The Month of July

In July my sister and family came for the long Fourth of July weekend.

The kids with Alexis…she’s obviously overwhelmed.

They attacked her with kisses

It was toasty but not as horrendous as it could have been.  Our neighborhood had a quaint little bike parade the morning of the 4th.  It was cute, I’ve never heard of one before.  All the kids decorate their bikes and they have a fire truck come and the kids just follow behind the fire truck up the street and back.

It started at 9 and was over by 10 which worked out well because it was before it got super hot.  Gretchen’s bike ended up winning the decorating contest…she was excited, but I meant to tell the judges to eliminate her bike as you can imagine who really did most of the work.  I felt bad the trophy was taken away from some kid who actually did decorate their bike.  We had gone to a decorating event the evening before but she spent most of her time watching the other kids than helping.  Steve decorated Wes’s truck and it looked pretty cute.  At least Wes helped more than Gretchen did.

Gretchen with her trophy

Wes and the neighbor girl taking a short cut.  He was having a hard time keeping up in his foot powered truck and her battery was dying.

Cute pictures from Auntie D’s visit:

In the trunk of the Leaf, it’s spacious

We had a mini photoshoot to get a good picture of the three together for my parents and I had my kids sit in to get the lighting right before we added Alexis, this was supposed to be a test shot, but it may be the best picture I have taken of the two of them.

The three together

Outfit change, Alexis was at the end of her rope

It turned into this:

Much happier in the pool:

After Danielle left I finally decided it was time to get rid of the pacifier.  It should have been gone a long time ago but there is never a good time.  I wanted him to keep it through the move to help him get adjusted but the daycare kind of half pushed it when they refused to let him keep it for naps (in my mind maybe some of the reason he had a hard time adjusting)  And I definitely wanted to do it before he moved to a big bed.  I was getting annoyed at how often it ended up downstairs or searching for it at night.  At this point Wes could actually climb in the crib and get it and so it was time.  The paci fairy came one night and left some trains and some track in its place.  Wes was not happy.  He threw a few fits at naps and at night, my favorite was when he threw his doggie blankie down in frustration and said “I want the doggie blanket fairy to come and take my doggie blanket” hehe.  He eventually calmed down about it but he hasn’t been the same since.  My three hour napper on the weekends has turned into a 1.5 hour napper and my easy to bed and asleep until 8am or later on the weekends has turned into a thrashing around in the bed until 9pm and up before Gretchen sleeper.  I now have to basically rock him to sleep at nap time in order to get him to take a nap.  It’s annoying but I am not giving up nap time.  And eventually we added a clock “that turns green” to help but he would basically just lay and wait until it turned green and then shout joyously that it was green when it turned green.

Gretchen got a butterfly house for her birthday so I finally ordered the larva at the end of June and then was immediately worried they would be through the whole process before we left for vacation at the end of July.  Apparently ordering butterflies in the middle of the summer in Houston is not a good idea.  By the time they got to us, and I was tracking them they ended up sitting around at the warehouse in North Houston for way too long, the larva had already cocooned and were hanging, something that was supposed to happen 1-2 weeks after receiving them.  And then the hatched about two days later, it was a pretty short cycle.  I need to order them again in the spring.  Gretchen enjoyed watching them eat the watermelon we gave them and then we released them.

Insert random cute picture, Wesley offering to “catch” Gretchen at the bottom of the slide at the playground down the street from us.

The kids got to see their first movie in a movie theater.

We went to see Despicable Me 2.  We went to the 10 am showing and it was not crowded at all.  I haven’t been to a movie at the theater in ages and it was SO loud, not sure if that is normal.  I was pretty worried about the kids hearing but they had a good time.  Wes sat with his hands covering his ears for a portion of the beginning and It was a bit scarier than the first one and at one point Gretchen freaked out and just wanted to leave but I had her just close her eyes.

Insert note to self…don’t leave Wesley alone with the dog while he’s painting:

Right before large trash pick-up I invited hte neighbor kids over for an impromptu painting party in our driveway, I figured it would be fun to paint the boxes before we trashed them.  It wasn’t as exciting as I thought.  I tried a few Pinterest discovered make your own paint recipes and they just didn’t work well on the boxes.

Wesley turned three on the 21st.

We had a small little party for him (which meant we knocked on the houses around us and invited whichever kids were home which turned out to be one out of four).

He wanted a spaceship cake with chocolate.  I made the cake from scratch recipe which wasn’t all that great but I made the chocolate icing I made for Steve’s birthday which is awesome.

The cake was cute; I guess it could have been misrepresented as a bell….but it looked like a rocket ship to Wes.  I also made Wes a birthday shirt which he LOVES.

He wears is ALL THE TIME.  I guess I did a good job.  It makes me feel good but the moon is simply an iron print out so it’s starting to wear from all the washing.  I’m not sure it will make it until he turns 4.  We gave him a bike with training wheels and a helmet and not really a moment too soon.  He’s really been getting into riding bikes.  He’s already faster than Gretchen on his two wheeler though he still loves his truck.

He got a train table from Auntie D:

Riding his bike for the first time

Somewhere in the month we decided to start a sticker chart for Wesley.  He was still being pretty unruly at daycare, with his friends and with property, so I thought maybe if we gave him clear expectations it would help him have a black and white line.  Sometimes kids just act up because they want to find the boundaries.  I also knew the sticker chart would not be as effective with Wes as it was with Gretchen.  The sticker chart with Gretchen was a complete attitude changer.  She loved sticker charts.  We did start a little bigger with Wes, he was older too.  Gretchen I may have started with 3 or 4 items and increased it but with Wes there really was six areas he needed to focus on.  1. Going potty first thing in the morning.  2.  Putting on his own underwear and pants (socks and shirts were too hard at the time and this was partly our fault too with him waking up so late, pre-paci removal, we would basically just do anything to get him out the door and weren’t giving him the oppurtunity to get dressed himself) 3. Taking a nap (now a big deal without a paci) 4. Being nice to his friends (this included no breaking toys) 5. No potty accidents (this turned out to be the toughest one and the one he missed at least one day a week for months, I think he just gets too busy)  6. Brush his own teeth (for some reason he would throw a fit everytime it was time to brush his teeth so I threw it on there to get more cooperation).  I printed a chart with pictures symbolizing the tasks and taped it to the mirror where he brushs his teeth every night and we would fill out the stickers all at once and just reiterate the expectations every day.  Anyway, it did take him a while to latch on.  He missed things so much in the first few weeks, he just has a need in him to buck the system.  But what I didn’t anticipate was Gretchen being his biggest champion.  When he finally made a whole day’s worth of stickers she got SO excited.  She helped him pick out his prize.  She cheered him on when he needed a reminder about a task.  She really got into it.  She was also very disappointed she didn’t have a sticker chart.  I attempted to convert her over to a quarter system where she gets 14 quarters at the beginning of the week and she has three tasks to do every day.  If she doens’t do a task I take a quarter and she gets all the money at the end of the week.  It did get her to make her bed and keep her room a bit cleaner and for while she was helping me set the table (her three tasks) but the money concept still doesn’t mean anything to her because it got to hard taking her to the store saying “you only have $3” and everything being $30.  I tried the dollar store one week, but that stuff is such crap.  So I don’t know if the sticker chart helped Wesley or not with his behavior, all I know is it couldn’t have hurt.  It wasn’t the light switch like it was with Gretchen but he did slowly improve in the next month or so.  Consistency is really key with him, if you never waver you are good but if you get lazy or give in or something, you have to start from scratch again.  He’s fine with lines, they just have to be solid and clear.

Then at the end of the month we took a trip to St. George Island, FL for a vacation with Steve’s entire immediate family.  There were eleven adults and 10 kids (ages 9 to 3 mos.) in a giant house with a pool on the beach.

It was mass chaos, but it was fun.  Gretchen always has a great time playing with her cousins.  In a few years Wes will be tearing it up with the two boy cousins his age, on this trip it was more helping them share.  They had a favorite car that kept making issues.

Wes playing with Hilary in the sand

Lucas displaying the car hoarding behavior

The girls fawning over Graeme

Wes with Bompa

Cute picture of Wes and Lucas

The three boys

Wes and Grant sitting around in the pool

This is the first vacation we’ve had with his family that we’ve been able to drive to.  It was about 12 hours from our house but the plane ride would have taken close to the same amount of time because there isn’t a convenient airport near St. George Island.  We left on Friday and broke it up into two days of driving.  This was also really the first long trip in the car for the kids.  They did awesome.  At first they really were content to just look out the window.  In Alaska there aren’t really any highways so they never had an opportunity to see the masses of cars and transportation on the highways.  These things which I have always taken for granted or maybe a child that has grown up with takes for granted.  Wes loved the trucks especially the car carriers and the tractors on the side of the road or construction equipment he got so excited every time.  And the bridges fascinated them which was hilarious.  Every time we would go over a bridge they would shout “Hi everyone that’s down there.”  We made it there and back (we came back all in one day though the kids were SUPER disappointed we weren’t staying in a hotel even though on the way there we got into the hotel so late we basically picked them out of the car and laid them in bed without them knowing what was happening) without them watching a single movie on the ipad.  This to me is an accomplishment.  I am so anti-movies in cars; I want my kids to learn to entertain themselves in the car like I did.  I know that’s reasonable in this day in age.  And part of the reason we made it is because the kids don’t know it’s an option so they don’t ask.

The pool, as always, was a big hit.

We definitely spent more time there than swimming in the ocean even though the ocean was SO warm.  This was my first time on the gulf and I can’t believe how warm the water was.  Gretchen really made some strides on her swimming and we were able to take the bubble off and she could swim a few strokes, which turned in to her declaring she knows how to swim, except she still won’t put her face in.  It’s dangerous in a way because I keep asking her if she wants to take swimming lessons and she says, but I already know how to swim.

Gretchen jumping without her bubble on

Wes did pretty awesome too, all we had to do was give him a noodle and he would kick around.

We attempted to do our own photoshoot instead of paying an arm and a leg to have someone come on site.  It actually worked out very well and wouldn’t you know the first picture taken of the group shot was the best.

Cute one of the girls

Grandparent shot and me playing around with photoshop

our best family shot


They tried a throw your small child into the air shot but Ryan’s the only one that knows how to toss a child.

And then things got foolish

Ice cream on the last night:



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