Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Christmas Fun

It seems that this may be the way it goes...instead of a post every day or two, it'll be a post every two weeks or so. Of course, this is not the way I would like it to be, but the truth is that just not that much is happening around our house. I could bore you with the mundane details of our days: wake up, eat breakfast, feed girls, put girls down, shower, feed Devin lunch, battle with Devin over nap time, but girls down for another nap, get Devin up, play outside, eat dinner, give baths to the brood, drink heavily, go to bed. Repeat.

Despite the repitious life that we've settled into, we did have a wonderful Christmas. Just like every year, it started with the children's Mass at 4:00 on Christmas Eve. That was a nightmare. Addison (8) was in the choir, so it was me, Todd, ZZ, Brian and my dad, along with Devin (3), Faith (7 mo.), Grace (7 mo.), Presley (4), Brendan (2) and Kaelin (2). Doesn't that sound like a lot of fun? Todd and I held the girls, ZZ and Brian wrangled Brendan and Kaelin and my dad battled Devin and Presley. I can honestly say that if I didn't already know the Christmas Eve readings by heart, I would have no clue what was said that night.

Faith did fall asleep on me during Mass, though, and Grace on Todd. Devin was not a snuggly baby and I can only remember one or two times (seriously) that he fell asleep on me. So Faith and Grace doing so during church was a real treat for both Todd and me.

After finally getting out of church, we headed over to ZZ's house for our traditional BBQ dinner. Since moving to San Antonio, we've also added Tamales to the list. Yum!

The adults tried to have a civilized dinner, but seeing how we open all of our gifts from our family on Christmas Eve, the seven kids were bouncing off the wall with excitement. Soon, the roar became so loud that we gave up on dinner and moved into the family room to open gifts.

Sheer mayhem.

There was paper and tissue and ribbon flying everywhere. Every few seconds a screetch would be yelled by one of the kids, in sheer delight of whatever they just opened.

At one point, Devin just dove under the Christmas tree and started tearing into presents -- anyone's. Todd had to take him out of the room, give him some water and get him calmed down before returning. He was in a total frenzy and was actually panting from the whole ordeal.

Once the dust settled, we piled all of the Pruetz family gifts into the van and headed home. But there was one last present to be received. We couldn't get it to ZZ's house, so it had to stay at ours. It was sitting in the garage, waiting for its new owner.

Devin got a four-wheeler. Pa-pa (my dad) supplied him with a Polaris, battery powered four-wheeler that was presented when we opened the garage door as we returned on Christmas Eve. The look on Devin's face was priceless.

We set out some cookies and milk for Santa and put the bowl of Reindeer feed (prepared earlier in the day from a very special recipe) on the front porch.

We shuttled the kids into bed and spent some time "getting ready for Santa." Then it was off to sleep.

Sometime in the night, Devin crawled in bed with us, so at 7:30 on Christmas morning, he was rolling around in bed, trying to wake Todd and me up. We instructed him to stay put so that we could make sure Santa was all done downstairs.

We got the girls up (apparently, one had awoken my dad and he had her in bed with him. They were "talking" up a storm together) and got them downstairs. We started a fire and waited for the big unveiling.

I went up to our room to get Devin and told him that yes, indeed, Santa had come, and that it was time to go downstairs.

I picked him up and we descended into the living room. There, under the tree, was a Christmas wonderland the likes of which you've never seen.

A fully-stocked tool kit, a Hot Wheels toy that spanned the length of the room, a 12" Buzz Lightyear toy, four or five characters from the movie, "Cars," flashcards, a "Cars" suitcase and various toys and candies in his stocking.

The twins, too, made out like bandits with new outfits, baby Uggs, a new play gym, "The Little Mermaid" movie, and mirrors for their cribs.

We spent the morning playing and soon the whole family arrived (ZZ and her family as well as Todd's parents). We sat around, played with the new toys and enjoyed the day. We ate around 1:00 and stuffed ourselved silly. Brian and I sat next to one another and had a rousing game of, "Who can fill the other's wine glass faster?" We were pretty tanked by the time dessert was served (well, I was tanked. I can't speak for him, I guess).

Afterwards, everyone went home and my wonderful in-laws allowed me time to nap while they played with the kids. Bliss. I took a two hour nap. It was perfect.

That night we went to our neighbors', the Berkeses, house for a little Christmas get together. The whole street was there and we enjoyed some wine, food and fun while the kids all played. It was the perfect ending to a perfect Christmas. You just can't ask for more than this.

And now it's back to the same old stuff, but that's okay with me. I have my family with me and a lot to be thankful for.

The girls are doing so well. Faith is sitting up unassisted (although we still have toppling issues at times) and Grace can sit up too, but seems to prefer lying down. She's her mommy's daughter.

Faith is also getting close to crawling. She's just about up on all fours. Lord, give me strength.

They're doing great, too, on their solid foods. They have rice cereal in the mornings and some sort of veggie in the afternoon. Luckily, we haven't met a veggies we don't like yet. We've been through peas, green beans and carrots. We'll see what happens in the near future.

I'm off to shower while I can. The girls are sleeping and Addison is here today, so she is keeping Devin busy. Nice.

Dad took a bunch of Christmas photos so Todd and I could concentrate on the kids. I've requested that he send them to me and as soon as he does, I'll post them for all to see.

Today's the third day of Christmas. Hope you're all enjoying your three french hens.


Thursday, December 14, 2006

From Spit Up to Sit Up

I'm really batting a thousand here, aren't I? Once again, I've let quite a few days go between posts. What can I say? It's a bad time of year. Is that a good enough excuse? Let's go with that.

We've been having quite a bit of fun around the Pruetz house. While we're all still battling the stomach bug that has plagued us for nearly three weeks now, we have decided to not it get us down. We're on the move, Christmas shopping (Todd is doing so right now, tracking down paraphrenalia from the movie, "Cars," for Devin) and generally getting into the holiday spirit. This weekend marks our annual "Cookie Factory," a time-honored tradition for ZZ and myself during which we bake ourselves silly for two days straight and then hand out our somewhat mediocre goods to family and friends. The first year we did it, my white kitchen floor ended up black. No, I'm not exaggerating, either. Whenever I say to Todd, "This floor is filthy," he always asks, "But is it Cookie Factory filthy?" Nope -- it never is.

Faith and Grace are moving along in their milestones. Both are learning to sit up. They still topple over and need to be watched, but they can sit upright for about 15 seconds now and even balance themselves when they start to fall sideways. It won't be long before they're sitting up unsupported.

Also, this morning, Gracie held her bottle for the first time. I had to help her out a little but tilting it up, but for the most part, she did it herself. You have no idea how big of a deal this is when you have twins. It's the simple things in life...

Devin, too, is busy making life interesting. Now that the Christmas tree is seeing more and more presents make their way underneath it, I have to convince him every morning that it is not Christmas and that no, he cannot open even one of his gifts. It's like he's foaming at the mouth. The anticipation is just killing him. I love it -- it's like reliving every Christmas season of my childhood (okay, adulthood too). I can amost taste the excitement he's exuding.

And he's up to his usual antics, too. On Sunday, I took him to the grocery store with me. The usual items were purchased, including about a half-dozen apples. He had one on Sunday night along with me, leaving four in the fruit bowl.

Side note: Mornings have become a little easier these days now that Devin is a little more self-sufficient. We put a cup of milk in the fridge for him and tune the TV to the Disney Channel so that all he has to do is hit the "On," button when he gets up. It eliminates Todd and my having to get up at 6:30. We're usually up by 7:00, but those extra 30 minutes are very worthwhile.

So Monday morning, I woke up and went down to greet Devin. A hug and a kiss and, "What's for breakfast, Mommy?" I asked him what he wanted and his reply was, "Waffles." Okay -- I can do waffles.

So I started getting out the stuff for waffles and I said, "While you're waiting, why don't you have something fresh? Maybe an apple?"

"We don't have any apples."

"Yes we do, honey. We bought some yesterday."

"No -- I ate them all."

"No -- we only ate two last night."

"No, they're all gone."

It dawned on me at this point to actually check the fruit bowl to see what he was talking about.

Sure enough, no apples.

"Where are the apples?"

"I ate them all."

"All of them???"

"Yes -- I threw them away when I was done."

I looked in the trashcan. True to his word, there were four apples, somewhat eaten. It seems that Devin had taken a few bites of one and thrown it away. Minutes later, he was in the mood for more apple, so he started in on another and tossed it when he was done. Repeat. Repeat again.

Here is the evidence.

I couldn't do anything more than just laugh hysterically. I guess this is what mommyhood is all about.

Speaking of mom...

Mine won't leave me alone. For those of you who don't know or may have forgotten, my mom passed away shortly after Devin was born. It was sad, but after her very long and painful battle with Alzheimer's disease, it was a relief for all of us. We miss her dearly, though.

And, it seems she misses us, too. Or, if it's not her, then someone misses us.

Back on Halloween, I heard footsteps upstairs and found no culprit (Devin was fast asleep, as were the girls, and Todd was gone). Thinking it to be an isolated incident, I just wrote it off.

But then it started happening more frequently. Devin's door will open and close at night, but when we go to investigate what he's doing out of bed, we find him sound alseep. Last week, Todd walked past Devin's room to check on the girls. Devin's door was open because Todd distinctly remembers seeing him sleeping in a certain position. He made a mental note to close the door after he was done in the girls' room, but when he went do to so, the door was latched shut.

Yesterday afternoon, one of the girls' play gym toys started to play music after no one had been in the room with it for two or so hours.

My dad was in town this weekend and I mentioned this all to him. He said, "That's funny...when you all were in Fredericksburg, both nights I heard Devin open and shut his bedroom door. When I went up to tell him to get back in bed, he was sound asleep. It happened twice and I thought I was going nuts."

We continuously hear footsteps upstairs (we have very creaky floorboards and can tell where in the house they are coming from) and lights turn themselves on and off throughout the house. Things go missing and reappear, days later, in different places. We hear music and voices and even laughter.

All in all, I'm pretty sure it's my mom. This was her favorite time of the year and I think she just wants to be near us. I'm happy to have her, of course. She's still a part of our lives and she always will be. The closer she is, the better.

So, I leave you to ponder these things and draw your own conclusions: Haunted house or crazy Erin?

Here are the photos I promised a few weeks ago.

Merry Christmas!


My MOM'S Club had our annual Christmas party on Monday, December 11. Guess who played Santa Claus?

My three-year-old with a saw. I have so much to be proud of...
This was taken at the Christmas Tree Farm, if you haven't figured it out.

Oh yeah...this looks like a great idea.

This is new at the Christmas tree farm. We'll do pictures every year. Cute, huh?

Faith...always serious.

Grace...never serious

Once again...serious Faith and goofy Grace. Their personalities are so different...

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Pizza Hut Story

Okay, I promised, in my 12/2/06 post, that I would share this story and here it is. I have to admit, it's one my favorite Pruetz family tales...

In November of 2002, we found out we were expecting our first little one, Devin. It didn't take long for the morning sickness to set in and by the time Christmas rolled around, vomitting and dry-heaving were in full swing.

Along with morning sickness, though, also came cravings. If you've ever been pregnant, you may know what I'm talking about -- the ridiculous desire for some very specific delicacy, coupled with an overwhelming need to puke...all at the same time. It's a trip.

The worst of my cravings happened on the day we choose to go pick out our Christmas tree. It was a Saturday, around 10:30 in the morning when we left the house. The drive to Pipe Creek, Texas takes about an hour and we wanted to make sure we got a good tree. It would be just like us to end up with a Christmas branch or something.

As we pulled out of our community and onto the freeway, something in my stomach started to ache.

"Uh oh..." I thought, "Here comes the puking."

Only this time, puking didn't happen. The feeling wasn't nausea. The feeling was a need. A strong need. A need for pizza. And not just any pizza -- it had to be Pizza Hut pizza.

As we turned off the freeway to take the two-lane highway north to Pipe Creek (we'd been in the car for about 20 minutes), my craving was in full swing. I mean I have never been gripped by anything so strong in my entire life. I had to have Pizza Hut pizza and it had to be NOW.

I was terrified that we would never find a Pizza Hut on the way to the booming metropolis of Pipe Creek. I mean, I doubted that investors were banging down the door to put major chains in the middle of nowhere.

But the pregnancy Gods were smiling on us that day, as we had to pass through a small suburb of San Antonio called Helotes (that's pronounced Hell-OH-tess for all you Yankees) as we headed to the tree farm.

Helotes may not have a lot, but I am here to confirm that they do have a Pizza Hut.

I yelled -- loudly -- at Todd to pull in. Our Explorer was barely in "Park" before I was out of the car. I ran to the door of the restaurant and grabbed the handle.


I looked at Todd (who was still getting out of the car) with a look of hysteria in my eyes. Calmly he said, "It's only 10:49. They won't open for another ten minutes."


This couldn't be happening. I needed pizza. I needed it now. I couldn't wait ten minutes!

I paced the parking lot (people, I am not kidding here) until an employee unlocked the front door. The poor teenager barely got her keys out of the lock before I barged in.

I ran (seriously) up to the counter and said, "I need a pepperoni pizza as fast as you can make it. How long will it take?"

This poor little girl looked at me like I was holding the place up. In retrospect, I think I was pretty scary. Crazed look in my eye, drool spilling from my lower lip.

I was told it would be seven or eight minutes until my pie was done, but that I could have a trip to the salad bar if I needed something to tide me over. Salad would have to do for now, I guess, so I bolted to the bar as I left Todd to pay.

We settled down at a cozy booth at the back of the store, where I situated myself with the ability to see the kitchen. We were the only ones in the restaurant, so I knew any work going on back there had to be on our behalf.

"Where is it?" I asked Todd.

"It's coming."

"It needs to be faster."

"They're going as fast as they can."

"Find out what's taking so long." this point I actually made Todd go up to the counter to ask where our pizza was. I know now, four years later, that he told the girl behind the counter, "My wife is pregnant and having a major craving. She wants me to ask where our pizza is. I know you all are going as fast as you can, but I have to keep her happy and make it look like I'm being proactive."

He returned the table and minutes later our pizza arrived. The pie barely hit the table before I dug in.

And dug in.

And dug in some more.

Pizza pies traditionally have eight slices to them. I believe I ate six. I'm not sure what Todd ate. I think he may have just sat back, for fear of losing a finger.

By the time we left the Helotes Pizza Hut (only like 22 minutes since we pulled in), I could barely walk. I had eaten so much that I truly thought we might need to turn around and try this whole Christmas tree thing again. I felt sick and weak and disgusting. But I had my pizza, so I was happy.

As Todd helped me into the Explorer, I complained that I needed to lie down. He helped me recline the front seat as I moaned and groaned as a result of my gluttony. I settled down and we pulled out of the parking lot.

Over and over again, I told Todd that I thought I was going to die from being so full and that I couldn't possibly ever eat again. I was sick, I was going to puke, I was...

"Oooooh! Dairy Queen!"

That's right folks...after all of that, I saw a sign for an ice cream shop and wanted more.

"No!" Todd barked at me and headed the car toward Pipe Creek.

So there you have it. Not my shiniest moment, I admit, but good for a laugh, I hope.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Bad Blogger...BAD!

Yes, it's been brought to my attention that I haven't blogged in quite awhile. In fact, on more than one occassion, I have been told, "I check your blog daily...why haven't you written anything in so long?" So Karen, Bridget, Meg, Christi and Polina...this one's for you.

I'm back.

The truth of the matter is that writing this next entry has been on my mind a lot because there's been so much going on and I knew it would bring a cramp to my fingers to type it all in. But as each day passes and more and more happens, I'm just going to get more bogged down, so I may as well do it now.

The girls had their six month check up last week and all went well. Faith is gaining weight finally and while neither girl is on the chart yet, both are steadily getting bigger. They are so small for their age. You should see them in comparison to other six-month-olds!

More recently, though, is the weigh-in they got yesterday when they got their monthly Synagis shots (RSV vaccinations). Faith weighed 12 lbs, 8 oz and Grace weighed 13 lbs, 4 oz. Wow!

After their appointment last week came Thanksgiving. My dad flew in from Houston (and boy were his arms tired! Ba-da-dum...thanks folks! I'll be here all week! Be sure to tip your waitress!) on Wednesday night and we dined on lasagna at my house that night. Thursday we all convened at ZZ's house and the drinking began promptly at 9:00, when the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade started. What can I say...we're Irish. :)

The day was a hit, but missing something as ZZ's husband, Brian, was in North Carolina with his ailing mom. Evelyn was a cancer survivor back in the early 90s, but it returned about four years ago and she began to lose the battle the week before Thanksgiving. The holiday was wonderful, but it wasn't the same without Brian. There was no one to spend 45 minutes making the gravy.

Sadly, although mercifully, Evelyn passed away the next day. We were all headed to Houston to see the Buller side of the family when ZZ got the call from Brian. We stayed the day at step-sister Heidi's beautiful new home on Lake Houston, letting the kids run around like little hellions. Saturday afternoon, after visiting our mom's grave (nothing like being surrounded by death to get you into the Christmas spirit!), ZZ and her kids left to meet Brian back in San Antonio. They will return to North Carolina next week for Evelyn's memorial service.

Todd, Devin, the twins and I all stayed in Houston and enjoyed some good family time. It was nice to spend time with my step-sisters and my parents although traveling with a toddler and two infants isn't exactly easy. I'd do it again, though. It was worth it.

We returned home just in time for Todd and I to get the flu -- or something of the like. Whatever it was, it hit us like a ton of bricks. On Wednesday night, we tag-teamed with the kids while we both visited the minor emergency clinic down the road (after I had made it home from running an errand just in time to puke in my front yard. Be sure to pick up my new book, "How to Impress Your Neighbors"). Shots of steroids and anti-inflammatories, an antibiotic, a nasal steroid and some anti-viral medication for Todd and a wish-we-could-help-you-out-but-you're-breastfeeding pat on the back for me and we were on our way to healing. Or so we thought.

Turns out, that was just the beginning. The darned illness made its way thoughout my body and kept me in bed for 14 hours on Thursday (I miss college...). I thought I was feeling better on Friday, but our trip to the Christmas tree farm proved that I needed to be in bed.

I woke up feeling much better today, but now Todd is battling the brunt of it. I took the kiddos to ZZ's house this afternoon to celebrate her twins' second birthday and gave Todd about two-and-a-half hours to sleep. I know it wasn't enough, but I hope it helped a little.

Hopefully, we'll all be on the mend soon. The kids seem to be fairing well, although the girls are a little cranky these days. Not much we can do for them, though. Poor things. We've been doing a lot of extra holding time for them. Devin is not happy. You just can't win.

Our annual trip to the Pipe Creek Christmas Tree Farm was a success, despite my overwhelming need to sit down every few feet.

We discovered this place during our first Christmas in San Antonio in 2002. I loved the idea of actually sawing down our own Christmas tree, as we did the same when I was a little girl during the short time we lived in Northern California.

Since then, we've returned every year. Our first year, we were pregnant with Devin and I had horrible morning sickness. It was on this trip that the famous Pizza Hut incident happened (don't know the story? I'll be sure to post about it later).

The next two years we had Devin with us, who became increasingly more interested in helping his Daddy out with the sawing and handling of the tree.

The fourth year found us again pregnant (although not aware that there were TWO!) and me with morning sickness.

And finally, this year, with all three kids in tow, I was nauseus and dehydrated. How is it that three out of the five times we've been to this place, I've been sick? Should I take this as some sort of hint?

Anyhoo...we found a great tree (I fed the girls while Devin and Todd hunted) and got it home safely. Devin helped us trim it last night by putting every ornament he could find on a single limb near the floor. We did a little "rearranging" after he went to bed last night.

I have photos from the trip, which I will post under this date/title, but not tonight. The camera is downstairs and I am upstairs. You do the math. :)

I have lots more to tell, but no more energy with which to do it. That pretty much gets us up-to-date on the goings on in our house, though. The rest of the stuff is fluff -- the Pizza Hut pregnancy story and a ton of updates on the rather creepy, everyone-in-our-family-including-my-ridiculously-pragmatic-father-is-a-believer ghostly encounters in our home.

Merry Christmas.