Sunday, November 13, 2011

So much to catch up on so I'll just dive right in.  First, was Rick's birthday.  I try a new strawberry cake recipe every year trying to find "the one" that just thrills him. No, this year was not it.  Every year I think, "YES! This sounds awesome!"  But it never quite turns out how I think.  But the kids enjoyed blowing out the candles and licking off all the icing. Cole doesn't like us to actually cut him a piece of cake. He just want to like the icing off the entire thing.  Good thing he at least likes to use a candle or a spoon instead of his fingers!

For my birthday Rick treated me to a weekend in Dallas.  Kylene was kind enough to watch the kids for us as my mother dealt with some health issues at the time.  The kids really loved their time with her and now Lyla loves to randomly call out for "Kaka!" and of course they want her little doggie too.

About a week before Cole's third birthday he started having a hard time falling asleep for naps. So I would let him stay up and he was surprisingly delightful!  I actually enjoy our time alone and he is so loving, cuddly and quiet during that time that I think he loves it too.  Some days we "play school" and work through a preschool workbook and sometimes we play games together or trains. Since the time change he has needed a little nap on some days and I've found him to easily take that nap without any frustrations if he lays down with mommy in her bed. I have loved this too. Sometimes we sleep; sometimes he sleeps and then I get up and do some chores; and it seems this past week, I slept and Cole would get up and go play. haha!  Sweetest moment ever...I was falling asleep and Cole cuddled really close to me, kissed me on the forehead and said "Sleep Tight!" and then jumped off the bed to go play. Awww...

I always dreaded the days when Cole wouldn't nap, but it has really been a refreshing change. He cleaned windows with me last week.  He helps me pick up the house. I think he just enjoys the one on one time too since, more often than not, he turns into a teasing monster when Lyla wakes up.  (Obviously, not wanting to share mommy anymore.) I have been trying to think of more ways to give him some individuality rather than doing things with Lyla.  I've noticed him pull away in Kindermusik, not wanting to participate and the instructor noticed it too.  She said it could be he is ready for the next class (where you go without a parent) or that we just need to put him in a class without Lyla. So we are going to try taking him to a different class this week. We will see how it goes.  We just finished Hot Shots Soccer which he also did without his sister.  So now I'm trying to think of something else.  Any ideas???

We have been working with Cole on brushing his teeth. Some days he is excited and ready to go all out. Others, not so much.  I even bought that blue rinse he has to brush off hoping to get him excited.  That worked for two days.

But the big 3rd birthday was SO MUCH FUN!  It seemed to go on and on which made it all that more exciting for Cole. We celebrated at home the day of with a cake I put his new Thomas train on.  My parents were able to come for that.

He opened Grandpa and Grandma Poling's gifts that night too.

His birthday party for he and his little friends was the following Monday. I made a tiny green cake for Cole and green cupcakes for everyone else.

We had tables set up for the kids to color train pictures with crayons or watercolor.  We played pin the Face on Percy and had all of Cole's trains out for the kids to play with.  Oddly enough, Cole was playing with his oldest set here. He still loves this little $10 or $15 train and track we got at Walgreens.  He is the sentimental type. :-)

Lyla loved all the kids there and especially their little siblings.  She is a baby fanatic. She always wants to give them a pacifier and she even wraps them in HER blankie! WHOA!  I about died the first time I saw her give a baby her blanket to make them feel better.  Soooooo precious.  That's our Lyla! Oh yea, and she loved the cupcakes.

Some gifts didn't come by his party, but that was awesome to Cole because he kept getting gifts in the mail. He still is a little excited there might be a present for him when we get the mail. haha!


The kids had a blast. They had been prepped to dress up as characters for "SuperWhy" all month.  Cole was Wyatt (SuperWhy) and Lyla was Princess Pea (Princess Presto).  Their wands light up and play messages from the show.  Lyla's costume came with a crown too but it wouldn't stay on.   We went to a Trunk or Treat at our church Saturday night.  We didn't go out again on Halloween night, but instead gave away the candy they got on Saturday. Is that awful?  I didn't think so since they were actually thrilled to give it to others coming to our door. They thought it was great fun!

This guy was so happy to be fully dressed up and was prepping all night to say "Trick or Treat", but kind of chickened out at the actual Trunk or Treat. They both were kind of bewildered why people were giving them all this candy, but more so as to why everyone looked so funny!

Cole Saying Trick or Treat!

And Lyla's attempt...

The weather has cooled off and the kids love it. We started going to a new park a little further down from our house. Cole calls it the pink park because it has a pink slide. The tennis courts are right next to it and he has a real fascination with tennis. I've never seen him attempt to hit a ball and throw a ball longer than when he tries tennis. However he thinks he is supposed to hit the ball down, not out and across, so he gets a bit frustrated. I have a love-hate relationship with this particular park. We have lots of fun and the kids play really well there. The hate? Well, they also tend to get really dirty there. I don't know why. I think they just think that is what they should do at this park. So, so dirty. Cole picks up the rocks and dirt and puts it on Lyla and she does the same back to him. I tried to stop it and then I thought, "Really? That probably IS fun. Big deal, we take a bath."

Lyla is our little freedom child as well. She always takes her shoes off and loves to be without clothes too.  I think I solved the shoe problem by buying her lace-up keds that were big to give her growing room. (I think her other shoes were too small and they were velcro - WAY too simple for this girl to get off.)  But here she is in her glory....

And doing her balance beam routine....

They used to play a balance beam game at Music Makers (a free program mom's get together and do at our church on Friday mornings).  I'm guessing that's where she got the idea.

And lastly, the carnival was back in town this past week.  They brought some kiddie rides this time around so we took Cole and Lyla on Monday.  They had a little train that they rode a couple of times.

And Lyla wanted to ride the horses on the carousel. 

They both went down the tallest slide I have ever seen and BOTH loved it. 

Here is Lyla's reaction after the ride.  Her face looks scared but she is pointing to the slide and asking ot go again.  haha! She is totally going to be a thrill seeker.  Scared, but wants more!

So how is that for a month and a half update? I'm positive I missed so much of the cute little stuff they do. My apologies to all.  But here is a final video of Cole making a video before we closed our eyes for a nap.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Rick has Monday's off work which leaves the whole day usually for playtime with Daddy. It is so much fun. This past Monday Rick took the kids in the morning so I could clean house. It had been awhile since I had gotten the nitty gritty and I was so grateful.

Anyway, since 1970, our church has asked families to set aside Monday evenings for a "Family Home Evening" (FHE). It is a time to have fun together as well as an opportunity to teach the children about gospel principles and other important topics (like manners). Our family did it while we were growing up, and as we got older it became a time to actually ALL be together as well as coordinate schedules as everybody seemed to have so much going on. I always looked forward to FHE.

Honestly, we have been a little slow on starting it with our children because A) we already were spending the day together and B) I really was unfamiliar with how to teach young toddlers. But we both knew it was important that the gospel be taught in the home and not just in church. Obviously, it is something we do on a day to day basis in normal speaking, playing and correcting our children, but this little time set aside is still crucial. So for a while now we have been trying to actually plan a lesson and activity together and have been doing some fun things. I have also realized teaching toddlers about spiritual things really isn't that difficult and that I really enjoy it.  I love to see Cole and Lyla learning new things.  We do it in fun ways and they get excited.  Their favorite is catching fish and then learning about what is on the fish.  (i.e. sharing, helping, hitting, yelling, prayers, singing, etc.)

This weekend is general conference for the LDS church. It is a time when we are blessed to hear from the prophet, Thomas Monson, and the twelve apostles. So in preparation we brought out pictures of them so we could talk about who they are and why we would want to listen to what they say to us about living Christlike lives. They loved it and kept wanting to look at the pictures. Cole and Lyla really enjoy looking at pictures. They always ask me "Who is that?" whenever they see any pictures of anyone. Sometimes it is a random picture at the store and so I say "I don't know" or make up a name. This has been great since we have so much family living far away.

We then played "Follow the Leader" and sang the chorus to "Follow the Prophet" as we marched around the house. Cole and Lyla giggled the entire time and of course Daddy then turned it into a chase which made it even more fun.  For those that don't know the song, I found it on youtube (anything is there now).

Afterwards we had a birthday kickoff party.  Three of our birthdays are in October (Rick, me and then Cole) so we decided to start early.  We made funfetti cupcakes (Rick's favorite) and put candles on them so Lyla and Cole could practice blowing them out.  Cole was SUPER excited. As you can tell. Lyla caught on to the whole festivity pretty quickly and very much enjoyed her cupcake too.

So now mommy is very, VERY excited for birthdays.  Guess I should decide what kind of festivity we will have for Cole.  A friend of ours asked him what kind of cake he wanted and he said "Green and Yellow" and has been saying it since. Hmm...Pistachio cake?  I doubt he would like that.  He actually doesn't usually eat the cake anyway, just the icing.  So I'll be sure to pile on lots of green and yellow icing.  Maybe he is wanting a Percy Cake?  He is green and yellow!  Or maybe I should make it easy and just do something like below.  Cole is already excited for Christmas AND Easter and keeps adding things to his wishlist.  I just have to remember to add them whenever he tells me something else he likes.  (Wishlist links are kept permanently at the bottom of the blog page.)  Oh yes, and the reason he is excited for Easter is because last Easter he got a little Percy train in an egg and is hoping for another since he lost it.  He also got a Thomas the same way but hasn't lost that one.  This boy is a train and cars lover! Just like any other little three year old I suppose!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Lyla is getting so big.  She speaks really well but doesn't enunciate enough for strangers to understand her.  I started listing all the things she says the other day and finally quit when I filled an entire sheet of paper all over.  It's all happened so quickly!  She is fiercely independent but is beginning to realize that a little help from mom isn't all that bad (thank heavens).  She loves to climb and does many things that Cole would never have done at her age.  For example, this playground ladder.  She got it without help on her first attempt. After doing it a few times, she started to realize there is a chance of falling so she kept saying "help, help" in the video.  She just wanted me there to make sure.  She climbed up it a number of times after the video too without saying help.

She still loves her blanky and doesn't go many places without it.  And she still sucks those fingers.  Occasionally she finds it amusing to play with a pacifier instead of her fingers but really, she is happy with what she has got.

She is a book aficionado. She still prefers to read them to herself but sometimes lets mommy read one, okay maybe two, books to her.  She is will spend a great deal of time just flipping through books each day.  The librarians promised me that is just as good as if I were reading to her so I quit trying to prod her to let me read with her.  She also loves to build things with blocks, legos, stacking cups, etc.  She is really good at it as she has really good coordination and balance.  Lyla loves to sing and since she repeats sound well she is pretty good at it. Strangers won't know what she is saying but they will know what she is singing because the tune is spot on.  Her "Twinkle, Twinkle" is so cute it makes you want to cry. (promise.  it's not just because I'm her mommy.)  She enjoys "Super Why" and "Thomas" ("choo-choo's" to her) with Cole and frequently asks for "Whhy, Whhy" even when Cole isn't around.  She enjoys watching "Signing Time" but almost never signs anything.

Lyla is daddy's girl 100% and boy does she have him wrapped around her little toesies too.  She lights up like a Christmas tree when he comes home and jumps up from wherever she is and runs to him yelling "DaaAaadddEee!!!"  Heartwarming.

I think Cole is becoming more of a momma's boy because he only lets me put him to bed.  On the nights he wakes up for some reason or another (sick, storm, etc.) but that is because he knows he has a really good chance of getting in bed with mommy and daddy if Dad comes.  He has about 0% chance with mommy.  (cruel, I know.)

Cole is almost three and is definitely maturing.  He speaks SOOOOO well that it even shocks Rick and I.  He is still shy but is getting better at trying new things or meeting new people.  He is starting to give up naps here and there but does really well at playing in his bed for about an hour or hour and a half if he doesn't nap.  Thank goodness!

These two fill my days with craziness and delight.  And I love it!

Day Out with Thomas

So I haven't been taking pictures lately which means I don't post. They just kind of go hand in hand. I've not been carrying my camera around and all the pics on my iphone are blurry or off color now for some reason. But it is what it is.

Last weekend we went to Burnet, TX for a "Day Out with Thomas". It was so much fun with lots to do and the weather was perfect. Lyla loved the coloring. She really does enjoy drawing and coloring. Much more so than Cole does, but she is messy and crazy with the colors. So unless I can sit right beside her we don't do it. She spent a lot of time with daddy at the coloring table.

Cole went to play with all the trains on the huge train table multiple times. We would leave when he would get frustrated with the amount of children at the table (because then he couldn't actually drive the train anywhere) and then come back later.

Cole played in the train bounce house once. He wanted us to come in but it was too small.

So he moved on to miniature golf with Lyla (and she and daddy made that lovely necklace she is wearing too).

They got balloons from conductor clowns and we saw Sir Topham Hatt. Cole really couldn't wait to see him. He even stood patiently in line just for the chance to touch him. He is holding his hand in the picture.

I can't believe I didn't get a picture of the actual Thomas train but here is Lyla standing outside the gate right in front.

When Cole first heard Thomas blow his horn and then drive around the bend he started pointing and saying Thomas. I was fortunate to have the video on.  And for those that know Cole, he is NOT dramatic and doesn't show a lot of emotion. THIS is a genuinely very excited Cole.  Trust me.  I was so happy for him I was fighting back tears. I'm such a blubbering mommy.  But he was very interested to get back to the small trains too.

 The REAL train was on the other end pulling and then pushing "Annie and Clarabell" (aka. the passenger cars). It was loud when the horn blew and Cole didn't like that very much so by the time it was our turn to ride he actually didn't want to. But by the time we got on, made silly faces at the camera,

and realized it was much more quiet INSIDE the passenger car, he was all smiles and excited to be on the train. The ride was only 20 minutes but perfect for two little tots who were hungry by then and ready for naps. It was really a great time for everyone!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

I just realized Jillian took a few photos with my camera.  (Yep, haven't used the real one in weeks...) and I found this GEM!  My new favorite photo of Grandma and Lyla.

In between our trips the kids were playing out back. Cole was chanting something and dragging Lyla around.  So I crept closer to figure out what he was playing.  Turns out it was "Ring Around the Rosies"!  I quickly grabbed the iphone but I only caught the last of it.  I was so shocked because we only played that a couple of times awhile ago.  However, since I realized he enjoys it, it has become a favorite. It ends up turning into a spinning session with crazy hilarity on the floor and we love it!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Lockport, New York

So we again took separate flights to New York. This time it was because originally Rick was going by himself. Then he was going to bring Lyla, but when the cheapest tickets he could get meant staying 5 days, that was just too long without daddy and Lyla, so Cole and I got tickets too. It was another long day of flying with already tired children but overall it was pleasant.

The very first thing Cole and Lyla did was ride on Great Papa Solotes' tractor. Cole asked to ride it every day and got very adept at it. Lyla even loved to ride it too. So Skip and Papa Solotes would take turns taking the kids for rides.

I was a little concerned with the tight sleeping conditions in George & Yvette's two bedroom home, but it all worked out wonderfully. The kids shared a room with Rick's parents. Cole slept on a twin air mattress on the floor. Lyla had a pack n play. Rick slept on the couch or floor and I slept on another air mattress or couch in the living room. Kaitlyn and Jillian either slept on the air mattress, at a friend's house or Natalie's apartment.

While Rick and I were at the wedding, Cole and Lyla went with the family to a party celebrating a cousin's graduation. They loved it and now Cole gets very excited at the mention of a party. After all, there was a lot to do in their backyard! We later joined them at the festivities.

We went to Darien Lake (an amusement park) one day thanks to Natalie who got free tickets for us from her work. Cole had a terrible allergy attack the night prior and was up until midnight, but we decided to go anyway. He was pretty good considering the circumstances. He rode many rides and enjoyed them but was also very scared in many too...notice the grip he has on Rick's shirt.

He got to ride his very own train! It was man powered so when it would run out of oomph from the initial push they would have to go push him again, but I thought he did great for never having "pedaled" with his hands (wait, or feet for that matter).

There was a mighty breakdown at one point that was finally resolved with daddy beating out little seven or eight year olds to win a cookie monster. Cole went on to ride the bumper carswith Cookie Monster. He did really well for never having driven by himself or pushed a pedal to drive!

All I have to say is "Thank Goodness for Cookie Monster!" I think he just needed a lovey and we hadn't brought his blanket. Since coming home he hasn't been all that thrilled with him other than to sing "C is for Cookie" and push a magnet shaped "C" into his mouth. Lyla finds him adorable and cuddles and lays with him, but calls him "Elmo" no matter how many times I correct her.

Cole got to see a Thomas & Friends show while Rick and I went on a roller coaster. He even participated which was rather shocking to me. (He is behind the "INA" sign.)

And even as tired as he was he wanted to ride motorcycles. I could tell he was afraid, but he held on and didn't get upset. That was a huge leap for him.

Little Princess was such a trooper too. She loved all the things to see and enjoyed the rides right along with Cole. 

It was so great to spend time with the family and enjoy some cooler weather. Although it was unusually hot for Western NY, it was cooler than Texas. We'll take 85 - 90 degrees any day! Cole and Lyla really enjoyed playing in the shaded yard, going for walks with Grandma, playing in the water or going to the playground.

I would often find Cole talking with Great Grandma Solotes in the kitchen. He would go on and on and on. It was sooo sweet. There is a little TV in the kitchen and they would watch it together and talk about it. Or she would ask him lots of questions and he would give her the most detailed answers. Lyla captured Great Papa Solotes' heart right away. Of course he also bribed her with M&M's to sit with him. After that she would always want to sit with him in hopes of getting some chocolate.

We also visited Lake Ontario and went swimming at a friend's home where the girls surprised Cole with some Thomas toys and swimming trunks. You can see from his face he was delighted.

We were able to do so much, but at the same time have such a relaxed and lazy vacation.Okay, at least I was lazy. With so much help around I totally chilled. It was awesome.

And of course Rick had to eat at all the old stomping grounds. We even stopped at a the classic "Reids" for lunch and ice cream with the kids.

Overall, it was fabulous and it felt like leaving home again when it came time to actually go home. The only regret was we didn't make it to Rochester or Palmyra. Just not enough time in five days for all that we would want to do there. Hopefully it isn't another three years before we are able to return and see the Solotes clan!

And THANK YOU to Jillian for the majority of these pictures. Once again, I was a total slacker with the camera.