Thursday, December 5, 2013

Countdown to Christmas

Kenzie and I worked together to make this super simple and cute advent calendar.  I used envelopes I had leftover from our wedding (don't judge, I kept them for seven years because I knew I'd use them someday) and scrapbook paper that I had around.  The girls each have their own strand.  Some envelopes have stickers, some have candies and other have little notes like "decorate a gingerbread house" or "have hot cocoa with breakfast."  The girls can hardly wait to find their surprise each morning.  And, since it is Christmastime afterall, they don't even have to wait until after lunch to eat their candy.  They are LOVING chocolate for breakfast.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Apple and Pumpkin Celebration

Due to a death in her family, Kenzie's teacher postponed her class's Halloween celebration to last week. The theme was apples and pumpkins and the kids got to dress up in their costumes for a Halloween parade.  Kaia and I went to spend the day and had a great time.  They had extra costumes and asked Kaia if she wanted to walk in the parade.  Kenzie was happy to lead her around the school.

They had paraded through at least five classrooms when Kaia whined, "Moooommy, when are we going to see the parade?"  Poor thing was waiting to catch some candy from a firefighter, I'm afraid.

There were an abundance of pumpkin and apple treats. Kaia fit right in with the other preschoolers at the snack table.  Kenzie, usually very quiet, seemed to open up a little with Kaia there.  I think she was proud to show her little sister her school.

We hung around for circle time.  The teacher read a few Halloween themed stories.  Kenzie kept trying to get Kaia back up and sit "criss cross apple sauce" but Kaia had other ideas.  

It was so much fun to peek into Kenzie's class for the day.  Despite the fact that she gnawed nervously on her fingernails the entire day, she seems to really enjoy being there.  She's come a long way since day one.  We stayed until the end of the day but Kenzie didn't want to go home with us, she wanted to ride the bus.  Kaia and I had to run to the car to get home before the bus.  

Conversations with Kaia

Kaia (from another room): MOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMMMMY!
Me (entering room to find Kaia trying not to drop a bin of craft supplies): Kaia.
Kaia: I'm 'posed to not be touching this stuff.
Kaia : I'm sorry ________(Mommy, Daddy, Kenzie, etc) for ________________ (hitting you, not listening, running away, etc).  I won't do that again.
Me: Right.
Kaia: Thanks for making me dinner, Mommy.
Kaia: Can I have candy?
Me: Not right now.
Kaia: Aaaaaaaawwwwwwwwww.

I got out of the shower and flicked the light on in my bedroom.  I jumped when I saw Kaia, who I had recently put to bed in her crib, sitting on my bed.  I asked her how she got in my bed.  She said, "I just climbed down on my kitchen (the pretend one), and then, and then I just popped into Mommy's bed."   She was so proud.

Later I set up the pack n' play thinking it might buy me a little time.  It wasn't long before she was standing at the top of the stairs proudly announcing, "Ta ta!  Bah-prise (surprise), I did it!"  She was so darn cute and proud it was hard to scold her for climbing out.

Christmas is Coming

On Black Friday we only make one purchase: our Christmas tree.  We go to this great little place a few minutes down the road.  They give us a tractor ride to the top of their vast hills of beautiful trees and we work our way down, hunting for the perfect symbol of the season.  Kenzie says she wants every one, Kaia doesn't pay any attention to the trees and works to separate herself from us, Kona runs wild and Dustin and I haggle over the characteristics of the perfect tree (admittedly, I care much more about what type of tree we get than he does).

Hot cocoa break.

The girls hitch a ride on a tree carrier.

Our tree!

Kenzie helps.

Kaia doesn't.
We didn't have time to decorate it on Friday (and the girls were getting a little squirrely) so we decorated it the following day.  They worked so fast and the tree was done in no time.  Auntie Kelsy helped, too.
Can you tell which clump of ornaments Kaia hung?

Kenzie was so proud to hang the high ornaments.

 We just love having our tree sparkling in the living room.  I'm a little sad that Christmas will be here in just a few short weeks.  Merry Christmas!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Bus Day is a BIG Day

While Kenzie loves preschool, she is struggling to be really comfortable there.  She spends most of her day in silence, just taking it all in, and doesn't socialize with any of her peers.  The first few weeks were tough...for me.  She was so excited to start school and it was absolutely heartbreaking to see her being shy.  Not that there's anything wrong with being shy, it's just that Kenzie is generally a pretty outgoing kid.  Knowing that she has so much to say but is afraid to say it breaks my heart.  Even though I know she is nervous and afraid to talk to her teachers, she tells me excitedly about each day and can't wait to go back the next morning.

Before school started she used to beg to be able to ride the bus.  I told her I wanted to drive her for a while until she was comfortable at school (and until I was ready to let my baby ride on the yellow bus w/out a seat belt).  I asked her during the second week of school when she wanted to start taking the bus and tears formed in her eyes at the mere thought of it.  

It seems to me that she's made very little social progress in the past two months, but days like today remind me to celebrate every little thing.  Today, Kenzie took the bus home from school.  She skipped into school this morning knowing that at the end of the day she would be lining up with all the other kids in class to get on the bus.  Kaia and I stood proudly at the end of the driveway when the bus arrived (just eight minutes after school ended - we live close) and cheered as she came proudly, yet nervously, down the big steps.  

So, she may not be talking the teacher's ear off yet, or playing games with her classmates, but my sweet little Kenzie is taking steps towards being herself at school.  Big steps. Big bus steps.

Friday, October 4, 2013

That's My Kenzie

A picture is worth a thousand words, right?  Kenzie was asked to draw a picture in school.  Her teacher had drawn a tree so Kenzie chose to draw one too.  This picture, titled "Fall Tree," pretty much sums up McKenzie's personality to a T (or should I say, to a type A).

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Give a Bird a Home

Kaia was so excited about bird houses that she cried when they left the lumberyard without them.  It took Dustin and Kenzie the ride home to explain to her that they were going to make bird houses, not buy them.  I guess it's hard for a two-year-old to visualize the 1" X 6' board as a cute little birdy home.  Go figure.

They were awesome helpers throughout the process.  I was gone at a really fun training (read: six hours of boring slideshows) so I wasn't there to witness, but Dustin documented the steps.

While Kaia was napping for most of the steps, she was awake for gluing.  He couldn't get pictures of Kaia using the glue because Kaia and glue require complete supervision.

Kaia knows how to avoid the not fun jobs, like sanding.  Blah!  But Kenzie is a work horse.

After Dustin primed them, it was time for paint.

They are so proud of their work.  I am too. :)

We haven't yet hung them up, although the girls have three trees picked out.  The birds will be headed to see Nana in Florida soon, so it probably doesn't matter if the homes aren't up until spring.

Monday, August 19, 2013


For Dustin's birthday Kenzie gave him a picture she colored.  It was a scarecrow.  She thought their garden needed some protection, and that she and daddy needed a project.  An idea was born.  It took a little while to find the time to build him, but Mr. Scarecrow is now ready to find his home in our blossoming garden.

They worked on it mostly while I was away teaching my night classes.  It was fun to come home at night and see the progress.

Detail work is perfect for attention-oriented McKenzie.

Kaia helped, too, but Dustin said she did a lot of what Kaia does.  Which is, well, anything but what everyone else is doing.  Here's a good action shot of her chasing the chickens away from Kenzie's work space.

This finished product is a scarecrow that is scary enough to freak me out every time I come home at night.  My heart jumps every time I catch a glimpse of the towering shadow.  Kaia isn't afraid, though.  She tells me it looks like Papa....

Kaia: Care crow looks like Papa.
Me: What?!  You think it looks like Papa?
Kaia: Yeah, looks like Papa.
Me: Papa Lavoine or Papa Ricci?
Kaia: Papa Voine.
Me: The Papa with Auntie Jenni or the Papa with Auntie Loren?
Kaia: Auntie Denni.
Me: That's Papa Lavoine.

Ha!  My dad has confirmed, however, that while she may think it looks like him, the scarecrow does not dish out ice cream and candy so he is not nearly as cool as Papa Voine.

Monday, August 5, 2013

All Aboard!

When my friend Jess sent me a link to the Essex Steamtrain and Big Top Circus Show I didn't have to think twice.  Kenzie has been asking for months if she can someday ride a train, "maybe, when I'm five?"  

Here's a confession, I've always wanted to ride on a train, too.  I've been on a subway train, but that doesn't count.  So, when that steam train glided up to the station and blew the whistle I was just as giddy as the girls.  Unfortunately, the train ride lasted all of ten minutes and never exceeded 5 mph, but it was thrilling, nonetheless.  

The circus was fun.  It wasn't a big "big top" but it was enough for the girls.  There was one aerial act where a woman twisted and turned and hung upside down from long silk sheets.  Kenzie was astonished.  She didn't take her eyes off of her the entire time.  Her facial expressions say it all.

The man who climbed atop the stacked chairs had me nervous.  There were no safety precautions.  I kept thinking that if he fell the girls would be forever scarred.  Kaia wasn't too concerned, I guess.  She spotted my friend's newborn baby next to us and smiled big.  The daredevil behind her apparently wasn't enough to keep her attention.

The girls had a great time on the rides.

A good representation of the Kenzie/Kaia dynamic.
 Kenzie is serious (she really thinks she's driving) and Kaia is just along for the ride.

It was a great day, and now I have a brochure of all the other steam train events (including dinner and a sunset).  Anyone want to babysit?

Friday, June 14, 2013

Cut and Paste

Kenzie: Mommy, I just love my new scissors so much, I want to play with them all the time.  Hahahaha.

Kaia would put glue on EVERYTHING if I let her.  As much as I love that Kenzie can sit for hours cutting and pasting, having glue around Kaia requires constant supervision.  But man, that smile on her face as she mounds more and more Elmer's onto the paper is priceless.

Friday, June 7, 2013

New Mom

Kenzie likes to go and play with her "new mom."  This fictional person resides in our living room and Kenzie visits her often.  I asked what is so great about her new mom.  Among other things, Kenzie said, "she can tell what the weather will be without looking on the computer."  Well then.

She assured me, however, that she loves her new mom only a tiny bit more than me.  Whew.  I thought I had something to worry about.

As if it's not bad enough that Kenzie is replacing me, she's taken to calling me "old mom."  Kaia needed me this morning and Kenzie told her, "no, Kaia.  That's old mommy, we don't use her anymore." 

Interestingly enough, she does NOT like it when I joke about going to play with "new Kenzie." 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Today's the Day the Teddy Bears Have Their Picnic

Man, I just love planning parties.  I think that if I didn't love teaching so much I could definitely make a career out of party planning and catering.  And it would be SO much fun to spend someone else's money.  But I digress.  On Mother's Day we hosted the girls' second and fourth birthdays and had our family and friends over for a picnic.  My trust in the science of meteorology was wavering when it was still overcast and drizzling at 10:30 am, but, just as predicted, the sun peeked out at 11:00 and the rest of the day was amazing.

I don't think I've ever had a more exciting birthday bash. Not because of the decorations, guests, presents, food, etc, but because of the immeasurable happiness on both girls' faces all day long.  Kaia is definitely a birthday lover.  It doesn't have to be her birthday, just any birthday.  She knows that where there's a birthday, there's cake, and that's all a girl really needs, right?  In the weeks leading to her birthday at the end of April she woke every day to declare, "it's my birthday!"  In the two weeks between her birthday and the girls' joint party her daily declaration became, "it's my birthday party!" There was never a doubt that her party was going to make her happy.

Kenzie, on the other hand, had a kind of subdued excitement about her pending birthday.  She thinks much more analytically about it all.  She remembered that turning four meant she would finally be able to have popcorn ('cause for some reason it's a choke-able until age four, "they" say).  She knows that age four means the start of preschool, and it means being one year closer to being five.  She's very excited about five. Possibly because a year ago I, apparently, told her that when she is five she can ride a horse.  As her big day  got closer, though, her outward excitement grew.  The night before her party I tucked her into bed and said, "Guess what?  Tonight you are going to sleep and you're only three, but, when you wake up in the morning, you're going to be four!"  Her ear-to-ear grin was beautiful.  

As evidenced by the following videos and pictures, Kenzie and Kaia had the most fun they've ever had.  Kenzie couldn't contain her joy, often jumping and running with excitement.  Kaia ate any piece of junk food she could get her hands on and made the rounds drinking from every "boo box" (juice box) she saw.  It helped, of course, that we have the most fun and loving group of family and friends that any two girls could dream of.  What a great weekend.

Kenzie looked like she might cry from the sheer joy of it all.

Cousin Kaitlin leads the girls around the yard.

Super cool, impromptu fort.

"Mommy, look at my gobbles."

Jumping for joy (and this was after nearly everyone had gone home).