Friday, February 28, 2014

Evelyn's First Proper Ponytail

Her hair is finally long enough to sort of pull it off.

Mayas and Eeeee

Today, for the first time, I heard Evelyn clearly try to say "Miles" and "Vivi."  It sounded much more like "Mayas" and "Ee-ee", but it was clear she was trying to say their names.  She repeated it a few times for me, but whenever I pull out the phone camera, she is too distracted to do it again. 

Adorable.  My heart melts.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Biking Around the Soccer Fields

For Christmas, the big kids each got a bike with training wheels and a helmet.  Miles has been loving riding his bike in the cul-de-sac.  Vivienne, on the other hand, has had a couple very minor spills that apparently were enough to make her a bit gun-shy.  Last week, we took the kids across the street to the soccer fields (which have a great, flat bike path all the way around them, about half a mile in circumference).

Miles was on his bike, but Vivienne wanted to ride her scooter.  Unfortunately, the scooter is a lot less efficient, so it takes a lot more work for her to get around.  She didn't get too far before deciding that she would rather walk and have me carry her scooter on the stroller with Evelyn.

Just a couple days ago, we finally got this...

Vivienne decided that she could ride her bike instead.  I watched her like a hawk and stayed by her side to be sure that she didn't fall.  Of course, I will not always do this, but I wanted our girl to have one good, safe, fall-free trip around the fields to give her more confidence and more enthusiasm for a repeat performance.  She was very proud of herself for riding her bike, and we were so glad that she gave it another try.

I'm looking forward to many more rides around the soccer fields with my big kids on their bikes.  It's so fun to be able to do this.  Hopefully soon we will be able to get out on the greenway with them and ride our bikes together as a family.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Mommy & Miles Date

Last week while Grandma and Grandpa Fox were here, Jason took Vivienne to a Daddy/Daughter Date Nite at Chick-fil-a.  I will have to ask him to post about that.  That evening, I grabbed a chance to take my little guy on a date with Mommy while Evelyn stayed back with her grandparents.

After dinner, I told him that we were going to go get ice cream (frozen custard, to be precise).  He was very excited.  Here is our pre-date photo.

He was very excited to have some time with Mommy all to himself, talking up a storm in the van on the way to Goodberry's.  When we pulled in, he started talking about what kind of ice cream he wanted.  He got chocolate with Oreos and I had vanilla with cookie dough.

 This is him doing a kissy-face with me.

He devoured his ice cream and told me all about the "Christmas trees" (trees with white twinkle lights in them) and the cars passing by.  It was a beautiful sunset with my happy, chatty son... such an uncommon opportunity to spend time with just one child.

We are hoping to create these one-on-one date nights more frequently with our children so that they can each have special time with us on their own.  It's too easy to feel lost in the shuffle in a family of five, and I'm hopeful that this allows them each to feel extra special and loved.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Animal House

Last night, we decided we would take advantage of this incredible 70-degree NC weather and take the kids on a surprise adventure to the zoo.  Playing hookie from church, we packed a picnic lunch and put on our sneakers.  Daddy made maps for Miles and Vivienne, and we were on our way.

Even though we told them it started with a "z" and had crocodiles like Peter Pan (which was the movie they were watching in the van on the way), they had no idea where we were going.  It wasn't until we were actually parking the car that they realized we were at the zoo.

We started with some chimpanzees.  We were lucky to watch a baby chimp hanging from the play structure.  The kids got a kick of out him (or her?).

Evelyn read up on some chimpanzee courtship (while loading her diaper... lovely).

We took lots of snack breaks in the stroller.  These kids are eating insane amounts of food these days.  The strawberries lasted about 4 minutes.

We moved on to the gorillas and other African animals.

The elephants were beautiful, as always, though the kids seemed more interested in the simple tent that was set up nearby.  

We walked through the aviary for the first time.  Evelyn appreciated having an opportunity to say "Duck!  Duck!" over and over.

On the North American side, there was some rock climbing and forest exploring.

The kids usually love seeing the otters, but today the otters weren't quite as active.

After some playground time and some mini chocolate cupcakes, we loaded our tired crew back into the Foxmobile and headed for home.  It was a fun, fun day in the sun with few crowds, lots of animals and loads of giggles and smiles.  I'm so glad we grasped this chance to explore the zoo together.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Blizzard 2014... Take Two

On Wednesday, we had a doozie of snowstorm here.  This is not a common occurrence, so it really brings things to a halt around here.  Of course, the snow storm really hit right as we were following my parents in their car to the mechanic and they broke down at a stoplight.  I gave them a jump (for the 3rd time), and the car just died again immediately.  The snow was coming down in buckets.  Fun.

So Mom got in our van with Mindy.  She, I, the kids and the dog all drove ahead to the mechanic while Dad waited for a tow truck with a policeman parked behind him with his lights on.  Their car was so "dead" that they couldn't even turn on their hazard lights in the snow.  We waited at the mechanic for about an hour as the snow continued to come down at an alarming rate.

While we were waiting for Dad to arrive with the tow truck, I watched at least one car slide down the hill, lose control and veer off the road.  The snow was really sticking to the road, and you couldn't see the pavement anymore.  After finishing the paperwork with the mechanic, Dad hopped in our car and we finally headed toward our house (around 1 pm).  By this time, Jason had already left work and was waiting for us at home.

It took us about an hour to drive the 5 miles to our house.  At one point, we were stuck in a line of cars going up a small hill.  The people at the front of the line couldn't get their cars up the hill, so my dad got out of our van, tredged through the snow up the hill and pushed the first car until they could get going.  Then the second car was stuck and he pushed that car.  And then the third car (a van) was stuck, and he pushed that car (and remember, the snow was falling so hard that you could barely see).  Finally the line got going and dad got back in our van.  We continued on, already seeing cars that had been abandoned at the side of the road.  We probably got about 3 inches of snow in about 2 hours.

By the time we got home, it was 2:15 and the kids had not eaten lunch.  But it was a fun adventure and it was neat to be snowed in with Grandma and Grandad.  The snow continued to fall throughout the afternoon, and my parents and their dog, Mindy, had to stay with us because the roads were impassable.

Southern kids in rain boots instead of snow boots

On the second day, we started to get freezing rain, which quickly covered our soft, beautiful snow with a sheet of ice.  We spent the morning at our neighbor's house, eating muffins and drinking coffee and tea and watching movies.  It was fun to be snowed in together.  My parents were able to get home to their truck (and then they had to return Jason's car to our house so he could get to work today).  The snow plows had cleared the major roads and traveling was no longer an issue.

This morning, the kids finally got out again to play in the snow and they LOVED it.  The ran all over the front yard.  The weather was so warm that we didn't even really need coats in the sun.

I finally convinced them to get in the car so that we could go to Grandma's house.  When we arrived there, we played in their yard for quite a while and made their second snowman ever (the first one was a year or two ago with Daddy).  The kids had a blast.

Apparently the snow wasn't good for my parents' porch canopy.  I'm impressed that the fabric didn't tear on its own.

They used Hershey kisses for the eyes and mouth and a carrot for the nose, of course.  Evelyn was more interested in eating snowman eyes than she was in participating in the snowman building.

The snowman had a bit of a concerned expression.  That's probably because the dog and the toddler kept trying to eat his eyes.

Their snowman was complete with a scarf and hat.  Adorable.

We're back home and the kids are napping.  It's up to about 50 degrees now and the snow is quickly melting.  It was fun while it lasted, but I'm ready for Spring now.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Preschool! Phew!

Oh my goodness, this was the most stressful morning I have had in a long time (and that's saying something when you have 3 kids under 4).  This morning was the lottery for the preschool that was my top choice.

I intentionally started the morning with a Pilates class at the Y, so that I could keep my mind off the impending anxiety.  It worked very well, and I was actually pretty relaxed until I got to the church.  Here is how it worked:  first, you arrive between 9:30 and 10:30 to get your number.  At 10:45, they start pulling numbers out of a box and you either register or are waitlisted based on your number.  And, of course, I need 2 slots.

I knew before going that they only had about 2 slots for 4-year-old boys and about 6 slots for 4-year-old girls.  And I knew that there would be a lot of people there, including some friends of ours.  I arrived and found a seat and chatted with some friends until they finally started calling numbers.  And they called more numbers.  And the line for the 4-year-old registrants was getting longer and longer (ugh).  The line was much, much longer than the number of 4-year-old slots that were left.  And they called more numbers.  And FINALLY they called my number.

When I got to the front of the line, my heart had already sunk.  The lady said that she had a few slots for girls, but no boy spots.  She asked me what she should do.  (My strong suggestion was that she should just let me register them both.  Ha.  Ha.  Have I mentioned that you have the most beautiful eyes I have ever seen, lady?  Oh, and look!  I just dropped a $20 right in front of you.  Whoopsie!)  She went to go check with the director of the preschool.  It seemed like she was gone forever.   Seriously, this was ridiculously anxiety-provoking.  It's just preschool, for goodness sake!

When she got back, she said, "I need you to lean in a little closer."  I leaned in, anxiously.  "I'm going to put your kids in.  Don't ask any questions.  Just give me your sheet and go see the director."

Cue Hallelujah Chorus!  I seriously almost teared up.  I'm nearly crying over preschool here, people.  (What is wrong with our society?)  When I spoke with the director, she said that they couldn't let me register just Vivienne without registering Miles, so they were just going to make room.  So it turns out that our "twinness" was an advantage instead of a disadvantage.

I know this all sounds pretty ridiculous, but it would have been so unsettling to be on a waitlist at 2 preschools and not know for sure whether my kids would have a spot at either school come Fall.  I am so, so thankful that I have peace of mind... and that my kids are at an amazing school (my top choice) that is only about a mile from our house (with not a single red light in between).  I prayed about this a lot, and I'm just so thankful that it worked out the way that it did.  I am so excited for Miles and Vivienne, because I know that they will love school and that they will learn so much and make new friends. 

And if all this didn't make for a great enough day, all three of the kids are sleeping AT THE SAME TIME right now.  This hasn't happened in over a week.  Ahhh...

(The funny thing is that as I close this post, I still feel some residual anxiety from this morning.  I think I need to do some yoga or something.)

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Preschool Anxiety

It has come time to enroll the kids in a formal preschool next year.  In Cary (I'm not sure if this is the same everywhere?), the kids are registered in January and February.  Each preschool has a separate registration process.  Some involve in-person lotteries.  Some do a lottery process in an office somewhere and call or email you if you got the spot you want (or to let you know the wait list you're on).  This actually becomes fairly complex when you have multiple schools with different deadlines and different processes.  It seems ridiculous, but we actually had to develop a strategy for registering them for preschool.

I was SO looking forward to last week, because my top preschool pick was supposed to have had their public registration (which followed their registration for alumni, siblings, church members, etc... good grief!) last Friday.  But because of the snow earlier in the week, they slid their registration to this coming Friday.  So I will go in the morning (thanks, Mom, for keeping the kids!) and get my number and wait anxiously to see if I get called before the 4-year slots fill up. 

I'm trying not to worry about this too much, because we're already on the wait list for my #2 choice school, just in case.  And, after all, this is just PRESCHOOL, people.  It seems ridiculous to stress out about this.  I think it's just that I really love my first choice school (based on its proximity to our house, their offering of 2-day and 3-day 4's instead of 5 days, their emphasis on God and His love, and the amazing teacher I met), so I'm really hoping they get to go there. 

The good news is that we live in an area where there are many, many excellent preschools just a mile or two from our home that are very reasonably priced.  I know that they will end up where they are supposed to end up.  I'll just be glad when it's over and we know where they will be spending much of their time next year.