Monday, December 1, 2014

Catie turns FOUR!

Catie turned 4 today! We tend to keep her birthday pretty chill to help her enjoy the day and not get overly stressed out.

My favorite simple birthday tradition is that we decorate her door the night before with balloons and birthday signs. Andrew was an awesome sign maker.

Catie woke up at 7am this morning before anyone else and was absolutely adorable. She kept saying, "thanks for decorating my door mom." She played in her room until everyone else woke up and then we all went to her door and sang "Happy Birthday" to her. She was all smiles and you could tell she felt so special.

For breakfast we had leftover waffles from last night's dinner because we didn't have enough time to make birthday pancakes. We'll have to do those another day this week. Catie loved having a candle on her waffles although blowing it out was tough for her! She also loved that I decorated the kitchen a bit and had birthday hats for everyone to wear. She made sure to tell me "thanks for decorating for me" several times. Love her!

We let her open a present or two before Andrew and Kevin headed off for the day. She loved the tea set that her Grandma Shari got her and she and Ryan spent the rest of our time at home having pretend hot cocoa together using the new tea set.

The rest of the morning was spent riding bikes in the gym at the church and playing with friends! She even had some thoughtful friends who made her brownies. She shared them with lots of kids and they were gone before we got home.

In the afternoon she played with some new toys during quiet time and then after school she and Andrew played on the trampoline in the rain and got soaked! I think it was the highlight of the day! We also made spin art and paper plate holiday wreaths. Catie opted for the less traditional holiday wreath with purple and pink on it. Can't wait to see what it looks like once the pain dries and she's able to finish it.

For dinner she requested cheesy shell noodles, then we watched The Nightmare Before Christmas, and then we opened the rest of her gifts! She was so appreciative! For every gift she opened she said, "this is just what I wanted!" She has such generous and kind grandparents! She also loved the Frozen underwear and Hello Kitty socks I bought her. Before she went to bed tonight she changed her underwear 3 times because she couldn't decide which pair was her favorite to sleep in.

After present opening we dived into birthday cake! Catie had requested a Tinkerbell cake and I decided to make it myself since I am too cheap to buy one for her. It is a good thing that she doesn't have any expectations yet regarding how good the cake needs to look... because it was hideous and she didn't care one bit since it had Tinkerbell and friends on it. It was delicious though with lots of frosting just the way she likes it!

The night got a little fun when Catie almost scorched her hair off blowing out candles, but we caught her just in time.

We ended the night with cake and ice cream and she did some LEGO building with her new Ariel princess set from G&G Smith (with help from Andrew). She was so wound up it took awhile for her to head to bed! We are so glad she had such a great day! 

Some details about Catie at age 4 are...

  • she loves her stuffed rabbit more than anything in the world
  • she goes to a local co-op preschool twice a week and then also does a mommy & me co-op preschool once a week... she loves her friends!
  • she is addicted to beverages (especially orange juice) and loves yogurt and applesauce too
  • she wears size Small clothes (in girls), no more 4/5T shopping for her!
  • her favorite foods are shell noodles, chocolate, and ice cream (my girl!)
  • her favorite toys are little people princesses, tinkerbell minifigures, magformers, and my little ponies... to name a few (she loves most things, so I don't think she's met a toy she doesn't like)
  • she loves shopping for shoes
  • she is a super big and little sister and is loved by her brothers!

We are so grateful to have cute Catie in our family! Happy 4th Birthday to our favorite little girl!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Recent Toddler Approved Projects

This year I have been blessed to team up with a really creative crew of blogging friends and launch THREE e-books!

My friend Cathy from the UK who blogs at NurtureStore spearheaded the three collaborative projects and I have learned so much about marketing from her. Now I just need to find time to put everything I learned into practice.

Here are the three e-books if you feel like checking them out. Our most recent one launched earlier this week and is all about science & math!

Fizz, Pop, Bang! Playful Science and Math Activities

Three to Five: Playful Preschool

Zero to Two: The Book of Play

Ryan Turns 2!

Ryan had a pretty awesome birthday. We kicked it off the night before by blowing up balloons and decorating his bedroom door.

On Monday morning he slept in until 8am (love that kid!) and then I woke him up singing "Happy Birthday." He loved the signs everyone made for him and we went downstairs and I made him birthday pancakes in the shape of a 2! We put a candle on it and sprinkles and he was in heaven. He kept sayinng, "I'm two" and "It's my birthday!"

After we dropped Andrew off at school we got the house ready for a little Halloween get together with the friends that I visit teach from church and their kids. We spent the morning cleaning up, making food for the party, playing with toys, and reading books!

The friends arrived for lunch around 12:30pm and we dived right into food. I made mummy hot dogs for the kids and pizza and salad for the moms. The kids liked my ghost cheese sticks too. I was also a huge fan of the sugar cookie bars. The night before they didn't taste good at all, but the next day they were delicious.

During the party the kids mostly played while the grown ups chatted. I did have a few crafts ready to go for the kids who were interested in crafting. It was cute to see how everything turned out.

After the party we picked Andrew up and just played at the house and did Ryan's favorite things--- play trains and jump on the trampoline.

Kevin ended up getting home early compared to normal (5:30pm) so we packed the kids into the car quickly and tried to drive the 40 minutes to the Clayton Valley Pumpkin Farm super fast before it got dark. It was practically dark when we got there at 6:30, but they were really nice and still let us play in the play area for 15 minutes AND they didn't make us pay. Highlight of the day!

Dried bean sensory pit!

Hay bale tunnels!

Picking pumpkins

Afterwards we stopped at Cold Stone for some birthday ice cream and then we drove home. The little dude finished his ice cream in the car and by the time we got home he was covered head to toe in stickiness!

Ryan loved chatting with Grandma Julie & Grandpa Kim as well as Grandma Shari before he went to bed. He only got to open two presents on his birthday because his big day was so packed, so on Tuesday he opened all of them and LOVED them... as did the big kids!

On Tuesday he had his two year old well-child visit and it went really well! I can't seem to find the paper with his stats on them but he is close to 29 pounds and is in the 79% for weight and then is in the 98% for height... though I can't remember how tall he is. The doctor says going from her measurements he's going to be a tall one (6' 2 or 6' 4)! Should be fun to see how things turn out.

We sure LOVE Ryan!

Some things about Ryan right now are...

  • He wears size 5 diapers and size 2-3T clothes
  • He loves dogs, trains, and trucks.
  • He is obsessed with jumping on our trampoline but only wants to jump if one of the other kids will jump with him... he is also really good at persuading people to do what he wants
  • He loves to copy any and everything the big kids say (good and bad). He currently keeps saying, "you're dumb" when he is mad... thanks to the big kids. :(
  • Ryan is a great little talker and we can understand probably 90% of what he says. He is so happy and such a sweetheart! My favorite thing is says is, "I love you mami" and "Come too?" He never wants to be left out of doing anything. It is adorable! He definitely thinks he is bigger than he is.
  • Ryan gives the best hugs and tuba kisses.
  • Ryan loves to have mama help him with everything instead of letting the big kids help him. I am relishing everyone moment of it right now because this kid is such a snuggle bug.
  • Ryan goes to bed between 7-7:30pm and wakes up anytime between 7-8am. He also usually takes one 2 hour nap during the day... but sometimes he just gets to be flexible and skip it since we have stuff to do.
  • Every night Ryan sleeps with his special "dog dog" that is dirty and gross along with trains and a cozy blue blanket made for him by my Aunt Viki. He also uses a sound machine for white noise.
  • Ryan loves reading!

Here's Catie at age 2 (and stats here) and Andrew at age 2, just for fun.

We are so grateful to have adorable Ryan in our family!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Banning Busy & Other Thoughts

I am trying to relish moments like this because seeing these three having fun together is my favorite part of each day. Life has been busy lately, mostly with insignificant things. I am working to Ban Busy, so I joined a Ban Busy challenge and it is helping me slow down a bit and choose what we spend our time on more carefully. 

One thing that has been helping me shift my perspective is doing Personal Progress along with my Young Women from church. Each day this past week after the youngest two went to naptime/quiet time, I sat down with my Personal Progress and worked on it. Sometimes I did it for 10 minutes, sometimes for an hour and a half. 

This past week as part of my study I focused on divine qualities that I need to strengthen and improve upon. I read a talk or two from each day and I was inspired by all of them. The gems of wisdom in each talk have really buoyed me up all week. Here are some of the topics and talks:






One thing that I love about banning busy is that we have less committments and more time to be flexible and help others and be together as a family.

The biggest kiddos and I have been enjoying hiking lately.

We've also spent two different weekends supporting Kevin in biking events. The kids thought it was so cool to be able to go to their dad's race. They took their sign making very seriously.
Last week we went to the morning mile at Andrew's school which is where you can run laps for thirty minutes before school. I think we'll be making it a new weekly tradition. The kids had a blast running with their friends and I had fun chasing Ryan around.

The big kiddos are also doing very basic soccer this year. I almost pulled the trigger on doing more intense soccer and I am so grateful I didn't this year. The schedule is perfect for us. Both Andrew and Catie have soccer one weekday a week back to back. It is so fun to have them get to watch each other and support each other. Ryan just runs around the trees in circles and we eat snacks.

I love that we still have plenty of time each week to have friends over for playdates after school or time to just get outside and be active.

When I kick off each school year I always feel like it is a chance to start fresh. This year my main goal is to follow the example of Christ portrayed in this talk by Elder Uchtdorf- Of Regrets and Resolutions. He said...

"Isn’t it true that we often get so busy? And, sad to say, we even wear our busyness as a badge of honor, as though being busy, by itself, was an accomplishment or sign of a superior life.

Is it?

I think of our Lord and Exemplar, Jesus Christ, and His short life amongthe people of Galilee and Jerusalem. I have tried to imagine Him bustling between meetings or multitasking to get a list of urgent things accomplished.

I can’t see it.

Instead I see the compassionate and caring Son of God purposefully living each day. When He interacted with those around Him, they felt importantand loved. He knew the infinite value of the people He met. He blessed them, ministered to them. He lifted them up, healed them. He gave them the precious gift of His time."

I hope I can be better about doing this this year. I'm sure there will be periods where we can't help it, but overall I am hoping to maintain a more peaceful and less stressed pace this year both in our home and in my work.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Andrew's in First Grade! {Minecraft Back to School Dinner}

The night before school starts we have a tradition of having a Back to School Dinner. This year we are going to have two different Back to School dinners since Andrew and Catie start school two weeks apart!

Last year we had a Back to School pizza picnic at the park and the year before we had a silly pirate themed night. Andrew currently loves Minecraft, so it was fun to add that to the mix. I made a super quick banner on the computer, decorated the table with some Minecraft toys and Kevin made us green waffles! We added dark chocolate chips to help them fit with the theme.

During dinner we talked about a few goals and some things Andrew is looking forward to about 1st grade!

After dinner Kevin gave Andrew a father's blessing that was super sweet! He had such a hard time going to sleep last night because he was SO EXCITED to be a first grader!!

Can't wait to hear how his first day went!!

Update: Catie never remembered about her Back to School dinner and I was too tired... so we'll try again next year with her. :)

My Momcation- BlogHer 2014

As my Toddler Approved blog has grown I have had the opportunity to meet some really nice people from around the globe.

This summer I attended a blogging conference called BlogHer 2014 that was being held down in San Jose. 

I stayed at the Fairmont Hotel and had my own super cozy room. I felt totally spoiled and was bummed that I didn't get to spend nearly enough time in my hotel room because I had way too much fun out with friends!

The conference had different classes we could attend and then we also spent a lot of time hanging out and chatting. 

On Thursday when we got there we had a big Kid Blogger Network meet up for dinner at Il Fornaio (photo from Jamie). Not the cutest angle, but was nice to have the event documented.

On Friday I had fun going to classes and roaming around. I also went to a few events with some brands.

On both Friday and Saturday night they had parties. Friday night there were parties hosted by different brands that were held in different hotel suites. My favorite party (where we stayed for a long time) was the Goldie Blox Party! We could play with the toys and get drinks/eat food. They had treats, so I was a fan!

Afterwards we went out to a nearby restaurant for dessert/food and stayed there until it closed. It was fun to just sit around chatting and learning from some of my super successful blogging friends.

During the day there was also a big Expo in the Convention Center where different brands had booths. We could chat with them about how they worked with bloggers and get free stuff. My favorites were Sonic and Baskin and Robbins... lots of free treats anytime you wanted them. Chuck E Cheese also was awesome and gave away big board games to everyone. We got Scrabble. The kids were stoked!

My friend Allie (who has a blog called No Time for Flashcards) presented at the conference, so several of us went to her session. She gave so many great tips that have already been really useful to me! Now I just need more time in the day to use them more!

For dinner on Saturday night we checked out a fun new-to-me place in downtown San Jose called San Pedro Square Market. There was so much good food! 

Later on Saturday night McDonalds hosted a big closing party for the conference. There was a giant McDonalds truck serving happy meals all night long plus other food/drinks. 

There was also a big dance party. I haven't gone to a dance party in FOREVER and had a blast. Run DMC performed and we hung out dancing and chatting at the party until the cops shut it down around 11pm or midnight.

The cops were trying to get us to stop chatting and leave... so Jyl (who's photo this is below) told them we'd leave right away if they would take our picture in a giant pyramid. They were good sports and we had three cops snapping photos while we all posed. It was so funny and they were cracking up!

Then they really kicked us out and we went back to the hotel to sit around and chat till the wee hours of the morning. My 6am alarm the next morning was painful!

What an awesome weekend with so many neat and creative friends!! This was one of those momcation where I came home completed exhausted and took a nap for 4 hours! I was so grateful that Kevin was willing to watch the kids so that I could have such a fun weekend (that was also really useful in terms of my blog too).

Here are a few of my friend's blogs if you want some other great kids activities and resources!

Chrissy- The Outlaw Mom

Rachelle- Tinkerlab

Maya- MemeTales

MaryAnne- Mama Smiles Blog

2014 Summer Camps for Catie & Andrew

This summer we were around for several different weeks so in an attempt to save my sanity and not have Catie & Andrew fighting endlessly, I sent Andrew to a few camps. He loved every minute of all of them! I also sent Catie to one camp. She was sad she didn't get to go to more!

Here are a few photos from camps!

First off he went to a local vacation bible school camp. It was super hero themed and they learned a bit about bible stories. He had tons of friends there and was in heaven!

I was fortunate to be invited to review Camp Galileo again on my Toddler Approved blog, so Andrew got to go to camp for a week in exchange for me writing about his week. He had a blast! You can see tons more pictures of his week here.

Andrew also went to a week of Pirate Camp at his Gymnastics studio. Here he is trying to look tough like a pirate. :) I think he looks a little creepy!

Two awesome teenage boys from the local high school lacrosse team did a free two day camp for a few boys. It was adorable and I was excited to see that Andrew actually LOVED lacrosse and got really into it. He especially liked checking :)

The week before we went to LA Catie got to go to Sofia the First Princess Dance Camp! I was really worried because she didn't know anyone going and has never done something by herself for three hours before. She has anxiety sometimes so I was picturing huge meltdowns and problems. The teacher said she was awesome every day. This was the cute face she gave me when I said goodbye the first day. No problem at all! I was FLOORED!

She loved her "leotart"

The last day they did a very simple dance show for us. Catie did a little dancing and then spent a lot of time cleaning up sparkles off the floor while the other kids danced. She sure looked cute though! She made tons of Sofia the First themed crafts too. I think this camp was the highlight of her summer! She even got a Sofia doll to bring home with her!

All in all I think the kids had an awesome summer! I still need to blog about Girls Camp and our trips to Idaho and Utah! I can't believe school starts tomorrow!! So sad!