Three Kids and a Dog

Monday, August 31, 2015

First Days of School

In our house the end of summer isn't marked by the date of Sept. 21 but rather by the start of the school year. This year, Austen and Peyton were once again reunited in school as Peyton entered kindergarten this year. She was very excited to become a "panther" even though she didn't know many of her classmates and even fewer girls. Not knowing many kids didn't really bother her though. She's always been the type who could walk right in and not be afraid that she didn't know anyone. She lined right up and waved goodbye with a big smile and off went my middle child to kindergarten. She was ready and so was I. I'm excited for her to begin her journey as a panther and for her to grow and see her make new friends that will likely remain some of her life-long friends.

Austen was also excited to start the school year and the third grade. Most kids usually aren't but Austen is a social kid and he loves seeing his friends every day (this kid is friends with everyone and I love that he likes everyone - may he never lose that quality). He came home this past week all excited about reading and that these new books that we discovered at the library this summer were also in his classroom. I love that he likes to read even though it doesn't come as easy for him as other things and I want to foster that. Hence, we spent a lot of time at the library this summer and a lot of time reading! Honestly, even though he's always liked school he seems more excited and energized about school this year (maybe it's because he has the only male teacher in the entire school for math) or maybe it's because he never stopped working on school this summer). Who knows but I'm liking seeing him so happy.

To round out the end of their first week at school, Austen and Peyton had their first sighting of each other at school and they were really excited to tell me about it. So I asked if they actually said hi to each other. They just shook their heads and said mom don't you know - "it's the hallway you can't talk so we just waved to each other."  

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Best of Summer

So long summer.  I know it's not officially over until Sept. 21 but for us it is. School starts on Wednesday and that means weekends full of soccer and flag football games. So today we stole the last hours of our summer and decided late in the day to do one last beach trip to Michigan.

We had just arrived after a bit of rain but the sun was out and the wind made waves on the lake so the kids could pretend they were back on the east coast in the ocean. They built sandcastles, crashed into the waves and enjoyed their last moments of summer.

We topped off the evening by hitting one of our favorite restaurants for dinner and even though it was late and still a 30 minute wait, we decided to not sweat it and wait it out. The kids did great and it was an enjoyable day. (Glad we put off cutting the grass, planting the flowers and doing laundry to make one final summer memory!)

At dinner, we talked about our favorite memories from the summer. Mostly there were too many for the kids to name but here are a few highlights:

- Lego night with Dad at the library
- The Lego movie at the park
- Boston/New Jersey shore
- mini golf!
- Baseball games (Sox - Fenway, Cougars - Minnion night, and Cubs)
- 4th of July Fireworks
- Camp! (all of them!)
- the pool!

I would say the kids had a great summer and that means I did too!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Cheerleading? Soccer? Dance? Swim?

We have been exposing Peyton to a variety of different activities from crafts to gymnastics to hip hop dance and cheerleading. It was easy with Austen at this age. You could tell he was into multiple sports. However, Peyton hasn't seemed that into really anything she has tried. Here are a few of her comments:

Soccer - it's too hot to play! When is this going to be over? Is Papa going to give me a $1 if I score a goal? 

Ballet - it's boring.

Gymnastics - I want to do gymnastics. Watch me do my cartwheel (not resembling a cartwheel but gymnastics has seemed to improve her balance).

Hip Hop - I don't want to do hip hop. Okay, I want to do hip hop again. Next year, I want to have the Minions costume for the show (unlikely).

Swimming - I'm scared. I don't want to do swimming. Hold my hand. (She has made drastic strides this year in swim - front float, back float, swimming underwater and jumping off the side by herself...of course only where she can touch).

Cheerleading - I don't want to go to cheerleading (although she loved the perfirmance they gave at the end of the session).

So what I've deduced - Peyton likes to complain. And I still don't know which sports or activities she is going to follow through on - I can't see it yet. 

I am checking out yoga for her next!

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Road Trip Part II - The Jersey Shore

Avon by the Sea Pavilion
"Why does New Jersey get such a bad rap?" asked Tom on our way from the Boston area to the second part of our road trip in New Jersey.

"I have no idea," I replied since its beaches are some of the best around. After all, I spent many summers on the beaches of the Jersey Shore. I hadn't been back in at least a decade but I wanted to share those beaches with my kids and Tom now.

We started out at Avon by the Sea - this may be my favorite! Great boardwalk, beautiful homes, the right sized waves for our kids, good restaurants and a very cool pavilion area where even Hailey put on her dancing shoes for some live music.

Nap time!
Avon by the Sea - getting used to the sand
The next day we ventured to Mannasquan. Now this was one of the beaches that I spent the most time at as a kid. It looks a lot different now - some 30 plus years later (no thanks to Hurricane Sandy) but there is one thing that I remember - the waves! They were huge! I read later that Mannasquan is one of the best surfing beaches on the Jersey Shore and I can see why. I remember as a kid getting tossed around by the waves trying to ride them with my boogie board and getting sucked under by the undertow. That might have been fine when I was 9 or 10 but I was in no hurry to let their strong waves pull me under this time so I mostly played it safe. So did Austen and Peyton epecially since there wasn't a real good low tide so they couldn't venture out too far at this beach but they were in awe of the big waves.

 The last beach we visited was Spring Lake. Again, beautiful homes and a beautiful boardwalk lined the beach. Hailey had her second good nap of the week on the beach - two plus hours and the kids enjoyed the good sized waves and the low tide where they could venture out farther in the water.

We ate a lot of seafood, played a round of mini golf (Papa joined our trip and the golf game - Austen beat him though), built many a sandcastle and Austen learned to use his boogie board.

In fact, he is the same age as I was when I moved to New Jersey for the second time and learned to use my own boogie board. I'm sure he would ask to go to the beach every day like I did when I lived there. I think he really enjoyed our beach trip. Everyone did.

See the Jersey Shore isn't so bad.

We'll for one, definitely be back!


Now you see Austen, now you don't - right before he got pulled under by the strong Mannasquan waves!

Dinner at The Columns at Avon by the Sea - Great Ambience!

Dancing the night away at the Avon by the Sea Pavilion

Sibling love at the Pavilion

Spring Lake

Look Mom, there's Taylor Swift (in my US Weekly magazine). How does she know who Taylor Swift is? She's 5!

Last night at Dinner - Pier Village at Long Branch

Mini golf with Papa! 

Monday, August 03, 2015

Road Trip - Part I

Hailey enjoyed her first big road trip of her young life as we just returned from a 10 day vacation to the east coast.

Our first stop was the Boston area to visit family and enjoy some of the places that I visited as a child and wanted to relive through my kids! So off we went - 16 hours in the car. We decided to do it all in one day based on experience. Previous trips to the Outerbanks and Folly Island, SC, are about the same distance and we had broken those trips into two days. But if Hailey could handle it, we knew that one day would be our best bet and we weren't wrong. Hailey traveled like a champ. It helped for sure to have the iPad for her but she napped, read books, played and ate with only 3 stops of about 45 minutes each on the way there. As for Peyton, we weren't even five minutes out of town when she asks if we are in Boston yet! Austen was the new Adler (who vacationed at Papa's and Grandma Szurgot's houses) and we didn't hear from him barely at all the entire trip - easy traveler as always!

Once in Boston, we caught up with our family (always great to see the Italians!) and also hit up Canobie Lake (an amusement park for younger kids built in 1902), took a tour of Boston where the tour vehicle turns into a boat (the kids loved that!), stopped by Harvard Square and spent a day at the Cape. Oh, and almost forgot that Tom and Austen enjoyed their first visit to Fenway Park for a Red Sox vs. White Sox game.

Peyton was terrified of most of the rides at Canobie Lake but we got our moneys worth out of Austen and Hailey. Note in the pictures how Hailey goes on rides by herself but Peyton make Austen go with her and she still looks terrified. Austen got to drive his first race car (Tom drove behind with Peyton and said Austen drove cautiously - good for when he really learns how to drive!). Hailey loved the horse and buggy ride. Note the pure joy on her face (I had to make that picture extra big so you could see it!). We spent more than five hours at the park and Austen and Hailey could've spent more time there too. It was great to see Austen wanting to go on bigger rides and not being as scared as he was at Disney World. He actually asked to go on the Log Flume ride and loved it! Maybe next time we'll be able to get him on a roller coaster (although I don't remember going on those until I was a preteen).

We had a great day for our trip to the Cape. We visited the beach, of course and our kids had fun building sandcastles and playing in the warm water. No big waves or really any waves but we'll see some during the second part of our road trip to New Jersey. You'll hear all about that in my next blog post. Stay tune!