Wednesday, February 24, 2016

I'm Here! I'm Here!

Well, would you look at that: here I made my triumphant return to blogging a month ago, and then went dark again. Ha!

I've had things I'd like to share, but I've been keeping myself quite busy with preparations for Ellie's fourth birthday party coming up this weekend. True, she won't actually be four until the end of March, but my sister is leaving again for Japan a week from tomorrow (let's not speak of it), so we decided to have Ellie's party early this year so Aunt Heather could make it. She has never been able to come to any of the kids' birthday parties because of show schedules/non-U.S.-residence, so this will be a treat!

In addition, our February fun was marred by a stomach virus that very slowly but surely made its way through our entire family, thwarting most of our fun Valentine's Day plans and proving that romance at eight-years-married-with-two-kids means cleaning the vomit out of the couch and picking up some Outback Steakhouse to-go when the sicklings are finally to bed. My Valentine is the best!

So that's where we've been. I'm excited for Ellie's party and will definitely be sharing all of that with you, as per usual, and then doing some further catch-up posts soon enough. We have lots of fun things coming up for the remainder of the spring, too! Finally, our barren January and February are coming to an end and our calendar will once again be filled with fun social engagements.

In the meantime, I'd like to just share this picture I've had in mind to post for months now. Heather snapped it while she was visiting back in November, and it has quickly become one of my favorites of me with my babies. It was just a sweet, candid, snuggly moment and I'm so happy Heather caught it for us. Given all that has been going on in our household for the last month, we've been sharing lots of cuddles like this.

Enjoy the rest of your February, friends!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

December 2015

We had a really excellent month in December! It was jam-packed with fun things to do, mixed with some good old-fashioned holiday travel. Take a look!

As for general life stuff, E.J. and I enjoyed some nice weather bike rides...

Happy little biker down by the river

...Ellie perfected her trademark "hunch-and-pout" (threenagers, am I right?)...

We see this sight daily.

...and the kids enjoyed some quality reading time with Daddy.

E.J. is still working on the "sit still for books" concept.

Ellie also kept us on our toes with a couple different illnesses, one of which sent us to the ER during a St. Pete visit and the other resulted in a renal ultrasound at the children's hospital here in Jax, but both ended up being nothing to worry about. And, she handled both like a pro! The kid rocks at doctors.

Giving her new stuffed puppy a checkup at the hospital in St. Pete; and eating her reward for impressive behavior after her ultrasound, with new purple turtle (a gift from the ultrasound tech) close at hand.

As for other (more fun) events, we kicked off the month with a Star Wars-themed mini-birthday party for Eric (which has thrown both of our children into a full-fledged Star Wars obsession now).

Happy Star Wars birthday, Eric!

That same night, we trimmed our trusty little Christmas tree and adorned it with a brand new light-up angel.

It was a family effort!

Of course, we took the kids to see Santa, as one does in December. (EJ cried the whole time except for this exact moment. Shout-out to the photographer with the quick trigger finger!)

2015 Santa photo! I just can't with these sweeties.

We also attended the tree lighting in San Marco Square, which included a very nice little program put on by local school children.

The San Marco Christmas tree in Balis Park

We also went to Holidays in Hemming Park, which had "snow" for the poor, deprived Florida kids to play in. In all honestly it was a pitiful substitute for the real thing, but my particular poor, deprived Florida kid loved it, so it works.


We also had to stop by Christmas in Avondale again this year, and once again had a blast munching on popcorn, making Christmas crafts, dancing at a silent disco and goofing off in the photobooth.

Christmas in Avondale

We went to Sweet Pete's Winter Wonderland that included more crafts, sweets, storytime, another (slightly more realistic but still not really) fake snow encounter, and a meet-and-greet with Mr. and Mrs. Claus, about which one child was more excited than the other.

Fun at Sweet Pete's

We went back to Hemming Park yet again for ForceFest, which brought Ellie face-to-face with her current favorite celebrity.

That child loves her some R2D2.

We also had lots of visitors, including Papa...

At Jacksonville Beach

...Aunt Heather...

The kids are obsessed with Heather's white noise app on her phone. Who wouldn't be, though?

...and my mom, Kelley and Cathy, who all came up for Ellie's ballet recital. And as for the recital, well, it...went. I'll have more about that in another post because it very much warrants its own post.

Top Ellie on stage at her recital. Not sure which one she is? Oh, she's the one refusing to sit in favor of standing and sulking. You can't miss her.
Bottom: E.J. looking quite dapper for the occasion; and Ellie's fan club, all of whom traveled four hours to watch her stand motionless on a stage. Bless them.

While my mom and Heather were in town, we had our own little "Grammy Christmas" with a gift exchange and dinner.

Grammy Christmas!

They also stuck around for Ellie's school Christmas program, which also...went.

For heavens sake.

On the plus side, Ellie may not have put on much of a show, but E.J. looked like this:

He just needs to stop.

So, there's that.

Heather and I also took the kids to the library for a pajama storytime. They each brought stuffed animals with them, and then the stuffed animals had a sleepover at the library! When we picked them up the next day, we were given a page of pictures of all the shenanigans our buddies got into overnight.

Pajama storytime - we brought the Grinch!

Heather also held down the fort for an evening so Eric and I could go see Star Wars: The Force Awakens on opening night! We loved it!

Star Wars nerd-ing it up!

Ellie and I had some holiday fun together, making Christmas cut-out cookies...

Messy hands!

...and going to see The Nutcracker! It was Ellie's first time and she did great. At one point she looked at me and said, "It's just so beautiful." Naturally, we had to stop by Target afterwards to get her a Nutcracker of her own.

A great girls' day out!

We spent about a week in St. Pete around Christmas, and on our way down there we stopped at my mom's house for a day. We splashed in her fountain, played with her toys, and the kids got a couple more gifts.

Fun at Grammy's house

In St. Pete, we had lots of fun hanging out with Papa and Heather (including making a gingerbread house and gingerbread men)...

More Christmas fun

...had a lovely Christmas lasagna and gift exchange with Eric's siblings at Kelley's house...

Lots of fun at Aunt Kelley's!

...and checked out the lights in downtown St. Pete, giving Ellie a chance to try her hand (feet?) at "glice " skating (NOT a hit).

Christmas festivities in downtown St. Pete

On Christmas Eve, we had a nice dinner with my dad and Heather then went to church together, where the kids were outfitted as an angel and a shepherd and given glow-sticks to hold during the candelit singing of "Silent Night."

Christmas Eve 2015

On Christmas morning, we opened gifts at Papa's house.

Opening gifts on Christmas morning, including Ellie's new favorite outfit from Aunt Heather

That afternoon, we went for an amazing dinner at Eric's Aunt Patty and Uncle Steve's house, and had a really wonderful time with the whole family.

Great times with family!

After the holiday, we came back to Jacksonville to do our own little Christmas celebration at home. We kicked things off with ZooLights, including a Storm Trooper encounter (Star Wars is EVERYWHERE) and some s'mores.

Santa was also there, and Mrs. Claus even got E.J. to smile!

Back at home, we scattered our reindeer food on the lawn, put out cookies and milk for Santa and sent the children off to bed in adorable coordinating Christmas pajamas for our belated family Christmas Eve.


Then, Santa went to work while Eric and I relaxed with shrimp, wine, and A Christmas Story.

Christmas Eve at our house!

Our belated Christmas morning was so nice, with the kids each receiving some new favorite presents (cowboy dress-up and a stuffed R2D2 for Ellie; an Arlo the Dinosaur rocker and new football for E.J.). We spent some time at the park that afternoon, finished up all our Advent calendars (Ellie was really into that this year) and had a little birthday party for Jesus.

Christmas Day!

We closed out our 2015 with a really excellent New Year's Eve, starting with the Noon Year's Eve celebration at the zoo. We made crafts and joined the masses for an apple juice toast as the ball dropped on the Great Lawn at noon.

Happy Noon Year!

That afternoon, I ran my very first 5k! I'll have to post more about running, because by the way, I do that now. Eric was a great coach and the kids did great in the jogging stroller. The course was very pleasant, through downtown and along the river, and I was greeted at the finish line with a medal and a beer. Lesson learned: I will run for beer.

My first 5k!

That evening, we did an early countdown and another apple juice toast with the kids before putting them to bed (thanks to Netflix for offering an on-demand countdown!).

Cheers to the new year!

Then, Eric and I finished out the year with champagne, TV, and a view of the Jacksonville fireworks at midnight right from our front yard.

Happy New Year!

And that, my friends, is how you end a year.

The W. family is ready for 2016!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

November 2015

I figured I'd kick off my triumphant return to the blog with one of those more general recaps I was talking about because, hey. We had a really great holiday season!

Spoiler alert: the kids were adorable in November. E.J. melted my heart into a giant puddle when he wanted to wear his Mickey in Ellie's ring sling, and somehow he is turning into quite a little boy (no longer a baby)!

Babywearing E.J.


As for Ellie, she continued to rock her trademark fashion sense in her free time, when she wasn't busy taking painfully sweet school pictures.

Looking amazing, as always.

Ellie's first school picture!

Our month got off to a great start with a day spent in Gainesville for the UF Homecoming Parade. We had a great time taking the kids around campus to all our old haunts!

W. Family in Gainesville - Go Gators!

Heather came to visit and she and I got to have lunch out, just the two of us! We even had some margaritas. Heeeey.

Just living the dream.

We finally made it out to the St. Johns Town Center for their Christmas tree lighting! They had live music, an appearance by Santa and fireworks, which Ellie handled quite well thanks to her "ear mouse."

Let's light up that Christmas tree!

Eric and I got to have a date night to see the new Hunger Games movie, thanks to a visit from my mom!

Also, we found a movie theater with a bar and recliners. So. LET'S DO THIS.

While my mom was in town, we also had a little "girls' night out" for movie night at the zoo. We got to ride the carousel, pet the stingrays, enjoy a BBQ dinner and watch Finding Nemo on the Great Lawn. Ellie was quite tickled about being out at the zoo after dark!

Girls' night!

Ellie had her first school program! She played the part of the turkey in the school Thanksgiving skit (while dressed as a pilgrim), and afterwards we were able to stay for a "feast" in her classroom. It was adorable and she did great!

Ellie's Thanksgiving program, including her list of things she's thankful for. Don't mind my weeping over here.

We went down to St. Petersburg for Thanksgiving, where we enjoyed a tasty feast at my dad's house followed by dessert at Kelley's house with Eric's family, including new baby Summer.

Top: Dinner with my dad and Heather, including Ellie pointing at the one thing on that whole table she would willingly eat: rolls.
Bottom: E.J. meeting new cousin Summer, and Ellie loving on cousin Colton.

After all our feasting, we helped my dad trim his Christmas tree. It was nice to have Heather here for all of that this year, and it was E.J.'s first true exposure to the wonder of the Miss Piggy ornament.

Papa's house is ready for Christmas!

The day after Thanksgiving, Heather treated us to a day at Busch Gardens (via some free passes she had), and we had a great day there.

Busch Gardens!

Busch Gardens highlights included meeting Elmo...

The kids are SO HAPPY right now.

...Ellie actually going on stage (by herself!) during the Christmas show...

You might look at this photo and think she's a natural at being on stage, but just you wait. I have more recaps to come.

...and taking in another (excellent!) show in the company of Tony Dungy.

E.J. just kicking it with Tony

And of course, we wrapped up November by dusting off our Christmas spirit! Bring it on, December!

These festive children are ready for some more holiday fun!