Familiar friends

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We had a special treat today at Church. Big brother’s dear friend who he hasn’t seen in months was at the same Mass as we were. And we happened to be sitting in a nearly empty pew, so there was plenty of room for her and her Mom to sit next to us. Big brother couldn’t stop smiling! He was soooooo happy to finally see her! We have been trying to get together since Christmas with her for a playdate, but it seems that someone has always been sick (either one of our kiddos or herself).

At any rate, lots of hugs were had all around, and we are starting to make plans to get together for spring break. Needless to say, they didn’t want to leave, but we got to spend a little time chatting and playing in the parking lot of Church before we said our goodbyes. Such little sweeties. And, yes, this is the little girl that big brother refers to as “my wife”. So cute!

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Look in a book

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Our kiddos have seemed to inherit Momma’s love for theatrics and costume. Today was world book day/Dr. Seuss’s birthday, and so they kids had another ‘dress up’ day at school. Little sis kept asking me what day it was all weekend because she knew Monday was the day she got to wear her “costume” to school. The kids got to dress up as their favorite literary character. Though many of the recognizable book characters aren’t as familiar to our older kiddos, there were quite a few we were trying to decide on to dress up as today. Though Captain Underpants is big brother’s current favorite series, it isn’t exactly appropriate for school. Today, he dressed up as a character from one of his favorite books as a toddler. “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, what do you see?” was one of the very first things he asked Santa for when he was a little older than 2. It was the first time he was old enough to actually ask Santa for something, not just sit on his lap for the picture. He had (and has) every line memorized.

Little sister dress up as ‘Sister Bear’ from the Berenstein Bears series. They both got to bring their character books to school, and their classes read them and talked about them. Ironically, Sis just got a Valentines Day Berenstein Bears book on Valentines Day, but it must be a newer book because Sister Bear wears a pink jumpsuit in the book, rather than her pink overalls she wears in every other book. So, she brought in a different one from the series.

The kids had a blast getting to dress up, and seeing what characters their friends choose to dress up as. Not everyone participated today, but the ones who did had fun. Of course, Daddy said there were a few ‘cheaters’ today. I wasn’t sure what he meant, but apparently there were a quite a few girls dressed up as Elsa, or another Disney princess. A boy in big brother’s class just wore a super hero t-shirt. Either way, when you wear a uniform every day to school, getting to dress up differently sure is extra fun!

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Productive day

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Though the rest of the country is dealing with bitter cold and snow, we are having unseasonably warm weather here. I had been planning on cleaning out the garage this weekend, but Daddy was’t exactly thrilled with the thought of staying indoors with our rowdy kiddos while I started the long process. So, we brought the kids outside so they could play while we got some work accomplished. Ya Ya came out with baby Lyla as well, and they all enjoyed bubbles, sidewalk chalk, ‘fencing’ with Daddy with pool noodles and nerf swords, and of course the warm sunshine.

Earlier in the day, Momma and baby brother headed to the Shriners clinic that was in town so we could get another check on how his feet are doing and get him some bigger boots. His feet had completely grown out of the boots, and though I had hoped they would just send us the next size up, they had wanted us to wait for the clinic to come to town. We weren’t thrilled with the idea of meeting with the doctor we don’t like, but the orthopedics department told us to just come first thing in the morning to avoid him. Well, we got an appointment automatically set up for us and the confirmation in the mail, so I just decided to have the doctor take a look. I knew it was going to take awhile, and thankfully a very cranky baby fell asleep on the way to the appointment. He slept for about an hour in his carseat while we waited in the waiting room, then it was about another 45 minutes later before we saw the doctor. Took all of about 10 minutes for him to say his feet are “looking great”. Good news, yet annoying have to wait so long to hear it. At any rate, we then went to the ortho department where we realized that baby brother hadn’t just gone up a size in his boots, he had gone up 2 sizes! He had jumped from size 0, to size 2. They are definitely big, but the size 1’s were too small, so hopefully we won’t need to change anytime soon.

We were cleared by the doctor for a 6 month checkup, so we probably won’t need to have to see them in June. That is when their next clinic is scheduled to come down here to our town. However, I’m not exactly thrilled about having to drive the 5 hours to get to the hospital for a 10 minute “looking good” either. Of course, it IS always nice to have confirmation by the doctors that everything is going well. Plus, who knows, we may need another shoe/boot change before then anyway.

All in all, it felt like a productive day. Hopefully this momentum will continue as we have another week and half of clear skies and warmer Spring-like weather. And, we are prepping for a GIANT garage sale to make room in our house for us to live comfortably again. We have WAY too much stuff! Of course, with a family of 5, who doesn’t have too much stuff?

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Week in review

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We had a busy week with our kiddos this week, and a hard time sleeping at night with baby brother.

IMG_0470IMG_0469Wednesday, Daddy and big brother went on a school field trip to the Planetarium. Daddy rode on the school bus with big brother and his class, and they had a great time! In the afternoon, the school had their K-8 awards ceremony, and big brother’s teacher gave him an award for his achievement in art. He is so creative and loves creating art.

IMG_0471Daddy took some extra time off of work to take us all to an early dinner/late lunch after we picked up big brother from school. Because it was early in the day, we headed to a buffet and baby brother enjoyed some cooked carrots, mashed potatos, cooked broccoli, and dinner rolls. Little sister ate carrots, corn, broccoli, chicken, and rice. Both of them had banana pudding for dessert. Big brother enjoyed chicken, pizza, fries, and a roll. I don’t think I managed to get any veggies in him. Both our older kiddos had a great time, and it was a very special surprise, not only getting to spend extra time with Daddy but getting to have ‘fluffy drinks’ (icee’s) with their meal. They absolutely LOVE those!

IMG_0475In honor of the upcoming Valentine’s day holiday, big brother had fun showing his sister one of the projects they had done in class. Graphing. He was very proud of himself creating the graph like the one he had done at school.

Crafty cuties

DSC_0264 DSC_0270Along with our ‘lounging around’ the house and relaxing, our older kiddos enjoyed getting to be creative and crafty this weekend. Daddy and big brother put together a mold of a volcano (from a kit from Papa and Grandma), and big brother painted it today. It needed to dry and set overnight, and while big brother painted, little sister molded and shaped items in play dough. Baby brother happily sat in his high chair and nibbled on snacks and watched.

They also colored some pictures together, and made cards for Daddy and Momma throughout the evening. Once the paint had dried on the volcano, we all watched as Daddy made it ‘erupt’ with baking soda and vinegar. It wasn’t quite the lively explosion big brother had envisioned, but we told him we would work on it and try it again tomorrow.

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Rounding out the week…

IMG_0446Wednesday day was “ditto day” at school, where you could dress like one or more of your friends. Of course our kiddos had to dress like each other. Big brother also went on a school-wide bowling trip. Every grade level went on the field trip, and two of the parent chaperones in big brother’s class bought them pizza. It was a good day.

IMG_0444 IMG_0443This orange shirt has been big brother’s favorite shirt since he was nearly 2 years old. In fact, he loved it so much, Papa and Granda bought him the next size up when he started to outgrow it the first time. At some point, we also acquired the size after that, and then I randomly found yet the bigger size after that when I was at a kids consignment shop about a year ago. It was perfect timing because big brother had been looking at some old pictures of himself wearing the shirt and had asked if he was too big for the shirt (which he was at the time). It was quite the shock to see that very same shirt hanging on the rack, in the very size we needed. So now we own the shirt in pretty much every size it was made in. Unfortunately he really is too big for it now. Though it fits quite snug, at least he was able to pull it off for Wednesday.

Thursday was an early release day, and happened to be “best dressed uniform day”. In the past, this day was usually ‘best dressed day’, and they didn’t necessarily have to be in their uniforms. Fancy suits and dresses were worn on that day. However, the school attended a special Mass and the Archbishop was a special guest, so I assume that is the reason for adding in the school uniforms to the day. Though we don’t exactly have fancy versions of the kids uniforms to wear, both kiddos sure looked sharp and very polished and put together. And as an added bonus, big brother said he had a very good time at Mass, and his teacher said he was very well behaved! What a wonderful week!

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Thanks a latte

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The past few days have been rough. Well, it has really been rough for the past week with both Daddy and baby brother coming down with the flu. Thankfully, they both seem to be on the upswing, and things finally seem to be getting back to normal.

Monday, our older kiddos didn’t have school for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and we noticed that little sister started to get a yucky, mucky cough. It sounded similar to the way baby brother’s cough started out. Naturally, Momma and Daddy were worried that she was coming down with the flu. We had an appointment for baby brother to get his second dose of his ceftriaxione shot, and make sure he was in fact getting better. His yucky diapers had been increasing in volume all weekend, so I was afraid he had lost more weight. Happily, he gained, and now weighed in at 15lbs. 4oz. His ears looked much better and clear, and his color and energy level were all good. His cough was persistent and still intense, but they said to ‘just keep doing what we were doing’. I questioned whether or not I should bring in little sister because she was now showing symptoms, but because she had gotten her flu shot this year, they suggested just keeping an eye on her and seeing where the cough went. They also suggested albuterol treatments with the nebulizer until the cough sounded better.

So, we started on those breathing treatments, bought extra tissues for her yucky nose, and kept her home yesterday for good measure. I also started bringing both baby brother and little sister into the bathroom and turning on the hot water in the shower so we could sit in the steam and help break up the mucus. It dramatically helped baby brother’s cough (which got so intense one night I nearly brought him into the emergency room as he couldn’t seem to catch his breathe and even spit up from gagging so much), and seem to help little sister as well. I would hold the baby and dance around with him, and let little sister bring in some toys so she could play with them on the counter. She even is now letting me suction out her nose REALLY well with saline drops and the battery powered nasal aspirator. I have used this for all the kids for about 5 years or so now, but the younger two absolutely hate it. Now, Sissy seems old enough to understand its benefit and even giggles at the ‘tickling’ and the funny sounds it makes. This is a HUGE relief because it is working! Working very well, to clean out her nose and hopefully get her on the track to wellness faster. No other signs of any flu with her, so she ended up going to school today. Still a heavy cough and yucky nose, but her coughing seems less frequent and her voice seems to have returned (she pretty much lost her voice suddenly and sounded like a teeny, little mouse yesterday). And she never got a fever or any body aches. Whew!

Anyway, throughout all this chaos of illnesses, big brother has been doing a fantastic job keeping up a good attitude, being helpful, and overall obedience. He had a very rough few weeks near Christmas, and Daddy and I weren’t sure what else to do. His punishments didn’t seem to be doing any good, and we were frankly at our wits end. We are extremely happy to report that the past week has been very positive with him, and we can’t stop telling him how proud we are of him!

We have one of the free kids club memberships to Barnes and Noble, and were emailed a $5 off coupon. We must have finally earned enough points or something. We have been trying to really start teaching big brother about money, allowance, and finance. We told him that when everybody started to feel better we would take him to the store so he could pick out another chapter book in the series he is into right now (Captain Underpants books), and use his money along with the coupon to pick it out himself. He was ecstatic when he was picked up from school today and told we were headed there right then. While little sister played with the Thomas train table, Big brother looked through the books and tried to decide which ones he wanted. He picked out four books in the series, including a newer hardback book, then narrowed it down to three. Unfortunately he only had enough money for two, but he didn’t have a bad attitude about it, and was very understanding when he was told to save up his money for the other ones a later time.

We stayed a few extra minutes so he and Sis could continue playing with the Thomas Trains, but really, big brother was excited to jump on into his books. He sat on a little stepstool and started reading already. Thankfully, Sis didn’t even complain when it was time to leave. We waited in line patiently, and then big brother handed him the books, handed him the coupon, and handed him the money. He seemed very proud to carry out his bag of books all by himself. As we were finishing up, Sis kept dropping hints about being hungry, or smelling something tasty. I knew she was trying to get us to head on over to the Starbucks for a cake pop. They had all been so well behaved, we splurged and enjoyed a treat. Big brother ordered them all by himself “one for me and my sister please”. The people working there couldn’t get enough of him and chatted a few minutes with ‘the best big brother’ they kept calling him. Before we left, we ordered a coffee to bring home for Daddy. They even wrote “Dad” on the cup for him. As I stood in line waiting, I let the kids stay at the table. Everytime I would glance over at them, I would see them head down, reading their new books (we found a small My Little Pony book for Sis). What a relief to have such fantastic attitudes and manners from our sweet kiddos. It has been a real challenge taking care of a house full of sick family members, and this little outing felt so good today!

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Baby brother was happily along for the ride. He seems to be feeling much better.

Double disappointment /Happy Haunting

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We were lucky enough to have Tia and Mason come down to visit us all this weekend from Portland. One of the reasons they choose to come down this weekend was the annual ‘Haunted House and carnival’ at big brother and sister’s school this weekend. We have been planning on attending this for weeks now. The school had many parent, teacher, and student volunteers spending hours of time putting this together. It is a big event that raises money and boasts loads of family fun. Well, unfortunately the fire marshal came by to check it out the morning it was supposed to open, and he closed it down! Apparently, there were some things that didn’t meet safety standards and there wasn’t enough time to fix them before it was supposed to open. Both big brother and sister were sooooo disappointed. We had invited not only Tia and Mason, but some of our other aunts, uncles, and cousins. Sis wasn’t going to go through the haunted house/maze, but she was very much looking forward to the carnival and popcorn.

I told big brother we would look for another ‘family friendly’ haunted house or event for the weekend. Happily I came across an event that I thought would be perfect. It was a haunted cornmaze/field that wasn’t gory, and said it was for children ages 5 and up (with adult). It took place at one of the local historic family farms, and had a story/legend that went along with it. Admission included apple bobbing, crafts, and a movie. Food would be available for purchase. This sounded right up our alley, and Tia and Mason ere going to be going with us.

After the ‘trunk or treat’ we attended, we came home, the kids ate some candy, we had dinner, then got Sis and baby brother in bed, and Grammy came over to baby-sit our 2 younger kiddos. Momma, Daddy, and big brother all got our warm clothes on, gloves, hats, and scarves. Tia and Mason were following us in their car, and we headed out. Daddy bought us some wax lips for fun on our way and we listened to some kid-friendly Halloween music as we drove out to the country side in the dark. I hadn’t been to this particular farm before, though I had an idea where it was. As we got closer, I realized that there weren’t many lights on. We saw some signs, then I pulled it and noticed gates were closed. I immediately started to worry that maybe we came too late, until I noticed…a big CANCELLED sign! Yet another fun Halloween activity cancelled for big brother. He took it well, though I think Momma and Daddy felt worse for him. Turns out, all the bad weather throughout the day had damaged some of the scenery, so it was cancelled for that night, yet was going to go on as scheduled for the following night. Unfortunately Tia and Mason had to drive home the next day, so they wouldn’t be able to come with us.

Daddy was on the fence about going, and nervous we would get our hopes up and then end up having something go wrong again. After a little persuading, Daddy agreed to try it again and this time, it was finally open! It was just the 3 of us, but we had a great time! It was actually very family friendly, and we even saw some Mommies with small babies walking around. It was very cold, but not too cold with all our warm gear on. Big brother bobbed for an apple and got one, made a scarecrow on a stick from contraction paper, and we watched Monster’s Inc. while we waited for our tour. They took the tours in groups every 8-10 minutes apart, although the actual tour itself was about 20ish minutes or so. Daddy bought us some hot chocolate, popcorn and a pumpkin muffin.

The tour took us through the field of the farm while talking ‘scarecrows’ told us a legend of a mythical beast called a ‘snark’ that all the scarecrows feared. It was dark and the tour took us through caves and ‘rabbit holes’. There were fog machines, light machines, and the scarecrows would pop out when you least expected them to. At the end, the ‘snark’ appeared, though the legend ends up happy and not scary at all. The appearance of the ‘snark’ did scare big brother initially, he left happy and proud of himself for his courage. The only downside of the tour was this obnoxious boy who was walking behind us. He was horrid! Yelling out at the actors and laughing inappropriately. His parents and two young siblings were with him, so Daddy and I couldn’t understand why they let him act that way, but at least it didn’t seem to bother big brother. All in all, it was very much worth it and we are already looking forward to next year with all our kiddos! I’m not sure if Sissy will be ready for the actual tour, but the activities and crafts would be enjoyable. We will just have to bring Grammy along with us so she could stay with the kids who aren’t ready for the ‘spooky’ legend.

What started out as a disappointment (times 2), turned into a very fun night out with just Momma and Daddy. Those times are few and far between these days, so we will take them whenever we can get them!

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Jog-a-thon 2014

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Today we had the special fundraiser for big brother and sister’s school. It was the school’s annual jog-a-thon, where the kids raise pledges and run as many laps as they can to earn money for those pledges. The past two years, big brother has only participated in the school’s maze-a-thon, where they just raised fixed pledges and had fun playing games and going through a big maze in the school’s gym. This was the first year that he was able to run ¬†on the track with the rest of the school at one of the local area high schools.

They start the kids off at the playground where the whole school meets. Then we all walk as a school down the the high school track, about a block down from their school. This year Momma, baby brother, and Daddy all came to cheer one brother and help out. We chaperoned the class as we walked through the neighborhood, then helped out the kids with snacks and water/juice as they passed by our class’s booth on the runs. Everytime the kids ran past their classroom booth, one of the parents would check it off on the tally card they wore around their necks.

Big brother started off strong and ran most of the first two laps, then he started to get a little tired, and jogged/walked the rest of the time they were there. They had a professional dj in the middle of the field to help motivate the runners, and they took requests before the event began. You had to actually pay and sign up for your requests, and big brother was anxious to hear his request, ‘three little birds’ by Bob Marley. He was ECSTATIC when his song came on (with his name and classroom being announced right before it played), and he immediately was motivated to sprint. It was pretty exciting for myself to watch.

DSC_0095Through the time there, Momma and baby, or Daddy (and sometimes baby) walked the track with him, and Grampa and YaYa (and baby Lyla) showed up as well for support. The weather was cool and overcast, and started to sprinkle about 30 minutes before his class was scheduled to walk back to school. The kindergarden classes were to come back to the school at 11am, followed 10 minutes later by the 1st grade, then 2nd grade 10 minutes after that, etc. There was a family bar-b-que outside the school on the play ground after the run. We came back a little early because since we had walked down to the school track with baby brother in his stroller, we were afraid the light sprinkling was about to turn into a downpour, and we didn’t want to walk back in that. Plus, big brother had managed to complete 14 laps around the track, and was very reluctant to go on any further. Personally, I’m pretty sure he could have managed another lap or two, but he was very sore and his feet were hurting him enough to where Daddy was feeling pretty bad for him. I’m pretty sure 3 1/2 laps equals a mile (or at least close enough to it), so all in all, he managed about 4 miles. Not even counting the walk there and back.

After we came back to school and picked up Sissy from her class (the preschool class does the maze-a-thon earlier in the week), we headed outside and the kids played on the playground with some of the other preschool siblings until the older kids all started to head back to school. After we had finished lunch and were starting to head back to the car to come home, most of the clouds started to disappear and the weather started to feel warmer. Although it did get a little chilly during the run, I was happy that it wasn’t overly sunny and hot. I think big brother (and Daddy) would have disliked that far more than jogging in the overcast weather. Plus, we layered big brother in a long-sleeved shirt and his tye-dye jog-a-thon school shirt (and his school sweatshirt on top of that), so he was warm enough. Baby brother was in a sweatpants, long-sleeved shirt, and his pumpkin sweatshirt so he was also warmed enough. He also had his pumpkin blanket and the warm body heat from everybody who held him.

It was such a fun day, fun fundraiser, and we all can’t wait for next years jog-a-thon!

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Smarty pants

Our older two kiddos have been doing so well academically, and it feels like I never have enough time to celebrate it lately. There is always going on with 3 kids, especially when one of them is a small baby. Thankfully, both Momma and Daddy always make it a priority to talk with the kids everyday about their day and things they are proud of. We also like to FaceTime, text, and call many of you family out there, so at least many of their accomplishments don’t fade away or get lost in the shuffle of life.

Big brother scored a 815 out of 900 on his reading assessment test (the highest in his class), and reading at a 1st grade level. Sissy is very social and has a large group of friends at school, and is very good at coloring in the lines. Here are some of my favorite images from the past week or our wonderful kiddos and their accomplishments and creativity.

Big brother's class on a field trip to the firestation.

Big brother’s class on a field trip to the firestation.

Sissy's foam 'haunted house'

Sissy’s foam ‘haunted house’

Big brother actually reading. I can't tell you how proud it made us feel to watch him read not only the words in the book, but use proper punctuation when reading aloud commas, periods, and exclamation points!

Big brother actually reading. I can’t tell you how proud it made us feel to watch him read not only the words in the book, but use proper punctuation when reading aloud commas, periods, and exclamation points!

Sissy having fun with her class at the Maze-a-thon fundraiser.

Sissy having fun with her class at the Maze-a-thon fundraiser.

School principal Sissy her Maze-a-thon medal.

School principal giving Sissy her Maze-a-thon medal.