Thursday, April 26, 2012

Nicole's Summer Movie Preview!

The summer movie preview at our local movie theatre was yesterday, and my sister and I were unable to attend due to birthday festivities.  (And rightly so; you should do what you want to on your birthday.)  So, to keep up with what is coming out this summer, I bring you ...

Nicole's Summer Movie Preview!

Now, I haven't watched all these trailers so I don't know if they are appropriate for all ages (or even good videos ... I tried to watch a little bit of each one but there are A LOT of them); please view them first if you plan on letting small children watch.

I hope you enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed compiling it!

And happy (belated) birthday, Christine!  If you want, we can watch these together sometime and dish on our favorites.  Love you!

A Picnic at Oma's

The kids always have a great time at my parents' house.  So it wasn't a surprise when the kids had an absolute blast having an indoor picnic at Oma's.  There were sandwiches, sliced apples, chips, drinks and cookies.  Oh, and the kids got to watch Lady and the Tramp at the same time.  There's nothing better than that, right?

Of course, all good things must come to an end.  Oma had an appointment to go to, and the kids had nap time ahead so we packed up the picnic for that day.

But I have no doubt that another picnic is in store for us in the very near future.  Who can resist so much fun?!

The Easter Bunny's First Visit

Yes, I realize Baylor is already three-and-a-half years-old so this should have been the Easter Bunny's fourth visit, but neither Bryson nor I have ever really been huge on celebrating Easter (not being very religious and all) so we never really took the time to do the whole Easter Bunny thing.  Of course, Baylor started hearing about the rabbit's visit from other people, so we had to make it happen this year.  I decided to go with hiding Easter eggs and making it more of a treasure hunt instead of just doing baskets, and it seemed to work out well.  I wanted to just fill the eggs with the kids' Halloween candy, but my mom balked at that so I "splurged" and bought some Hershey's kisses for the treats.

I must say, hiding the eggs was both challenging and fun!  

And the kids had a blast searching for them all!  In fact, they were both more excited about the eggs themselves than what was inside.

They each got to have one of their candies that morning and have had a couple in the day or two following, but since then they have forgotten about the candy almost entirely.  And, of course, Baylor ended up being more upset that I took away the eggs than he was excited to get candy.  Oh well ... next year, little man!

Baylor's First Push Pop

For some reason I remember these being called "push pops" and not "push ups", as the latter reminds me of the heinous exercise move we had to do in gym class.  Either way, he had his first one the other day and really seemed to enjoy it.

Thanks to my mom for coming with us to the Gardens and for helping this sweet moment occur!

(To be fair, Mollie had one too, but she isn't overly into sweets like her brother is and mostly let hers dribble and melt.  Then she abandoned it and squirmed around in her seat, moving too quickly for me to get any really good pictures of her.)  

A Dam Post

Before dinner in Rockford one evening last month, we took the kids down to the dam and showed them something new.  The whole of it is quite impressive, and - being as relatively small as it is - is easily taken in. As we approached, I was concerned that the noise might be too much for Baylor to handle, but he didn't even flinch so I didn't bother to mention it.  In fact, his reaction was quite the contrary ... he couldn't get enough of it! 

Mollie was a little more cautious - there were dogs around after all - but she seemed to enjoy it.  At least she enjoyed walking with me.

Baylor chatted our ears off and narrated the excursion for us, as he is apt to do.

And both kids drank in the sight of so much water rushing here and there.

Baylor's getting to be so independent and wants to do everything adults do, so it wasn't much of a surprise when he darted off on his own.  (You can see him about three-quarters of the way up the picture on the left side ... that little green speck in the distance.)

Once we caught up to the little man, we showed him the canoe launch.  He has been curious about boat launches ever since he noticed the example of a sign for one in his Signs in Our World book.  I think the sight of an actual launch, however, was less than thrilling.

Once we were done at the dam, we had time for a quick stroll around Rockford before we met up with my parents and sister for a delicious dinner at Marinades.

It always surprises me how much cooler and newer everything seems through the eyes of a child, but every time we take them some place new I am reminded of how much fun it is to discover things, to explore.  We'll definitely be going on more adventures this summer when the weather is warmer.  Smiles and excitement like those we saw that night in Rockford are ones I want to encourage and enjoy over and over again.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Let Me Tell Ya 'Bout My Best Friend!

Every mom's dream is to have kids who are happy, healthy, well-adjusted, and - if you have more than one - who are best friends with each other.

They're not perfect (no one is), but I am certainly living the dream here.  I couldn't ask for better kids!

Amalia's 2nd Birthday: The Party

So, I'm awesome.  Not only did I delete a large portion of the pictures I took at Amalia's second birthday party, but I am over a month late writing about it.

Enough of the pity party.

On to the real party!  We had the usual suspects over and had a wonderful time.

My sister made some outrageously delicious (and beautiful) cupcakes.

We finally got to use the ice bucket Bryson got as a Christmas gift ... isn't it pretty?

Like I said, I had many more pictures of the day, but most of them got wiped out with a stroke of the key.  This was the last of the ones I had personally taken.  Because it was such an unusually warm day, the kids got to play outside for a while before dinner.  After running around with the other kids a bit, the birthday girl decided to rest her laurels in her wagon and watch the action around her.

After a delicious pizza dinner, one of Mollie's favorite meals, we got down to the business of birthday cupcakes and singing.  

Then it was time for some presents!

Once all the gifts were opened, the kids played in the living room while the adults sat on the periphery and watched the action/chaos.  Baylor, not being a fan of action or chaos, retreated into the kitchen for a little self-imposed quiet time.

It was a great party, low-key and fun, and we were so glad to get to spend time with some special people in our lives.  Thanks to all of those that helped make it a success!  And happy birthday, Miss Amalia!

Oh, and happy birthday to my sister!  I hope today is just as special as you are.  Love you!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

McCartney's "My Valentine"

I couldn't resist posting this video ... it's just so beautiful.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Amalia's 2nd Birthday: The Day Of

It's hard to believe that my little Amalia is already two!  But she is and we wanted her big day to be as special as she is.  Bryson stayed home that morning, and we got to celebrate as a family from the minute the little lady woke up.

She started off the gift-opening with a present "from" her brother.

Ever since Baylor has been going to school with a backpack, Mollie has wanted one too.  So, after much searching online, we settled on the bee one ... and Baylor was more than happy to show her all its features.

Then it was on to the big gift from Mommy and Daddy ...

... her very own dollhouse!

Unfortunately, her little house came unfurnished ... but a little time would help with that.

Once the gifts were played with for a bit and breakfast was eaten, we scooted the kids out the door so we could get to the zoo the minute it opened.  It was actually supposed to be extraordinarily hot (for March) that day, and we wanted to both beat the crowds and beat the impending heat.  We made it through the ticket booth only to be stopped at the main gate; someone had forgotten to open it and we got to enjoy a little construction action going on around us ... noisy but fascinating to children.

Finally inside, we looked at bald eagles ...

... and smiled.

Baylor's poor hat is just not working for him these days; it's a child's hat, but the bill fits too tightly to his head and hurts him if the hat is adjusted to the proper size.  So, of course, it moves around on him now that it's a little too big for his noggin.

Usually when we visit the zoo it's summer, all hot and sticky, and most of the animals end up just wanting to lay around or hide out in the little man-made caves in their "habitats".  (Who can blame them?  They're wearing full-bodied fur coats, after all.)  But that day, as early as we went, it was still cool enough that the animals were still active ... so we got to see bears taking a bath and nipping at each other.

The otters are usually playful anyway, but that morning one seemed particularly friendly.

Mollie couldn't get enough of this little gal, and we ended up watching her more than any other animal.

Baylor, of course, had to stop and read the signs wherever he could find them.

We had a fantastic time at the zoo on what will probably (hopefully) be the warmest birthday Mollie will ever have.  She was a bit afraid of quite a few of the animals (the monkeys and chimps, in particular) and did not enjoy the darkness of the nocturnal animal exhibit, but overall she did really well.  Baylor had a great time, too, and I'm so looking forward to taking them back to the zoo a lot this summer.

We made our way home for some lunch, and the birthday girl got to enjoy some fish crackers while her lunch was being prepared.

Of course, realizing there was a camera pointed at her, she hammed it up a bit.

After a good lunch and a good nap, we went out to dinner with family.  Because Bryson had class that night, we celebrated with both sets of grandparents and Aunt Christine instead.  You should always get to have your favorite meal on your birthday, so pizza was definitely in order for Mollie.  Ah, Vitale's of Ada, we love you so!

After a delicious meal and wonderful company, we headed back to Oma's house for a little gift opening.  Aunt Christine got her a cool cowgirl and horse for her dollhouse and a lift-the-flap Mickey Mouse book.

And made her an endlessly adorable hat that matched perfectly with the super cute coat my parents got for her!

After the fashion show and more gifts (dollhouse rooms and people), they had a little story time with Aunt Christine.

We ended the evening with ice cream and chips.

And then Mollie embraced her two-ness and stormed off to the living room to pout when I said we had to leave.

All in all, it was a really fantastic day, full of fun and joy.  Just what a little girl's birthday should be.

Happy birthday, sweet Amalia!