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Category Archives: The Kids

2 Year Pictures and a Sister Shoot

 

Isn’t she just gorgeous?

I mean, I know I’m her mama and mama’s always think so…but she’s super-dee-duper cute.

And now she is big.

She was super-dee-duper small. Like, 5 lbs, 12 oz kind of small.

After small, she got..well, not small. Like, 20 lbs at 6 months kind of not small. By 1…she was round and fluffy, like a “puff ball”, as Jackson would call her.

The baby is all gone.

She sleeps in a big girl bed and speaks in complete sentences. She knows her alphabet and can count to 10. She loves to sing songs, and just this morning when I went to get her out of bed she says,

“I want to dance today, Mama!”.

She has been my introduction into “the terrible twos”. I’ve never had one of those before. I thought the 3rd was supposed to be easier? The difference, though, in getting a “terrible two-er” when you are three kids in is that instead of just seeing how frustrated it makes you, you can understand and appreciate the passion that drives them.

She is very passionate.

London came along with us.

The two of them are basically inseparable now.

I think London has gone through a growth spurt, because they used to almost be the same height. Maybe now the twin question will stop? {probably not if they keep walking around like this}

Can I tell you how unbelievably blessed I feel to have two precious girls? Sisters are the absolute BEST! I’m so happy that they sometimes let me pretend like I’m one of them.

But only sometimes. 🙂

I love my girls. I am one lucky Mama.

Our Week in Review

First, a pop quiz:

Who Am I?

Jackson even had a hard time guessing! He guessed right, but then asked, “Right? At least, I think so.” He can never tell them apart when they are wet in the bathtub, which I think is hysterical! Greg and I can see how they look alike at times, but even we are baffled at the endless “are they twins?” questions from strangers. Thank goodness they aren’t; I shudder to think of the hard work real twin mommies have to put in. I’m lucky that my girls are 18 months a part!

ANYway, our week! Busy! Busy! Add a bit more “busy”! We just finished our second week of school, and things are going much, much smoother! We are in a routine, and the children know what is expected of them and when. It is still hard to juggle London and Brooklyn, but its getting better. So, here are some of the things we did this week!

Dress up! Lots and lots of dress up! The girls are really into this right now, and they alternate between princesses, ninjas, and super-heros.  Whichever they’ve chosen for the day usually stays on ALL day, especially with London. Brooklyn usually just wears it for a few hours and is done, but not London.

Letter of the Week is going really well! Last week was Ee for Elephant. This particular activity has her matching up letter disks to their partner on the page. She LOVES this game, and is very good at it!

The Daily Five is working AWESOME for us! One of his centers is Word Work, and he gets to choose from 5 activities right now to do with his spelling words. Technically he doesn’t have spelling words since we are using All About Spelling and don’t have traditional lists to memorize. I found these lists online and have been using them.

We visited China this week in Expedition Earth! Jackson learned how to write and count to 10 in Mandarin Chinese, how to write his name, how to say “Hello!” and “Thank you”, and learned lots of interesting facts. For fun {yes, fun!}, we made up math problems in Chinese for each other! We read “A Grain of Rice”, which I highly recommend. Jackson loved it! This week is a short week because of Labor Day, and since we only run a 4 day school schedule, we only have 3 days this week. I have to catch up on Science, so we won’t visit South Korea until next week. Instead, we will just keep studying about China and read books like “The Story of Ping” and “Tikki Tikki Tembo”.

Have y’all ever heard of whisper phones? They are great! During Jackson’s Read to Self center during the Daily Five, he can use this to whisper to himself. He is whispering so he isn’t disturbing his sisters while I work with them, but the phone amplifies his voice in his ear, making it seem like he is speaking out loud! It is works great for having kids hear themselves read and creates an awareness of phonetic patterns and mistakes they may be making while decoding without realizing it.

We also play lots of games! This one is a favorite of the kids. Its Bingo by Leapfrog, and comes with several different options. You can do numbers, shapes, colors, etc. Jackson is a good sport and plays along with his sisters, helping them find the right answers.

We also took a field trip to the Children’s Museum with a few of our friends! Usually its pretty expensive, but they were running a summer special of $6 per person, so we jumped at the chance! The children LOVE this place and could spend hours there! When we move closer we may have to get a membership…its a great place to escape the heat and burn off some energy!

On Saturday I celebrated my 31st birthday! We went to Joe’s Farm Grill for lunch and spent the weekend enjoying each others company.

So, on to week 3! Only 33 more to go, lol!

{from the sea to the zoo…and everything in between.}

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We are back! We had a FABULOUS time…it was absolutely beautiful. We had a gorgeous condo on the beach in a beautiful area with everything we could need or want (including an amazing french bakery with the BEST croissants this side of the..uh, world). 

The children loved the ocean! At least, Brooklyn and Jackson did.

London was content with just sitting and playing in the sand. She is my cautious one, and doesn’t stray far from me. I found it entirely too cold to get in the ocean, so London thought the same. 🙂

So, instead, we chatted about life and tanned our skin in the warmth of the sun. She told me her secrets and I told her mine.

Picnics.

The Littles get their revenge.

One day we spent at Sea World. We started off our day with Breakfast with Shamu. It was awesome! We got to feast on a delicious breakfast buffet and get an up close experience with one of the orcas before their show.  He did some pretty awesome tricks, and it was neat to see them so up close!

London loved the aquariums. Any exhibit that had a huge wall of water with fish swimming serenely by was her favorite. Funny story: there was a small yellow fish that made friends with my little. London followed him along the outside of the wall, and not paying attention, ran smack into the adjacent wall. The little fished laughed. (I did, a little, too.)

One of Jackson’s favorite was the Shark Encounter. During one part of the exhibit, you rode a moving walkway that took you through a tunnel full of sharks and fish swimming overhead. It was very cool!

Greg vacationed in San Diego as a child and throughout his life. World Famous is a restaurant that he and his father would visit every time they went to San Diego, so it was neat to be able to bring our kids there and experience that with them.

San Diego Zoo! World famous, and rightly so! This place was incredible! We started out our morning with a zoo tour atop a double decker bus! The kids got a great view of most of the animals, and we got to see the entire park without having to walk it all (phew!).

The kids begged to get their faces painted, so we let them choose what they wanted. Jackson got a lizard and London got a glittery flower. She was quite proud of her accessory! Soon after, we visited the reptile house, which was a big hit with Jackson. Since then, he has owned an imaginary rattlesnake that won’t bite any member of our family and only eats cheeseburgers and grass.

The zoo is like the ultimate Where’s Waldo. The kids loved searching for the animals in their habitats!

Nana came along with us on our vacation, and we were so happy to have her! The children adore her, and I’m so glad that they were able to create some spectacular memories together!

I can hardly believe that our vacation has come and gone. 😦 We had such a great time, and I really can’t wait to start planning the next one!

{what a weekend!}

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I love three day weekends.

So much TIME, you know? I feel like there is never enough of it, and then a 3 day weekend comes with perfect weather and family activities, and everything seems just right.

Saturday was gorgeous in Phoenix! A “cold front” had moved in, and brought our temperatures down into the low 80’s, which is unheard of at the end of May. We took advantage and worked on our deprived, forgotten backyard. We played in the pool and had a picnic lunch on our patio. We soaked up the sun, enjoyed the cool breeze, and took delight in the time we had.

   

For Memorial Day, we went down to Tucson to spend the day at Nana and Jerry’s house! We went swimming, spent time playing with cousins and family, enjoyed a delicious BBQ dinner, and had such a wonderful time. London at one point declared that it was, “her best day ever.”

    

We had such a great time, and now we are in countdown mode for our much anticipated, week-long vacation in San Diego! Less than 3 weeks…

Our Intentional Summer

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Pinterest has changed my life. Really.

So many people refuse to sign up, claiming its a time waster. True…it can be. But can I tell you the thousands of ideas that have made their way across my page? Literally…thousands. I’m a better teacher because of it. I’m a better organizer. I really think that I’m a better mom because of it (at least, when I’m not ignoring their demands as I’m perusing Pinterest).

This is the product of one of the incredible ideas that I came upon recently:

Our Intentional Summer Plan! Rather than just coast through our summer, I wanted to make sure that we were grabbing up moments and turning them into memories. So, for the next nine weeks, we have:
Make It Monday:  Do a craft or science experiment. This was easy to plan! We have all kinds of fun things lined up, like Fly Swatter Painting, Elephant Toothpaste, and Cat in the Hat Jello!

Tell a Story Tuesday: read a book and retell it (have to sneak learning in somewhere, right?). Some weeks have themes; for example, the week of 4th of July we will read books about…well, the 4th of July!

In the Word Wednesday: Family Worship. We have an awesome book we use titled Training Hearts, Teaching Minds.

Thoughtful Thursday: Service Day! We are doing things like bringing donuts to our church staff, muffins to our librarians, and crayons and coloring books to the Children’s hospital.

Family Fun Friday: Greg’s schedule allows us to have the mornings to play! So, we have fun things like a breakfast picnic in the park (that way its cool enough to play!), the Children’s Museum, and the pool all lined up!

I’m so excited to start this next week! What are your plans for the summer?

A lot of great ideas came from My Mix of Six and What a Ride!, especially the service ones. The original idea came from ThePoeFam, and I highly recommend you stop by her blog! She seems like my kind of gal!

A Perfect Day

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I have two types of perfect days.

There are perfect days that are perfect because I have no responsibilities (read: for some reason, my children aren’t with me). Don’t get me wrong; I adore my children. I do. But, in order to keep adoring them, I have to have a few perfect days without them. Usually they are with my husband, and they involve things like sleeping, reading, talking, walking, eating without cutting up food, eating hot food, eating my own food, not sharing my food, shopping for things that I need, not having a diaper in my purse, getting in and out of the car in 3 seconds flat, actually going inside a Starbucks rather than the drive-thru…you get the point.

Then there are the perfect days that are full of responsibility and cut up food and diapers and drive-thrus…the perfect days that are about our family. Friday was that kind of perfect day. The weather was absolutely gorgeous, and we decided to go to the pool. Yep. It’s the beginning of April. It’s 95 outside. The days of constant wet swimsuits and towels in the dryer have started. I could not be happier about it.

 

It was perfect. The water is still heated from the winter, the temperatures aren’t scorching yet, and school isn’t out, so the pool isn’t busy. No lines, no crowds…just warm water, warm weather, the sweet smell of coconut sunscreen in the air and happy squeals from my children.

Perfect.

After the pool, we drove with the windows down to the nearest Rubios and sat outside, munching on food that reminded us of the beach and sea breezes. We went home, laid the kids down for naps, and took a nap ourselves.

I got a pedicure. I’ll spare you the picture, but a perfect day almost always includes a pedicure.

Then, we dyed Easter eggs.

I went with something new this year. I had seen a blogger do a post on dying your eggs with Kool-Aid instead of vinegar. I liked the idea of not stinking up my house (on a perfect day, stink house is not allowed), so I gave it a whirl. My house smelled of sugar, and the colors were vibrant and pretty. The only thing I noticed is that you have to wait until the eggs dry before you really handle them, or the color will wipe off. Other than that, it was fantastic, and I don’t think I’ll ever go back to vinegar based dye!

Another tip I had seen (I can’t find my original pin to post for you) was to use whisks to hold your eggs while they are being colored. GENIUS! I mean, it was absolutely fantastic. Using whisks means that even your little ones can get in on the fun…Brooklyn loved dipping it in and out, in and out, in and out, in and out…you get the point. Aren’t the colors fabulous? Kool-Aid, ya’ll. It’s wicked awesome.


While I wouldn’t always put such an intense, time-consuming, possible tantrum-causing activity on a perfect day schedule…this made it the kid’s perfect day.

And when everyone around you, from 1-35, feels just as perfectly perfect as you do…then you know it’s a perfect day.

Milestone Pictures – Downtown Gilbert Railroads

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About a month ago, I was all geared up to take London’s 3 year and Brooklyn’s 18 month pictures together.

Then the Great Plague of 2012 hit, and everyone was sick for a month.

It ended up working out pretty well, because during that time Jackson turned 6. So, I decided to just get all three of them done at one time. Whilst doing it I realized that probably wasn’t the smartest idea on my part; the kids weren’t focused and if I had done it one-on-one, I probably would have ended up with more shots. However, doing it this way gave me great rewards…such as the picture above.

I’m just going to say it: my children are adorable. 😉

Brooklyn: 19 months. Adorable, squishy ball of fun. She is a very tall girl, sitting at 34 inches (just 2 inches shy of her big sister…trust me, I get the “are they twins?” a lot!) and 24 pounds. She is wicked smart and very expressive. She loves to sing and dance, color, and can be frequently found with a baby doll or stuffed animal under her arm. This child is addicted to her blankie and her binky, much to her mother’s chagrin (but, hey! she’s the baby! who cares, right?). You never would know now that she had a developmental delay, as she gets exactly where she needs to be in record time. She is the life of our party.

London: 3 years. Holy moly, this girl is SPUNKY! As I’m writing this, I’m reminded of how we used to call her “spicy pepper.” A girly-girl sparkly princess to her core, she glitters and glows. She still has her charming fairy voice, and is my super polite, always compassionate, tender-hearted little soul. She knows all her letters and the sounds they make, can count to 20, and is learning how to make and follow patterns. She will start preschool (at home) in the fall, and she is VERY excited! She loves to dance, color, and can usually be found near her kitchen set in the playroom, preparing delicious treats for her family!

Jackson: 6 years. No longer are his updates about traditional milestones; we’ve reached the “boy zone” where, well…he’s made it all. His milestones are now focused on bigger things, like learning to ride a bike on his own and mastering multiplication. His current interests are weather, human anatomy, and volcanoes. He is currently planning on writing the National Hurricane Center to request that his name be used to name a hurricane in the future (there has never been a Jackson).  He is finishing up second grade (six weeks left!) and is looking forward to our week long vacation to San Diego this summer. He plans to rock it at Legoland. 🙂

1,3, and 6. All such great ages, really. Each one of them bring their own jazz and spark to our family, and I really couldn’t imagine life without any of them. I love my precious babes!

Six!!!

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I know I say it every year…but, man! Six! Another year flew by, and I have a boy who is *this* much closer to…well, young man-dom. Which my brain just can’t fathom. In six more years he will be 12 (that math lesson was free!), and with how fast these six flew by…well, yep. Crazy.

We started the day with birthday breakfast, which is homemade pancakes with sprinkles, fresh whipped cream, and raspberries. Such a simple addition to pancake batter just makes everything so much special for birthday kids! I love being able to make things *that* much more special, at least to them. He then opened his presents from us, with the big one being a keyboard (he also got books, walkie talkies, and a new Nerf gun)! He was THRILLED, and the kids are really getting a lot of use out of it!

In case you didn’t know, Jackson is REALLY into volcanoes. What he wants to be when he grows up usually includes a variation of a ‘ninja chef’, meteorologist, or vulcanologist. Every Wednesday he goes to a class with other 5+ aged kids for 3 hours while I’m in attending a Bible study. He wanted volcano cakes to take to his class, and this is what I came up with! Basically, they were mini bundt cakes (I found the pan at Target), topped with chocolate ganache, and then drizzled with red sparkle frosting. I think they turned out great! Sadly, London fell ill (AGAIN) so we couldn’t go, but I popped them in the freezer, so hopefully they will be okay to take this week. Jackson LOVED them!

Since his birthday fell on a Tuesday, we waited until Saturday to go out to dinner. He, of course, chose Joe’s Farm Grill. Nana and Jerry met us there to celebrate with us, and we all had a great time! Next door to Joe’s is their coffee shop, where they have the most amazing cupcakes (they’ve been featured on the Food Network show ‘Cupcake Wars’), so Jackson and I walked over and picked out his birthday cupcakes. They, of course, devoured them. It may have been a world record for fastest cupcake consumption ever.

There were lots of other families and kids there, and the children all started a huge game of Duck, Duck, Goose which, of course, my children can’t resist! I didn’t post any of the photos because other children were in them, but they had a blast! I love the picture of Brooklyn above…it looks like she is about to take off, lol! Ready, set, go! We all had such a good time!

My handsome Jackson,

I remember the moment you were placed in my arms for the very first time. I was head over heels in love with you from that very first moment, and I would have never believed what you would be at six. You are truly so much more than your number; in fact, you are much more mature than that. Despite your smarts (have I mentioned how smart you are?), you are oddly quirky in a hysterical way. Today, you were in the playroom, and threw something down, making a huge crash. “Daddy, did you hear that Big Bang? Get it? Big Bang. It’s an astrophysical joke!”. My gosh, what six year old says that?! And you cracked yourself up over it!
You absolutely adore your sisters, and they couldn’t ask for a better big brother! You are quick to help, nurture, teach, and care for them. At the same time, you are quick to be like any other brother, getting frustrated and angry when they don’t do your will. What sets you apart is your ability to control your emotions and temper (most times), and you never lash out at them. Ever. When Brooklyn and London are doing their breathing treatments, you make sure that their favorite shows are on the TV, and you will stand by them, making sure they don’t need anything.
With age, comes responsibility. You now do chores around the house, including clearing off the table, wiping it down, and sweeping. Do you know how happy this makes me? You do it with such a cheerful heart, and I adore you for it. You pick out your own clothes, dress yourself, and put away your own laundry. Can you believe it? At some point this past year, you grew up.
Jackson, we are incredibly blessed to be your parents. We thank God for you everyday, and are constantly seeking wisdom and guidance when it comes to leading you to become what you will be. It is an honor and blessing to know you, to love you, and to lead you. We love you so much!!!

Love,
Mommy

First Popsicle

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It was a hit!

Our Days.

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I really can’t believe that its March. I run on an all-year school schedule, so it will be awhile before we are finished with 2nd grade (He is on Week 22 of 36), but still. I’m starting to prepare for London to start a preschool program (at home, of course) and gathering everything I will need to order for Jackson’s 3rd grade year. I’m in full planning mode at the moment, and I’d say that its fair to say that I’ve spent at least 2 hours every night researching and planning stuff for next fall. Next week I’m going to South Carolina for a homeschool convention that I’m so excited for!  I’m determined to have everything printed and laminated and organized before our next year starts in September. Add a possible move this summer into the mix, and I’m a wee bit stressed out.

I thought I’d do a little post on what our days are looking like, currently. After everyone wakes up and has breakfast, we start school around 9 am. London and Brooklyn are usually just playing or coloring, which isn’t working out to well, hence my need to plan better for next year. I’m going to move to a workbox system where each child has 6-10 boxes that they work through over the course of the day. I’m VERY excited about that!  We do Language Arts in the morning (Reading, Grammar, Writing) and History. Then we break for lunch and naps.

After Jackson’s rest time (from 12:30-2), we do Math, Logic/Critical Thinking, and Science. I purposely wait until the afternoon because the house is quiet. The girls are napping and Jackson can focus, plus I can give him one-on-one attention without distractions if he needs help. This usually takes us about 1-1.5 hours, and then he is done for the day.

After the girls wake up, its free time. They read, watch cartoons and have a snack, play in the playroom, or play outside. I LOVE this picture of Brooklyn. She set her doll up, wrapped her in a blanket, and then sat down to read her stories. How precious is that?

We just got these chairs for the schoolroom. London decided that they needed to be their “have a snack and watch cartoons” chairs. Clever gal. We finish up the day with dinner, baths, and lots and lots and lots and lots of books. I’m usually hoarse by the time they go to bed. I gather a stack of books, some that each child will like, and read and read and read and read. After the girls go to bed, I  read the more difficult chapter books that I know the girls wouldn’t sit through to him. Then we read his “fun” book, which is currently a Choose Your Own Adventure book about Ancient Greece. He can play a few games on the iPad, then he is off to bed by 7:30-7:45. Phew! I’m tired just typing it out. 🙂

And here is a cute picture because I just couldn’t resist…

Such a tender little lamb, that one. 🙂