Monday, February 12, 2018

Microblog Monday: The Many Names of Rylee

Rylee likes to sometimes pretend that she is someone else, such as Owlette from PJ Masks, Lady from Lady and the Tramp, or any Disney princess. Not only does she like to pretend to be someone (or something) else, she also likes to change her name. And she fully expects you to call her by said name and corrects you if you forget.

Last week we made a trip to the coast with a nature group we are involved with. On the drive there, we talked about the other kids that would be joining us that day. When I told her that Leo and his baby sister Briar Rose would be there, she got very excited and exclaimed, "Ohhh!!! Briar Rose is a nice name. I'm going to be Briar Rose today!" (They call her Bria, pronounced Bry-a)

On Saturday we went to a birthday party for some twin friends. There was a balloon artist there, making balloon animals for all the kids. This was of course a huge hit, and we had to wait line for our turn. When Rylee noticed that he was asking the kids in front of us what their names were, she leaned over to me and whispered, "I'm gonna be Aurora today." When it was finally our turn and the balloon man asked Rylee her name, she proudly told him that it was Aurora. She was very convincing about it too! He told her what a nice name she had.

After the birthday party, the kids went to their grandparents to spend the night. Rylee spent the evening and all the next morning saying her name was JayCee, which is one of their cousins. When they asked Ayden if his name was Jade (the other cousin), he answered "no, I'm Ayden James (insert last name)!" He sometimes goes along with Rylee's active imagination and will agree to be Lightning McQueen, but for the most part, he tends to be very exact and goes by his own name. Haha!

Kids are funny.

If you'd like to read more #MicroblogMonday posts from other bloggers, click here for this week's complete list.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

2018 Goals

I have never really been one for making New Year's Resolutions, but I have always been an advocate for goal setting. Contradicting? Probably. Goal setting just seems a lot less intimidating. I think it's impossible to be involved with sports almost your entire life and NOT learn how to set goals. Also, after working in a gym for a lot of years, you see first hand how many people make New Years resolutions and never stick with them. After reading Non Sequitur ChicaMine to Command, and Risa at's blog posts about their 2018 goals and reviews of the previous year's goals, I was inspired to write my own goals. So here they are, even if we are 1.5 months into the year already!

  1.  Run in three races (not counting the Hood to Coast Relay). I would like to do do a 5k this spring, and a 10k leading up to the Hood to Coast this summer as small goals to help motivate me to train for the big H2C. Then I would like to do another race in the fall/early winter just to keep things going.
  2. Complete the Hood to Coast relay. I want to be able to complete the relay without injury and without any of my teammates needing to run my legs in addition to their own. I've managed to successfully do this eight times in the past, but my body is not the same as it used to be.
  3. Lose 25 lbs. I really need to lose more than twice that amount, but I'll start with 25, and maybe that will catapult me into losing the rest. My hope is that with all the running I'll be doing, this won't be too hard of a challenge. I always find that eat much better when I am exercising and feeling better. 
  4. Read three books. I used to be an avid reader and would read three books in a week! I miss reading for pleasure.
  5. Finish painting the inside of our house, with the living room, kitchen, downstairs hallway, the downstairs bathroom, and master bathroom being the major rooms that need done.
  6. Finish organizing the garage, hopefully with Aunt D's help???
  7. Get a resume put together. I'd like to start applying for a part time job within the local school district this summer/fall.
  8. Mail birthday cards to all my nieces and nephews. My aunt has always done such a fantastic job of writing letters and sending cards in the mail. I've always enjoyed getting "real" mail. Who doesn't? My mom is also really good about sending cards. I know my kiddos LOVE when we check the mail and there's something just for them. So I want to start doing this for my nieces and nephews, too. 
  9. Celebrate our anniversary with another overnight weekend away sans kids. Last year was our first full weekend away since before the kids were born, and it was so fantastic to be able to focus on just us. It was much needed, and we don't want to wait another four years to make it happen again.
  10. Go hiking as a family once/month May-September. More would be great, but it's easier to plan when we are more likely not having to work around the weather.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Microblog Monday: Imaginary Friends

Ayden and Rylee have an imaginary friend named Papa. We have no idea who Papa is or where they came up with this, but he is a regular source of conversation around here. Ayden was the one that came up with his Papa first and Rylee just played along a bit, but it didn't take long before she conjured up her own Papa. 

This kind of freaked us out in the beginning, because we couldn't figure out who they were talking about, and Ayden was SO convincing of this being a real person. There is nobody in their life that they call "Papa," other than these imaginary people. Their cousins do have a grandpa that they call Papa, but that isn't who Ayden and Rylee are talking about. Although this was disturbing at first, now we just roll with it. They talk about their Papas several times a day, so we don't really have much choice but to go along with it! lol

Here are some of the things they say:

  • When watching a show on Netflix, "my Papa gave this movie to me."
  • "My Papa lives on that street over there."
  • "My Papa lives in a brown house."
  • "I'm going to my Papa's house tomorrow."
  • "My Papa read that book to me before."
  • "I'm going to see my Papa tomorrow."
  • "My Papa likes this soup, too."
  • "My Papa says _________."
  • "My Papa's going to buy me ___________."
  • "My Papa likes to play this game with me."

It's "my Papa" this, and "my Papa" that all day long. They have conversations with each other about their Papa's. Rylee will say something like, "my Papa has a blue car," and Ayden will respond with something along the lines of, "MY Papa has a red car."

There are times that Tony and I get a little jealous (not really, but maybe a little?) of their Papas. I mean, they are pretty much the coolest people on the planet that can do no wrong, and pretty much fulfill all of Ayden and Rylee's wildest dreams.

As weird as this all is, I can remember having an imaginary friend when I was a kid. I remember this friend going out to restaurants with us, and needing to make sure there was a chair for this friend as well. I don't remember how my "friend" came about or when he/she disappeared, but I do remember having one.

Have you ever had an imaginary friend? How about your kids?

If you'd like to learn more about what #MicroblogMondays, click here to visit Stirrup Queens and read her inaugural post which introduced the idea.

Friday, February 2, 2018

All About Ayden at 4 Years Old

It has been TWO years since I've written "All About" posts! That is way too long. I actually started one last year, but never did end up finishing it. Shame on me! The kids had their four year well checks last week, so I thought it would be a good time to finally sit down and write these long overdue posts.

In the doctor's office

Ayden is 41.25 inches tall, landing in the 68%. He weighs 38.4 lbs, which puts him at 69% on the chart. Two years ago he was 85% on the chart at 31.2 lbs! Although he never seemed like a chunky toddler at all, I'm happy to see his weight matching up to his height a lot more. Ayden continues to have a long torso and is moving into size 5 tops. He is solidly in size 4 pants, and wears size 11 shoes.

Ayden is turning into a real sweetheart. He frequently tells me he loves me, sometimes followed by "I love everyone!" He loves hugs and gives fantastic hugs in return. If anyone gets hurt, he usually asks them if they are okay. If I have a bad parenting moment (generally because I can only take so much whining/crying/fighting before I lose my cool), Ayden reminds me that "it's not okay to yell."

I wish I could remember all the funny things that Ayden says. I really need to write them down, but always think I'll get to it in a blog post, and then I procrastinate and forget all the funny things! Here's a good one though - when my family was here for Christmas Eve and it came time to clean up and pick up toys, Ayden wasn't too happy about it. When he was told that it was time to clean up, Ayden said, "I'm not a cleaner-up guy, I'm a player guy." Meaning he wanted to keep playing. Bahahahaha! He did finally consent to being a "picker-upper guy," but there was no way he was going to be a cleaner-upper guy.

Ayden still struggles with stuttering on occasion, but most of the time it doesn't seem to be too much of an issue. When he's having a hard time, the word he seems to struggle with the most is saying Rylee's name. It comes out as "Ry, Ry, Ryyyy-Ryyyyyyyylee." There are other words he gets stuck on too at times, but it comes and goes for a few days at a time and then other days you can hardly tell at all. It's doesn't worry us near as much now as it did during the summer when he could hardly talk and it was changing his personality. Now when it happens, we make it a particular point to spend more one-on-one time with the kids and that seems to help.

Ayden's favorite color is orange. His favorite songs to sing are the ABC's, Mary had a Little Lamb, and Row Row Row Your Boat. He can also sing Amazing Grace all by himself, which I am super proud of. He still is very into dinosaurs and has quite the impressive knowledge of them. He can tell you the names of many and tell you whether they eat plants or other dinosaurs, thanks to Usborne's Big Book of Big Dinosaurs. His favorite tv show is Blaze and the Monster Machines. His favorite movies are Planes and Planes Fire and Rescue. He also LOVES Lightning McQueen. Ayden has several of the cars from the movie. His favorite shirt to wear is his Cars t-shirt, and he got a new Cars jacket for his birthday. He wears that shirt whenever it is clean, so 2-3 times/week!

He also is really into building things lately. He got a set of magnetic building blocks for Christmas that he has played with every single day, several times a day. We also have a Duplo set that Rylee won from the summer reading program at the library, and Ayden has been playing with that a lot lately too. In addition to that, the kids got several lego jr sets between their birthday and Christmas. We got them all put together, and Ayden has since taken them all apart and builds other random things.

Whenever it's not raining outside, we always walk around the block to get our mail. Well, I generally walk, the kids run. Ayden does NOT like Rylee to beat him. God forbid she run in front of him. If that happens, and he can't catch her, he stops and throws a fit in the middle of the sidewalk. Then we have a talk about how he can never catch her if he gives up and doesn't try. He sometimes will then start chasing after her again, but then gets mad again and whines the rest of the way to the mailbox. Good times. Good times. It doesn't help that Rylee IS faster than him. On the way back to the house, he always makes sure he gets a head start so he's in the lead the whole time. He has to be in the lead when riding bikes too. If Rylee gets ahead of him, he makes sure he fixes that and gets around her. He is a little more dare devilish on his bike than her, so that's generally never a problem.

Not only does Ayden have a hard time "losing" to Rylee, but he also gets frustrated really easily. He loves to do puzzles, but insists that he needs help and "can't" do it. He's actually pretty good at doing puzzles himself, but it's as if he either doesn't have the confidence, or the patience. Another example is climbing. He wants to climb the rock wall at the park so badly, and he can in certain parts, but he gets so mad and frustrated when he can't figure out how to climb the harder sections. He asks for help constantly. I keep reminding him that it just takes lots of practice, and he will get stronger and better at it. I do spot him and offer suggestions as to where to put his foot/hand next, but I can't climb that wall for him.

PB&J sandwiches are by far Ayden's favorite food. That and dinosaur oatmeal. The kids picked this dinosaur oatmeal out as a special "treat" for their birthday. Ayden has eaten it almost every single day since, and would eat it every meal if we'd let him. He also loves fruit, especially berries. Other favorites are pasta, cheddar and broccoli soup, and kid's Cliff bars. He used to be really good about eating vegetables, but recently has been rebelling against them and acting like they are the worst thing ever. Makes absolutely no sense to me since just a few weeks ago, he ate them no problem.

His new favorite

While we are on the food topic, I should add that we think Ayden must be going through a growth spurt right now, because he is eating So. Much. Food! The other morning for breakfast, not only did he eat dinosaur oatmeal, he also ate a big bowl of cereal, half a banana, and half an English muffin. Tonight at dinner, he gobbled down the chicken pot pie I made and then asked for seconds. And then he had thirds. And then he asked for more again! He's also been complaining that his legs hurt lately. I see nothing wrong with them, so the only thing I can think of is that he must be having growing pains?

Ayden is an explorer and is always finding treasures when we are outside: special rocks, bugs, sticks, leaves, flowers, etc. He likes to save them and always wants to bring them home. He's not happy when I won't let him bring most of these things into the house. While Ayden has no problem picking up bugs and worms, he has recently decided he dislikes getting dirty. He most definitely is not a happy camper when he gets dirt on his hands or clothes. He also doesn't like the idea of brushing dirt off his own clothes. I have to do it for him!

Showing me the clam he found

One of my biggest frustrations in life right now is having to constantly clean our toilets, and surrounding floor. Ayden continues to struggle getting his pee in the toilet. We tried having him sit instead of standing to go potty for about a week, but that was still a struggle at times if he didn't press down far enough. When that happens, he hits the little spot between the toilet seat and the toilet bowl, and we end up having to change his pants and underwear because they end up soaked. His grandma took him potty in a public bathroom about a month ago, and she came back telling me how he accidentally peed all over the wall and the floor, and how she tried to clean it up the best she could. Story of my life right now, cleaning up pee! Please tell me this is a phase.... please.

Ayden has always had a huge fear of going to the doctor and the dentist, but he's had an appointment for both in the last two weeks and he did so good! At his dentist appointment 6 months ago, Ayden had a complete meltdown. He refused to sit in the dentist chair. The dentist ended up just looking at his teeth really quick while Ayden sat in my lap crying his little heart out. They didn't even end up cleaning his teeth because he had been so upset. This time around he did fantastic! I was so proud of him! A few months ago, I bought a children's book about going to the dentist and have read it off and on since then. I made a point of reading it a few times the week of their appointment. I don't know if that made the difference this time, or if he is just growing up and getting braver. Not only did he get his teeth cleaned, but he also let them take x-rays of his teeth!

Ayden also did great at the doctor's for their 4 year well checks. In the past, I've had to hold him so the the pediatrician could listen to his heart, look in his ears, etc. He almost always cried/complained through all of this, but this time he did great! Until it came time to get shots... Once he learned he was getting shots, he got quite a bit of anxiety and got pretty upset. I had to hold him pretty tight while the nurse administered the vaccinations. He about broke my heart with his cries, but we made it through. For the rest of the day, he was pretty dramatic though, and it was all Tony and I could do not to laugh. At first, he didn't even want to walk and made me carry him because "his legs hurt." Once he got past that, he just walked very tenderly with an extra flare of dramatic. I have no doubt that his legs probably were in fact sore from the shots and I sympathized with him for that, but he was so dramatic about it, in almost a theatrical way, you couldn't help but also laugh at his antics.

We start our bedtime routine around 7:00pm (unless it's bath night; then it's 6:40pm), and bedtime is 7:30. Ayden goes to bed super easy, and almost always falls asleep quickly. He had been sleeping until about 7-7:15am, but here the last few weeks, he's been waking up somewhere between 5:30-6:15pm. The dude is killing me with the early wake ups! I am soooooo dreading the upcoming time change, because I know that 5:30am time is going to turn into 4:30 😩. I know he's waking up to go potty, but he doesn't go back to sleep! He comes into our room, which wouldn't be too bad if he'd cuddle up and just lay there quietly, even if he stays awake. But he wants to play! I have told him repeatedly that it's okay if he can't go back to sleep, but that he needs to play quietly in his room. This morning he was up at 5:30 to go potty, and did go back to bed, but only till 5:50 when he decided it was time to come wake us up. Ugh!

It's so amazing to watch this little guy evolve into the person he is going to be. He's very sensitive to when he does something wrong or gets in trouble. He has a quiet talking voice, but is very loud otherwise. He takes after his daddy with the loudest footsteps of anyone I've ever known. He drops the toilet seat lid almost every single time. That's how I know when he wakes up in the middle of the night to go potty, because it wakes me up. At least he's closing the lid, right? Ayden and Rylee fight for territorial rights to either sit in my lap, or as close as possible at my side, when we read books or watch tv. He loves to be tickled, and has such an amazing laugh when he is truly happy and thrilled with something.

I am so proud to call this boy my son.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Right Now: January Edition

This is the last day to get a January Right Now post done, so I figured I better get on it. Also, I think it's worth noting that this is my third post in just four days! Say whaaaaaat?

Reading: I took the kids to the library yesterday to find some new books to borrow. We came home with three dinosaur books, two ballerina books, and one about Pinkalicious's lemonade stand. I'll let you figure out who picked what books.

Watching: This Is Us. I can't believe we have to wait till after the Super Bowl to watch the next episode! Ugh. I'm also still watching corny Hallmark movies. They have a whole winter theme going that they've moved onto after all the Christmas movies.

Listening: Currently listening to the washing machine since I just put a load of laundry in. I haven't been running, so I haven't been listening to any music or podcasts. I got a new set of wireless earphones for Christmas that I'm looking forward to trying out though.

Drinking: Water, but not even remotely near enough!

Eating: I just finished a bowl of Special K cereal with blueberries and lemon clusters. I'm making Cheeseburger Pasta for dinner tonight. I used to make it all the time because it's a food the kids were guaranteed to eat, but this will only be the second time I've made it in the last year. I'm hoping they will still chow down on it, because I'm tired of fighting with them to eat dinner (and I refuse to make a second dinner just for them).

Wearing: Grey capri running pants, the t-shirt I got when I ran the 5k in December, and my black Central softball sweatshirt from my coaching days. Okay, I lied. It's actually Tony's sweatshirt that I stole from him and made it mine, because my own doesn't actually fit me anymore. That's what happens when you are 60 lbs heavier than before having kids.

Loving: Rock hunting with the kids! I don't know about everywhere else, but in our small corner of the world, rock painting and hunting has become a big hobby. The kids have found a few rocks over the past few months (actually, I found them and then steered the kids in the right direction) and they always get such a kick out of their new treasures. When Tony and I had our weekend away at the coast to celebrate our anniversary, I collected a bag full of rocks from the beach to bring home and paint. I finally started last week while the kids were at school one day, but I've only gotten as far as putting a base coat on so far.

She found this rock outside the dance studio after ballet a few weekends ago.

We found three painted rocks when we went to the park over the weekend.

Rylee found this rock outside the library yesterday. It's like it was made just for her, as it has a ballerina on it!

Anticipating: Our one-on-one dates we have planned for the first weekend in March! Tony will be taking Ayden to a Dinosaur Quest event, and I am taking Rylee to a Princess for a Day event. We were all gonna to go to the dinosaur thing as a family outing, but then I noticed that the Princess for a Day event is the same day. The cost turns out to be almost the same, so we decided it would be a good opportunity for us to have one-on-one dates with the kids.

Hoping: I hope every single day that I'm not screwing up my kids. Rylee has been very difficult lately. She is so fun when she is excited and happy about something, but my goodness, she's been a negative Nelly lately. She frequently says things like, "I'm mad at you," "I woke up grumpy," "I'm tiiiiiirred," "I'm REALLY mad at you," and "this is so frustrating!" And she doesn't just say it once. She repeats it over, and over, and over, and over, and over........ She's also the slowest eater of all time.  We've been having a lot of battles recently, trying to get her to eat her food. It really escalated yesterday morning. I yelled, and we both cried. After talking with Tony last night, we agreed that we both need to back off. If she doesn't eat, she doesn't eat. We'll put it up and she just won't get anything else to eat until she finally does finish her meal. Oh, because this is only about actual meals: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The girl would eat snack foods the entire day if we'd let her. I should add that we don't expect her to eat foods she doesn't like. She does this with all food, even the ones she does like! Yesterday the thought crossed my mind that we're raising her to someday have an eating disorder because it seems like it's becoming such a control issue lately. So, I'm hoping we aren't screwing her up. No more fighting over food.

Following: The trial and sentencing of Larry Nassar. It's appalling to me that he was allowed to sexually abuse so many young girls over the course of about 30 years. I used to love watching the gymnasts in the Olympics, but to now know that almost all of them (if not all) were abused by this man... It's so disgusting that he was able to get away with it for so long.

Wondering: When I'll ever get the Christmas decorations all put away! haha! Yep, I still haven't done it, but I do plan on finally getting it done by the end of the week. I haaaaate this chore.

Trying: To have more patience. It's not working very well. See above ↑

Worrying: About putting together a resume. I know this is silly, but the thought of it seriously gives me anxiety. If I was applying for a softball job, I'd have no problem, but trying to come up with the dates for jobs I worked 15-20 years ago is another story altogether! Also, I am not the most computer savvy person when it comes to stuff like that. I don't have to start looking for a job for another 1.5 years, but I am considering trying to get into the school system part time next year, in hopes that it will lead to a full time position the following year.

Planning: To start running again next week. I need to find another 5k to sign up for to give me a little push out the door. It helps to know that I will be doing the Hood to Coast relay, but it's not until August. I need something to work toward in the meantime.

Contemplating: What fun activities I will do with the kids over spring break. I think I want to take them to the Gilbert House Children's Museum one of the days. I need to come up with a few other fun things to do as well. As long as it's nice weather, I am hoping to have a busy week playing outside!

Monday, January 29, 2018

Microblog Monday: Motivation

I found out over the weekend that I got onto a Hood to Coast team! I have ran Hood to Coast a total of 8 times, but I haven't done it the last 3 years now. The last time I ran it, Ayden and Rylee were just 8 months old! (I wrote a blog post about it. Click here if you are interested in reading it)

All my Hood to Coast medals from over the years.

This is a 199 mile (depending on the exact route, it can vary a few miles either way, year to year) relay race, starting at Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood and finishing in Seaside, OR. There are 1050 teams that participate each year, with hundreds of more teams that don't get turned away and don't get into the race. It is such an amazing event to be a part of, and I am so excited to be on a team again!

I have really slacked on running for the past 6 weeks or so, since I did that 5k in early December. Getting sick and then having this lingering cough for so long hasn't helped. I've decided that this week, I'm going to focus on stretching and doing self myofascial release by foam rolling. My muscles are so out of shape and tight, it definitely won't hurt to spend a week stretching for a good 30-60 minutes every day. That will also give my cough more time to disappear.

I know I already said this, but I AM SO EXCITED to have the opportunity to be a part of this race again! This is just the motivation I needed to stop being lazy and start taking care of myself again. I have 7 months to prepare. Wish me luck!

If you'd like to read more #MicroblogMonday posts from other bloggers, or learn more about what it's all about, please click here.

4th Birthday!

This is (over) a month late now, but I still want to document the kids' birthday. December is always such a crazy month. Since Ayden and Rylee have been born, I have a new appreciation for December birthdays. We actually have a lot of December birthdays in my family, but I never thought anything of it before having my own kids! And I'm finding it even more challenging as they get older for some reason. Maybe it's because this year their birthday was literally spread out over the entire month!

We always celebrate Thanksgiving with Tony's family the weekend before Thanksgiving. Well, this year, mil decided that they would also celebrate Ayden and Rylee's birthday that weekend as well, since they would be gone for the birthday party. Not only did they open their birthday gifts from grandma and grandpa, but we also had cake and had to sing happy birthday.

Then when my extended family got together for the Candy Cane Express train ride and an early Christmas party, we also had a little birthday celebration for all the December birthdays. More presents, cake, and another birthday song.

Then the following weekend we had their birthday party. We debated for what felt like forever over what to do for their birthday party this year. We finally settled on renting the local community center, which ended up working out perfectly! It only cost $45 to rent for 5 hours, which is a steal compared to if we did it anywhere else!

Not only did we debate over where to have the party, but we also debated over the theme. Someone gave me the grand idea of doing a "Christmas" theme and decorating Christmas cookies as an activity. Tony thought that was a terrible idea, mixing Christmas and their birthday. He really thought we needed to keep their birthday completely separate from Christmas. I agree with that mostly, but we weren't having a CHRISTMAS party. It was a BIRTHDAY party with Christmas themed activities. I didn't think it was such a horrible idea.  Besides that, I am most definitely not a party planner type person. I can do a brilliant job once I have something to roll with, but coming up with ideas/themes is not easy for me and I had no other ideas!

The party turned out pretty good, if I do say so myself! Although it was not without a few hiccups along the way...

The birthday twins!

A friend made these birthday shirts for the kids.

When I told my aunt about my cookie decorating idea, she told me she had "tree" cupcake tins that I could borrow. Brilliant! Instead of decorating cookies, the kids could all decorate their own individual cakes! She also had a larger tree shaped cake tin. My plan was to use that to make a cake for the adults to eat from. However, when I tried to make the cake, it turned into a disaster. I could not get the cake from the pan, despite the fact that I had greased it. The entire cake fell apart. It tasted delicious, but didn't do me any good when the cake was a crumbled up mess. The little tree cupcakes were also not the easiest to work with. In the end, it all worked out, but I was up almost the entire night before their party. I don't think I went to bed until about 4:00am!!!! I think I'll be sticking to Costco cakes in the future. haha!

I ended up making a cupcake tree instead.

The cake table.

I had a crafting table set up for the kids to make cute little snowman ornaments. Two weeks before the party, I got all the popsicle sticks painted white, hot glued the strings on, drew the snowman eyes and mouths on, and cut out all the little pieces so the kids could assemble their own ornaments. I also made a few example ornaments so everyone could see what they were suppose to look like.

Naked snowmen, ready to be decorated!

I printed off some coloring pages, and we had a coloring station. This was also kind of a pain in the behind! There were several really cute "free" coloring pages I would have liked to use, but every time I tried printing them, I kept being told I needed to download certain software to do it. I tried, but could never get it to work. I managed to find a few that I could actually print out, but was really limited in my choices. I don't think it should be that hard, but I managed to make it difficult anyway.

Party guests coloring their masterpieces.

We played Pin the Nose on the Snowman, which turned out to be a much bigger hit than I ever anticipated! I thought it would be just a silly little game, but all the kids got a HUGE kick out of it.  Several even wanted to take multiple turns!

There was lots of balloon "fighting." It's amazing how much entertainment a dozen balloons can provide!

You can't have a birthday party without singing Happy Birthday! Ayden and Rylee got to pick out which tree cupcakes they wanted, and they got to blow out their birthday candles after the birthday song. Then all the kids got a cupcake and they had a blast decorating them. This was even a hit with the parents. I was told several times what a great idea it was!

Decorating their tree cakes.

Ayden was off playing and too busy to have his picture taken, so it was just the three of us for a family picture.

I gave my phone to my brother-in-law and asked him to take pictures for me. He took about a million (okay, I'm exaggerating, but he did take close to a hundred) pictures, including a lot of silly selfies! I love having all the pictures, but it's the number one reason it's taken me so long to do this post. It took me a long time to go through and decide which pictures to keep and edit!

BIL taking a selfie and showing off the party room.

See, I told you. Silly Selfies! My mom, oldest niece, and BIL.

My sister helped me write down what gifts came from who as the kids opened their presents. We try to send thank you cards to everyone, although I know that there are a few that still need to be sent out. I should probably get on that... Sis also helped out at the party by putting temporary tattoos on all the kids. Ayden was funny about this. He didn't want a tattoo put on, but he hoarded a dozen or two tattoos in his pockets. I'm not sure what he was wanting to save them for, lol. He would have collected more, had I not stepped in and told him he had enough already!

Opening presents.

Overall, the party was a success. Almost all of Ayden and Rylee's cousins were in attendance, as well as a few friends from preschool, and their Playgroup friends. I wasn't sure how well the activities would go over, but every one of them turned out to be a big hit. The cakes were kind of a nightmare for me to make, but the end result made it all very worthwhile. I'm not sure I'll ever attempt something like that again, buuuutttttttt who knows.

The day after their party, we had a family day and took the kids to see the movie Ferdinand. They loved it. Tony and I thought it was a cute movie, but agreed that there was a scene in the movie that was a little too much for four year olds! Not that the kids seemed to mind, but I almost covered my own eyes when the bulls went to the butcher shop! Kind of similar to Toy Story 3, when the toys were about to be incinerated. That movie never fails to make me cry, by the way.

After the movie, we went to Red Robin for an early birthday dinner. We thought it would be fun to go somewhere that the waitstaff would sing Happy Birthday to them, and they'd get a birthday treat. Both Ayden and Rylee love ice cream (they take after their momma), but Rylee almost didn't eat hers because of the whipped cream on top! I have never known a kid to not like whipped cream, but my two are not huge fans. Once we realized the issue, Tony scooped the whipped cream off for her so she could enjoy her treat.

Down to the last drop!

Then for their actual birthday, we spent a night at the coast at a great hotel that is super kid friendly. Tony took that Friday off work. We woke up, ate breakfast, loaded up the car and took off for the coast. We wanted to make a full day of it. We didn't anticipate actually being able to check into our room that early, so had planned on playing on the beach once we arrived. However, our room was ready and we were able to check in right away! It turned out to be a good thing, because once the kids saw the play center, they could NOT WAIT to go check it out!

Indoor playground.

And then once we went to the indoor playground, the kids got a good look at the pool and couldn't wait to go swimming! We ended up spending most of our time at the pool. The kids love swimming so much! We spent several hours at the pool, then went back to our room to relax a bit before heading to the beach. We decided to give the kids their birthday gifts during this down time, instead of waiting for the next day, which was their actual birthday. We got them each a tablet this year. Oh boy, has that been a big hit!

Not only was there a pool, but there was a splash pad as well!

I think we all enjoyed the hot tub the most.

Opening their gifts.

They suddenly look so grown up playing on their tablets!

After relaxing in our room for awhile, we made our way down to the beach. We had hoped the kids would have their first sunset experience, but it ended up being too cloudy and we didn't get to see it. We still had fun playing in the sand though.

Drawing in the sand.

Digging a "big, big, BIG" hole.

She decided to climb into the hole.

After playing on the beach, we all went swimming for another couple hours. We ate dinner in our hotel room, and had breakfast the next day in our room as well. While I packed everything up the next day, Tony took the kids swimming one last time. After we checked out of our room, we let the kids play at the indoor playground for a bit before heading home. This was the perfect hotel to stay at in December. While we had fun playing on the beach, it was also very cold, so we didn't end up staying out there very long. This worked out perfectly for the kids, because all they really wanted to do was swim anyway!

It was a busy month, but it was full of fun. And now, we have four year olds!!