Sunday, August 7, 2022

5 Years Later....

 It has been over 5 years since the last blog post! This morning I was reflecting on the fun things we did this summer, looking back at photos, and felt the urge to share it somewhere, so here we are! 

School got out early this year, before Memorial Day. We finished the school year with Audrey's 5th grade graduation ceremony. It was bitter sweet, mostly sweet though. Look at these beautiful girls! They have formed such strong friendships over the last couple of years, despite 2/3 of those years being inconsistent due to covid. 

Audrey was given the Art Award and it was such a special recognition. We are always amazed by her art and it was nice to see that its not just us who think it is remarkable! 

Last Day of School//Summer Launch Party!

The first weekend after school got out was Memorial Day and we did what I love most - had family over! Dad, Matthew, Liam, and Ian spent a couple days at the house with us and this is just what my heart needed. I love a full house and the joyful chaos it brings! We broke out the slip and slide, played in the pool, celebrated Ian and Nathaniel's birthdays, laughed and ate food together! It was a perfect weekend to kick off Summer 2022!

I'll update on June keep checking back!! 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Easter Egg Hunt

One of the perks to our neighborhood is that they put on big events throughout the year. At Christmas, they did a little festival with s'mores, carriage and train rides, Santa, and even a little shopping. It was so fun! So when I got word of the Easter Egg Hunt, I knew we wouldn't be let down! 

The kids each got to hunt for eggs with their age group (one group at a time) which was a god-send for me since I took them by myself (Josh was working). Nathaniel went first and obviously the eggs weren't really hidden for his age group. He was confused at first but caught on quickly and gathered a dozen up pretty fast! Then got to work eagerly opening the eggs to get to the candy. :) 
Joshua's group was next..this was a little trickier because he still needed my help in the crowd, making sure he didn't get lost, get in a fight, or take more than his share of eggs. The hard part was trying to do that while also keeping Nathaniel from taking more eggs or running off somewhere. It was chaotic for a few minutes but we all made it out OK!
Audrey waited so patiently for her turn and by the time they blew the whistle for her group to go, she was off! She must have been the first kid in her group to gather her 12 eggs, haha. She was sprinting and was serious about this job! I think she just wanted the candy...and the chance to say, "I was first!". LOL
Next we went over to the clubhouse to see the Easter Bunny but the line was way too long to stand in with Nathaniel. Instead we headed into the lounge room for donuts and juice. Extra surprise were the cups of jelly beans the kids (quickly) located. Lots of sugar and all before 10am!! 
Outside they had a small area set up with baby animals that the kids could look at and even touch and hold! Audrey had some eggs in her classroom that recently hatched into baby chicks, so this was extra special for her. She kept telling the boys how to be gentle when holding the babies and other cute little tips. All three kids were extra giddy when the baby goat started "bleating". It was so cute! Made me consider for a split second moving to the country where we could have baby farm animals. And then I was like LOL NO. 

It was a chilly morning and Nathaniel wasn't feeling well, so once we had made our rounds to all of the attractions we headed back home. Nathaniel took a wonderful 2 hour nap and Audrey and Joshua ate waaaaaaay too much Easter candy! A good time had by all. :)

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Joshua Jr, Age 3

Joshua has been growing up so much in the past 6 months. He's grown taller, talks more, has bigger thoughts and ideas...and opinionated as ever!!
 He started going to school 5 days a week in January. I wasn't excited about this, but the school doesn't have a 3 day option for 3 year olds, it goes directly from 2 days at 2 years to 5 days at 3. So he's there every morning until noon. He likes it. He comes home happy, but tired. He eats lunch and then naps when we get home from school, so pretty much his whole day is gone until after we get home from getting Audrey from school. He does love to tell me about his day - I always ask who he had snack with and what they ate, who did he play with at recess and what did they play (usually hi-ya/karate games and some sort of racing game), and I ask what work he did. A few weeks after he started in the class, his teacher held an open house so all the parents could come and see what the kids are working on. It was child led of course, so JJ took us around the room picking out his work and showing us how he does it. It was so neat!! I love the Montessori materials and I just thought it was so cool to see him using and learning from them! I also did an observation in his class last week so I could see him interacting with the other kids in the room and with his teachers - since the open house was more of him showing us around rather than working naturally. It was really cute seeing him talking to his friends and being himself.  Its a side of him I don't see much - interacting with kids that are not family. Since we have 3 playmates built in between home and Liam, JJ doesn't get to do a whole lot of play dates and such the way Audrey did when she was his age. I regret that a little bit, I do wish he could have more of "his" friends the way she did and really develop himself away from Audrey. I love that they are BFFs but I know he could benefit from having some time with other kids.
A couple of years ago, I did an interview with Audrey where I asked her about her favorite things. I did the same for Joshua the other day, so here it is!
Favorite Movie: Cars ("Racin Cars!" as he calls it)
Favorite Color: Blue
Favorite Food: Chips
Favorite TV Show: Wild Kratts
Favorite Toy: Buzz Lightyear and Woody
Favorite Drink: Water
Best Friend: Caleb (school friend)
I asked him some other questions but he was starting to get silly and his answers were just as silly. I am working on trying to get him to be more patient with Nathaniel, and also working on getting Nathaniel to realize boundaries (with joshua and EVERYONE ELSE!). They fight....a lot. Usually Nathaniel is bugging JJ and then JJ reacts..violently..and then everyone is crying. I am trying to be more physically present with the two of them when I can, meaning I'll put off the dishes or chores until later so I can play with them and play moderator. I noticed it was helping a lot a couple of months ago and that they were fighting less, but the truth is I just can't be there every moment to watch what happens between them. I know it will get better with time as Nathaniel matures and stops doing annoying baby things to Joshua, and as Joshua matures and can express himself in ways other than hitting. It will come.....eventually.....
He is such a little sweetie. He's definitely the most cuddly and loving child of mine. He loves to be held, cuddled, hugged, head and back rubbed, anything TOUCH, he loves! Sometimes when we're cuddling on the couch or in his bed at night, he'll run his fingers along my face or rub my hair. Last night Nathaniel fell asleep next to JJ during our movie night, and I looked over at one point and JJ had scooted really close to him and was lightly rubbing Nathaniel's arm. I just about melted!! It was nice to see that moment of love between them, even if it did occur when one of them was asleep LOL. At least it showed me Joshua does actually love his baby brother :)
He still has his "Kikis" - his lovies/blankies. There are only two of them now. At one point he had 5 or 6, but we've lost them over the years (sad, I know) and only two remain. One of them is called "Yellow kiki" (yes its Yellow) and the other is "Mean Kiki". I do not know why he calls it mean kiki...he just started calling it that one day and it stuck. He is VERY attached to them and talks about them as though they are people. If someone sits on one, he yells and runs over to save his kiki. The other day he was in his room playing with Josie and all of a sudden, he started screaming and crying..I thought he was hurt! I ran in and grabbed him and asked what's wrong? Are you hurt?? He managed to sob out, "Josie bite Mean Kiki!". It was like he physically felt the bite himself but I asked him where it hurst and he showed me a spot on the kiki. LOL. I think the kiki is an extension of himself. **In Josie's defense, I suspect she playfully mouthed it, i don't think she bit it**
This morning when he woke up and we were walking down the stairs, he hugged his kikis really close and said, "My mean kiki so nice. Mean kiki my best friend". So sweet. And I fully embrace it - I know it probably makes me a bad mom to let him walk around with his blankie and suck his thumb, but I think its the cutest thing on earth so I embrace it. I do draw the line and taking it into places/out of the car. Not because I truly care, but because I'm worried they'll get lost and then that would be heartbreaking.
He is so full of personality. He likes to play "Hi-Ya" where he goes around making karate jumps and kicks. He also likes playing spider man and asks sometimes to watch the show. He makes friends everywhere we go. He has no fear of walking up to a group of kids at the park and just jumping in to their game. The best part is he doesn't even care how old they are. Its hilarious to see him running around playing games with kids that are 5+ years older than he is, but he loves it, and usually they seem to think he's the cutest thing ever so it works out. He likes being silly and making faces, and playing cars and trains still. He started swim class back in December and he looks forward to it every week. He asks almost every day if today is swim class! He is working on his front float right now, last week he mastered his back float. He loves being in the water and I can't wait for summer and the pool! I want to get him in another sport/activity soon, but probably won't until school gets out. I plan to stop swim lessons for the summer so that may be a good time to find soccer or a T Ball group for him to join. He would probably love gymnastics too, so maybe I'll look in to that as well.
His birthday party (3+ months ago..) was at Bounce Mania, which is one of those places that has inflatable bounce houses. It was all planned and ready to go on his bday, and then he woke up with some serious pink eye. Probably the worst case the kids have ever gotten! He could barely open his eyes! So sad. I had to cancel the party and reschedule it for the following week. A few people couldn't make it the next week, but he didn't really notice anyone was missing because he was having way too much fun. He loved being the center of attention for once! Except in the above photo, in which he was very unhappy about being squished and squeezed between people. LOL
I am so excited to watch him continue to grow and learn this year. I remember from Audrey that it starts happening SO FAST now. Age 3 seems to be such a growing year and I am already seeing that in him. Here's to another fantastic year with our little buddy!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Walt Disney World

We took our first family vacation last Disney World! It was a magical trip..:)
Audrey started asking about Disney world about a year ago after some of her classmates took trips and talked about it at school. I started casually looking in to the cost and exploring different options in the summer, and then once we'd saved up some cash I went ahead and started working with a travel agent to make reservations. There is soooo much that goes in to planning a disney trip  that it became a little overwhelming at times, but I think the extra research and planning I did really paid off.
We were supposed to fly out Monday morning and arrive at our hotel around lunch time, leaving us the whole first day to really explore the resort, swim, go to the various attractions at Downtown Disney...but the Blizzard of 2016 really threw a kink in things. After a lot of back and forth trying to figure out how..and IF..we'd even be able to drive off our street and out of the neighborhood, we decided to drive to Florida instead of flying. The airline had canceled our original flight out and the new flight they put us on just didn't make any sense and wasn't going to work for us (late flight, different airport, even a different arrival city - meaning we'd have to arrange a rental car and drive 90 miles to Orlando..). So we got up in the middle of the night and made the 14 hour drive down to Florida! Audrey was less than thrilled. At first she was just disappointed that she wouldn't be able to fly on an airplane, but then she was mad because she's done the road trip thing before (Texas 2015) and she's not exactly a fan. We stopped about half way down for lunch at Chick Fil A and so the kids could run around and get some energy out and that seemed to work just fine. They complained at times, but between movies, naps, coloring, and books they were entertained. We did get to experience our first incident of car-sickness. Yay! Making memories......
We were so tired and cranky that first night that we just had dinner and got to sleep around 9pm. We were up early tuesday morning and grabbed the bus to the Animal Kingdom theme park. We had reservations at one of the restaurants that does "character meetings" first thing, which we thought would be great. Turns out expecting three very young kids to sit still for a meal on their first day of vacation when all they want to do is have hard. Juice was spilled. Luxurious buffet was barely touched. Josh and I wondered why we did not order from the bar. We all walked away thinking "glad that's over" but I think we learned a good first day lesson - to just let go of our expectations. We were so irritable and not enjoying ourselves at that point, so we went ahead and canceled the rest of our dining reservations and opted for quick service meals instead and that worked out well. For the rest of that day we got to go on a safari ride (definitely the kids' favorite attraction), see The Lion King Musical, Finding Nemo musical, do a "dino dig", and ride the rides. And eat all the over priced food. My fav of course. 
Josh took Audrey on the big roller coaster - she was just about an inch over the minimum requirement to ride. She was so scared!! She has talked about it so much and she keeps saying she'll never ride that again! haha poor thing. We met a few disney characters that first day and the weather was beautiful (sunny and 75!) and it was a great day! Kids were beat and fell asleep quickly so josh and I shared a beer on the patio outside the room to unwind a minute before getting to bed ourselves. 
The next day things really picked up. This was our first day in Magic Kingdom. It ended up raining on and off all day, but we were prepared. The strollers I rented came with waterproof stroller covers so the kids stayed dry, and I packed rain ponchos for Josh and myself (this is where that research I did came in handy!!). The good thing about the rainy day was that we got to do sooooo much stuff and wait in almost no lines. Nathaniel and Joshua napped for a while in the stroller and at those times Josh or I would go off and do the bigger rides with Audrey. We met Anna and Elsa, Rapunzel, Cinderella, Buzz, Woody, and Jessie, and more. I think Audrey's favorite was Rapunzel and Joshua's was Buzz...Nathaniel also really liked Buzz but he doesn't really have an opinion on a whole lot yet.
This day was probably the most exhausting day of them all. We went hard all day and then around 5pm everyone started to get a bit cranky. But the parade was not starting until 7 and the fireworks would be at 8. We really wanted to see it all while we were there so we decided to just keep pushing and stay until the fireworks were over. That was probably the hardest part of the whole trip! It was still raining and we were just tired but we made it to the 'main street' a few minutes before the parade started, only for them to tell us they were canceling the parade due to the rain. Bummer. And we still had an hour to find something to do before the fireworks started! JJ was sleeping and so I decided to take Audrey and Nathaniel on a ride despite the long line. That didn't work out and we ended up bailing after 20 minutes and just walked the park until the fireworks started. It was a nice display but I do wish we could see it one day without the rain, fog, and clouds. I'm sure its even more beautiful with clear skies!
The next day we decided to sleep in since we'd done so much the day before and we weren't rushed to try to fit a bunch in the schedule. Audrey and I had breakfast at Cinderella's Castle and she loved it! We had originally planned for all 5 of us, but after the first day at the restaurant I cancelled that reservation and made it for just the two of us. It's really fancy - white table cloth type thing. We were seated at a really cute table overlooking the whole park and she kept calling it our "date". She got to meet not only Cinderella, but Snow White, Aurora (sleeping beauty), Jasmine, and Ariel. After that we rode some more rides and then had an appointment for Audrey and Joshua to be transformed into Pirates! They have this whole salon and the kids can pick from a pirate or a mermaid and they got their faces painted, jewelry, swords, etc. They both LOVED it and looked awesome. The rain was pouring down this whole second day...not the light drizzle it had been the day before, so that kind of sucked. Still we got to do a TON in the park with practically no lines so that was nice. We bailed around dinner time this night so we could all go back to the hotel and get dry. Some other highlights from these two days were meeting all the characters and Audrey getting picked to play "The Beast" in a Beauty and the Beast show. She got to slow dance with Belle and she was beside herself with excitement!! 
By Friday we were truly exhausted. We went to Hollywood Studios this day and we were so thankful the rain was gone and it was back to being sunny and 75! This park is a little different - more experiences and shows and less rides. That was disappointing for Audrey (she's never satisfied!) but it worked out well. Lots of meeting the characters and they spent more than an hour playing in the huge "Honey I Shrunk The Kids" play area. 
By about 3 pm Josh and I were completely out of gas so we went back to the hotel and packed up, had dinner, and went to bed around 9pm since we were planning to drive home the next day, leaving at 3am. The drive home seemed longer than the drive there...probably because everyone was so tired and overstimulated from the week of fun!!
When we got home we had the best surprise of all - Lauren and Cheryle had cleaned my house top to bottom while we were gone! Not only that but they stocked our fridge with food (and beer! and wine!) for the week! It was so wonderful to get home and not worry about what to make for dinner and cleaning up the mess we'd left the week before! We were completely unpacked with laundry being washed by the time we went to bed that night. It was the perfect way to end that vacation!
We had so much fun and can't wait to go back. It was a wonderful experience for the kids and for us too (and a lesson in patience and letting go!). Our next trip is to Texas over spring break - I'm driving out with my mom and josh is flying in the end of the week for a few days and then driving back with me. Then in May we are going to Puerto Rico for a week and I'm so excited for that trip! Its been in talks for a few years now and I'm thrilled that we are making it a reality!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Halloween and Fall Fun

Fall is always a busy time of year for us. So much fun stuff going on and we're trying to get out and about before the cold sets in. This year the kids wanted to dress up as the Paw Patrol characters from the tv show. They looked super cute and they were over the moon happy to see that Josh dressed up as the lead character as well. We went trick or treating with Liam, Kayla, and Alexis (Liams cousins),  and Aunt Cheryle and Katie. Our neighborhood was great for it - townhouses so we didn't have to walk too far to get lots of treats! Afterward we came back here and had a little dance party before heading the kids off to bed.

We didn't do Cox Farm this year for our fall festival like we have in the past. In fact I think this is the first year we haven't gone there. We went to Ticonderoga Farm instead, and Lauren and Liam joined us. It was an absolutely perfect fall skies, not too chilly or too warm, and not crowded at all! We spent several hours there before the kids started to get tired. They each got to pick out their own little pumpkin on the way out, so we put those out on the porch. We didn't carve pumpkins again this year, but we did paint pumpkins which the kids liked that.

We're into a good routine these days. Audrey's in school all day, and Joshua goes half days twice a week. Those two days I usually try to run my errands since I only have one kid with me. Then Thursday and Friday I try to fit in play dates and trying new places that are geared towards toddlers since we don't do those things with Audrey anymore. I'm also trying to make more of a conscious effort to just stay home one day per week with the boys while Audrey is at school. I started to feel like our life was always running, always trying to do more FUN stuff, and we were never just at home playing and reading. Maybe I felt that life just got too fast. So anyways, we're working on that. Less scheduling. Audrey said she doesn't like gymnastics anymore so we took her out of those classes. I'm not sure if she wasn't in to it or if it was just too much. It was an after school class and I admit, it was a busy and chaotic day - school all day, then straight to gymnastics, then straight home for dinner bath and bed. We also moved her swim classes to Saturdays - she's just too tired after a day at school to do any organized activities for the time being. More updates soon! Here's a little pic of Audrey and Joshua walking together into school!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Five Years Old!

Why yes, this post is indeed 6 weeks overdue. LOL? I'm just happy I'm getting it done!
Our sweet Audrey turned FIVE YEARS OLD a few weeks back. Unbelievable. Where did five years go? There is so much talk about how time flies and "don't blink" but I never truly understood it until after Audrey was born. First she was 5 weeks old and I couldn't believe how much she'd changed since birth. And that made me emotional. Then she was a year old, and two...and I lamented the loss of my "baby" to the birth of a toddler. And I loved those toddler years so much!! They are wonderful at that age! And then she turned 3 and left home for preschool, she talked and began expressing her thoughts and her feelings more. She grew so much that year and I felt it in my gut..the "oh no" feeling...its coming. She's growing. Time is speeding up and the world keeps spinning and I cannot stop it. 
Before we knew it, she turned 4. This was a big year. New school, new house, many new friends. More self expression, the beginning of the "WHY"s. She began asking existential questions like "Why did God make us?" and "Can we come back after we die?". She's such a spiritual person, very in touch with her spirit, I think. This year we watched Audrey grow more than any year before. Her surgery occurred at 4.5 years and after that she blossomed into a little girl. Her voice changed, she experienced smells that she'd never known before. She began to sleep better and be more alert and awake during the day. She also started attending school "full day" at this same time - another element that added to her new change.
And then we had an AWESOME Summer and I was worried she wouldn't want to go back to school. But she did. And she came home saying school is her favorite thing to do and that she gets so excited when we drive to school. She opened up about some things at school, and she easily made new friends at school. She now works on things in the classroom that she'd previously refused to look at. She leads other students in new lessons - something she is SO PROUD of. She is exploring numbers and makes notes and cards for people. She is proud of the chores she does at the end of the day at school, and she's eager for us to create chores for her at home. She helps with her brothers (especially Nathaniel) and she wants to help us in the kitchen any time she can. 

For her 5th birthday, we wanted to do something special. We decided to give her bedroom a makeover and really make it something special for her since she spends so much time in there. Josh painted her room while she was at school that day, and when she got home we had hung up her decorations and she was so surprised!! Josh built her a large barn for her ponies and horses and it looks great in her room. Her birthday party was perfect this year. We invited a few of her friends over for pizza and some playtime. They colored their hair with special markers and they played dress up and other things. Then they made ice cream sundaes and we put on a movie for them. They kind of came and went while the movie was on. Mostly they just wanted to play. Audrey went to bed saying it was the best night ever.
The next day we had our family over for more celebrations. We had food and fun and then all walked down to the playground to let the kids run around. We even had a quick game of kickball! It was so much fun and I loved having so much of our family together. There were many missing but were there in spirit!

On Audrey's birthday I went to school with her and participated in the modest birthday celebration that they do. It is quite unique and special, and Audrey was just beaming as she got to light the candle and hang her photos up on the display board for the week.
It has been such a blessing to watch Audrey grow so much these past 5 years. We love her so much and cannot wait to watch her grow another year!