Saturday, December 30, 2006

Sick days ...

Sick days were much more fun when I was a kid. Yes, I felt sick, but it never really seemed that bad, or not that often anyway. I would sleep in, watch some TV, take some medicine, and moan and groan a little so everyone knew I was sick. When I went back to school everyone asked how I was and it usually took me all of an hour to catch up with what I missed the day(s) I was gone.

Now, when I'm sick I really do feel that bad, and it sucks. I still moan and groan (ask my super sweet husband who graciously takes care of me!) and stay in my pajamas but it's just not any fun at all. And as soon as I feel the slightest bit better I start thinking about all of the things I should be doing! When I do get back to work it takes me much longer than an hour to catch up on what I missed. And don't even get me started on how the laundry accumulates!

Yes, I had a sick day on Wednesday which was probably the worst day to have a sick day since it was after a long weekend and a vacation day so I was already behind at work (nobody does my work when I'm not here ... it's one of those jobs). So, here it is the Saturday of New Years weekend and I'm at work while Nessa and Shawn are off "running errands." You know, errands like using the gift card he got for Christmas ... that kind of thing. :-)

You know what else sucks? Work deadlines at the end of the year!

Friday, December 29, 2006

If you're still seeing dots here ...

If you're still seeing dots here, then it's time to get your eyes checked! I promised Shawn a new look for the blog for the new year and we're halfway there. In the next week look for new bio photos, links, and other additions to the template (mom and dad, this means the background around the blog posts).

If you're reading this and you have a blog or other site you would like me to link to, please let me know!

Here’s to a great new year!

Christmas Eve at our house

In the morning we cleaned since we weren't able to accomplish everything we wanted to the previous day (but the rec room WAS cleaned the previous day so that's why everything else wasn't done) and of course there was the normal routine too of lunch, naps, etc. We tried to eat lunch a bit early and get Nessa down for a nap by noon so we wouldn't have to wake her up in order to leave for church (didn't really work).

Grandma and Grandpa arrived mid afternoon and we finished cleaning between chatting with them. Then it was time to get ready for 4 p.m. church. This was the first time in my memory that we've gone to this particular church service at our church. We were not prepared for how full church would be. We should have left the house at about 3 p.m. instead of 3:40 p.m. (if you don't know, we leave about 2 minutes from church). Church was PACKED and we ended up sitting outside and actually a bit to the right of the Sanctuary on extra chairs, but there was still lots for Nessa to see and she did fabulous sitting through the service. Well, actually she climbed up and down and all over ME for the service, but she was still very good considering we haven't attempted to have her sit through an entire service since she started walking! It was a wonderful service with lots of my favorite songs and a great sermon/kids sermon (all in one this time) that Megan got to participate in.

After church it was time to go home, attempt to take family photos before one or both of the girls decided it was time to not be wearing their dresses anymore, make and eat food .... AND open one present. Our tradition is to let the girls open one present on Christmas Eve and it's always fun watching Megan decide which one to open. This year she technically got to open two since Grandma also gave her one to open.

See how Nessa is watching intently?

By the way Nessa got that beautiful rocking chair from Grandma and Grandpa.

Oh, look it's Baby Polly! (The American Girl Felicity's baby sister). Thank you Grandma!

And Nessa say, oh look it's a little baby doll just the right size for ME!

After Nessa hugged, cuddled, drooled on, and totally loved up Baby Polly, we had Megan quickly put her in her room so that she would remain "Megan's doll" rather than being "adopted" by Nessa. I think that was Nessa's favorite present though! (When I post about Christmas morning you'll know what I mean!)

After Nessa was off to bed, Shawn and I headed out for a later Church Service while Megan had some quality time with Grandpa and Grandma. Megan was pushing us out the door so I think we left at 8:40 for the 9 p.m. service, we walked and I was wearing heals so it may have taken us 5 rather than 2 minutes ... we could have left at 8:58 and still sat in the front (or the back if that's your preference) for this service!

Then it was time for Megan to leave cookies out for Santa and convince herself it was indeed possible to fall asleep on Christmas Eve. :-)

And all through the house, not a creature was stirring ...

... except Santa's helpers of course.

Adorable girls

It was Megan's request that her and Nessa have matching dresses this Christmas so I couldn't say no. The actual dresses she picked out of the Land's End because they looked "a lot like what Felicity would wear." For those of you not up on your American Girl dolls, Felicity is the historical American Girl doll that lived in 1774 ( Felicity is also the doll Megan asked Santa for!

Regardless of why the dresses were selected, our girls sure looked adorable on Christmas Eve!

Books / Groth / Powell Family Christmas Eve

Here are some of our attemps at an official Christmas family photo:

Grandma and Grandpa time!

The best part about having my parents here over Christmas was watching them spend time with the girls. Megan got her time Christmas eve when Nessa was in bed and Shawn and I went to a late Christmas Eve Church Service (Megan was kicking us out of the house), and Nessa got her time Christmas day afternoon and evening. Here are some pictures of Nessa with Grandpa and Grandma Groth on Christmas day.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Chinese Cats

I had no idea, but apparently we have Chinese cats. Whenever Nessa wants to make cat noises, she says "mao mao mao"...

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

And the Shepherds watched their flocks by night

And the Shepherds watched their flocks by night

Well, in this case they were watching their sheep (cute costumed children) in the morning and the only star was the "shining star" that the "star angel" pulls along a pully from the back of the church to the front of the church ...

Megan was a shepherd in the church Christmas program last Sunday. This was her second year as a shepherd so she is getting pretty good at it, but next year (and probably every year she's in the program) she really, really, really wants to be the "star angel."

If you're wondering, Megan is the tallest shepherd.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

We may not have snow ... but the tree is up and decorated, the stockings are hung (by the fireplace with care), and the nativity sets are on display. Yes, it's beginning to look (and feel!) a lot like Christmas.

Last Sunday Nessa and Megan decorated the Christmas tree (mom helped a little but seriously I only moved maybe two ornaments and helped Nessa actually get the string loop actually over the branch a few times).

Megan is making sure her stocking and the other mantle ornaments are in just the right place.

Also, if you look at Megan's pony tail here you can see just how much hair she had cut off yesterday!

haircut photos

Yes, as soon as Megan and I turn our attention elsewhere William is trying to get Nessa's breakfast. Nessa now is often heard saying "L'ilm OFF."

Holiday haircuts

It has become a tradition for Megan and I to get our hair cut during the week before Christmas ... and this year Nessa got to join us.

Unfortunately due to bad scheduling on my part Shawn did not get to join us (bad not because he needed a haircut but because this meant it was just Megan and I to watch Nessa and I was getting my hair colored as well as cut!). I was so worried about having lots of treats and surprise toys with me that I forgot to bring the camera! So, I did take a picture of Nessa's new hair style (no more bangs in the eyes) this morning and will upload that as soon as I can, but we have no first hair cut pictures. :-(

But then again would I want pictures of this hair cut experience? Nessa actually got her hair cut while she was sitting on my lap while I was under the dryer with hair color and that nifty shower cap thing on ... not a pretty picture ... trust me on that one. My wonderful hair stylist did a wonderful job as Nessa kept turning her head in all sorts of directions! Then it was Megan's turn and Megan decided that it was time to cut off all of her hair that had grown in the last year. She cut off 7 or 8 inches! She looks fabulous in her cute new style ... and again a picture was taken this morning and will be added to the blog as soon as I can get to it ... but I thought you might all want an update on the adventures of our house this week before that. :-)

By the time we left the salon Nessa had spilled apple juice down her front, had green sugar cookie crumbs all over her face and had a little hair (likely Megan's) sticking to her from her attempts at helping to sweep the area. Nessa had also treated us (luckily only one other customer) to her tantrum shrieks when her cookie, water, juice, and several other items were not handed to her in exactly the right way. (She turns into a pumpkin at about 7 p.m. when not at home these days ... my apt. was at 6:15 ... we left about 7:45 ...). Megan did a great job helping to entertain her, but at some point even a side ways glance can set her off ... and without hair in her eyes she could actually see, so ...

Now the "secret" is out ... our beautiful and ever so intelligent girl is all about expressing her own independent needs and NOT about accommodating the rest of us. Thankfully Megan did not hold Nessa's behavior against her and this morning for the first time it was not Mommy or Daddy that Nessa wanted, but Megan. Yes, only Nessa's sister would do when it came to getting dressed and eating breakfast. It was actually quite sweet. I kept hovering nearby waiting for sudden change toddlers are so famous for, but instead or morning flowed nearly flawlessly!

Oh, and to add some humor to the tantrums and "pre" tantrum, Nessa's new favorite word is "ENOUGH." Nessa uses it just like "no" as she picked it up from me saying "enough" as in "that's enough" when either of the girls are doing something that they need to stop doing ... so now she tells me things like "enough diapers." And you can imagine my thoughts at that sentiment.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

"I'm not a baby"

Picture this -- a routine Thursday morning in our household as we get going for a full day of work and daycare (because it is Thursday) and Nessa only protests slightly at getting her diaper changed and dressed because she would rather be reading her books (so Daddy reads to her while Mommy changes her) ... and at 7:15 we're out the door ...

As I go around the car to the side where Nessa's car seat is she starts fussing and wiggling and fussing and babbling and we keep hearing "baby" but can't figure it out, and then:

"I'm not a baby!"

Shawn and I looked at each other and Shawn verified that that is indeed what it sounded like!

I was stunned, but did quickly manage to bounce up and down to "one, two, three, Weeee" and get Nessa safely in the car seat for the short trip to daycare. During the two block drive Shawn and I were still in shock at how clearly Nessa had expressed herself and assumed she meant she didn't want to be in the car seat because she was not a a baby. Later, I wondered if (maybe?) she merely wanted to get into her seat by herself rather than being put in the seat. At least that's what I'm hoping because I certainly don't want to be fighting this carseat battle for the next, oh, 7 years or so!

This is just one example of how Nessa is indeed learning to express herself ... and a few of them are a little less tantrum like! :-)

Yes, our little girl is most definitely not a baby anymore ... and as usual that makes mommy both smile and sniffle.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Our Christmas Song

I first heard this Christmas song on a compilation given to me by my friend Morrie. I've always liked it, but since Christmas of 2003 it has acquired a very special meaning. It perfectly describes what Tami means to me, to the point where I get teary whenever I hear it. It has become our Christmas song, and as always, I want to dedicate this to the love of my life--my wife, my best friend: Tami.

Just In Time For Christmas
(as sung by Nancy LaMott)

They had decked the malls and trimmed the town with plastic trees
Til the world was just a giant retail maze.
Tis the season when you turn your thoughts to people you can’t please,
When you measure passing time in shopping days.
And the holidays were something to get through
But the thing I hadn’t counted on was you.

Just in time for Christmas, you came along.
Just in time for Christmas, when everything felt wrong
And I was sure my faith had all run out.
Just in time for Christmas, you showed me what Christmas is about.

What I needed most could not be bought at any price.
I was far too disillusioned then to see
I was going through the motions--made a list and checked it twice
But forgot to write down anything for me.
But my long-unspoken wishes had been heard
And an unexpected miracle occurred.

Just in time for Christmas, one silent night,
Just in time for Christmas, you filled my life with light
And there was joy where there had once been doubt.
Just in time for Christmas, you showed me what Christmas is about.

And all at once the bells began to ring
And hark, the herald, I heard angels sing!
Who am I to resist their call?
You brought me the greatest gift of all.

And now my spirits sing!
Just in time, my heart is caroling.
From deep within my soul I want to shout:
Just in time for Christmas,
Just in time for Christmas,
Just in time for Christmas, you showed me what Christmas is about.

Tami, thank you for loving me, for marrying me, and for showing me what Christmas is all about.

Love, always and forever,

Seeing Santa 2006

We took the girls to see Santa at the Rotary Lights Sunday evening. (For those who don't know, Rotary Lights is a huge light display that covers most of a city park by the Mississippi, put on by the area Rotary clubs. Santa is there every evening with his reindeer.) The temperature was in the 40's so we thought it would be a good night to go.

The line to see Santa goes alongside the reindeer pen, so we got to watch the reindeer chasing each other around while waiting. Just before you go into Santa's hut, there is an elf who asks the children's names and gives them a button and a candy cane. Nessa has cottoned on to the sugary, sticky delights of candy canes, so as soon as the elf handed her one, she was all over that. Nothing would do but that she got that candy cane open, and I mean right now.

I was trying to open one end for her so she could suck on it while holding the wrapper (so she wouldn't get all sticky--I'm such a parent sometimes), but Nessa wasn't having any of that. She was still trying to get the rest of the wrapper off as she went in and sat down by Santa. Megan told Santa what she wanted, and then Santa asked what Nessa wanted. Having finally removed the wrapper, Nessa realized that this man was talking to her. Now, I'm not sure if Nessa thought that Santa wanted it, or if she was trying to be good and give it to an adult, or if Santa was simply convenient...but once Santa had her attention, Nessa handed him the wrapper! I was trying not to laugh too hard to keep taking pictures. Santa very kindly accepted the wrapper (I relieved him of it on our way out) and Nessa was happy.

"What would you like for Christmas, Nessa?"

"Yes, you may have my wrapper."

"Aren't I the clever one!"

They also have a large sleigh in the park for taking family pictures. Nessa was getting fussy by that point and didn't want to sit still, but Megan was glad to get her picture taken in the sleigh.

We weren't able to spend as much time walking around and seeing the lights as we wanted, because Nessa was tired and cranky. I took her back to the car while Tami and Megan took an abbreviated route around the rest of the park. At least we got to see Santa!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Nessa Knows...

...several colors. The other night Tami, Nessa and I were playing with a cloth cube that has a different color on each side: red, yellow, blue, orange, green, and purple. I was pointing to the sides and saying "What color is this?" and Nessa got them all correct without any prompting. to count from 1 to 10 (mostly) and say almost half of her ABC's. Driving home yesterday from a big family gathering, Nessa was just talking in her car seat when she suddenly burst out with "One! Two! Free Foh Five Six Seben! Eight Ten!" A minute or so later she said "A B C D E F G H I J" before losing steam. She repeated the A-J sequence twice more before we got home, so she definitely has that much memorized.

Letters are a big deal to Nessa these days. Whenever we're driving around she'll announce letters that she sees on signs. If you point to a letter and ask her what it is she'll tell you (lower or uppercase for most of them). She loves a Winnie-the-Pooh ABC's book that we've gotten from the library a few times, so much so that we need to buy her a copy. She's working on expressing more complex concepts when she talks and stringing more words together. The changes are still subtle and very incremental at this point, but I wouldn't be surprised to hear a blossoming in the near future.

Toddler Tales

Last Monday Nessa and I were at WalMart to get a few things. I couldn't find one item, so as we were leaving that aisle I said to Nessa "I guess they don't have it. Darn darn darn!" Of course, Nessa promptly started saying "Darn darn darn!", and continued to say it about 20 times as we were heading across the store. I was just rolling my eyes, shaking my head and laughing to myself, glad it was something fairly innocuous. "Darn darn darn! Darn darn darn!" It should perhaps be noted that our parrot frequently asks for crackers as well.

On Wednesday evening Nessa was playing with an empty laundry basket, trying to get inside. She's not quite tall enough, so she was taking a few spills and occasionally getting hit by the basket. After the second or third fall she started crying. Tami asked if she wanted help and Nessa said "No!" quite distinctly as she was trying again. Things got worse and the crying got louder, so I headed into the living room asking if Daddy could help. Nessa held out her hand with the palm forward in the universal symbol for stop and said "No!" (among other things). When I retreated, she turned around and, still crying, started babbling at the laundry basket. I swear she was cussing out that laundry basket and giving it a piece of her mind! She was not a happy camper. Then, five minutes later, she was quietly reading her books, happy as could be. Wish I could get things out of my system that easily...

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Christmas photos!?!

Yes we celebrated Christmas with Shawn's parents up in Walker, MN over the rest of the long Thanksgiving weekend.

Walker actually has a holiday celebration the Friday after Thanksgiving so we went to the parade that night (thankfully it wasn't too cold) as well as doing a little holiday shopping in downtown Walker Friday. Saturday we celebrated with good food and lots of presents. Nessa even decided it was fun to open presents after the first couple that we had to help her with (she had been told they were "pretty" and off limits before that).

Nessa thought it was great fun to sit by the fireplace and was very proud when she learned to get up there by herself.

Megan with the video for her and Nessa

Megan loves jewelry so the charm bracelets were a big hit!

Nessa opening her first Christmas present of the year.

Shawn helping Nessa, and Megan holding up her "Power Pals" set (experiments with batteries). So far this is the present of Megan's that has been used the most!

New books are the best! But apparently Nessa would rather be left alone to read!

We had a great time and even the drive up and back wasn't too bad as Nessa slept a lot and was happy most of the time when she wasn't sleeping. When both girls were awake they had fun counting or saying the alphabet together. When Megan says the alphabet with Nessa she will say each letter and then wait for Nessa to say it and then after "Z" Nessa says "again, again."

The one thing I realize now that we didn't do was get a picture of Grandpa and Grandma with the girls. :-( I'll blame that on my not feeling well as a cold and cough was definitely setting in all weekend, but really we've just become really bad at remembering to take group pictures lately ... next time!

Thanksgiving pictures

Finally some pictures from Thanksgiving in Northfield at the Trotman household (Tami's sister Ellen's home) with the Groth clan.

Ness loves to rock so she adored Ahnika's rocking chair.

Charlotte's beautiful smile:

All the kids!!! OK, not all the kids happy about a picture, but at least all of them together. :-)

Megan's beautiful smile!


Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Eyes Have It

One piece of exciting news that we haven't gotten around to posting is that, in early November, Megan graduated from her vision therapy exercises! The six months of hard work have paid off: Megan now finds reading much easier, and thinks it's fun. The headaches from reading are a thing of the past. She jumps into her reading assignments for school. She also reads to Nessa, which Nessa loves. Evenings are less stressful as well, since we no longer have to fit in both Megan's homework and her eye exercises.

We're still deciding exactly how to celebrate this big achievement--we'll do something fun after the holidays. But for now, we say: Way to go, Megan! Congratulations!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

To My Love, My Best Friend, My Wife

On this, our "other" anniversary, I thought I would post a poem Tami found and sent to me a while back:

I Love You

I love you with a permanence
That endures the passing years.
I love you with a joyfulness
That subdues all doubts and fears.
I love you with an honesty
That was born within my heart.
I love you with the calm belief
That we will never part.
I love you with a confidence
No earthly force can sever.
I love you with the certainty
That I'll cherish you forever.
I love you with the humbleness
Of one who has been blessed.
I love you with the reverence
Of all that word suggests.
I love you with a fervor
That time cannot reverse.
I love you with the truest love
That poets put to verse.

- J.E. Deegan -

Tami, thank you for falling in love with me, for marrying me, and for sustaining me. I love you!

Always and forever,

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

You go, girl!

My lovely and talented wife was recently given the best sign of appreciation a job can give: a very nice raise. I knew they would come to value her skill and experience, but it's nice to see it happen. She also made a successful case for being allowed to increase her hours from 20 to 30 per week. This brought some increased responsibility, but she says she finally feels like a part of the team. She is also beginning to apply her experience to help change some of their development processes for the better, so she's making her presence felt in several good ways.

I'm proud of what my sweetie can accomplish when she sets her mind to it, and happy to see others recognizing her worth. Congratulations, my love!

Nessa's New Daycare

Another big change at our house this month is that Nessa is going to a new daycare. Our church opened a daycare in the unused parsonage on November 6th, and Nessa was the first child to attend.

We had been taking Nessa to an in-home day care not too far from our jobs, and while the situation there wasn't bad, there were a few things we weren't happy about. The biggest problem was that Nessa had stopped napping there months ago, forcing Tami to rearrange her work schedule so she could be done in time to take Nessa home to nap every day. This left Tami feeling like a slave to Nessa's schedule, and made it hard for Tami to schedule appointments and such without missing work. So when the church was finally ready to open the new daycare, it wasn't hard for us to decide to make the switch right away, instead of waiting until Nessa turned 2 as we originally thought we might.

Nessa loves the new daycare. She cried for about 10 minutes after we left that first Monday, and then got interested in what the director was doing and has been happy ever since. For now, Nessa is the only full-time child at the daycare, so some days she's the only child there. Thus she's getting plenty of individual attention: she has had her picture taken by both pastors, had the senior pastor read her a story one day, and seen all the church staff at various times. She has everyone in love with her and thinking she's the sweetest child in the world.

When there are other children there, Nessa has been playing well and sharing, something she was having a bit of trouble with at her other daycare. She likes to "help" when there is a baby there, and is thoroughly enjoying all the arts and crafts projects. She naps well there (2 to 2 1/2 hours a day, consistently), eats well, and is both happy to be dropped off in the morning and happy to see us and leave at the end of the day.

The fact that Nessa's so happy makes us happy. Tami has been able to rearrange her schedule to give herself a day where she doesn't work and can schedule appointments and run errands. I love it when Nessa comes running down the hall to give me a hug when we pick her up. Some mornings when Nessa would rather play, we tell her that she has to get dressed so we can go see Jen (the director, who is there in the mornings) and she says "Jen!" with a big smile on her face. It will be interesting to see how Nessa does when she's no longer the center of attention there, but we hope she will adjust nicely. For now, it's enough to have her happy at a place we trust that is only 3 blocks from our house.

Sign, Sign, Everywhere A Sign (or Words Words Words!)

Baby Einstein has been dethroned at our house! The new champion is Signing Time (, a series of DVDs that teach American Sign Language in small packages of related signs with singing, animation, and plenty of pictures of kids doing the signs. Nessa loves these: the most frequent thing we hear out of her these days is "more signs, more signs" which is her way of asking us to play whichever Signing Time DVD we currently have checked out from the library. She is picking up not only some of the signs, but the related words as well. Which ones she actually remembers often come as a surprise, because they aren't always the ones she'll use every day.

This is part of the ongoing language explosion at our house. Nessa uses a new word almost every day, usually when pointing to the object. (Yesterday's word was "slippers", said as she pointed to the ones she was wearing.) Yes, our daughter waited until she could talk to start learning signs--so much for the conventional wisdom that learning signs will help a child communicate before being ready for words. :-) She now uses words and signs somewhat interchangeably, but probably uses words more often.

Nessa can put together sentences as well. We have heard "I touch baby" and "Give me the book" and "I want (insert food item)". She only does this occasionally, but it happens often enough to prove it isn't a fluke.

Nessa can say all of her letters and the numbers from 1-10 if she is repeating them after someone else. She recognizes some letters when she sees them, and recognizes numbers, as she vividly demonstrated in the grocery store the other day, pointing to the big numbers above the checkout lanes and saying them. She's can't yet say her ABC's or count on her own, but we'll give her time. :-)

Nessa can name most of the farm animals in her puzzles and say what sounds they make, usually together: "Cow moo!" "Pig oink!" "Sheep baa!" She knows most of her shapes. Her mouth still has a little trouble with triangle and rectangle, but she can say heart and star and diamond. ("Di-mond!") We're working on colors. She can repeat them, but we're not sure she associates the color with the word just yet.

We're also working on "Please", "Thank you" and "You're welcome". As with any child, these are sporadic, but we know she knows them all and how they're related. When we can get her to say "Thank you" she usually doesn't wait for "You're welcome"--she supplies it herself. "Tank oo I welcome!"

This is an exciting time to be a parent. Watching Nessa learn, do or say something new every day is fun, and seeing her smile when she makes a new connection in her mind is a joy to behold.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Halloween Pictures!

Our cute unicorn...

Our beautiful Miss America....

And here's Nessa as she looks through her bag of candy in order to choose what one she wants to eat. She decided to share some thin mints with mom and dad. :-)

Girls just wanna have fun

OK, so you would think I would post Megan's latest sleepover pics here, but no, just my two silly girls having fun. It was really bed time but I had to go do something and when I came back into the room I managed to catch them in action.