Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Quality Cousin Time

The whole reason I went to St. Petersburg as early as I did for E.J.'s baptism weekend was to spend a little extra time with my cousin Molly, nephew Santiago and aunt Debbie. Molly and Santiago were in town from Illinois for a two-week Florida vacation at Debbie's house, so I knew I had to get in a little extra cousin time aside from the baptism itself!

We had planned to go to a splash park in the morning but Ellie's sinus infection changed the plans to a low-key day at my dad's house. Molly, Debbie and Santiago came over around lunchtime and we got right down to business with the introductions - this was E.J.'s first time meeting any of them!

E.J. with his Aunt (and Godmother!) Molly

E.J. and his Great Aunt Debbie

Santiago checking out the baby who stole both his positions as youngest cousin AND only boy in this generation of the family. Lucky for E.J., Santiago doesn't seem to hold it against him.

E.J. was a particular hit with his cousin Santiago and Ellie (no surprise there). Those two were quite doting!

They love him so much they may smoosh him.

Santiago holding E.J.


The older two examining the newbie

Santiago gives great hugs!

Aside from fussing over the youngest cousin, Santiago and Ellie spent some time having tea parties, playing with Ellie's toys, treating us to a piano duet and sliding down the footrest of my dad's recliner.

Tea party!

Sliding on the chair together

Duet!

I love that those two are finally getting to be old enough to play together!

Two of the three kids took afternoon naps (you'll never guess which one didn't, ELLIE), so the grown-ups had some time to chat, too, which was very nice.

Being able to see Molly as often as I do has really been a major advantage to being back in Florida. Molly and I have been very close since we were kids, and I think having kids of our own has only made us more so. I'm so glad Molly has been able to come visit her mother in Florida as much as she has and that I have been able to take advantage of that for more time with her, too! Molly is expecting her second child in March (right around Ellie's birthday!), so I assume a visiting hiatus is looming ahead, but for now, I've been enjoying the frequent get-togethers, and I'm so glad our kids have had that opportunity, too! I hope that they will end up being as close of friends as Molly (and Heather) and I are!

Love these people!

Thanks for spending the day with us, Debbie, Molly and Santiago!

Monday, October 20, 2014

E.J.'s Baptism Weekend

Finally! Let's talk baptism weekend!

Well, "weekend" is a bit misleading. I actually spent almost a week in St. Petersburg with the kids, while Eric joined us for a long weekend. I drove down on Wednesday, September 24 and returned the following Tuesday. During that long stay, we did all sorts of fun things! Several of the "big events" will get their own separate (more detailed) posts, but we'll kick things off with a general overview.

This was my first time driving both children down to St. Pete by myself. I was a well-oiled machine the morning of our departure, getting both kids up and ready, throwing the last minute things in the car and getting us out the door right as E.J. was due to go down for his morning nap, in the hopes that he would do so in the car and life would be simple for all of us.

Well, he did sleep...a little. Actually, Ellie fell asleep before him, thanks to a sinus infection we had just visited the doctor for the day before. Both naps were short-lived and by the time we reached I-4, both kids were LOSING THEIR MINDS. Oh, the screaming! We stopped at a rest stop just before Orlando, got everybody a quick snack and a leg-stretch break and then continued on, and this time E.J. slept the entire remainder of the trip. Ellie also took a second nap, albeit brief. That's how you know she was sick - she never sleeps in the car!

We arrived at my Dad's house in time for lunch and naps for the kiddos (and Mama too, let's be honest), then spent the rest of the day around the house, playing with the new "kitchen" (play house) he bought for Ellie and dining on pizza for dinner.

E.J. and his Papa

On Thursday, my Aunt Debbie, cousin Molly and her son Santiago came to spend the day with us, but I'll share more about that in my next post.

It's safe to say that E.J. was a major hit with the toddlers.

Eric drove down after work on that day, so he arrived Thursday evening.

Friday was a pretty low-key day. Eric golfed and I went consignment shopping with the kiddos, and marked Ellie's very first throw-herself-on-the-floor-in-a-fit-of-rage tantrum in public. Milestones! That afternoon Eric and I went shopping for last-minute things for the baptism party (including placing food and cake orders), and then we spent the rest of the afternoon hanging out at my Dad's house.

Helping E.J. with his tummy time!

My dad and my kids

On Saturday, HEATHER CAME! As you may recall, my sister is currently living in Japan while working at Tokyo Disney. She left in February and the baptism weekend was the first I saw of her since she left, and her current contract isn't up until March so there is still much more time to go now. I know she's having a blast over there and her pictures/stories are all so cool, but man, I miss my sister! I was so happy to be able to introduce her to E.J. and drink some wine with her. Bless her heart for trying to hard to be sociable for all those things even though jet lag had her pretty much down for the count.

E.J. looks very concerned about meeting his Aunt Heather!

Ellie, however, is pumped to see her Heather.
(We made the mistake of telling her she would see Heather soon weeks prior to the actual visit, so for days on end poor Ellie would say to me, "can I want my Heather, Mama?" So, this was a much anticipated moment!)

Sisters!

Sunday was the big baptism day, but naturally, that will have its own post, too! For now, let's just say that it was a beautiful ceremony followed by a great party with our loved ones. We had a perfect day, and E.J. was such a little angel.

Just look at this little cherub.

After all the festivities, Eric played a little more golf while Heather and I went to get pedicures. Let me tell you - sipping wine while getting pampered and chatting with my sister? IT'S GOOD FOR THE SOUL.

Monday was my mom's birthday, and we hit the beach with her, Aunt Debbie, Molly, Santiago and Heather. Another great day, and another individual post to come!

Cheers to the birthday girl!

After the beach Eric hit the road back to Jacksonville to go to work the next day, while I stayed behind and spent the night drinking wine out of super classy cups and chatting with my sister.

I felt like this post just needed another picture including alcoholic beverages.

Tuesday, it was time to say good-bye. Heather's flight back to Japan was departing early on Wednesday, but she had lots of errands and plans with friends on the agenda for Tuesday, so we made our exit Tuesday morning. I got everything loaded up, said goodbye to my dad and Heather (while pretending it was NOT really goodbye for another six months), and hit the road. The kids did pretty well on the return trip, and another mid-journey rest stop didn't hurt things, either.

And that was our time in St. Petersburg! Stay tuned for further posts about our fun with family!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A Week With the W. Kids

So here we are again...time is slipping right on past me, and I realize I haven't blogged E.J.'s baptism weekend yet, let alone more recent happenings. My free/hobby time has been consumed with Halloween costume preparations, as well as FINALLY putting the finishing touches on our new house. I can now say that every single box has been unpacked! Hip hip, hooray! We're just a few hung pictures away from being finished. So hopefully I can get a house tour post up this month, too!

I'll get to E.J.'s baptism posts tout de suite, but for now, let's do another quick look at what we've been up to for the past week.

Last Tuesday, we hit up my friend's consignment store and scored this adorable Minnie Mouse costume for Ellie - not for Halloween, but just in general. Actually, we're planning a Disney trip in January because Eric is running the Disney marathon (!!!), so we'll put this to use for that. And, you know, just for hanging out around the house. Mine is a child who loves to play dress-up, so this dress will get plenty of love. I mean, just look at that face:

She is so excited. I let her put the dress on in the store and then continued my shopping. After a few minutes I caught sight of her out of the corner of my eye - she was slowly twirling around, staring down at her dress, whispering, "so beautiful." 
So yeah. We bought the heck out of that dress.

E.J. refused to nap that afternoon (a rarity indeed), but aside from interfering with my planned productivity, this is not a huge issue. Needless to say, an unnapped E.J. handles himself with a bit more grace than a sleep-deprived Ellie:

He looks like he's posing for a school picture.
For comparison, you can see his sister sans nap here.

On Wednesday, I finally got brave enough to take both children to a library storytime by myself. Not only that, but we went to the storytime at the San Marco Branch, which is walking distance from our house, but I had never been there before so it was completely uncharted territory. I know, right? Just call me SuperMom.

Anyway, storytime was great. It was not nearly as crowded as at our old library (though they also don't have the awesome House of Germs and Disease play area that our old library had), so when a temper tantrum delayed our morning (how dare I remove Ellie's Band-Aid after she wore it for a mere five days!), we were able to stroll in right at start time and still find a good seat. They read books pertaining to that day's subject ("wind"), did a little "science experiment" (blowing different objects across a table), and then there was a craft. Ellie was just thrilled to use a Glue Stick. Simple pleasures, am I right?

The kids at storytime

GLUE STICK.

Showing E.J. the finished product

On Thursday, we hit the playground. We wore our most sensible playground apparel, which naturally included a set of fairy wings.

Toddlers are the coolest.
(Sometimes.)

Also completing the ensemble: stick-on earrings, a dash of glitter on the nose and those pretty blue eyes.

We also picked up some personal pan pizzas from Pizza Hut and had ourselves a dinnertime picnic at the "train park"....

If only!

...while simultaneously torturing our children. So, you know, win-win.


 VIDEO: Picnicking at the train park is a risky business.

On Friday, I braved the Barnes and Noble storytime by myself. Two storytimes in one week! Killing it. Ellie made sure E.J. felt at ease in this new situation by holding his hand while sitting on the benches, trying to give him her piece to put on the felt board, letting him hold her completed craft and offering him the coveted train from the train table during play afterwards. Big Sister of the Year!

Sitting on the bench, waiting for storytime to start

He's into it!

Putting her piece on the felt board

E.J. showing off our Q-Tip skeleton craft

On Friday night, we went to the football game at Eric's school, which left Ellie clamoring for more "big tubas" while E.J. just worried about the state of things.

He was just not really sure that this was the place he wanted to be.

On Saturday, we went to the grand opening of the new Disney Store at the St. John's Town Center, where Ellie promptly covered herself in Doc McStuffins garb before we went outside to meet Mickey - E.J.'s first Disney character encounter! (There was quite a lengthy line to meet the main Mouse, but hey, we're former New Yorkers - we can rock some long lines.)

Ellie McStuffins

Super excited to meet Mickey! Also, baby in a polo shirt.

All that waiting and Ellie looks unimpressed, while E.J. looks confused. These kids better shape up before our January Disney trip.

Also, that evening, E.J. rolled over for the first time! After realizing straight up rolling over wasn't working for him, he figured out how to get himself propped up onto his elbows so he could topple right over. Brute strength and stellar problem-solving abilities! Is he his father's son or what?

On Sunday we ran some errands, then basked in the glow of the Browns' victory over the Steelers:

A Browns win makes E.J. smile

Yesterday we did some grocery shopping and some playground-ing, then back at home Ellie nearly killed me with this sweetness:

VIDEO: Ellie sings "You Are My Sunshine" to her baby brother
***At the time of posting this, there's no default image showing on the video, but I promise, it works! Just click play!***

Playing together on E.J.'s play mat

And today, we hung out around the house and dabbled in a little arts and crafts:

Look at those adorable foot ghosts!

Looking back through this rundown reminds me of just how lucky I am to be at home with my kids all day. Some days it's really draining, and by the time they're both in bed I just collapse on the couch, physically (and sometimes emotionally) spent. But my goodness, those kids are really, really cool and we have lots of fun together. I am so thankful that I have the opportunity to be here with them, watching them grow up each and every day. It's not easy for us - this is definitely a sacrifice and puts us in a much tighter financial situation than necessary. But, it is something that is important to both Eric and me and I'm so glad we're on the same page about that and we're both willing to make it work. Because those kids...man, those kids. I'm just one lucky mama.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

E.J. Laughs

I mentioned two posts ago that this week, E.J. had his first real little baby laugh. Well, guess what? Operation: Get Laugh on Video has already been a smashing success!

Much like his smiles, E.J. has made sure his giggles are not hard to come by. Since that first little pat-a-cake chuckle, he has added baby laughs to our already rather happy morning routine. It seems he finds undressing (in particular, pulling his arms through sleeves) to be quite humorous and every morning since that first laugh, he has giggled happily as I take off his nighttime onesie. As if he needed to make my mornings with him any more sweet!

This morning we shared a couple of little laughing fits independent of clothing removal, too - both when I first put him on his changing table, and again when I kissed him after undressing him. It sure does my heart good to share a case of the giggles with my sweet baby boy!


(If you're receiving this post by email and can't see the video, click here to watch it!)

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Swinging in Silhouette


I planned to post this photo with some deep, introspective or affectionate thought about how big she's getting, or reaching for the stars in life or some such sappiness, but then when I actually threw the picture up here and looked at it, all I could think was, LOOK AT ALL HER HAIR!

So there you go. Here's a picture of my former baldy, swinging high with her locks flying in the breeze. And it only took two and a half years.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Keeping Busy

Boy, oh boy, the past few weeks have been keeping us busy. The biggest culprit of our hectic end-of-September was our trip to St. Petersburg for E.J.'s baptism (and lots of other family fun!), but I'll recap that separately as soon as I sort through the photos a little bit. But here is what else we've been up to lately:

We endured the Great Nap Strike of 2014, in which Ellie went 11 very long days without napping. What does that look like, you wonder? A lot like this:

Poor dear, but sadly, only she can prevent forest fires (so to speak).

However, when she did finally break the napless streak, it looked a little more like this:

MUCH BETTER.

We went to a Pirate Party at Treaty Oak Park in honor of National Talk Like A Pirate Day, and the kiddos took turns rocking a pirate hat, then Ellie went digging for buried treasure (the result of which was her toting around a cardboard treasure chest for days after the event):

Ahoy!

Pirate Ellie with her treasure

My mom came for a little overnight visit, which the kids loved and also allowed Eric and me to take a little walk to San Marco Square for ice cream - Without kids. On a weekend. After dark. We are wild and crazy!

Date night in San Marco Square!

Meanwhile, the kids hung around with Grammy!

Ellie was sick for a good week or so with a sinus infection (thanks, Nap Strike!). She was an absolute dream at the pediatrician (I'm totally not saying that sarcastically at all - thanks, Doc McStuffins!), but administering her antibiotics was a godforsaken nightmare and involved much screaming (on her part), pleading with her to swallow (on our part), wailing and gnashing of teeth (for all of us). And that was on top of the heartache of watching your baby be so miserable, so needless to say, we're glad to have put that behind us.

Poor sick sweetheart

We had a lot of rain for seemingly weeks on end, but that has cleared out and we've had some lovely weather. So, we've been enjoying it in the backyard...:

Backyard fun

Batting practice with Daddy (she requested to "wear my orange helmet and play baseball," much to her father's delight)

Looking like an actual kid. Wasn't she just a baby?

....along the riverfront...:

Sunset river views

...and at the local playgrounds:

A couple of cuties in a playground tunnel

Eric ran the Marine Corps Half Marathon:

Way to go, Eric!

Ellie promptly commandeered his medal.

We went to the zoo (because we always go to the zoo):

Hanging out by the elephants

Piggyback!

E.J. and Ellie played, as kids are wont to do:

E.J. was totally into it.

And last night, E.J. laughed his very first laugh (trust me, Operation: Get Baby Laughing On Video is in FULL effect).

This face!

Of course, we've still been working on the house - we have visitors coming for quick visits in the next two weeks, so we're hoping to have things all finished by then. Or, you know, by Christmas. I have also had lots of crafty projects in the works (decorations for E.J.'s baptism party, his cross-stitch Christmas stocking, Halloween costumes), and obviously Eric is quite busy with school and all that comes along with that. Honestly, who do I need to speak to in order to get more hours in a day?