Monday, April 28, 2014

Legos and Love

JJ has really taken a lot of interest in Legos lately.  He got his first complete set from Nana and Buddy for his birthday and they have all three been enjoying them. 

Last week, JJ had pink eye.  Getting drops into that boy's eyes is a very traumatic encounter! 

One morning after I finally got the eye drops in, we came into the kitchen and found a note big sister had made for him.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Learning His Bike

Luke is getting the hang of riding his bicycle-and he is so cute doing it :)

Right now, big brother and sister are leaving him in the dust.
I am sure that won't last long.
Go Lukey, go!

Monday, April 21, 2014


What a wonderful Easter!  The weather was beautiful, everyone was healthy and we had a great family weekend celebrating the resurrection of our Savior.

It has been neat to have Sydney and JJ (and Luke a tiny bit) so involved this year as we have been preparing for Easter and studying more with them about the events leading up to the death and resurrection.  They are great listeners and those little minds can remember even small details.

The day before Easter, we had a very special visit from Nana and Buddy.  We had perfect weather and everything worked out for them to watch both kids at swimming lessons and Sydney's soccer too.

JJ is making good progress with swimming.  He really enjoys it-here he is working on his stroke with the help of a noodle to keep him afloat and he is "chasing" his teacher.

Sydney is doing very well too.  Her stroke continues to improve and she is able to swim the length of the Olympic size pool now.  Her teacher has been helping her work on breathing and the back stroke.
Here she was almost to the side.
Nana and Buddy were able to see Sydney play two soccer games-one at noon and one at 4.
We won one and lost one.
In the first game, Sydney scored 2 goals.
It was so great to have them back on the sidelines.
Between these events, we were able to hang out at the house and the kids wanted Buddy and Nana to be the Easter Bunny and hide Easter eggs so they could have an egg hunt.  We did that x 2 and celebrated JJ's birthday again.
The Easter Bunny was tricky in some cases and hid the eggs so high that Daddy
had to lift and help retrieve them.
Speaking of the Easter Bunny, this was the year that the kids found out that there is no such thing.  Luke was too busy to listen, JJ wasn't phased by the "news" but Sydney was sad.  She thought there really was "someone who dressed up like a bunny and carried a big basket with surprises for kids."  I am not sure where she got this idea because we have not ever promoted the existence of the Easter Bunny. 
But when she asked me on Saturday night if that was the night would be coming to see them, I decided to say more than (my typical) "that's what they say" evasive answer and give her the scoop.  She knows the true importance of Easter anyway, and come Sunday morning, they were happy to receive a small basket of goodies, even if it was from us.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

April 17

JJ had a great day celebrating #5. 

Muffins with Mom at Plano was first thing in the morning, -I went in late to work so that I could eat breakfast with my three kiddos and then be able to take the boys to school.  It was a great start to the day.

He had already celebrated his birthday with his friends at school on the 15th because the 17th was their Easter party.  His class dyed and then hunted eggs and had a fun Easter celebration. 

After school, he wanted to go to Chaney's and play, have dinner and get ice cream.  He had been waiting for this all week and he kept asking me how many days it was until he could go to Chaney's. 

They were all four  three excited to try out Chaney's new bouncy pillow.

It was a hit!

The playground is always fun too.  We had a great evening at Chaney's and then headed home for cupcakes and presents. 

On the way home, Luke all of the sudden said "we luv you birthday boy."  :)  This is very true!

I am so thankful for my precious son and that he had such a great day. 
It was the kind of special day that I was sad to see end.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

My Sweet Boy (and Big Buddy) Turns Five Tomorrow

JJ, I can hardly believe that you are about ready to turn 5 years old.  You have grown and matured into a sweet, smart and funny little boy. 

Ever since I can remember thinking about being a Mommy "someday," I hoped for a little boy.  God saw it fit to bring you into our family on April 17, 2009 and I am so thankful for that.  You sure love your Daddy but even he has to admit that you are Mommy's boy!!  We have a very special relationship. 

I also marvel at His goodness and how he saw it was best for you to be the middle child in our family.  You are Sydney's best friend and favorite playmate, and Luke's too.  They both think you are the best!

Looking back at your first five years....

You were born on a Friday - a day I had circled on my calendar for 8 months and in my heart for  many years.  It was so exciting for us to bring you home and start our life as a family of four with one girl and one boy. 

From birth and at every weigh in and measurement since, you have been BIG...very healthy weight, long and a huge head too.  Your first year was filled with fun and smiles-you were the best natured baby, period.  You loved to play in your jumperoo and at times would even fall asleep while standing in it.  Although you didn't know it-the first few months of your life were pretty hectic-we built a house, sold our home of 7 plus years a little too fast.... and moved into a hotel for five weeks when you were just 4 months old.  You were a champ.  Oh, and toward the end of your first year, you also learned to love food-all food!

During your second year, you fell in love with Mickey Mouse, cows and "choo choos".  You took serious (3+ hour) naps which I called hibernation-yes, if we woke you up too soon, you were an absolute bear.  You had some "minor" surgery (major to me) on your tongue at 15 months and took your first steps at 16 months.  Once you started walking, you wanted to be outside all the time!  Your good nature and laid back personality made it more manageable when we welcomed your baby brother when you were only 20 months old yourself.

You celebrated your 2nd birthday with a Mickey Mouse party at church-the brand new bouncy was a big highlight. 

You had a slow start in the area of speech and I began taking you to speech therapy once a week by late summer 2011.  However, your growth in just 4 months was amazing and they determined that you no longer needed their services :).  By the middle-late part of your third year, speech was no longer an issue as you were constantly asking questions and having conversations with us.  We were thankful that we were proactive in helping with this.  You were excited/proud to be a preschool student two days a week and could sing your ABC's and songs about Jesus too.  It was also during this year that we first saw your extreme fear of bees.

For your third birthday, you got your first bicycle-it was Buzz and Woody.  A few days after you turned three, you started using the potty.  You filled up your potty chart quickly and we had our traditional diaper free celebration at Chuck E Cheese soon after.  During this year, you decided to be the rooster at our house, but it was okay because you would come in and give me huge hugs first thing in the morning!  There was one tough adjustment (for both of us) during your fourth year....Sydney started Kindergarten.  You were a little lost for a while but we soon found a new and equally special routine.  While you were (are!) still shy, you really made up for it around those you love and see most.

Your fifth year kicked off with a big 4th birthday bash at the place you chose-Chuck E Cheese...and you had a blast! 

This past year has been a big year of growth and firsts.  You started singing with Joyful Noise at church and taking swim lessons at WKU.  

We've had many playdates/adventures with our crew and you have made a few special friendships ---- Caleb, Averi, Sam and Isaac who you luckily get to play with at church and school too.  You may be quieter than your brother and sister, but I'll say this-you are an outstanding listener.  Your knowledge of the bible is amazing for your age.  Most recently, we have learned much more about your progress at school-  I have been so proud to hear about how well you are doing and am thankful that you are in such a great environment.  One story Ms. Karen told me the other night was about you walking up to her with a mini whiteboard and rattling off the 5 vowels (which you had written out too).  She also said she asked you to count as high as you could, knowing that 40 would be really good for your age.  She said you counted to 100 and past with no mistakes, and finally she had to say "ok JJ that's enough." :)  I am so so proud of you.  

We all love you so much sweet boy.  
It is true that I always wanted to have a little boy. 
It is also true that I love you more than I could have ever imagined.
You are so much fun and I cherish my time with you.

I am excited for you that your 5th birthday is here and all that is to come... but just quit growing up so, so fast, okay?  

Happy 5th birthday buddy! 

Love, Mommy

Monday, April 14, 2014

Coloring & Collecting Eggs

Friday night's plan was a soccer game, but storms hit right before we headed to the field.  JJ and Luke were excited and Sydney didn't mind too much either because it gave us a chance to color some Easter eggs.

This was Luke's first year to be in on the event with us.
It's safe to say that he won't miss out again.

Saturday afternoon after swim lessons and a visit to meet the newest Graham at her home, we went to the egg hunt hosted by Chaney's at South Warren High School. 

They were ready to collect some eggs! 

Mission accomplished! 

We even had our own egg hunt with Arden in the backyard Saturday night.  We ended the day with a trip out for ice cream and a visit to Kelly's house to take her a balloon and a card.....Sydney's sweet friend broke her collar bone in our game Thursday night :(  Great to see her smile.

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Rest of Spring Break Week

After a day of hiking and exploring in the mountains, we got up early the next day to do more.

We drove through a wildlife area called Cades Cove and headed back to the Chimney Rock area to climb more and have lunch.  After lunch it was time to head into Pigeon Forge to meet Nana and Buddy who were due to arrive.
We swapped our hotel for a condo with plenty of room for all of 7 of us.
The kids were glad to have a large indoor pool area and I am picky about water temperature but it was so nice.  We all five really enjoyed using the pool several times.
 This boy loves for Daddy to throw him up in the air

When he comes back up out of the water, he is always shouting "again, again."
Another highlight of the trip included a couple of trips to the new Island area where we rode the big wheel and enjoyed treats and the fountain show.
 The wheel was over 200 feet tall and offered some amazing views.

When there are go karts around, we don't want to miss The Track was another must do.
We also went to the Dixie Stampede which was a first for Buddy, Nana, JJ and Luke.

Jeff and I took Sydney when she was 1.
It is unreal that it has been that long
For the first time, we visited an arcade at the Island with the kids-Sydney had been saving her allowance money and she wanted to waste some of it play games.We spent the rest of the time shopping, eating at some great places, hanging out at the pool or the playground at the condo, and just enjoying each other.    It was a great family vacation and I'm so very thankful for the time we had.  Until next time...:)

Monday, April 7, 2014

Hiking in the Smoky Mountains

I am so glad that we chose to head to the Smoky Mountains for spring break week.  I'm also glad that we decided it was time to do some hiking with the kids.  Jeff did some great research and we had great advice from the Crosbys and Hunts. 

We were blessed with beautiful weather for the two days we spent hiking and exploring. 

When we made all of the plans, the child I was concerned most about was my JJ.  Boy did I underestimate him-he was into the hiking!  He jumped out and was ready to lead on our first trail-Laurel Falls. 

Laurel Falls was a 2.5 mile hike and at the end.....the promise of a waterfall!
We did it.  They all three did so well and after the hike back, we were ready to tackle the next trail.
We stopped by the National Park visitor center and walked one of the trails there-----it was shorter-I'm thinking only 1.5 miles this time.  BUT, at the end-Cataract Falls!
They did it again!
Not sure if you can tell, but they were pretty proud!
By this time it was time to find a picnic area and have our lunch.
I wish I had a picture of one of our picnic lunches (we did three different days), because the picnic was one of Luke's favorite parts of the trip. 
After lunch at the Chimney Rocks picnic area, it was time to check out the rocks. 
And check out the rocks they did....
my little babies and my husband climbed all through the stream on those huge rocks.
Some of the climbing was nearby,
 (notice the tree Daddy moved between rocks so they could cross)
 and some of the climbing was so far away that I could barely see them.
Most of the time, Sydney and JJ would climb or jump from rock to rock, but Daddy also did plenty of lifting.  The three of them climbed up, down and all the way across the stream.
Luke and I got in on the action too. We fell in the water together a couple of times in the process :)  I hung out with him-sometimes he wanted to climb and stay with them-other times he was content to stay on the side and throw sticks and rocks into the water.  I was just happy to have that special time with him.
 Here is my little buddy with his "walking stick"
They LOVED this-we all did.  (We had planned to do this only one day, but they kept asking to go back.  In all, we ended up going three days in a row.)

After a couple of hours at the rocks, it was time for the event of the afternoon-hike up to the highest point in the Smoky Mountains, Clingman's Dome. 
The dome sits at over 6,600 feet.  First, the drive from the picnic area to the parking lot for the hike is about an hour.  After you park, you walk 1/2 mile up the mountain.  1/2 mile does not sound like a very big deal but IT IS VERY STEEP.  VERY STEEP.  We had been warned and read (especially with three little kids) how difficult it would be.  We were determined.  Somehow, Jeff pushed Luke in the stroller up the mountain to the dome. 
JJ did great, and Sydney almost great :) and we only stopped twice to take a break.
When we made it to the top, it was worth the hike!

 They were excited!
We may have been about ready to fall over, but we had done it!
We could see for 20 miles or more, in every direction.
It was really something to take in.
It was hard to dress for this hike-since it was much colder up at the top of the mountain.
If it was in the mid 70's when we left the rocks, it was probably mid 60's in the parking lot before our hike to the dome, and high 40's/low 50's at the top. 
In fact, there were several inches of snow on the ground and some ice left on the path where Jeff pushed Luke in the stroller.
The hike down was much easier although Daddy was worried that the stroller might get away from him.
What a great first day and introduction to hiking.
After all of the hiking and climbing and (more) hiking and fun,
it is safe to say that it was a great and very tiring day!

.....we were ready for a good dinner, swim at the pool and
looking forward to Nana and Buddy's arrival the following afternoon.