Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas 2012: We saved the best for last

While compiling the photos for the 2012 Christmas slide show, I came across a few that were too good to get lost in a slide show. 
The first series celebrates one of the most important facets of the holiday season - gathering together with family and basking in the love.  There are few bonds as special as the one shared between sisters.  Merryn and Josie have a beautiful rapport that is enhanced by the fact that they are so close in age and have many common interests; like Poke-a-Dot books:
* I'm going to start by apologizing for the blurriness plaguing the following sequence of photos. It's hard to get a sharp image when the photographer is wetting her pants with laughter.
Perhaps the brightest part (literally) of Christmas 2012 was when Mama Hop emerged ready for a night of clubbing in Vegas mass, in this sequin explosion:
You never know what you're going to find while shopping at Liberace's garage sale.  Mama Hop was so excited about these dazzling duds that she purchased the top in an XL because that was the only one they had left.  I immediately requested that she pose for a photo so that her unparalleled panache would be forever preserved.
 Leanne, however, was not impressed by Mama Hop's swagger, so she stepped in to offer some expert coaching:
 While Leanne makes it look easy, Mama Hop soon discovered that creating the perfect photo op is anything but.  It requires skill, focus, concentration, and lots of practice.
 Lots and LOTS of practice!
 There is no doubt that if this dog biscuit empire ever folds, Leanne has a real future as a modeling coach.
 Mama Hop, however, may have to find another line of work.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

2012 Christmas Card and Slide Show

Mama Hop and Aunt Leanne joined us in celebrating Christmas 2012 and it was a whirlwind of laughter and fun.  We cannot wait to share stories of our hilarious moments with you, along with the corresponding photos.  However, there is so much to share that the recap will likely span at least a couple of posts. 

Let's start with our family's 2012 Christmas Card:
It was a two-day ORDEAL (and that's putting it lightly) to achieve the perfect shots for the annual mailing, but we had to top last year's masterpiece.  Extra special thanks goes out to my dear husband and trusty assistant for enduring another elaborate photo shoot.   Something tells me if I even attempt to involve him again next year, he will withdraw his name from the bottom of the card and will reside at a different return address! 

Without further ado, here are some more fun photos from our Christmas gathering that have been compiled in a little slide show:

We hope your holiday was just as happy as ours was.

Stay tuned because I'm saving the BEST photos for another post!

Christmas 2012

Monday, December 24, 2012

She's baaaaack!

Look who's back: Aunt Leanne!  Here are some Instagram pictures from our shopping and dining excursion yesterday.

I wanted to get a coat rack for the entrance to our home so we set out for Bed Bath & Beyond.  The coat racks were displayed on top of some shelves.  The following conversation transpired in signature Leanne fashion:
Leanne: What's that?
Travis: It's a coat rack
Leanne: What's it for?
Travis: It's to hang your coat on
Leanne: (Glancing up at the display) But I can't reach!
You've gotta love her!  More stories to come!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

An email from Aunt "Secret Santa"

This afternoon I received a mysterious email from my mom's email account that was signed "Secret Santa," and I'm having a heck of a time figuring out who possibly could have sent it to me:
dear i want blog
i want
for christmasfor mom
on sunday
elizabeth fred
rice nickmane
oyt bran s*
secret santa
* Translation: Out of brains
Well Folks - looks like I have my orders.  Tomorrow afternoon I'll be taking "Secret Santa" out shopping for my mom.  ***Spoiler Alert*** Looks like Mom will be receiving a sweater, a mirror, and lip stain this Christmas.  And who am I to argue?  I certainly don't want to cross (not-so-secret) Santa two days before Christmas.  No sirree!  Because I know "Secret Santa" won't hesitate to revoke the Starbucks card she purchased for me and keep it for herself this Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Excuse Me (I passed gas)

 When I describe my sister to people, one of the first words I always use is "hilarious".  I can rattle off story after story about funny things she's said and done throughout the years.  And while I recall these stories in humor, my mom often recalls the same stories with an element of embarrassment as well.  Because "Leanne stories" can usually be attributed to her innocent candor, inhibition, and overall lack of a filter.  If something is on Leanne's mind, she says it.  She says it regardless of who is there to hear it - grandma, Dad's boss, the parish priest - it doesn't matter.  If it crosses Leanne's mind, it comes out of her mouth, appropriate or not.
But as Josie's little vocabulary continues to emerge, my perspective is changing a bit.  Suddenly I'm empathizing more and more with my mom's experience and I'm realizing that, despite my best efforts to teach Josie to be lady-like, polite, and well-mannered, I may be fighting an uphill battle.

Take yesterday, for example.  Josie experienced a little bout of *ahem* flatulence.  Being in the early stages of potty training, Josie immediately declared "Poop!".  I ceased the opportunity to have a "teachable moment" and I replied "No, that wasn't poop.  You just passed gas.  Say 'excuse me'."

But did Josie hurriedly scribble notes from my latest lecture in her "Etiquette 101" notebook with the hopes of someday graduating with honors?  Of course not.  She zeroed in on the new terminology, "pass gas," and she said it OVER and OVER and OVER until I finally surrendered the pursuit of propriety and started filming it...

Lord help me - she's only 2!  Let the embarrassing stories begin!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

She didn't get that from me!

The "Gangnam Style" song and dance mania is sweeping the nation and just like with the "Call Me Maybe" craze, Josie is all over it.
The only problem is that while the little galloping-horse-and-lasso dance has a wholesome charm that appeals to the masses, you probably won't catch David Gregory attempting to recreate Josie's Gangnam Style gyration in the middle of The Today Show plaza...
Because the Today Show producers would likely find Josie's "booty pop" inappropriate for their morning show audience; and it is inappropriate.  So is yelling "Hey Sexy Lady!" not once, but twice, in front of your DHS caseworker.  But that didn't stop Josie from loudly declaring her allegiance to the catchy tune this afternoon.  After that little incident, I don't think I could be anymore mortified, so I figured I may as well go ahead and post the video that was taken a couple of weeks ago:

I promise she did NOT get that from me! 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Another Aunt Leanne Farewell Video

We can always count on Aunt Leanne to make us smile!


Monday, December 17, 2012

Josie and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week

Good News: Josie has been symptom free for more than 24 hours!  Woo Hoo!  Thank you for your concern and prayers.
This past week of stomach bug agony made for one despondent diva:
The infectious smile we are accustomed to seeing was replaced by this pathetic pout:

Merryn takes a moment to emphasize the stark contrast:
Josie moped throughout our visit from Mama Hop and Aunt Leanne on Monday:

There were brief signs of life when Mama Hop let Josie play with her glasses.  Unfortunately Mama Hop doesn't have durable rubber glasses like Josie does!
Aunt Leanne tried her best to perk up our princess with no avail:
I don't care how sick you are - how could you NOT smile (and wet your pants with laughter) at the sight of this?!?!
This has officially become my all-time favorite picture of my mom.
At least Lil Bit showed enthusiasm to have such fun visitors!

Speaking of fun guests, a business trip to our area allowed us to have a visit from the ever entertaining Papa!  Here he is frolicking in our brand new ball pit (more on this later) with Merryn...
...while Josie sulked across the room.
Even though she didn't put forth her most effervescent demeanor, she was a very conscientious hostess.  She had a diarrhea explosion right before Papa walked in the door and she vomited just seconds after he left.  But she held it together while her beloved Papa visited with us.
On Friday, Mama Hop and Aunt Leanne were wonderful enough to drop everything and come keep Merryn so Travis could accompany me on a little road trip to take Miss Sourpuss to the doctor. 
The diva was back in full effect!

Leanne got right down to business tending to her essential Aunt duties.
It was just what JoJo needed.
Josie even introduced Leanne to her new BFF, "Clap Your Hands," (guess what song he sings) a treasured gift from our dear friend, Aleksandra.
Spirits were lifted even higher when Leanne whipped out presents from Mama Hop's thoughtful and generous friend, Ann.
Opening presents is Josie's new favorite past time.  She thinks it's a legitimate daily request like "go outside!" or "eat Cheetos" or "open presents!"  One week, three visitors, two singing animals, and some sparkly hair bows later, that radiant grin returned. 
Jovial Josie is back!  Thank Heavens, Girlfriend - we missed you!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

It's been a rough week

Once again, our absence from the blogosphere is illness induced.  A week ago, Josie awoke with what appeared to be an unpleasant stomach bug.  After laying lifeless in her "sick chair" (bouncy seat covered with towels), shooting up only to vomit, cry, and then returning to her pathetic state, we were naturally concerned.  However, by that afternoon, she seemed to perk up and the vomiting stopped.  We were super relieved...

...until the uncontrollable diarrhea (sorry, just being honest here) caused numerous clothing changes every day.  And the vomiting returned in brief episodes here and there.  After a couple of phone consults with medical professionals, we were told that she would be fine as long as she remained hydrated.  However, by Friday, I was losing my mind with worry and Travis was losing his mind over my heightened neurotic state, so we took her to her GI doctor. 
After an agonizing IV placement (heartbreaking to watch Josie scream like that), she earned herself a new singing animal from the child life specialist!  But the best part of the whole ordeal was the simple act of dad's bubble blowing which prompted the return of a rich vitality that was so desperately missed.  Check out this cuteness:
Bubbles popped in my face!!!

Right now, Josie is resting with her chicken in her sick chair and we were told to contact the doctor if this "stomach bug from hell" hasn't passed by Monday or Tuesday.  So if you don't hear from us, it's due to the demands of a sick little girl, the constant barrage of soiled laundry, the needy cries for attention from the neglected baby sister, oh yeah - and the standard holiday demands including Christmas shopping, gift wrapping, and-let's-not-even-talk-about-the-50+-Christmas-cards-that-mom-hasn't-even-started-writing-that-will-likely-become-Valentines-Day-cards-if-this-doesn't-let-up-soon...ugh!  I can't even think about it!  I have lots of great pictures to share because Mama Hop and Aunt Leanne were kind enough to visit not once, but twice, to lend a hand during this stressful ordeal but duty calls so this must be cut short.

I'll try my best to post an update as I can.  It's been a whole lot easier for me to post to Instagram so if you have the app, you can find us at: CatfishWithKetchup.

Any prayers you can send up for Josie would be greatly appreciated.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Thanksgiving Recap Part 2: Blogosphere Besties

As if the family bonding, delicious dining experiences, and aquatic adventures didn't make our Thanksgiving fantastic enough, a reunion with the blogosphere's funniest family was the cherry on top!  We were beside ourselves with excitement to be in the presence of this little delight:
Miss LC was even kind enough to introduce us to her brand new baby sister, Effie.  We were all captivated by this dainty little doll.
The indoor playground where we met allowed Josie the opportunity to witness LC's gross motor mastery.  We were hoping that Pudge's kinetic spunk would inspire Josie but as the morning wore on, it became evident that this was not happening.  It all came to a head at the top of the slide when Pudge's impatience with JoJo's stationary stance prompted her to lend a hand; when modeling won't inspire action, a good, old-fashioned shove will suffice: 
At that point, Josie decided the only risk-taking activity she wanted to participate in was pickpocketing.  With a room full of moms, there were plenty of diaper bags to rifle through.  It was a kiddie kelpto's dream come true!
 Thank goodness that savvy sweetheart, LC, came to the rescue with a diversion captivating enough to lure Josie away from her larceny: singing animals!  This, my friends, is how you become Josie's bestie for life!
You know behind every funny and fabulous toddler is a funny and fabulous mom.  I lie prostrate at the feet of an unflappable woman who wrangles two vibrant toddlers, welcomes a newborn into the fold without skipping a beat, and hauls them to school, medical appointments, therapy, and play dates, and she makes it look EASY!  You wouldn't find me venturing on an excursion and further than the bed to the sofa when I was three weeks postpartum; I don't know how she does it.
Courtney benevolently agreed to allow me to publish a group photo of us, contingent upon some generous photo editing.  I think she underestimated my digital makeover abilities.  With a few clicks of the mouse, we went from Midwestern moms to third-rate Vegas showgirls:

No need to thank me, Courtney.  That's what blogosphere besties are for!  However, we owe all of the lovely Heigele ladies a heartfelt thank you for welcoming us back to KC with unparalleled warmth and kindness.  And a special shout-out to the Heigele men, who couldn't join us because of work(Justin) and illness(Jace).  We'll catch you next time, boys!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Thanksgiving Recap Part 1

We'd like to extend a special thanks to all of our friends out there who expressed concern over our illness-induced absence from the blog.  As a mom, sickness inflicts an extra layer of misery because the demands of parenthood don't decrease to accommodate the fatigue and lethargy.  Henceforth, my productivity has decreased to the bare minimum (my children are still alive) and the blog has been severely neglected.  So please excuse this particular post for being long on photos, short on words, and completely void of clever or witty anecdotes.
We had a great time celebrating Thanksgiving 2012 with Travis' family: YaYa (T's mom), Papa (T's Dad), Uncle Corey (T's brother), Aunt Sarah (Corey's wife), and Cousin Abby (Corey & Sarah's adorable six-year-old daughter).
After visiting YaYa and Papa in July, we learned that the altitude in the mountains where they live is not ideal for Josie's fragile lungs, so in order to avoid another respiratory distress episode, we decided to meet in the "middle" (kind of), in lovely Kansas City, KS.
We stayed at a really cool resort that offered lots of fun activities for kids...
 ...including an indoor water park!
The girls refused to sit still long enough to get a decent photo but they looked too cute in their swimsuits not to share so please excuse the low-quality image.

 After Thanksgiving dinner at Garazzo's (if you're ever in KC, you MUST go.  You will thank us!), we celebrated Christmas together.
 Holiday cheer reached new heights as the girls excitedly tore into the brightly colored packages!
Seeing those little faces light up is so much fun!
Josie has requested that we "open presents" every day since then.
 Everyone loved their gifts and we had a terrific time!
Above  all, we appreciated the opportunity to spend time together as a family...
 ...because that's what the holidays are all about...
...and we are so thankful for each other.
You won't want to miss Part 2 of our Thanksgiving Recap because it features a special guest appearance from an A-List blogosphere family.  Hint: Click Here!