Thursday, October 23, 2014

Beach Babies

I have deemed 2014 the year of travel for the Perkins family.  We have taken more trips (solo and as a family) this year than any other year since Dave and I were married.  Still a couple more after Florida, but you'll just have to wait to hear about those!

I won the trip to St. Pete's Beach, Florida from the Unstoppable Mom contest on the Live with Kelly & Michael Show back in March.  I chose to take the trip in September in order to space out our family trips and miss the big crowds since school was back in session.  I only had a couple of weeks between Montana and Florida, and as the Florida trip date approached, I wasn't very excited about it.  The thought of packing everything and doing another long road trip was wearing me out.  But, plans had been made, so I packed.

There was no way Dave and I were taking our 6 toddlers to the beach alone.  His mom rode with us in the van and my parents flew to Tampa and met us there.  We all had separate rooms at the hotel which was much nicer than in NYC when we were crammed in the same space.  We made the drive in just under 16 hours.  Like Colorado, we did it all in one day.  Unlike Colorado, the kids were about as well behaved as could be expected.  The big boys were fully entertained by trucks driving by and the rest were entertained with music and snacks and books.  They are only 2, so of course there was whining, but a tolerable amount.  The drive home was equivalent to the drive there- a success in my book.

We stayed at the Trade Winds Resort in St. Pete's Beach, FL.  They were very accommodating and I highly recommend it for a family vacation.  Lots to do for all ages!  Being there at the end of September was great.  It wasn't crowded at all- we often had the pool to ourselves and plenty of room on the beach and no wait at restaurants.  It did rain almost everyday, but only during nap times or the evening, so it never spoiled our plans.

Everyday we did the same thing, but it was perfect!  We spent the first part of the morning on the beach then switched to the kiddie pool area.  We either had a picnic lunch by the pool or ate in the room and put kids to nap.  The kids slept great the whole week.  I had intentions of doing activities on my own during naps, but I chose to just relax instead.  After naps we either went back to the pool or explored the grounds.  There was mini golf, a walking path, pedal boats, and lots of space for chase and hide and seek.  The resort had a designated dog play and walk area; it was marked by painted paw prints that looked like Blue's Clues.  So, of course we had to play "Blue's Clues" one day by finding all of the "clues" on the path.  The kids loved it!

We generally just got food to go and ate in the room, but one night Dave and I had a dinner date, and another night we took the kids to their first real restaurant meal!  With 5 adults it wasn't difficult to keep everyone under control, and the kids really did just fine.  Dave and I enjoyed our couple of hours away too.

It came as no surprise that everyone loved the pool area.  By the end of the week, Caroline and Andrew were jumping to us in the water and floating around on their own (wearing Puddle Jumpers).  The beach went fairly well.  Caroline loved everything about it- even the 2 story tall inflatable slide!  She begged to get on the slide and we eventually gave in and I held her the whole time.  Ben loved being buried in the sand- even more than Caroline!  Andrew liked the lounge chairs, but we did get him in the water the last day.  Allison and Levi varied upon the day, but we did get them in the water before the trip was over.  They all loved hunting for seashells and digging in the sand and destroying Daddy's sandcastles.  Another big hit was the balcony.  They spent lots of time watching for animals (i.e. seagulls, fish, and swans in the pond below our room).

The one thing that was NOT a hit was the elevator.  The first time they walked on just fine, looked a little nervous when the door closed, and then completely freaked out when it started moving!  I'm talking total meltdowns x 5.  Leah was fine as she's used to elevators.  A couple of days in everyone had adjusted but Andrew.  He would cry the entire time up until the last day and a half.  He graduated to quietly whimpering.

All in all we had a great trip!!  Definitely plan to do another beach trip in the future- but we'll pick a closer beach :)

Saturday, September 13, 2014

A Montana Wedding... Why Not?

I was fortunate enough to spend Labor Day weekend in Glacier National Park.  Why??  Because my little brother got married!!  In Montana!  And I traveled alone!

Great wedding.  Great trip.  Now let me tell you all about it...

Stephen proposed to Sarah last spring.  They debated on where to have their wedding, but in the end they decided to go destination style.  They picked Glacier National Park.  (Can I just say AMAZING scenery and pictures?!)

Leading up to the wedding Sarah was sweet enough to invite me along for dress shopping.  We had a fun girls day as she went through a few dresses (she looked stunning in everything which was kind of annoying in a good way) before finding the perfect dress for an outdoor Montana ceremony.  They wanted everything simple, so there wasn't any big hoopla before the wedding weekend.

I was the last to arrive (my trip was the shortest for obvious reasons) in Kalispell, but was pleasantly surprised by the small town and our accommodations.  The Bad Rock Bed and Breakfast was a beautiful property and the hospitality couldn't be beat!  Including the bride and groom, there were 9 of us there, so this was to be a small, intimate wedding.  And, honestly, I loved that it was.

The first night there we played Cards Against Humanity.  I had never heard of it before, but it was fun!  And very interesting.  And not for children or the easily offended.  Consider yourself warned.  Needless to say, it had been way too long since I had a game night!

The first full day we all went for a run (what else would you expect from a traveling group of runners?) and how refreshing it was to have beautiful scenery and temps in the 50s!  After we all cleaned up Sarah had her hair and make up trial (again, stunning), quick lunch, then into the park to check out the wedding site and do a short hike.  That night we had a rehearsal dinner without the rehearsal, so just dinner.  We were all impressed by the Kalispell food scene!

Avalanche Lake

The family before the dinner

What better way to end the day than with a dance party!!!  We cranked up the old school jams, busted out the drill team stand dances (that's right, I remember them), and had a grand ole time.  Then Stephen learned that the bride and groom aren't supposed to see each other the day of their wedding and he wasn't thrilled that we were enforcing that rule.  Minus the hour they had to spend getting their marriage license... because, you know, that's kinda important.

The morning of the big day Sarah surprised us girls with matching Lululemon running shorts!  For you non-runners, they're awesome, ridiculously priced running shorts.  And I'm a little too excited to have my own pair now!  Before we tested them out running, we had to do a little modeling...


Be the bear.

Antlers anyone?

Catalog worthy right?!

After all the girls were mostly prepped for the ceremony, we grabbed a quick lunch at a yummy local cafe.  (We happened to have met the owner on our hike the day before and the place lived up to everything he sold us on).  Then we were off!  Friend/wife of best man, my parents, and I grabbed up all the decor and headed to the park to set the whole scene up and crossed our fingers Sarah loved it as much as we did.  Sarah and maid of honor picked up the cake, bouquets, and met the photographer at the B&B for a few pre-ceremony pics.  When Stephen and best man showed up at the site, the rest of us headed back to get our fancy garb on.  Then it was go time!

Cake Table.  The topper says "The Smilfs"  Smilf is my brother's nickname.

We arrived back at the ceremony site, double checked everything was perfect, then the ceremony happened.  Short, sweet, intimate, teary-eyed, beautiful, can't believe my little brother's getting married.. .. all wrapped into one.  From the best man singing John Legend to the pastor saying the wrong name (she thought Smilf was the real name) to the delicious deal (literal and figurative) of a cake to the weather... it really was perfect.  The photographer loved our guest commentary throughout her post ceremony session and the pictures will be AMAZING!!!!  After pictures, cake, champagne, and a couple of dances, we were off to dinner.  A  couple celebrating their anniversary bought our table a bottle of bubbly- how nice is that?!  We all said our toasts and congratulations (ok, I wrote a rhymey poem) and enjoyed yet another delicious Montana meal.  The newlyweds had a separate cottage to stay in that night, which us girls were able to "decorate" before they got there as a wedding night surprise :)

It's almost time...

The vows

First Dance

Toast to the newlyweds

Does it get any prettier?

So cute!  

The next morning we all met for one last breakfast at the B&B then went our separate ways home.  Well, the newlyweds continued on to their honeymoon.  After a couple of long flights I was back to reality.  Dave and his mom handled the kids (with a little help from the usual volunteers) while I was gone and they did a great job!  I didn't get to see the kids until the next morning and nothing brightened my day more than Leah's HUGE smile when I got her out of bed.

I am so thankful I was able to attend this wedding!  It was truly wonderful.  And now I have a truly wonderful sister-in-law and step-nephew- yea!!

Me, Groom, and Bride

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Summer Growth

Along with summer outings, the kids have been growing and learning like crazy this season!  They are truly little people now with their own personalities.  I love watching them learn new things, even if they can drive me batty some days.  Oh those twos.  

A couple weeks ago Ben's eye was swollen shut.  No idea why and it cleared up in a couple of days.  He looked like the weird guy from The Goonies.  

Allison had a weight check and at 19 lbs she's still not on the growth chart, but she's close!  The doctor predicted that she'd be in the clear at the 30 month well check if she stays on track.  

Proof she's grown in 2 years time and still sweet with Maggie  :)

Andrew got credit for the first 2 word phrase: "more balls".  

We are also noticing some imagination forming- especially when it comes to boys and their car/truck/train sound effects and girls and their dolls.  And, no, we in no way push certain toys to certain genders.  That's what they choose.

finger painting

Leah's first finger paint!

Leah's current walker record is twice around the kitchen island!  She's getting more strength, head control, and weight bearing in her arms and legs all of the time.  I've been giving her more table foods to push her range of textures and tastes rather than quantity.  She's done surprisingly well with staying calm and keeping it down.  We've also been pipetting water through a straw and she's handled that with no issue.  

We noticed while watching Wheel of Fortune that every time a letter was called Leah would smile and coo.  We've tested the theory with different shows and toys and it's true.  Leah loves letters.

You know the nursery rhyme about the little girl with the curl and when she was good she was very very good and when she was bad she was horrid?  Well, that about sums up Caroline these days.  She's in super testing limits mode.  But she can also be super sweet and helpful.  

They are all doing their "chores" (picking up toys, throwing away trash, and putting dirty clothes in the hamper) so much easier these days.  They are really noticing and copying what we do which can be fun and scary at the same time.  

Allison is still keeping everyone and everything in line and from time to time you might see her "working" the front desk of the children's area at church as special treatment for crying and pouting when we drop her off.  She just acts like she belongs up there with her crayon and paper.

And just for fun here's a little rhymey poem I wrote about a recent bath time experience.  It really happened.  And Dave did help with the last two lines:

1, 2, 3 little boys in the tub
having such fun splish splash rub a dub
just then I'm handed something absurd
Yep, that's right, a tiny little turd.
Then they start coming 1, 2, 10
A whole pile of turds, thanks a lot Big Ben.
And what could be grosser than Ben's derriere? 
All 3 boys throwing turds in the air.

The culprit.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

More Summer Outings

School has started here in Texas which means summer is winding down.  Of course it's still super mega hot, so it still feels like summer to me!  And I am 100% so glad I am not getting my little people ready for school yet!

Our summertime was full of trips to the pool and splash pad.  I am always amazed that people volunteer their time to help me on these outings, but we do have a good time!  What also amazes me is how differently the kids react to the water activities.  Levi will only sit on the edge of the pool and kick his feet (he's usually trying to get into the lifeguard supply closet) but he LOVES the splash pad.  Andrew and Caroline love it all.  Ben likes being splashed in the pool, but he and Allison are timid at the splash pad.  Leah loves being in the water and she likes it when I run with her through the misty splash pad stuff, but nothing too harsh.  And don't try to get any of them in cold water!  Can't blame them for that one though.

We ventured out to the Barnes & Noble children's area to read and play with their train table, but it turned out to be Batman Day (who knew?!).  Allison was scared of the employees dressed as Batman characters and Ben chased a boy in a red shirt around the store, besides that it wasn't bad for their first time in a store (Yes, it was their first time in a store- not an easy feat).  They even used their walking rope through the store and didn't wander off! 

Art Class

Some of us got on the cooking show!
Cooking Class

Houston Mom's Blog put on a playdate at the Young Leaders Campus in Tomball where they participated in a gym class, art class, and "cooking" class (i.e. dumping snacks in a ziploc bag).  Definitely a different experience, but the kids had fun and they did great using their walking rope for transitions and in parking lots.  Andrew may or may not have stolen an extra box or two of raisins in the cooking class.  Levi did not like stickers on his artwork and he wasn't able to complete the gym activity as he was too distracted by the large mirrors and practicing his latest poses.  Pretty sure the mini marshmallows were everyone's favorite part of the day!  After the class we found a local park for a quick picnic lunch.  They loved walking through the leaves and the train that passed by!

In between all of our local outings, we headed to Austin for a weekend visit with Dave's parents.  The 3 hour drive felt like nothing after Colorado!  We spent most of the time outside- in the pool, chalking up the patio, and exploring the big backyard.  Dave and I even got to go out for dinner one night :)  The kids had a great time and handled everything really well.  Anytime we're driving now, the big boys point out every. single. truck. no matter the size.  And if we see a train it's a chorus of "choo choo!" from all 3 rows.  Laurie Berkner cds are also a saving grace on our road trips.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Sing Along

In this house we love music and dancing, especially silly dancing.  The kind of silly dancing when you act out the lyrics and be goofy like no one's watching.  And by we I mean the kids and I.  Dave only loves 90s alternative rock and Dave does not dance.  Period.

So, what's the point of this post?  Put up YouTube videos of us goofy dancing to awesome music?  Riiiight.  Like I want that on the internet.

I really just wanted to chronicle all of our most favorite toddler songs.  I sing most of these on a daily basis either around the house, while eating snacks, or on our walks.  The kids don't really sing along yet, but they know all the motions.  The classic ones and the ones I've choreographed (I was on the drill team in high school.  So I know what I'm doing.)

The Classics

  • Itsy Bitsy Spider
  • Wheels on the Bus
  • If You're Happy and You Know It
  • 5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed
  • Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes
  • 5 Monkeys Teasing the Alligator
  • Old McDonald Had a Farm
  • I'm Bringing Home a Baby Bumblebee
Laurie Berkner (the modern genius of toddler music as far as I'm concerned)
  • Buzz Buzz
  • Whatdya Think of That? (we call it The Dinosaur Song)
  • I'm Gonna Catch You
  • Pig on Your Head
  • These are My Glasses
  • Victor Vito
Raffi (my 2nd favorite genius of toddler music)
  • Willaby Wallaby (again, I use the Pack's names.  They love it.)
  • Peanut Butter Sandwich (I use Benjamin instead of David M.)
  • Brush Your Teeth
  • Aikendrum
Veggie Tales
  • Where is My Hairbrush?
  • Achoo Moo Moo
  • God Made You Special (This is a book.  I rap it.)

There you have it!  The Perkins Pack recommended song list for a 2 year old.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Toddler Tidbits

Yet another dump of the latest tidbits....Enjoy!

  • Leah has been a little rockstar lately!  She has made slow, but steady progress in all areas.  We are so proud of all of her hard work!  And her hair is finally growing in and it. is. CURLY.
  • Allison is still my little Smidge and needs to get back on her growth curve, but she is moving in the right direction now.  She also tested out of ECI services!  That means she's not far enough delayed in any area to qualify for services.
  • They are all enamored with Signing Time and have started using signs to communicate, as well as a few new words! Amazing how quickly they picked it up.
  • Andrew and Levi have put 2 word phrases together: "more balls" and "uh oh ball" and "bye bye Dada"
  • Not progress, but fits in with the medical stuff... Ben had his first sick visit to the pediatrician- infected bug bite.  It was pretty nasty and thankfully chocolate milk hid the taste of the medicine.  
  • We have hit the stage of separation anxiety.  Some more than others, and only when I leave or drop them off at church.

  • Swim days are back again!  We've been hitting up the neighborhood pool almost every week with various volunteers who help me keep an eye on everyone.  Caroline is my little fish with no fear.  The others like to get in and out and walk around a lot.  Leah loves lounging in the baby pool.
  • Sidewalk chalk- they LOVE it!  I wish it wasn't so stinkin hot outside so we could use the chalk more often.

  • Finger painting- we have tried this once and it was such a mess my grandma said we can't do it again when she's at the house :/

  • Church.  It's nothing new, but we are now walking in using our walking rope!  They are doing so well with it and I am so proud of them!  We even got compliments on how well behaved our twins are ;) 

Around the House:
  • They have learned dog food is for the dog and not people.  They think it is so fun to hand feed Maggie, and Maggie does not complain.  They also think it is fun to throw dog food everywhere.

  • Caroline and Allison attempt to untie my grandpa's shoes every time he's here; they were even upset one day when he wore shoes with no laces- how dare he!

  • The boys (especially Ben) love to jump in their cribs, but no one has tried to climb out yet. 
  • They like to put trash in the trashcan, especially their dirty diapers!  Allison will only throw her own diapers.  When I give her someone else's she shakes her head and holds her nose like she's saying "No, that one's stinky."
  • They have also been helping me put dirty clothes in the hamper, switch clothes from the washer to the dryer, and pick up everything they throw around during nap time tidy up their rooms.  Generally, the cleaning up skills have been improving!

  • Pretend sleeping (this may or may not be my favorite game).  They pretend to be asleep, I say "Oh fill in the blank is so sleepy", they pop their heads up and think it is so hilarious.  Caroline has even developed a decent fake snore!
  • They give each other hugs- mostly when we ask them to, but still, so cute.
  • Allison has shown beginnings of the Perkins Pout (only cute because she's 2)... she folds her arms and full on pouts if she feels she has been wronged.  
  • They'll do anything for a raisin.
  • Andrew says hi and bye to anyone and everyone and ooooohhh when he's excited about something.
  • Ben cuddles with his giraffe stuffed animal from the NICU
  • When Levi is bored of you he says "Bye Bye!" and walks off.  Probably to go pose in front of a reflective surface.  or vacuum.  or be a singer/songwriter with his guitar.
And with that I bid you "uh Bye Bye!" in my best Levi voice.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Perkins Pack in Pagosa

WE DID IT!  2 adults, 6 toddlers, 18 hours in the car (each way), and a week at Gammy and Pop's house in Pagosa Springs, Colorado.

A few weeks ago Dave and I decided we did not want to miss out on our annual summer trip to Pagosa.  We knew we'd be fine once we got there since we could stay with my parents and that'd be 4 adults around all the time.  We just had to survive the 2 travel days (yes, we drive 18 hours in one day). So, there was the goal.  Just live through the travel days.

Much like last year, my mom really helped us out before we even got there.  She was able to borrow 6 pack n plays and quite a few toys and books.  She also bought 2 plastic toddler sized tables so I didn't have to bring booster seats.  All of this saved us TONS of space in the van which was essential as it was completely crammed with stuff anyways.  I followed all of my tips I wrote about on Houston Mom's Blog and glad I did!

This year I was so excited that the kids are 2 and officially old enough to take motion sickness medicine.  As we learned last year Caroline has a tendency to get car sick.  So as we pulled away from our home at 4:45 am with 6 groggy kids, I decided to just see how it went before giving out the Dramamine.  BAD idea.  It started about 7:30 am with Andrew and the tell-tale sound of vomit.  This is about the same time they all started throwing off their bibs I planned to use as vomit catchers.  A few minutes after Andrew, Caroline joined in on the fun.  Then it was Leah.  Then Allison.  And Caroline and Andrew decided once just wasn't quite enough.  In the mean time I was busy administering medicine and cleaning up.  Then it hit me in the middle of bouncing between rows.  As I grabbed the closest plastic bag (I travel with PLENTY), Dave looks in the rear view with a slight panic and says, "I'm pulling over!  We need a break!"  All by 8 am.  NOT a good start.  Turns out a little break was just what we needed.  Cleaned everyone up, medicine kicked in, we were good to go.  After that things went much more smoothly.  The kids were not interested in the toys I brought, but were entertained with music and a few interjected books and songs performed by yours truly.  Oh, and the snacks.  I pre-made all of the travel meals and snacks so we wouldn't have to stop for food.  This worked out great!  And nothing was very messy, unless you are Allison Perkins who can turn anything into a mess.  This time around we had Eggos, grilled cheese, peanut butter and jelly, apple slices, pretzel sticks, cheerios, raisins, chewy granola bars, and mini marshmallows.  And my personal secret candy stash to use as needed.  Throughout the entire day of driving we only made 2 big stops where we let the kids out to walk around (about 5 min each, 2 kids at a time) and change diapers.  They hated being put back in the car seats, but we had no time to waste!  Honestly once the vomiting was under control, the rest of the 1st travel day wasn't too bad.

As we were driving, Dave and I questioned whether it was worth it.  As soon as we arrived at the house, we knew it was.  The kids had a BLAST!!!  They immediately dug into all of the toys and ran around squealing (I'm sure it had nothing to do with freedom from the car seat).  We let them play for awhile then did a much needed pajama change (they travel in pajamas) and off to bed.  The 5 were in one room and Leah stayed with Dave and I.  They all slept so well the entire trip- even naps!  I really think they were just that worn out from being so busy the whole time.  The kids truly enjoyed being at the house.  From the basement to the deck to the driveway to the living room- they ran around everywhere.  It was so nice to let them play outside and not worry about heat strokes!  They did everything from sidewalk chalk to coloring to inflatable pool to library time to playing at a local park to throwing rocks and having a picnic on a lake.  They handled transitions well and had so. much. fun. the entire time.

Driveway drawing

Library Toddler Time

throwing rocks in William's Lake

Picnic at the lake

Eating at Gammy and Pop's

Running around the deck
Dave and I also had a wonderful time and were sad to leave.  We LOVE it there!  What was nice about staying with my parents is that we all got a break away from the kids at some point.  One morning my mom and I went on a hike to a gorgeous lake.  The next day Dave and my dad went fly fishing; they were supposed to catch our dinner, but came up very very short ;)  As an early anniversary (7 years!) date, Dave and I were able to hike to the top of Table Mountain to soak in 360 views and later that evening go out to dinner just the two of us.  A rare treat indeed!

Dave on top of Table Mountain

Dave's big catch

Beautiful Crater Lake- where my mom and I hiked
The drive home was a tad quicker at 17.5 hours, but much less fun.  One reason is that we were headed back home to work, to-do lists, and mountains of laundry.  Another reason is that 3 of the kids were SO. WHINY.  Here were the positives I could think up: it's only 3 of them being whiny instead of all 6, they were only whiny from noon-8:30pm not the entire trip, and snacks quieted them down for a very short time.  Needless to say, they ate a ridiculous amount of snacks that day.  My entertaining skills worked a bit, as did pointing out trains and trucks and playing cds.  However, a few times I did have to hide in the back row where the whiners couldn't see me.  You do what you gotta do people.  We were very glad to pull into our driveway and put those kiddos straight in their cribs!

Are we there yet?

To wrap up, we had a wonderful trip!  We cannot wait to go back next year and every year after that.