Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas Eve

Where did I leave off? Ah yes, Carter's birthday celebration had ended and it was on to Christmas Eve dinner! Our friends the Beagles joined us and we are so glad they did! There little guy Henry is Coen's age (one month older) and such a cutie! The boys loved playing with him and Auntie loved loving on his baby brother.

Some photos: the crowns... those are from our tradition of doing "poppers" on Christmas Eve. Each one comes with a crown, a small toy and some jokes. Even guests have to participate :)

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So after we were all stuffed, we moved on to Christmas gifts. We laughed at how quickly Coen got the hang of opening gifts. The Beagles gave him his first "coming home" gift and he just held it. He had no idea that he needed to unwrap it. Those times are long gone. He can unwrap any gift in about 2 seconds flat!

One guess as to who gave the boys these shirts... ah, it's so true too!

Usually sunglasses give Coen a kind of "Ray Charles" look, but these new shades from GG and the rockin' guitar from Auntie... I'm thinkin' more Lenny Kravitz. I wish I had a video of the way we moves when he is holding this guitar. He owns it!

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The adoption is DONE!!!

It was already done, really. Coen has been a US citizen since he step foot on it's ground. We adopted him in Ghana and he has legally been ours since March 17th and a citizen since September 7th. By choice, we readopted him in the US today. There are a few reasons to do this, but the primary one for us is that it will give him a US birth certificate.

We have his birth certificate from Ghana, but sometimes you need a certified copy (like if he ever wants to adopt a child from Ghana - he'll need a certified copy dated within 3 years if things are as they are today). We didn't want to risk his needing one and having to somehow contact someone in Ghana in an office that currently doesn't have an electronic filing system and might not have any record of him.

So today, we went before a very nice judge and completed the process. The judge wanted to stress the importance of our family and encouraged us to realize the responsibility we have not only as parents, but to our community and nation. He applauded us for being a committed couple that seemed to value each other and our family. He made Chris promise to say he loves me every day (he already does at least twice) and to thank me for being his wife before going to bed. He then added that I should follow suit. :)

I can only imagine the sad cases that this man faces as a family court judge. I am so incredibly blessed to be married to such an amazing partner and it was nice to be reminded that what we have is special and shouldn't be taken for granted.

Without further ado...

From the mouths of babes

While we were testing out daddy's new food dehydrator that he got for Christmas, I put on my cute new apron that I got for Christmas. Carter looked at me and smiled and said "super mommy!"

Hmm.. is that all it takes? An apron?

Both boys have been making me smile with all their talking lately. Both are saying please and thank you for EVERYTHING without prompting. Today, Carter even thanked the waitress for brining Coen a new fork: "Tank you for binging my brodder a new fork!" Coen is just blowing out minds with his verbal skills. He not only can say whatever he wants, but he seems to really understand the meanings. He now even asks to be excused from the table when he is done eating and seems to honestly get the concept!


This video:
Why we don't have anything worth anything in our home.
Also, why mommy is cranky when daddy gets home.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Caught it on video

This is THE look he gives when he is upset with me. It usually works if I just tell him not to look at me like that - it cracks him up!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Saturday, December 24, 2011


Having a birthday on Christmas Eve can be tough, but so far, Carter is taking it like a champ. When he woke up we all told him happy birthday and headed downstairs to see his gift (mommy ran ahead with the camera). He LOVED the bike and rode it around in the garage for quite awhile.

Then, it was on to our tradition of Mickey Mouse pancakes for breakfast. This year, he wanted to help make them.
**I tired to upload a video, but it's not working right now...

He opened one more small gift from us, a board game and then the party died down until about 3 when Grandma Cupcake & Ralph, Auntie Lindsey and our NEW Uncle Matt, and GG arrived. Carter then got to open more birthday presents!

A new bike helmet from Grandma Cupcake
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He read this card out loud "It says Happy Birthday to me!"
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After all the birthday presents were opened, it was time to move on to Christmas Eve dinner!

Happy Birthday Carter

I cannot believe that I have been a mom for 3 years. Just today, I ran to the store and left the boys with Chris and when I got to my car, for a split second, I thought "wrong car, this one has car seats." Seriously. And yet, almost every other moment of the day my thoughts revolve around my little men.

Today, my Big Boy turns 3. He makes me happy everyday as I watch him take after his dad. He is caring, kind and considerate. Watching him grow this past year and take it all in has been remarkable. I don't believe there are many two year olds who "get it" with adoption, but he did. From the time he saw Coen's (kiki) photo he took on the role of big brother. He was ready to love him and take care of him. The transition since bringing him home has been amazing, especially on Carter's part. He readily shared mommy, daddy - even Grandma and Papa. He treats all HIS toys and THEIR toys. He makes me so proud.

I won't lie, I got watery-eyed when he stopped calling himself "Caca" and starting saying "Carter". Then again when he dropped the "kiki" and went to Coen. Everyday he is turning into a true Little Man. While I miss my baby I am loving every day as I get to know this little person a little bit more.

Happy Birthday Sweet Little Man

Monday, December 19, 2011

Oh Coen..

The only child who can make a huge mess with a spill-proof sippy cup.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Fun Coen photos

This is his "what you talkin' 'bout Willis?" look:

Which is always followed by this smile/laugh 'cause he knows he is just so hilarious:

I also came across these photos. I took them the first week he was home. I was trying to capture this photo, but it is actually the last one I took:

Sweet looking little man with daddy. But first, I caught these two have-to-have photos:

One heck of a weekend

Man. I. am. tired.

My Grandmother showed up at my house Friday afternoon. She is usually well-planned for and helps to bring relief to Chris and I. But this time, this time, her arrival added a tidbit of stress. You see, she was a surprise. Not for me. For my mom. For my sister's wedding.

Let me back up. My sister got married to an amazing man on Saturday! I've known about the wedding and have been helping with wedding favors, ordering flowers, making place cards, etc. for about a month, but almost all of the guests at the wedding - had no idea they were attending a wedding. She and I had lied to grandma and told her she was being flown up for a surprise party for mom's birthday. Mom thought she was attending a "meet his side of the family dinner". Oh the lies!!! They were exhausting! So, having grandma hear just meant I had to think harder and make sure to avoid mom and remember which lie I was telling. I even had to leave grandma at home when I took the boys to see Santa at Audigy Group on Friday since my mom works there too!

The wedding was beautiful. Heartfelt. Fun. Sweet. Perfect! Photos to come.

At the request of an invitee, I planned to hold Carter's birthday party today. The day after. To say the least, it was a bit much for one weekend. It was even more to do the weekend before Christmas. We all know how it is. Stuff comes up the weekend before Christmas. It's why you don't throw the party the weekend before Christmas. Some guests had legitimate excuses for changing their RSVP, others did not. Right up until the last hour, we had people canceling. We had a guest list of 10 kids, but ended up with Carter, Coen and 2 friends.

Because we had so many kids on the list, we decided to have it at the Kids Club in Vancouver. It has an amazing jungle gym play area and I figured it would relieve the stress of keeping my house clean since I would have house guests for Lindsey's wedding. I honestly don't think I would have had an actual party this year at all except that we will be having Coen's 1st birthday party next month and I didn't want Carter to think he get the short-end of the stick so, we decided to throw him a party too.

We decided on an Elmo theme so I put Carter in his Elmo shirt. I figured it wasn't Coen's party so, I wouldn't put his one, but Carter insisted!

Grandma Cupcake decorated the cake!
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The kids had a blast playing and we then had pizza and cake. For a large party it's great. For 6 adults and their children, it's a bit too much. We really could have had the party at our house had we known how everything would turn out. It was a glorified play date. Carter's friends Henry, Elliot, and Sanya were there and I'm pretty sure they had a good time. Check out the photos and video.


I took this a week ago or so, but am just now finally loading it. Their Twinkle Twinkle Little Star is quite a bit improved now :)

Friday, December 16, 2011

The messiest child

Ugh... Something as simple as a peanut butter sandwich can end up like this with Coen. And this is only the top of his head!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Some Coen for you

So you had a bad day

My sweet little man. He had such a rough one today and it started at 1 a.m. He wasn't feeling well last night and we were woken up with Carter "making a mess" as he used to call it. He has grown-up so much that this time he looked at me as daddy cleaned him up and said "Mommy, I puked in my bed on the left" (as if I would think he did it in the other bed in his room). He slept in our room the rest of the night after getting everything cleaned up.

**** This next part if a bit graphic****

This morning he was acting fine so, he came along with me to an appointment where they have day care. It was 10 minutes. Tops. I heard him crying and when I got to him his mouth was full of blood. The girl who was watching him was apologizing repeatedly and said something about him falling off a stool and biting his tongue. Long story short, he seriously took a chunk out of the middle of his tongue. I was about to run him to the E.R. but my sister informed me that they can't do anything all to help. Just give him ice. We did that and some water and he seemed OK within about 15 minutes.

The rest of the day was touch and go. One minute he would be completely fine and running around with Coen. The next, he would milk his tongue injury or get feverish on me. I have him sleeping on our bedroom floor tonight so that I can keep an eye on him. He thinks it is the greatest thing ever to sleep on our floor with blankets! At bedtime, he was clueless that he is sick.

I always say that there is no way I could be a nurse like my sister. I don't do well with blood and bodily stuff... Odd, I'm not a nurse, but as a mom, I ended up on-call 24/7 for all of it. Thank goodness God gives moms special "do-what-it-takes-for-your-kids-without-thinking-about-it" powers and he gave me a super hero dad who helps!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Letter from Honah

A little background..

It used to be that when Coen would cry and I asked Carter what happened, he would look at me and say "I just hit him" or whatever the case would be. He realized a couple of days ago that he can say "anything... Carter not do anything" instead of coming clean.

So yesterday he tried this with me twice. One of the times he finally gave in and told me that he had "sort-of" bitten Coen. It clearly wasn't a true bit based on Coen's reaction and the absence of marks (not like the bites that Coen gave Carter the first week), but he still needed time-out for the offense. Adding the lying turned time-out into time-out in his room alone. I don't remember the other instance now, but I do remember his lying to daddy when he got home. It went like this:

Chris: Carter, what did you just do?! (Sounding horrified)
Carter: Anything (shrugging his shoulders)
Chris: Carter! You do NOT wipe your nose on your brother's head. His head is NOT a sponge. I saw you do it!

Chris sent him to time out, but mommy jumped in and doubled it to time-out in his room for lying to daddy instead of confessing and apologizing.

It was time for Honah to step in. Carter seemed to understand the letter. He apologized again this morning and asked Honah to tell Santa that he would be good and not lie to mommy and daddy any more. I also heard him telling Auntie all about it today so, I think it has sunk in.. we'll see.

The Griswalds

They live just around the block. Amazing!

Letter to Santa

Thank you Macy's! If it weren't for your mailbox, how would our letters get to Santa?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Reason #4239 that I love my husband

Did I mention that we had water damage in our laundry room recently? Yep, right before we found out that we were sharing our home with 3 opossums. Turns out that the water damage was covered, but the opossum issue was NOT. Dealing with the unwanted house guests was not an option. Luckily, I have an amazingly talented husband so, fixing the flooring ourselves was an option that saved us money and allowed us to use the insurance money to take care of those nasty critters.

I love the new floor that Chris put in today. It almost makes me thankful that the washing machine sprung a leak. We never would have switched out the floor otherwise and I think it looks so much better!


Just preparing for Carter's "Friends party". As always, we'll celebrate his birthday on his birthday and all family is welcome!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Thursday, December 8, 2011

We made the paper

I presented at the Stayton Rotary club back in March and was invited back last week to receive a check for $2000 to create a library at Great Mission International's children's home in Ghana. The local paper wanted to run a story about our little family and this generous donation. Thank you Rotary for all your support!


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Haircut #2

Coen's hair grow so fast! Daddy decided he could cut it himself last night. I think he did a pretty good job!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The strong willed child

My mom bought a book by this title when I was a toddler. I now have it and apparently need to start reading it. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree with Coen. Here's an example:

At dinner he got in trouble for screaming and melting down as I started to cut up his food. He thought I wasn't going to let him feed himself. Punishment at our house is not getting to eat until the crying stops and an apology is made. The crying stopped quickly, but he would NOT apologize. We kept saying, "Coen, say sorry" and he would just turn away. Carter jumped in with "he's a baby. He can't talk." If only this were the case. It took about 15 minutes, but we finally got him to copy me one word at a time "mommy, I am sorry"...

Hours later I asked him to say sorry just 'cause. He immediately said "sorry!"

Yep. Strong willed.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

When it rains...

The day before Thanksgiving we ended up heading to Statyon to spend the night because our house was full of dehumidifiers and random equipment sucking water out of our hardwood floors. The noise was unbearable and the machines were right in the middle of where we do all of our living. Saturday morning the machines were removed and we were left with a whole in our laundry room floor (soon to be fixed hopefully). Insurance will cover it, after our $1000 deductible. At some point. I'm not exactly understanding what we are waiting on so, I'll be calling AGAIN Monday morning.

Fast forward a little bit and I'm greeted by our neighbor telling me that his kid saw an opossum go under our house. Great, I'll add it to my list. And I did. Today when the pest control guy came he did not have good news for us. Not one, but 3 opossum under our house and they have been busy making a mess down there. An almost $3000 mess. Again, I'm told that insurance will LIKELY cover it, but will cost us the $1000 deductible.

Man.. We are hemorrhaging bills over here this month.


This post is so very late!

We celebrated Coen's first Thanksgiving at Auntie Jeanette's house this year with a TON of Mintens! The Westlunds are always so kind in opening their home to anyone/everyone on Thanksgiving and we always have so much fun catching up with family and seeing how big all of the kids have gotten. This year, Coen was the youngest great-grandchild, but that didn't stop him from jumping right in to play when we arrived.

You never know if you are going to get the shy Coen or the anyone-can-hold-me Coen. On this day, we got the latter which I loved! He had so much fun with all of his 2nd cousins and got love from everyone.

All the great-grandchildren took photos with Papa Ron and GG Lois (Nope, this isn't ALL of their great-grandchildren)

We spent the night at Grandma and Papa's and of course, they had a fun surprise for the boys. I don't even know what these are called, but they are FUN!

Date night!

Coen has been home almost 3 months. In that time, we have slowly been getting him used to staying with someone other that Chris and I. I started having our normal babysitter come by for a few hours each week while I stayed home, but did chores around the house. At first, he would come running for me every 20 minutes or so to make sure I was still around. Little by little, he's gotten more comfortable with the idea that if I leave, I will come back. So far, he has been to the childcare at the gym twice (an hour each time) both times WITH Carter. That's key. If Carter is with him, he's good to go.

Tonight is the night. We are finally having our first date night since Coen came home. It's the office Christmas party and we are going all out and spending the night out too! The boys will be with their sitter that Coen has been getting to know until Auntie Lindsey gets off work. Then, because she has to work in the morning, she enlisted soon-to-be-Uncle-Matt to come over bright and early to watch the boys. I can't believe how lucky we are to have so much support!


We had a blast last night! The party was really fun and with my borrowed dress, I was able to splurge and get my hair did (as my sista would say). We slept until all of about 8 am. Darn. When you have kids, your clock just won't let you sleep late. We enjoyed breakfast and adult conversation (definition: a conversation during which time no one announces "I need to poo poo" or interrupts with whining or freaking out that their spoon fell on the floor).

When we got home, Uncle Matt was playing with the boys in the playroom. The dishes were all cleared and in the dishwasher and we got to hear all about the pancakes (in the shape of Christmas trees no less) that the boys enjoyed earlier.

We have GOT to do this more often - not sure if the Rios clan agrees :)

Friday, December 2, 2011


The other day we had quite the surprise. Auntie Lindsey came by and told us that Santa had given her an Elf on the Shelf for the boys. He came with a book and told us that he would watch the boys each day and then at night, while they sleep, he flies back to Santa to give a report. When he returns in the morning, he finds a new place for the day. The boys are not allowed to touch him else he loose his special magic. In order to get things in motion, the boys had to give him a name. Carter immediately chose Honah. It sounds like Jonah (or at least it does now... it started off kind of like ho NAAAAAA).

Silly Honah has already ridden on one of our reindeer decorations and sat up in our kitchen chandelier.