Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

Monday, October 10, 2011

Maddie's Monkeys

Ok. Ok. I know. It's been WAY too long since I've updated the blog, but seriously, we're just too busy and something had to give. That doesn't mean I don't think about it, and I really want to give you all an update and there are a million pictures that I have to share, but it will have to wait until I have a little more time. So for now, I'm just going to tell you about Maddie's Monkeys.

We're doing the Buddy Walk again this year, although the name's been changed to The Three Rivers Dash for Down Syndrome, and we changed Maddie's team name to Maddie's Monkeys instead of Maddie's Mavericks because, well, she LOVES monkeys and we thought that should be represented in her team name. The Dash is a little less than a week away and combined with the checks people have sent in and donations through the website, we've already raised $1190 for the Down Syndrome Association of Pittsburgh. If you'd like to donate, follow this link: Maddie's Monkeys, even $5 will help! We feel so lucky that our friends and family have been so incredibly generous and supportive to have helped us raise that much in such a short period of time! You are all amazing and we are so lucky to have you in our lives and part of "Team Maddie"!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!! And I promise, a real update soon!!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Dear Aiden

You just turned 4, and I am amazed that time has gone by so quickly! Sometimes it's hard for me to realize that you're not a baby anymore. You still love to cuddle in my arms, but instead of a little 8 lbs. baby, you're a 28 lbs. little boy, who is hilarious, sensitive, loving, cautious, curious about the world, and just so much fun to be around! You know how and which buttons to push to drive me crazy, but you also know how to make my heart soar and laugh like no one else (well maybe Maddie, but that doesn't count).

I know that things aren't always easy for you. You hear the phrases "Not right now," "Mommy just has to..." and "Hold on" more than I'd like. We are often busy with lots of appointments and school and you have had to learn how to let Madelyn come first a lot of times, but some of that is just part of growing up, and you are so amazingly patient! I hope that we have provided you with enough opportunities throughout this past year to show you how important you are to us. You and Daddy go on little Daddy/Aiden Dates and he enjoys taking you on Friday mornings to get Dunkin Donuts, to the park, or just run errands together. I wish you and I had more time to do Mommy/Aiden things, but we sneak it in when we can, usually while Maddie's napping. :)

You are such a wonderful big brother to Madelyn. You help her during therapy, hold her hand when she's hurt, keep her from getting into too much mischief, and play with her when she gets into your toys. I'm sure you will both have times when you won't want the other around and I'm sure the fighting and sibling rivalry will someday come, but for now you are the best of friends. I'm in awe of your love for your sister, and I'm so lucky to be able to have a glimpse into your relationship. I hope that it only continues to grow stronger.

You started school this year and loved every second of it. You have asked me almost every day this summer if you are going back to school soon. When I reply that it will be awhile before the new school year, you get sad because you're that eager to go back to school and be with your friends. Your two best friends at school this year were Caleb and Lochlan. Some of your other friends were Francesca, Rio, and Laurel. Unfortunately, Caleb's dad took a job in Tennessee and moved away. You were heartbroken and cried for days. When you found out that Caleb wasn't going to be able to be at your birthday party, you told me that if Caleb didn't come then you didn't want anyone to come. I finally convinced you to invite Lochlan, and you couldn't have been more excited to have your friend there. The two of you played in your room and you even told me that I wasn't allowed in there. You had a sly look on your face wondering if you were going to get away with telling me you didn't want me in your room to play with you. I left feeling so happy for you and so sad for me that you are growing up and asserting your independence. Your world is growing and expanding beyond me and as wonderful as it is to watch, it's also sad for Mommy, but I'm so incredibly proud of you!

Speaking of being proud, a recent conversation went something like this:
Me: Can I be a little proud?
You: No!
Me: Ok, I'm not proud at all.
You: Ok, good.
Me: (whispering) But, you know I'm proud, right?
You: Oh yes, yes!
I may not be allowed to say it to you right now, but I can tell you here, I am incredibly proud of you! I'm not sure you'll be able to know how proud until you have kids of your own someday, but you are an amazing little boy and if I had a choice between you and all the other little boys in the world to be my baby, I would chose you a million times over and over!

This year you have been fascinated by sharks, Spiderman, Transformers and tornadoes. Your favorite color is red (because of Spiderman), your favorite songs are "We are the Dinosaurs" by The Laurie Berkner Band, and "Snow is Gone" by Josh Ritter (but only when it's spring or summer, you refused to allow us to listen to it during the winter because the snow was not, in fact, gone), your favorite shows are The Backyardigans and Wild Kratts. Your favorite building in "downtown Pixburgh" is the UPMC building, and every time you see it you remind us.

You have learned how to write most of your name, however still need a little help with the e... but we just tried a new tactic and I think you've got it! You like to pick out your own clothes to wear in the morning and recently you have demanded to only wear the Spiderman outfit you got from Mimi and Granddad for your birthday. You fell out of a tree while climbing it and Daddy raced to your rescue, expecting you to be crying, but instead you pushed him away and said you needed to practice again so that you didn't fall next time.

You changed the slogan on Aiden Cafe from "Here it's personal", to "I believe you'll like it", to "Ideal", to "That's how it is". You have funny sayings, like "Comfy cozy, I call it, comfy cozy" and "Dreams are like gummies, you can't have them all day" (you are wise beyond your years) and when Daddy told you that you were his best friend, your response was, "Something like that".

You know almost everything there is to know about sharks and have read almost every book in the library about them. When you learned that more sharks are killed by humans every year than humans are killed by sharks, you wanted to lock up every person that killed sharks in a cage and tell them to stop. You will only eat eggs if they are green, and mostly eat oatmeal every morning for breakfast, but only if it's maple and brown sugar because you think it's better with sugar, what you don't know is that I get the kind that is "reduced sugar". You cried with me when we had to cancel Maddie's first birthday party because Daddy was sick, but then you celebrated with me and Maddie when no one else was here.

You insisted that we buy you a bow tie like the one the Cat in the Hat wears, but then refused to wear it until you saw an episode of The Backyardigans where Pablo was pretending to be Dames Bond... and no, that's not a mistake, I said Dames. You still take afternoon naps most days, but I like the days you skip them because it gives me some time to spend just with you.

You are an amazing little boy and I can't wait to see what the next year brings for you. I'm so lucky to be your Mommy and have a front row seat to watch you become the person you are going to be! Thank you for giving me the best job in the world! I love you!


Monday, July 11, 2011

Wild Wednesdays

Wednesdays are the only day during the week that we don't have appointments and in an effort to make something of our summer, I decided to take the kids on outings those days. A few weeks ago I took them to the Carnegie Science Center  because we had been talking about going there for a while. Luckily for us, The Science Center has this awesome deal for families receiving Medical Assistance (MA), and since Maddie not only has private insurance, but also receives MA, we were able to get into The Science Center for $1 each... and since Maddie's under 2, she got in free! 

When we got there Aiden saw a giant ad for one of their OmniMax Theatre shows called Tornado Alley. Since Aiden has been interested in tornadoes for some time and we only spent $2 to get in, I decided that we could splurge a little and go see the movie. We bought some popcorn (which was spilled before we even got in line for the theatre, and there was crying and sobbing and cleaning up and then Mommy saved the day with treats she had in her bag), entered the theatre, found our seats, and unloaded. As we were waiting for the show to start, I began to think about all that could possibly go wrong. What was I thinking taking a 3 year old and a 17 month old to a movie by myself?!?!?

We were sitting as far away as possible from the exit and in the middle of the row, so I packed everything and everyone up and we moved as close as possible to the exit. Then I started to wonder about the movie itself, I didn't know anything about it and the possibility that it was inappropriate for a 3 year old and was going to scar him for life was high. This was not a movie about cute, cuddly animals in the wild. It was about storms and thunder and lightning and tornadoes and people going out into the middle of them trying to film them. Clearly, I didn't think this through before I bought the tickets. At least we had moved near the exit and had a clear shot of getting out before we ruined the movie for everyone. 

Throughout the entire movie, I was on edge, waiting for it to be too much for Aiden or Maddie and ready to leave at the slightest sign that someone was going to lose it. Turns out, I was worried for nothing. Aiden loved every second of it, and I was able to keep Maddie happy with snacks for most of the movie. During one part of the movie, Aiden leaned over to Maddie, who was sitting on my lap, hugged her and told her he loved her. Just a spontaneous hug, which melted my heart! I wish I had been able to take a picture of it, it was so sweet!

After the movie, we continued on throughout the center.

They had an entire miniature railroad and village set up and Aiden was in awe of it! He kept exclaiming, "Look, Mommy! A train!!" every 5 seconds.

He had no idea who C-3PO was, but took a picture with him non-the-less. Can't you tell how excited he is about it??

Aiden is obsessed with sharks and sharks live in the ocean. So when he saw this "submarine" he was in heaven!! He probably played in it for 45 minutes while Maddie and I stared at the fish in the tank next to it. Every time another kid would come in he would go into this elaborate explanation about what they were doing to find sharks in the sub and even managed to include some things about tornadoes into his imaginary play. It was pretty cute, but Maddie and I got pretty bored after awhile, although you'd never know it from this picture!

I finally convinced him that there was more to see and that we should move on. Little did I know that there was a water area awaiting us. So we spent the remained of our time playing with the little ping-pong balls in the water.

And, little sister wanted to play oh-so-badly! She's doing some AMAZING things lately... there will be a post on it soon!

Then she started to put the balls in her mouth, so she and I went to a little side area where we could still watch Aiden, but play with some other things that we were less likely to choke on.

We had a great day at the Science Center and can't wait to go back, because we didn't even get to go into the SportsWorks area, and we'd like to take Grant with us, too!

The week after we visited the Science Center, we went to the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium, however I don't have any pictures from our visit there. It was pretty crowded and I was by myself with both kids and Aiden wanted to walk most of the way through so my hands were pretty busy with the kids. We, of course, had to see the sharks first. Then, we saw a baby sea lion that Aiden fell in love with, Maddie loved the water fountain that was in with the sea lions. Maddie threw her giraffe sun hat out of the basket of the stroller and I thought it was lost forever, then I had to go back later because some wonderful person turned it in to lost and found. Maddie threw a few more things out of the basket of the stroller, but luckily I noticed those. And finally we got to see a live animal presentation and Aiden answered one of their trivia questions for the audience correctly! It was a great, exhausting day as well!

I'm loving our Wild Wednesdays! We get out of the house and do something that's fun just for the kids; no appointments, no chores, no schedule and it makes me wish everyday was Wednesday!!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Some Times In Our Lives

To say that we have been busy, may be the understatement of the year. I have been trying to update the blog for over two months now, and it always seems to be the last thing on my to-do list, but the one thing I want to do the most.

I'm trying to cut myself some slack for being so behind, after all I do have two kids, a husband who works full-time and is a part-time student (at least for the summer), and I have been busy becoming a doula (and attending my first two births) and getting into a graduate program in counseling! On top of that, Maddie has had all of her regular appointments, plus a couple extra, the cat got an ingrown dew claw, we started cloth diapering, I threw a baby shower, there was a trip home, and friends and family who visited, Aiden finished his first year of preschool and Maddie started not only crawling on her knees, but pulling up on everything and cruising, which is constantly keeping me on my toes. Now, I'm busy starting a graduate assistantship, planning another trip home, an overnight getaway to Bloomington for our 7th anniversary, and a certain someone's 4th birthday party... I'm exhausted just thinking of all of it!

But, now that June is here things seem to be slowing down (slightly), and I have a little time to catch up.

So, where to start?

Maddie's on the move these days. She's into everything, and getting stuck everywhere!

Here are a few pictures from Easter. I meant to have an entire post dedicated to each of these events, but... well, you know.

Maddie's first time on the swings

Eagle Creek Park... We have a picture somewhere of Me, Dad, Barb and Tom when Tom and I where little in front of this tree stump.

We met up with my friend Lindsay and her kids, Lilly and Jack, while we were home. We're at the Earth Discovery Center at Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis.

The infamous Easter Bunny Cake!

My brother and his family came over to Granddad's house for an Easter Egg Hunt.

Aiden and my niece, Cali.

Uncle Austin took all the kids for a ride on his skateboard... BEST UNCLE EVER!! The kids LOVED it. I'm not sure he knew what he was signing up for though, because the kids didn't want to stop!

Enjoying the Easter Bunny Cake

I LOVE this picture of the 3 of them!

My BFF, Lindsay, and her family came to Pittsburgh to visit. We had a blast, and Aiden just LOVED hanging out with Lilly. He cried when we had to say goodbye... and so did I. But, while they were here we went to the Children's Museum and the Zoo. It really made me wish we lived closer to them and that we were able to do things like this more often!

Princess Lilly in the castle. I love her pose!

Aiden showing Bryan the video about how to make construction paper. I think they FINALLY made it through the entire video before someone came up and hit a button to change it to another video, something Aiden's been trying to accomplish for years!

Lindsay climbing the rope ladder.

Maddie and Jack chillin' in the strollers. Maddie's wishing I had brought her Sophie the Giraffe to chew on.

There were some disagreements over who's whale this was, Lilly's patiently waiting her turn. 

We waited over an hour while everyone else ate lunch to have this Spiderman mask painted on... this cute, shy smile was worth it. Did I mention he's now obsessed with Spiderman?

The baby shower. Our good friends Jake and Alyssa are having a baby girl at the end of July! So of course we needed to throw them a shower. The theme corresponded with her blog: What Was Old... An exploration of simple living.

We had everyone bring a retro or recycled toy for Baby Melby individually and went it on a couple bigger items as a group. I also got a bunch of used onesies at Once Upon a Child, and had the guests use (mostly) scrap fabric to decorate them with. The men really got in on this, and, in my opinion, their onesies ended up turning out the cutest! It was fun watching everyone get creative and turn old, used onesies into personalized, one-of-a-kind gifts for Baby Melby.

Sticking with the toy theme, I made a baby block cake out of chocolate and butter cake and fondant. I have never worked with fondant before, and I'm not too keen on the taste of it either, so I also had a back up cake with buttercream icing.

I love this picture! It's as if Grace is saying, "Listen girls, I gotta tell ya, it's hard growing up." Zoe looks a little concerned about this, and Maddie's bitting her fingernails, she's so nervous.

The Theatre Babies: Zoe, Maddie, Milo, Grace, and Aiden

Milo putting the moves on Maddie... we may need to have a talk.

Congratulations Jake and Alyssa! We're so happy for you guys!

The rest of the pictures are just random pictures of the kiddos being sweet. 

This was before Aiden pulled every single book off his bookshelf.

After. He pretended he was a librarian checking the books back in as he put them on the shelf. It wasn't easy at first, but once he started making a game out of it, it went much quicker.

Super Spy Aiden. He requested to wear the button down shirt and the bow tie. He wore them the entire day while we were running errands. He changed into his swimsuit for a little while to play with the water table, but when he was done he immediately wanted to put his Super Spy outfit back on.

Maddie during OT... yay for messy play! She wasn't sure about it at first, but came around a little bit by the end.
I love them so much and I can't believe how big they are getting! Every day there is something new and exciting! I am so lucky to be their Mommy, and I am reminded of that every day!