Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Dear Ice Cream Man

Dear Ice Cream Man,

        For the last few weeks, we've heard your familiar music box melodies make their way through the neighborhood. I know that those songs are made to bring all the ice cream lovers out of their yards and homes and over to your truck to feast on the ice cold goodness that only ice cream and popsicles can deliver.

     There's a certain two year old that runs in our house whenever he hears the faint sound of the ice cream truck moving towards our neighborhood. One would assume he'd be running in asking me to buy him a treat, but instead, he's running for cover. You see, Gino has developed a fear of the ice cream man. Just the mention of ice cream, or the faint melodies of your truck in the distance bring out a quivering lower lip and the repetitious "ice Keem, ice keem, Scared." from my kid as he runs to me for comfort.

    Every. Single.Time.

    We've tried telling him that the ice cream truck isn't scary. We've even given him ice cream and told him his dad is the ice cream man. But still, a few times a week, as you roll through, there's a frightened two year old that runs for cover. I guess what I'm saying is you don't need to waste your time rolling down our street any more, because if he had it his way, the doors would be barricaded and dead bolted ten times over before he'd step out to say hi.


The mama of a ice cream truck phobic

Thursday, March 16, 2017

A chip off the old block

Sal has been begging me to sign him up for gymnastics for the better part of a year now. He has attended kindergym classes at a local gym, and has also tried a parks and rec class, but neither one fit his criteria of " real gymnastics for boys only". After mulling it over and stomaching the fact that everything costs a shitload of money these days, I researched our local gymnastics centers and finally narrowed it down to one in particular who has had many gymnasts reach the collegiate level. In a sport like gymnastics, so many kids burnout or get injured from improper coaching and technique. the fact that a gym has so many boys reaching high school still involved in the sport speaks volumes to me about the level of coaching and safety taken into account within their training.

We started last Saturday with a class that met all of Sal's prerequisites. A BOYS ONLY "real" gymnastics class. He stretched, pushup'd, rope climbed and learned the all to familiar men's gymnastics "stick" position after landings. His coach was surprised he has never had any formal gymnastics training, and asked Sal how he knew how to do some of the skills already. Sal replied, " because I have my mom's pants. [genes]". I about died when his coach shared that with me . He came home later that afternoon and practiced his "sticks" on our trampoline and tried teaching Carla how to do it too.

the rope climb warm up

We had the opportunity to "make up" two classes that he "missed" because we signed up mid month, so he went twice this week and had a different coach. His first make up class he was the only child and had a chance for some one on one coaching and lots of time jumping into the foam pit, which he loved. Midway through class, during a water break, the coach approached me and asked where we saw Sal going with gymnastics. I didn't understand what she was getting at until she then said that she felt  he may be a great addition to the club's boys developmental team. She says he shows lots of potential and awesome body awareness. That made my heart swell with pride.

In the next few weeks/classes, we will learn more about what his joining the developmental team will entail. The team is currently in competition season, so he likely won't have a spot until after season ( end of May), which is okay by me. He says he wants to do it. He says he wants to be on tv someday ( didn't we all when we were young?). We will support our kids in whatever activity they choose to do, so long as they are enjoying the challenge of the activity. It won't always be 'fun", but if they enjoy the challenge, we are behind them 100%.

So, here's to Sal and chalk covered callused hands!

Babies no more

You guys.

For the first time in six years, we don't have any babies in our house.

No more babies! This is 2, 3 & 5!

Gino is on the cusp of two, and I'm asking myself, "When on Earth did that happen?" and, " Was I there?"

It's a little surreal.

I can't even remember the last time I stepped foot in Babies R Us. That place was like my second home for a while after we moved back to the states. We were constantly buying formula, diapers, carriers, jumpers, sippy cups, bottles, mess mats, carseats upon carseats an well, you get the picture.
A lone high chair and a boppy pillow that he lounges on are the last standing evidence of anything baby around here. The bottles and teething toys, push walkers and bottles of puffs are all gone. Long gone.

With his favorite piece of comfort. The Thumb.

As we enter what's commonly known as the "terrible twos" with Gino, I'm buckling up and holding on tight, cause I'm pretty sure he's going to take us for one heck of a ride. While he still enjoys snuggling and laying claim on his mama's lap, he is also VERY opinionated and stubborn. Maybe it's a third child thing, but this boy knows how to assert himself with some pretty solid moves. He's learning about time outs on a daily basis, and my mantra is '"Stay consistent. It WILL pay off.", even if I have trouble believing it in the moment.

Carla consoling G in our time out corner
While much of my day is spent policing kids over toy sharing and smack downs over the last Cheezits or yogurt pouch, my favorite part of the day is watching Gino run to the door when we hear Nick roll up the driveway. He's almost always the first to greet his dad with a great big "DAAAAAAAAAD!" said with such enthusiasm and pure happiness.

Dad's home!
Some of Gino's favorite activities as of late have been trampoline jumping, jumping off furniture, crib climbing and water play. Since he mastered the climb very early in life ( he learned to scale our eleven foot retaining wall at 15 months old), he thinks nothing of climbing our kitchen counter to play with the sink faucet. He recently discovered that the nozzle come off and turns into a sprayer hose. I may or may not have ended up drenched more than once as I ran to turn the faucet off a time or two. I'm sure it will happen a few more times before his infatuation with water faucets comes to an end.

While I will miss having a baby around the house, I am excited for what the future holds for this family of ours. As the kids get older, a lot of the stuff we like to do will become a whole lot easier. Before long, nap times will be a past time, and we will be able to plan outings that go all day without fear of overtired meltdowns. We will be able to take trips and not require a pack and play or stroller. I'll be able to sign all of the kids up for activities, and nobody will be left on the sidelines simply because they are too young.

This is all good stuff.

Really, really GOOD stuff...

Welcome to TWO Gino Mario!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Kindergarten ready!

     We've spent the better part of this month getting all the paperwork for Kindergarten prepared. Pages upon pages of paperwork and permission slips and releases and such. We've even completed his five year check up and gotten his immunizations squared away-- though they aren't technically due until he starts in August. A couple of weeks ago, the kids and I went to our local school and turned it in. I wasn't expecting it, but a wave of emotion hit as we were leaving the office and the receptionist said "Alright, see you in August, Salvatore!"

It just made it so real. So, soooo real.

He's ready. I'm ready. But still---Kindergarten already?!

I'd better not blink or he will be in college.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Kona Trip 2017

        Last month we escaped the California winter with a week long trip to Hawaii with NZ's side of the family. We celebrated 3 & 5 on Friday the 13th, and jetted off early the next morning for Kona, Hawaii. While California is many people's idea of paradise, this winter has been anything but paradise. Cold weather and tons of much needed rain made Kona a much needed vacation!

    Joining us were NZ's dad, brother & his family and his sister & her family. That was fourteen people total! My kids were amped to see their cousins and share a room with them since the rental house actually had a bunk room set up! ( side note: message me if you want the contact info--would totally rent this home again!)

    We spent most of our week at the beach. With young kids, hiking didn't seem doable, and thanks to a stomach bug that hit NZ and Gino, we felt like puking was best done at the house or beach. The bug definitely put a damper on our time in Kona, but we still went out daily and made sure to get our shave ice fix!

   One of our favorite beaches was the turtle beach. HUGE sea turtles could be found basking in the sun on the sand, or in the shallow waters at our feet. We visited this beach a few times because of the calm waters and cool turtles. I was quite impressed that the beach had full time volunteers roaming the shore to remind tourists to give the turtles space. It was a reminder that this is THEIR beach, and we are just visitors.

   My father in law treated us all to a Luau midweek. It was my first one ever, despite my having been to Hawaii a handful of times in my life. I didn't have high expectations for it ( or my kids' behavior) but it was FANTASTIC. My kids were mesmerized the entire time, as was I. Both Carla and Sal got serenaded with a Hawaiian version of Happy Birthday, and Carla really got into the hula dancing.

    By Friday, Carla was taken hostage by the stomach bug, so we stayed close to the house, with a quick trip into town to look for souvenirs and a visit to the local farmer's market. Sal was stoked to find his beloved longa'n berries, and we finished the evening off with more shave ice at sunset.

      The flight home on Saturday was spent worrying that Carla would puke all over the seat in front of us, but thankfully, she and Gino slept a great deal of the trip with ZERO puking. Unfortunately, Carla ended up with her first ambulance ride a couple days later due to extreme dehydration.

Nothing like finishing off a trip with a trip to the hospital, amirite?

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 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.