Wednesday, April 29, 2015

To Ava on Her 2nd Birthday

Dear Ava,

How is it that 2 years have passed since you first joined us in the world?   Even though you are our second child, I'm still in awe of how quickly you've grown and how much you've learned.  Your personality hasn't changed too much since you were a tiny baby.  You still smile most of the time but have a fierce temper that comes on quickly.  

Such a busy Birthday girl, carrying your sand toys to the new sandbox.

You are tough as nails, little girl.  At times I see you fall or bump into something and I'm certain that any other child (including Eli) would be in tears.  You never slow down, pick yourself up, and keep going.  You take flak from no one (especially not your big brother) and can easily stand up for yourself.  Sometimes you even stand up for yourself a little too strongly and hit your big brother.  Be careful with this, sweet girl, for all that strength and your headstrong ways may sometimes make you less approachable. 

I love that you rarely, if ever, meet a stranger.  You smile and jabber with people we meet wherever we go.  Grocery shopping with you is always an adventure because I catch you smiling and playing with all the people we pass by.  Your smile is completely contagious.  Don't ever lose that. 

Similarly, you are as adventurous as they come and show no fear.  You want to keep up with the older kids (Eli and Audrey) so much that you simply will yourself to run, climb, and jump just like they do.  You don't always manage to go as fast, jump as high, or climb as far as they do, but you dang sure try. 

I love how close you and Eli have become.  Ya'll are the best little buddies anyone could ask for.  If for some reason one of you doesn't go to daycare, the other cries for their missing sibling.  The child who stays home or isn't in daycare routinely asks where the other one is and what he/she is doing.  I'm glad that you are so close and that you take such good care of each other. 

That look between you two tells me I'm in big trouble! You've got each other's back.

You're also a bit of a Daddy's girl and that is completely fine.  I hope you realize that you have Daddy completely wrapped around your finger.  He would never have dreamed of allowing Eli to sleep in our bed most of the night at 2 years old.  In fact, Eli hasn't routinely slept in our bed since he was 3 months old.  You, on the other hand, are Daddy's cuddle-bug and still sleep most of the night right next to Daddy.  When you aren't there, he tells me how he misses your cuddles.  He loves you so much. 

Resting in Daddy's arms at just 1 day old.
You are so easy going that we often have a hard time shopping for gifts for you.  You really only frequently play with your baby doll and even that isn't an everyday thing.  You just always seem to prefer to play with whatever Eli has out at the moment. You really don't have any demands when it comes to TV shows or movies, whatever any of us suggest you happily agree to.  It was really hard picking a birthday party theme for you since you're so easy going.  You did seem to love your Minnie Mouse party though.  I hope you'll forgive us if we haven't done so well in allowing you to express your opinions.  As far as we can tell, you don't have any.  I'm sure that will change though. 

The only thing you really insist on having by your side every minute of the day is your "manket" (blanket) - the rag quilt Granny Reba made for you and you sleep with every night.  We make you leave it at home during daycare but from the minute we walk in the door to the minute we leave the next morning you want it by your side.  You are like Linus with that thing.  We have to work hard to keep it away from the table at mealtimes and if it gets dirty, it gets washed immediately.  You have to have your "manket".

One other time when you express a real opinion is when it comes to me carrying you.  Lately you've been extra clingy.  I wonder if you are getting your 2-year-old molars?  It's become almost impossible for me to cook, clean, or do anything without you on my hip.  When Eli was small he would ask "Go with?" if he wanted to come with me to the fridge for more juice or into the other room.  When you know that I'm about to walk away from you, you climb forcibly into my lap and declare "My comin'!"  And 95% of the time, you do come.  I'm sorry for the times I've had to insist that you get down off my hip so that I can finish supper, or sweep the floor, or fetch your clothes, or whatever.  When I force you to get down, you typically follow me around screaming bloody murder.   This causes my stress levels to go through the roof and I'm sometimes short or impatient with you.  I hope that you'll forgive this.   I know that I should enjoy these times when you want to be with me because there will come a time when you will just want me to go away.  But, baby girl, as great as these times are they can be hard too.  You'll understand someday and I hope that you'll be better equipped to handle those tough stressful moments.  In the meantime, I just hope that I can make up for all those mistakes I made with some extra kisses at bedtime. 

Loving your first taste of Shaved Ice and being a little silly... Food is Yummy!

I hope that you have had the happiest birthday ever and have had more fun that you can imagine playing with your friends today.   I'm bringing home one of your favorites, pizza, for supper tonight just because it's your birthday and you love it.  I know you'll eat at least 3 pieces and it will be everywhere and that's okay.  When we're done with the pizza we're going to break out the leftover birthday cake from the party and have some of that too.  Birthday calories don't count, anyway.

I love you to the moon and back, Happy Girl!


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Eli - 3 years, 14 weeks & Ava - 1 year, 51 weeks.

I'm pretty sure I'm losing the battle between my nerves and the kids' ability to think around a problem.  Don't get me wrong... I'm really glad that they are bright intelligent children who question the world around them and think through problems.  In fact, I'm often amazed and awed at their ability to do so.  Unfortunately, I'm ill prepared to think through the same problem and reach the same conclusion that they do. 

For instance, the other day, I noticed Ava spitting in the living room floor.  How many people have a little girl that just loves to spit?  Oh, just me, okay then... In any event, I promptly stopped her and told both kiddos that if I caught either of them spitting in the floor again they would be in big trouble.  Eli then asked, "Mama? Is it okay to spit outside?"  Caught off-guard I said, "Yes, you may spit outside." 

Then the 3 and almost 2 year old proceeded to go open the back door and stand there spitting onto the patio for the next 10 minutes.  I stood there dumbfounded as I watched them figure out a way around the problem.  Brian just laughed and said that next time I needed to be more specific.  I guess that brings the score to Kids 394, Mom 0 (but who's keeping track?). 

This week I caught some pictures late one afternoon during play time.  Eli was playing trains and Ava was doing everything she could to hang onto me.  I did finally grab one picture of her laying in the floor. 

Eli, was in an unusually cooperative mood for pictures.  I think because he wanted to see pictures of himself with his trains. 

Picture time was promptly ended when Eli decided it was time to wrestle daddy... Whatcha gonna do? 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Eli - 3 years, 13 weeks & Ava 1 year, 50 weeks - Dancin' Machines

Have you seen the GEICO commercial with Salt N Peppa doing their song "Push-It"?  The kids absolutely LOVE the song and the commercial.  The other night we were watching TV and it came on.  Here's a copy of the commercial and a video of what happens in our house when we see it on TV.

The commercial...

Our house...

Of course all that dancing action prompted us to download a few of the kids' favorite songs from TV and movies and have a dance party.  The songs in this video are..

- Tequila: played in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Movie circa 1990.  Who can sit still during this song?
- Move It: played on the Madagascar movies.  Not quite as good at Tequila but not bad.
- Push It: from the GEICO commerical above.
- Life is a Highway: from Cars.  Good song and frequently requested while riding in the car.

The only pictures I have from the week were of Eli over the weekend.  Eli and Ava went to spend the weekend with Grammers and Papa Garro so that we could prep the house for Ava's birthday party next weekend.  Saturday afternoon, these photos came in on my phone.  Apparently the icecream truck came down the street and Eli didn't even have time to put on his pants before heading out to grab a sweet treat.  I'm so glad they get to have those kind of fun experiances at Grammers' house.  Goodness knows we won't be seeing any icecream trucks near our house anytime soon!


A Tribute to Spankie

Last week our Sweet Spankie went to be with the Lord.  It's taken some time to get over and we're still not completely okay with it.  In fact, it was just last night that we finally had to explain to the kids where Spankie had gone.  We told them that Spankie is in heaven being God's dog now.  Eli's immediate response was "But that's where you go when you die!"  Our only response was, "You're right, buddy."  Eli then asked where heaven was and if God had an airplane to get there.  All-in-all Eli and Ava seemed okay with our responses though they weren't thrilled with the idea that Spankie wouldn't be coming back. 

Spankie hadn't been himself for several months now.  He had a stroke or something back before Christmas and though he had really great days sometimes, there were more times when he seemed too old or tired to play like he once did.  In some ways I'm greatful that he passed lying on his pillow in the garage where he was comfortable and at home.  He never really like the vet anyway and we didn't have to make a decision to have him put down. 

We buried Spankie at the farm near the creek.  We plan to plant a tree and make a nice little resting spot there sometime soon.  He was a wonderful dog who meant a lot to Brian and I and he will be greatly missed.  So until we see him again, we hope Spankie finds some new friends to throw his ball and show him the best swimming holes. 

Eli - 3 years, 12 weeks & Ava - 1 year, 49 weeks

So with Brian out of town the kiddos and I were on our own a little bit and some things didn't get done.  Mowing the grass was one of those things.  The up side is that the kiddos had a blast with the "Wishing Flowers". 

Ava's hair-do didn't quite survive daycare.

Other fun pictures from the week...

Thomas the Tank Engine

After a busy Easter weekend, Brian had to pack it up and head to West Point, NY for a work trip.  He left on Friday morning and didn't get back until the following Tuesday.  Since Brian wasn't home, Joey volunteered to help me drive the kiddos down to Birmingham to meet Grammers and Papa Garro at the Heart of Dixie Railroad for "A Day Out with Thomas". 

We had afternoon tickets so we decided to sleep in, take our time getting dressed, and leave between 9:30 and 10am.  The goal was to arrive around 2 hours ahead of our turn to ride so that the kids could explore all the other activities and then when the train ride was over we'd pretty well be ready to head home.

We started at the train station.  The kiddos waited on the bench while I went to get our train tickets from the will-call window.

Looking at his paper!  Funny little man.

Posing for the camera... Such a little ham.
 After we had our tickets, we went to explore the activities.  The first tent had all kinds of Thomas play sets as well as tables for coloring.

Outside Eli found a putt-putt game and wanted to try for a minute.  He played a couple holes before he decided it was time to move on.

We found the train car where they were showing some Thomas movies but the kiddos were too excited to sit still so we quickly moved on.  There was also a story time with Sir Topham Hat reading to the kiddos but the line was really long and Eli was a little scared of the costumed character so we skipped that booth.  What we found that the kids loved were the sand and bubble tents.  They were right next to each other so Ava could play in the sand while Eli played bubbles and we could still all generally see each other. 

Then it was time for our ride on Thomas.  Eli was very very excited.  Ava was too I think.

Ava got hot and sat down in the floor.  Maybe it was cooler there.

After our ride the kids wanted to see Thomas up close, so we went to take a look. Again, Eli was a little scared (because Thomas had eyes that moved like on the show).  I guess it was just a little too real for him.

Then we went through the gift shop and visited a food vendor to get some snow cones and beverages.  We also found a shaded table to sit and rest for a minute. 


Then it was time to say goodbye to Thomas and all the trains.  Neither kiddo wanted to leave but after some serious coaxing, we made it okay.

On the way out the kiddos wanted pictures with Papa Garro on the "real" train.

Grammers had invited us for dinner with the whole family but we didn't plan to stay that long.  Then we saw the interstate traffic and decided that it might be better to sit at Grammers' house for a couple hours and let the kids play while the traffic died down.  Since it was a beautiful day, we played outside and then everyone ate burgers on the deck.

Ava wanted Granny Reba to sit in her lap... she got her wish and I got this adorable picture!

The Day Out with Thomas was a wonderful activity and a super fun day.  The kiddos had a blast which made all the driving and effort completely worth it.  In fact, they are still talking about their ride on Thomas.  Eli hasn't really even looked at any other toys besides his trains since.  He told me the other day that "Papa Garro likes real trains but I just like Thomas!"