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The Sunday Somethings, 16nov14

Sunday, 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

Sunday, 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.

Cullen is 4.5!

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

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

The Sunday Somethings, 22jun14

Sunday, 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! Oops..it’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, 20apr14 and 13apr14

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

Something that makes me happy: We had a wonderful visit from Gabe’s family this weekend.

Something I’m thinking: I’m thinking about all the pictures that I need to sort from the last few months. I’m quite behind, and I still haven’t finished my 2013 photobook.

Something I’m hoping: I’m hoping to catch up on pictures soon, but I’m not sure that’s going to actually happen!

Something happening around the house: We had eight people in our house this weekend with Gabe’s parents, Dylan, and Dylan’s girlfriend Morgan.

Something I’m reading: I finished I am Malala. I started and finished The End of Your Life Book Club, and I was disappointed in that one. I am now reading City of Ashes, the second book in The Mortal Instruments. None of these are for book club.

Something Gabe is reading: Gabe finished Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, and he started reading The Blade Itself.

Something I’m watching: Most of our shows are coming to a close. The Walking Dead is over, and we finally watched the last episode of Downton Abbey. We started watching Orphan Black, and now it seems like everyone else is watching it, too. We tried to watch The 100, but that was awful. We’re watching Resurrection, and that one is good enough to keep watching. We’re still watching The Amazing Race, though we need to catch up on Sunday’s episode. We’re also still watching Hart of Dixie. I imagine that show isn’t going to last much longer, but I still like keeping up with it.

Something I’m playing: We played a lot of games with Gabe’s family while they were here. We played Trivial Pursuit, Sour Apples to Apples, La Boca, Hoopla, Kaleidos, King of Tokyo, and Tribond. Grandma played Max the Cat and Too Many Monkeys with Gabe and the kids. Gabe and I are still playing Candy Crush. We played bar trivia and photohunt this weekend, too. Cullen showed Dylan how to play his Ninjago spinners.

Something I’m creating: I did several of our cruise posts since my last somethings. I still have a few more to go.

Something tasty: We made sugar cookies on Easter. Yum!

Something about both kiddos: The kids really enjoyed having visitors this weekend. They love Grandma, Grandpa, and Dylan, and they instantly took to Morgan (or “Mogo,” as we all call her). They played lots of imagination games with them, showed them Frozen, showed them their games on their devices, played board games, and put people in “jail.” Both kids have been playing their devices too much. We’ve been giving them too much device time without requiring them to turn in tickets. Maddie was out of school on Friday, and we all went to lunch with Cullen at the cafe.

Something Maddie is doing (6 years old): Maddie’s class did child-led 3rd quarter conferences. She’s doing very well in most things, though her teacher has had some recent issues with Maddie’s conduct. She also says that Maddie is weak in “retelling,” so that’s something we’ll be working on. She gets reading homework, so we have a lot of opportunity to strengthen that skill. I don’t think she’s terrible at it, personally. She’s reading well above her grade level, and she is able to tell me about it. You do have to prompt her a bit as she’s hesitant to answer. I think she’s much more comfortable when there is a right and wrong answer. She’s less comfortable when there’s not a “right” way to do something, so retelling is challenging for her. She is still enjoying gymnastics. I think she enjoys seeing her friend Sophie at gymnastics, too.

Something Cullen is doing (4 years old): Poor Cullen has had a stomach bug that comes and goes (or he’s caught several in the past 2 weeks). He has thrown up all over his bed at least 3 different nights and had a lot of other stomach issues. Poor little boy. The first night that he threw up in bed, he came down and said, “Mama! Dada! I barfed all over my bed. It was the biggest barf ever in the whole wide world.” He was out of school again today. Poor boy missed Earth Day and his class Easter egg hunt. He had fun playing the Ninjago spinners with Dylan. Dylan had a lot of trouble beating him at the game! Cullen is very excited about learning how to read, and he asks to read to me every night before bed. He gets frustrated sometimes, but I’m quite impressed with his progress. We are still working through the phonics books with short vowel sounds. I’ve been sticking with the same book until he has it mostly memorized to build his confidence, and then we move to another one. He responds very well to visual cues (like pointing to his nose to remind him of the sound for “n”). This has helped him learn much better than simple repetition. It’s not too long before I don’t have to use the visual cue.

Something I am struggling with: I had some kind of upper respiratory crud, but it seems to have cleared up now.

Something I’m doing towards my goals: We should beat our $5,000 goal for this year’s MS walk.

Something I learned: I get to go to WWDC this year! This year’s tickets were distributed through a lottery. I didn’t personally get a ticket, but I was able to get a transferred ticket from another coworker. Hooray!

Something I’m looking forward to: Maddie has gymnastics this week and next. I have book club next week. Maddie has a birthday party this weekend, and both kids have kiddo book club. We have dinner with friends next week. I’m going on my girls trip to Key West soon!

Something captured: How cute is our nephew and his girlfriend?

Disney Cruise 2014: Day 5, part 2, back on the ship

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Since we already had on our swimsuits, we headed straight for the pool deck. We started with lunch at Cabanas. At Cabanas, we ran into the guy that we all called “the squeaky guy.” He entertained the kids by touching their finger and making a squeaky sound at the same time (you know, like a squeaky toy?). I think maybe he had something that he squeezed in his other hand, maybe? It was a little bit of Disney magic for the kids (and apparently even stumped us adults).

After lunch, Maddie and I went to ride the Aquaduck. We took advantage of the crowds being on shore, and we enjoyed the relatively uncrowded pool area. We had almost no wait for the Aquaduck. Maddie rode it twice with me.

One of Cullen’s favorite things is playing in Nemo’s Reef. He splashed and had a great time while Maddie was riding the Aquaduck. He claims that he will ride the Aquaduck again when he is a grown up.

Maddie rode it again with Daddy.

We spent some time in the family hot tub, and we nearly had it to ourselves. It was much better than the middle of the day at sea when it has been crowded. The tub was a bit too hot for everyone, so we didn’t stay in it too long. Maddie loved trying to get photos underwater!

We returned to the cabin to shower. Gabe’s parents had stayed in port to do some shopping after returning from the excursion. They got a pirate shirt for Cullen, and a pretty purple dress for Maddie. The kids loved their gifts. Once we were all dressed, we headed to Disney trivia. We didn’t do quite as well this time, at least not for the first 10 questions or so. We did much better in the second half, and the bonus question got us an additional 10 points when we were asked to list all of the Incredibles and their super powers. Around this time, I realized how well sunscreen works and that I had missed quite a bit of the back of my arm and a small section on my back. Ooops!

Cullen fell asleep in an odd position while we were playing trivia, so I stayed with him and wrote some in my trip journal while Gabe, Debbie, and Maddie left for a little while.

They went back to our room where Maddie decided she wanted to wear her purple dress for princess night and the tiara. This night was supposed to be princess night, so we were trying to encourage her to wear her Sofia dress again. They came back after a while, and Maddie and I went to meet Tinkerbell. Cullen kept snoozing.

Maddie and I were both excited to meet Tinkerbell. Nearly all of the characters who are allowed to talk have excellent interaction and do a great job of staying in character. We were first in line for Tinkerbell.

We then met Mickey. Maddie wanted to meet Mickey when she saw that he was greeting people. I think she had it in her head that she had to meet Mickey each night so she could get a Mickey bar. We joked about that, and maybe she took it seriously? Or maybe she just really liked Mickey this trip.

I couldn’t talk Maddie into meeting Pinocchio, but I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to meet a rare character like him. Since just Maddie and I were hanging out, I met him by myself. I thought I might be able to talk her into the photo once we got there, but I had no such luck.

At some point, Maddie decided that she did want to wear her Sofia dress. We went back to the cabin to get changed. Cullen was still sleeping, and at some point Gabe carried Cullen to the Deck 4 balcony lounge area where he continued to sleep. After Maddie changed into her dress, we browsed the shops and then got in line to meet Stitch. Cullen showed up just in time, and they were excited about meeting Stitch!

After meeting Stitch, we headed to dinner. On the way, we saw Bruno and thanked him again for all of his little surprises. Cullen wanted to take a photo with him.

When we got to dinner, we were given a placemat and instructions. I was so excited about tonight’s dinner! We all drew our characters, and we waited eagerly to see the animation show.

Following is a clip of some of the animation show (follow this link if the embedded video doesn’t show). It was awesome! Pardon my terrible videographer skills. I put the camera on the back of the chair and hoped for the best! Oh, and maybe you should just ignore the sound entirely. Yeah. That would be good, too. I labeled most of ours in the video, but I didn’t get all of them. They go by so fast!

To me, this was one of the absolute highlights of the trip. It’s not something to be missed! I was also glad to get a photo of our waitstaff that night.

I left a little bit early from dinner to get in line for Snow White and Dopey. After not being able to meeting the seven dwarfs at the Halloween party in 2012, I was excited to at least have the chance to meet one of them! Cullen agreed to pose with me with Snow White and Dopey.

And then he even met Aladdin and Genie by himself, though he didn’t want to get too close to the genie!

Of course, I had to get a photo with them as well. I enjoyed the opportunity to meet some of these rarer characters.

When Cullen and I got back to the room, Maddie was telling Grandma all about Frozen and playing the songs for her. They had also discovered that Bruno had left us a tray of chocolate covered strawberries and another note.

Maddie was beyond excited about this discovery, and when we wrote a note to Bruno, Maddie wanted to be sure to say, “Thank you for the chocolate covered strawberries. I have always wanted to try one of those!” Who knew that we were depriving her of such awesomeness?

We talked about our day (and favorites), and we put the kids to bed. Grandma came back to lay in the room so that we could go to play Pop Trivia and 80s Music Trivia.

We headed over to The Tube and learned that Pop Trivia was more of a full audience participation game show where the audience was divided into two teams. Our friends Aaron and Karen joined us. It was a combination memory game with trivia questions on a grid. It was fun enough, but we were really looking forward to the 80s Name That Tune trivia! It was one of the bigger trivias in terms of participation, and Karen knew just about every one. We got a point for artist and a point for the song name. I think Aaron, Gabe, and I contributed to a few of the answers, but we were mostly there for confirmation purposes. This was the most fun trivia on the ship, and the reveal of the answers was highly entertaining! The activities director did Pop Trivia and 80s Name That Tune, and she is hilarious. I took a lot of video clips of her revealing the answers (and perhaps I’ll get to some of those sooner or later). Our 80s trivia team ended up with 49 out of 50 points. We missed one artist, Rob Bass, and Karen kicked herself afterwards for not getting it. I think that the activities director was surprised when she started with, “Did anyone get 50? 49?” I think then she probably was planning to do the usual, “Ok, ok, who got 10? 20?” and keep counting until all but one team dropped out. I think she also may have said that we needed to get a life. We won the usual cruise line cheap swag, this time tote bags filled with DCL calendars. I’m glad we got a photo of our team.

We then returned to our room, set our clocks back and hour, and went to sleep in preparation for another day at sea!

Disney Cruise 2014: Day 2, at sea

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Our first full day on the Disney Fantasy was at sea. These are our favorites for Day 2 (Sunday, February 23, 2014), with our top top top favorites starred.

Maddie’s Favorites

  • swimming

  • ice cream
  • eating jello
  • *** Aquaduck *** (first top top top favorite)
  • meeting Sofia
  • meeting princesses
  • *** meeting Anna *** (second top top top favorite)
  • meeting Princess Minnie
  • Mickey Bar
  • Midship Detective
  • meeting Minnie and Mickey in her Minnie dress
  • apple juice

Cullen’s Favorites

  • meeting Cinderella

  • swimming
  • Aladdin show
  • meeting Belle
  • meeting Pluto, Mickey, and Minnie
  • apple juice
  • Midship Detective
  • *** stopping by the place where we got the bracelet *** [he means the kids club open house, and he didn't list it with his favorites but said it was his top top top favorite]

Gabe’s Favorites

  • when Crush came to our table

  • seeing how excited Cullen was at the pool
  • when Maddie and Cullen got pictures with the princesses
  • *** Aladdin show ***
  • Midship Detective

Kerry’s Favorites

  • *** Aquaduck with Maddie ***

  • seeing Maddie with Anna and that interaction
  • Maddie meeting Sofia while wearing her Sofia dress
  • seeing Princess Minnie and Formal Minnie
  • Cullen seeing all the princesses and Maddie deciding to meet them at the last minute
  • Midship Detective
  • The waitstaff bending over backwards for Maddie and her pickiness
  • seeing Crush at dinner

Day 2 Photos and Summaries

We woke around 7am and decided to give the breakfast at Royal Court a try. We knew we needed to get to Royal Court at about 8am in order to have plenty of time to make it to meet Princess Anna of Arendelle at 9:15am. Meeting Princess Anna was one of our top priorities on the trip. Maddie was very excited to meet her! Maddie wanted to wear her Sofia dress to meet the characters in the morning. She had to be very careful during breakfast to avoid getting anything on her dress! We had breakfast with Grandma. Maddie and I left a few minutes before the rest of the family to go get in line for Anna at about 9am. I’m glad that we did as there was already a good sized line forming for her! Anna was one of the most popular characters on the ship. Her lines were longer than any single character. The only line that was longer was the one where you could meet four princesses at once.

Cullen decided he didn’t care about meeting Anna but he wanted to meet the princesses at 10am. Gabe, Cullen, and Grandma explored a bit and met Daisy.

They looked around a little more before Gabe and Cullen got in line for the princesses at about 9:30am. This meant that they would be in line for 45 minutes!

The interaction with Anna was awesome! She spent a good bit of time with each kid, and Maddie was excited to show her the Anna and Elsa dolls (which you can see in her photo!).

After we met Anna, we headed to find Gabe and Cullen in line. Cullen wasn’t interested in meeting Sofia, so Maddie and I went up to wait for her. Maddie wanted me to take photos of her on the grand staircase.

We were second in line for Sofia which started at 10:15am. We got there well before 10am, so we were quite early. The princesses paraded out to the balcony and down the grand staircase at about 10am. The balcony is where Sofia would be meeting, so we were right next to them when the announcements were being made. A little later, we spotted Aladdin from above walking through the princess line. I went down to see if I could get a photo of Aladdin and Cullen. Cullen wasn’t too sure about Aladdin, so I met him instead. Grandma was waiting with Maddie for Sofia while I got my photo.

I went back up with plenty of time to meet Sofia. Sofia showed up a little after 10:15am, and by then Gabe let a few people in front of him in line so we could catch up. Maddie loved meeting Sofia in her matching dress!

We rushed downstairs to see the princesses, and we got there just in time for Maddie to meet all four of them. The princess interaction was decent, but it felt a tad rushed (especially since we rushed to get down there!). I was surprised that Maddie changed her mind and wanted to meet the princesses since she is usually quite anti-princesses (except for Anna and Sofia).

They met Cinderella.

And Tiana (we should really see her movie).

And Belle.

And Snow White.

We walked around afterwards before deciding to meet Princess Minnie at 11am. I believe we may have done several clues for our Midship Detective in between meeting the characters. We were glad to get a lot of our big characters out of the way on this day since we knew that some of them only meet on the sea days.

After meeting Princess Minnie, we went back to the cabin to change into our swimsuits and head to the pool! We had the buffet lunch at Cabanas with Gabe’s parents. Gabe’s mom then joined us at the pool. Of course, an afternoon at sea is the busiest time for the pool, but we still had a wonderful time. Maddie and I got in line for the Aquaduck right away, and we had to wait about 40 minutes to ride. This was the only time during the cruise that we had a significant wait for the Aquaduck. All the other times, we waited less than 10 minutes. It was worth it, though, as we were both excited! We had an awesome first ride. Unfortunately, our photo never showed up in our portfolio. The Aquaduck photos only show up if the facial recognition works. They didn’t let me take the waterproof camera on the ride, so I didn’t get the video that I wanted of us going down the Aquaduck (this time!). We did take a few photos before we got to that part of the line.

Then we signaled to Gabe and Cullen below to come up and get the camera.

Maddie and I had so much fun on the Aquaduck!!! It was definitely a highlight for Maddie on the trip. It can be a little cold and windy when you get off of the Aquaduck, so we headed directly to the family hot tub. Maddie enjoyed playing with the underwater camera.

Both kids were thrilled to be in the pools. We were especially glad that Cullen was so happy in the water. He wasn’t too thrilled the last time he was in a pool (which was sadly, longer ago than I care to admit!).

The kids were so happy! They also loved the Nemo splash area for kids under 7. Cullen spent a lot of time in that area throughout the cruise.

On the sea days, they had special matinee performances of the night’s entertainment. We went to the 3pm showing of Aladdin, and it was my favorite show of the cruise. Gabe’s mom came to see it with us as well, and we all enjoyed it. It was an abbreviated version of the movie with some updated references as well as a few changes.

After some more midship detective clues, we went back to get dressed for “formal night” (our family was not quite formal, but we still looked nice!). We had enough time to meeting Minnie, Pluto, and Mickey. I loved that we were getting to see the characters in so many outfits. I especially liked Minnie’s formal wear!

Cullen wanted to meet Pluto, but Maddie opted to sit out.

We all met formal Captain Mickey. Maddie wanted to get a photo of just her with Mickey since she was wearing her Minnie dress for formal night.

Of course, it was another excellent opportunity for a family shot.

After meeting Mickey, we headed to my favorite of the rotational restaurants, Animator’s Palate. On the 7-day cruise, the first night at the Animator’s Palate is the Crush show.

The only downside of the Animator’s Palate is that it’s quite distracting for the kids! The dining room is full of video screens. Before the Crush show, the various Nemo characters and other animated fish will swim by the screens that are staged like aquariums. They also do a guessing game with the fish (like in the movie where they tell Dory how to get to Sydney). The kids enjoyed the guessing game!

Cullen was particularly distracted by the video screens!

On that night, the waitstaff really bent over backwards for our picky child. She didn’t see anything on the menu that she wanted, so we asked if they could bring just plain pasta and meatballs, if they could. She was interested in the Mickey pasta, but I think it came with a cream sauce. They ended up bringing meatloaf (and no pasta). She actually tasted the meatloaf after we convinced her it was the same as the meatballs, but in a different, flatter shape. She even liked it! But when she made a face at the meatloaf, the waiters were already working on bringing her more options. They brought her the Mickey pasta and managed to get meatballs from one of the other dining rooms that night (and marinara that she could pour in just the right amount). I couldn’t believe how accommodating they were despite our protests that she’ll manage just fine. Maddie loved getting the Mickey ketchup each night. Look at all of Maddie’s food!

We were also a big fan of the fact that they cut the kids’ food for us each evening. That was awesome!

Between the entree and dessert, Crush visited with every table in the room. He visited with a group of tables at a time, and I’m pretty sure he addressed every kid in the dining room. We’ve seen Turtle Talk with Crush at Epcot, and this is very similar. Our kids weren’t too responsive to Crush, but they still loved it.

Maddie even participated in the “swimming” dance after Crush left the dining room.

After dinner, Gabe’s parents went to see some live music. We took the kids to the arcade to use the tickets that Bruno left for us. He had called us earlier in the day to see if we needed more arcade tickets, and he said we could just ask any time if we wanted more. The arcade is really small, but it was a fun diversion for the kids. They each played one of those big racing games a few times. We never did ask for more arcade tickets, since we didn’t want to spend all that much time in the arcade. We had too many other fun things to do!

We then went around the ship collecting more clues for our Lost Puppies mission. The kids were having a blast with the Midship Detective. Throughout the cruise, we saw many groups of older kids who were able to roam the ship by themselves.

We returned to the room to get the kids to bed, and Gabe’s mom came by shortly afterward so that we could go to do some things without the kids. We walked around a bit, checked out our photos and bought the digital package, looked around the shops, and took a “formal” photo in our even less formal clothes.

We ended up in the adult club area and watched the juggler perform. We didn’t get there early enough to get a good seat, so we were way in the back. It was difficult to see everything that he was doing, but we were still entertained. We did some planning for our next day before the show started.

We returned to the room to relieve Grandma and to move our clocks forward an hour. We came up with our overall plan for the next day and went to bed!

The Sunday Somethings, 16mar14 and 24mar14

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

Something that makes me happy: Our dinner out on Saturday without kids was nice! We already had a sitter for a party, so we thought it would be a nice time for a decent dinner.

Something I’m thinking: Staying up until 3am these days takes a lot longer to recover from…

Something I’m hoping: I’m hoping that we can find some time to get Maddie some new shoes this week. She’s been complaining about her tennis shoes for a couple of weeks.

Something happening around the house: The cleaners are coming tomorrow, so we have some work to do in order to get ready for them.

Something I’m reading: I finally finished the third book of The Demon Cycle. Wow, that one seemed to take forever. I started and finished both Spring Fever and Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library. They were quick and easy reads, and I enjoyed both of them (especially Lemoncello!). I started reading Hollow City, the sequel to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

Something Gabe is reading: Gabe is still reading Pandora’s Star.

Something I’m watching: Lots of NCAA basketball. We’re also caught up on Amazing Race and The Walking Dead. We’re behind on quite a few other shows, though we started watching Resurrection, which is based on the novel I read recently, The Returned. It seems fairly loosely based so far!

Something I’m playing: We had a games night last weekend, and I played Nations, Glass Road, Amun Re, and a quick round of Sour Apples to Apples.

Something I’m creating: I finished Maddie’s letter, and I started to think about the blog posts for the cruise. I really need to work on those. I haven’t had time to sort photos or anything. I need to get back to my 2013 photobook as well. I had made pretty good progress on it, but then we’ve been quite busy with the cruise and crazy weather and all.

Something tasty: I still can’t stop eating Hiding Eggs.

Something about both kiddos: At games night last weekend, they were crazy. I don’t know what was up with them. They didn’t get along with friends that they usually play with quite well. They fought with each other and their friends, and they were so loud. I’m guessing next time, one of us will have to be on constant kid duty to keep them in line. The worst part is that the kids all managed to trash every room that they were in. It wasn’t just a matter of taking out lots of toys and not putting them away, it was more along the lines of them dumping out EVERY container. And that isn’t even quite accurate. It was like they threw everything into a different corner as they did it. We were not happy with that. We’ll have to put down some ground rules next time. Both kids finally finished their birthday thank you notes, though I know a few things slipped through the cracks. Both kids filled out NCAA tournament brackets. I was amused by their choices. Maddie’s bracket is holding pretty strong, and she has Kentucky winning it all. Cullen’s bracket is totally trashed with picks like Coastal Carolina winning a couple of rounds and American making it to the championship. He had Kansas winning it all. Gabe’s bracket is awesome. Mine is doing worse than Maddie’s. It’s been fun to have a family pool this year.

Something Maddie is doing (6 years old): Maddie had a tough week at school this week, according to her teacher. We got a couple of notes from her teacher, so that was a little frustrating. She was asking for some ideas of how to help Maddie, and I think I have some good ones. I think understanding why she breaks a rule is more significant than the rule. She often has logical reasons why she “misbehaved,” and they aren’t excuses. She wants to follow the rules. For example, she got in trouble this week for not answering a question when asked. She said, “but I didn’t raise my hand, and I didn’t know the answer.” She was perceived as being stubborn. I explained to her that she has to say something when called upon, even if she didn’t raise her hand. And that she can say, “I don’t know” if she doesn’t know the answer. She hates making a mistake and hates being put on the spot. She is loving gymnastics. She was nervous at first with the bar, but she did a flip on it after some encouragement. She’s always worried that everyone else already knows what they are doing, and she doesn’t know how to do it. Maddie had a firm understanding of the seeds in the tournament, but when presented with Mercer 14, Duke 3, she immediately said, “Mercer! Nobody is worse than Duke!” I guess that maybe Daddy has had some influence here??

Something Cullen is doing (4 years old): Cullen had another fever bug and missed two days of school, and one of those was the one that Maddie was home from school due to ice. Poor guy. He is still obsessed with the iPad, but we have the kids turn in “tokens” that they earn for good behaviors. Each token is 10 minutes of time. This is working pretty well, though Cullen was banned from turning in tokens for more than a week. Cullen has been experimenting with big words lately. He has always had a strong vocabulary, but we’ve heard some surprising ones coming out of his mouth. He says words like humiliating, tragedy, antagonize, hilarious, concentrating, distracted, and fabulous. Disgusting is one of his favorite words. He’s gotten interested in reading recently, and we’ve been starting on the early phonics readers. He gets frustrated sometimes, but he’s so proud of himself when he figures it out. It’s exciting to go through this process again, though I remember it taking a little while to get some traction. I hope that he will stick with it for a while. It’s so fun to watch the process of a kid learning to read, but it definitely takes a lot of patience with an eager 4-year old.

Something I’m looking forward to: Let’s see. Over the next couple weeks, we have a festival at Maddie’s school, I have book club, Maddie has gymnastics (every week), Gabe has another fantasy baseball draft, my parents are coming for a visit (and returning from their South American cruise), and we’re walking to raise money for the National MS Society. Whew.

The Sunday Somethings, 26jan14 and 02feb14

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

Something that makes me happy: Seeing the kids play in the snow (but I’m not so excited about making up snow days!).

Something I’m thinking: I’m thinking usually this time of year isn’t too busy, but we’re crazy busy this year. Only part of it is the cruise that we’re taking in a few weeks.

Something I’m hoping: I’m hoping that we do not have any more crazy wintery weather. I’m officially ready for Spring.

Something happening around the house: The house has been in a perpetual state of disaster with all of us at home a bit more than normal. Poor Gabe is used to a nice, quiet house during the work week. He’ll be happy to get back to that!

Something I’m reading: I finished The Selection. I also finished Sand, and I didn’t like it was well as Wool. It was still entertaining enough. I’m now reading The Returned, and I want to see the show.

Something Gabe is reading: Gabe finished The Golem and the Jinni. He started and finished The Ocean at the End of the Lane. He’s now reading Sand.

Something I’m watching: I’m not *really* watching the Super Bowl, but I am rooting for certain point combinations since we played a squares game at the Super Bowl party.

Something I’m playing: We have played some new games with the kids lately. They received several board games at Christmas. We have been playing Robot Turtles, Max the Cat, Too Many Monkeys, and Gobblet Gobblers. I’m a little sad to report that all four of us are playing Candy Crush. All four of us have also been playing Mario 3D Worlds on the Wii U.

Something I’m creating: I finished Cullen’s 4th birthday letter and I’ve been working on our 2013 photobook. I really want to finish it before our cruise.

Something tasty: I’ve been using MyFitnessPal to track calories, but I gave myself a holiday today since we went to a Super Bowl party. We had all kinds of yummy stuff there.

Something about both kiddos: The kids were so excited about the snow. We got about 3 or 4 inches, which is more than we have gotten in more than 3 years. I don’t think either kid really remembers our last “big” snow. The snow was very powdery, so they didn’t get to make a snowman. They still attempted to make snowballs, and they mostly threw them at Daddy. It was hilarious to see the powder fly. They were so happy. The snow stayed around on our grass for a couple of days, so they were able to play the next day as well. Last weekend, the monthly book club meeting was a field trip to see a play. We saw Hansel and Gretel. The next day, we went to see the Pinkalicious musical. That was a lot better than we expected! Gabe and I even enjoyed it. It had some humor for the adults, and it seemed to be better quality than several of the other plays from the kid series. Since my last update, we’ve taken the kids to lunch twice in the cafe at work. The first time was on Maddie’s holiday for MLK, and the second was one of the “snow” days when our roads were clear (but roads in other parts of the county were not).

Something Maddie is doing (5.5 years old): Maddie was probably the most excited of all of us to get snow. She didn’t have to go to school on Tuesday in anticipation of the snow to start falling at about noon. Unfortunately, the snow didn’t start falling until 5pm Tuesday night. We got about 3-4 inches overnight, so of course school was closed again on Wednesday. Temperatures were quite cold, so of course that means ice on the roads in the south. Our roads were fine, so we weren’t totally stuck at home for four days at least. Maddie’s school was again closed on Thursday AND Friday. So now we have FOUR Saturday make up days. I guess that’s one disadvantage to year round school! The first make up day was supposed to be yesterday, but that day got cancelled for continued icy roads. Maddie has school for the next two Saturdays. This isn’t going to be very convenient for us, but we will figure it out. I’m disappointed that she is going to miss her last two rollerblading lessons. She has been doing so well in that class, and her coaches felt that she could move up to the advanced class. We definitely want to sign her up for that, but we may have to skip a session given the number of Saturday plans (and snow make up days) that we have. Maddie celebrated her 100th day at school. I had fun volunteering in the classroom and manned the fruit loop necklace station. The kids also had a station where they built towers from 100 cups, one where they made their afternoon snack (10 of each of the 10 items), one with a 100-day book (with 10 items on 10 pages), and one with a coloring, cutting and pasting activity. It was such a fun morning, and Maddie loves having me in the classroom. We went to lunch after where I watched her eat lunch. I love the opportunity to volunteer, and I know that we will have less and less opportunities as she gets older! Maddie has been enjoying her dance/tumbling class more, but she doesn’t seem to love the hip hop part of it. She looks so nervous and doesn’t participate in that part. She wants to sign up for a gymnastics class with Sophie, so I hope we’ll be able to make that happen after our vacation. Maddie has a project at school where she was supposed to interview a community helper. She decided she wanted to interview a teacher, so she interviewed our neighbor. She is supposed to dress up as her community helper and do a presentation tomorrow. I made her an id badge on a lanyard in a card holder so she looks more official. Otherwise, she’s just going to look like she does any other day!

Something Cullen is doing (4 years old): Cullen is now four years old! We brought cupcakes to his classroom for his birthday. He was so cute when his classmates were singing to him. They all surrounded him while they sang, and he was grinning ear to ear. I loved that. He loved having us there, and of course the cupcakes were a bit hit. That night, we went out to eat with his BFF. Melissa and Jason were able to join us as well. The kids got a little crazy in the restaurant. He requested Zoe’s Kitchen as he loves the “kid roll ups” there (basically a rolled up chicken quesadilla). We had a little cake, so Cullen had quite a few treats that day! The cake had chocolate frosting, and he got a little crazy after it. We’re going to avoid chocolate as well as we can for a while. He’s sensitive to it (maybe it’s the caffeine?). We’ve also made a direct correlation between strawberries and reddened cheeks. We have noticed this before, but it has been more than confirmed with his recent exposures. We’re not sure whether we will completely avoid them, but we are considering taking him to an allergist for their opinion. We know that there are other things in his diet that cause a rash type reaction, but we haven’t figured them all out just yet. Cullen said the other day, “when I grow up like a Mommy, I want hair like yours. No, wait, I want to be just like you! Then there will be two Kerrys.” Cullen always wants to sit next to the pianist in the cafe. He had a great time on Friday, and the pianist played some special songs for him. Cullen is still obsessed with playing Daddy’s iPad. We’re trying to limit his time. We’ve thought about coming up with some system where he can earn iPad time for good behaviors and tasks around the house. He’s been a sweet boy, and he will often tell me that he loves me. Every morning, when we leave the house, he tells Daddy, “Goodbye! I love you! I hope you have a good day at work.”

Something I’m looking forward to: We are thinking about the Lego Minibuild this Tuesday. I have a rescheduled book club meeting (since we had to cancel last Wednesday due to the weather). Maddie has another dance/tumbling class. We have a gaming weekend, so we’re trying to figure out the logistics of how we’re going to get to play games and manage the kids. Cullen has a birthday party to attend and Maddie has school on Saturday. Next week, I have a haircut, and Maddie has an early release day. She has school on that Saturday, and we are officially celebrating Cullen’s birthday with The Lego Movie with a couple of his buddies and their families. My parents are coming to visit and celebrate with us.

Something captured:

Happy 4th birthday, sweet boy!

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

It’s time for another letter to Cullen, just a tad late this time. Happy 4th birthday to my sweet, sweet boy! (more…)