Thursday, June 7, 2018

Luke’s 3rd Birthday

Luke’s 3rd Birthday was back in February! We loved celebrating our little guy and loved even more that within a week of him turning three he became a little easier to reason with. Luke’s always been a more.... ornery child than one would expect, especially giving his cute looks and sunshine and rainbow spouting sisters.

Is it bad that I honestly can’t remember much about his actual birthday? It was on a Sunday so before church we opened up his gifts. And by opened I mean revealed because they didn’t get wrapped this year in tradition with his last year presents and a late delivery. He was pleased but liked his birthday donuts even more.

His party was the day before and we had it at Chick-Fil-A! My thinking was that since the only fee was the cost of the food you bought that I would end up spending less than I normally do on the food for an in home party. There was a fault in my thinking though: I really didn’t think that many of his classmates would come (many of them are younger, just turned two,) but nearly the entire group showed up. So it didn’t end up being cheaper but it was so easy!

They provided a tablecloth and balloons and I brought goodie bags for the table and brought a cake with me (though in retrospect he probably would have been happy with ice cream cups.)

We walked up, put down the party bags and cake, confirmed our order with the party hostess, then took the kids to the play place! As the families arrived we started directing them to the tables and booths that were reserved for us and to the play place. At some point we rounded the kids up to eat, then they briefly played again before cake time. That was it!

We didn’t do any games because the play place ended up being super crowded with just our party kids. A lot of the parents told me that it was their child’s first time attending a party for a peer or their first time playing in a play place (?!)

I loved celebrating our little guy and he felt really special!

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Three Things Lately

I've done this series off and on for awhile (mostly off because of my blogging sabbatical,) but it is a great way to sit and think about what makes this time unique for each person in our family.

1. Grace has friends, alot of them. We still feel she hasn't made a "heart," friend though and that kind of breaks my heart. Having that friend that you (mostly) get along with and that you just can't wait to spend time with is so important in childhood. We had a playdate this past week with one of Sophia's friends who has a sister Grace's age, and they had a sweet time of playing. We are really praying for a friend for Grace who shares her faith!

2. Grace is currently entranced with the Roald Dahl books. I am just so happy that she is reading! She went through a stint were she wasn’t wanting to read chapter books because all of her friends at school were still on picture books. We were really navigating the path of saying “read anything!” with helping her realize it was okay to read more than just early readers and that her friends would be catching up with her soon.

3. With every chore the girls learn how to do I feel like a tiny weight off of my shoulders is released, ha! Grace recently learned she could pull a chair to the fridge, pull all three lunch boxes down, set them up on the counter, and put in the ready to go items (ice pack, cheese stick, yogurt most days,) meaning I just come down and prep any fruit or sandwich and it’s done. True her little portion takes me less than a minute to do but it is nice!

1. Sophia has been learning This Land Is Your Land for her Spring Recital. Which means ALOT of singing it at the top of her lungs at home. Sorry, neighbors!

2. Sophia is almost done with Pre-K! It’s been a crazy year but I am so thankful for her teachers and the kids in her classroom. She has learned so many skills and studied topics that have been interesting to her and I love that for her! She is reading already but goes at her own pace- I don’t think she’s realized she can read just about anything yet- she still brings her books to us to read to her and that’s okay!

3. Sophia is all about shopping with her “own money.” Which is all fine and good except for the fact that she doesn’t have any of her own money. So, we’ve been trying to come up with special not everyday chores she can do to earn quarters. First thing she bought with her own cash? A watch from the dollar section of Target. She is so proud.

1. Luke is three years old now! Birthday post to come. Within days of him turning three we saw a huge change in his personality. He has always been my whiniest kid and cries at everything (not in a sensitive soul sort of way, just like a grumpy old man,) but he started to have a little more self control, grasp consequences for his behavior, and altogether be a sunnier child. Yay!

2. Buddy is still in his crib and we are not ashamed. He loves it, is safe, and keeps him contained! I dread the day that is probably happening in the next few weeks when we make the switch. I will admit, he is getting pretty heavy to put him into it though!

3. Luke loves super hero figurines, match box cars, and Star Wars things, even though he’s never seen it. He does better with dogs than the girls do. He falls every time he runs on a sidewalk. He got offended by the nurse who surprised him with a shot at a check up. He loves kielbasa, yogurt, fruit, English muffins, and still has a crazy sensitive gag reflex, even when eating food he likes. He will grow out of that, right?

1. Ian and I are celebrating our 10 year anniversary this summer and are taking a trip soon to celebrate! I’m so excited but also nervous to leave the kids- mostly to have other people drive my kids. I figure as long as they are in the house it will all work out okay. But the minute they have to leave I feel uneasy! Is it going overboard to leave a diagram to how the kids should be properly buckled in?

2. I’ve been watching Hawaii 5-0, which Ian says is torture seeing as we are still in winter mode here in Maryland. It’s going to end soon, right? The cold weather, not the show. I really like the show though. I feel like it’s hard to find a crime show that doesn’t have a bunch of torture scenes or really sick and twisted criminals (I shudder to even think about Criminal Minds.) This show has some of that but also a lot of “normal,” mystery and crime solving.

3. While talking with Ian about appropriate books for Grace, he brought up Alas, Babylon, which I realized I have never read. Surprising because a book that involves my home state, Florida, AND survival of a post apocalyptic world sounds like something I would have loved in middle and high school, rivaled only by holocaust surivial stories, oddly enough. And no, Alas, Babylon, is not appropriate for a 7 year old girl, nor is Hatchet, which he also brought up!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

The One With the Family Pictures

It was time, we desperately needed to get family pictures done.

I'm pretty sure the last ones that we had done were in Abu Dhabi, taken by a blog friend, (Hi, Tami!) At the time, Grace was not yet 2 and Sophia was an infant!

Five years later, back to our home country, and another child added to the mix, I guess an update was in order.

Plus, my mom said that's all she wanted for Christmas so it was pretty easy to sell Ian on.

I connected with another blog friend, Mallorie Gayle Photography, who had a slot to do a mini session and even though it was a long drive and FREEZING cold out, the end results were perfect! Mallorie captured us all perfectly in a short time frame!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

The One With The Giant Pegasus

Ian and I went on a weekend trip to New York City one weekend last fall. More on that here. We went partly for Ian's birthday (he turned 31!) partly to get away for a weekend, and partly to hang out with our friend who lives there.

Now, usually, when people leave their kids they have some anxiety, worry about them, and miss them.

I will be the first to tell you that I am not one of those people.

That's not to say that I am not excited to see them when I come back, but I feel like so many other people, who are more experienced in the marriage department, say that getting away as a couple is one of the best things you can do for your marriage and for your own mental health, so I fully embrace that idea.

Time to leave? Kiss and a hug and "I will see you later!"

Screen door is still flapping on its hinges and I am gone. GONE.

Anyways, back to the Pegasus, because I am sure you are waiting for that to come up again.

My in laws were gracious enough to fly up and take care of our kids while we were gone, which made leaving them easy to do. I knew they would get in loads of craft time, go do something fun out of the house, and probably finagle a new toy out of the deal so entertainment would not be in short supply.

We returned home in the middle of nap time to find my mother in law sitting on the couch looking rather sheepish. There was a pile of toy packaging on the floor in the family room but I sort of expected that. She showed me what Sophia chose (a singing bird,) and Luke (a second little people farm, because the new one had different sounds, which our original one did not.)

There wasn’t any packaging for Grace’s toy, and my mother in law started explaining. She said Grace fell in love with it, and they had tried to convince her to choose another toy. She said she knew we were tight on space (our place is great but not well laid out and not very big.)

And then she said “You are just going to have to go and see it.”

I nervously walked upstairs and found this:

Now, I’m a pretty practical person. I’m also one who has pretty strict limits on stuffed animals. (The dust! The impracticality of getting them clean! The space they take up! How little they are used!)

So imagine my surprise when I walked into the girls’ room and found a giant stuffed Pegasus that was BIGGER THAN GRACE HERSELF!

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. On the one hand, Grace loved it. She would cuddle with it, read on it, drag it around the house and play flying Pegasus. On the other hand, it takes up half of her bed!

It's been four months and "Uni," as her Pegasus is called, still resides there. I've told Grace that the minute it hasn't been used regularly it is out of here, but I have a feeling that won't happen anytime soon. Eventually Grace will get bigger and need more room in her twin bed, right?

Thursday, January 4, 2018

The One Where We Went to New York

Back in October Ian and I were able to slip away for a quick weekend away. It was a mix of Ian's birthday weekend and a much needed child free escape. I felt pretty guilty about it at first, because we had to leave on Sophia's actual birthday, but quickly got over it, as she was in good care of her Mimi and I knew we would celebrate some more when we returned.

We took the train up to the city.

The train.

I was a skeptic of it, mainly because I had heard of so many horrible issues with the train, but it turned out to be okay. It was cheap, took us straight into the heart of the city, and you don't have to do a big check in, security, and waiting process like you do at the airport. You could arrive five minutes before your train and walk right on. That's a nice perk!

We stayed with one of Ian's best friends, Sam, who has lived in the city for a couple of years. Sam has made many appearances over the years on this blog, including when we lived in the same town as him during our first year of marriage and when he visited us in Abu Dhabi! We are thankful for his friendship for so long and we were excited to get to spend some time with him on his own turf.

We enjoyed our quiet train ride (I got to read! In peace!) stepped out into Penn Station and (mostly) successfully navigated our way onto the subway and to Sam's apartment. I'm fairly certain we walked around his neighborhood, had Cuban food, and walked down to a park with a great view of the skyline.

On Saturday, we did a great walking tour of the city! We started off with Washington Square Park, then down to Union Square Park (we walked!!!) then we ducked into Strand Bookstore, where we got absolutely lost amidst all of the books! I really loved the children's department and Ian enjoyed the rare books floor.

We made our way to The NYC Library, Bryant Park, Grand Central Station, and then on to the Empire State building and stopped for a yummy lunch in Korean Town. We did a quick run through of Rockefeller Center, saw St. Patrick's Cathedral, and headed back to Sam's place for a quick rest and to freshen up.

I'm going to be frank. I wore new boots. It was pretty awful. I thought for sure I was going to have to pull a Monica and Chandler and ditch the boots and catch a ride on Ian's back. I was able to hobble my way through the day and I added another layer of socks for the next day!

Later we hopped out to get a shwarma and falafal (YAY!) then headed to Times Square. It was every bit as overwhelming as we expected. We found a rooftop bar that was ridiculously full (think, unable to move,) then headed out to our Broadway show!! We went to see the Lion King! It was incredible and was such a good experience except I probably wouldn't go to see a show that I was so familiar with the movie again. I felt like I could have narrated all of the lines in the entire show!

Sunday we made our way to Central Park! I loved seeing so many of the iconic scenes from so many movies. It was surreal. It was so much fun to wander but I was so exhausted! I did get my only injury of the weekend at Central Park when I slipped on some rocks leading down to a bench. Three months later and I'm still sporting my NYC scar. We ended up wrapping up our morning a little early and going to brunch to just sit and hang out.

Sunday afternoon we headed to see the World Trade Center Memorial, the Freedom Tower, Battery Park, Trinity Church, and Wall Street. We took an Uber over to the Brooklyn Bridge and walked across it at sunset. This might have been one of my favorite parts of the whole trip. It was just a slow pace walk, lots to see and look at, beautiful sunset, and fun with friends, but it really stands out to me. When we got over the bridge we wandered over to Main Street Park/Pebble Beach and right as we walked up a random firework show began. It was amazing!

We came back on Monday, right after grabbing another amazing bagel! It was such a fun trip and we look forward to going back again. On my list for our next trip would be a trip to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, another Broadway show, and eating at some more amazing restaurants!

Also, let it be known that we got more pictures together as a couple on this one weekend trip than we usually get in an entire year! 

Monday, January 1, 2018

The One with the Card From My Grandma

My Grandma sent me a Christmas card, like she does every year.

My Grandma sent me a card with a gorgeous front illustration and a merry greeting.

My Grandma sent me a card with a handwritten message. I love seeing her handwriting, it takes me back to so many years ago.

My Grandma sent me a card with a handwritten message that rang true for me.

It read "I miss your blogs."

Simple message, big meaning.

I miss my blog, too, Grandma.

I miss thinking through life's everyday moments and finding reasons to celebrate.
I miss connecting with family members from afar.
I miss having a voice in a conversation that tends to speed by without any care for my thoughts on the matter.
I miss being able to look back at memories made over the last year, when I just want things to *slow the heck down!*

Grandma, you were right. I miss my blogs too.

Many of my yearly goals, (chronicled here, ironically enough,) have been about blogging and maintaining that habit. It was until shortly after Luke's birth, when we were faced with the shockingly hard decision to come back, that I lost my will to write. I won't whine about it (again,) here but I will say that was the hardest thing we've ever done.

My goal for 2018 is to regularly write here. I'm willing to work with a more flexible goal and not put a number on it, but as a minimum, I will aim for at least once a week.

So, Grandma, this one is for you. And a little for me, too. And also for my other family and friends. And also for my children.

So maybe it's for us.
For all of us! 

Saturday, June 17, 2017

And, Exhale

Summer has finally started for us. Yesterday was my last day of teaching planning for the year and we now have 9 glorious weeks of not having to go into school!

I'll be frank with you, the last four weeks before summer were ROUGH. In the classroom and out. It felt like everything was on fast forward and that there wasn't enough time to get everything done.

There were some days that my co-teacher and I would look at each other, wide eyed, and wonder how we were going to survive the day. Often we would reach for our secret stash of chocolate and just get through it!

On a side note, if you haven't already, give your child's teacher their favorite treat more than just on Teacher Appreciation Day. Slip them a small pack of chocolates or pick up their favorite Starbucks just because it is a Tuesday. It helps get them through when those days are more manic than sane. And it's not just the sugar that helps, it's the thought!

Then there was regular family and home life. With everything amping up outside of the home it felt like chores got a bit neglected. When our AC died on us in the first real heat wave last week things at the house really went downhill because it was too hot to run the dryer or cook in front of the stove!

Now summer is here and things can be caught up on, including rest. I feel a deep need to just BE with Grace this summer. Play with her, read with her, create with her. Grace just finished kindergarten and I am very aware of how much she will change and grow in the coming months. Sophia will be there too, I'm sure, but since I had Sophia in class this year it doesn't feel as necessary.

We picked a few (random) goals to work on over the summer. I chose two food goals for my picky eaters: 1.) To eat a deli meat sandwich on bread like a normal human being. 2.) To eat a hamburger on a bun like a normal human being.

Not too tough, right?

I decided I was going to learn how to play chess this summer too. I felt like it was something lacking from my education/life experience but it totally overwhelms me. I've bought this book and got an app to help me learn the basics before I start the daunting task of letting Ian teach me/play against me.

Mainly though I'm hoping to get great use out of our neighborhood's swimming pool! I love swimming and being in the water but the kids aren't the most comfortable. Grace finally is out of her floaties and can confidently doggie paddle but she doesn't like putting her face in. Sophia will not get floaties back when her cast is off (she broke her arm!) and Luke just seems terrified in general to leave the stairs, even when we hold him!