Friday, May 27, 2016

School's Out for the Summer!

Cece just wrapped up her last day of preschool today! (I can't believe I just typed that!) Below are a few of the end-of-school events that have recently happened:

Last month Cece had her final dance recital. She and her other tutu-clad friends danced to "Rain, Rain, Go Away" with umbrella props and all. Just adorable! Rosie has since enjoyed warbling the words to the song too.

In addition to dancing talents, Cece showed off her singing chops during the end-of-the-year spring program with her other classmates. Post concert, the girls got to snack on cookies and they also received balloons... which may have been their favorite part of the whole evening.

Not school-related, but I recently also took the girls to The Wild Rumpus (aka, the coolest kids' bookstore ever). Rosie fell hard in love with the kitty who was lounging about and both girls enjoyed listening to Lisa McCourt read from the I Love You Stinky Face books. 

 I also feel that it's important to note that Cece announced to everyone "My mom gets mad when I ask too many questions!" during the reading. And also Rosie kept trying to convince another kid share his snacks by rubbing her back and saying "Crackers? Please?"

Just last week I accompanied Cece on her field trip to Como Zoo. It could not have been a more perfect day to have an outing to the zoo plus a picnic lunch. All that fresh air and fun wore her out quite a bit and she fell asleep on the bus ride home. I also love how we managed to not take any pictures of actual zoo animals, just with the statues.

And lastly, here is Cece with both of her teachers (from last year and this year). I can't say enough good things about the preschool she has attended for the past two years and I'm slightly broken-hearted that we won't be back in the fall. But whenever I/we need to move on and say goodbye, I always remind myself that we are so lucky to have something that is so hard to say goodbye to.

Ok, summer's here now! Let's do this!

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Friday, May 13, 2016

Happy Belated Mother's Day!

Raise your hand if you thought last weekend was amazing and that every day should be Mother's Day! Everyone? That's what I thought. Not only was the weather phenomenal, but I got all treated nice and was bestowed with artwork, a cake, and some beautiful flowers. We also spent a couple days up at the cabin for the first time this season. The weather was RIDICULOUSLY awesome on Friday and the girls immediately wanted in their bathing suits and in the water. (Even though the water was/is frigid, you can't tell from these pics! Doesn't it look like July?)


As you can see, everyone thoroughly enjoyed Grandpa's new boat and also the new paddle board. I think it goes without saying, it was such a treat to spend so much time outside. It wore the girls out and it was FANTASTIC.

The only pic I have with myself and one of my kids over Mother's Day weekend is this one that Joe took. But I like it! I had forgotten to pack any type of swim attire for myself, but I really wanted to try out the paddle board. So I just hopped on with my clothes on. And so did Cece. I'm adaptable, I like fun, and I love my kids. And I think this pic captures the essence of my life right now!

 Although I'm always reading blogs, memes, status updates, articles, etc. about how motherhood is so exhausting and how it's all about giving and giving so much of yourself (time, sleep, freedome, sanity, money, etc.), I feel like what I have gotten in return is immeasurably wonderful. And now we just have more people in our tribe to have fun with. I hope my kids always know that they've enriched my life beyond anything I could have imagined. 

 Lastly, a pic of the awesome Fixer-Upper- esqure planter Joe got for me. I LOVE IT! Thanks again for making me feel so special! Hope your Mother's Day was great!

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Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Science of Having Fun

This has been a season of epic and generous birthday gifts and we're feeling very lucky around here. I could probably do a blog post on each one that the girls received! One of the gifts Cece got for her birthday was a lab set from Joe (he also couldn't resist the lab coat and safety goggles!) 

Joe, Cece, and Rosie spent the morning of Cece's 5th birthday doing various experiments and learning about lab equipment (beakers, tweezers, magnifying glass, eye droppers, etc.) We also tried to emphasize the importance of following directions and cleaning up after yourself... that's still a work in progress ; )

This included using food coloring to demonstrate how mixing primary colors creates secondary colors.

There was also some volcanic activity ("LAVA!" said Rosie.)

By the way, Rosie in safety goggles melts my heart.

  After awhile, it became just fun to pour things back and forth between various containers and we just let them have at it. We're excited to continue doing all of the different experiments that came with the kit. Thank you, Joe, for thinking of such a fun birthday gift this year!

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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Two and Five

Recently I managed to get both girls in for their two and five year check-ups at the doctor and I was feeling on a roll with getting at least a few things on my to-do list done in a timely manner. So, with the nice weather, I thought I should try to get some official two and five-year photos! 

We went to the park this morning and I brought my camera along in hopes of getting some updated pictures for our home. We got a few keepers!

Oh, and here are the outtakes ; )


I just wanna throw these flowers in the air!!! (And sorry you don't have hands in this pic, Cece...)

^^^This is what happened when I told her to smile. ^^^

I actually really love her face and smile, but there's a bar going through the back of her head. Bummer!
I've had a few people ask for pointers recently regarding taking your own kids photos. Be it with a camera or with a phone, here are some things that will help even without adjusting a single setting:
  • Be aware of what's in the background. (aka, other people, garbage cans, poles, etc. )Though these things can be edited out, it's always nice to get it right on the first try.
  • If possible, shoot outside and shoot when it's cloudy. Not having to figure out how to deal with harsh sun and patchy shadows is a nice time saver.
  • If it is sunny, make sure the kids are not looking directly into the sun to avoid washed out faces and squinty eyes.
  • Don't have them say "cheese." Everyone is over saying cheese. We say other things like "Spaghetti!" or "Minnie Mouse!" Really, anything random usually helps produce a genuinely happy expression.
  • Let them hold a "prop" if it elicits a smile (we were holding pine cones, dandelions, and rocks.... and I cropped them all out. I try to avoid excessive cropping, but I got a few nice smiles that way!)
  • Or bribery works well too, at least with older kids. This particular morning I told them they could have banana bread when we got back home if they smiled nicely. Win!
  • Get down to their level and fill up the frame with their body and face. That'll also help with omitting distracting elements in the background.
  • Embrace the chaos and the candid moments, because that's sure to happen pretty much every time. And some of those moments are pretty golden!
  • Oh, and do cardio. Kids are fast. Some won't let you take their picture unless you can catch them.
 I know my style of taking photos is not quite as polished as some might prefer. Sometimes there's grain, blur, darkness, etc. but regardless of your taste in photography, those few tricks mentioned above will make a big difference!

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Saturday, April 30, 2016

Happy 5th Birthday, Cece!

Cece turned five today! One whole hand! Just months away from starting kindergarten and one more year closer to being able to vote. It's no exaggeration that they grow up so fast. Five is going to be a fantastic year from her, I can feel it! 

We celebrated the occasion  by having a family party at Chuck E. Cheese per her request.

She ended up being kind of unsure of this Chuck E. fellow though. I don't blame her, I  was a little wary of him myself. He's lost an alarming amount of weight since the 90s when I was a kid. And speak of change, there are no more tokens! All of your ride/game points go on a reloadable card. What in the world...


Rosie had no qualms. No surprise there.

Cece said her favorite part of the party was being inside of the ticket machine. She even snagged the golden ticket by following Joe's advice and stomping on it. With her 1,000 points, she chose hair chalk as a prize which, you should know, will not come out with just one shampoo. But she thinks it's fab!

 And Cece said her other favorite part of the day was cake. Which makes me feel good since I baked it. (If there's one thing I'm quite talented at, it's following directions on box cake mix.)

 Thank you so much to Cece's cousins, grandparents, great grandparents, and aunts and uncles for celebrating with us today! It meant a lot to Cece  and us having you all there. Below are a few more pics of all the party that people shared from phones.

Happy Birthday, Cece! It has been such blessing to be your mama these past five years!

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