Tulips 2015

Thanks to a mild winter and warm early spring, the tulips bloomed unusually early this year. They were going to be at their peak while we were in Florida, so we managed a quick visit before we left. The weather was cool and rainy, so we didn’t stay long, but I’m glad we made it there. I always feel so lucky to have this amazing view close by. I tell the kids about how people come from all over the country, even other countries, to see these tulips. I don’t know if that impresses them as much as I intend it to, but hopefully it will sink in eventually.

Every year we try to get a picture of the kids outside the entrance to the garden and in front of the windmill (a nod to their Dutch heritage!). Then we explored the gardens, saw the tail end of the daffodils in bloom, and enjoyed the tulips. I’m glad we could squeeze it in again this year!

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Easter Mini Session

We did an Easter mini session with “Captured by Cassy” photography. Anna is now fully into the “fake smile” stage of childhood so we had to work hard for what we got, but it was worth it. She had some stuffed bunnies as props which of course were a huge hit with the kids. Here are the pics!

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Sixth Birthday

I can’t believe our baby boy is six years old. I remember so clearly the day he was born. It was one day past my due date, and Jeff was just getting on the bus to go to work when I called him to say my water broke. Sixteen very intense hours later, we were parents! Over the past six years, we’ve loved getting to know this amazing person who joined our family.

His birthday fell on a Thursday this year. His class happened to be going on a field trip that day, so I went with him to school and to go along on the field trip. His teacher does a really cool thing where all the students draw a picture for the birthday child (using his favorite colors and animals) and then she puts them together in a book. He shared with the class about what he does with his family to celebrate his birthday and they sang “Happy Birthday” to him. This year instead of a party, he requested that Grandma come over for pizza and cupcakes. We had a great evening celebrating our favorite six year-old.

At six years old, Max weighs 48 pounds and stands 48.5 inches tall. He wears size six ย or seven in clothing, and size 11 shoes. He reads at an upper first grade/early second grade level and is starting to incorporate rules of grammar into his writing, like starting a sentence with a capital letter, or leaving a finger’s width space between each word. ๐Ÿ™‚ He loves his kindergarten teacher and is doing well at school. At school he is very much a rule follower and will correct other kids if they are not doing what the teacher said. At home, he does plenty of pushing the rules and fighting with his sister. We know this is as it should be, and on the whole he is a wonderful big brother. He is great at helping Anna and protects her when they are out together.

Maxwell still has his treasured Chester bear, who remains his most special friend. Several other bears (Puzzle Bear, Rainbow, Snowflake, among others) are also close companions. At least one of these comes in the car with him wherever we go. He loves playing hide and seek and school (he likes to be the teacher). Max can ride a two-wheel bike with no training wheels and is continuing with ballet and tap classes. Favorite foods remain pizza and cupcakes, which are occasional treats. On a more regular basis, I can get him to eat more meat if I serve diced roasted sweet potatoes with dinner. Therefore, we eat sweet potatoes with dinner several times a week! The kids watch a show or two on Netflix or Amazon each day. Currently Max likes Go Diego Go, Clifford the Big Red Dog, and Peg Plus Cat. He is thoughtful and sensitive and funny. He can takes a looooong time to get ready for bed but can be awfully cute while he does it. We love him to the moon and back.

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Take a Hike

We’ve had an unusually warm and dry winter here in the Pacific Northwest. While it doesn’t bode well for our snow pack for this summer, it has been great to be outside while the rest of the country battles a never-ending Snowmaggedon. Last weekend we took the kids on a hike down to the sound and back up again. We had a great time, there was a brief piggyback ride on the way back up for both of them, but otherwise they walked the whole way and enjoyed the surroundings. They both fell along the way and were a *touch* (cough cough over the top) dramatic about it, but we persevered. The route follows a creek down the hill that feeds into the ocean, and Max loved spotting the tubes and tunnels the water followed underground when it crossed the trail.

We definitely want to come back this summer when it’s warm enough to wade in the shallow water on this beach. We just brought a snack this time, but it would be a great spot for a picnic. Out of towners, come visit and we will take you!

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I have no idea what he’s doing here, but I love his cute little grin.

 

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Valentine’s Day 2015

Sorry for the long blogging hiatus! Trying to get back on track with blogging again, so I figure I’ll start with Valentine’s Day since it wasn’t too long ago. Valentine’s Day was really fun this year. Since we took the Christmas decorations down, Max has been really into the idea of decorating for each holiday. So we bought some decorations, made some decorations, and have enjoyed them this month. Up next, I need to figure out some St. Patrick’s Day decorations to tide us over until Easter.

The kids both had Valentine’s Day parties at school. This is Anna’s first year at preschool, and therefore her first Valentine’s Day celebration. The night before the party, she was all tucked in to bed when Jeff heard crying over the monitor. When he went in to check on her, she said, “I just don’t know what will happen at the party tomorrow!” After being reassured that it would be mostly like a regular preschool day with the addition of a special snack and card exchange, she felt better about the idea.

I helped in Max’s class for his party, which was lots of fun. The kids got to rotate through various stations including a prize walk, special snack, Valentine word bingo, card making, and bead necklace crafting. Of course there was also an exchange of Valentines with classmates. The kids enjoyed going through their cards and treats when we got home. Max and I made some heart-shaped cookies and decorated them with pink frosting. We made it pink with powdered freeze dried strawberries, and the cookies turned out great!

We did a quick mini session at a local candy store shortly before Valentine’s Day. Max spotted their giant heart lollipops when we were browsing before our session and I thought they would make a great prop. We used them for the pictures and then the kids enjoyed them for quite some time afterward. Here are the pics:

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Randoms

I took some Christmas card pictures for friends a couple weeks ago, but besides that I haven’t had my camera out the past couple of weeks. I’ll try to remedy that soon, but in the meantime I thought I’d at least share some iPhone photos of our past few weeks. We are all doing well. Max had a friend from school over for a play date last week. He was SO excited to have her come over. A few weeks ago we were driving home from school when he asked, “Mom, can Amelia come over for a play date?” I said sure, and he said, “Good, she’s coming over today.” At that point I hadn’t had any communication with Amelia’s parents though Max said she told him she knew where our house was. I love this age! I finally convinced him that she wouldn’t be coming over that day but we could set something up. They had a great time playing Play-Doh, dancing together, and drawing pictures on the chalk board.

Max is making great progress with reading and writing. Right now we are encouraging him to practice writing words by writing the sounds he hears rather than having us spell everything for him. This is a bit of a challenge for a kid who has a bit of a perfectionist streak. ๐Ÿ˜‰ We keep reminding him that this is how everyone learns to write and that his teacher says it’s okay to not have all the letters exactly right when you are learning. I keep picking up more responsibilities in his classroom. It’s a co-op school so in addition to the volunteer commitment everyone takes a classroom job. Mine has been the newsletter, but another parent moved so I’ve picked up coordinating our class website and now representing us on the school-wide auction committee. I’m actually excited to get to know more about the school and meet other parents there, so I’m happy to pick up the extra responsibilities.

I’m happy to report that Anna no longer cries at preschool dropoff! She loves having her friend Penelope in her class. We are SO lucky that Angel picks both girls up every Tues/Thurs and brings them to her house, then Mom gets Max at school and then picks up Anna. The kids get out only about 10 minutes apart and their schools are more like 20 minutes apart, so thank goodness for good friends! Anna is starting to write her name, she can make the “A’s” and had the right idea for “N” but still working on execution, which is totally fine by us. She loves to draw people and I can’t get enough of them! ย Both kids lately are into speaking in gibberish and pretending they are speaking Spanish. Shani if you’re reading this, maybe you can do some Skype language lessons? ๐Ÿ™‚

Here are a few random snapshots from recent weeks, enjoy!

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Halloween 2014

Halloween was a lot of fun this year. Anna really got the whole concept this time, though she may be muddling her holidays a bit–the day before, we were talking about trick-or-treating and she asked me, “Will Santa be there?” We clarified that Santa would not in fact be present and thankfully she was cool with that. Max has been steadfast for months that he wanted to be a bear this year. It was surprisingly hard to find a child-size bear costume. There are plenty of toddler-sized ones, but I had a really hard time finding a good one for him. Thankfully eBay came to my rescue and he was thrilled. We have a firm rule that once your costume is purchased you can’t change your mind. The only exception to this is costumes we already own. So Anna went back and forth on a few options that we had on hand, and finally settled on being a chicken. The costume is so cute and it was nice and warm, which was good as we were trick-or-treating on a cool, rainy evening.

It was so fun to see them eagerly walking around our neighborhood, knocking on doors and calling “Trick or treat!” and thanking neighbors for the candy they received. We brought it home to sort through and sample. Anna enjoyed sharing hers and directed us to each take one bite of a few things, “But don’t eat all of it, okay?”

Here they are!

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Just Dance

This year both kids are taking dance classes at a local studio. Anna is in the Creative Movement class that Max took last year, and Max has moved up to taking Prep Ballet and Prep Tap classes. Both are doing well, Anna was really excited to finally have a turn to do dance class herself after watching Max all last year. So far Max prefers ballet to tap. He says his legs get tired in tap class, and they are definitely moving the whole time! So we’ll see if he continues with both or goes to just ballet. This past week was “Observation Week,” where parents can sit in the studio room and take pictures, so I have a few to share. Both kids have Miss Sarah, I got Max’s picture with her but forgot to get Anna’s, so I’ll do that one another week.

Max in Prep Ballet:

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The class works together to make a letter “E” as they learn about Energy:

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Doing a mirroring activity with a partner:

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Max in Prep Tap:

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Anna’s Creative Movement:

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Pumpkin Patch 2014

We took our annual trip to the pumpkin patch last weekend. We are very lucky in this area to have an array of pumpkin patches for the choosing. This one is very close to our house and has lots of fun things to do–a kids’ play area, hay rides, animal train, even a pumpkin cannon! The weather was great so even though it was just barely October, we decided to go, and I’m so glad we did. The kids had a great time and it was busy but not packed. At one point when we were scrubbing off our pumpkins, Max said, “What smells so good?!” Turns out it was kettle corn, so we bought a bag and the four of us polished it off by the time we left. The kids each get to do a field trip to a pumpkin patch with their schools, so we’ll get a couple more opportunities before the month is out.

The kids’ play area had a new feature this year: A zip line! It was just the right size for kids (and, sadly for Jeff and me, no adults allowed on it). Max was a little hesitant but we convinced him if he tried it he would like it. Sure enough he did, and once she watched him do it, Anna was ready to go as well. They both got quite a few turns in while we were there. They also enjoyed the train ride, this year Anna wanted to sit in one by herself, but wanted me nearby. The train wasn’t full so I sat in the back. First time I haven’t squeezed a kid in there with me!

Of course I took a few pictures. ๐Ÿ™‚ Here’s a selection!

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They took turns waiting at the bottom and watching for the other one to slide down:

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This one makes me laugh so much. Picture overload, perhaps?

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Thankfully, all was well once pumpkin picking continued…

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The kids each got to shoot off a pumpkin from the pumpkin cannon. That was a big hit!

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A little hard to tell, but this is on the hay ride:

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I think my farmer Grandpa was looking down and smiling to see his great-grandkids having fun on a tractor. Brings back fond memories of him giving us grandkids rides in the tractor scoop.

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First Days

Sometimes, when he first wakes up in the morning, he’ll let me hold him close and just snuggle. He still sleeps with an assortment of stuffed bears that must be arranged in the proper order before bedtime. Most of his adorable mispronunciations are gone, but he still sometimes says, “aminals” or “amn’t I?” or “brefakst.”

He’s in Kindergarten. He’s 5 and a half. He wears size 6 clothes and size 11 shoes. He can read. I want to hyperventilate when I think that almost a third of his time with us before he’s officially an adult is over. But let’s slow my sentimental self down and talk about kindergarten. Right up until the night before it started, he said he wasn’t going to go. ย We know by now that this is how he is with new situations, and we talked a lot about how he had felt similarly with other new things like preschool and ended up loving it. We were firm that he was in fact going to go to kindergarten and that we knew he would like it. We told him it was okay to be nervous and that even grownups feel that way sometimes when they start something new. I braced myself for tears and clinging on the first day. But my brave boy did great, looked a little uncertain when Jeff and I left the classroom, but no crying, and when we picked him up, he said, “I had a great day at kindergarten!”

A couple weeks in and I am thankful that things are still going well. His school is a co-op school, so parents are in the classroom each day to help. I go every other Wednesday and it is great fun to go with him to recess and music class, and help the kids in the classroom. His teacher is warm and kind and also sets good limits and maintains control of the classroom. He goes to school from 9:20-12:00 Monday through Thursday. Then Fridays rotate–every other Friday is no school, the alternate Friday he stays for lunch and is done at 1:30. I am so proud of him.

Here are the official first day pictures:

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And if that wasn’t enough “my baby is growing up” for me, Anna started preschool! We really weren’t sure how dropoff for her would be. So far the dropoffs have been rough–always tears. Sometimes she’ll hold on to me and say, “I don’t want you to go!”, sometimes she’ll have tears running down her cheeks as she says, “I know I’m going to have a great day.” Thankfully by pickup she is fine, but it certainly makes it hard to leave! We are very lucky that she has a good friend in her class, and she’s also at the same school where Max went for two years, so the environment and the teachers are familiar to her. She always reports back what she did at recess time and brings home art projects, so I’m confident she does participate once we leave. Here are her first day pics:

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This is real life, people.

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