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Nearly half a million babies (1 in 10) are born premature in the US each year which is higher than that of most other developed nations. This is the journeys of our first born son, Finnegan, who was born 14 weeks early and weighed only 1 pound 15 ounces at birth. Of our daugher, Korrigan, who was born a healthy 7 pounds, 7 ounces at 37 weeks. And of our second son, MacKeegan, who was also born at 37 weeks at a whopping 8 pounds, 13 ounces. Our continued adventures reminds us daily how good God is.

Saturday, January 30

Five and fabulous

Five and fabulous describes Korri perfectly. She has been looking forward to being five...pretty much since she turned four. She is EXACTLY like I was when I was little in that I just wanted to be bigger, older, better, smarter, etc. She is the epitome of "five going on fifteen." Don't grow up too fast, Baby Grill! (she did tell me the other day that I can always call her that...thank you very much!!!)

To prove how "big" she is, she had a girls-only sleep over at Stacey's last night!! So I haven't even gotten to see my birthday girl yet today on her birthday (I'll survive!!). This was the third sleep over she's had with Stacey. I love that Stacey WANTS to spend time with her and that Korri can behave in a way that she is welcome. It is so good for Korri to feel special like that (well, ANY child, but especially Korri).

Another proof that she is getting big...her Kindergarten registration forms came in the mail this week! It is so weird for me because she already goes to preschool in the same building as she will in kindergarten in the same HALLWAY as kindergarten! And she rides the bus to and from school. And she brings home papers and things to do. But even given all that...kindergarten is just "different." They are having a "Is your child ready for Kindergarten" session for parents before registration if "you aren't sure your child is ready or not." Ha, I literally laughed out loud when I read that. Not only is Korri ready, she was ready LAST year! I have no doubt she would have done just fine in Kindergarten this year, if she'd been allowed to go.

I love everything about her. She is kind. She LOVES to cuddle and snuggle. She is sensitive. She is strong. She is opinionated. You always know exactly where you stand with her. She makes friends easily and has many. She has a great sense of fashion (which she clearly doesn't get from me!). She dances and sings ALL THE TIME!! She is an amazing big sister to Mac and is always checking on him or helping with him. She loves to draw and color and do crafts. She loves to cook with her daddy and bake with her mommy. She loves horses and riding with Stacey as much as possible. And so many other things that I can't name them all.

Yes, she challenges me (almost constantly) but that isn't always a bad thing. The things that can be perceived as negative (being loud, opinionated, etc) will get her far in life and I don't want to squash them, just teach appropriateness.

This morning with you being gone has shown me how differently our family would be without you. You complete our family is so many important ways. We love you (even Finn!) to Pluto and back. We can't wait to see what you accomplish with your amazing life. You are, and always will be, my favorite daughter in the whole wide world :)

This was her birthday outfit for her school birthday celebration yesterday:

Thursday, January 28

Diligent

We had Finn's conferences tonight and overall, they went extremely well. His teacher has no concerns, which I'll take every time! However, if I had to describe the feedback we received in one word it would be...diligent.

Diligent is NOT a bad thing. It means having or showing care and conscientiousness in one's work or duties. A GREAT quality to have in school. Finn takes time to get things right. He has amazing handwriting because he takes his time to do it right. He rarely gets things "wrong" because he figures it out before answering. He is persistent. All good things!

However, being diligent also has its down side. He can be perceived as being "slow." It isn't that he doesn't understand, I think it is because he wants to achieve perfection (he has ever since he was a baby) and I think he may just take more time to process some things (like his momma!).

One thing she mentioned was that he was a bit behind with his timed words. They have a list of twenty-five words that they have to read correctly in twenty seconds. He is on the second level and should be on the third. BUT...knowing him the way I do and having read with him every night this school year, I know he won't say a word if he isn't 100% sure it is right. While I'm not concerned about this, I am willing to work with him on it (I just hadn't chosen to focus on this).

He loves math and it shows. He is testing as though he were in the last month of first grade (so half a year ahead). However, his teacher feels he is being appropriately challenged, too, so that is good. Finn's class is disproportionately advanced in academics (ironically, very similar to Jim and my class!!). So while he is testing ahead, there are others who are testing even further ahead. This makes me feel better because I know they are considering those that are excelling.

He claims he doesn't like reading, but he does just fine. He is testing as though he were two months ahead of where he is. I think his brain perceives reading differently that it does for math, which is why he "doesn't like it" as much. When we read at night, if there is a word he doesn't know, he just looks at me like, "what's that?" and doesn't try to sound it out (I think for fear of getting it wrong). While it is frustrating for me, his teacher said it is probably laziness on his part and to keep encouraging him to sound it out or chunk the sounds together.

One thing I wanted to bring up was that he performed lower on several things on his report card this last quarter. She explained that in kindergarten, they graded throughout the year on how they should be at the end of the year. Which means they should progress in each category each quarter. However in first grade, the expectations change each quarter and the bar is raised. So if he goes from a 3 to a 3- it isn't that he is falling behind, but rather that the expectations raised slightly more than he performed the previous quarter. Ahhhh! Makes sense. Plus, it is first grade and she said a + or - could be the difference of only a couple percentage points.

At the end I asked for an overall assessment and she said, "no concerns!" I know things could and will change as he gets older but as we were driving away, I said to Jim, "I'm so glad I don't cringe going into conferences like so many parents have to!" I don't mean that arrogantly, just that I appreciate where Finn is right now and that he is doing so well...academically and socially. I anticipate things getting "tougher" as the homework gets harder, as Finn doesn't have a good attitude at home regarding homework. Fingers crossed that we both survive and that his "diligence" continues to serve him well.

Side note: I asked Finn's teacher if she was going back to kindergarten next year and she said she thought so (she looped with his class from kindergarten to first grade). Finn's grade has just under 60 kids in his school and they are expecting Korri's class to be around ONE HUNDRED!!! That is crazy. Based on Korri's preschool size, I figured it would be big, but for our school, that is huge (plus, there is another elementary school in Winsted!). Which means they may even need to hire ANOTHER teacher in addition to Ms. Thorsen going back. Not sure where they will put all these kids. Time for a bigger building?!?!

The cutest part of the night? After Beth and her girls so kindly watched Korri and Mac for the first part of our conferences (which we GREATLY appreciated!!!), Mac started to get antsy. So I had him go "play" with Finn and Korri in the reading/block area. When we were done, we turned around and Mac was lounging in one of the reading chairs with a book!!! I mean, it really doesn't get cuter than that. I wish I'd taken a picture. Maybe his strength will be reading so he and Finn can compliment each other!

Case in point...Mac earlier today:

Saturday, January 23

One and done

Finn and Korri had their scheduled seven and five year well-child appointments yesterday afternoon. The latest appointment available is 3:15, so anyway I sliced it, they had to leave school early. Oh, well. Not the end of the world, especially on a Friday, right? They were both looking forward to the appointment because they knew there would be no shots!!

Please keep in mind that I had all three at the appointment by myself, so I'm sure I'll forget many, if not most, details!

Korri went first, so I'll start with her. she is 44 3/4" (91%!!!!!) tall and weighs 51 pounds (95%!!!!). She is just a big kid, which is so funny considering how petite she was and how hard of a time she had gaining weight when she was a baby. Her BMI came down a little bit, probably because of her height increase, but the doctor is not concerned at all about her weight. The doctor noted how dry Korri's skin is, which we already know, obviously. The only concern I had for her was that she seems to have some nervous "ticks" for lack of a better word. She still sucks her thumb almost all the time, except at school. The doctor reinforced that it really doesn't do any good to "remind" her all day long to take it out. She also said that right now, it shouldn't affect her teeth (although I don't know how true that is!) and that she will stop when she is ready. The other thing she does is pick  her nails. Not bite them, pick them...which I rarely see her doing. The doctor said that is does sound like anxiety and to try to help her find something else (like a squeeze ball) when she is nervous. The dr isn't concerned about either right now, but wants to keep an eye on it, which is exactly what I thought.

Then it was Finn's turn. They measured both of them without me (I was in the room answering questions), so I had no idea how big either of them were until the doctor showed me their growth charts. And Finnegan weighed 54 pounds which is the 68%, right about where's he's been. BUT...he grew THREE INCHES!!! He is 46 1/2" tall which puts him at the 25%! I'm not ashamed to say I started crying. At his last appointment, his percentile had gone down and I was scared about what would happen if that continued. But I'd say quite the opposite...he's catching up!!!! I'll take 25% any and every day. The doctor was very impressed. I told Finn, "Good job making your body grow!!" LOL And because his weigh stayed close to the same and he grew so much, his BMI went down, too.

On a frustrating note, he did not do well on his vision test (I didn't "see" that coming, ha!). He tested 20/30 in both eyes and at 20/40 they do further testing and/or glasses. Argh. He said he sees fine in school but that he sits in front of the class. He'd gone to an eye specialist his whole life except at his last appointment (maybe a year or year and a half ago?) he was doing so well, they said he didn't need to come back and could be tested through normal channels (i.e. school and well child appointments). Awesome, right? Well, this issue is very different from his issues when he was a baby AND Korri's eye issue. This is good ol' fashioned nearsightedness, I think. I was able to connect with his teacher last night via email and she said they did school testing earlier in the year and that he must have tested fine otherwise we would have gotten a note (but she will look for his results). She noted, too, that she hasn't noticed Finn squinting or having issues seeing because he is in the front of the room and she wasn't specifically looking for it. The doctor said we can just retest him in 6 months and go from there, which I appreciated since the specialist isn't covered by our insurance, of course. His teacher is also going to check if the school will do a re-screening for him, which would be great. So we are going to wait and "see." Ha, a little play on words. This isn't the end of the world (if Finn ends up with glasses, he will come by it naturally as MANY members of our families are nearsighted) and if it is because of his early birth...a small price to pay for an amazing miracle who is otherwise ridiculously healthy!!!

So we were finishing up and I said, "well, we'll see you on Tuesday for Mac's 18 month well child appointment." She looked at me and said, "do you just want to do his now?" Um, yes! We were the last appointment of the day, so it gave her the leeway to do it. Sweet. I was wondering how I was going to get him to his appointment next week with some family stuff going on, so now I didn't have to worry about it. Have I mentioned lately how much I LOVE our doctor?!?!

Also, Mac thought it was pretty cool that everybody was focused on him, since he'd sat so nicely for the Big's appointment. He was strutting around. So funny. His percentiles were almost exactly what they were for his 15 month check: 32 1/4" (43%), 28 pounds (90%) and 99.7% for head! Yes, it went UP from his last visit! How is the possible when he was already at the 99%?!?! I said he might need to be in some kind of study about big heads!!

We talked about a few things. She was fine with him drinking 2% milk (I should think so!), which we switch him to last month. He isn't a big milk drinker anyway, so I don't think that will affect him much. We talked about napping and that it was normal for him to start switching to one nap a day...or to do both for a while, which is what he's doing now. If we are busy, he can do just one, but if we are at home, he has a hard time staying awake. I wasn't ready for him to go down to one nap for the longest time, but now I think I am. I'll take one long nap over two short naps any day! As you may recall, I have a little anxiety about him having a pacifier when he sleeps. She was like, "um, no, its fine! Do what works!" Thank you! She said we can revisit it at his two year appointment but for now, not to even think about it. OKAY, then! We talked about his visit from his school team on Thursday and she was fine with all of that (his gross motor and verbal skills). To end the appointment, Little Man needed two shots! And here I thought we'd be scott free of shots at this visit! I think he was more pissed about having to lay down on the table than the actual shots. I had "baa, baa black sheet" playing on my phone, so as soon as I picked him up, he was like, "baa baa? baa baa?" and reaching for my phones. Gotta love technology when it helps out!

So, I would say all three are doing pretty darn good! And we don't have another schedule appointment until Mac's two year well child (which I'm sure will come far faster than I'd like!). Again, so happy we were able to get all three done in one visit!!! Now I know I CAN handle it, although we shouldn't have to worry about all three being due at the same time again, I don't think.

Friday, January 22

Busy Bees

I want to start out by saying that I WANT my kids to be involved in things and I want THEM to want to do activities. That being said...we have been holy busy this week! It probably didn't help that Jim was unexpectedly gone today...but I learned I can do just about anything. AND that we have made some amazing friends since moving to Waverly, for which I'm beyond grateful. Also, I may need to examine my need to do everything all the time. In hind sight, I probably could have cut some things out (or rescheduled)...but regardless, we survived!

Except for Monday, we had "something" every single night. I know this is common when your kids are older but this is very unusual for us. Korri had gymnastics Tuesday night in Howard Lake. Then Wednesday night, Finn and I had Faith Formation at church.

Thursday night, Korri had dance and Finn had a basketball game. Finn has basketball camp on Sundays in January and one benefit of going to camp is that the players get to got to one varsity basketball game, go in the locker room before the game for the coach's talk with the players, be introduced with the team before the game and sit on the bench with the players until half time. It's a pretty big deal and it made Finn's life last year when he did it. Of course, while I was at dance with Korri, Jim text me and said that Finn didn't want to go. ARGH! My little home body. When I got home, I showed him pictures of last year and he was like, "Oh, yeah. I'll go." Sheesh. BUT...this is Jim's thing but he wasn't feeling well. Which means I "got" to take him. In the end, I'm glad we went and it was fun to experience it with Finn. And he had a blast!
The JV coach giving the boys a pep talk. Finn is second of the right.
High-fiving with the players.
Sitting on the bench just before they introduced his name.
Standing at half court while they introduced the actual players.
Seriously, it was really neat and while basketball in Jim's thing, I'm glad we went. We left just after half time which means we didn't get home until well after bed time. Worth it, but still another late night.

Friday was a doosy of an afternoon and evening. First I arranged to have Reagan picked up early, which for a Friday, isn't that uncommon. Then I notified the school that I would be picking Finn and Korri up early from school. Before picking them up, I had to pack Korri's gymnastics stuff, wrap a present for the party Finn was going to and package up and bring all of our paper rolls for Finn's class! Anyway, I picked them up just fine (and remembered everything I needed!) and we headed to their well-child dr. appointments. For the record, I did try to reschedule them but our doctor was booked for next week and with some personal family things up in the air, I just wanted to get them over with. More on their appointments in another post...but all is very well with them!!!
Just handing out in the doctor's office, eating some goldfish!
After the appointments we headed to Dairy Queen for a little post-doctor pre-dinner ice cream snack. We started that tradition when they were still getting shots and now they seem to think they still need ice cream after a doctor visit. Oh, well. Twist my arm ;) Korri had a gymnastics meet (similar to Finn's basketball game the night before) and Finn had a birthday party to go to...both which started at similar times. Because Jim and I were going to divide and conquer, which we could no longer do, I couldn't drop Finn off at the party because the gymnastics meet started before the party did. But I knew Finn's friend Ben was going and I asked if I could drop him off there before the party and pick him up after the gymnastics meet. They so kindly said of course...which really and truly means so much to me. So we dropped Finn off there around 5pm on our way to Howard Lake.

This was the first time they've done the "future gymnasts" at a meet (that I know of!). So Korri got to walk in with a Lakers gymnast, watch the entire meet and then have her picture taken with them after the meet. This would have been perfectly fine IF Mac could have stayed home, which wasn't an option. All things considered, he did really well but we were there for over three hours!!! You can only entertain a year and a half year old for so long! But Korri had a blast and she got to do some gymnastics on the mat after the meet and get a group picture (I made the executive decision that we could not wait for individual pictures as it was almost 9pm and Mac had hit the wall!).
Team photo. Korri is all the way on the right in a black and pink leotard.
Korri walking in with her gymnastics buddy, whom I think was the over all individual winner!
Coming back to our seats after introductions.
Not a happy camper.
We left, picked Finn up (again, so kind of Ben's family to keep him so late...I was glad it was a Friday night or we probably couldn't have "done it all."), got home and all kids were in bed sleeping by shortly after 9pm. Not too bad.

Overall, a super busy day but so much fun for the kids and great memories were made. Thank you to everybody who helped us this week, especially today. I'm pretty sure I can do anything after all we accomplished today. And I'll look at my need to "do everything" but normally it isn't an issue when there are two chauffeurs! In hind sight, I might have not gone to the gymnastics meet, but I had no idea it would take THAT long and it was the last one of the season, so there wouldn't be any more opportunities to go to another until next year. Alls well that ends well!

Sunday, January 17

Half Birthday

Our baby is 18 months old today! I guess at some point we'll have to stop calling him Baby. He is such a joy and super happy...most of the time. He also knows what he wants, when he wants it.

Below is a list of what most babies do by the end of 18 months (with my comments behind them):

Social and Emotional
  • Likes to hand things to others as play (yes, but depends on what it is!)
  • May have temper tantrums (a little bit but nothing major)
  • May be afraid of strangers (maybe a little bit)
  • Shows affection to familiar people (yes, for sure)
  • Plays simple pretend, such as feeding a doll (not sure)
  • May cling to caregivers in new situations (yes, but warms up quickly)
  • Points to show others something interesting (yes)
  • Explores alone but with parent close by (yes)
Language/Communication

  • Says several single words (yes, he doesn't say a LOT of words but communicates very effectively)
  • Says and shakes head “no” (yes, but I think he gets it mixed up some times)
  • Points to show someone what he wants (yes)
Cognitive (learning, thinking, problem-solving)

  • Knows what ordinary things are for; for example, telephone, brush, spoon (yes)
  • Points to get the attention of others (yes)
  • Shows interest in a doll or stuffed animal by pretending to feed (he LOVES stuffed animals, not sure if he pretends or not)
  • Points to one body part (ha, he can point out ten or more!)
  • Scribbles on his own (I have no idea, I've never given him a writing utensil)
  • Can follow 1-step verbal commands without any gestures; for example, sits when you say “sit down” (for sure)

Movement/Physical Development

  • Walks alone (yes)
  • May walk up steps and run (no, but I'm sure it is coming)
  • Pulls toys while walking (yes)
  • Can help undress herself (yes)
  • Drinks from a cup (yes)
  • Eats with a spoon (he CAN, I just don't usually give him one)
Overall, Mac is doing great. He LOVES to read books (again and again and again!). He still naps twice a day most days but I think he is getting ready to transition to one nap. He sleeps for about 12 hours most nights, from 7pm to 7am, give or take. And he still uses a pacifier when he sleeps. I go back and forth on whether to get rid of it, but it makes bedtime/nap time so much easier!!! Last time I checked, he had 14 teeth. His bottom eye teeth (or two year molars will probably be next). He is a funny boy and loves to tell jokes:

Daddy: Mac, tell us a joke.
Mac: Knock, knock! Hahahahah!

He also loves to sing. His favorite song right now is "Baa, baa black sheep." But he will walk around the house singing his own song all the time. Or stand on the ottoman to sing (which I do NOT encourage!). He still loves to eat and can now open the pantry door (gasp!). But, as of now, he will close it when told to. I may need to see about getting a lock for it. He insists that almost everything he eats has "dip dip" with it. Dip dip can be anything that he can dunk something into. He knows who he is but doesn't necessarily point to himself when we ask him where Mac is. But when he sees pictures or himself in the mirror or when we talk about him, he "gets" it. He can go up and downstairs without problems. In fact, we don't use the gate any more as a way to stop him from going up or downstairs (it is now used for when Finn wants to play something and not have Mac "help."). 

Happy half birthday, Baby! While I do get frustrated with him, it is usually because I'm busy and he just wants me. He really is usually easily pacified and calmed because when he's upset, it is for a specific reason. I keep wondering when he'll get more difficult (which I know is coming!) but am really enjoying where he's at right now.



Saturday, January 16

Twenty Questions - Finn 7

Starting at age three, I've asked Finn 20 questions around the time of his birthday. I chose NOT to direct or influence his initial answers. Here are his responses:

20 questions: answered by Finnegan on 1/16/2016

1. What is your favorite color? Red
2. What is your favorite toy? LEGOS
3. What is your favorite fruit? anything that has "berry" in the name...especially strawberries!
4. What is your favorite TV show/movie?  LEGOS/Bolt
5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? Sandwich (not grilled cheese)
6. What is your favorite outfit/thing to wear? Lobster shirt
7. What is your favorite game? Paperboy
8. What is your favorite snack? cookies?
9. What is your favorite animal? bunny because they are soft and cute
10. What is your favorite song? BeyBlade theme song
11. What is your favorite book? LEGOS
12. Who is your best friend? Nolan
13. What is your favorite cereal? Cocoa Pebbles
14. What is your favorite thing to do outside? Ride bikes in the summer
15. What is your favorite drink? Pop - Sprite
16. What is your favorite holiday? Christmas
17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night? Teddy bear
18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? GoGo Squeeze
19. What do you want for dinner on your birthday? Salad
20. What do you want to be when you grow up? Police Officer
Bonus Question:
21. What is your favorite sport to play? Basketball
22. What is your best/least favorite part of school? Recess/math

Overall, the one word that summarizes his answers for me is "commercialism." I guess we did fairly well to get him to first grade before it all became name brands and consumables. This year it was very easy going through this with him. He really thought about  his answers and came back to a couple so he could think more about his answer. Here are my thoughts on some of his answers:

1. It has ALWAYS been Red. Sometimes his second favorite (Green) creeps up there, but nothing overtakes Red for long.

2. You'll see a LEGOS theme in his answers (maybe because he was playing LEGOS this morning?!?!).

6. He got this shirt from Grandma for his birthday and happened to be wearing it today (see pic below). But he DOES like it! I would argue that comfy pants and ANY t-shirt is his favorite outfit.

7. This is an arcade Atari game that he plays on the computer with Jim. I don't know it but the player is the paperboy who delivers newspapers along a suburban street on his bicycle.

8. He could NOT think of an answer and finally just said, "cookies?" Like he wasn't sure. He doesn't eat snack at home very often, so it was probably hard to think of his options.

12. While Nolan is ONE of his best friends (he has FOUR...lucky boy), I would argue that Gabe is actually his best friend.

17. He didn't answer Kiki because "nobody would know what that is." He doesn't HAVE to have Kiki any more and he doesn't really take much to bed with him, except what is already IN his bed.

Showing Memere this morning the LEGO sets he's put together since going shopping with him last weekend:


If you are curious as to what his responses were last year, click here to link to that post!

Sunday, January 10

The seven cake

After letting Finn pick what he wanted for his cake last year (and me being disappointed with his choice), I decided I'd narrow down his options of a few cakes that I liked (ha, it's really all about me, right?) and let him pick from that. Immediately, he knew which one he wanted. This would be our inspiration for his seventh birthday cake:

I knew it wouldn't look exactly like this but we both loved how it was 3-D and vertical, not something you see everyday with a cake. The down side? I could NOT find any instructions or tutorials on HOW to make this cake. So I thought about it and asked my cake guru friend, Becky, for her thoughts. We agreed on a plan that we thought would work.

So I asked my brother-in-law Alex to make the structure for me (thank you, thank you, thank you, Alex!!!!). It wan't hard, I'm sure, but we don't have the tools to get it done and he definitely does! The hard part? I didn't know dimensions! I normally go by what other people online suggest for size. So I tried to lay it out and see how big I wanted it. Kristine said Alex and I were thinking WAY too big, so I went closer to her suggestion. And I'm SO glad I did! It was plenty big, even with me "downsizing" it. The structure included a wood base, a vertical post and a platform on top for the horizontal top part to sit on.

I ended up using three doctored up cake mixes but I think I could have gotten by with only two if I'd planned ahead a little better or had a clearer vision for how it would work. No biggie. Sharon didn't mind the extra cake, I don't think ;) Here is the structure before I started (minus the top part):

Then I started stacking and layering 4"x4" chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream frosting. Again, if I'd planned ahead, I would have done 3.5"x3.5" since I ended up having to tapper it to that dimension at the top anyway. No big deal. I think it just added interest to the overall shape.
 

Then it was time to skim coat the base and add the top structure piece.
 

After that, it was figuring out the right length for the top piece. If it was too long, it would be too heavy. So I shortened it a bit. If I do it again, I would add a support piece between the base and the top (like a triangle to help support the weight). Not sure how that would work, but it would help a lot. Then when the whole thing was skim coated, it went back in the garage over night. Side note: it is SO much easier to make cake in the winter. And I desperately need a second fridge for cakes in the garage!

This is the point in cake making that I feel like a failure and think it will NEVER EVER look good. I hate this point. BUT...after letting it chill and frosting it, it always looks better!

Finn really liked the dripping chocolate on the inspiration picture, so I thought we'd go for a "sundae" kind of look with this one. Which means, I had to make some ganache (for those of you who aren't "in the know," ganache is just cream and chocolate melted together). This was new to me and I'm terrified of chocolate. It can be very difficult to work with but I found some instructions and crossed my fingers.

AND...it was too thin. I happened to have some extra baking chocolate in my cupboard (doesn't everybody?!?!) so I kept adding to it until it was thicker. Again, in hind sight, I didn't factor in how much it would thicken once it cooled, but I think you'll agree, it turned out just fine!

I wanted it to look like it was dripping down but didn't think I could get the look I wanted by actually have it drip down, so I just piped the drips. And I think it totally looks like it is dripping down. And I added sprinkles, of course! Also, in hind sight, I just piped a simple star border at the bottom but if I did it again, I think I'd do something with the chocolate or with the sprinkles to make it more dynamic.

Finally, I wanted cherries on top. But I waited too long to decide that so I couldn't order fake ones and get them in time. Darn! But I knew I'd seen real ones covered in sugar before and thought I'd try that. But for the LIFE of me, I could not find them or instructions on how to make them online. Argh. But I remember seeing something about egg whites, so let's wing it! I dipped a dry cherry in egg whites and sprinkled red sugar on it until it was covered (working over a bowl, obviously). Then I hung it to dry.

It worked great and was by far, the hit of the party! I had to get the rest of my (non-sugared) cherries out of the fridge so all the kids could have one! Next time, I would make a sugar cherry for every kid. Hey, its the simple things. Here is the finished product:

Overall, I think it turned out great. My son LOVED it and it had some of the "wow factor" I was looking for. I brought it in from the garage at the start of the party because I was pretty sure it was at least partially frozen. And by the time we cut into it, it was drooping a LOT, probably because of kids bumping the table constantly and the weight of the cake/frosting. I think the additional support under the top would help. Or maybe a little bit smaller of cake. But I'm notorious for making cakes that are ridiculously huge. And we only had two small layers at the bottom left over! I'd say that is a win in my book.

In case you didn't guess, he wants to make sure you know he's seven!

Saturday, January 9

Seven plus thirty

Finn's birthday party was today! And yes, it is on my birthday! Why did we schedule HIS party on MY birthday? Because it worked the best. We decided last year that doing a party the weekend before his birthday is too rushed after Christmas (and now my nephew's party could be that weekend because his birthday is on Christmas Day). And let's face it, once you turn 21 and have kids, your birthday just doesn't mean what it did when you were younger. I was very happy to share my light with Finn (or rather, give it to him!). Plus, I said than after the party, people could stay and have a drink with me (or ten, as the case may be).

We had the food catered for the first time ever. The food always stressed me out and because I always focus on the cake and decorations, I just wanted it to be taken care of. Plus, there is a restaurant in Montrose that Jim LOVES their broasted chicken, so I figured it would be easy to convince him. We had broasted chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, mixed veggies and lettuce salad with dressing! Everybody seemed to really love it and it was very reasonably priced. I think we have a winner.

I'll do another post on the cake. As for decorations, Finn didn't want any, much to his mother's dismay. So we agreed that I'd get a green (to go off the "lucky seven" theme) and he'd decorate it with sevens or whatever else he wanted. At least it was something. I mean, it saved me money and hassle but I love things to be super festive. I don't think anybody else noticed or cared. I'll get over it.

My mom so graciously came the night before and helped a TON! It is nice to have one person keep an eye on the kids and the other two to get ready for the party. We appreciate her help SO MUCH!! And we had a FULL HOUSE! I'm so glad our house is spread out in a layout that works to have people over. I think the final number was 32 (was supposed to be 36 but a couple people were sick). All of the kids played so nicely. Everybody was very generous in their gift giving (lots of Minecraft, Transformers and LEGOS!) including a LEGO table that uncle John MADE for him!!!

A HUGE thank you to everybody who came to make Finn's day (and mine!) so special. It was a great day spent with great people.

Wednesday, January 6

So he's seven

Finn is SEVEN today! And he had a BUSY day! It started out getting to wear his new coat and snow pants to school:

They are a little big, but he doesn't care. Then I got to have lunch with him and his friend Gabe at school.

It was Walking Tacos, which are the most popular item on the lunch menu. Lucky guy! They were good but they have to eat their lunch in like 10 minutes. I felt like I was shoveling the food in my mouth.

Then Gabe got to come home with Finn from school (on a school night!!). They played for a while and then we all went to Unhinged Pizza in Delano for Finn's birthday dinner.

Then we brought Gabe home (and thankfully left early because he lives a lot further than I planned for!). We got back home in time to play one of his new games: The Game of Life Junior.

Overall, I think he had a pretty good birthday. His party in on Saturday.

Tuesday, January 5

Lucky Seven

I think we can all agree that Finn has been "lucky" since the day he was born. He lived, first of all. Being over 14 weeks early and weighing less than 2 pounds, lucky doesn't even come close. He fought tooth and nail for 85 days to grow in strength and size so he could come home. He was so lucky to make it that far, because there are so many who don't. Then he was so lucky to have an amazing support system around him over the next two years to get and keep him healthy and on track.

But honestly, Jim and I are the lucky ones. Finn gave us strength. Courage. Perseverance. He taught us life lessons that nobody else could have taught us. Having him with all his "luck" drew us together and we know now with certainty that we can make it through anything. Most people don't have the luxury of that certainty. We are lucky that he is so smart and funny. We are lucky that he has and makes friends with ease. We are lucky that his biggest challenge at school is knowing when (and when NOT!) to chat with his friends. But most of all, we are lucky because he changed our stations in this world. He made us Mommy and Daddy. WE are so lucky.

Tonight, as I sit thinking about tomorrow, I am not feeling the same feelings I've experienced every year for his birthday...that whatever the next year, is so much different and "I can't believe he is that age!" Nope, I feel like he should be seven this year. It probably helps that he starts talking like he is seven starting in October! But also, he has been in school for a year and a half and I FEEL like he is big and grown and "older."

What I am struggling with is a sense of loss. Perhaps it is BECAUSE I feel like he should be seven and I'm not morning the loss of six, that I feel this way. I don't know. But I feel a loss of my baby. When he turned six, he was still my baby. But now, the snuggles are few and far between. I still get some kisses but they are hurried. He is busy and spends his time playing Minecraft or Legos (both of which do not include me!). His stories revolve around friends and events at school, which also don't involve me. He has homework. He does chores like sorting the laundry and doing the dishes. He is still very sweet and kind (when he wants to be or if his sister isn't around!) but it is different, too.

I know I'm being a bit dramatic because there will be a time in a future that will come all too quickly, when he actually IS bigger and gone and an adult and thankfully that time isn't now. But my little tiny 1 pound 15 ounce "lucky" baby isn't a baby any more. He will always be MY baby but not a baby. He is a strong, confident, smart, fun-loving, devoted, stubborn, caring, talkative young man. But he is lucky, too. Happy "lucky" seventh birthday to my amazing son. I couldn't love you more if I tried. I can't wait to find out what "lucky" things your seventh year will bring you and us. We love you to Pluto and back, Buddy Boy.

His last morning going to school as a six year old:

The day we became a family: