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The Sunday Somethings, 10nov13

Sunday, November 10th, 2013

Something that makes me happy: It was several weeks ago now, but I love our anniversary tradition of going to a fancy restaurant that neither of us have experienced. I also love that we have a photo from each one!

Something I’m hoping: I hope that our nephew continues to heal swiftly from his awful, scary car accident. He has a long road ahead of him, and we have been thinking about him constantly in the past two weeks.

Something happening around the house: Our roof is finished! We still have to work with insurance and the roofers to get all the payments squared away. We also have a little interior part of the project left from the water leak last year.

Something I’m reading: I finished Steelheart, and I loved it! I look forward to reading more in that series whenever it gets released. I read Bad Monkey, which is one of our upcoming book club selections. I struggled to get through it, but I was stubborn and finished it. I didn’t enjoy it. Next, I read Once Upon Stilettos which is the second book in the Enchanted, Inc. series. I read the first one a while ago, and I don’t know why it took me so long to read the second one! I rather enjoyed it and look forward to reading the next one. It is a light, fluffy sort of read, and that’s exactly what I needed. Next was a quick read, Ajax Penumbra. I’m not sure I like the trend of authors putting out mini-books as spin offs from their series or other novels. I enjoyed reading it well enough, and it had a lot of fun little bits. Overall, it was just too short and sweet for me to rate it too highly. I’m now reading the first book of The Demon Cycle, The Warded Man. I’m liking that one so far!

Something Gabe is reading: Gabe finished Emperor of Thorns. He also read Steelheart, and now he’s reading The Daylight War which is the third book of The Demon Cycle.

Something I’m watching: Wow, I have been pretty slack on my Somethings… I can’t believe that I haven’t written since before our anniversary. On our anniversary, we saw Gravity, and we were both captivated. I thought it was fantastic, and it’s very likely that it will end up being our favorite theater movie of the year.

Something I’m playing: I’m not sure what else we might have played in the past several weeks, but last night for our small, rescheduled, last minute games night I played Dungeon Pets and Forbidden Island. Gabe played Kingdom Builder and Forbidden Island.

Something tasty: Chicken and waffles from Beasley’s! Yum!

Something I’m creating: I polished off the October 2012 Disney book and started the 2012 family memories photo book. I can’t wait to finish that one. I find the trip albums to be a lot easier to organize than the general photobooks (now that I’m not doing them chronologically – no way to fit everything into one book if I don’t group things into categories!). I guess by the time I finished the 2012 family book, it will be time to do the 2013 book! One day, I might catch up… I also have two more trip books to do from 2013.

Something about both kiddos: The kids both enjoyed another kid book club. October’s kid book club had a Halloween theme, and we had a fun costume party to celebrate. Activities included decorating a small pumpkin, some outdoor games, turning each other into toilet paper mummies, guess the body part (wow that sounds odd out of context – things like grapes represented eyes, cauliflower for brains, and they body parts were hidden from view to touch and guess what they were supposed to represent and later what they really were), and a Halloween themed votive jar. We also had lunch with monster mac ‘n’ cheese, mummy dogs, and sugar cookies. The kids are still doing rollerblading and soccer. The lessons seem to be dragging on forever this time. We will probably be doing different things after this session. Cullen still wants to take violin, and Maddie wants to do gymnastics with Sophie. The kids and I missed Daddy while he was out of town visiting with his family after our nephew’s accident. He was gone for four days. We tried going around the table at dinner Friday night, indicating one thing at a time that we were thankful for (and we were not allowed to repeat anything that had been said previously). It was fun to see what the kids would say. My favorite that Cullen said was, “I’m thankful that Daddy is going to let me play his iPad after dinner.” That was some nice wishful thinking! Maddie came up with some great ones like “love,” “electricity,” and “trees.” She was thankful for trees partially because of the pretty fall colors and the giant leaf pile in our front yard. But she also was thankful to trees because they give us oxygen and because we can make paper out of them and she loves to draw. Our thankful dinner was a good variation on good/bad. I took the kids to see the live Dora show last Sunday while Gabe was gone. I thought it was the worst production out of the series in terms of entertainment value for adults, but the kids enjoyed it. Fortunately, both kids agreed that they don’t really like Dora as much anymore, so I doubt we’ll be going to any more live Dora productions. I got some cute photos of the kids wearing their Christmas/Santa outfits. Also, while Daddy was out of town, we went to a birthday party with a camping theme and a fun magician. The kids were highly entertained by the magician! It was fun to see all the kids so happy. They both love Zoe’s kitchen. Maddie likes the grilled chicken and fruit and Cullen likes the chicken and cheese kid roll ups and fruit. It’s a good, newer restaurant that we’ve added to our rotation. We had a fun Halloween! Maddie was Sofia the First, and Cullen was a stormtrooper. We went trick or treating with our neighbor’s grandson and the grandson’s cousin. We had a great time sharing the fun with them, and the four kids were adorable. The kids designed their own jack-o-lanterns this year, and they turned out to be quite cute. We were running out of time to carve the pumpkins, but I’m glad that we made some time to do it after all.

Something Maddie is doing (5.5 years old): Things seem to be going pretty well for Maddie at school, and we are pleased to see that she’s showing her teachers some of the things that she can do. Apparently, she started a book making trend in her classroom. Maddie loves making little books! She’s still very interested in art projects and writing. She’s doing very well with her reading. She does some independent reading at school, but it’s hard to get her to read to herself at home. She does enjoy reading to us, so that is good! I look forward to her doing more reading while curled up on the couch with a book (or a kindle!). I know I spent countless hours reading in my childhood! We had a good meeting with Maddie’s teacher and AG coordinator, and they will be providing services within her classroom and outside of the classroom. I’m very pleased with their response so far! We had a play date with one of her classmates. He lives in a neighborhood behind ours, and we can walk through the woods to get to his house. I’m glad that Maddie is making friends! Of course, it may have backfired a little bit since Maddie got in trouble a few times the following week due to extra socializing with her new friend! Maddie had a birthday party to attend at a bounce house for one of her preschool friends. She enjoyed seeing some of her old friends! She also got a massive goose egg on her forehead after colliding with a friend. Ouch! It showed up immediately as a huge bump and bruise. It was a bit scary! The bruise is still healing and going through various stages of purple, green, and yellow. I hope it goes away soon!

Something Cullen is doing (3.5 years old): Cullen is making friends in his class, and we are so happy. He talks about playing with Austin on a daily basis. They seem to be two peas in a pod. He’s gotten into Ninjago as a result and is all about spinning around like crazy and using anything he can find as a ninja weapon (the other day, it was a toilet brush). Cullen did have a bad experience with a classmate’s birthday party. None of the kids acknowledged him or wanted to play with him, though many of the kids were not from his class. I think that made him a bit sad. Cullen and Maddie got into a fight while Gabe was out of town. I was trying to talk to our nephew on the phone, and within three minutes they were screaming at each other. They hit and pushed each other, and when I found them Cullen’s face was all bloody. He had hit his nose on the fireplace, I guess? It was scary for me as I wasn’t sure where the blood was coming from or whether a trip to the Urgent Care or ER was needed. Fortunately, he looked much better after I cleaned him up. Cullen had his first fall parade at preschool. He was such a happy boy parading around with a teacher who was dressed up as Princess Leia! We saw some big smiles out of him as he paraded around the circle. While Gabe was out of town, Cullen woke me up one night with a wet bed and wet pajamas. I got him cleaned up and replaced his pajamas and sheets with fresh ones. About 10 minutes after I put him to bed, he appeared downstairs and tried to climb into my bed. I told him that he needed to get back to his room. He said, “no, I’m scared.” I said there was no reason to be scared and that he needs to go to his bed. He replied, “but I think there’s something scary in my room!” “Cullen, there’s nothing scary in your room, I was just there, and everything is fine.” “I think there’s a long-necked animal under my covers!” “Um, you think there’s a giraffe in your bed??” I went up to check for giraffes and tuck him back into bed. When I declared the bed to be giraffe free, he said, “Maybe I didn’t actually see it. Maybe I just used my imagination.”

Something I am struggling with: Apparently, Gabe and I don’t get out much. On our anniversary, we attempted to leave the fancy restaurant without paying our bill! The waiter had to flag us down in the parking lot to let us know that we kinda needed our check. How embarrassing! We then took an “interesting” route to the movie theater, showed up to the movie quite early, and proceeded to accidentally walk into the last five minutes of gravity before realizing that the previous showing wasn’t finished yet. Maybe we need more practice going out!

Something I’m doing towards my goals: I’ve been keeping up with my photos pretty well, even with the barrage of October photos. I’ve been doing a pretty good job of deleting more than 75% of the photos that we take.

Something I’m looking forward to: Maddie is tracked out until after Thanksgiving! She’s going to art camp again for 2.5 of the weeks, and then a new camp for the partial week of Thanksgiving. The kids both have dental appointments on Wednesday, and we have an appointment to renew Maddie’s passport. We have a picnic and play date with a couple of Cullen’s classmates planned. Gabe has his trip to Cincinnati with his mom to see the Bengals play.

Something captured: The kids with me at the Dora show last weekend.

Disney with Grown ups, Day 2, part 2: Downtown Disney and Cirque du Soleil

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

More from the April 2012 Disney trip with Audrey…

We felt pretty great about all that we accomplished at Hollywood Studios and decided to get a little downtime at the hotel before Downtown Disney and our Cirque du Soleil show. We headed back to the hotel where we had a surreal experience with the approaching storm. Numerous lizards were skittering trying to find shelter. We could see a storm approaching, but we attempted to soak our feet in the hot tub before the storm hit. By this point, my injuries were starting to catch up with me. I had a weird place near my ankle that I must have strained during my fall on the arrival day. It was beginning to be a problem. The soak in the hot tub helped some. We were kicked out of the hot tub before we would have liked to have left due to the storm. We made it back to the room just before it started pouring and relaxed during the storm.

We showered and got a little dressed up to head to Downtown Disney. It had stopped raining, and we were disappointed that the ferry wasn’t running due to the weather. The bus ride to Downtown Disney didn’t take too long. We were a little confused about the options for the bus, and neither of us wanted to walk too much at this point!

Audrey has a thing for sticking her head into things.

I have a thing for being silly and encouraging others to join me in silliness.

I decided that I needed to make another trip to Once Upon a Toy to get the potato head bodies (and another round of “fill the box”).

The center display is just some of the custom Disney pieces that they have for Mr. Potato Head. They also have quite a few Star Wars themed ones.

I have to say that I did a fine job both times of fitting pieces into my $20 box. I was trying to decide whether I could fit anything into the box, and a sales person thought I probably could. He decided to take on the challenge and see if he could fit MORE into the box, and he *almost* ended up fitting less pieces into the box than I did! Fortunately, he was able to fit a few bonus pieces for me in the end. Win win for me. He said he was very impressed. I love a good challenge.

Dinner was at Wolfgang Puck Express. We weren’t all that impressed. Dessert was particularly disappointing! Not that we really needed more food…

We had fun browsing the pin store (and doing some more trading around Downtown Disney). We were a little chilly, and I ended up buying and returning a Disney sweatshirt/hoodie that didn’t fit right at all. I opted to get ponchos for Audrey and me…the ones that say, “Hey! It’s Florida and raining and a little chilly and we were totally unprepared for it! How do you like my new Disney parks poncho??” We looked ridiculous, but it was a good purchase for this evening and part of the following evening.

It was quite a walk to get to the Cirque du Soleil venue since we were on the other end of Downtown Disney for dinner. Our feet were hurting pretty badly by this point! We were tired and bordering on grumpy, but I was very excited to see Cirque du Soleil and share the experience with Audrey for the first time.

La Nouba did not disappoint! I was concerned that I would be too tired to enjoy the show, as both of us were exhausted. It was nice to rest our extremely sore feet! This Cirque show has a lot of the acrobatics that I love to see in their shows. I loved the trapeze, the guy that we called the Flying Roman God of Draperies, trampolines, and the 9 and 10 year old girls called Diablos. We learned later that they will likely go onto perform in other Cirque shows after training in this one. They were amazing!

After the show, we were ready to sleep, but we had to make our way back to the hotel. It was a bit of a hike to get to the bus stop that was in the middle of Downtown Disney. We made it, caught our bus, and crashed back in the room.

My favorite thing on this day was the first ride on Toy Story Mania, but there were so many great parts! Cirque was amazing, Rock ‘n’ Roller coaster was awesome, not having to wait in lines was awesome. It was just a great day. Audrey was impressed with my advance planning and how we never had to wait, and she loved everything.

The Sunday Somethings, 23sep12

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

Something that makes me happy: I am happy to get to sleep in this weekend, thanks to a hubby who would rather watch his afternoon football game in peace than sleep in.

Something I’m thinking: I am thinking I haven’t written a regular blog post aside from the somethings in months. I did finish Maddie’s letter and need to put together the photos and publish it.

Something I’m hoping: I hope to finish Cullen’s letter which I should have written yesterday. Then I’ll have a break from the letters until January/February…and then “only” every six months after that for both kids.

Something happening around the house: I see that it is going to be hot later this week, but for now I’m enjoying the fall temperatures!

Something I’m reading: I’m still reading the first book of The Dresden Files. I have a bunch of stuff ready from the library, so I need to get busy on those so I can turn the wifi back on…

Something Gabe is reading: Gabe finished the first book of The Dresden Files. He has several books loaded and ready on the kindle!

Something I’m watching: Gabe is watching tons of baseball and football. We also started this season’s Survivor and I am half watching glee. Oh, and I went to a play, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) [revised]. That is one wacky play. We couldn’t stop laughing! Hilarious!

Something I’m playing: We’re not playing much Mystery Manor. That game may have finally run its course for both of us. The last couple of days, we have been playing a lot of Ticket to Ride on the iPhones! Maddie and Cullen have been playing a lot of games. They both seem to love Catan Junior. In addition, just this week, they have played Candyland, Connect Four (though not by the rules), Animal Upon Animal, Kids of Carcassonne, Five Little Monkeys, Go Away Monster, and Pengaloo.

Something about both kiddos: As I said above, they are loving games. We are excited! They aren’t always getting the strategy, but they both seem to be able to follow the rules and learn the basic game play.

Something Maddie is doing (4.5 years old): Maddie is still playing the jigsaw puzzle game on Gabe’s iPad. She’s so good at it! Maddie seems to be learning more new lessons at school. She has started her graduate art project (she chose to do a paper mache bunny), and she is enjoying French class. At home, she is constantly doing art projects and brings home lots of coloring pages, “books”, and paintings from school.

Something Cullen is doing (2.5 years old): Yesterday, I told Cullen that he was an awesome little boy and that I was so glad that he is my son. His reply was, “I’m a star, because I’m a sun.” Funny! He had a few accident free days. We still have more issues at home than at school. We’re still working on getting the poop in the potty, though we had at least once success at home this week. That was better than we have been doing. I really thought that we’d have this potty thing under control by now! I guess we’ll be packing extra clothing for Cullen for our Disney trip…

Something I am struggling with: I’m having more pain with my hand this week. Good thing I have an appointment with a specialist!

Something I’m looking forward to: Book club, lunch with a friend, dinner and games with friends, and games night. Oh, and Maddie and Cullen will start their lessons this weekend – soccer for Cullen and rollerblading for Maddie. We’re probably going to the pumpkin patch on Sunday. Whew, lots of plans coming up for us for the next few months!

Something captured: This wasn’t taken this week, but I wanted to showcase the custom-designed alien meeples (designed by one of our organizers) that we provided in everyone’s welcome bag this year.

The Sunday Somethings, 12feb12

Sunday, February 12th, 2012

Something happening around the house: We had quite a turnout for games night, wow! Things were a little crazy and overwhelming, but it was a lot of fun.

Something I’m reading: I finished Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, and I look forward to discussing it at book club! I also started reading another library kindle book, A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness.

Something Gabe is reading: He finished The Fall of Hyperion which means that I think he’ll start Ready Player One soon!

Something I’m watching: Alcatraz. It’s even more confusing than LOST.

Something I’m playing: Die Bergen von Burgund, Times Up: Title Recall, Big Boggle, Call My Bluff, Taboo, Sour Apples to Apples, and No Rules Pictionary. It was a party game day for me! We’ve also been playing a lot of Zingo with the kiddos.

Something I’m creating: Not much. I finally finished Cullen’s letter. I guess I should get started on Maddie’s since her birthday is only a week and a day away.

Something about both kiddos: They have been loving Zingo, a bingo-style game with pictures and words. Maddie does really well with the concept. Cullen seems to enjoy putting the rejected chips back into the magic box. Maddie played at least a dozen times with Gabe on Monday when she was home sick from school. Cullen loses interest after a game or so, and he doesn’t quite play correctly. He does seem to want to play, but he isn’t quite getting it.

Something Maddie is doing (47 months old): Maddie has been playing a lot of Zingo, as I mentioned. She’s also very good at doing the 100-piece puzzle she received for her birthday. She calls Cullen, “Brudder,” quite a bit. “Hey, brudder, come with me!” I told her that I liked that she called him, “brudder.” She said, “Why, Mommy?” I said that I thought it was sweet. She said, “Sometimes I call him ‘brud.’” Too funny! As far as I know, she has never called him that before, but she started using it that evening and the following morning. She created valentines for her classmates. They all say “XOXO” and “FROM MADDIE” with stickers. She chose what to write from a few choices and chose “FROM MADDIE” over “LOVE, MADDIE.”

Something Cullen is doing (24 months old): As I was getting him milk for breakfast, I said, “Cullen, go sit down at the table.” He replied, “No, I not sit down at the table. I just standing here watching you pouring the milk.” At the breakfast table, he had put his robot matryoshka on the table. He said, “The robots are watching me eating breakfast.” “I want to sit next to you with Maddie’s Annabelle.” When I told him that he’s going to be starting a new class tomorrow, he said, “I see Clare. I show Clare my hurt piggie.” (He said this while lifting his toe to show his band-aid from a booboo on one of his toes). He’s only two and already showing chicks his scars. I can’t believe he’s moving to the older toddler room tomorrow. I hope that the transition goes well.

Something I am struggling with: I think I might have broken my pinky toe today. If it’s not broken, it’s bruised and swollen. Ouch!

Something I’m doing towards my goals: I’m seeing Les Miserables this week!

Something I learned: I learned that I really didn’t know that much about footbinding and Chinese culture in the 1800s. I feel like I learned a lot through reading Snow Flower and the Secret Fan.

Something I’m looking forward to: Cullen’s moving up to his new class! I am also seeing They Might Be Giants and Les Miserables. Woohoo! Maddie has her last ballet class and is attending a birthday party on Saturday. We’re going to be celebrating her birthday with a special day on Sunday, similar to what we did for Cullen on his birthday. Maddie is excited!

Something captured: I’ve been having problems getting decent photos of Maddie in her ballet class! She’s so cute in her ballerina outfit.

Others writing The Sunday Somethings: Audrey

Allure of the Seas – Day 2, part 5, evening on the ship

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

It’s time to wrap up Day 2, finally! After we dressed in our formal clothes, we went to find the Madagascar photo opportunity. This was one of the designated professional photographer character meet and greets. They will not allow you to use your own camera for these, and this photographer did a great job to take a ton of photos of Maddie interacting with King Julian.

We had a tough time narrowing it down! We especially had a rough time choosing between Maddie kissing Julian and Maddie dancing with Julian. After a vote of our friends, family, and the ship’s photographers…we went with the kissing photo. She really had a great time interacting with King Julian.

Cullen wanted absolutely nothing to do with King Julian, but somehow we managed to get our best family portrait on the trip. Of course, that’s not saying much.

We then headed to our show reservations, Ice Games in Studio B (which doubles as an Ice Skating rink). After our last experience in Studio B with the muster drill, we didn’t have high hopes of being able to see the whole show. We weren’t able to get advanced reservations. Between meeting King Julian and the ice show, we realized we left the camera in the room. Gabe and Maddie ran back to get the camera, and Cullen and I headed to wait for them outside of Studio B. I really thought we weren’t going to be able to get into the show because we were pushing it very close! Gabe ended up getting there just in the nick of time, and we entered the theater at the last minute. We were thrilled to get in without reservations.

Cullen wasn’t happy before the show started, but fortunately we didn’t have to wait very long. Once the show started, both kids were entranced. This was Cullen’s first experience with any type of show or movie, and he did wonderfully! He seemed to love it.

The ship really started rocking quite a bit during the show. I was impressed that the skaters were able to keep their balance and perform all kinds of tricks. The show had a monopoly theme with the characters moving to different spaces on the board representing venues around the ship. It felt a little like an advertisement for some of the extras on the ship, but I thought it was pretty neat, too. We loved this show, and we were really glad that we were able to see it.

Cullen just stared at the skaters for at least 20 or 30 minutes. During that time, I looked over at Maddie, and she was looking at the floor, like she was sad about something. I went to ask her what was wrong and realized she was falling asleep! We couldn’t believe with all the music and flashing lights that she was able to fall asleep, especially considering that she rarely naps when she is with us. I guess that there was something about the comfortable seats, rocking of the ship, and the darkened room. She snoozed in my lap for the rest of the show. Cullen was a little restless towards the end of the 45 minute show, but he made it through and did great.

We headed to dinner and attempted to get a formal portrait of our family, but none of them turned out too well. Others had better luck with their portraits.

My parents had several nice formal portraits.

Melissa had many fancy dresses for the cruise. They took the opportunity of formal night to get their photo with the car. I’m not actually sure if this portrait was taken on the first or second formal night.

We made it to the dining room, and tonight our tables were joined together. It was nice to have all 10 of us together and not worry about splitting into two tables.

Cullen was restless through the meal and didn’t have much of an appetite. He played a lot of Monkey Lunchbox on the iPhone with his Apptivity case. We were thankful for the iPhones once again. He was starting to get really good at the minigames on Monkey Lunchbox. By this point, he could do almost all of them by himself.

We took the kids back to the room and realized that we had accidentally left our “do not disturb” sign on the door. We were able to easily find the stateroom attendant so that he could freshen our towels and clean the bathroom. I read stories to Maddie, and Gabe put Cullen to bed in the other room.

Gabe headed out to the casino for a couple hours with his parents and Jason. He came back in time for me to head to see Chicago with my parents and Jason and Melissa. Gabe played video poker with his mom, and they started out badly but ended up even. That’s a win in our book!

I thought Chicago was great, but I was very tired as it didn’t end until about midnight. The version on the ship was an abbreviated version of the Broadway show at about an hour and a half. It was the first time that I had seen any version of Chicago, so I am not sure how it compares to the original show or movie. I thought it was great, but wow, I was tired!

Whew, we had an incredibly long day. We weren’t terribly excited about Nassau as a port, but we still had a wonderful day.

Our favorites from Day 2:
Kerry: Ice Games
Maddie (according to her): the carousel
Gabe: Ice Games and playing poker with his mom
Cullen (my best guess): either Ice Games or playing Monkey Lunchbox on the iPhone

Runaway Bunny and Goodnight Moon

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

In late October, I took Maddie to see stage productions of Runaway Bunny and Goodnight Moon performed by the Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia. We got general admission tickets at the last minute and joined Maddie’s friend Sophie.

If you have a preschooler and get a chance to see a show by the Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia, I highly recommend it! We were familiar with both of the stories, and they kept Maddie’s attention the whole time. She did get restless towards the end (along with the rest of the young audience).

The show was done with puppets with neat black light props. I didn’t get any photos of the Runaway Bunny, but I loved how they did the puppets and the transitions for each of the scenes. Goodnight Moon made good use of the black light props. The play is definitely better than the book! I thought that the giant bunny prop was especially cool (the “quiet old lady whispering ‘hush’”).

The plays were short, perfect for attention spans of the little ones. They had a question and answer session after the plays.

And the plays were followed by cookies and juice, which was probably Maddie’s favorite part.

After Maddie’s juice and cookies, she was a little nuts. I took a bunch of photos of her dancing around on the bricks on NC State’s campus.