To Larkyn on your fourth birthday

Dear Larkyn,
It is so hard to believe that you are four years old. But at the same time, we can't imagine what life was like before you.  You absolutely sparkle. You love anything to do with sweets, tea parties, and princesses, but also adore playing outside whenever possible. You loved having this little party at home with just us around the table and a special candle that you put in yourself.

You are learning to share with your brother and that is hard, I know. You are testing us with your constant sweet tooth. If it has sugar, you want it!

Eventually you will learn to count four fingers and tell people how old you are. Before I know it, you won't be able to count it on your fingers anymore. You are just growing up way too fast and amazing us with the things you remember (song lyrics, especially!)  You love the Mamma Mia and Pitch Perfect soundtrack, and definitely prefer "mommy songs" (female vocalists) over "daddy songs".

There are so many rules, I know. You probably feel a lot of pressure to behave, start having responsibilities, and to be kind to others. That last one is the most important. Always, always keep a kind heart and say nice things to people. It can be hard.

I know you hate getting in trouble. You yell right back when you know you did something wrong. Don't forget how much it can help to just go lay down and take a break from everything. It always helps me.

Never stop asking questions and learning about the world! I am so excited for you to find something in this world that really fascinates you. But don't forget, for every cool thing you learn about science or history, there are also moments to just play dress up and have a tea party with friends.

One day you will figure out how to take things that are yours. I want you to set goals and reach them.  To not let others bulldoze stand up for yourself.

 Everything in moderation, babe. 

Go experience life!  Of course some days are made for laying on the couch, but I can't wait to do everything with you in this big world. I hope you love to see musicals, travel to new cities, and go find new adventures in our own city as much as I do. This is our first "experience" gift to you, and we hope you love it in a few days!

We love you so much, sweetie. Your sweet songs, your desire to "do it yourself" and your "You're my best friend" comments melt us every day. Happy birthday, Larkyn!

Life Lately and your opinions...

The past week was filled with my favorite kind of weather; warm, breezy, and sunny. It may have made up for everyone in the house getting sick and having to apply for a home equity loan (fun!) to pay for the water damage in our basement (FUN!)

Oh, and five seconds before we realized the basement flooded, I got a new car!  No more car-owning for me. I'm just not cut out for it. I am hard on cars and hate to pay for maintenance. So, leasing it is. We downsized a bit, which is totally fine, because now I have less space to fill with Kitchenaid stand mixers, hot dog roasting sticks, and anything else we found in the old car as we cleaned it out.

Matt had planned vacation days for Friday and Saturday, but didn't make any exciting plans because he was dying from the same cold the three of us already had. Fun fact: Did you know that everyone in your house can get the same thing and each suffer from a different symptom-- double ear infection (check), complete loss of voice (check) and throwing up (check)?  It is true. He was able to rise from the dead and play outside with the kids for the afternoon. Anyone else's children have MAJOR bug phobia? Hers is legendary right now. And I need to know the secrets of dirt removal on laundry, because...Rhys.

Annnnyway, back to the weather. It lent itself to a little evening photo session at the Park of Roses. I was dying to get there before the blossoming trees got rained away. Here are some of my favorites...

I had an easy time getting good shots of Rhys (the one on his back--dead. Absolutely dead from the cuteness). Harder with Larkyn because she was (no joke) pretending to shoot me with ice out of her fingers and telling "Prince Hans" to stay away (the prayer hands? No idea where she got that, but I know the grandmas will be ally over prayer hands). Even harder was getting them both in focus or looking at the camera. But it was fun practicing.

It may seem like it was Larkyn's birthday a month ago because we had the kids' party together. She was surprised when I started talking about her birthday (4/21) like, "Is mommy losing it? It already happened...but if I can get another cake, I'll let her keep up this craziness". She requested cupcakes and Chipotle, and we have a little surprise up our sleeves for her gift. 

Matt has decided to explore pescatarianism. Any words of advice? I have already made it clear that there will only be one menu for dinner, but that I can adjust his to have no meat. I guess if Ted Danson and Queen Sophia of Spain do it, why not? Meanwhile, I was pinning this. Dreams- shattered.

How do you feel about joining Costco?  We live closer to one now and have been tossing around the idea. Buying in it worth it? I tend to shop like a European (one who buys Lucky Charms and Pop Tarts) and run through, getting only enough for a day or two. This is strictly survival mode, people. Have you shopped with 2 children? First, there is no room in the cart, one may be jumping on a display bed at Target, and the other is making "potty noises". Going once a month and getting a TON of crap without kids may or may not solve the problem. Will this happen to me? 

Brace yo'selves for a lot of sappy reflections on the fact that my firstborn is turning FOUR in two days. Four. That's like 14 years away from going to prom. Unless she is a freshman who gets asked by an older guy. Oh God. 

Have a great week!

The sunny side

When the sun is shining around here, everything changes. Most notably, our basement begins to dry out from flooding (minimal damage but a MAJOR problem we are going to have to fix...yayyyy).  But we also have the chance to enjoy some of our favorite things...

 Bath time without freezing cold air
 He loves baths...
 Obviously he loves them, because he is subjected to her whims and puts up with it.
 Bare feet come back out
 Petting the goats at the zoo
New shoes for walking!
And stretching up high to get fruit snacks from big sis

A little sneak-away out to meet Jill and Alyson in the Short North for dinner and visiting. You'll notice to my right, a copper mug. Yep, had my first Moscow Mule and I'm a FAN. Totally different from my norm, but loved it. And the Spoon Bread at The Pearl-- I will be back for more (also, I had no idea the recipe was online till just now. I may need to get groceries immediately) Mother's Day is coming up, Matt. Just FYI.  If you live in Columbus, book your reservation NOW. 
The first zoo trip of the season. Getting up the courage to pet the goats again.
 Think she likes the train ride? Oh, do I love her.
 Time with our favorite old neighbors
 More interested in feet than the elephant...
 She (or he?) was playing with a stick. Ha!
He has been sick all week AGAIN, so I was glad to get him out of the house 

Muddy Puddles

Didn't I just finish explaining how Peppa Pig loves to jump in muddy puddles on Larkyn's beloved TV show?  Well, guess who noticed our backyard had turned into a mud pit?

The plan was: "We are staying on the deck and blowing bubbles"...

Yes, she always puts them on the wrong feet.

Love the braids my mom put in. Love this messy, outdoor-loving girl. She is exhausting, but exactly me at age 4. Oh, and the Hunters?  Best $50 we've ever spent on a kid's item. She got them over a year ago and wears them at least three times a week. 

Sugar high

In the last 6 months (maybe Halloween flipped some sort of switch), Larkyn has become a full-on sugar junkie. That means that Easter was her THING this year, and not a 30 minute interval went by without her a) asking for candy b)asking if we want candy so that she could "share it" or c) sneaking candy.  It was still a fun, beautiful day!

Quite possibly my favorite picture of this child's life. 

 The kids' baskets. I usually go pretty small since both grandmas bring them baskets too. Inside the eggs hidden around the house were Shopkins (which she looooooved) and candy. Rhys got some toothbrushes and toothpaste and some cute Mickey things that are completely uninteresting to him.

Though her basket be small, there was a very special surprise in there. Actually two of them. If any of you have preschoolers who use iPads out there, you are undoubtedly familiar with Kindersurprise Eggs. I thought Larkyn was the only one obsessed with them until I found out that these egg videos have a cult following. Only, they aren't sold in America. This is when it is very helpful to have chocolate smuggling connections. 

 Our friends got the kids a nice gift card to Gymboree, so I was able to get both of their Easter outfits with it. I was dying over this cuteness, who soon after the picture, sat down in the dirt and ate mulch.

 My beautiful girl, watching the mulch-eater. 

 I do love coming home to these two every day.

 Rhys wanted to be held pretty much all afternoon. In an effort to save the Gymboree outfit, I grabbed the first bib in his drawer. So...pumpkins for Easter?

My contribution (besides my house) was dessert. My favorite spring dessert to fix for a crowd, Strawberry cheesecake trifle

 These two were maniacs for a few hours, then forced to sit down (with dirty socks that prove they ran wild).

 This is my heart exploding.

And all the clothes came off as soon as everyone left. Those curls...

I am happy to not have a candy-filled holiday for a VERY long time. I actually have to cut this short because "someone is rolling around under my desk like she's going through a terrible withdrawal of skittles and Reeses eggs.  Never dull. 
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