A couple of weeks ago, Jon had to head down to San Diego for a work conference. Since our friends Eric and Jill recently had their third child, cute little Brady, we decided to make a quick trip out of it, and trek down as a family the weekend prior to Jon's conference (the boys and I then returned home early, after our weekend visit was done).
The Cables are really great friends of ours, who we wish we could see more of - so it was super nice to just spend time hanging out and catching up. We took Friday off from work, flew down, picked up Eric early from work since we were in his neighborhood, and then drove to his house from there. We spent Friday afternoon meeting Brady, talking, reminiscing and planning our next (dream) vacation or two. :) Most of the kids were napping when we arrived (including Callum), but as they slowly woke up, the house got rowdier and rowdier with the four (older) kids playing and sharing and discovering new toys together.
I know that younger children are sometimes forgotten when it comes to little keepsakes and gifts when they're first born. The initial excitement of a new Mom and Dad seems to wear off after Baby #1, and the poor younger siblings end up getting nothing more than a bunch of hand-me-downs. So, a couple of months ago I started researching what I wanted to get for Mr. Brady. And, after a lot of hemming and hawing, I landed on a personalized pillow.
What I found, was actually a "do-it-yourself" embroidery pattern which I could buy, download and make on my own. I contemplated this fantastic idea for about 30 seconds and then reality hit me (like, the last time I tried to do any embroidery of any kind was about 20 years ago and did I really want my first project back into the hobby to be a special present like this? Not to mention the time it might take for a newbie like me to do, rather than an expert who embroiders in her sleep!)
So, I quickly shot off a note to the owner of the store and it went something like this:
"Hi! I love this pattern - it would be perfect for my friends who just had a little baby. BUT, I don't want to try it on my own. So, what would you charge to do it for me? And, I'd like it as a pillow like you have pictured on your site. And, oh by the way, because I'm a super picky downright OCD customer, especially when it comes to personalized and customized products, I'd also like you to make a few minor changes for me. So what do you say? Do we have a deal??"
Or, something like that.
I struck up a fantastic conversation with this woman - she was EXTREMELY patient (I mean, EXTREMELY guys) and super helpful. After she negotiated a starting price to do the work, we then tossed around a few ideas on how much I'd actually like to customize, how long it'd take, what the actually text should read, which font to use, what fabric to go with, the whole kit and caboodle.
It was fun! At least, for me anyway. ;-)
|In the end, I didn't actually customize it too much - I added two little fish in the water to represent his older siblings, and a heart next to his Valentine's (!!) birthday.|
|I also chose the fabric to use around the border and backing...|
|And I picked out the font after a number of choices. But, that's it really! :)|
Next up was deciding what to get Amelia and Trent, Brady's older siblings. The funny thing is, as a mom myself, I am always asking people not to bring gifts for the kids when they come to visit, because we have WAY TOO MANY THINGS. But, I'm a bit of a traditional gal when it comes to these sorts of things, and the "rule" is to bring the siblings a little something in addition to the new baby! I further justified my shopping spree with the "we don't send them birthday gifts, so it's ok". Makes perfect sense, right?
See what I did just there? HA!
Trent seemed pretty easy - because we have boys, and he's just a year younger than Callum, so my memory hasn't faded too much yet, not to know what little boys like Trent will like. I also wanted to respect poor Jill having to deal with loud noisy toys or bouncy balls or the like. So, I went with a simple Dinosaur stamp kit, which I figured would be tame enough to only bring out under supervision and easy to clean up after he's done.
Wow. I'm such a nice and thoughtful friend!
Except, I totally forgot all about the enthusiasm a little kid gets when they open a present and want to IMMEDIATELY (and I mean immediately) then play with it (or stamp all over the damn place, in this case). OOPS. :/ Jill was very cool-headed and handled it well though (ok, you can stamp your hands and arms just ONCE, with ONE of the stamps, not all of them, and then we can play with the rest later).
Unfortunately, I didn't think to snap a pic of him stamping all over himself. But trust me, it was pretty darn cute. ;-) Here's another cute pic of him instead.
Now Amelia - see, I don't have girls right? So, Amelia's gift was pure giggling giddy and silly joy for me. Let me be clear, I am actually VERY happy with having boys and while I think having a girl would be fun (at least, when it comes to shopping for shoes), I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything. Our family is complete.
All that said, I don't think there's any harm in being the fun cool Auntie who can get a little outrageous and girly and frilly once in awhile! ;-)
After a lot of thought on what to do for Amelia, I finally found the perfect gift. An (ultra pink) tu-tu. I quickly ordered it and awaited its arrival, never receiving anything so young and princessy and girly in my life!
I was SHOCKED you guys - SHOCKED - when I got the dress. I got it off a couture site, so maybe that should have tipped me a little, but this thing - this thing weighs like 10 pounds just by itself, because it has SO MANY layers of satin and ruffles and frill. I would have LOVED to twirl around in this thing as a little girl, and I really wasn't a very girly girl. ;-) I took a picture of it immediately because I was just so dang impressed!
Amelia was even MORE delighted than I could have imagined. I may be misremembering, but I think she squealed a little when she pulled out the dress and realized what it was. ;-) She put it on immediately and spent the rest of the afternoon dancing and twirling and loving it. It was a really special feeling for me because you just don't get that same type of excitement or reaction out of boys as you do with girls. It's just different. :)
While she'll probably tire of it soon, she spent the entire weekend we were there, wearing it any chance she could (she wasn't allowed to wear it to Legoland or whenever we sat at the dinner table - such meanies we all are!).
All in all, I think the presents were a success!
After handing out our presents (and some more hand-me-down clothes to Jill, which I do every chance I get.... See? Poor younger guys just end up wearing whatever the older kids already wore through!), we basically just relaxed until the kids were all beat and it was time to call it a night.
Now that we've all got a gaggle of kids each, we weren't staying with them but at a nearby hotel a few miles away. So, we made plans on where to meet up for breakfast in the morning and called it a night.
Saturday was our big event of the trip - Legoland! Our boys have been VERY excited about the trip for several weeks, ever since I accidentally allowed Logan to see the screen when I was researching SD parks for our trip. Once he realized there was a Legoland (What!! That's crazy mom!) he didn't let it go. I told the Cables, while I would definitely understand if they wanted to skip since their kids are a bit younger than ours, we were going to need to spend one day there, otherwise we'd never hear the end of it.
We had tons of fun. None of us have ever been before, so I don't know what we all expected. I think we had expected more "playing with Legos" but really, it's just a huge amusement park with a lot of rides and various life-sized Lego structures and statues scattered about the park.
It *is* the perfect park for about ages 4-8, I'd say. A little younger than 4 works ok (Callum had a blast and I think Amelia and Trent liked it too) but it's a little harder for them (and the parents) because they get tired, and cranky, and they're either not tall enough, or not old enough, or both, to ride every ride.
They don't understand the rules, so it's a real disappointment when they march right up to the line following their older brother, but then Mommy has to pull them away because, while they are certainly tall enough, they aren't old enough (this happened a number of times to Callum, partly because he's so tall I think).
Here's one of those very rides that poor Callum had to watch from the sidelines:
However, we WERE able to find a few rides that they all could ride (and LOVED!):
Logan was in the sweet spot though - of acceptable age and height for pretty much everything - and had a fantastic time, asking me if we could go back the next day. If anything, the little guys "dragged him down" a bit because we were trying to find things that were fun for everyone. So, we did split up a bit for part of the day, either Jon or I taking Logan separately from Callum so we could get a few more rides in for Logan and not upset (nor tempt) Callum with the older kid stuff.
There were a few funny stories throughout the day but I think there are two main ones that will definitely stick with me. The first was related exactly to what I mentioned above, about the height/age limits. There was a little circular car track that Logan and Callum both REALLY wanted to go on. The age limit for the track was 3-5 yrs old - Callum was just two weeks away from his third birthday so I figured it couldn't hurt (they're just looking for kids old enough to "drive" the car themselves and understand how to steer and push a gas or brake pedal on their own). I grabbed both boys and waited in line.
When it was our turn, the attendent asked Logan how old he was, and he proudly said "FIVE!" She nodded ok, and then turned to Callum and asked how old he was. It was getting close to the end of the day so he was pretty tired and deliriously mumbled something unintelligible. I looked at her with a straight face and reassuringly told her, "He's three."
As she's walking away and onto the next set of kids, my comments (finally) registered in little Logan's brain. So, he yelped out, "Hey! He's not three Mom! He's two!!"
I'm sure many parents have been there. And, honestly, the attendent didn't really care - she'd probably seen that happen a million times before.
But, just to make sure we weren't questioned anymore, I proceeded to be the most awful parent ever and with a straight face, looked down at Logan and said "Buddy, he's three. You're just not remembering. He just turned three."
Yeah, pretty bad, I know. But hey, the boys had fun on that ride! ;-)
The second story I've already foreshadowed with my posting of Logan soaking wet in front of the sign warning "YOU WILL GET REALLY WET" :) Classic.
So, Logan was all about reading the park map throughout the day as we walked around the park - wanting to know where we were, where we were going next, and what he was interested in seeing. On the map, near a water park area, was a big pirate ship which he saw and immediately wanted to check out. I had warned him I didn't think he'd want to go to the pirate area, but he was dead set on checking it out. Because the ride was for bigger kids, we decided to split up from the Dads - they took Trent and Callum to some smaller rides while Jill and I took Logan and Amelia - or, I took Logan and Amelia onto the pirate ride while Jill waited with Brady on the sidelines. ;-)
The ride was a pretty simple ride - you get in a big boat, you go up and circle a U-turn until you head straight down a huge drop - slamming straight into a pool of water. You get splashed like crazy the minute you hit the water and then you get dunked on again when you ride under some bridge that has water pouring down over you.
I loaded the two kids into the boat with me - they were a little nervous but generally okay because they weren't completely sure what to expect at that point. They were asking me if they'd get wet and I said, "Yes, I think we'll get a little wet." (as I'm taking off my jacket and sunglasses and phone to leave at the loading dock behind me)
We were the ONLY ones in the boat, and they sat us in the front seat, which was pretty bad since that's the worst seat in the entire boat in terms of wetness. But, I figured, oh well, we're here, he wanted to do this, so let's do this!
As we're riding up slowly to the top they're getting more and more concerned, so I'm calmly telling them we'll be fine and, Hey look Amelia! There's your Mommy way down over there! Isn't this fun?!?
We get to the drop and they screamed like crazy - they were pretty scared - but that wasn't the worst of it because then, right when their poor little hearts had caught up and are slowing down to a normal beat, we got hit with the coldest of cold water, and THEN they really screamed. ;-)
Logan IMMEDIATELY started yelling at me about how much he HATED this ride and then turned to Amelia saying the same "Amelia, I hate this ride, do you hate this ride? This is the worst ride ever! I never want to do this ride again. Amelia, do you want to do this ride again? You don't want to do this ride again either, do you? Mom, we hate it!! Mom, you lied to us! You said we'd get a little wet - we're not a little wet, we're A LOT wet!" and on and on and on. It was pretty hilarious and I honestly couldn't stop laughing. :)
They started to get upset again when they saw we were heading back to the loading dock - where we would unload - but they thought they were going to have to go up again and THAT freaked them out! So, I calmed them down enough to get them both out of the boat, and slowly walk out to meet up with Jill. Amelia, actually, seemed to calm down pretty quickly and didn't mind being wet as much as Logan.
But Logan. Logan wouldn't stop. His mouth just kept on running. And, since he was wearing jeans, it was particularly bad for him because he couldn't walk in these super soaked heavy stiff jeans. And I just kept chuckling.
Luckily, he hadn't been wearing his pullover on the ride, so once we met up with Jill, I stripped off his shirt and put on his dry pullover. That made him feel a bit better - enough to then ask if he could go stand on the bridge and watch the other boats.
If you've ever been to a ride like this, you know that standing on the bridge, you'll get just as wet as when you're in the boat, because the splash is more like a tidal wave that covers the entire bridge too. Spectators can get pretty soaked if they're not careful.
So, I told Logan no, he probably shouldn't because he'd get really wet again and we had just put a dry shirt on him. But MOOOMMMM!! I want to go see it! I want to stand on the bridge!
But, Logan, you WILL. GET. WET. You will get MORE wet than you already are.
Yet, he continued. So, I finally said ok fine - go ahead and go. But you will get wet, and I don't have any more dry clothes for you.
(Jill later told me she was shocked I let him go - she wouldn't have done that. But hey, sometimes these kids just have to learn for themselves.)
5 minutes later, after standing on the bridge and watching and waiting for another boat, which proceeded to splash right across the bridge, which proceeded to soak my half-dry son to the bone, he comes STOMPING back to where we were standing - irked as ever before and pissed at how wet he was - screaming his head off.
MOM!! I'm so wet!!
And, I was laughing. Yes, you are.
I know, evil Mom at the helm, but what could I do?
Buddy, I TOLD you you'd get wet, didn't I?
And I could NOT stop laughing. In fact, the more he sputtered on about how much he hated it (again) and how wet he was (again) and bringing Amelia back into the conversation about how awful that ride was and didn't she agree (again)... Well, the more I laughed.
I mean, how can you not, when I was listening to that banter while looking at THIS?
Classic. JUST. CLASSIC.
We got to the park right when they opened and left about 30 minutes before they closed. We were ALL exhausted by the end of the day, none of the kids really napped, but I was super impressed with how well all the kids did, given the circumstances. We didn't have any major tantrums or meltdowns - so it felt like a huge success. And, by the time we were pulling out of the parking lot, Callum (and I think Amelia and Trent) were fast asleep.
Eric and Jill grabbed take-out while we grabbed a few items at the grocery store and we spent the rest of the evening relaxing and trying to get the kids to unwind. ;-)
Because we had such a big day on Saturday, we spent Sunday at the house, save for an outing to the mall to get the kids out and stretch for a bit. Eric laid out a delicious cheese, honey and wine spread for the adults to munch on in the afternoon and we spent the rest of our time enjoying each others' company, as we always do.
|Sadly, this was the "best" pic I could get of all 5 kids together at once.|
We aren't able to get together as much as we used to but overall I think we're making a pretty good go at it. And, we can't wait to get together again soon! :)
Click on our album link for a view of all pics.