Hop Hop Hop

Posted by casey on April 27, 2015 in Caden, Everett, Holiday Fun

My two little men enjoyed another fabulous Easter this year that they had been looking forward to in the weeks prior to the actual event.  Their school had beeDSC_0551_edited-1n doing a wonderful job teaching them and prepping them for what Easter is really about and each day they came home with new bible stories, songs and crafts to help us celebrate the day.

With a small egg hunt done at school we all were looking forward to the bunny celebrations of Easter as the weekend came near and they weren’t overloaded with other celebrations.  You see, our boys are VERY lucky because the Easter Bunny makes two stops for them.  Each year, he is so sneaky and leaves them a basket at our house full of fun and goodies and then hops his way to Nonna and Papa’s littering the garden backyard with all the eggs two little boys could desire.  I just love it.

They get to soak up both spots and experiences and make memories that will shape DSC_0507_edited-1what they remember of our family celebrations in the years to come.

As has been the case almost each year, there was a chance of rain Easter morning.  Sure enough when the boys woke up, it was already coming down and quite dreary outside.  Somehow, that didn’t stop our bunny who had delivered their baskets safe and sound to our front porch under the safety of the stoop. But first, before they remembered basket potential, they had noticed and searched for a smattering of eggs they found around the kitchen and living roomDSC_0509_edited-1 which that silly bunny had filled with their favorite cereals!

Sure enough after diving into their cereal eggs they recalled what the bunny had put in their baskets last year, and thanks to Daddy singing our quirky Easter Bunny song that the boys request each night year round it was off to think of where their baskets could be.


Ta-Daaaaa! Someone saw them!


Pure delight.
That is what their faces showed. Delight.

DSC_0531_edited-1Our Easter Bunny knows that we don’t eat a ton of sweets around here so he hooked our boys up with some surprises of their very favorite things and wishes.  Almost like a mini stocking full of what their age encompasses each year – coloring book, PJs, flip flops, stretchy bugs, playdough, little readers, superhero fans, light up bouncy balls, yadda, yadda, yadda, and yes…a transformer.  Because what says Happy Easter better than a robot?

At least not to the hearts of five and three year olds.

And so they unpacked, and squealed, and played, and admired, and commented, and traded, and traded back and stashed and saved, and spread out and well, I think you get it.  Happy as two boys who were just spoiled by a bunny that seems to have enough magic to get these baskets full and to them. Amazing.



It was as it has been the past few years a nice little family morning, quieted by the rain but enlightened by the excitement of their spirits.  They enjoyed their Easter egg cereal, some bunny shaped breakfast concoctions of mine and were set to continue on with their treasures and day.  Knowing that we were going to be going to Nonna and Pa Pa’s shortly for our traditional Easter Brunch and what…egg hunt…for them…they were all geared up for the rest of the day.


DSC_0586_edited-1With a break in the rain and sprinkling, the boys’ egg hunt was an almost immediate activity upon arrival at Nonna and Pa Pa’s.  After a few bites of snacks of course. As with the house at anytime of the year, or holiday for that matter, Nonna and Pa Pa’s backyard is a picturesque location for the bunny to do his best hiding.  The grass is green, the plants are full, flowers are blooming and there are plenty of nooks and crannies for stashing away those colorful finds.


The boys were so sweet talking about helping each other and how they could doDSC_0579_edited-1 teamwork and while I thought that would surely go out the window, what do you know, it didn’t. In fact, they both gave each other several eggs when they had already found one like that (Spiderman) or thought the DSC_0569_edited-1other would like a specific color (blue in Everett’s case).  It was one of those little heart-warming sibling moments for me as they dashed about but still thought of the other.

I love that the bunny spreads out the fun and Caden and Everett get to have holiday traditions and memories at both spots.  They always have more than enough eggs to search for and yet still manage to miss a few and require a little coaching from Daddy and Pa Pa as they start to become sparse.  The past two years it has amazed me how well they literally haul around their full buckets, sometimes teetering themselves but not willing to consider an alternative.  Can’t.Slow.Down.     Must. Find.Eggs.


DSC_0584_edited-1High and low, In and Out, their buckets were filled and their cardio workout was checked off for the day.

They came, they collected and he conquered with glee but the real treat, for the second year in a row, was a live Easter Bunny spotting.  Last year, on our evening walk just as we were approaching our driveway out he hopped from the bushes and into our neighbor’s yard cotton tail and all.  This year, just as we were hunting, Daddy spotted him creeping in the tall grass bushes.

Thinking that he was surely about to make his mad dash to keep himself secret we got the boys attention and what do you know, he hung out for a few minutes (probably trying to best plan his escape).  So the boys crept closer and closer trying to actually get a glimpse of him in his camouflaged hideout when out he came to say hello.

10012043_879832835407352_7343963627224062991_oA perfect little Easter Bunny, showing off his skills.  The boys thanked him as he hopped towards the fence and I remarked at how lucky they were that two years in a row they saw him just after he left his treats for them – what luck!

Caden watched him bound off toward the fence commenting on how much magic that little bunny must have to carry all of these things that he can barely carry and then back to a final scan of the yard and garden for any final remains of Easter fun.


They delighted in their full buckets and as a parent it was fun to watch them get toDSC_0660_edited-1 another new age and stage where they wanted to open and investigate, “But not eat Mommy, just peek.” all of their finds.

We were able to all enjoy yet another delicious brunch DSC_0649_edited-1and even the weather a little as the rain came and went, came and went, keeping the temperature cool but fine for us to overlook as we ate.

With all of the fun an family time behind us we checked off one more event that would be a last for us as a family of four.  I really tried to soak up what this year looked like for us and how they interact together knowing that next year we will have an almost one year old among the bunch as well to give these two a little competition! With the boys getting to pick out one egg from their bucket after dinner each night, we might still be going through our eggs this time next year too!



A Merry Morning

Posted by casey on January 26, 2015 in Holiday Fun

DSC_0264_edited-1Now that we are one month from Christmas and full in the having just moved, 5th birthday party planning, Valentine assembling, baby nesting months I decided I better get out these favorite captures from our Merry Christmas morning with the boys.  Everett may or may not have come downstairs at 4 AM on Christmas morning…the end of one era and the beginning of an era.  I coaxed him into going back to sleep for a couple of hours by allowing him in our bed instead of taking him back upstairs because his whispers of “Mommy, there are presents out there,” every thirty seconds made me question whether he would or not to begin with!

After Caden excitedly ran into our bedroom, up we were and so it began.  The onslaught of excitement, coffee and surprises galore.  First things first, Santa ate all of the cookies!!!  Amazing.


Santa had left handy-dandy Santa sacks just like his, making the wrapping diminishDSC_0269_edited-1 and the ease of opening and preparing increase.  This was the first year that they were drawn to their overflowing stocking firsts which was a fun sight for me because that was always a favorite of mine even into adulthood.  Yes, we insisted Mom still stuff our stockings when we were in college.  Bless her patience.

Using their mighty mini muscles they dragged those stockings into the living room and began pulling things out one by one declaring, “Oh, I was asking for one of these!!!”  I sat back with my coffee and enjoyed their joy, occasionally snapping a picture but more often helping them tug something out or cut something open, every parent’s holiday right.

DSC_0282_edited-1No it isn’t about the “things”, but there is something just so nice about their pure happiness and excitement over these surprises and the fact that they belong to them.  Seeing your childhood memories come full circle into what will be there childhood memories and the moments together as a family that will mark our stories around the dinner table as they age.  Priceless.

They were expecting wrapped items, so explaining that the Santa had stuffed their sacks took a minute to put it all together and still having a few wrapped items from others helped alleviate that mystery!

Caden had been requesting with confidence for Santa to bring him a bow and arrow like one we had given a friend for his birthday since summer when one he had, which ended up DSC_0330_edited-1being too challenging for his size to use broke.  One long wait later and both boys were ecstatically hooked up.

Thank you Santa.

While their letter wishes to Santa came true one at a time and each contraption was opened, tested and remarked upon one large wrapped gift awaited their attention in the corner.

I couldn’t believe it wasn’t the first tDSC_0340_edited-1hing they ran to, and while they did see it they were obviously distracted by all of the options. But eventually, it got its turn and was very much worth the wait.  All of his little chef dreams came true in one unwrapping moment – his kitchen.

Santa must have decided that with one more bambino on the way this toy would get some use as we all witnessed Everett play with any pretend kitchen set anywhere with a focus rarely seen on his part.  The imagination, determination and love you see on his face when he is whipping you up a meal is surely what convinced Santa himself that this would be on his sleigh.  Here he spend the rest of the day…and weeks DSC_0354_edited-1after…and it is still the first thing he goes to each morning.  I have never been so fake fed in my life.

And so it went.  We unwrapped, we played, we ate, we had a silly string fight out front and we enjoyed the quiet calmness of just the four of us on Christmas morning.  I took in knowing that this was the last Christmas that we would be just us four, that this was the last Christmas in that house and with all the change coming our way embraced the morning for the mess and chaos that comes with the perfectly aged children for Christmas magic.  The boys tested out everything they could making piles of this and that and trading this and that and I think for the first time not entirely overwhelmed by all that comes with so much fun.


With Santa and a nap under our belts we crossed off a successful Christmas morning off of our lists and prepared for the continued days of celebrating ahead with family as everyone trickled into town over the next week starting that afternoon.

Over the freeway and through the neighborhood to Nonna & Pa Pa’s we go!





The Wrap Up {Eve}

Posted by casey on January 12, 2015 in Caden, Everett, Holiday Fun
Headed to bed for Santa!

Headed to bed for Santa!

Christmas this year can be listed under the same adjectives that I have used in years past; busy, chaotic, memorable and mostly, magical.  The boys were filled to the brim with activities, family time, stories, songs, celebrations, snuggles, treats and yes…spoils.  I worked very hard this year among the final weeks of new house building prep, this house being on the market/selling and packing up to be very intentional about what I chose to do with them this year and when.  Not everything all the time, but a few things when the time was right and you know what, we still made more memories and had more outing fun than I could have predicted.

Since next year we will have another new mini family member with us, embracing just our two boys this year and their perfect age for all things Christmas and magic was such an enjoyable experience as a parent.  Soaking up their excitement while containing it and allowing myself to just watch them just as they are.

DSC_0237_edited-1Christmas Eve we continued this year as a quiet night at home with just us and Nonna and Pa Pa.  Since my family no longer lives here to continue that celebration we started an easy takeout approach that allows us all to have a night-off, the boys to mill about while still being together.

Since we are also spoiled to having Colter’s parents to ourselves in town it is also nice to celebrate a little with them before the family filled days are on us that we so look forward to!  We wisened up this year and started allowing the boys to open gifts from extended family (so as to clear room for Santa of course) earlier that afternoon so they would have time to actually play with them as they opened.


DSC_0242_edited-1I think we really got the hang of the timing and letting everyone just do their thing this year as their excitement started to peak after all of the counting down and waiting.  The boys were amazed at the generosity of their Pop and Nana and Uncle Drew and Auntie Jess both in Florida who re-filled their toy closets with board games, movies, magnet tiles, legos and Captain America helmets.  Auntie Laura in California sent them a Batmobile and oversized Imaginext dinosaur with rocket arms. Boy heaven? I think so.


Nonna and Pa Pa even brought a little pre-Christmas Day gift to help spread out theunnamed onslaught of flying wrapping paper allowing the boys to take their “Alpha Team” Hide and Seek with Daddy to a new level with some mini nerf “shooters”.  So as you can tell, the big man in red has an even trickier job to carry out to get them just the right, on their list, but not overlapping surprise thanks to all of the love and showering from our families which we all SO appreciate.


The interesting tradition after the Christmas Eve opening is bringing out my family’sDSC_0242_edited-1 tradition (and many others) of new jammies just before bath-time.  You never know what the reaction will be after they just opened up “fun things”. Ha!  My hope is that it is a silly and sweet thing they know to depend on each year just as we did.  We would go and get in the shower even as teenagers pretending to not know that Mom was going to leave a box of fresh cozy PJS for us on our bedroom floor. So for now, it is their “one last box”  This year, Everett was pretty stoked, since I threw in a dinosaur/dragon robe that matched their slippers Jingle brought them.


They were perfectly precious in plaid with their robes and teddy bears more than ready to hit the hay (after reading “The Night Before Christmas” of course) so that they could at long last make it to Christmas Day.  We were so impressed that they did in fact go right to sleep since there were many questions about when exactly Santa would arrive, would it be scary that he sneaks in (totally legit question by the way) and would they ever in fact get to see him.

And so just like that, the cookies were chosen and laid out, the milk was poured, the prayers were said and then the Jingle Bells of St. Nick rang over our house filling it with magic, surprises and a  lot of family love.



Jingle the Elf {Wrapping Up 2014}

Posted by casey on December 30, 2014 in Holiday Fun, Jingle the Elf

Jingle’s final days with us were full of his usual funny, surprise filled antics that left us more than ready for Santa to arrive and Christmas to be celebrated together.  Here is a look at Jingle’s last few days with our family during the 2014 Christmas season. Jingle14Day22Even the nutcrackers need a little help learning their ABCs for their name. Jingle to the rescue and with some name and letter practice pages for us too! Jingle14Day23 Slope style Jingle might be my personal favorite appearance of his this year.  I guess he was getting bored just sitting/flying/playing around so he set up his slope and got right to it.  Apparently he isn’t worried about his knees like I am. Jingle14Day24 Guess who has his sleigh ready for Santa’s arrival?!  Jingle may have lacked reindeer but he made up for it with an efficient dinosaur pull so he could get his tree home and decorated in time.  A strip of sleighbells to recognize Santa’s sound and we were all ready to open some family gifts to clear room under the tree and begin the fun!  Jingle14Dayxmasmorning Merry Christmas Jingle!  You really helped us ring in the season and continue some family traditions together this year.  We love baking cookies together, doing art projects, reading books and singing songs and thanks to you, you helped guide us through the weeks to lots of family fun and silliness.  We are so glad that you stick around each year on Christmas morning in your very own stocking to watch us celebrate together! DSC_0461_edited-1 Goodbye Jingle.  The time came the day after Christmas to say farewell to our festive friend.  From his final perch this year he waved goodbye to us and reminded us to read his story one last time so we knew he had to go back to the North Pole until next year.  We gave our thanks and took one last peek and then off to bed for us and back to the North Pole for Jingle.  I am sure he needs his rest after this year!


A Merry Message

Posted by casey on December 25, 2014 in Holiday Fun

From Us to You, our 2014 Christmas Card.

Merry Christmas!




Checking it Twice

Posted by casey on December 22, 2014 in Caden, Everett, Holiday Fun

We met and mingled with Santa, so then we had to get down to business.

Santa letters.


Last year was our first official year to write letters.  Caden mapped out his simple request of “Santa, Scooter please. Caden”, and Everett drew lots of pictures and stickers to be sure Santa knew of him too.  This year was a little more in depth and the first year for them to both get their wants across.  With two writers on our hands now, both requiring some assistance Mommy was all brain on deck going back and forth to help them spell and sort out their messages.

DSC_1082_edited-1A few days prior the boys and I were doing our morning letter practice and they wanted to practice writing “Santa”.  So, they had that part down.  Caden, had requested lines on his Santa letter paper like his school papers so that he knew where to write and with a few blank papers to write out words for them to copy in front of us, crayons and stickers we were set to go.

We got our “Dear Santa” out, and then it was decision time.  What did they in fact DSC_1084_edited-1want (and in limited paper space please).  They had been talking about their wishes for awhile but putting down on paper was almost too much commitment.  So we chatted.  As they thought out loud the same items came up and were summed up in their four and a half and three year old minds.

What I love most (and frustrated Caden at times) is their “mistakes” on their letters.  The cross outs and adjustments made that really show their age and their hearts.  Both boys put all of their finger strength and concentration into their letters as seen by their broken crayons and tongues sticking out!

The result? Toddler and Kid Eloquence.

photo 3

Santa, Bow & Arrow, Kitchen Please. Everett
photo 2Dear Santa, I Want a Bow & Arrow, $ Machine (aka cash register)
and a big book please. Caden

DSC_1087_edited-1They were written, decorated appropriately with stickers galore and then the finale, signed, sealed and delivered to the mail.

Check it off our list and hope Santa DSC_1091_edited-1 - Copychecks it on his twice because these two boys are convinced they have been nothing but nice.

DSC_1098_edited-1The letters were sent and the waiting began but knowing that they had done their official work helped us all know what we hoped might be under our tree this very year.  And if you recall from Jingle’s second week with us, we even got a little sign of why our letters weren’t in our mailbox the next morning when they ran out in PJs to check!


Jingle must have taken them to the North Pole!
Phew. I am sure glad someone is on top of it.

T-Minus two more nights left until we get our cookies and stockings ready!



Posted by casey on December 21, 2014 in Caden, Everett, Family, Holiday Fun, Life as I Know It

Sometimes you get a surprise that just might make you BELIEVE.

At the beginning of December, we took our two well rested boys over to a friend’s home for a little pre-holiday gathering to kick off the post-Thanksgiving pre-Christmas season of fun and festivities.  While playing outside I heard a little rumor that a special visitor was on his way to check right on in with our littles.

DSC_0911_edited-1The look on their face alone when they heard he was coming.

And then then the grins and giggles when the man in red himself showed up and bellowed a bug “Ho, Ho, Ho” right at our boys with sleigh bells in hand.

Sometimes all you need is a simple introduction.


Maybe a nice chat.


DSC_0790_edited-1You know, just the basics, your Thanksgiving dinner, the weather, how are those reindeer, what kind of birthday party you had, what kind of birthday party your brother is going to have, your dog’s names and oh yeah…a few brief requests for Christmas surprises.

The basics right?

(Notice Everett’s priceless step -stool, Santa’s boot.)

And if you are really lucky, really, really lucky, maybe you even get a hug.



DSC_0797_edited-1This could not have been any more perfect of a set up for our boys, it was spontaneous for them and just silly enough to believe that he might have actually heard they were there and stopped by to say hello.  Santa was so nice to us all and even told the boys about his kitten back at the North Pole. Kitties name? Snowball of course.

We watched our boys go up to Santa and back up to Santa and back up to Santa as some of the wee little ones were not so delighted with his presence.  They went from elated to confident, as if they were old friends, to shy when it came time to decide what SantaDSC_0826_edited-1c should bring them.  Caden who has been adding to his mental Santa list for some time and was quite chatty froze up and could only manage a shoulder shrug and bashful grin as if asking for something was surely too much at all.

And just like that, the Christmas season was underway and our Santa encounter was done.  We had smiles and stories at bedtime of their experience and memories of magic with the man who really does come to houses so it seems.

With homework to mail our letters just in case he forgets our chats assigned we set off to make this past month another great Christmas of celebration.

Thank you to Justin and Charlotte for having us over, what a shame it would have been to miss such a lucky surprise!


Jingle the Elf 2014 {Week 3}

Posted by casey on December 21, 2014 in Holiday Fun, Jingle the Elf

It is hard to believe that Jingle’s days with us this year are numbered as we approach the last stretch until Christmas.  I think the boys’ excitement to find him grows each day as early mornings start right away with a hunt and he is a topic of conversation all day long. Where he will be and what will he be doing keep our minds actively working on the various possibilities for Jingle, our elf.Jingle14Day15

 Jingle clearly was flying in to fast from the North Pole and released his parachute to land him safely.  However that parachute happened to be Everett’s underwear.

Jingle14Day17 Both boys had been waiting not so patiently for our tree to get a magic star on the top of it like so many of the Christmas movies, shows, books and songs have. Lucky for them Jingle built himself a plane in the workshop and flew a star right up to the tippy top of our tree for us.  I hope he still had his parachute with him just in case!




Jingle must have been feeling a little crafty while we slept because we woke up to find him completing an ornament of his own with all of the painting, gluing and sequinning materials we would need to do our own too! Nothing like a little breakfast with a side of ornament project to get the day underway!  They were very happy to hang their newly created ornaments on our tree with pride precision.


It is a good thing I still find a good coloring page relaxing because this creative shenanigan had us coloring by twinkle and firelight first thing in the morning.  A cozy and quiet start to the last weekend before Christmas thanks to these holiday coloring books and Jingle’s inspiration.


Oh Jingle, you know the way to our heart.  A Saturday morning Starbucks delivery complete with some bread treats for the boys, perfectly portioned cups which were filled with hot cocoa and Jingle’s very own cappuccino, probably with some peppermint in it.  Everett was OVER THE MOON about this morning surprise, elated that Jingle had granted him the gift of the green circle queen.Jingle14Day21Sometimes he is generous, sometimes he is busy and sometimes, sometimes, he is mischievous.  Like the time he covered our kid tree in the playroom with candy canes and we caught him zip-lining in with one final candy cane. He must have known that our mom used to finish up our kid tree with us with a box of authentic tinsel and candy canes for us to throw about. Hold on tight Jingle, you have a long day to hang that way!

So there you have it, the third installment of Jingle’s time with us this year.  With only a few days with us, knowing he will leave on Christmas after watching us fill with delight over what Santa hopefully delivers our way we are soaking up his contributions to our family fun. Most days the boys hunt (and find) him before we even know they are up letting us know we are entering the age and stage where we were surely be woken up at 4 AM on Christmas Day.  Their glee is contagious and their memories are getting full of traditions and treats as Jingle continues his ways.


Jingle the Elf 2014 {Week Two}

Posted by casey on December 14, 2014 in Caden, Everett, Holiday Fun, Jingle the Elf

Another busy week of fun for our family as Jingle made his way around the house each morning. Caden is quite the expert “Jingle-Finder” this year making me wonder if his hiding spots are going to get any trickier!

Poor Jingle must have had a crash landing on his way back from the North Pole!  He seemed to make do with some candy cane crutches, Christmas band-aids and domino splints which were all a big hit with our boys!  We were sure to give him lots of rest this day so he could better and make it back to the North Pole.

Clearly Jingle didn’t want to be left out of the crew.  Leonardo, Michaelangelo, Donatello and Raphael helped gear Jingle up for some Ninja lessons and boy were we surprised!  Teenage Mutant Ninja Jingle!

It appears that Jingle knows how many giggles his secret sleepovers get out of our boys each year.  What would you think if you woke up to find a little elf taking a snooze in your room with a blanket, pillow and snuggly like yours?!

Jingle most definitely hears Everett’s sweet requests for Jingle to rest in his room too, so after his flight back from Santa he swapped his blanket and snuggly for one just like Everett’s and tip-toed in his room under the tree to feel at home.

Choo-Choo!  Who doesn’t want to go for a ride on the Polar Express is the real questions?!  A Christmas tree train ride to show us one of the season’s favorite movies that we hadn’t watched yet this year.

Poor Jingle took a little spill off of the Polar Express or Everett couldn’t resist and touched him yesterday and had to stay an extra day at the North Pole to get his magic back.  It is a good thing he sent from photos from the North Pole showing that he was there and not only that, but he had delivered our letters to Santa straight from our mailbox to the jolly man himself!

I mean, there are only 11 days left Jingle, I guess you were right and we better get to baking!  Since he was ready to go, and the proper attire was all laid out, cookie making at 7:00 a.m. was the only obvious option to meet this request!

Knowing Jingle always has some tricks up his little red sleeves but that he also has some family favorites like the sleepovers definitely keeps us on our toes as to what the last week and a half will hold!


Jingle the Elf 2014 {Week 1}

Posted by casey on December 9, 2014 in Family, Holiday Fun, Jingle the Elf

Oh Jingle. How we all missed you. Last week was already a week full of silliness and surprises with you in the house & after your annual Snowflake breakfast the boys were ready to find you each day.

With impeccable timing on December 1st, Jingle managed to locate all of our Christmas books among the packing chaos so we could read them throughout the month and provided an always classic countdown chain to help us get to the 25th!

Caden and Everett went the the “big movie” the afternoon prior and couldn’t believe when they woke up the next day to see Jingle watching Big Hero 6 just like they did. He surely heard all of their chatter about Baymax and his super friends and had to check it out for himself.  Only a movie date with Woody & Jessie, Batman and popcorn are good enough for Jingle.

Help! Jingle is stuck in a snowglobe!  This day was fun because we got to pick up and shake the snowglobe since he was protected by the jar not to mention all the perfect for toddler sized hands snowglobe magic around him.

Not even Jingle could resist Everett’s Batman Robot so he outfitted up for the ride.

Gooooooaaaaalllll ! Or not. Sorry guys, Jingle saved that one.

Who wants to walk with the dinosaurs? We do! After all, with winter upon us we certainly want to keep our feet warm and cozy.

Trying to guess just what Jingle will do and where he will be next seems to be a daily conversation now as the morning hunt for him is on as soon as little peepers open.  Rest up Jingle, you have a couple more weeks to go!

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