Year-end Catch-up!

I know, I know. I’ve been terrible about updating my blog. I apologize to you loyal readers and also to those of you who merely scroll through half heartedly wondering if I will post anything noteworthy.

I haven’t been blogging as much because my old laptop was running extremely slow and I was having issues importing pictures because my hard drive was overcrowded and the operating system was old and outdated. Dan and I decided it was time to upgrade, so I got a Macbook Pro as my Christmas present! I love the solid state hard drive, with a faster processor and a fresh new hard drive to start. This makes updating my blog, so much easier!

So, since my last post in September we had a few more life events that I feel are blog worthy.

Our Disney Vaca

This was Sienna’s first time and our first time as a family going. We went over Fall break, which made the crowds less busy. We loved it! Seeing the smiles on our kids faces are priceless.  While I took Sienna to do all things princess, including dining in Cinderella’s castle, Dan took the boys to Legoland for one day.  We stayed a few nights at the Embassy suites, and about four nights at the Art of Animation Resort (I highly recommend!). We spent time as a family at Magic Kingdom, and with Dan’s parents at Hollywood Studios. The boys were over the moon excited for all things Star Wars related at that park! We also tried pin trading for the first time, and that was really fun to look at and trade while we were waiting in line. Overall a great vacation and experience!



Coal Buddy

A new family member joined us in October. Coal! We wanted to get a puppy for a while but we were waiting for the right time.  Dan needed more convincing. We all finally agreed it was the right time.

We sold our townhouse, the kids are older now and could help out.  We didn’t want a big dog, but not a tiny yapper dog either.  We found the perfect fit with Coal. He’s small, but not tiny.  We went to the Forsyth County Animal shelter, and we met ten month old “Vincent” super sweet and gentle with the kids.  We all went over name options because we didn’t think Vincent suited him.  We came up with Coal because of the charcoal color of his fur, and Parker loved the name because it is the name of the black ninja on the show Ninjago. He doesn’t bark much, and he loves to play with the kids.  He’s been a great addition to the family! He did need some house training in the beginning which took about a month, but all in all, he has been a sweet pup, and we love having him around.




The Pumpkin Patch and Halloween

In October, We enjoyed a few pumpkin farms, one with Mason and Sienna’s school field trip to Uncle Shuck’s and we also enjoyed our annual family trip to Kinsey farms to pick out our pumpkins.  We enjoyed a pumpkin painting playdate in Wills Park, and of course, we all dressed up in costumes this year for Halloween.  I was the witch from “Room on the Broom” Parker and Mason’s favorite Halloween book, Dan was Sub Zero, Parker and Mason were ninjas from Ninjago, and Sienna was her favorite princess, Princess Sofia the First. We had a neighborhood gathering and the kids had a blast trick or treating!



Sienna Turns Three

When I really think about it, I start to get sad. My sweet girl  has turned three and is looking more like a big kid than ever. She wanted to have a Sofia the First birthday party, so we had a few of her friends over and she enjoyed games and celebrating!  We did bobbing for apples, making magic wands, making bracelets with pipe cleaner and beads, and dancing to Sofia music. Sienna had a great time celebrating!



Thanksgiving

This year for Thanksgiving we had my brother come down from NC to visit, so that was really nice! The rest of the holiday was pretty typical. Lots of eating, cooking, visits with family at Aunt Angie’s house and just enjoying having the kids out of school and spending time together!



Ear Piercing and Ballet

Sienna got her ears pierced for the first time (she did great!) and she started ballet, which I feel like is pretty noteworthy! These are a few things that I have been waiting for, and now that she’s three, we thought she would be old enough for both. She has loved showing off her ear rings, and showing off her moves that she has learned in ballet. We have signed her up for lessons every Monday until May and she has loved taking the class with her best buddy Kenzie! Her Mom and I are friends and gym buddies, and the girls are the same age, and just love spending time together too!




 

I am hoping as the new year approaches that I can resolve to blog more. Not just about things we did or particularly noteworthy events and milestones (although those are great) but be able to use this blog as a sound board for internal struggles, ideas, encouragement, etc. and hopefully allow me to get back to writing more posts that inspire everyone to be the best they can be, but also allow me to be more grateful for where I am in my current journey.

 

Halloween 2014

The kids had a great time this year for Halloween. It is our second year doing Halloween in our subdivision, but the first year since all the houses have been completed. It was a lot colder this year, so that was a bit of a bummer, but the kids still had a lot of fun.  We met up with some neighbors beforehand and had a big pizza party on the lawn like we did last year.  It started to get pretty chilly and very windy, so we had to grab our jackets prior to the actual trick or treating!

This was the first year that Sienna actually joined in the fun and went door to door. She only did a few houses, and then she sat in the wagon and I pulled her and Mason fetched extra pieces of candy for Sienna. Parker ran ahead with all the big kids and was out of sight in no time. Good thing there were neighbors ahead of me keeping an eye on him, because there was no way I could keep up with Mason and Sienna falling further and further behind.

It’s no surprise since Parker is obsessed with Star Wars, that he chose to be Luke Skywalker this year. We told Mason he could be anything he wanted, but he wanted to be something that went with his big brother and chose a storm trooper. I picked up a cute cheap bumblebee costume for Sienna late summer when I went to the consignment sale, so we decided to put that to good use. I did look online for a princess Leia costume to see if I could do something that would match the boys, but didn’t find any success with a small 2T size. It worked out just fine thought because the bumble bee looked really cute on her, and she just loved wearing it.

We had a fun filled week at school with festive Halloween parties for both classes, and we got boozed!  I sent out a few booze buckets of my own, and I was happy that someone thought of us and boozed us back! I just love our neighborhood. It definitely made my day.  We also went and visited a local nursing home as our service project this month.  The kids handed out candy and gave them fall pumpkin colored pictures of their creations.  The kids really loved the month of October with all the fun of dressing up and eating candy!

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Mason enjoying a Halloween party with his class

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Parker’s class during story time before his class party

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We’ve been boozed!

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Visiting The Oaks at Lanier Nursing home

Pumpkin Carving

We picked up a few pumpkins while Parker and Mason were on their class field trip to Kinsey Farms this season, and with Mama’s help of course (okay, I did 99.9% of it… but they did help scoop seeds) we carved a pumpkin! Sienna was too bored to stay for the entire thing, but enjoyed hanging around for the pictures at the end.  We had a good time doing it, but it was hard to keep the kids interested. I saved the other big one for another time. I’m glad we did because this one turned pretty quickly. We will need to carve another the other one in time for Halloween trick or treaters!

Pumpkin Painting with Friends

We’ve done this the last three years, and it’s always been proven to be fun, and this year was no different. It’s hard to get this group of gals together all at the same time, so it was a lot of fun just getting a chance to catch up and let the kiddos play. It was the first time that I let Sienna in Wacky World by herself, with the help of two watchful eyes of big brothers, and of course, I checked on her quite a bit too. It was just fun to be able to have some adult conversations without being torn from one side of the playground to the other depending on where Sienna decides to go. Even though I get choked up when I think about not having any more babies and how much mine are growing so fast, it’s also nice to see them become independent. It shows me more of their little personalities, and allows me to enjoy life through a different view. I love that. Here are our sweet little ones having fun on a gorgeous day with our kiddos, and some photos of some gorgeous Mamas who I’ve come to know and love over the years!


Fall Family Vaca in Chattanooga!

We are taking advantage of the kids being in preschool as long as we can and taking vacations during spring and fall instead of when the masses have a summer break. We love Chattanooga. Not only does it have a lot to offer in the way of activities for families, but it’s close. It’s only about 2.5 hours from our house, which makes it a big win in our book!

We had a bumpy start to our trip. Mason had a rash at school that was on his back, arms, and slightly on his legs. We thought it would be best to have him checked out by the doctor before leaving to go out of town in case it was something serious. He said it itched terribly and had a really difficult time resisting scratching it and was pretty uncomfortable. The doctor said she thought it was an allergic reaction to a virus, and asked us to keep him on around the clock benedryl. She said it was fine to resume our planned activities, and to use an over the counter topical steroid if it got too uncomfortable. That evening, it had gotten worse, and he was really bummed that he missed out on going to the pool with Sienna and Parker, but he was a trooper about it. He stayed back with Daddy and played legos together and all was good. However, his rash continued to get worse. We looked online and we read that allergic reactions can get worse, and Dan and I feared a terrible reaction, and had a difficult time sleeping that night. Not to mention that Sienna had a difficult time adjusting to being in a hotel. She DID NOT want to go to bed in her pack and play! After singing, begging, laying her down and patting her back, covering and re-covering… we just had to leave and let her cry for a little bit. We felt horrible, but she didn’t want to be held… she just wanted to run free and not go to sleep. Finally, after about an hour, and fearing that we were going to get kicked out of the hotel, she calmed down and started babbling, then put herself to sleep. Parker was in the room with her and I know he was glad to hear her be quiet! He didn’t complain once, which was great! That night we kept Mason in our room so we could keep a closer eye on him and his rash. We were all so tired anyway and it was just easier to have peace of mind.

The next morning we checked the weather, and there was a chance of rain, but the chance of rain was more over then next few days of our trip, so we decided to take a chance and head over to Rock City. We love Rock City’s Rocktober Fest, and really just all they have to offer. Such a fun attraction!

We were surprised that the trail was fairly kid friendly.  We remembered being there last November, and there were some areas that were just too hard for us with how little the kids were, but now that they’re older it’s a little easier.  Sienna was in the backpack carrier for part of the time, but there were several caves and paths that were just fine for her to roam around on. The area that made me the most nervous was where they had the little bridges with sides that only came up to my knees at best! Way too low for little ones!  One thing we thought was really fun was that the boys got little maps at the beginning, and they were told to get little stickers from certain stations on the map… one being a fun troll. Then they were to go on the Enchanted Trail and find the fairy and get a special surprise if they showed her the map with all the stickers. All three kids got a fun pinwheel! They just loved it.

We also saw a new area this time, Mother Goose’s Cave (not sure the official name), and it was a black-light themed storybook village with a fun little miniature area that the kids loved! We left out of a different area and completely missed that fun section last time we visited!

That evening we enjoyed a fun walk downtown over the bridge near Coolidge Park and out to dinner at Blue Plate, one of our favs in the area. A fun end to our first full day in Chattanooga!

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The next day we decided to try Ruby Falls. We had concerns about Mason’s rash that had gotten worse overnight, and it delayed our start to the day (everything was fine with him though, just more benedryl and concerned convo with his doc!) and we got to Ruby Falls a little later than we had planned. It was PACKED! People were hanging out of the entrance to the main building and the kids weren’t listening. Sienna didn’t want to be held and kept running off when we put her down, the boys didn’t want to be still, and were complaining that they didn’t want to wait any longer… we quickly realized that it was a very bad idea to try to do Ruby Falls at this time of day. It would’ve taken at least an hour to get through that line, then it was another hour and fifteen to get to see Ruby Falls. It was just cutting it too close to lunch and nap time which is a big no-no when you have little kiddos! So… we made the decision to leave and go visit downtown instead.  We went back to Coolidge Park and found a nice deli and then had fun walking through the park and riding the carousel.  Dan pointed out a fun little alleyway that was marked up with chalk and graffiti, and it ended up being a fun backdrop to photograph the kids! I didn’t bring my DSLR, but my new iPhone 6 did the job just fine and these are some of my very favorites!

We called the office at Ruby falls after the kids had their nap, and they told us that there wasn’t a line and that it would probably be a 5-10 minute wait before heading down to the falls. We were so excited and felt better prepared this time. The kids each had a water bottle for hydration, and even though Sienna completely refused to go in the back carrier, she was more compliant about either holding our hand or being held, so that was good. Dan quickly purchased the tickets and I stood in line by the elevator to hold our spot. We were so excited that we were so early that we didn’t make sure the kids emptied out before heading down to the falls. The elevator takes you hundreds of feet under ground, and there are no restrooms. About twenty minutes in, Mason started asking to go to the bathroom. I felt like the worst mother of the year. We didn’t have him go when he got up from his nap because I remembered thinking-he’ll just empty out right before the tour. Yikes. We had a tour guide that was great, and the kids loved the little walk. There weren’t steep cliffs or too many areas that we had to hold their hands like at Rock City, so it was fairly easy for little ones. I wouldn’t suggest for the early walkers who don’t like to be held on in carriers though. Overall, very pretty and worth the walk, but I don’t think I would have the same sentiment if we went through with it earlier in the day when it was busier. I can see how people can feel claustrophobic with too many people down there, but for us, it wasn’t too bad. So, on goes the saga of Mason having to go potty. We’re literally waiting to go see the falls. There’s a group in there, and we were next. Our group of around fifty people were quiet when our tour guide turns to Mason and says “How’s it going little buddy?” and Mason yells “I have to pee REALLLLLLLY Bad. I Caaaaaaan’t Wait!!” Embarrassed, Dan and I looked at each other with wide eyeballs as if to say…what the heck are we going to do? No restroom… we’re down in a cave. I looked at the kids water bottle in my hand and I just took Mason and walked swiftly to the back of the crowd of people and found a little private area in the cave, and had him go in a bottle. Classy, I know. The best part? He announces it to everyone upon his return. I just love that kid!

On Monday, we ventured to the Creative Discovery Museum. That place never gets old! We just love that place and always explore something new each time we go. This time, we spent a lot of time in the music area. The boys climbed up the large playground area that about gave me a heart attack, so I safely excused myself and brought Sienna to the toddler area. There is so much fun to be had in that area, and when the boys were done with their death defying playground tunnels, they came and joined in the fun. We had such a great time there!

Our last day it rained so much that it literally shut down our exit to the interstate. It had been raining off and on all weekend, but it had poured the night before. Our last night at the hotel we enjoyed their indoor pool. Mason’s rash had finally cleared up and he was excited that he could finally go swimming! We had a great time!
We were trying to think of something fun to do in Chattanooga our last day where we could stay dry. We were very familiar with their aquarium… so much so, that we decided to skip it this time. We were just at our Atlanta aquarium in July and we were at the Chattanooga aquarium just last November. The manager at the hotel we stayed at (the Hampton Inn Lookout Mountain) had suggested the cave at Raccoon mountain. Our first hint should’ve been that he has older kids. It was a little boring for little ones. Not to mention, it was pretty wet and treturous and none of the kids could really be left unattended without their hands being held or being picked up. They were bored to tears…literally. I think they loved ruby falls because there was an end in site…the falls. Raccoon Cave was very pretty, but it left a lot to be desired for little kids. Maybe again in ten years on a boys scout trip…

All in all, lots of fun memories made in Tennessee our family fall vaca!

Thanksgiving Blessings

These past few weeks we’ve enjoyed spending time with friends and family as well as thinking about all the blessings we have. The boys have been enjoying all the crafts they bring home from school and learning about pilgrims, indians and the mayflower. The boys had a nice Thanksgiving program at school. Parker was an Indian, and Mason was a Mayflower. It was really sweet. We contributed food towards a delicious Thanksgiving feast at school as well as when we went to Aunt Angie’s house for Thanksgiving Dinner. Lots of great memories and fun with family and friends!IMG_0544

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An evening of fun at the Fair!

It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year since Dan’s surgery. One of the reasons why I remember it so well is because the week he was admitted, was the same week of the fair. It was something that we looked forward to each year and had to skip during his hospitalization. Thankfully, Dan is feeling great this year and looks great too! We are so thankful for his good health this year, and God’s continued healing! So, this year we celebrated life and enjoyed going to the fair. I’m not sure who had more fun.. us or the boys! Incidentally, we left Sienna’s pacifier in the car, and we stayed out WAY past her bedtime, but she wasn’t sad one bit! The boys had so much fun riding rides, and taking in all the lights, fun and action. By the time we were ready to go, we were ALL ready to go. We were so tired, and ready for bed. Great memories were made, and we look forward to this fall tradition each year!
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