Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Thomas Birthday Party

We had Alex' 3-year old birthday party on Monday. He has recently developed an obsession with the Thomas and friends trains, and he told me several weeks ago that he wanted a Thomas the Tank Engine cake. That made the theme an easy decision! We decided to have the party at the church and invited all the kids in his Sunday School class. Including Alex, there were eight children. It was a bit chaotic in the beginning, and there were some tears and some trouble with sharing... but we were able to move past all that eventually, and by the end, everyone was all smiles. A big thank you to my mom for all of her help with the food and the decorations! I don't think I could have pulled it off without her.

Here is the cake... and please pardon the fact that it is sitting on top of the washing machine. This was to keep it cool, and also out of Alex' sight until the party. It was a lot of work, and I stayed up until 1:00 the night before decorating it (Rusty helped, too), but I'm really pleased with how it turned out. I got most of my ideas from this website, so if you are looking for some "do-it-yourself" ideas for birthday cakes, give it a try.

The kids' table was set up with wooden tracks and trains and also some coloring sheets and crayons. Just something for them to do in the beginning before the organized games.

Playing "Pin the Number on Thomas." We also played "Musical Train" and a bean bag toss game.

Time to eat! We had macaroni and cheese, mini pigs-in-a-blanket, and fruit kabobs (If I were to do it again, however, I would skip the skewers and just make a fruit platter -- skewers are a bad idea with 2-4 year olds! I don't know what I was thinking!)

The birthday boy as we were singing "Happy Birthday" to him. The cake was a big hit with all the kids, and they loved that I let them choose their piece. Most chose based on what kind of candy was on top of the car.

Alex opening his presents. Thank you to everyone for coming and for the great gifts! We had fun and hope you did, too!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Pregnancy Updates

When I was pregnant with Alex, we were very diligent about taking pictures of my growing belly every four weeks or so. I am embarrassed to admit that just last week, we took our second round of belly shots. At this rate, we'll be lucky to have three sets of pictures to document this pregnancy.

In the picture below (taken on Valentine's Day), I am just over 32 weeks pregnant. I am now almost 34 weeks, and I feel HUGE! It's hard to believe I still have a few weeks of growing to do. My doctor, however, tells me that I am measuring small, but it's not anything she is overly concerned about. It's kind of funny because when I was pregnant in Japan, I measured ahead of schedule pretty much the entire time... but I chalked that up to the difference between Japanese babies and Western babies. My weight gain so far has been pretty consistent with what I gained with Alex -- less than 25 pounds as of last week's checkup.

This pregnancy has progressed uneventfully so far, and for that we are thankful. I must confess, though, that I am enjoying the experience of being pregnant less than I did the first time around. I still marvel at the miracle that is growing within, but the usual aches and pains seem to be more pronounced, diminishing the enjoyment factor somewhat. I am also experiencing some pregnancy symptoms that I escaped the first time around -- like painful varicose veins in one leg, UGH. Also, Baby Dois seems much more active in utero than I ever remember Alex being, making me wonder just what we are in for with this child!

As far as birth plans, God has blessed us with a really great doctor. She is a family friend and a member at the Livonia church. She seems totally on board with my desire to have a natural birth with as few interventions as possible. So, although I toyed with the idea of trying to find a midwife and checking out a couple of birthing centers in the area, I have decided to stay with her, which means I will be delivering at a hospital. The labor and delivery unit at this particular hospital is pretty much brand new (in fact, it hasn't even opened yet), with labor tubs in every room -- yay!

Rusty and I have also been taking Bradley Method childbirth classes, which have been so informative and helpful. Most people look at me kind of funny when I tell them we are taking childbirth classes -- kind of like, "It's your second baby. Didn't you learn everything you needed to know the first time around?" But since we were living in Japan, we didn't have the opportunity to take classes (in English), and there are a lot of things that I wish we would have known (like some of the relaxation techniques and coaching methods) that I feel like would have made a real difference in my long and difficult labor. My doctor keeps telling me that this second labor will go so fast and be so easy. I hope she is right. Of course, as I've stated before, fast and easy are relative terms in my book!

32 weeks and growing

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

His Latest Talent

Last fall, Alex finally figured out how to ride a trike. We took these videos in Memphis about a month before we left, but I am just now getting them off the camcorder and uploaded to Youtube. We brought his trike with us to Detroit, and when the weather is decent, he rides it around the neighborhood.

Friday, February 13, 2009

More Snow Pics

You'll have to forgive all the pictures of us frolicking in the snow. Not being native Michiganders, it is still a bit of a novelty for us... although I have to admit that the warmer temperatures earlier this week were a nice break. More snow is forecast for tomorrow, though!

These pictures were taken last month after a Really Big Snowfall!

Alex really wanted to "plow" the snow with his dump truck!

Trying to catch snowflakes on our tongues

Making a snow angel

This picture gives you an idea of how deep the snow was.

I'm ready to go in and have my hot chocolate now!