Last Minute Party

We weren’t going to have a big party for Jameson’s 4th birthday, but when we sent out invitation via email about a week and a half before the party, we got a surprising response. Most guests RSVPed yes, and the small party became a bit of a big one!

Meemaw and Grandpa came up to visit, and we FaceTimed with Aunt Holly while Jameson opened her gifts the day before his party.


Jameson loved his Ninja Turtles shirt from Aunt Holly and immediately wanted to put it on with the new swishy pants from Meemaw and Grandpa. They got him a soccer outfit and a net which we put up when it was relatively warm a couple weeks later. He was really loving kicking his new soccer ball into the net!


Coraline wanted to put on the swishy pants too.



Along with a lot of our friends, Brian’s cousin Griffin also came to the party. Every time Jameson sees him, he loves watching him play video games, following him around and playing with what he wants to play with. Jameson really seems to look up to him, and Griffin is so friendly and plays with him.



Jameson was not happy that Coraline was sitting on his gifts.


Jameson’s big gift was a pirate ship by Playmobil. It has lots of small parts, and we’ve already lost a few. Oops! He hasn’t really been into playing with it other than shooting the cannons, which seems typical boy.


He also got a Pete the Cat book and stuffed toy from Aunt Melissa, which Coraline immediately grabbed saying “my meow”. She’s since given it up but it was pretty hilarious.


The highlight of the party though was the gift from Uncle Mike, cousin Gabrielle and Griffin: the remote control car which flips every which way. The kids were fascinated with it! Even though Jameson is very into doing things himself, he was happy to let Griffin show him how to use it first.


For a cake, he said he wanted chocolate and vanilla (like I made for him when he was three, apparently he remembered), so I decided on a Neapolitan cake I made from scratch. The bottom was actually brownie, a classic vanilla cake, and then strawberry made with handpicked strawberries we froze from the summer on top. Then he wanted orange icing on it, and I decided to go crazy and we put candy eyeballs on it. It was pretty funny looking, but the kids loved the eyeballs and it tasted excellent so that’s all the matters, right?






It was a great party, and Jameson loved seeing all his friends. Even Nathan was able to come! We loved showing off our new basement (which they were working on right up until that morning!) and we invited people to bring dog toys, treats, food and cleaning supplies for the local shelter rather than gifts for Jameson.

We finally dropped all that off a couple weekends ago, and it was so nice to know we were helping the shelter. It was Jameson’s first experience giving to people animals in need. Luckily, there weren’t too many dogs to see in the cages, and it was tough answering Jameson’s question if people leave their dogs in the cages. (People leave dogs here for all kind of reasons, and then they stay here until they can find new homes)


On his actual birthday, Grandma and Poppa came over with his gifts to open, a cool construction set. Jameson is driving his little motorcycle over his gifts.



I can’t believe this little guy is 4 years old, and yet at the same time, I can believe it because he’s changed so much in the past year.

Continue Reading

Thanksgiving Throwback

I hope you’ll forgive me going backwards in time for a bit, all the way to Thanksgiving. Just extending that holiday feeling for a bit more! We visited Meemaw and Grandpa for Thanksgiving this year.


I was a little concerned about how Jameson would take Mayzie being gone, but he was surprisingly chill. It almost was as if he expected it. We didn’t tell him ahead of time, so Meemaw told him when we arrived that night. The only tough part was figuring out how he could walk Shiloh! It was easy to give him Mayzie’s leash, since she didn’t go far or fast. But Shiloh needs more restraining, so we took walks with two leashes attached to her collar.



Coraline liked putting olives on her fingers after I showed her how. It’s a Thanksgiving requirement. We had a great meal with potatoes and green bean casserole, turkey of course and stuffing. We all enjoyed the time away from home for a bit.


Black Friday, I had to go through all the ads. The kids wanted to help, of course. The only place I ended up really going out for though was Jo-Ann, in order to get flannel to make the kids flannel pajama pants. Mom and I walked around the mall, and it was fun to see all the new stores in place! It really had been years since I was last there.


We did a lot of relaxing, snacking and playing with things that aren’t toys. Likes boxes and pianos.







On Friday, we visited with Marky, who is the same age as Jameson. Coraline found a playmate in Finley, now that they are a bit older. Finley’s several months older and taught Coraline how to go up and down the stairs.







All the kiddos enjoyed playtime. Jameson asks to visit Marky every time we visit, and comes home with new things he loves. Last time, it was Ninja Turtle. This time, we were introduced to Rescue Bots.

We had a wonderful visit for Thanksgiving, a nearly 5 days visiting with Meemaw and Grandpa and Aunt Holly all together with Brian able to come as well. It was of course bittersweet that we were able to all make the trip without Sasha waiting for us at home.

Continue Reading


Obviously, it is WAY past Halloween. Not even relevant, to anyone but myself for record keeping purposes. Coraline and Jameson were Captain Hook and Tick Tock Crock. It was super cute. I am hoping that I can swing one more year of coordinating costumes, if Jameson picks something reasonable I should be able to get Coraline to go for it next year. Crossing fingers!


This year, we did Boo at the Akron Zoo. It’s our favorite, since the zoo isn’t too big. It’s wonderful for littler kiddos. We went with two groups of friends, which was difficult to keep everyone together but we made it work.


Here’s our regular gathering of kiddos, between 3 families. Jameson’s friends Bobby and Jonathan and their siblings. Coraline also had a little friend there as well, Adelyn (not pictured), who was born the same night as her (though technically a different day!)



This year the big kids were old enough to trick or treat, and they loved it!

Coraline didn’t feel left out though. She loved feeding the goats and running around freely. We went on a great day, because it was rainy before and rainy as we were leaving, but clear while we were there. It wasn’t crowded and was perfect!





After we left the zoo, we had lunch with Bobby’s family. We couldn’t believe how well-behaved all the kids were, for being out so far past naptime for Coraline in particular. We really felt like we were getting freer to be more flexible, it was lovely!

The next weekend was our haunted neighborhood party/gathering. A few houses get together to do sets like photo booth, food, games and activities, etc. They also do little hayrides through a couple streets. I’d totally consider hosting, but our house is far away from the main gathering point and other houses.




We pay a little fee and the kids get a little something. This year and last year was a light up necklace, which is always a hit!


We skipped the photo booth this year, though not really on purpose, and went straight to do some crafts.



Grandma, Papa and Aunt Melissa joined us for the party this time, as well as the neighbors.


We also got to see Nathan! Jameson was so excited to see his best buddy from school. Nathan doesn’t go to our preschool anymore but still lives in our neighborhood so we have still been able to stay in touch and get the kids together. They loved it!


We never looped back around to the other houses except for the food one because for most of the evening, we were watching a live animal show! All the kids were simply fascinated. Coraline, my baby crocodile, got to pet a real one (or alligator… I can’t remember the difference :)) They also had a really large snake, chinchilla, and parrot too.




It was a great evening and always a fun time. It’s the only big thing our neighborhood really puts on (plus a garage sale day), but what a wonderful annual activity!

The next day we finally carved our pumpkins. This year, Jameson was all about it. He didn’t mind the “gross stuff” and he helped to clean out one of the pumpkins. He told me to make a scary face this year.

I expected Coraline to actually be a little less squeamish than Jameson had been at her age, but she was very concerned with the texture or cold feel of the pumpkin guts, so she didn’t participate.




Except at the very end, she was totally fine with hanging out in the empty pumpkin, as long as she had her snacks.

Continue Reading

Backyard Camping

Sunday night over Labor Day weekend, Brian planned a little backyard camping with Jameson and a couple friends. Jameson was so excited for the experience, and for having friends come over! He loved helping put up the tent with dad.




Christina, Bobby’s mom, packed them all snack pouches for camping!


Once the tents were up, the dads had to teach the 3 year olds the proper way to get in and out of a tent to avoid tracking in lots of dirt. Of course, the kids wanted to jump right in. Teaching patience and properly removing shoes was funny to watch.



The boys played in the evening while the dads made a fire. Jameson was most excited about roasted marshmallows, since he had read about them in Curious George books but never had any.


He waited very expectantly, and even grabbed his own stick to roast with though we have more proper (and slightly more sanitary) roasting sticks that we used.



He ate his marshmallow, but was concerned about the sticky texture so didn’t really want any more roasted (but regular was okay!)



Jameson went to bed the easiest out of the three kiddos. One didn’t want to stay in the tent without dad, and the other didn’t want to sleep in or out. But eventually they all fell asleep, and were actually up at relatively normal times in the morning. I, for one, was happy to sleep in my bed inside though, ha!

I woke up early to run though and snapped this of everyone still sleeping peacefully in the early morning hours.

Backyard camping with the 3 year olds

Continue Reading

Birthday and Baby

The same weekend we celebrated our neighbor’s kiddos’ birthdays, we celebrated with Vivienne for her 3rd birthday, just a week before her little brother was born! I really loved these lights over their porch.


It was such a lovely day outside, and the kids played with bubbles, drawing, playhouse and of course, running outside.




Coraline is wearing her little party favor necklace here, which she actually kept on. The kiddos also got sheriff pins for the cowgirl theme’d party. I love Vivienne’s little boots, above.





Lisa had several flavors of cupcakes, which tasted like they were made by a pro. They were divine, and had little cowgirl pictures on toothpicks stuck into them. Vivienne seem to relish the attention and was excited to open gifts.


The big gift from mommy and daddy was her scooter, complete with knee and elbow pads, but her favorite was Woody’s friend Jessie.




After dinner, the boys Jonathan and Jameson ran races and made mischief.




And then just 15 days or so later, I was back taking photos of her baby brother, Finn. Vivienne was very serious about her little brother, but she did give him a kiss for the camera. Also, she got a balloon out of it! She looked so much older (as all big brothers and sisters seem to after a new baby), all 3 years of her.




Continue Reading

Clowning Around Party

That past couple years, our neighbors have had one big birthday party for both their kids who were born in August. Last year, they hired a balloon man. This year, they one upped him by hiring a clown who was also a magician and balloon man!

Last year, Jameson hung back quietly. This year it did not take him long to get into the fun. He even volunteered himself! His squeals of delight were so fun to hear. Even Coraline sat still on my lap for nearly a half an hour watching him.


Jameson got to keep a hippo after the trick he volunteered for. He was so excited! All the kids got little stuffed animals then, which was super cute. After the magic show, he did balloons and Brian occupied some kiddos while they waited their turns with a handle held air pump.



Jameson requested an alien, and we were pretty fascinated with the balloon within a balloon.



So for their birthday, we decided to get a gift that was outdoors, since Kelly mentioned they have a lot of toys and clothes already. (Also, a bonus in that my kiddos would be able to play with it too). We got them a combined gift of the Classic Alligator Teeter Totter, and it came in this enormous box that I loved watching the kids speculate what it was. Big boxes are always exciting!




Oh, and we also had the water bouncer out! It was a kid’s dream party, I believe. Then time for cake! Coraline enjoyed eating her cake so much that she licked the plate, cracking us all up.




I think the birthday kiddos had a lot of fun; I know mine did too!

Continue Reading

Turkey Fry

Our friends JP and Lisa had a turkey fry party a few weeks ago, and we brought over the water bouncer for the kids there to enjoy as well.





For some reason though Coraline wasn’t too happy that day, and nothing was distracting her from wanting to hang out with mommy. She’s become such a mommy’s girl lately, which a part of me secretly loves. But that day was particularly frustrating!



We tried the sand table, and she needed her shoes on, but even that didn’t last long! She sat on my lap wailing away, so Brian took her for a walk for a bit.


She was happier playing inside at least! She went up and down the step into the living room over and over again. She also loved the mini ice cream cone that Lisa’s mom bought. They were super tiny and a cute snack size for these little kiddos.



I love this casual shot of all the guys together. We hadn’t all gotten together in quite some time. The kiddos really got into the red solo cups and starting throwing water on each other. It was a little uneven at first, so we gave all the kids a cup.





It was a nice time, and tasty turkey as well. Looking back on these photos now makes me miss the warmer weather. It’s gotten quite a bit cooler recently, and we all are getting colds.

Continue Reading

2nd Annual Kiddie Park Visit

We saw quite a lot of our friends Jason, Lisa and Vivienne the couple weeks before their second son was born. We went to the Kiddie Park with them as kind of a second annual tradition. They go more frequently than us, but this really was just our second time there.

This year, Coraline was old enough to get in on the fun, even being just shy of 1 and a half! When we first got there though I had Coraline while Brian took Jameson on the train ride first.




She wasn’t too concerned about the wait! Then we went and did the boat ride, which is my personal fav (not that I’ve been able to ride on it). Coraline had a blast ringing the bell, and she did great keeping her hands in the boat. (Just that ride though, we did this a couple more times and she got progressively more daring, but didn’t get kicked off at least!)



Vivienne arrived and we did a couple rides that Coraline was a little too young for. The kids love this bumpy car ride and we did that one a couple times as well. I rode with Jameson on the really jerky roller coaster, which was a little intense for me. I was happy that one didn’t get requested twice.



She was big enough for the rocket ride that glides along the ground though!


Coraline loved the carousel and requested “more” for that one, so while the older kids did another big kid ride, we rode that one again.



Each ride you strap in your own kids, so we got this fun shot on the boat ride again.



We ended our day there with the cars. The cars go out of sight, so we weren’t quite comfortable letting Coraline drive off in one of those. All in all, everyone had a great time. Even Coraline with her delayed nap! It’s so nice to have some of that flexibility again.


We even had enough good mood left with the kiddos that we stopped for ice cream! Jameson and Vivienne played with her stuffed kitty, tossing it back and forth. It need a wash after that!


Continue Reading

Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh

We took the kids to the Children’s Museum a few weeks ago in Pittsburgh with Jason, Lisa and Vivienne. The one closer to us is smaller, and Lisa had heard good things about this one so we committed to the drive (which actually didn’t end up being too bad).

We tried to leave during Coraline’s naptime, but we all know that Coraline isn’t the best napper in the car. I did see some zzzz’s out of her at least for a little while. When we arrived, it was tough to find parking because they were having a Kindergarten event there! Luckily the crowd thinned out as the day went on and the event ended, but we weren’t prepared for that. We found some street parking though and had lunch first in the cafeteria there.

They recommended we start in the arts and crafts room in case things needed to dry. Jameson did a couple older kid activities (like a cool screen printing) and I got adventuresome with Coraline and did some painting. The aprons were so large I put her head through the arm holes and wrapped it extra around her!



They had an adorable outdoor area and Coraline also got to play in the sand while Jameson climbed up into the tree house and used the pulleys. We were really happy with how many activities Jameson was able to do, which were more advanced than Coraline could do but not too advanced for him. He was a great age for a lot (though not all) of the experiences. There just seemed to be more.




In the “transportation” room I guess, Coraline was dying to get a hold of the balls, but they were for a cool activity that pulled them into the air and onto a track. Brian and Jameson waited for a while to do this.

This is also where I realized that this Museum has a bunch of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood! I am not sure if I was under a rock, but I didn’t realize that is where Mr. Rogers was from. In that room, they had his trolley; in others, they had some of the puppets, and even the castle! (though it had been repainted and repurposed I think).






There was a room a little beyond all the kiddos, so we moved more quickly through that and then to the younger kids’ room. Coraline loved everything in this room. There is some more sand, a giant “lite brite” and this seesaw among other things.



It’s also where the puppets are! I was fascinated to look at all these characters I grew up with.



One of the last areas we visited was the water room. Luckily we brought a spare change of clothes! I forgot about the water areas. All the kiddos were in heaven. I really loved the cool pipe works they had coming from the floor to move water around. What a clever and awesome activity!




The final room was the workshop, which was again a bit beyond the kids’ skill level, but they enjoyed looking at things so to occupy Coraline I went to go find the castle, which is in the theater downstairs. It’s actually on the stage, and in the back there are a bunch of doors opening to each letter of the alphabet, which she enjoyed.




Mostly, I enjoyed the nostalgia of seeing all the Mr. Rogers characters and castle. And the kids having fun, of course! When we left, we saw they were playing Mary Poppins there later and had chalk art outside. It was overall a great Children’s Museum, and one that I think we’d go back to.


We stopped for dinner with our friends on the way home at a local pizza place recommended to us a while ago by Brian’s parents. Very tasty! Though the kids were worn out and just done with everything. Coraline started yelling unhappily, but even after we got on the road, she didn’t fall asleep. Crazy kid!

Continue Reading


Since a lot of our friends had children right around the time we had Jameson, he has had no shortage of playdates and playmates. Coraline, however, was born about a year to year and a half off from our friends’ second children. She hasn’t had nearly as many playdates as Jameson had.

The night Coraline was born, my friend also had her first baby, Adelyn. We’ve only gotten the kiddos together one other time, when they were we little. So we decided to get them together again for a little playdate a few weekends ago! Brian even got out the water bouncer for them, though they couldn’t appreciate the slide just yet.




I also invited an old co-worker, Lauren, with her twin girls. They are just over 2 years old, so they were able to enjoy the slide. It must be nice to have a built in playmate!



Jameson was great with the babies and younger toddlers. He was just excited to play in the water bouncer! We were all happy it was such a nice day out for it. We also filled up the water table which never seems to get old. Technically it’s a sand and water table, though we’ve never put anything in it but water.



Coraline and Adelyn showed off their climbing skills, crawling all over the bouncer. Adelyn was already walking, and loved splashing in the water. Coraline enjoyed the water much more after she was a able to eat after her nap. She wasn’t quite walking yet, but happy to walk along the walls and climb over obstacles.



It was nice for Coraline to have an opportunity to play with kiddos her age, though she never seems to be complaining about it. She adores her brother and watching big kids play too! It’s hard to believe so much time has passed though.

Continue Reading