Dean Family Blog

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The 12 Days of Christmas
After 12 days, 2,566 miles (no, that's not a typo), innumerable Veggie Tale and Curious George movies and enough Wendy's fast food to last us the rest of the year, our annual trip around the country is over. With a slightly amended schedule we were able to avoid most of the ice and snow storms along the way and with almost 36 total hours in the car with 2 kids we only had about 3 hours of screaming. Not bad. Grace ended up being a very good traveler, but I think the poor kid is sick of her car seat after all of this.

We headed to Chicago a day early so we didn't get iced in here. We arrived safely and woke up to a beautiful ice-encrusted world. Josiah got to play with his favorite cousins (ok, his only cousins) and Grace got some Nanny time. We had our first Christmas and then headed down to Texas. We got to break the trip up by stopping at a hotel for the night, which Josiah thought was very cool. His version of the Christmas story now includes, "and they tried to sleep in a hotel, but it was full so they had to sleep in a barn." Although it was freezing when we arrived, within a couple days it was in the 70s and I was kicking myself for not bringing my flip flops. We had a great visit with all of my family and enjoyed our second Christmas...all of us except Grace. She ended up getting horribly sick Christmas afternoon. While Mom worked to get carrot stains out of all of her clothes and sheets I held her and tried to make her as comfortable as possible until it passed. She had just started eating solid foods pretty well, but has been very reluctant to try them again after all of this. Thankfully after about 7 hours it seemed to pass and we could all relax again. I suppose we've been incredibly lucky because Josiah has never thrown up and I wasn't really sure what to do when Grace started...guess you learn something new every day.

The next day we loaded up the toy-mobile (by this time we had trains, blocks, play-do, coloring books, clothes, a fire truck, a puzzle, more blocks, more get the idea) and headed to Tennessee for Christmas #3. We ate tons of food, saw tons of family and Papa and Philip took the kids on walks around the countryside and let them pick cotton out of the fields. It was the first Christmas without Papaw and Mamaw, but I think we all agreed with Mom's statement that they were probably watching us all and smiling. We had a fun time cramming the whole family (40 people by my count) into one little living room...maybe too much fun. Several hours later the wife of one of Philip's cousins went into labor and had her baby! We were there to welcome little Grant Whitby to the world.

We had a great time visiting everyone and were very glad to be back in our own house last night. After almost 2 weeks of messed up naps the kids got right back on schedule today and we all got some much needed rest. I'm working my way through multiple mountains of laundry and we've begun the process of finding homes for the new toys and sorting out those that need to be passed on. So with that, I should quit procrastinating and go fold the clothes I left on the living room floor.


I'm Dreaming of a Green Christmas
Ok, we're not likely to have a green Christmas, but if we can get out ahead of the storm tomorrow at least we'll avoid a white one. We're bumping our trip up a bit because of an ice storm that's supposed to hit tomorrow afternoon. The bags are packed, presents are wrapped and goody bags of snacks and toys are prepared for the car. This will be our first long trip with both kids and prayers are welcome! Merry Christmas!

A Chipmunk And A Pip Squeak
Our open house was last night and went pretty well. Josiah helped me get the house ready all day and was excited that his neighbors were coming over to his bring him presents. I spent most of the day convincing him that they weren't going to bring him presents. Guess what the first neighbors had with them? Yep, presents for him and Gracie. He's not old enough to do the 'I told you so' thing, but I'm pretty sure he was feeling it. He had been eying the goodie table all afternoon and I told him he could have a plate when everyone got here. When people started arriving I was busy greeting them and calming Grace down and didn't realize he was digging into the gumdrops. He came back in the living room looking like a chipmunk. We couldn't really get upset with him because he did technically wait until the guest arrived. All in all we had a good time and ate way too many sweets (which are now being banned from the house so we'll stop eating them).

Grace had her 6 month appointment this morning and she is officially a pip squeak. She's short (25 inches) and little (12# 8oz), but her head is about average (or maybe it's small and all that hair made up for it). She hasn't been too excited about solid food, but it's time to start pushing it a little harder so we can put some weight on the kiddo. She'll go back in for another weighing in a few weeks to see how we're doing.

It's snowing again here and I've started putting in my request to be snow birds when we retire. I realize I have a long time to wait, but I figure it can't hurt to start asking now. Iowa is beautiful most of the year, but I bet Hawaii is gorgeous at Christmas!


Philip and I got to go on a date last night and it was soooo needed. We had a great time going out to eat and relaxing at the book store all evening. Neither one of us has sat still that long in weeks and it felt great. Grace apparently made the babysitter earn her pay, but Josiah did well and even earned a 'yes, ma'am' sticker (he gets one when he says it without being reminded). He also taught her how to exercise...he puts on his camo sun hat and carries his frog puppet and says he's a 'cary soldier' and makes you run from him in circles around the house. He must have had fun because he just woke up crying, wanting Ms. Erin to come back to his house.

Philip mailed out the Christmas letters this week and many of you should be getting one very soon. He did a great job designing the cards and website and we've enjoyed reading the comments some of you have already left. Hope to hear from more of you!


Does She Have To Eat?
Ok, I just finished reading some friends blogs and they're talking about starting their babies on solid food and I couldn't help but think, does Grace really have to start eating real food? It's messy, it stinks coming out and it's another thing to add to a to-do list that has grown so long I'm thinking of wrapping presents with it this year. I remember being kind of excited about the food thing with Josiah, but I'm just not with Grace. I'm comfortable with the deal we have now. After all, hers is the only meal that just seems to make itself and there's no clean up. But, alas, she is growing up and tries to launch herself into her brothers' plate whenever it's near. I used to be able to cut bananas into my cereal while I held her, but now it's more like a wrestling match to see who can get to it first. I suppose I should let her try some.

Speaking of growing up, I suppose it's time for some favorites:
Food: M&Ms and fruit (J), milk and occasional rice (G)
Games: Chasing us around the house (J), swimming in the tub (G)
Books: anything with pictures (J), Grace will chew on anything
Songs: any Christmas song (J), You are my sunshine (G)
Toys: Thomas, balls, jingle bells (J), her hippo and her thumb (G)


Jolly Ol' St. Nicholas
We decided to celebrate St. Nicholas Day so we could teach Josiah the story and have a little fun. He's been looking forward to it all week and was thrilled to have 'chocolate pennies' in his stocking this morning. Happy St. Nicholas Day!

What Was I Thinking?
I called Philip today asking if we could take the kids into town tonight for the winter celebration...the Christmas lights were turned on, there was supposed to be horse drawn carriage and there was a live nativity with cookies and cocoa after. Sounds great, right? But in real life it was quite a production and we almost froze to death. We got to try out the double stroller (which worked well, kudos for finding it sweetie), but that meant reassembling it because it had recently been cleaned and was in pieces in the garage. Then it took 20 minutes to get Josiah's mittens on and we got Grace in her snow suit just in time to figure out that it's too big to fit in the car seat. When we got there Philip had to push the stroller up an ice-encrusted slope with me fussing the whole way that I was sure Grace was too cold. Grace and I hid out in the community center while the boys watched the nativity and I got crowded out when the show ended, without being able to get Philip a cookie and with Grace crying. We were all relieved to get back to a warm car. On the way home Philip just looked at me and laughed that he was glad this had been my idea so he wasn't getting in trouble for it. On the plus side, Josiah loved it and is very excited that he got to see the wise men.

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