Tuesday, February 24

the tower that wouldn't cooperate

Violet is two which means she has a hard time when things don't go her way.   I was observing as she proudly and carefully build a tower the other day.  

She kept adding block after block until it was almost as tall as her.

And then the blocks got too high, it became wobbly and finally collapsed all over the place.

This was her immediate response...

I continued to take pictures as she threw a giant sized fit and tried to not to laugh as she yelled at the tower.  She just kept saying "No tower" and "Bad tower" over and over.

She was completely devastated over this tower that would not cooperate.

I wonder what the kids would do if I behaved this way when they wouldn't cooperate with me?  

Friday, February 20

the best snow day ever.

DISCLAIMER (and a bit of a rant):  It took me a couple days to get in the groove during this full week of snow days but then I was a girl on fire.  Don't go thinking I am "super mom" or anything crazy like that!  I have "super mom" days for sure but the majority of the time, I am an ordinary momma just trying to do my best. It's a shame that I feel bad posting my "super mom" moments but there have been too many facebook and blog posts shaming moms for only sharing the highlights of their life.  I would hope that any adult realizes at this point that nobody has perfect kids, a perfect home, or a perfect life all around.  Personally, I hide negative posts from my news feed because I don't need all that in my life.  What is wrong with keeping things positive and celebrating the good in our lives?  I don't watch the news on television or read about it on the internet because it brings me down.  I want to be aware of issues but I don't need to fill my life with negativity and constantly think about all the bad in this world.  Focusing on the good keeps me positive and helps me create a joy-filled home.  I can tell you that there has been a whole lot of fighting around here this week and I have locked myself in the bathroom way more than necessary just to have a few minutes alone.  We are a far from perfect family and I will continue to admit the bad and celebrate the good.  It's okay to be "super mom" occasionally and record it so the family will remember the times you went above and beyond to make the most of your time with them.  

There is no shame in being awesome every once in awhile.  

I went to bed Tuesday night with a bunch of ideas floating around in my mind.  I knew I wanted to be extra intentional the next day making sweet memories with all four of my babies at home.  I will desperately wish for a week of snow days with them 18 years from now when they are all out of the house.  I decided on a beach theme.  I was a teacher and still am at heart so themes get me giddy.

We got the playing in the snow out of their system right after breakfast.  They didn't last long due to the extreme cold and then it was party time.  I brought up the plastic pool from the basement and Avery helped me clean it out.  Everyone, including me put on their swimsuits and sunglasses.  We blasted Beach Boys music from the sound bar, laid blankets out as towels, and used container lids for surfboards.  We had ourselves a serious beach party.

The kids got really into it and even pretended to lay out in the sun.

Mia was all about posing for the camera.

It was such a simple thing that made everyone so happy!  We laughed a lot, danced like crazy, and the fighting was non-existent.  It was amazing.

Oh, Violet, you are so incredibly cute.

Avery had an idea to hide the dive rings and sticks around the living room.  It was genius.  We all took turns hiding them and I think they would have played that game 100 more times.

The floaties even came out.

"Sand" castles were built.

And Avery decided our sandwiches should be shaped using our dolphin and fish cutters.  Again, genius.  We had pretzel goldfish on hand which worked quite nicely with our theme and oranges completed the lunch.

We ate in the pool of course.  Tyson told me I take up a lot of room in the pool but I pretended not to hear him and moved on with our day.

Then for dessert, we made "snow cream" for the first time.  I found a recipe on Pinterest that worked with the ingredients we had on hand.  Their favorite part of the day was probably when I threw a coat and rain boots over my bathing suit and went out to fetch the snow for our cream.  They were inside cracking up and Tyson said he knew I was okay because icicles were not forming on my booty.  They laughed at what the neighbors would think if they saw me outside getting snow without pants on.

The finished product got a thumbs up from everyone.  Tyson enjoyed some candy from his Valentine's Day box as we ate our snow cream and everyone was happy.

And of course there were books read to go along with our theme.   

Basically, we had the best snow day ever.

Wednesday, February 18

our valentines day

I always have high hopes for the holidays but with little kids, you just  never know what you're gonna get.  This year our Valentine's Day was more than I had hoped for.  It was simple but so beautiful.  It started off with everyone sleeping in except for Jason who gets up early every single morning to run.  The kids trickled in one by one and joined me in bed.  We had just purchased an iPad a couple days before and have been firm with the kids that it is an "educational tool" only.  We were checking out all the free educational apps available while we cuddled in bed.  It was relaxing and sweet.  Then baby sleepyhead woke up, Daddy came home, and we made our way downstairs.

Their mailboxes were waiting for them on the kitchen table. 

This year, Mia & Avery got Reese's hearts, Tyson a box of conversation hearts, and Violet a bag of pink heart marshmallows.  But instead of a little something that would get lost in our sea of toys, we created coupons for them.  Jason and I were on the couch one night bouncing ideas off of each other and together, we came up with this simple little coupon book.

I made them on the computer the day before and it didn't take long at all.  I added little photos to them so that Mia & Tyson could understand what they were about.  You would not believe how big of a hit these coupons were.  The kids seriously were giddy over these things.  It was awesome.  We had already decided to take them to their favorite pizza place for dinner that night so we made a coupon for it and added their favorite game, extra screen time, and time alone with us at night.  Such a small and simple gift with huge impact.

I date stamped the back but Avery said it would have been better if they had expiration dates.  Ha.  Maybe next year we'll add that.

Avery read the coupons to her sisters and brother and they were giggling as they heard them.  So much fun!

I got away for a bit that morning to get a haircut and arrived back home to the sweetest surprise and the best part of my day.  While I was gone, the big kids were upstairs by themselves creating a mailbox and coupons for us!  They had never done anything like that before.  We work so hard on getting them to think outside of themselves but it often feels like a losing battle.  The fact that they did this for us brought tears to my eyes.  It was a parenting win.  By the grace of God, we must be doing something right.

They made a mailbox made out of large index cards with "M" & "D" written on the front and it even had a flag that was up!  They filled it with a book of coupons ranging from free chores to hugs and kisses, and even staying in bed later than usual.  They even included a few pages from their play restaurant guest checks so that we could write down what we wanted one morning for breakfast in bed.  They thought of everything.  It made my day.  Maybe my year.

We ate pizza and Tyson ate his breadsticks at Jets that night and I had to get a group picture of course.  Avery decided to ditch my navy and red theme but that's okay.  

I loved almost every minute (minus the fighting in the afternoon) of our sweet Valentine's Day.  I just love these four little rascals and their daddy with all of my heart.

Thursday, February 12

valentines day is my favorite.

Valentine's Day is like Christmas around here.  I get extremely excited and spend a month preparing for the big day.  I just really love love.  So corny, I know but I love my people an insane amount and a whole day devoted to celebrate that is simply awesome in my book.

We took the easy road this year with Valentines.  I just let Avery and Tyson pick their favorite from the free printables on Pinterest.  These were their picks.  I was excited.  Easy and adorable.  Works for me.  

I think this Yoda one is genius.  It is funny, adorable, and a glow stick as a light saber is so perfect.  

And then there is my sweet boy's handwriting that makes me smile so big.  Speaking of Callie, she is pretty much his little girlfriend.  She has sent him home from school with loves notes a few times and he is constantly telling us about her big dimples and how cute she is.  Yikes.  He had a marriage proposal from another classmate on the first day.  It has begun and I am terrified of the future with our little ladies' man.

Boys got red balloons and girls got pink ones and Avery only ever signs her name with a signature heart at the end of her Y.  Love that.

Since Mia is in "Mommy Preschool" and does not get any parties at a "real" school, I threw her a little one and we invited my MOPS table group to join us.  I used to do the same thing for Avery when she was this age.  Tyson never gets as into it as the girls but he is happy to join the party, mostly for the snacks involved.  Violet refuses to ever participate in a group picture.  It's becoming an issue for me.

We played balloon ping pong with new heart plate paddles, stacked conversation hearts, threw heart bean bags into a red bucket, and then found hidden paper hearts all over the living room.  So much fun!

Mia helped me make our favorite energy bites which are always a hit and she helped me cut out a bunch of heart shaped watermelon and cantaloupe.  We also prepared heart shaped cheese and added grapes to the spread.  There were little apple juice boxes as well.  She was excited to help with food prep for the party and is old enough now to actually be helpful for the most part so we had a lot of fun.  Hoping to instill a love of celebrations in my babies...so far, so good.

These two are awesome together.  They both have intense personalities and are either hugging or screaming at each other.  It's interesting.  

Of course, there had to be a little photo spot at the party so I used blue tape to attach some Target dollar spot wrapping paper to the wall, stuck a little chair in front and used a little chalkboard (also from the $ spot) with a message for the kids to hold.  This is what Tyson went with.

Mia and her famous "I'm a little angel" pose.  

Violet refused to participate while everyone was here but as soon as they left, she was ready to go.

She shares her Mommy's excitement for Valentine's Day.

And then she told me that baby doll wanted a picture too so she tried to set her up for one.  It was awesome.

And up next is Avery and Tyson's school parties on Friday.  I cannot wait.

Monday, February 2

2nd annual winter getaway with the big kids

Last year, we took Avery & Tyson to Columbus for a night in the winter and had all kinds of fun.  This year, we included Mia as one of the "big kids" and she was super happy about that.  Grandma & PaPa made it all possible by taking Violet for the weekend.  They were in grandparent heaven and probably weren't quite ready to give her back at the end.  It was a special weekend for everyone involved.

We headed to Indianapolis this time around and visited the Children's Museum there that we had heard so many good things about.  It was pretty incredible.  We all had a blast at that place and were there for a very long time.

Our Cincinnati Children's Museum is neat but Indy takes it up a few dozen notches.  It's huge and the exhibits are so neat.  They got to dig for fossils which we had to drag them away from because they would have spent entirely too long in this one spot.

The dinosaur costumes cracked me up.  Jason even put one on and it was hilarious.

We got to take a "plane" to China which the kids thought was awesome.  Avery took the challenge of writing in Chinese seriously.

The panda reserve was also a favorite spot.  Tyson mainly did goofy things like this but the girls were trying to take care of those stuffed baby pandas for real.  It was pretty awesome.

Of course, we had to pause for a snack because these kids always act like they are starving.

Tyson thought the real race car was the coolest and kept asking to go back to it.  We got a good dose of Tyson's car noises as he pretended to drive and they are the best.

We learned about Anne Frank, Ruby Bridges, and Ryan White's life stories.

Then right before closing time, their big dinosaur mascot comes in to see the kids and leads them on a parade down the ramps and to the bottom floor.  Genius move to get people out of there in a timely manner.  They got to wave flags and march with other kids and parents.  It was pretty cute.

And then at the end, Mia finally got her hug.

After all the fun at the museum we headed to the hotel and the kids were pumped.  Rides on the luggage holder never grow old.

We had dinner at Chick-fil-a of course.

We let them have their fun for a minute jumping back and forth from the beds in the hotel room.  They would have been perfectly content doing that all day long.

Free breakfast at the hotel is something the kids think is amazing and it cracks us up.  The food wasn't anything exciting but they got to go in their jammies and they loved it.

And a big highlight was swimming.  We forgot Mia's puddle jumper, which she loves so that was a bummer but it worked out.  We went to Wal-Mart looking for some kind of float and searched the store high and low and thought we were going to leave empty handed.  But then we searched the clearance aisles one last time and Jason spotted a lonely dolphin float in a package that looked as if it had been around for 10 years.  It was meant to be.  That dolphin float was given the name "Banza" and was part of our family for the weekend.

I love getting away and taking a break from cooking, cleaning, and normal duties just to simply enjoy each other's company.  It's hard to go wrong when your main goal is to have fun.

Mission accomplished.