Dear Dexter: Happy 6th birthday

Dear Dexter,

Sorry I am a day late writing your letter, but we have been SO busy having fun this past week that time slipped away from me. That’s nothing new though, I don’t know how many times every week I think to myself (or say out loud to someone else) that I cannot believe how fast time is flying by. Just look – you are now SIX years old and only have 8 days of Kindergarten remaining. You’ve grown and learned and changed so much this year. You are doing so well academically that I feel silly for ever questioning whether or not you were ready to leave pre-school and join Theo at your elementary school.

You are a great reader but the thing that surprises me the most is how much your reasoning and critical thinking have changed. Sometimes, out of the blue, you will say something that just blows me away. You will realize something or make a connection that I haven’t even made yet. You will bring up a memory that we haven’t even talked about in years. More than anything though, I love the things about you that remain the same and are a part of who you are. Your sweet sensitivity and desire to make others happy. Your ability to sense when something is wrong and the way you try to make it right. The way you think of others and how you are almost always willing to compromise, but know when to stand your ground. You know what I know about you Dexter? I know that one day you are going to make someone very happy and lucky because you will be a caring, loving, considerate father and husband.

Your birthday celebrations started last weekend when Aunt Chelle, Uncle Bob, Spencer, Nana, and Pop Pop all came to stay and they spoiled you with presents and hugs and kisses. Your celebrating continued on Friday when mom and dad had lunch with you, you shared birthday cake muffins with your school friends, and then had your pal Layton spend the night. Yesterday, at 7:05am, you officially turned 6 years old and started off the day by playing outside, finishing your YMCA basketball season, having lunch at City Barbecue, and then spending the afternoon at Greatimes. We had dinner at home, swung in the hammock, watched Netflix, and built your new Lego sets. All in all, that was a pretty perfect birthday for a little boy like you!

Today is Mother’s Day and it’s not lost on me how nicely these two special days correlate. Your first birthday happened to fall on Mother’s Day and I sure don’t mind sharing this special time of year with you. Today, we got to do something that I wanted to do and had been hoping you and your brother would also enjoy. We went horseback riding for the first time as a family. Your dad and I had been but it was before we had you or Theo. Today was nothing short of amazing and I have you, your brother, and your dad to thank. Thank you for being adventurous and going along with my wishes to make me happy. Thank you for listening and following instructions- I was so nervous that you would be scared or fall off your horse. Thank you for lying with me in the hammock when we got home and retelling all your favorite parts of the weekend while we compared how big our hands are. Thanks for being who you are.

I am so lucky to be your mom, Dexter. You make me proud every day. I love your sweet smile and big blue eyes. I love that you still have all your baby teeth and am not really ready for them to fall out just yet because I know you will start looking even bigger and older. I love that you asked for a Trolls birthday and that you helped me go shopping for party favors. I love your irresistibly intense passion for stuffed animals and how you consider them lifelong family members immediately upon them entering our home. Cherish your childhood Dexter, this is such a magical time of life! I hope you carry many wonderful memories we are making now far into your adulthood. I have a feeling these are the times I will remember forever as the best days and years of my life. I hope you will remember them fondly too. You make everything more fun Dexter!

I love you so much more than you’ll ever begin to know,

Mommy

Catch the Moment: Wk 44

This week’s photos are a little Dexter-heavy but I swear, I love them both the same! ūüôā That’s just the way it works out sometimes. We had beautiful, unseasonably warm weather this week and I cannot believe it’s November. Today I was able to wear a sleeveless dress-it was 77 degrees. In November. In Indiana. Mind blown. CRAZY. I’ll take it! And I’m hoping for a mild winter but let’s not get greedy…here we go.

302/365: Thursday, October 29th. A long day at work and no motivation – after a month of legitimate and created excuses, it was time to get back to the gym. I didn’t want to. I got there and sat in my car. I thought about just sitting in my car for the whole hour but made myself go in. Within 2 minutes of starting Zumba, I was smiling and breathing a huge sigh of relief. Sometimes I just don’t know how bad I need to¬†exercise until I’m doing it. Or until it’s done. Time to get back into a regular routine of 3-4 workouts per week.10-29-2015

303/365: Friday, October 30th. We met friends at Kelsay Farms to climb the hay mountain, play in the corn pit, go through the corn maze, take a hay ride, sit by a bonfire, ride the Moo Choo Express, and watch some bad, bad, bad karaoke. It was a perfect, cool autumn night and with it being the day before Halloween, I thought it would be packed. Seemed like we had the place to ourselves. Such fun. 10-30-2015

304/365: Saturday, October 31st. Halloween! My Ant-Man and Superman. Rain had been predicted but it held off until we were done trick or treating. This was the first year we didn’t let them use strollers or the wagon. They hoofed it. After hoofing and lugging their buckets for an hour, they were ready to turn around and head home. It was cute watching them interact with the neighbors. I think their favorite thing about the whole holiday is getting home, dumping their buckets, and sorting their candy. My little organizers-I couldn’t be more proud.10-31-2015

305/365: Sunday, November 1st. Spent ALL day inside cleaning, laundering, cooking, organizing, and all the other -ings we -ing on Sundays. I had been promising Dexter for hours that as soon as I was done doing one more -ing, we’d go outside. We finally made it out around 3:30 and I was shocked at how warm it was. Happily shocked. He shed his jacket within about 30 seconds and we played secret superhero games in the trees by our house.11-01-15

306/365: Monday, November 2nd. I usually have about 15 minutes to waste between dropping Theo and Dexter off at their schools so on Monday we went and got gas. While we were waiting, I decided it was a good chance for me to get my picture of the day. Dexter decided it was a good time to be super silly. 11-02-2015

307/365: Tuesday, November 3rd. It was far too nice out to go straight home after school. The boys may have played outside during school, but this mama needed some Vitamin D too. ¬†We went to the library and the park before going home at sunset….yes, at 6pm.11-03-2015

308/365: Wednesday, November 4th. Just another gorgeous day in Central Indiana. 11-04-2015

Hope your week has been unexpectedly wonderful. xo.

~C~

Smoky Mountain Getaway

Just 2 nights after we got home from Portland, we were packing up again to head south to Tennessee. We spent Oct. 16-21 with family in the Smoky Mountains as part of the boys’ fall break from school. We’d planned this trip long before the opportunity to go to Portland came up and while it was a little tricky managing 2 trips so close together, it was soooo worth it! We had several days away from home and were home in time for the boys (and me) to unwind before returning to real life.

Friday night, Oct 16: Dexter fell asleep at his regular bedtime (around 830) and slept the rest of the way…then went right back to bed. Crazy! Theo slept for maybe an hour and was ready for bed shortly after we got to my mom’s house as well.IMG_7191

Saturday, Oct 17th. We got to Pigeon Forge around lunch time and had some time to waste afterwards so we browsed the shops at Christmas Place. The boys enjoyed some fudge, ring pops, pressing some pennies, and a free train ride. IMG_7193 IMG_7207 IMG_7210 IMG_7211 IMG_7215 IMG_7217

We got to our cabin around 3 and started settling in. My sister and her family got there a couple of hours later. The front porch with rocking chairs and a swing was a popular hang out.IMG_7245

We went to the grocery then grilled burgers and brats, then spent time just hanging out together. My mom, Ryan’s parents, and my sister and her family all stayed with us at the cabin Saturday night. My sister and her family had to go back home Sunday night because of work and school.¬†I’m very aware of how lucky I am and how unusual it is for my family – the one I was born into and the one I married into – to get along so well and enjoy spending this time together.

Sunday, Oct 18th: A view of the beautiful cabin. We were trying to decide what to do on Sunday. Since all my family lives within an hour of Pigeon Forge, there’s not much they haven’t done.¬†IMG_7260 IMG_7262 IMG_7268

IMG_7271After searching Google and TripAdvisor, I kept coming back to this quirky sounding attraction called Goats on the Roof that I’d never heard of and no one had been to yet. They have goats (yes, on the roof), a gift shop, a mountain coaster, gem mining, and and ice cream shop. Free to get in and look around so we gave it a shot. It was an interesting and fun place. The coaster was kind of expensive but we decided to do it anyway and we were so glad we did. It. Was. Awesome. I don’t know how to explain it any better than the internet did so go HERE¬†if you’re interested.¬†¬†All the kids enjoyed the mining too.IMG_7279 IMG_7280 IMG_7285 IMG_7288 IMG_7298 IMG_7307 IMG_7315

Did you know you can still buy candy cigarettes? Only they are called “candy sticks” and they are still disgusting. But when they come in a Batman box and cost .99, you go for it. Smoke up, Johnny!IMG_7335 IMG_7344 IMG_7345

Another new-ish place in Pigeon Forge that’s super touristy and fun (what’s not touristy and fun in PF?) is The Island. Lots of shops and restaurants and overall just a nice place to walk around on a pretty¬†day, which is what we were dealing with. Rocking chairs all the way around a big, beautiful fountain. Unique shops. Something for everyone-I think everyone really liked it there. We ate lunch at Margaritaville, which was ridiculously overpriced (what’s not ridiculously overpriced in PF?) but good.¬†IMG_7368 IMG_7373 IMG_7379 IMG_7382 IMG_7396

Theo did this cute ropes course for little kids and really liked it. If I’d been dressed more appropriately for the activity, I would have taken him on the big one. It looked awesome!IMG_7404 IMG_7409

He did great! IMG_7421

Penelope and Dexter were too small for the ropes so they got to ride the Ribbit thingy. Look at those little faces. Pure joy. So cute.IMG_7431

This is a stunningly good photo considering the number of people and the fact that it was taken by a stranger. To his credit though, he was carrying a camera similar to mine, which is why I trusted him in the first place to do a decent job. I love this picture and I LOVE my family!IMG_7463

Penelope, Steve, Cher, Malachi, and Isabella.IMG_7465 IMG_7467

My mom and all of her grandchildren. IMG_7473 IMG_7478

Back at the cabin, it was chili for dinner and games for fun. My sister and her family left after dinner. Early to bed for me, knowing we had a big day at Dollywood the next day. IMG_7488 IMG_7489

Monday, October 19th: Dollywood day! I was a little worried that the park had short operating hours (10-6) but that proved to be more than enough! I couldn’t believe it and I have never seen Dollywood so deserted. I’ve been to Dollywood a lot – we walked onto every ride or maybe had to wait 1 turn. It was fantastic. Dollywood is wonderfully themed and maintained which means a lot coming from someone so obsessed with Disney and their standards of excellence. Dollywood is right up there for me.¬†IMG_7501 IMG_7503 IMG_7507 IMG_7514 IMG_7523 IMG_7534

Other than looking pretty and having cool rides, there’s even more that I love about Dollywood now that I have kids. There are a handful of rides that they are still too small to ride but Ryan and I don’t want to miss. My mom and Ryan’s dad were all about riding while Ryan’s mom browsed through Craftsmans Valley. We were able to take turns riding things while 1 or 2 people stayed with the boys at one of 4 different play areas. They also do the parent/rider¬†switch thing (similar to Disney) but with no lines, it wasn’t necessary. It kept the kids moving and occupied so¬†the person who stayed behind with them wasn’t getting bombarded with a million complaints about being bored.¬†IMG_7543 IMG_7544 IMG_7558 IMG_7567 IMG_7580

We rode every ride, ate a sit-down lunch, and were basically done by 5pm. We milled around until closer to 6 just because it seemed like the right thing to do.

Tuesday, October 20th: Me, Ryan, my mom, and the boys went for a hike up to Laurel Falls in Gatlinburg while Ryan’s parents checked out the Old Mill area and restaurant. We’d planned to eat together but there was construction traffic and the 1.3 mile hike up to the Falls took longer than we thought. It was really fun – I was worried the boys would be super lazy and make it miserable for all of us but it went better than I expected. No complaints on the second half of the hike which was all downhill. If you have to take little kids hiking, that’s definitely the way to do it! Unfortunately I didn’t realize my camera battery was about to die so I only had a chance to snap a handful of photos Tuesday.¬†IMG_7588 IMG_7590

After our hike and a late lunch, we went back to the cabin. We played games and started packing up for the trip home Wednesday.

Wednesday, Oct 21st: Packing up and moving out. When I planned this trip, I was thinking Sat-Wed in Pigeon Forge was more than long enough but there’s so much to do and our time there really went by so quickly. The end of vacation is always a little sad!¬†IMG_7595¬†hIMG_7598 IMG_7601 IMG_7611 IMG_7615

Until next time, Smoky Mountains!

xoxo,

~C~