Monday, January 24, 2011

A Perfect TEN!

A decade ago, this little one changed everything for our family. Savannah Shae came into the world kicking and screaming and didn't stop for about 2 years. We still remember the day (right before Gunnar was born) that we made it to bedtime WITHOUT any meltdowns. It was momentous! ;)

Savannah was always "ooohhhhed" and "ahhhhed" over everywhere we went. Big blue eyes and tumbling brown ringlets attracted a lot of attention. Plus, she was the only child, so her outfit was changed multiple times a day before we went out. Yes, she might scream every time I put her in a car seat or stroller...but she was GOING to be CUTE while doing it. THAT, I could control!

It's hard to believe this was NINE years ago!

Savi has taken to big sisterhood very well and is quick to be the good example. She often takes the higher road during arguments that have a way of popping up on a regular basis with 3 kids.

She is a good friend and likes to spend as much time as possible with her girls. She loves to dance, sing, play Wii, read diary entries, make cupcakes, watch movies and do homework together with friends. I have enjoyed having her friends in our home often and getting to see their sweet personalities and how these girls add to each others lives and happiness.

Sydney and I visited Savi at lunch today to bring Krispy Kreme doughnuts to her classmates.

Tonight we will dine on some Mexican food at our favorite local authentic joint (sadly Cafe Rio is too far away). Next on the agenda will be some old-school roller skating, followed by present opening and Birthday Key Lime Pie at home.

Happy 10th Birthday Savannah! We love you!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Road Trippin': Wilmington

We planned to get away MLK Jr. Weekend to Wilmington. The kids had to be back at school Monday because of the missed snow days the week before, but Chris still had it off so we decided to go ahead and follow through with the plan.

Wilmington is approx 3.5 hrs drive from Charlotte and has lots of beach access, aquariums and some cool Naval (and Civil War) things to check out.

To be honest though, the kids seem to love the hotel aspect the most! We've done so many little trips in the last year that they have the routine DOWN.

On their MUST DO AT THE HOTEL list:

  • Try to crack the safe code if there is one
  • Ask, "When can we go swimming?"
  • Turn the closet into a secret clubhouse
  • Leave little notes clipped onto the pant hangers in "Clubhouse"
  • Establish where everyone will sleep as soon as we arrive and set up those areas
  • Ask "WHEN are we going swimming???"
  • Plan a movie and popcorn night for the 2nd night after sightseeing all day

This is at a State Park and Nature Preserve where we stopped for a picnic the first day. This is the Flytrap Trail. Venus Flytraps only grow wild in a 120 mile swath around Wilmington. We saw a pitcher plant on this trail, but the flytraps are so small and they are not blooming this time of year so we didn't see any. We DID see some later though. (We also went to Wrightsville beach right before this, but I have no photos since my battery needed charging. The kids spent the entire time collecting seashells. It was frigid!)

Swampy Critters seeking out flytraps in their natural habitat!

My little Monkey-girl!

After lunch (and about 45 minutes spent watching the kids collect spent air-soft pellets...don't ask) we headed the the Fort Fischer Aquarium. Bonus: Free entry with our Zoo Pass. I love reciprocal programs, don't you?

Croc attack! Ahhhhhh!

Syd loved the touch tank at the aquarium. They had lots of sea-stars, anemones, horseshoe and hermit crabs.Horseshoe crabs getting friendly...

SEA HORSES, my favorite!

And lo and behold, on our way out of the aquarium they have a little boardwalk and a VENUS FLYTRAP PLANT! See how small and easy to miss they are in the winter?

We thought this was cool too....this is the level the water got to during each of the listed hurricanes! Hard to imagine...

On the way back to the hotel we stopped at Carolina Beach and walked around for a few minutes...not too many shells, but the beach and pier were pretty.

The next day we only had ONE thing on the agenda: USS North Carolina

The kids were so excited to check out all 9 levels of this beast!

Just look at all the dials and buttons and wires! It's a little boy's dream! The kids were running this way and that, like they were going to run out of time before they could explore everything.

Savi's got something in her sights...this was in the room where they aimed their big cannons.

Gunnar in one of the many bunk rooms. They slept 4 high. The info posted talked about how HOT it would get inside the battleship and how STINKY the mattresses would get after being sweat on all night and having to be covered during the day. They would take them up on deck on sunny days to try and air them out. Ick.

It was truly amazing how many levels there were, it just seemed to go down forever, pipes and wires and dials and switches EVERYWHERE. The kitchens were pretty amazing too. They had to feed 2000 men within an hour! Pretty incredible stuff. I coveted the potato peeling gadget. (Basically a sandpaper surface pot, throw in the potatoes and some water, agitate, and out came peeled potatoes)

Definitely a cool experience.

I'm sure we'll be back to visit Wilmington when it's warm so we can enjoy the beaches more. :)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Ice Day (S)

Last week we were kept housebound for the better part of 3 days by 4 inches of snow layered with some ice. School was cancelled for 3.25 days and the kids had a grand time "skating" down driveways, shoveling snow where needed and pulling the wagon around in the snow.

Here is the fort they've been building since summertime with fallen branches in the woods. The squirrels love it!

You can see the cracks in the ice as my boot touches down. It was the loudest, most alarming sound just walking around the yard.

My attempt to show the thickness of the ice. I'm estimating it was around 1/2" or so. Not bad on the grass, but on the roads it is deadly.

I love the iced over dogwood...looks like ice berries!

This is sunset on the 3rd day. The snow has melted underneath next to the grass, but it stayed in the teens so the ice didn't have a chance at melting!

I am still avoiding it on my runs in the shady spots over a week later!

I love snow days and a chance to snuggle in with the family for a bit. However, I do not love that we are having to make up these missed school days during previously planned holiday weekends. I would take a long weekend over being cooped up for an unexpected day or three anytime!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Happy Birthday Junebug!

Sydney, 4 years old

Four years ago today, our kids became The 3 Critters. Sweet Sydney June was born and our family will never be the same. She is the Sunshine in our family..if you've ever spent more than 2 minutes around her, you know what I mean. We love her like PB loves J!

Blessing Day (approx 9 weeks)

3 Critters (Sydney, 3 months old)

Sydney's birthday cake, carrot, made by her Mom at her request this year. :)
She's 4 going on 90, old soul, I tell you!

Dear Sydney,

You are such a fun girl to be around. We are so happy to have you as the caboose of our family train! You are very passionate about the things you love, and "don't love".

Some of the things you love at 4 years old are:

Favorite Homemade Meal: Broccoli Cheese Soup with LOTS of rolls to dip

Favorite Fast Food: Tacos

Preferred Ice Cream Flavor: Mint Chocolate Chip

Favorite Cake: Carrot (must have icing carrots on top)

Activities: Coloring with markers, going to tumbling & ballet class, playing with friends, telling stories and singing songs

You are also a great little sidekick for Mom. You are always up for errands. As long as I have some Key Lime Gum in my purse you are happy to go along to 3 or 4 different places in an afternoon!

You look forward to having your big sister and brother come home from school everyday, they are your best friends.

You love it when Daddy gives you a ride on his back up the stairs at bedtime.

You still love snuggles.

We love you!

Hugs and Kisses,

Your family <3

Monday, January 3, 2011

A Merry & A Happy!

Happy New Year! We are excited to be in Twenty-Eleven. I have a feeling that it's going to be a very good year for us, and I hope good things are in store for you, too!

We've been busy, with plenty of blog-worthy happenings, but sadly, I haven't been feeling like sitting down to keep track lately. I will try to do better.

For now, though, I just wanted to share some of our December with you.

Chris' parents flew in from California to visit us for TWO WHOLE WEEKS. Chris took most of that time off work. It was a luxury to have him all to ourselves and we had lots to look forward to.

While the kids were still in school, Sydney and the big people took a little hike out near Lake Wylie at McDowell Nature Preserve. It was a cool area we'd been meaning to check out for a while. Sydney led the pack, too!

Grandma Hovik also had lots of pre-Christmas shopping to get done since she didn't want to fly all of her gifts out with her. We braved the week of Christmas mall traffic, but got some fabulous deals, too! All that running around kept us pretty busy between outings with the group and life support. (preparing dinner, doing dishes, grocery shopping and all of my other household chores that wouldn't go away..ahem, laundry)

Our first day trip took us to Asheville to visit The Biltmore, the Vanderbilt's 1895 Estate and the largest home in America. It was fabulously decorated....sadly, they don't allow photography inside the home (so they can sell you a $20 glossy book of them), but there must've been at least 500 Christmas trees decked out through the whole place. The views were Ah-Mazing! The photo above was taken off the rear porch. There is no questioning why the house was situated in the spot that it was. Glorious.

The gardens were obviously not at their prime, but they were still pretty cool to see. Those vines are Wisteria. Can you imagine what it will look like in the summer?

We attempted to get a family photo inside the greenhouse. (I had no clue the rock candy pops were in their mouths....lovely, eh?)

Normally we build a Gingerbread house in December, but I saw these little guys at Trader Joe's this year, and Grandma decided to treat the kids to them. Extra bonus, the Grandparents volunteered to be in charge one evening during their stay and work on this project with the kids while Chris and I went to dinner and a movie. It was so nice for us to have some kid-free time! (thanks again!!)

Christmas Eve took us to the NC Zoo in Asheboro. We had only been to the SC zoo to this point, and were excited to see this the one in Columbia, it's also about a 90 minute drive from our house. It was an awesome zoo with 2 separate sections, Africa and North America, connected but also with tram transport between them. Lots of room for expansion, but it already has about 5 miles of paved trails taking you from one exhibit to the next. Nicely done! My favorite were the seals and sea lion.

It was a frigid day. We were all bundled up with hats, gloves and big jackets! This guy was just soaking up the sun though, love him! Bonus, on Christmas Eve, we were one of probably 5 family groups at the zoo during the four hours we were there! It's a nice way to do the zoo!

We hustled home for a nice ham dinner for Christmas Eve. Luckily it doesn't take too long to heat up fully cooked ham in the oven, and I had prepped our traditional Christmas Jello (recipe from Grandpa Cline's childhood) the night before. We were eating about 75 minutes after returning from the zoo. It worked out perfectly!

Can you tell what the critters were most excited about?

After dinner we had our Christmas Program, complete with poetry reading by Grandpa H., a skit with Grandma H. and the kids, and some caroling from the critters. It was a lovely evening and the anticipation of Christmas morning was palpable. Kids make everything more exciting!

We had a wonderful morning, full of blessings, hugs and thank yous.

The best part of this holiday season has been watching the kids embrace the spirit of giving. They each paid a percentage of every gift they gave this year with their allowance and it was absolutely amazing the difference that made. Such a sweet feeling accompanied the usual Christmas joy. I'm so thankful for these little people and the things they teach us as parents.

And, as if on cue, the snow started to fall Christmas Night.

This is what we woke up to December 26th!

Snow angels and snowmen and sledding, OH MY!

I hope you and yours experienced some magic this season, and may this new year bring you more blessings than you can imagine!