Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Grammy's Weekend Visit

My mom spent this past weekend with us and we had a really nice few days, both with her and without! That sounds like odd phrasing, but she very kindly offered to babysit a good bit so I could have some time to myself and Eric and I could have a date night, plus we did some fun things as a full group. All around, it was a great weekend!

My mom arrived Friday morning and our first order of business was getting Ellie to the "Mickey Store" (Disney Store) for a new Rapunzel dress. My sister gave her one for her birthday, and Ellie loved it so much she literally wore holes into it. And then I would patch them ("put some Rapunzel thread on my dress, Mama!"), and then new holes would pop up, and so on and so forth. Finally I was like, enough already. My mom generously offered to split the cost of the REAL Rapunzel costume from the Disney Store, so I promised Ellie that next time Grammy came, we would get her a new dress. And boy, did she remember.

As luck would have it, Disney costumes were 40% off that day, so she got her dress for a great price and I also picked up a Sofia the First dress to stash away for when she's finally potty trained (coming very soon!). Ellie loved her new Rapunzel dress and has been wearing it near constantly ever since.

She's a bit edgy, but isn't she a lovely lost princess?

Then it was back home for lunch and naps. During naptime, I left the kids in my mother's capable hands and went for a haircut, my first since before E.J. was born. That's tragic, I know. Needless to say, I was due. I tried a new salon in Riverside and I loved the end result. I cut probably about eight inches off (and probably lost nearly 10 pounds off my total weight) and actually have some style. It's so nice to feel like a real person again, and not just a frumpy mom with a messy, frizzy, "I've given up" bun.

Haircut!

That evening, we once again left the kids in my mother's care while Eric and I enjoyed a delightful date night. We had the idea to go to a Jacksonville Suns game, and relive some of the "childless couple" magic of attending a baseball game without small kids in tow. As you may recall, it is a bucket list item for Eric to see games played at all Major League Baseball stadiums, so needless to say, we have attended quite a few ballgames together in our years as a couple. We do love taking our kids to the games, but let's be honest: those afternoons at the ballpark include a lot of walking, entertaining, snacking, and distraction, and very little sitting, watching the game, and BEER DRINKING. So we decided to live it up and went to a game, just the two of us. We ate food (no tiny fingers stole our french fries), we drank beer (without fear of tiny feet kicking it over every time I set it down), we watched some baseball (no tiny beings needed constant entertainment), and we stayed for the fireworks after the game (and no tiny people freaked out about the loud noises). What a night!

Date night at the ballpark!

All the ladies got free pink caps that night!

With the Suns losing at the end of the game, Eric had to don his rally cap.

Post-game fireworks

The next morning, Eric had a Teach for America conference all day, so it was just the ladies and E.J. left to entertain ourselves. On the agenda for Saturday: a haircut for Ellie! Can we talk about how long the mane on my former baldy was getting?!?!

Before pics!

I didn't like how stringy it was looking in the back, so I wanted to trim it up to/above her shoulders. We went back to the children's salon we took her to the first time, and they pampered her to the fullest: glitter polish manicure, Doc McStuffins on TV, nice trim, two sparkly clips, and a fancy heart hairdo topped with glitter to finish things off. She loved it.

Glitter manicure to start things off

Haircut time!

She now has permanent glitter dandruff, but she loved it.

New shorter, cleaner locks!

That evening, after naptime, we went for a walk across the Main Street Bridge to the Jacksonville Landing. We had a fabulous time dancing to the music there!

Eric and I were just goofing around, and wound up inspiring a full-family dance party!

Ellie got in on the action in full force

Eric joined her

I shared a dance with my little man

Then Grammy cut in!


VIDEO: Ellie dancing at the Landing

We sat for a while and watched the draw bridge go up and down, then walked back across it (and got stopped at it again ourselves).

The Main Street Bridge

With my favorite crazies

Watching the bridge go up

Waiting for our turn to cross the bridge

Walking across the bridge

When we got home, we put E.J. to bed then had a pizza picnic on the front porch. Perfect end to a fun evening!

On Sunday, we drove down to St. Augustine for the Children's Art Festival, which was a lot of fun. We originally wanted to attend this event because our local PBS station indicated that Daniel Tiger would be making an appearance, and Ellie is a HUGE Daniel fan so we wanted to make that happen for her. Alas, Daniel couldn't take the heat (quite literally) and they scrapped that appearance, but we still had a fun morning crafting, dancing and enjoying some ice cream (thanks, Grammy!).

Craft time with Grammy

Painting with nature

Making a picture of a sandcastle, but that should be obvious.

Sharing a cup of mint chocolate chip ice cream

E.J. got a little taste of the ice cream, too, and this was his reaction.

Cuddles with Mama

And, Daddy time.

Dancing!

Burning off some energy in the grass before heading home

Sweet boy!

When we got home we had some lunch then bid farewell to Grammy. Thanks so much for coming, Grammy!

My mom and the kids!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Dinosaur Train Date Night

Last Tuesday, Eric and Ellie enjoyed another daddy-daughter date night. This time, they went out for dinner and a show: Chick-Fil-A, followed by Dinosaur Train Live!

Ready for date night! (I have to mention that Eric purposely wore a pink shirt because pink is Ellie's favorite color, and Eric is an amazing Daddy!)


The show was over in Orange Park, so Eric and Ellie drove out there early to beat rush our traffic and spent some time in the Chick-Fil-A play area before sitting down to a nice dinner together.


Play time!

Sharing a lovely dinner

Then they went over to the theater. They were running a little late, and Ellie was a bit spooked by the darkness and loud noise in the theater at first, but she quickly warmed up to the whole experience.

Dinosaur Train ready!

By the end of the show, Ellie was loving it. She danced her little heart out and kept asking Eric, "Can we dance together again, Daddy?"

VIDEO: Ellie dancing to Dinosaur Train

Ellie wasn't the only one who loved it. Eric said he had a moment during the show when he looked at Ellie and was struck by just how cool it is to be her parent.

Ellie rocking the toddler smile after the show! She didn't want to go home!

All in all, it was a great night for both Eric and Ellie, and Ellie has been talking about it nearly every day since: "Remember when we go on that date with Daddy? We played at the French Fry Store! And we saw Dinosaur Train! We were in a time tunnel!" Clearly, she enjoyed her evening out with her daddy!

Another great memory for these two!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Mother's Day Weekend

My first Mother's Day as a mother of two was a great success! I had some wonderful quality time with my family, and ended the weekend feeling happy and blessed.

We kicked things off on Saturday morning with a little shopping trip to start looking for my ruby eternity ring in honor of E.J. As you may recall, Eric gave me an aquamarine ring (Ellie's birthstone) to wear on my wedding ring finger to symbolize my commitment not only to him as my husband but to our entire family:

The current status of my ring finger

Now that our family has grown, I want to add a ruby ring (E.J.'s birthstone) to the mix, so we were on a hunt. Unfortunately we did not find what we were looking for, but we got the ball rolling and a very rude salesman gave us a story to bond over! So, success?

After the kids' naps that afternoon, we loaded everybody up and drove out to the beach for an early dinner at TacoLu. It was our first real (read: non-Disney buffet) dinner out as a family of four, and it went quite well! Ellie even ate a teeeeeeeeeeeny bite of the quesadilla we ordered for her, and E.J. happily munched on his precious peas we brought from home. As for me, I enjoyed three tacos: carnitas, seared tuna and bangin' shrimp, and a sangria-rita. Considering the last time we dined at TacoLu I was excessively pregnant (and desperately trying to spicy-food E.J. right out), I was quite happy to partake in some booze and seared tuna this time around!

E.J. looking like such a big boy at the restaurant!

With my girl! (Last weekend she was all about the bear mask, but this weekend she wanted to wear her Rapunzel jacket....despite the fact that it was 90 degrees outside.)

The boys

Deliciousness.

After dinner we drove over to South Beach Playground for a little fun. It's a great playground that we rarely make it out to because it's a solid half-hour drive from our house, but Ellie really had a wonderful time. She was able and willing to do so much more on the play structures this time than the last time we were there. It's always awesome to have those moments where you can quite clearly see how much she is growing up.

Playground fun

She's Rapunzel in her tall, tall tower!

Hot babywearing dad!

"I'm going to practice my balance."

On Sunday (actual Mother's Day), I was treated to my very first gift right off the bat: BOTH KIDS SLEPT IN TILL 8:15 A.M. A Mother's Day miracle!!!! I mean, every now and then one of them will do that, but both at once?!?! Unheard of. Plus, E.J. was only up twice overnight, and his wake-ups were over five hours apart! Holy chunk of uninterrupted sleep, Batman!

Bless my children.

Eric got out of bed first to get the kids up, and when I joined everyone I was greeted with two cards:

Is that not the cutest?

E.J. is still thinking over his answers, so he just gave his trademark smiles for each response.

How sweet is that?!

We got going with breakfast and general day preparations, and as quickly as we could manage we loaded up the car and made our way back out to the beach for a fun morning in the sun.

We were a little anxious about beach day with both kids, because two kids that small is a lot of work on any given day, and taking them to the beach just adds a lot of sand to an already excessive amount of effort. But in the end, it was worth it! We had a great time!

Ellie loved playing in the sand...

Building sand castles together

Team effort!

...looking for seashells....

Down by the water to hunt for shells

...and being buried by Eric.

Burying Ellie: Round One

Two buried children

Burying Ellie: Round Two

Crazy girl!

E.J., on the other hand, just wanted to crawl EVERYWHERE. This is not any different from any other day, of course, though I did have a moment of wonder about how he would take to the sand, considering this was his first time to the beach as a mobile little person. The answer to that question is: he'll take to it just fine. That kid probably crawled three miles around that beach. Luckily, it was largely empty, so we were able to give him some freedom to roam. And roam he did.

Checking things out at first

This sand dune was his Everest, and he was determined to scale it (walking stick in hand, even).

You win this one, Everest.

Just generally being the cutest thing that has ever set foot on Jacksonville Beach

Pushing sand toys along as he crawls


Climbing over buried Ellie

Waving to seagulls, because he is the sweetest.

People loved watching him, too. One woman asked to take his picture because she thought he was a doll at first, a man commented on how much he enjoyed watching E.J. crawl around, and another woman joked that E.J.'s crawl looked like a little crab. He was a hit!

Look at him posing for the paparazzi! Honestly.

Of course, he inevitably made his way to the water. He "rode the waves" a bit and did not care for that, but came back for more a bit later. That time he was a bit displeased with the temperature of the water.

Contemplating a swim

Weeeeee!

Look at his little arm clutching mine. It seems he felt safer from this vantage point.

Back in. Hates it.

Overall, I just had a really great time with my family.

Mama and babies

My far-too-grown-up Ellie

With my sweet E.J.

Family!

We spent roughly a couple hours enjoying the sun, sand and surf before we decided to pack things up. We got everybody rinsed off (two of the four of us really hated it and screamed bloody murder the whole time, though I won't mention any names), dressed in dry clothes and loaded into the car.

We had a great time!

On the way home we stopped and picked up Arby's for a picnic lunch at home on our porch. The rest of the day was spent napping and video-chatting with other important mothers in our life, then relaxing with a yummy dinner.

All in all, it was a perfect weekend with my favorite people! I'm a lucky mama!