Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Alex is 3! Part Dos

So we threw our little Alex a party last weekend! We sort of had to. It has turned out to be an insane month for birthdays (oh and we did the math - guess which June holiday we have to thank? FATHER'S DAY! Helloooo second children born in March! LOL we were dying laughing when we realized).  Anyway, we literally got 8 other invitations this month and Alex started to really grasp this whole birthday concept. Let's just do something small at the house, we said. It will be easy, we said.


Actually it really wasn't that bad besides a guest list that turned out to be double what we planned on. We have a lot of neighbors and friends I guess! So we had 19 kids and 20 adults for a quick and dirty 90 minutes. I hired a musician to come play for 30 of those, thinking he would have all the children hypnotized in the front room while the parents drank in peace in the kitchen. Well he was a total bust but it wasn't really his fault. All the kids wanted to do was run around like headless chickens and hit the toy box. Which was honestly fine. I think us grownups were still able to enjoy ourselves despite the complete chaos that was happening at 3 feet.

The party was otherwise simple. I sent an Evite, which goes against every fiber of my being as I love paper products and stationary, but as I said, "simple". Decorations were balloons and streamers of all colors that did not match. There was no theme, no goodie bags, and no gifts. Probably the most high maintenance thing I did was rent kids tables and chairs. One trip to Party City, one trip to BJ's, done and done. Oh and I did order a vegan cake from Quebrada. Not that this was about Ashton, but the look on his face at parties when he can't have the cake (due to the egg) is heartmeltingly sad. All he ever wants is to have a piece just like everyone else. He cries about it sometimes. So he and one other boy with a dairy allergy benefited from this decision and no one could even tell the difference ;)

I did attempt one Pinterest-y decoration that was strips of plastic tablecloths with balloons in the middle.

The magical music room that never was.

Alex helped me with the rest of the set up. He walked around all morning wearing his crown and saying "I'm the VERY happy birthday boy, yep, I am!"

We did a big cheese board and chips and guacamole (<-- best recipe you'll find) for snacks, and served the kids pizza and fruit for dinner. This is an actual representation of said dinner:

The blur is real.

General party pics:

 (The little girl next to Alex is Addie our neighbor, we went to her 2nd birthday party the next day!)

AND THEN it was time for cake. You don't know what trial by fire means until you've had to cut, plate and pass out cake at a kid's birthday party. Dozens of sets of little eyes are fixated on you and your every move. In particular, I'm trying not to relive the moment where they all realized there were gummy bears on the cake and I WANT A GUMMY BEAR WITH MY PIECE! A RED ONE! CAN I HAVE TWO GUMMY BEARS ACTUALLY?? And suddenly my ears were filled with shouts and demands and my own husband telling me to "go faster".

It's a special kind of pressure and it's intense. They could probably make a TV show out of it. In a strange twist, Ashton was the only one who waited patiently.

6 pm and that's a wrap everybody. We did have some neighbors stay until more like 6:30/6:45 pm just chatting which was great. After they left, clean up was really a breeze and Alex opened a few cards and that was it! It was a [crazy wild and hectic] success that took a long time to come down from haha.

Alex, you were the perfect little master of ceremonies! You knew it was your party, you blew out your candles and shared all your toys and only cried once. Happy birthday, we love you!!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Alex is 3! Part Uno

Today our little Mr. Alexander Michael Nill turns 3 years old. We have been waiting all week for this day. Alex has been acutely aware of his upcoming birthday and perhaps his older brother Ashton even more so [present alert!]. Things have been coming in the mail, his party (Saturday) has been planned, and he got the special circle time attention yesterday at school with a sticker and a crown. We know about it. Our neighbors know about it. Everyone knows about it. After lights out last night Alex could be heard singing happy birthday to himself before falling asleep. It's this whole thing :)

Today he had soccer with Ashton and I'm thinking about taking them out to dinner, but we really aren't doing presents or any other celebrations until his party. Which was supposed to be small but in fact, uh, won't be. Not sure how that happened. Wish me luck on Saturday around 4:30 pm as I will have 19 children in my house :D

So I'll post all that after the weekend and all the updated stats etc. after his pedi appointment. But for now just had to tell Alex: Happy 3rd birthday honey bun! You make everyone around you smile all the time, you are just that cute. WE LOVE YOU!! xoxoxox

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

March marches

I say it every year, but I don't have much to blog about towards the end of these winter seasons. Florida seems like forever ago and we are sort of "going through the motions" as they say, chugging along towards spring. We move the clocks forward on Sunday; getting out of the darkness is going to be huuuuuuge for our psyches. The weather has been all over the place, as high as mid-60's but also setting record lows.

Anyway, I've sat down to do a post several times since Florida but the truth is I bored myself and gave up. But I don't want to get behind do I and the million dollar question is: what have you missed? If you don't completely and utterly fall asleep at your computer, here is the answer, in no particular order:

1. We worked hard on our valentines. We conveniently missed this holiday while we were down south but Alex's school still had their party the next week so we ended up having to do them. I remember when Ashton was 3 and we were doing our first set, it was so cute and I spent a ton of time on what we made. Now I can easily picture getting the tear off ones at the pharmacy and calling it a day. Screw you Pinterest, there are way too many Valentines Days in the future. 

2. The back hallway doors have all been replaced, but you'll see Jason has a ton of finish work to do.

The door guy basically pried off all the casings and replaced the frame and the door (nearly all the old doors were slanted or warped, didn't close, etc.) and then put it all back. But the doors aren't painted (they come this pre-primed tan color) and all the nail holes etc needed to be caulked and sanded and all that. So we're at a midway point with that little (not so little for Jason maybe) project.  

3. My seltzer bubbles looked like a snowflake whilst in my snowflake glass.

It was so meta. 

4. Ashton coined the term "disastrophe". Not hard to guess, but it pertained to having to share something with Alex. 

5. The boys got their monthly haircuts in the Salon de Upstairs Bathroom:

Usually I am sitting on that stool holding a wailing Alex, covered in millions of bits of spiky buzzed hair pieces and it's totally awful. I hate haircut night. But this month we turned a corner! Alex watched a show all by himself and I actually got to take a picture while Ashton patiently waited his turn. Who are these boys??

6. Grandma, Grandpa and Uncle Chris came to visit over Presidents Day weekend. We had such a good time :) We hung out, went shopping, played hockey and saw Disney on Ice downtown at the Garden. Talk about a field trip! We even went out to lunch afterwards.

6. We have been outside as much as the weather permits. Ashton is a whiz on his bike (read: deliberately rides over snowbanks, through puddles, over roots and cracks and holes, routinely gets thrown off and yet, acts surprised). Alex goes with me in the toddler seat on the back of my bike but will be getting up on his own this summer. He has to, he is most definitely over the weight limit for what he rides in haha. 

Caption: Alex shouting a hundred times while chasing Ashton: "AH-tee bike power! I RUNNING power! Yeah!"

7. Speaking of Alex, uh, speaking, we have our second and final speech evaluation today at NPS. Hoping they agree that his articulation is sufficiently terrible to qualify for extracurricular services in the fall (he won't go there for school, but just twice a week for a half hour is the goal). His third birthday is next week! Which means no more EI, no more Amanda and Kristen, no more Monday group...it will be sad :( 

8. In between all of this, the boys did not stop eating. They.eat.ALL.DAY. Also we went to the Museum of Science, the new Ballard Designs store opened in the Natick Mall (all hail), Ashton ripped several more pairs of pants and I decided not to drink any wine during Lent. Yes you heard that right. And guess what, I don't miss it! Perhaps my experience would be going differently if I had given up all alcohol but the thought of that was a little terrifying. Let's not go too crazy I said to myself, you're not even religious. 

So overall, Jason's good, I'm good, the boys are good...


Thursday, February 16, 2017

A February week in fabulous Florida!

You guys let me just get straight to the point. Disney World was so, so, SO fantastic. Looking back at my pictures I just can't believe it's over. Never have we been to a place that is so HAPPY! The Magic Kingdom is so beautiful and joyful, with music, colors, smiles everywhere...it was simply amazing and of course I am now one of the zillions of people who say "I can't wait to go again!" I do give myself a bit of a pat on the back because I spent a ton of time planning our two days there. <-- (This comment won't make sense to anyone that hasn't done it.) But I didn't want to waste any more time than was necessary waiting in lines or backtracking, and I think the way I chose to tackle Fantasyland and Tomorrowland on Day 1, Adventureland and Frontierland on Day 2, worked perfectly. It was quite overwhelming in the beginning with the website and app, the Fast Passes etc. but now I feel like an expert! On the Magic Kingdom at least :)

But of course I have one piece of advice to share. I read so many websites and tips on how to maximize (but not stress out) your Disney experience but the one thing no one said and I wish I had known/thought about: Most of the rides are based on the movies! Peter Pan, Little Mermaid, and Winnie the Pooh all take you through the storylines and Ashton and Alex would have made stronger connections to them had they seen those movies. I mean, it seems obvious now, but on no one's tip list was "watch the movies before you go!" and, well, we didn't really :-/ But the boys do watch Disney Junior and by far one of the most magical moments was meeting Mickey himself. He has his own little theater at the front of the park and you go in to see him basically by yourself. He talks of course, but his face moves and his expression changes - he seems really alive. Which is funny, because when we were talking about going to Disney and meeting all of our favorite friends, Ashton was skeptical like "So are they going to be real? I mean, not just people in costumes?"

Anyway, it was so special. Next to Santa, I would imagine meeting Mickey is as magical as it gets when you are a child and it really showed on Ashton's face (Alex on the other hand was a bit suspicious and didn't go near any of the characters). But Ashton wore his mouse ears proudly the whole time and BOTH boys went on all the rides! I mean, even Alex, on the roller coasters and splash mountain! He was barely 40" tall, literally a hair too short, but they let him through. Poppy and Mema were with us too, I honestly didn't take too many photos but we did SO MUCH and the parade and all of it...incredibly awesome. WE LOVED IT. Here goes...

First stop Seven Dwarfs Mine Train - we waited 50 minutes for what is currently the hottest ride! Which was not built in to my itinerary but we recovered just fine ;)

Little Mermaid: 

Meeting Goofy and Donald at Pete's Silly Side Show:

It's a Small World (even when you wait in line at Disney it is somehow fun!)


Meeting Mickey:

The parade (even I was a little starstruck!) - there was so much energy, the music was really loud and infectious...here's the boys waving at Mickey at the end. It was so cute!

Jungle Cruise:

Splash Mountain cam:

Alex finally, finally fell asleep on Day 2 around 4:30 pm in front of the Country Bear Jamboree. Everyone was pushing around their zonked out kids but my youngest persevered until basically the last second.

(Ashton and I got soaked and I mean DRENCHED on Splash Mountain, which is why I had a sweatshirt on and you can see his shorts are only half dry:)

Our "picnic" at the end of Day 2. We had planned to stay for the 8 pm fireworks, but we were ready to go by 6, so we had hot dogs and then said good bye :)

I am like SMILING right now posting all these pictures (and thinking how much we experienced that as I said I don't have pictures of). But even if I did, words and pictures just can't describe it. It's that kind of place.

So when we weren't at Disney, we were staying at the Orlando World Center Marriott. It was massive, over 2100 rooms!! Multiple pools, water slides, and a kid splash area:

To say I was content to sit here is an understatement. 

Main pool:

Ashton Alex and Jason were tiny specks in the huge ocean that was this pool. I couldn't even get it all in one picture (it goes way to the right with a hot tub and cave, and two more sections go back to the left beyond the first bump out).

They swam a lot! They wore lifejackets so I could sit on my lounge chair in peace and not worry about them, you know, drowning ;)

I should mention, we were here because Jason had a conference. So he was in and out during the time that we weren't at Disney and basically all day Thursday. Thursday was especially sweet because I knew a winter storm was dumping about 18 inches of snow in Massachusetts and I was in my bathing suit and sunglasses ;)

Friday we checked out and headed up to Palm Coast to Poppy and Mema's house. We sailed along the intercoastal waterway, swam in the pool and hit the beach (again, like zero pics) but it was perfect weather and I did NOT want to go home.

Being warm when it was so cold at home was heaven. I'll tell you what though, the angels abruptly stopped singing when we landed in Boston on Sunday.

We were the last flight in before the cancellations started - oh, yeah, it was another blizzard. It kind of worked in my favor because Monday was a snow day, which allowed me plenty of time to cry while I unpacked all our bathing suits and shorts and dealt with: 

So there's that. Did I mention how much I loved Florida?