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The Sunday Somethings, 16nov14

November 16th, 2014

Something that makes me happy: Crafty days with Paula and Michelle! Yesterday, I got started on our Disney scrapbook and did some sewing.

Something I’m thinking: I’m thinking about Christmas!

Something I’m hoping: I hope the weather cooperates for our trip to Ohio and Kentucky coming up.

Something happening around the house: Gabe fixed the dishwasher!!! He thought of one more thing, and it worked. Hooray!

Something I’m reading: I finished Goldfinch, which I found to be a bit tedious. I enjoyed the first half better than the second. I read The One & Only, the newest by Emily Giffin. I was disappointed in that one! I also finished The Lavender Garden, which I liked better than the other two. It would have been a decent book club read, but it didn’t blow my socks off or anything. I’m now reading Kiss and Spell, the 7th book in the Enchanted, Inc. series. It’s light, fluffy, and enjoyable. Just what I needed.

Something Gabe is reading: Gabe finished Red Seas Under Red Skies. Since the last post, he’s also read The Republic of Thieves, Prince of Fools, Annihilation, and Lock In. He’s now reading City of Stairs.

Something I’m watching: We’ve been enjoying The Walking Dead and The Amazing Race. Gabe is keeping up with a few other shows, but we aren’t watching too much at the moment. Our family went to see Big Hero 6, and we LOVED it! I also saw Gone Girl with book club peeps. It was interesting to see that movie after reading the book and knowing a bit about what was going to happen. The movie was pretty true to the book, for the most part.

Something I’m playing: Gabe has started playing games regularly on Monday nights. So far, they have played Caverna, Terra Mystica, Snowdonia, Concordia, Bruges, Glass Roads, Ra: The Dice Game. We have had a couple of dinner and games sessions with friends and played Quixx, Linko, and Walnut Grove. We had a games night, and I played Snowdonia, Splendor, Linko, Hey! That’s my fish! and Telestrations. Gabe started over playing Zelda: The Skyward Sword. We realized we didn’t get too far in that one!

Something I’m creating: I’ve been creating all kinds of things! Since the last post, I finished the WWDC book (and several of my coworkers also wanted to order a copy). I finished the Key West book from the girls trip in May. Audrey and Melisa ordered their copies! I started the Disney Cruise book from our trip back in February. I’m glad to finally start on that one, even if it is a bit daunting. I’m worried I’m not going to be able to fit it all in one book! I created our holiday cards, and I’m hoping to send them out just after Thanksgiving…but we’ll see if that happens. I did some sewing yesterday, again. I made pillowcases out of fabric that Maddie picked out for both kids. I also made a few surprises.

Something about the grownups: I love my crafty days with Paula and Michelle! We just had one yesterday, and I felt like I accomplished quite a bit. Gabe has been enjoying his board gaming nights. He’s getting to play some quality games. They are meeting about every other week. We had fun with the block party, especially the after party at the fire pit. We also had a great time with neighbors on Halloween. We enjoyed that it fell on a Friday this year, and the neighbors had another fire going as well as some fireworks. Good times. Gabe and I celebrated our 8th anniversary, and we had a great dinner at Maximillians. We went to a “romantic” movie and saw John Wick (haha). I had fun finally building the Lego Haunted House that I’ve had for 2 years, and Gabe put together the Ghostbusters car…an awesome combination. For the past several weeks, some of my coworkers and I have started having a shorter lunch and taking a long walk. The weather has been beautiful, and the trails around our campus are awesome. I’ve been walking 2-3 miles during lunch every day. I’ve also been tracking my foods and calories with myfitnesspal. I needed a little bit of a healthy reboot.

Something about both kiddos: After Maddie and I participated in the Chocolate 5k, we had a pile of Ghirardelli chocolates in different flavors. Our family held a taste test challenge with eleven varieties of chocolate. Cullen’s favorite was Intense Dark, Maddie’s was Dark Chocolate Truffle, Gabe’s was Toffee Crunch, and mine was Dark Chocolate Mint. Gabe’s least favorite was Hazelnut, mine was Sea Salt Caramel, and Maddie and Cullen both hated Dark Chocolate Mint. My favorite moment was when Cullen tasted that one and exclaimed, “That tastes like toothpaste!!!” He was horrified. I’m glad to know that Dark Chocolate Mint is safe from predators in my household (Gabe hates it, too.). The kids had fun with Halloween! We went to more houses this year, but we still covered a very small fraction of our neighborhood. Considering that they trade most of their candy to the Halloween witch, they don’t really need to gather all that much. Each kid picked out ten pieces of candy to keep, and the witch took the rest of it in trade for small Lego sets. The kids designed their own jack-o-lanterns again this year. Maddie’s was a simple smiley face, and Cullen’s was a simple frowny face. Their imperfect designs crack me up.

Something Maddie is doing (6.5 years old): Maddie had a marathon challenge at school where we had to complete 26 miles over the course of a month and a half or so. The kids could walk or run the 26 miles, and Maddie completed it! It was a challenge mostly for us to find the time to get in some mileage. Maddie and I did a local Chocolate 5k, and I was so impressed that she ran the entire way. I couldn’t believe it! The day before, she participated in Walk to School day, and she almost didn’t make it less than a mile…so I was worried about how well she’d do over 3 miles. She was so proud of herself, so maybe we’ll be doing some more 5ks in the future. Maddie was a beautiful Elsa, and somehow I was able to bobby pin her blonde wig enough so that it would stay on during trick or treating. We weren’t sure how that was going to work! She will get another chance to wear the Elsa dress when I take her to see Disney on Ice later this year. It’s Frozen themed, and she doesn’t know that she will be going yet. Maddie’s class had “Pumpkin Day” on Halloween, and I volunteered. This was a combination event with the other first grade classes, and they rotated to different stations in the different classrooms. I helped with a station where the kids brainstormed descriptive words for pumpkins. They then had to complete a worksheet with some of these descriptive words and measure a pumpkin in different ways (height, circumference). I thought it was a pretty smart move for the teachers to do something different on Halloween since the kids were going to be too excited to pay attention to regular instruction! They aren’t allowed to do anything specific for Halloween. Maddie had been wiggling a loose tooth for over a month, and it FINALLY fell out on November 3rd. Well, more accurately, I gave it a final yank. She was so excited to lose her first tooth! The tooth fairy came and gave her a whole dollar (yeah, our tooth fairy is cheap). She didn’t much like having the tooth yanked, but it was so loose that night at bedtime that I was seriously afraid that she might swallow it in her sleep. She lost one of the front ones on the bottom, and the one next to it is loose now. I imagine it will take some weeks before she loses it, though. It feels like her top front teeth are starting to get a little loose as well. I volunteered for Literacy Lunch and read some books to Maddie and three classmates. Gabe volunteered for Literacy Lunch once as well. He also volunteered for Otter Time, which is at the end of the day and involves helping kids with various academic areas and enrichment. Maddie is doing pretty well with piano, but it is hard to motivate her to practice at home. You’d think I was torturing her when I sit down with her at the piano. She does seem to enjoy it, so hopefully the practice will become less torturous. She’s doing fantastic with swimming. We are hoping that she will be moving up to the next level and new challenges soon, but she’s still benefitting from the current level. She continues to improve, and we haven’t seen her stagnate in this class yet. Twice a week has really helped her, and she seems to love it. Maddie is tracked out and she went to her favorite art camp this week where they did Inuit art. She is going to the same art camp next week and will also be going to a new Lego and Technology camp during this track out.

Something Cullen is doing (4.5 years old): Cullen still often wakes up before the rest of the family. These days, he doesn’t tend to sneak too many snacks as he has in the past. Sometimes, he does get his “breakfast toast” (which is what he calls his organic breakfast pastries). Frequently, he plays the iPad. He will play his usual games, and he’s also figured out how to access his list on Netflix. One morning, I came out and he was playing the iPad. He had been banned from the iPad for a few days, so I said, “Cullen, you know you’re not supposed to be playing the iPad.” Then, I noticed a couple of men walk through the backyard. “Gabe, there are men in the yard, and I don’t know what they are doing.” Cullen says, “They told me what they are doing!” Um, what? Yep, that’s right. Around 6:30am, the guys tasked with aerating our lawn knocked on the door and he answered it. By himself. When they asked where his parents were, he told them that his parents were sleeping. Within a couple of days, we had installed a double cylinder lock and keep the key out of reach. Cullen was an awesome superman for Halloween. He especially loved running to make his cape fly behind him (I didn’t break it to him that the cape didn’t really fly like he was envisioning). He ran out of steam before Maddie with trick or treating and was ready to return home. His class had a Halloween parade that morning…our last preschool fall parade! The parade was with all of the Children’s House classrooms, and Gabe counted at least 12 Elsas and 19 superheroes. Our kids didn’t exactly pick unique costumes this year. Cullen was sent home with a fever two days before Halloween, but thankfully he recovered quickly and didn’t have to miss all the fun! Cullen had two other opportunities to wear his Halloween costume. His Kindermusik class wore costumes on their class before Halloween, and he went to a costume party for one of his best buddies in preschool to celebrate his birthday. I love when the kids can get more wear out of their costumes! The fake muscles cracked me up. When he put on his costume the first time, he had trouble with the stiff upper part with the muscles. He said, “I need someone to help me with my bras!” Um, not exactly son. Cullen went with me to vote. He was excited to accompany me, and I explained the process to him. When we left, he said, “That’s it? That wasn’t very fun? Why did we do that?” And then after I explained how important it is and our civic duty and all that, he asked, “Did we win?” Cullen had several more Lego classes, and they finished up the session. Cullen went to another birthday party where he played mini golf and rode in a go-kart. Cullen loves music class, and he has a talent for it as well. They are learning all about different percussion instruments and rhythms. He’s doing pretty well with swimming and has a lot to learn. I’m curious to see how he does when we go to Great Wolf Lodge (soon!).

Something I am struggling with: You know, the usual. Writing these posts. It gets tedious when I neglect it for a month!

Something I’m looking forward to: In the next month or so…we have more swimming and music lessons. Thanksgiving. Great Wolf Lodge in Ohio and a trip to Kentucky. Dinners and lunches with friends. Book club. Doctor’s and dental appointments. Art camp and Lego technology camp for Maddie. Our annual holiday poker tournament. Putting up our Christmas tree and decorations! Sending our holiday cards! Annual Christmas date with Audrey. Disney on Ice for Maddie and me. Rudolph play for the family.

Something captured: Elsa and Superman

The Sunday Somethings, 12oct14

October 12th, 2014

Something that makes me happy: Fall! We didn’t have the best weather, but we did one of my favorite fall activities with the kids today – the pumpkin patch. I’m thinking about doing another pumpkin patch this year to make up for our not-so-great weather today.

Something I’m thinking: Gabe and I are thinking about where to eat for our 8th anniversary coming up soon. That’s another reason to love the fall.

Something I’m hoping: I hope to get the motivation to finally finish my 2014 WWDC book. I worked on it this weekend with the crafty day with Michelle and Paula.

Something happening around the house: Our dishwasher is still broken.

Something I’m reading: I read Attachments, Fly Away (book 2 of Firefly Lane), Necessary Lies (for October book club), and When You Reach Me (also for book club). I’m now reading Goldfinch.

Something Gabe is reading: Gabe finished Ghost Brigades, and he is now reading Red Seas Under Red Skies.

Something I’m watching: Fall TV is starting up! We have been watching Amazing Race. Gabe has watched Gotham, Sleepy Hollow, and Arrow and I pay some attention to those. The Walking Dead starts tonight! I also watched a marathon of Gilmore Girls (season 2) during our crafty day.

Something I’m playing: Gabe is starting to play with some friends in a regular games night a couple nights a month. He played Caverna the first time, and they are playing Terra Mystica next time. We had a games night recently, and I played Splendor, Lords of Waterdeep and Russian Railroads. Gabe played Splendor, Concordia, and Castles of Burgundy that night.

Something I’m creating: I’m working on the 2014 WWDC photobook. It’s much longer than last year’s. We had quite a few photos, and the bike ride across the Golden Gate Bridge takes up about half the book!

Something tasty: Funnel cakes and ribbon fries from the farm fun today. Ooh, and pumpkin pancakes on Gabe’s birthday at our favorite breakfast place.

Something about the grownups: We got our flu shots. I barely felt the shot, but my arm was sore for the rest of the day. Fingers crossed that it keeps us healthy this year! The flu was no joke when I had it last winter. Gabe and I have both enjoyed volunteering some in Maddie’s classroom, and we watched Cullen at bike day at his school. I had my September book club meeting. Gabe started a regular board gaming group. We are quite excited that we are planning a bonus trip to DISNEY! We are trying to decide when to tell the kids or whether we just want to surprise them on the day that we leave. Melissa, Jason, and my parents are joining us. It went from a vague idea to a planned trip within a week. Now that we have it planned, I’m so glad that we’re not waiting another 2 years to go to Disney (as we had originally planned). It has been 2 years since our last trip. The kids are going to love it! We celebrated Gabe’s birthday on the 5th, and the kids and I surprised him with a tiger striped Bengals cake. Unfortunately, it didn’t help the Bengals win their game on that day.

Something about both kiddos: Both kids are doing swimming and music lessons. Maddie continues with swimming twice a week and piano. Cullen is doing swimming once a week and loves his Kindermusik classes. I’m excited about both kids doing music classes, and they both seem to love it. Both kids went to their friend Elizabeth’s birthday party where they had a great time playing in their awesome backyard. The highlight of the party was the confetti eggs (who says these are just for Easter?). Today, we went to the pumpkin patch! As I said, the weather wasn’t great. It was misty and cool, but we still had fun. The kids played in the colorful maze, the hay bale maze, the cornbox, the giant slide (well, Maddie), the hay jump, bounce houses, and hay ride. We all watched the hilarious pig races. We each picked out a pumpkin. Maddie and Cullen also recently got their flu shots, and neither of them cried a bit. The nurse said they were her easiest patients of the day.

Something Maddie is doing (6.5 years old): I volunteered to read as part of the Outstanding Otter Literacy program where we read about a character trait. I read about loyalty last year as well, and both times some kids thought that we were going to be talking about “royalty.” I’m always impressed by what some of the kids can express (and have greater respect for the teachers every time I visit the classroom!). Gabe read to a smaller group in Maddie’s classroom for Literacy Lunch. That program is weekly, so we will probably both be reading for that here and there. I also volunteered for Apple Day, which was a fun time in Maddie’s class. I was able to run the science experiment station where the kids predicted which liquid would slow browning of the apple slices. We were all surprised that milk worked better than lemon juice (though I’m not sure how that would taste!). Maddie loves having us come to her classroom! She’s very into getting her hair put into a ponytail lately. She requests that almost every day. Today she asked for “Anna braids” and continues to grow her hair so that one day she can have an “Elsa braid.” We haven’t gotten into a good routine with piano practice, but Maddie does seem to enjoy her lessons. We don’t want to push her too hard this young as we want her to enjoy it. Her class has been working on “how to” writing, and Maddie wrote about how to be a grandparent: “First, you have to be old. Next, you have to have kids. Last, you have to have a name.” My parents thought that was amusing! We had our first quarter conference with Maddie’s teacher, and she seems to be doing well. She’s been doing some pull out enrichment/AG classes for math. I was surprised that they weren’t doing the same thing for reading, but they don’t have any kids in the class at a high enough reading level. She is doing well with her reading and still has been enjoying the Arthur chapter books. Her spelling has been improving, and she does well on her weekly spelling tests. Maddie’s favorite thing to do outside at our house right now is to climb one of the trees in the front yard. The other day, Maddie very sternly pointed at herself in the mirror and said, “Hey! You’re a copycat!” Maddie still loves her Daddy, but she has shown some preferences towards me again lately. I think she’s evening out her parent preferences a bit. Both kids fight over who gets Mommy at bedtime these days.

Something Cullen is doing (4.5 years old): Cullen had bike day, and we realized that we really need to get him a bigger bike. He did great at bike day and loved having us cheer him on. Cullen is doing very well with his music lessons. He is demonstrating good rhythm and demonstrates his singing voice well. I’m so proud of him. He has always been very musical, so I’ve been excited to see where this adventure takes him. I hope that he enjoys music for a long time! Recently at school, Cullen said to one of his teachers, “I smell chicken nuggets.” The teacher said that they weren’t having chicken nuggets, but they were having a different type of nuggets. Cullen said, “Fish nuggets?” The teacher said, “yes, what kind?” Cullen replied, “Dead fish.” Cullen is doing a Lego class during the preschool day once a week, and he had his first one this week. He said that it was fun, and they learned about camels and made a little camel. A few days after a fire drill at school, Cullen woke up in the morning and said, “Last night, I dreamed that there was a fire on the playground at school. That was NOT a good dream. That is a dream that I think I’ll delete.” Cullen has been very sweet and loving with me lately. He also wants to be very tightly tucked into his bed where he looks like a mummy. Cullen is now able to operate the Wii U on his own, as we discovered one morning. He had taken out Gabe’s game and put in his own. He was playing on the game pad without the TV. He’s getting better and better at video games.

Something I’m looking forward to: For the rest of the month, we have…more swim lessons and music lessons, Gabe’s game night, a movie night with my book club friends, Cullen’s Lego class, our neighborhood block party, a chocolate 5k for Maddie and me, our 8th anniversary, some kid birthday parties, my book club, Halloween, pumpkin day at Maddie’s class, the fall parade at Cullen’s class.

Something captured: They really do love each other.

Maddie is 6.5

September 21st, 2014

I always have a tough time getting myself organized for Maddie’s letters since they are “due” less than a month after Cullen’s. Here it is…Maddie’s 6.5 year old letter, a little over a month late. (more…)

The Sunday Somethings, 21sep14

September 21st, 2014

Something that makes me happy: That Board Gaming Thing. I think this was the best year yet…plus it didn’t hurt that we had an extra day of games and friends. I love seeing so many wonderful people that I only get to see at TBGT (and now the winter gaming event).

Something I’m thinking: I’m quite bad at writing these lately. It’s been 4 weeks since the last update!

Something happening around the house: Our dishwasher has been broken the past couple of weeks. Gabe tried a few things to repair it, but we’re going to have to either get someone to fix it or buy a new one. Hand washing dishes makes you really appreciate modern appliances!

Something I’m reading: I finally finished Words of Radiance. I felt like I was reading that one FOREVER. I loved it. Now I’m reading Attachments by Rainbow Rowell.

Something Gabe is reading: Gabe also finished Words of Radiance. He’s now reading Ghost Brigades.

Something I’m watching: We haven’t been watching much, but we did enjoy Guardians of the Galaxy.

Something I’m playing: At TBGT, I played Giant Takenoko, Splendor (several times), Speculation, Castles of Mad King Ludwig (several times), Among the Stars, Whacky Wit (several times), One Night Ultimate Werewolf (a new playtest expansion), Trains, Steampark (twice), Istanbul (several times), another playtest that I am not supposed to reveal, Fury of Dracula, The Hanging Gardens, Diamonds (twice), La Boca, trivia contest, Imperial Settlers, Times Up, Camel (C)up, Dead of Winter, Concordia, Concept, Cards Against Humanity, Subdivision, and Tragedy Looper. Lots of great stuff this year! I can’t wait until the winter gaming event. My favorite game of TBGT this year was Castles of Mad King Ludwig. I also quite enjoyed Tragedy Looper but I am not sure how often I’d be able to get people to play with me. Gabe played Splendor, the playtest I mentioned, Castles of Mad King Ludwig, Istanbul, The Hanging Gardens, Imperial Settlers, Times Up, Camel (C)up, Dead of Winter, Concordia, Concept, Cards Against Humanity, Subdivision, Templar Intrigue, Terra Mystica, Tobogo, Galaxy Trucker, and Space Hulk Death Angel. We also played Splendor with Earl and Michelle, and Maddie has played Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers twice now. She’s so excited to be playing grown up games!

Something I’m creating: I have been working on Maddie’s letter (only a month late). I spent the day with Michelle and Paula doing crafty things. They were quilting most of the day. After I finished most of Maddie’s letter, they taught me how to use the sewing machine! I made a very cute, purple wallet! I’m excited and hope to make a pouch for the new iPhone the next time I get together with them.

Something about the grownups: Let’s see. Gabe’s been working the new consulting gig, and they haven’t given him too much work to do yet. Fortunately, he has a guaranteed number of hours that he can bill them, so that works for him! I had my trip to the NIH “for science” as part of the GEMS study for first line relatives of MS patients. That was interesting and boring at the same time. It was mostly like visiting a hospital, but it was fun to see the enthusiasm of those doing the study. Everyone also seemed grateful for my participation since this is a study that has no direct benefits to the participants. It was a long, full day of poking and prodding, questions, and tests. Some of the tests were interesting to me, and I got to see some advanced photos of my eyes. I still haven’t gotten the test results back, and I’m interested to see the MRI results. The MRI was 2 hours long with no music or TV. That machine is loud, even with the provided ear plugs! We both attended That Board Gaming Thing. We juggled the kids for the few few days, and then Kristin came to stay with the kids on Friday and Saturday nights. It was nice to be able to play games together while she was with the kids. We had a great time. I love that TBGT falls on or around my birthday every year. I call it my 5-day birthday party (well, this year, it used to be my 4-day birthday party). Gabe is happy for the start of football season, and he hopes to watch games with friends on some of the Sundays. I am excited that fall is starting up – my favorite season of the year! I ordered a new iPhone 6+. I hope that I won’t regret getting the giant phone!

Something about both kiddos: I really shouldn’t go so long before posting these. It’s so much harder to look back over the past month and figure out what has been going on. We went to the beach over labor day weekend. We had some bad experiences with the hotel itself, but we had a great time on our vacation. We met Gabe’s parents there, and we all had fun playing at the beach, eating tasty foods, and swimming in the pools. Both kids loved all of it. Gabe’s parents brought the ingredients for bubble tea, so that was a great treat as well. We are going to have to look for a new location to visit next time. We decided that we are NOT going back to the hotel after some rude experiences with hotel staff and the unfortunate experience of leaving expensive electronics at the hotel (and the trouble of getting those back). The kids had a great weekend with Kristin while we were at TBGT. Kristin had them doing all kinds of playing in the mud and rain, and they went hunting for handfuls of worms. The kids have been playing together pretty well lately! They have been playing happily for most of the morning today. Both Maddie and Cullen love tacos now, so we have taco night about once a week. It’s everyone’s favorite family meal! They both attended a friend’s birthday party at a park this weekend.

Something Maddie is doing (6.5 years old): She is now taking swimming lessons twice a week, and we’re already seeing a lot of improvements with her lessons. She loves it. She’s getting more confidence, and she has said that she wishes that she could take swimming lessons every day. I’m glad that she has found something that she wants to stick with (for now, anyway). When we were at the beach, she swam halfway across the pool by herself quite a bit. She gets a bit nervous at about that point and starts to flail a bit. I’m guessing that she’ll be doing really well the next time we go to a pool! Gabe said that she made it look easy swimming across the lesson area at her last lesson. She played in the waves some at the beach and always loves playing in the sand. Maddie is so happy at the beach. Maddie had a week of track out at her favorite art camp where they explored Egyptian art. We got Maddie’s Elsa dress, and Maddie is excited to be Elsa for Halloween. Maddie started taking private piano lessons, and that seems to be a much better fit for her than group lessons. We set up my old keyboard from my childhood with full sized keys (though it doesn’t have the full 8 octaves). She is very excited to be able to do her practice on it and play with it. We were glad that our first week back at school was homework free, but we’re now back into the regular routine of homework and nightly reading. I volunteered at her class this week, and I read them a book called Ish about loyalty. The class was a bit crazy, but it was fun to read to them. Maddie surprised me when I got back from TBGT with a very special birthday present – a board game that she had made herself! That seems to be her thing lately. She’s made several board games with different designs and mechanisms.

Something Cullen is doing (4.5 years old): Cullen had so much fun playing in the waves at the beach! We had wished that we had brought the little belt float for him so he could swim a bit more in the pool. We had to carry him most of the time, at least when we were in the deeper sections. He’s probably at the point where the belt float would give him a little more confidence. He just started swimming lessons once a week at the same place that Maddie is taking them. We didn’t want them in the same class, but they are currently in the same level of classes. Cullen started taking general music lessons aimed at young children. I think that the kids in his class are ages 4-6. He’s learning about various instruments, rhythms, music terminology, and singing. He loves it. He was a little nervous the first time. I’m excited that both kids seem to be enjoying their music classes. Cullen hasn’t been playing devices as much lately, so we’re glad to get him to do other things. We got Cullen’s Halloween costume as well. He tried it on this morning. He’s going to be Superman. As soon as he put on his costume, he wanted to show us how strong and fast he was. He’s excited about it.

Something I am struggling with: Writing up these (and Maddie’s letter!).

Something I’m looking forward to: Let’s see…this afternoon we’re having a playdate and dinner with Austin and Elizabeth. We have the usual swimming and music lessons. I have my book club this week and we’re discussing The Husband’s Secret. The kids have a birthday party to attend next weekend, and we’re having the first games night in a long time. October brings Gabe’s birthday, dinner and games with friends, our anniversary, a visit to the pumpkin patch (hopefully!), Halloween, and more fall fun.

Something captured: So much to choose from when there’s a whole month of updates! Here’s Maddie and Cullen with Maddie’s first game, The Ice Cream Hunt.

The Sunday Somethings, 24aug14

August 24th, 2014

Something that makes me happy: We had a great time at the neighborhood party! We suggested that maybe we should have a cookout, and then it turned into a huge feast complete with a bounce house and participation from the majority of the street. We had a great time and even continued the party this morning and afternoon.

Something I’m thinking: I’ve been thinking WAY too much about work lately. I’m looking forward to a couple of getaways where I’ll be unplugged from work.

Something I’m hoping: That Maddie’s Elsa dress actually is delivered. I finally saw it was available online, and by the time I finished my order, they were sold out. I couldn’t tell if my order went through or not, and I didn’t get an email confirmation for a while. I called to confirm, and they *say* that we have a dress on the way! I’m going to have a happy little girl.

Something happening around the house: Our house was party central this weekend! Thank goodness the weather cooperated for us. We had a little rain while setting up, but it was otherwise perfect.

Something I’m reading: I finished No Quest for the Wicked. I started and finished Firefly Lane for book club this month. I really enjoyed it. I can’t remember the last time a book made me cry! I started Words of Radiance, the second book in the The Stormlight Archive. That series is fantastic so far! I haven’t picked up Rogues again, but maybe some day…

Something Gabe is reading: Gabe finished Lies of Locke Lamora and is also reading Words of Radiance.

Something I’m watching: Gabe and I are finally going to see Guardians of the Galaxy tonight.

Something I’m creating: I’ve been doing a lot of crafts with the kids, catching up on our kiwi crates.

Something tasty: Our neighbor made fantastic pork barbecue in his smoker. YUM! We also tried Chuy’s for the first time, finally. They brought out all of the sauces for us to try.

Something about the grownups: I’ve been working too much, but I was glad to have a break from it all with all of the festivities this weekend. We were supposed to go to the movies last weekend, but I had a bad cold all weekend.

Something about both kiddos: The kids are enjoying the kiwi crates. They made sea foam paintings with paint and soap bubbles (and completed it by drawing mermaids, fish, and seaweed with chalk). They made campfires and s’mores. We made hermit crabs. We also did robot mazes and created art using the robots to draw. Both kids really enjoy the projects, though Maddie can focus on it for longer periods of time. They both requested to have dance parties after dinner a few times recently. They had a great time playing with neighborhood friends last night (and today), bouncing in the bounce house, and staying up late. They both ate a TON of watermelon. We went to a Durham Bulls baseball game recently. The kids enjoyed it, even if most of us didn’t pay attention to the baseball. They had a great fireworks show! Maddie was in heaven. We went and took care of Mr. Turtle a couple of times in the past few weeks, too.

Something Maddie is doing (6.5 years old): First grade is going really well for Maddie! She has homework each day. So far, her homework is mostly math and spelling in addition to the daily reading log. She seems like doing homework so far, so we won’t let her know it’s something she’s supposed to hate. She’s been bringing home mostly Arthur books from the library. She brings home some of the picture books, but she’s been most interested in the Arthur chapter books. She reads to us every night for at least 20 minutes (and sometimes almost 40 minutes!). We are enjoying first grade, but we are glad for a break! She just finished her first week of track out. She tried science camp for the first time, and she loved it. I’m so glad! The kids get to do two major experiments a day plus create fun snacks (one in the morning, and one in the afternoon). They created spy equipment, played with hydrophobic surfaces, made slime, took apart electronics, learned about circuits, and ended the week with Diet Coke geysers. She will be going to art camp this week. Track out makes me want to go to camp. She gets to do so many fun things. She finished up gymnastics, and she will start going to swimming twice a week soon. She enjoys piano, but her piano teacher thought she would benefit from private lessons instead of group lessons. The cost was only $10 more per month, which we didn’t realize. The private lessons will be a much better fit for Maddie.

Something Cullen is doing (4.5 years old): Cullen is so excited to become a “French kid” at school. He isn’t quite a graduate (I don’t think), but he will be soon. All the kids have left for kindergarten now as the first day of traditional is tomorrow. He has been going to French classes and special “graduate” art classes. He says he’s doing some more challenging “works” as well. He’s very excited about this next step in Children’s House! He enjoyed his swimming lessons and will be starting at the same place that Maddie is taking lessons soon. He’s excited about that. He’s figured out how to use the Roku, including finding Netflix and the kid profiles to play their shows. He still loves playing the iPad every chance he can get. Cullen ate the most watermelon at the neighborhood cookout! He had at least 10 big wedges!

Something I am struggling with: I really need to get Maddie’s 6.5 letter done…

Something I’m looking forward to: I’m looking forward to more parties with neighbors! In the next few weeks or so, we have a trip to the beach, my trip to Maryland “for science,” swimming lessons, music lessons, Maddie at art camp, Maddie at drive-Daddy-crazy-at-home camp, Maddie back at school, and TBGT (woohoo! 5-day birthday party this year).

Something random: I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before…but it turns out that one of the new neighbors is from my hometown and I babysat him as a kid! How is that for random?? We also found out at the cookout that another family is from the same county.

Something captured: Science camp finale!

The Sunday Somethings, 03aug14

August 5th, 2014

Something that makes me happy: Time spent with good friends!

Something happening around the house: We are sad to see old neighbors leave, but we are excited to meet our new neighbors!

Something I’m reading: I finished Much Ado About Magic. I started Rogues, a collection of short stories. I enjoyed the first few, but I needed a break after about 30% of the book. I’m now reading No Quest for the Wicked, also in the Enchanted, Inc series. I hope that I will find the motivation to finish Rogues. I need to read my book club selection soon as well.

Something Gabe is reading: Gabe finished The Way of Kings. He started Rogues and also needed a break. He’s reading The Lies of Locke Lamora now.

Something I’m watching: Gabe has been watching Arrow, and I’ve been watching it somewhat while getting work done. A friend offered last minute tickets to the NCT production of The Little Mermaid which I really enjoyed!

Something I’m playing: I played a quick game of String Railway. Cullen has still been playing all kinds of board games. Gabe beat Pikmin 3, and he’s now playing Assassin’s Creed 3.

Something about the grownups: Work has been busy for me. We’ve been getting Gabe’s contracting set up including some of the paperwork and logistics. His workload hasn’t been too heavy yet. I had my book club last week, and we discussed Eleanor & Park. Most of us loved it, but a few members of the club thought it was just okay. We didn’t have very much to say about it which leaves me thinking we need more “book clubby books” for our upcoming set. I loved Eleanor & Park, but I didn’t have too much to say about it. We discussed it a little bit, and we had plenty of other topics to explore. We had to change our meeting spot since our coffee shop closed. We are now meeting at a Panera which works pretty well.

Something about both kiddos: Both kids attended our kiddo book club meeting last Sunday which was at a local museum. We were supposed to read books about the rainforest, but we (ahem, I) forgot to find and read some books. Since we were exploring a rainforest exhibit at the museum, we didn’t have much chance to talk about the books that everyone read. The kids had a lot of fun at the museum. I love the kid book club, and I hope it inspires a love of reading for all of the kids. We went out to eat with Jason and Melissa and the kids had their first experiences at a Japanese steakhouse and Build-a-Bear. Yep, that was an expensive night! The kids really enjoyed making their “bears” (Maddie created a rollerskating Twilight Sparkle My Little Pony and Cullen created a Superman dog). They both now want to have their birthday parties there. Perhaps we can combine the two parties once again this year. They both liked the Japanese steakhouse! Cullen loved everything he tried (and he tried a little bit of everything), and Maddie liked the rice and plain chicken. The chef was great and put a little of the rice and the chicken aside to make it more plain than the rest. We are trying to get the kids to have better habits with cleaning up their toys. They have the awful habit of taking everything from their rooms and carrying them downstairs into the living room. They especially like to do this while Gabe and I are still snoozing. We’ve had some more dinners with Austin and Elizabeth’s family. I love how Elizabeth and Maddie are so similar and get along well (and we already knew that Austin and Cullen were two peas in a pod!). We’re having a good time with our dinner playdates. Both kids have played a little Pikmin. The controls are a little harder to learn on that game than some of the others they have played.

Something Maddie is doing (6 years old): Maddie is still taking swimming and gymnastics with one lesson each week. She seems tired of gymnastics and has two more lessons to finish out the summer. We will continue swimming for a while, and she seems to enjoy it. We are thinking about doing two a week to help in her progress. Her instructors would like to see her build some more confidence before moving to the next level. She starts a “blast off” piano introduction this week. I hope that she enjoys it as we’ve signed up for regular piano lessons starting next month. She really wants to do rollerblading, but we definitely won’t be able to do that AND two swimming lessons a week. I think we’re going to focus on swimming for now, and then we may shift to something else in the spring, depending on how she is doing with it. She has daily homework now…at least Monday through Thursday evenings. She hasn’t figured out that it is something that she should hate just yet. She enjoys doing her math and letterland (spelling) worksheets. She likes having her reading log completed. She’s reading every day, and we’re seeing some progress with her fluency. She has been bringing home 3rd grade reading level chapter books. She struggles with words here and there, and she is careless at times, but she has been doing quite well reading those to us. She reads to herself at school some, but she doesn’t do it at home very much.

Something Cullen is doing (4.5 years old): Cullen is taking a series of 8 swimming lessons over two weeks. He loves it and can’t wait to start regular swimming lessons at the same place Maddie is taking them. He is having so much fun, and he’s building his confidence. We are hoping that he can start regular swimming lessons in September. Cullen went with me to help take care of a pet turtle for friends. He loved meeting Mr. Turtle! It was so cute to see the turtle and Cullen checking out each other. Mr. Turtle was very curious, and we fed him a worm and some tomatoes. Cullen has played some video games recently, but he’s now banned from them for about the next month. He’s still working on his reading skills and reading to us most nights.

Something I am struggling with: Phantosmia. Everywhere I go, it smells like something is burning. This is a bit annoying.

Something I’m looking forward to: Maddie has two more gymnastics lessons. She is continuing swimming and will be starting piano. We have dinner plans with friends. We’re taking care of Mr. Turtle this weekend, and both kids will get to visit with him. Maddie has less than two weeks before she tracks out. It will be nice to get a break from the homework, and she has some fun camps planned. We are struggling to find a camp that is open for Labor Day week. Last year, we were on vacation that week. I hope that it isn’t this difficult to find coverage every year! Worst case, she’ll have to stay at home and have Netflix and video game camp while Gabe works…maybe spend a little time at the office with me.

Something captured: Most of the kids from the book club meeting on Sunday (two of them met us later inside the museum).

Cullen is 4.5!

July 29th, 2014

It’s time for Cullen’s next letter…he turned 4 and a half on July 22nd. (more…)

The Sunday Somethings, 20jul14

July 20th, 2014

Something that makes me happy: First grade is starting out well for Maddie!

Something I’m thinking: Well, the good news is that I’m writing this on an actual Sunday! The bad news is that I haven’t done it in a month.

Something I’m hoping: I hope to get started on Cullen’s 4.5 year letter this week. It’s going to be more challenging without regular somethings posts, but I know I’ll have plenty to say.

Something happening around the house: We did some organizing around the house, and we put all of the kids’ Legos in one place. We have a few more than we thought! The Legos kept the kids busy for quite a few hours yesterday. I hope that their new space inspires them to play and create even more with them. We had some tree guys come out and prune a bunch of our trees and take out a tree that was too close to the house. Oh, and Gabe accidentally ran into the side of the garage, and we had to have a garage guy come out to fix it. Oops.

Something I’m reading: I finished Lost Lake. I also read Eleanor & Park (for this month’s book club), Don’t Hex with Texas (book 4 in the Enchanted Inc series), Allegiant (finally! it took me a while to get into it since it had been so long since the other books), Mitosis (which is really a short story in the Reckoners series), and The One (the last book in The Selection series). I’m now reading the 5th book in the Enchanted Inc series, Much Ado About Magic. It seems like a lot of reading, but most of those were quick reads, and it has been a month since my last update!

Something Gabe is reading: He’s still reading The Way of Kings.

Something I’m watching: We’re going to see Marvel Universe Live this afternoon. Hopefully, we will all enjoy it! We haven’t really been watching much as I’ve been trying to catch up on photos and such. Gabe went to see Edge of Tomorrow while he was between jobs!

Something I’m playing: The kids have been playing a lot of board games. Cullen has been especially interested in games. He likes playing Candyland, Kids of Carcassonne, Max the Cat, Looping Louie, and Ninjago Spinners. He’s also very into the video games, but we are forcing him to take a break from those. He is getting quite good at the Mario games, both the adventure style and Mario Kart.

Something I’m creating: I started working on the WWDC photobook. I was hoping to get it done before August 1st, so I could use a free book code. I don’t think that I’ll be able to get it done before then. I have too many other things taking up my time! I’ve been spending a lot of time on Maddie’s school’s PTA website, getting it ready for the new school year.

Something tasty: We’ve made a couple of trips to Goodberry’s this summer. Yum!

Something about the grown ups: I’m participating in a 20-year study on first line relatives of MS patients (siblings, parents, or children). I’m excited (and a little nervous) that I was selected for another phase of the study involving sending them blood and flying to DC/Maryland for a full day of medical exams and MRIs. Gabe left his job and is now contracting, doing much of the same thing with a one year guaranteed contract. We’ve been busy getting paperwork, figuring out what we’re going to need to do for retirement accounts and estimated taxes, setting up health insurance through my company, etc. The logistics are a little stressful, but it is an exciting change!

Something about both kiddos: Oh good grief, when it takes a month to write, I’m not even sure where to start here. We took our first trip to Great Wolf Lodge. We went with Melissa and Jason and stayed for one night. The waterpark seemed smaller than I thought it would be, and I wasn’t sure whether it was a place we’d return to over and over. Once my expectations were adjusted, we had a really fabulous time. We are excited to return in the future (and already have a family trip planned to the Cincinnati one!). Both kids were pretty comfortable in the water. They both loved the wave pool and activity pool. Maddie wanted to do all the big slides, and I experienced some vertigo type feelings after riding them with her. Cullen enjoyed splashing in the younger kid area the most. Both kids enjoyed getting ice cream and playing MagiQuest. We weren’t sure whether we’d have much time for MagiQuest, but after seeing all the kids running around with magic wands, we decided to give it a try. It was so much fun! They loved running around pointing their wands at things. We were able to meet Nana and Papa for lunch before we headed to the waterpark since the resort is so close to their house. The following weekend, we headed to Edisto with Melissa and Jason. We joked that we spent every weekend of our summer vacation with them, since both trips were in between grades for Maddie (she only has a week off between grades). We had a fantastic time in Edisto. The kids love the beach. They were so happy to play in the sand, and they were not afraid to play in the ocean either. We had a couple of dinner/play dates with Austin and Elizabeth. I love seeing the four kids together. Maddie and Elizabeth have so much in common, and Austin and Cullen are best buddies as well. We are hoping to get together regularly so that the kids can continue to see each other. Maddie and Cullen continue to be best friends and play well together more often than not. Both kids want to start out the night in our bed, but we don’t usually let them both start there. Sometimes we let one or the other start in our bed, though.

Something Maddie is doing (6 years old): Maddie is still our little daredevil. She did every slide that she could do (there’s one that the kids aren’t tall enough for). Maddie’s last week of kindergarten was fun. They had a special activity each day that week: end of year celebration, super centers, summer fun day, board game day, and pajama/movie day. Maddie was most excited about the pajama/movie day! Gabe and I went to watch the kindergarten classes perform several songs. It was quite cute. We then went to her classroom where Maddie’s teacher had a presentation to show us with pictures from the year. We then had a picnic with her outside of the classroom. Super center day meant that they did “centers” all day (art, computers, iPad, blocks, etc). Usually, they only did centers at the end of the day. I volunteered for Summer Fun Day which was an opportunity for the kids to spend the pennies that they earned for good behaviors in the last few weeks of school. They could spend their pennies on manicures, face painting, games, tattoos, bubbles, and chalk. After this portion, they could spend the rest of their pennies on items in the class store. I was manning the bubbles and chalk area, which allowed me to get some fantastic photos of every kid in the class. Maddie’s board game day didn’t go as well as she hoped. She was bummed as she didn’t get to choose who she could play with or what she could play. Friday was her best day. She was so excited to wear jammies to school (she picked her My Little Pony jammies) and they watched Frozen and Finding Nemo. That was a great way to end the school year! She was really nervous about starting first grade, but fortunately she had only a week to worry about it (with Great Wolf Lodge and Edisto trips to distract us). Her biggest worry was meeting new friends. Since there are only two classrooms on her track, we tried to explain that half of her class would likely be the same friends she already knew. Once we started to learn that some of her favorite people would be in her class, she said she was most nervous about meeting the teacher. Our teacher seems very nice and just graduated from college. She seems to have some great, fresh ideas and enthusiasm for teaching. Maddie likes her so far! We’ve had two full weeks now, and Maddie has been getting great behavior reports. I hope that continues! We went to meet the teacher this past week. We have been impressed so far. Maddie gets a packet of homework at the beginning of the week, and she has to turn it in on Friday. She also needs to read 20 minutes a day, and she has been pretty happy to do that. She can now get 3 books from the school library at a time, and she’s excited about that. Maddie has swimming lessons and gymnastics each week. She seems to enjoy them both, but she says she doesn’t want to continue gymnastics in the fall. She has asked to do rollerblading again, so maybe we’ll do that. We keep thinking that they might move her up to the next level in swimming, but we’re still in the initial level. We’re hoping that they will move her up soon so that we can start Cullen in that level! Maddie was so happy at the beach, playing in the sand and the ocean. Maddie spent a few days at art camp, and she was excited to see one of her preschool friends there. The theme that week was Egyptian art. Sadly, Maddie has stopped sleeping at night with stuffed animals. Since she was sick and threw up in the middle of the night, she is now afraid that she will barf on her buddies. I’m sad about this, and we’ve tried to reassure her several times that it isn’t likely to happen (and we can clean her buddies if it does). It does make bedtime easier, as we don’t have to worry about where the required buddies are hiding in the house…but it’s still sad. As a result, she’s not as attached to any of her stuffed animals at the moment. Maddie is very into My Little Pony. She chose to get My Little Pony figures as most of her behavior rewards toward the end of last year. She has quite a few little ponies! She has a renewed interest in Legos lately. We had several sets that she hadn’t put together yet, and she put those together in the past week or so. Oh, and she’s inexplicably attached to Mrs. Stick, a yellow toy drumstick. We’re not sure what the deal is with that.

Something Cullen is doing (4 years old): Cullen had so much fun splashing around at Great Wolf Lodge. I’m so glad to see that he’s more comfortable with the pools. He is taking a special two week set of swimming lessons soon. After he completes that set of lessons, we are hoping to sign him up for regular lessons at the same place that Maddie has been taking them. Cullen has rotating attachments to his stuffed animals, and he sometimes sleeps with one or two. Pluto has been one that has been a constant lately. He often takes a buddy or two in the car with him. Cullen is now playing a lot of the Wii U and the DS instead of the iPad, though we are forcing him to take a bit of a break from the video games. We are surprised at how skilled he is getting, but he tends to throw fits when things aren’t going his way. That’s one of the reasons he’s taking a big break! He also has been obsessed with the video games, so we’re trying to help that as well. He is adjusting to some of his good buddies moving up to kindergarten, and he’s strengthening some of his friendships with his fellow future graduates. He has had a few issues with being a good friend, so we’re working on that with him, the teachers, and his friend’s parents. He still likes reading to us, and he reads to us almost every night. He has been practicing counting up to 120, since that is what Maddie’s doing with her homework. He’s going to be more than ready for kindergarten next year!

Something I’m doing towards my goals: I got caught up on some photos, but I’m still quite behind on that. I started on the WWDC photobook, but I haven’t even made it through the first day! (To be fair, the first day involved our long bike ride over the Golden Gate Bridge which accounts for probably half of the photos!).

Something I’m looking forward to: I guess I should write about all the things that may be happening over the next month… Maddie continues to have swimming and gymnastics. Cullen has two weeks of swimming lessons 4 days a week. The kids have book club. Both kids will have music lessons in a few weeks or so. Maddie will be starting piano, and Cullen will have an introduction to music.

Something captured: This is one of my favorites from the past month, but we had many good ones!

The Sunday Somethings, 22jun14

June 22nd, 2014

Something that makes me happy: I took the kids to Krispy Kreme for their first experience with “hot now” doughnuts. They had so much fun viewing the conveyor belt and eating fresh donuts! They were quite excited, though I wasn’t sure that loading them up with sugar was our best start to the day.

Something I’m thinking: Um, I have been very negligent of my somethings lately. We’ve been so busy!’s been more than a month. I guess I didn’t do a “better job” like I had hoped in my last post. So…the kid updates are going to be even longer than usual this time!

Something I’m hoping: I hope that Maddie’s last week of kindergarten goes well. They have a lot of fun activities planned this week, and we should find out her first grade teacher at the end of the week.

Something happening around the house: The sunflowers that we planted in early spring are blooming! We are all excited. We are talking about doing some landscaping in the front and the back, but we’re not sure what we want to do exactly. We do know we want to get rid of some of the overgrown bushes.

Something I’m reading: I finished Damsel Under Stress. I then started and finished The Way of Kings which was a 1000+ page fantasy novel. I enjoyed it, but I felt like I was reading it forever. This week, I started and finished The Secret Keeper for this month’s book club selection. I’m now reading Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen.

Something Gabe is reading: He finished Last Argument of Kings. He started and finished Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie and started The Way of Kings.

Something I’m watching: We haven’t been watching very much lately as we’ve been playing some video games, and I’ve had a ton of pictures to catch up on sorting.

Something I’m playing: Gabe and I both have been playing Battleheart Legacy on the iPad, and we’ve been having a lot of fun with it. It’s a cute RPG. I haven’t played too much Candy Crush lately. The whole family has been playing Mario Worlds 3D (mostly Gabe and the kids), and we got the new Mario Kart for the Wii U. That’s been getting a lot of play in the house as well.

Something I’m creating: I’ve been doing a lot of sorting of photos, and I’ve been trying to get through the photos from my week in San Francisco at WWDC. I need to get started on both the Key West photobook and the WWDC photobook. I did finish my 2013 photobook.

Something tasty: Fresh, hot Krispy Kreme donuts!

Something about both kiddos: As I mentioned, the kids had their first Krispy Kreme experience. They loved wearing the hats, watching the doughnuts on the conveyor belt, and eating the fresh, yummy doughnuts (they also demanded some chocolate covered ones, but I required everyone to have a fresh one first). Since my last letter, both Gabe and I have been on trips without the kids. The kids always get to do special things with the parent at home, so they don’t seem to mind. They usually get presents when we return, and they get excited about the little gifts. Their favorite thing lately when we’re away is seeing pictures of the tiny koala bear and his adventures. He has a lot of fun, but I have to say he gets into some trouble at times, too! It’s a neat way for us to connect with the kids while we’re gone. Gabe spent 4 days away with his mom in Vegas, and I spent a week in San Francisco for WWDC with work. The kids are great friends and are constantly playing together. It’s a loud place when they are both at home as they are coming up with scenarios and making up rules to whatever world they are currently imagining. It’s nice that they get along so well (most of the time), though it also drives us crazy sometimes as they are so loud! They are happy together most of the time. Both of them have been playing more video games and getting better at Mario and MarioKart, especially Cullen. We went to the mountains with friends for Memorial Day weekend. We stayed in a cabin with a beautiful view near Blowing Rock. The kids loved the Dan’l Boone Inn (we all did and ate there twice). We all had a great day at Tweetsie Railroad. I had been there as a kid when I was a little older than Maddie, so it was neat to revisit with the kids. It’s just right for their age, and it’s nice to not have waits for any of the rides (and only pay the initial entry fee instead of paying per ride like at the fair). My parents came for a short visit while Gabe was out of town. We went to see How to Train Your Dragon 2 while they were here, and we all enjoyed it. The kids had fun with Dana twice while Gabe and I went to see Jack Johnson nearby and Vampire Weekend downtown. Cullen was jealous and wished he could go to the Vampire Weekend concert and can’t wait to be a “grown up” so that he can go. Cullen said he was going to marry me when he grows up. Maddie said, “I don’t think so…because when we grow up, our parents will be dead.” Uh, nice. The kids had their kid book club this morning, and they read Magic at the Bed and Biscuit (for the magic theme). Several of the kids performed magic tricks, and Marie had several tricks up her sleeve as well. She does such a nice job with the club, and the kids love it. Our next theme is the rainforest, and we’re going to a special related exhibit at a local museum.

Something Maddie is doing (6 years old): Since my last post, Maddie had two weeks of track out art camps. She went to a new one and her old favorite. The new one was structured more like a class, and it didn’t seem to fit her as well as her usual camp. She didn’t seem to like it for the first few days, but she claimed it was her second favorite camp by the end of the week. She learned about Monet at the regular camp the following week. Maddie has had some issues with headaches and feeling ucky in the car on long rides when she tries to read or plays handheld games for too long. She has never thrown up due to this until our ride back from the mountains. We thought that she was carsick, but it could have been a bug or something else odd going on as she threw up two other times since then. Hopefully, we’re in the clear with that now. Maddie was invited to her first ever slumber party, but we decided that none of us are ready for that. I accompanied her for the fun part of the evening, taking her home at about 10:30pm so that she could sleep at our house. That worked out pretty well for her. I’m a little nervous as the older sister threw up while we were there. I hope all the girls don’t get stomach bugs! She was quarantined from the kids for the most part, but stomach bugs always make me nervous. Maddie continues to love Frozen, and the party was Frozen themed. I got a cute video of the kids watching the movie and at least 8 of them singing “Let It Go.” You can’t see the kids, but you can hear their sweet voices. The oldest sister put make up on the girls, and they had a fashion show. Maddie had her last field trip of the year to the kids’ museum. I chaperoned, and I didn’t lose anyone, so I consider that a victory. I was in charge of 3 girls, and they were well behaved. The kids seemed to have had a great time. Maddie’s last week of kindergarten is this week, and she has a lot of fun things planned for the week. Tomorrow, her class is performing some kind of end of year show. Afterward, we will enjoy a picnic with the kids. Wednesday is some kind of summer fun day where they get to spend pennies that they have earned in the past few weeks. It will be set up as a sort of carnival, and I volunteered for that, too. Friday, they are having a movie, popcorn, and jammie day. On Thursday, they can bring in board games from home. I think they are done learning anything for the year, and we’re getting in a lot of fun. She’s a bit nervous about starting first grade. The thing that she’s most nervous about is meeting new friends. Since there are only two classes on her track, she will know about half the kids. I think she’s nervous about whether the ones that she likes will be in her class. I hope she will have some favorite friends in there! It will take her some time to meet the new ones, but hopefully it won’t be too bad for her. We can’t wait to hear about her new teacher! Maddie is still doing gymnastics through August. She claims that she doesn’t like it, but I know that she enjoys it while she is there. I think she would enjoy a straight tumbling class more. Last week’s class focused more on tumbling, and she was having a great time! She started a swimming class once a week, and she is doing pretty well with that. We’re going to try to continue the swimming lessons for a while until she seems comfortable in the water and can swim on her own pretty well. I hope it goes well at the new place. We are happy with it so far. She is signed up for a group piano class later this summer, and we’re hoping to start regular group piano lessons in the fall. She seems excited about that, and I hope that she will be excited when she starts! Maddie’s class had a “Donuts for Dad” event for Father’s Day, and Gabe was glad that he was able to attend before heading to the airport for Vegas. Maddie loves having us in the classroom. We intend to take advantage of that for as long as it lasts. I know the day will come where she’ll be embarrassed to see us at school! They made some kind of thing with their footprints and a poem about walking with dad. Maddie is very interested in My Little Pony, and that is her reward of choice. We have been working on her getting good behavior reports from school, and she earns tickets for good days. She turns her tickets in for the opportunity to buy new My Little Pony toys, and she is saving her tickets now for a larger toy. She is pretty good at “saving” for something bigger!

Something Cullen is doing (4 years old): Cullen is totally obsessed with the iPad games and now the Wii U games. He’s especially obsessed with playing Mario 3D Worlds for the Wii U, and he’s getting surprisingly good at it. I’m impressed. I am seeing him complete worlds that I remember that Gabe struggled to complete. His goal is to get the “gold star” on all the levels, which requires you to beat the level with all 5 of the characters. Maddie gets frustrated because he often beats her at the video games now. He almost always wins at MarioKart against her, and he does a lot better with Mario as well. Of course, as her little brother, he rubs it in a bit sometimes as well. We all need to work on being better sports. He can get quite upset when he can’t complete a level and keeps losing lives. He gets his video game temper from his dad (OK, and maybe from his mom, too). I told him about Nana and Papa’s 44th wedding anniversary and what that meant. He said, “Ewwww! I don’t want to hear about people getting married! That means they have to kiss on the lips!” He’s pretty convinced that kissing on the lips is what makes people married and what people have to do if they are going to get married. I tried to explain to both kids that they will probably want to kiss someone on the lips if they want to marry them. I reassured both kids that there is absolutely no requirement to get married. They are both happy with living at home forever (when they aren’t talking about marrying each other). Cullen claims that dogs get married by rubbing cheeks instead of kissing on the lips. Cullen has some transitions at school soon. Some of his favorite classmates, including his best buddy Austin, will be moving onto kindergarten. Austin’s last day is this week, and Cullen will really miss him. Before too long, Cullen will become one of the graduates (once all the current graduates move to kindergarten). He’s excited about becoming a “french kid” as the graduates get to go to french class and get special art and music lessons. Cullen has still had some tummy issues, but he has seemed fine over the past few weeks. We changed out all of the toothbrushes in the house, so maybe that helped get rid of the ick? Cullen still loves reading to me, but now he’s reading harder material. He usually reads a page or two and says, “that’s enough for now.” I try to get him to read a little more than that, but I’m letting him set the pace. He’s starting to get a lot of the long vowel rules. It’s still exciting to be teaching a young reader!

Something I am struggling with: Keeping up with photos and keeping up with posts!

Something I’m doing towards my goals: Well, I finished the 2013 book…but I haven’t made progress towards others.

Something I’m looking forward to: Maddie’s last week of school (and several fun events), a trip to Great Wolf Lodge and another to Edisto, Maddie’s first day of first grade (only a week off in between grades), Maddie’s swimming lessons, Maddie’s gymnastics, my book club, Gabe switching jobs (his last day is this week, and he has a week off before starting contracting), hopefully a scrapbooking day, and Marvel Universe Live are all in store for the next few weeks or so. It’s a busy and Maddie-centric time!

Something captured: I think the kids approved of the donuts.

The Sunday Somethings, 18may14

May 18th, 2014

Something that makes me happy: I had a great time with girlfriends in Key West! Maddie especially enjoyed the adventures of her little koala bear as he posed around town. He’s going with me to San Francisco for WWDC in a couple weeks.

Something I’m thinking: I’ve been negligent of my somethings for 3 weeks.

Something I’m hoping: I’m hoping to keep up a little better as it’s the only way I can remember what the kids did at particular times.

Something happening around the house: The usual chaos, though I appreciate that most of their toys have a “proper” place after we did some room reorganization in the past few weeks. The kids do much better when everything has a specific place!

Something I’m reading: I’m reading Damsel Under Stress, book 3 of Enchanted, Inc. I finished City of Ashes. I also read Whisper Falls and the sequel A Whisper in Time. I really enjoyed the first two books of that series! I read Columbine for this month’s book club.

Something Gabe is reading: Gabe finished The Blade Itself and the sequel, Before They Are Hanged. He’s now reading the third in the series, Last Argument of Kings.

Something I’m watching: Tonight, we’re watching the finale of The Amazing Race (very cool finale!). We’ve been loving Orphan Black, but we are a little behind.

Something I’m playing: Other than Candy Crush on the iPhone, I’m not sure what else we’ve been playing. Maybe some board games with the kids? Gabe has been playing quite a bit of Mario 3D Worlds on the Wii U.

Something I’m creating: I’m finishing up my 2013 photobook…I just have a few pages left, and it will be done! Then…I have to still do all the trip albums that are adding up this year. The Disney Cruise, Key West, and soon WWDC.

Something about both kiddos: They had a fun time with Daddy while I was away in Key West with girlfriends. They made a giant fort, which is one of the first things they asked about when they found out I would be away. One of Daddy’s signature special things is to build a huge fort while I’m out of town. They love it, of course. The kids are playing together quite well lately, and they have been playing with some toys that haven’t gotten played with in a while like the Mr. Potato Head set and several of Maddie’s doll accessories. It seems that reorganizing the house gives many of their toys new life. They spoiled me over Mother’s Day weekend with extra rest, breakfast in bed, and a fun morning to see a play (Sid the Science Kid). Gabe and I weren’t all that thrilled about the actual play itself (it was just one step above Dora in terms of tolerability), but the experience with the family was great. We have done several kiwi crafts lately. One set focused on science with a few science experiments, and the other was about farming and gardening. We planted some seeds, so we’re eager to see how they grow. Both kids made gifts at school and presented them to me at a party in the classroom. Both kids wrote notes to their teachers for teacher appreciation week. It can be a pain to get them to write thank you notes and appreciation notes, but I love what they come up with when they do it.

Something Maddie is doing (6 years old): Maddie is tracked out from school, and we needed the break. She has been getting some reports of defiance from school. Her last week before track out was perfect as far as the color chart is concerned, so we’re happy about that! We have some reward systems at home where she can earn tickets and trade them in for small toys or device/iPad time. Her first week of track out was spent at the arts and drama camp, and her next two weeks will be spent at more art camps. She loves it. She did well in her play this time and spoke her lines a bit louder. She needed some prompting with her lines. Maddie was excited that Kristin and Chad were able to come to her play this time. They just happened to be in town at the right time. More than a year ago, Maddie brought home some sunflower seeds from preschool. She has been asking to plant them for a while, and we planted them when the time was right this season. We are all excited that several of them have sprouted and are growing fast. They are maybe a foot tall now. Maddie seems to have a big interest in growing things right now. Maybe that will give us the motivation that we need to redo the landscaping in the front yard. Maddie continues to enjoy gymnastics, and we plan to continue at least through the summer lessons. We’ll see whether she wants to continue in the fall. We have signed her up for a piano introduction later this summer. Maddie had her foot doctor appointment this week, and he’s happy with how things look. She is supposed to come back in 2 years. They didn’t take any x-rays this time, and he noted that she has a callus on her small foot that shows how she compensates. Maddie said that other kids in the gymnastics class have noticed her foot, and she has told them that she was born that way. She doesn’t seem to be bothered by it at this point, physically or emotionally. Maddie’s class had Muffins for Mom, and she was so thrilled to have me there. I will miss some of these little school events and the handmade gifts. She gave me some sort of bean plant and a handmade card. I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to keep the plant alive, but she’s excited about it given her fascination with plants lately.

Something Cullen is doing (4 years old): Cullen has had numerous tummy issues over the past weeks. I’m not sure what is going on with him. He might have a food intolerance or some sort of nasty bug that he can’t shake. Cullen continues to progress with his reading. He begs to read to me every night, and we are able to do it on most nights. He has gotten to where he can read as many as 3 different phonics books. He’s still doing short vowels, though we are on the ones that have mixed short vowel sounds. He’s almost done with that set, and then we’ll start working on the long vowels. That will be a little challenging at first, but I’m sure he’ll catch on quickly. I’m so impressed with both his motivation for learning to read and his progress. We are so proud of him. His favorite thing to do right now is to call someone on the webcam and read to them. Cullen’s class all went to lunch with their parents during teacher appreciation week. Austin’s parents were out of town, so he joined us for lunch. Cullen loved it. We then returned to his classroom for a party where the kids had popsicles, and we presented the teachers with their gifts from the class. They presented the mothers with foot cream (that they made) and a really cute butterfly made from their footprints and handprints.

Something I’m doing towards my goals: I’m finishing up my 2013 book.

Something I’m looking forward to: Our trip with Earl and Michelle to the mountains and my trip to WWDC. Other than that, we have the usual gymnastics classes. My book club is at the end of the month, and I have a haircut this week. Maddie has a new art camp this week, and she is going to her regular one next week. Gabe and I are going to see Jack Johnson on Wednesday, so that should be fun! The kids have dental appointments soon.

Something captured: Happy Mother’s Day to me! My one request every year (aside from some extra rest, of course) is to get a photo of my babies with me.