Wednesday, November 28, 2012

We Went to San Diego...

Back in October we took a little family vacay to California. Andy's sweet cousin Dawn was getting hitched, we originally considered leaving the kids with grandparents while Andy and I got away for a weekend (which, in our nearly seven years of being parents we have never done) but then decided to tack a few days on to the trip and bring the kids along.
 Pretending to be cobras with their neck pillows
My dear friend, who also happened to be my mentor early in the news business, now works in PR at the San Diego Zoo and hooked us up with free tickets (thanks, Jenn!). How sweet is that?! So, we zoo'ed it up. We did some reconnaissance work in advance, and checked out the exhibits online so we could map out exactly where we wanted to go during our visit, and which animals we just had to see. We kinda lost Jax once we told him the zoo had a cobra snake. After that, he had a one-track mind and had little interest in anything else. The Zoo has a great reptile/amphibian area where Jax got to see every kind of snake, lizard and turtle imaginable. He was jumping-out-of-his-skin excited. When we found the first of the two cobras, he seemed to have springs in his shoes because he couldn't stop jumping and excitedly yelling to Andy and I to come look. He just kept saying, "I can't believe I'm seeing a real-life cobra!"

The look on Ava's face pretty much sums up how she felt about the reptile area

 This is a terrible picture, but it's a cobra.

Ava's major request was the panda exhibit, she was hoping the baby panda would be on display, but unfortunately, he wasn't. However, we did get to see this three-year-old panda who gave us quite a show.  To commemorate the event, Ava chose a baby panda stuffed animal, who she named Lily, as her Zoo souvenir.

Eden went along for the ride, making monkey sounds when appropriate, growling at the bears, hissing at the snakes and barking at all animals whose sound she didn't know. She wasn't too keen on the stroller and wanted to walk like the big kids, which wore her out... so she was tired... but she didn't want to be in the stroller... so we carried her part of the way... until she finally gave up and let me put her in the stroller where she took a little snooze.
 Totally his father's son!

 All tuckered out. That snake is Jax's souvenir. It's freakishly real.

The following day, we headed to the beach where the kids were supposed to JUST put their feet in. It was pretty chilly so I kept the swimsuits in the suitcase. I should have known better. The beach is Ava's happy place. She's always loved it.

Jax was a little hesitant at first but quickly followed his sister's lead.

Eden, however, was not having any of it. She tried it out for a few minutes before deciding she absolutely hated it. She cried, she told us no when we asked if she wanted to play, she was just miserable which surprised me because she loves the sandbox at home. In her defense, she started getting sick the night before and by the time we got home she had full-blown croup, so that could have had something to do with her attitude toward the beach.

On a side note, Jax chose a very realistic rattlesnake as his zoo souvenir. He brought it along to the beach, setting it in the sand with our things. I wish that snake came with a hidden camera to capture the frightened look on beachgoers' faces when they spotted what appeared to be a live rattlesnake on the peaceful beach, or the double-takes we received as Eden walked down the pier carrying the thing. If we're being honest, I hate that darn snake. Much like the beachgoers, it has scared the tar out of me just laying on the floor in the living room or Jax's bedroom.

 This is my favorite picture of the girls! Eden rarely looks at the camera, so this is extra-special. They're so beautiful!

That evening, we headed over to Dawn's wedding. Actually, Andy did. It was a no-kids shindig, so Andy went to the ceremony then came back and got me for the reception while Grandma and Grandpa stayed with the kids in the hotel. Not only did we get a date night, but we got to spend some time with "the girls" -- Andy's three girl cousins with whom he spent many childhood summers playing, and who I just happen to adore. We spent most of our time talking about their childhoods together, and our kids, and laughing at it all.

I'm grateful our little family had the chance to enjoy some special time together. We spent all summer finishing the remodel on the house and then moving into the house which, while exciting, didn't make for the most eventful summer break for the kids. So, we made up for it, and made some great memories in the process!

Monday, November 26, 2012

So Much Halloween

My kids are pretty good about telling me what they want to be for Halloween months ahead of the actual event. Yet it seems that each year, despite a fair warning, I find myself frantically sewing just days before October 31. It just sneaks up on me. Or maybe I'm a procrastinator. Probably the latter.

Ava, since November 1, 2011, had been set on being Rainbow Brite for Halloween. I was a little surprised by the choice since Rainbow Brite is a character from my generation and not so relevant these days. But, I agreed. However, just a few months before Halloween, I introduced Ava to "Jem and the Holograms," another show from my childhood (and quite possibly my favorite). It didn't take long for Ava to change her costume. I knew most people wouldn't know who Ava was supposed to be (unless they were children of the 80's), so she just called herself a "rockstar." Oh, but she knew who she really was. 

Jax, didn't waver one bit on his costume, despite my best efforts. He, without a doubt, wanted to be a cobra snake, or a "flathead cobra" as he calls them. I went back and forth with how exactly to make said costume and came up with this. Not too shabby, although far too many people called him a dinosaur or lizard, for his liking. 

I was so excited to make Eden a unicorn costume until, just weeks before Halloween, she developed a serious aversion to all headgear. Hats, headbands, clippies, hoodies. She rips them off her head either with a resounding, "Uh-uh!" and a head shake, or she coyly removes them and then hides them so I can't replace them on her noggin. So, I had to change my plans. Jax and I saw a cute little octopus costume online that would have been easy to recreate, but because of my aforementioned procrastination problem, I never got around to it. So, at the last minute, I made a little ghost costume. 

We had a quite the extended Halloween, first going to Andy's brother's town the weekend before for a town-wide shindig. Then, on actual Halloween, we joined cousins for trunk-or-treat at their church building, then "real trick-or-treating" (as Ava calls it) in this awesome neighborhood where residents set up movies outside their homes, offer popcorn, hot apple cider and even NBA basketball on a large TV. 
Jax, Nathan, Bracken and Ava at Trunk-or-Treat

Most importantly, the kids got quite the haul. One nice lady at trunk-or-treat even gave them all her leftover Dum-Dums (about 40 total), which just happen to be Jax's favorite treat in the whole world. Seriously, he'll take a Dum-Dum over any dessert. 

 We had a great time and, of course, the kids are already planning next year's costumes. Maybe I'll get a head start this time around. Probably not, though. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

When Eden is Quiet...

When Eden is quiet...

You know she's sneaking food.

Exhibit A: 

As I got our things in order to head out the door to pick Ava up from school then take kids to gymnastics, I noticed my usual little shadow was nowhere to be seen. That's the first sign. Then, when I called for her, there was no response (I usually get a high-pitched, "Mama!" in return). Sign number two. The greatest indicator of Eden's attempts to hoard anything edible, though, is the silence. She's rarely quiet. So, I went into the pantry (because that's where all the good stuff is) and found this:

Sharing with Mama

So pleased with herself.
Exhibit B: 

I gave Eden and Jax each a little bowl of goldfish crackers to snack on. Eden gobbled/spilled hers very quickly and promptly began begging her brother for some of his ("Please. More"). He gave her a few but that simply didn't suffice, so as soon as he got up to go to the bathroom, she went in for the kill.

 First I caught her with her hands in his boots. Nothing out of the ordinary.

 Then, I noticed she was sticking something into said boots. A little weird. So, I peeked into the boots and guess what I found?

 She didn't want her brother to take the crackers away from her so she was hiding them. My first reaction was to be impressed by her ingenuity. Then, when she heard Jax coming out of the bathroom, I saw her stick one of the boot crackers in her mouth and, while disgusting, it also proves just how far she was willing to go That's dedication.

Cousin Fun

Our kids are so blessed to live near all 7.5 of their cousins, they have built-in buddies all around! We see cousins Nathan, Bracken and Marco every week while Ava takes piano lessons from Aunt Courtney (the added bonus is the kids hang out for a bit after lessons and Courtney and I get to have adult interaction!), but we try to get together for fun stuff as much as possible. While the fair was in town, Court and I thought it the perfect opportunity to have some fun.

The kids had a blast riding all the kiddie rides together, Jax was just plain giddy. Really, the ride could have been a man pushing him around in a laundry basket and he would have loved it. I think it was just the idea of being at the fair with cousins that made him so  happy. And I must say, I was pretty impressed by how well the four older kids compromised and took turns choosing rides. 

Look at us, we're having fun at the fair too!

It was way past Eden's bedtime so she spent most of the fair in her stroller with this exact same look on her face.

Just a few weeks later, during fall break, Courtney and I loaded the kids up for a trip to the local zoo. Our zoo is small, but it's just perfect for a little family outing. The walk is nice, there's a wide variety of animals and it's fairly inexpensive (especially with our discount card thanks to the PTA!).

I love watching these kiddos play together! Each of our three kids areabout a year apart: Ava is 6, Nathan is 5, Jax is 4, Bracken is 3, Eden is 15 months and Marco is 8 months, it's so neat to think they'll all grow up making fun memories like these together.