2016 Christmas Card Outtakes

DSC_0122This was all about 5 months ago, but better late than never I suppose.

A good lesson we learned this year is, don’t give your kids green lollipops BEFORE you are done taking photos. Their mouths and the surrounding areas will inevitably turn green and they will end up looking like the Hulk, and in James’ case, acting like the Hulk as well. We promised them lollipops if they cooperated. James did not pretend to cooperate, not even for a second, so we gave him the lollipop early, then tried to TAKE THE LOLLIPOP AWAY, and make him pose for more photos. Thus, tantrums ensued and we can only blame ourselves.

Here are our Christmas card outtakes.

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Reese at Five, James at Three Years

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Our little people are now three and five. There is nothing baby about them at all, and they both get mad when I say they will always be my babies. But they will.

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Reesie turned five on November 29th and we celebrated with her favorite sushi roll, fried ice cream, and a party at the YMCA a few days later.

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My dearest Reese, there was a time when the Happy Birthday song brought you to tears but this year you reveled in it. You weren’t even mad when I dropped your birthday cake on my lap on the way to the party and we served a leaning, lopsided, chocolate mess, half of which was smeared across the front of my jeans.

You still love art and can spend hours coloring in your room. You like your alone time, and you are like me in that way. Some days you ask to go to rest time so you can have some time to yourself. Your kindness is what I am most proud of. You get along with everyone, and I have never seen you being mean to another child (not counting your brother of course.) I can see the hurt on your face when other kids are being left out or not treated fairly. You are ULTRA sensitive, which is frustrating for me at times, but you do you. The other day after a particularly rough afternoon for me, I didn’t say a word in the car on the way home from the YMCA. I felt like I needed 5 minutes of silence and if I didn’t get it, I would explode. You started to cry and said that you know I’m sad and when I’m sad you feel sad. My heart officially melted and then we all went and got munchkins.

You take swimming lessons and gymnastics classes once a week.  You have come so far in swimming. You can swim up and down the pool without your floatie and you jump in the deep end like it’s no thang. You like gymnastics but complain that it makes you hot and tired. Spoken like a true athlete.

You are in school Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. You can write all of your letters and numbers, your full name, and some short words. You love reading books and have memorized many of your favorites. You love The Magic School Bus, Shimmer and Shine (ugh), Batman, Legos, and dress up.

You are helpful and can do so much by yourself now. You help me everyday and are learning the hard lesson that because James is younger, and has bigger, louder tantrums (in public) he often gets what he wants. Ok, he always gets what he wants.

You are not shy, which I love. You talk to anyone you meet and tell them all about where we are going, who we saw yesterday, and exactly what mom said when she spilled the coffee this morning. One Sunday morning when I was away and your dad took you to church, you turned to the family behind you and said, “My mom’s at a bachelorette party.”

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James turned three on March 5th and had cake and ice cream with his grandparents, cousins, and aunts and uncles.

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Dear Jamesie, you still love trains, trucks and cars. Trains especially, and riding the commuter rail with your dad is a favorite activity. You are obsessed with puzzles. You love cheese. Your best friends are Reese’s friends and their siblings, all of whom happen to be girls. Whenever we show up for a playdate, the girls say “The boy is here! Run!” Poor you. This will all change one day, I promise.

You now sleep in a “big boy bed”, you are almost completely potty trained, and you talk nonstop, but I feel like you never get a chance to finish your thoughts because someone who will remain nameless, (Reese), is always cutting you off. You take swimming lessons with me on Wednesdays which you love. You are a great swimmer but just need to work on following the teacher’s directions, or any directions for that matter.

The terrible two’s have segued into the even more terrible threes, and you are constantly challenging me. You are a runner. You run away at any opportunity you have. There are few opportunities though because I walk around holding onto you by the hood of your coat, as if it is a leash. When I don’t have a free hand your sister takes over as hood holder. I don’t know what I’ll do when the weather changes.

You are a cuddler and I hope that never changes. I hope that you never stop saying “bathing soup” (bathing suit), and I hope that you hold on to a little bit of that mischievousness as you get older. Just a little bit though.

Happy third birthday my sweet little hellion.

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Election 2016

Just kidding! I am not touching that mess! This is about a post about Halloween.

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Reese decided last year that she wanted to be a mermaid for Halloween this year, and come October, she had not forgotten, so mermaid it was. James, who loves everything his sister does, also requested to be a mermaid for Halloween. Unfortunately for him we already had hand-me-down skeleton and superman outfits that were just his size. He was a skeleton for the trunk or treat at Reese’s school and superman for trick or treating in our neighborhood on Halloween night.

Both of them have the trick-or-treating thing down pat and I don’t think I have to worry about either of them ever being shy.

James learned quickly that mom and dad weren’t opening most treats until we got home, so when a neighbor would hand him a candy bar, he would often hand it back to them and ask, “can you open this?” He wasn’t trying to wait until he got home to get a bite. One house where no one answered he actually pressed his face against their window and yelled, “Hey! We want to get some candy!” I cringed and we all ran away.

Reese was in all her glory as a mermaid who also wears a fleece jacket. James has been asking to go trick-or-treating every day since, and Andrew and I have been eating all the Kit Kats we can get our hands on, so I would say it was a successful Halloween.

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I Used To Love Dinnertime

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This is how dinnertime is at my house. A four-year old looks at the cheese quesadilla in front of her and says that she doesn’t like chicken, or brown things!  A two-year old cries continuously for crackers. When he is placed in front of his dinner, he screams louder, throws his spoon, his cup and then his bowl.

Everyone at the table ignores him. Then he starts screaming “All done!” and starts pulling at the tablecloth. So, he is released from his confines and free to play as he pleases. Thirty minutes later, as the dishes are being cleared away, he begins crying for a “COOKIE!” Two hours later, as he’s being put into his crib he will look up at you with big, beautiful brown eyes, and have the balls to say, “I want some dinner.”

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Dinnertime is something I dread. I like cooking, but I don’t love the planning. I’ve never been good at meal planning. Half the time I don’t think about dinner until 5 PM, then realize I don’t have the ingredients and don’t have the time or the energy to go to the store, and so it’s frozen pizza again.

A couple of weeks ago Groupon was offering a deal from HelloFresh– 4 meals for 2  for $45 (Groupon value of $89.) I rarely buy Groupons but I was VERY excited about this deal. There would be no dinnertime dread for almost a week.

My Groupon was only good for the Classic box, but a Family Box and a Veggie Box are also available. Once you choose the box you want, you can then choose how many meals you want a week, the serving size for each meal (2 or 4 people), and then the particular meals that you want (6 meals are offered and they change weekly.) Then they deliver everything you will need to make your meals right to your door.

I loved, loved, loved getting the box. I got butterflies when I saw this sitting on my doorstep.

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The box held 4 smaller boxes which contained the ingredients for each meal, instructions for preparation, and nutritional info. First off, the quality of the ingredients was exceptional (and this is where I was skeptical.) I mean they managed to send me fresh shrimp, a perfectly ripe avocado and a perfectly ripe mango. The instructions were straight forward, easy to follow, and no meal required a ton of preparation or long cook times. According to the directions, most meals averaged around 40 minutes for prep and cooking, and this was about how long it took for me.

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One other thing I had been skeptical about was the size of the meals, especially after seeing the size of the proteins. We eat big. But, it turns out that my eyes were bigger than my stomach and we both felt satisfied with every meal.

The meals were SO good. We loved all of them. Preparing the meals was actually enjoyable. I had everything I needed!  In the right amounts! Delivered right to me!  And now I have the instructions on how to make the meals so I can do it myself anytime. Woot!

If the subscriptions were a little bit less expensive, or if I still worked outside of the home, I would definitely consider using HelloFresh regularly. For us, it doesn’t fit into our budget right now, but I don’t think the quality of the meals or the convenience can be beat. Plus the fact that I am preparing the meals myself, so I still know what we are eating, and don’t have to guess when it was made or what exactly it contains.

Plus, if these people are using it, you know it’s legit.

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Sidenote: No, my kids would not eat any of the meals, but there is a Family Box available which is supposed to be more kid friendly. So, yes, I was preparing another meal for kids on top of our HelloFresh meal, but that would be happening anyway.

Sidenote 2: I really thought I pulled one over on Jamie Oliver by keeping the recipes and making them myself, but it turns out you can download all of the recipes from the website, for free, without even buying a subscription!

Firsts

This past weekend we took Reese to her first movie.

She had been asking to go to a movie in a theater for a while. It was cold, dreary, and we had a full Saturday to kill. The only kids movie playing at our local theater was Kung Fu Panda 3.

$42 later, yes you read that correctly, two adult tickets and 1 child’s ticket at our outrageously expensive movie theater, came to $42. James was free, thank god, otherwise homeboy would have been left behind.

All in all, it didn’t go great and Reese asked to go home twice during the course of the movie. Our heads were saying, “hells no you can’t go home this just cost us $50”, but our mouths said, “it’s ok Reese, just cover your eyes at the scary parts.” Plus, we needed to see if Po got his chi back.  She spent a good portion of the movie with her eyes covered. Kai, the bull in the movie terrified her and no amount of lollipops or popcorn could fix it.

I honestly did not think it was that scary but unfortunately, Reese is JUST like her mom. I was scared of everything growing up, (including clowns which most children find delightful and hilarious) and to this day I don’t watch Dateline if I’m home alone at night.

Twice during the short car ride home Reese said, “How about you never take me to this theater again when Kung Fu Panda is playing.” Later, when Andrew was putting her to bed she asked, “Why did Mom want to take us to see that scary movie?”Also, for the past two nights at bedtime she has said that she can’t stop thinking about Kai. Awesome. A scary bull from ancient China is haunting my four-year-old’s thoughts.

So I may or may not have ruined the first movie theater experience for Reese. James, on the other hand has learned that movies include unlimited candy and popcorn so he is lifer.

On Sisterhood

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As one of four girls, my sisters have been some of my greatest gifts in life, and today, they are my three best friends.

This is not to say that at some point in my life, I wouldn’t have gladly traded one of them for a brother; but now as an adult, I know how lucky I am. Yes they steal your clothes, hog the bathroom and the phone (back in the day of landlines), can piss you off more than anyone else in the world, and in my case, even physically assault you (no, really, we came to blows on many occasions.) But there is comfort in having people in life who know all of you, who are bound to support you no matter what and who aren’t afraid to tell you (loudly and perhaps in public) when you’re being an asshole.

One hope I have for Reese is that she will have a sister.

I used to think about this often and lately, as she gets older, I see that regardless of what happens in the future, Reese won’t miss out on a lot of the things sisters share. And that is because she has her cousin Mira.

Mira is 4 months older than Reese and she is the cool older cousin everyone has growing up. She was Reese’s first friend, and today Reese says she is her best friend. Mira lives close enough that we can see her fairly often, but each time we do it’s like Christmas. They tell secrets at the dinner table, giggling behind cupped hands. They disappear from family parties together and jump on beds. They plot new ways to torture little brothers. They imitate each other. They fight. They chase each other around the back yard and someone usually ends up crying.

I’m not sure that there are many other relationships in life like the one sisters have. But if there are, I would imagine they are a lot like those of close cousins (but without the physical assaults.)

We love you Mira-belle!

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Halloween 2015

Halloween is a big friggin’ deal when you are a kid.

This year we went to a Halloween party at a farm, a trunk-or-treat (apparently this is a thing now) at Reese’s school, a Halloween party at a playplace near our house, and then of course the normal trick-or-treating on Halloween night. We got our money’s worth out of this year’s costumes.

I have come to accept the fact that as much as I want to be a crafty person whose kids always have homemade Halloween costumes, I will never be that person. Remember last year’s attempt?

Reese had been asking to be a mermaid for weeks before Halloween. When we were at Target I saw a mermaid costume which was, unfortunately, hanging next to an Elsa costume. Once she saw the Elsa costume, the mermaid was out.

So this year, Reese was Elsa, James was a Dalmatian, and Andrew and I were the un-fun parents who don’t dress up.  FullSizeRender (4) FullSizeRender (5) FullSizeRender (6) FullSizeRender (7) FullSizeRender (8) FullSizeRender (9)

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This Happened

I bought 1989 on ITunes a few months back and since then, Reese has fallen hard for Taylor Swift (Taylah Swiss.) Nary a day goes by that there is not a concert in our backyard, at the library, on the playground, or in the bathtub.

This is a few months old, and anyone who follows me on Instagram has seen the edited version, but I feel it’s too good to not share again.