Saturday, November 28, 2015

Halloween and Isabella's birthday

ANOTHER long post.... coming up:

Isabella has been on this "Pirate Fairy" kick.  She wants to watch it over and over and over again.  So - when contemplating Halloween costumes - we thought:  of course... we'll get her a little Pirate outfit and put wings on it.  She's rough-and-tumble.  A pirate costume seemed perfect.  Unfortunately, that was a fail.  She wanted nothing to do with it, crying and kicking and screaming when we put it on her.  We tried several times, then took it back.  Plan B... try a fairy (Tinkerbell) costume.  As soon as she saw it, she absolutely beamed.  It was the "right" costume for her.  whew - she's rough-and-tumble, but also has a girly-girl side to her (and STRONG opinions!)

Mercer wanted to be Scooby Doo.  (We found a vampire Scooby costume for him.)  After our neighborhood party, Todd took the kids door-to-door while I rushed back to hand out candy.  He said at first, Isabella was seriously shy and would not say trick-or-treat.... but after watching Mercer saying it a few times and get candy, she was all over it.  She almost screamed trick-or-treat at people she was so excited! Afterwards, we went to a neighbor's bonfire and the kids played for a few hours -- running, chasing, laying on a giant fluffy white dog, and eating candy until midnight.

We had some fun with Halloween-inspired breakfast and lunch (spider shaped muffins, the famous "finger cookies" and monster face pizza) too.  Isabella seriously enjoyed eating the black-cat cookie that grandma from Florida sent her.  Check out these gooey black saliva pics.  (I'll spare you images of the blue-green poop that she had the following 3 days!)

Mercer earned ANOTHER "Mercer Fun Day" for having good behavior at school.  We are seriously proud of him.  He chose to go to a place called Catch Air.  We popped in for a couple of hours the day after Halloween.  It felt like there were a MILLION Halloween-candied-up-kids there.  It was a zoo... quite overwhelming for me.  Isabella and Mercer loved it, however.  It was the perfect thing to do on a rainy Sunday afternoon!  As seen in the photos, lots of fun was had by the two of them!!

You may notice Mercer's new haircut that he got right before we went to Catch Air.  I almost cried when I saw all of the curls laying on the floor, but he really likes it.  I hope one day that he allows those beautiful curls to come back~

Isabella turned 3 on the 13th. Rose Marie came to town for a visit to help celebrate.  We went out to dinner at our neighborhood Mexican restaurant.  Isabella loved the attention of the Happy Birthday song being sung to her, the plate of sopaipillas they gave her, and getting to wear the sombrero!  

I have to add... Mercer purchased a book and plush owl from his school book club with his own money for her birthday.  What a sweet sweet brother!!

While Rose Marie was in town, she was able to partake in our neighborhood art event.  Here, the kids are completing a watercolor painting over pastel in one booth.  The inspiring "Nerdy Baby" creator was in another tent with hands-on kids stuff too.   Artwork, multiple bands, and food vendors were there as well.  We spent the majority of our time in the kids areas, though.

The next day, we hosted a little birthday party for Isabella at the house.  This year's inspiration:  those frozen ice cream cakes shaped like a Hello Kitty head.  We've never purchased an ice cream cake, so why not?  When Mercer turned 3, we had a play-doh party. That one writes itself.  You bring out pots of play-doh and a table full of tools / cutters / presses / etc... and the kids are entertained for the duration of the party.  

For Hello Kitty, we had to come up with a few things for the kids to do such as make-your-own pizza, creating a birthday cake craft with cut-outs and pin-the-bow on the Kitty.  Mostly, the kids just wanted to play in Isabella's room and play with toys.  All-in-all, that was enough for them to do! 

There's a photo in here with Rose Marie and I heartily laughing.  Mercer asked to take our picture and then surprised us by something he did as he was snapping the photo.  Only we will know what that was....  :) 

On Monday before Rose Marie flew out, we stopped by Isabella's school to take some birthday snacks (the ONLY thing she asked for was cheetos -- which I think they give her at school on a regular basis).  We then visited Mercer for lunch at his school.  It was a whirlwind visit, as usual... no rest - Rose Marie was exhausted when she left, but happy to have spent a lot of time with the kids~

She is a great joy to have in our lives.  She completes our little family unit. But - whew - what a fire-cracker she is!!!  She has an ENDLESS array of faces that she makes.  "Scary face"  "happy face"  "flirty face"  "big and strong"  "shy"  and this thing that she does by pulling her lower eyelids down or where she contorts her mouth.   She giggles endlessly anytime she accidentally burps or toots.

Here are some of the cute things she says: 
"I'll bebe right back" (instead of I'll be right back).
"alligator" instead of elevator
"macamole" instead of guacamole

"are you frustrated?"  - nothing cute about that.. she just knows that bif word for some reason~  hmmm...
"you're my best friend" when she's happy with you.  
"you're not coming to my birthday party" when she's not happy with you.
and - when you get invited back - you're OK in her book!

She LOVES LOVES LOVES to sing.  My most recent favorite:  "I love you in the morning and in the afternoon.  I love you in the evening and underneath the moon."  Also her rendition of "God Bless America" where she mostly knows the words, but actually hits those really high notes in her shrill little voice!!  

All of this sweetness is balanced out by this demanding, bossy little girl. She is VERY strong willed.  Several people have mentioned that this will serve her well when she's older / running her own business one day.  And - in the same breath - wish us good luck as we're dealing with the toddler version of this trait.  Even the pediatrician has mentioned how active and bossy she is at her last couple of well visits.  She has said that "your children are exhausting" before. On this most recent visit, she also wished me luck and threw in a "hang in there" as I was leaving.  

Isabella's 3 year stats from last week's well visit with the doctor:
Height:  ___  - 38%
Weight:  ___ -  37%

(Here's a photo of her with the doll that Mercer gave her the first day he met her.  Go back to the blog for November of 2012 if you want to see the difference between then and now!)  

She is healthy and happy.  She brings us so much joy.  We are thrilled to have this spunky little girl in our lives!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Fall happenings and quick trips

This is LONG OVERDUE, so it is really LONG.  (and there is a picture overload, but I'm sure no one will mind cute pics of the kiddos~)

Todd was - once again - hard at work coaching Mercer's baseball team this fall.  It seems that this season was especially tough because in fall ball, families aren't as serious about playing.  Here in the south, the majority of folks are VERY into college football which is on Saturdays when games are played.  Close to the end of the season, there were a couple of games that should have been cancelled due to low attendance but the families who made the effort to come out and play decided to continue on with the game even though there were not enough kids.  This team in a hard place:  playing 5 or 6 kids against 9.  One of the games with the scales tipped went OK, but the next one the kids were pretty beat up mentally as they were getting crushed.  

I feel bad for those dedicated handful of kids, but honestly, feel worse for Todd who put so much effort into the coaching, scheduling, and customized rosters each game.  The last game of the season - the team pulled off a win and the kids overall seemed happy.  Todd's hope is that they learned a few things this season while having fun.  Overall, they ended the season with 3 losses and 5 wins.  Not bad considering the lack of participation.

Isabella did not want to sit and watch baseball.  She only wanted to play on the playground - which makes it hard for me to watch much.  But - what I saw of the game, I could tell that Mercer has developed more focus and contributed to the team as a whole -- hitting well and making some good plays this season.  He's becoming a pretty good all-around player.  The team was (again) the Mets -- donning orange shirts.   This is Isabella's typical face when forced to stay in the stroller and watch for a little while. 

This fall, the "real" Mets -- the professional baseball team -- went to the World Series!!  Unfortunately, they did not take it all the way - however - Todd was really excited to watch his team advance to the Series.  It doesn't happen very often!!

Another activity that Todd and Mercer participated in:  they went camping with the Cub Scouts. That trip was in north Georgia and after playing a game first thing Saturday, the guys changed clothes, changed out the baseball gear in the car for a tent and supplies, and hit the road.  

They camped out with the troop one night and then packed up the next day to come play more baseball!  What a whirlwind that was!  The troop went for a hike, made personal emergency first aid kits, performed a skit, and toasted s'mores.  It dropped to freezing that night, but they all said they had a great time.

When the guys went away on their trip, Isabella and I did some things together.  There was a harvest festival on our Square with a pumpkin patch and activities for the kids.  As far as I know - this is the first time that Isabella has had her face painted.  She, amazingly sat still for this (thankfully it was a quick and easy design!).  One thing that was funny -- she sat holding the mirror looking at herself smiling and smiling and smiling.  It was hard to get her to let go of the mirror and move on for the next kid.  

It's good that she saw herself made up and understood the concept of face-painting, as RIGHT AFTER the kid's harvest festival, there was a zombie walk scheduled on the square.  I was hoping to leave before that all started, but she wanted to play on the playground.  It was too late anyways.  There were zombies milling about the Square early and there were some who had kids playing on the playground too!  There was no escaping. But... Isabella was not phased by it.  When we encountered the first group of zombies, I talked it up like "Look!  they have their faces painted too -- just like yours."  so, from then-on, that's what she said... they are painted. whew!

Here are some of our pool buddies zombied out.   Chelsea, Annette, and John.  Kind of fun to see them out.

Isabella is gutsy.  She walked right up to one of the "zombie moms" hanging out at the playground, and asked what was wrong with her eye.  (The woman took off her fake glasses to show her her real eyes underneath.)  Isabella also played with the fake leg.  Then - of course - there's the other side of her... completely soft-hearted for animals.  When we were at the square, she had to meet the owners of and hug no less than 30 dogs.  Again, with her bold spirit, walking up to the owner:  "What's your name? Can I pet your dog?  What's her name?"  then a hug and a squeal~

The next day, Isabella and I went to Baby Land General where they make Cabbage Patch Kid dolls.  (In a different part of north Georgia than where the boys were.)   Isabella mostly enjoyed playing with the toys and dolls that were set up in a play kitchen and a play hair salon.  

The place was about 80% gift shop, 10% play area for the kids, and 10% "performance" area.  The main focus of Baby Land General:  sell dolls and accessories!  ANYTHING you could imagine that you would need for your CPK dolls... they had it.  

Regarding the performance:  I must say - it was a bit odd watching performances of the staff (dressed like nurses) giving birth to these dolls by reaching down into the depths of a cabbage.  

People clapped and cheered when they held up a baby.  Again - it was sort of weird, but, we saw it.  I've always wanted to check it out, so now that we've been, I can cross that one off the list.

Recently, we all went apple picking and to a farm.... back to north Georgia.  We have been to both the orchard and this farm before -- when Mercer was little.  The apple orchard has gotten insanely busy.  But - because of the threat of rain, the farm was pretty manageable with the kiddos.

The highlight of the trip was the live animals -- especially the ones that you could feed.  

There was an "old fashioned" milking demonstration followed by information on the newer technology used on a small-scale dairy farm.    There was also a herding demonstration.  A man was giving the dog commands and he would run /get the herd to run in various directions based on the command.  

The farm also had pig races inside one of the barns.  (It's been a few weeks since we've went, however, Mercer still mentions that black and white pig that won all of the races -- it must have had a real impact on him~)  Sorry there are no photos of that.  It was pretty cute, however, we were in the center of a track which was inside a barn and the pigs ran circles around us. 

You will notice a theme about these pumpkin photos... we cannot seem to get both kids to look at the camera at the same time!!  Oh well~

And - of course - here are some photos from the apple orchard. 

We had MORE fun the next day when we headed south.  We went to a place called Serenbe in Chattahoochee Hills below Atlanta.  Todd and I had been there before -- renting a cabin for the weekend and taking a long hike in a major downpour.  But - this trip was dry.  We went in honor of a man, Ray Anderson, who started a revolution in the carpet industry... and ultimately in the green building industry.  His company was very bold in some sustainability initiatives that they took and they have made a (positive) lasting impact on the built environment.  This event was called "Ray Day" and it was something that his family / family trust puts on every year to give back to the green building and sustainability community.  (all of it -- gratis)  

The highlight (for our little family) was the children's area -- complete with games, face painting and horse rides.  There were hot air balloon "take offs" (as the balloons were tethered to the ground), food trucks, a free-flowing Sweetwater beer tent, and vendors who all had some sort of environmental mission.  Many of the organizations that I've been involved with and/or worked for were there.  It was great catching up with people, but it was really nice to spend some great time with our family doing some things we have not done before.   

As mentioned, Isabella is a huge animal lover.  Horses / ponies are no exception!  It was unbelievable how drawn she was to them and how (being a strong-willed 2 year old) she INSISTED on riding each and every one of them.   

Here she is on the biggest one (this is the one she rode first), then - a little more comforting to me was her riding on the smallest pony, and finally the medium-sized one.  The woman who walked around with her and "spotted" her on big one said that Isabella was actually really great.  She did not move. She held on.  She listened to instructions.  She was very comfortable with them... she's a natural and kids her age can go ahead / start riding lessons.  Uh oh (for us!)  This smile tells the story.....

Mercer was not interested in the horses, rather, he was interested in playing all of the games and getting his face painted.  He looks pretty fierce (and lovable too).   

There were animals there as well -- including a bunch of baby piglets!   

Oh what a sweet day we had with our little family exploring some new things.

The next post will have some more fall fun, Halloween, and Isabella's birthday (our baby girl is about to turn 3!!)