Connor's Kindergarten Graduation

You guys, I am over here all "How is Connor done with kindergarten?! Didn't he just start yesterday?" Seriously, this year has flown by. It doesn't feel like a whole school year ago that I was dropping him off for his first day. I'm going to miss all the adorableness and innocence that came with kindergarten. It truly was a special, special year.

^^ Literally running to line up after getting his diploma from his teacher…which, it was a fake diploma (just a white piece of paper rolled up and tied with a string). Connor couldn't get over the fact that they would give him a fake diploma during the ceremony and his real one after it.

^^ Connor and his amazing teacher. Connor loves her oh so much and I definitely feel the same. Connor actually said about this picture in a sad, sad voice, "This is the last known photo of me and Mrs. Pippin." Oh, that kid. 

They did the kindergarten graduation ceremony on the last day of school, during school hours. It was outside on the front lawn. One of my favorite parts may have been when all the kids came marching out of their classroom to pomp and circumstance. The kids then sung a few songs before getting their (fake) diplomas. After the ceremony was a little reception. All the kids got yearbooks (the school gave them out for free). I tried getting Connor to get some of his classmates to sign it, but he refused…in fact said in a voice that I wish I could bottle it up because I hear it from him far too often, "Do I have to?"

And just like that, kindergarten is behind us. I am excited for first grade for Connor. But I will definitely miss the adorableness of kindergarten. The colorful rugs, the tables down the center of the room, parents coming in to help with "centers", the kids having their own playground, study buddies. It really was a good year.

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Connor: It was a big week for him. He had his end of year tball celebration and he graduated from kindergarten. And I look at pictures like this and am blown away by how grown up Connor is getting.

Isla: Oh this sparky girl. She keeps me on my toes. She is sassy, opinionated and loves wholeheartedly. 

Callum: Always has something in his mouth these days. And he has started to "talk" back in conversation to people. It's pretty cute. 

"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2016."

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Last Day of School

It has felt a bit like the end of the school year is like running a race. You can see the finish line, but have to put in so much effort to get there. The last week has been filled with tons of fun things, but also tons of things that require a lot of work, planning and executing. And, now I can breathe a little bit easier with it all behind me. 

I will share later some about Connor's graduation, but wanted to show the kids on the last day of school. And, since I went back and looked at them on the first day of school (my how they have grown and changed in such a short time period…why does it go so freaking fast?!), I thought you would like to see it too. So, here is them at the beginning of the year. 

^^ It's funny how Connor wanted to wear his school shirt on the first day of school. He also wanted to wear it on his last, but I wouldn't let him because they asked the kids to dress up for graduation.

And now, here they are on the last day of school...

^^ After saying he wanted to be a police officer for the past couple years, that has changed to a firefighter. And for some reason it sounds so grown up to me that he says firefighter instead of fireman. I guess my little man is growing up. Thankfully he still grabs for my hand and makes my heart beat a little faster every time he does.

^^ Given that the last thing Isla wanted to be was a snail, I was pleasantly surprised that she has changed to a hair styler. I wish I could bottle up how she says hair styler because it sounds so freaking cute. She made the decision to change her snail ambitions after career month at her preschool and a hair stylist came in and spoke to the class. 

It's been an incredibly good school year for both kids (and for me!). They lucked out with amazing teachers. I am sad to think about them being apart from some of their friends in new classes next year. But I guess that is the beast of school…things change every single stinking year. But, I'm not ready to focus on next year. I am currently excited for summer, lazy mornings, beach days, travel, the sun staying out late, blueberry picking and more.

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Callum Got Shoes

Somehow I made it this far in my parenting journey without ever having a baby get their feet measured. This past week, my mother in law and I took the kids to get new shoes. I wasn't planning on Callum getting any. After all, he doesn't walk and they are overpriced anyway. Then I sat there in the store, staring at the adorable pint sized sandals and I totally caved. So, I asked the shoe lady to measure Callum's feet…of course, at the same time I asked how one measures baby feet. I am pretty sure the lady thought I was crazy. But, I certainly can't be the only person on the planet that didn't know they use the exact same metal shoe measurer for everyone…please tell me I am not the only one! Someone? Anyone? Moving on.

They put Callum's tiny little foot up to the shoe measurer and determined that a size 2 should give him more than enough growing room to get him through the summer. Then I made the hard choice of what color…I went with navy. I figure it not only is a good boy color, but it's also a good neutral color. And, I must have been right because I have put them on his feet pretty much every day since.

I feel like I should mention that my other kids have had their feet measured many times, just not as babies. They were already walking when I had that done. So, I guess I thought for sure there must be a special little measuring device for babies. Obviously I was wrong.

Now I am questioning everything I thought I once knew in life. I mean, if I didn't know how they measured babies feet, what else am I missing out on?!

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Connor: He took part in Lemonade Day and did a lemonade stand with another kid from Ian's work. He wasn't too happy about having to wear a pink shirt, but he rallied and had a lot of fun. 

Isla: Her look about sums up her attitude about picture/rehearsal day for ballet. She even purposefully blew snot on her outfit…talk about four-year-old drama. Oh, and I can now say with certainty that dance moms truly do exist and they are a scary breed.

Callum: This kid is trying to work a tooth through or something. He is drooling and chewing on things nonstop. But, so far, no tooth.

"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2016."

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Things to do in Northern California with Kids

With summer literally right around the corner, I thought it would be good for me to remind myself of all the fun things we have to do in our area. Some things are near by and may only take up a couple hours and others are day trips. But all are good things to do with kids.


Great Valley Museum
Fruit picking at Ott Farms or Jessop Farms
Hilmar Cheese - tour and ice cream
Modesto Nuts game
MB2 Raceway (indoor go karts)
Miniture golf at Boomers or Funworks

Central Valley

Railtown 1897 (Jamestown) - bring a picnic, ride the train
Knights Ferry - go on a hike, play in the river, grab ice cream in town
Columbia - pan for gold, grab some lunch and take a stage coach ride
Children's Museum of Stockton
World of Wonders Science Museum (Lodi) - it's like a miniature Exploratorium
Kiddieland (Merced) - located in Applegate park. It's run by the Kiwanis club. It has a few vintage rides at really cheap prices.
Micke Grove Zoo (Lodi)
Castle Air Museum (Atwater)


Beach day
Santa Cruz Boardwalk
Monterey Bay Aquarium
Dennis the Menace Park (Monterey)

Bay Area

Exploratorium (San Francisco)
San Francisco Zoo - one of my favorite zoos…and it's right across from the beach!
Golden Gate Park (San Francisco) - so much to do here, museums, play areas, and more
Bay Area Discovery Museum (San Francisco)
Fairyland (Oakland)
Lawrence Hall of Science (Berkeley)
Oakland Zoo
Jelly Belly Factory (Fairfield)

Sacramento Area

California State Railroad Museum (in Old Town Sacramento)
Old Town Sacramento
Fairytale Town (Sacramento)
Sacramento Zoo

Believe it or not, we have done virtually all of these things over the last few years of having kids. Some of these places we have visited many, many times. But, it's always a good reminder of what there is to do in our area.

And, if you are really desperate, there is always Ikea…free childcare for an hour (or an hour and a half if you are a member) and my kids always love playing in the childcare center ;)

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Connor's Imagination

Connor is really good at immersing himself in play. He especially loves role playing. He will immerse himself into the world of a police officer, construction worker, astronaut, firefighter…and the list goes on. He will turn the playroom into a grocery store or restaurant or shoe store and make myself or Isla the customer. It's one of the things I love about him. How his little brain works and how he plays. It really does fascinate me. And now he takes it to a whole new level with the drawings he makes to go along with his play. This particular one is a ticket. After letting me choose my punishment, he decided to get rid of all the other options and just take me to jail. Good thing we have an extra key (on my keyring) to his real (yes, REAL) handcuffs because things could get real interesting around here really fast otherwise.

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I'm a little late this week. But, you know, sometimes life gets in the way of blogging. Shocking, I know. But it happens. Picture taking though, that always happens.

Connor: I love it when I manage to capture a genuine, in the moment smile. This kid is growing up in leaps and bounds. He even remembered it was spirit day at school and to wear his shirt, without being reminded.

 Isla: She styled her own hair for ballet. I saw her showing off her crown to other girls in her class. 

Callum: He's happy just munching on anything and everything in sight.  

"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2016."

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Three Kids

Most of the time, I feel like "I've got this." Then there are the times that I am nursing Callum and one of the other kids needs something and I am stuck trying to convince them to, say, wipe their own butt or wait 20 minutes until Callum is done. Or when I leave Callum crying in the other room so I can quickly read a bed time story and pray with one of the big kids. I forget how much attention babies demand RIGHT NOW. So, I find myself tending to the one that is screaming the loudest, which is generally Callum, while hoping the other two survive…and feeling a fair bit of mom guilt over it.

Thankfully I am pretty good at juggling all three kids because I am a bit of a planner and can usually work even the most mundane of details into my day's schedule. But, it really does suck when it feels like all three kids need me at the same moment and there is only so much of me to go around. I remember this with Isla as well, but I find making sure I carve out alone time with each of the older kids every day really does make a difference on all our attitudes. A little lego playing or story reading really does go a long way.

The Me and Mine Project

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Callum {5 months}

Weight: 16lbs, 4oz
Length: 26.5 inches

Likes: People smiling at him, being tickled on his feet, anyone giving him attention
Dislikes: Sleeping through the night, being overtired

About a week or so ago, Callum had a huge developmental leap. After rolling over twice about a month ago, he started rolling across the room. In one day. It wasn't "oh I'll start rolling over now." It was "I'll start rolling from belly to back and back to belly all in one go." Of course, he can only do it one direction, so he gets himself stuck and starts screaming his head off for someone to save him. Callum is also working hard core at trying to sit up. He is nowhere close to being able to sit himself up, but when his shirt is off, you can totally see his abs tense up as he tries to do it. Even buckled into things like his car seat and swing, he tries to sit up. And, he has learned the art of arching his back to get out of things…or to keep from being buckled in. With all this movement, diaper changes have become interesting. He instantly tries grabbing for his feet and rolls around. Now I have to hold his hands and feet back when changing poop. 

Callum is also picking up anything and putting it in his mouth. So far, that anything mostly just includes his toys. But, he can now pull his toys so hard on his activity mat that the whole thing comes down at him. I have given up on all pacifiers except for his wubbanub pacifier because he seems like he gets just as much enjoyment out of gnawing on the attached animal as he does out of sucking on the pacifier. So, it kind of serves two purposes. 

Callum is now fully in 6-12 months clothing. I tried putting a 3-6 month onesie on him last week that I thought was more generous in sizing and I literally had to stretch as hard as I could to get it buttoned. Even his 6-9 month footed jammies fit and will probably be left behind pretty soon. But, it's all because of length, as this kid doesn't have much of anything in the way of chub. As soon as we are out of size 2 diapers, which should be in the next day or so, we are moving up to size 3. I forget how fast all these changes happen! All the changes in clothing and diaper sizes just makes it seem like the baby stage is going at lightning speed. 

Sleepwise, Callum generally takes two good naps for me and two cat naps. But his afternoon nap can last up to three hours and is generally taken in his swing. At night, he still wakes every couple hours to eat. And thankfully, when he wakes to eat, its just to eat and not to party. 

The other day, when I was leaving the house with Callum on my hip, headed out to do the school run, I felt overwhelmed with thankfulness. Not knowing if I would ever experience the joy (and exhaustion) that having a baby brings, I am so extremely thankful for this smiley little boy of mine. 

And just for fun, a 5 month old Connor and 5 month old Isla. I must say, all my babies looked quite similar…which is funny given that the older two each have their own distinct look now.

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A Preschool Mother's Day Tea Party

^^ Isla and her preschool besties. They have been together for two years now and the three of them constantly play. Next year they will all be at different places (though Isla will still be at preschool). It feels a bit like the end of an era. 

Isla's preschool mother's day tea party was on Friday. These tea parties have literally been a highlight for me the past couple years. The teachers do an amazing job pampering the moms and I love being able to focus on just one of my children at a time, so it's totally my cup of tea…see what I did there? Yeah, total lame dad joke. Anyway. After wrangling babysitting for my two boys, off to the tea I went. 

Isla wanted me to wear my wedding dress. After I informed her I wouldn't be able to drive in such a poof ball, she chose my yellow dress. Even though she wouldn't wear the outfit I wanted her to wear, I still obliged and wore what she wanted. 

The kids did a couple songs for the moms. Then we sat down for our tea. We each got a leather "mom" cuff that the kids made. During the tea, Isla wanted to sit on my lap and proceeded to rock back and forth. I finally understand what people meant when I was a kid about my boney butt! Not the most comfortable thing ever. 

We ate and hung out. Then, when Isla started getting restless, we hit the road. It was pouring down rain, so we actually held hands and made a run for it to the car (I don't really believe in using an umbrella). I kind of didn't notice a big puddle, so we did get soaked. But I have to admit, that dash in the rain with my little girl was a highlight for me…then again, I do love the rain. 

I love how thoughtful teachers are about mothers day, even when they don't have to be. Even Connor brought home a gift for me (a clay bell he made) and a hysterical survey about me that would make it appear that I take loads of naps (I wish) and apparently my talent is feeding Callum (which it kind of is…hahaha!)

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