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!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Back to School

And back to routines. We started school 2 weeks ago but our school does this awful thing called, "phase in" for the first 2 weeks. This is where they start out only going an hour a day the first day, and every day they add in time until, finally, after 2 whooooole weeks, we have built up to a full day of school. Its a pain in the butt and makes it impossible to have a normal schedule, but I understand why they do it - to ease the kids back into things and to reduce childhood stress and all that. Great.

Anyways, today is finally the first day that we have a full day of normal schedule. So Audrey's at school and the boys are napping and I'm....alone?!! This is awesome! I have cleaning and laundry and work to do but it won't hurt to drop a quick update here will it?

Audrey is enjoying school so far this year, although she's a little sad that 3 of her friends from last year aren't there this year - one went to Kindergarten and 2 are now homeschooled (very conservative families at this school!). But she's talking a lot about several other kids in her class so hopefully she's making some new friends and adjusting just fine. She's still very enthusiastic about school so that is comforting to me.
JJ goes two days a week for a few hours each morning. I also signed up Nathaniel for their "mommy and me" class once a week so today was our first morning of that. It was nice to get to sit back and watch Nathaniel (and JJ, since he tags along with us!) explore the classroom and kind of go off without me. I mostly just watched them, though I did help them along with some things as well. I'm looking forward to watching the boys grow together this year. Audrey and JJ are like two peas in a pod and sometimes I feel like Nathaniel gets excluded. I mean obviously a large part of that is due to him being only 15 months old, but I also think JJ and Audrey are really close and I just want Nate to have a part in that as well. Currently JJ won't play with him at all, although Audrey does. Her maturity plays a part in that as well of course..
I am hoping to kick up my real estate business this fall now that summer is over and I can get some time alone while the boys nap to get things done. We'll see how that goes. I am interviewing a new babysitter tomorrow, so fingers crossed that this one works out. It seems every time I find a sitter something happens with their schedule and we end up losing touch after one time sitting. If I could only find reliable childcare, I could maybe work some more! We have a lot of things coming up that we could use an additional income for, and I'm ready to be working!

Audrey's birthday is this week so I do have some things to go work on for that! Here's to writing more often this year ;)

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Vacation Mode

This summer has been, by far, one of the best summers we’ve had. I think its due to a lot of different things - the kids all being at a great age, moving to the new neighborhood, having a little extra money to do things, and lots of family and friends willing to hang out with us!
The first few weeks of summer were spent doing a lot of playdates and meet ups with friends. It was great, but we were looking forward to later in summer when we could start our travels and see some family!
We headed up to New Jersey in July to spend a week with Maria. It was a week packed full of stuff to do and we loved every minute of it! We made an overnight trip to Sesame Place which was probably the kids’ favorite part. They got to ride their first roller coaster! I was a little worried that JJ wouldn’t be tall enough and that we’d have a problem with jealousy. Luckily he WAS tall enough so Josh and I rode with him and Audrey. They were in Heaven. I thought JJ was a little scared but at the end he asked to do it again so I guess he wasn’t that scared! Audrey, we already know she’s wild, and she sat right in the front row of the roller coaster. haha. She even rode with her hands up! We waited in long lines to go on all the rides and the water slides too, but it was so worth it to see how excited the kids were. There was plenty for Nathaniel to do also, but he napped straight through the Sesame character parade. It was a HOT day, so we left around 4 and went back to the hotel to relax. The next day we got up and did it all again! We didn’t stay as long the second day, but still had a blast. We also took a quick train ride up to New York City one day, so it was exciting for them to ride the big “mima train” as they call it. We took them to the huge Toys R Us in Times Square and Maria spoiled them with candy and toys and all sorts of goodies. :)
The rest of the days we were there we hung out at the pool, the awesome playground, Chuck E Cheese, and the movie theater (we saw The Minion Movie!). We all had so much fun that week and when it was over, we were sad to say goodbye. We sure would love to have Maria closer to us so we could spend time with her more often!! 
We took a few days at home resting before mom flew in. We spent time with Liam and went to the park, and then left for Texas early Saturday morning. The drive is about 19 hours so we drove 9 the first day and stopped overnight in Nashville. We found a fun park and a hotel with a pool, and left again at 3 am Sunday morning and drove another 10 hours to moms house. We were all so happy to be out of the car and we went right over to Uncle Bryan and Don’s house to swim. The 2+ weeks in Texas were just as packed as the week at Maria’s. Lots of time at the pool, splash pad, playing in the baby pool, and hanging out with Tiernan. Lexi was even nice enough to take Nathaniel one night so I could get a good night’s rest before driving again.
We drove down to San Antonio for a long weekend to visit David and Debbie (Josh’s dad and his wife). They live down the street from Sea World so we got to spend a few hours there watching the dolphin and Shamu shows! Audrey couldn’t stop asking about the penguins so we made sure to visit them before we left. It was H-O-T that day and the park was packed, so we didn’t spend a whole day there, but we can’t wait to go back and visit again next year and maybe do Sea World again. We did a lot more swimming, chuck e cheese, shopping, and lots of attention for the kids. At this point I think I was so tired I was just delirious. However, Nathaniel decided to sleep a whoooooole night in his bed without waking up for me to come get him! Not sure what it was about their house, but he slept well! Once we were back in North Texas, we met up with Iliana (josh's sister) and went out for pizza and more games!
We took a trip to LegoLand with Lexi, Shawn and Tiernan - it was so cool! Fun stuff for all four of the kids and a really neat water area too. My kids, for some reason, were cranky and didn’t want to get wet so we didn’t spend as much time as we could have out there. Back inside JJ spent quite a while building while Audrey and Tiernan explored some of the older kids’ exhibits. The rest of the time we were in Texas was more pool time, splash pad, and we ended it with a big pool party with the whole family. OH! And I almost left off the best part (for Audrey) - she got to have her very first sleepover with TIernan!! They stayed up until midnight (!!!) playing Paw Patrol, playing in the rice table, more Paw Patrol, and watching Tangled. On the drive over to his house she kept telling me, “This is going to be the best night EVER!”. She was just so excited and the sleepover did not disappoint. :) Too cute.
We’ve been home 2 weeks now and have been taking it suuuuuper easy. We’ve been to the park a few times and have been playing out back on the bikes, but we’re all still regaining our energy from those exciting few weeks. We still have 1 more week before school starts, so plenty of time to hit the pool and catch up with friends some more. I think after this summer its safe to say we have three very spoiled, loved, water logged kids. :) 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Busy Summer Days

We are halfway through our summer and I feel like we've been staying pretty busy. Between play dates with friends, going to the splash pad, the pool, and the playground, I can confidently say I've succeeded in wearing the kids out *almost* every day.
Early in the summer, I told the kids we would only be able to go to the pool on days that Josh is off and we can all go together. Then about mid-June, Josh started working 12+hours every day, 6 days a he was never home for us to go to the pool. I decided to brave it and take the kids by myself. I told them ahead of time that we might have to leave if it doesn't work out, or we might have to just stay in the baby pool. They were OK with that. But when we got there, I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to handle all three of them in the big pool. I have to hold Nathaniel because he's still too small for floaties, but Audrey and Josh are good in theirs and they were so well behaved the whole time!! We actually stayed for 3 hours and even ordered a pizza! I was pretty impressed with myself, and I've taken them a few other times as well. Last week, Matthew, Cristina, and Lisa joined us and the kids were thrilled to be able to play with them. They love them so much!

Audrey started taking swim lessons in June. I felt like this summer would be the summer she would start asking to swim without floats, and she's brave enough to learn to swim, so it was just a matter of actually teaching her how. The class has been incredible. I think she's had 6 sessions (once a week) and she's already swimming underwater for about 5 feet. She can float on her back and is working on some other life saving skills (floating back and front, treading water) and I'm confident that by the end of the summer she'll be there. She is very happy with this new ability - she even did an underwater flip at class the other day!
Audrey also did a week long camp last week. I wouldn't have normally considered doing a camp for her, but one of her friends was doing the camp and we were able to sign up for half off the normal fee, so it worked out well. It was at her gymnastics gym and she really enjoyed it. She learned some fun new skills and tricks that she showed me at the end of each day. She also came home TIRED which is a win in my book! She was shy the first day and I thought we would have a problem when I left, but they said after a while she settled in and started to participate and had fun.
We've seen some of her school friends for play dates - she's actually started doing "drop off" playdates now and to her, that's a big deal (actually it is to me too!). I think it makes her feel like a big girl to know that I'm not there overseeing what they're doing. She has matured so much in the last few months, I still am in shock at times when I look at her. JJ is talking a lot and starting to play games like pretending he's Buzz Lightyear and jumping off the couch "To Infinity...And Beyond!!". He's such a sweetie. When he's not yelling. :)
When we aren't out and about, we are at home playing in the water table, riding bikes, or taking it easy inside. Sometimes we get worn out from being out every day and I think its good to take a break at home now and then. Audrey's favorite toy right now is My Little Pony. She's got a ton of them (I picked them up from a yard sale) and she will go in her room and play for HOURS. No Exaggeration. It's awesome, because I think it gives her the mental break and alone time from the boys and she comes out in a good mood. The boys are really in to their trains, or at least JJ is. Nathaniel is really in to wrecking whatever JJ and Audrey are doing. :) haha. He does actually like his ring stacker and a few other toys, but he's still young so anything that can fit in his mouth or be thrown across the room is good in his book.
Like I said earlier, Josh has been working a ton lately. Its good in some ways, but the kids also miss him and the days are loooong when I'm at it myself. Plus (also good) I've been super busy with real estate this summer. I sold my two listings (one closes tomorrow and one closes in August) so that's taken a lot of my time, and I've also been doing some training type things with the office, and have started some new advertising things that have kept me working. I've had a good year and am hoping the second half of 2015 will be as productive as the first half was for me. The kids are so patient and understanding when I have to work, and I try really hard to keep my promises that if they keep calm while i'm working, that I'll then take them to do something fun...even if all we have time for is to go get an ice cream cone.
We go on vacation to New Jersey on Friday night, and we'll be there for a week. Then we're home for a few days before mom comes in, then we leave Aug 1 to drive to Texas for about 2 weeks. I can't wait!! I even turned down a new listing this week because I am so looking forward to vacation and not having a ton of stress and work hanging over me. I've got a ton of loose ends to finish up today, then pool this afternoon, packing, a settlement tomorrow, and then vacation mode! Yay! Happy Summer, friends!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Walking, Talking, ONE!

Nathaniel turned ONE year old two weeks ago! How fast this year went...and also how sllooooooooly the year seemed to drag at times. I think actually the first 9 months were the longest of my life. Then one day I seemed to realize that he hadn't been crying very much recently, and then it became less and less frequent and finally he seemed to have outgrown that fussiness entirely. Well, maybe not entirely, but certainly an improvement. :) I can't remember his exact numbers from his one year checkup, but I know he's in the 75th percentile for weight and 96th percentile for height. So it looks like he'll be a tall one!
He started walking 2 days before his birthday and WOW he picked it up so fast! That first day it was 4-5 steps consecutively. Then by his birthday he was walking well and now he's all over the place. I love when they finally walk. Its such a cute waddle and I love the way he yells while he's walking as though that's helping him find his balance. He also leans forward a bit so it looks like he's just on the verge of falling but just keeps going. By the weekend he had learned to squat down and OMG it is the cutest. I absolutely love when they start doing this.

He's got 10 teeth now, as his two top molars have come in. He's babbling and likes to use his voice, although usually its to yell. Its funny how deep his voice is. I wonder what it will sound like when he really starts talking because it isn't that squeaky little voice like JJ and Audrey's. His favorite activity right now is playing in the cabinets - pots and pans and tupperware. He wants desperately to be allowed to play in Audrey's room but she won't let him in. Understandable..since so many of her toys have small pieces and he just likes to wreck stuff. But sometimes he sits outside her door while she and JJ are in there playing and I feel bad for him!! He'll be big soon enough. He also is a climber. He learned to climb the stairs when we moved in here because I didn't feel like putting up gates and he got the hang of it really quickly. Now he likes to climb on and off the couch over and over again, same with JJs bed and really anything else he can get on. We've determined that we think his personality is going to be along the lines of Audrey's - a mover and climber! JJ on the other hand, while he does enjoy those things, is a lot more subdued. He's happy to just sit on the couch and do nothing..Audrey and Nathaniel are not physically able to do that. haha.
For his birthday, we took the kids to Kid Junction. Its fun for the older kids but they also have a pretty big area for little ones like Nate to play. He was so brave, he even climbed into the big kids's climbing tunnels! I couldn't believe how eager he was to play in there, but really it shouldn't be surprising considering he's ALWAYS trying to do what the big kids do. He even tries to climb over the back of the couch...something I really shouldn't let any of them do. They're such monkeys!
After the play place, we went home and had cake that Audrey helped me make. He liked it! Or at least, he liked the icing. He didn't eat much else. He got a new water table for his birthday, so we spent some time outside playing in that. All three of the kids love it and I'm sure we'll get lots of great use out of it this summer. His birthday party was this weekend and it was a baseball theme. Kind of. The invitations were baseball. I forgot to order a birthday cake so I ended up doing that the night before at Target, and they had a Yankees one so I ordered that. LOL. So ME to forget that. The decorations were sad. A blue banner and a happy birthday banner. Oh and a blue table cloth. haha aww poor third child. Remember Audrey's first?? I don't have the energy for that anymore. :(
We did have lots of fun at the party, despite the lack of decorations. Tons of friends, family, and kids to celebrate with us. It was nice to have everyone here (THANK YOU!) - I definitely am more comfortable hosting here at the new house than when we were at the old place. Nathaniel got lots of fun gifts and we enjoyed some delicious food as well! Thank you all for celebrating with us and for bing a part of Nathaniel's first year!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Different Every Day

Josh always says that when he's working a lot and doesn't see the kids for a day or two, that when he does finally see them they seem to have grown and changed in just those couple of days. I think he's right. Even being with them every day I can see it. Audrey not as much now that she's older, but in the boys it is definitely true.
JJ is talking a lot now. He's at the point where he always has something to say, but you have to really listen to know what he's trying to tell you. Otherwise it just sounds like baby talk and babble. We were on a walk today and JJ said, "I see a bird! A little bird there!". I was surprised and so proud - both of him, and at the fact that I was paying enough attention to realize that's what he said. He has such a tiny, sweet little voice. Its funny, he and JJ argue all the time about how he pronounces things wrong. It really bothers her and he doesn't realize he's saying anything wrong, so they'll just sit and go back and forth about who is saying it right. Haha. He can now say all our names in the family, including his own.
He is still our little comedian. I videotaped him the other night at dinner, he was being so silly and making faces and doing anything to get a laugh from Audrey and I. I love that about him. I think he really loves being the star of the show and I am excited to watch him grow and see if he continues to be that way. His love of his big sister hasn't waned at all...he follows her everywhere and now that we're in the new house, he's always in her room. When she lets him, that is. She gets annoyed and sometimes she just wants to play alone. I understand that so I try to let her have her room as "her space", but it does upset JJ that he can't play with her ALL THE TIME. I remind him that Nathaniel is here and wants to play but that just pisses JJ off. I guess "Bebe" (that's his name for Nate) isn't old enough or fun enough yet. They do wrestle, and man, JJ gets really rough. I found JJ yesterday sitting on Nate's back and pushing his face into the floor. And Nate was just laying there, kind of fighting back but not really all that bothered by it. While this is kind of funny, unfortunately it has become obvious lately that our sweet Little Baby JJ has a bit of a mean streak in him. He's always had a temper - he used to actually crawl around the floor looking for things to throw when he was only 9 or 10 months old - so it isn't something that's recently developed. He plays well with others but only as long as he gets his way. So that's something we'll be working on with him.
Nathaniel is starting to walk. He's standing unassisted and taking a step here and there. I've seen him take 3 consecutive steps but once he realizes he's doing it, he plops down. Still nervous I guess! I'm ready for him to just do it already. Its not that I want him to grow up fast or that I'm rushing him, but that it would be a lot easier if he'd walk. Right now he wants to get down and crawl around the playground and then gets dirt and mulch all over his hands and then puts it in his mouth...yuck! And I have to hold him when we're in public places since he can't crawl around on the floor and get covered in yes, walking would be easier, I don't mind chasing them if it means they aren't getting germy hands and then putting them in their mouth. He's becoming a real little person with personality - this feels like it took a while, probably because he was fussy for so long. Like JJ, he has a little temper. When he doesn't get his way, he'll throw himself on the floor and writhe around crying. He'll put his head on the floor and cry like its the worst thing ever that I won't let him play in the toilet. Its hard not to laugh. I have to wonder if their temper is a boy thing? Is it something I am doing wrong? Is it genetic??  Anyways, he's nearing his first birthday and I am so unprepared! Third child...I've at least got a date selected for his party. :) So that's a start. I'll order invitations this week, but I think we're just going to do it kind of low key. BBQ/Cookout with family and some close friends. Party planning stresses me out which i know is why I'm not on top of it this time around.

Audrey is doing soccer right now, I don't think I have shared that on the blog yet. It is a 6 week class that some school parents organized for the kids after school one day a week. I didn't know what to expect because if Audrey doesn't want to do something, there is no convincing her to do it. I didn't tell her about it until the day of her first class. I can happily say that she's enjoying it! She hasn't complained one bit about it and she participates for the entire hour. She even asks us to kick the ball around with her at home. The final class is next week, school finishes at the end of May, and then gymnastics finishes up in June. I am putting her in a week long summer camp at gymnastics, but aside from that, she won't be doing any organized summer activities. I might look in to swim lessons..but overall we're just planning to take it easy and see what comes up. I'm looking forward to spending some time at our new pool!

Monday, May 11, 2015

New House

Our big move is over! We've been here for two weeks now and we're really starting to settle in. The settlement was delayed a couple of days and that was a huge curveball. We had finished packing and then had to unpack a bunch of stuff and repack it a few days later. Moving with kids is not easy! I am so so so glad we hired movers. I can't believe we even considered doing it ourselves.
Since we have the garage, we went ahead and asked the movers to keep a bunch of boxes out there. I wanted to keep the house mostly free of boxes and only open them when we are ready to unpack and put them away. It took us a few days to unpack and that was hard to have boxes everywhere. The kids were climbing on them and trying to go through them. On top of that, we didn't have a washer and dryer until we'd been here for 9 days. There was laundry everywhere! Thank goodness that's over with. We still have A LOTTTT to do in the garage, but we're working on it. One day I'll actually be able to park in there. Possibly after the yard sale this month. We just have so much stuff.
I think the kids are happy here so far. They seem happy, especially Audrey. She is SO SO excited to have her own room. I wasn't sure what to expect because she's shared a room with JJ for so long, and knowing Audrey, I thought we might have some trouble getting her to sleep without him with her. But to my surprise she was fine! I think the novelty of it outweighs any feelings of loneliness or scared (of the dark). She spends quite a bit of time up in her room playing. She loves that she can close and lock the door when she doesn't want the boys to bother her. This is not so great for JJ - he always wants to be by her side - but I think its good for audrey to feel she has some space of her own.
JJ was the cutest ever when I showed him his new room. He walked in and I said, "This is your room, JJ". He turned to me, hands clasped in front of him and said, "MY room? Ohhhh, Thank you mommy!". He looked so sweet and excited. He was not so thrilled the first night at bedtime when he realized he was alone, but after that first night he's been fine. We ordered Audrey a new bed, so Joshua got her old bed. That's right. My boy is in a big bed now. He's been climbing out of his crib for months, so it makes sense for him to be in a big bed. The plan is to try to get Nathaniel to sleep through the night so we can start putting him in the crib in his room with JJ. I'm not sure how or when that will happen...
They haven't mentioned the old house very much..if at all..since we've been here. We've walked to the park almost every day, and have gone out back to ride bikes every day too. I really like having the alley back there. We've met several neighbors and there are lots of other kids playing out there on the weekends and evenings. We don't spend as much time in the back yard as in the garage/alley. I love how many families there are out walking and riding bikes and spending time at the playground. We even ran in to another family from the kids' school on a walk one night. I do feel bad for josie. She used to have a huge yard to run around in and chase squirrels. And now she really does not seem to like being outside. The yard is too small to run in, but she doesn't even want to sunbathe. Maybe she's still adjusting.
Overall, we love it. We have so many things here that we didn't have before - storage, our own bathrooms, more usable space, the list goes onnnnn...But I have to admit that I was a little sad to leave the old house. Audrey and our neighbor's daughter had just become best friends and played together every day for hours. It was hard to tell her she won't see her friend anymore. It was really, really hard to walk one final time across the backyard. I cried the ugly cry while I walked past the playground set out back. That's where Audrey and JJ learned to climb and swing, it was their fort, their airplane, their train, their clubhouse. Seeing the spot of worn grass where their feet dragged beneath the swings, and the dirt where they landed at the bottom of the slide. It really felt like I was walking away from the baby years of our family. That's the house we brought JJ and Nathaniel home to. I know it was just a house, and a house I (mostly) hated, but there were a whole lot of memories there. And I'm a sentimental person so of course this was hard on me.
I know that this new house will soon feel like home for us and that' we'll love it here. I'm working hard on making it feel that way for the kids, and I think it already does. We're excited for this new chapter!