their airport anymore than you want to be there. It stresses everyone to have you there giving us dirty looks or yelling. Let's think about this rationally folks: What point is there in getting upset? How is yelling at me going to help the situation? Will all the hot air you blow out send the fog away? Sometimes you have to make a little noise when a company makes a gross error. But weather is not one of those situations. One more time: we can't control it.

Here's my advice: plan on delays. Make sure you plan lots of time with flight connections. Be flexible, things will not always go exactly to plan. And be calm and nice. An agent is much more likely to spend time, going the extra mile to help you out if you approach her looking for help, trying to solve the problem together, as opposed to yelling and throwing a fit like a two year old. Let's be grownups, folks.

And these are a couple other things that annoy me. Please do not call me and expect me to have my competitor's phone numbers, and then have the balls to get mad at me when I don't have them! Come on! Do you call up Comcast and ask them for Verizon's number? And get mad at them over it? Geez... And lastly, don't call multiple times and ask the same ridiculous questions, verbatim. We have Caller ID, and I'm smart. I remember people, dates, times, voices, etc, not to mention my notes. If you call and say, "I got confused on something, could you clarify?" I'll be understanding. But if you just ask me the same things over and over again, I'll get annoyed. The answers don't really change, regardless of how many times you ask.

Geez, I sound like I'm lecturing a stubborn four year old. Oh wait! That's because a lot of adults act like stubborn preschoolers. Forget asking, "Am I smarter than a 5th grader?" Try asking yourself, "Am I acting like a three year old?"

*climbs down, off soapbox*
(Thanks for letting me borrow that, Stacey. ;-))

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Jilly hearts Santa

Last night was a momentous occasion in Jillian's life: She met Santa! We went to our church Christmas party and had a nice dinner, hung out with friends, and caroled for a bit. (side note: I think Jilly has a new boyfriend. I caught her and Jaxson flirting quite a bit. She's such a cradle robber- he's 6 months younger than her!) Anyway, after caroling as a group, Santa Claus showed up! Hooray for Santa. It was cute to see all the little kids lined up, waiting to see him. We thought it would be fun for Jilly to meet him and we'd get a cute picture. So I waited in line with her and had Anna the elf, put Jilly on Santa's lap, so I could get the shot. I didn't think she'd be too bothered, she's pretty much over stranger anxiety. I was wrong. She flipped out. I got one picture with her crying. Once the line was almost gone, I decided we should try again. This time Steve went up with her and sat right next to her. I got a picture on our camera and my cell phone, but had the same result:

She did not approve of Santa at all! We think it was probably the big beard that scared her. I know it's pretty common for kids to be scared. It actually amused us both (we're such mean parents). Hopefully next year will be better. Now I'm glad I didn't spend tons of money to take her to the mall Santa. Hehehe. Like I've said many a time, Crazy Baby... ;-)

Woodchucks have infested my home

Did I give birth to a woodchuck or a human? I thought it was a human. She's looked, smelled and sounded like a human for the past year. She even mostly acted like a human, but lately, I'm getting the feeling she's really a woodchuck. I've been finding suspicious markings on her crib, like this:

I expected some teeth marks, she has been teething afterall and the crib is a convenient place to chew. But to pull off chunks of the wood like that? Who does that? Woodchucks. That's who. Here's the woodchuck's eye view:

I tried to get plastic crib rail guards, to protect her from the crib and the crib from her. What happened to that idea you ask? She pulled them off!! Little turdface, would pull them off one at a time, and either throw them on the floor or cuddle up with them in her bed. Well, I guess it's a good thing we plan on keeping this crib for a long while (it turns into a toddler bed, then double bed) so she'll always get to admire her handiwork. (Mouthiwork?)

Here's the evil woodchuck baby herself, horrendously pleased with herself:

Well, the verdict is in: It's a woodchuck! ;-) No, really, I have a crazy baby, but you hold a grudge against such a cute face!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Unexpected Doctor Visit

This is a little late on news, but oh well.

Jilly had her first "sick baby" doctor appointment last week (not bad for being over a year old). Back in November, I got a cold. After a couple days, I gave it to Jilly. Since then she's had this super runny nose and a cough. She doesn't cough often, but when she does it sounds bad. Last Wednesday night, she had a rough rough night. She woke up crying and crying. I got up and spent 45 minutes with her, trying to calm her down, but nothing was working. By this time, I was upset, so I woke Steve up to see if he could get her to calm down. Sure enough, Daddy had the touch. She took a bottle from him, was soothed and went back to sleep. Of course, the same thing repeated itself just a couple hours later. Oh joy.

I was concerned at this point because of the length of the cold, her rough night, and a yeasty diaper rash she'd had for a couple weeks as well. I called the nurse at our clinic to see if it was important enough to bring her in. The nurse was worried it was an ear infection, so we decided better safe than sorry, and brought her in Friday morning for a checkup with Dr. Cronyn. (Side note: we got to weigh Jilly and she is 21 1/2 lbs!) Dr. Cronyn came in and checked Jilly over, while asking me some questions. She hadn't had a fever, that I'd ever noticed, hadn't been acting sick really, but just had these couple things that wouldn't go away. Jilly was pretty well behaved, didn't freak out at Dr. Cronyn, but wanted to hold all the instruments herself, so I had to hold her still when her ears and nose were checked. Turns out her left eardrum was bright red! It was an ear infection! Both the doctor and I were surprised because we would have expected ear pulling and other signs of discomfort, and there were none. So we started a round of amoxicillin, the same pink syrup I used as a kid.

I was sad that Jilly had an ear infection, but glad we were able to diagnose it and get it treated. Even though we didn't see the classic signs of ear infection, that (hopefully) means she wasn't suffering too bad. So I guess if you gotta be sick, that's the way to go. ;-) We also got some good cream for her diaper rash.

It's now been a week and her rash is pretty much gone. She's still having some struggles with the ear infection. Jilly has been sleepier than normal (though I'm not complaining) and waking up during the night (I'll complain about that one). We'll see Dr. Cronyn in a couple weeks to make sure everything is resolved. But there are lots of good things about this all: a) we have insurance that was able to cover (most of) the cost of the visit and medicine, b) she had a treatable condition that was easily diagnosed, c) she didn't seem to be suffering much, even though she was sick, and d) she doesn't mind taking her medicine, although it's cold! Let's hope she gets better fast and this does not become a recurring story for us.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Jilly Bean is 1 year old!

It's official! Our little girl is one year old now!! It's hard to believe she's been with us for a year, but it's been an awesome year. Here are some of her latest accomplishments:

*She can now crawl on her hands and knees. Only took her about 3 months of "crawling" to figure out the knees. She was doing fine with her army-style crawling, but now has learned she's faster on her hands and knees.

*She LOVES to stand up on anything she can. This pretty much means anything she can touch, regardless of how stable it really is. She used all these items, to varying degress of success: couches, entertaiment cabinet, rocking chair, Mama's legs, an empty box, ExerSaucer, stuffed animals, walls, doors, piano stool, etc. She will cruise around the room too, on anything she can touch.

*She now says Mama and Dada fairly often. Dada was, of course, first, then Mama awhile later. For a little bit, she would say Dada when excited and Mama when upset. Lately though, I've just noticed her saying one or the other during a day, then switching the next day.

*Jilly loves to eat food, as long as she can control it. She wants to eat off Daddy's plate all the time, and gets mad when he refuses to share. She wants to pick up everything with her own hands and has little patience for baby food.

Funny story from last night. Steve and I were eating ice cream, when Jilly decided she no longer wanted to be in bed. Steve brought her out to the family room, where she promptly tried to scam some ice cream off him. His bowl was empty and tried to warn her she wouldn't like it anyway. She was persistant, so he told her to go ask Mama for some. She right away, leaves him, crawls over to me on the couch, pulls herself up, and says, "Mama!" Hilarious! I'm laughing about it and decide that I might as well give her a taste. So I put a bit on the spoon and put it in her mouth. The look she made was to die for! It looked as though I had fed her arsenic soaked brussel sprouts! I see this enormous frown and it, again, cracks me up. I'm laughing hysterically, and loudly I might add, and it did NOT please the little girl. She freaked out and started crying angrily at me. She took a long time to be consoled, and it didn't help that I just laughed harder. Today, she was being a little snotty, so I told her that she needed to shape up or else she'd get ice cream for lunch. That should give you a good idea of our parenting strategy. I mean, who does that?

Anyway, that's just a little update about the kiddo. I will be sending out Christmas letters soon, I promise! :-)