Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas and Cousin Nolan

After Sinterklaas, we have tried to get Kiefer to switch over to Christmas and Santa. We started pointing to Santa on his stocking and saying, "Ho ho ho!" He tries to say it... sometimes with success.

Last Friday, we hosted baby (now more like toddler) playgroup at our place. There were 7 kids in total and we had fun. Kiefer was not particularly in a sharing mood that day, though. One of the kids' favorite snacks is Veggie Booty... puffed corn & rice with spinach and kale and I put some in a bowl for the kids. Kiefer picked it up and went and sat in a corner of the kitchen. Whenever another kid came to take a piece he would get very upset! He's pretty serious about his Veggie Booty, I guess. He does like to share his pacifier with Mr. Oliver. If I am holding Mr. Oliver, Kiefer will walk up to us, take his pacifier out of his mouth and offer it to Mr. Oliver, who is not too thrilled. It's very cute!

On Christmas Eve, Kiefer's daycare was open until 2:00. Roel had off from work so we took the opportunity to do a little shopping and catch a movie. We hadn't been to see a movie in ages, and unfortunately most of the movies we wanted to see didn't open until the following day. We settled on "Yes Man" with Jim Carrey. It was funny and definitely not serious... perfect for a fun afternoon at the movies. We picked Kiefer up from daycare and headed home. As usual, the second Kiefer was in the car, he fell asleep. Although Kiefer naps well at home, he refuses to nap at daycare, so he almost always falls asleep in the car on the way home.

When we got home, I rolled out some gingerbread dough I had made earlier in the day. Kiefer helped me a little, but he was more interested in eating the baked cookies than rolling and cutting the dough! I also made Roel's favorite: peanut butter balls. That evening, Kiefer opened a present he received from Holly, his daycare provider. It was a Thomas DVD: Percy Saves the Day. When Janice and I were little, we were always allowed to open one present on Christmas eve, so I thought it would be nice to continue the tradition.

Kiefer slept until 7:20 am on Christmas morning, and when we went downstairs we saw that Santa had left a lot of presents under the tree! Kiefer was thrilled and immediately went to work unwrapping his presents. He received a table and chairs just his size, a fire engine, a couple of Curious George DVDs, Harold the Helicoptor, and a Thomas & Friends book. He also got some duplos from Aunt Janice and Uncle Geoff, 5 engines (Toby, Henrietta, Bertie Bus, Oliver and a coal car) from Oma and Opa and some clothes and a snuggle pillow from Grandma and Grandpa. The most special gift was from Grandma and Grandpa... a little rocking chair that belonged to Kiefer's great grandmother (Mae Bartholomay Woods). It is nearly 100 years old! Aunt Janice and I used it when we were kids, and so did Grandma!

Kiefer is an expert at unwrapping presents. He'd unwrap a present, play with it for a little while and then go under the tree to retrieve another present to unwrap. I think he probably would have been happy unwrapping plain boxes.

On Christmas afternoon, we heard that Roel's sister, Paula was in labor and that she and her fiance were at the hospital ready to have their first baby. This morning, we learned that their little boy, Nolan Johannes Hendrikus Brinkman, was born at 9:11 am - Dutch time. He weighed 7 lbs, 15.3 oz (3610 gr) and was 20 3/4" (53 cm) long. He was a little early (due January 4th), but I think he was anxious to meet his mom and dad. We're very happy for them and can't wait to meet him when we are in the Netherlands in September for Frank & Paula's wedding.

Kiefer won't be back in daycare until January 5th, which means I've got some time off. I do have to work on a paper to finish up an independent study I did over the summer. I need to get it in before I start my comps at the end of January and I would like to submit it for publication so I've got some work to do!

Our plans for New Year's were originally to stay home, but friends of ours in Greenfield are hosting a "Midnight in Paris" New Year's party. They have a son just a little younger than Kiefer, so they know that we'll never make it until midnight in Greenfield, and thought it would be fun to celebrate with the Parisians and ring in the new year at 6 pm. A 4-7 pm party sounds like something we can definitely do!

April, Roel & cousin Kiefer

Friday, December 19, 2008

Thanksgiving, Sinterklaas and Snow

We had a quiet Thanksgiving... just the three of us (and Mr. Oliver, of course). I made a turkey breast, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green bean casserole and pumpkin chiffon pie. I started cooking at noon, when Kiefer went down for a nap, planning to have dinner when Kiefer woke up. I figured he would wake up at 1:30 or 2:00 as he normally does, but it was 2:30 and Kiefer was still sleeping. Roel and I were so hungry because we hadn't eaten anything for lunch, so we actually woke him up so we could have dinner! Kiefer had some turkey, but once he tasted the cranberry sauce, that's all he wanted! After dinner, we walked to the park and Kiefer went down the slide many, many times.

Sinterklaas arrived in the Netherlands in the middle of November. Thanks to the internet, Kiefer was able to watch Sint's steamboat from Spain dock in Almere. Oma had sent over some Zwarte Piet hats, which Roel and Kiefer had fun wearing. Roel had to show Kiefer how to set out his shoe so Sint would leave him a little gift. It is very important not to forget Sint's horse, Schimmel, so Kiefer left a carrot in his shoe. Sure enough... the next morning, Kiefer found a little gift. He received some trains to add to his Thomas collection.

The big day of celebration is the eve of Sinterklaas' birthday, December 5. This year, Kiefer received a very special gift... a week long visit by Grandma and Grandpa! They arrived in the afternoon, so when we got home after work/daycare, there they were! An hour or so later, we heard loud knocks on the front door and when we looked outside, we found a big bag of gifts from Sinterklaas. Kiefer wasn't too sure about the big burlap sack at first, but as soon as he got a peek at the presents inside, he was very excited. Kiefer has become quite good at tearing off wrapping paper and he quickly opened gift after gift.

He received quite a few Thomas the Tank Engine related gifts, including a tent, push toy and socks. After Kiefer unwrapped each present, he demanded that Roel take it out of the box so he could play with it. Needless to say, Kiefer had lots of fun.

Over the weekend, Grandpa was very busy installing new light fixtures and programmable thermostats. He also put together a toy box for Kiefer. Grandma and I concentrated on decorating the Christmas tree. Roel and I went to work on Monday and Kiefer went to daycare, but we stayed home on Tuesday to spend some quality time with Grandma and Grandpa. We went to Yankee Candle in the morning to see Santa. Kiefer thought Santa was OK, but he loved the train table and trains in Santa's Workshop! Grandma and Grandpa offered to watch Kiefer on Wednesday and they had so much fun that Kiefer stayed home on Thursday, too.

Kiefer got to try chocolate for the first time this month! I bought a chocolate advent calendar and since the pieces of chocolate are so small, I thought they might be a good size for Kiefer. Well, he absolutely loves it. Now he will point to the calendar and try to say chocolate.

Now that I have finished coursework (forever), I have time to bake some cookies this weekend. Right now it is snowing and by the time it is finished we're expected to get 6-12 inches (15-30 cm). Kiefer and I put on our snow suits and boots and went outside this afternoon. I was armed with my video camera and camera to capture Kiefer's reaction. (Hopefully Roel will be able to post the video soon). He just stood there for a while and eventually felt the snow--he refused to wear his mittens. He tasted the snow and then he tried to walk in it. It was definitely a challenge, but he thought it was fun. Tomorrow we're going to take the sled out and give Kiefer a ride on it around the back yard. We'll probably sled down a little hill with him, too!

We're going to have a quiet Christmas at home... we're staying at home. Wishing you and your family happy holidays!

April, Roel & Kiefer the little snow man