William and George: 5th Birthday Interviews

We celebrated the boys' birthdays in their classes the day before we left for New York. They decided on Lucky Charms as their birthday treat and wow, it was a hit! I figured many of these SF kids had never tasted Lucky Charms and I think I was right. I was helping in George's class so when the kids kept asking for more, we limited it to 2 bowls. Dave was in William's class and they finished the box ;)

Part of the birthday visit is for one of the parents to read a book or two of the kid's choosing before the birthday treat. Dave read The Bad Seed and Willow to William's class. The night before the celebration as we were gathering books, George told me that he wanted to read his favorite, Road Car Race, a Berenstain Bear book. I actually enjoy Berenstain Bear books but this one is my least favorite, and now I know why it's G's favorite. It uses very basic language, so G has pretty much memorized it and can 'read' it to us. He read it over that night but I wasn't sure how the next day would go. When we got to his class, I asked him if he still wanted to read it and he said yes. I asked him if he wanted me to hold it as he read it and he said no, so we set him up in the front, and I hung back taking a 7-minute video of the whole thing. It was very cute. The kids were super antsy but George made it through the whole book. We had to remind him to show the pictures and occasionally to speak a little louder but he got the whole story. He told me a few days later that he was a bit shy to be in front of everyone but I was impressed that he came up with that idea and followed through with it on his own. I was emailing with his teacher later that day and she shared, 'it was especially incredible to have George read to us today.  I know he is very much a book lover, but this was something I didn't expect.  Too, for him to take center stage like he did, and even risk being a little vulnerable.  Kudos George!  While he was reading, I couldn't help but think of the young fellow that began the school year.  He has grown and matured so very much. You must be proud!'. Of course, Coco loved being a part of it all and sitting at the big kids table with her bowl of cereal.

Beyond the trip to New York, we didn't do much other celebrating. The lego box they each picked out was waiting for them when we got back from NYC and they got a few other gifts from family. We didn't do a birthday dinner or a birthday party, though I did decorate their room in NYC so they woke up to the surprise. Although a trip to NYC may seem extravagant for a young birthday (and it is), I had really been wanting to do the trip with just the two of them and the timing just seemed right. Dave and I are also big on experiences versus things and are hoping the boys appreciate the same. They've never had a birthday party where they got lots of presents (though they are at the age when they're realizing this and want the presents) but honestly, I'm still overwhelmed at the thought of what people do with all that stuff. We had a great time celebrating them and spending that special time with just our big kids and though at times it certainly didn't seem like they appreciated it, I hope they come to realize that more with practice.

Annual Birthday Interviews:

Best Friend: Elle
Favorite Food: Steak
Favorite Treat: Lemon ice cream
Favorite Toy: Legos
Favorite Book: any Berenstain Bears
Favorite Show: Lego shows on youtube
Favorite Song: any Blippi song
Favorite Animal: Giraffe
Favorite Place to Visit: Train Town
Favorite thing to do with Mom: Read stories
Favorite thing to do with Dad: Watch shows
Favorite thing to do with Colette: Give her hugs and kisses
What do you want to be when you grow up? Construction worker
What makes you happy? Shows
What makes you mad? When William hits me
What are you really good at? Making stuff, building
If you had one wish, what would it be? That I'd be a construction worker when I grow up
What was your best day of being 4 years old? Train Town

Best Friend: Grant
Favorite Food: Ribs
Favorite Treat: Gumball
Favorite Toy: Legos
Favorite Book: Jack and the Beanstock
Favorite Show: Sword and the Stone
Favorite Song: My Stories playlist
Favorite Animal: Grasshopper
Favorite Place to Visit: Disneyworld
Favorite thing to do with Mom: Going swimming
Favorite thing to do with Dad: Playing with Dad
Favorite thing to do with Colette: Snuggle her
What do you want to be when you grow up? Doctor
What makes you happy? Getting a hug from Coco
What makes you mad? George getting something that I want
What are you really good at? Biking
If you had one wish, what would it be? To have a sword and stone
What was your best day of being 4 years old? My birthday

Colette: 23 Months

A quick last update on Colette before her big 2-year update! Colette has been without us two weekends in a row and overall, has done very well. Jessica and my mom split the weekdays and then my mom and dad were with her on the weekends. It was not ideal that we had the wedding and the boys' birthday trip weekends back-to-back weekends and I was a little worried about if she'd feel abandoned but I think she actually enjoyed the second weekend when she got all the attention on her. She has been a bit clingier and bedtime has been a little harder but not too bad.

She's really made a lot of progress in the last month and it's so fun to watch how engaged she is. She absolutely loves her Stretch class. They don't allow photos or video so I keep telling Dave he'll have to take her sometime to witness it. She knows all the transitions, loves the songs and at the end they do a song, 'Is <Colette> here today? Is Colette here today? Jump up and down and all around because Colette is here today!' and then whichever kid's turn it is jumps around. She's very into it and it's really so cute.

There aren't any big updates on eating or sleeping, though there has been a little bit of crying at bedtime since we got back as she doesn't want us to leave her. Talking, and overall development, are where I've noticed the big changes. This past month her talking has really taken off. She can repeat many things we ask her to say, she now can string multiple words together and is even starting to 'sing' a bit. She can sing 'Happy Birthday' and 'Old McDonald Had a Farm'. Whereas a month or two ago she really could only say the first syllable of a word, she's now improving and can say the whole word, or more of it at least. She couldn't say anything with C before, but now she can. We're still working on her saying her name, she says 'toe' for Coco, although this morning we got much closer. She can say a version of 'Lette' for Colette so we'll see which one turns out to be easier for her. She's usually really great about playing independently and now when I hear her, it's endless talking. Of course not much of it is understandable. When we were in Hawaii earlier this month, she went back and forth filling up her bucket, walking up the beach and dumping it out. I could actually sit on a chair and read intermittently!

MyGym has always been fun as I can really see the growth over time. Her balancing is much better, she can climb higher, but it's always at surprise time, when they bring out an item of the week (cone, hula hoop, pom pom, etc), that I see how she's developing. Last week it was a piece of a pool noodle. The teacher told the kids to put one finger in one end and the other finger in the other. Then to stretch out their legs and with their fingers still in the holes, to roll it down their legs. I couldn't believe that she got every step of it and was able to do it. So fun to see.

As far as the potty goes, she really hates getting her diaper changed so I would hope that she would be ready for potty trained, but besides hating diapers, she isn't really showing any signs of being ready. We talk about it a lot, mostly when she's fighting a diaper change, that if she doesn't want it changed, then we can say 'bye-bye to diapers' and she can go on the potty. There's a firm 'no!!' for that too so we'll see when she warms up to it. I would hope this summer, I sort of thought after all of our April travel but well before Cincinnati would be good but I don't see that happening. So possibly after our Fourth of July trip.

Colette: What a big month for you! It's been so much fun hearing your little voice share so many new words. Your brothers love asking you to repeat stuff... ugh, I keep trying to get them to teach you your name as opposed to 'a toot me' (instead of excuse me). They think it's the funniest thing ever. Over the past week, I've chatted with several people for the first time and your story has come up and though we've gotten a bit further from that tough beginning where I don't think about it every day, when I do stop to think about, it still amazes me that you are who you are today. No signs of any delays, growing by leaps and bounds. We had our semi-annual appointment with Dr. Hardy the other day and decided to stop using the inhaler all together (we only use it during colds now and I'm not sure it's doing anything anyway). The appointment is basically me answering questions and a quick exam and I'm starting to wonder if we even need to keep coming in twice a year. Pretty amazing. You can't wait to go to school and the teachers basically have to block you from running off up the stairs (your brothers on the other hand have to be pushed in). I volunteered there several days this week and had you with me during school hours once and you were in heaven (and so were all the little girls). You head right for the dress-up or doll section and all the little girls gather around you. You're very independent and aren't concerned about where I am. You were also in to celebrate the boys' birthdays and seemed totally comfortable pulling a chair up next to George. I only hope you're as excited to go to Calvary the following year since we won't be doing drop-offs there next year. Can't believe we're days away from May... and you're 2nd Birthday!

Second Annual Spring Break at Aulani

We had such a blast at Aulani earlier this month. Dave always says that it takes one time to figure everything out and the next trip is that much better and that was definitely true even at a resort like this. It was so nice to know where everything is, know to have a bag packed with all the swim suits assuming we wouldn't be able to check into our room right away, know the tricks of the kids club, etc., etc. I think the ages made a difference too. The boys are great swimmers now, especially considering there really aren't deep pools at the resort so they're pretty safe anywhere. Coco was at a much better age too (last year at 11 months she still wasn't walking, taking/fighting 2 naps a day) so everything felt better this year.

Off to the airport!

C wouldn't sleep... until Dave switched seats and 2 mins later, she's out!

It felt like we had a really good balance of everything. Dave booked the boys into several Auntie's Beach House (kids club) activities which they love -- they're really well done there so you don't feel guilty sending them off for a few hours. It gave Dave or I a short break while the other hung with Coco and she's so much easier than the two of them were at the same age. We mostly went to the beach in the morning and set up chairs close to the water. She would go back and forth to fill up her bucket in the water, probably 50 times in a row. She's so independent and though it's not quite the same rest you'd get on a kids-free vacation, I did feel like I got a break even when I was watching her.  In the afternoons, Dave would take C back to the room for her nap, and his, while I stayed out with the boys for another hour until quiet time, or had a bit to myself before picking them up from Auntie's and taking them back for their break. Then I'd head back out to the beach to relax for another hour alone before going to pick up whoever felt like going back out to the pool. George is most like me and doesn't need much of a break and usually wanted to come back out. William was harder to motivate especially since Dave would usually turn on a show after quiet time. Coco liked to play in the room in the afternoon too. We didn't have many toys so putting her and the boys' stuffed animals to bed in various places with different pillows and blankets was a fun game she did with Dave.

We had a great condo that got daily maid service, but also had laundry and a kitchen so it really was the best of both worlds. We were able to pick up the basics at a grocery store near the hotel so we ate a big breakfast in the room most days. We grilled (yes, the resort even has grills!) the second night so we had leftover meat for the kids to eat on the rest of the week. Then we changed it up and had several dinners at the resort, a couple just down from the hotel in the little shopping center and Dave and I even had a date night next door at the Four Seasons.

Mostly it just felt like a lot of good family time, and I love being at the pool and the beach, so it really was a great trip. The weather looked iffy -- most days saying it was going to rain with a 40-90% chance at any given hour. You like to hope that it's typical tropical weather and will only rain for a minute, but it's always concerning when that's the forecast. It rained the day we arrived (though stopped by the time we arrived) and it sounds like that was the worst of it. I think on 2 other occasions it started raining hard enough that we had to run for cover, but did clear up quickly. It's actually nice when it's a little overcast as it's not too hot, but we got a mix of cloudy but warm and then sunny and hot days.

G learned 'Rock Paper Scissors' and beat everyone, including Moana!

Dave and I continue to discuss whether we'll go back to the Aulani. It's pricy and on the one hand we could probably stay at a pretty nice resort for the same cost, but with kids the ages of ours now, we still think Aulani is the best. They really do think of everything and all those little things do make the trip so much more enjoyable. When Dave and I ate at the Four Seasons, we walked around beforehand and there was one pretty small pool and it's in the middle of all the hotel rooms. We totally could not see our kids (or guests!) enjoying that. We did see a big extended family with older kids at dinner and it was nice to think that that may be in our future, but for now, we really do love the Aulani. One of our favorite parts is the photo pass. You pay a flat rate for all the photos taken on the trip and there are enthusiastic photographers all over, pretty much at any time. We took advantage and have SO many photos (over 500!) and got multiple family photos, even some of just Dave and I. They're even in the lazy river at certain times so getting photos in the water was so much fun. Can't wait until next year when Coco can hopefully go down the water slide!

'The Claw'... why did we follow the photographers hand-placement suggestion??

Coco's Rock - the photographer was near here and she always went to her rock for photos :)