That Time I Took Isla to Disneyland

Originally for Isla's birthday, I asked her if she would rather have a party or go do something fun as a family and she was torn. I loved how much thought she put into it, making pros and cons lists. Then I found out her best friend was going to Disneyland the week after Isla's birthday. It was a girls trip, so I decided to ask if Isla and I could tag along and see if Isla would be interested in doing that for her birthday. It was a yes for both. 

Meeting friends and having just Isla at Disneyland was such a different experience. It was so relaxing and fun and we managed to go on so many rides and do so many things. It was quite the stress free and fulfilled day. And it really was something special, getting to just focus on Isla. 

^^ I rode on the tea cups and it was literally the worst decision of my life. I probably looked like a nut, but I was trying so hard not to throw up. NEVER again, never again.

Isla and I left about 6pm, so we could drive home that night. Isla didn't want to miss school the next day. And honestly, getting at the park right when it opened and staying until 6pm was just perfect. We got to go on so many rides in the first couple hours before the park got too busy. And leaving at 6pm was leaving on a high, rather that a tired low. It was just the perfect day that I hope Isla will be able to remember.

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That Time We Cut Down a Christmas Tree

A couple days before Thanksgiving, a mom at the kids school mentioned to me that the 4th grade national parks pass also comes with a Christmas tree tag. And, not only that, she had already done all the research on where to go to get the tag and get the tree. She forwarded me the information, I mentioned it to Ian and we decided to go for it. Up until this point, we have either always had a fake tree or had no tree at all...because living in small quarters means no tree. 

We stuffed the kids in the truck and headed out the Friday after Thanksgiving. There was a bit of whining along the way until we saw snow. Then everyone was excited. And it started dumping snow, which obviously was SUPER EXCITING. When we stopped at the ranger's station for our tree tag, he told Ian a couple good places to find trees. The first place was covered in cars, so we continued on. We stopped in the second location, which had three other cars besides us. While we were getting Willa and Callum sorted, Connor and Isla went running into the snow...which at this point was a few feet deep. Before I knew it, Isla was waist deep in snow. Of course, after a few minutes, she was complaining she was cold and wanted in the truck. But, the rest of us were going to look for a tree nearby. Then, Callum kept getting his boots stuck in the snow and just walking around in his socks, so Ian asked me to take him back to the truck. At which point, Connor asked to go back too. So there I sat, in the truck with all the kids, while Ian went in search of a tree. He came back with one (pictured above) much quicker than I expected. 

Once home, we had to cut down our tree a bit to fit it inside. It's still much wider than our fake tree, but I like it. It reminds me of an oversized Charlie Brown Christmas tree because it only has needles at the ends. But, it's ours and comes with a fun story and for that, I totally love it. Also, there have been no bugs coming from the tree, which I feared because of the internet, and literally no pine needles have fallen. So it's definitely been a win and I would totally get a real tree again.

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Fall Fun

I'm a recovering listaholic. You know those adorable themed lists on Pinterest (15 fall fun things, 20 things for the Christmas season, etc)? I ATE THEM UP. Somewhere along the way, I had FOUR kids.  And, you know what? I can't keep up. And I don't care. Because, guess what I discovered? The fun still happens even if there isn't a cute list. Shocking, right?! Clearly the timely blogging about said fun things doesn't happen because, again FOUR KIDS. Here's some things we got up to during the fall. 

We bought cute pumpkins at Trader Joes because they were cute and cheap. Then we took the kids to a pumpkin farm (not a patch with fun activities, an actual farm) to pick out some pumpkins for carving later in the month. 

But then one night we decided to go to a pumpkin patch, not for pumpkins, just to play. It was dark and chilly and we basically had the place to ourselves. Which was perfect because then the kids could ride the zip line as much as their hearts desired and do all the other fun things there because we basically had the place to ourselves.

We took the kids to a kid friendly haunted house in our city's museum. It was mostly a success and the kids left with far too much candy for it not even being halloween yet.

Isla made a pumpkin character from a book for school. It's bad kitty from Happy Birthday Bad Kitty, in case you were wondering. Also, all the hot glue started popping off on the way to school. It was a bit of a disaster until I learned Isla's teacher had a hot glue gun already plugged in at school to fix mishaps like that.

We carved pumpkins. Connor carved his all on his own, Isla drew hers and had Ian help cut her's out. Callum wanted a piece of candy carved and I carved it out...I'm not sure if it was a success or not, haha! 

I may be y-e-a-r-s late to the trend, but I picked up a big pumpkin and carved two holes for Willa to sit in. And, well, just look how cute that turned out!

All the kids dressed up for Halloween. The three older ones had parades at their schools that morning. That evening, we trick-or-treated in our neighborhood before coming back home and passing out candy. Then Isla's bestie came and Isla went back out trick-or-treating again.

Just because there was a certain dog poop in leaf pile incident a couple years ago doesn't mean I don't like fall leaves. It just means the kids no longer can freely play in them! But, I still plopped Willa down in some for a cute picture. 

We ended the fall season by going to my grandma's house for Thanksgiving. I always love having my kids see my grandma and know it is so special for them to even have a living great grandparent. It was a sweet, sweet time. And before you get on me, yes I know technically it's still fall. But, as soon as Thanksgiving it over, it's Christmas season to me...yep, Christmas is a season all of its own! 

All this fall fun happened while also celebrating both Isla and Connor's birthdays and Ian and I managing a trip to Nashville for a few days. We really did manage to have a fun filled fall, even without a beautiful Pinterest list reminding us what we should do.

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Willa {9 months}

length: 27.25"
weight: 18 pounds, 7 ounces

accomplishments: says "mama" and "baba", stands on everything

9 months in, 9 months out...oh wait, I did the math. We have about two more weeks until she will have been out as long as she was in. Yes, I counted! haha! Nine months with you has certainly flown by Willa! 

You started pulling yourself to standing on your 8 month birthday. Then you spent this past month mastering it and pulling up on everything. The kids have learned a lot less is safe now, as once you stand, you can grab so much more stuff! And everything, I mean everything, goes in your mouth. That doesn't bother me so much, but your siblings apparently don't like slobber covered things. Going back to standing, you even managed to stand in your high chair, so are now promptly buckled in each time. 

Speaking of eating, you are doing great. You eat anything and everything presented to you. Sometimes with more gusto than others, but I never know if it's the food or your mood. I feed you baby food sometimes, but whenever we sit down at meals, we always throw you some of our food and you love it. 

Size wise, you are in 6-12 month clothing and size 3 diapers. I feel like the diapers fit well, but you have been having blowouts lately and I think that means it is time to size up. You got your first pair of shoes last week at the store where they actually measure your feet. We discovered your right foot is bigger than your left...just like your daddy. You are measuring around the 50 percentile for both height and weight, but your head, well, its a big one...that seems to have been a trend with your siblings as well. Weight wise, you came in number three at nine months out of your siblings, with Connor consistently being the lightest baby. 

You gave us a scare earlier this month with an allergic reaction. Given you hadn't had any new food, lotion, clothes, etc, the doctor thought it was probably something in the air. The medication she gave you cleared it up quickly and came in handy when it happened again a few days later. But it hasn't happened again, so who knows. 

I would say we shouldn't even talk sleep, but I will anyway. If I get you down in your bed for naps, you take really good ones. The problem is, you often fall asleep on a school run and that 20 minutes in the car seat ends up being a nap. Nighttime is a whole other thing. It's going not so well. I thought teething, then I thought maybe it's just our new normal. Then last night, you gave me a several hour stretch, throwing me for a loop. I think you are just trying to keep us on our toes! 

Willa, you are still such a smiley little joyfilled baby. You bring such joy to our home and everyone around us. We love having you as part of our family. 

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Connor {ten years}

Connor turned ten a week ago and it just felt so monstrous and huge. Once he started school, the years just seem to fly by. And we are now on the downhill side of when he will be an adult and leaving the house. I felt very aware of that. I felt excited and happy but also a bit sad. A lot of growing up and changing has happened over the past year. Connor didn't even want me to bring cupcakes to his class for his birthday! But that worked out anyway, as on his birthday I surprised him and took him out of school for lunch and let him stay out the rest of the day.

The older my children get, the more difficult it feels to describe them. It feels so personal and they are ever changing (and should be allowed to), so I struggle with wanting to make sure I don't put them in a box or label them, but here goes a bit about Connor. 

Connor is a brilliant person. Truly brilliant. He no longer enjoys school like he used to, mostly sighting that it is boring. But then he will come home and watch videos to learn how to do algebra. The thirst for knowledge is definitely there. Connor is still very obedient in school and also does well. His teacher glowed about him at his parent teacher conference. Connor is playing the cello at school this year and that is perfect for him. He has a knack for music and does so well. He is also doing piano lessons with Ian's mom and plays the piano at home all the time...after we moved it into his room. He really enjoys playing it or really any instrument. 

Connor says he is hungry all the time, like it is a burden. Ian and I are like, "Hello, you are growing!!!" But I guess it could be annoying to feel like you always need to eat. His current favorites to eat are breakfast sandwiches and anything seafood, though I really just keep around tuna and some imitation crab for him to snack on. He also loves teriyaki chicken. For his birthday, I took him to a sushi restaurant for lunch, which he loves, then for dinner I made orange chicken, which he also loves. 

Connor enjoys reading and I find it hard to provide him enough books to read. He particularly likes the funny/slightly inappropriate books for kids and historical books. His favorite author is Stuart Gibbs, but he has read all his books. 

Parenting kids as they get older is an interesting thing. It's being there for them, but also giving them their space. It's allowing them to make mistakes, then talking through it later. I feel privileged to have Connor as a part of our family and know he will go far in life.

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The Tale of Four Monkeys

You guys, how cute is my fourth little monkey?! A little back story on this outfit. A former coworker sent it to me in Scotland when I was pregnant with Connor. I was super into sock monkeys back then. And it was perfect. In fact, it still is. I am keeping hardly any of my kids clothes because I know that's not what kids want when they become adults, but this, this I am keeping. And I will most likely stuff my grandchildren in it, much to the complaining and eye rolling of my children. It is what it is children! It's for the memories! 

Also, I am glad I took Willa's picture right after I put her in this outfit because, well, she had a blow out about 30 minutes after I put it on. So, she didn't even get to go trick or treating as a sock monkey. Of course, she slept for most of the trick or treating experience and I didn't even get her a bucket or take her up to a house to get candy, so I guess it doesn't really matter! 

Now let's take a walk down memory lane and revisit all the kids as sock monkeys. 





It's a good thing all my kids were fall/winter babies so this comparison worked! Man did we plan well, haha! And if sibling comparisons are your thing, here is another one of all four and two sister comparisons (one and two). I know, I know, I document A LOT.

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School Halloween Parades

Both of the kids schools do Halloween parades and I just love it. It's just one of those childhood things I truly many of the school activities I find just over the top. Callum's preschool started doing a Halloween parade Isla's last year there, so Connor never got to do it until elementary school. But watching preschoolers get all dressed up in their adorable costumes and awkwardly parade around is just the best. Callum ended up ditching his helmet halfway through the parade. The teacher tried putting it back on, but he wasn't having it. Also, Callum's parade was the day before Halloween, which really worked out well for me. He only goes to school two days a week and it was just how it worked out. But otherwise, I would have had to miss one or the other, as I can't be at two schools at the same time. So I am grateful for that happening. 

The older kids elementary school takes Halloween very seriously. All the kids parade around to music, then the choir sings for everyone. We didn't stay for the choir, as Callum was all over the place, obviously feeding off the fun energy in the air, haha. Also, let me show you the nice pictures of Connor, then you can scroll down and see how Connor really felt about me taking his picture! 

^^ Connor really wanted this costume, even though it was a bit too small for him. Why do the precious costumes have to stop at smaller sizes and then only the scary or ridiculous costumes are available in larger sizes?! Oh well. 

^^ What a turkey!!!

Then there's Isla. She has been a witch for the past three years. Her best friend tried convincing her to be something else this year, but she obviously wasn't convinced. I got rid of the costume she wore the past two years, as it was looking rather tore up...and I thought maybe then she would chose to be something else this year. Nope! I guess being a witch is just her thing. If you didn't see the picture of Isla and her black cat on instagram, you can see it here...because it's too cute to miss. Isla also still gets super excited to see us at things, so that is nice for us, haha. 

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