Thursday, February 19, 2015

You win some, you lose some.

My dad taught Jake how to play chess a few months ago, and he's been really into it. 

 Our local library offered 2 chess workshops in January, and Jake was eager to sign up.  He enjoyed the classes, and continued to play at home, wanting to sign up for the chess tournament that they were holding in early February.  So I signed him up for the tournament, but as the date grew closer, Jake got nervous about participating.  He had all kinds of worries...that he would be paired up with an older kid, that he would lose right away and have to go home, that he would get too nervous to remember the right moves....the list went on and on. 

We kept telling him that all he had to do was show up and try his best....we tried to compare it to baseball for him, that when he first started baseball he didn't know how to do everything, so he had to go to practices and games to get better.  Chess was just like that; the workshops had been his practices now the tournament would be like a game. 

The day of the tournament rolled around, and he was definitely nervous in the car, but seemed more relaxed once we got there.  We were happy to find out that you weren't automatically eliminated from the whole thing after a loss, you just moved to a different bracket.  Parents weren't allowed in the room once the tournament started, so we headed over to the children's section with Liam, who made himself at home in the tiny house made of books that I'm obsessed with.


Long story short, Jake ended up losing all 3 of his games.  Liam and I had left after game 2 since it was getting close to lunch/nap, but Brian texted me to say that he was sad, but wasn't crying or anything, didn't appear to be devastated. Great!

Well, then the trophies came out.  I'm sure that even if you're not a parent, you've heard/read articles by now about how everyone gets a trophy these days for everything.  I see both sides want to build self-confidence in the kids and providing positive reinforcement at the end with a trophy is one way to do that.  But at the same time, I get that it's also teaching them that just showing up is enough, and potentially setting them up for disappointment later in life when they realize that sometimes it's not enough to just show up. 

Jake has played baseball since he was 3 and did a season of basketball this past year; he has a whole shelf full of trophies and medals to show for it. This was the first time he was participating in something competitive and not walking away with a trophy or medal.  Brian said he held it together in the library, but started sobbing in the car about losing the tournament.  We said what we could to make him feel better...that not everyone got a trophy, that he was one of the youngest ones there (the tournament went up to age 12), that he can try again next year if he wants, that we were proud of him for even giving it a try....etc, etc.  But we just had a devastated little boy on our hands.  It was hard to see him upset, but I know it's also something that he was bound to learn sooner or later. 

He did get a little certificate for participating and this cool little pawn key chain, so he didn't walk away totally empty-handed.  And hopefully he maybe even learned something from the experience.

Monday, February 16, 2015

What we've been up to (too cold to do much edition)

If I'm being honest, we've mostly just been hibernating when we can.  I find that February is the looooongest month to get through.  Any initial excitement over winter is long gone, I get zero holidays off in this month, illness always seems to hit our house, and the temps always seem to be the lowest of the year.  All of those things have pretty much been true this month, and we're only a little over halfway through.  And all of the previously mentioned things make it pretty easy for me to stick with my weekend motto:

The illnesses started about 2 weeks ago, I had a terrible sore throat (I rarely get sore throats thanks to my lack of tonsils, so this was unusual for me)...I drug myself to the doctor after a few days to see if it was strep (it wasn't, just a virus) and lo and behold, they're still taking flu precautions and having patients rock this awesome look in the waiting room (you may remember I got to sport this same attire when I was there in December for bronchitis):

I spent the rest of the day and part of the next parked on the couch with my favorite blanket, favorite dog, and favorite housewives making a full recovery.

The next week, I was scheduled for a day off work to volunteer in Jake's class for his 100th day of school celebration; he and I were both really excited, and off he went on the bus that day, so happy that I was coming in shortly.  I get to the school about 30 minutes into their day and his teacher tells me that right after coming in, he was sitting at his desk doing a worksheet and she noticed he was crying...she went over to him and he told her that his head and body hurt so bad they were making him cry.  I met him in the nurses office to find that he's running a fever and has crazy chills and body aches.  When I asked him if he felt that way earlier when we were at the house he said that he was, but he didn't want to say anything because he was so excited for me to come into his classroom.  Poor guy :(  He pretty much immediately fell asleep on the couch, but then woke up and starting throwing up.  UGH!  NO!!! NONONONO!  That went on for the remainder of the day...sleep, wake, throw up, repeat.  I stayed home with him the next day, then he was able to go back after that.  And thank goodness, none of us got it!!

And of course.....the snow and cold.  This is what it's looked like a lot at our house:

"There's really no place that's acceptable for me to do my business INSIDE?  Seriously??"

The kids are enjoying it of course, I'm sure you remember my luge post from last week. 

After coming in from sled riding for quite some time last weekend, Liam kept insisting that he wasn't tired and didn't need to nap.  Since it was kind of late in the day at almost 2pm, I figured it was silly to try and force him and just planned on him going to bed early that night.  10 minutes after declaring there was no nap to be had, this was him on the couch:

Nope, no nap necessary here.  Not at all.

Last Sunday, Jake and daddy headed out to Hidden Valley to meet some friends for the day, leaving Liam and I with a day to ourselves.  I asked him what he wanted to do, and he wanted to go to Sunday school and go out to lunch.  Done and done!

ready for Sunday school-he picked out his own outfit :)
 I needed to run to the mall to return something, so California Pizza Kitchen located conveniently inside the mall seemed like a great pick.  Someone even conned me into letting him order dessert....

Other than that, we've really just been entertaining ourselves around the house.  Sometimes we play board games....

Sometimes we snuggle up and watch movies....

 Other times, we have star wars battles (in our PJs, obviously....)


  We've been doing a lot of coloring/crafting:

thanks for the book, Meghan!
And some of us have been soaking up the sun whenever we can get it:

I hope you've been able to seek out some sunny spots, too!!

Happy Valentine's Day!!

Happy (belated) Valentine's Day!!

The kids did their school celebrating on Friday, where they both took in valentines to their friends (Jake had ninja turtles, Liam had Paw Patrol....obviously.), and Jake made a cool box to take in.  Remember the days of wrapping up a box in scraps of a brown paper bag and then cutting out construction hearts to stick on?  Those days are behind us since now this non-Martha Stewart mama can buy an awesome $3 kit at Target and make the box into a pirate ship within minutes.

I have no idea what's happening in that last photo.  Moving on....

That e-card cracks me up every time....mainly because it's so true!  That being said, my v-day started out perfectly because I did get to sleep in until 7:30 that day, woohoo!! (and yes, 7:30 is crazy sleeping in around here, where someone is normally awake around 5:30....)  All 3 of my valentines got me a bouquet of flowers, tulips (my fave!), and Sarris chocolate (they know the way straight to my heart)


We spent a few hours late morning delivering valentines day baskets for the church; they were going to either shut-ins or people who are recovering from something (cancer, a recent death of a spouse, etc).  We took the kids with us, and I'm so glad we did....everyone's face lit up when they opened the door to find those two cuties standing there with a basket :)  If we can, we'd love to do it again next year!

The boys hung out in the afternoon while I ran out to my happy place (target, of course), then to get my eyebrows waxed...I nearly got snowed in there as a sudden crazy snowstorm came through.  It was really quite a sight!  Any small desire to go out to dinner that night was squashed by the storm, as we didn't want to get stuck in something again.  We went all out for our fancy family-friendly dinner at home, eating in the dining room and even busting out the china for our soup! 

The kids went to bed, and we watched one of our favorite shows with one of our favorite couples....our valentine's days aren't too glamorous anymore, but I wouldn't change a thing :)

Monday, February 9, 2015

Welcome to our new luge resort!

Looking for a weekend getaway, filled with adventure and fun?  Look no further backyard!!

We have a pretty sweet hill for sled riding, but the only issue with it is that one of three things can happen once you get going:

1. You stop safely at the edge of our yard (obviously, this is the ideal situation)
2. You do not stop at the bottom of our yard, and continue over a small hill and end up in our neighbor's yard
3.  You start to turn at the bottom of our yard and end up in the driveway/up against our fence

Last weekend, Brian decided he was going to remedy the fact that 9 times out of 10, situation 2 and 3 were happening in our backyard.  He went out with a shovel and started to build a luge. I must say, the result was pretty takes a lot to get me out in the snow (and even more to make me want to stay out there)...and I was out there last Sunday for almost 2 hours, waiting patiently for my turn to go down the luge course like a kid!  Here is a video of the action:

The first day on the course was Super Bowl Sunday; as I said, I was out for nearly 2 hours, the boys came in about 20 minutes after me for lunch.  After Liam's nap, we had multiple requests from the neighbors to come try it out, so the boys and Brian went back out that afternoon until the super bowl started up.  Jake then asked to go to bed at 6:10....I consider that a weekend win!

Brian was very concerned that it would melt over the past week, since we've had a few days of warmer temps.  It didn't melt, but it did get pretty back out he went to groom the course.  Don't worry, it was still functional as of Saturday afternoon!  Here they are again:

So for those of you in our area, admission to our luge resort is free, though cupcakes and starbucks as an admission donation will never be declined.  Any use of the luge is completely at your own risk; resort owners cannot be held responsible for any injuries or trauma that may occur. Bring your own helmet and sled, inflatable tubes seem to work best, as we discovered the hard way that using plastic saucers result in something a bit like this scene from "Christmas Vacation":

What do you do to survive the long winter months?

Amy & Ben's Wedding Day

I posted a very tiny preview awhile back about Aunt Amy and Uncle Ben's wedding day, with the promise of more to come....I'm finally getting around to doing just that with their gorgeous pictures!

All pictures are from Daniel Moyer Photography; if you're in the Philly/NJ/Eastern PA area, this guy was fantastic!!

The ceremony took place in the church that Brian and Amy grew up going to (and where my mother-in-law currently teaches preschool), and it was gorgeous inside, I especially loved the petal filled aisle.

Jake and Liam were both ringbearers; to be honest, I was more nervous about Jake making it down the aisle than I was Liam.  Jake gets a bit anxious in situations like that, whereas Liam just doesn't care.  What I didn't take into account was the fact that the ceremony started at 2pm; for a child who is still heavily reliant on his afternoon naps, that time of day becomes very dicey and unpredictable.  Sometimes he can rally just fine, others he's a mess.  Unfortunately, he turned into a bit of a mess that day.

We were all getting ready to head down the aisle and I told the boys to line up right in front of Aunt Amy and PopPop; at rehearsal the night before, they went down the aisle together.  As I'm getting them in their spots, Liam said he wants to walk by himself and he wanted to go last.  Fine.  Then I realize that he means in, behind the BRIDE.  Um, no, kiddo.  By this time, it's getting very close to being my turn to go so I turn to the pastor in a slight panic and tell him I'm not sure that the little one will make it down the aisle.  He told me not to worry about it, he'd take care of him.  I assume this meant he'd take him through a side door and drop him off with my parents or Brian's forward to a few minutes later, the music changes, the gorgeous bride steps through the door, tears are falling....and then you see Liam turn the corner right behind Aunt Amy.  Yep, he got what he wanted somehow, and brought up the end of the bridal train!!  I don't think Amy even realized he was behind her until they stopped and he had to figure out how to get around her dress.  Oh, Liam. So Jake definitely surprised me and did a great job...he took it very seriously as you can see from the picture above :)

The ceremony itself was beautiful, we're so happy to have Ben in our family!

Once again, No-Nap-Liam made for a bit of a difficult time in trying to get some pictures at the church post-ceremony; thank goodness for a great photographer who let them have some fun with the petals, finally getting some smiles out of Liam!!

A huge thank you to my parents for taking the boys in between the ceremony and reception, and to my dad for sitting in the car with a sleeping Liam for almost 2 hours so that he could rally for that evening!!  It made a HUGE difference and he was ready to go for the party! 

After leaving the church, we got some more pictures....isn't Amy just stunning??  Ben looks handsome too, of course...but the bride!!

Time to head to the reception!  Amy put a lot of work into the details of the wedding, and it showed!  Everything pulled together so nicely, the room looked gorgeous:

Brian gave a speech that was just the right combo of funny and heartfelt; I know everyone at our table was laughing and tearing up over his tribute to his sister and new brother-in-law....

Next up....PARTY TIME!!  The dancing endurance shown by our kids was astounding....they were out there shaking it pretty much all night!!!



About halfway through the reception, Jake declared he was exhausted.


After peeling him off of the ground, we made a little makeshift bed out of 2 chairs pushed together and he did rest for quite some time.  Then, he seemed to get his second wind and it was back to the dance floor for him!!! 

The kids got a kick out of the many, many, many layers of Amy's dress.....

I love that in addition to the awesome dance pictures, the photographer also captured some really sweet moments:

It was definitely a day that we will all remember, and we were so happy to have been a part of it. 
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