kids

kids

Friday, June 26, 2015

Totus Tuus

The monsters survived Vacation Bible School, and more importantly, Vacation Bible School survived the monsters.

Totus Tuus is the VBS program for St. John Neumann Catholic Church, where we are parishioners.  I wish I could say "where we go to church" but it is just not true.  I got so frustrated at how horrible Vi was in mass that we just quit going.  Bad parenting, I know, but sometimes exhaustion and embarrassment win.

However, Violet recently looked at Brian and I and said "Who is Jesus" and I have never felt like a worse parent.  We promptly signed the kids up for Totus Tuus and took them to mass.  Violet made it through the entire service, but did regale me with winners like "oh, so Jesus is a boy!" (who knew?) and "but he has long hair and wears a dress" (true).  In our defense, the kids know their prayers and pray before meals and bed every day.

Anyway, Totus Tuus "totally yours" is the VBS program we signed them up for.  It is a full day from 9am to 2:30pm and only cost $35 total for the two of them.  I know some are free, but most of those are only a few hours a day.  This was totally worth it.

Luckily, Jeremy is the best kid ever and Violet really wants to be grown up, so they were excited about going.  Look at their first day glow!

Vi was so excited to have her own lunchbox (thanks again, Lily!) and to finally go to "school" like her big brother. They were supposed to wear shorts and tennis shoes each day, so I prepped Violet for this for a week.  We picked out shorts that were skirts on top with shorts built in, so that was ok, but the t-shirt was a struggle at first.  And the lack of glass slippers was concerning.  She survived, though.  Thank you for your concern and prayers during this difficult time for our daughter.


Notice the iron-ons.  I have never done this before.  I am not that mom.  I will not say that I entered into this craft with the best of attitudes, but I think they turned out ok. I did Vi's first, so Jeremy's is way better.  Whatever, it worked.

She had to show us her classroom - and she had to stand on the pink dot
They ended up totally loving the week.  It was really funny though the differences Brian and I discovered in our son and daughter.  Example:

Me: "Jeremy, how was VBS today?"
Jeremy: "Good."
Me: "What did you learn?"
Jeremy: "I don't know."
Me: "Who did you play with?"
Jeremy: "Good."

What?!  Now compare:

Me: "Violet, how was VBS today?"
Vi: "It was good.  I ate snack and lunch and went to church and watched a movie and sang a song and one girl had the same shoes as me, and I saw Jeremy at lunch and at church and I played in the gym and I didn't take a nap..."
Me: "What did you learn?"
Vi: "I learned the Sorrowful Mysteries and about Jesus, who has another name that is the Son of God.  And his mom's name is Mary. And he died on the cross.  And he prayed in the garden in the first Sorrowful Mystery and the Virtue I learned was Obedience *then she starts to sing the Obedience song*"
Me: "Wow."
Vi: "And I made a rosary and you pray with it but you don't wear it as a necklace or play with it.  And Jesus died and it was sad, but then he came back so it was happy again.  And VeggieTales is my favorite show at naptime when I don't sleep but I am the only one with a My Little Pony blanket...(3 hours later she stops talking)"

I love that they are night and day in their personalities.  Apparently, they both had a blast and learned a lot, but Vi is just naturally more loquacious about such things.

On Wednesday, they had a potluck dinner and had the kids sing some of the songs they learned.  My pictures are horrible, but Jeremy was quite the showman and Vi was one of the best in her little pre-K group song.  Her teacher said she definitely has a personality, but she was very good.  :)  I'll take it.
Group shot - Vi in the very front eating and cookie and not participating in the song, and Jeremy on the far left really into his shark moves
my girl right in the middle
We are super glad we sent them.  We now know that Violet is not a terrorist (a legitimate concern of mine sometimes) and that Jeremy is as go-with-the-flow as ever.  And thankfully we also now know that Jesus, despite his long hair and dress, is indeed a boy.  Score.


Saturday, May 30, 2015

A Four Year Old Princess

Princess Violet Cordelia Hopper officially turned 4 on May 27th 2015.  She had her 4 year old checkup and she is 3 feet 4 inches and 34 pounds.  We are told she is just the right size, and that she will most likely be above average in height as an adult.  She is very healthy and a robust, energetic kid.

She knows the alphabet, recognizes all letters and letter sounds, and is just beginning to put words together - stop, no, to, etc are her go-to "reading" words right now. She loves books and is in a Berenstain Bears phase right now.  She likes to read on her own long after Brian and I finish story time.  She is active and runs around all the time.  She tries to keep up with the neighborhood kids, but she is not tall enough to ride Jeremy's old bike.  She has not yet gotten the hang of her scooter, but she is getting better.  We have just started letting her go outside to play with the neighbors by herself - previously she had to have me or Brian sitting outside watching, but now as long as Jeremy is with her, we let her go without a parent stalker.

She loves pretend play in all of its forms, and she seamlessly transforms herself from a Power Ranger to a Transformer to the Hulk while playing with her brother.  She is rough, and often we have to break up wrestling matches because Jeremy (not Violet) has gotten hurt.  She loves to play ball, croquet, and be loud, loud, loud.  She learned some bird calls on Sesame Street and hearing her shout them out all the time is the cutest thing.

But, despite all of those many fascinating things that make up my little girl, she is above all things a Little Princess.

When she does her Power Ranger drop kicks, it is with a tiara on her head.  When she wrestles Jeremy to the floor she manages to keep her glass slippers on.  When she does her hilarious "Hulk SMASH" impression, it is usually in full princess dress.  She runs around like a wild person outside always in a skirt or a dress.  She throws a fit if we even attempt to put pants or shorts on her.

I love all those endearing juxtapositions.  My girly girl will most likely beat up your son if he dares to cross her.

Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty remain her favorites.  Anna and Elsa put up a good fight, and Let It Go is still a go-to song, but it seems no one can unseat the classics.  I thought the Cinderella movie would be a fun afternoon diversion one day, but little did I know it would change her life.  She quotes full sections of it, and watches clips from it on YouTube.  She makes us call her Ella - literally, she sometimes won't answer to her real name.  We know it comes out on DVD June 24th and she has made me show her this day on the calendar multiple times.

Violet/Ella is healthy, happy, cute, and energetic.  She loves toys, books, and friends.  She is always up for an adventure - she lives for going to the park, the library, shopping, my office, whatever.  I was driving her home the other day and she got all upset and said she did not want to go home.  The kid wants to be out and living life at 11 all the time.

With that level of energy comes the downside to Miss Vi at this age.  She is getting MUCH better, but her temper is still in there.  She is very bossy, picky, and particular.  She stomps at us when she is mad, which would be hilarious if we weren't trying to be serious and parent her properly.  She is in timeout multiple times every day.  She still struggles with potty training completely (yes, she is 4, this is insane), but her stubbornness knows no bounds apparently.

But here's the thing.  That little girl lights up our lives like I could have never imagined.  She is headstrong and insane, but she is beautiful and vibrant.  She is a shot of hot pink in a world that tries too hard to be beige.  She loves her family fiercely, and she tackles every day with a sort of joy and exuberance that I admire and hope she never loses.  She is my crazy little monster princess girl and I am so lucky to have her in my life.
I asked her to smile for a picture, and this is what she did.  Stinker.

At my office.  Chocolate all over her face.

JCPenny makeup counter.
Reading bedtime stories to Penelope (she pretends her doll is her cousin).

Showing off her new jewelry from Candace.
Still loves selfies with mom.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Ultra Violet

This girl.

She loves when the DVDs have that little ultraviolet ad at the beginning.  Basically, she just loves everything that is all about her.  And this past week was all about her.

She has been freaking out about her birthday for over a month.  She wanted a princess ball, but since she only has like 2 friends that are girls, it was a princess ball in name only.
princesses before the dresses came off in favor of swimsuits
Nona is always in on the theme
My janky homemade invitations, based on the Cinderella movie posters (she has seen it 3 times! now that she is 4, she wants to see it 4 times! don't ask her about this movie unless you have an hour to kill)

No birthday party is complete without Nona and Pop coming in town and helping out!  Bonus this year we also got Nana and Grandaddy the day before for some special 1-1 time!

Violet was MOST excited about her cake and cupcakes.  She asked for both, but I put my foot down. We ended up making pink cupcakes with pink icing.  As far as food goes, she asked very specifically for jelly beans and marshmallows, so that is what we got for the decorations.  She made it all herself in her apron (just like Cinderella).  She even painstakingly picked which princess toppers (don't buy stuff like this - it takes 30 seconds for a google search to make it yourself for free) went on which cupcakes.
apron
Nona's helper
Intense focus

The full food spread ended up looking like this.  Brian was grilling the hamburgers and hot dogs, but they ended up in that empty thing at the back.  Yummy!

Decorations were mostly at a minimum, but we did some work on the backyard since 90% of the party was going to be out there.  We got out both pools and all of our water guns, as well as our pop-up trains and castles.
present nook
enjoy the pool with clean water - it does not last long
same painting and princesses we used for her party 2 years ago :)

Clearly, the kids LOVED the pools.



They were so wet that we moved the candle blowing portion outside as well.



For the goodie bags, I made a little scavenger hunt with 7 clues to different locations around the house and yard.  The last one led them to the treats.


finding the clue in the toy box
racing for the clue in the mailbox
I failed to take a pic of the bags before they were ripped open.  Oops!  I used sticker paper to print the design from her invitation but this time with a thank you message on the scroll.  I stuck them to the lunch bags we already had and then Vi and I threaded some blue yarn through the top and made bows.  Cute and free.  Inside was all Dollar Store merch - water guns, bubbles, pencils, ring pops, etc.

She got lots of fun presents. My mom got her this great tea set and cart from Beauty and Beast!  She loves tea parties so much - I have already had hundreds of cups of tea from this thing already.  I got her the horse and carriage from the Cinderella movie.  This was the present she HAD to have in her head and has been talking about for weeks.  She hugged the box when she opened it.  :)




She also got some new Barbie Princess dolls, which is totally her current favorite thing.
playing with Sara
All in all, it was a fabulous party!  We had eleven kids there, which is huge to me, and everyone was happy and played well the whole time.  Shout out to Graham and Katherine and their 3 boys for driving up from Nashville to play with us!

After the party, my mom, Brian, and I got down to the serious business of teaching the kids to play poker.  We were up until almost midnight stealing money from our children and teaching them how to bluff.  Vi can identify most poker hands now.  Very important life lessons for a new 4 year old.



And per our tradition, we had a great breakfast feast at Cracker Barrel with my mom and dad.  Gosh, I love them!!
why are they incapable of smiling at the same time?

I will post a Violet at 4 years old write-up later this week!

Monday, May 18, 2015

5K Madness!

You may remember a post I wrote back in early March about how I took the kids and Brian to participate in the Fainting Goat 5K that my RAs organized.  Fun times. Well, Jeremy ran off during that run and totally left me and Brian in the dust with Vi's stroller.  He grabbed on to Stephanie (one of our awesome Hall Directors) and ran the race with her.

And so it began.
Jeremy's wall
Our little runner begged for more races.  He did not want to do baseball this year (his coach and most of his old team did not return either, so while my little baseball heart was broken, it was fine - plus, let's be honest, the kid is not super coordinated), and we really wanted him to still be physically active.  He would literally play video games, read books, or build Legos all day if we let him.  So, this whole running thing seemed like a great idea.

Except.

Well, he is 7 and some of these races are huge.  I can't really let a 7 year old run a 5K by himself.  Stephanie and some others at work who run have been great, but eventually we realized we needed to do something.  I have rheumatoid arthritis and just walking a 5K makes my ankles and knees swell, so Brian stepped up to the plate.  Brian is now Jeremy's official running partner, and since he has lost over 30 pounds this year, the exercise he is now adding is so awesome.  I am so proud of him!  I will say it again, my husband is the best.  :)

Anyway.

Back to Jeremy.

After the Fainting Goat 5K, we signed him up for the Covenant Health Kids Run, which is a part of the Knoxville Marathon.  He ran this one with Stephanie, and they started at World's Fair Park and ran a route that ended at the 50 yard line in Neyland Stadium.  This one had a medal that he won, so he was super pumped.
with Stephanie

Miss Amy and Violet cheering at the finish line in Neyland

look really closely and you can see his little arms in the air
I am a huge nerd and bought this photo - how cute - and look at Stephanie cheering in the background!

LOVES that medal

Next, he did the Color Me Rad 5K, which is one of those runs where you wear white and by the end you are covered in paint and totally crazy-looking.  Brian ran this one with him.  We invited Teddi's kids to join in this one, and poor Brian ended up carrying Mallory on his shoulders for part of it, and had to calm down crying kiddos when Jeremy and Mallory collided and fell during the race.  The kids really loved all the colors, and Brian actively avoided them.  :)
before and after
they are in this pic, I swear
run, Jeremy!
pure joy
colorful kids
the free photo they sent me - no good, and poor Teddi's kids didn't really end up in any of them - nor did Brian

Sam, one of my awesome Hall Directors, told me about a really cheap 5K at Maryville college, so the next race we participated in was the Scot's Trots 5K for muscular dystrophy.  This was sponsored by the Maryville football team, and was very small in scale, but really fun - and pretty.  I signed up the whole family since it was really cheap, and Vi and I walked while Jeremy ran with Brian, Sam, and Stephanie.
before the race
cheering more racers on after he finished

Just this past week, I got a tip and coupon from Stephanie for the Glow Run 5K.  This was cool, as it was a night run.  The t-shirts are glow in the dark and they give you glow sticks (plus, Brian took Jeremy out and they bought a bunch of cheap glow stuff to add to their attire).  Brian ran this one with Jeremy while Vi and I played on the playground at World's Fair Park.
weirdos
my boys
love this of Vi at the playground
waiting for her brother and daddy at the finish line
they did it!
lots of glow sticks
it's possible I stole this off the preview page rather than buying it - ignore the watermark
ditto
I am not sure if this is Jeremy's calling or not - his enthusiasm level wans from race to race, but overall, it has been a fun experience for our whole family.  I think we are going to lay off until fall (five 5Ks in less than 3 months is a lot) and let the really strong heat pass us.  Brian and Jeremy are going to run around the neighborhood to stay in shape, and I am excited about that.  They both are doing so great!