Yaya and Pop Pop brought the kids back some new duds from Germany. Roman got an awesome futbol shirt, and the girls got new dirndls, which Harper calls her “Germany dress.” Harper loved hers so much that she wore it all day and out to ice cream, despite my protests because it needs to be dry-cleaned!
Harper’s actual dance recital was at the end of June. I know I’m biased, but more than one other parent has told me that her class stole the show! They had a really upbeat, jazzy dance, and they just nailed it. They all had so much fun on stage, and came off shouting things like “I was so happy I just couldn’t stop dancing!” So freaking adorable.
Here are some pre-show photos, with Roman and Ada getting in on the action. The other major bonus for the night was that we left Ada with a sitter for the first time (well, she’s been with a sitter before, but we’ve always put her to bed first), and she did amazing! No tears, she had fun, and she went to bed perfectly fine. Harper picked her own “pose” in the first photo:
It has been a hot, hot summer here. Too hot to play in the yard most days, so we have been spending a lot of time indoors and a lot of time at the pool. Harper did one day of swim team. She passed the swim test, then decided that it wasn’t for her. I had promised her that her friends would be doing it with her, but they didn’t pass the test on the first day, and that was it for Harper! Honestly I was a little relieved to not “have” to be at the pool every morning. Now we go several afternoons a week and the kids swim with their friends.
Harper has made HUGE progress in the pool this summer. She is taking lessons every once in a while, and as of this afternoon can do basic freestyle (no breathing to the side yet, though), streamline kick on her tummy and back, and she can tread water. I feel very safe with her in the pool. She can go to the deep end with her friends and I don’t have to worry about her. This frees me up to make sure that Ada doesn’t drown herself! Ada loves the water and loves to play “2-2-2-BUMP!” with me. It’s actually “1-2-3-JUMP!” and she does a giant belly flop into the pool, but she has her own name for it. Roman loves to play in the shallow end, and usually sports a floatie or a life vest. He will take big leaps off the side wearing a floatie and go under and is always so proud of himself for getting his face wet.
When we are not at the pool, I definitely struggle for activities. I’m very, very pregnant at this point, and don’t have the energy to venture too far from home, or the stamina to sit outside while the kids play. It’s just too damn hot. We go to the library about once every two weeks to check out a big stack of new books, and that has kept their interest in reading. Harper is really, truly reading on her own, and that is really exciting for all of us. I’m the first to admit that they’ve been watching more TV than I like this summer. I took it away for about a week, and that was fine, but then the weather got crazy hot and I caved in! Here are a few fun things that I’ve come up with.
I ordered them a new water table (after scouring Craigslist for several weeks). Our old one was moldy and broken, and they really do enjoy the things (especially Ada). I ended up getting a “sand and water” table, but didn’t want the sand that close to the house. Instead I put pebbles on the sand side. This was super fun for them and they had a great time loading up dump trucks and making dinosaur habitats in the rock table. But, it turns out the pebbles were just the right size to get lodged in between the beams on the deck, and soon enough we had row after row of rocks stuck in all the cracks! I got out a spackle knife and spent a good hour prying those things out one evening, then decided that the rock table would just have to be a water table for now. I do plan to find some larger pebbles or some other substance to fill it with, and maybe I’ll just cave in and put sand in the thing. For now they are fine with water.
I found this “mess-free painting” idea online. We filled large ziploc baggies with different colors of paint, sealed them with no air, and taped them to the table. I put a sheet of white paper under them so you could really see the colors. Harper and Ada used all sorts of implements (including a Lego truck) to make cool designs and combine the colors. The bags were completely reusable, and lasted for several more “painting” sessions. I finally threw them out because they kept attempting to open them “just to check!”
We’ve had an exciting few weeks over here. On June 28th (I only remember this because the big kids had camp the next day), I bathed the kids and put on pj’s. The girls were not quite tired yet, so I let them go downstairs to play while I put Roman to bed. I didn’t put a diaper on Ada for some reason, and when I came back, I found her using the potty! Except for one coincidental (or accidental) pee, she has never, ever used the potty or expressed any interest in using it. Needless to say, I was SO excited, as was she. Harper was cheering her on and was so proud of her little sister!
The next day when she woke up, we ditched the diaper and she continued to use the potty all morning. We took her out to Starbucks while the big kids were at camp and she had a small accident, but stayed dry for the rest of the day, outings and all. On July 4th we went to the parade in Fairfax wearing undies and she stayed dry for the entire two hour outing! Except for that one next-day accident in Starbucks, she has kept her cute little undies completely dry. Can we say “easiest potty-trainer ever?”
Since that first successful pee-pee, she hasn’t turned back. I still diaper her at nap time and bed time, and we are working on doing #2 (she prefers to do that during nap time). We are so, so proud of her, and thrilled that she decided to do this on her own before #4 makes his or her arrival.
The only issue I’ve had is that she is so tiny that none of the undies we have fit her. She still wears size 18 month pants, so 2T undies are swimming on her. The big kids and I took her to Target today do pick out her own undies, and we found some Dora ones that fit okay. In the long run, I think she’ll be happy that she has tiny little buns, but for now she has to deal with sagging undies!
Here she is showing off her big girl pants:
Last week the kids earned “baking cookies with mommy” on their reward charts, so I decided to try something fun and new. I’d seen pictures of these kaleidoscope cookies and they looked like something the kids would love. They ended up being pretty labor-intensive, but turned out very cool. The kids love them, but Portman and I can’t get it out of our heads that we are eating play-doh – the things are so bright!
Here’s how we did it. First we made a batch of sugar cookie dough. We did a homemade dough, but many recipes call for the bag of Betty Crocker stuff. I’m sure that works perfectly fine.
Next we divided the dough into 5 bowls. We colored each portion with a generous amount of food dye (we used the Wilton gel dye, combining the yellow and red to make a bright orange). Then we chilled all of the dough. You really need to chill it, or the next part is a mess.
After it was sufficiently chilled, Harper and I rolled out grape-size balls of each color. This took forever and Roman had no interest in helping us! Then we re-chilled the dough balls for 20 min or so.
Harper made piles of dough balls, one of each color, and I squished them together then rolled them into long snakes. We coiled the snakes into discs, then rolled the edges in sprinkles. Bake according to the sugar cookie recipe and voila!
The morning after Harper’s preschool graduation (way back in May, yes I am late on this!), we woke the kids up at 4am, moved them into the car, and made the 9-hour trek down to Isle of Palms, SC, for our first week-long family beach vacation. I have the best memories of family beach vacations from growing up, and I (as well as Portman) had really high expectations for this week. Lucky for us, Isle of Palms did not disappoint, and we had such a wonderful week in the sun. Despite a few hiccups (a tropical storm that blew through, Portman’s grandfather dying, to name a few), we had a relaxing, family-focused week that really re-centered the five-and-a-half of us.
The one thing that “made” the week for us was the fact that we splurged on our accommodations. We rented a house with both a pool and a play-set in the back yard, plenty of bedrooms for all of us plus Aunt Cammie and Carson, and it came with its own golf cart. The house was stocked with toys for kids under age 10, including a play kitchen, a Little Tikes car, super-hero play sets and tons of dolls and action figures, not to mention the princess dresses hanging in the closet! It was really the perfect house for our family. We spent plenty of time on the beach, but were able to come back to the house to relax after lunch and let the kids just wear themselves out in the pool. The golf cart was a huge hit with the kids, and they were rewarded with a pre-bedtime ride around the island every night after baths. We joked that we could have just rented a golf cart for a week and saved ourselves a ton of money!
Ada was fearless in the pool, Roman was so perfectly content to wear floaties or a life-vest, and Harper overcame all of her fears of water and was swimming back and forth across the pool by the end of the week. We agreed that having the pool in the yard for daily swims helped her turn the corner.
The island had a lot more to offer besides the stunning beach. We all loved our 7:30am tour of the local fire station – we had a little time to kill before breakfast, saw the firemen inspecting the trucks for the day, and they offered to tour the kids around. They got to go all the way up to the top of the firehouse to see where the fireman’s pole starts, sit on the beach car, jet ski and truck, and play in the kids’ educational area. We had an unforgettable breakfast at the amazing little island diner and took the golf cart out for ice cream after long days in the sun. We went into Charleston for lunch one day, and when we go again next summer, we will be sure to hit up the children’s museum and aquarium. Daddy had to leave for the funeral for two days, and I wasn’t about to take them by myself!
Our favorite thing about the beach was all of the tidal pools. There were huge, warm tidal pools every single day that we were on the beach. They were the perfect spot for the kids to swim and run around, and they were teeming with sea creatures. We found live conchs, starfish, minnows and all sorts of cool shells. Roman found some dead hermit crabs and wasn’t afraid to pick them up to show us. Then, of course, we had to pose them with goldfish.
Other favorite memories: Ada may be tiny, but she is extremely coordinated (way more coordinated than the other two were at age 2). She did a lot of jumping on the beach, and she’s just so freaking cute. We love her to pieces.
Harper and Roman went on lots of treasure hunts. The beach was big and beautiful, and we had lots of room to ourselves. They were free to walk pretty far away from us before we had to trot down behind them and tell them to turn around!