Friday, April 11, 2014

Birthday Girl

On April 11th, our little Violet turned 3!  I always get so intimidated by writing these birthday posts.  It is so hard for me to adequately capture my little people in words alone.  My sister, Kristie, has made a tradition of writing a 'letter' to her kids on their birthdays.  I love that.  I think I'm going to try that from now on.  It just makes it a little more personal.  I want my kids to be able to go back and read how much I loved them each year of their life.  I also love taking the opportunity each year to go back and read what I wrote the previous year.  It is so funny to see how things have changed, and what things are still the same.  All in all, it is still the same little Violet in there and my love for her has only grown.  

Dear Violet, 

Today you turned 3.  A lot has happened in your life since turning 2.  You became a big sister!  You love your little Isla Bea.  I think you are still a bit shy around her, and not so sure of how to handle her, but every now and then I see you open up and all of this loving, nurturing personality just flows out of you.  Your face lights up and you are just so sweet and gentle towards her.  And Isla responds to your affection with so much joy.  It is so good for her to have you--her big sister.  She needs your sweet touch to balance her big brother's rougher love :).  

That summer, after turning 2 and becoming a big sister, was a crazy one.  We took lots of trips to visit family and prepare for our upcoming move to Germany.  You got to have lots of fun playing with all of your cousins.  During this time, we struggled a lot, trying to understand one another.  I think it was because of all of the changes going on around you.  Not to mention, you have a very strong personality.  And you wanted to assert your independence, in every way possible.  Once things settled down and normalized for all of us, that got better.  We still have our struggles (daily), but we're learning how to handle them better all the time.  Distraction is key.  It is rarely useful to try and talk through something logically with you.  Your determination to be right will not allow it.   However, recently I have seen glimpses of improvement and I can see that your patience and understanding is growing (as is mine).   I know that your feisty spirit and your determination will serve you well in your life.  

On the other side of that strong will is such a sweet little spirit.  When you are not trying to have things your way, you are so gentle and kind.  You are always ready to help mom, or to share with your brother (as long as you're not in the middle of being stubborn).  One of your favorite things to do, is to switch the loads of laundry.  Sure, you may get mad at me halfway through because I didn't let you push the button, but then you happily return to helping me.  

Your snuggling days have come to an end :(.  Occasionally, when sick or especially tired, you will sit in my lap and let me hold you.  But in the mornings, you are ready to go.  No time for snuggling in bed with mommy.  Gotta get down stairs and get some cereal asap.  (Daddy and I always joke about how you say, "I want some 'sayall' " in your raspy voice...so funny!)

This year, Violet, you were finally potty trained.  Not that you were super old for potty training.  But we tried before you turned 2, and it didn't go so well.  After moving to Germany we decided to go for it again.  This time we stuck with it.  It was a rough road.  6 months later, I could finally say with almost full confidence that you were potty-trained.  We are still working on trying to convince you that you can go into the bathroom and get on the potty on your own.  You always want mom to come with you.  We've seen you do it yourself.  We know you can.  But you always want mom to come along.  Maybe now that you're 3 you will figure that one out!  

You are one tough cookie.  Scraped knees, bonked heads, hugely infected boils on your bum...you take it all in stride.  That's not to say that tears aren't shed.  But you seem to get over it pretty quickly.  We also learned that you have something called, "Nursemaid's Elbow".  When you let your body go limp while holding one of our hands (typically in an uncooperative manner), it dislocates your elbow.  It happened several times when you were 2 and we never knew what was happening.  Eventually it would just pop back in and you were fine.  When we finally figured out what it was, we realized we had some leverage for preventing tantrums.  And it works!  "Violet, careful, you're going to pop your elbow out".  

You LOVE to play with Sawyer!  He is your best friend.  (Although we have heard you telling Batman that he is your best man, ever, ever after)  We love to hear you call Sawyer's name.  It always comes out all slurred together.  I don't even know how to write it and make it sound like you do.  But you just love to be around him, and you guys laugh and play and get along so well.  Sure, there are fights here and there, but 90% of the time...you guys are best pals.  You share a room and even got some new bunk beds this year.  You sleep on the bottom, and Sawyer sleeps on the top.  And you two climb all over that bed...pretty sure you still think it's a jungle gym, not a bed.  You can definitely hold your own in a wrestling match with Sawyer, too.  I'm always impressed with your ability to keep up!

I LOVE listening to you play with your toys.  So much creative play going on these days.  The voices, the names, the dialogue...it's pure entertainment for mommy.  Action figures, cars, barbies, stuffed animals.  Whatever it is, you will make it fun.  You have recently started loving Barbies and girly things more.  You love to get your nails painted.  Although you do NOT love to get your hair done.  That requires bribes and distractions.  We pretty much do pony tails, buns, or braids.  But when we are home, I rarely bother to do it at all.  It's not worth the fight :).  And you always have an opinion on what you wear.  I can pretty much guarantee that you will never go along with my first offer.  You are so proud of yourself when you pick out your own outfits and get dressed all by yourself.  Sometimes this happens multiple times a day.  I just can't deny you when your face is so happy and proud.  

You are a foodie.  Whatever we are eating, you usually ask to try it.  And before the taste can even settle in your mouth, you retort "like it!" with a big smile on your face.  I think you say it even when you don't like it, just because you know it will make us happy to hear you say it.  You are a salt lover, like daddy.  If there are chips around, you will find them.  

You still take naps, occasionally.  The truth is, you need them, but have a hard time falling asleep at night when you do take one.  So mommy loves the 'car nap'.  It's the perfect amount of time to keep you awake and happy for the rest of the day.  Just right for a 7:30 bedtime.  

Nursery.  You love it.  It took some warming up to, initially.  But it is now a favorite place for you.  You get excited about going.  And you love to dress up for church.  You know many of the primary songs and love to sing. 

Still an artist.  Less coloring on the walls, more coloring on paper.  Thank goodness.

Violet, you are such a joy in our family.  We love your crazy, loud laugh and your beaming smile.  Your eyes get super squinty and your cheeks get nice and full when you smile.  I've found that, whenever I smile at you, you quickly return the favor.  You've helped me, as a mommy, understand the importance of always trying to show love through my facial expressions.  That is how we get through our struggles.  That is how we both gain patience and understanding.  It begins with a smile.  You are so special, and I am so grateful that Heavenly Father sent you to be part of our family.  I look forward to each day with you, Viley girl.  I love you so, so much.  



THE BIRTHDAY

Violet settled on having a Little Mermaid party this year.  In the morning, we opened Omi's package, which contained 3 new mermaid barbies (among other things).  And this girl has not stopped playing with her mermaids since!  She LOVEs them.  

Both Sawyer and Violet ended up crawling under the streamers.  I figured they would know to bust through them.  Guess not.  Now they know.


Wanted to take some pictures of Violet with her cake and Sawyer insisted on being in them...






We had a low-key party at the park on base.  Pizza, cake, presents, and a playground.  As a 3 yr old, life doesn't get much better.



I just loved Violet digging into this slice of pizza
I created a little fishing game out of the easter eggs I had lying around.   My friend was helping the kids as I took pictures, and I suddenly became aware of Isla in the background, just grinning at me!  It was so cute!  She was just so happy to have spotted me in the distance!




It was super windy so we were all huddled around the cake on the floor to try and keep the candles lit.



The birthday girl partied hard, got nice and dirty, took a bath, and crawled into bed with her brand new Ariel Nightgown.  She had a good day.  

Here are some other pics from that week....


My attempt at an activity for the kids while we listened to General Conference...it got us through the opening hymn
Nathan bought some air soft guns.  The bebes got spilled all over our kitchen.  Awesome.  Still finding them here and there.  (did I mention he bought the guns to shoot at the cat that keeps pooping in our yard?!  He actually thinks I'm going to go stand out there in broad daylight and shoot at the cat.  Ha!)

Easter donuts from the bakery
My little engineer
So excited about the wrapping paper!
Easter package from Omi!  My cute little bunnies





Saturday, April 5, 2014

Bruges, Belgium

The morning after our night in Brussels, we made the hour drive to the city of Bruges.  We LOVED Bruges.  Might be my favorite city so far.  It was just so beautiful and clean and the weather was perfect and the little streets were so romantic.  Their buildings are mostly made of brick.  It felt a lot like England to me.  Or even a little more colonial, like back East in the States.


These first few are from the end of our day...Sawyer had been asking all day to have a picnic by the water.  We kept telling him it would happen, and before we knew it, the day was over and we hadn't had a picnic yet! So we bought some food and found a quiet spot on the bank of the river.  He was a little distraught that we didn't have a picnic blanket with us (if it were my mom, we would have had the blanket, a table cloth, and a full spread lunch!).  But we convinced him it was ok to sit on the grass :).   Ten minutes prior to this serene scene of our family picnicking on the grass, we had quite the opposite experience!  The kids and Nathan had already bought their pizzas, but I wanted to find a sandwich.  So Nate waited with the kids while I went off to find the perfect sandwich.  I came back to find Nathan frantically trying to clean Violet's hands.  He was switching between wipes and hand sanitizer...repeatedly.  And she was constantly trying to wipe her hands on her clothes.  Come to find out, the kids had been putting 'rocks' into a little fountain of water in the main square.  Only once they got wet, it became evident that they were not rocks, but hardened nuggets of horse poop.  And the kids were swishing their hands around in it!  Yuck!! We are kinda germaphobes...so the cleaning went on for a little while.  And then we went on to have our picnic!  Ugh!!











We took a ride on a boat--one of the highlights for the kids, for sure.  And for me.  So relaxing.




Couldn't decide which one of these was cuter!  Just love Violet's expression in both so much!

Isla's first experience in the backpack carrier.  It went well!  But she will only sleep in the Ergo...so we switch between the two.  At least I am getting a break now!d



I am still dying over this picture!!!  LOVE


We kept seeing people riding around on these horse carriages...so we decided to do it too!!  Another highlight for the kids.









This is hilarious to me!  Just look at that face!  I guess she didn't want me to have a taste of her cone, lol