Tag Archives: extended family

Playing hookie at Disneyworld!

I have waited to write this post because I wanted to have time to do it justice, but I am accepting that there is never enough time…

…so I’m just going to do a quick intro, then caption a bunch of photos and say,

“We played hookie for a week and went to Disney!”

The intro:

It was a fantastic, last-minute, unexpected (but always hoped-for!) event.  Grammy and Grandpa came with us (thank you; we loved being with you!).  We pulled all the kids out of school to go.  The timing just worked…T was free because he’s not yet 3; H was easy because he is still very content to sit in a lap or ride in a stroller; the girls are young enough that being out of school is fine (allowing us to go when the crowds were very minimal); and although there was rain (and rain, and more rain!), the reality is that we do fine in the rain.  It’s the lines and heat that get us, and both of those were driven away by the drizzle.

First, a few memories that I don’t have photos for…

(1) The hailstorm on the way down.  Holy moly!  Kudos to my husband for driving safely through that!  And kudos to the kids for rolling with it.  It was so loud they couldn’t even hear us explain what was happening.  Side note: the manufacturer of our sound machine should add a “hailstorm” setting next to “whale call” and “ocean sounds”, because it put T and H to sleep in seconds!

(2) The hotel we stayed in en route.  We entered the lobby during “happy hour” and descended on the buffet like a herd of locusts.  The manager came over and played with the kids, brought them cookies from the vending machine (“since the fresh baked ones we’re making aren’t ready yet”, she told us), and upgraded us to a suite with no extra charge.  The kids were so excited about having a bed in the same room as a TV they went a little bonkers and were jumping on the mattress.  T was so excited at all the hoopla, he exclaimed between happy bounces, “This is awesome!  I love Disneyworld!”   . . . Ha!  I loved hearing that!  We could have just driven to the local Marriott and he would have been totally thrilled. : )

(3) The rides at the parks.  There were too many kids to juggle to get the camera out during most of the rides, but oh how we loved those roller coasters.  E did space mountain with her dad.  Both girls did thunder mountain and splash mountain with dad and me (while Grammy and Grandpa took the boys on a train ride).  And T loved the kiddie roller coaster.  He would have gone on the bigger ones if he had a few extra inches.  Oh well.  Next time!  (Note to future travelers: they insisted that each child have an adult with them on the rides because E is not 7 yet…thank you for braving the roller coaster with us Grammy and Grandpa!  Also, ask us for details on the fast pass and baby friendly “rider swap” program if you’re planning a trip…)

(4) The video I accidentally made, but will never share, on the way home.  I tried to film a short clip of the kids at a mall food court, but accidentally neglected to turn the camera off.  So what I actually have is a 40 minute audio tape of the 6 trips to the mall bathroom we made with the older 3 kids.  (Heaven help me, it was one of those “I have to go again” days and the lines were long and…anyway…it’s an awesome audio of the conversations we had about “what was your favorite part of the trip” and “I loved this” and other priceless memories from the week, interspersed with lots of horrific bathroom sounds.  What are the chances?!

And, of course, the photos:

Hard to choose which ones to share…The kids LOVED meeting the characters.  And we all just loved being together.  Here’s a random scattering:

DSC_0485

a “high five” with Buzz

T after he defeated Donald Duck in arm wrestling.  One of m favorite T photos ever : )

T after he defeated Donald Duck in arm wrestling. One of my favorite T photos ever : )

Poured rain the day we had the princess breakfast...randomly caught a "carriage" to the castle and the girls were beyond thrilled..."a royal carriage" they still recall!

Sweetest S! We surprised you and E with special occasion princess makeup and sticker earrings this day in honor of your breakfast with the princesses.  It poured rain en route and we randomly managed to catch a covered wagon to the castle.  Grandpa and the driver sang to us as we rode.  The girls were beyond thrilled with the whole experience . . . “a royal carriage!” they still talk about : )

Jasmine and her twin, E

Jasmine and her twin, E

Aurora and her twin, S

Aurora and her twin, S

I don't know who those other characters are, but this is my dad and I LOVE him.

I don’t know who those other characters are, but this is my dad and I LOVE him.

Oh My !!!

Oh My !!!

There is no caption to express how happy this photo makes me.  E is dressed as a fairy, and she was able to meet Tinkerbell and Rosetta this day.  S, though not pictured here, was dressed as a fairy also.  T spent part of the day dressed as Thomas the Train because, well, he's the best character ever obviously, even if he doesn't live at Disneyworld.

There is no caption to express how happy this photo makes me. E is dressed as a fairy, and she was able to meet Tinkerbell and Rosetta this day. S, though not pictured here, was dressed as a fairy also. T spent part of the trip dressed as Thomas the Train because, well, he’s the best character ever obviously, even if he doesn’t live at Disneyworld.

Thank you, Grammy!

Two fun lovin’ gals…Grammy and S!

Grandpa and H, taken back at home, but in honor of their many snuggles at Disney.

Grandpa and H, taken back at home, but in honor of their many snuggles at Disney.

Did I mention that it rained?!

Did I mention that it rained?!

H, wanting to hold his mama's hand on the ride home.

H, wanting to hold his mama’s hand on the ride home.  How I treasure these moments… (even though I had to climb into the backseat while we drove down the interstate at 70mph to get my thumb into position…you are so worth it, H!)

I’ll post a few more photos in a future post so you can see T as the cutest beast ever (cast in a short skit with princess Belle…here’s a preview..).

Oh, what a prince charming, that one!

Oh, what a prince charming, that one!

More later!

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Things to remember

Today is my birthday!  Two years ago today, my husband asked me what I wanted for my birthday, and I said “three hours in a coffee shop by myself to write something other than a to-do list”.  He granted my wish, and I emerged three hours later with an essay about my Grandma J and an idea to start a blog.

I haven’t been great about writing recently…I could write an entire entry that was just a list of excuses and explanations (and I might write it soon!), but today, I just want to spend an hour on my birthday making a list of things I don’t want to forget about the last few months.

(1) My grandmother/G.G.  She passed away recently, and I don’t want to forget what an amazing person she was.  Future blog posts need to include how she insisted I keep looking for the right guy…”one who will dance with you, K” (a long story, not a judgment on guys who don’t dance : ), how she struck a deal with that right guy when he came along…”I’ll tell the family I like you if you’ll tell them I’m a good driver”…and how she taught me much about life and cards.  In the meantime, here she is pictured holding H during her one time meeting him and my last time seeing her.  This photo was taken at my sister’s baby shower, where there were lots of friends present.  GG, in the nicest way possible, said to one of them who was sitting between us, “Could you sit back while you talk?  I’m trying to look at that baby!”  Ha!  Love you GG!

GG & Hudson

(2) My excitement over the arrival of my new nieces and nephew!  Oh what joy to be an aunt, and to such precious bundles.  Can’t wait to spoil you cousins O and J and G!   And happy early mother’s day to their mamas!   I will think of you as we’re all up at 3am feeding babies!

(3) How my own kids are growing and changing.

– Precious moments like E lying on the ground one day curled in a tiny ball and looking around.  My question, “What are you doing, E?”  Her response, “Pretending to be an ant!  I was just thinking about how the world must look to them from our sidewalk…”   Love that…

Also love this Valentine’s essay E submitted to her teacher.

E's Valentine essay 2013

If you can’t see the words in the photo, it reads

“Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day!  I love my family.  I love tem because taye are so nis to me.  My mom is so nis because she makes diner for me.  My babby brother dosn’t spit up on me.  Taye are so nis because I am nis to tame.”

I especially love this because E references the fact that H spits up on everyone, something that is such a regular part of our routine but that I will likely forget down the road.   Honestly, it is the kids in my life that get the brunt of it, since they stand near my legs while I’m holding H, putting them right in the line of fire. I hadn’t realized until I read this that E has not only emerged unscathed, but has also taken it as a sign of great affection from her youngest brother.  May you always feel the love, E!

– S becoming such a big girl…after a lot of love and work as she struggled with some separation issues (wanting mama all the time), seeing her happily heading into school and playdates.  I cannot emphasize how huge this is in our world…or how that big smile warms my heart.

S riding carousel 2013

I’m always here if you need me, S.  But I love watching you embrace the world too.   (As a side note, S enters the world with her favorite lovey – her “Angie” doll – always in her backpack.  That doll makes S so happy that I love Angie too.  Honestly, it sounds silly, but I have spent years caring for and protecting Angie…you would too if she were your ticket to sleep-filled nights and happy-child days!…Anyway, I didn’t realize how much it had affected me until I recently saw a different “Angie” doll in a ziploc bag on a table at a consignment sale.  Honestly, I had to restrain myself from tearing the bag open so Angie could breathe!  How’s that for a visceral reaction to a doll that has been big in the life of my child?!  I wanted to buy that doll so badly, but stopped myself because (1) we have over a dozen backups at our house already and (2) I kept thinking about the little girl who might come along next and be delighted  to take her home and love her.   I realize this story makes me sound sappy, or crazy, or both, by the way.  What can I say?  I pray that all of my kids will find a real life “Angie” that will bring them as much comfort and happiness as this doll brings S!

– T becoming such a big boy…potty training and transitioning out of his nap (heaven help me!)  I love the pride he takes in his accomplishments…proudly giving everyone in the family a marshmellow after a successful trip to the bathroom (“this is for you, daddy, because I went in the potty!”)  And speaking of pride in accomplishments, check out my boy after he defeated Donald Duck in arm wrestling : )  (more on our trip to see Donald in a future blog post!)

T defeats D Duck

– H growing at warp speed, but still in that precious baby stage.  He’s not even close to sleeping through the night, but will fall asleep in his crib as long as I rub his head and hold his hand.  I managed to snap one photo of him holding my hand while he was in his carseat.  Note the tiny grip on my thumb in the lower right corner of the photo…

.  .photo

Oh what a fleeting phase of life, when holding mama’s hand makes it all better.  Wish I could comfort all my kids so easily forever!

(4) Lots of other things to remember too…maybe someday I’ll write about our “staycation” during spring break, our week playing “hookie” when we pulled all the kids out of school and went on a road trip, Grammy and Grandpa’s amazing presence as they joined us on our last minute travels, my technological craziness (as my computer and phone both recently died), our constant barrage of minor health issues (fine, as long as the big issues stay away, please!), and so many other everyday life moments I want to remember….

but in the meantime, I’ll simply say that it’s nice to have a few minutes to type : )

Hugs,

K

March Madness (alternate title: why? how did you fill out your bracket?)

Filled out brackets to compete against the extended family in a pool of 19 entries…here’s the summary of our “bracketology” and how we’re doing as of 10:30pm on March 22, 2013…

E is currently leading the entire group despite basing her picks entirely on her preference in uniform color – specifically advancing teams in her favorite shade of blue.  This made her one of the few in the country to predict FGCU over Georgetown, by the way.

Notice I said “one of the few”, not “the only”.  If you are wondering who else could have possibly predicted the upset, look no further, because…

The terrific brotherly duo of T & H entered the pool together. Since their entry boasted more than one name (Mr. T & King Hut, to be specific), they selected teams with more than one word in their name to win (such as, drumroll…FGCU over Georgetown).  Their strategy currently has them tied for third in the family pool.  Ha!

To provide slightly more detail, they are tied for third with LPK, my niece who is still in utero.

To summarize, everyone else in the extended family, including myself (a former college assistant basketball coach), my brother-in-law (a former professional athlete), and lots of other folks (who actually watch games and follow players and think about their brackets) are currently losing to four young children, one of whom is making her picks from inside the womb.

And this is why we love March Madness.

(and also one of the many reasons I love my family : )

update on the past month, part 2

Other things we’ve been up to this month…

(1)  Exploring!

Here we are at NC State’s “farm day”.  Note to self: pack vegetarian lunches next year.  Otherwise, S may look at the animals walking around in their pens and ask questions like, “Is that turkey like the turkey I just ate for lunch?” and you will have to field panicked looks from nearby families until you say something misleading like “NO ONE is going to eat THAT turkey!!!”  (and at least one mother will mouth the words “thank you” as you’re leaving.)

S milking a pretend cow. There were also bunnies to pet, calf statues to lasso, and free ice cream. I thought T would like the “touch a tractor” section, but he just yelled “Big Scary Truck!” as we moved away.  I guess he’s used to the matchbox versions.

We also visited the big museum about 40 minutes away (a special outing for us!).  Friends gave us passes they weren’t using (thank you!), and we had an absolute blast.  T fed his train obsession in this exhibit.

T could have happily played here for the entire day.

And how about this sign at the exit of that exhibit?

It’s like they knew T was coming…

(2)  Celebrating!

Our cousins had lots of birthdays, so we have been to their house for a “Tangled”-themed treasure hunt, to a park near their house for their one-year-old’s cake smashing soiree, and to a pasture within that park to just admire the horses and views.  (Thank you, cousins!)  One photo, from my brother, who is by far my favorite photographer (as long as he’s not taking “work photos” of my children, i.e. “X-rays”…)  Can you believe this photo was taken by someone who just plays around with the camera during the off-time from his Orthopedic Surgery practice?

S in the white, E in the green, cousin G with the long ponytail and cousin E in his superman cape.  Childhood captured in photo.

(3)  Hanging around

Check out E on the swing in our backyard.  Photo credit to my brother again.  How much about spring and childhood and E is captured in this one photo of her muddy feet?  Volumes, I tell you.

(4)  Fishing!

Nana got the kids a fishing pole AND managed to disassemble the pole and fix it after I broke it (thank you, Nana!).  Since I clearly don’t know how to handle a rod, dad took over the casting lessons, and the kids had a blast.

Noteworthy: the kids will spend an hour catching minnows and tadpoles in their nets at the local pond and collecting them in a water filled bowl that we pour back into the pond before we leave.  Here are E & T inspecting their catches with Nana…

Also noteworthy: the girls “fished” for an hour with dad with a plastic stopper on the end of the reel (i.e. no bait or hook) and were thrilled with the experience.  I can’t imagine what they will do when we actually introduce the idea that you could use the pole to catch a fish.

(5)  Trying to keep our heads above water in terms of housework

With this much fun going on, mom has had to work overtime to simply keep our familial feet underneath us.  Exhibit A: every few weeks I have to go through a pile that looks like this to pull any artwork or projects we want to save.

This process deserves a post of its own.  Stay tuned.  Then there’s the normal stuff.  I mentioned before that I lost the battle with the laundry.  I fared only slightly better in the kitchen.  And Nana saved me with regards to everything else.  (see below)

(6)  Spent time with Nana!

Nana’s visit was devoted to catching up, hanging out, and pitching in. In addition to fishing, playing, taking the kids to several museums (T was adorable riding the train at the local science museum and still asks to “go ride James” again at least every other day), Nana just rolled up her sleeves and help me get some things done.

More detail?   I am just out of the first trimester of pregnancy, which means I am still exhausted, but also feeling my version of a nesting instinct.  Much to my husband’s dismay, I have no desire to clean, but an overwhelming urge to organize and declutter (my normal instinct, but taken to a fever-pitch during pregnancy).  The end result: During pregnancy, I am desperate to get organized but too tired to actually do it, which leaves me very frustrated.  While she was here, Nana helped me sort through the kids outgrown clothes and she watched the kids and took care of lots of everyday things (the kitchen! the laundry!) while I tackled the attic, my desk, the bankbook, and several projects that have been languishing on my “to-do” list literally for years.  Thank you, Nana!  We loved playing with you and are so appreciative of all the help.  (I haven’t listed everything you helped me catch up on because I am embarrassed that I was that far behind!)

More updates coming…have I mentioned that it’s been a busy month?!

Snow Day!!!

It snowed last week!

We took full advantage of what will likely be the only snow of the year, managing to do a lot more than you might imagine with only an inch of the white stuff.  Check us out…

sledding

So it kind of became "mudsliding" more than "sledding" by the end, but still great fun!

…making snow angels

…making (tiny) snowmen

See it? Right there by T's foot?! With the baby carrot nose?! Unfortunately, a few minutes later, someone walking through didn't see it, and the snowman met with an untimely demise...but we enjoyed Frosty's mini-me while he lasted!

throwing snowballs

See that one about to hit our unsuspecting neighbor in the navy jacket?! and the wicked grin on S' face?!

…and then, of course, coming in for hot chocolate.

Check out the size of that marshmellow E is about to drop in her hot chocolate? Either Aunt H or Nana brought those for the family Christmas, and we finished off the last of them during the snow day!

The best part is that the snow came on President’s Day (a school holiday), so we had already planned to spend the afternoon with our cousins.  By then, the snow had melted, so we excitedly loaded into the car and spent the afternoon hanging out at a museum with family and the evening enjoying some playtime and BBQ at their place.  Here are a few museum shots:

A floor piano... just like in "Big"!

The cousins exploring the dental part of the exhibit...

No BBQ shots, as my hands were too busy helping myself to yet another hushpuppy throughout the meal to pull out my camera…

Anyway, there is simply nothing like a snow day in the south…especially this type of day.  No shoveling, no icy roads, not even jackets required by mid-afternoon, but plenty of winter fun to go around.

The world through the eyes (and in the words) of S

S, who is used to seeing spinach salad, today looked at a head of iceberg lettuce that her grandpa was using to garnish his sandwich and said, “Look.  It’s a ball of salad.”

I do love the way that kid sees the world.

If there is a “me” in a parallel universe…

It occurred to me today, as my kids were headed to church in our (very) wrinkly clothes that if there is a “me” that exists somewhere in an alternate, parallel universe, she is doing an inordinate amount of ironing.

I feel very sorry for her.

(And please don’t feel sorry for my wrinkly church-clothed children.  They have had an awesome time hosting family – Aunt B, Uncle T and 3 cousins! – in a weekend that has included a college football game, playdo, blocks, dress-up, stories, movies, books, duck-feeding, ice-cream cones (in a place with a view, rocking chairs, and a field big enough to play duck-duck-goose), and lots of time on the back porch.  So what if we’re all a little… I mean a lot… I mean, ridiculously, wrinkly?!

– Number one: I don’t ever iron (see this previous blog post at http://wp.me/p1Auii-V), and

– Number two: With all that fun going on, it’s a miracle we managed to make sure all the kids had a (relatively) clean change of clothes!)