Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas weekend

In true Wesley fashion, we made a whirlwind trip to the Cities for three Christmas celebrations in two days. We ignored the ongoing ice and snowstorm as we traveled continually from Wednesday through Saturday.

We had a lovely time. It all went too quickly, as usual.

Lola, especially, had a wonderful time playing with everyone. I love that now she is older, she is remembering people much better and is more comfortable around her extended family.

***

Christmas No. 1:
the Wesleys' place in Maple Grove.



The actual Wesley Christmas celebration began the evening of Christmas Eve, but Ray, I and Lola played late Wednesday night and Thursday morning with Grandma and Grandpa.

One of the very first things Lola runs to get in her grandparents' house are two books from (my) Ray's childhood: one is about a duck and one is about a dragon, which we refer to as a gecko. (Lola doesn't know squat about dragons or what they are - but she loves her geckos. So we go with that.)



People came over for food and fun that night. There, of course, were presents - but Lola was more interested then in the people.

I love the following picture; she is such a flirt!



And she got some hugs in with two of her aunts.




Unfortunately, Lola had too much fun and tired herself out before it was time to open gifts. But, she had a ton of fun playing with her cousins and running circles around the house while chasing after Ori, the cat.

Too cute.

***

Christmas No. 2:
downtown Minneapolis.

The afternoon of Christmas Eve, Lola and I went downtown Minneapolis to visit with my Grandma Jacquie and other relatives. Our trips to the Cities are often whirlwind adventures and we can't ever seem to fit in enough time to see everyone we would like. So it was, especially, nice for me to see Grandma and the rest of the Evans crew.

We all gathered in a party room at my grandma's nursing home.




Lola was a bit skittish at first, but she warmed up, particularly to Jozie (at right in following picture).



Grandpa Dave was successful at trying to get Lola to eat some chili, which was relatively shocking. Lola is a vegetarian baby - she doesn't want anything to do with meat. So it was surprising that she took to chili so well ... until Grandpa said she wasn't eating the meat as much as the beans!



***

Christmas No. 3:
my parent's place in Mahtomedi.



Our final Christmas of the Cities' trip was at my parents' place, where the chaos was evident! With five grandkids now, it was blur of activity with a 3-almost-4-year-old, three toddlers, and a 6-month-old.



OK, well the baby was (quite happily) eating dinner at the time that picture was taken.



Lola figured out, at some point, the joy of opening gifts. She was so excited! (The second picture that follows is a touch blurry - but you can see her dancing with excitement.)




It was a very memorable time.

***

We left the Cities Saturday (oops) and relaxed for the six-hour drive back to Bemidji. In retrospect, we probably should have just stayed put and waited for some of the ice to melt from the roadways. But we didn't really know if the roads would improve much by Sunday. So we stuck it out.

Luckily, Lola was quite comfortable in her car seat playing with her Christmas toys.

We came back to Bemidji cursing winter the entire way. Until we actually reached the Northwoods. And the winter landscaping took our breath away. It was gorgeous.




***

Christmas No. 4: ours up in Bemidji.

Not too much to say about this one. We just relaxed all day Sunday and opened gifts as we wanted. We didn't clean - and, for the most part, I left the camera on the table. I wanted to watch Lola open gifts.

But, of course, I did take a few shots later, as she played:





We had our final Christmas celebration Tuesday, as my dad came to Bemidji. But I didn't take pictures. We had a lot of fun, playing with Lola and, later, palying two games of Scrabble.

Ray and I now are hosting our friends for an extended poker weekend. Well, it used to be poker. Now it will probably be a combination of Wii and 500.

See you next time!
- Bethany :)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas!

It was a wonderful blur of smiles and snow.





Much more to come!

- Bethany :)

Monday, December 21, 2009

the Christmas letter I never mailed



Greetings from Bemidji!

Welcome to our first, and quite possibly, last Christmas letter! (Seriously, these are not what I would call overly enjoyable to write. I feel I should be rah-rah-rahing our lives, but things aren't always roses and candles. Sometimes it's just snowballs and icicles.)

I am probably in the minority here, but I am not much looking forward to 2010. This year has easily been the happiest of my life as we have really come together as a family. We've been so blessed and honored to be able to watch our little Lola find and embrace her personality.

And let me tell you, it's a very strong personality! Lola, who is now 17 months old, is an introverted, intense, persistent, spirited child. At least that is what the books tell me. Basically, it means that she is a loud screamer and is not easily distractible. So that afternoon when she saw the ring full of measuring cups and decided that that just had to be her newest toy, it was a futile effort to try to get her, instead, interested in stuffed animals or balls. In the end, she got those measuring cups. And a hoarse voice.

Me? Well, I'm still with the Bemidji Pioneer, where I write a few stories each week on the city council and other happenings in and around the city. I'm also still enjoying my books and my writing.

Ray is still working with Karvakko Engineering, where he serves as an environmental technician. Basically, he's a jack of all trades, but mostly enjoys his "tree-hugger" duties (his words, not mine) such as wetland delineation and tree preservation. He also stays busy with his geckos and fish.

Our favorite moments in 2009 were from our trip to South Dakota in September, when we visited the Black Hills and got together with some friends from college. Fun times. (Not so much the drive time, but the sights and sunshine were much enjoyed.)

But, of course, not everything has been wonderful all of the time. We're still learning to be parents. Each day offers new challenges and frustrations. And while I would love to be the type of person who can proudly proclaim that she loves challenges because they offer the opportunity to grow as a person, that just simply isn't true. I like easy things. I like sleep!

I'm still learning to juggle work and home life. I still like my work a lot, but the hours of a reporter can be demanding.

Ray's still learning to deal with us girls. While my ability to bat my eyes adoringly and whimper just a little bit to get exactly what I wanted faded years ago, Lola has picked up where her mom left off. She has that man wrapped around her chubby little fingers! And, when we both really want something, we can throw temper tantrums like you wouldn't believe! Needless to say, if Ray had hair, it surely would be completely gray by now.

So, to sum up, we're all healthy and happy, which makes us incredibly blessed and extremely thankful.

Merry Christmas!

Love,
Bethany (and Ray & Lola)

Christmas celebration



We had our first Christmas celebration this weekend as we got together with my dad and the Norgaard family in Nevis. It was a very nice time, but, unfortunately, us Wesleys had to duck out early Saturday to get to Ray's holiday party with his co-workers.

We got to Nevis Friday evening with enough time to let Lola play for a bit before bedtime.



There are two houses full of people that come and get together. But, with little Lola and my brother's two young 'uns, we sometimes end up just having a mini family reunion. Mostly, though, Lola likes to steal her cousins' toys.



Baby Katelyn, who had not been feeling too great before coming up north, was still her happy, smiling self:



Saturday, the Norgaards were kind enough to move up present opening so us Wesleys could take part. It gets more and more chaotic each year with the kids. But it's always a great time!

Lola had no idea what was going on at first, but she quickly learned that it was OK for other people to tear open wrapping paper and boxes, so she wanted to try some, too:



And, again, she hijacked her cousin Amber's toys:



Not that she didn't love her gift: a dog that talks, sings songs and plays games. It's super cute. She gets a bit overwhelmed with all of the people, so she didn't play too much with "Spot" while we were in Nevis, but she hasn't stopped playing with him since.

She even is starting to try "real play" where she treats her animals like "real" animals, or in this case, a real baby:



But more so than anything else, it was nice to see family. And to see Lola finally starting to get comfortable with those she doesn't see on a daily or weekly basis.



OK, I just have to share the following picture. I love it. Mainly because Amber (on the right) is trying so very hard not to look at me or smile, but you can see the little twinkle in her eyes and her failure to completely hide the smile tugging at the corners of her mouth:



And, as a sidenote, Lola learned that she absolutely loves waterbeds. She even got mad when we moved her from the waterbed to her pack-n-play.




***

And, just for fun, I thought I'd share a few pictures from our outdoors adventure yesterday afternoon. Lola is always happiest outdoors and, apparently, it doesn't even matter if it's cold.

She took two stumbles and got her face wet. It didn't faze her too much, anyway. She was a good sport.





Love loves rides. Inside, she likes to be pushed around in her stroller. Or else, if Ray is in a good mood and open to making a mess, he'll dump out all of the toys in her pink bin and pull her around in that.

Well, we didn't want to try "real" sledding with her right away, so we took the toy bin outside. She loved it. She's not really grinning much in the pictures - but she would scream and fight me if I tried to take her out.





Happy holidays!
- Bethany :)

Friday, December 18, 2009

venting

Lola has begun to be a cuddler in these last few months.

The. Problem. Is. That. It. Is. Not. With. Me.

I still get a little knot of anticipation in my tummy every day at 4:30 p.m., as I leave work and begin driving to day care. It's that old familiar night-before-Christmas/vacation knot. That ooh-I'm so-excited-I-can't-stand-waiting-a-moment-longer knot.

And she rewards me: Lola sees me walk in the door and she runs to the front gate. No hugs. But she runs to me. That's cute, I guess.

I get her into the car and she screams the entire way home. Twenty minutes worth of "Maaaaamaaaa!!!!" and not being able to give her what she wants: freedom from the car seat.

And we get home. Where she whimpers until she gets a snack and some juice. Then I get a little sly smile. Sometimes, if she's extra cooperative, she wants to be picked up. And I can touch her for a full 7 seconds.

But then...

The pickup comes down the driveway. Her head jerks toward the front door, "Dada," she says, not asking me, but stating a fact. She doesn't move until he walks in the front door. Then, before Ray can even untie a shoelace, she runs to him, arms outstretched, smile enveloping her itty bitty face, "Dada! Dada! Dada!"

She reaches him, throwing her arms around his left leg, resting her pink, chubby cheeks against his kneecap.

And I find myself wondering if I smashed those knees in with a crowbar, would I maybe get a hug? If I locked him out of the house, would she run to me?

But then, comes a day that I work late. That I don't get to daycare before Ray does. And I approach the front door slowly, not getting my hopes up. And I peer inside, undetected, watching her sit on the ground playing with her "meow-meow" and her father. And she sees me. And she drops her toy and runs, taking a while four steps toward the door.

And I think, "Ooh, this is it!" and I brace myself for the small impact that is about to come...

But, no. She stops, raises a hand and waves.

She waves.

For the first time.

(Did I ever mention that Lola doesn't wave.) She can do it, but she won't. She's stubborn like that. Now she's a waving fool. Waving bye-bye at me in the car, waving at bedtime, waving at daycare.

But never at Daddy. Daddy doesn't get waves - he still gets the hugs.

- Bethany :)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Lola's first play!



I don't know when my parents started it, but we had a tradition each Christmas season to go see a play. It was always a fun outing. I remember, in particular, "The Little Match Girl," and, more recently, "Scrooge" with Richard Chamberlain (even Ray, who was not thrilled to be missing the Vikings-Packers game that year to see a musical, liked "Scrooge" quite a bit).

Anyhow, I decided I wanted to try it this year with Lola.

Ray didn't go; he wanted to watch the Vikes on TV. So Lola and I went to see "Seussical: The Musical" with my friend, Laurie, and her 8-year-old granddaughter.

I didn't have high expectations. I had to wake Lola from her nap and she was definitely not happy about it. So I told Ray: "I give us 5 minutes in the theater before I go out walking the halls with Lola."

Ray: "That long, huh? I give you two."

We got to the the theater and go seats right next to the side of the stage. Seriously. I mean, we were practically on the stage floor. It was cool.

Lola was squirmy before the play started. She saw the stage decorations and all of the bright colors and really wanted to get out and explore everything. She was less than pleased that I was holding her still on my lap.

And then...

The production started with the spotlights and the colorful costumes and the dancing and the singing. And I felt Lola go limp. She just laid back against me and just began taking it all in.

And she didn't move for an hour straight.

Well, actually, that's not true. There was one character, a "bird" played by a young woman in a very bright blue party dress (Lola's favorite color, of course), who at one point had a very, very long feather boa for a tail. Every time she took the stage, Lola would clap and laugh hysterically. It was adorable.

Even cuter, perhaps, was that once she got into it, she began dancing and bopping to the music and choir. She was so cute.

The first act was about one hour, then we had a 15-minute intermission, and then another 20 minutes or so before the end.

Lola did beautifully. It was wonderful.




Such a great experience! What a cool way to kick-off our celebrations this season.
- Bethany :)

Monday, December 7, 2009

it's Monday...






Some days you just need cuddles!

- Bethany :)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

me and Ray





Ray and I are not the most sentimental couple in the world. That's not the say that we can't be sweet - we can and we are - but it's more rare than common.

So this explains our relationship perfectly:

Ray and I were watching TV this week when a commercial for Kay Jewelers (the "every kiss begins with Kay" people) came on.

It's a montage of a young man and woman visiting all their old spots - the place of their first kiss, etc. - and he takes her to a bench at a park.

She looks bewildered, "I don't remember this spot."

And he gets down on one knee, opening a Kay jewelry box and exposing a diamond engagement ring: "You will."

Ray and I, in perfect mocking unison: "Awww."

Silence.

Then, maybe two long seconds later, Ray says: "Y'know, actually, that was pretty smooth."

I agree - and we laugh.

And then we turn off the TV and try to beat the crap out of one another on the Wii.



(Note: Ray and I aren't in a lot of photos together: These are from the holiday season of 2007, when I was pregnant with Lola.)

Just a quick break from Lola news to show everyone that, yes, Ray and I do have a life outside of Lola. It just doesn't begin until after she goes to bed.)

Happy Thursday!
- Bethany :)