Monday, December 31, 2018

Goodbye 2018

We're in the last week of 2018 and you can always count on a handful of things to happen with certainty around this time every year. 

1) I wonder with genuine shock where the year went. I know 365 days have passed, just like most every other year, but since becoming a parent it feels like it's only been three or four months since last Christmas and I'm not sure where the other eight months went.

2) I try to remember exactly the last time I ate a vegetable or drank something that wasn't coffee or wine.

3) I pause to reflect on what exactly happened that made the year fly by in such a blur. 

2017 was a much easier year to sum up than 2018. It was a year of big changes. It was the year Ez started school, our first year in Sacramento, and Joe's first year working from home. We went on four Disney trips, including our first family trip to Disney World. 2017 was a GOOD year, and I remember saying that 2018 would have big shoes to fill. I know this is the part where I'm supposed to say 2018 exceeded my expectations. 

It didn't. 

Now that the dust has settled a bit, I can say that 2018 was a year of hard work. It was a year that a lot of my friends and family dealt with major health issues, received awful news, and we had an unexpected death in our family. 

Joe got a crazy throat infection that lasted on and off for three and a half months and included a few Urgent Care trips, two ER visits, one ambulance ride, a whole lot of blood, and, eventually, the removal of his tonsils. Both Ez and Declan were diagnosed with autism, and that lead to a whole lot of paperwork, meetings, assessments, administrative craziness, health insurance battles, and a schedule that went from fairly laid back to extremely regimented and intense (we're talking two to three dropoffs between 8 am and noon, Monday through Friday). "Crazy" is the first word that comes to mind when I think of 2018. 

But some years just can't be summed up with one word, or one sentence even. 

2018 was the year that we learned more than ever that as a family we can lean on each other and depend on each other when we're at our weakest. In between the doctor visits and paperwork and phone calls, we spent more intentional time than ever as a family. We blasted Happy and Imagine Dragons and we danced and ran circles through the house. We splashed in the river on hot summer days, swung in our hammock on warm evenings, visited every pumpkin patch within a thirty mile radius, walked to our neighborhood playgrounds nearly nightly, and enjoyed each other's company to the max. Ez and I journeyed across the country and to Europe. My sisters and I were reunited for the first time since my wedding in 2016. Decky got lots of one on one time with Daddy and Grandma. It was the year of bird watching and Muppet Babies and a resurgence in Cars popularity. 

Good is not the first word I think of when it comes to 2018, but it's been good where it matters. We live in a place that we love. We didn't move (always a big deal in our little family). And, most important, we have each other. 

We learned that hard times can make us stronger, both individually and as a family. Joe took his health scare and turned it around into motivation to become healthier than ever. Ez started ABA in the summer and his progress, especially in communication, felt tremendous and instantaneous. Decky started ABA just this month and I have complete faith that he'll grow in leaps and bounds over the next few months.  I learned that I can be a fighter when I need to, something that is normally so far beyond my personality type, and something that will probably come in handy time and again as the boys and I navigate all the school decisions that we'll face in the coming years. 

So we're heading into 2019 full of gratitude for the big things that mean so much, the little things that have turned into cherished memories, and faith that all the work we've put into 2018 will flourish in 2019.

Cheers to surviving 2018, and cheers to health, happiness, and the realization of your wildest dreams in 2019 🎉

On that note, I'll leave you with this little reminder that time moves way too fast - one whole year of the Craig Bros growing up, bonding, fighting, and adventuring together:

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Christmas 2018

It's been two months since I last hopped on here, are you noticing a trend? I plan on doing a 2018 recap very shortly, and I think it will be more apparent where all my blogging time has gone, but as time goes on it becomes more and more apparent to me that unless I write stuff down it doesn't get remembered. Having young kids is crazy town, it really is, and so much of the small but magical moments get lost in the chaos. Joe and I were collecting all of Ez's Santa requests this year and we got to wondering what he'd requested from Santa last year. We could remember it was somewhat odd and obscure, we remember scrambling to get it, yet we couldn't remember what his all important, must-have toy of 2017 was. In the grand scheme of things it probably doesn't matter, but it's these little things that I want to remember, or at least have access to for when I most certainly forget. (It was a Cutie Cars popcorn truck, in case you were curious.) 

So, with that in mind, I'm back with a few Christmas memories that I want to keep stored away forever.

This is Ez's second year of preK and his second round of Nativity plays and Christmas pageants. Last year he almost sat out the Nativity play entirely, but was convinced by the teacher's aide to at least stand up on the stage (where he danced for a whole 2.5 seconds and made my heart burst with pride). This year he not only got up on stage, but he even wore his donkey costume and didn't need any persuasion whatsoever. It was pretty much the cutest thing ever. However, come time for his Christmas pageant (which was about ten songs long), he got major stage fright in the week leading up to it. He had a mini breakdown and said he didn't want to do it because the songs were too loud. Obviously I had low expectations and thought for sure he'd wind up sitting on the sidelines. But he didn't. He marched right up there, he danced, he sang, he participated through the whole thing, and his face lit up every time we clapped for him. I was just so, so proud of him for doing it even though it was hard for him, and seeing his own pride in himself was the best thing ever. 

Also, on the topic of Ez's Christmas pageant, Santa paid the kids a visit and when Santa walked in Ez jumped up with his hands on his face in shock and excitement. I really hope he keeps that genuine wonder forever. Each kid got a chance to tell Santa what they wanted, and nearly every kid said one thing, most of them generic (a stuffed animal, a train, a toy car), but when it was Ez's turn he rattled off an entire list - five things, all birds. (A flamingo, a pigeon, a crane, a seagull, and an egret). Santa asked him what his favorite bird is, and he repeated his entire list. I guess just to make sure Santa wasn't confused 😂

2018 was the year Decky really hit his stride when it comes to climbing EVERYTHING and destroying EVERYTHING, so I can't leave out the Christmas memory of Decky hanging from the clothing bar in my closet, swatting down my stash of presents from the top shelf. Also, the three times he knocked the tree over. And, of course, the dozens of shattered ornaments. 🤦 Thanks to Decky's handywork we've declared 2018 the year of the decrepit tree. The poor thing was crooked and dry and hanging on by a thread come Christmas, but I think that just added to its character. I don't want to make Decky sound like a total Grinch though. When we got our tree and unpacked our ornaments he was the first one to grab an ornament and hang it on the tree, which surprised me because I wasn't sure he'd remember to do that from last year.

One of my favorite traditions each year since I was a child is decorating sugar cookies. My mom probably churns out a thousand Christmas cookies each year to give out to friends and family, and I was so excited to continue this tradition with my kids. I think the first year Ez really got into it was about two years ago when he realized sprinkles are the funnest thing in the entire world. It's been a running joke that the Ez special is a mound of sprinkles with a tiny bit of cookie underneath. This year did not disappoint, and by accident I got super sprinkly sprinkles which made it extra easy to dump half the bottle on each cookie. What made this year even better is that Declan decided to join in on the fun too, and even though I'll probably be sweeping up Christmas sprinkles until Easter, it was worth it to see them gathered around the table together decorating cookies. On that note, I should probably go stock up on clearance sprinkles right now so that I'm stocked up on the forty bottles we'll need for next year.

Last year was our first Christmas in Sacramento, and it was so fun discovering new traditions and being able to carry those on this year. Some of our favorites are visiting Old Sac for the Macy's Theater of Lights show, and the annual Santa Run where thousands of Santas run down Capitol Mall. We've gone to cheer them on for three years now and it always puts us in the Christmas spirit. Walking through the Fab 40s to check out the Christmas decorations is a must. I love how festive it is, with horse drawn carriages and pretty much every house decorated to the max. Ez, the same kid who didn't even like saying "hi" to strangers a year ago, made a point of saying Merry Christmas to everyone we passed. This year we happened to catch a bicycle parade with hundreds of bicycles all decorated which took the festiveness to a whole new level. To top it off one of the bicyclists pulled over to hand Ez a giant, toddler-sized stuffed snowman. It was so unexpected and magical and completely made his week. 

This year we also discovered a few new traditions that made us love Sacramento even more. We went to the boat parade, and there were probably hundreds of boats, all decorated, going right under the tower bridge. Joe and I visited the Governor's Mansion for the first time ever and it's so beautifully decorated this time of year. We also went to the tree lighting at the Capitol which was so amazing to see. 

Christmas Eve was a lowkey night at home with Joe's mom and her husband. We did phone calls to Santa, one last round of cookie decorating, hanging our stockings, and reading the Night Before Christmas. Ez insisted on calling Santa over and over, and each time he repeated his entire list of birds. Joe and I were more excited than the kids for Christmas morning, and even though a certain elf was up past one, we were all up bright and early waiting for the kids to get up. 

We finally couldn't take it anymore and woke them up at seven. Ez was sleepy-eyed but he noticed the presents (and his flamingo) right away. Decky had zero expectations going into Christmas, so imagine his surprise when he woke up to what he thought would be just an ordinary day and there was a pile of toys under the tree. He beelined for the Little Tikes truck and really had no interest in opening presents, which is the exact opposite of Ez, who wanted to tear open every present IMMEDIATELY. In case you were worried, Ez got every single bird he asked for, and then some, and he's been playing with them nonstop since. 

We spent the afternoon and evening at my parent's house where the boys got even more spoiled, a "snowball" fight broke out, and in the chaos I threw away the Disneyland tickets my mom gifted us, which led to a fun round of dumpster diving. Thankfully the tickets were recovered, and it's safe to say 2019 will be off to a very merry start. 

It was the very best day, capping off the very best Christmas season we've experienced yet. The boys are at the most wonderful ages and they bring so much magic into the season. As always, my most favorite parts of the holidays are gathering with family, game nights, snuggling in front of the Christmas tree, singing Christmas carols with my boys (along with a hefty dose of Imagine Dragons, because Ez is obsessed), and experiencing Christmas through the eyes of a five and three year old. 

I hope you were all able to experience a bit of childhood magic this season as well and create some very merry memories with your loved ones. 

Friday, November 2, 2018

Our Halloween

It's safe to say blogging has fallen by the wayside this year. Maybe one of these days I'll do a Day in the Life post and it will be pretty clear why, but for now I'm happily living that chauffeur mom life and it's a wonderfully busy season to be in.

Still, I couldn't let Halloween pass without a little mention about all the fun stuff we've been up to. We L O V E October around here, and Ez was still asking to go back to the pumpkin patch all the way through March, so you better believe we jumped right in as soon as we could this year - as in, September.

Yep, we hit up our first pumpkin patch during the last week of September, and even though we were a little bit disappointed by the corn maze, which was Ezra-sized, we were still so, SO excited for the hay ride and our first (of what would be MANY) pumpkins. It really was the best day ever. There's such a cozy feeling when the first holiday festivities kick off, even if the temps are still mid 80s. 

After that we visited five more pumpkin patches (some of them more than once). We got lost in corn mazes, some how adopted thirty pumpkins, carved five of them into Jack O'lanterns, swam in seas of corn kernels, rode the bumpiest of hayrides, and even rolled around in these giant hamster wheel thing-a-majigs. We brought the grandparents along for the fun, and we all went with Ez on his class field trip to a pumpkin patch. Ez picked our costumes and we went as the Muppet Babies (and Miss Nanny), except for Declan, who decided on Ez's old Maui costume at the last minute. And, to cap it all off, we had the best trick or treating night EVER and got enough candy to last until Halloween next year.

If you ever stop to do the math on how many truly magical holidays you get with kids it's a little depressing, so we don't take it for granted at all that we're at this wonderful point in our lives where the holidays just keep getting better and better. Here's a little recap in everyone else's words:

Ezra's favorite part of October was carving jack O'lanterns and eating Halloween candy.

Decky liked the hayrides and bounce floor best and blowing out the Jack O'lantern candles best.

Joe liked Ez and Declan's extreme enthusiasm for trick or treating this year. Last year we started off strong but Ez was so excited he face-planted and things went downhill from there. This year was basically maximum excitement from beginning to end and it was one of those heart so full it could burst parenting moments.

And my personal favorite was getting one pumpkin patch trip with two sets of grandparents. It's such a special time of year and we're so lucky Joe's mom was able to join in on the fun this year.

Other notable mentions of the year include trick or treating at Funderland the weekend before Halloween. It was our first time there, and it was basically like a much smaller, cheaper version of Fantasyland at Disneyland. The kids were SO happy running from ride to ride and collecting their treats. We made some Halloween sugar cookies, and, as always, the sprinkles were the biggest hit ever. Ez has suddenly become Decky's bff, and he was determined to guide Decky through the corn mazes hand in hand - no matter how much Decky protested. It was basically the cutest thing ever and will be imprinted in my memories forever.

Now that Halloween is over we're currently enjoying all the brand new chocolate bribes at our disposal, fiery red fall foliage, and the promise of Christmas right around the corner. Wishing you all the coziest, loveliest, most magical last two months of the year.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Goodbye Summer

It's the last day of summer and even though the temps are still in the 90s for the next week or so, we're deep into school routines and cold season so summer is feeling long gone. It's funny how each summer is so similar in many ways, long days spent cooling off in bodies of water, freedom from routine, birthdays (lots and lots of birthdays, for us), yet each summer takes on its own special mark that makes it memorable. 

Last year we were all about those pool days and indoor playgrounds to keep the kids active and cool. This year, in true Sacramento fashion, we became river rats. We got ourselves oversized inflatables and found a few favorite spots that you could find us at on a weekly, if not daily, basis. Ez developed a love hate relationship with jet skis and boats, becoming both obsessed and scared by their loud engines. Decky is forever fearless and we learned pretty quickly that if we set him down near water he's going in. Like straight to the deep end. Nothing makes his eyes light up like water. Ok, and maybe balloons and bubbles too.  

I'm so happy we were able to continue a few traditions from last year. Namely, my birthday trip to the state fair, plenty of date nights, visits with Auntie B (four summers in a row now!), and a few Tahoe getaways. I'm also so, so grateful for the brand new experiences this summer brought us. Hello, Germany, you'll always have a piece of my heart. Shouldn't a portal where I can just walk through a door and wind up in Germany for lunch with my sisters and then be back home by dinner time exist by now? Can someone get to work on that, please?

As many memorable adventures that this summer held for us, the things that I know I'll remember most of all are not places or activities, but the people that I spent it with. Charcuterie and wine with my sisters - ALL four of them. Lazy date nights on the couch watching Netflix with Joe. Hammock time and bird watching with my boys. Quality time hanging out with the grandparents (aka, my parents, but they'll forever more be known as the grandparents 😉). Just like I cap off every season of every year, this really was the best, most family-filled summer yet, and I'd be very sorry to see it go if it weren't for the fact that it's OFFICIALLY FALL TOMORROW. And I am definitely ready for that 🍂