Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas Fun #2 or Proof that I have a very Unique Family...

This picture needs an explanation, but I am not sure there is a good one. Just enjoy a good laugh... Angela dressed in 19 century garb, with a curious Finkle May licking Payton's fro.
The BEST gift Payton received this Christmas... a football signed by his namesake, Walter Payton. It was so sweet of Payton's great aunts Char and Linda to get this for our little guy. Needless to say, Wes is a little jealous of Payton's gift. I even heard Wes slip and call it "his" Walter Payton signed football.

What's wrong with this pic? Frank grew an extra head that looks curiously like Payton.

Like I said, these pictures are proof that my family is a little strange. My cousins, Becky and David, and my sister, Brooke, sang Away in Manger. Cristen and I directed. This was an encore presentation of what we did as 7 year olds. Cristen and I would write a script for the family Christmas gathering and make our little cousins perform.

Karaoke was a little OC (as my students used to say). Joey performed Silent Night for us in sign language. It was beautiful! So was my Aunt Sandy's "Mary Did You Know." However, my aunt Linda and I tried to sing Jingle Bells and just about cleared the house. We are not know for our singing voices.

All of the stockings for our family. Whew! The younger wave of cousins eagerly awaited the presents (Kathryn, Nick, Willow, and Joey pictured L-R). There are 17 first cousins on this side of the family. Payton is one of three second cousins. And the family continues to grow!
Side note:
Stay tuned... I have some fun videos and Kwanzaa pics to post soon. Also, please keep Lily in your prayers, it appears that the lymphoma has returned. This was a bit of a damper on the holiday festivities. The vet is going to try a different drug on Friday to see if we can put her back into remission. However, her diagnoses is not too good.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Fun #1

Merry Christmas from Wes, Diana, Payton, Carmen, Lily, and Jackson!
[This was our Christmas card photo this year (taken by Kristen Gardner)].

The picture below is the end result of four Christmas Day stops plus our nuclear family celebration. Payton got some serious loot, including a quilt originnally made by Paytons Great-Great-Grandma and recently touched up to be passed on to him. Pretty cool.

Stockings... Yes, our dogs KNOW what Santa puts in thier stockings!

Wes and I had a very limited Christmas present budget for each other. But we did NOT mind one bit, because the best Christmas gift came a little early (September, to be exact). And we are so thrilled!

This year my time was a little limited and I did not get all of my Dept. 56 villages set up. I did at least finish my "Elf Land" North Pole village. I love the whimisical feel of this series!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Odds and Ends

Today was my first day back at work. I asked Wes take Payton to the sitters because I was having such a hard time motivating myself. I sniffled back tears each time one of my colleagues asked me how it was to be back at work. Many of them understood, being working moms themselves. Any how, the kids greeted me with a warm welcome and offered such kind remarks. Honestly, a first day back teaching freshmen couldn't have gone much more smoothly than it did. However, my teaching voice is completely gone. These three months are the longest I have gone without teaching in a long timeand I think my voice was just not prepared to hold up for the long day. I hope to have a little voice left for tomorrows classes... we'll see. Or I might have to type everything on the computer and project it on the screen.

On another note, I wanted to add a couple more things to Payton's 3 month list (so I will remember to put these in his baby book later):
Payton really enjoys looking at himself in mirrors and grasping my necklace. He also has turned into a champion pouter, sticking his bottom lip out before crying. Lastly, I can no longer put him in his sling. He has graduated to the baby Bjorn carrier. I probably will use the sling again when he can sit upright on my hip.

Payton loves to bounce so much that I was going to order him a johnny jump up. We ate lunch with Cristin and her daughter Bree yesterday. She witnessed Payton's love for bouncing. As it turns out, she has three jumping/bouncing "things." She let us borrow one since her 6 week old daughter is not quite ready for this. Payton looks so tiny, but he LOVES this thing. The dogs also tried to wrap their little brains around the bouncer. You can catch a glimpse of them (Carmen, Jackson, and Lily) in the video. Thanks, Cristin, for letting us use Bree's future bouncy chair.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Payton is 3 Months Old!

We thank God for this precious boy! We are blessed with a happy, growing baby. These three months with Payton have flown by and we cannot imagine life without him. He is pure joy. We are going to use the horse that GaGa and Gama Kite gave him to track his growth each month. I wish I had thought of doing this earlier. Oh well.
Beware: Long Post Ahead
Payton's Stats
(note: I measured these, so I am not sure just how accurate they are...) It appears that Payton is starting to catchup to his full-term peers. Keep on growing little man!
Weight: 12.5 (5 th percentile) (Note: this is more than twice his birth weight!)Height: 23 inches (25th percentile)
Head Circumference: 16.25 inches (50th percentile)
Payton's latest tricks:
1. Thumb sucking. Payton sucked his thumb when he was first born and then forgot about it. The thumb has returned. He will actually push his bottle out of the way to get to the thumb. Not sure that this is a good thing...
2. Hands! Payton holds his hands in front of his face for a long time and stares at them like they are the greatest toys on earth. He also finds them to be great chew toys. Yum. (Now I have to be a little more careful of who touches his hands and make sure I carry hand sanitizer wherever I go.)
3. Smiles. All morning long. They warm my heart and are the. greatest. gift. ever.
4. Raffi. Yup. What does Payton prefer to fall asleep to... no,not soothing nature sounds, but Raffi . Raffi. Ya know... the 80s singer of Baby Beluga, Oats and Beans and Barley, All I Really Need, and many, many more lovely songs that I now know all of the words to as they play over the monitor in my bedroom while lulling Payton to sleep in his bedroom.
5. Whimper, Whimper....Grin! Payton has discovered that if he cries, it will get my attention.
6. Rubbing his eyes. I read somewhere that babies sometimes scratch just because they can. I think that is what Payton is doing. He will rub and rub his face and eyes. It seems so rough. I cut his fingernails, but he is still scratching himself. Any suggestions?
7. Bubbles. He creates spit bubbles. He has also started making a clicking sound. Kinda strange.
8. Stand and Bounce. Payton can bear all of his weight on his legs and loves to bounce up and down while I hold his hands. At this rate, I think this kid will walk before he crawls. I think I am going to buy him a johnny jump up soon!
9. HATES TUMMY TIME. After 1 minute and 30 seconds, he screams. He does lift his head up to 45 degrees and can push up onto his forearms, but he can't lift his head 90 degrees or push up onto his hands. I need for him to spend more time on his tummy, but he just hates it so much!
10. LOVES BATH TIME. I use it to calm him down whenever he gets over tired and can't quite fall asleep. It does the trick every time.
11. Working on a laugh. He opens his mouth and squeaks, but it is not quite a laugh just yet.
12. Cooo. Cooo. He talks up a storm when he thinks we are to quiet. He has learned to engage us in conversation.
13. Squeal. Payton just discovered his squeal this past week. Usually after Wes gets home and Payton is extra happy, he squeals a couple times. I love it. I expect I will hear more of this as he becomes more practiced at squealing. (kinda like smiling...it takes practice.)
14. Swaddling. We are still swaddling Payton at nite in his snug and tug swaddler. Moms, how long did you swaddle your babies? He sleeps so well with the swaddling that I hate to stop.
15. Sleeping thru the nite! YAY! Payton takes his last bottle at 1130 pm and sleeps until 630am. Not perfect, but a huge improvement! He has done this consistently for the past two weeks. After his last pm bottle, I change him, swaddle him, give him a wubbanub, turn on Raffi and his soothing aquarium lights and he peacefully drifts to sleep, even if he is awake when I put him down. What a blessing!
16. Notices smells. On several occasions now, Payton has become very agitated if someone smells to strongly ( heavy perfume, etc). He definitely knows his Mommy and Daddy by smell.
17. Hugs. Now when I carry Payton on my hip he hugs and holds on to me. I love it! His little fists grasp so tightly!
18. Tracking. Payton does an excellent job following us around the room. I will sit him in his boppy bouncy seat and he watches me do all of my morning chores. He does not track things directly in front of his face. I think he is supposed to do this by now...could this indicate vision problems?
19. TV. Yep, he will watch the tv now. I have a rule that Payton has to face AWAY from the TV if it is on. The teacher in me knows his little brain does not need tv influence. I keep the TV off during the day and we just have it on at nite to watch "our shows." Wes does allow Payton to watch football. Is this brain washing?
20. Books. Payton will focus on a very short (less than 5 minutes) board book. He seems to really like "Whose Knees are These" (such a cute little story).
21. Mommy and Daddy. Payton seems to know who we are now. When he is with other people, he actually searches around looking to see where we are and he definitely turns his head to our voice. Also, he calms so quickly when we pick him up. I finally feel like Mommy.
Other things:
A. Cloth diapers. I have started using cloth most days we are home. I ordered two types, BumG*nius All-in-One organic and BumG*nius 3.0. I prefer the 3.0 because they offer better leak protection. I just found out that a diaper service will actually come out to our house. When I return to work I may start using the service if diaper washing proves to be too time consuming. Those of you that cloth diaper, how many diapers do you have and how often do you wash?
B. Letter from Payton's birth mom: We received a letter from Payton's birth mom. It was very emotional and she sent some mixed signals about her feelings regarding the adoption. I am not going to go into too many details to protect her and Payton, but I did send her a Christmas gift (a photo book of Payton). Other dom adoptive parents, did you guys do anything for your child's birth parents? Just curious. Please keep Payton's birth mom in your prayers as I am sure she is still adjusting to her decision and life changes.
C. Back to work. Today is my official last day of maternity leave. I must confess that I loved being a stay at home mom and witnessing every moment of Payton's development. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. There is a tiny part of me that wants to go back to work, but my heart breaks thinking about leaving Payton. I know he will be in great hands, but they are not my hands. I have cried regularly these past few days. It is hard, but I am trying to stay positive. At least the cash flow will increase again. And I do have two weeks off for the holidays after being back W,Th,Fr of this week! One of the few perks of teaching! (I may not have to go on Wed.... they are calling for an ice storm. We shall see....)
D. Kwanzaa. We are celebrating Kwanzaa with Payton this year. This will be a new experience for Wes and I. Has anyone ever gone to a Kwanzaa celebration? If so, what was your experience like. We have ordered the appropriate symbols (candles, corn, mat, etc) and Payton's gifts (traditionally books...). Some people have given us a hard time about celebrating Kwanzaa. I think mostly because they are misinformed. Kwanzaa is NOT a religious holiday, it is a cultural celebration of African heritage and values. The holiday was created in the 1960s during the civil rights era. Wes suggested that we start celebrating now and creating a new family tradition to honor Payton's heritage. After reading Black Baby, White Hands by Jaiya John (btw, this is a must read for transracial familes), I think it is important to celebrate Payton's African heritage. Some trans racial families try to overlook their child's different skin color and act like everyone is the same. Most of the time, this actually hurts the child's psychological development because there are obvious differences and they cannot understand why people don't want to acknowledge them, which eventually leads the child to resent their own skin color or their families. We don't want Payton to grow up with an attitude that any ethnic group is better than another. Rather, we want him to understand that cultures all over the world have amazing elements and achievements that they can share with others. Therefore, we are choosing to celebrate and honor difference!
E. More Pics. A friend from church took some lovely pics of Payton. You can check them out on her blog by clicking here. Thanks, Rebekah! I esp. love the last pic she posted!
Note: There are a few more recent posts below. Check 'em out.

No Santa?

My sister-in-law told us that the local farmers coop was having free pics with Santa this past Saturday. They were supposed to snap these lovely pics between 10am and 2 pm. This seemed like a great option compared to the way-too-pricey mall pics. Wes and I decided we would swing Payton by the coop to see Santa before going to my cousin David's celebratory graduation luncheon. Sounds simple enough...right? Wrong.

As we were hurriedly trying to head out the door and strange car pulled up and two pre-teen girls got out and knocked on our door. Their mothers sat in the car. (This type of "ministry" bothers me, but that a rant for a whole other post...I'll move on.) They proceeded to explain their version of Christianity to Wes and Wes politely informed them that we are Christians and follow Anglican traditions and are not looking to change our position. Normally when this particular religious group comes knocking, we just pretend we are not home, but we felt bad to be rude to these little girls. This put us 15 minutes behind.

Finally, we got Payton dressed in his best Santa-visiting attire and set out for the coop. We got approx. 1 mile down the road and a black and white cat tried to commit suicide by throwing itself in front of our car. We hit it. Of course, I got teary eyed. I made Wes turn around so we could knock on doors and see whose precious kitty we killed. When we got back to the cat, he was actually sitting up and starring at us. Okay, now what? Wes got out of the car to get the cat out of the road and as he approached the kitty it jumped up and ran off! I guess Mr. Kitty had not used up his nine lives yet. We wrote a letter and left it on the house of the door the cat ran to, in hopes that the owners would check to see if he needed vet assistance. Then the neighbor across the street came to see us and told us the cat is a community kitty with no real owner and that he was a wild cat that we would probably never be able to catch. Well, at least some little boy or girl is not heartbroken, but I do hope the kitty is okay. (We did not see any blood, just a big chunk of hair missing.) Another 30 minutes behind.

We got stuck in all the local college traffic on the way to the coop (graduation traffic from the college where my cousin was graduating).

Finally, we arrived. No parking. At a farmers coop...are you kidding me! Eventually we found a space and rushed in, wound around the store to the end of the line and we were told, "Santa is not seeing any more visitors past this point. " I was mad b/c it was only 12:15 and they advertised that Santa would be there until 2!!!!

I guess Payton was simply not meant to tell Santa his Christmas wishes this year. I snapped a quick pick for memories sake. Luckily, Payton slept thru all of the silliness. However, I think a four year old Payton may have had a different reaction to all of this.

Things I've Done...

I saw this on another blog and thought I would add it to mine. The idea is to bold the things you have done in your life. I added a few comments.
1.Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band (middle school clarinet)
4. Visited Hawaii (twice..once for my honeymoon!)
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland /world
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo (in church choir...when i was a little kid and my horrible singing voice did not really mater.)
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child BEST THING EVER!!!!
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you're not ill (but I do usually have a dentist appt scheduled.)
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb (too many to count...my Dad is a sheep farmer, which meant our house was filled with lambs needing assistance late jan thru march)
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person (so the maid of the mist should be renamed maid of the rain!)
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors (Ireland, and so badly want to go back...but I still have several other European nations to visit.)
35. Seen an Amish community (no, but I live near a Mennonite community)
36. Taught yourself a new language (still working on Italian)
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied (no, but I should be satisfied with what I have.)
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person3
9. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo's David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud (state cross country meet 1998)
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies (and got my 100 boxes sold badge!)
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy (DD Jill ...long story)
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial (every spring, btw if you look at his hands they spell A and L in sign language).
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guard in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating (only if blue crabs count.)
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone's life (no people, but I have saved a lot of Boxer's lives)
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous...a lot of brief encounters.
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one...Granny
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Read an entire book in one day

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Da Bears

Who is the boy cheering on Da Bears? Yep...it's Payton. To celebrate his Daddy's last day of MBA finals for this semester, Payton dressed in his finest attire and greeted Daddy at the door. The boys spent the evening cheering Chicago to an OT win over the Saints and eating the yummy brownies Mommy made for Daddy's celebration.

On a side note, if you are a friend/family member of mine and I once had your phone number, there is a good chance that I no longer have your number. My phone broke into two pieces yesterday and the techies were unable to salvage any of my contacts. I was not brilliant enough to back up my contact list. So.... please email me your number. Thanks.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Much to Write About... No Time to Write

Payton's new found ability to get my attention has hindered my posting ability. Payton discovered that if he whimpers, I will come and ask him why he is crying...then he grins. Tell me babies aren't manipulative. The result of the little game he is playing..constant mommy entertainment for Payton. Whew. It is wearing me out. I have a moment to write b/c Wes is home and holding Sweet Pea. I am working on a fairly long list of Payton's new talents for his 3 month post next week, but for now I will just post a few pictures and captions from this weekend.
This weekend marked the Fourth Annual Kite Christmas. The tradition grew out of necessity. Christmas Day became so busy and rushed for our families that it sucked the enjoyment out of Christmas. Wes' mom proposed that we designate a day to celebrate that is unencumbered and we can enjoy fellowship, meals, and a gift exchange. Since then, we always celebrate with Wes' immediate family on the first Saturday of December. It is a quiet, simple day to cherish family. Payton spent time with his Aunt Cammie while we were at Wes' parent's cabin (pictured above). He looks so grown up.
GaGa and Gama Kite gave the boys big stuffed animals for Christmas (along with so many other special treats). I am sure they will enjoy them!

Look at this fluff ball. On Sunday, Payton, Grandma Kemper, and I bundled up to see Grandpa Kemper be a wise man on the Ruritan float in a local parade. It was a very tiny parade for a very tiny town, but it left our hearts feeling warm and tingly with the Christmas spirit.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Kicking Off the Holidays...

The 2008 tree (pre-decorations)...

Wes and I LOVE the Christmas season. We started listening to the Christmas station BEFORE Thanksgiving. We picked out our tree. We've decorated the house with lights. The stockings are hung and the nativity displayed. We've already had a healthy 2008 dose of Elf, The Grinch, and Christmas Story (Ralphie...). Yes, we are THOSE people. We love the kindness, joy, peace, and fellowship that comes with this time of year. Unfortunately, these are the very elements of the holiday season that our society seems to trade for selfishness and greed in order to save a few bucks on black Friday. I think the day is appropriately named because it is the WORST day of the season and brings out the worst in human nature. The stories from this year were awful. My family boycotts black Friday and refuses to shop. Saving a few bucks is not worth watching our consumer-driven society ruin the reason and spirit of Thanksgiving and Christmas. This year, Wes and I have made it our goal to spend time in reflection during the Advent Season to help us remember the true meaning of Christmas. Part of the reflection involved spending quality time with the Kemper side of the family over Thanksgiving weekend. We had a full house and a great time. Here are a few pics:

Brooke, Susan and Harry brought back a special dish from Europe to start a new Thanksgiving tradition for the Kempers. The coffee is passed from person to person and we wished each other good health. The trick is to drink the coffee without it spilling on you. Check out the "Wes" approach to drinking from the dish. I spilled it all over me... It was fun.

Uncle Harry and Payton