Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Chicken Star Soldier

Warning: This is going to be a long blog update. The Summer of 2015 has been so great and much has changed in the past few months.

A massive DIY backyard project has dominated nearly all of our free time from April until early July (final touches still in progress), but the end result is really fantastic! I'm amazed at Jason's design and building skills, and it was fun for me to get in the act too on weekends and evenings. We probably worked through 6 weekends solid (10 hour days) and it was exhausting at times. By the end of it, I had forgotten how to actually sit still and relax on a weekend afternoon!

The asphalt driveway was in shambles and so we ripped it all out, expanded the parking area and put in a low deck that ties the outdoor living areas and side porch together. It is all complete with lighting and irrigation. After the driveway was done, the kids were so thrilled to be able to ride bikes and play back there.

The kids have made some wonderful progress with swimming lessons this summer too. I found a great instructor named Sara who is a senior this year at Rockhurst College. She is actually staying on through this school year to help with morning drop off, pickup and after school care. I knew Sara was the one for us on day one when Quinn started giving her trouble and she was able to deal with my super strong-willed boy. By the end of the Summer, he has learned so much! Olivia is really getting the hang of swimming now too. If you aren't familiar with kids swimming lesson lingo, Chicken Star Soldier is how you teach the backstroke. It's become a bit of a theme for us this summer.

In July, we went to Destin, FL for a week and had a blast. My little chickens cried when the waves got rough, salt got in their eyes and sand crabs were scary. My little stars learned how to boogie board, got confidence with the waves and learned to catch the crabs. My little soldiers got down to business helping with sand castles, carrying water and eventually packing up and schlepping everything home.

A much harder transition than ending vacation just happened however. My chickens have flown the nest of their beloved day care provider, Nina, and started school (well... Toddler and Preschool programs but an official school schedule) at St. Paul's just last week. They've each adjusted to the change differently (and honestly I've had quite an adjustment as well).  Here is a picture of the kids with Nina:

The jury is still out on how this school thing will go. Each night we field various protests from each of them about not wanting to go back. I pray that these protests let up in the coming weeks. But then again I see them transform into little stars and light up when they talk about new experiences they are having each day. Then each weekday morning, they trudge off to their classes like little soldiers.

I tell them that "school is so fun!" and make it sound true but honestly I was not a huge fan of school either (Olivia's protest). Part of me wants to hold my little chickens and let them live at home with Mommy and Daddy forever and ever. But the part that wants them to be stars packs their lunches up and pushes them out of the nest each day. This is an exercise in trust and letting go for all of us I think.

Further proof that this change is good (and adding to this crazy time of adjustment) is that Quinn decided after only 3 days of school that it was time to potty train! We've been talking about it for months, but now it's really happening. This little chicken turned into a potty-training star almost overnight! I also attribute it to the "magic car potty" (his words not mine) that I got for him.

Jason and I crossed the 5 year mark of marriage a few weeks ago and the date came and went without a lot of fanfare. In fact, we spent the evening at our favorite pizza joint with the kids and everyone talked about their day. Then after everyone was down we drank a bottle of champagne. It was perfect for me. I think maybe we will do something big to celebrate an odd year like 7 or 9 years.

I feel that each day I get to spend with Jason and these awesome kids is a huge blessing and celebration in itself. All of these adjustments, though sometimes hard, are healthy and natural. Come to think of it, each one of us has to learn the chicken/star/soldier stroke in our own way to live our lives and find fulfillment.

Love always, Claire & Family

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Royals and Other Firsts

We are soggy here in late May in Kansas City but very excited about our hometown Royals who currently have the best record in Major League Baseball! The Cunningham crew got in on the action and took in a game last Sunday. This was the first time the kids had been out to Kaufmann Stadium and it went ok!

Some other firsts since the last update:

1. First haircut in a real swanky salon for Quinn.
2. First attempt at potty training for Quinn. We're not giving up :) - I will spare you the photo!
3. First photos published (on Facebook by Mom) for our new resident photographer Olivia.
4. First successful dog birthday party attended by neighbor kids and planned by Mom and the kids. Olivia was in charge of decorations and games!
5. First time fishing in the mouth of the Mississippi for Jason!
6. First night sleeping in a Big Girl Bed (Olivia!). The pic is before we got it all set up with the bed frame.

Also, the first introduction to the Ice Cream Truck! They can now hear that bell about a mile away! It seems the Ice Cream man is really working our street. We routinely have a minimum of 2, even up to 4 passes of it along our street every weekend day.

The Cunninghams are staying busy with work and play. We are looking forward to the kids starting at St Pauls in August, but for now we are focusing on building the back deck (work in progress pic below including Daddy's helpers) and enjoying the Summer!

Take care! xoxo

Sunday, May 10, 2015

One Big Minute

I have been definitely slacking on the blog this year, but I believe that life is meant to be lived and not recorded. I even read somewhere that people who constantly photograph or video record their lives have fewer actual memories.  Who really knows, but I'll go with that theory!

The kids are growing so quickly it's making my head spin. We are really enjoying them and it's fun seeing the world through their eyes. The other day when we were driving, Quinn said "Mommy, that guy needs to mow his yard!" Whenever Quinn sees something that is bad, like a big mess that someone makes, he says "Uh oh... That's not nice." He also says "Oh My Gosh!" a lot. Olivia is very hopeful and optimistic in nature. One of her trademark sayings is "Maybe next time" or "Maybe tomorrow" such as when she's told that we can't go to the park because it's raining or we don't have time. She is fairly flexible and agreeable most of the time.

Jason and I have bedtime routines with each of the kids and we alternate putting them down every night.  When I put Olivia down at night, this is how the conversation sometimes goes:

Mommy: It's time to go to bed now.
Olivia: No, Mommy. I want to rock. (So we snuggle in the glider chair for a few minutes)
Mommy: Ok. For just a few minutes.
A few minutes goes by
Mommy: Now, it’s time to go to bed.
Olivia: One more minute.
Mommy: Ok
Olivia: One BIG minute.
Mommy: Alright.

That's how I feel too. We are holding on to the minutes and enjoying each one. Of course, life is not always grand. We have the occasional meltdown, but I find the kids to be easier and more reasonable (i.e. able to be reasoned with) as time passes. Quinn had a rough patch right around the 2 year mark, but he has gotten a lot more mellow in just the past few months. We are all working together to get along, live together and make things work.

In general, life is not perfect but it is pretty darn good. I feel so incredibly blessed to have this family and such a wonderful and loving husband to share it with. We were all fortunate to have gone on two fun trips already this year. Maui in February...

.... and Park City in March.

We're blessed to be able to travel and experience things with the kids. I believe the more you travel and do things, the more flexible and fun it becomes. If you look back to my blog called "Reality Check" from April 2013, you will see how far we've come in two years! Traveling on airplanes in particular can be stressful and it takes some good planning plus trial and error to get it right.

Signing off now until next time. Love always, xoxo Claire