Spring Break 2015

As you read the title, please yell it in your head like a drunk frat boy in South Padre Island, aka where I spent SPRING BREAK 1997! It was not that exciting, but again, I need it to be yelled.

This was our first spring break during elementary school, which meant we really needed it. The boys and I were counting down to this week. The early mornings are brutal, we cannot get our act together. Too many days I have thrown everyone in the car, always, always with James in his PJS and have had to slow down and let Zach roll out of the car in the carpool line while I yell “Love you! Have a good day! RUN!” so he won’t be tardy. And I don’t work. Embarrassing.

We needed a reset. Initially we had no plans, which I was looking forward to/terrified of. Then our new friends invited us along on their ski trip to Breckenridge with two other families. When you have two extraverts married to each other who have two more extraverts as children, the answer to a multi-family trip is always, “yes” and “how can we make this happen?”.

So we moved heaven and earth and spent five hours in Lafayette on a lay over (awful, I am still traumatized) to get to Colorado

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Still in Lafayette….

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We spent the night at a hotel on the West side of Denver then headed to Breckenridge the next morning. The boys were thrilled to see snow and mountains. They kept yelling “snow!” and “mountains” every 30 seconds. It was super cute, up to a point, obviously.

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This is their first snow sighting in the parking lot of the hotel. You can tell how warm it was, no one needed a jacket. We had to physically remove them from this snow drift with the promise of more. When we stopped at Academy I had to yell “don’t touch the dirty snow!” about 52 times, again, promising there would be much more than the blackened chucks strewn about the parking lot.

And Breckenridge did not disappoint.

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The first thing we did was go toob sledding. And by “we” I mean the boys and Alex. I am way too chicken for that kind of thing. I am still scarred from Zach and Tyler (really Ashley) making me go down the big slide at Splashtown. I am not kidding.

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James and Alex were the biggest fans of the toobing. Zach mainly wanted to climb in another snow drift and make a snow angel.

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We met the two other families and knew immediately we would get along fine. We released our children into the basement with the other eight children and no one batted an eye. Plus there was a baby I wanted to steal (I am coming for you Jennings) and a girl that is basically me in the suburbs (hiya Ash). I would love to tell you more about them, but they maybe don’t know I have a blog and maybe don’t want to share their whole lives with the internet. Maybe.

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Here we are though, the moms at least, walking home from having a drink at the lodge before we were attacked by the Slope 8 bandits. Just kidding, though Rian thought we were serious.

Then it was time to ski! Again, for Alex, Zach and James. Not me. I did that circa 2003 and have no need to do it again. I don’t excel so there is really no point.

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There they go, my boys, up the stairs to ski school!

Not pictured is the call I got at 11:00 am, waking me from a nap, to come get James. He was “not happy” and would not put on his ski suit. None of this shocked me. But Alex got there before I did and when he talked to the instructors they asked if James could try snowboarding. I’m sorry, what? Do they make snowboards for someone sub 4 feet? Apparently they do. Oh and he also wanted to snowboard (again, what?) without his ski suit. Like we care.

So here he is snowboarding in his long underwear and Sven and Olaf shirt. Naturally.

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I could look at this photo all day, there is nothing cuter. We also have a video of him being directed down the mountain with his coach holding onto the handle on his vest. He is the most depressed snowboarder ever.

Zach, however liked skiing! He liked his suit (both suits thanks to my friend Linda) and his only complaint was that he could not go fast enough, because he kept falling, and he wanted to use poles.

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The one catch to Zach skiing…Alex tried to ruin it. I really thought Alex would have learned from his mistakes of 2003. You see, when I was learning to ski, I too went to ski school and did the bunny slopes. And I too, thought I was doing great. Then my boyfriend Alex took me to the top of the mountain to have lunch AND I HAD TO SKI DOWN. IN A BLIZZARD. OR AT LEAST A BUNCH OF SNOW. We almost didn’t make it. As a couple I mean. I was crying and yelling at him as I skied horizontally across the mountain, fell over, popped my ski off, turned around and put it back on to do it again, and again and again until I finally scooted down the mountain on my hiney. I like to call that the test of our relationship and I am still slightly shocked we have lasted this long. Just thinking about it makes me angry.

So what does this smart, smart man I have since married do to our sweet first born child? THE EXACT SAME THING. Zach had skied on the tiny hill pictured in James’s photo and Alex took him up the lift and down a green. I could have murdered him. Luckily for him, the minute I saw Zach’s teary face Alex started talking really quickly about that being a very poor choice and he should not have done that and how great Zach did. “He did so great! He did so great!” Alex chirped. There was still only murder in my heart.

However…Zach is not me and forgets things much quicker, so the next day he got right back at it and by the end was going up the lift and skiing down the green with his dad. The first day was all but forgotten. He really ended up liking and wanting to stay more days and ski.

That next day when Zach was bouncing right back, James was not. He told me he was not going back snowboarding. No way. So we hung out around Breckenridge, got coffee, walked on a frozen river and made a tiny snowman.

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James had a much better day. Especially since he got to go in the hot-tub twice. Once before his non-nap and again with his dad after non-skiing. No one loves a hot-tub like James. There was a lot of “whoo hoos!” coming from the tub.

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All in all it was a great trip. The boys loved, loved all the snow and we all wanted to stay longer. Well, I was sort of ready to get home, only because this kept happening at night. At least we had a king sized bed at the house.

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Is this too many sleeping kids photos for one blog? I don’t know my limits. I just know that they still look like their little selves when they are sleeping and I love every second of it. I will try to reign myself in going forward.

Anyway, I made us take one family photo before we left and I knew you would all like to see it.

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The family who wears sunglasses and blue, stays together.

Halloween with a Power Ranger and Ninja Turtle

Zach and James were pretty set on their Halloween costumes this year. James insisted on being the red power ranger and Zach wanted to be the red ninja turtle. I didn’t post the photos on Facebook because I started drinking and forgot to take photos of my children. Luckily I have a new friend who saved me. These are her twins in the photo as a Texan and a Skylander.

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We hit two Halloween parties (because we like to challenge ourselves) which only served to pump the boys up even more for the trick or treating. At the second one we tried to force a piece of pizza in their faces, but I think I was the only one who ate. As soon as it was dusk, it was on.

You guys, it was all Lord of the Flies in our ‘hood.  Zach, the twins and some other boys were sprinting house to house up and down the street. People were everywhere and some streets were closed to cars. Parents were pulling wagons for little kids or coolers, or both in our case. We kept running into kids from both the boys schools and other random friends. It was like one long block party.

I legitimately lost Zach for about 10 minutes. Lost. No clue where he was. We were on my street, but a block down. We all know that I am not a hoverer, but even I was getting slightly concerned. Luckily he was still with the gang of boys. They had stopped for a candy break in an open lawn. I am sure the neighbors were thrilled.

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James and the twin’s little sister were slower on the take. James kept falling down in his costume (I don’t think he could see) then rolling around the yards just for fun. Finally he got the idea and he too started running house to house. I put Alex on him as clearly I am not fit to be in charge in the dark.

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When we decided to head back home, we ran into one of Zach’s classmates and his dad. We convinced him (with an alcoholic beverage) to trick or treat down to our house. The boys were so cute handing out candy, including some from their own bags. They sat out on the front stairs and forced everyone walking by to take some.

I can safely say this was the best Halloween so far. Everyone could basically do it on their own, the weather was perfectly cool and they could make it staying up so late. Except I do miss the angry parrot from three years ago…

Goal for next year – arm Zach with something to call me with when I lose him. Good thing he knows my number.

We were this close

I have been hiding something from James.  Back in summer I bought tickets to see Katy Perry. Katy Perry, the singer of James’s favorite song, Roar. I knew he would be so pissed if he found out.

My friend Laura is a big Katy Perry fan (“no one is bigger than Katy Perry” she maintains) so she emailed me and a few other people who solely listen to 95.7 in Houston.  I would not have called myself a giant Katy Perry fan, but what else would I have been doing on October 10th? Putting children to bed? Getting yelled at by James? No thank you. I decided I preferred to be with thousands of other people’s children.

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You guys, it did not disappoint. Laura got us tickets on the fifth row. FIVE ROWS FROM KATY PERRY. I had no idea. But, when you go to a pop star concert at 36 you might as well be on the 5th row. You can finally afford it. So can these gentlemen who arrived with their twenty-something “girlfriends” and sat in the 4th row.

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I don’t know why I have not been sitting that close my entire life. I mean, I do, but having done it, I totally should have used my rent money to get closer to the Indigo Girls. We could see the sweat on her dancers and got hit with so much confetti.

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And because I am 36 I can also afford all the Katy Perry merchandise I want, like this “shirt” that I call a sleep shirt. Who would wear that in public? It is like a super short dress but too long for a shirt. I do not understand these teenagers. But I love their music.

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And my children love the Katy Perry flashing wands I purchased them. They flash and strobe and you can wear it around your neck. Again, what teenager would want this? My five and three year olds think they are light sabers and love them.

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I recorded her singing Roar for James and he lit up when watching it. Luckily he didn’t understand that I got to see her this close and he didn’t.

It got really hot in here

For James’s birthday party this year (vs. his actual birthday celebrated at Chuck-e-Cheese), I decided to do hold the weekend after his birthday aka not on the 4th of July weekend. We rented the same giant water slide from his first birthday which arrived at 7:00 am that morning. The boys slept until 8 (which they never do). I am not the least bit bitter about it, can’t you tell? I guess we did get our money’s worth!

So, it turns out that if you have a party on a non-holiday weekend, people show up. Like, a lot of people. We had about 24 kids plus their corresponding parents in my house.  Not outside, but IN my house. The water slide lasted exactly 30 minutes for the majority of the kids (except Miles, thankfully). The three year olds started it by coming inside and insisting on getting dressed. Not just to get cool, no, they wanted to get fully changed.

Vince was the lifeguard at the bottom of the slide, making sure that kids waited their turn and didn’t go down head first. Liv stood at the front door welcoming everyone inside. This was after she had iced all the cupcakes. Where was I? Talking to all my friends and trying to pretend it was not 82 degrees in the house. I told them both that I didn’t know what I would have done without them!

James wanted to have Team Umizoomi as his theme this year. Well, technically he wanted Umizoomi and Spider-Man both as themes. No. You get one theme and we go with it. My one concession was to let him have a left over Spider-Man candle on top of his pink cupcake.

Generous. I am so, so generous.

James is very into pink everything this year, so he only wanted pink cupcakes. Obviously, I ignored that and had Liv ice them in pink, green and blue; the Umizoomi colors. Topped with some rings from Etsy, and they were done.

For the party favors, I kept it simple and just grabbed a bunch of James’s favorite things, figuring what one three year old likes, others would as well. So in went a lollipop, cheddar-blasted Goldfish, a bouncy ball and fruit snacks. Side note: James 100% balked at my organic fruit snacks. Sorry, party goers.

Team Umizoomi is a team of tiny super heros that save Umicity using math. I am not kidding. They do a lot of measuring, counting and geometry. Geo does a lot of shape creating via his shape belt. I found a link on Pinterest to make belts like the one that Geo wears. It is orange with shapes all around it. I, of course, have no pictures of mine, because I finished them the night before.

For the record I would like to state that I whole-heartedly disagree with the no-favors moment. I am sure I actually didn’t need to state that, you all get me. I love to do the favors. It is fun for me. I don’t care what other people give out (at all) and you could throw a bag of chips at my children and they would scream, “BEST FAVORS EVER!!”. So again, let’s all just calm down.

You guys, I can’t even tell you how hot it got in my house. I was sweating like a fool. Everyone was crowded into the hottest part of my house (on a good day it is 77 degrees back here) and opening and closing the doors. I was so mortified. However,  no one (but the pregnant lady, sorry Lanie!) seemed in a hurry to leave, so I guess everyone was just used to be hot in July.

The finale of the party was a piñata . Oh, you are wondering where it is? Alex is holding it. In his hands. While James swings a bat at him.

So, a homemade piñata was not part of my party vision. Especially a tiny one that was not strong enough to be hung on a rope.

The weekend before the party, Zach asked if we could make a piñata, for fun. I said sure and looked up how to make paper mache. We had an old Chick-fil-a helium balloon lazily floating around the house, so I grabbed that we set to work. I didn’t add glue to the mix, because this was just for fun! It didn’t need to be strong!

We got elbow deep in paper mache, coating the entire balloon. We let it dry, Zach painted it, then we popped the balloon. About this time Alex walked in and said, “Oh, you guys are making a piñata for James’s party!” Zach got so excited and what I could do? Say, ummmm, sorry, but this is not my vision plus I did the paper mache wrong? Nope, hence us having a globe looking ball for an Umizoomi birthday party that pulled off its string a minute before we tried to hang it up.

The boys and I went to the store and I let them pick two kinds of hard candy to include. And really, all the kids liked it and Alex got his due for suggesting it, by having to hold it.

Why does someone always end up shirtless?

Seriously, it is Easter, James.

Easter. Where is your shirt??

Well, anyway, Easter was fun this year. I think I got more excited than the boys about hunting for eggs and might have set my alarm for a tad early. Did you know it is still dark at 6:00 am? Me neither. Well it is, so I just laid there until 6:30 when I could sneak out and hide the eggs. Where was Alex you ask? Passed out like a drunk person (he was not) next to me. He said he would get up, but him being “quiet” is like a moose being quiet and I was not ready to explain why I was carrying a bag full of eggs to Zachary. Wayyyyy too many questions.

When they did wake up they immediately took out the inflatable punching gloves the Easter bunny brought them.

They also received the finest toys Walgreens had to offer. A dino water gun, an Easter skateboard key chain and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle that lights up. Oh and some minion eggs the Easter bunny forgot to do and didn’t finish until midnight before Easter. That bunny really needs to work on time management.

Oh, sweet matching shirts with monograms….hidden by giant punching gloves and mohawks. Can you hear my sighing all the way over there?

 Later that morning the Sonderfan/Gallun’s came over for our annual Easter brunch. I love this tradition we started. We all bring food and the kids just play and play, which we means we can chat and chat.

I, of course, tried to get crafty and made cupcakes with green frosting, like my mom used to. I put out all sorts of toppings and let the kids decorate. All was fine, if messy, until Harper put a gum egg in her mouth. This is a photo of her doing just that.

She is so, so proud of herself.

Until Jennifer had to go digging it out making her very angry at Jennifer’s choices.

The morning culminated with the annual smash-the-confetti-eggs-on-Grandpa Bruce’s head. As the boys are getting bigger this tradition is getting a tad more rough. But still amusing.

Quiet a difference from two years ago

Spring Break tried to kill me

I do not know how you people do this. And by “you people” I mean people who spend an entire week with their children, voluntarily. Every other spring break I have had the luxury of daycare still being in session. So, I would take a few days off, pretend I was a stay at home mom, then send them back to school.

Then came this year. Spring Break was three weeks ago and just now can I bring myself to think about it.

By Friday I could not even look at my children. When Alex left for work that morning I asked when he would be home and when he replied “normal time” (which is stupid as he does not have a normal time), I might have shrieked at him “IT HAS BEEN A VERY LONG WEEK!!!”. He then ran down the sidewalk to his car. I can’t imagine why.

Oh the week started with the best of intentions. We went to Galveston, had a great time but were a bit sick of each other by Sunday. Please recognize that as foreshadowing.

I had signed Zach up for three half day camps Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and planned to leave James with a babysitter on Friday to spend some time with just him. I really thought I had this all under control. You know how I do.

Let me break down where it all went wrong…..

Monday – We had to go to the Rodeo. And I mean HAD to go. KK made me purchase half price carnival tickets from Uncle Chris (whom I still have not paid back, whoops) so I had 150 carnival tickets to burn. On the first day of spring break. Do you feel the anxiety in your belly too?

Well, turns out it was actually a perfect day. The weather started off bad which scared people off so no one was there. We didn’t wait for any ride, spent all our tickets and came home with about five stuffed salamanders.

First stop was to get Zach a new cowboy hat. James has taken over his old one, as it was too tight for that big Wall head.

I heart this picture so much. That is the smile I am always trying to get out of him.

The boys rode the ponies.

Saw some baby chicks being born,

And rode mini-tractors and mopeds.

We came home and our baby sitter came early so Alex and I could go to dinner.

Monday = excellent.

Tuesday, Zach had his first day of gymnastics camp so we dropped him off, along with his friend Charley. Ashley, Annie, James and I headed to the Y to exercise. We got our cars washed and ate a Carraba’s, then scooped up the big kids and headed home for naps.

I got a bit cocky after Tuesday, I admit it. Two days in and we were having a great time!

Wednesday ruined the entire week. Zach went back to gymnastics camp (which was awesome, PS and he loved it) and James and I hit the grocery, had lunch, then picked up Zach. As mentioned, I got cocky and thought we could, for sure, go downtown to meet Alex for lunch at 12:30, still getting James home in time to nap AND for Zach’s friend to come over at 2:30. I was so, so wrong.

Alex was in a meeting, that claimed he could not get out of, so he was running late. By the time we got home it was 2:00 and I had 30 minutes to try to straighten the house, make Zach rest his body a bit and put James down.

Disaster. James could hear all the commotion when the friend came over and refused to sleep. I didn’t even fight him on it. Zach’s friend from school had not done anything that day so he was wound up and ready to run while my child had been running since 9am and was done. It was our worst play date by far. So many tears. We finally took them all up to a local frozen yogurt place just to see if a change of scenery would be helpful. It was, a little.

I was now terrified. I had two more days plus the weekend with these children and I clearly did not know what I was doing.

Thursday, Zach was at Art Mix until noon, so Ashley, Annie, James and I recreated Tuesday and went to the Y. We decided to pick up the big kids and take them to Toyokohana, which is like Benihana. That was a hit. James would eat rice for every meal, and Zach liked watching them cook his chicken right in front of him.

Look how beat down I look. Terrible.

We met friends at the park after nap and that night we celebrated with chocolate ice cream, Oreos and chocolate sauce.

Only one more day!!

Oh, but the last day was Friday and Ashley and I had big plans. We had a babysitter to watch the little ones so we could take Zach and Charley roller skating. There is a skating rink in West Houston that does a Toddler Skate every Friday from 10-12 for 5 and under kids. You can bring scooters and ride on toys. Zach received skates from Santa and was super excited to try them out.

You guys, this skating rink has clearly not changed since the 70’s. It looked just like Spinning Wheels where I spent every Friday night of my 5th grade year.

The actual roller skating did not go over well. Though you would not know Charley had been crying and clutching at Ashley prior to turning on the smile in this photo.

Ugh, girls. No talk of poop or penises and they know how to smile.

Anyway, both kids gave skating a valiant effort, but ended up speeding around the rink on the scooters I brought with us.

He is only smiling because I whispered “poop sandwiches” in his ear and I am only smiling because my week is almost over.

We ended the week with ice cream at a local place near Ashley’s house where the kids ate inside (“It is too bright!”) and we stayed outside. Good luck to you ice cream shop employee.

Can you spot where I went so wrong? Was it the gazillion activities I crammed into basically four hours a day? Bingo.

I am still learning and that was a very painful lesson. I will know better next time. Don’t try to do anything with me, I will not be available.

Farm Party

My friend Ashley had a farm themed party for her youngest daughter with a real life petting zoo. She had pony rides with the petting zoo, face painting and a balloon artist, Chick-fil-a and doughnuts for dessert. AKA a kids dream. She is an event planner, after all.

I was fairly surprised that both boys wanted to go into the petting zoo. They both tend to get skittish around animals, even if they are fascinated by them.

James just wanted to hold this dirty brush. Not to actually brush any animal, just to hold it and try to brush his own hair. I had to take this photo fast before i had to swipe his hand away again.

But then Zach and I saw this tiny goat. Could you die? Is he not the cutest thing ever?

And doesn’t he look like a real farm kid kneeling to pet it?

Until it got a bit too friendly and knocked him over.

He rebounded fine. And you guys, it was funny seeing your kid get “attacked” by a 2 lb goat. Hilarious.

He also, of course, wanted to get his face painted. But instead of picking a “something” he said he wanted to look like an army man. So she painted camo on his forehead. He looked like a walking bruise. He wanted to get his entire face done, but he had a basketball game that afternoon. I didn’t think he needed full camo on his face prior to running up and down the court at the Y.

James refuses to get his face painted. Refuses. He wants nothing to do with it, but will take a balloon sword to hit you across the knees with. Always be on guard.