h.e.h. & baby brother
watch us grow

We thought about trying to teach H to ride her bike without training wheels in the fall but knowing she wouldn’t ride long and then have 5+ months off we waited….till Saturday night!

We started on her old bike which worked out well, a bit smaller.
We were so proud of her! Honestly with her fairly cautious nature I thought it would take longer for her to get started but she didn’t hesitate and she was the one who asked Justin to let go! It seemed that breaking was her main problem, using a hand break for the first time.

It will be a fun summer!
* update: shortly after that with in a day or two, we had a snow storm but on Haley’s first time out at our house she jumped right on and went right down the driveway. She is so grown up on a big bike now!
Her, Mckenzie & Matt


Even doing some riding with Nana when she came to visit for Easter!

FirstdayThe last 2 weeks have brought about big changes in our life here on Evergreen Street! Haley started 1st grade on Tuesday after Labor day in Mrs. Johnson’s class. The biggest change for her is that this year is everyday school.Walking to the bus I think over the years she’s had such a nice transition going to school a bit more each year, but now we are in the thick of things. Going each day and having homework each night. I think there will come a day in the near future when she will miss this type of “homework!”
Neighborhood kids
Our full bus stop: Hailey, Haley, Avery, Ashley, Maddox, Karli, Lila, Penny, Samantha, Natalie, Joey, Collin and Noah. There are actually 6 other kids in the neighborhood to who go to Andover Elementary but they don’t come to the stop. Two of them are in Haley’s class this year, Owen and McKenzie.
getting on

Matt also started school, finally! He has been waiting for so long, dropping off Haley at preschool and then watching her get on the bus last year…now it’s his turn! He attends Family of Christ preschool, 2 mornings a week. The first morning he asked me to stay in the car and just drop him off….it was a bittersweet moment. I’m so happy he is ready to go and excited but he’s my boy! So, he finally agreed to let me walk him in and after we said good bye and got a kiss, he asked me not to drop him off at the door to his room so I obliged and just watched through the window after he walked in. He thinks that anything that starts with a capital M is his name so he matched his picture disk up on Maria’s spot but that’s what preschool is for right!
Matt & Maria:
at school
Another key question that will probably be answered this year with will be Right or Left? He seems to be sort of a switch hitter! Probably a righty but we’ll see. I just love how intense he is in his drawing, it turned out to be a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, of course!
Right or left
It was a pretty sad moment driving out of the preschool without any kids among the all the crazy other mom’s who know they only have 2.5 hours of free time before they have to be back. I love my kids and I honestly love to be with them, time is going by so fast!
On a side note, Matt has been leaning toward staying with me ever since the first morning which makes me a tiny bit happy in my heart but he still walks through the door of his class with a smile on!
We can’t wait to see how they both grow this year and how much they learn. It was comforting to hear Haley say that the best thing about her first week of first grade was “having such a nice teacher!” I feel the same way about Matt’s teacher!
I think it will be a great school year!

Birthday Cereal - Lucky CharmsThere are some days that it’s really hard to believe he’s already three, our little boy, the youngest…three! Then some days I can look back and remember a lot of it and it’s not that hard to believe! He is such a fun boy, he’s such a funny boy. He’s not his sister, he’s his own man! Very talkative and outgoing. He’ll start up a conversation with anyone and walking through the Home Depot requires a barrage of shout out’s: “Hi guy!” to every worker. He loves his sister, repeats a lot she says, always wanted to know which color of vitamin she is having and is commonly heard saying “I miss Hay-yee” when she’s at school. Movies are on his mind a lot, all different types and he’ll never turn down some “electronic time”. There is a caring/compassion he has for his family that will take him far. Asking us how our days were, how work was, how a dinner was with my girlfriends was even the next morning if I didn’t put him to bed. He can count to 12 and I didn’t teach him that, I guess it comes with being a second child. There is no interest in potty training as of yet but we have till September when it’s required for preschool. He loves swim lessons, Opa, “The Big Hungry Bear and the Red Ripe Strawberry” and Daniel Tiger.
Blue Mountain Mystery Cake
Earlier this month he turned 3, officially. We had his first “friends party” on Saturday morning with 4 other 3 year old boys from our neighborhood. They haven’t seen each other as much, being that it’s zero degrees outside but at that age, they all came together under one roof and played mostly separately while having a great time! Matt’s mind is mainly used to think about Thomas the Train so we had another Thomas birthday this year! This cake represented the movie “Blue Mountain Mystery” his very favorite Thomas movie these days.
Some of our decorations for the partiesTrain tack and loading
Each boy at the party had a “Train Car” with their initial and we taped down a track all around the first floor of the house. We used Matt’s “digger” as a loading zone for easter eggs and stuffed blocks, it worked out perfectly!
Boys in their train cars
Matt, Jack, Chase, Nolan and Karston, do they look excited to be taking the picture? Below was the closest they came to playing together when they gathered around the Thomas table in the toy room.
Playing in the toy room
Snacks and gifts
Train of boys
Our train of friends who came to celebrate Matt! I love this picture and it was such a fun time playing with all the boys, spending time with their moms and enjoying the morning! Thanks to Opa for taking sister to the conservatory for a few hours too!
Later that evening was the family party. We had all of Matt’s favorite foods at his request: Hot dogs (this included some turkey dogs and brats, I’m sure that’s what he meant!), Mac and Cheese (both the Kraft Spiderman kind and homemade), hummus & ranch dip for vegi’s and some cheetoes then swirl cake (chocolate and white) with “valina” ice cream! Good times and good food! Earlier in the day the boys didn’t seem to interested in wearing conductor hats but my family jumped right in! I love the second picture because even my mom and dad are wearing them while they eat.
Matt & Ben
Haley with Hat
We were able to get a post Christmas deal on a new bike for Matt this birthday. Wow, was he suprised and so excited! Luckily our basement is unfinished so there is a big loop he can ride around. His helmet came in from the garage and he was off! I made candy trains for all the kids who came through our home on that Saturday and they were a big hit!
Bike and trains
This year we started a new tradition that I had heard of at a mom’s meeting. Each family put a candle in his cake and told him how he was a blessing to them. There just happened to be three families and of course we were all getting teared up telling him. He might not have understood all we said but we are blessed beyond measure by our son. He is the perfect fit for our family and we love him with all our hearts! Happy 3rd birthday Matt!
Make a wish!

I don’t know if you watch the show Parenthood, but last Monday night was a crier. One of the main daughters on the show said good bye to her parents at the end of the episode to go off to college. I know we are only in week 3 of Kindergarten but some days it feels like we will be those parents next week. I’ve heard and always thought it was so obvious that our job as parents is to prepare our children to leave the house, to face the world and do it to the best of their ability. I believe that. I just didn’t think it could possibly be something I am already dreading when she’s only 5! (actually since she was 1 hour old)

On a much happier note…our girl loves school! She goes to school 2-3 days a week, takes off on the bus around 8:30 and doesn’t come back to us until 4pm. Matt and I love to go to the bus stop. When ever he thinks of it, as we walk back home in the morning, he says “that was fun!” So far there are more days when she just jumps right on, holding the hand of her fellow kindergarten friend and neighbor so they can sit together. More days when she forgets to even say bye. It makes me sad a bit but so so happy to know that she can do it, she isn’t scared and that confidence she possesses will take her far.

She loves her teacher and was most excited about riding the bus before school started. Today she told me that the bus is a long ride and very loud with lots of kids telling stories. I think she might say her favorite thing now that school has started is punching in her lunch room code and getting cold chocolate milk.

(H getting off at school. They let the K & 1st off first while the others waited and then there were helpers all over to get her to her teacher – I was so thankful)
Last week she told us a long elaborate story of an in school field trip her class took looking for the alphabet around the building. “We even went into the inchargeible’s office!” I don’t think I’ll ever forget that one.

(United with Mrs.Dau)
She practices each day saying the names of the kids that she knows from the 20 in her class. As of Friday she was up to 12, including herself and reported to me that for the first time a students behavior went down to Yellow and he got a note sent home to his parents! Drama in the classroom!

(Her owl and official first piece of homework due on the first day of school, she decided on her own the things that describe her and picked out the picture)
Matt seems pretty indifferent most days as to her leaving. The first days he asked me 3 times where she was, and he mentioned that he missed her. Since then, he’ll check in with me, confirming where she is…at the new school, not the old school. Other than that I think it’s a lot like last year when she was in preschool to him.

This is my favorite picture from the day. I think there was a tiny bit of hesitation in her eyes but overall, she was brave & excited to start Kindergarten. We are so proud of her and love to see her smile each day as she gets off the bus. There is so much knowledge to gain and this is just the tip of her ice burg! We love you H and are proud to be parents of a kindergartner!

It seems that over the years Haley has always had a birthday that goes on and on…living in Austria and now apart from one set of grandparents, her birthday is celebrated with each family and now we add “friends” to the mix! So, this year we had 3 celebrations of our little girl turning 5.

Back at the start of August we were in CA for Haley’s uncle’s wedding and were able to have a mini family swim birthday party with Nana and Papa! Nana is the queen of strawberry cupcakes and they are a must when we celebrate with her. This time they were served on a beautiful silver platter that belonged to Haley’s great grandma Higgins! It wasn’t too hot but perfect weather for a dip in the “big pool” and then a present.

Three days before her birthday we had a Sunday afternoon “friends” birthday party. It started out as an Ariel birthday but turned into just a classic birthday. An Ariel cake pan was rented, sadly she never came to life over the span of all the celebrating…but we did find an Ariel t-shirt for H to wear that worked perfectly. In the end, a rainbow cake was ordered with wording chosen by the birthday girl and the only things Ariel were the balloons and plates!

At Haley’s request we played Bingo (actually HALEY) and T-ball outside before we had our cake and Neapolitan ice cream. Each friend played until they yelled “Happy Birthday Haley” when they got “Haley” on their board. We were so thankful to have Oma come to the party to help with all the numbers and candy!

Dad was in charge of t-ball and everyone did so well hitting! Amazing how athletic some kids can be at such a young age. Things slowly moved to the playground and everyone came in with red cheeks and ready for some lemon-aid!

With a bunch of “Cha-Cha-Cha’s” we sang to Haley and dove into the cake and ice cream! Opened a slew of princess themed presents (while wearing princess costumes) and then headed to our neighborhood park where the parents picked them up. I hope they all had fun, I know Haley did!

Her actual birthday was a Tuesday.

It seemed extra special this year because her only girl (and probably favorite for that reason) cousin was visiting from AL for the week! It made the whole day fun and extra girly! Opa was willing to watch Matt to facilitate a special girls lunch in downtown Anoka at Truffles and Tortes. (Opa & M picked up a happy meal and went to watch for trains -it’s what they both love and it melts my heart) We got a strawberry and a chocolate torte to share, so yummy!

Haley and her Oma

All the girls on the Conner side of our family (except great grandma), celebrating H and her life!

Everyone gathered for dinner at our house and upon request, we grilled wings and drum sticks, had corn and cupcakes of 2 flavors! It was a fun evening and a great family time to be together (finally adding the boys to the mix)! Haley (doing her own make-up) with Opa:

Haley got an exciting gift this year from Opa & Oma. If you read my previous post you saw the new costume she received at Disneyland, it was the start of the gift. Tonight the finishing touches were all wrapped up for her to open. First came the new shoes to match the wedding Rapunzel dress, she loved them.

Then, probably the most important part of the costume came, the Rapunzel hair. She is so excited at this point, I don’t think she thought there could be any more to come!

But there was…the wedding veil, ring and flowers. Dad thought things were getting a bit too realistic at this point and I had to agree but she was beyond words excited! When we told her to stand and show us the whole costume she instantly remembered her “princess fingers” she learned from Snow White at DL and posed.

This next picture was actually where I think things went a bit too too far but it was so cute I had to capture it. I think our girl ended her birthday celebration month on a happy note!

In the mean time, her dad and I have decided that one cake will be enough for each child so she can decide when we have it…with friends or family. It seems only fair! If for no other reason than to keep the size of these blog posts down! Happy Birthday to our 5 year old! May it be the best year of your life so far!

Two weeks ago today we were at the Disneyland with our daughter! It was such a blessing to be in So Cal this summer and have a day to spare for the Magic Kingdom. She is the perfect age, loving the princesses and all the magic of Disney. I have loved Disney since I can remember and going to the park is always so exciting for me but, this time there were 2 things that made the trip even more memorable: Going with our dear friends, the Lindsays and their kids and being able to leave Matt with an amazing family in the area of the park for the day, not worrying about him at all! It really was one of the best days! The Lindsays have 2 great daughters, Tabitha and Charlotte, who are 5 and 3 and precious baby Henry was a prince the whole time not making a fuss at all!

We sat down the day before with an extra map that Jeff had on hand…he might love both Disney and planning even more than I do! We made a plan and agreed to meet at the park at 8AM. The Lindsays left San Diego at 6:30 am and we were only 10 minutes behind them after leaving Matt. It worked out perfectly. It took about 3 minutes after entering the park for me to confirm that leaving Matt behind was a great decision! No stroller and all our focus on Haley!

Haley and Tabitha, are the same age and have been pen pals for about 2 years now. It mainly consists of repeating themselves in fairly incoherent paragraphs accompanied by a lot of arts and crafts. It’s really so cute! For the last 6 months, since this trip was planned almost all the mail has either talked about sleeping over or Disneyland. It was fun to have them finally together at the park. It was officially pointed out many times by the girls that Haley is taller (almost 6 inches!) BUT Tabitha is older!

Right away we got on some rides, and rode a few more than once when the lines were short. The adults really enjoyed Buzz Light year and I continue to try and beat Justin with a higher score but I’m not sure it will ever happen! After I had been shooting my gun half the ride, I checked his score and decided that taking pictures was more my style! When the girls got on and the Disney employee said they couldn’t ride together, Tabitha said “Don’t worry Haley, even if we don’t ride together, we’ll still be best friends!” They were so cute to listen to all day!

Haley told me after that “Buzz shot me in the forehead and chin! It was like little lazer bombs all over me!”

We also divided up, one adult to one child and jumped on Autopia before that wait was long. Tabitha informed Haley before we went in that this was her favorite ride because the name of it was so fun to say. I let Tabitha drive me around the course and she did very well for a 5 year old!

I don’t think the ride for these 4 was quite as smooth, what do you expect from drivers with no noses?

Our main event of the day were three 11:10 appointments at the Bibbity Bobbity Boutique! It was in the plans from the first day of talk and was so worth every penny we spent! I had made a reminder on my phone and called exactly 6 weeks before the trip to make the appointments. The girls really were treated like princesses by their “Fairy God Mother’s in training” and each got to pick their “up-do” from 3 choices. It included make-up, nails, tiara, sash, princess bag, lots of glitter and a big reveal in the magic mirror. So perfect for 5 year old girls! Each one also got their own new costume (that we brought from home to save a few dollars!) and were the talk of the park as we walked around the rest of the day!

I imagine in this picture that Haley is thinking to herself “I knew pink was the right choice over blue nails, I love pink so much and it really is my favorite color!”

And the final product: Princess Haley – Rapunzel Wedding dress

Here are all the girls, Tabitha chose the Brave costume and Charlotte was Ariel

After that it was lunch and then total necessity to find some of the princesses and meet them. So we did…

When Charlotte met Snow White and the wicked witch, she said to the witch…”You need to have a happy heart.” The witch said that was about the cutest thing she had ever heard. It really is so fun to experience things with kids, through kids. Even if that means a time out on the curb in the middle of Disneyland for fighting! Take the good with the bad!
We rode as many rides as the girls wanted. Haley was a bit hesitant on most and was fairly relieved when we found out that Tabitha didn’t meet the height requirement for the Matterhorn, sadly it brought Tabitha to tears. Justin attempted to remove the sword from the stone but will have to spend a few more years at the gym before the next go around.

At dinner it was time to sit in the shade a bit and re-apply the makeup!

We reserved our spots at 8pm for the 9:30 fireworks over the castle and took turns protecting enough space for all of us. At 8:50 the dad’s and girls came back from a ride, sat down for treats – cotton candy and churros (pure sugar, mind you!) and by 9:25 all 4 kids were dead to the world, asleep in the strollers. It was impossible to wake Haley, even when we tried. So, the 4 of us stood there with sleeping kids all around and enjoyed an amazing music and fireworks show together without interruption, actually a perfect ending to the day!

Left: Nov 2010 her first day of preschool. Right: May 2012 morning before her last day!

Last week was the end of Haley’s two years at Family of Christ Preschool. It was a fun morning the last day, going to chapel with her and a picnic at the park after school with her classmates. It was a sad morning too. She’s growing up. She won’t be be four for much longer, and for me, it already feels a bit like the beginning of the end! It’s only Kindergarten but it’s a big change! I don’t feel overly protective of my children but I do really appreciate the environment they provided at this preschool. As a mom, I’m leary of the environment we are headed into at Kindergarten. I can only pray fervently, know that she will be protected daily and take each day at a time. I am SO thankful that this coming year we (Matt & I) will still have time with her every other day. We’re going to make the most of it!

Chapel with a bible character and the puppet (Gerty) along with some singing and dancing!
The theme song this year was “God is watching over you!” and we would sing and dance to this video each month.

She has made some great friends at Preschool. Some that she’ll remain with into elementary school and some we will probably remember fondly as they head their separate ways! I think it will be fun in a couple years when we head back to the preschool with Matt and see these friends when their younger siblings are in preschool: a mini-reunion!

Audry, H & Ellie

Haley also had two amazing teachers this year (and the same could be said for last year!) Mrs. Johnson & Mrs. Gunther, thank you so much for the love, time and effort you put into my child this year. Thank you for caring about her, knowing her as a person and helping her to learn & grow this year!

After the morning we had an unofficial class picnic at the park near by. It was hot but a lot of fun. I think the 6 girls in the class will see each other at birthday parties throughout the summer which will be nice!

Haley, your dad and I are so proud of the girl you are today and so excited to see the girl you are still growing into. We love you with all our hearts and are so excited for you to start Kindergarten, you’ll love it and be great there too!

Left: Sept 2011 first day of school this year. Right: May 2012 Good Bye to Family of Christ!

I’m still uncertain what we are having for dinner and there is laundry to fold but I have to blog about my son! It’s 1pm on Thursday and he has already said 4 new words today. Two names, “hole” which he made in his hummus @ lunch and “pin-ink” to be able to answer his sister with! He’s a great boy, and we love him to death! I had heard from another mom that her boys started talking a lot more at 2, this is the case with Matt. His birthday was in January and his vocabulary is 20 fold what is was then! We communicate so much better and he tells us stories over and over. J mentioned the other night that Matt practices in his bed at night, just saying random words over and over. Yesterday he started to call himself “Tall Matt,” he was standing on the couch over me. He’s 37″ tall ~ I think he’ll take after his father a bit more than me in height. He is a salty over sweets kid which is more like me for sure. He started saying “O K” in a very distinct fashion last week and has been asking me “why mama?” for 6 weeks now. (Isn’t that part of childhood grand?)
With his sister and all his cousins in January:

Practicing his salute with Uncle James:

He loves to be outside and still runs like a baby which I love! He plays golf in the house, babies with his sister and tries to color “on the paper Matt!” He likes to explore sister’s doll house and barbies, always a matter of contention. He can bunny hop across the living room, actually getting air. It’s amazing how much more physical his is than his sister was!
His first time sledding with dad (also in January):

His best friends are his Opa and his 10 year old cousin Ben. Currently he calls him “Ben 10!” We deal with some yelling and a bit of hitting but he’s coming around. He could not love machines more: Tractors, Trains, Diggers (Back Hoes), Dump Trucks or Semi’s. He won’t sit on anything that’s not John Deere Green, even at Home Depot or Lowes. They all fall under the term “Dawgie” at this point….

His other obsession is Choo Choo. “Home, Watch Choo Choo mama?” Which could only mean one thing…Thomas the Train. He had a Thomas cake which turned out to Edward since he’s the number 2 train. We probably watch 1 half hour show of Thomas a day, I’m so thankful he’s on PBS!

Matt sleeps with 2 blankies & a pillow in his crib covered by his Dawgie blankie that his Auntie and Uncle gave him for Christmas. He is still a 12 hour sleeper with quite a bit of talking in his sleep at night. Takes a nap 90% of the time from 2-4pm but if he misses, it seems to be okay with him (Maybe not so much with me!). He enjoys a tubby and plays with his guys, prefers bubbles to none.
I feel like there is so much more to Matt, come over and spend some time with him if you’d like. He’d love to see you and I guarantee you’ll love meeting him!

I would say that it was Haley’s first time hosting a party, she did really really well. I mean, I did most of the decorating, inviting and prep work but she helped with all the decisions. It was the first time she had a group of her gf’s over for a party. I think it’s important for her to learn the in’s and out’s of entertaining so why not start now and have some fun with it!

We hosted a valentine cookie party for the 6 girls in her preschool class, decorating cookies & cupcakes then sharing some pink lemonade and red candy! Each girl brought their favorite sprinkles to share. I made 7 different colors of icing and put them into icing bags with tips on them, it was a first for most of the girls and they LOVED it. We had 2-3″ high piles of icing on these cookies with sprinkles in the middle and on top of the pile. They looked more like mini plates of spaghetti! You felt a sugar high just watching these girls to go town! Haley had so much fun and a few of the girls talked to me when I was in their classroom about doing it again for Easter! I’m so thankful that Haley has this group of gf’s for this time in her life! Thanks Addison, Grace B, Ellie & Audry for coming over!

We had a craft station to create cupcake toppers with stickers & markers. It was fun to see who really loved it and who walked right by. Their creations were all really great. Grace B kept making toppers for our dog Sam ~ so cute!

After everyone arrived we moved to the big table and let the sugar flow! A lot of decorating and a little bit of eating along the way:

It was a great morning, the girls spending time together outside of class and I got to know some of the other parents better. Matt even had a friend, Easton to play with. I think we’ll have to plan one more party before the end of the school year. Happy Valentine’s Day!

This morning I was fortunate enough to be able to join H in her preschool room for the Valentine’s party! It was so much fun! All the girls were dressed up and most of the boys too, they had special Valentine’s crafts & sports. We talked about Jesus’ love for us and handed out valentines to her friends. Even a special treat for the day! (I also cut her BP&J into a heart for lunch but when she got home she said she couldn’t tell what shape it was??) It was the first time this year that I’ve been able to be in the class and it was great! She attends Family of Christ Preschool and I feel like she has been blessed there beyond measure! It’s the perfect place for her and she will be more than prepared for K next fall.
We started the morning with a heart craft project, painting the kids hands white and making prints on the hearts then it was time for Valentine’s bingo with Mrs. Gunther!

Next was some play time while we set up for the special treat. Everyone got a graham cracker, pink icing and sprinkles. They were provided by one of H’s friends McKenzie…Yummy!

Then our half of the class switched and headed to the open area for sports. Doing some stretching and then playing with red & white balloons.

We headed back in the class for the free play and during that time the other mom (Molly) and I took each child out to distribute their valentines for their classmates.

Then it was Jesus time and we practiced 3 ways to count to 100. I have to admit that counting by 1′s to 100 with 19 four year old’s is…well, that’s a lot of numbers! Then it was time for us to go and they finished up their day with lunch and playtime outside.

5 of the 7 girlfriends in Haley’s class: Audrey, Grace B, H, McKenzie and Grace S.

H gets home at 2:15 each day with a ride from her friend Ellie and she was ready to break out the treat bag! Her choice for today and a dip-n-stick thingy – pure sugar! She let me know that she drew our family on her treat bag, Matt, herself, then the 3rd person is me: “sorta brown hair, sorta blond hair.” I guess it’s time for some highlights!

Love that girl, love her school and love to see her learn!