Monday, September 22, 2014

Anna's Pre-School Graduation at St. Mike's

My baby girl is done with pre school and will actually be a real, live kindergardener.  There is just something so amazing and jarring at the same time when you realize that your child has transitioned completely out of a stage or period of their life (like a toddler) and is now a kid.  While you are endlessly proud and excited, you also have this horrible pain in your gut about the times and the person that's being left behind.

My beautiful Anna has transitioned into this amazing girl who is beyond her years.  Her brain is the most complex, wondrous and deeply emotional thing I've ever come into contact with and I try to discover her more and more each day.  She's just not like other kids out there.  She's has such depth of thought, maturity, intuition, empathy and feeling and so much more.

As she moves from being a toddler to a kid, I remember a line from one of her favorite books (Princess Party).  Right now it just completely reminds me of her...

For Princesses whirl, Princesses twirl...
For Princesses are such incredible girls

Anna Sophia Whelan - we love you deeply and to no end.


Memorial Day Weekend - 2014's First Trip to the Lake

I know I continue to mention the BRUTAL winter we all had this year, but I'll say it again because it's exactly the reason why heading up to Lake Geneva for the first time all year was just so special.  The weather was beautiful and so was the lake, parks, etc.

It wasn't Dex's first time on the boat ever, but it was the first time that he actually knew what was going on.  At first, we were a little worried that he wouldn't like it, or be a bit scared.  He was...for the first five minutes...and then game on!  He absolutely loved every single moment and so did our little water girl, Anna.

It was a fantastic kick-off to the Summer and we took it all in - especially the warm sun!

Anna Ballerina

Anyone who knows Anna, knows that she is one little talented ballerina.  And while she NEVER shows off her skills when you ask, she is pretty amazing on stage.  She loves to dance and you can see it on her face when she puts on her ballet slippers and tutus.

This year was especially exciting because her talent really came to life.  She's dancing with older kids and really learning the mechanics of ballet.  She also happens to love classical music, which she sings and dances to in the car and at home often.

Her dance recital in June was so thrilling for us.  We were so proud of her and all she's accomplished at such a young age.  I hope she continues to have a love and passion for dance as I see it becoming an incredible outlet and release for her.  Plus, it makes her so happy...

Happy Easter!

We celebrated Easter the same weekend as Dex's 2nd birthday, so it was a crazy weekend, but so much fun.  It also happened to be Baby Claire's first Easter and she spent it with all of us!

Spring with Anna and Dex

From afternoons canoeing on Herrick Lake to adventures at the Morten Arboretum to bike rides to the park, I love our excursions together - even when our busy lives seem to get away with us.  Those little moments when we don't think about anything else but what's right there in front of us.  Seeing life through the eyes of Anna and Dex is just plain fun and the more "little moments" we share together, the more I get to be a guest in their amazing world.

After the hard winter we had this year, the Spring couldn't come soon enough.  The second it got warm enough, Anna, Dex and I made sure we made the most of each day.  And, here are some of our silly "little" moments together...

My Baby Boy Isn't a Baby Anymore: Dex Turns 2

His personality matches his hair.  He does everything in a "BIG" way...from laughing to crying to destroying to loving - even the size of him (yes, he's a big boy).  He is all in and he's everything that we ever wanted in a child and son.  He's Dex and we love every little curly strand of him.

While I can't even believe he's not a baby anymore with his second birthday, he hasn't really looked like baby for a year.  He grew up fast and started looking like a little boy early.  He walked, ran and jumped early.  And while he's still not talking in full sentences, we know he's SO smart.  He loves attention and to be on stage and, more than anything, he loves to make people laugh.  I have a feeling, all of these fantastic personality traits will stick with him into adulthood...they're just who he is and it will be what makes people fall over themselves to be with him.

We celebrated Dex's 2nd Birthday with a family party that included trucks, trains and cars of all shapes and sizes.  Both sides of the family, including Baby Claire, came to make Dex's birthday a memorable one.  We had so much fun being with everyone and making our little boy so incredibly happy.

We ALL love you so much, Declan Thomas Whelan, and love you more and more every single whirlwind of a day.


Hawaii Getaway Marks 10 Years of Marriage!

2014 is our 10th anniversary year!  But, instead of waiting to celebrate on our actual anniversary (Oct. 30), which happens to be our absolute favorite time of the year (with Fall, Halloween, birthdays, etc.), we decided to take an amazing vacation in February and do some early celebrating.

We headed to Hawaii on February 25, for an eight day getaway in paradise at the Ritz Carlton Kapalua resort on Maui.  While we were both sad to leave the kids (we actually really were), we were genuinely excited to spend more than a week just hanging out with each other.  We love to travel together and are best buds, so we knew the second we stepped on that plane, all nervousness about leaving the kids would vanish...and it did.

It was an absolutely spectacular week.  We went running each morning along the trail bordering lava rocks and the Pacific Ocean.  We went on excursions, including whale watching, hiking, paddle boarding, snorkeling.  But mostly, we just relaxed on beaches, ate amazing food and loved being together.

We came home rejuvenated and even more in love.  I love that guy and the wonderful time we always have together!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Marco Island and Our Little Adventure

As always, right after Christmas, we pack up and head down to Marco to spend a week with the Whelans, swimming, building sand castles, eating, catching some sun and just having a good time.  This year was no different, although Dex was finally old enough to enjoy all of it...especially the pool.  Who knew we had another little water baby on our hands.

It was great to spend some quality time with the family and Anna and Dex just LOVE to spend time with the cousins.  Since Anna is such a big girl now, we let her stay up until midnight on New Year's Eve...she felt so proud and accomplished...but ended up melting down (as expected).

Marco was fun as usual.  What was very unusual was our adventure on the way home.

The 2013/2014 winter has been one for the record books.  Since November, we haven't seen the sun, the temperatures above 20 or the ground (it's been covered in snow).  Each week it gets worse and worse and everyone is pretty much going crazy.  That's why it was SO nice to get away and head down to a warmer, sunnier climate.  However, we weren't expecting the ordeal we experience on our way back home.

We arrived at the airport for our flight home (with no hats, coats, gloves, etc.) to find out that all flights to Chicago, and all Midwest cities, had been cancelled due to a massive blizzard.  They told us we wouldn't be able to get on a flight until days later and that would be a flight into Indianapolis...that's as close as they could get us to Chicago. No good.

So, Bill and I made the last minute decision to rent a minivan (I know!) and drive all the way back to Chicago.  We packed all of our stuff and the kiddos into the van and headed on our 1,500 mile journey back home.  The first night, we made it all the way to Nashville, Tenn.  We were feeling pretty good about that, since it's more than halfway home we hadn't gone crazy from Dex's screaming (poor little guy).  We stayed in a hotel and everyone actually got some decent sleep

The next morning, we woke up and hit the road immediately.  We knew we were on borrowed time because of another huge storm was on its way, followed by a record-breaking plummet in temperatures.  The snow really got bad when we hit Indianapolis (only 3 hours away)!!  So bad, in fact, that we had to pull over and stay in a hotel until it got a little safer