Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Happy Birthday Emma Kate!

Dear Emma Kate,
Emmers, Sugar Bear, Emmy, String Bean, Emma,

Three short years ago you came into my life and forever changed it.
I had always dreamed of having a daughter and you are far better than
anything I had ever dreamed of.
OK, you could have a little more hair! That would be nice.
As of yet, you still haven't had a single haircut.
However, you do have the cutest curls I have ever laid my eyes on! 
Here's what you've been up to lately...
You just made the transition from your crib to your Big Girl Bed.
This broke my heart because you really loved your crib.
In fact the first night in your new bed, I had to go in and comfort you in the middle of the night.
As I was snuggling with you, you whimpered, " I miss my crib Mommy."
It practically broke my heart and it took everything in me not to actually give you your crib back!

You love your gymnastics class.
You love to paint...oh my goodness, you ask EVERY day to paint!
You love your brothers and will play endlessly with "Coco."
He can play pretty roughly. And you can take it.

You also ask every day to have a playdate with your cousin, "Corbie."
I would have to say that he is your best friend, aside from Coco, who you say is going to be your husband someday;)

Your favorite song is "Benny and the Jets." (Who could blame you?!)
Your favorite TV show is still Dora.
Your favorite princess is Ariel.
You love Hello Kitty.
And your favorite color is pink. Ditto! 
We try to get you to ride your tricycle, but you my dear, are a runner.
You will run everywhere if given the chance!
You are very independent, sometimes inconveniently so!
You are doing great with the potty training, however still having 1-2 "accidents" a day.
And you prefer the "Big Potty" to your little ones.

You have a "hilarious" (in your words) sense of humor.
You are a great sleeper, going to bed by 8 and waking up anywhere between
6:30 and 7:30am. You only wake during the night if you're sick. Or have a brand new bed.
Tonight you'll probably wake up just to make me regret ever typing this!
You love to shop with me. Thank God because we do a lot of shopping on our Tuesday's and Thursday's together! 
OK I have to be honest, here are a few things I am not particuarly fond of right now...
You are grumpy when you wake up, especially with Dominic.
You are screaming at everything lately, especially when one of your brothers is doing something you don't like. I am constantly telling you to use your words!
You can also be pretty physical with any children who are younger than you.
My theory is that in your world almost everyone is older, so when you get around anyone smaller, you feel the need to exert some power!

Speaking of size, here are your stats:
Height: 3'6" (100th percentile)
Weight: 35 lbs (84th percentile)
Everyone comments on how tall you are.
Sorry sister, take a look at your family!
I don't care what the statistics say though.
In my book you are and always will be perfect. 
I can hardly believe it's been 3 years since you first arrived, stretching out those long skinny fingers.
(We thought you must be destined for piano playing...we'll see!) 
I wish I could forever imprint on my mind the way you are right now.
Your little fingers and toes.
The ringlets of your hair.
The sassiness of your voice.
And how every night you ask me,
"Mommy, sing Ariel Thingamabobs."
Referring to the song, "Part of Your World" from The Little Mermaid.
Yes, I happily oblige.
If only to delight in your sweet voice as you join in with me!

Down the road when I am frustrating you like crazy...
please always remember you make my world a brighter place.

Happy Birthday Sweetie!

Love, Mommy

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Presidents' Day

It's not very often that we all, as a family, get a holiday like this one off of work.
The kids get off school, and with working at the bank, I get all the Federal holidays off too.
But my poor hubby only gets the big ones, like Thanksgiving and Christmas.
This Presidents' Day...every single one of us had the day, or at least most of it, to be together.
So we decided to go hiking...a new place this Briones.
It was so beautiful, and close...I don't know why we don't go here more often.
Emma Kate was a rockstar!
Her little legs carried her an hour and a half up hill and down.
Narrow paths, along streams.
The girl even peed in the brush!

Most of our hikes consist of my following a little behind with my camera, occasionally
making everyone stop and pose for me.
This hike was no different! 

Libby got to run off-leash.
We even saw horses.
But eventually Emmers had had enough...
Dominic was trying to lead us to "The Lagoon."
"It's just around this bend."
"Or maybe this one..."
Finally we had to turn around and head back without finding the lagoon.
EK almost made it but Daddy had to carry her on
his shoulders toward the end.
It was a close one...we almost had complete melt down.
After lunch and a nap we headed out to Tilden Park.
If you live anywhere near the Bay Area, you know that Tilden is AWESOME!
We usually frequent the Steam Trains.
But this time we decided to check out the Little Farm.
(P.S. Dom had track practice in the afternoon, so this was a perfect outing to do without him.)

The kids loved it!
We could get really close to the animals and pet them too.
I am not particularly into petting the animals, myself, but the kids like it!
(I'll just take pictures of them.)

Here's another little animal we found...! 
After the farm we headed over to The Carousel.
My poor Coco wanted nothing to do with it!
He is so weird about things like this...
and to think we drug him to Disneyland!
After a little trepidation, Emmy hopped on and enjoyed a couple of rides... 

Even though Connor had finally mustered up the courage to enter the building, he just couldn't bring himself to ride. He was crying as we left, saying he wanted to ride really badly, but was just too scared.
Poor guy...I wish I knew where he got his fear from or how we could help him overcome it.
The day ended with some photos back at home.
I wanted to play with the afternoon light in my bedroom,
which is the only room in the house that gets good natural lighting.
It wasn't very successful but I had fun playing with my camera and my kiddos.
And got a couple cute close-ups in the process. 

What do you think?
Black & White?
Or Color? 

Overall it was just a really great day spent with the family.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Valentine's Day 2013

Valentine's Day around our house is more about making it fun for the kids than about a romantic day for Jeff and I.
We're a little too frugal practical to go out on a date when everyone else is out and when prices are jacked up so high.
So my day began with one excited little Coco!
Here were his Valentine cards this year...
This kid is so into Star Wars right now, I can't even tell you!
(BTW...He's never even seen one of the does that happen?)
So a couple weeks ago I took him out back with his Halloween costume on...
Uploaded the pictures to Costco and made a card.
I found the Glow Sticks in the Dollar Spot at Target for the light saber in Darth Vader's hands.
Emmy and I had gymnastics and then I had this "brilliant" idea to make bouquets of cupcakes to take to the grandparents and cousins.
I thought we could use Mason Jars for vases and then put cupcakes decorated like flowers on the ends of dowels, used for stems...
My cupcakes just slid right off the dowels.
So we ended up with this...
And this... 
And one for Connor's teacher at pick-up... 
I had intentions of making dinner, but after a full day, all the running around delivering cupcakes, and getting little gifts together for J and the kids...I was D-O-N-E.
I called Jeff, asking him to put the chicken defrosting on the counter back in the fridge and meet us at Fuddruckers.
This is where Emmers started complaining of ear pain and by 8:30 I was at the hospital picking up a perscription for her now...ear infection.
Hmmm...if that doesn't spell out LOVE, I don't know what does!
Just goes to show, Valentine's Day or never know where your day is going to take you.
I think I might opt for a more romantic day next year!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Dominic: Celebrated

Dom had a hard time deciding what to do for his birthday this year.
He actually had asked if we could do the same thing as last year: a big party.
Hmmm...that was his 16th...and next year he turns 18...
Not this year buddy!
So he decided to work most of the day...WHAT?!?!
Here I had requested the day often does your birthday actually fall on a weekend...
and he decides to work!
He also decided that he wanted to eat dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant for dinner, El Charro, in Lafayette. Now we're talkin'!
Jeff's and my parents, Gram, and Scott and the kids joined us at the restaurant.
(Aunt Shawna had to work. Pooh.)

When I had asked Dom what he wanted me to make for dessert, he requested Key Lime Pie.
Oh great! Something easy!
Good thing I had the whole day off to get things done:) 
As I started thinking about how many people we might be having over to the house after dinner, I realized the pie wouldn't be cupcakes were necessary also:)
You see, Dominic wanted Game Night back at our house after dinner.
Unfortunately only Nana and Papa could come over. 
(P.S. He's not flashin' gang signs...he's trying to make the number "17"!)
With Emma Kate and Coco joining in on the fun, we opted to play Headbandz Disney.

Dad's first question of his first time ever playing this game...
"Am I part of a gang?"
What? That guy is amazing!
Let me tell you something about the 2 faces above...
They are always up for almost anything. And at very late hours of the night too!
So when it was 10:30pm and Dom suggested a movie...guess who obliged!
Jeff and the kids had gone to bed.
And I headed up at 11. Leaving Dom and my parents up to watch the movie.
I KNOW! I'm old! I couldn't hang!
Sorry Dom...I tried!
It was a busy day.
But worth every minute to make you see even the tiniest glimpse of how special you are to us.
Until next year Young Man...!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Dominic's SEVENTEEN?!?!

Dear Dominic,
I am not quite sure how this has happened, but SEVENTEEN years have gone by since you came into this world!
And I didn't even realize that I was feeling emotional about it till I just started typing this post.
You see, you are now the same age that I was when I gave birth to you.
I know, crazy huh?
I, like you, felt so grown up. I mean, I knew that I was really too young to be having a baby.
But God had given me this incredible gift.
I didn't know why. I couldn't look into the future and see how things would turn out.
But I trusted that if God had given me this gift, that He also had plans for us.
Not for one single moment did I consider not taking on this incredible responsibility.
From Day One I would lean down and whisper in your ear as I rocked you,
"The Lord has great plans for you."
And I would daydream about what you'd be like when you are in high school, yourself.
Hmmm...interesting that several years after you were born I looked up the meaning of your name
and read,
"Dominic-belonging to Lord"
Fitting, don't you think?!
Boy, you turned my world inside out and upside down!
And in the best way I could ever imagine!

Over the years we have been through a lot.
Some good, like when Dad came into our lives. 
And some not so good, like when we moved up to Sacramento from Nana and Papa's house.
We were walking through the grocery store, buying the basic necessities.
You said you missed Nana and Papa...and we BOTH cried the rest of the way through the grocery store.
But all the while, you have been my curly haired sweetie who has always been able to light up my face...and my heart.

You are an amazing big brother.
You bring happiness to everyone you meet. 
 I'm not going to pretend I am the perfect mom. I know you will attest to the fact that I am far from it. But my love for you has only grown over the years. I know I don't show it enough and I am way to quick to anger. But you, your bother and sister, and your dad make me want to be a better person.
You have taught me so much.
The other night as I was driving home from work I began thinking about your birthday and reflecting on who you have become.
And I realized...this, THIS, is who you are...all that time I spent daydreaming about what you would be like...Here you are!

You are smart, really smart, as in 4.333333 GPA smart.
You are funny.
You aren't very tidy, but what teenager really is right?!
You are respectful. Most of the time.
You love movies and spending time with friends.
You love politics and getting into people's minds.
(You have always been very intuitive.)
Your favorite color continues to be orange.
You love bacon and pizza.
And going out to eat.
Man you would go out for dinner every night if you could!
But most of all,
you have an amazing heart.
And an amazing love for God.
You are embarking on some of the most decisive times of your life.
Trying to figure out where you want to go to college, what you want to do with your life.
And it is amazing to me that when someone asks you about your future, your response is,
"I'll go wherever the Lord leads me."
Nothing could make a mother more proud than to hear a response like that from her son.
I love you.
I am proud of you.
I could brag to the moon and back about how amazing you are.
Everyday I thank the Lord for blessing me with the responsibility of raising you.
And I pray that I can savor the next 18 or so months that I have left with you before you go off to college...and enjoy it, for all it's worth.
Happy 17th Birthday Dominic!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Valentine Project

Emma Kate and I ventured out to Michael's this week.
Very dangerous for us girls!
But we needed some supplies for Connor's Cub Scout Den Meeting which
we were hosting that night.
And of course we had to check out the "Dollar" Section!
Don't you just love how things aren't always $1 in the Dollar Section?
At any rate, we found these really cute wood chip letters ($2).
And some sweet paper ($2).

And when I found these frames an idea came to mind. ($2 each.)

P.S. Every year I try to add some sort of new decoration to add to our collection for each holiday.
So when we got home I set to work and came up with this little sign for our mantle.
Total cost: $12 plus tax:)

Yes, it's very crafty looking, but I *Love* it!!!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Computer Desk Renovation

When we first learned that we were expecting Emma Kate I knew we were going to have to get creative with our bedroom/office situation. We have a 4 bedroom house and with the 2 boys and the office...well you do the math...something had to give.
So we disbursed our office kind of throughout the house to allow Emma her own room.
I feel bad because the office was mainly Jeff's space:(
Sorry honey!
P.S. It's hard to believe we only a year and a half till Dom goes to college and we will once again be in "room transition."
Anyway, I digress...
We had purchased this gem for downstairs, transforming our dining room to a sort of "study."
I did like that it meant bringing the computer down into the main living space, which with all the kids in the house, was a great idea.
I knew that the "desk" had to be something of which I could close up and hide the contents.
I have never been one to keep a clean desk at home.
This thing is a monster! But it does the job.
Let's take a look inside... 
Yup! That's right! Horrific!
And people think I am organized!
Finally I had had enough. Due to some Pinterest inspiration it was time to make a change.
Not to mention, it had been a year since the purchase of a laptop, which found it's home on the dining room table, leaving the unused PC still in the computer cabinet.
After some renovation... 
Not bad ehh??!!
I decided it was time to not only make it our office/homework space, but the kids' art space as well.
All of our art supplies have been jammed up in one of our kitchen cabinets and they needed some breathing room! 
A Before close up... 
And After... 
Each clear bin has different art supplies in it.
I used a Mason Jar for paint brushes.
Up to the right lie our 2 paper bins, 1 with color and 1 with white.
Coloring books below that.
And the row of Ikea boxes houses computer cables, staplers, some CD's, etc...
If I was really good I'd have them all labeled too.
Maybe someday...
Now lets look below... 
As you can see, this is a place where stuff just gets stashed.
It is also where my hubby keeps his phone, keys, hats, etc...
P.S. Does anyone else's husband have a ton of hats? Arghh!
And After... 
Here's the trick...keeping it this way!
I tried to make it as functional as possible, allowing for it to stay under control.
One of the hardest parts is with 3 kids there is so much paperwork!
Not to mention my own paperwork, bills, etc...
All of it easily piles up.
So to keep up with that, I'm not gonna lie...I have a "dump" area for things I just can't file or do anything with immediately...

2 baskets right on top of the cabinet.
Just within arm's reach to drop and deal with later.
There are few things that I like better than to feel organized in my home.
Everything in life just feels better.
And this time of year always brings with it the
"bug" in me to get on top of things again.