Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Back to School: and Then There Was One

I intended to write a "back to school" post last month, right after they started school but I realized I'd better wait and see how things go before I give any sort of summary.Genius right? I also intended to write about six zillion other posts but LIFE.

Anyway, Aiden started school before Labor Day which is totally unheard of in these parts and made me rather mad but I soon realized that various other holidays and conference days meant that he didn't actually have a full week of school until October, so it was sort of necessary to get a jump start.

He got lucky this year and is in class with almost every one of his super best buddies (boys and girls) and really likes his teachers. We really like his teacher because a) her curriculum is very straightforward so we actually know what Aiden needs to be working on (as opposed to last year when we loved his very sweet teachers and loathed the wacky way they approached schoolwork).  Also, b) she's already given the kids a talk about being responsible for their own work and supplies. As in, THEY need to make sure their homework is done and packed up and if they forget it's not Mom's fault. I still help to remind him but we've already noticed that he takes more responsibility for his homework and tests at school than before (the flip side being he's had a few moments of stress over his work and progress that we've never really had to deal with before).

And of course, RORY. Rory started preschool. He attends two days a week and because of the holidays it was reduced to about once a week for the past month which meant it took a little while for him to get comfortable. His first day was nerve wracking for me, because he is still my least predictable child, but he did just fine. There have been some tears and clinginess at drop-off but really it could've been 1,000 times worse so yeah, he's doing great.

We did get a report back that he seemed to constantly be doing his own thing. The class does a project, Rory plays alone. The class sits down to read and Rory colors at the table. The class has free play and Rory wants to sit on the teachers lap and read. The teacher mentioned it in sort of a "do you have any suggestions" way, and I felt a little vindicated because YES. THIS IS HIS THING. Also no, I do not have any suggestions, you're the professional, you let me know when you manage to get him to go with the crowd. I'm glad to see that someone else is just as confounded by him. (She did update me a few days later and say that they had treats for someone's birthday and the promise of a cupcake had him being most agreeable that day. Food is his love language I guess).

All in all Rory loves preschool. He arrives and is slightly overwhelmed by the NOISE and CHAOS and then finds his little niche and enjoys himself.  He is extremely proud of the artwork and projects he brings home, all of which are displayed front and center on the fridge, and asks when he can go back. I don't know if he'll happily fall in line with the other kids as he learns the routine or if he's always going to be a bit of a maverick but I'm just so happy at how well he's adapting and how happy he seems.

So the only sad footnote to all the back to school excitement is Audrey. I had been so wrapped up in making sure the boys transition to school went smoothly I didn't think how it might affect her. I (naively)  assumed she'd love having me all to herself with them out of the house. Not so however; she cries when we leave preschool without Rory, is cranky and aimless while he's gone, and perks up again after naptime when both Rory and Aiden are back. This girl loves her people (and every night before bed she requests a hug from everyone, not just people in our household but alllllll the grandmas and grandpas and aunts and uncles. If they are not there she wants to know where they are and when they are coming over). She might be having a harder time letting go of the boys than I am!    


Monday, September 7, 2015

The Epic Summer Vacation Recap

Summer vacation has, sadly, ended and Aiden is back at school. Aiden had three camps this summer: baseball, art and science camp. He loved all three and was disappointed that they all ended by the beginning of August.

August is supposed to be when you head out of town for a vacation but this year we didn't have anything planned so we spent the month at the parks, pool and playdates. We did lots of hiking, took the kids to the aerospace museum and spent a few Saturdays at the farmers market. It was a good, if low-key, summer but I still wasn't prepared to find out that Aiden's school started a week earlier than usual (before Labor Day, which is unheard of in these parts).

He had his first day on Tuesday, and I was all prepared for lots of foot dragging and grumbling, but he seemed really happy to be back. It probably helps that he hasn't had any homework yet. His entire first month is a little strange in that he doesn't have more than three or four days of school per week, due to various holidays. We used these short weeks to finally book the vacation we'd missed out on this summer (thanks to Sean's ever changing work schedule, which has finally settled down *crossing fingers and toes*). I AM SO EXCITED. We are going to the actual ocean, staying in an adorable three bedroom apartment I found for a ludicrously amazing price that happens to be just yards from the ocean and directly on top of a cupcake shop. Aka HEAVEN. Ahem, anyway, that should be fun and I will certainly take 4,000 or so pictures.

Before we can leave for our vacation we just have to get through one teensy tinsy little gauntlet: Rory's first day of preschool. Now, Rory didn't exactly love it when we visited, but he has matured a huge amount over the summer. He's gotten to the point where he will, on occasion, listen to reason and perhaps check his behavior a bit when we're out in public. It's amazing. He still doesn't really like crowds or noise or new people or change. He also has a deep seated desire to be a clown that has started to surface. All of these things are swirling around making me realize what a crap shoot his first weeks of school will be. I'm fully prepared for a scream-y battle, but hoping for a gentler transition, and trying to also prepare for the flip side where he decides he loves school and wants to amuse everyone by breaking every rule with a smile. Just a little nervous.

Here are a zillion pictures from our past few weeks of leisure:

Monday, July 13, 2015

Summer So Far...

In the contest of me vs. summer, summer is winning.  We are starting in on our third (and a half?) week and I'm giving up any attempt at keeping the house clean and organized and I've lost hope on getting us anywhere farther than a half hour radius from home. 

I started out that first week assuring my friends that "Oh no, summer is wonderful! The kids have all been getting along so well! We're out to the park or library everyday!" while they complained that their kids were tearing each other and their houses apart. We had a one week grace period apparently because pretty soon after that the charm of having their big brother home/the excitement of being out of school wore off and now it's a long chorus of "he/she is touching me/my stuff/ just breathing in my general direction".  

We've been to alllll our favorite playgrounds and the library and had two camps and yeah...that's it. I'm fresh out of ideas.  We aren't taking a vacation due to Sean's highly unpredictable schedule for the next month or so and I'm trying to just take deep breaths and remember that this is what summer break is for: no particular plans other than reading books and playing and yes, learning to get along with your siblings. 

On the bright side we've been able to get out and about much more than last year (and all our kids sleep through the night hallelujah and high fives to everyone).  I can't say we aren't active because yeah, they never stop moving (or eating. I think our grocery bill has doubled now that Aiden is home all day). Aiden has one more camp and then I think I'm going to have to buck up and plan some local adventures for us. The kids don't care or notice that we're not having a vacation but I DO. I've got some good ideas but I just need to work up the courage to take them all by myself. In the meantime we'll be over here  playing soccer, rereading our favorite books for the 100th time, making chalk masterpieces on the driveway and eating sand. Wait, no, that last one is just Audrey.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Rory Turns 3

He has the sweetest baby face, giant hands but soft pudgy arms that are always ready to drape themselves around my neck. He has a will of steel, but a soft heart that is easily hurt. He has wide eyes that are always watching, the most mischievous sense of humor and is fiercely protective of his siblings. Sometimes he seems like he is a warrior ready to charge into battle, wearing his stubbornness like armor and other times he is the gentlest baby in need of endless amounts of affection and patience. He is like a summer day: sunny and warm but always a hint of thunder in the background. Sometimes he storms fiercely, but it always clears away again leaving sunshine in its wake. Today he is three.


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Last Day of First Grade

Aiden had his last day of school as a first grader. I can't believe the year is already over! He is looking forward to playing with Legos and being outside all summer.  He'll be attending a week of art camp and a week of all day science camp (it's all about insects so he VERY EXCITED).

This past year we didn't sign him up for soccer in an attempt to keep more freedom in his schedule. This failed hilariously as he ended up doing piano lessons, signing up for Spanish class with his friend and then the school would hold various after school activities and he always begged to do them.  At certain points he had activities every night except Fridays. This year we will, once again, attempt to scale back on All The Stuff. I feel like we've always pushed to get him involved and now that he genuinely wants to join these activities it's really hard to say no. But I will try.

Things we loved about first grade:   Aiden started the year with a substitute teacher he LOVED. She was beyond amazing and was someone who genuinely understood Aiden. She knew he loved drawing and would have him make the covers for the class books. She knew how to make him feel comfortable and confident and I wish he could have had her all year.

Before Christmas his regular teacher came back from maternity leave so he had a big change just as the school work started to get harder. His new teacher was so sweet but it was hard for him to get to know her and ask for help when he needed. Despite a bumpy beginning he really grew to like her and is happy his new classroom is close to hers.

Things we are excited about for next year: We've heard great things about his second grade teachers and he found out that he will be with his core group of best friends next year. It even seems like his class might be a little bit smaller which is always nice. This has been the first year since he was three that he has no worries at all about starting a new year of school.

Now that the year is finally over we plan on keeping up with reading and math. He's got stacks of books to read and a school packet of math facts to practice. However, we also have an awful lot of sleeping in, swimming and playing outside to work on. Happy summer everyone!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

5 Things: All Music Edition

I missed doing a "3 Things"  post yesterday which is probably okay since I haven't read anything other than news articles (depressing) and the only movie we watched was The Kingsmen (hyper-violent but excellent suits). We have, however, been listening to a lot of music lately so here are 5 songs we've had on repeat lately (also, take a moment and appreciate how I finally figured out the ridiculously simple code tweak to keep the videos from hanging into the sidebar. Yay me):
Echosmith - Bright
It seems like this song is everywhere right now but I don't mind because it's so sweet and mellow and perfect for singing to small children who are feeling grumpy and in need of a snuggle.

Peaches- In The Valley Below
This is the ultimate driving around in the car song. It has a catchy vibe without being too hyper. This is perfect for tuning out stress and just relaxing. Basically, our Friday song. 

Omi- Cheerleader
Sean loathes this song with a burning passion. I love it for reasons I can't quite explain. I usually apologize, promise that he can pick the next song, and then turn it up and dance with Aiden.

Buttons - The Weeks
Sean and I both heard this song separately and when it came on in the car we both said "I LOVE THIS SONG". Jinx, he owes me a coke. It's a rock song but the chorus is simple and catchy. Also, the lead singer has beautiful flowing locks and should be in a Pantene commercial.   

Borns - Electric Love
I had to run out to an appointment and when I came home Sean was blasting that song. I was annoyed for about two seconds and then I was bopping my head because this song is catchy as heck. It helps that he sang it to me which is simultaneously awkward and adorable (and a little ear splitting since neither of us can carry a tune).

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Quotable Kids

Here are some of the funny things the kids have said lately:

Aiden: 'I'm going to give Rory a giant bite of my ice cream"
Me: "Thank you for sharing with him"
Aiden: "I just want him to get a cold headache so he stops asking for it"

Aiden: "Today I asked my teacher what it means when a girl writes your initials on her knee in red sharpie marker, because that happened to me"
Me: "What did your teacher say?"
Aiden: "She just starting laughing and couldn't stop! Let me tell you I was NOT expecting that. I still don't know what it means!"

Me: "Rory, stop asking for more chicken when you have some on your plate"
Aiden: "I feel like he's just very concerned about protein"

Rory: "Fye Ahm! Fye ahm! FYE AHM!"

*Poor Rory normally speaks very clearly but sometimes struggles with his r's and l's, especially if he's upset. You can imagine then how panicked he was getting while trying to tell us that the fire alarm was beeping only to realize that no one understood him. It just needed a new battery but he was understandably freaking out.

Me: "Rory what do you want for a snack?"
Audrey: "Banana"
Me: "Rory, what do you want?"
Audrey: "Want this! Want banana. Want treat!"

*Girl knows how to use her words. We never have to guess what she wants, ever, for better or worse.

Weekend Recap: Field Day!

Friday was Field Day at Aiden's school which is always tons of fun. I had the chance to help out again this year which mostly meant chatting with friends, hanging out in the shade and occasionally supervising a simple tire rolling game. This was a big improvement over last year when I was stationed on the sidewalk, in the sun, and tasked with helping the kids pop water balloons with their bare feet. I really don't mind getting dirty and helping the kids but drying everyone's feet and retying their shoes a zillion times was less than enjoyable so I was very happy with the shady station this year.

On Saturday we spent the morning outside with the kids and that afternoon Aiden had the chance to go swimming, so we took the babies out for hot dogs and french fries at our favorite outdoor spot. We used to do this all the time but this was the first time we'd taken Audrey and Rory. They are excellent diet aids (whether you're dieting or not) because you can take about three bites before they're bored and ready to move on. We don't eat food like that very often so we thought they'd be thrilled but nope, not even hot dogs can make a meal last more than thirteen minutes.

Sunday we went to the playground at the elementary school and Aiden showed us all the games he plays at recess and where he and his classmates planted flowers. We are all beyond ready for the break but I think he's really going to miss it all summer. He spent the afternoon swimming for the second day in a row.

And now it's Tuesday and we are on day two (and hopefully the last day) of Aiden being sick. I don't know if it was a cold or just too much activity all weekend but he was exhausted yesterday and came home early from school. He finally seems well enough since he's going bonkers inside so I think tomorrow it'll be back to the grind. Only five days left!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Living Up to Her Nickname

All of our poor children have ridiculous nicknames, and from the moment she was born, Audrey's has been Sass. Why? I have no idea. The names just pop into my head, I say them, and the kids are forever doomed to be called something ludicrous whenever we're home together. Her nnickname was always funny because she has been the least sassy person on the face of the earth, until now anyway.

This picture is the essence of Audrey. Attitude for days. For the record, she picks out her own accessories. Apparently she's a big fan of Mr. T.

She is still so sweet and happy but she is all about doing her own thing right now.  Whenever we go somewhere she wants to walk on her own, she wants to open all the doors herself, get her snack out of the cabinet and a drink out of the fridge. She puts her own shoes away and drapes herself in a zillion necklaces everyday. She can never seem to remember that she's only 16 months old. 

We are seeing the truth that each child seems to grow up quicker. Instead of doing toddler things she just wants to keep up with her brothers. She never had any interest in rattles or blocks or baby toys, just Matchbox cars and the tricycle and a baby doll that is the size of her.  She is also talking much more than either one of the boys did at this age.

On one hand it's great that she can and wants to be independent. On the other, her ability still exceeds her judgment. I'm forever feeling elated that she can do so much and it lightens my load and at the same time we're always pulling her back from the brink of danger with a "Not yet! You can't do that yet!". Sean and I have come to realize that we'll be feeling this way until she's an adult.  I just hope we manage to help her keep that sense of independence and drive while helping her use her own good judgment.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

3 Things: From the Post-Roman Era to the Jacobite Risings

So I realize that sometimes I get stuck on a theme when it comes to entertainment and apparently this week it's been history. I love history and learning about actual events but I certainly don't mind when poetic license is taken either. Here are some things we've been enjoying this week, all accidentally pertaining to history (with various degree of drama thrown in for good measure).


I've been finishing Diana Gabaldon's Dragonfly In Amber which is the second book in the Outlander series. I read Outlander about three years ago and loved it but it's taken me this long to crack the second book. The series is about a woman who is traveling through Scotland with her husband when she is sent back in time to 1743 and becomes embroiled in all sorts of political and romantic drama. The books are really thorough in their descriptions of the time period and the exact political situations happening in Scotland. She also manages to take a highly improbable event (time travel) and somehow make it almost believable. The series has finally been turned into a show on Showtime (which I absolutely purchased and plan to watch tout suite) so I figured it was time to finish the second book! It's got romance, sword fighting, lengthy descriptions of troop movements and the fashion of the time period. Basically, something for everyone.


Let's just travel backward from Outlander about 1,000 years and slightly northeast and we'll be at the setting of Vikings which is one of our favorite shows. A few Christmases back I bought the first season of Spartacus for Sean since I know he loves swords, sword fighting, regular fighting and history. It was a huuuuge mistake. We watched the show together and it was...awful. We can tolerate a reasonable amount of gore but this was above and beyond and just plain gross. That's why it was such a gamble when I went out and bought the first season of Vikings for him without having seen it first but luckily, it ended up being amazing. It's about Ragnar Lothbrok (or Lodbrok, depending on your historical source) and his brother Rollo and their voyages around Europe.

The show is definitely chock full of fighting and typical Viking themes, but the characters are really well developed and the plot is fast paced and full of twists. It follows a group of Viking men and women as they travel to England for the first time and deal with personal and political fallout from these raids. I love to see the way each character changes for better or worse and Lagertha, Ragner's wife, is one of those rare physically and mentally strong female leads. Plus, each episode makes me want to stop cutting the boys hair and just start braiding it instead.


I've been listening to the British History Podcast, which you can find at Itunes or here. It's just what it sounds like: a podcast about the complete history of Britian, starting in the post-Roman era. It's really thorough and doesn't skimp on detail but I particularly love that every few episodes it really focuses on the lives of the people at the time: everything from food, clothing trends and shelter to hairstyles and typical table manners. It's interesting and brings a humanistic element that can sometimes be missing in typical discussions of history.  I like to listen to it while I'm cooking or when I need a break from the constant toddler shenanigans.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Pre-Date Night Food Diary

4pm:   Cannot wait for our date tonight. Very excited to eat in a real restaurant, with food I did not cook and no one asking for a new fork/ milk/ candy throughout the meal. Yes!

4:30pm: Starving...will just have one small snack to see me through....okay one large snack.  

5pm: Oh  no...children must be fed still. Grilled cheese and carrot sticks it is....that should be easy enough. 

5:20pm: I swear I make the best grilled cheese in the universe. These sandwiches look so good....just one bite. 

5:30pm: How rude, Rory barely touched his! Okay....I'll just finish that for him. 

6pm: Yes yes, everyone can have a treat, simmer down. Well sure I'll share that bowl of ice cream with you. 

7pm: Bedtime...gummy vitamins all around before brushing teeth. Why yes I should eat some of those gummy vitamins.

8pm: Finally at the restaurant! I'll have a glass of malbec while we peruse the menu and make googly eyes at each other.

8:10pm: Seared tuna....crab souffle...steak au poivre....must decide!

8:20pm: Regretting the half of a grilled cheese and the ice cream and definitely the gummy vitamin. Suddenly quite full. Feeling the malbec. Suddenly quite sleepy.

8:25pm: Oh no, waitress is back. Can I just order a nap? 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Weekend Recap

This weekend started off with Aiden going to  a birthday party at the Super Mega Jump-Around-and- Smash-Into-Your-Friends Palace of Fun. That isn't the real name of the place but, judging by the antics that were going on, Sean thinks it would've been accurate. This meant that instead of putting the kids to bed at a reasonable 8pm and then relaxing for the evening we were shuttling Aiden and a friend around as the clock crept closer to 10. I think we both had a thrilling evening of passing out in front the the TV once he was home and in bed. Tres romantic. 

Saturday started with us being woken up multiple times by various children. Usually we can get them to sleep in at least a little on the weekend but no such luck that morning. We ended up having a big breakfast of french toast, going to the playground and hanging out in the yard while the babies napped. Sean and I even got to go out on the date that night, which was fantastic (especially considering our less than stellar Friday night).  Pretty much a perfect Saturday. 

We spent Sunday running a few errands and then getting some yard work done. I should clarify, the babies were napping while Sean and Aiden did tree related stuff, so I read a book in the sunshine. That happens so rarely that I usually sit there for ten minutes trying to remember what I'm actually supposed to be doing before giving up and enjoying the break.  Not a very fancy weekend (except for the date night) but relaxing all the while.
Just going to do some fairy stuffs

Bringing glamor to Target

Okay, so I put the soil in the garden...now what?

Behold, the sun bonnet glory                         

Sand box!

A boy and his blueberry bush


Heart melting sweetness before bedtime

Stroller snuggles

Audrey dressed for retirement in Boca

What could possibly go wrong here?

Very serious on the swings

Just do it like this, Audrey

Boy secrets