Monday, January 26, 2015

Hello 2015

Forgive my lateness on the New Year post, but I've had it planned in my head for a few weeks, so I decided that still counts.

2014 was an INSANE year for us!  Seriously, my mind boggles just thinking of all that happened.  Between all of the trips and developmental changes- a year ago we took away the boys' pacifiers and I hardly remember using pacifiers anymore- it's been a wild ride.  I have a feeling 2015 will also give us a run for our money {and probably every year after that, but that's just getting overwhelming}.  What I have completely failed to do these last few months is a big kid by kid overview.  I meant to when they hit the 2 1/2 mark, but it never happened.  So, now at 2 3/4 it's getting done.  And they've already changed quite a bit!  As always, in birth order (with estimated stats):

Andrew Noah
Height: 34-35in?
Weight: 30 lbs?
Clothes- big 2T/small 3T
diapers- 5 and 5 overnight

Andrew is such an interesting personality as my first born.  I can definitely see him as a leader.  He can be so helpful and sweet when picking up toys, bringing me stuff for Leah (not prompted), giving hugs to adults and siblings, and holding siblings' hands.  He is super sensitive and a big fat scaredy cat with everything!  But, he's also the big bully.  He's taller than everyone and will take a toy because someone else wants it.  It takes a lot to get him to share.  He LOVES hats.  There is one on his head unless he's sleeping or in the bath.  Cars and trucks are his toys of choice- pushing or riding.  He enjoys books and puzzles and coloring and play doh and running around outside.  He likes to help wash dishes.  He's in time out quite a bit.  I love his hillbilly laugh and goofy run.  He can pretty much sing his ABCs, count to 10, identify letters and numbers and colors and shapes, and repeat any words.  He's into everything being big- big milk, big pizza, big car, big truck, big chair... you get the idea.  Andrew is a mini-Dave.

Benjamin Luke
Height: 32 in?
Weight: 28 lb?
Clothes- big 2T/small 3T
diapers- 5 and 5 overnight

Does this boy every stop moving?!  He loves to run and he is fast!  Usually running while pushing his big yellow dump truck.  Also loves playing hide and seek- "Me more hide".  He hides in either play tent and really just goes back and forth each turn.  Sometimes he hides there when it's clean up time and reappears just as clean up is done.  Ben is a complete ham!  With his sly smiles and cute faces and sweet voice.  Loves to recite his Bible verses, numbers 1-10 forward and backward, letters, and colors. Loves listening to stories and you better not try to skip any words!  Gives great hugs.  Likes to be tucked in bed with his pillow, blanket, and many stuffed animals.  Named one Bubble Puppy after his beloved Bubble Guppies character.  Ben often wakes up from nap super grumpy.  Nothing makes him happy.  He's very particular in what he wants- "No water!  Apple juice!" or "Yellow cheese!"  He has hit a complete language explosion- going from sometimes putting 2 words together to spitting out "Nothing is impossible with God" and "I like cheese too" in a matter of weeks.  Ben loves running outside and generally plays well with the others, sometimes getting too rough.  My little tub o love.

Caroline Grace
Height: 32 in?
Weight: 25 lb?
Clothes- 2T
Diapers- 4/5

Sweet Caroline.  Sometimes that is.  In the past 3 months her tantrums have seriously reduced (may have had something to do with those molars coming in), but her screams can still make you cringe.  When she doesn't like or want a certain food item, it is going on the nearest plate that isn't hers.  But she loves her some breakfast.  And snacks.  She is still my nap lover and often cuts off story time early to get her nap on.  Probably because her nighttime sleep is restless and she has been known to sing and dance at odd hours in the night.  Usually making Leah giggle.  Caroline has taken a recent interest in helping me cook.  She's my little sous chef.  If she even thinks I might be prepping food, here she comes pushing a barstool over to help {sampling is her favorite}.  She thrives with one-on-one attention and knows so much more than she lets on.  Her speech is the most delayed, and although she's picked up quite a few more words recently, they're difficult to understand.  Caroline will randomly help with Leah and help pick up toys.  She loves building blocks, play doh, coloring, books, puzzles, magnets, and sneaking off by herself.  It doesn't surprise me to find Caroline happily playing in a room all alone. I almost forgot- she loves water!  I think she'd stay in the bath all day if I let her.  If she sees water, she's going in.  Swimming lessons are a must this summer.  She also loves being outside and sliding.  My parents say she's a lot like me, except she can strut around better than I ever could.

Leah Michelle
Height: 31 in
Weight: 23.5 lbs
Clothes- 2T
Diapers- 4

As her neurologist said at her last check up, "I couldn't be more pleased with her progress."  This girl continues to be so hard working!  She gives therapy and play her full effort everyday {unless she's over-tired, but you can't blame her then}.  She is 90% of the time a happy child.  Leah has the biggest smiles and her whole face lights up when she's happy about something.  She continues to make more and more sounds {no words, just sounds} and we love hearing them.  She is THIS CLOSE to sitting on her own and can do it for up to 10 seconds {using her hands to prop herself}.  Her muscle strength and tone are improving, as his head control.  Her reaching is better, moving in her gait trainer, and food tolerance is slightly better.  Again, it's Leah I'm talking about, so this progress is in baby step form, BUT it's progress nonetheless.  She still loves music, letters, and numbers.  She recognizes familiar voices and songs {like Mickey Mouse Clubhouse- smiles the entire show}.  Her siblings are more aware of her these days and will even help with some Leah duties.  At least one of them always helps push her stroller on outings.  She will be starting school in April and I can hardly believe it!!  

Allison Kate
Height: 31.5 in
Weight: 20 lbs
Clothes- 18 mo
Diapers- 4

As always, small in stature, big in personality.  This girl has also had a language explosion and picks up things I'm not sure how she knows.  Or maybe she has super human memory??  Like she all of a sudden mentions Elsa and Anna and Chick-fil-A all the time even though she's seen the movie and eaten there once... a couple of months ago.  What?!  She still notices EVERYTHING and lets you know if it's not right.  She's perfected the "no no fill in the blank"  because she's the little boss.  Alli knows letters, numbers, colors... and pretty much anything she can memorize.  She is still clingy and has her particular adults she prefers {probably because they're most likely to do as she wants- ha!}, but she can also be very shy which can be hard with transitions {unless a preferred adult is present}.  She loves to take care of her baby dolls, help me around the house, read, color, play tea party, and sing and do motions to songs.  She has been known to call her daddy, "Dave" and turn your head for you if she wants you to "Look!" at something.  Her first sentence was "Alli toot."  which isn't surprising since she's all about the "Alli do" everything by herself.

Levi Thomas
Height: 31.5 in
Weight: 22 lbs
Clothes- 18 mo
Diapers- 4

This little man is as quirky as ever!  He still loves both his guitar and his cleaning supplies.  He's usually playing with one or the other, but will break for his Legos, to color a picture, slide, or some other random thing- but not for too long.  He can get easily frustrated with communication and will throw a fit if you don't understand him right away.  But, his language has greatly improved lately {like not calling the vacuum "goo goo" or Gammy "BeBe" anymore}!  He likes to jump, throw balls, listen to music, pretend to play his guitar along with musical toys, sing, and run around outside.  Levi is a great eater!  He's slow and steady, but will usually clean his plate.  Right now he's really into closing doors and insists on being the last person out of a room so he can close the door. One of my favorite things Levi does is show his muscles.  Every time he comes in our bathroom for a bath {wearing just a diaper} he makes a stop at the full length mirror to do his muscle posing and just cracks himself up!  I'm always amazed at how quickly Levi picks up song lyrics and gets so excited to sing along and jam out with his crazy dance moves.

Phew!  Finally got through everyone.  As a group, they've really started being more big kid than toddler lately.  I'm loving how they interact with each other, always using their names, and generally being more aware of each other.  They've also really improved with hand holding- adults and each other!  This has really helped on outings.

Well, that's all folks.  

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The End of an Era

Back when I was pregnant, the show "6 Little McGhees" premiered.  I watched it as a preview of having 2 year old sextuplets!  On one episode I distinctly remember the kids climbing all over their feeding table, dancing on it, and causing all kinds of havoc.  I told my friend that when we get to that point, please tell me it's time to move on {if I wasn't doing anything about it on my own}.  Well, friends, we were there.

It started when Andrew figured out how to climb into his seat.  Soon to follow was EVERYONE ELSE!  They got very comfortable climbing in their seats or just sitting on the table.  NOT allowed!  The big boys were getting really hard to fit in the seats and requested to sit in "big chair" more often than not.  And I let them.

Luckily, my sister-in-law had a 6 seater Little Tikes picnic table she was looking to pass along.  We tested it out at their house and the kids all fit comfortably and seemed to like it.  So, on Christmas Eve we took it home with us.

Dave wasn't as enthused as I was to switch tables, so we waited until New Years Day.  About midday I decided we needed to give the table a proper send off.  What could be better for the job than finger paint?!  Dave wasn't excited about the mess, but sometimes fun is worth a mess :)  Just look at this fun:

That night we dismantled the table, gave it a very thorough cleaning and moved things around in the kitchen area.  Now the kitchen area looks ever so slightly more normal and we have a little more open space.  Baby steps people.

The first morning of the new table, the girls came into the room and cried.  But, they quickly got over it when they noticed breakfast on the table.  The boys went straight for the food.  So far, we all like the new set up and they're doing well for a bunch of 2 year olds.  The only issue {which I anticipated} is when they're in a silly mood or a couple of them have already been excused, they want to get up and play with dirty hands before they're done eating.  So we're working on that.

Levi and Andrew modeling the new set up
Getting rid of this table was a big sign that they are no longer babies or even young toddlers.  We are almost to preschool age!  Mind boggling.  I'm glad I have countless pictures and videos of them in that table as it holds so many memories.  We used it from age 6 months- 32 months.  First spoon feedings of cereal and baby food to feeding themselves with utensils.  Not to mention story times, coloring, painting, and any other activity we decided to take on.  I hope wherever it goes next, it will be loved as much as we loved it!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

First Big Girl Haircuts

I've been cutting the boys' hair for over a year now.  Whenever I did their hair, I'd trim the girls' bangs and just let the hair grow because I was too nervous to cut girl hair.  Not to mention they both have beautiful hair!  Allison's ringlets and Caroline's waves are so pretty.  But, it was getting harder to keep neat and fix and comb with their big mess of tangles.  And Allison's was getting close to her waist when it was wet!

So, for the first time, my mom and I took just the girls out- for haircuts!  We went to a kids place that had cars to sit in and TV shows to watch.  Allison volunteered to go first {I was shocked!}, and although she didn't cry, she looked about as pitiful as a person can look.  But she survived.

Caroline fussed when her bangs were being cut, but once that part was over, she was perfectly fine zoned in on the TV.

While I was paying, my mom opened up a treasure box filled with lollipops and you would've thought it was a pot of gold.  Allison's face was priceless!  I let them take one but they still haven't eaten them- ha!

To celebrate the occasion we took the girls to Chick-fil-A for the first time! {It was next door, so why not?}  They thought they were so big picking their own drink and side and eating with just Mommy and Gammy.  They were perfectly behaved, so maybe these kinds of outings will be happening more often.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Holiday Recap Part 3: Christmas!

Now on to the real deal!  We had a wonderful Christmas!  After sprinkling the reindeer food all over the yard, we headed to my brother's house for Christmas Eve festivities.  We played {they love their cousin's toys}, dumped sprinkles on decorated sugar cookies for Santa, ate pizza, and opened TONS of presents!  Holy moly the wrapping paper was flying!  I had asked the kids what they wanted for Christmas and the only real answer was Levi saying "mop".  So, I found toy cleaning set including a mop.  He opened that and was done- ha!  Caroline and Allison just wanted to open gifts- didn't much care what was inside.  Caroline would go from one to another saying "more".
Decorating cookies

The set up

The action!

Levi opening his mop :)

This year we had to decide how to do gifts amongst the kids.  We went with 3 gifts per child from us, plus stocking stuffers, and one thing from Santa per child.  All I know is that I had a lot of gifts to wrap!

Following the present opening, we walked the block checking out Christmas lights.  There was one amazing house and the owner was passing out candy canes!  You better believe my kids didn't hesitate on that!  Once we got back to the house, the kids were put in pjs and we drove home.  We set out our sprinklefied cookies and milk for Santa and put everyone to bed.

Christmas morning they didn't really get the concept that Santa visited, but they sure enjoyed the tricycles and Little People set up!  They had little interest in their stockings.  LOVED the cinnamon rolls for breakfast and Leah's awesome car!  A family friend rigged up a ride in toddler car so Leah just has to hit a green switch on the steering wheel to make it go, and built in supports so she can sit in it.  SO COOL!  And she can do it all by herself :)  Of course, the others love it too, but that's ok.
Leah in her car

Alli checking out her stocking

Caroline playing

Busy checking everything out

Leah with all her stocking stuffers

We played the rest of the morning and headed to my cousin's house for the big family dinner that evening.  I'm not sure how many people gave them cookies, but enough that they had no interest in the actual meal and just wanted to run around the backyard with the dogs.  Fine by me!  Burn that energy.  Of course, once it was present time, they couldn't wait to rip in.  They received so many wonderful gifts this year I honestly haven't even opened everything.  Need to do a MAJOR toy overhaul and reorganization.  We had a great time with the family visiting and eating entirely too much delicious food!

The day after Christmas the fun continued with a quick trip to Galveston where some family members rented a condo.  We planned to visit the beach and resort playground, but the kids had so much fun running around the condo and balcony and throwing bread to the birds from the balcony, we never left!  The adults enjoyed relaxing, visiting, and playing a quick board game while the kids entertained themselves.  They even made their own conga line and went around the condo saying "Choo! Choo!"  Silly kids.

All in all a crazy, busy, fun Christmas season!  Not gonna lie, it wore me out and we took New Years week to relax and stay home.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Holiday Recap Part 2: Christmas Festivities

Let's be honest.  The real fun of Christmas is the anticipation.  I know my childhood memories of the holidays involve decorating, choosing a tree, making cookies, and waiting for Santa.  This is the first year the kids have sort of grasped the concept of holidays and this is also the first time in 4 years I have actually been motivated to do anything Christmasy {pregnancy and lots of young babies can suck the spirit right out of you}.  Of course, I have done Christmasy things the last few years, but I wasn't into it.  This year, I ran with it.

The greater Houston area actually has tons of activities going on in December, so I had to narrow it down.  I know they're not old enough to remember, but I will remember, and I wanted to check these places out while they're still young enough to be free at most of the events!

At Home
There was plenty of fun to be had around the house this year!  We decorated toddler style {ornaments only on the top half of the tree} and the kids loved checking out the tree and pointing out every baby Jesus, Santa, Rudolph, and snowman.  We made Reindeer food (oats and glitter) and sprinkled it in the yard Christmas Eve.  We listened to kiddie Christmas music {they learned Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and Jingle Bells} and read Christmas books and learned all about the REAL reason for the season- Jesus' birthday!  We went on walks to hunt for lights and bows.  They got SO excited every time they saw a big red bow decoration or any sort of Christmas light.  I'm sure anyone who could hear us was amused.  If anyone was watching closely, they may have seen them trying to eat the candy canes and lollipops in peoples' yards!  Complete with a "yummy yummy Mommy".  And they've never even tasted a lollipop or candy cane!
me and my rice krispie snowman

Andrew showing off the group's creations

I am glad we have a great place to see Santa for free near our home.  They go all out with a Winter Wonderland set up.  We went last year and I made the mistake of assuming Santa would be there all day everyday in December knowing we went on a weekday morning the year before.  So, we load up, get there on time, and no Santa.  Major disappointment!  Luckily, we could still do all of the fun Winter Wonderland stuff and go up and down the store elevators, so a fun field trip was had.  After I double checked Santa's schedule, we made a second trip and it was well worth it!  Everyone sat on Santa's lap, got to actually eat a mini candy cane, and we had individual pictures and a group picture.  The Santa was so sweet with Leah, just cuddled up with her and sang- she loved it!
Leah at her favorite spot on our field trip

Picture of our picture with Santa

Dickinson Festival of Lights
I worked in Dickinson for 4 years and never went to the Festival of Lights.  Not sure why, but it may have had something to do with wanting to get home and not hang around.  But now with a bunch of littles who love Christmas lights, I had motivation.  And did I mention it's a FREE event?!  Even better!  We met some friends and walked through the whole park which was decked out in 2 million lights {or so we were told}.  The kids loved all the scenes, decorating and eating cookies, but hated sitting on the Santa's lap.  Granted, this Santa had much to be desired.  All the Santa drama was quickly forgotten and Caroline even cried when it was time to go home.
Gammy and Alli at the UT longhorn (there was no Baylor Bear)

Leah with the light version of Santa

We tried.

The whole gang!

They loved decorating and eating cookies!

Zoo Lights
I was really looking forward to this event.  It did not disappoint.  Again, brought some friends along and met a few more there.  We walked all through the zoo which was covered in lights along with several special set ups {Can you say Thomas the Train??  My kids were mesmerized!}.  It was all truly spectacular!  Dave and I loved it as much as the kids.  Worth the money and planning to go again next year!  One of my favorite moments was when a firefighter came up to Andrew and told him his fireman hat was on backwards.  Ha!  Andrew always wears it backwards like a baseball cap.
One of the tunnels of light

Us  and our friend Clara checking out the train

Hi Ben

Hi Levi

Christmas Train
Another local event I had been waiting to try out!  Had family, friends, and even a few of my buddies from Houston Moms Blog meet us there.  A church and camp way out in Alvin country go all out with this Christmas train!  The train runs around the property and there are lights everywhere with fun scenes AND it tells the whole story of Jesus.  You can also see Santa, hear a story from Mrs. Claus, send letters to the North Pole, view an entire Christmas village and train set up {again, my kids were mesmerized}, and buy concessions.  We had a blast!
I think she liked it

Group selfie waiting for Mrs. Claus to begin

Andrew and Caroline staring at the Christmas village

Neighborhood Lights
For Houston Moms Blog I wrote a post about the best neighborhoods in Houston for Christmas lights and I had been to all but 2.  One is way far on the other side of town, but the other wasn't too far.  SO, once I got the idea in my head, I had to do it.  My parents came along with us and we ALL went to Chick Fil A for dinner.  {YES!  Everyone at a restaurant and they did great!} Then we headed to Pecan Grove in Richmond and all the hype was true!  The whole neighborhood was full of lights and some homes were down right incredible.  We all thoroughly enjoyed driving through Pecan Grove.
CFA awesome as always!

Fun Outings for Mom and Dad
With a little planning, Dave and I had our own fun too.  We went to his work Christmas party- seeing the Rockettes and a fancy dinner!  So. much. fun!  I had my own parties: Houston Moms Blog Favorite Things party with the other contributors.  We girls had a great time chatting and racking up the free goodies.  And my annual SNL Christmas with my college BFF.  Love any time we get to spend together.  Then I got a little crazy and ran a half marathon with my sister-in-law.  The Santa Hustle in Galveston was as Christmasy as a race could get with huge inflatables, cookies and candy everywhere, and people dressed up as Santa.  And for not being very prepared- AT ALL, I had a great race!
At the theater

Well, that was all we did leading up to Christmas.  It was quite jam packed!  Busy, but fun.  Next up will be the actual holiday.