Saturday, October 8, 2016

In Summerrrrrrrr!

We've been watching a lot of the movie Frozen at our house lately--it's Sally's new obsession.  Honestly, I don't really mind: that movie (especially Olaf) is hilarious and so clever.

Here are my cute kids watching another favorite of Sally's, Bubble Guppies, in a car that we made out of a box. ;)  I must say, I much prefer Frozen to Bubble Guppies.

My kids watch more TV than they should.  I am often working on writing projects that require focus, so Sally and Noah have a chunk of TV time every day.  But in between the shows, we have a lot of family fun and go outside on adventures--so I'm not gonna feel bad about it.

Here's a recap of the way that we ended our summerrrr! (Imagine Olaf singing that.)

We met up with Drew and his mom for a fun day at Lagoon, riding the (kiddie) rollar coasters and drinking Icees.  Nothing better!  We sure love our Drew.

I know some of you long-time blog readers might be wondering, so I asked Katie if I could share and she said I could.  She and Drew are currently separated. It has been such a hard thing for everyone--really heartbreaking.  But they are on good terms and have handled everything with such maturity.  They will both always be a huge part of our lives and of Noah's life.  I recently got these drawings done for Noah's room, and I love them.

After our trip to Lagoon, the kids and I hopped on a plane for a last-minute trip to Denver!

My sister has been going through some super intense treatments for her depression these past few months, so I went to help.  We are all praying that she will feel some relief and joy soon.  So far, the treatments seem to be working...keep praying!!

We loved seeing Bapa, walking Callum to the bus stop every day, and even getting away to the mountains for a ride on the Georgetown Loop Railroad.  Need I say that Noah was in heaven? Riding a train with his best friend, Callum?? Dream come true!

And of course we got to see my grandparents while I was there.  As always, it's just priceless seeing them playing with my kids.  Sally loved the car tracks, just like Noah did at her age.

Since I don't travel enough (wink), we also met up with our best friends from dental school in Park City, Utah for a weekend.  It's been almost six years since we left Buffalo, and these people are still like family.  There is nothing like it--just pick right up where you left off and talk for hours.  They know us like almost no one else.  Daytons and Majeronis, come be our neighbors!!!

And while we were there, we did a little alpine slidin'...

We also squeezed in an overnight camping trip at the end of August.  I realized that we hadn't camped at all the entire summer, and I was kind of mad at myself for it--but then I remembered that we moved unexpectedly, went to the Dominican Republic for a dental trip, went to a family reunion in Oregon, and went to Colorado to help my sister.  So I forgave myself.

One night in the foothills near our home was all we could manage this summer, but it was a great little outing.  We drove there without a reservation, hoping that we would find a good spot, and we ended up finding a perfect, secluded wooded site, right on a lovely walking trail.  Score!  The highlight was when a moose walked right up to our campsite and startled us!  Yikes!  The kids are still talking about it.  My favorite part of camping is the smores and early-morning cuddling.  

In between the trips, we had adventures closer to home--such as floating an irrigation canal in a neighboring town, playing with cousins, going kayaking at the Garden of Eden (oh, it was actually Thousand Springs State Park, but you could've fooled me with the crystal clear water and lovely waterfalls!), watching the U.S. Open with Dad, and stopping for ice cream at a local Creamery.

I have to say, even with all of that funness going on, my very favorite part of the month was a two-night get-away with Ryan for his 34th birthday.  (34??  How is this possible??)  I surprised him and took him to a mountain town about four hours from home, McCall, Idaho.  I arranged for a babysitter and planned the whole trip without him knowing.  That morning, I left him a note on the bathroom mirror: "Pack your bags--because tonight we are going away, just the two of  us, for your 34th birthday!"  So fun.  I love surprises.

We kayaked, hiked, rode bikes, slept in, watched the Olympics, napped by the lake, snuggled in church and could actually listen to the talks, ate good food and huge ice cream cones, talked about the past, and dreamed about the future.

It was perfect.  I told Ryan, "Why do people think they need to go to Hawaii for a week to have a true getaway??  I swear this was just as good!"  (Okay, maybe not just as good, but pretty darn close.)  I really think couples need to make it a priority to do something like this twice a year--or at least once. I came home on Cloud 9, feeling so in love.  Ryan is my best friend.  I couldn't do life without him.

And then, after all of that, I packed my bags and headed to South Africa for ten days.  Ha!  I'm insane!  But South Africa was an amazing experience--truly one of the highlights of my life--and I can't wait to write a whole series of posts about what I saw, did, and learned there.

We are heading into winter now, but summer was oh-so-good, and I am grateful!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Noah's Pirate Parrrrrty!

Noah requested a pirate party for his 5th birthday, and it was really fun for me to put together.  I consider it a genetic trait that I love to plan birthday parties: my mom was the queen of super creative themed parties, in the era long before the internet and Pinterest.  It's fun to feel like I am continuing her legacy as I plan birthday fun for my kiddos and their friends.

Noah woke up on the day of his party to a pirate shirt, hat, sword, and eye-patch.  He also had an amazing birthday cake waiting for him, made with love by his talented birthmom.  He had requested a pirate ship with a monster attacking it, and Katie sure delivered.  He was bouncing off the walls in excitement as he helped us prepare all the stations and decorations for the party that morning, and he bombarded his friends as soon as they started arriving with all the details of the fun that we had planned.

Here is Noah and his band of pirate mateys.  My personal favorite is the little wench with the mustache on the front row.

Just then, who should come walking into the party?  Why Captain Hook of course!

And as luck would have it, he was looking for some new members for his pirate crew!  But in order to make the cut, they would have to prove that they  could complete all sorts of pirate tasks. They proved that they could stay on a ship (hammock) in the midst of a wild storm; they completed an obstacle course which included walking the plank; they learned sword fighting skills from the master himself; and they defeated a "sea monster" with water balloons:

And finally they followed a real treasure map to a real buried treasure.  This was my favorite part of the party--we actually buried a wooden chest in the garden for them to dig up.  So funny.

Then it was time for cake, and I must say, not many boys are lucky enough to have Captain Hook lighting their birthday candles...

or a cake that bursts into flames during the singing.  Ha!  The sails were made out of cardstock...oops.  Well, it just added to the effect. ;)

Then he opened presents, and it was a chaotic free-for-all, and he literally got an arsenal of toy weapons from all of his friends.  Nerf guns, water guns, cross bows...little boy heaven!  And his little best friend, Alex, gave him Legos and Oreos, two of his favorites.  Score!

At the end of the day, Noah went to bed one tired (and happy!) little pirate.  It was such a fun day celebrating him.  

Sunday, August 28, 2016

My Boy is Five

Despite my pleas that he stop growing up, Noah turned five on August 1st.  We had an argument with the sun on his birthday eve: I commanded the sun not to set (so he could never grow up) and he commanded it to hurry up and go down.

That darn sun listened to Noah.  As he said to me recently, "Mom, you can't stop life."  Aint that the truth!

And speaking of the sun, at five years old, Noah is still my little ball of fire--meaning he can be the light of our family's universe one moment and a meteor crashing down to destroy us all the next.  Ha!  This boy has spunk, that is for darn sure.

I love him.  I love everything about him.  I am overcome when I think about the miraculous way that he joined our family.  It will never get old.  The other night he climbed into our bed and snuggled up to me, and he was all groggy when he said, "Mom, I'm your boy.  I made you a mom."  My heart burst right there on the spot.

As has been our tradition these past few years, Katie joined us for Noah's big day.  We love having her with us on the day that we celebrate Noah's birth!  Yes, Noah made me a mom, and so did Katie.  I love these two with all my heart.

We could hardly believe that he is FIVE years old!

Snapchattin' with his favorite girl

Like his birthparents, Noah is so smart, so funny, so spunky.  Here are some of his classic quotes from the past few months:

When he grabbed a toy from a friend and they were having a scuffle over it, I heard him say, "Takers keepers, Alex!"  I'm not quite sure that's how the old adage goes.

When I thanked him and Ryan for making me cinnamon rolls on Mother's Day, he said, "It was our great pleasure, Mom!"

He was so cute on Mother's Day, taking extra good care of me and telling me sweet things like, "I don't just love you one day of the year, Mom--I love you every day!"  And then the next day he informed me that it was "Son's Day," which meant that he got to do whatever he wanted and eat candy all day.  

One day when I forgot to bring underwear for him to change into after swimming lessons, I told him to just slip his shorts on and we'd grab some undies when we got home.  Offended by such a suggestion, he responded, "Mother,  I can't go commando!  That wouldn't be proper!"

When we were walking on the trail by the canyon rim, he said, "Mom!  Don't walk so close to the edge!  It's treacherous over there, and you might fall into the abyss!"

His vocabulary is huge.  It is hysterical.  This morning he asked for breakfast, and I said I was working on making pancakes.  He said, "Well, in the meantime can I have an applesauce?"  In the meantime?? Are you five or fifteen, kid?  He's like a sponge and soaks in any word that he ever hears me say.  Yes, that means that he says words like "meantime" and "abyss," but it also means that he says words like "crap."  Oops.  We are working on that!

In our family, we often use the phrase, "I love you more than my luggage" which is a quote from one of our favorite movies, Steel Magnolias.  This phrase makes no sense, but Noah has latched on to it as well, and even came up with his own variation.  The other day he told me, "Mom, I'd rather lose my luggage than lose you!" Ha!

He continues to love to build, and he astonishes me with his creativity.  He's had the same train sets and cars for years, but he always comes up with new arrangements for them and imaginative ways to engineer roads, tracks, and tunnels. 

Maybe he will be an engineer...or maybe a dentist like his dad.  When I recently asked him if he'd gone potty before bed because "it's the most important part of the bedtime routine" (which it is! because otherwise he has nighttime potty accidents!), he responded firmly, "No, Mom, brushing my teeth is!" And then he added in a sing-songy voice, "Or else I might get cav-it-ies!" Spoken like a true dentist's son!

As funny and likeable as he is, he is feisty and can be very difficult to parent.  He goes through phases where every time I ask him to do something, he says in a defiant voice, "Or what?" He wants to know what the punishment will be if he doesn't obey.  It's exhausting!  He's definitely my strong-willed firstborn.

I could write quite a list of the challenges of parenting him, but the bottom line is, I adore him and he adores me.  He is a definite mama's boy.  When Ryan was recently out of town, I slept with Noah every night, and he would cuddle up and talk to me about his worries or deep thoughts.  He asked me about Heaven and my mom.  Sometimes he would be half awake and say heart-melting things like, "I love you all the way to Jesus, then Jupiter, then around the world, and back!"

He has a tender heart underneath all his sass.  I was impressed when he said in a bedtime prayer, "Heavenly Father, please bless everyone in this whole world--even the bad guys."

One thing that I love and admire about Noah is that he can play with anyone, of any age.  Little kids flock to him and follow him around because he's so fun and wild, and he also has no problem playing with kids as old as 10.  Like, they actually enjoy playing with Noah because he's so spunky!  I've seen him play Nerf guns with kids twice his age for hours, and they never get sick of him.  He is truly a people person.

He started kindergarten this week, and he is loving it.  I decided to send him to an alternative kindergarten at the local college because he just barely turned five and their curriculum is much more hands-on, outdoor, and play-oriented than traditional school.  So far he's come home covered in mud one day, paint the next.  He's told me about weighing things on scales and building houses out of blocks.  He is having a blast.  The teacher in me is wondering if he is going to learn to read, write, and sit still this year...but it's only been one week, so I don't want to get concerned yet.  At least I know he is learning to love school!

Here he is, with bedhead and groggy eyes, so excited for his first day!

Can you believe kindergarten starts at 8:00 a.m.??  I mean, the sun is barely rising here!  But I'm happy to report that somehow we made it on-time every day last week.  I'm giving myself a fist bump.

People keep asking me if I am sad about him going to kindergarten.  Truthfully, not even a little bit.  It's only three hours a day, four days a week--so it's basically glorified preschool.  He loves it, and I love it.  It's a win-win.

After kindergarten on his first day, I took him on a special lunch date to KFC (his request, obviously) and we conducted a five-year-old interview over macaroni and cheese.  I will never forget how cute he was, excitedly chatting after his first day of kindergarten.

I love when we get to have one-on-one time.  He liked talking about himself so much that he kept insisting I ask him more questions. ;)  So here is our lengthy but fun interview:

Who is your favorite person in the whole world? Everybody!

What is your favorite color? Orangish-reddish

What is your favorite show? Ninjago, that you never let me watch (said with a scowl)

What is your favorite outfit? My pirate shirt and some black soft shorts

What sport do you like best?  Mountain biking

What song do you love?  "Everything is Awesome!" but not "Doh Doh" because Sal has asked to listen to it too many times!

What's your favorite cereal?  Life

Who is your best friend? Callum and Alex

What do you want to be when you grow up?  I can't decide that one yet--maybe a policeman.

What is your favorite book? My Earth book.  I call that one the Bapa book because it's so big!  Too bad it's so long that I never get to read it all.

What are you really good at?  Playing with Legos

What is your best memory?  Going to Disneyland with Mom and Dad, when I got to be the boss for the day.

What would you buy if you had $1000?  289 fragile Polar Express trains

If you could have a wish, what would it be?  That we could go to Lego Land every single day!

Who is your biggest hero?  There are no heroes in this city!

I'm not talking about superheroes.  A hero is someone you love, admire, and want to be like when you grow up.  Oh, that's easy.  Callum!! (cue heart melting)

What do you like to do best with your friends?  Play with them, mostly.

What makes you feel sad?  When I go on a mission because then I won't get to see my family for a very long time.

What makes you feel happy?  When I can someday build a humongous train layout in the living room of our house--or maybe I should build it at Grandma's house!

What makes you feel scared?  When Dad showed me that stupid dog from the Sandlot movie.  And now I can't sleep and I'm cranky!

What makes you feel angry?  When I want something and no one gives it to me.

What makes you feel "in the middle"?  (Noah came up with this question)  When I have to leave home and it's my first day of school.  I'm excited, but I'm also not super sure about it.

What are your thoughts about your first day of kindergarten?  Ms. Bridges is really nice!  There are lots and lots of toys and blocks.  And in science, we got to weight peanuts!

Why do you love Mom?  Because she's so pretty all the time!

Why do you love Dad? Because he wrestles me a lot!

Why do you love Sister?  Because she's so cuuuutee!  Too bad she bites me all the time.

If you could describe yourself in one word, what would it be?  Fun!

I agree, Noah--you are super fun!!  I am beyond grateful to be your mama, and I am looking forward to another year of living and learning with you.

In the words of a very smart and spunky little boy I know, "I love you all the way to Jesus, then to Jupiter, then around the world, and back!"