Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Was Good

Christmas was good this year. (When isn't Christmas good?) With Charly, we swear it just keeps getting better and better. Part of the reason is that magic you felt around Christmastime as a kid, returns to you as an adult when you see your child begin to experience it first hand. It's an interesting perspective. With her 2-year celebration just around the corner, Charly was old enough this year to begin understanding some of the traditions we're trying to establish for her sake:

Like celebrating on Main Street the day after Thanksgiving with family and friends, and speculating as to how Santa will be 'coming to town' this year (helicopter!). Even though she fell asleep on my shoulder and missed the whole darn thing . . .

And decorating the Christmas tree! Kelli had a new scheme this year including ribbon and even more ornaments. She was so excited because Charly loves to help Kelli around the house. Come to find out, Charly would have rather wrapped Elliot up in lights than use them to decorate the tree . . .

And gathering in Des Moines at Blaine and Jodi's to make Christmas cookies with the entire Henning clan! Even though she would have rather just played with her cousin Brooks' hockey jerseys and watch football than decorate any Christmas cookies . . .

Okay, so she was kind of unpredictable. But simple moments like these, (and more that we'll share later):

. . . reassured us that we were creating something special to her. And hopefully by documenting it all, we can share it with her someday!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Bad Santa

Yesterday, Kelli and I headed to Allison to help out Mom at the library's annual Christmas open house. I take pictures of all the kids that come to sit on Santa's lap and the library gives them away with Christmas magnet frames. Last year, we had our doubts if Charly would like Santa but she surprised us and loved him! We even took her to another Santa on Main Street in Cedar Falls and she loved him too!

Charly has always been a bit shy, especially around new people. Recently, it's gotten worse. It takes her forever to warm up to people and situations. Everyone tells us its a phase, and we're perfectly okay with it, but it made us wonder how she'd take to Santa this year. Yeah, um, not so well. I think what is the most heartbreaking about the following photos is how clear it is that she is trying not to cry. She has her hand in front of her face trying to hide it. Clifford the Big Red Dog couldn't help. Kelli swooped in fast, but I snapped a few pics.

Next up was Cruz, and he made no attempt to hide his feelings! He just wanted out!

They ran off some steam together and recovered quickly. Well, at least Cruz did. Charly kind of remained in a daze for most of the afternoon!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Second Time Around

I am in my 27th week in pregnancy, and it is unbelievable how quickly the time has gone by. It seems like just yesterday we were telling our family we were pregnant and now each day I am feeling more pregnant (aka larger) and more anxious to meet this new little one.

This pregnancy has been different from Charly. Since my eighth week of pregnancy I have gone two weeks in a row without throwing up...every other week I am usually sick, and it is almost always on a Tuesday! I have less cravings. The only things I have craved are iced tea, apples, apple juice, tomato soup, and chips on cheese sandwiches. I have been more tired but that might be due to appeasing and soaking up every single morsel of our 21 month old. I am carrying the baby lower, but this baby is in a different position than Charly was. This baby also moves and kicks twice as much as Charly did. She was a little swimmer and this one is a little fighter!

However there are some similarities. I have terrible heartburn just like the first time around. I just started getting leg cramps, and they bring me back to the sleepless nights I shared while I was pregnant with Charly. All of these similarities and differences can only mean one thing...we are having another baby!!!!! Another little bundle to love and cherish and create a lifetime of memories with.

As I was sitting on the couch with Charly nestled up to my side, rubbing my hand, watching Curious George, A Very Monkey Christmas, I couldn't help but get sentimental. I have always dreamed about cuddling up with my children and watching Christmas movies together. Now knowing what that feels like, it is absolutely amazing. And the best thing about it is that I get to this all over again with our second baby. All of the "firsts" I get to relive, each new month I get to experience all over again, and uncover this baby's personality each day.

Maybe I am also getting anxious about meeting this baby because I see Charly growing older each day. She now can point out certain letters of the alphabet, she can count ("1, 1, 1, 1"), she knows all of her colors, she does the "Itsy Bitsy Spider", she repeats parts of books, she knows how to run the iPad, when I light a candle she wants to sing "Happy Birthday", she likes to clean and pick up her toys, she wants to drink from a cup and not a sippy cup, she picks up pizza to eat it instead of getting cut into bite size pieces, she gets snacks out of the cupboard when she is hungry, when she sees a heart she pats her chest and says "beep, beep", she says a lot of three word phrases...our favorite "There he (she) (it) is" and "Where'd it go", and she sleeps in a big girl bed. But the reason she seems so grown up is because I keep picturing her as a big sister. Each day Charly shows me how loving and caring she is going to be to her baby brother or sister. She rocks and pats her stuffed animals. She puts them to sleep in her bedroom and gives them her pacifier as she quietly and sweetly tells them good night. She covers her animals with her blanket, so they are tucked in just right. She kisses my belly and wants to watch the DVD of our baby every night. I can't wait to see Charly take on the role of a big sister. I am going to have one helpful hand with this new baby.

Life will be busy with a second baby, but we will have twice as much love in this family, and we all can't wait!

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Well this is the 12th birthday we have celebrated together as a couple! It is amazing how 12 short years ago you were turning 18, and we were planning our future together and imagining our lives at the age of 30. Well here we are, and I couldn't have mapped it out any better! We have a happy home, a beautiful little girl, and another miracle waiting to meet us. I can 't wait to start this next chapter in our lives! Here's to our 30's...may these be the best years ahead of us!

Thanks for always being our rock, putting our family first, enjoying the simple things in life, being an honest man, always having a smile on your face, never pointing out my faults, being an involved dad and a nurturing husband. You are amazing and I am honored to be your wife!

Happy Birthday!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Watch Me Read the Book!

Mo Willems is a genius. He's this generation's Dr. Seuss. If you've ever read his books Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, or Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale, then you know what I mean.

I love children's literature but don't get around to reading much that's out there for early readers. Recently, I was advised to check out Willems' Elephant & Piggie books. I bought a few "for Charly" and became obsessed. They are hilarious. Even Uncle Taylor, a junior in college, laughed out loud when he reached "the twist" of There's a Bird on My Head!

And they're the perfect size for Charly. She loves sitting in her new big-girl bed and flipping the pages. She laughs at Elephant and Piggie's hijinks on each and every page and sometimes we wonder if she actually is following what's going on in each story.

Reading books has become Charly's favorite thing to do. Drawing and coloring ranks not too far behind. I think she's going to have a creative soul. Both being teachers, Kelli and I couldn't be more excited to watch her begin learning new things through books and expressing herself in creative ways like drawing.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Charly Was a Little Lamb

Our Halloween started last Thursday night, when we brought Charly to Allison for Mom's public library festivities. Last year we brought her as a penguin and she enjoyed watching all the little kids in their costumes listening to scary stories. This year, the library had Minute to Win It games planned for the little ones. Charly doesn't quite have her hand-eye coordination down pat yet (although she's not too shabby) so she wasn't going to be playing anything. But the Grandmas like having her there and she has fun people-watching so we made the trip. Plus, Grandma and Grandpa Henning were going to keep her overnight because Kelli and I had parent-teacher conference planning time the following day.

On Sunday, Kelli decided it was time to clean and carve the pumpkins she bought in Gays Mills. Charly took one look at the guts we were pulling out and wanted nothing to do with it! She's a bit of a neat-freak.

Last year we did not get around to carving the pumpkins we bought in Wisconsin. That made Kelli sad. So this year, we carved. We didn't purchase a kit so I freehanded simple designs on them and we both cut away. Charly thought they were silly. We thought they looked pretty cool when lit, for being last minute.

While I cleaned and carved (and watched the Patriots get embarrassed by Pittsburgh), Kelli took our little lamb outside for some fresh air. She loves it outside, she loves neighbor John, and since Mel doesn't take the kids out as much now that the weather is getting cooler, we feel like she's trapped inside. We're trying to take advantage of as much of the nice weather as we can, before we're snowed in this winter. Not sure how that's going to go. I'm envisioning an army of snowmen standing guard in our front yard . . .

Tonight, we wanted to see how Charly would take to trick-or-treating and we were a little apprehensive since she's so shy and reserved around strangers. Last year we brought Charly to Allison and hung out at Mom and Dad's house but this year, we wanted to break her in. Ashley and Beau's neighborhood is built for trick-or-treating and Charly and Cruz seem to like each other, so we thought it'd be fun to let them trick-or-treat together.

Charly wasn't sure what to think of Cruz's hungry caterpillar antennae so we couldn't snap a picture of the two of them together but we were able to snap plenty as Charly went door to door scoring candy! Kelli or I held her for the first few doors, but after a while she caught on herself, even eagerly snatching candy out of happy ladies' hands and waving "bye bye" while she stuffed it in her bucket. It got colder as the night wore on, and Charly kind of stole Cruz's ride from him (his Radio Flyer wagon). After we were finished in Ashley and Beau's neighborhood we trekked across town to one of Kelli's coworkers, and then went home to finally feed Charly supper! At 8:30! It was a busy but fun night and Kelli even had watery eyes a few times watching Charly waddle up to doors and holding out her bucket for a treat.

I'm sure next year her and Cruz will be pros and it'll be our new little one strolling along beside in the wagon.

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Week of Firsts

What a great week! This sure has been a week of firsts with some unforgettable moments along the way! Listed below are my top ten firsts this no particular order!

10. Charly wore her first real ponytail! The type of pony tail where I can fit all of her hair in a twistie without any of it falling out!

9. I got out my maternity clothes from the orange tote and hung them in my closet. This was the first time I had taken them out and hung them up since Charly was born. I suppose it might soon be time to wear those clothes again at 20 weeks pregnant!

8. I made my first apple crisp. We had plenty of apples from Wisconsin and thought I better put them to good use! After taking 40 minutes to cut up apples, it was rather simple to make. And might I add....quite delicious! Thank you Neeley's for the recipe! I think what made this experience even more great is the fact that our little girl sat on the counter the whole time with me and watched me cook eating slice after slice of apple. Hopefully some day she will enjoy the art of cooking!

7. We began a new tradition at our dinner table, during diaper changings, and hanging out in the living room. All three of us sing the "Oh, Baby, Baby" song...those are the only lyrics we know, but it sure gets Charly laughing and singing and us enjoying the simple joys of singing silly songs! (To do: capture this on video)

6. I had my first pregnant moment of forgetfulness. I was so excited to pick Charly up from daycare on Friday and start our weekend that I forgot something important in the classroom. I grabbed my keys out of my purse, picked up my school bag filled with personal narratives, and headed out my door. I got in the car, picked up Charly, and went to grab my phone to call Jordan on the way home like I do every night, but when I went to grab my phone out of my purse, there was no purse. Did I misplace it in the car? Nope. Did I leave it on top of the car and drive off? Nope. Did I set it down in the parking lot when I went to unlock the car and put my school bag in the car? Nope. Did I bring it into Mel's when I picked up Charly? Nope. Did I leave it at school? But how could I leave it at school if I had my keys? Don't ask me...but that's what I did. We went up to my school on Friday night to look for it and Jordan found it right by my desk. What a relief! My janitor, Rick, told Jordan as he left, "It's only just begun". You are right Rick...I bet I have many more of these moments!

5. Charly wore her first New England Patriots shirt to cheer on Tom Brady against the Cowboys. Charly and daddy looked pretty adorable in their football attire!

4. In my suggestion box in my classroom, I received the first suggestion for baby names from one of my students...Jose for a boy and Charlotte for a girl. I am glad to know my students are using the suggestion box the way I intended it to be used...maybe they just know how difficult it is for me to make a decision!

3. I actually felt the baby kick! He/She has been moving around for weeks, but to feel the first kick was an amazing first for this second baby!

2. For the first time since I have been pregnant, I stayed up past 11:00 on a school night and actually graded writing papers! Hooray for me!

1. We met Baby Henrichs and saw its photogenic self on October 11. The baby was adorable and most importantly we found out it was healthy. More to come on our 20 week ultrasound...words are still hard to describe this amazing experience!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Apples and Curds

One of our favorite days of the year usually comes in early October, when Kelli and I travel with her parents to Praire du Chien, Wisconsin to take in the leaves, buy some apples and cheese, and eat some waterburgers at Pete's. We've been making this trip for at least seven years, and I can't remember ever being able to wear shorts!

Our first stop of the day is always my personal favorite. Valley Fish & Cheese.

From Prairie du Chien, we drove up the road to Shihata Orchards.
We bought some apples and Charly played in the pumpkins.

In Gays Mills, Kelli and Carol had to visit The Pumpkin Lady.
Each year, the same lady is set up in the parking lot of a bank.
She sells trailer after trailer of pumpkins, dirt cheap.
Kelli and Carol buy enough to fill the back of the vehicle.

Charly actually posed for a picture outside Sunrise Orchards!

The line for Pete's was too long. We didn't get waterburgers this year.

Chad and Megan were shopping for apples with Jackson and Griffin too.
So we all met for a late lunch at Mr. McGregor Beer and Brats Garden along the river.

We ended the day with a walk through Pike's Peak.
With rain coming this week, we lucked out and may have seen the trees at their peak.
Charly loved looking at all the colors and playing in the leaves.
We even ran met my mom and dad with Beau, Ashley, and Cruz.

Charly and Cruz were thrilled to see someone their own age!

It was a long and busy day, but always worth the trip.

I would've slept most of the way home if it wasn't for the entire car shouting, "Move that bus!" through West Union!