Monday, March 31, 2014

the ugliest volcano ever

About a year ago Declan and I made a homemade volcano. We had such a blast (pun intended) I thought we'd give it another go around! This time Lexi wasn't napping so she got to participate in the fun.

First we made dough for the outside of the volcano. Upon Declan's request we made it green.

 Then we molded it around a coke bottle to create the volcano (getting uglier by the minute)

Finally I made the solution (the inside is pink per Lexi's request) and let the kiddos have at it!

And a little more to finish it off!

Not so pretty, but easy, fun , and entertaining!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Let the good times roll! {Declan's 5th birthday party}

The 5th birthday. I cannot believe we are here! It's kind of a bitter sweet time - on the one hand, we have one rockin' 5 year old living with us. Seriously - just an incredible kid that we enjoy so much. He's such a little person now, and for some reason I'm still surprised by this. On the other hand...I miss my baby. Every once in awhile I get lost in old blog posts and videos and cannot believe how fast this time has gone by. But, I digress - this is not what this post was supposed to be about! It's about party time!

Seriously - I cannot emphasize how excited Declan was to turn 5. I mean crazy excited. We celebrated his birthday a few days early last weekend with a few of his little guy friends (and cousin Lily of course!) at the bowling alley. Poor kid was so disappointed when we returned home from that only to find out that he wasn't five yet! "But you sang Happy Birthday to me," he said. Oh man. Other than that little disappointment, Declan loved his 5th birthday. He kept saying "this is the best birthday party ever!" Music to my ears. And I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. It was low key, easy, and just plain old fun. Love that kid. Love his friends. Loved celebrating 5 years of Declan!

And now for some of the highlights!
When I was making these Lego cakes on Saturday, he was beside himself with excitement! Truly, I don't think I've ever seen the little guy so excited for a birthday!
 With a little help from Mimi, he put together the Lego 5 himself!

 The cups are supposed to be like little Lego faces
 Mimi and I set up while Adam took the kids to church.
 It was fun watching Declan's reaction when he walked in the door -

 Pause for family picture
Let the fun begin!
Can you feel the chaos?

Time to bowl
No need for assistance for this little bowler!
We finally wrangled the ball positioner -
I love how all of the kids watch each turn - such a support group for bowling!

The boys - Keegan (from Declan's class), George (from Declan's class last year), Micah, Declan, and Alex
The birthday boy at bat

A little blurry, but I love the emphasis!

Such enthusiasm from Micah!

Pizza and presents!

And finally...singing happy birthday!

I wish I had videoed this part because the kid was absolutely beaming!

Such a fun party - absolutely perfect for our little 5 year old! And if 5 wasn't enough, while Declan and I were working on thank you cards this weekend he kept asking me to please write in each one that he is going to turn 6 at his next birthday. Please kid - I was just wrapping my head around 5!!!

Oh Baby! Week 21

 Pregnancy Highlights:
How Far Along: 21 weeks (pretend it's two days ago)

Size of Baby: Baby now weighs about three-quarters of a pound and is approximately 10 1/2 inches long — about the size of a carrot.
Total Weight Gain: 9 lbs 
Maternity Clothes: I succumbed to comfort this week - much earlier than with my first two pregnancies. I still fit in one of my regular pair of jeans and have been alternating these with maternity jeans. We had the chance to go out to dinner a couple of times last week and I wanted plenty of expansion room to truly enjoy the treat of being out!
Movement: All of the time - the kiddo likes to move!

Sleep: No complaints this week!
Food Cravings: I ate way too much cake this week. Darn birthday season gets me every time!

What I Miss: Knowing the gender and all of the fun preparations that come with it. It's kind of weird not having that to grasp onto this time around.

Symptoms: Acne, expanding stomach, lower back pain every once in awhile. 

Memorable Moments: Celebrating Declan turning 5 - more on this to come. I am truly lagging on blogging right now! Also, an appointment with the doctor confirming everything is right on track and where it is supposed to be. I never take this for granted. Heart beat was 148 bpm.

What I'm Looking Forward To: Some fun Spring activities planned for the week - I am more than ready for Spring and Summer...even though there is rain in the forecast :(

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Happy FIFTH Birthday Declan!

So it has arrived - the day we say good bye to the toddler years. It's a little much for this pregnant, weepy mom to handle. Seriously I know they say it goes fast, but sharing your little life with you has brought new meaning to the saying "blink of an eye". What an incredible five years it has been. The arrival of you brought  a kind of happiness and fulfillment to my life I cannot describe. I've never taken for granted being able to share each day with you. Even when we stumble on those challenging and trying phases - days- situations - whatever it may be, I remind myself how lucky I am to be with you. Watching you grow. Seeing the world through your eyes. Being there to answer your endless questions, to hear your easy laugh, to watch you enthusiasm for life. What a gift. And what fun we've had. I know we are on the go a lot, but both of you seem to enjoy it, and I enjoy experiencing your happiness on our adventures. You've always had a boundless energy about you, an open and easy disposition with one of the kindest hearts I've ever known. You truly are full of an innocent goodness and compassion that is inspiring to witness.

Recently Mimi shared a little story with me. Whenever she is here she sleeps in your room, which you absolutely love. To be fair to Lexi, she usually spends a little extra time in her room saying good night. One night after putting Lexi to bed, she walked into your room to find you sitting in the dark in the doorway. When she asked what you were doing you responded that you wanted to close the door the way she liked it (I guess you close it for her and put a shoe behind it to make sure the wind doesn't blow it). You said that you had been standing, but your legs got tired so you sat down. Absolutely so precious. And so you. You have always been so thoughtful and aware of other people. Another example of your thoughtfulness is from this past weekend. We invited a few of your little guy friends to go bowling to celebrate your birthday. On a whim I purchased some party blowers which ended up to be quite the hit. You all ran around blowing them and chasing one another. Eventually some got lost and one of your friends was without one. When I asked you to please give your friend yours, you didn't even blink an eye. Just walked right up to him and offered your blower. You've got a heart of gold kid.

You always have, and I hope that you always do. This past year has been an especially enjoyable one with you. The biggest changes being your joy in communicating - not just telling us what you want, but telling us stories and relaying your feelings. It was a year full of growth. I also watched as you changed from a toddler to a little boy - acting in ways only a little boy does.  Ever since you watched Home Alone at Christmas time, you love running around yelling - a great (and annoying) imitation of Kevin. You've got that kind of boyish crazy thing going on right now - where all of your limbs seem to be moving faster than your body. Almost like a hint of uncontrollable energy. Especially when you are around other little boys. It's loud, and chaotic, and just the way it's supposed to be. I find myself mesmerized by the shift - gearing up for the next phase. Hanging on the advice and stories of moms with kids just a little bit older. Knowing our carefree days of play dates and amusement parks are coming to a screeching halt all too soon, I am trying to prepare for what's next and how to guide you through it the best I can. Because really, the most important thing to me is to be a good mom and role model to you and your siblings. I'm so lucky to be your mom and to go through this journey with you. I love you with every inch of my being and then some kid. Happy 5th birthday Palooka!
And now a closer look at what you are up to these days!

  • Building - Honestly, I never thought I'd see the day. For the longest time you depended on your dad and I to build train tracks for you (mainly your dad). Sometime in the last 6 months or so you've truly taken ownership of it. And quite frankly are better than I am at it. The same goes for Legos. This took some conscious effort on my part. You made out like a bandit with Legos for Christmas. At first you kept asking me to fix Lego contraptions that came apart. I kept playing like I didn't know how and emphasizing how good you were at it. It worked! Now you fix Legos all of the time, stating "I'm really good at Legos. You aren't mom". You know what? It's true. Legos aren't my all. You have reached new heights with building and creating and it is so fun to watch you enjoy this aspect of your toys.
  • Babies - You've always had a fondness for the little ones. I assumed that it would have faded away by now, but you continue to have affection for the little people in the world. I pray that this continues when we have our own set of tiny toes in the house. I have high hopes for you kid - you've already rocked the big brother role once. 
  • School - You love school. Never once have you asked to stay home - even when Mimi is here. I am so glad this has been such a positive experience for you and that you have embraced it. You seem to enjoy every part of it - your friends, your teachers, and the new things you learn. It is absolutely wonderful.
  • Sense of Direction - Your sense of direction is fantastic. I often rely on your opinion if I am unsure of where we are going. You remember every turn to every place we have ever been. It is really something. A few weeks ago we went hiking in La Jolla - a place we are not near very often. Now, if we happen to pass by the "mountain" while driving on the freeway you point it out and say "there's the mountain we climbed". It is crazy to me that you recognize it from the freeway, especially because we rarely drive by it.
  • Climbing - I don't know what's going on lately, but you are literally climbing the walls. You grab onto the side of the office door frame and scale your way up. You are always asking me if you can climb trees- unfortunately we don't live near many climbable ones. Not sure where this recent obsession with height came from...but it's all boy!
  • Rituals and Rules - Lately you've become extremely literal and quite the little rule follower. It is great, except that it truly perplexes you when other people don't follow the rules. In fact, you've become what can only be classified as a tattle tale. Oh yes, you are one of those. Quite frankly, I'll take it. The task of getting you to calm down on tattling seems much less daunting then trying to get you to follow the rules. I love that you respect and appreciate order in your life.
  • Communicating- You've become quite the communicator in the last few months. It used to be like pulling teeth to get you to tell me about school or anything for that matter. Now you love telling us about events that happened in your day.  Your new thing is using your hands for emphasis and saying "it was so crazy" as you wave them around in the air. You entertain all of us at dinner with your stories. You've also become very good at explaining when and why you are frustrated. You say things like, "I am feeling frustrated and sad because Lexi took my toy".  It's awesome. Really, so mature for your age.
  • Growing Pains - Currently you're about 35 lbs and 44inches. This past week we're encountering something new - growing pains. Literally, you've been complaining about how tired your legs are and how much they hurt. I can only assume your going through some kind of crazy growth spurt. Poor guy - growing up definitely isn't easy.
  • Independence -It's taken a long time to get here, but you officially are interested and proud of doing things on your own. New tasks used to scare you and frustrate you into quitting, but I feel like we are moving past that. You now get your stool to reach clothes in your closet and dress yourself. You always attempt almost everything I ask you to try. And lately you'll say things like "Will you learn me how to..." anxious to learn new things. I absolutely love it!
  • Things you love to do - *Mazes & floor puzzles -I can't print them off the computer fast enough! You love doing mazes and floor puzzles.*T-ball - You've taken to this much more than I realized you would. In fact, I was a little worried that getting you to go to games and practices would be a struggle. My worries were for nothing. You get so puffed up when you leave for practice at night with Daddy. The other evening I offered to throw the ball around with you at the park and your response is, "I don't think you're very good at baseball." You would be correct. *Cooking - You have become quite the little chef. Making your way around the kitchen like you own it. You are very aware of the safety rules we have and are good at following them. It has gotten to the point where whenever we are making something together in the kitchen - I am just there to assist you. You don't even need help cracking an egg these days. We got you a little chemistry set for your birthday I am excited to give you because I think you will have so much fun following the directions to make creations. *Trains - still your number one obsession!
  • Sensitive and Loving - The two best words I know to describe you. Truly, you are so full of love I am often humbled by your innocent transparency. So open with your snuggles and compliments. So willing to share. Your affections are the highlight of my day. 
Declan John - what an incredible five years it has been. It is hard for me to look ahead and imagine the next five...I mean really, elementary school?! Whatever you have in store for us, I'm sure it will be years full of laughter and silliness. Thank you for being such a good little boy. You truly make life so enjoyable. XOXO, Mom, Dad, and Lexi
 5 Years of Declan
Happy 5th Birthday!! Cheers to a whole hand!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Declan's 5 Year Interview

I tried starting the birthday interviews two years ago with Declan, but he didn't have much to say when he was three. Luckily it was a success last year because I just love seeing the growth from year to year. This year on his interview day he was feeling a bit under the weather and as you'll see, he is kind of obsessed about a new train toy he received in the mail just an hour before we interviewed him. But I still think the interview captures a pretty good picture of his almost five year old self. Love this kid to pieces and who he is growing into to be. I can't believe he is almost five!
Dictation -

What is your name? Declan. D-E-C-L-A-N  

What is your last name? Herkert  

What street do you live on? San Helena Dr  

How old are you? Four  
When is your birthday? With much emphasis...five, five, five!!!

*a lot of redirection in between these two questions*  

What day are you going to turn five? March 26th  

What is your favorite color? Green  

What do you want to be when you grow up? A train conductor and a cooker (chef) and an engineer. I asked if he wants to be an engineer to build the trains but he insisted they drive the trains. He was right, I was wrong. I should know better than to question the kids train knowledge.  

What is your favorite TV show? Mighty Machines  

What do you like to play with the most? That (pointing to a new construction train that was an early birthday present from a family friend)  

What do you like to eat? Pizza (with some prompting agreed that he likes smoothies - he drinks 2-3 a day - but said that he doesn't like hot dogs...even though he loves them).

What is your favorite book? The new books on the stairs that Joann gave me

What is your favorite treat? Popsicles  

Where do you like to go? Ride the train and go to the beach and watch them and ride them and look at the engineer in the window. And the train station and ride the Sprinter train. And I'm so excited to ride the WooWoo train (referring to a train ride we are taking to the Grand Canyon next month).  

What do you love about Lexi? I like to play with her with that (pointing to his new construction train).

*he is definitely losing steam at this point*  

What do love about Daddy? Play with that (pointing to the construction train).  

What do you love about Mommy? Play with that (pointing to the construction train)  
What do you love about baby? no words - just points to his train (he is definitely over the interview!)

What do you want to learn when you turn five? How to build train tracks.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Dreamy Mimi

Once again Mimi swooped into town, giving us all a wonderful week with her love and attention. I've said it time and again how much we all adore her but the looks on these kids faces in the pictures below really tell it all. They absolutely beam when their Mimi is around. She tirelessly entertains them...and looks damn good doing it, I might add! Thank you for a special week Mimi and for all that you do for us. I always feel like a revived Momma by the time you leave. XOXO

Onto highlights from our week -

Lexi danced her heart out, always checking to make sure Mimi was watching.

Getting ready for Spring! Bird house painting!

Mimi and Pops bought Declan his very own Legoland pass for his birthday so we used the extra ticket it came with to take Mimi. It was a great day. I had to skip out a little early for a Herkert event, but Mimi and the kids rallied, staying all the way until 4:00!


Washing Mimi's car for her. It's the least they can do...
I took a whole day for myself kid free! Mimi entertained the kids by taking them on a Sprinter ride and then headed to the flower fields. Apparently "Memes" has endless energy when it comes to her loves!

  She cheered on her little Mets t-ball player!

She celebrated Declan turning 5 with us (more to come on this).
Today was Mimi's last day. I squeezed in a few errands before she left and then we headed down to the train museum...which was  ended up being closed. So we headed to the Air and Space Museum...which ended up being way too expensive. 
The kiddos were definitely disappointed at this point. And, it was getting late. Onto plan C: a trolley ride downtown! 
The kids were happy. We summed it up as a "cookie crazy day" as Ms. D'Oporto would say. ;)

Thank you so much Mimi for a truly wonderful week. We love you!
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