Sunday, September 29, 2013

An ode to Nicholas (mostly in pictures)

I don't give Nicholas enough credit--on the blog, or in general--for all the things he does for our little family. I am so proud of the work he does in his career. I have been able to get a little better glimpse this year at how hard he works and how valuable he is to UA. His work makes it possible for me to have so much time with the kids that otherwise would have to be spent working. I don't overlook all the things that our family has and is able to afford because of his hard work!

And beyond that Nicholas is a great hands-on dad! Often when he gets home from work, he is immediately thrown into taking care of both kids while I finish dinner. And I LOVE that he meets that with a smile and with silly things to do. (See pictures below.) 

Our new bedtime routine has Nicholas and I alternating nights to give baths (while the other cleans the kitchen) and then we alternate which child we each put to bed. This has been going great, and I love that Nicholas is "all in" on this. 

He is our wonderful van-loader and unloader on trips...seriously he has mad spacial-relations skills! No one would ever believe all the stuff we cram into that van! I am the planner in the family, but I am so glad that Nicholas is "go with the flow" enough to let me be...and to be happy being dragged around to activities and events from going to birthday parties, nature walks, pools, football "tailgating", weddings, family trips, and everything else I make him do. 

And it's not so rare that at the end of a long day Nicholas offers to fold the last load of laundry for me and pack the kids lunches so that I can go to bed. Thank you, honey! I appreciate everything that you do for me and for us!

Here's to you, honey!

Playing goats in the backyard. The castle is the barn. Olivia named Leo "Little Boy Blue" and she is named "Gilda". Nicholas is obviously the farmer.

I was taking Leo's picture while he played trains, and Olivia suddenly said, "Take our picture!" So cute of both of them!

Notice that Nicholas is actually holding Leo up. Leo has on rain boots and is just balancing.

Now Olivia wants a turn on the scoot bike.

I love the progression of Leo in these photos.

Nicholas is adjusting the seat for Olivia.

While Leo decides to do something else! Ha!

A boy and his dad!
Checking out the new fountain outside Daddy's office.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

And a few pictures of what the kids did while I was partying

I need to mention that my sister Stephanie is remarkable. When my father broke his leg in ND last week and my mom told me she wouldn't be able to come to IN to help with the kids while I had wedding activities, my sister Stephanie said, "No worries! I got this!" This was five kids ranging in ages from ten months to ten years, including my two. Stephanie is amazing! I am SO grateful that she was able to watch our kids while we partied! Olivia had THE.BEST.TIME!! She is still talking about it and wants to go back. Leo had a good time, too, but had a little trouble sleeping the night we weren't there. 

From the sound of it, they played outside a lot, had fashion shows, dance parties, played with trains and horses, and had two really awesome slumber parties! Olivia, Abby, Craig, AND Leo fell asleep on the mattress that Stephanie set up at the foot of their bed! Awesome! I am now convinced that Stephanie is the baby whisperer! Thank you, Stephanie! (I promise to keep your kids for a few days soon!!)


Stacey's lovely wedding

My friend Stacey got married this weekend! 

And what a wonderful weekend it was! Usually weddings are so hectic and so much work for the bridal party that it is hard to enjoy them...but not this one! And usually brides are so stressed with last minute things to do that it is hard for them to smile and relax and enjoy the festivities. But not Stacey! I was SO impressed with her this whole weekend. She was cool, thoughtful, and sweet all the times I saw her. Stacey was the ultimate planner--thinking of everything ahead of time so that the weekend went very smoothly. (I should have expected this from Stacey, who I met and became friends with in graduate school. She was my prelim study buddy--we studied together three hours a day for six months preparing for our qualifiers.) Stacey's maid of honor, Felisa, was also super great about thinking ahead and planning fun events! Nicholas, the kids, and I drove in on Thursday and got to Jane's house around five thirty. Stacey's bachelorette party was at Uptown Art in Louisville, and we had a great time there!! Stacey chose the painting, Felisa planned the food, Ellen (the bridesmaid next to me) brought novelty cupcakes, and I brought carmel and chocolate dipped pretzels. The group of ladies were great and the art was fun to make, too! Here are a series of shots leading to the big reveal!

Friday, Nicholas took the kids to Stephanie's while I went to the bridal shower luncheon. (I swear the lighting in there made for extremely horrible pictures.)

That afternoon we went to have our nails done, courtesy of Stacey, which gave the bridal party a little time to get to know one another. Later that day was the rehearsal and the rehearsal dinner, which Stacey and Mike decided to have a great pizza place downtown Louisville. It was a wonderful casual atmosphere, and the slideshow that Stacey's little brother put together of Stacey and Mike was the hit of the close competition to the yummy cake balls...that Stacey's mom let me steal a few for Olivia and Leo!

On the day of the wedding, we all got our hair done and then headed to Stacey's house to help her get ready. In reality, her hair and make-up were ready and she was just waiting on us to finish up getting ready so that we could start pictures of us "getting her ready." Stacey's mom was so thoughtful with lots of food for us, and after we helped Stacey zip into her dress and put on her jewelry, she was wisked away for a "first look" photo shoot meeting with Mike while we girls ate. 

To say the least, Stacey looked gorgeous on her wedding day. Her dress was beautiful, her hair and make-up looked great, and she was just beaming with happiness. The day was beautiful, too--sunny and fair. The wedding ceremony was touching and the homily from the deacon was heartfelt.

After pictures at a nearby park, it was reception time! It was a beautiful setting at a room on the 25th floor overlooking the river at sunset. Stacey and Mike were so cool and gracious, and extremely fun!! I have never been to a wedding where so many people danced for so long!! Truly, there were at least thirty people on the dance floor for over two hours. And I was one of them for much of it, if you can believe it! Nicholas even danced one dance with me!

So, here's to Stacey and Mike! Congratulations on your wedding and all the very best to you in the years to come!!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Birthday parties and other fun stuff!

We have been enjoying the great weather the past week! We went to Kindermusik early and sat on the grass listening to UA's marching band practice, we have been enjoying Kindermusik every Monday afternoon, we have been to our pool and playground several times--Olivia is getting so comfortable with the water and is "swimming" by herself with her puddle jumper on from one end of the pool to the other. We've been out riding Olivia's tricycle and visiting our friend Sylvia and her Old English Mastiff and two cats a couple of times to. We were also invited to two birthday parties for Olivia's friends this weekend. The first was for our friend Rene and Dax's son Colton, who turned three and had a really cool Fireman themed party at the playground and firehouse near the airport. Sylvia is friends with Rene, too, and came with us, which was a big help since Leo wanted to drive the fire truck, but Olivia did not!

Look at all these kids!! And Leo and a few others didn't make it into the picture!

Sunday morning Olivia, Leo, and I went to the playground, but it was hotter than I expected, so we ended up at our pool with no bathing suits. I told the kids they could dip their feet in the baby pool to cool off, but Olivia got soaked. I only had a one-piece outfit of Leo's, so I told her it could be like a leotard. She bought it and wore it home! It was hilarious to see her a very 4T running around in a size 24 months! Here she is contemplating while we were playing later in the afternoon while Leo napped. She was pretending to be at the hospital while I worked in my office typing emails.

Later that afternoon we went to the Barnyard for Olivia's classmate Amelia. They all had a great time as you can see from all these smiles!


Leo at home

Leo is often very good at entertaining himself. The kitchen that is set-up in our entry to the great room always draws him in, and he definitely plays with it more than Olivia. My little chef has taken to putting Minnie and some dolls in the shopping cart and taking them with him. He loves Minnie so much now that I think we are going to have to get a second one as it was Olivia's to begin with, but now Minnie sleeps with Leo each night since he is so attached! He sets Minnie up on the rocking chair when I read him bedtime stories and sits next to her while I read. So cute! 

And Leo loves "sauce"! BBQ sauce, spaghetti sauce, ketchup, syrup--any kind of condiment or saucy thing is "sauce" to him. And he requests it! Eating ribs the other night:

Leo has also taken to carrying Olivia's baby dolls around the house. Olivia only plays with them occasionally, but Leo has been consistently playing with them lately. The cute little way he says "Babies!" just melts my heart!

Leo also loves trains, but we don't have many. Olivia had a passing interest in Thomas when she was about his age, so we have a couple of videos, books, and toy trains, but I see an opening to get him into trains. When we visit my nephew this weekend, we are going to bring some trains back with us so that he has more to play with. He already knows Thomas, James, and Percy and can say them recognizably, so we are off to a good start!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

These days

These days are going by so fast. Olivia laid out the case for why she wanted/needed a bird last night at dinner, and Nicholas and I were looking at each other during the three minute monologue thinking, "Where did this girl come from, and where is our baby?" Leo sang "Row, row, row your boat" in the car this morning, and I almost stopped to stare at him thinking about where my baby had gone. It is super fun being the mom to these growing kids, but I want it to happen just a little more slowly! Here is what we have been up to lately, trying to enjoy as many moments as possible!

Lots of snuggling...and remembering how Leo has always been a snuggler.

Olivia started dance class again last week. We had moved her to an afternoon class, but IT WAS CRAZY BUSY with people everywhere, so we moved her back to a morning class. They are starting to do tap! She loves it! (A miracle happened Tuesday morning, and Olivia asked for ribbons in her hair! What?! I am going to have to buy some! She has navy ribbons in her pig tails because that is all I had. We need to buy some yardage in other colors!) I love the morning class because Leo can run around without getting in people's way and I can visit a little with the other moms.

After dance, we had a picnic at the splashpad. It is still hot here, and we are enjoying the end of summer!

Friday, September 6, 2013

The beach! Our first trip as a family of four + visiting grandparents!

Saturday morning the four of us made the trek to Panama City Beach, FL for our first mini-vacation as a family of four, and it went great! (All things considered!) We booked a reasonably priced ocean front suite with a kitchen and living room area and a bedroom with a door that closed, which was key to the kids being able to sleep. We had a blast playing in the sand, swimming in the ocean, jumping into the pool, watching movies, reading books, going to Gulf World, and visiting with my parents who met us there! Olivia was VERY sad to go! (I thought I would be sad, too, but three nights was just long enough to make me ready for Leo to start sleeping better. He was up A LOT!!)

The first day we beat Mom and Dad there, so we hit the beach on our own. We found a great little penninsula with shallow water and good sand for building sandcastles. Leo and I liked the water a lot! Nicholas and Olivia worked on sandcastles!

Then, we played in the pool for a while and took a snack break.

The next day we repeated the beach and pool trips, took naps, and went out for dinner. It's hard to go out with kids, so we picked a kid-friendly place complete with playset on the beach! We ate in the rest of the time. Grandpa was great helping with kids that night!

Mom took some pictures of us that evening, too!

We hit Gulf World on Monday morning since it was raining a bit, and the kids loved the animals!

After another afternoon of nap, beach, and pool, and an evening of watching the dancing/singing parts of Sound of Music or White Christmas with the grandparents, we fed the birds on the beach for the second morning in a row. The kids threw some bread to the birds, but we mostly watched Grandpa! 

These trips and activities so remind me of all the great memories I have from being a kid with my parents, grandparents, and cousins at the beach! So fun! I'm so thankful that Nicholas was up for it and so were my parents! I hope all the cousins can come in years to come!