Sunday, May 29, 2016

The End of 3's Pre-school

Pre-school is over for the school year, and it ended with lots of fun!

Before Mother's Day, her class invited all the moms to come for a little Mother's Day celebration. The kids sang us three songs, and hanging up outside her classroom was a list of what each child said they loved about their mommy. Noelle's said that she loves planting with mommy. I laughed so much when I saw it because we've never planted or done any type of gardening. I may be 31 years old, but my mom is the one who has taken care of our tiny little flower beds (I know- I need to work on that!)

The Tuesday before we left for Colorado, Noelle's class had their spring field trip to Clark's Eliok Farm in Columbia. We were hoping for some sunny, warm weather, but instead it was cold and rain was predicted. I ended up texting my neighbor the night before asking if she had a pair of rainboots I could borrow for tromping around the farm. Thankfully she did, and even better, it didn't end up raining on us at all.

Noelle's favorite part was the bus ride from school to the farm. We sat together and waved to the school's director as we pulled out of the parking lot, and then talked about what we might see at the farm. Once we got there, her class was taken around a little garden area where they were shown different veggies and plants that are grown at the farm. Each child scooped dirt into a tiny cup and planted a bean seed to take home. (Ours never grew- so I secretly threw it away.)

We went on a little hayride around the farm and then walked around to look at the goats, pigs, horses, cows, and other animals. Noelle was surprisingly not interested in this part, and I was freezing (cold weather wimp over here!) After that was over we had time left to eat our lunch and explore. The farm has fairy tale exhibits that used to be in Howard County's Enchanted Forest park. Noelle had fun playing on a little boat while I held a gross cup of coffee in hopes of warming up. Eventually we loaded up on the buses and headed back to school. Maybe it wasn't the most fun we've ever had, but it was good having some one on one time with my girl.

This past week we had her end of the year picnic. All the three year old classes gathered at a local park where the teachers grilled hot dogs and parents brought either some type of salad or dessert. We were thankfully blessed with a beautiful day, and after eating and saying bye to her teachers, we hung out for awhile playing with some of her friends and digging in the sand.

I cannot believe how quickly the past year flew by, but I love how much Noelle (or Ellie as she went by at school) enjoyed going to school. She brought home so many art projects (one of the last ones was a piece of paper covered in green and purple paint, and the teacher attached a note saying "Ellie painted a wall"- clearly her [lack of] creativity comes from me), learned about Jesus, and made new friends. Only one year till she's off to kindergarten, but I'm just going to pretend that it's going to be awhile before then.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Dear Little Things In Life

Dear sunshine, welcome back!

Dear ants in my house, please get out! As cute and hilarious as it is hearing Jonah squeal "no like it!" and then picking you up and squishing you, you're just gross. And I know the crumbs all over the house make this a great place to find food, but please just go!

Dear littles, I love you so much and have been looking forward to warm weather and no where to rush to in the mornings. We can take our time waking up, have a leisurely breakfast, play on the deck, and read books all day long. Let's have fun together, go on adventures, and play in the sun! P.S. You both did a really great job of sitting in my lap while I got my blood drawn- I was so nervous about passing out again. But Jonah, you saying "me too" after she stuck the needle in was a bit humorous.

Dear spider in the van, please disappear. I told Noelle you were gone, but I'm pretty sure you're still crawling around in there somewhere. And you better not show up on the windshield while I'm driving.

Dear 16 year old self, I signed Noelle up for pony play camp! A week of watching her ride horses and learn about one of your favorite animals! She's excited, but it's possible that I'm even more excited!

Dear mama friends, as nice as it is not having to rush out the door for things, let's have play dates. For my sanity, I know I'll need to get out of the house and interact with adults.

Dear Luke, remember last weekend when we were in Tennessee and didn't have any little people to worry about? Yeah, that felt nice. And it was good spending hours with you in the car. Let's go on some dates this summer!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Our Weekend Adventure

1. Once upon a time back in April, when I ran a half marathon at the last minute with some friends, we got to talking about the triathlon they had coming up in May. I told them that if we could just find someone who loved biking, Luke and I would love to do a triathlon relay. Betsy's immediate response was to find someone down in Knoxville so that we could join all of our friends traveling down for the tri in May. On the drive home from the half marathon, Jess suggested her brother-in-law who lives down there, and a few weeks later, we were all signed up to compete. Luke and I weren't sure if we should take the kids or not, but decided that it would be easier to leave them behind. And thankfully the grandparents all stepped in to watch them! The littles were certainly kept busy with going to the local hot air balloon festival twice, painting with water, playing with dirt, watching movies, and I'm sure so much more.

2. Luke and I decided to head down to Tennessee the Thursday before the race so that we could go to Nashville first. Luke's brother lives there, and we wanted a chance to meet our new niece (okay, mostly I wanted a chance to meet my new niece!) We made the 11 hour drive on Thursday and spent all day Friday with his brother and sister-in-law, and of course the baby. She is so stinkin' adorable, and also a high-maintenance baby. The key to her happiness: being held by someone (anyone!) who is bouncing up and down on an exercise ball. I happily filled that roll for a lot of the time on Friday, and it took me back to the days of cranky Jonah when only certain things would make him content. I loved holding her though, and I had so much fun catching up with and talking motherhood with Debbie.

3. Saturday morning, we made the three hour drive back to Knoxville and met up with everyone else who was traveling/already living there. We went to the race expo to pick up our race packets, and then headed downtown to grab lunch. We ended up getting Mexican at Soccer Taco, and it was delicious! After driving the bike course, and dropping our stuff off at our friend's house, we met up with everyone again for some carb-loading with pasta, salad, and bread. Then back to our friend's house where everyone got themselves ready for race day. Luke and I were feeling pretty relaxed since we were each only doing one part of the race, and we were each getting to do our favorite.

4. Our alarms went off at 5:20, and we quickly got ready and headed out the door to drive downtown. The race packet our relay team was given only had one blue bracelet, which was the key for getting in and out of the transition area. The bracelet had been put on our cyclist, and the volunteers standing guard would not let us in. We understood that they were doing what they'd been told, but we needed to get in because that was where we would be transitioning! Thankfully we were able to find a guy who worked for the company in charge of the tri and he gave us some volunteer bracelets so that we would have more access.

5. The swim was in a river, and Luke was in the last wave of all our friends. We wandered down to the water with them, and watched them all take off. Once Luke started, I headed back to watch for him to finish. It was fun cheering for each of our friends as they finished, and then Luke switched off to our cyclist! Our friend's wife figured he would take a little bit over an hour, so I ate some food and drank coffee and water so that I would be ready to go. It was a beautiful day- sunny and in the 60's- perfect for spectating, and before long, it was my turn to go!

6. For the Olympic distance, the run is a 10K. My Garmin took forever to connect to satellites, so I had to follow the mile markers on the course rather than the distance on my watch. The course was an out and back, winding alongside the river on the Knoxville Greenway Trail. There were sunny parts and shaded parts, and since it was an out and back, I was able to see all but two of our friends. My average pace was a 6:59, which I'm sure I was only able to do because the course was mostly flat. Once I finished, I caught up with Luke and our one friend who was already done, and then cheered the others in. We didn't stay for too much longer after because we needed to hit the road in order to get home at a reasonable hour. But we made sure to stop at Sonic and treat ourselves to delicious milkshakes!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

More Colorado Pictures

After getting settled into our condo in Estes Park last Thursday, my brother walked down with us to the river that ran along the backside of the condos. He took turns taking Noelle and Jonah out to a rock in the middle of the river so that they could throw little rocks into the water. They both loved it!

And Noelle's turn.

Eating breakfast in the condo.

Chipmunk rides at the play ground near my parent's condo.

I attempted some pictures holding both littles while we were in Rocky Mountain National park, and this is about as good as it got. Jonah and Noelle both loved commanding their aunts, uncle, and grandparents to make them snow balls to throw at people.

Jonah standing on the snow piled up on one side of the road up the mountain. We drove up as high as we could go before the road was closed where they hadn't paved yet.

In our exploring around Boulder, we found a little shop that had this dinosaur, which both kids loved! And I'm just now seeing that "Do Not Touch" sign as we snapped a picture of Jonah touching!

Becky and Noelle getting a selfie!

Noelle being a goofball at dinner, pretending to put on "glasses".

This picture pretty much sums up how Jonah felt during the entire graduation ceremony and afterwards.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

What We Did In Colorado

The day after we arrived in Colorado was a slow-paced day as we waited for the rest of the crew to arrive. My sister, who lives in Colorado, was returning from a trip to Ireland, and my Grandmother, Aunt, and Uncle from Washington were driving in. Except for my grandmother and Aunt and Uncle who drove, the rest of us were originally going to be staying at the same resort in two different condos. My sisters, cousins, and me with the kids in one, and my parents, my dad's brother and his wife, and my mom's brother in the other. When my sister got there a few hours ahead of us, she found out that the condo we were supposed to get was under construction, and so we were moved to a different place about a mile down the road. Not super convenient since I was relying on my parents to drive me and the kids around (they always had to come pick us up just to come over, and I couldn't just give my mom the baby monitor to watch them in the mornings so I could run.)

At the "young people" condo, I was in the master bedroom with the kids and my sister, Heather. It was pretty big, and had a king size bed, which was convenient since almost every night, all four of us ended up in the bed (plus my sister is pregnant, so really there were 5 of us!) The last three mornings, I got up and ran up and down part of the main road, and even saw a big bull elk right outside our condo on the last morning. The views of the snow capped mountains were amazing!

We threw Heather a surprise family baby shower on Friday evening, and part of it involved a game of guessing everyone's baby picture. Becky and I had printed everyone's pictures and strung them up around the room for people to guess who was who. It was fun hearing people's guesses, and my dad even mixed up my sisters' baby pictures. In true Perrault fashion, we feasted on spaghetti (our Christmas Eve tradition), and ate yummy cake for dessert.

On Saturday we drove around Rocky Mountain National Park and took in the beautiful views! We walked on a little trail completely covered in packed down snow to get some amazing views of the mountains and a lake. We drove up higher and higher to take it all in, and got to a point where snow was piled up on either side of the road. Afterwards, we drove to Boulder to wander around and grab dinner.

Sunday was my brother's college graduation at the basketball arena on the Colorado State campus in Fort Collins. Jonah was content until just after the ceremony began, so I ended up standing outside of the main part and attempted to keep a cranky toddler occupied. Every now and then we walked in, and at one point retrieved Noelle to keep her busy. Thankfully, I was able to peek in and watch my brother walk across the stage. We're all so proud of him, and we continued the celebration by going out to a late lunch with everyone. I could tell my grandma loved being there with all her kids, grandkids, and great grandkids, and even though Noelle and Jonah were not the best behaved on the trip, I'm so thankful to my parents for helping to get them out there!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

First Plane Ride

For the past two months or so we've been talking up our exciting plans to head to Colorado for my brother's graduation. We told the littles about how they were going with mommy and Nana on an airplane for the first time, bought them headphones so they could watch movies on the plane, and got them excited about seeing all the extended family that would be there. Noelle was definitely excited and has been asking for the past month or so if we would be leaving for Colorado the next day. And when we woke up early last Thursday morning to head to the airport, they were excited enough to cooperate with getting dressed and out the door!

Luke dropped my mom, the kids, and me off at the front, and thankfully a really nice guy helped carry a carseat to the curbside check-in so that we could wrangle the kids and luggage without Luke having to step away from the car. After a smooth check-in, we headed inside and thankfully were able to get through security quickly. The kids seemed interested in watching everything around them, and did not get impatient with having to stand in line.

Once we found our gate, I walked around with the kids, exploring the moving walkway and watching the planes out on the tarmac. Jonah especially was enthralled by all of it! I'm pretty sure he could spend an entire day at an airport watching airplanes come and go.

Since we were flying Southwest, we hoped to be able to board early enough to get a row of three seats with an aisle seat for my mom on the other side. Thankfully after the A people boarded, families were able to board and we found seats all in a row towards the back of the plane. Noelle and Jonah watched out the window and pointed out the moving luggage carts and other activities down below. Once it was time for takeoff, I handed out Frozen fruit snacks (or Anna snacks as we call them) to hopefully keep them both occupied, and chewing so that they wouldn't get plugged ears.

The flight itself went pretty much as I expected- Noelle was kept happy (for the most part) by watching movies, and Jonah screeched/screamed on and off because he couldn't just get up and walk around.  At one point, a very kind flight attendant came over and offered to walk him up and down the aisle. He very willingly went over to her and they made a few trips up and back to stretch his legs. I felt bad for those around us, and I'm pretty sure Jonah was the worst behaved child on the plane, but I also know it could have been much worse!

Once we arrived in Denver, we gathered our luggage and the carseats, found some lunch, and then spent some time wandering around and waiting for my dad to arrive, who was coming directly from a business trip. We had so much stuff, but we got it all to the rental car without too much trouble, and then the kids both took a nice little nap on the drive from Denver to Estes Park. The drive there was full of beautiful views, and we got to our condos in time to get settled before joining the rest of the extended family who had already arrived!

Jonah checking out the front of the plane!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

A Day with Thomas!

For Jonah's birthday, my sister bought us tickets to go to the Thomas the Train event at the B&O Railroad museum in Baltimore. Technically kids under the age of 2 were free, so we were able to get away with tickets for Noelle and me, and my mom came as well. I was little bit worried about getting into Baltimore before 10:00, but we hit no traffic and got there in plenty of time to look around before our ride on Thomas.

When Jonah first saw the Thomas engine hooked up to the train, his face was a mix of disbelief and excitement- like how could there be a life-size Thomas! We were scheduled for the first ride of the day, so soon after we got there, we headed over to wait in line to board the train. It was about a 30 minute ride, and while the views of Baltimore were not picturesque, it was exciting for the kids to be on their first train ride. A conductor came around and punched our tickets, and then as we were getting off the train, he handed out little certificates awarding the kids as official Junior Engineers.

After the train ride there was still SO much to do. We looked through the museum, they both rode on the carousel, and Noelle rode on another fair ride. We did the jump house, miniature train ride, they both got train tattoos, and made noodle necklaces. After eating over-priced food, we wandered around inside the roundhouse of the museum looking at all the old trains, and then played with the train tables for a bit.

It was a very full five hours, and both Noelle and Jonah did great! They both keep talking about how they want to do it again and bring daddy with us. It also happened to be my mom's birthday that day, so it was fun having her with us, even if it meant celebrating her birthday with a bunch of toddlers and trains. That's some Nana love there!