Monday, November 24, 2014

Wild Things

Olivia celebrated her 3rd birthday on November 22nd!  As a matter of fact, the birthday was not so much a 'day' but more like a series of days, with various celebrations, acknowledgements, songs, dinners, high fives, cake eating and (of course) leftover cake eating.  I hate to admit it but last year, things were so crazy that I did a 'combined' birthday for Olivia and Quinn. Never again!  This year, we are going all out.

Hers was a WTWTA (Where the Wild Things Are) party at a Gymboree where the kids got to make wild things masks, run around and act a bit like actual Wild Things (except not as scary).  Let me tell you, it was a great way to burn off some energy on a Sunday afternoon!

The yummy Wild Things cake was a bit hit!
Lucinda and Quinn helped Olivia blow out the candles:
Posing in front of the Wild Things banner:

I can't believe my little girl is already 3!  She is such a kind and caring girl.  She is so loving to her family, especially Quinn whom she hugs and kisses frequently and really anytime but especially when he is upset. She is always looking after her dolls when they have a dirty diaper or need some doctoring. She loves having fun and playing with other kids.  She really really enjoys it when her older cousin Natasha babysits or when she gets to play at Natasha's house.

I couldn't ask for a sweeter, more compassionate daughter, and I know this is only the beginning.  She will continue to grow in her love and understanding (but she's a really smart cookie already!).

Happy Birthday, my sweet Olivia! Mommy and Daddy love you soooooo muuucchhh.


Monday, October 27, 2014


It is with a heavy heart that I write today about the sudden passing of my uncle Shane.  He was more than an uncle to me. He was a dear friend, co-worker, supporter, confidante, sounding board, and always a true 'coyote uncle'.  He will be missed dearly by family, including his wife, four children, three grandchildren as well as hundreds (or maybe thousands) of friends.

The turnout at the visitation, funeral and wake was a testament to how many lives he touched. He really cared about people and was always connecting with people. In this world of social media and increasing volume of impersonal interactions like email and texting, he had a true gift of relationships and fostering friendships.  These stories about Shane and his goofiness are things that I will pass along to my children as they grow up.

Quinn and Olivia actually attended their first funeral just a week prior to Shane's when we celebrated the life of Jason's Meemaw, Thelma Tolliver who died after years of health struggles.  Meemaw's celebration was beautiful and there was a really nice luncheon in the church afterwards where possibly the best cake either of my kids have ever tasted was served (I know Meemaw would have approved!).

Here's a picture of Jason with Meemaw at our engagement party back in 2010.

So we promised the kids that if they sat through Shane's funeral and behaved well, "there might be cake" afterwards.  At the end, Olivia bounced down the aisle at the church exclaiming "let's go eat cake now!"  I made Jason promise that if I die first, he will serve cake at my funeral (and we decided collectively as a family that all funerals should have cake!).

The kids and I sat in the front row of the church during Shane's service and Quinn was absolutely transfixed by the chanting of Tibetan monks during part of the ceremony.  I am definitely going to expose him to more of that as it really had an impact on him. The chanting itself was 'otherworldly' and instilled a blanket of peace over the entire church.  I will never forget how eloquent and wonderful the eulogy was that Patrick (somehow) delivered.  His siblings helped him write it, but the delivery would obviously be a challenge.  I think he has nerves of steel.

I wish I had better news today but I do know that life goes on but that doesn't make it any easier in times like this.  The kids really help to remind me of that on a daily/hourly basis.

Love always and live life to its fullest.  You never know when you will be called home.

xoxo ~Claire

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Little Mermaids

The Summer of 2014 is drawing to a close and we have definitely made the most of it!  The kids have been taking swimming lessons twice a week since early June and I have been getting them to the pool as much as possible besides that.

It's amazing to compare their comfort level in the water at the beginning of the Summer compared to the end of the Summer. Quinn wasn't as involved with the lessons but Olivia took the instruction really well! By the end of the Summer, she's able to fetch rings off of the bottom of the pool and she's getting her confidence in the water.

Here's a shot of Olivia 'diving' with her instructor Alea and one of Quinn in the pool too:
Here's a collage of Olivia going off the deep end at the pool!
On our last visit to Colorado, the kids and Grandma and I made a trip to the North Pole! It was fun to see them riding the rides together.
News Flash!
A few days ago, Quinn started talking in complete sentences! His first sentence was "You're a stinker, Daddy!" Then the next day, he invited me to sit next to him on the bed saying, "Come sit by me, Mommy" and from there he hasn't looked back. He is officially talking and not just words here and there. I am amazed at his verbal skills, the correct use of pronouns such as you, me, he, she, etc and how quickly this change has come about. He has obviously been listening to us all along and formulating sentences in his mind, just not saying them out loud until now.

At this point in a child's development, you can usually start to reason with them. With Olivia, life is one big negotiation. "Put your shoes on so we can go to the store and ride in a car" (aka one of the fancy grocery cart 'cars' they have now). "Eat your broccoli so you can get down and play", "Brush your teeth so we can read a story/watch a movie/sing and dance, then go to bed" and the list goes on and on. And the important part is, that it works.

Before I had kids, I might have frowned upon this approach because it is essentially bribery, but now I get that it is all part of parenthood and you have to use whatever leverage you have when you have it! Funny thing is, QUINN DOES NOT NEGOTIATE. I am discovering things daily about my little boy... such as that he is incredibly strong willed. Sometimes I hear George W. Bush in my head repeating, "America does not negotiate with terrorists.." and Quinn is asserting himself with the mantra: Quinn does not negotiate with Mom and Dad! He understands it all but he will just not trade this for that. A bite of oatmeal for his favorite bunny, cleaning up the toys for his beloved binkie, etc. It'll be interesting to see how this plays out!

When Quinn gets mad or frustrated, he often lays on the floor face down and beats his fists and kicks his legs, classic 'baby' style. It is pretty amusing. He is usually good natured, sleeps well and can be tickled or teased out of a bad mood easily though. He is my sweet boy and I love him to the end of the Earth and back again!

Here are some recent pics from a family photo shoot. The kids were not in the mood for pictures but I think a few of them turned out ok.

Love always, Claire & Family

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Birthday Parties & Fun Travels

In the past month, we have had several fun birthday parties and I actually have pictures to share (well, they were taken by my friend's party photographer Lauren Bradshaw but I will go with it!)  Speaking of birthdays, Olivia likes to declare just any given day HER birthday.  And the first song that Quinn sang out of the blue on his own was actually "Happy Birthday".

See some pictures from Lucinda VandeVelde's party below:

 Near the top of my 'family' to-do list is planning fun birthday parties for the kids in the coming months and scheduling a family photo session ASAP. It has been too long!

We just got back from a much needed vacation in Colorado.  We had a blast out there!  The kids went fishing with dad and caught SIX fish!  They each got to reel in a few of them.  All of the fish were thrown back in, but the one used for the first photo-op was a little close to the edge before he made it back in the water.

Love, claire & family

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Potty Training and Other Adventures

It's been too long since my last blog update. We are moving at lightening speed around here with so many changes taking place and leaps and bounds of development.

I'll start with Olivia.  She is officially potty trained!  I bought a special toy a few months ago and put it on top of the refrigerator. I told her that she could have it when she goes a week without an accident. We got it down and opened it about 3 weeks ago. She calls it her 'potty present'.  We still put a diaper on her at night, but the other night Jason forgot to put one on her.  When she woke up and her bed was wet, I asked her if she had pottied and she said "No Mommy. Someone poured water in my bed!"

We are currently in the "Princess" stage with her.  She wants to wear a pretty dress or skirt (kurt) every day. She has sparkly silver slippers that are NOT play shoes, but she wants to wear them anyways all day long.  Each night we put band aids on her boo boos (meaning the sores on her poor little feet) and also on her bug bites. Did I mention we are also in the "band aid" stage?

My niece Natasha has been watching the kids on Saturday mornings and it has been really helpful to me so that I can get some work done over the weekend.  The other day when I picked Olivia up from daycare, she wanted to go to Natasha's house and "play with my friend Natasha."  She really loves Tasha and so does Quinn.  Olivia is really forming complex sentences now and can easily carry a conversation with you, though there are still some words she says that just plain escape me.  And there are some words she hasn't quite figured out yet... For example, yesterday when she demanded to go to Natasha's house, she said "Turn the car over, Mommy. I want to go to Natasha's house now!"  I told her that I think she wants me to turn the car around, not over!

Olivia loves watching Daniel Tiger right now and honestly so do I.  This show is a spin off from the Mr. Rodgers shows of the past and they have catchy little songs like "when you have to go potty stop and go right away!"  I even heard a little girl singing that song at Costco the other day to her dad!  I honestly attribute our potty training success in part to that blessed show.  There was a Daniel show on eating vegetables and so now Olivia eats vegetables too!  I am searching high and low for a show to teach them about brushing teeth.

Quinn is doing great, but speaking specifically about brushing teeth, he is a real bear in that department.  You have to pin him down in order to force a toothbrush inside his mouth.  He doesn't want help and he doesn't want it period.  It will be interesting to see how his personality develops because right now it's very clear that he has a STRONG will.  Some people we meet in public are almost intimidated by him and what I call the "Quinn look" which is a furrowed brow and very serious expression.  I think they are expecting a sweet little 'Goo-Goo Ga-Ga' baby and he is definitely not that.

But not to paint a bad picture of my Quinn-Doll.  He is a really happy baby overall and we get silly together on a very regular basis.  He can be tickled out of a bad mood almost anytime.  When he plays with something, he really concentrates on it.  He is not easily distracted and doesn't like to be interrupted.

Quinn has two large fluffy stuffed animal bunnies that we got from Jason's family 2 Easters ago and he loves these things!  He also likes an old flip phone that he got from Jason's dad a few weeks ago.  Each night, we have to read the Little Blue Truck books and also Harry the Dirty Dog.  He hasn't shown any interest in electronics like the iPad which I think is great!

Jason and I are doing great, coming up on our 4th anniversary on Aug 6th. I can't believe how time flies! Here are some pictures of the kiddos.

Love always, Claire

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Mom's Day 2014

We are all doing well and enjoying a beautiful Spring here in Kansas City. The kids are spending a lot of time outside these days. It is so nice to not have one of them crawling around in the dirt and trying to eat rocks (usually!). Time flies so fast though, it can be almost heartbreaking.  Over these past few months I have been shedding the baby clothes, gear, etc and sending it on to my cousins who are due this summer with their firsts. I did hold back a bag of *my* favorite clothes that they wore that bring back the baby memories.

We are not great about taking pictures so that makes it even harder to see my little sweet-doll Quinn turn from a baby into a little boy right before my eyes. I did snap this picture of him the other morning in bed just as he was opening his eyes.

It is somewhat tragic that both of the kids seem to be trying to give up naps now. Maybe its just because the weather is so nice that they would much rather be outside than napping in the afternoon.  I think we need to stay on a nap or at least adopt a firm "quiet time" schedule in the afternoons.

Quinn is communicating a lot and we are starting to be able to reason with him some. He is very adventurous about trying new foods and he loves fruits and vegetables! He really doesn't eat much meat but he does really love hot dogs.  Yesterday at dinner at a favorite Mexican place he 'discovered' salsa with his chips. Very cute but it got messy pretty quick and we had to cut it off!

Olivia loves being outside and she is really into watering the plants and playing in the sprinklers. You basically have to keep her inside if you want her to stay clean (she has figured out how to open the back door so there's another milestone that we have to contend with!)  Her diet is pretty limited still, but a friend told me a strategy to get her to eat what we want her to eat first before you give her anything that she wants. This seems to be working.  Also bribes which are not my favorite do have a place and time to keep the diet somewhat balanced. Yesterday she announced that she wanted ice cream (her friend Spencer was getting some with his mom after daycare) so we went to the ice cream parlor after dinner but she wouldn't even try it.  Sometimes I wonder if she is actually related to me when things like this happen!

Here's a picture of her at Easter in a dress we bought on the Hawaii trip.  This kids get along really well and 'help' each other out some too.  For example, Olivia will try to explain things to Quinn when he doesn't understand me. Quinn will help me by grabbing a diaper for her when I am changing her.

We couldn't be busier (and happier) in so many ways with this family. We are expanding the car wash brand that we have established to another location in Westport this summer and really excited about the opportunities there.  This is our website that is almost completed which will give you an idea of what we are doing with that business.

I am still waiting for things to 'get easier' with the kids from what I have been told. They are still requiring a lot of attention and the no napping thing is taking a toll, but I know that this too shall pass.

Take care. Love always, claire & family

Sunday, March 23, 2014

March Madness

It has been awhile since my last update but definitely not because we don't have anything going on!  In early March, we loaded up the kids and drove out to Colorado for a ski trip in Winter Park with my family.  It was a great time.  I was astonished at how great the kids were in the car out and back.  Seriously not a peep from them. I think it has to be all downhill from here!

So to continue with the ski trip, I am not a big 'ski bum' but I enjoy spending about 3-4 days a year on skis. The past two years, I missed out on skiing because I had just had c-sections.  So getting out in Winter Park, especially with the amazing snow and perfect weather, was a huge treat.  I did some recon before the trip and booked daycare for both kiddos for 3 1/2 days which was a perfect situation for them too!

We really enjoyed staying in a condo with my mom and sister Molly.  The kids had lots of fun being silly and spending time with family.  Here's a pic of Olivia on skis (this was more of a photo op... she was too little to actually ski but that didn't stop Dad from taking her out! :)

Jason spent the first 3 weeks of February working his tail off on a huge project to rebuild and upgrade the car wash tunnel.  Of course it wasn't a single-handed effort, there were several contractors and moving parts involved.  In the end, the place is much improved and the performance of the equipment is significantly better.  Every morning when he went to work (often leaving before the kids got up and returning after they were down), Olivia would ask "Where'd Daddy go?"  I would say "To fix the car wash."  After several days of this, she finally asked "Why can't he fix it?" and she said it should have been fixed by now!  Funny thing is whenever she sees something broken down, a pile of bricks or something 'messy' she says "Daddy can fix that."  She LOVES her Daddy too.

I believe in my last post, I noted that Quinn really started walking well in January.  Well, I can report now he is actually 'running'!  His mobility has developed faster than Olivia's did and I have hardly ever seen him fall down. She was doing puzzles, stacking things and putting things away when she was 10 months old (she was turning pages in books at like 6 months) and he is just starting to do those things.  Seeing the differences in their 'development priorities' is interesting.

With Spring here in KC and both kids mobile, I am excited for playing outside and going on walks very soon.  In fact, the outside playing together has already begun.  It is really sweet seeing them together and makes me so happy that they have each other to share their lives with too.

 Here are a few pics in the 'fun' grocery carts that we are always scoping out.  I've had a few people ask if they are twins since they are so close and Quinn is catching up to Olivia size wise quickly.  They wear the same size shoes almost and can fit into the same size clothes in a pinch.

Jason and I are doing well.  We've (meaning 'I've') been planning fun "date nights" on Saturday nights as we have a standing babysitter for that night.  We had a blast on Jason's birthday and on any random Saturday (and/or occasionally Friday) nights, we are out having fun.  I believe that a good balance between work and play is crucial to maintaining a good relationship.

Signing off for now. I am planning to keep this blog updated as much as possible without feeling too pressured.  Once every 2 months will be a minimum.
xoxo Claire

Friday, January 31, 2014

Likes and Dislikes

2014 has started off at a fever pitch for us around here, and I do mean 'fever' literally!  Our little Quinn turned 1 on January 7th and his little body has been hard at work building his immune system.  I am so thankful that everyone was healthy on our wonderful Hawaii trip, but now that we're back, the bugs have set in. I guess things could be much worse than being in the comforts of home and treating little ones who are under the weather.

For this post, I thought I would recap all of our current likes and dislikes for the stage of life that we are presently in.

Daddy Likes putting Olivia down at night, watching 'Bond' with her on the iPad before bedtime, tickling Quinn until he giggles loudly and squirms, holding his little boy (even when he may be reaching for mommy!), overseeing bath time for both Olivia and Quinn, watching the kids interact with the dogs, especially Morton.

Daddy Dislikes going to work before the kids wake up and getting home too late to play with them, cold weather this time of year, waking up in the middle of the night to tend to babies (because he can't fall back asleep that easily).

Mommy Likes acting silly with the kiddos, conversing with them about anything, putting on music and 'dancing' with Olivia, playing 'cut the pickle', sing-a-longs in the car, weeding through the toys and donating some to charity, making sure rooms are clean and cribs/closets organized, seeing them play together and make up their own games, finding a good babysitter who is reliable and trustworthy.

Mommy Dislikes being puked upon in public, lollygagging (by Olivia) in the parking lot while trying to get everyone in the car, schlepping so much stuff around, picky eaters, a diaper bag without wipes, not having any time or flexibility to exercise.

Olivia Likes talking and expressing herself, "Quinnie" and being a big sister, learning to use the potty, going to the car wash, going to ride Willie, getting the 'grocery getter cleaned, wearing skirts and dresses so she can twirl in them, wearing butterfly wings and dancing around, MUSIC, graham crackers, milk, singing Twinkle Twinkle, her "PUP-pad" (iPad), telling Morton and Vanna what to do, her loveys - it is a big slumber party in her crib every night.

Olivia Dislikes really any 'new' foods and too many foods to even count (she is picky!), being dirty (she likes washing hands and wiping the table off), having mommy help brush her teeth, getting PJ's on after a bath (she likes to run around naked!).

Quinn Likes feeding the dogs table scraps and pretending that he isn't doing it WHILE he is doing it, big sister 'VEE-a', being held, being covered with his green blankie while being held, his glow worm night light that plays soft music (its the only thing that doesn't get booted out of the crib come morning time), exploring and having freedom now that he is upright and mobile.

Quinn Dislikes being put down unless it is his idea (did I mention he loves to be held?), being sick (!) and getting high fevers, the snotsucker, having lights on his room at night, anything on his highchair tray if he is not hungry (it all gets pushed to the floor!).

Poor Quinn is currently on the mend from RSV which is a virus that can affect young babies seriously and impair their breathing. He has been a trooper with all of the albuterol/nebulizer treatments and he is improving each day.  I might also mention that January 18th was the day that Quinn really started walking on his own a lot! It was almost a year to the day when Olivia started really walking too.

Here is a picture of Quinn with Mommy about a week before his first birthday. I know the pic is fuzzy but I LOVE LOVE LOVE his big bright smile!  I think his facial features and chin/bone structure looks a little like Jason in this shot too.

Stay healthy, warm and safe in this Winter season.  Take care and Love Always, Claire