Sunday, October 30, 2011

Fall Festival!

Are you sick of the festivals yet? This festival was a new one for us because it is hosted by Riley's preschool. She was so very excited about it, although she didn't quite understand at first that we were going to be staying with her. On the way into our car she hollered and started back for the house saying, "Oh no I forgot my preschool bag!"

The morning of the festival was a little bit crazy around here. Thank goodness for the patient, man saint of a husband I have. See, that week the school sent home a form inquiring about bake sale items. They had a list of things and I checked off three figuring they would tell me which one they wanted me to make. So you can imagine my surprise when I got an email from the director saying you have been signed up to make cookies, cupcakes, and a cake. This was on Thursday night and they wanted the stuff by Friday. Whoops. At first, true to form, I had grand visions of a rainbow layer cake, and piped icing cookies, with pumpkin cupcakes. Then I got a grip and just decided to make Funfetti everything. So while TG kept the kiddos under control and got them dressed I flurried about my kitchen baking and packaging 2 dozen cookies, 2 dozen cupcakes and a fall cake just in time to leave for the festival. I think I'm done volunteering at her school for a while. 

Like Friday the weather was chilly and gray, but thankfully no rain.  Riley and Camden had a great time at the festival. She was sort of proud to be at her school with her family and he was just happy to be outside.  They both went on the moonbounce and slide and Sassy tried out several of the little carnival games. Camden's favorite part was playing on the preschool playground and generally running amuck. We were all definitely ready to go home and take good naps after an hour of fun at the festival.

Waiting patiently to get a black cat painted on her cheek.  I can't get over how big she is looking these days.

They had a crazy hair paint station set up right next to the face paint. Riley chose pink and then a layer of glitter for good measure.

Bounce slide time!  Don't let little man's face fool you - he looks terrified, but we have to drag him off of these rides kicking and screaming.

Riley of course is an old pro on all things bounce house.  Hands up for a real thrill ride!

Playing some bball just like her Daddy, er, I mean Mommy taught her. "Just slam that ball at the hoop baby and it might go in"

My little sweeties loved the playground seesaw.

Especially Camden.
You gotta love that feathery hair flying in the wind.

All ruffles and sparkle on the outside, but wild bouncer on the inside!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Down At The Farm

I'm all about pumpkin patches, fall festivals, apple picking, football, fall, fall and more fall. So how I've missed out on the farm we went to last Friday is beyond me. It's like our beloved Pumpkinville, but on crack.

I tell you the place is so big, we were there 2 hours and I'm certain we only saw about 1/5 of what the place had to offer. I've already started the coercion of TG to go back with our kiddos to try everything out. I mean the family sized slide from the top of a barn must be ridden I tell you. Multiple times if possible. And the huge rope swings into the hay?  Please, I'm gonna need a turn on those.

Anyhow, it was kind of chilly and gray that day, but we all had a great time and collapsed with happy exhaustion in the cars when we were done - after everyone got a mini pumpkin to hold fiercely in their laps on the way home of course. And by hold fiercely I mean claw another kids eyes out if they dared to even put a finger on their stinkin' pumpkin.

You can tell that we dragged them there against their will.  Actually I asked them all to say "PUMPKIN!", but the boys had no idea what was going on and the adorable kittens just flashed their trademark grins.

We hit this giant hay bale maze/play area/tunnel place first.  Little man could barely be bothered to stop for a quick photograph.

We could have stayed there the whole time - the kids were loving it. I'll admit I was a bit jealous and wanted in on the fun too!  Camden wanted to go in this tunnel, but he went in halfway, discovered it was pitch black in there and quickly beat feet back out to me.

Messy Sassy hair is definitely a sign of a good time had by all!

We spied this huge castle with hay slides and walked right up and then discovered that the actual line was snaking for 500 yards on the other side of the structure. Some nice people let our kiddos sneak in anyway. I just let Camden walk halfway up and then threw him on to get a ride in.

Our beloved little girl at 3 1/2 feet tall.

Little man, almost 3 feet tall already.

Trying out the monster feet on the way out! This farm had tons of amazing, okay chintzy, but very fun photo ops set up throughout the area.  Their market area actually has an orange VW beetle among huge piles of hay that I would love to get a family photo on!

"Mom, wook at me I'm a scar-wee monster!!!!"

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Peas In A Pod

Alternately titled: "Whatever Sissy is Doing, is Playing With, is Eating, I Must Also Do, Play With, and Eat"

Oh it can be a battle of wills sometimes. Just this evening poor Cam had to take several time outs because he wants what she is playing with and only the exact item she is playing with. He will not accept any substitutions because I think in his mind the only one good enough is the one that is good enough for her to be playing with. If he doesn't get his way he screams and cries. We try to encourage Riley to share, but we also want to make sure she feels like she can do her own thing.

There are moments, days and weeks where I worry I'm doing this parenting thing wrong. I don't always get it right and everyday is a learning experience.

But then there are times when I think we'll be okay. Like tonight when Camden took a time out because of a fit he threw over a matchbox car that Riley had. When he got up and gave her a hug to say sorry she patted him and handed him the car he wanted. He immediately found another one to give back to her and they started to play together. It was short lived before the next fit developed, but we enjoyed it anyway. That little glimpse told us that they do hear and understand what we are saying and teaching them everyday.

Like this day when Riley was painting in the kitchen. Camden marched in there and observed for a moment before crawling up on the chair next to her to paint just like his big sister.

There were a few tiffs when he tried to help paint on her paper, but they were so sweet sitting there side by side.
I want him to stay my baby just a while longer, but you can see how happy he is to be big just like his sissy.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pumpkinville 2011

Last week was pumpkin week for our daycare and on Friday we took our annual trip to Pumpkinville! The weather was perfect and even though there was a gaggle of children with us we had a lot of fun.  We visited the park in a big circle, starting with the animals and ending with a picnic lunch in the sandbox and bounce house area.

It's so funny to look back at the last few years that we have been there and how different it was this year. Last year Camden was only 5 months old and spent the whole trip snoozing in the baby carrier with a nursing break at the pirate ship sandbox.

This year Camden was a walking, talking 17 month old big enough to feed the animals all by himself.  He absolutely loves feeding the animals and when he is out of feed he tries to offer up his hand.

Don't even get me started on Riley. The first time we visited Pumpkinville she was my 19 month old doll baby. Now she looks like she could be in kindergarten! She was yelling because the deer took her ice cream cone feed cup right from her hand.

We overran the bounce house. Yes, it's full of only our daycare kids. No they weren't all in there. 5 more were outside watching. I think this is a pretty sweet action shot.

After we bounced ourselves silly we had a quick snack and then gave the bigger kids a turn on the hay slide. I dread the day Riley won't let me dress her in tutus and tights.

Then we marched over to the sandbox so everyone could play together and eat lunch.

If you live in our area you should definitely visit Pumpkinville! It's the perfect way to spend a fall day outside. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Riley's First Day of Preschool

We started Riley in preschool this fall. To say that she was excited about going to school is an understatement.

Riley is in the bumblebee class at her school which consists of 10 3ish year olds that meet two times a week. So far she loves it and she has become confident in the routine of their day. At drop off she races through the door sometimes forgetting to even say goodbye, but she races out the door just as quickly when it's time for me to pick her up.

Sometimes she can't remember what they did that day until later on and then she will give us a diatribe of every moment and happening in the classroom. We've heard about people crying, her favorite activities, who the star of the day was, those that end up in time out, and "you get what you get, and don't throw a fit" to name a few.

Our favorite story so far was her rendition of the day they went to the chapel to meet the pastor for the first time. According to Riley, they lined up, had to sit quietly, and "we see God".

She is learning new facts, but as teachers we think the most important lessons in preschool are learning to respect adults, share with others, and follow directions. The first parent-teacher conference is in a few days so we are looking forward to hearing more about our little school girl.

For the first day of preschool I made a quick sign for her to hold and snapped some photos of her that we'll use to compare to the picture I plan to take on her last day of preschool. She was giving me her goofiest grin, but I think our little preschooler is as sweet as can be.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Apple Picking Time!

In the beginning of September we finally got a break from the rain and woke up to a gorgeous Sunday. While we loved our summer, we were eager for cooler temperatures and our favorite fall activities, like apple picking!  Riley and Camden have never been apple picking before, but there are lots of great places nearby.  For their first outing we picked the orchard that was closest to us so we could be back for naptime.

 The girls picked out their buckets and started along the path to the orchard.
Camden marched along behind them.

In between picking apples they climbed the trees, with some help.

They saw us climbing up to get the apples and wanted to "help".

Three buckets full of delicious apples later we were done.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Smith Mountain Lake

I'm the kind of person that has always had visions and experiences that I knew I wanted to create with my children. Trips to the pumpkin patch, cutting down a live Christmas tree, and apple picking are some of the things that I had dreamed of doing with my own family.

So when my dear friend suggested a group mini vacation this summer to the lake, I was all in. She got the ball rolling early enough for us to get a house on the water at Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia that would hold four families complete with 7 and 1/2 kiddos. It sounds crazy and it was a little bit, especially when we had to get creative in finding places for all the kids to sleep, but it was such a great time and we can't wait to do it again next year!

We tried fishing off our dock, but we didn't have much luck. The best part about the dock was the little cove to swim and float in.
The girls loved watching Disney movies on the little tv in the living room.

My little Sassy was so tan from all our days in the sun. She asked my friend to take this picture of her in front of the fireplace.

We fed the kiddos at a picnic table outside on the deck. They ate an entire package of chicken nuggets on this night.

Our house had a perfect fire pit that we used to make s'mores. Everyone enjoyed the sticky treat!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Why I Do What I Do

Have I ever told you that TG is a teacher?

I knew when I met him 11 years ago that he had a gift for working with children. We met while lifeguarding and the children at our pool swarmed him everyday.

He loves his job and he is really good at it. And if teaching was like the jobs that other people have we'd be living large because he would be paid according to the hours he puts in, the results he gets, and the success he has. Believe me when I say, we would be millionaires if teachers were paid for the work they actually do. Except they are not.

The fairness of that is a whole different post, but like my Daddy taught me, life isn't fair. So I work too, in a job that is so precious and rewarding, but also physically and mentally exhausting for me.

Last night we were watching the end of Country Strong and I turned to TG and said, "Can you just imagine singing like that in front of a crowd that size? It seems so crazy to me." Without skipping a beat he replied "Yes, but some people might say caring for 6 children everyday is crazy."

I know he is right, because trust me you haven't seen judgement in a face until you're out at a local park wearing a baby in an ergo,watching two 3 year olds running wild and feeding three toddlers by your hip. I just pretend not to see them.

Several short sighted people have insinuated or shared their opinion that perhaps my husband should "get a real job" so that I don't have to work so hard. For a while I wasn't sure what they meant by a real job. What is a "real job"? One that pays more than being a teacher does? Something more important? Hours where there was no Daddy at tubby time? Jobs that mean I cook, clean, play, fold, vacuum, and read bedtime stories alone? A job that would mean snuggling dates on the couch watching Top Chef Just Desserts and Modern Family would become a party of one? I don't know.

Listen, I know no one would choose being away from their family or spouse and that work of all kinds is necessary to pay the bills. I know that some people are serving in our nation's Armed Forces and they are making the ultimate sacrifice so that my family can enjoy freedom. I know we are blessed that my husband has the working hours that he does while doing something that he has a passion for.

There are some days I wish I was a stay at home mom. But it's simple. I do this work because in my family it means we can have some pretty amazing things.

Things like...

Taking family trips to the park at 4:00. Eating dinner together every night. Having a partner to help me wash up after meals and clean up at the end of the day. Enjoying a DVR date night after our kids are bathed, snuggled and in bed.

And watching my husband play with our children in the middle of the afternoon.
Hearing my son imitate his Daddy's "vroom vroom" noises as they push cars along the track.

Watching my daughter laugh like crazy as they pretend to be driving animals in the dump truck to the zoo.

We're not millionaires and I work myself to exhaustion everyday, but I think we are living the sweet life.