Saturday, February 11, 2017

A letter to the birthday girl, one day late again

Dear Reina:

Yesterday, you turned 8.  Eight!  You were so excited for your birthday.  You've been counting down the days since at least mid-January and the countdown got pretty serious on Feb. 1.  Yesterday morning, you came in our room at 4:45 ish and you were ready to get up.  The rest of us were not surprisingly - not ready.  I convinced you to go back to sleep and I got up a few minutes later for an early morning exercise class.  When I came home at 6:30 a.m., you were still the only one awake.  You quickly made sure everybody else was up so that it could be present-opening time.  This year, you opened up more dollhouse stuff, including another little girl to be a friend for the dollhouse girl.  You named her Lisa.  You got some new clothes, some Legos suggested by big brother and Daddy picked out a sparkly cat pendant on a silver chain, your first official piece of 'fancy grown-up' jewelry.

For your birthday, you requested going out to dinner.  Your first choice was McDonald's (naturally) but we talked you into a place with actual silverware so you chose Red Lobster.  You didn't think you'd been there before but I know for a fact that you were there the night before you were born, it was my last big meal before baby. You'd probably been there since February 2009 but you definitely enjoyed your dinner.  Pop-Pop and Grandma joined us and showered you with more presents.

Today, we hosted your birthday party at the movie theater - just like last year.  You and eleven fr or iends and relatives,watched Lego Batman and had a great time.  I might have enjoyed the movie more or at least just as much as all of the 2nd and 4th graders.  I sat next to Toddler Cousin and she told me a few times to stop laughing.  I was also stealing her popcorn, according to her.  (I was.)

Reina, you are watching me type this so it's making it a little hard for me to talk about how cool you are.  Okay, you just left to go get a bedtime snack so here we go.  You continue to be a delight.  You hate getting in trouble (at school, home.... well), you work hard and are reading like a champ.  You have a great sense of humor that veers towards the toilet variety (I blame your dad and brother) but you remember jokes and aren't afraid to make up your own.  You greet many things with unbridled enthusiasm, including dentist appointments.  Last week, you had a meltdown when we figured out that the next day's dentist appt wasn't actually yours, but your brother's. You have to wait until May for another check-up and you were very disappointed.

You are a busy kid.  You are finishing up the basketball season, taking piano lessons, swimming and ballet.  You are a little overscheduled but you are hanging in there and we are lightening up your schedule soon.  I am so proud of your piano playing - it's amazing how much you've learned in less than a year.  You can read both treble and bass clef and are playing with two hands.  I love to listen to you play.  Sometimes we'll play a duet and I'm the one making the mistakes.  You love listening to the radio in the car and singing along.  You have a sweet voice and I hope you'll keep singing.

Reina, I could say more about your kindness and how you seem to make friends where ever we go.  You are a sweet to your little cousins and love when your bigger cousins come to visit.  You are excited about going on trips and have a big list of places that we should visit.  Let's do some of those in your Year 8.

Happy birthday, dear Reina.  We can't wait to see what the next year brings.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Dollhouse

I know it's more than a month since Christmas, but I'm finally taking a few minutes to talk about The Dollhouse.  After the hours Glenn and I spent putting this house together, it deserves it's one blog post.  

I'd been thinking about getting Reina a dollhouse for Christmas for most of the year.  She loves "old stuff" and collecting things and little tiny animals and she's had a lot of adventures with the dollhouse that lives at Grandma's house so after hours online and a few gentle reminders from Glenn about who the dollhouse was really for (not me!), I bought a kit and Operation Dollhouse 2016 began.  

I found the kit I wanted at a local store a few weeks before Thanksgiving but I needed Grandma's expert artistic opinion before I got started so the box stayed closed. I did look online and found a video that detailed the construction and casually mentioned that I'd need 80 hours to put the Victorian Jr together.  Well.  I didn't keep track of my exact hours but I did take two full days off of work during the month of December, plus most evenings and a few long Saturday afternoons when Glenn took the kids out of the house.  We kept it a secret from Reina which made logistics a little difficult - lots of "DON'T COME DOWN INTO THE BASEMENT!" and ignore the paint splattered outfit that mom is wearing.  But the finished product and the look on Reina's face Christmas morning made it all worth it.  Plus I had fun! I almost want to make another one!   

The finished product, the night before Christmas.  I'd live there.  

One of the days off that I took to paint and paint and paint.  It was actually a pretty fun day, I had just signed up for Netflix so I had some good shows to watch, some pets to keep me company and lots of little paintbrushes to wash.  

Coco judging me for not getting started sooner.  This was the first night I pulled out all of the dollhouse pieces.  Glenn took the kids to a movie so I only had a few hours. Coco carefully scrutinized each dollhouse section and decided that I should've started this project on Labor Day.  

For Christmas, Reina received furniture, pets and accessories for her dollhouse family.  She's had so much fun decorating and re-arranging and her birthday list includes many items that the dollhouse family needs (more food because they just keep eating the same turkey feast day after day.  Our girl is a stickler for accurate representation.)  A few weeks ago, I gave her my camera and told her to take some pictures of the dollhouse - I was wrapping up some chores and she was bored. It was a win-win situation.  
The piano room and several puppies sleeping on a dog bed made from the cotton that comes out of jewelry boxes.  Naturally.  The gumball machine in the corner was a big hit on Christmas morning.  Thank you Aunt Mary!  

The dollhouse family.  Shoot, I'm tired and I can't remember the dad's name.  The mom is Jeannie (I think), the daughter is Chelsea and the baby is Braden.  

I just love this composition.  I don't know why Baby Braden is standing by himself but there you go.  

I don't know what's going on here but it's made me giggle.  

A close up of our carpet and one of the puppies.  

The dollhouse has it's own chicken coop!  Naturally!  

All of the rooms in their miniature glory.  

The living room with furniture assembled and painted by Grandma.  The tv set is on loan from Grandma's house, because Reina's family didn't have one and Grandma's dollhouse family is on vacation.  

The kitchen.
 So that's the saga of The Dollhouse.  Reina is taking such great care of it and I'm excited for the little bits and pieces that she'll be able to add after her birthday in a few weeks.  The days off and late nights painting and gluing and frankly stressing out, were pretty worth it.  Merry Christmas Reina.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Skiing on a Monday

We all had Monday off from school and work - well except for Glenn who had to work because the Legislature is in session but he doesn't downhill ski anyway so this is a long way of saying that the kids and I went skiing!  With some friends like last year!  A great time was had by all! 

Let's start at the beginning.  After a relatively warm and dry early winter, our nearby ski resort has had amazing amounts of snow in the last few weeks and after checking that the temperature was going to be manageable, I made our reservations online, dug out the ski goggles and other random winter wear and packed everybody up.  We even remembered Will's jacket this time. 

The snow was deep, the temperature was probably in the mid to upper 20's and the sun came out in the afternoon.  The Bronco Baby mom never fell down (yahhh!), the Bronco babies crashed a few times but not major damages and we had a really fun time getting in as many runs as we could. 

At our lunch break and I notice that Will has the beginnings of a shiner.  He and his friend had an impromptu snowball fight with some kids outside of the lodge and they apparently to abide by the "NOT THE FACE" rule implemented by moms everywhere. 

Will in the foreground or whatever you call towards the bottom of the picture. 
My friend Mary took all of these pictures because I didn't bring my phone with me on the slopes and I was usually too busy keeping Reina upright to take any pictures anyway. 

Will and his friend on the lift. 

Reina and her mom on the lift.  Look at all of that glorious snow! 

Will post-crash.

Reina and her mom again!  This was one of the first trips up the lift we took in the morning before the sun came out.  There was hardly any wind which is great for this location. 
I love that my little monsters love to ski.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Pictures of stuff that Reina wanted me to take at the zoo.

On New Year's Day, we all headed to Denver.  The boys were going to the Broncos game and Reina and I had some shopping planned and a quick trip to the zoo.  Yes, the day was had a weird gender division going on because long-time readers will note that usually I'M the one going to the Broncos game but frankly, I didn't want to watch my beloved team (who wasn't making the playoffs) play the Raiders, along in hindsight, it would've been a fun time.  Glenn and Will had a blast.  The Broncos lead the entire game.  Glenn hadn't taken Will to a Broncos game before and when I asked him afterwards what he thought, he replied simply, "You have a big sports fan on your hands."  Bring on 2017!   
Glenn wearing MY #87 jersey and Will wearing just about every item of Broncos clothing that he owns.  

So Reina and I did a little bit of shopping. I had gift cards from the previous Christmas that needing using and Reina is a pretty fun shopping companion, especially if there's something fun for her to do later.  She helped me pick out some new work clothes and had helpful insights ("that shirt would be good if you wanted to be a pirate" and "Wow, Mom, your arms look really meaty!")    Honestly, she picked out a few things outside of my comfort zone that I ended up liking and it was fun way to use up the gift cards.  

After our whirlwind shopping trip, we drove across the entire length of Denver and spent a few hours at the zoo before it was time to pick up the football fans. I brought my camera along and told Reina to point out things I should take a picture of.  
30 seconds into the zoo and PEACOCK!  

Some sort of mini primate tamarin something something.  

A chicken made out of dried flowers and stuff.  I need this at home.  

Condors (?) building a nest.  We watched them for a while and provided commentary.  "I don't want that stick there, it doesn't look good.  Well feel free to grab your own stick and get to work." 

Big cats! 

Big grin and big cats. 

At this point, Reina was getting a little antsy because she had a specific snack from a specific snack shack in the zoo in mind.  After we visited this seal, we turned the corner and the snack shack was closed for the season.  She drowned her sorrows in a bucket of cotton candy instead.  

My girl.  

Monday, January 2, 2017

Christmas Eve and Christmas morning

2017 is officially here and I'm still needing to catch up on 2016.  This year, we spent Christmas Eve at Grandma and Pop-Pop's house with aunt and uncle and cousins.  We ate some delicious food and argued about who got to snuggle Baby E, so it was like the rest of the holidays.

Cousins looking slightly too serious for 12/24. 

A sorta smile? 
Toddler cousin greatly enjoyed the traditional cornflake wreaths that dye everyone's mouths green and sometimes crack people's fillings the next morning (mine, oh joy unbounding.)
nom nom nom nom

Uncle Glenn getting some good smiles! 

Will and Reina woke us up on 6:00 a.m. on Christmas morning.  We'd hoped for 6:15 but it was close enough.  We unwrapped family presents, cooked breakfast, played with toys and even took a nap before the rest of the gang came over around 9:00.  While we waited for everyone to arrive, I let Baby E open his present from us which kept both Toddler Cousin and Reina busy for a few minutes. 
Rare Bronco Baby Mom siting! 
We all opened presents, ate a delicious brunch, napped, assembled Legos (tradition!), watched Galaxy Quest (my present!), watched football (sad face), watched Coco play with her new toys, the empty boxes and wrapping paper, stayed warm because it was cold and snowy and just had a really nice day. 
The obligatory new-Christmas-pajamas-just-take-our-picture-already-picture. 

I included this picture with hoods because I think Will looks like me!  Poor little guy. 

Not slapping his sister, just hamming it up. 
So in conclusion, it was a really great holiday.  We enjoyed some time off after Christmas.  Glenn and I worked a few days and had help from the grandparents in keeping the kiddos entertained.  We had some nice family time and I think everyone is ready to go back to the grind tomorrow.  Bring on 2017 - we are ready for you! 

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The sights and sounds of Christmas programs

December was a busy month.  Well obviously.  Does anyone NOT have a busy December?   We had a piano mini-recital, Will's school program, the church Christmas program and a ballet mini-recital. Lots of arts and entertainment in December!  

Reina's piano teacher has several of her students play an assortment of Christmas carols at the local shopping mall, as part of a "Tree of Remembrance" hosted by the hospital (so Aunt Vicky was there, too!).  That's a big introductory sentence.  Reina played "Jolly Old Saint Nick" and it was her first foray into public piano playing.  She was a little nervous but she played beautifully.  

Look at that concentration.  
Will's school Christmas program started off with the fourth-graders playing their string instruments. Will has been learning violin.  Performing any sort of musical production is not Will's favorite thing to do in the world but we're really proud of him for trying out the violin.
Getting ready to play "Mary Had a Little Lamb."  Or "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star."  
After the orchestra opening, the class had a little skit and sang several songs.  This year, Will was in the front row center so it was easy to get a bunch of pictures.  Pictures of Will singing.
Let's just leave this here without comment. 

The red eyes don't help.  

Wait, I think I see some hand movements!  

Is he singing loudly?  No, I think that's a yawn.  

It's kazoo time!  This was actually my favorite part of the program, surprisingly.  The classes kazoo'd their way through several Christmas classics.  It's a great way to help them learn the tunes without having to learn the words also.  It was delightful!    
Next up for the Christmas-themed performances was a short ballet recital.  Reina is in her second year of ballet and she's really learning a lot.  Look at my girl go.

To round out our December performances, Will and Reina both participated in the church's Christmas program.  They sang several hymns and Will got to do a few readings.  They both memorized some German to sing "Von Himmel hoch, da komm ich her" and will gladly launch into song at random moments.

So that's our Christmas season for the arts.  Next up, Christmas Eve!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Christmas Eve Eve

Note, this picture does not represent their current state.  This was taken earlier in the month on a relatively relaxed Saturday morning.  
It's the night before the night before Christmas and the Pauley household is a little wound up right now.  The kids have been off of school since Wednesday - well Reina had part of Tuesday and all of Wednesday off because she had a fever and general malaise, but she's all better now!  Christmas fever is running rampant through the house. Even Coco seems to have it - she got to open up one of her presents early last night because she started to open it (and other people's presents) and I thought we could cut her off at the pass if we let her have one new toy to play with.  Reina and Will would like to see that strategy applied to the humans as well.  Most of the big work is done although Glenn has some serious gift wrapping to do in the next 24 to 36 hours.  My to-do list includes last minute baking, gift delivery, exercise as to counteract the delicious fudge that was in our office breakroom today and keeping two squirrelly kids from losing their ever-loving minds before 6:00 a.m. on Sunday.  Wish me luck.