It’s Beginning to Look…

A lot like CHRISTMAS!

We put the tree up last weekend, and since then it’s been gathering a few gifts.  Avery’s been super good and hasn’t even tried to open them.  We do find Avery over by the tree sometimes moving ornaments, and stealing candy canes (usually with the help of Grampy because Steve and I put those up high on the tree so ‘someone’ couldn’t reach them…. and by ‘someone’, I meant Grampy).  I’m 90% done Christmas shopping too, so the gifts I have are wrapped and sitting under the tree.  One week away… gotta finish up fast!

Avery is very excited this year.  It’s such a fun age.  We started talking about Christmas the night of Thanksgiving when we read the Elf on the Shelf book.  Since then, Avery’s excited every day to look for the Elf.  He’s been super sneaky this year (he zip lined thru the living room the night after we put up the tree!).  I swear, we have more fun looking for him than Avery does!

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Some mornings I find Grampy wandering around the house and eventually coming to me asking “OK, Where is he?!’

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Avery tells us the Elf flies around because he has magic.  And if Avery isn’t behaving, we remind him that the Elf is watching and 9 out of 10 times, it helps :)

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Now, if you’re familiar with the Elf on the Shelf tradition (we started it last year), you know that the child(ren) get to name the elf.  Well, last year, Avery wouldn’t name him.  The only thing he would name him after I asked him was ‘Bunny’.  This year however, our elf had an identity crisis, and changed names.IMG_4491

Turns out, the elf also visits Avery’s daycare, and at daycare, the elf’s name is Henry.  So, one morning when I was getting Avery dressed in the bathroom, he looked up and saw the elf and pointed saying ‘Ah! It’s Henry!!’  Took me a minute to talk with Avery to figure out where the name had come from, haha.IMG_4543

Oh, bonus points if you can find the object the Elf has carried around with him every day…. ;)

It’s not Christmas without…. SNOW! (seriously, how do you people do it in Cali and Texas and Florida?! And you’re probably thinking we’re crazy with all this white stuff thinking how do we do it?! haha)IMG_4503

We got a big snowstorm last week that lastest DAYS.  First, it was freezing rain, then it snowed a bunch (8 inches-ish) one afternoon-evening.  Then it kept snowing (another few inches) the next few days.  All the schools around here were closed on Wednesday, and the snow finally stopped on Saturday.  Luckily, I work from home so I didn’t have to worry about commuting.  Plus, Avery’s school was open when school was closed (yay!).

Avery loves the snow.  He still loves his shovel the best.  I think we shoveled the front porch 3-4 times last week, haha.  And over the weekend, Grampy snow-blowed and we knocked the giant iscicles and snow off the roof.
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The snow on the edge of the roof curled around and did this… pretty cool!

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Steve took advantage of the snow and surprised me with a snowshoeing trek up the notch Saturday afternoon.
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This is the same place we went hiking in October… look at the difference in scenery.

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Love this state! #ilovermont
We soooo have to get Avery a set of kids snow shoes now that hunting season is over and we can go wandering in the woods around the house.

Tis the season to give gifts, so I sent out cards to our friends and family.

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It took me a couple weeks to take a few minutes here and there to order them, address them, and send them out.  Last year I ordered 50 and ran out, so this year I ordered 75 to be safe and I think I have 4 left.  Phew, close call.  I need to stop making so many friends!

And instead of giving gifts to each of Avery’s teachers, we chose to give the Preschool a gift: Snowman and letter foam sticker kits.
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Avery had played with a fall version of these at the Turkey Trot, so we found them on sale (50% off!) on Black Friday, so we snagged them and the kiddos had fun making snowmen and their names.

Our latest holiday project was thought up by Mimi and Grampy.  We took gingerbread house making to the next level and made a candy log cabin!

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Avery had so much fun putting the candy on….IMG_4562

But I think he liked it so much because he got to EAT the candy too, haha.IMG_4549

We had waffer cookies for roof shingles, gummy bears, gum drops, necco waffers… and marshmellows.  Yum!IMG_4551

Avery was so proud when we were done :)IMG_4560

Grampy even drizzled some chocolate on the roof… looks so yummy!!!IMG_4561

Only 7 days until Christmas, and Avery knows it!  Mimi made a couple advent calendars for him and he never forgets to open his number every day!

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He’s got cars, candy, play doh, and an ornament.  So fun!  (Mimi made the calendar out of a muffin pan – pretty cool!!!)IMG_4280

We have a busy week, and our holidays start this weekend with Valyou Christmas on Sunday!

Happy Wednesday!!!

<3 Meghan

 

if you don’t already, follow us on Instagram – lots of photos of our daily shenanigans posted more frequent than blog posts ;)

Oh Christmas Tree

It’s a winter wonderland outside, thanks to the snowstorm we got here over the past couple days.  Schools were closed, roads were a mess, and the power threatened to go out.  Now there’s 8 inches or more of snow on the ground…. Avery is thrilled!  And I’m happy we got our tree last weekend because trekking thru this lovely white stuff would have been pretty funny.

On Sunday, we took a drive to a tree farm to pick out and cut down our Christmas tree.

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This was Avery’s first trip picking out a tree.  In years past, we used a fake one, and Mom and Dad even brought a tiny one down to Boston from Vermont one year.  Growing up, we would always go out looking and cutting down our Christmas tree, so it was very exciting for Avery to join in the tradition this year.

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We arrived, grabbed a sled and saw, and walked around in search of the perfect tree.  The tree farm had lots of rolling hills and roads.  Grampy and Avery piled into the sled and took the fast way down – sledding down the hill ahead of us.  Grampy said Avery was pretty excited when they got to the bottom (defined by the tree they crashed into) and yelled and cheered when they finished.

So, after looking around, we found a few contenders.  Avery picked the winner, and before chopping it down, we snagged some photos.

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Avery helped Grampy saw the tree down…

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We hauled it to the road and put it in the truck.  Before we left, we stopped to see Santa!IMG_4369

We brought the tree home and later that night, we decorated it.  I asked Avery to demonstrate where the tree was going and how big it was…IMG_4379

And after clearing a path, Grampy and Mimi brought the tree in…IMG_4385IMG_4386IMG_4389IMG_4391IMG_4393

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Grampy clipped the branches down low – to make room for all the presents, of coarse!  Simon and Avery were intrigued…

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Avery helped pour water in the tree stand.

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It’s very exciting putting up a Christmas tree, especially with Christmas music playing and a broom stick to dance with…

And then it was time to decorate!  Lights first….IMG_4404IMG_4407IMG_4410

Avery likes colored lights best, so those went on next…

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While we were working on the tree, Grampy was making homemade pizzas for dinner.  Avery wanted in on the fun, so Grampy showed him how to stretch the dough…

Next, garland…

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Someone made a little house out of the furniture shoved on the side of the living room.  Avery had me put a blanket over his ‘house’ too, haha.IMG_4415

Next, ornaments…. see that concentration!?

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Awe, it’s so cute to see Avery’s baby ornaments… he was so tiny…and bald!IMG_4425IMG_4430IMG_4432

We have ornaments from when I was a kid… so many art projects, gifts, pictures that make for a very eclectic tree!

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Next – tinsel!

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And finally… the star!

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Sarah and I would take turns every year putting the star on.  This year, it was Avery’s turn!  And to prep for the tree skirt… we needed to do some clean up…

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And so, the tree is up!!!  The next morning… the elf went zip lining with candy canes!IMG_4449

Now, we just need some presents under that tree!  Avery is really understanding Christmas this year – he’s got an advent calendar adding the days up until Santa comes.  He’s helped pick out and wrap gifts.  It’s going to be a fun holiday season!

<3 Meghan

Thanksgiving Weekend

I have to admit, after a long 4-day Thanksgiving weekend, I was ready and excited to get  back to work on Monday.  I know, who says that after days of turkey, family, and… no work. Haha.  When Thanksgiving came last week, I was sooo ready for a break!  And I got such a nice break that I was ready to hit the ground running this week.

As with most things in my life, thanksgiving did not go as planned.  First of all, every Thanksgiving since I could remember, we’ve been going to my Aunt Debbie’s.  The entire family on Dad’s side gather in her house, watch football, go sledding outside (cuz we always have snow on thanksgiving in VT!), eat some yummy food, and play games/cards. Well, this year we weren’t doing that (Grandma wanted a small gathering this year instead), and Avery was supposed to spend Thanksgiving in Boston with his Dad and Grandma, AND my sis was in Texas, so Thanksgiving ‘plans’ were really up in the air.  I had friends in Boston I could join (Thanks everyone for offering!), or I could do the trek to and from Boston twice in the long weekend and come back to VT to spend it with my parents – and I was really leaning to doing that because my Dad kept teasing my Mom about taking him to Olive Garden for Thanksgiving (since Sarah and I weren’t around), and I couldn’t let that happen!  Plus, Mom had plans to decorate the house for the holidays and I was game for some downtime and helping her while Avery spent some time with his Dad and Grandma.

But as it turned out, on Tuesday night, Avery’s Dad and Grandma cancelled, so our plans were quickly changed.  We stayed in VT and had a fun and relaxing long weekend!

Wednesday: Our office closed early, so I made a run for it, and got in 3.63 miles before the snow hit that afternoon.  It was cold… sooo thankful for my cold weather gear I snagged weeks ago.IMG_4163

We had a fun evening, and while I was putting Avery to bed (he’s still struggling to go to sleep at night), I made some yummy truffles for Thanksgiving.IMG_4170

They took FOREVER, but the recipe was simple and I had fun decorating them…IMG_4174

I heard they were pretty yummy and Steve’s Mom wants my recipe, so I think I did OK!

Thursday:  On Turkey day, we woke up to inches and inches of snow!IMG_4185

So, we spent the morning outside… Avery helped Grampy shovel the decks off:
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And we did a little sledding in the backyard where I would sled with my sister when we were kids.  Avery was a trooper and other than his first trip up, he pulled the sled up behind himself (and was so darn cute when he fell every couple steps – but he would get back up and trek on!).IMG_4200

The snow wasn’t sticky at all, so we couldn’t build a snowman, but we had fun painting the snow blue!

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Avery went down for a nap, and I headed over to Steve’s house for the first of two Thanksgivings for the day.  I got my much needed glass of wine, yummy food, and some good laughs!  Although everyone liked my truffles, next year I might show up with some fancy buns and pecan pie ;)

Back at MiMi and Grampy’s house, Avery was dressed up for Turkey Day.

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We all (all five of us) sat down for Thanksgiving dinner and enjoyed some yummy food and deserts.  So Thankful for everyone around this table!IMG_4212

Avery wasn’t too thrilled with the spread… he would have preffered hot dogs and mac n cheese… but he doused his turkey in ketchup and enjoyed it :)
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Friday:  Guess who showed up on Friday morning?!  The Elf!  Avery has had so much fun looking for him the past few days.  Last year, he named the Elf, ‘Bunny’ but this year he’s just referred to as ‘Elf.’

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We usually go out shopping on Black Friday: not super early, but in the morning to snag some deals, so we continued the tradition.  We hit up a bunch of stores, got poinsetta flowers for the entry (Mom gets them every year and they look so nice, especially for $1 each!), hid a few gifts from Avery, and some stores we just looked around and walked out empty handed.  I already have 90% of my shopping done, so I was good and didn’t go too crazy.  IMG_4216

Avery was super well behaved too.  It did help that Grampy took him driving around in shopping carts while Mom and I got the shopping done, but man, was he a trooper.  He picked out this tractor as a prize for being such a good kiddo for the day:

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Oh and guess who we saw… Santa!IMG_4215

I can’t believe how adorable this picture came out!! I was expecting Avery to throw a fit like this one from two years ago…
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I don’t have a picture from last year’s visit to see Santa, because Avery refused to sit on his lap.  So excited this year he was into it.  He asked Santa where his reindeer were and that was it, haha.  He was so shy he wouldn’t even tell Santa his name.  But candy canes were good incentives to take a nice picture :)

After our holiday shopping, we had a yummy late lunch at the Olive Garden (got to use a birthday gift card, finally!), and Avery was so super well behaved.  He colored, did stickers, played on the iPad, and ate so well.  Their kids’ menu is actually pretty great.  Avery even showed the waiter how to correctly tap the cheese grater after turning it (cuz we have one at home).  When we were getting up to leave, Avery said ” I’s sad because we not be here anymore’… so darn cute, and glad he had a good time.

Our last activity of our busy day out (which by the way, didn’t involve ANY accidents.  We hit the bathroom multiple times and Avery did such a great job!), was going to Church Street for the Tree and street lighting.  We got there early, and it was freezing out… so what was there to do??? Get Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream, of coarse!

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Then we stood outside for a few minutes, got some cool antlers, and counted down the tree lighting.

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Oh and we couldn’t leave before taking a ride on this train… oh Avery.  We went through sooo many quarters that day!IMG_4232

Saturday and Sunday: We spent the rest of the long weekend around the house.  The snow got sticky, so Avery got his snowman… with a little help from Grampy :)

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Oh and I snagged this cute pic to compare with the one I took months ago…

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I snuck in some time at night to wrap presents.

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We played cars, trains, and spent some time in Avery’s tunnel.IMG_4241

Avery helped Mimi decorate with window clings:IMG_4242IMG_4246

The holiday cards I ordered came in the mail, so Avery and I sat down to ‘work’ on art projects and addressing cards in front of Frosty the Snowman (Avery loved it – so we kept it on the DVR!) while sporting his ‘giraffe ears’ as he calls his antlers, haha.

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So, after a couple days at home, I was relaxed, and had spent lots of time with Avery, so when Sunday night came, I was ready to get back to our usual routine.

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Although it wasn’t what we planned, or what we have done in the past, it was a nice holiday weekend :)

This coming weekend we’re getting the Christmas tree, and Avery is already two days into his advent calendars… ’tis the season!  I’ll share more soon -

<3 Meghan

6 Month Countdown Begins

It’s December!!  That means many things…. 1. I’m sick of Turkey 2. Elf is back! (Avery has yet to give him a name other than call him Elf) 3. My Mom made a zillion DIY Christmas projects (and they look amazing!), and 4. Time to recap my student loan progress for last month:

26 Month Progress

  • Starting Debt: $41,868.53 (Nov  ’12)
  • Debt Today: $11,917.63
  • Total Debt Paid Off: $29,950.90

I’m under $12k in student loan debt and paid off almost $30k.  Eek, that’s crazy!  And it’s even crazier looking at all the little numbers I keep track of… like interest.  When I started this, I was paying $190 a month in interest… JUST interest.  This past month, I only paid $40.  That right there goes to show how paying off loans faster saves you money in the long run.

November Review

  • Starting Balance: $13,725.94
  • End Balance:  $11,917.63
  • Payments Made: $1,814.36
  • Interest Paid: $40.19
  • Principle Paid: $1,774.17

I’m staying on track paying around $1800/mo. towards loans: The blue line is taking quite a dip!

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Red = goal, Blue = loans remaining to be paid

I stuck with my plan from last month, to pay less on the VSAC Loans, and pour that extra $ into Loan 1-01.  I only have $1376 left on that loan, which means, I’ll be able to pay it off this month, which was my goal when I mapped things out months ago.

Loan Pay Off Plan

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Ugh but Christmas is tricky.  We usually get a bonus at holiday time at our company, but the bonus plan changed and we get it in March, so I stashed $25 away every week since June, and it made a nice nest egg, but I’ll need to pay some bills from holiday shopping this month, oh and a couple plane tickets to California (vacation in February…woohoo!!!), so let’s hope I pull it off before the new year and knock out one more loan this year.  Yay!

I’m right on track… 6 months and I’ll be student loan debt free! Let the countdown begin… cross each one off the coming 6 months and it’s OVER!

  • December: Pay Off Loan 1-01 (usual $1800/mo)
  • January: Pay Off Loan C (usual $1800/mo)
  • February: Pay Off Loan B (usual $1800/mo)
  • March: Pay Off Loan A (Work Bonus & Tax return & usual $1800/mo)
  • April: Pay Off Loan 1-04 (usual $1800/mo)
  • May: Pay off Loan 1-03 (usual $1800/mo)

Oh and to help motivate me… I found THE HOUSE to buy.  Not just a house I spotted online and like and hope it’ll be there a year from now.  I was made an offer to buy a relative’s house nearby, and plans are in motion to make that happen.  So once loans are paid off (so I can afford a mortgage!), then I’ll have the summer to save for a down payment, and this fall, the house will be ours :)

Happy December!

<3 Meghan

Check out my About Meghan page for more posts on finances and paying off my student loans.

Turkey Trot 2014

So, I ran the turkey trot again this year in my hometown.  Don’t get all excited for me yet.  I only ran the 3k, not the 10k this year.  I know, I know.  Slacker!  Life got away from me, working crazy hours and trekking back and forth to Boston the past couple months – running was not on the priority list.  But I didn’t NOT run.  So, don’t hate!

On Saturday, although it was frigid and WINDY, me, Avery and my dear friend Ayla all ran the Turkey Trot!  Yep, you heard right, Avery ran too!  His first race NOT in a stroller!

We got all decked out in our cold weather gear, but got to keep warm in the gym pre-race.IMG_4115

Thanks, Mom for the blurry photo!

Avery was signed up to run the kids 100 yard dash (that’s the length of a football field!) But he was not having it.  Typical toddler.  He eventually let me put his bib on him, and proceeded to tear it off.  Oh, Avery.  Which lead to this pleasant photo…IMG_4116

He did NOT want to race.  And that was fine.  We headed out of the gym to the start of the race, and on our way out, Avery changed his mind and said he wanted to race.  I left him with Grampy at the start line, while Ayla and I headed to the finish to cheer him on.  There were 15 or so kiddos, mind you they could all barely move with the hats, mittens, boots and cold weather gear they had on (it was 25 degrees out!), but when they were told GO, they booked it!  Avery ran like a champ, smiling and turning his head to see the other kids run with him.  He finished running into my arms laughing.  He was pretty fast – finishing 4th or 5th.  All the kiddos got a chocolate turkey as a prize (which was later ate in a matter of minutes!).

I apologize for the lack of pics and video when Avery ran… every time I take my phone out to take a video or picture of this kid, he gets shy and stops whatever he’s doing, so I didn’t want to jinx his first race.  It worked!

I handed Avery over to Mimi and Ayla and I headed into the crowd to run… can you find me?IMG_4137

Avery played with Mimi and Grampy as we ran.  Thanks to my Dad for snagging these nice shots as we came into the finish!IMG_4138

I was so proud of Ayla.  She’s a new Mom and is keeping in shape post-baby.  She ran further and faster than the color run a couple months ago.

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We came to the finish line smiling and Ayla wanted me to finish first, but I did a studder step right before the finish line and she finished before me :)IMG_4140

After the race we all got to play with Ava, Ayla’s daughter.IMG_4141

We played in the warm gym as we waited for the 10K racers to finish.  Avery spent some time at the craft table and played with another boy he made friends with.  Then we grabbed some goodies at the raffle before heading home.

No idea what our time was, we were just happy to get some girl/mommy time in together and have a fun time.  So proud of Ayla and Avery :)IMG_4118

And that concludes my races for 2014….

<3 Meghan

 

Time Flies

Time flies when you’re having fun!  We’ve had a busy week.  I can’t  believe it’s Friday already!  Last week I was super busy with work, followed by a weekend in Mass, and a fun week of nightly shenanigans. Here’s a little of what we’ve been up to…

Friday: First Snow!
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On Friday we had our first snowfall!  It has snowed a couple times, but this was the first time it stuck, so Avery went running outside to play before school on Friday.  He was so excited and every morning since has been ddisappointed when there isn’t any new snow.

I was super thrilled the snow had held off until now because I had just got snow boots for Avery the weekend before (Thanks Joayn!).  But I was also a bad mommy and hadn’t got Avery snow pants yet this season, so I sent him to school with his from last year.  They fit, but barely.  So what did I do that weekend?  I found him new snow pants!

Weekend: Visiting friends in Mass
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Avery spent the weekend with his Dad and Grandma in Mass, so I took advantage and made a weekend of it, crashing at my friends Erin & Andrew’s new house.  Steve came with me and we were put to work with a couple projects, did some Christmas shopping in NH (tax free!) and played some fun games Saturday night with yummy hot cider drinks in front of the fire.  After a nice breakfast out Saturday morning and more helping with the house, we headed off to pick Avery up.

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We had such a fun weekend, and it went by too fast.  It’s nice to have those adults only weekends, especially since I can help Santa with his shopping without Avery seeing, but I was very happy to be home with this little guy Sunday night.

Monday: Tumble, Lowes, PIzza Putt
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Monday night was a busy night!  MiMi had a meeting at the house so we made ourselves scarce.  Grampy got to see Avery in action at tumble class, then a quick stop at Lowes – these two had too much fun driving around!, dinner and games at Pizza Putt – a fun filled night for all!  (Side note, we haven’t been to Great Gram and Gramps for a couple weeks cuz they had a cold and didn’t want to pass it on to Avery)

Tuesday: Girls Night/Santa Shopping
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Tuesday I met up with Michele (Mommy of THREE – no idea how she does it!?), and we had dinner and did some shopping.  We were so cute driving around our carts with our lists.  Avery spent the night with Mimi and Grampy… and all went well until Avery used his pliers on Grampy’s lip… oops.

Wednesday: Avery and Mommy Time
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Wednesday nights Mimi and Grampy go to Gram and Gramps (to watch Survivor, so it’s a late night for them and we stay home), so after a yummy spaghetti dinner, Avery and I played toys and did the nighttime routine.  I would say it was a great night, until SOMEONE wouldn’t go to sleep.  Seriously… still battling bedtime at 3 years old.  I spent over an hour putting Avery back in his bed.

Thursday: Family Time
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Last night we played and ate dinner with Mimi and Grampy.  Avery had fish sticks for the first time in a while and loved them.  Gotta put that on the menu more often.  We tried again to make it a smooth bedtime but Avery was up many many times.  I was busy in the office assembling thank you cards for Avery’s birthday (I know, I know, I’m months late – but I was waiting for the proofs from our photo shoot to send pics with the cards and they came over the weekend), so I kept busy in the 30 seconds between putting him back to bed over and over and over…

Friday: Pizza and a Movie

And today is Friday!  We’re not headed to Boston this weekend, so we’re having our usual Pizza and a Movie night at the house.  Ask Avery what he likes on his pizza… “Macaroni”  (aka, pepperoni)

Happy weekend!!!

<3 Meghan

My Lil Tumble Bear

When I was little, I remember taking a dance class in daycare.  Avery is finally at the age where he can start taking classes, so I thought we would try it out.  I also wanted to get him into swimming lessons, but none were available yet, so we went with a tumbling class to keep this little guy busy when it’s too cold/dark to play outside after school.

For the past two months, Avery has been enrolled in Tumble Class at Regal Gymnastics.  Thanks to his Aunt Shalini, who paid for the classes for his Third birthday present, Avery started classes and loves them so much that every day I pick him up from school, he asks if he’s going to tumble class.

So, every Monday I pick my little guy up early from school and we drive to our neighboring town to attend a 45 min Tumble Bears Class for 3-5 year olds.

They start in a circle with stretching…IMG_3535IMG_3395

Classes are usually 6-7 kids, and their instructor, Katie, is so very patient with the kids.

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Next, Katie demonstrates an obstacle course of sorts – they have a new one setup every time.  Handstands, ladders, balance beams, bars to hang on, and mats to roll on.
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On Avery’s first day, he did a log roll down a mat instead of a sommersault.  So cute… but Miss Katie corrected him and now he’s a tumbling machine!

After going thru the course a few times, the kiddos move over to the long trampoline.  They each take 3 turns jumping with arms up, on hips, legs open and closed, and even backwards!  They go to the end and then jump into the foam pit (obviously the best part!)

Then they head over to the big gym to do a bigger course with lots of bars and rings to swing on.  The kids are so cute sitting patiently watching Miss Katie demonstrate.

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When they are done, the kids line up for stamps on their hands and feet and a fun print out to color/paint later.

Avery comes out smiling and showing off his stamps.
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And since classes are so close to Great Grandma’s house, we go right over for dinner and to visit instead of making a second trip into town on Wednesdays when my parents typically visit.

Avery is enrolled in class until the end of November.  I know he loves it and wants to go every day, but it is pricey and the holidays will be busy, so I think we’ll end it and find a swimming lesson class to do Jan-Feb.  Then when spring comes, no more classes because there will be plenty to do outside!  But for now, tumble class is a great solution for the colder months to have Avery let out his energy!

Oh, and look what I found in a photo album… my dance class photos from when I was three.  Can you find me?IMG_4029IMG_4030IMG_4031

I’m in the dark pink leotard and white tights (farthest right in last photo).

Happy Wednesday!  This makes THREE blog posts so far this week!!!

<3 Meghan