Friday, September 26, 2014

Aubrey turns 6!

This post is insanely long because the celebration of Aubrey Ruth turning six reached ludicrous levels. I've never known a birthday to drag out as long as this girl's, and the ironic part is that there wasn't even an "actual" party!

As Aubrey approached her sixth birthday, Daniel and I gave her a choice: a trip or a party.
She has been saying her one birthday wish is to go to the top of the St. Louis Arch, so -- without hesitation -- she chose TRIP.

The closer her birthday got, the more I think she was starting to secretly wish she had chosen "party".
To jazz up the "trip" I decorated the car with some window markers, curly ribbon, and balloons. She LOVED it.

Did anyone notice the Snackeez in her cup holder?! Aubrey saw a commercial for this thing when we visited grandparents. She's talked non-stop about how she NEEDS one of these. "It holds a snack AND your favorite drink, Mom!" I thought it actually made sense for the road trip, and it sure made for one super happy girl!

Once we were all loaded up, and had FROZEN playing in the headrest DVD player, we were on our way to ST. LOUIS!

First pit stop: dinner.
And what's a road trip without a meal at Cracker Barrel?!

We realized the girls had never been to one. They thought it was the coolest restaurant ever! And the fact that they could order pancakes for dinner blew their minds.

Aubrey was determined to "win" the Peg Game.

We finally drove into St. Louis past bedtime with two squealing excited girls in the backseat.

Daniel reserved rooms at the Union Station hotel downtown.
When we arrived, the hotel concierge presented the girls with little backpacks filled with a train whistle (why?!), coloring book / crayons, Union Station water bottle, a sucker, a sticker, and a cookie. As if they weren't excited enough!

The hotel (the old train station) was fun to explore and the girls loved watching the nightly light show display on the ceiling.

Oh, before I forget!
All Aubrey thought we were doing in St. Louis was going to the Arch.
Well, St. Louis has tons of stuff for kids, so Daniel and I planned out a full weekend of surprises.

To make it feel more like an actual "birthday", we let Aubrey open a small gift before we left. Inside was a charm bracelet. Before each "surprise" she would open a little package containing a charm that gave a clue as to where we were going next. As the trip progressed, her charm bracelet would fill up. At the end of the trip, she would have a bracelet full of charms to remember this special birthday.

(I had originally envisioned a lovely sterling silver charm bracelet with precious forever-lasting heirlooms dangling from it. After a quick search, I realized all that was going to cost waaaay more than I wanted to spend on a six year old, so I went the $5/charm route. )

So, first up...
Charm #1: Gateway Arch

Aubrey was out-of-her-mind excited. Her birthday wish came true!


Her most favorite part was riding up to the top.
Me, on the other hand, I almost backed out at the last second.
The older I get, the more of a wuss I become.
These three faces convinced me to face my fear, and I did it.
I almost threw-up in my scarf on the way up, but I did it.

We were assigned elevator / pod 6, which was pretty perfect considering that number is super special! :)

The three of them loved looking out the slivers of windows at the top, while I mentally talked myself down from a full-on panic attack. Daniel took the photo below from one of the little windows. I would have passed out if I had looked down like that. It actually makes my heart-rate go up just posting it.

I've never been happier to be back on solid ground. 

In the end, I was glad I didn't miss out on such a momentous moment for the birthday girl.

Charm #2: Star / The Magic House

This place was SO fun! Aubrey had an absolute blast!
Especially when she was the only one who successfully worked the be-inside-a-bubble exhibit.
Daniel got pretty excited about it... ;)

Charm #3: Butterfly / The Butterfly House

Fun fact: St. Louis turns 250 this year!
Which meant there were birthday cake displays at lots of the area attractions.
Of course, when you're 6 and it's your birthday trip, you think the cakes are for YOU. ;)

Charm #4: Penguin / St. Louis Zoo

So, sad news. The penguin exhibit at the STL Zoo is closed while building a new polar bear habitat.
Luckily Aubrey had just as much fun playing on the sign in front of the empty exhibit. ;)
We did end up seeing lots of cool animals, catching a Sea Lion show, touched real sting rays, rode the train, and the carousel so all-in-all it was a wonderful day in Aubrey's world.

And before loading up the car to head back home, Aubrey picked out a souvenir from the gift shop (a rare treat!) and was conked out before we were on the interstate to drive back home...

The whole weekend she kept thanking us and saying it was the BEST BIRTHDAY EVER.

The night before she officially turned 6, she lost a tooth!
Would you believe that the Tooth Fairy left her a teeny-tiny birthday present?!
Inside the mini box was this little charm for her bracelet.
There are no words to describe Aubrey's happiness and excitement when she opened it.


For school, Aubrey wanted to bring a special treat for her class.
She'd been talking about her idea for awhile, and finally we made her vision a reality.
Birthday bots!
We made 24 of these little guys.
The kids in her class went nuts over them, and Aubrey was downright giddy passing them out.
She also got to bring home Birthday Bear from school, which delighted her to no end.


When she got off the bus, Zubie was waiting for her with lots of fun presents.
She also took us all out to eat at a hibachi restaurant. The girls were mesmerized by the whole experience. I don't think they've ever been that good at a restaurant! It was perfect!


Then, the following weekend, Grammy and Pop Pop came for a birthday visit. They brought a slew of presents too, and we had birthday cake (picked out by Aubrey from a pic she spotted on Pinterest, ha!). After cake, we went down to the river for the local Dragon Boat races and carnival booths, and then ended with a nature hike lead by Aubrey (of course!).


I kinda hope she picks "party" next year... 


And just to document, like I've done for the past two years, here's a breakdown of all of Aubrey's favorites:

Favorite color? Purple and Blue
Favorite toy?
 Tiger (souvenir from the STL Zoo)
Favorite drink? Pink Lemonade
Favorite food? Breakfast foods
Favorite tv show? Peppa Pig 
Favorite outfit? The one I'm wearing right now!

Favorite game? Tag

Favorite animal? Cheetah

Favorite song? Jesus songs 

Favorite book? Fancy Nancy: Apples Galore

Best friend? Hope, Wells, Eliza, and Lucy

Favorite thing to do outside? Play freeze tag

Favorite holiday? 
What’s one thing you don’t like to do: Eating bacon
What do you want to be when you grow up? Teacher

Monday, September 8, 2014

Mina Lately

We recently had Mina's ENT follow-up appointment after the accident, and I am still in awe at God's mercy. We go back in three months for a second test for her hearing. She may have some very, very mild hearing loss in her left ear, but nothing that concerns the ENT. Here she is in the waiting room with Daniel before her appointment. Precious miracle sitting in her daddy's lap...

Other than potty training (Lord, help me.), Mina is seriously the easiest child on the planet.
She is also the most loving child you'll ever meet.
This girl even waves and blows kisses to the potty saying, "Bye-bye, poo-poo!" as she flushes. (She doesn't bid farewell to many toilet pee-pee's, unfortunately...)
She'll -- out-of-nowhere -- announce, "I need a kiss, Mama! And a hug!"
Every time we drive by Aubrey's school, she waves and shouts as loud as she can, "Hi Auuuuuubie! I miss youuuuu!"
She is just downright sweet.

And as sweet as she is, there's definitely a SPICY side to her.
She can take down hot food like it's nothing.
Here's Mina just cackling at Aubrey one afternoon while chowing-down on some jalapeño chips. I asked her if she was okay and if she needed a drink. She said, "My tongue is on fire, but I okay! I wike it!"

And below is a rare photo. 
Mad Minxie. 
It doesn't happen often (extreme cases of when she's super tired or hungry), so I feel the need to document it. I do remember Aubrey at this age, so this actually may be a face we start seeing more...

But I can't end this post on that picture.
This little video gem is such a perfect representation of Mina ninety-nine percent of the time.
Adorably funny and as cute as can be!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Kindergarten 101

It's for real, y'all.

(I purposefully cropped off the school name, for privacy reasons...)

There's a bus that stops right in front of our house to pick-up and drop-off my big girl.
She's gone from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
There's homework.
A daily folder that needs checking every night.
Class rules and consequences.
Cafeteria lunches.
Show and Tell.

Aubrey had a phenomenal first week, despite not getting sent home on the bus the first day.
Then at the end of the second week, things took an unexpected / out-of-nowhere turn.

Tears started flowing.
Nighttime meltdowns.
Morning meltdowns.
Missing Mama.
Caught a nasty cold.
Not wanting to ride the bus.
"My belly hurts..."

For awhile, I wasn't sure we were going to make it.
Daniel even almost uttered the "H" word. (Homeschool)

But now we're on Week Three, and we're persevering.
The tears are not nearly as frequent, even though some days they're right at the surface.

Trying to decipher exactly what caused this emotional shift, Daniel and I had been asking her some questions. We started noting reoccurring comments she was making such as, "What if it gets too hard?" and "What if I don't get everything right?"

Less than a month into the school-year, and we're already seeing the intense need for perfection.
That deep, dark fear of failure hissing in her ear.

She's her mother's child, and I know those insecurities all too well.

We talked to her about how it's okay to make mistakes.
How we're all human and there will be days we fail at things.
There's only ONE person who walked perfectly on this earth.

Sheesh, kindergarten may end up teaching me more than my 5-year-old, now that I think about it.

After reminding her of her life verse:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
Lean not on your own understanding,
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will direct your path.
Proverbs 3:5-6

And Daniel playing this song for her before getting on the bus, things have been getting notably better.
(the song is at the end of the post, too)

I'm seeing more of a peace in her.

Regardless of any morning anxiety that might creep up, Aubrey is always in a great mood when she gets home. Mina and I are always perched (literally) outside waiting for her.

I absolutely love seeing Aubrey's sweet face come bounding off the bus in the afternoon.
We sit in the breakfast room with a snack, and I get a recap of all the playground scoop, cafeteria conversations, and classroom drama...

"I think my friend Hope on the bus is in about third grade or something."
"What makes you think that?"
"She has, like, seven grown-up teeth. That's how you can tell how old someone is in Elementary School..."

"I really need to learn how to tie my shoes! If I do, I get a really cool pencil. It has a flat tip, and that makes me want to sharpen it SO bad." (Sidenote: She can tie her shoes now! Two different ways. I'm just a smidge proud.)

"A boy in my class got put on ORANGE today. If he messed up two more times, he would have to go to the GOLD room. It sounds like it would be awesome, but it's the worst room. You're all by yourself with a really mean teacher. Oh, and there's a TV in there, but it doesn't work. It's just there to make you want to watch it. It's like a torture room or something." (A TV that you can't watch?! Oh the horror! And to think the rumor when I was in elementary school was the electric paddle in the principal's office! haha!)

"The other Aubrey in my class can fix hair. Seriously, Mom. She put Maria's hair in a ponytail today after gym. Can you believe that?! Fixing hair as a kindergartener?! She must be really smart..."

Oh, how I love being on the receiving end of these daily animated chats.

I'll be honest,'s hard on certain afternoons when I hear about how the "mean" girl chased her around the playground and then stomped on her hand "on purpose!".

Or how two boys in the cafeteria shoved their sandwiches in her face and chanted, "EAT IT! EAT IT!"

Or how another girl in the class always steals her crayons.

But I know that's all just part of it.

Oh, Kindergarten...
You're so quirky, hard, emotional, and wonderful.
And I'm totally blaming my newly discovered gray hairs on you.

Oh, and on this little munchkin who just started Preschool two mornings a week.
Heaven help me...

(Song mentioned earlier in the post)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Back to School Shoppe

I have a post in the works to discuss the current status of Kindergarten, but today I'd rather travel back to a time that was filled with tear-free excitement and anticipation.

The day before school started, I stocked a Back to School Shoppe at our house.

I gathered all of Aubrey's school supplies, miscellaneous art supplies, party fans, and a mini shopping cart for the set-up. 

Before the store "opened" -- I read off the school supply list to Aubrey and had her make her own list (she drew pictures of the items).

 (This photo doesn't show the entire list.)

Aubrey grabbed her purse and some play money, and waited for the stock-boy / bagger to open the store. :)

Oh the indescribable joy of buying school supplies!

Aubrey absolutely loved filling the shopping cart with the items and then marking them off her list.

Once she had everything, it was time to ring it all up! The total came to $29, and she decided to pay with her debit card (wink wink). When I asked for a form of identification, she gave me her library card. (I love this girl so much.)

After she paid, she went to the table to label all her items before putting them in her backpack. I had Sharpies and stickers with her initials. 

I think we'll need to do this every year before school starts! It was so fun!

You can click over to the We Heart Parties blog to see how to make the giant ruler!