Monday, November 21, 2016

The kids, lately.

I haven't been able to access my blog account for a while, despite efforts to try and do so from multiple blogging apps that failed to support my needs. So, alas, here I sit on my husband's laptop fumbling my way through typos and two left hands as I try to acclimate to using a standard keyboard again.

I figured I'd do an update on the kids, lately.





Gino (19 months)
       As so many of my posts go about this boy, he keeps me on my toes. Nothing has changed. It's always a surprise as to whether he will sleep through the night, or spend half of it kicking his crib rails and wailing til the cows come home. You guys, I'm beyond EXHAUSTED. This not sleeping thing is way harder than I ever anticipated it could be. So many nights I want to yell and scream along with him, and throw my own tantrum. WHYYYYYY!?WHYYYYYY DO YOU HATE ME SO MUCH? WHYYYYYY BABY, WHYYYYYY? Now, logically, I know he doesn't actually hate me, it's quite the opposite. It just feels that way at 12:00, 2:30 and 4:15 in the morning. Night after night, after night after night. He does have weeks of solid sleeping, 7:00 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. and I get so FREAKING excited and feel SO much like my old self..Really, a whole new woman. But, they've been short lived to this point in his life. I keep telling myself, someday he will sleep..Someday.

My favorite thing about this little bruiser is that he is starting to talk. He can call his brother and sister (Sal), (Carla), and Nonno by name, and also loves to say "poop", "ball", "uh oh", "look" and "no". He sits as plays with trucks and Carla's animal figurines, and loves it when Carla plays make believe "doggies" with him. They ask me to put their snacks in bowls so they can eat off the floor. He says, "bark bark!" and it is one of the cutest things ever.

Gino also loves to hit and run, dump toys out and stand on toilets to access our medicine cabinets. He is equally sneaky to Carla. Anytime it is quiet in our house, I know someone is up to NO good. One of the areas he excels in is his ability to scale just about anything ( I am dreading the day he figures out how easily he can get out of his crib). He can climb up onto our kitchen counters, using drawer pulls as steps, and has mastered our retaining wall to the point I no longer freak out every time I see him up top. He really likes playing in the dirt, running his trucks along the top terrace and dumping it in piles.


Carla ("almost 3")

      Carla continues to be a bundle of personality with expressions to match. She has a huge smile, and sunny disposition. She loves to play with her horsies and stuffed animals, and has yet to find any animal she hasn't professed her love for. This kid LOVES animals. At the same time, we still have to be on her case for pulling the cat's tail, or loving on them so much they're suffocating, but I think that is pretty much the relationship between any toddler and pet. She makes sure they have food and water, and many times in the morning, the kitties creep in her room and snuggle up til she wakes.

We switched her "school" from twice a week for 1.5 hours to once a week for 3.5 hours. I did this mostly for my own scheduling sanity, but also to allow her some more time at home to just be a two and a half year old. I believe that free play is so important for their development and helps them as they mature and since I am a stay at home mom, and have this luxury to be with them, why not?

She has her own big girl bed and room now, leaving the boys to share. She has improved greatly with the bedtime routine of needing to stay in her room after songs and "I love yous" but we do still have our struggles a few nights a week--especially if she napped that day. She doesn't usually fall asleep during naps, but every once in a while playing hard catches up with her and she just crashes. Most of the time she plays quietly in her room with her ponies and doll house or watches an episode of My Little Pony on the iPad as a treat for good behavior. 

Perhaps the biggest Carla news is that she decided to get her ears pierced--she amazed me at how mature she was just sitting in the chair so proud to be having them pierced. No tears until after it was all said and done, and we had all celebrated and scared her a bit. In her words, " Mama, I fancy now." 



Sal ("almost 5")

I love our conversations together. Whether it be from the back seat of the car to snuggled up beside one another watching "How It's Made" or his current favorite movie, " Wall-E", the things he asks and chooses to talk about blow my mind. He puts so many things together, that I often forget he isn't even five yet. For instance, I found a mailer advert taped to his door this week. It was for a local jewelry store sale. I asked him what was up with the wedding rings taped to his door, and without skipping a beat, he tells me that it's so he knows how much money he needs to save to buy his little crush a ring when they get married. He also tells me that they cost a lot of money, and that he doesn't quite have enough dollars yet. He thinks he might get a credit card, and a job to pay for the credit card, because "Mom, credit cards aren't free money, you know.You have to be able to pay the bill...so you need a job to pay the bill." SO SMART, this little guy of mine. Goes to show they are always listening and absorbing. And of course, with the presidential election and everything surrounding it--we had many a conversation about what it means to us to be a good person, what honesty is, and why lying can get you into trouble. It provided an opportunity to talk to him about our commonalities and differences as Americans, and how great this country of ours is to let all of its people vote. He turns to me after that conversation and says, " Mom, did you know that where Ayah's family comes from, her mommy can't vote?' Again, HOW'S HE KNOW THIS STUFF?!

He understands so much more than I ever expected a four and half year old to. Sometimes I wonder if he understands too much--and will be one of those cynical kids instead of the happy go lucky type. Here's to hoping we can pull off the Santa thing without him blowing the cover anytime soon. He's already spilled the beans to my sister and Carla on the gifts we bought them for Christmas. 

I haven't written much about it, but in the last year we've had Sal's speech assessed both by the county and school district, and in both instances, he qualified for Speech services for articulation issues. We started attending through the school district in September, and he goes two mornings a week before "school" and LOVES it. Gino, Carla and I also enjoy going, as the waiting room has a bunch of fun activities and toys for them to keep busy with while we wait for his session to end. Nick and I have both noticed a huge improvement on many of his sounds and hope that this early intervention gets him up to par with his age mates. 

The biggest struggle we face with Sal has been a tie between asserting his opinion ( which errs on borderline sass) and eating like a bird. He is not necessarily a picky eater-- it is more that he nibbles a few bites and claims he is finished. Afternoon stomach aches have ensued, and we are pretty sure it is hunger pains, so encouraging him to eat more has been my main focus as of late. I think the sass and meltdowns will become more manageable once we can get him to fill his belly.

And with that, bring on the holiday season! They're finally at the age where I think they genuinely feel the magic of Holiday gatherings and traditions. I am looking forward to post-dinner Christmas light drives in our jammies, decorating gingerbread houses and decorating the house with their little winter themed school projects this month!




Sunday, November 20, 2016

Just Beachy

We're so lucky to live where we do. We have the beach as our playground, and we've been using it to our full advantage with the kids--soaking up this warm November weather for all it is worth.



One of our favorite places to take the kids is just off PCH, to the tide pools. There is also a cave near one of the beaches that is accessible during low tide. This has become Sal's most talked about activity as of late. He asks on a daily (sometimes hourly) basis if we can go to the caves to search for sea glass.



I love that our children love the beach as much as we do. I love that it's free, it's nature, and we can all unplug and reconnect out there.

It's really just beachy.

Halloween, bugs and ER visits

The week prior to Halloween, I volunteered the kids as models for a local photographer to shoot in Halloween costumes at a really cool ranch owned by Paramount Studios. Within seconds of accepting her invite, I realized the costumes my kids were wearing for trick or treating weren't exactly "photo shoot" worthy. You see, I'm not much into dressing up in costume, nor are my kids. Our costumes thus far have involved their day to day clothing with "costume pieces" over it. For example, Sal's poster board "Popsicle" costume last year & Carla's repurposed tights and bathing suit as an aerobics instructor.

This year was no different. Sal's dream of being a magnet and Carla's request to be Rainbow Dash were made with minimal cost. A rainbow dash sweatshirt off Amazon for her, and a $4 piece of craft foam, a couple cans of spray paint from the garage and metal treasures hot glued on comprised Sal's entire costume. Heck, Gino wore the same Skelton pjs Sal wore two years ago as his costume/ pjs this year because let's face it, he wasn't going out trick or treating. What's a 19 month old going to do with a bag of candy? We all know who would've ended up eating his candy had he joined the big kids.

Anyways, back to the photo shoot. I scrambled and scoured pinterest for DIY themed costumes for a group of 3. I fell in love with the Flinstones costumes and knew I could probably make all of them in an afternoon with minimal supplies. The kids and I went to goodwill and bought an oversized orange t shirt and royal blue tie for the Fred costume, a green tank top for pebbles and an old skeleton decoration for the bones we'd need for pebbles hair and bam bam's shorts.



I hacked the orange shirt with scissors to make the zig zag hemline and arm holes, and spray painted triangles onto it. I did the same for the pebbles top and bam bam shorts (I reused some of Sal's old orange shorts for Gino. He's already only one size smaller than sal in pants!).

Here's the final result.

photocredit:Mily Cooper Photography

A couple days before Halloween, Gino woke up covered in vomit. He proceeded to vomit a few more times that night and I had no clue what to do with him. Nick and I survived almost five years without ever having to deal with projectile vomit! I guess we're lucky. Carla followed suit the next night, along with the other end, and it lasted almost a week for her. Then came myself and Nick on Halloween day, and ultimately, Sal. The big kids did trick or treat, but nobody was really feeling it. G stayed with me and handed out candy to the one group that rang our bell.

We spent much of Halloween week just getting through each day hoping the next would be better. By the following weekend we had overcome the barf hug, but a few of us had head colds. Head colds could deal with, vomit. Not so much. I took the opportunity to run errands solo on Saturday, and upon my return home, within minutes, Nick comes in and announces he needs to go to the hospital NOW. Thankfully his dad was here, so the two hopped in his van and off they went, leaving the kids and I wondering what had happened. Turns out, he was helping a neighbor lift something heavy and cumbersome and it slipped and tried to take his pinky off. He's now the proud owner of a broken finger and missing nailplate.


So yeah, we've been busy over here--and are ready for some normalcy again!



Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Connected again


Hey guys,

After my last iDevice updates, my old blogging app stopped working and it's just taken me a while to figure out which app will work best to fit my blogging style/ needs. I had drafted a few blogs and lost them when the old blogger app took a dive on me. So, boo.

I've got a lot to say, so when I find a little time. I'll be posting again!

Happy November!

Friday, September 23, 2016

We still do


Happy tenth anniversary to the strapping young man who stole my heart and continues to do so. Three homes, seven countries visited together, four births, many ups and a few downs and many years and adventures to come!

Happy tenth, NZ!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Gino, lately.

Our baby isn't such a baby anymore!! 

I swear to you, he changed overnight. 


He's like a total walking, talking (okay, blabbering), responsive child now. After so many months and endless hours of crying upon crying (have I mentioned he's been our crier?) and us not really knowing how to console him, his frustrations are seemingly dwindling away little by little. He nods his head yes and no when asked his opinion. He follows directions when NZ tells him to go lay on his pillow for bedtime milk. He knows where his blankets are and grabs them when he's tired and finds his favorite pillow to lay on all the while, never losing that thumb of his. 


He gives kisses. Big open mouth slobbery kisses. 

He also hits. Like, hard. We've already started reprimanding him for hitting and other unfavorable behaviors, and he really doesn't like getting in trouble for that! He has the cutest bottom lip pout I have ever seen. 


Gino loves the park and the beach. He loves our yard. Often times after he wakes, he wanders out back in our dew covered grass and plays in the kids' play kitchen for what seems like an eternity (or just long enough for me to get beds made and breakfast served). He can climb our retaining wall and knows how to get down from the second level of it, but still needs help when he gets to the very top level. And yes, it still makes me nervous watching him climb. He spends time digging up Sal's buried treasures (aka bottle caps) and playing with our fleet of Bruder trucks. 


He hates diaper changes and his high chair. He loves snacks. He loves emptying our snack cabinet onto the floor and stepping on everything that's crushable. I remember Sal going through the same phase at this age and am ever so thankful that we have cabinet locks in America.


My favorite thing about my big boy are his cuddles. While it's exhausting to parent a high needs child, I think it would be exponentially harder to parent a child who didn't want anything to do with me. He loves to climb into my lap and sit with me while we watch tv or read a book. He loves to pull on my pants until I pick him up. As soon as he is in my arms, in goes his thumb and down goes his head onto my shoulder. It's clear to me that I am his safe place. What better honor could a mama have? 

He's just making sure that no matter how old he gets, he will always be the baby. My baby. 


Monday, August 8, 2016

Weekend visitors

My long time friends John & Liz and their kids drove out from Nevada a couple  weekends ago to visit us. We had only seen them a total of two or three hours since our return from China, so having a whole weekend to spend with them and catch up was really nice. 

We had a house full of kids and it was awesome. I absolutely love watching our kids develop friendships with our friends' kids. 


After Saturday morning breakfast we all headed to the beach for some sand crab catching and sand castle making. Okay, so Liz and I didn't do either- we sat on the beach and watched the guys man the troops. Lounging with her and accepting slobbery, sandy Gino kisses kept me busy. 


We had originally planned to attend Old Spanish Days in Santa Barbara but margarita imposed hangovers and traffic proved those plans to be a bust. Instead we bought a sprinkler ball and some pollo asada and whipped up a fiesta of our own.


 Liz and I had made cascarones and the kids were so excited to crack them on each other's head for good luck and prosperity. 



Sunday mornings and goodbyes came much too soon. After some of John's pancakes, everyone headed home. 

Thanks for coming to our casa, Hefleys! 

Until next time...