Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween from my little astronaut and fluttershy (my little pony) to you! It's supposed to rain here today, so I am not sure how much of halloween we will be enjoying. But, if the weather is good, we will be headed out to a fall fair at the church where the kids go to preschool. We haven't been successful with trick-or-treating in our area...it's really busy with bigger kids and they literally pushed our kids out of the way to get to the door first...so we are sticking to church fairs until the kids are old enough to fight back. I kid, kind of.

It's getting more and more fun the older my kids get to have them actively participate in what they want to be for halloween. It started last year with Connor wanting to be a minion. And this year, both kids actively participated in what they wanted to be. Connor's astronaut costume is actually a dress up costume, rather than halloween, so it is more quality and has already endured lots of play! I may or may not have gotten it a few months ago. And Isla wanted to be her favorite My Little Pony character. I searched pinterest for inspiration, then made her costume at a craft night with friends one night. Her face mask is an etsy find. 

What about you, got any plans for halloween? 

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Conversations with Connor

The other day, while driving, there was a homeless man walking in the middle of the road with all of his worldly possessions in a shopping cart he was pushing. From the back seat, Connor said, "Mom, did you see that man? He really shouldn't be picking up trash in the middle of the road because a car could hit him." I am guessing Connor thought the man was picking up trash, because that really looked like what his cart was full of. This encounter opened the door for Connor and I to have a conversation about homeless people. At first, he couldn't grasp the concept...he probably still doesn't fully get it. He asked why the man would sleep on the street instead of in a "cozy bed". After I told him the man couldn't afford a home, he suggested the man stay in a hotel. Once I explained that hotels cost more than a home, he suggested that "he go to Lowes and buy the stuff and an oven and build his own house." Then I explained that stuff at Lowes costs money and the man just doesn't have any. Then Connor said, "I will build a house with an over and a bunch of food in the refrigerator and will say, "This house is free." Then the man can find a mom to live with him and they can have a sweet baby boy."

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Scotland & Thoughts on Early Motherhood

Being pregnant away from your home base is a different experience. Our families never saw me pregnant in person. They never touched my belly and felt Connor kick. Baby products are different in Scotland, so I couldn't ask friends in America for advice. And, well, the same goes for the medical system. My coworkers at Starbucks loved talking about my pregnancy though and enjoyed feeling Connor kick. I was like a live science experiment to them. They even threw me a surprise baby shower. But, when I went on maternity leave, we moved 2.5 hours north of Edinburgh to Aberdeen.

My first year of motherhood was pretty much the same way. Once, Connor had a cold and I asked a random lady with a baby at church for advice. Our small group leaders helped a ton. The wife always invited me places and made sure I got out of the house, both with and without Connor. She would offer me advice and encourage me when Connor just didn't want to be in the church nursery.

When I was tired, I had no one to call and ask to take Connor for a little while. I just put my big girl panties on and dealt with it...of course, it helped that I was just dealing with one kid! I didn't drive. I went for a walk with Connor every day, despite the weather...sunshine, rain or snow. I would walk to Starbucks, sit down and drink a cup of coffee. I would wonder around book stores and shops. I made a weekly trip to the movies for "cine-babaies"...they showed movies at lower volumes and only moms with babies were allowed in the theater.

I realize my experience as a first time mom probably would have been vastly different had we lived in California. Sure, it still would have been special. But it probably wouldn't have taught me to be so strong. It probably wouldn't have eased me into the world, into the rat race, of motherhood as easily. I really do appreciate all our time in Scotland. But the time of me transitioning into motherhood will always be the most special.

^^ Standing in the exact same spot as my maternity picture taken 5 years earlier

^^ The hospital Connor was born in (it was pouring down rain when I made Connor get out of the car to take this picture) and the house we lived in.

^^These are the winter gardens (a HUGE enclosed garden) at a park that was just by our house. I spent a lot of time with Connor at that park and when the weather was bad, I walked through these gardens with him. 

I really didn't expect being back in Scotland to bring up so many emotions in me. Good emotions. It was fun going back and remembering what that transition to motherhood was like. And remembering all the places we used to take Connor. Scotland will always hold a special place in my heart...and, well, Connor will always have a birth certificate (and passport) from there. 

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A Dress Up Doughnut Party

My kids always seem to become obsessed with their birthday party long before it is their birthday. It always starts when they are at someone else's party and they realize that all your friends bring you presents. I didn't expect the craze to start when Isla was two, but it did. For the last few months she has been taking about "my pink birthday party". Then it turned into "my birthday party in Scotland". 

Knowing Isla's birthday was the day we got back from vacation and that we would be dealing with jet lag and trying to get back in the swing of things, I wanted to just do something small. So the idea of a dress up doughnut party was born. I was able to recycle the bunting and table centerpiece from Isla's first birthday. Then, I glitter spray painted a number three and made Isla a little personalized vase out of an old sauce jar...and that worked out perfectly because Isla's papa showed up at the airport with flowers for her. 

The party itself consisted of four of Isla's little friends. They ate doughnuts, put on princess dresses and tons of accessories then played to their hearts content...or until I had to go pick up Connor from school. It was such an easy and chill party. There were no games, no food to prepare, nothing. I loved how easy it was, yet how much fun Isla had. 

^^ Notice the hands holding Isla in the picture. She was refusing to be in the picture. And notice the crying baby to her left; she didn't want to be in the picture either. 

 ^^ Coloring with coloring books Isla got for her birthday. Do you see all the dress up clothes on the couch?! I was so happy that my friend showed up at the party with tons of dress up stuff because Isla doesn't have much yet. 

^^ If you haven't ever noticed, Isla really likes accessories and can never have too many on at one time. 

I was glad Isla got to celebrate her birthday with her friends. It was also fun that it was all girls. She normally has her brother and friends brothers around too, so it felt special to have a girly party. 

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Connor: We did a lot of exploring with insects this week. I was so proud of him for letting a caterpillar crawl on him, as he is normally afraid to let them touch him.  

Isla: This one is all girl, I tell ya. Plopped down in the middle of the floor, reading a Dora book with her tutu and wings on. She refers to herself as a bee when she wears these wings, flaps her arms and tells us she is flying.  

"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014."

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The Biggest Messes Create the Most Fun and the Best Memories

After school yesterday, Connor asked if we could make "biscuits with pancake mix".  Apparently they made them at school...yep, they cook in his class. I asked if he wanted to make cookies instead, but he really wanted to make those biscuits. I even threw caution to the wind (or more took a deep breath and decided that it was ok to let my just cleaned kitchen get dirty) and let Connor pour the ingredients himself. Once the biscuits were in the oven, I decided to get a head start on dinner. Immersed in my work, I turned around when Connor asked for more milk. What was waiting for me was this scene:

Connor had dumped the rest of the bisquick in the bowl and was trying to mix it. Since it was already in the bowl, I figured it wouldn't hurt to let him do his thing. So, he got to play with (and eat!) the gooey mess until his heart was content.

^^ His cheese face looks so forced! 

After he finished playing, I cleaned up the mess...with a happy heart, knowing that my little boy spent a great deal of his afternoon doing something he wanted to do...making biscuits, playing with the dough and eating it...and none of it involved electronics, which far too often is a request these days.

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The Ups and Downs of Parenting

Last week was hard. Like really hard. I don't know if it was the jet lag, adjusting to being back at home or what, but the kids were being crazy. They were fighting NONSTOP. It was emotionally exhausting on top of the physical exhaustion I felt from the jet lag. It just wasn't good. Then, sometime in the middle of all of the chaos, all was quiet. I knew the kids were in the bathroom together and that there would probably be a mess to clean up, but they were quiet, so I left them. When I finally decided to go check on them, I found the sweetest scene unfolding.

These two are frenemies through and through. And, to be honest, the sweet times often feel far too few and far between. But watching them sweetly interact without fighting for a few moments was just what this mama's weary soul needed.


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Isla {3 years}

Weight: 30.2lbs 
Height: 36.5 inches

Can spell her name...and Connor's too
Knows her first & last name
Can count to 29...and higher if you remind her of the first number (30, 40, etc)
Knows all her letters by sight

Oh, three year olds. They are on the cusp of adulthood (or so they think), yet they still need their mommies. Isla can be so independent about things, even more so than Connor, then turn around and be so clingy and refuse to go to anyone else but Ian or I. 

Some of Isla's current favorites are all things cat related, Bo on the Go, coloring and painting, also anything pink and sparkly. Every time we read, she picks the same Dora the Explorer book. It has been the same book for a couple months now. I usually try to read another book before I read that one, so at least I am not reading the exact same book over and over...even if it still feels that way! As for food, some of her current favorites are tortillas, apple juice, yogurt (specifically the ones in tubes), bananas and hummus. And the girl will never ever say no to chips. It doesn't matter what kind, she will eat them. 

Isla does not like being in a shopping cart, though that is not something new. She does well in her stroller. She also enjoys me wearing her in a carrier, though much prefers being on my front than on my back. She took many a naps this way while on our trip. She also prefers to be carried over walking...I guess she is just trying to give her mama a work out! 

Isla can be quite opinionated about things. My personal favorite is when she doesn't want something (say to be in her car seat or a cart) she will scream "stop hurting me". And well, being in public, that is a little embarrassing. I have noticed that she does it to other people as well, so that makes me feel a little better. Often times she doesn't want to get in her car seat, so I hear it a lot as I am forcing her into her seat. 

Isla also has a very sweet and motherly side to her. When I hold her, she will put her hand on my back and rub it, like I do with her. She also asks me all the time, "Mama, what you doing?" or "Mama, how you doing?" And, she is generous with her hugs and kisses, which I like. She also enjoys cuddling up with me or Ian and reading a book or watching tv. And her holding my hand, really my finger, when we walk is just about the best thing ever. 

Isla started taking about her birthday and her party a couple months ago. I wasn't expecting her to want one, but we went to another birthday party, so from then on, she talked of her "pink birthday party". Then, it switched to her "Scotland birthday party".  She ended up with a party in her preschool class, a doughnut/dress up party with some of her friends, and then family coming over to celebrate her. What we learned through all these parties is the girl does not like attention, just like her mommy. Every time she was sung happy birthday, she would cover her face. 

If you want to take a look back, here are some of Isla's past updates - 2 years, 18 months, 12 months, 6 months and birth. Or, if you want to compare, here is Connor's 3 year update.

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Connor: He has so much energy and bounces around so much. But when I get him to sit down and focus on something, he gets absorbed in what he is doing. 

Isla: She turned three this week and was able to celebrate three different times - at school, with friends and with family. It was fun, sweet, chaotic and exhausting all at the same time. Oh, and she gets totally embarrassed when people sing happy birthday to her. 

"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014."

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We had a lot of fun in London, but I would have to say that out of all the places we went, London was the least kid friendly. Most of the underground stations don't have elevators. And the city is so spread out, it takes so much time just getting from one place to another. Of course, the silver lining here is that Connor seriously loved it every single stinking time we rode on the underground.  

We didn't really do much in the way of touristy things in London, but we did go on the London Eye. Isla fell asleep on our way to it and slept through the entire thing. Connor, on the other hand, was so excited and enjoyed the entire ride. His favorite part seemed to be the "iPads" they had in there explaining what you were looking at. He kept running from one to another and getting really excited about it. 

I had a couple random things on my "to do" list and we managed to do them. One was take the kids to Hamleys toy store. It is a 7 story toy store. It is a bit overwhelming, but totally fun non-the-less. We said each kid could pick out a small toy. Connor picked one out right away (a lego...shockingly). And Isla, well she never picked one out. I tried and I tried, but the girl went home empty handed. She didn't seem to mind though and had plenty of fun playing with the various toys on display.

The only non-kid friendly thing I wanted to do was to go to Portobello Market. It was super crowded, but I really enjoyed roaming the street and seeing all that was for sale. In the middle of it, we sat down and ate lunch outside. Both Ian and I enjoyed sitting there and people watching, as there were certainly plenty of people to look at. Just down the street from the market is the Princess Diana Memorial Playground. I had read online that it was super cool and it did not disappoint.

^^ On our way out of London one afternoon, we ended up right by Big Ben, so we snapped a couple pictures quickly.

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