If I need to run (and all of the food and wine says yes), then running on the top deck of the ship as the sun sets on our amazing day in Belize, is the best way to do it. image

Ten Years Ago, Part 5: One of the Best Days of My Life

It was an ordinary Friday. Scott had gone snowboarding and I decided to go to Target with my mom. Except this wasn’t an ordinary trip to Target, I was going to buy a pregnancy test and of course I had to fill my cart with lots of other stuff so my mom wouldn’t notice that box amongst the other purchases.

I have always loved children. I have lots of cousins and I started babysitting at an early age. In college I worked in a daycare with 3-year olds one summer and worked in kiddie land at Kennywood another summer.

I may not have always been sure what I would do when I grew up, but I knew that more than anything I wanted to be a mother.

My “life plan” was to get married at age 25 and have my first child at age 28. Married at 25 and divorced at 27 was not the plan. My 28th birthday was a few months after the divorce was final and it was a very sad day. The loss of what was supposed to happen that year was strong even thought it was absolutly for the best.

I spent the next few years focused on career and education. I was 31 when Scott and I started dating and I made it clear that I wanted to have children soon. I had watched too many friends struggle to conceive and wanted to make sure that we had time.

On that quiet Friday night in February (16 months after our first date and 7 months after our wedding day), I came home from Target, unpacked my purchases and found out that I was pregnant. In that moment the dream that I had wished for so many times came true. I was finally going to be a mother.

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The Dinosaur Love Continues

He still carries his Diplodocus around the house. He stomps and growls like a dinosaur when he wants attention. He still reads this book almost every night before bed – the covers have fallen off, pages are ripped, and he can tell you the page numbers of his favorite dinosaurs.

When my friend Rachel posted a link to this A to Z Dinosaurs print a few weeks before Christmas, I knew that we needed to buy it for Ruslan. But there was a problem, the D was not a Diplodocus and I knew that Ruslan would not understand why one of his favorite dinosaurs was missing. Rachel graciously offered to update it for Ruslan and soon the print had arrived, a white frame purchased and it was wrapped for Christmas morning.

A new favorite dinosaur was added to our household on Christmas Eve.

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The new T-Rex and the Diplodocus both slept with Ruslan that night and came downstairs with him on Christmas morning. As soon as he unwrapped his dinosaur slippers, he stopped and put those on.

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The framed dinosaur print was set aside so that it wouldn’t accidentally be damaged while presents were being opened so it ended up being the last present that was opened. Ruslan opened it and immediately checked to make sure there was a Diplodocus and a T-Rex and then posed his favorite dinosaurs to take a picture.

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Do You Want to Hand Craft an Artisanal Snowman

We already had 8 inches of snow in our yard and then added a few more inches yesterday. Once the snow stopped, the temperature climbed and it was warm enough for the children to play outside for a long time without getting cold - run wild, dig, roll around, and build.

Ruslan was much more interested in throwing snow, digging holes, lounging and climbing the tree.

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Juliana and Wyatt built a snowman.

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And then the three of them had a snowball fight which primarily consisted of the boys hiding in the bushes and Juliana lobbing snowballs at them.

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It’s Difficult Not to Compare Them

When the boys were tiny newborns, I made a decision to do my best not to compare them to Juliana. She was the baby that beat every milestone by weeks and even months. She slept through the night at 8 weeks old. She was the best baby in almost every way. The boys arrived as a pair and it was at least double the work those early months. If I hadn’t kept a notebook handy I would have no idea when they reached any of their milestones that first year – keeping track of one baby on minimal sleep is difficult enough, I would never remember two sets of milestones and which date belonged to which boy.

While comparing siblings is avoidable, it is nearly impossible not to compare the boys even though I try. They are both boys and they are the same age and they have the same basic routine – it’s easy to spot the differences.

When the second 12-weeks of Kindergarten started in December, the boys started to come home with sets of sight words (the, and, that, it, on, etc.). They are using a system of Rainbow Words where each set of words is a color and you move through the rainbow as you advance through each set.

The flash cards with the red words went back and forth to school for a few weeks and then suddenly something clicked with Wyatt. The red words were moved to his “words I know” ring and we were reviewing orange words each night. Within a week he came home with yellow words. At home he was asking to practice his words and when we were reading together he was interested in reading more of the pages. This was a huge change to the struggle that had been reading and homework.

Meanwhile Ruslan was still practicing his red words and it was a chore to get him to practice them or to sit and read with me. He also made this statement in reference to reading. “They have all of these games at school to make it seem like learning is fun; but they are tricking us, it isn’t fun.” The combination of these two things prompted me to email his Kindergarten teacher.  And of course I couldn’t help but mention one of my concerns – Wyatt is way ahead of Ruslan, does that mean that Ruslan is falling behind where he should be?

Much to my surprise, she replied that Ruslan is in the highest reading group in the class! She did agree that reading is not his favorite; math remains his true scholastic love. When we talked this week she told me that Ruslan will help the other students in his group with math and explain how to solve problems. He is loved by everyone in his class and is always the first student picked when they need to choose a partner.

Last night Ruslan was reading Green Eggs and Ham and when I walked in the room I heard counting instead of words – rather than read the words his preferred activity is counting a common element in a book. In this case he closed the book and yelled, the work “I” is in this book 96 times!

School, where success is measured in numbers, is going to be the biggest challenge when it comes to comparing them. I need to remind myself they have different strengths and weaknesses and let them learn at their own pace.

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Guardians of the Galaxy

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Two weeks ago I sat down to write a summary of 2014. As I started to think about everything that happened last year I realized that I never posted our Halloween story. So instead of an end of year summary, I give you Halloween 2014 in January 2015.

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It started in the summer, . . . → Read More: Guardians of the Galaxy

Christmas Penguin PJs – 2014 Family Edition

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Continuing our tradition of special pjs for Christmas morning, there were new pjs again this year. When I found the perfect penguin pjs for Juliana I was thrilled and ordered 3 sets. Then I noticed that there was an adult version as well so I added that to my shopping cart. I was about . . . → Read More: Christmas Penguin PJs – 2014 Family Edition

2014 Family Photos

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A few weeks ago we met our friend Michelle at a local park to take new family photos. We lucked out with a rare day of sunshine and warmer temperatures so we were able to reward smiles with a trip to the playground after photos.

This picture of the boys is one of my new . . . → Read More: 2014 Family Photos

Holiday Traditions

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This weekend we checked off some of our normal Christmas week traditions. We went to the Mall to see Santa – the same Santa as previous years but they moved to a new section of the mall so the backdrop is different than our previous pictures. The kids were still dressed up from their . . . → Read More: Holiday Traditions

His Favorite Sleep Stories Have One Thing In Common

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Most people call them dreams but Wyatt calls them sleep stories. Stories that happen while you are sleeping – Wyatt is very literal.

After months of sleeping all night every night and occasionally sleeping until 7:30 on the weekends, Wyatt started waking up at night again. Last week he was up 3 nights in . . . → Read More: His Favorite Sleep Stories Have One Thing In Common