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Maddie is 3.5!

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

It feels like as soon as I finish one letter, it’s time to write the next one. I’m glad that I am writing these as I have trouble remembering what I had for lunch much less what the kids were doing at any specific time period. Here’s the latest installment of my letters to Maddie. (more…)

Fancy Gap in July

Monday, August 8th, 2011

We planned a trip to go to Fancy Gap with three families, though one wasn’t able to make it at the last minute due to illness. Our weekend was different than planned, but we still had a wonderful time (as always) at “the mountain house.”

On Saturday, we had a picnic lunch at Cumberland Knob. Keira wanted to climb trees before lunch.

Cullen was a happy little boy and wanted to walk everywhere.

We had a nice private spot complete with picnic table and shade for our lunch.

I didn’t bring the SLR to the mountains this weekend (for the first time). Of course, I still had to take photos…

We brought the portable booster so that Cullen would be restrained during lunch. It works quite well for picnics.

After our lunch, we went on a “hike.” The kids are ready for the stroll!

Cullen hiked the entire way all by himself. I had to hold his hands and help him over some logs and rocks and slight inclines, but he walked the entire way. He was so excited and proud of himself. I’ve never seen such an adorable hiker!

The kids had a great time together! I just love to see them all holding hands. Cullen was very big on holding hands while at the park. He held the girls hands when we reached the resting spot midway during the hike and then wanted to hold both my hand and Shannon’s on the trail.

The girls and their Daddies.

Our group!

Keira wearing her Mommy’s hat.

At the mountain house, class was in session. Maddie is sitting on a “mat” (book) as well. Keira was reading stories to the dolls and Maddie.

Of course, we had a dance party on the porch. Cullen wanted to hear Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face,” Keira wanted to hear Justin Bieber’s “Baby” (“bay-buh”), and Maddie wanted to hear Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” (“the mountain house song”). We listened to many of the songs over and over.

We may have encouraged a little bit of video game playing to get a break from the high energy kiddos.

We went to the neighborhood park on Sunday before lunch where the kids played on the play structure and did some swinging. We also played a little horseshoes and shuffleboard.

Cullen loves swinging!

What a great weekend with great friends!

The Sunday Somethings, 31jul11

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

Something that makes me happy: Weekends with our friends in Fancy Gap.

Something I’m thinking: I’m thinking about the wonderful time we had with our friends. The kids had fun together, we had a lovely picnic lunch and hike at Cumberland Knob, spent the evenings on the porch, played a little cards, read some of our books, and played at the park.

Something happening around the house: Our a/c units have been replaced, and our house is cool and comfortable again. We are expecting lowered energy bills. Allegedly our summertime electricity bill should be reduced by 30 or 40%. The wintertime gas bill is supposed to be cut in half. Time will tell on those. Regardless, it’s going to take a while to recoup the cost of the units.

Something I’m reading: A Clash of Kings. Still.

Something Gabe is reading: A Dance with Dragons. Still.

Something I’m watching: Not much. We cancelled our Netflix account for now. We haven’t been taking advantage of it for a while.

Something I’m playing: Gabe and I both had the opportunity to play Thunderstone this week. It seemed a little random, but it was fun. I wouldn’t mind having it and trying the expansions. We also taught Euchre to our friends while visiting their mountain house this weekend.

Something tasty: Scott’s veggie chili.

Something Maddie is doing (41 months old): Maddie picked up a habit of ending sentences with “right?” and saying “yeah, right” in response to other people’s statements. I’m not sure where she picked up this habit, but we noticed it for the first time this weekend. I hope that she’s not getting sick. Her tummy hurt a little today, and she had some extremely cranky moments a few times this weekend. I think a lot of it was being overtired. She got to bed late on Friday, woke up at her normal time on Saturday, and then didn’t take a nap on Saturday. I know she was tired! Maddie had a new lesson called “picture story” this week. She did it twice, and it’s been my favorite take home work so far! I posted her first story a few days ago. I probably will post another one soon!

Something Cullen is doing (18 months old): Cullen loves music! He has added several songs to the rotation on our daily commute. This week, his favorite song is “Poker Face.” He is an adorable little dancer, too. He constantly wants me to play various Winnie the Pooh songs as well as “Poker Face” and “Howlin’ for You.” One of his teachers said that Cullen was pushing kids out of his way and saying, “excuse me! excuse me!” when Daddy was picking him up from school on Friday. Today, he had a dirty diaper. I asked him, “Cullen, did you poop?” He looked at me and said, “Yeah. I did poop.” He’s constantly surprising us with his communication! Cullen had his 18-month appointment. He was 24.5 pounds (31st percentile) and 34.75 inches long (97th percentile!). His head circumference was 19 inches (64th percentile). He’s a tall, skinny boy! He had some restless nights this week, but we didn’t have to soothe him on at least 3 or 4 of the nights this week. He woke up a bunch on Friday night and cried for a few seconds but went back to sleep each time. He cried enough to wake us up each time, of course. We think that it’s due to teething. We discovered that two of his front, bottom teeth have finally poked through the gum. We had been concerned about his front teeth (and still are concerned about the top ones) since his teeth have been coming in in a weird order. Three of the four molars have at least started to poke through the gums. I suspect he’ll get that 4th molar pretty soon. Poor little guy is a miserable teether. I’m glad that a lot of teeth are coming in all at once. His grand total of teeth that have at least partially poked through the gum seems to be 9. This was a big week for Cullen, it seems. He completed his first hike all on his own (previously, he’s done the same hike in the Ergo carrier). I’d guess that the “hike” was only about half a mile total (maybe not even that much). He had to climb over rocks and logs. He is a determined little boy! He rarely wants to be carried. He often will say, “walk!” or “I want to walk” when we’re carrying him. He’s often on the go these days. Oh, and I think we’ll be staying away from restaurants for a little while. Cullen pretty much sealed the deal with his outbursts on Friday evening. It’s just not worth the hassle right now! Oh, and I don’t think I’ve mentioned this one. We’ve given both kids a few showers lately. Partly out of convenience and partly to get them used to it as we won’t have a bathtub on the cruise. The first time I gave Cullen a shower, I said, “Tut tut, it looks like rain!” (from the original Winnie the Pooh). Now every time Cullen gets in the shower, he says, “Tut tut looks rain.” It’s adorable.

Something I’m looking forward to: We don’t have too many plans on the calendar this week. I’m looking forward to Maddie’s first exposure to t-ball with a sampler class that starts on Saturday.

Something random: I’m considering not bringing the SLR on our cruise later this year…though after glancing through the photos from the weekend (pocket camera only), I’m not sure that’s a good idea.

Something captured: We had a picnic lunch at Cumberland Knob on Saturday, and I thought the trees above us looked pretty. I snapped this photo, but I seriously don’t remember it looking like this when I previewed it. Weird. It is a little like photographing a ghost. Maybe I’ve discovered some kind of wormhole in the Blue Ridge Mountains?

Others writing The Sunday Somethings: Audrey

Memorial Day Weekend

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

I’m way behind on my photos these days. I just recently sorted through the photos from the trip to the mountains during Memorial Day weekend. We had another wonderful weekend with our friends.

We checked out their new hammock and rocking chairs (they always have a few new things each visit).

We had a picnic on Sunday at the New River. We had a perfect day for a picnic. What a great idea! We lathered the kids in sunscreen and put on their hats.

The girls enjoyed their lunch on the picnic basket.

We were glad that we brought Cullen’s portable high chair. He was content for a while to eat his lunch and watch everyone.

Keira and I went down to the river to watch Ben and Scott embark on their kayaking adventures.

Scott and Ben going back out in the kayak.

The girls had fun playing together, as usual. Shannon took this cute one of them playing in the play structure tunnel.

We made several attempts to take a photo of all the kids together. This was the best that we could do.

After our excursion, Maddie and I went to see the alpacas while Cullen went back to the house for his nap.

The next morning, we spent some time at the neighborhood park.

Cullen enjoyed the swings and the see-saw.

We had another wonderful weekend at our friends’ mountain house! We look forward to next time (in a few weeks!).

Future Wedding Slideshow?

Monday, June 6th, 2011

We spent Memorial Day weekend in the mountains as the first stop on our big road trip. Keira adores Cullen, as you can clearly see from these photos. I think Cullen just might be a bit fond of her as well. Shannon and I joked that we were creating their future wedding day slideshow.

They are pretty sweet together!

The Sunday Somethings, 05jun11

Sunday, June 5th, 2011

Something that makes me happy: We had a few meltdowns during the trip, but overall it was nice to spend so much time with the kids. We did a lot of fun stuff as a family in the past 9 days!

Something I’m thinking: I’m thinking I wish I had one more day to relax before going back to work. We went to the mountains with friends and then to Cincinnati and Lexington to visit family and museums.

Something I’m hoping: I’m hoping I’ll have enough energy to start my next book tonight, but I doubt that’s going to happen. I also hope for a better night of sleep than the last few nights.

Something happening around the house: We just returned from a 9 day vacation to a clean house! It was a nice surprise to remember that the cleaners came the morning of the day that we left.

Something I’m reading: I finished Life from Scratch. I have been reading this one off and on on my iPhone since getting it as a free kindle book. I enjoyed it well enough, but I think I have a hard time taking the free books seriously. A free book on the kindle just doesn’t feel like a real book to me. I know it’s mostly psychological. I also finished Kushiel’s Justice, and I’m very happy to be reading the Kushiel series again. I hope I can keep the momentum up for the next 4 books in the series (though the last 3 are a new trilogy).

Something I’m watching: Not much aside from episodes of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

Something I’m playing: We played Scene It at Gabe’s parents’ house.

Something tasty: My in-laws have a shop in Lexington, Kentucky called ShambroLa. They just recently started serving bubble tea. I had never heard of bubble tea before they started talking about it to us months ago. When I looked it up, it didn’t sound like anything I would like! I was especially disgusted by the tapioca pearls. It turns out that I couldn’t be more wrong. My in-laws make it with popping bobas (little balls of juice). They do offer the tapioca to those who want it (yuck). While we were in Lexington, we were able to sample 7 different flavors: pineapple, mango, blueberry, raspberry, banana, honey dew, and peach. It’s hard to say which one was my favorite. I thought they were all very good. I would probably pick mango, pineapple, or peach. All of the flavors have cute names. I’ll have to post more about the bubble tea later, including a video (if i can manage to splice together the clips we took this week). I also need to mention here that we went to a restaurant in Cincinnati that served a page full of special mac ‘n’ cheeses. I had one that had spinach and sundried tomatoes. It was the tastiest mac ‘n’ cheese I have ever had! I may just have to go back to Cincinnati just for the mac ‘n’ cheese!!!

Something Maddie is doing (39 months old): This was the first trip where we were able to play some road games with Maddie. We played “I spy…” on the way to Cincinnati. She did pretty well guessing (though sometimes needed extra hints). She also did alright with coming up with things to spy, though she got a bit repetitive. I can’t tell you how many times she spied something green and it was grass. Sometimes she would switch it up, and the thing that she was spying would be the trees. In her defense, there wasn’t much to spy on this particular stretch. We went many miles without seeing anything but the road, grass, and trees. While we were in the mountains (for Memorial Day weekend, as the first stop in our big roadtrip), she and Keira played hide and seek. Only they hid in plain sight, mostly, but they are starting to get the concepts. The funniest thing to me is that they call it “hide and sneak.” One will say something like “I’ll hide, and you sneak.” This cracks me up every time. I don’t know if I will ever call it “hide and seek” again. Maddie is very into the Minnie doll that the Easter Bunny brought her. Minnie and Mickey were must haves on this trip. It was hard to tell if we were in Cincinnati or Disney World. Maddie had her biggest meltdown to date this afternoon on the way back from Kentucky. I think that traveling over 1000 miles (1300 once we got back!) and many days off schedule/routine had taken its toll on her. She wanted one of us to pick her up when we left the fast food restaurant to get back into the car. She acted like her feet were stuck in cement and she couldn’t walk. This would be funny if we weren’t so exhausted, and she wasn’t about to throw a giant tantrum! Gabe had his hands full with Cullen, and I had my hands full with the diaper bag, cups, and the junk food we purchased from the combo restaurant/gas station. We told her that she was a big girl and needed to walk and hold one of our hands when going out into the parking lot. The end result was her screaming at the top of her lungs and me nearly dragging her by the arm/shoulder all the while earning me “worst parent ever” in the eyes of onlookers (at least those without children, hopefully those with children understood!). Whew, she really can scream. I dropped everything, picked her up, and put her in the car. She was screaming the whole time and continued to scream as we pulled over to the gas pump. I’m sure we were quite the spectacle. She calmed down before we left the station, so thankfully her fit was short lived. She fell asleep about 5 minutes after we got onto the highway. We were obviously dealing with an overtired preschooler. She almost never naps, even in the car. The only times we’ve seen her nap in the car recently has been after 4pm when she’s very, very tired. This time it was only about 1pm, so you know she must have been exhausted.

Something Cullen is doing (16 months old): I wrote down a lot of the new words that I heard from Cullen this week. Some of them seemed brand new to me, and others I recognized as words that I don’t think I had recorded previously (and in some cases, I finally figured out what it was that he has been saying). The words and phrases that I recorded were: blocks, bird, nose, neigh, baa, moo, meow, yum, yummy, tweet tweet, snack cup, stinky, seat, rock (as in rocking in a chair), truck, I’m stinky, pancake, slide, swing, blanket, I wanna do it, steps, yellow, shaker, shake shake, bench, stop, I want milk, chips, I want chips, sleep, waddle waddle waddle, walk, straw, cracker, shirt, go away (?? he says this a lot with birds??), ribbit, I see (when he looks at the Brown Bear book since it says “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, what do you see? I see….”), balloon, backpack, and trash. Whew. He also sang a little bit of Keira’s song from Sleeping Beauty. It sounded like “I know…..I walk” while waving his hands around in the air. He did the motions to Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star (from school). Cullen is very friendly to almost everyone he meets. He’s rarely scared of people, and he often goes up to strangers and says “Hi!!” quite enthusiastically. It’s cute to me, though I’m sure it’s not cute to everyone. It seems to put a smile on most people’s faces. Cullen is very attached to the Mickey stuffed doll that he got from the Easter Bunny. He’s quite territorial about Mickey. Even if he’s not playing with Mickey, he does not like when other people get near his special friend. This is the first time we’ve noticed him forming an attachment like that. It’s been going on for a few weeks, at least. He met his Grandpa Robin, Aunt Jessica, and Cousin Ava for the first time while we were in Cincinnati (and charmed them as well). We had some cute moments at Grandma and Grandpa’s where he pretended to go “night night” and pretended that Maddie, Grandma, and I were going night night. He said, “night night” and patted us on the backs. He had some extremely rotten nights during our trip. Having all of us in one room at night is certainly not ideal with two small kids. A few of the nights, they kept waking each other up. That was not fun!

Something I am struggling with: We planned our trip to visit with Gabe’s family and to see our nephew graduate from high school. Not only did we not see our nephew graduate (because he didn’t), our nephew didn’t even bother to see us while we were in town. We were very bummed about this, and hope that he is OK.

Something I’m doing towards my goals: My photography class started (without me) last week, and I’ll be going to my first class this week. Yay!

Something I learned: I learned I like bubble tea (with popping bobas!).

Something I’m looking forward to: It’s a busy week, unfortunately. I’m sure the kids will have fun with Maddie’s ballet sampler class and both kids’ swimming lessons. All of those start this week. My photography class is Wednesday. I hope that we can get some time to relax and catch our breath next weekend.

Something random: We were asked at least half a dozen times during the trip whether Cullen and Maddie were twins.

Something captured: Heidi and Debbie showing off the bubble tea. Yum!

Others writing The Sunday Somethings: Audrey

The Sunday Somethings, 10oct10

Sunday, October 10th, 2010

Something that makes me happy: It makes me happy to watch my kids having fun.

Something I’m thinking: I’m thinking it’s about time for bed. I’m so tired, but what else is new?

Something happening around the house: The cleaners came on Friday morning, and then we went out of town for the weekend. It was nice to come home to a clean house!

Something I’m reading: I finished The Unseen and can’t decide what I want to read next.

Something I’m watching: Gabe and I went to see The Social Network which we thought was interesting. I was definitely curious about how much of the movie was true.

Something I’m playing: Angry Birds. I’m still playing Carcassonne as well, though I missed some of my turns this week. Ooh, we also played a little Spades last night in the mountains. It had been a while since I have played Spades!

Something tasty: We had tasty chili in the mountains.

Something Maddie is doing (31 months old): She’s been asking me to do the whole bedtime routine more and more. She loves for me to lay down with her and wants me to sing to her. This weekend, we didn’t even attempt naps on Saturday and Sunday since we were too busy having fun in the mountains. She was a bit whiny in the evenings, so I think she still needs to take that afternoon nap most days!

Something Cullen is doing (37 weeks old): It’s been a big week for Cullen!!! I took him back to the doctor on Monday since he continued to have rough nights and had developed new cold symptoms. Fortunately, he did not have another ear infection. He did have a very bad cold that still has a lingering cough. We’ve had a rough time getting him healthy! He starts his regular, maintenance dose of antibiotic tomorrow. We would have started it this weekend, but since we were out of town and nowhere near hospitals, we decided to wait until we got back. We didn’t want him to have a strange reaction and not be near a doctor! This week, I wondered whether Cullen had cruised at all (thinking he hasn’t been given too many opportunities) and whether he is capable of getting himself into a sitting position. Whether or not he did these things before this week, he did them both this week! He pulled himself to a standing position at his piano and cruised around to the opposite side. As for the sitting, I think this might be a new skill as well because he’s doing it frequently. He even sat up in the pack-n-play this weekend when he woke in the middle of the night. If it isn’t a brand new skill, it is one that we can definitely say he has now mastered. This weekend, he added clapping to his list of talents. It’s so cute! Once this weekend, he pulled himself up to a standing position. When we said, “yay!!!!” he started clapping (and fell after a few seconds of that). I love the clapping!!! As if this wasn’t enough, he cut his first tooth this morning. I guess he did have a good reason for being extra fussy this morning. Oh! One more thing! He got his first pair of shoes this week – a soft pair of Robeez Mini Shoez. We figured they will help keep his socks on for the fall and winter. It’s a bonus that they are quite cute! EDIT: I forgot to mention…he also had his first taste of (dairy free) pancake this weekend!

Something I learned: I learned a few things about the history of Facebook.

Something I’m looking forward to: We’re going to the museum with friends next weekend. I’m thinking we should go to a pumpkin patch soon and carve some pumpkins! We might do that this week as well.

Something captured: The kiddos at school just before heading to the mountains on Friday.

Others writing The Sunday Somethings: Audrey

Two and a half!

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

I wrote this on Maddie’s half birthday (August 20th), but I couldn’t get my photos organized until now. It’s been a crazy week. I finally sorted through the photos, and it’s time for another letter to Maddie! (more…)

Dancing in the Mountains

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

I put this together shortly after our July 4th trip to the mountains. The girls love dancing to Viva la Vida by Coldplay, so I pieced together some of their dances. I initially uploaded the HD version to YouTube, but wow, that takes forever to download. Lesson learned. I uploaded a much smaller version, so it shouldn’t be a pain to view. You may see some ad information at the bottom (blocking my titles and captions), but you should be able to close it. I was instantly flagged with copyright material and banned in Germany.

My favorite part of the video starts around the 2 minute mark. Love it. Click on the original post to see the embedded video.


Half a year, already?

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

Wow. I thought time passed quickly with Maddie, but it’s just crazy now with the two kids. I can’t believe that my sweet baby boy is already 6 months old. He’ll be in college before I can blink. This must mean that it’s time for another letter to Cullen. (more…)