This is FOUR

In January, Jacob turned FOUR!  In my opinion, this was his best birthday yet.

We started off the festivities by decorating his door with streamers and balloons the night before his birthday.  However…sometime in the middle of the night one of the balloons popped and woke him up, so he came in our room.  He woke me up saying, “Why are there decorations on my door?” Ooops!  I explained to him that they were for his birthday and got him back to sleep.   Regardless, he was still excited to see the decorations, especially since they were his favorite color, GREEN!

That day Jacob had preschool.  So we went to school with a big bag of Rice Krispy treats, Jacob’s current favorite treat.  They celebrated after their snack time with the Rice Krispy treats and sang Happy Birthday while Jacob got to wear a birthday crown.  Later in the afternoon daddy came home with a special delivery from Nonie, who we also call the “balloon grandma!”

Dylan was still napping at the time, and when he woke up and saw the Giant Batman and Spiderman balloons, he was not too sure about them and would not let me put him down.  So we gave Jacob his presents and he started opening them.

It didn’t take too long for Dylan to decide they were not so scary anymore. Or maybe he was overcoming the shock of seeing his favorite superhero in our living room.

Together they both tackled the rest of the presents.

That evening two of our neighborhood families came over for pizza and cake to celebrate with us.  Jacob loves being with these friends and we love the parents too, so it is win win for all of us!

My four year old!

The reason we didn’t do a big birthday party this year, was because a couple days later we took Jacob to the Happiest Place on Earth…Disneyland!

It truly was a fun, magical day!  It had been many, many years since Justin or I had been there, so we felt like giddy kids ourselves.

We had park hopper passes so we could go back and forth between Disneyland and California Adventures.  In Disneyland, we went to ToonTown where we saw Mickey, Goofy and Pluto, we walked around FantastyLand and rode on the flying Dumbo.  The weather was cloudy and cool, with a few sprinkles here and there.  Which was great because it kept the big crowds away. On our way to Pirates of the Caribbean, it started pouring and we stopped to find shelter for a few minutes and ended up buying some ponchos.

On Pirates of the Caribbean we scored the front row seats on the boat, which Jacob thought was fun when we “went down really fast under the waterfall!” Because of Jacob’s love of StarWars we spent a lot of time in TomorrowLand.  We rode the rocket ships, Buzz Lightyear’s ride and even Star Tours.  Jacob was scared and had a death grip on both of us during Star Tours, but afterwards he wouldn’t stop talking about it, I think this kid likes to be scared!

His reward for being so brave was a lightsaber of his choice (and also the talking Buzz Lightyear because he really wanted it and hey, it was his birthday).

And it wouldn’t be a complete trip to TomorrowLand without a visit with the one and only, Darth Vader!

Then we went to California Adventures where we spent most of our time in the CARS portion of the park.  Which by the way, I thought they did a fantastic job with!  The rides were fun for both the adults and kids, and the re-creation from the movie was perfect!  We walked down the street just when Tow Mater was leaving and Jacob got to wave at him as he drove by.  A minute later, Lightning McQueen showed up. So we took a few minutes to say Hi to him.

Then we checked out the rest of the park and rode more rides, among Jacob’s favorite was the other Buzz Lightyear one “where you use the blasters to shoot the bad guys!”

And to end the long day we walked along the boardwalk and took a ride on the giant Mickey Mouse Ferris Wheel which gave us a birds eye view of both parks lit up at night. It was a pretty magical time for all of us and we can’t wait to go back!

The following week we had his 4 year old check up.  They tested his eyesight, hearing and overall general health.  He passed all his tests and is a healthy boy.  He now weighs 34 lbs and is 3 ft 4.5 in tall.  Jacob is our smart, silly, cautious, inquisitive boy.  He has mastered the fine art of arguing with us, or completely tuning us out altogether and tests my patience every single day.  But behind his strong willed personality, there are hugs and kisses and requests to play hide and go seek and chase with him and he often stops what he is doing and looks at me with a smile and says “HI mommy!” and that makes all the frustrating times melt away.  He still asks a million questions a day, and if I ask him if he needs help with something he says “No, I can use my super Gecko muscles!” (you will only understand what that means if you’ve seen the cartoon PJ Masks) and proceeds to flex his muscles and ask you to feel how strong he is.

I saw this fun little questionnaire online and decided to ask Jacob the questions.  Hoping I can remember to do something like this every year around his birthday.  It is a fun way to engage them in conversation and see how the answers may change as they grow.

  1. What is your favorite color?  Green
  2. What is your favorite number? 100
  3. Who are you best friends? Micah, Cameron, Melia, Mackenna, Ryan and Hudson
  4. What is your favorite song? Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (doesn’t matter what time of year it is, he always wants this song)
  5. What is your favorite food? Pancakes and Nutella
  6. What do you want to be when you grow up? A Firefighter (which is funny since he has this crazy obsession with smoke alarms…)
  7. What is your favorite cartoon? Miles from Tomorrowland and Blaze and the Monster Machines
  8. What is your favorite toy? Mac truck, Tow Mater and Lightning McQueen
  9. What is your favorite thing to do with Daddy? Working hard with him outside
  10. What is your favorite thing to do with Mommy? Hugs and kisses

And here is Jake’s 4 year old picture with his giraffe, elephant and a big boy haircut!

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Christmas 2016

Our Christmas was filled with family and that is truly all I wanted.  It makes me so happy to have everyone together to celebrate the season and Christmas Eve was exactly that.  We went to church, had a German dinner and spent the rest of the night laughing, talking and playing with the kids.

And Dylan who is our early riser, our alarm clock, who is up before the sun every.single.day…chooses to SLEEP IN on CHRISTMAS MORNING!  We all were up, sitting around in the living room drinking our coffee and waiting for him to wake up.  Jacob was being such a good boy and being SO patient, waiting for his brother to wake up, before tackling the pile of presents.

After making some intentional loud noises, grinding more coffee beans to refill our cups, Dylan graced us with his presence and the madness began.

Look what Santa brought him…The Stinky Truck!

And this little cheeseball was having so much fun!

Our living room looked like an explosion went off and with the exception of taking turns for a few laps around the house with Dylan on his new plasma car,

we hardly said more than a few words to the boys all day since they were too preoccupied with their toys.

And that my friends is a wrap on our Christmas…now I need to get cracking on Jacob’s birthday!  See you soon!

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Visits with Santa

Last year Jacob was a bit hesitant with Santa.  This year however, he was very excited to see him and tell him all about the “Stinky Truck” he wanted.  Thanks to commercials on the kids channel, he learned about this robotic garbage truck that moves, talks and swallows matchbox cars and burps…The Stinky Truck.  At first I kind of rolled my eyes at it and figured he would move on to something else when it came closer to Christmas.  But he didn’t.  We had three encounters with Santa and every single time he told him he wanted a Stinky Truck.  I knew then I had to find one.

Our first visit with Santa was completely unplanned.  I was returning something at the mall and when we were coming down the escalator we saw Santa.  So we walked by and stopped for a minute to wave and let the boys get a good look at him.  Jacob was so excited and dancing around.  It was early, the mall had just opened and there was no line, so I decided to take the boys to go sit on his lap.  At first Dylan was jumping and dancing along with Jacob just a mere few inches from Santa’s lap, after Jacob climbed up onto his knee, I started to lift Dylan up and he completely lost it.  I froze for a few seconds trying to decide if I should save Dylan from the jolly man in the red suit or back away so they could snap a picture. Yep, I backed away for the picture…

I then quickly rescued Dylan and listened to Jacob chatting Santa’s ear off.  Of course I ended up paying a ridiculous amount of money for this picture, but it is kind of priceless. And for the record, I did feel a little bad for Dylan, but he got over it real quick.

The following week, we went to the Bernardo Winery for their Holiday Nights.  This time there was a long line for Santa, so Justin and I were taking turns standing in line, and walking around with the boys.  One time when I was walking with them, we scored a bench next to where Santa was so the boys climbed up and danced to the music while watching all the kids have their turn with Santa.  Jacob and I asked Dylan several times if he wanted to go see Santa and each time he shook his head, nooooo.  When it came our turn, he was actually okay with it, so I put him on his lap and stepped back for the picture.

Our final encounter with Santa was at the Rancho Bernardo Inn for their December Nights.  This time my parents were with us.  Usually Santa is on their outside patio next to the fireplace, but it was raining so he was moved inside of one of the ballrooms.  When it came our turn, Jacob hopped up and I started to put Dylan on his lap and he decided he was not going to like it again.  So I put him on my lap and we did the family picture first,

then I slid him down to Santa’s lap for the boys picture.

And not only was Santa there but Elsa made an appearance too!  So the boys had a nice little visit with her.

I wonder what next year will bring when we see Santa…

When we were not busy chatting up Santa Claus we were busy preparing food and baking in preparation for Christmas.  And I often find myself wondering why we only make this stuff one time a year?

First up on the agenda was Gingerbread cookies! The boys were great helpers with this one.  They couldn’t wait to get their hands on that dough (yes, they were clean!)

When working in the kitchen, Jake really likes to help, or I should say he likes to do it himself!  Every step along the way he says “I can do it!” and takes over, and he really is pretty good at this.

They both had fun with the cookie cutters

Then the best part is decorating them

The hard part was convincing them that we couldn’t eat them all because we had to save them for Christmas!

The day before Christmas Eve, my mom and I started getting all the food prepared for Christmas Eve dinner and made Oma’s sweet rolls for Christmas morning as tradition calls for.  It was a little bittersweet since Oma went home to Heaven just about 2 weeks before.  This is definitely a tradition that will carry on.

And what fun is baking without a little bit of Champagne!

The food was wonderfully delicious!  And it always amazes me how quickly it all disappears after you spent days making everything.  Maybe that’s why we only do it one time a year.  But to me the preparation part is just as fun as the celebration part so it is all well worth it!

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Star Wars Christmas

The boys have really gotten into Star Wars.  They have never seen the movies, still a little too young for them.  But they have several Star Wars books filled with short stories that explore the world of Darth Vader, Storm troopers, The Death Star, Yoda, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, R2-D2 and C3PO. Those stories are among Jacob’s top picks before bedtime.  And they love to play Storm troopers, where daddy and Jacob are Storm troopers with blasters made out of legos and they are looking for the rebels and chasing RD-D2 (played by Dylan) and blasting off in their rocket (the tee-pee).  Such imagination with these boys!

A few days before Christmas some friends came over with early Christmas presents for the boys.  They got a baseball tee, a drone, and some snugly blankets with Superheros and Star Wars characters on them.

But the favorite thing for both of them were the light sabers.

They immediately started playing Star Wars

Then Dylan finally let us correct the way he was holding his light saber and it was game on!

So Star Wars paraphernalia along with Superheros, Cars and Toy Story are quickly taking over our house.  I am excited for the day (or I should say weekend) when the boys are older and we can have a Star Wars marathon.  It has been years since I’ve seen the original movies and I’m not even caught up on all the new ones.  In the meantime, we will keep reading the stories and perfecting our light saber skills.

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Choo Choo Train

I know I’ve said this many times…I love this blog.  It is my memory book, it is my place to do something with some of the thousands of pictures I take that tell the stories of our lives. Pictures have always been special to me and even more now that I have a family of my own. However, I am finding it harder and harder to make time to keep up with this blog.  I’m not quitting, and will try to keep this up for as long as I can.  And I am hoping that someday I can make some kind books out of this to give to my boys when they are older.  Someday, in my spare time…and right now is one of those rare moments when I have a some time to myself.  Because, I’m almost to scared to say it out loud in fear that the magical moment will end, but…BOTH of my boys are currently napping!  Jake stopped napping a long time ago, but he woke up really early today and has a birthday party to go to later this afternoon.  When we came home from school, I told him that if he wanted to go to the party he needed to lie down and just rest, after much debating and arguing I finally got him to lie down, and it worked, he was asleep in about 5 minutes!  So I found myself wondering what to do, and instead of doing the usual picking up, cleaning the house or laundry, I decided to make another cup of coffee and sit down with my computer and tackle the Christmas photos. So lets see how far I can get before someone wakes up…

Last year, Papa J gave the boys a train to put around the Christmas tree.  It is a very popular thing in our house.  They kept asking and asking daddy to set it up, so one night, while I was giving them a bath, daddy set up the train.  After they dried off and got their pajamas on, we played with the train for a while before going to bed.

At first they sat and watched it go around a few times while Dylan kept saying “Choo Choo” and doing the signs.

Then they started getting squirmy and had to get closer and follow it around the tree

And this is what happens when I try to get them both to look at the camera and smile.

It didn’t take long before Jake had to take control as the train conductor and make it go himself.

And Dylan was happy just chasing it around the tree.

A few days later, while Dylan was napping, Jacob was playing with his Legos.  I suggested that he build a bridge over the train tracks or buildings that the trains can drive by.  He thought it would be better to do with his BIG legos, so he got those out and got to work.

I just love his imagination and watching him play.

Then Dylan woke up…please excuse the post nap hairdo and the travel hairdryer (I was in the middle of unpacking from being out of town and he was “helping”)

I just can’t resist this smile.

Then Jake thought it would be fun to put the legos on my toes

And that tickles, so I was giggling and it made him laugh.

And this is an angel that Jake made for me at school from his footprint and hand prints. I love it and plan to display it during all the Christmases to come.

The “Choo Choo” train is such a fun part of our Christmas and it warms my heart to see how excited the boys get when playing with it. One of these years I want to take them on the Polar Express, they would LOVE it!

And wow!  I actually got a whole post done and they are STILL sleeping…lets see how much more I can get done, there are plenty more Christmas pictures to tackle.  Stay tuned!

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Shopping for the tree

There is a Christmas Tree farm just a few miles away from our house. So last year we checked it out for the first time and we didn’t hesitate to go back again this year.  Their trees are beautiful and they LAST.  We almost felt bad getting rid of our tree last year since it was still healthy and alive after the first of the year instead of dying and littering our house with pine needles.

When we got there the boys had a great time running up and down the rows of trees.

It became a race

it didn’t take long for the boys to figure out how to ditch us by running in-between the trees.

You can’t really pick a bad tree there so it didn’t take us long to find our tree. After we paid for it and loaded it up, the boys were still having so much fun playing, so we stuck around for a bit.

Maybe someday I’ll get a picture with them where they are both looking at the camera.

Our house is decorated, Red the Elf has arrived and we now have our tree.  All the Christmas fun has started.  I’ll be back with lots more to share soon.

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18 Months

I often say I feel like I was robbed of Dylan’s babyhood.  He grew up so fast, physically and developmentally that I forget he is not even 2 years old yet.  In fact, in November he turned 18 months, and he does not look or act like he’s only a year and a half old.

A lot has happened in the past 6 months since he turned one. While he had been taking a few steps here and there, a week after his first birthday he was walking.  And really didn’t stay in the walking phase for too long before he began running, everywhere…

He has been a teething machine, he now has a total of 10 teeth, including 3 molars.  Teething didn’t really seem to bother Jacob too much, but it really affects Dylan.  He suffers from the pain, has a loss of appetite, fevers, crankiness, etc…

Dylan has an appetite!  Of course his food preferences are completely different from his brother’s.  While Jacob loves his yogurt, fruits of all kinds, some veggies, cheeses and sweets, he is not a fan of meat.  Dylan however will eat chicken, tri-tip, salami, bacon, pasta and fruits.  But is not a fan of yogurt, cheeses or sweets.  So our meals are either diverse, or have a little of something to satisfy everyone, or one kid just doesn’t eat as much as the other.

I remember when Jacob was a baby I was thankful that I never had to worry about him hitting, pushing or biting other kids, he never did that.  Dylan on the other hand did go through the hitting and pushing phase, so I had to really watch him when playing with others.  On that topic, which really doesn’t help that issue…his favorite thing to do is wrestle with his brother.  At first I was always concerned about Dylan since he was still a “baby” and didn’t want him to get too banged up.  But then I realized that he can easily hold his own and he is usually the instigator constantly tackling Jacob and taking him down.  I quickly grow tired of playing referee and as long as no one gets too rough and they are in a safe spot, I let them wrestle.  And they love it!

He is really starting to show more interest in sign language now and has been picking up signs as fast as we can show him.  His vocabulary is really starting to pick up a little speed as well.  He loves music and asks me to play some every time we are driving in the car.  His favorite song as a baby was the Wheels on the Bus and it has now become 10 Little Indians.  His favorite word right now is GO!  Jake and I often count 1…2…3… and pause for Dylan to shout GO!  Every time I back out of our garage Dylan yells GO!  He is learning about the traffic signals and when the light turns green he yells GO!!

Justin taught him how to say football.  One day he surprised me when we were walking past the TV display at Costco and they were recapping a game on the news and Dylan shouts FOOTBALL!  I have a feeling he is going to be our athlete.  The boy is always running and anytime he is carrying something he carries it in a proper football hold. he has great hand/eye coordination and at 18 months old he has a pretty solid golf swing complete with a follow through.  We never taught him that, he just picked up a toy golf club and started hitting every ball he could find. Definitely got that gene from his daddy!

From the beginning Dylan has never been easily distracted.  If he is upset about something it takes a lot of distraction techniques and time before he gets over it.  He is my strong willed child!  However, underneath all those mischievous grins, sneaky ways, loud and rambunctious personality, he is my cuddle bug.  He gives serious hugs and will not let go.  My mom says I used to hang on her like a monkey when I was little that sometimes she didn’t even have to hold on to me since I was holding on so tight.  Dylan does the same thing.  And to add to the hugs, he will stare in my eyes and give me kisses and kisses and kisses.  He is a little love! And he’s also a cheeseball… When taking a picture of him, he scrunches up his face and shows all his teeth and says a long and drawn out CHEEEEEEESE.  You’ll see in the picture below.

Everyone says the second baby is easier than the first since you know better about what to expect.  Which is true in a lot of ways…however, there is no way to predict their personalities and mannerisms.  In my experience, so far, both boys have been pretty different in almost everything.  And I kind of love that!  Honestly, I can’t believe this is an 18 month post for Dylan, not because I can’t believe how old he is, but because I can’t believe that he is ONLY 18 months old!

His 18 month birthday was November 8th, Election Day, so he wore his American flag shirt to mark the occasion.

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And I thought the problem with the subscribers not getting email notifications was resolved, but it seems that no one got a notification about my last post about Halloween (click here to see it).  So I contacted them again and am waiting for resolution…Hoping this one comes through.

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Pumpkins and Superheros

Halloween is such a fun holiday with the boys, I love that they get excited about dressing up in costumes, asking every day if it is time to go trick or treating and looking for decorations on houses when we drive around town.  But I personally love Halloween because it is the kickoff to the holiday season with Thanksgiving and Christmas to follow.  So when we started seeing pumpkins at every store and pumpkin patches we went to, Jake wanted to get one.  We ended up with a small collection of a few pumpkins of various sizes that we used for decorations around the house.  Then he kept talking about carving the pumpkins and we told him we had to wait until it was closer to Halloween.  Finally, a few days before Halloween, we went to get some good sized pumpkins for carving.  On Saturday morning that was our first order of business, a pumpkin carving party.

It seems I can never get the boys to smile at the same time for a picture…

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img_7756edThe boys have a variety of costumes that they love to play with and Jake decided that he would be Spiderman for our pumpkin carving party, while Dylan was sporting a Superman shirt.

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And Grandma was in town so she got to join in on the fun!

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Neither one of the boys were too thrilled about the slimy insides (we will see how long that lasts)…so daddy and grandma did most of the hard work with cleaning them out, while they stuck with their spoons as “scoopers”.

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And I guess the key to getting this guy to smile AND look at the camera at the same time is carving pumpkins as Spiderman…

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Then mom joined in to get her hands dirty for a bit. And apparently the boys were really confused to see daddy behind the camera?

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Then these two goofballs started their silly antics…

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When it came time to carve them, we got one of the Halloween books that we had been reading with the boys that has various types of Jack O Lantern carvings so they could choose which ones they wanted.

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Supervising daddy’s work.

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My blue eyed boy!

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We ended up with silly, sleepy and surprised.  I call that a success!!

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And we noticed that we carved 3 pumpkins this year, and Jake is 3 years old.  Last year we carved 2 pumpkins, when he was 2 years old and the year before that it was 1 pumpkin when he was 1 year old.  Total coincidence, not intentional at all.  And I don’t think next year we will have 4, but with two boys, who knows…

With the pumpkins carved, costumes ready, we were officially ready for our Superhero Halloween! Batman and Robin to the rescue!

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We started off the night at a neighbors house for a pre-party before hitting the streets to trick or treat.

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BOO!

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Bates Nut Farm

A few years ago when Jacob was a baby, I went with some girlfriends and their littles to Bates Nut Farm.  In the fall they turn their farm into a pumpkin patch with pony rides, a petting zoo, tractor hay rides, a corn maze and other fun activities.  At the time Jacob was a little too young to really “enjoy” it all and every year I kept saying I wanted to go back.  This year I finally made it.  Our schedule is busy as usual, and there is only one day during the week that we don’t have any kind of scheduled thing like school, swim lessons, etc…So that day usually is filled with a playdate or doctor’s appointments, or errands that need to be taken care of.  About a month ago on that day, we had nothing planned.  And it wasn’t until about 8:00 that morning when I was trying to figure out how we were going to spend the day that I decided we were going to go to Bates Nut Farm.  I got the boys dressed, packed up some food, loaded up the car and grabbed my camera.  It is about a 30 minute drive into the mountains from our house which made for a nice leisurely drive to drink my coffee while singing along with the with kids music playing in the car.  I like to get to these places right when they open to avoid the crowds and the afternoon heat.  And this day was perfect!

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After saying HI to the farmers unloading all the pumpkins, they started searching for the perfect one.

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Dylan thought they needed some re-arranging and started moving them from one side to the other

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Then Jacob wanted to feed the goats, so all 3 of us each got a cup full of food and went to the petting zoo. Both boys loved it and laughed when the goats ate out of their hands.

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Then the lady working there offered to take our picture, and we still had food on us.  So the goats kept trying to climb into my lap along with Dylan to eat it up!

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Then we hopped on the tractor hayride for a spin around the farm.

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And Jacob talked during the entire ride, commenting on everything he saw

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And Dylan thought it was pretty fun

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Then we walked around the stores and bought a few treats.  We went over to where all the animals were and looked at chickens, pigs, llamas, turkeys and more goats before heading home for lunch.  I love those spontaneous adventures with my boys!

3 Year Old Preschool

When we moved, we left Jacob at his old preschool because we didn’t want to change schools on top of a new baby, new neighborhood and a new house.  So when it got close to the end of the last school year, I started researching the preschools in this area and learned that the school he was at had fantastic hours and a more of a year round program, meaning they didn’t close for Spring Break or summer, etc…we decided to keep him at his old preschool through the summer program and then start him at his new preschool closer to home in the fall.  So before I share his first day of school pictures (which are now a few months old), here are the ones he had taken last spring at his old preschool.  And he looked so darn cute in all of them, that I couldn’t just settle on one photo and ended up getting all three…

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When it came time to start his new school, it didn’t really seem to faze him.  The 3 year old class is a little more work than 2 year old preschool, and this is my kid who likes to have a job and something to do, so he jumped right into it.  And the fact that one of his good buddies is in his class helped too I’m sure. I barely get a kiss good bye when I drop him off and he is always excited to run around with his buddy while the moms chat for a few minutes when I pick him up.  So it is safe to say that he is enjoying it!

Here’s our little cheeseball ready for his first day of 3 year old preschool.

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And the tractor backpack in his favorite color green from grandma and grandpa was the icing on the cake.

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