Tuesday, September 29, 2015

60 Years!

Today is my mom's 60th birthday! She is en route to California for a very fun trip, including visits to Jazzercise headquarters and a taping of The Price Is Right, among other things.

So, today we're wishing her safe travels and a great birthday celebration on the west coast to kick off what will certainly be a wonderful new decade! Happy birthday, Mom/Grammy! We love you!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Happy Birthday, Achilles!

Achilles doesn't get nearly the blog love that he used to back in our pre-kid days, and frankly, in real life I spend a lot of time hollering at him to get out from underfoot...that is, when he ventures out from hiding (his often unsuccessful attempt at staying out of E.J.'s path of destruction). Poor little guy! I'm sure he longs for child-free NYC street festivals and long afternoons at the dog park, but our lives have changed quite a bit in all these years he's been a part of our family.

But, today is his 12th "birthday," or, the 11th anniversary of his adoption. And, we couldn't let the day go unnoticed. Ellie is especially excited about birthdays these days, so she helped me select a special treat for him at Target last week, and tonight we had a little mini party for him. We sang to him and she very kindly helped him extinguish his candle, then we all ate species-appropriate birthday party food. A good time was had by all.

He is ready for that plate of birthday treats!

Ellie stepping in to help with the candle!

Happy birthday, old man!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Little Bird

My little Ellie bird, flying along Venice Beach.

Friday, September 25, 2015

E.J.'s First Rays Game

The Sunday following Charlie's party, we decided to seize the opportunity to finally get E.J. to his very first Tampa Bay Rays game. It was also his first game in a Major League Baseball stadium! Considering his big sister saw her first Rays game at a mere four months old, and had visited five MLB stadiums by the time she was his age (14.5 months), I would say E.J. has some catching up to do. (For the record, in addition to Tropicana Field, Ellie has also seen games played in Cleveland, St. Louis, Milwaukee and Cincinnati - plus four others in utero!).

It was a 1:00 p.m. game on Sunday against the Orioles, and it was Family Fun Day which meant the kids each received a Rays beanie, and there were lots of fun activities for the kids throughout the concourse. My dad and sister joined us for the fun, too!

Ready for some fun!

Ellie and Eric outside the stadium

Let's do this!

The one kids' activity we really wanted to do was have Topps baseball cards made for each of them. I promised Ellie ice cream if she smiled nice for the picture, and this is what I got:

Neither of them was particularly gung-ho about this plan.

And, this is what she got:

Mmm hmm.

So. Yeah. I think one of us got the short end of the stick there. And the other one got sprinkles.

We found our seats so Ellie could sit and eat her ice cream, and Heather went off in search of more food (french fries for E.J.!). We watched a couple innings from our seats, and E.J. loved it! He enthusiastically clapped whenever anyone else did (which meant he also cheered for the Orioles, which is an issue we'll address, but you know, baby steps). He also ate french fries by the fistful and climbed all over the seats. It was good times for him.

E.J. adores his Papa, and the fact that we were able to stay in our seats as long as we did was probably in large part thanks to E.J.'s willingness to just kick it on Papa's lap for a while.

Ellie sharing her ice cream and E.J. peeking around all, "Hey guys, whatcha eatin'?"

He's a happy boy!

Just your average unicorn, casually watching a baseball game

How many people does it take to protect E.J. from certain peril at a baseball game?

French fries!

Clapping and cheering!

Silly selfies!

Ellie and Aunt Heather sharing a laugh

Be still my heart! Father and son at their first MLB game together.

When the kids started getting a little too fidgety, we set out back to the concourse to find more things to do. We wandered around a bit, with the ultimate destination of the rays touch tank in mind, but alas, the line was epically long so we weren't able to see the rays. Next time!

Happy baby!

Run home, Ellie!

The whole gang

And then we called it a day. We had to get back to my dad's house to load up our stuff and hit the road back to Jacksonville so we could get in at a reasonable hour for dinner and bedtime. We had a great afternoon at the ballpark, though, and we look forward to many more games together as a family!

The end of a fun afternoon!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Charlie's 3rd Birthday Party

This past weekend we made the trip back down to St. Pete for another birthday celebration: our nephew Charlie's 3rd birthday party!

The party was held at at a rec center with a great indoor play area for kids. As soon as we arrived, the kids were outfitted with wristbands and socks and let loose in the small kids' area. They both had a great time, and let me tell you: a padded room full of stuff to climb on is exactly what E.J. needs. That kid was unstoppable! Ellie even played and climbed the whole time, too!

And they're off!

E.J. is ready to brave the slide!

Everybody's blurry, but that's kind of just how it was! E.J., Ellie and Charlie having fun!

Hanging out by the punching bags

There he goes!

E.J. and Charlie

Ellie having fun with the big yoga balls in the "cave!"
(Interesting that she is "trapped" underneath the very same type of ball that she basically held me hostage on for the first four months of her life. The tables have turned, my dear.)

After a good stretch of playtime, it was time for lunch. The group moved into the party room, where they served pizza and juice boxes. After everyone ate, we sang "Happy Birthday" to Charlie and enjoyed some cupcakes.

Lunch time!

Singing to Charlie

Blowing out his candle

Ellie is always happy to see a nice chocolate cupcake! (Which she apparently eats frosting first?)

Then, it was back to the play area for a little bit, until we'd had our fill. Luckily, the kids were getting to be pretty over it just as our time was running out, so that worked out perfectly. They had a great time!

There they go!

Peek-a-boo, E.J.!

Weeeee! He loved the slide!

Ellie in the train

E.J. and Aunt Kelley

Ellie loves Aunt Kelley!

Happy birthday, Charlie!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Born in 1955

The Sunday of last weekend (the day after Heather returned home), we drove down to Venice for a visit with my mom, Aunt Debbie, and cousin Molly and her kids. We planned to do a little birthday celebration for my mom that day—she turns 60 years young next week!

My Aunt Debbie suggested a 1950s themed party, which seemed quite appropriate. Aunt Debbie planned all the food, and I put together some decorations. We hung some various 1950s-themed items, and I printed out some pictures of things "born in 1955" and strung them up on a banner: microwave ovens, McDonald's, Disneyland, Scrabble, Play-Doh, etc. Everything looked cute!

The "Born in 1955" banner

More festive decor

Heather and I (and the kids, of course) arrived at Debbie's house a little early to help with setup as much as we could, and then we all just waited around for my mom. She and Gary arrived a bit later and she was very surprised at the festive atmosphere!

Checking everything out with E.J.

We also had cateye glasses for everyone to wear, and we decorated them with stickers.

Rock those glasses, E.J.!

Look at this sweetheart at the soda shop!


Glasses girls!

We all spent some time hanging out, drinking champagne, chatting and playing with the kids.

Ellie showing Milena some love

Santiago and Ellie reading with Gary

Heather and Milena

Hanging out

Then, it was time for lunch. Aunt Debbie organized a fine meal consisting of BLTs, potato salad, a Jell-O mold, deviled eggs, fruit salad and chips and dip. For dessert, she made some delicious peanut butter cup cheesecake cups. They were so rich and delicious.



Ellie helping with candle duty

After lunch, my mom opened her presents.

Showing off Ellie's drawing of her Grammy and a flower in her card

It's wine! Surprise, surprise!

Then, we all got changed into our beachwear and set off for the Gulf!

The big kids riding in style with Aunt Heather

We spent some time at the beach, taking turns sitting and chatting and chasing after children. E.J. found the water all too soon, though we all did get a good chuckle out of his drunken sailor stumbling through the surf. Milena dozed on her Nonnie, and Ellie and Santiago played together quite a bit. It was a very nice time!

Santiago and Ellie walking hand-in-hand

The grown-ups

E.J. hitting the water

VIDEO: Little drunken E.J.

Ellie and Santiago playing in the sand

E.J. joined in!

Smashing sand castles!

Sleeping Milena

Awake Milena!

The little kids taking a turn to play!

Ellie and her Grammy looking for shells

Doing gymnastics in the sand

VIDEO: Future Olympians!

E.J. bonding with Aunt Heather

When we went back to Debbie's house, the kids did a little skinny dipping in her kiddie pool to rinse off, then we had dinner and snapped a few more photos.

The Cousins Club!

The whole gang!

Then, it was time to say our goodbyes. It was such a fun day! Of course, my kiddos passed right out in the car, as is the norm after a day with their cousins!

Cousin hug!

Thanks so much for a fun day, family!