Thursday, November 12, 2009

New Camera

I've always been fascinated with photography and I've daydreamed of getting a good SLR camera for a while now. Well, my daydream's finally come true in the shape of a Nikon D5000 and I am starting to learn to use it, with Rodney's help. I'm reading the manuals about the wonderfully dorky things like f-stops and shutter speed, learning about the lenses, and finding out about how to actually take great photos. I haven't mastered any of this just yet but look forward to the months and years ahead of honing the craft. *sigh of contentment*

Today, I took the two older boys, Ethan and Graeme, to the park to test out the different shooting modes to see if I could understand what they all were. Ethan was a great sport with modeling for me; Graeme not so much (he was simply too busy playing to be bothered to pose today). Well, I wasn't so much successful at figuring all the ins and outs of the camera just yet, but I did manage to take some really good photos of the boys that I want to post since I'm always so late at posting photos...

This first one is actually of Xavier (pre-trip to the park photo :), inside the house this morning when everyone was still running around in their jammies. The rest are from the park.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Guess Who's Smiling Now?

Something I've been looking forward to is Jasper's first real smiles and he obliged me this Saturday. I haven't been able to catch a great photo/video of it just yet but didn't want to forget the date, October 24. His already cute (and VERY chubby) face gets even cuter and brighter when he smiles. Mmmmmm...he's so yummy.

Whenever I tell people that we have 4 boys, they always remark at how "brave" we are. I know it's crazy and our life is busy, but I LOVE LOVE LOVE my family and know that we are so blessed to have all these beautiful boys gracing our lives. We are so lucky.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Incident with the Gas

Hopefully, this video and sound come through. There is so much background noise from TV and other boys, but you may hear some "unwinding" sounds emanating from our latest spawn... Definitely his father's son - Ha. :)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Six Weeks

Jasper turned six weeks yesterday, October 13. Wow - time flies! Just a brief update on how everyone is doing these days...

Rodney is back at work (yuck!) and as busy as ever. Marissa still "harasses" him daily about coming home early. We definitely miss him being around!

Marissa has adopted a very bad sleep schedule, often not retiring to bed til the wee hours (3am???). Her Facebook game addiction, topped with the "free" time to do things like bills and handle all the silly little things like blogging do not help.

Ethan has adjusted really well to the sixth grade and has been getting really good grades in his classes. The standards-based grading system they use here is confusing, but he is getting As in most of his tests and is in the higher percentage of his classes. He started his "World Languages" class this week, where they are learning Spanish and French; he hit us up with a "grande" and "si" in conversation today. He's also enjoying the saxophone classes at school. I hope he wants to continue with it next year. Classes he's waiting for us to sign him up for include piano, swimming, and dance. DANCE! :) We're just so proud of him! Oh, another major milestone --- braces are gone and we are down to retainers - yayyyy!!!

Graeme has finally turned the corner when it comes to homework. He finally realized that whining and complaining instead of doing was not the best route - phew, our kindergartner is growing up! Soccer season's started and he's having a blast with his team, the Blue Dragons. He runs up and down that field like nobody's business! He has also spent a couple of Sundays hanging out with his Papa Tony in Pacifica and we have had a heck of a time trying to pry him away when it was time to go. For their next "grandpa date," Graeme asked if he could stay for "100 hours" so we may try to work in an overnighter there if Papa Tony is up for it. :) We wish Mommom and Poppop lived closer so he (and the other kids) could also get hangout time in.

Xavier's vocabulary is growing. He says hi (pronounced with a Southern drawl, in "hah"), hat, hot, more (this one's new today). He can moo like a cow and growl like a dinosaur. For all other things he wants to say, though, he pretty much just grunts - hahahaha! He can also point to more and more parts of his body (nose, feet, belly, ears...). It's so cool to watch him learning so many new things. Especially because he's trying to keep up with his older brothers, he is growing up so quickly and wants to be in everything they are into. He and Graeme spend a lot of time together especially now that they share a room. They are thick as thieves and they are usually cracking each other up and laughing like fiends; when they're not fighting over toys that is.

I'm waiting on Jasper's first "real" smile...any day now. He is sleeping for longer stretches and I have to learn to take advantage of that. He's also spending more awake time, which is super cool. He also took his first bottle today and that's always such a relief. He and I have been pretty attached at the hip (okay, maybe at another body part that's a little higher up - hehehe!) and it's been so nice. He's asleep on Rodney's chest right now and it's just so precious when that happens. Ahhh... it's really just the little things that make me so happy.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Birth Story...

When I first tried to post this blog, there was a very lengthy birth story that went along with it. After posting, I noticed that all my text had been deleted. Thanks,!

Now I'm finding some time to rewrite, I want to save all the details for Jasper when he's old enough to want to know all the details...

Well, the main thing to start with is the fact that Jasper was late. Ethan and Xavier were 10 days early and Graeme was 5 days early. So I was a little eager to meet the little guy. We did EVERYTHING the day/night of August 31st to speed the process up, including thinning the membranes, loads of walking, etc. I wanted his birthday to be his own and not land too close to Graeme's. Sometimes I wonder when he would've actually come if we just let it all be. The way it all worked out though was just perfect.

August 31st was the first day of school for Ethan (going in to the 6th grade) and Graeme (going in to kindergarten), both of them going to new schools, and we didn't want to miss that so it was good that Jasper didn't come anytime before that date. His cousin, Jack, was born on August 31 (sharing a birthday with Uncle Luigi and his great-grandfather Manuel dos Santos) so these two boys have the closest birthdays among all the cousins.

So, during our evening walk around the neighbourhood, I could feel contactions, but they were really not bad and felt more like Braxton Hicks ones more than anything else. When we went to bed (late!) that night, nothing had changed so I had pretty much resolved myself to going to work the next day. But at around 2am or so, I was actually starting to feel uncomfortable and slightly painful contractions. I kinda was thinking at first that it was just me and wishful thinking so I didn't bug Rodney at first. When I finally woke him up, he helped me start timing the contractions and they were coming pretty steady and I was starting to feel really uncomfortable so we knew stuff was happening. We called Manolete to come by close to 6am so that he'd be here when the boys got up. I was pretty excited heading to the hospital, but still kind of dreading that they'd still tell me I wasn't ready and send me home (it's always a possibility!).

At the hospital, when they heard that this was my fourth pregnancy, they worked pretty fast. I get they just think that all fourth babies just fall out like it was nothing - hahahaha! By the time they checked me, I was already 4cm dilated so there was no turning back. For me, I was pretty surprised I was so far along; it had felt like an eternity getting to this point with the other boys. I had considered not getting the epidural for this one, but when they told me that both anesthesiologists would be in surgery for at least an hour and that I wouldn't get a chance to change my mind, I just went ahead and got one. Why suffer when technology can help, right?

The best part about the epidural was getting nap in. The contractions slowed down a bit after that and the nurse worried that I had stopped progressing so she got the pitocin (evil drug!) ready. Thankfully, I didn't actually need it. :)

Once I was ready to push, the nurse and Rodney helped me. It always feels like the pushing is not getting you anywhere, but this was the quickest experience yet. I think I only pushed for 15 minutes and there he was...our little Jasper. So perfect and just perfectly perfect.

And I can say it now, too. I KNEW he was going to be a boy. Hahahaha! I always wished to get old surrounded by men and now I am seeing my wish come true. Oh joy.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Due Date Plus 2

Wow, I never ever dreamt I'd be sitting here on the verge of September without a baby. Surely, this last one was supposed to toe the line and do as his brothers did? I guess he has a mind of his own. Or maybe he's a she and mad that I keep calling him a boy so she's making me pay?? :)

Either way, it's an odd place to be and I'm embarrassed to admit that I'm getting antsy and anxious. Yvonne and John (my brother and his wife) had their latest Kawika Jack Concepcion at 1:30pm today so she definitely beat me in the baby race. Now it's just a waiting game for us.

Not surprisingly, I'm not motivated for much else but having this baby right now. Will keep everyone posted as best I can. Love...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Baby Delivery Wish List

4 days left and the doctor at our appointment yesterday said I may go past my due date. This baby has already beat his brothers at staying in longer and he's likely to be bigger too! This whole going past my due date thought is making me anxious because I really really want this baby to come in August so he can have his own birthday month. :)

Dear Baby:

Here's my wish list to you, sweetheart, about when I want you to come so if you could just indulge me, I promise to love you forever and ever.

Thursday night - Make it so mommy goes into labour
Friday - Get yourself borneded and out so we can meet you
Saturday - Chill with mommy and daddy in the hospital
Sunday - Go home and chill with all your brothers

Can you do that? Please, pretty please???? I told you that I'd love you forever, right? :)

Your Mom, who will love you forever (no matter what)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

10 Days Until Due Date...

Just like before, I really am in no rush for this baby to get here, but if my track record proves to be any indication, this baby will make his/her entrance any day starting today (Ethan and Xavier were both 10 days early and Graeme was 5 days early). I don't think it's going to happen today, my body just doesn't feel ready to go yet, but then you don't really get so much advance warning every time, do you? *smiles*

I'm trying to will this child to not show up until next week, when I hope we'll be a little more ready - there is simply WAY too much to do and we haven't even packed our hospital bag yet! Plus, there are more naps I want to take - hahahaha! Okay, that, and I just love being pregnant. :)

We finally moved Ethan out of his room and into the old office, but he is slumming it and sleeping on the floor right now. We've still got to get the bed situation squared away - there are just too many options to choose from! It's funny to walk into his room in the morning and find him all balled up on the floor, looking like a lost little urchin. I'll have to try to photograph him for posterity's sake. He is enjoying having a room to himself once again, though, and I, for one, am VERY jealous!

The start of school is right around the corner and that's definitely going to be one crazy week, with a new baby coming and with two new schools to attend orientations at. It's so surreal (still!) for me to be bringing Graeme into kindergarten when I can still remember dropping Ethan off for his first day of kindergarten. And here Ethan is starting middle school... Wow, how can six years fly so quickly?! Just a reminder to treasure every moment, I suppose. Yes, even the crazy ones...

Here are some recent photos of the family for your viewing pleasure (or displeasure) while you are awaiting my next post. That will likely come after the latest Grussing spawn decides to join us, but we will likely be on Facebook, Twitter, Skype, and other internet devices while in the hospital so look out... Hahahaha!

Ethan at the piano (I'll post an actual video once I get Rodney's help downsizing the 90MB video I took of Ethan playing for about a minute - hahahahaha!)

The Grussing men lounging on the couch...

Mommy and Xavier modeling what a 37-week belly (aka, the Shelf) looks like (um, try not to notice the thighs or the bundonkadonk on this one!)...

Monday, August 3, 2009

I Don't Know You, But I Love You...

Pregnancy, what pregnancy? You could hardly even tell by the way I've been blogging that I've been pregnant at all. I suppose life is simply too busy, what with the three boys, all of whom are transitioning into the next phases of their lives...Ethan into middle school, Graeme into kindergarten, and Xavier (just today) out of the baby room and into the "bigger" kids' room.

Well, it's not for lack of obsession or love for this latest Grussing to come, that's for sure! Yesterday marked 36 weeks of gestation, which means that the baby now weighs almost 6 pounds and is more than 18 1/2 inches long. He/she is supposed to gain about an ounce a day at this point so that's another 2 pounds of baby "meat" he/she will have to gain til his/her birthday. The last time I saw my doctor, she said she thought this baby would be an 8-pounder, but we'll see if we actually make it to the due date this time.

Next week, the baby will be considered full-term, which also means they won't stop me if I go into labour. The Braxton Hicks contractions are definitely back and more frequent; the body is definitely getting ready. The last two weekends have been an exercise in finding energy, too. I can't fall asleep at night, wake up early, then find myself needing morning naps. Hahahaha!

We've been trying to get the house ready too. We are moving Ethan into the office and the two younger boys will start to share their own room to make space for the baby (don't know how Xavier or I am going to take him being so far away, but we'll just have to see I suppose). We are looking at minivans and just waiting for the best deal to come along. Only thing left now is to pack my hospital bag and that'll be it. Everything else will be easy after that, right? :)

In some ways, I am scared for the craziness that will ensue once there are four children in the house. But in more ways, I'm really excited to meet this newest little Grussing, to hold him and fall in love with him in person. I'm ready...

p.s. If this next child is a boy, I'm starting a petition to get my own bathroom. I hope you guys will sign it too. So far, there's only one supporter and signature for said petition and it's definitely going to be an uphill battle, from the looks of it. I wonder how much those Port-O-Potties cost???

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Graeme Graduation

I can't believe I almost forgot to write about this! Graeme graduated from his Pre-K class at Papillon Preschool this past June. While he doesn't technically leave Papillon right before he starts kindergarten on August 31, they held a graduation for his class that was so fun to watch. They showed off the things they've learned this past year - counting in Spanish and French, yoga poses, dancing, singing, etc. It was sooooo cool. At the end, there was a video presentation of photos by one of the kids' moms that was so touching and cool. It showed photos of the kids from baby to today and it was really amazing to realize how quickly they all have grown. Time flies to fast; I admit I got teary-eyed watching the video, but then again, I'm pretty sappy.

To see photos on Flickr of Graeme's big day, click here. We'll post more pictures of his first day of school as soon as those memories are created.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Rodney's 40th Birthday

The craziest thing about Rodney's birthday is that he's had to share it A LOT; his sister Terri's birthday is the day right after his. Little did he know that becoming part of my family would mean he would now have to also share it with our now 11-year old, Ethan, whose birthday is two days before his. This year, he not only had to share his birthday week with Ethan, but he also had to share his actual day with celebrating Graeme's graduation from preschool. Oh no!

We love celebrating Rodney so on the day of his birthday (June 26, for those of you not "in the know"), we made sure to celebrate by going out with family to dinner. Graeme (because it was his graduation day) got to pick the spot and he picked his latest dining obsession, Macaroni Grill. We had a great meal, got the waiters to sing for Rodney, and "showered" him with presents and love. If you are interested in seeing some photos from that night, click here. The next night, Rodney and I went out for a fancy dinner at Central Park Bistro in San Mateo and then ended up at the movies, seeing "The Hangover," which was a really funny movie.

Because turning 40 is no small feat (especially for someone who's looking as good as he is!), I wanted to get Rodney something extra special to let him know how awesome we think he is so I had a birthday journal made for him, complete with entries from friends and family. The journal was handmade by a really creative friend, Melissa Esplin, who I had the pleasure of meeting while working with her husband, Chris, at Cornerstone. She's got a really great website that showcases her talent and shares a lot of really neat ideas, at IS•LY (check it out!). It was actually one of her Father's Day ideas that led to the creation of this journal. The journal is made of leather and cork and touching it alone is sheer joy. But it is definitely the contents of the journal that make it extra special. I would like to thank everyone who contributed to it; without your words, the journal would not have been so wonderful.

Here are a couple of pictures of the journal - the photos really do not do it justice so make sure to ask to see it the next time you see us.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ethan Turns 11

We celebrated E's 11th birthday yesterday. First he came to work with me and we took him for a nice lunch at Oak City Bar & Grill across the street from work. Then I put him on the train, on his first solo ride ever, back to San Mateo to meet his cousins to spend the rest of his birthday. Alison, Eva & Jude spoiled him with a big birthday banner and swimming all afternoon.

In the evening, we had family over for pizza and cake. It was us, plus the Concepcions, plus his dad, Grandad, Grand Mere, and Papa Don. And it's not even over since he and a few of his friends are going to get some laser tag action in this Saturday!

Ethan did mention that he enjoyed his birthday last year just a little better. I was home with him and got to spoil him all day then, starting with breakfast in bed. This tells me that I need to take more days off on their birthdays and give them my time on that special day. I'll do this from here on out. :)

Some photos on Flickr to enjoy; I will post more if we get more from Saturday's events... just click here.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Graeme Quote of the Day

When I picked Graeme up from school yesterday, I asked him (as I generally do) about his day at school. Obviously not in the mood to tell stories this day, he answered quite matter of factly, "I can't remember my day because my brain is making my hair sweat." Who could argue with that?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Guess Who's Walking???

He actually took his first two steps about a month or so ago, testing his land legs between mommy and daddy, but his walking is really taking off lately. He can stand off the floor on his own and then take a few steps with great balancing techniques. He can even pivot on one leg to turn around now. The only deterrent to him walking more, in my humble opinion, is the fact that he can crawl so fast that his walking holds him back. To have an idea of how fast this kid can crawl, I want to remind you of the scene in "Aliens" where the alien baby jumps out of that guy's belly and scurries across the lab floor. Yes, THAT fast! We aren't worried about the love of crawling, though. We are sure that, sooner rather than later, this kid will be running and I will be complaining about why we ever decided to teach him to walk - hahahaha!

How Time Flies...

Last Thursday, Ethan graduated from the 5th grade. Wasn't it just last year that I was dropping him off for his first day of Kindergarten? Time passes by way too quickly and it kind of freaks me out that Graeme's starting Kindergarten in the Fall. I just know I'll blink and he'll be at this same point with him too... Where does all the time go???? Ah, just another reminder to really cherish every day; our time with our kids is way too short.

A quick story about cheering... As Ethan sat waiting for his name to be called to collect his diploma, he caught my eye and was begging in his own version of sign language for me not to cheer as loud as I promised I would. I guess he doesn't know that that kind of thing just eggs me on. Hahahaha! So when Ethan's name was called, there were loud cheers and yelling of his name (by me, Rodney, E's dad, Uncle Manolete, and even a few of his friends). Much as he thought the whole thing would be embarrassing, I do think he enjoyed it at the end, especially since his friends were also cheering him on (because, you know, that makes it "cool").

We are so proud of Ethan and all he's accomplished at elementary school and can't wait to see how much more he grows in middle school. For graduation, Rodney and I finally got him the cell phone he's been asking for as his graduation gift (we held out as long as we could!). He seems pretty pleased with the phone we all picked out so that's always good. We also took him out to an Indian buffet lunch as an extra celebratory treat that day. It was a fun treat for us to be off work and just enjoy our time with Ethan without the other boys for the day. We hope Ethan felt the same way. :)

Our graduate...

Posing with Roni and Eva...

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Stories of Graeme, Part 375

This kid provides us with a treasure trove of stories and things to laugh about, I can't wait til Xavier is old enough to regale us with the same craziness.

Two days ago, Graeme was hanging out with me, doing "homework," meaning he was practicing his letters, colouring, etc. After a few minutes at work, he declared that he needed glasses so he could see better. So he went to his room, collected his swim goggles, and put them on. Those apparently did the trick...

I love this boy!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Another Graeme Gem...

I guess he's just at that age... so precious!

This last weekend, we went to an early dinner with our friends Dina and Sam and got seated close to the front desk of the restaurant. After eating, Graeme decided he was going to stand up on his seat and chat the ladies of the reception up. One cute, blonde girl gave him attention and that's all he needed to throw down his pickup line: "I like the boom boom pow..." Of course, she (and the other ladies with her) were all tickled, which just encouraged our little Romeo. Thanks Black Eyed Peas, our son is now well-prepped for the teenage years and beyond!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Graeme Story of the Day

Not from today, but last week, actually... We were driving home from school, me and the boys, when I announced to Ethan that I had to stop at Costco to buy a "couple" of things. Knowing already that I tend to wander around that store too long, Ethan said to me, "Okay mom, just don't get carried away."

Almost immediately, we hear Graeme chime in from the back seat, "Yeah mom, don't get carried away or we're going to miss you!"

That kid just tugs at my heartstrings!

Here he is in his room, where we found him one day, tucked among his stuffed toys. And, yes, he did put himself in there.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Story About Graeme

I should say that this is really a story about how Rodney is raising our kids. That's right, I'm blaming all this type of stuff on Rodney...

So of Rodney's favourite jokes for when the kids say they smell something bad is to say, "Maybe it's your upper lip." I have to admit, the reaction is usually quite comical and we all have a good laugh when this happens.

Well, the other day, after arriving home from school, Graeme unbuckled himself from his seat and said to me, "Mommy, I smell something. Do you smell something?" I turned around and told him that, no, I didn't in fact smell anything funny at all to which he so flatly replied, "Oh, maybe it's my upper lip."

I just laughed and told him that, yes, maybe it was. Hahahahaha! Our poor kids.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Confessions of a Slacker

It's been so long since I've written and I can make up a million excuses, but I won't. Instead, I'll tell you what's been going on lately with the Grussing-Pike Tribe.

Ethan's winding up his last semester as a 5th grader. Next year, he'll be in middle school where he'll be among the 7th and 8th graders. I don't know if I'm ready for that so we'll see how we all transition. Here's a picture of him perfecting his Ripstick technique. We got him the Ripstick for Christmas and he said it was the best thing we got him. Yayyyyy!

Graeme is also winding up his Pre-K year and looking forward to starting Kindergarten in the fall. He is working on writing and numbers right now. He has nearly mastered the number patterns and can count to 100 with a little assistance. We do "homework" to strengthen his pincer grip and encourage good writing habits. He still (especially at school) writes with both hands, but we feel he is really and truly a lefty. Graeme's favourite things to do these days include playing with dinosaurs, making up silly names for Xavier, chasing Ethan around (and generally driving him nuts), and, of course, cooking. Every day, he puts on his apron and asks me if he can be my chef, to which I always reply, "Yes chef." He loves putting food in the pans and stirring. He understands the process of cooking and can probably walk you through cooking scrambled eggs, easy. Luckily, they've spent a lot of time at school cooking lately - here are photos of Graeme flipping his grilled cheese sammidge and frosting his V-Day cookies (notice the lefty action):

Xavier just passed the 9.5 month mark. He's been crawling like a fiend for a while now and really loves standing and cruising the furniture. The rooms in the house he's obsessed with are (1) the bathroom (because he knows he's banned from crawling around in there) and (2) the kitchen (where his main goal is to get to the cat's food bowl so he can pick it up and slowly drop it to the floor - I think he likes the sound it makes). He's also eating regular food with us a few times a week and loves to feed himself Cheerios. He LOVES bathtime, especially now that he gets to bathe in the big tub with Graeme. Graeme, of course, considers Xavier his personal plaything when in there. Evidence of this...

Finally, some really great news on the Rodney front - he recently was promoted to Head Graphics Honcho at work. Okay, that's not his official title, but he's now officially a manager. When I told Ethan about this, his first question was, "So he can tell people what to do now?" I assured him this has always been the case... hahahahaha! I kid. I kid. Congratulations sweetheart, you really really really deserve it.