Monday, September 21, 2015

Mark is 5!

My baby boy turned 5 years old on September 14th!
Look how handsome and grown up he is!
 Because the birthday cutoff in VA is extremely late (Sept 30th), Mark could have technically gone to kindergarten this year. Even though I think he would have done just fine, we decided he could only benefit from another year at home. His current schedule is Tuesday/Thursday preschool 9:00-1:30, Community Bible Study with mom on Wednesday mornings and Classical Conversations on Friday mornings.  He loves getting out of the house to do anything - quite the opposite of his big brother Keaton, who is my homebody.

Mark is so independent. His favorite phrase is "I can do it!" And he CAN! Everything from making a salad and start a load of laundry to running the dishwasher. He's such a good helper - with anything really - and he rarely complains. Except cleaning up his toys - He draws the line there when it comes to independent or helpful. ;-)

Mark loves to laugh and make others laugh, but he much prefers being the funny sidekick to the center of attention. This year for CC, he is required to get up in front of his class each week to do a short presentation. This has really challenged him, but he's getting the hang of it and is gaining more confidence each week. 

that smile! those freckles!
Mark's very curious about how things are built and the way they work. You can just see his little wheels turning behind that furrowed brow as he watches Daddy change the water filter on the fridge or install a baby gate. He loves building lego sets, making crafts, and gardening. 

Even though he's a much bigger boy than I like to admit, he still has a few funny Mark-isms that do not have the heart to correct - I just enjoy hearing them too much!

My favorites:
"Instruction Workers" = Construction workers
"Popkits"= pockets
"Glubs" = gloves
"Webbons" = weapons
"Sand Hanitizer" = Hand Sanitizer

 I did I little birthday interview with him. Here's Mark in a nutshell at 5: 

What's your name? Mark Maraca 
(the story here is that his preschool gives each kid a picture that matches phonetically with their name. Last year, Mark had the choice to be Mark Monkey or Mark Maraca - he chose Maraca! So this is his name now.)
What's your favorite food? muffins 
(Chocolate Chip Pumpkin are his favorite, and this is also one of the things he most likes to bake with Mom)
What do you want to be when you grow up? fireman
(this changes almost hourly)
What is your favorite TV show?  Paw Patrol
Who do you like to spend time with? Eli
What do you do really well? build puzzles
What makes you laugh? when Daddy makes silly faces
What is the best time of day? when we go pick up Keaton from the bus stop
What are you afraid of? caves 
(this was news to me)
Who is your best friend? Eli
What do you like to do with your family? go to Target and look at toys
What do you love to learn about? the Bible
Where do you like to go? Chuck-e-Cheese
What is your favorite book? Chase is on the Case
If you had one wish, what would it be? To go to Disneyworld or Legoland

Did I mention this boy is an amazing brother? Sailor absolutely adores him!
 We had his birthday party on the Saturday before his birthday and invited some of his favorite friends including Dominic Duck, Eli Easel (also attending the same preschool, obviously) and of course the Heath boys! 
Setting up for the party! He was so excited!!
Paw Patrol theme: hence, the "pup-cakes"
Sailor and her buddy Isabel!
A family shot before cake
All the birthday friends!
 On the morning of his birthday, Daddy woke him up early so he could watch him open gifts before he left for work.
Jay Spin-Jitzu! We've been waiting for this...
I was able to take Mark out for a special mommy/son lunch to Chick-fil-a, and then for dinner, Scott's college friend Jay and his girlfriend Stephanie joined us for dinner and more cake.

Another family shot
 I think that Mark was well-celebrated this year!

Mark Nathan, you are a joy to me and I cannot believe you are so big! I love building lego sets with you and cuddling with you before bed. You have your Mom's tender heart and your Daddy's servant spirit. You make me so proud to be your mom. I love you SOOOOOO much!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

School Starts!

And just like that, summer is over! I can't believe how fast it went! 
Keaton started 2nd grade at Belmont Elementary on August 31st.
This is the first year that Keaton was not a new student at a new school, so he was confident and super excited to start this year. He got the teacher that he wanted (Ms. Moss), and many of his friends from Mr. Krueger's class are in his class again this year. 
Walking Keaton to the bus stop.
New bus number and driver! It's all good!
See you later Keaton!
Mark had to wait almost weeks to start preschool, but thankfully it went by pretty fast. 
He started his last year at St. Matthew's Lutheran Day School on September 10th.

 He is only attending 2 days a week again, but will now be eating lunch at school, which extends his day from 11:45 to 1:30. We are also doing Classical Conversations on Fridays.
His good buddy (and neighbor) Eli Wischmeier is joining him at St. Matthew's this year and is in the same class. I'm so thankful to have someone to carpool with! I have a feeling my rides to school are going to be a lot louder this year!
They were so excited for the 1st day!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Washington "Mommy-ment"

On our final Saturday night before school started, we got tickets to visit the top of the Washington "Mommy-ment" (as Mark calls it). It was such a perfect evening to be in D.C. The weather was beautiful and the crowds downtown are finally starting to dwindle a little bit. 

enjoying a little treat on the lawn as we waited for turn to go up!
there was about a 90 sec elevator ride to the top, and what a view!
Keaton kept saying, "we're 500 feet up! I can't believe we're 500 ft. up!" Nice smile, Mark!
nice view of the reflecting pool and the Lincoln Memorial!
love this quote about the Memorial! It really is incredible!

being silly with my boy!
The largest free-standing stone structure in the world! standing 554 feet 7 1132 inches tall!
After the memorial, the sun was setting, so we took a little walk down the National Mall.
The WW2 Memorial is especially beautiful at night. What a fun way to celebrate the end of summer!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

10 months old!

Hi Sailor June! 
I love you more every month of your life. 
Here's only a few of the many things that make me kiss you 100 times a day: 
your chubby feet
the way you smile back at me after you've conquered a flight of stairs...
the way your ride in the cart at Target...
the way you cry when you're in jail...
the way you help me unload the dishwasher...
the way you get into EVERYTHING...
the way you play and talk in your crib after you wake up from your nap...
the way you look in a coonskin cap...
the way you kick your feet and say "OOOOOO" when you're excited!
the way you lounge around like your daddy...
the way you play so contentedly with your brother...
the way you let me cuddle you...
Thank you for being beautiful you!

We love you beyond words!!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Girls Trip 2015

Since Ange and and Charles tied the knot last summer, 2015 was supposed to be the year that we  invite our husbands to join us for a trip to the island! But Ange and Charles (very inconsiderately) decided to get pregnant with the first baby, so we decided to put off the island trip one more year so that hopefully Ange and Charles can join us next year! 

Even though we missed having Ange with us, we understand why she needed to stay home this year! 
Baby Michiah was born on June 21st!

Amazingly, this is our 12th girls trip!  We now have 11 kids between the 4 of us, and each year, I feel more thankful for these friends, and these few days I have every year to get away with them. 

This year, Mel, Meg, and I found ourselves at St. Pete beach on the gulf side of Florida.  Thanks so much to my dad and Pinky for hooking us up with hotel points, so we could stay here! 
It was stormy our first evening in St. Pete, and the sky and beach were absolutely beautiful during our walk to dinner.
Look at those clouds!

We spent most of our time relaxing and talking, but one of my favorite things we did was spend a day at Busch Gardens in Tampa! It had been way too many years since I'd ridden a roller coaster, and it was so much fun! I was pretty proud of myself for not getting sick. There was a two-hour block of time during the middle of the day where all the rides were closed due to lightning in the area. Even though this was a bummer, it cleared out the park somewhat, so there were hardly any lines for the rest of the day.
Mmmm....funnel cake!
The Cheetah Hunt! This was one of the longest roller coasters I've ever been on. It lasted over 3 minutes!
 "Smile Angelo!"
Falcon’s Fury gets ready for its May 1 opening date at Busch Gardens.
Falcon's Fury was crazy. We were whisked to the top of this 335-foot tower. Once we hit the top,  our seats pivoted 90-degrees so that we were looking straight down over the park. Then it is a complete free fall for 6 seconds. Whew!

We enjoyed dining out a couple of nights on the waterfront of St. Petersburg.
We found this amazing Gelato place called Paciugo in St. Petersburg. We liked it so much we went back again the next night!
Right before we left for the airport, we tried to recreate this photo from Perdido Key in 2004. 12 years of vacationing with these girls and I can honestly say we have more fun every year! I love them!