Polar Express Snow Monsters

After the last Polar Express in 2015, I had said we’d probably be done with the Polar Express, but somehow the holiday spirit got a hold of me, and I decided to keep the kids up late, feed them a bunch of sugar and trap them aboard a train with us again. This year we were joined by our friends and their sons Jonathan and Joshua.


Matching PJs were a little less traditional. While on a girls trip to Niagara Falls, we found these adorable Yeti pajamas which I called Yeti Spaghetti at home (like the game). The kids wore them the whole season and loved them!



I also couldn’t help it and bought Yeti slippers. Too much holiday spirit, ha!


And, yes, I did get matching pajamas again this year. At least, matching bottoms. Look! A rare photo of me with the kids all smiles!







Jameson got to sing in the mircophone, and performed admirably. Everyone did the pajama parade, consumed cookies, and were thrilled seeing Santa. It still might not be our last year…



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The Disney Wonder

Just before the weather got cold in Ohio in early November, I had the opportunity to board the Disney Wonder on a two night test cruise! Uncle Tyler scored us this awesome opportunity. However, Brian wasn’t really up for going, and I didn’t want to take Coraline myself. I thought two young kiddos myself might be a little much. It really worked out perfect though because Aunt Holly wanted to go, and we had a limited number of tickets anyway.

So Jameson and I boarded a plane (or three) for a three nights away from home. I tried to get us cheap flights since this was such a short stay, so the travel day was pretty grueling. Jameson was a trooper, and I hadn’t flown Delta before, but they treated Jameson like royalty. I really enjoyed our flights, aside from layovers (which was my own fault, trying to be cheap). That’s probably the last time I will do two stops for a trip unless there is literally no other choice.

Our first night, we stayed with Uncle Tyler in his apartment, and ate out for breakfast the next morning. Then we had a drive and wait time to board the ship. Our two night vacation was really spent with a lot of waiting. An exhausted Jameson was a little slow picking up on the surprise- we hadn’t told him anything. Though he was pumped about using a booster seat in the car! The ships were easy to see in the distance about 10 minutes before we pulled up, and it took Jameson until we were right upon them to notice!

We did have a cranky first evening after a couple long a days of flying, driving, waiting and standing. Jameson is therefore not in this photo.

We enjoyed the launch party complete with singing and dancing, but were disappointed that the kids pool area wasn’t open. The center pool was, so Jameson swam around in that instead and loved it, but we were all a little bummed because the kids splash area looked really fun! After all that standing, flying, driving and waiting though, we did have a cranky first evening, so, Jameson wasn’t in this photo, ha!

We sent Jameson away to the kids area that night while us adults watched the “Golden Mickeys” show the first night because of that, but Jameson enjoyed himself there despite that (I was truly surprised he let me leave him there, but it helped we had walked around to introduce him to the kids stuff earlier during the parent visit period Open House). It was pretty awesome, particularly the Toy Story themed area.

On board, he enjoyed more ice cream, the hot tub and pool, and awesome new kids play spaces. Stayed up late, met Louis the alligator, watched Frozen the musical, went shopping.

I got up early to get some shots with the good camera for the sunrise. We were graced with the presence of a helicopter, shooting footage for future marketing, which was pretty cool.


Overnight, we had been traveling to the Disney private island in the Bahamas, Castaway Cay (pronounced Key). This was such a blast!

The whole crew

Swimming in the Bahamas at Castaway Cay

Enjoyed his very first (ocean) beach day yesterday. Bar was set pretty high.

We buried Jameson in the sand twice, used snorkel fins and swam to the first buoy, had ice cream 3 times, drank “fuzzy” lemonade, biked the island, loved the beach.

When you bike around the island, you get to bike down a huge landing strip. The expanse of that huge road narrows to proper biking paths. We made sure to explore all the roads before we returned our rentals.

Jameson didn’t really get a feel for the snorkel very well, but wore the goggles and fins pretty far out. It was hard work! I couldn’t get him to look in the water much once we were further out though, because he was convinced there were things at the bottom which were cause to fear. He was so brave despite and was pumped to reach that first buoy! If you go further, there is more stuff to see, almost like a scavenger hunt in the ocean.

Buried in the sand twice, used snorkel fins and swam to the first buoy, had ice cream 3 times, drank fuzzy lemonade, biked the island, loved the beach.

That evening was much more pleasant for him than the first. On board, Jameson enjoyed more ice cream, the hot tub and pool. He stayed up late, met Louis the alligator at Princess Tiana’s restaurant (a truly stunning venue), watched a spectacular performance of Frozen the musical with us, and went shopping. He was introduced to Sprite, which is now his drink of choice when going out to restaurants. He loves the fizzy pop now.

We made sure to visit with another character, since Jameson missed out on the first one. We had to dance a little for our photo, haha.

Also saw Chip and Dale! Always a favorite. We danced for our photo.

The most hilarious moment of our short vacation was the family photo. The photographer assumed Uncle Tyler and I were parents to both Aunt Holly and Jameson. She made sure to snap some shots of just “the kids” together, and got some awkward and hilarious photos of Tyler and I posing together. We really weren’t containing our giggles, but played along.

Overnight, we sped back to port, and I made sure to capture some photos of the gorgeous sunset before our trip was officially over.





I can’t thank Tyler enough for letting us join him and see all his hard work aboard the Disney Wonder!

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Thanksgiving 2016

For Thanksgiving, Brian and I had to separate because we didn’t have a kennel spot for Luna. So I took the kiddos to my parents house, while Brian stayed home.

Brian was going to spend Thanksgiving with his parents but that ended up being pretty spotty because Luna got sick from eating a plant! He spent most of Thanksgiving Day driving back and forth trying to eat dinner at their house and check on Luna, which was unfortunate. Luckily she ended up being fine, but we have really had to watch this eater!


Instead of doing the rec center’s Christmas lights at Christmas this year, they started them early, so we went during our Thanksgiving visit and really got in the holiday spirit!







Yes, that is Coraline being read to by Grandpa from a Reader’s Digest magazine. She even requested the story again! Grandpa did a good job making up a story for her. She and Jameson adored Grandpa this visit. Jameson really started to get good at Wii Bowling, so much so that we set up our Wii at home later this winter.



Aunt Holly got a new dog named Artemis! So we got to meet her and experience her craziness. She’s not barking as much these days, but even then she was super well behaved with the children! Better even than miss Luna, who is always trying to get them to play with her.


We tried to get Coraline in a few outfits from my childhood. One birthday cape I’m hoping to get her in for her birthday! Coraline was less than thrilled with our fashion show, ha!



The kids and I had a good time, even though we had to be separated from daddy during this visit!


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Star Wars Halloween

Similar to last year, we picked our pumpkins at the same farm where we did apple picking. We really got some giant pumpkins!



Both kids drew faces on the pumpkins for Brian to cut out (he was maybe less than thrilled about that, ha). The paper rings hanging from the porch were made by Jameson and hung there through the rest of the year!




We had moderately good helpers this year. Coraline gave up pretty early though Jameson wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty!



We spotted a woolly bear!


Coraline was pretty insistent on being Darth Vader this year, or a Storm Trooper so she could shoot bad guys (nobody really corrected this idea). So I got her a Darth Vader costume and Jameson wanted to be Kylo Ren, so I loved that I got to match the kids again this year!

Jameson would’ve trick or treated all night (as would Coraline, though she was utterly spent). Jameson kept wanting to go to just one more house!



Brian and I both got to attend their Halloween party at school, Jameson got to attend too since he didn’t have regular school that day, so that was a great experience to have them all there again. Jameson is looking pretty old these days though!



It was a fun holiday with the kids having even more fun as they get older. I got Brian to dress up with me for our neighborhood haunted party. I took the photos this year for the event, so I didn’t get to hang out with the kiddos, which made me feel a little sad, but I was happy to have the opportunity! Here’s my set up, from which I have learned a lot I can apply to future events or sets for my new business, Rosy Days Photography.


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I have a lot I could say about our first year of kindergarten, but I won’t dwell too long since our first year of school is already almost over. The one word that comes to mind is challenging: Jameson is challenged daily at school (and he rises to the occasion!) but often that comes out in behavioral problems at home. We are happy that he seems to be performing well at school, but have tried several strategies at home to help him deal with frustration at home including buying him a punching bag!

What has worked the best up until recently was introducing consequences and trying to do less yelling (trying being the key word). He is frustrating and independent which I am sure will serve him well as he becomes his own independent persevering person.

Enjoyed our back to school carnival tonight! Came home with masks, balloon animals, cotton candy and plastic alligators.

Who is this Kindergartener?

Just walking out of a tinker toy ad from 1960 from Instagram: http://ift.tt/2bKgmr4

Yesterday a kindergartner today a middle schooler

Ready for school in just a couple days now!

Jameson wanted him and Coraline to match for his second day of kindergarten


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Beach Day

Beach day last year! For the kids who have never seen a beach, Lake Erie is pretty awesome. Coraline asked on and off for a few months to go to the beach. A proper beach in the south wasn’t really in the plans for 2016, so we went to Lake Erie instead. It was still a win!

Interrupted popcorn snack for this photo can you tell?

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October Visit with Aunt Holly

In October, we had a fun visit with Aunt Holly! Since I hadn’t had enough of the fall color yet, we decided to take an overdue trip to Holden Arboretum and explore their new canopy walk.

Enjoy the photo dump of our fun explorations:









I also enjoyed the opportunity to use my new wide angle lens again!


Hiked up and down 220 steps all by herself (with hand holding for mom and dads peace of mind)




Jameson was a big fan of the little zip line!


I think we were there just before the peak leaves, but it was such fun to get outside and we had gorgeous weather!




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Spring Soccer

Yes, it’s true. Fall soccer is almost over, and here I am talking about spring soccer. For the first time this year they gave kids long sleeves for spring soccer, which was nice except that we had a pretty warm season! And Jameson let those sleeves hang down almost every game. It drove me nuts.

Jameson scored his first goal during soccer practice. They did a scrimmage with the opposite team so I think it counts!

Here are a few more shots of that season. We had a good coach, Jameson’s friend Jimmy’s dad was our coach. Jameson has really come a long way this year in confidence and skill.






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Bike Riding Summer

After demonstrating her proficiency with pedaling this spring (finally), we traded with the neighbors Jameson and Lily’s old bikes this summer. Coraline and Peyton now have a bike they feel appropriate for them.

Jameson also had a big year for biking, since he started riding sans training wheels. After being pushed down some hills many many times, and riding through the grass a lot with Daddy behind him, one day he finally felt confident enough to try it on the sidewalk.

From there, it was one very short day until he was a pro at riding. And, that’s what we’ve done most of this summer.

Practicing without training wheels!!

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Magic Kingdom, Disney Finale Day 5


Champagne for breakfast on our last day!

As with our last trip when Coraline was a baby, we made sure our last day was at Magic Kingdom. There’s something about seeing Cinderella’s castle on the last day that’s so iconic for our Disney trips. Coraline loved seeing the castle.

But first, we had breakfast at Epcot for one more character meal. I had originally said I wasn’t going to do many character meals this trip… but, well, I booked them anyway. I really wanted to eat at the Garden Grill at Epcot, but we couldn’t get in for a dinner so breakfast was the next best thing. We were seated on the second tier though so we couldn’t really see the land below as it rotated, so that was a bit disappointing.

Kids were not disappointed.






Adults needed a few photos with characters for our last time!



More magic photos! The kids finally were getting the hang of this. Did I mention how excited I was on this trip that there wasn’t a huge crane up by the castle the whole time!?



We also had to get a couple photos with Meemaw.



We went back Fantasyland to do Dumbo and the Barnstormer. Jameson still loved that roller coaster. Both kids enjoyed Dumbo, and it was so clever that they had a kids play area in the center inside the “circus tent”. I wish all the rides were like that!


It started to get hot, so it was time to cool off! Coraline got very into the splash pad. Jameson was a little less enthusiastic. Coraline required a change of clothes afterward, ha!




While people started to gather for the parade, the boys waited in line for some ice cream for the kids and I found a spot with less people to get this wonderful photo of the two of them, my favorite of them together for the whole trip.


It was pretty sweltering by this time, but we the photographers were excited with the reduced crowds to be able to give us this shot. We were pretending to be cold! I was a little miffed because this photographer’s lens was dirty, so these next shots I had to clean up a lot! We still captured some fun moments with less people surrounding, though.




Then we settled down to wait for the parade to start.



I love Coraline’s curls when it’s humid and hot and sweaty. It’s darling!


This parade was better than the last one we saw during our previous trip. We saw almost all the princesses aboard the floats, even Anna and Elsa! Kids were tired of waiting, but perked right up when it finally started, and it started with all the princesses on a series of floats. Perfect!





This dragon that followed Snow White was just awesome. Jameson got a kick out of the fire, which it breathed out a couple times as it passed. It was one of his favorite photos to look back on later.



The finale, of course, is always Mickey and Minnie!

We took the jungle safari cruise, which had a pretty long wait even with our fast passes, and then most everyone headed back. We stayed for just one more ride!



Last ride was the Magic Carpet ride!


And, we couldn’t leave without one more photo (with ears)





Okay, a couple photos.

And, the flight home! Ipads are miracle workers. I love their duffy bears sitting next to them.


Disney is always a wonderful trip. Brian remembers a lot more stress during our first trip, which was with a 6 month old. I myself just remember some trouble with sleeping because Coraline was cutting a tooth, but otherwise I think I’ve blocked the stressful parts from my mind. But since I’ve been to Disney a few times since then for races, I was also a whole lot more relaxed too because I felt so familiar with everything. It was a wonderful trip, and I put together individual memory books for the kids again which occasionally get picked out as “bedtime stories”.

See you again soon, Disney!

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