Sweet and Sassy

Violet had a Ice Cream Swirl Spa Day with her friend Taylor. It was Violet's first time getting all the treatments at our local little girl salon and spa, although she's gotten her hair cut there plenty. They got manicures, pedicures, a blueberry facial, toe rings, cotton candy-scented hair spray and so. much. glitter. Afterwards they danced and posed on the runway at the spa and finally convinced their mamas to put a sleepover date on the calendar.

Pretty much the best day ever.

Getting nails done!

There is glitter everywhere.

So excited!

Posing on the stage.

Impromptu dance party!

Glamour girls!

So silly.

Am I Ready?

Some strange things have been happening in the Loughman household this summer. Our baby girl has decided she is ready to grow up, and this mama is not prepared.

To start with, Annie speaks in complete sentences now. It's the funniest, most disconcerting thing. It's so odd to be able to communicate with her now, and I'm still surprised every time a fully formed thought pops out of her mouth.

Annie is also obsessed with the potty (although as of press time, this interest seems to be waning a bit). I got so tired of lifting her on and off the toilet that I went a dug up Violet's old potty. She spent a good hour sitting down, standing up, looking inside, closing and opening the lid, and announcing to everyone in earshot that it was "Annie potty!" Then at one point she sat down and... she peed!

And as exciting as it was, I am not ready to potty train this summer. I don't want to dedicate the time, or laundry, that it takes, not in these remaining few weeks of freedom. Plus I'm not convinced she's actually ready. And while she did pee again the next day, already her interest appears to be fading and I'm honestly relieved. Still, it was fun while it lasted.

Who's ready to potty?!

Then Matt decided to take the plunge and convert Annie's crib into a toddler bed. I have no idea how old Violet was when we took this step, and I'm fairly certain it was way past Annie's current 21 months. But nevertheless, the crib is gone. I was off for a girls night out when we went to the toddler bed, so Matt was in charge of bedtime. He's so much better at getting Annie to bed anyway. Plus it was a no-nap day, so I figured it wouldn't be too hard. There were plenty of incredulous comments from my fellow toddler mamas once I posted our intentions, and I had my own doubts, but I also had a karaoke night to go to, so I peaced out.

Plotting her midnight escape route....
Sure enough, he sent me a picture proving his bedtime prowess while I returned my hearty congratulations and officially tendered my bedtime resignation. Matt can rule as King of Bedtime as long as he wants.

Snug in her bed... for now!
Ah, but what did my mama ears hear at 4 a.m.? The sounds of a little toddler, out of her bed and calling from the top of the stairs. I poked the King of Bedtime in the back and once more, peaced out. He got her back to bed and we were good to go until the following morning.

The jury is still out on whether this new bed will work. I'm thinking of paying Violet to intercept Annie when she wakes up, or just teaching Annie to wander into Violet's room if she's feeling lonely in the wee hours of the night. Or I'm gonna slap the side of the crib back on until she's four years old, who knows.

All I know is, I'm happy for the King of Bedtime to take over whenever he wants!

Girls Night Out!


Building a sleepover fort!

Violet has been begging for a sleep-over. When she turned four, we had her friend from school Emma spend the night because she couldn't make the party, but that's been it. During our roadtrip, the sisters got to sleep in the same bed, which was fun. And she's been promised a spend-the-night with her friend Taylor that just hasn't been scheduled.

I remember the first slumber party I went to. I was in first grade and I went to a classmate's house. Her name was Mandy. We ate pizza and Mandy was slightly appalled that I ate the crust. (I didn't know it was a culinary taboo... in fact, I went through a phase where I only ate the pizza crust. I believe I wisely kept this information to myself that night.) I don't remember much else from that night, and I don't recall a flood of slumber parties as a result. Most of my spend-the-nights were a direct result of my parents going out of town and needing a place to put me. Eventually in high school, once I was old enough to drive, the overnights took off in earnest. But enough about me...

So the neighborhood boys sleep over all. the. time. And why shouldn't they? They're the same age, they live next door and can conveniently walk over, their parents are lovely, trustworthy people who are just fine getting rid of a kid or two for the night. And poor Violet has to watch all this. The bed-headed boys trudging home, pillow under the arm, sleepy grins on faces, whispered plans of their next great night already in the works. Violet's been asking a lot, but it finally reached a fever pitch one night at dinner. I knew Matt and I needed to be on the same page about co-ed sleepovers, but more importantly, the entire tribe needed to be on the same page.

Now I'm no helicopter parent. And I'm not a free-range parent either. I fall fairly in the middle. Perhaps a common-sense parent? A do-your-best parent? We decided that a sleepover with the boys, in the playroom, would be okay. And I know it's not the decision every parent would make. But you take the information you have and make the best decision you can. The kids are young enough (for now), I know their families and values, we're practically co-parenting together, and honestly I like the fact that the boys were willing to accept Violet into their little crew.

Happy crew!

They ate popcorn, watched a movie, played with flashlights, giggled a lot, and finally fell asleep at 10:30. They were up early (stupid garbage truck and your 7 a.m. pick-up), but happy.

Funny side note. Annie had fun crawling around the fort and sleeping bags before I finally took her to bed. Once we were in her room, she put her blanket on the floor and announced "Annie bed." And she insisted on sleeping on the floor next to her bed! I had to send Matt up later to transfer her to the crib! Sweet girl, she wants to be just like the big kids!


Then and Now

Three Years Ago

These friends. What a fun ride it is, watching this crew grow up together. Every day, this brood makes us mamas laugh, cry, grit our teeth, roll our eyes, lean in together, pray for strength, wisdom, patience... I'm so proud of the little people they are becoming, each one with their own personality and gifts. May we always see them as the blessings they are, not the heathens they act like after too little sleep and too much screen time.


Mazel Tov!

Mozel tov, Brooke!
My lovely niece Brooke had her bat mitzvah this past weekend in Williamsburg, Virginia, and we were there to help celebrate! I missed my nephew Will's bar mitzvah because Annie was just three weeks old, so I was excited to experience this one, my first.

Initial impressions: bat mitzvahs are just like weddings, minus the groom. We received a fancy invitation six weeks ago. We had to RSVP with our dinner preferences (steak, chicken or fish). On the big day, the family was asked to be dressed and ready for professional pictures ahead of the event. The ballroom was rented and decorated according to the chosen theme (pink and princess). After the ceremony, there was a cocktail hour (open bar for the adults, pink punch bar for the kids) and tray-passed hors d'oeuvres.

The seated dinner featured a kids buffet of hamburgers and hot dogs in addition to the adult plates. The DJ brought glow sticks and sunglasses for everyone. A father-daughter dance took place. Seeing as the show centered around a 13-year-old and her friends, the dance floor was hopping! There was even the official cutting of the (birthday) cake moment.

Seriously, it was fancier than my own wedding.

Pretty in pink!

The ceremony itself was quite moving. Brooke led what is essentially the religious service, complete with reading the Hebrew Torah. Special family members stood up with her at various times to offer blessings, she gave a little speech explaining what she had learned through the process of studying the scripture and how she could apply it to her own life. She thanked her grandfather for helping her practice the Hebrew reading and her parents gave sweet little tributes to her.

The girls were exhausted from our time at the waterpark, and Annie was itching like crazy from the chlorine, even after the benadryl we gave her. She slept on my lap for most of the service and I think even Violet dozed off. Which was good, because it meant they were ready to par-tay!

The reception was so fun. Everyone hit the dance floor, wolf ears and all! Even Matt, who I'm pretty sure didn't even dance at our wedding, had no problem taking the girls out for a spin. Overall, the entire event exceeded my expectations. Not that I wasn't expecting the bat mitzvah to be great, but I figured my girls would be difficult, I'd spend half the event in our hotel room trying to get one of them to fall asleep, etc. But I got to enjoy it just as much as anyone else, so win!

Sippin' some punch from the kids' bar.

Apparently these two little girls can inspire Matt to hit the floor!

That's right, people. Table 1!

Don't mind Greg. He's just hungry like a wolf.

Party's getting started!

We Loughmans know how to get down!

Their first slumber party!


Howlin' Good Time

Our Summer 2015 Family Road Trip didn't end with our beach visit. We had one more stop - Williamsburg, Virginia. We had timed our trip right to coincide with our niece Brooke's bat mitzvah. And lucky for us, the celebration was planned at the Great Wolf Lodge. Ever been to a Great Wolf Lodge? Heard of it at least? It's a huge themed hotel and indoor waterpark. And I'm not kidding about the theme. This place was like a mini Disneyworld - giant fireplace in the lobby, lots of tree trunks and wood beams and fake acorns the size of a Mini Cooper. The price per night is up there with Disneyworld too, so we had only booked Saturday night, the night of the bat mitzvah. But there was a scheduling conflict. The website said we couldn't check in until 4 p.m. and our event started at 4 p.m. In fact, we were supposed to be showered and dressed for pictures by 2 p.m. A) how were we going to enjoy the waterpark, and B) if we couldn't do the waterpark, how could we get into the hotel without our children knowing of said waterpark's existence?

We made a recon mission to the resort on Friday night. I talked with the manager and came up with a plan. If we showed up at 11 a.m. Saturday morning, they would put us on the "first available room" list and send us a text when our place was ready, leaving us free to enjoy the waterpark while we waited. And as it turned out, the timing was perfect. Saturday morning our room was good to go when we showed up. Which is a good thing, because Violet spotted the waterpark!

The bathroom wallpaper. Commit to the theme!

Giant jacuzzi tub next to king-sized bed? Weird, but okay!

Sporting wolf ears in front of our room's working fireplace!

Our wristbands were also the room keys - convenient!
 So there are no pictures of the waterpark. Sorry, but I didn't think walking around with my phone surrounded by water was a good idea. But rest assured (or check out their website) the place was pretty cool. There was a giant play structure in the middle with a couple slides and a huge bucket that periodically dumped water. There was a wave pool, a surf pool, water basketball courts, a lazy river, a five-story water slide or two, and a great toddler area with three slides of its own that Annie ruled. We didn't even make it to the outdoor pool area. I admit, my expectations for this place were low. It would reek of chlorine, Violet would want someone with her 24/7, there would be nothing for Annie to safely do... Instead Violet ditched us at first glance and took over the slides herself, Annie was totally entertained by her own mini slides, insisting on climbing the little stairs all by herself, Matt even got to ride the "big kid" stuff. Sure, the place was packed with families and shrieking kids. Yeah, the lobby was super cheesy. Okay, so Annie broke out in an allergic reaction from all the chlorine (nothing a little benadryl couldn't solve). But overall, it was pretty cool. Granted, we were only there for 24 hours, and most of that time was spent in the resort's ballroom for the bat mitzvah, but both Matt and I agreed that we could envision going back one day. When we win the lottery. And bring a nanny. And attend a bar mitzvah with an open bar at the end of the day.
She thought the room was so cool!

 Bathtime made easy.


Kure Beach

Well, hello there! We're back after a little family jaunt to the beach! And I must say, I am pleasantly surprised at what a great trip it was! We left Tuesday around 10 for the six hour drive to Kure Beach in North Carolina. Apparently this is the same time every year we hit the road, because my timehop app has been showing me pictures from previous road trips for the past week. This one was rather chilling:
The caption read: 9 hours down, 3 hours to go. Haha!
 I was hoping this year's trip would look more like this:

Smiling faces! This time they'll both face front!
And except for Annie's habit of taking off her headphones and then instantly regretting it, the trip to the beach was awesome! Matt had the great idea of stopping for lunch at a place with a playground, letting the kids play while we ate, then letting the girls have their food in the car. This meant they could run out the wiggles, we kept the stop short, and they had a vested interest in getting back into the car. Win, win, win!

So excited about unlimited movie time!
Clearly not as impressed.
After a fairly smooth drive, we arrived at our beautiful condo right across the street from the beach. We were shacking up with the grandparents, some cousins, some aunts and uncles, so there were plenty of people around to play with the girls. Within 30 minutes of arriving, they had their bathing suits on and we were hitting the beach! Annie took an immediate dislike to the idea of sand touching her hands and feet. I think she was mostly perplexed as to why it wouldn't come off. And of course, as soon as the water washed it away, more sand stuck on! (She got over it rather quickly the next day, whew!)

Hitting the beach for the first time!

Such a pretty view from the balcony!

My beach baby!
The next morning, we were up early hitting the sand. The luxury of living across the road from the beach... it was so easy! Just wake up, put on your suit, grab a towel and go! When you get hungry, just head back home. It was definitely nice not feeling like we had to bring a ton of gear and commit to an entire day.

Hanging out on the pier.

Fun in the sand.

Camp Loughman!
Breakfast with Uncle Phil.
Along with hanging at the beach, it was a great trip because of the family time we had. Every two years this particular gang gets together, always rotating the hosting hometown. I've been to Colorado, Montana and now North Carolina with this group, and a good time is always had by all. There are plenty of late night card games, lots of laughing, and this time it was especially sweet to watch my girls spending time with everyone. There was always an available lap and a willing story reader to keep them entertained, which certainly helped me relax and enjoy myself all the more.

Storytime with Aunt Cindy.

Hanging with Grandma.

Family shot!
Happy girls!
At the end of our beach stay, we reluctantly left our lovely condo and hopped back in the car. Destination: Williamsburg, Virginia!
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