Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Christmas recap...

Seasons greetings, my dedicated (and few) readers! Christmas has come and gone, but fear not, Harper is still sportin' her seasonal gear. She received so many different Christmas-themed outfits that there simply was not enough time to get them all in the rotation by the 25th. Don't be surprised if you catch HP donning a tunic adorned with what might be a Christmas tree on into February...we're repurposing it as a Valentine's tree!

Our family had a wonderful Christmush. Four of them, to be exact! We kicked off the marathon on the 24th with my side of the family. I had high hopes of Harper enjoying her first Christmas, or at least staying awake for the occasion. We started the gift opening segment of the evening a tad too late, and Jeff had to step out and put the Punkie to sleep. Luckily, my niece, Audrey, made an enthusiastic assistant and helped me open all of her cousin's gifts.

The next morning we set off to Abilene to celebrate with the extended Peel family. (11:30 barely qualifies as morning, Jeff!) We had to rechart our course a couple of times as neither of us will ever be mistaken for Magellan. At last, we made it there, and Harper finally got to meet the whole Peel gang! She particularly seemed to enjoy being held by Jeff's younger cousins, aka "the M girls!" Despite the long drive and the numerous introductions to new relatives, Harper remained in good spirits throughout the day. She made her 'rents proud! We stayed at a hotel that night, and headed back to Waco the next morning.

We celebrated Christmas #3 late that afternoon at Nana & Poppa Peel's house. Harper stared with wide eyes at all the bright-colored wrapping paper and tissue flying through the air. I couldn't tell which gift she loved most, but I'm going to pick the suede mini-skirt and sock monkey slippers. Jeff loved the slippers, but I don't imagine he is a big fan of the skirt! In fact, I believe he said it would be used as a burp cloth in lieu of Harper actually wearing it! Cuatro Christmas took place the next day, same place, with Jeff's local grandparents. (I say local, but the truth is we all live in the same neighborhood!)

Needless to say, Harper racked up some serious Christmas swag. The kid has no concept of stuff, yet she managed to land a mountain of it! I wish she had gotten to meet Santa this year, but it just wasn't in the cards. Oh well, maybe she'll meet the jolly fat man next year. At this point, Santa is just another person for Harper to flirt with or spit up on…she wouldn't give preferential treatment despite his VIP status!

With barely a chance to wind down from Christmas, today is already New Year's Eve. We have yet to make plans to celebrate the stroke of midnight, but we shall definitely be breaking out the bubbly around lunch time! Our good friends, (Sara) Breyer & Coats, are scheduled to have twins today by c-section at approximately 1PM. We are all excited to meet the boys, Kase and Kyle! Harper is already at odds trying to figure out which stud muffin she should date first. ;)

I have a plethora of new pics to share, but I'm low on time this morning. Stay tuned!

Wishing you all the best in 2009,

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

What's so funny?

Babies pretty much all start out as lumps of clay, as Jeff would say. (Yes, he is quite the poet, I know...) We wait for Harper to learn, move or do something new every day. It wasn't too long ago when our hearts were tickled by the sight of her first real smile. Granted, the I'm asleep and drunk off the milky goodness-smile is a sweet sight, but you can't beat a true smile shining on the face of your own kid. Once she had the smiling business down pat, we anxiously awaited her first bouts of laughter. The ever prophetic e-mails suggested that a three-month-old baby is ripe for the beginnings of laughter, so we had hope it would occur at any moment.

I first heard Harper laugh for a brief, tiny moment nearly ten days ago. We had just arrived at a friend's house in Pflugerville, and I was unloading Harper from her car seat. My friend, Kim, has twin (almost) two-year-olds, Christopher and Kiersten, that were curious to check out Harper. I crouched down to the ground with her to better aid their rigorous inspection process. Of course, Harper liked them both, but she seemed particularly mesmerized by Kiersten. The Punkster was turning on the charm, big time! She broke out a huge grin, and then she actually laughed! (I think she has hopes that they can be good friends one day!)

Jeff chose not to believe me until he heard it with his own ears. Unfortunately, she was stingy with the laughs and wouldn't give us another. Grandma told us Harper laughed one day last week, but neither of us were lucky enough to be invited to the show! Finally, last night, out of nowhere... Harper gave us several minutes of continuous, beautiful, and silly laughter! Jeff and I were elated at the sound of it. She may simply have been laughing at the fact that her parents are idiots, but we'll take whatever we can get! :)

I am comforted by the fact that something as simple as a baby's laugh can put me over the moon in love. I am constantly reminded how blessed I am with Jeff and Harper. They both give me reasons to smile and laugh every day. Who could ask for anything more?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Hittin' the road with HP...

Since I don't have to worry about Harper reading this blog, I can dish about her "big" Christmas gift. (Wrigley, you better keep quiet or I will revoke your e-mail privileges!) Jeff and I bought Punkie her first new car! It is loaded with all the bells and whistles. I mean, literally, it features actual bells and whistles. Horns and lights, too! Zero emissions, low maintenance, and it corners like it's on rails... ;) Tell me HOWE cool it would be if your steering wheel lit up and played tunes, or if you could jump in your seat while idling in traffic? Harper is definitely going to need a "Pink Ladies" jacket while cruisin' in her new ride! I've already put her in the car once (ok, twice) to determine if she will have an interest in it. Jeff chided me for "showing" it to her early, but c'mon, the kid doesn't have a bad memory...she lacks it entirely!

I bought her a dozen or so new books, too, which ought to buy me two more weeks of sanity. We read her a book every night, and my interest in her current library is waning. The more books I can cycle into the rotation, the better!

Harper turned three-months-old last week, and it is about time I posted a few new pics. Here goes...
...her goofy new winter hat...
...her baby Bevo towel...
...she can finally enjoy her Bumbo seat...
...Santa's down with leopard print, too!
PS. Are we bad parents because we haven't arranged for Harper to have her picture taken with Santa? I wanted to take her to see Santa at Ridgewood, but we were out of town that day. Thoughts of a mall Santa don't seem as appealing. Hmmm.... Jeff ordered Adobe Photoshop as my Christmas present, so maybe Harper will have a photo with Santa after all! :)

Milk and wine are mighty fine!

Thanks to the generosity of Jeff's mom, Toni, I am a new member of Sam's Club. I am amazed by this store and the awesomeness that is bulk shopping. Harper and I ventured out on Friday to run a number of errands. We stopped by Sam's with the intent of picking up Similac formula, and we left with two ginormous containers of said formula that should fuel Harper for at least two weeks. We also left with seven bottles of wine, which might last three days if Toni and I get together! Never shop when you're thirsty...isn't that the saying? ;)

As you may infer from the bulk formula and wine purchase, I have recently retired from breastfeeding. Harper consumed her last drops of breast milk this weekend. I've been nursing her part-time since Thanksgiving, and it finally came down to the point to quit entirely. We made it three months, which isn't too shabby in my book. Life as a feeding trough was a tad too stressful for me, particularly once I headed back to the office. I had hoped to make it longer, but I am happy with the good start I was able to give her. Now that we are solely bottle feeding, Jeff and I are able to share more of the work. I'm sure he was thrilled to take over the 4am feeding shift! An added bonus--Harper seems to like both of her parents equally as she now associates us both with food. Ol' Milky Jenkins...she doesn't care where it comes from as long as it makes its way into her belly!

In other news, we have finalized our Christmas plans and finished Christmas shopping. We will celebrate Christmas with my family at our house on Christmas Eve, and then we will head off to Abilene on Christmas morning to celebrate with the extended Peel family. Two hours is the longest Punkie has ridden in a car, and the drive to Abilene is at least twice as long. Maybe we can read the dozen new books I bought her for Christmas, and then settle in for a nice long nap together. Driver excluded, of course!

In case I don't get a chance to blog again this week, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy everything. :)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The young and the tan...

While browsing thru my pictures in Picasa, I came across an oldie of Jeff and I taken at one of our wedding showers.  Yes, that "oldie" was taken a year and a half ago, and how different we look!  
I had a tan, energy, and youth on my side!  Jeff apparently needed a haircut, but he also seemed full of life and energy.  I suppose I shouldn't be quite so critical of our current appearances.  After all, everyone looks better in the summer months, and everyone looks better with an uninterrupted night of sleep!  Maybe I just need to buy myself a tanning membership for Christmas--knock out two birds with one stone--insta-tan AND a built-in fifteen minute nap!  I'd look better and be well rested!  One can only hope!

While I'm at it, here is another pic just for kicks.  It was taken as we waited for our plane to depart to our honeymoon destination.  I purchased two pairs of wax lips from Cracker Barrel after breakfast that morning, and wore the first pair from the moment we parked at Waco's airport until the ladies with the beverage carts came knockin'.  Small children in the airport seemed somewhat alarmed by my big ol' Kool-aid lips!  I wore the second pair around our resort for a day in Puerto Vallarta...  Oh, I laugh!  Gotta love you some JPeel's!

PS. Welcome to the world, Ryder Hamden!  I bet you are wheelie, wheelie cool, and I can't wait to meet you!  Harper sends her love! :)

Flurries and fruitcake galore!

Folks, it’s official. Today is Tuesday, December 16, 2008, and it is snowing in Waco, Texas. Well, it started and stopped snowing in the time it took me to type the previous sentence, and I am no QWERTY slowpoke! I guess they don’t call it a “flurry” for nothing, because it was done and gone in a hurry! Luckily, Punkie Brewster is at home today with a sitter, so she is safe and warm in a comfortable environment. We were fortunate to find someone to watch her at our home yesterday and today, and to grandmother’s house we go tomorrow! The babysitting shuffle is getting old fast, and this is only the fifth day.

In other random news that I learned yesterday, some 3000 pounds of fruitcake were delivered to soldiers in Iraq over the last year. I am not sure from where that stat originated, but I am intrigued! As if our troops don’t have it bad enough as they spend the holidays in a Middle Eastern desert-- now we’re flooding them with the worst holiday gift of all time? Nice!

Tiff & Raymond—our fam is thinking of you today as we all await news of Ryder’s arrival! You can do iiiiiiiiiiiiit! :)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Back to the daily grind...

Yesterday marked my official return to work following twelve weeks of maternity leave (aka short term disability leave, but that is a whole 'nother can of worms!). Or rather, it marked my return to the office, because caring for a newborn and running a household should also qualify as “work.” The main differences between those two jobs are the number of showers taken and whether or not any makeup ever hits my face. Previously, my hair could go up to and including five days without a wash. Unfortunately, I have a feeling that my coworkers at the Chamber are slightly more discriminating than Harper.

I originally intended to blog about this grand occasion yesterday, but I wasn’t willing to take away from the little time I had to spend with my sweet Punkus. After all, less than three hours exists between the time I get home from work and the time Harper hits the sack. Throw in a nap, a bath, a feeding and a book, and it was 8 p.m. before I knew it. Harper and I shared a bath, and thankfully for us all, no pictures were taken. :) I've never seen anyone quite so captivated by a rubber ducky disguised as a pirate. By the way, did you know babies float? And yes, I washed my hair, too!

I was in bed by 9:30. It had been a long day, emotionally speaking. I didn’t cry at all yesterday, but I did feel the occasional tug at my heart strings. (Yes, I have them, surprisingly enough.) Harper handled the day just fine. We both survived… now we’ll just have to see who cracks first!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Call me (insert name here).

Tiffany (still "with child") brought it to my attention that her cat, Ferra, and Harper share the "Punkie" nickname. While I am amused by the shared moniker, it doesn't not surprise me that Ferra is also a Punkie. Nicknames interest me to no end -- interestingly enough, as I've never really had a nickname of my own. I've always been called by a name that was somehow derived from my given name. While the back story is interesting to some and completely dull to others, I may be referred to by a dozen different versions of my name at any given moment. Just call me...Jenny, JenHowePeel, JenHowe, ChenHowe, Jen, Jennifer, JPeel, Jennybean, etc. Take your pick!

My little Punkie has more nicknames than I can keep track of, and the list grows longer nearly every day. Jeff called her Pumpkin from the very beginning, which quickly morphed into many other names. It went something like this: Pumpkin to Punkin to Punkin Princess to Punkie Princess to just good ol' Punkie. Harper also answers to Punkie Pie, HP, One-sock, No-sock (you can easily see that those two are also related), Sweet Baby Harper, Sweet Pea... Booger comes in handy when she is giving us a hard time. Ben Ber-nakey is the name to use whenever she lacks clothing. There are at least a dozen others that are dancing beyond the margins of my memory at the moment, but you get the idea. I call her "Punkie" so often that I have to make it a point to use her real name - just to make sure she knows that she is Harper, too!

I actually did have a nickname when I was very young. I had almost forgotten it. Well, more like pushed the memory back into the deep recesses of my mind. My grandma used to call me "Pumpkin," which, for a time, I felt was very special. I thought it was special until I realized that she called everyone Pumpkin. I straight up got robbed by my own sci-fi granny! Sheesh!

Anyhoo, I'll leave you with a smattering of random photos from the last couple of weeks. Oh, a quick snippet of conversation from my field trip to pick up tissue paper from Wal-Mart... Harper and I exit the store right beside an older woman. Strangers, particularly old women, feel compelled to talk to me (and any other mother, I'm sure) about my baby. This lady, a new grandmother, proceeded to tell me about her two-week-old grandson. Apparently, he is cute, but Harper is "just soooooo precious!" Sorry 'bout your grandson, lady!

She has a thing for stripes! We call these her "jailbird" jammies!
Harper's 1st Thanksgiving

Hangin' out with Dad
She's got those sweet baby blues...

Two can play the pouting game! (Harper just happens to be cuter doing it!)

Friday, December 5, 2008

week in review

It's 10:30 pm, Punkie has long been fast asleep, and Jeff is out with friends. The best part of it all? My laptop is free to use, which means I am free to blog and such. Instead of blogging the many things I want to share myself, I've spent the last thirty minutes catching up on everyone else's blogs. I have particularly enjoyed the blog site belonging to an old college buddy, Laura, who now has a husband and a nearly nine-month old baby girl. How times have changed since our days at SWT... living in Tower hall, drinking kool-aid flavored 7-UP spiked with cheap vodka, harassing the party photographers at the Pike house and making the best grilled cheeses at 3am using illegal, yet handy, toaster ovens. Those days seem so long ago and so foreign, but they were so fun! Still, I must admit that these days are even better. There is just so much love to be found in a baby girl who prefers to wear only one sock and marinates every thing in sight with her drool!

I've started Christmush shopping this week. Yes, Christmush. I don't know where that came from, but it makes me smile when I say it, type it or text it. I wish a Happy Christmush to you all! I've only purchased a few items so far, but I need to turn up the heat. I go back to work this Wednesday, and I want to be near the end of Christmush shopping before I lose even more hours from my days. I am attempting to show some amount of restraint as I shop for Miss Harper, because I know there are many others that will shower her with gifts. I'm also resigned to the fact that my own Christmush presents will never quite be the same. We're no longer very's all about the Punkie now! Ah well, at least I can derive some joy from opening her presents this year since she lacks any useful function of her own hands!

Barnes and Noble has a great sale on all Dr. Seuss books right now. Buy two, get one free. I picked out six books, and I could have easily picked out sixteen more! I don't remember reading many Dr. Seuss books as a child, and the doc penned so many titles that I had never even heard of until today. I can't wait to read them to Harper, but I've got a couple more weeks until she (well, I) opens them. I almost cheated and read a new one to her tonight, but she fell asleep before we made it to the reading portion of our bedtime routine. I didn't even have to turn on the Bob Schneider CD either... she must have been very sleepy, indeed! Back to the books... I wrote short notes in the front cover of each one in hopes that she will consider it something special when she is much older. I actually stole that trick from my friend, Lara, who gave Harper a handful of great books on the day she was born.

Ooh, speaking of gifts... I turned 28 on Wednesday. I spent the day with Punkie, and then went to dinner at Bangkok with family and friends (isn't it wonderful when those two groups are one and the same?). Lara and Breyer really outdid themselves with their gift this year. They put together a big box containing "a few of JenHowePeel's favorite things." Contents include: pop rocks, Heineken, Vintage Ink Merlot, ultra fine Sharpie markers, one very cool necklace, an assortment of $5 gift certificates to my favorite places (Bangkok, Target, Starbucks, Katie's Kustard, Schmaltz, and one more that I will save for later!), a bag of sweet & spicy snack mix, Dumb Blonde shampoo and conditioner, and much, much more! They even included the remaining five beers from the Heineken six-pack, the heavenly Haagen Daas fleur de sel ice cream, and Havarti cheese waiting back at Lara's house. I was floored by their creativity and their thoughtfulness...I think the best gifts show a person that you pay attention to them and you truly care. Those two definitely hit the nail on the head! As great friends as they both are, they did also play a mean trick on me. As I carefully opened one particular gift certificate envelope, I was greeted with the sight of and what appeared to be a one thousand dollar credit! I immediately knew something was up when I saw the amount...and my suspicions were immediately confirmed when I scrolled down to the memo line. Their note explained that Endless doesn't actually sell gift certificates. I'm glad I read that part before I went on a shopping spree and tried to redeem it! ;) Oh, those girls! We had a lot of fun at dinner that night. We even discovered that Wayne Peel has a ton of Face-buddies! Hehehe... By the way, Lara has a fantastic birthday cake casserole recipe that she might be willing to sell at a fair price! ;)

Alrighty, I must be off to bed. Punkie patrol requires an abundance of energy, so I must recharge my batteries. Nighty night!

PS. Tiffany, will you have that baby already? Forget what you're feeling....I'm getting impatient! ;) Muhahaha...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Jane Fonda - watch out!

Check out a sneak peek of Harper's upcoming workout videos with Coach "Peanut" Chelle...

Apparently, too many crunches after dinner makes Harper puke. The mere thought of doing crunches makes me puke!

Crunches, kicks, and push ups, oh my! We're going to pump you up! ;)

Baby got back! Jane Fonda better watch out, 'cuz Punkie Peel is the new kid in town!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

i'll leave when i'm good and ready!

I know yesterday's post was rather drab, but what can ya do? It served the purpose of letting y'all know that we are, in fact, alive and breathing, just not blogging with regularity. I found myself with a few spare minutes as Punkie finishes her nap, so I thought I'd give it another whirl!

It's 10:44 am, and check-out time at the hotel is 11am. However, I spoke with the front desk and one baby excuse later, we've got ourselves an extended check-out! Babies are fantastic - they provide you with a built in excuse whenever you might need to get out of something, cancel, postpone, etc., and ain't nobody gonna call your bluff! Don't get me wrong, babies also change your plans when you'd rather they not, but sometimes it can play out in your favor. Jeff's meetings end around lunch time, and Harper and I shall remain safely tucked in our cush bed until we're good and ready!

Speaking of hotels, we really might have done ourselves in with Harper already. Her first hotel stay was at the Adolphus hotel in Dallas....niiiice! Her second and current hotel stay is at the Hyatt Lost Pines.....again, niiiiice! All I know is once you've experienced the good life, fat chance on being satisfied with anything less! Say we take a road trip one day and find ourselves facing a string of Motel 6's and Ho Jo's on the side of the you think Harper is gonna go for that mess? Ha! Not to mention the fact that her first public breastfeeding experience (not quite the way it sounds!) was in a women's lounge in Nordstrom. You think this baby is gonna be happy with a snack break in just any place sub-Nordstrom-standard? We've created a snob in less than three months! ;)

Anyhoo, I haven't been able to get another round of pics out yet, so instead I'll leave you with this great e-card. (By the way,, grrrreat site, but not for the faint of heart or those with a sub par sense of humor!) And I'm still gonna share pics, so there!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Gobble, Gobble!

Greetings, post-Thanksgiving, from the wee Peel family of three. Hope everyone had a tasty Turkey Day. We sure did! We spent Thanksgiving-eve and day with Jeff's family. It sure is nice when your T-Day trek is a mere 0.5 miles long. I promise we would have walked if we had not been transporting serving trays and a pan of mmm-mmm-good chipotle sweet potato gratin! Highways were not completely avoided as we ventured down to Killeen and Copperas Cove on Friday afternoon to spend some time with my family, too. Harper sure is fortunate to have three sets of grandparents, a pair of great-grandparents and a great-great grandma all within an hour's drive or less!

Long weekends are the best, aren't they? There is just something so wonderful about a Saturday when you've already been relaxing for the two preceding days. Even though I've been off work for the last ten (eleven?) weeks or so, I still feel the difference between weekdays and the weekends. Speaking of which, I can't believe my time off with Harper is rapidly coming to an end. I'm headed back to the office next Wednesday. December 10th - how I rue that day! Ugh, I find it extremely, extremely depressing... Next topic!

Jeff, Harper and I are at the Hyatt Lost Pines Resort today and tomorrow for the Chamber's Leadership Retreat. I wish I could join Jeff in the meetings, but I think Harper would feel slightly out of place and underdressed! On the other hand, it would make her day to coo and smile at a room full of older men! Maybe next year... ;)

It is ridiculous that I had to travel all the way down to Bastrop, Texas, just to get in some time on the computer. I would say that I don't know how that happens, but I do. I simply cannot sit down if I'm at my own house...that dang to-do list is ever expanding! In any case, it is quite nice to be out here at Lost Pines. The area is scenic, comfortable and relaxing - just what the doctor ordered! Bonus: I can blog uninterrupted for as long as Punkie will nap and I can also get around to uploading some photos and possibly even some video! (Aunt Chelle and Harper had a workout session the other day. Not sure if any one else will find it amusing, but I laughed!)

Well, lemme get to gettin'. Pictures to follow!