Saturday, October 31, 2009

Just One More...

Ava has been looking forward to Halloween for about two months now... since the day her Dorothy costume arrived (thank you to my wonderful customer for making it for her!!). Last night, she could barely fall asleep; the excitement was just too much for her. As soon as she woke up, she asked to put her costume on, but we kept it off for very good reason (keep reading!).

We opted not to carve pumpkins this year. Actually, it was Ava's choice. It's not that she doesn't like the mess, she just had a better idea. Rather than carve, she wanted to paint. And not just any old paint job, this girl had a plan. She chose to paint her pumpkin to look like Mike from "Monster's, Inc." So, that's how she and I spent Halloween morning while Jax and Daddy delivered some letters to members of our ward.

After running some errands, we rushed home to make dinner --- Mummies. I wish I had taken a picture because they were pretty darn cute. Basically, it was just pigs-in-a-blanket, but we made the dough look more "mummy-like" and used mustard for eyes. Ava was quite proud of her creations and Jax was quite happy to eat them (he devoured two).

Finally, the sun began to set and it was time to get the kids outfitted in their costumes: Dorothy and the Tin Man. Andy and I had every intention of dressing up like the other two members of the Wizard of Oz foursome (lion and scarecrow), but for one reason or another it didn't happen. Not like anyone would have been looking at us, anyway. I mean, with kids as cute as ours, we may as well be invisible :)

We skipped on over to our ward Trunk-or-Treat.

Jax having a little pre-trick-or-treating chocolate

Ava, I mean Dorothy, led the way and her little brother followed. At first, Jax wasn't sure what to do with the candy being handed him. The first few pieces he tried to eat on the spot, dropping his basket in the process. But, after a few trunks he had the hang of it, carefully placing each piece in his Elmo basket. But, when people let the kids "choose" their piece of candy, Jax was not shy, grabbing as many pieces as he could fit in his plump little hands. However, he was sure to say or sign "thank you" to every person who gave him candy. A nice little old lady actually commented on how polite my kids were after both thanked her. It was a proud little mommy moment.

Gotta take the wrapper off, Buddy!

Once we'd visited each trunk, I let the kids each have a Dum-Dum. You'd think I had just stuck their heads under a candy spicket. They were blissful!

On the way home, Ava decided she wasn't done trick-or-treating, so she and I went on to some houses around ours while Andy and Jax went home and the little dude went to sleep. This was Ava's first experience actually trick-or-treating door-to-door. It was exciting, and a little nostalgic, to watch her happily bounce to each door and knock as loudly as she could. Oh, and the look on her face when the door opened. Priceless! She was the first trick-or-treater at many of the doors, so they were extra-generous. As we walked home, she told me she "got a lot of loot."

Protecting her loot
After checking all her candy, I allowed her one piece. After pleading and giving me a big goofy grin, she got one more. I think that last one did her in, because what ensued was foreign to me. She's an energetic kid, and talks... ALOT! But, holy cow... she was CRAZY! She chattered non-stop for a good 20 minutes, touching on subjects from princesses to Avery's blessing tomorrow, to the merits of sugar. She giggled uncontrollably and couldn't stop wiggling. It was pretty hilarious! I don't know if it was really the sugar or just the excitement from the night, I tend to lean toward sugar as the culprit, either way, I've never seen anything like it. She finally crashed about an hour later. I'm sure she's dreaming of chocolate and Pixie Stix. I'm pretty sure Jax always dreams of food.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sounding it Out

Ava is ready to start reading... on her own. Few things make her happier than books. As a matter of fact, I think that could it have fit, she would have had one in the womb.

She's been asking me quite frequently lately to help her sound out words. In the last few days, she's been doing it on her own, unassisted. The first word she ever sounded out without Mama-help: POOP! Yep, poop. Of course, we would be the family with a children's book containing the word poop. Despite the word, I was so proud of her for recognizing the double o's and the sound they make. From there, it's just snowballed. As we read books together every day, I'll often stop on a simple word and ask her to sound it out... and she does. There are several words she knows now by recognition (other than all of our names): go, stop, on, off, out, in, the, puppy, love, flour, milk, eggs, etc. But for the most part, she just works really hard to put the sounds together. Today, I wrote "See Jax run" on a piece of paper and she quickly read it to me. The funny thing is, I get so excited when she reads a word, yet she is so unaffected. She'll smile a little but is then ready to move on. I think she just wants to get reading and would like me to stop with all the overly-excited Mommy nonsense.

Andy and I are so proud of our girl and her love of learning, especially reading. I hope she'll be a lifelong reader so that when I'm old and gray she can spend as many hours reading to me, as I've spent reading to her. I'll even let her read me books with the word "poop" in them, if she wants to.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Just Some Cute Ones...

I don't have much to say today... shocking, I KNOW! But, I wanted to post some cute recent pictures of the kiddos.

Every day, Ava is a new character. On this particular day, she was dancing around the kitchen in her cowgirl hat, cowgirl boots... and Old Navy shirt. Two for three isn't bad.

No Mommy, I didn't get into the flour after you left the kitchen for just a few seconds. Man, he's quick!

This is the newest dress I made her.

I just thought this was cute. If you look closely, you'll notice there's a smidge of chocolate on his lip.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Disney On Ice Contest

Hey Everyone! We need your help! I entered Ava in a local photo contest, the winner could win tickets to Disney Princesses on Ice OR even a family vacation to Disneyland. And you know how Ava LOOOOOOVES Disneyland (okay, so does her Mom!). If you could please go here and vote, we'd really appreciate it. I know she would LOVE either prize! Ava is photo 138. Just click on the button next to the number and then enter a valid e-mail address. From there, you'll get an e-mail to verify your vote. Your vote won't count until you've clicked on the link you'll get in your e-mail.


Friday, October 23, 2009

The Monster Mash

Ava's dance studio celebrated Halloween tonight with trick-or-treating, games, goodies and a little program. Ava's class was one of those chosen to perform and she couldn't have been happier. Not only did she get to wear her Halloween costume (Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz), but she got to dance in it. Here's video I took of the performance. Ava was pretty funny. You'll notice near the beginning she got distracted by the people who were watching in the room above the studio. At another point she kinda zones out in her own little Ava world. But hey, she had fun and I think she did a great job!!

Ava has made two little dancing buddies, Isabelle (the lion) and A.J. (dressed up like Pebbles). The three are so cute, always waiting for each other when it's time to change from ballet to tap shoes, chatting with each other before and after class and talking about each other throughout the week. She and A.J. always partner up when it's time to do so, and the two giggle and smile the entire time. It's adorable!

Daddy, Jax, Uncle Dusty, Joni, Ethan and Avery all came along to watch our tiny dancer. Jax clapped excitedly for his sister, shouting, "YAY! Aba!" (which is how he says her name). And Ethan was mesmerized, I don't think I've ever seen such a busy boy stand so still! I'm glad he liked it because Ava was so excited to show him her dance routine!

Bob the Builder, Dorothy and one chunky hunky tin man

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Jump Around

It's been a long time since I took the kids to free-play at the gymnastics gym. As a matter of fact, the little dude wasn't even close to walking last time we went. Really, it's been a while.

With winter creeping up on us, I decided last week it was time to get back in the habit. Ava, of course, was extremely excited about finally revisiting one of her very favorite places. I was excited to see her share all the fun with her baby brother. I assumed the kids would run all over the place trying out all the equipment, but all they wanted to do was jump. Jump on the trampoline. Jump into the foam pit. Jump over things. You name it. Jump. Jump. Jump.

Jax couldn't quite figure out the balance beam, so instead he went over it this way... on his way to the jumping castle.

backing into the foam pit

Ava has gotten much braver since the last time we were at gymnastics. She surprised me by standing on this platform and jumping into the foam pit. She used to just slide in with my help.

SOOO proud of herself!

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Changing of the Seasons

I've been suggesting for weeks we take a ride up the canyon to see the leaves changing colors. We've been told by many it's just breathtaking, but had yet to see the view for ourselves. So, this evening for Family Home Evening we finally made the drive up, and just in time. The colors were indeed beautiful, but I fear we didn't get the full effect as many of the trees were already naked.

But still, we saw colors on trees that my born-and-bred in Arizona self had never seen in person (atleast that I can remember).

We took a little stroll (actually Ava and I ran while Daddy and Jax chased us) through the canyon to our favorite waterfall, where the kids threw rocks and the mancub tried to jump in. Fortunately, Daddy caught him by his britches... literally.

Right before he almost tumbled in

Jax was euphoric surrounded by leaves, sticks, rocks and water and stopped several times for each.

He also took several breaks to lay on the pavement, I wish I could get inside his little head so I might understand where the idea came from and why he did it repeatedly. Ahhh, to be a kid. Passerbys thought it was cute, if I was laying in the middle of the pavement they would think I was weird. Such a double standard :)

Ava, of course, being the curious child she is was so interested in the varying shapes and colors of leaves and wanted to know what kind of tree each came from. Unfortunately for her, her Mommy is not well-versed in Dendrology. Regardless, we brought home a dozen leaves, all of which Ava collected. We also left dozens behind, much to her chagrin.

Sliding down a hill of leaves

My new favorite picture of the sister bear.

I just checked the 10-day forecast. It appears we chose a nice day to go. I think it may be the last "warm" (67 degrees) day of the year. Our next 10 days holds nothing but 50s for highs and I fear, it's only going to get worse from there. What a great way to celebrate fall and begin to hunker down and prepare ourselves for... BRRRR.... WINTER.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Pumpkins and Princesses

I love this time of year. I think the transition from summer to fall may be my favorite time of year... or maybe it's spring. I think it changes depending on the season.

We made the trip a few miles north to a local Fall Festival. I get excited about these things. Andy, not so much. But, he humored me and went, knowing just how much the kids and I would enjoy it. Some friends of ours, along with their two boys, joined us for the fall fun.

The first thing Ava saw when we entered the shindig was an entire princess play area. Her eyes lit up as she pointed and excitedly announced that "we MUST go over there!" So, she pranced over. Her little friend Reid, being the totally laid-back kid he is, decided the princess area was okay by him because it had a jumping castle, even if said jumping castle had Disney princess all over it. While Reid jumped, Ava played dress-up. An entire section of the princess playland was devoted solely to dress up. So, Ava put on a Cinderella dress (who else?) and climbed aboard a real carriage. Really, it's actually the one used by Disney at the NYC premier of the movie when it was re-released a few years back. Not too shabby, eh?

I love her princess pose

It took some coercion to get Ava out of the carriage (along with some tears) and promises that we would return. Although, the rest of the afternoon she reminded me repeatedly that she was ready to go back to the princess area.

After all the girly stuff was out of the way we mosied on over to a farm-themed playground,

duck races,

haybale maze

and kid-sized corn maze. Ava and Jax didn't quite get the concept of the haybale maze and instead just kept going in and out of the same tunnel. Fine by me, I had to practically bend my body in half to get through that thing! The corn maze was less painful (for me) and Jax was in heaven -- free to run amok, surrounded by food (or so he thought).

Mmmmm.... corn.

BLAH! What is this? Get it off my tongue!

Rather than sit int he wagon, he chose to pull it.

This reminds me of Edith Ann on Sesame Street

All the kids were excited about the cow train, and it kept Ava's mind off of princesses for awhile. As the train drove by with another group of passengers, I rattled off the names of all the "cow cars" to Ava. She chose Daisy, the caboose, while Jax and I hitched a ride on Angel.

Waiting patiently for their turn

Next to the train sat a giant blow-up monster. Ava was intrigued because it gave the false-impression that it was of the dinosaur species. So, she decided she wanted to go inside. I, knowing better realized it was a "haunted" monster. However, she insisted. I, wanting to be the mom who lets her children make well-informed decisions, grudgingly agreed. So, she Andy, Reid and Reid's dad, Nate all went inside. A few minutes later, out came two daddies carrying two crying kids. Apparently, she was fine until near the end a clown jumped out at her and something came down from the ceiling and went, "Psssht" at her (her description, not mine). I held her, we talked about it. I explained that I knew she was scared, but that those things were just pretend. She, as well as I, was worried she'd have bad dreams that night. So, we talked about our bedtime plan: scriptures, prayers (special prayer for good dreams), books, singing and then good dream spray. Good Dream Spray is something I concocted when we first moved to Utah and Ava was having a bout with bad dreams. Really, it's a small bottle of smelly body spray, but it's pink so Ava is happy. We recite a little saying, "Twinkle, twinkle little sprinkle. Wish I may, wish I might have nothing but good dreams tonight." Cheesy, but it works. Then, a few mists of the spray and discussion of all the happy things she'll dream about and problem solved. She slept great last night!

So, back to the fall festival. After the monster debacle we decided to take a break and play some tetherball. All was good and fun until Andy accidentally hit Ava in the face. She just kept telling me, "Daddy hit me in the face with the tertherball. That is NOT how we play tetherball." Poor thing.

Once the tears were gone and Ava was speaking to her Daddy again, we took the kids to the slides. Good idea. Any and all tears were soon replaced by big smiles and lots of giggles.

Daddy even sent Jax down one all by himself.

To cap off our afternoon we headed over to the jumping pillows. I think these are self-explanatory.

Jax cracks me up, he's just so fearless. I know Heavenly Father blessed me with a no-boundaries boy on purpose. I am far too paranoid and cautious, Jax came along to lighten his Mommy up. He wanted so badly to get on the pillows, which made me a little nervous. There were lots of kids, lots of grown-ups and not a whole lot of paying attention. However, not wanting to deprive him, I threw him on and stood close by. He couldn't have been happier. He made attempts at jumping, but most of the time, he just hung out and let everyone else do the work for him.

Ava, the little jumping bean would have stayed there all day had I let her.

Eventually, I got in on the fun too.

Of course, before we headed home, Ava and I made a stop back in princess land, where this time she chose to be Snow White. After the costume was off, she heard a song often played on Radio Disney and this is what ensued:

A fun, busy way to celebrate fall. Jax fell asleep within minutes of leaving the parking lot. Ava, on the other hand, toughed it out during the car-ride home but fell asleep as soon as we got home. That's the sign of a good day.