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Monday, June 20, 2016

Kinder, here we come!

Our baby boy graduated from preschool last week and it sure was bittersweet for this Mama.
On one hand, I'm so excited for him to start his new journey to kindergarten, and I think he's ready too. He loved his DK (Developmental Kindergarten - an afternoon program that basically gets them ready for the real thing) and our pre-school does a really good job in mentally preparing the kids for what's next. Over the last couple of weeks, he's seemed to be less nervous and more curious about next year, asking me what time school starts, whether he'll bring a lunch and why he has to go every day when I don't go to work every day (fair enough!).

On the other hand, his preschool graduation signifies the end of a chapter that I'm not quite ready to be finished with. The big bad world of Kindergarten scares me and even though I think Hayes is, I'm not ready for it! I love our little pre-school cocoon; I've come to know and love the kids (and parents) who have been in Hayes' class for the last 3 years. 
Everyone knows I'm not big on change and this is a big one!

But alas, time marches forward and we have no choice but to go right along with it. And thankfully I have two more littles to put through pre-school so we don't have to say goodbye to our pre-school fam-i-ly quite yet ;-)

The graduation ceremony was adorable. All of the kiddos walked down the aisle, donning their homemade caps and green handkerchiefs. They had practiced A LOT, with daily rehearsals leading up to the big event. Hayes was super excited, although I think he was a little nervous when he got up on the stage in front of the 60+ parents, grandparents and siblings that had assembled to watch. I actually thought he was going to cry at one point, but luckily he didn't, leaving that up to his sobbing mother in the crowd instead. The school anticipated this, giving little packages of kleenex away alongside the programs - those definitely came in handy!
I swear, he was happy to be there!
Grant was able to capture most of the ceremony on camera, which I'm posting here for your viewing pleasure.





Afterwards, we took Hayes and Greyson to McDonalds - graduates choice - for a celebratory meal (and side note, I hadn't been to a Mickey D's in forever and they are FANCY now! Faux wood floors, digital menus and our meal was even brought to us at our table!) 
So excited to finally be at the "McDonalds with the play structure"...
Anyways, it was a really nice day and we are super proud of our graduate. 
Go Hayes!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Henley James Cohen: Superstar!

I'm playing catch up a little bit now that I'm back at work and wanted to finally share the amazing photos we had taken of our sweet baby girl, by the very talented Diana Henderson.
Diana took photos of Grey Grey (click here) when he was a babe and I so wish I had known about her when Hayes was born. She simply is the best.
She comes armed with props galore; backdrops, floordrops, diaper covers, headbands, chairs, mini-beds - you name it, the woman has it. She's amazing with kids of all ages, getting finicky toddlers to laugh at the precise right moment (using none other than a fart machine of all things - I'm telling you, the woman thinks of everything!), aiming her space heater and using the most gentle touch to make your sleepy newborn comfortable and mold them into the perfect position. She doesn't pull any of that BS photographers like to pull, where you only get five 5x7 images for an astronomical fee - the total includes everything she takes, in addition to some retouched photos (but honestly, I had a hard time choosing any photos that even needed retouching). 
My absolute fave shot - we're gonna hang this one in the hallway between the kiddos rooms.
Anyways, I can't sing her praises enough, but I'll let the pictures speak for themselves. So happy we have these to look back on for years to come. I'm totally obsessed.
We wanted to incorporate some of our favorite things in our new house so this one was taken in our master bath. We actually didn't use a whole lot of floor drops, opting instead to use our wood floors.
Grey Grey not so sure...
Whenever I tell people Henley has two older brothers, they all have the same reaction. Future boyfriends better watch out!
One of our dining room chairs...
It is really challenging to get a pre-schooler and toddler to cooperate in a photo shoot.
This kid smiles more in her sleep than anyone I've ever met...


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Tomorrow, I'll do better...

To say Greyson has been a challenge lately would be an understatement. 
Our little Grey Grey, who stubbornly came into this world a week late on his own terms, has always been opinionated and determined and destined to go far in life because he won't be putting up with the shit people will try and throw his way.

Mix that with a heavy dose of the 'terrible twos' and you've got yourself quite the combination. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING is a struggle with that one. He says no just to not say yes. He wants whatever he can't have. Even after given choices about everything, he freaks out and wants the opposite of what he's chosen. It's a constant battle, constant negotiation, constant fight and sometimes I end my days just feeling so down about the relationship I feel like I have with him lately.

I don't want to be that parent who's constantly yelling, constantly saying no, constantly fighting with my kids. I don't want to feel as though I frequently need my own time out in order to stop myself from physically hurting him, grabbing him a bit too hard (to which he usually laughs, making it all the more infuriating!). It's tough and it sucks and I can't wait for this trying phase to be over with (and am praying it's not a personality trait that'll stick around forever!).

Lately it's been hard. I have to remind myself to take a deep breath and to visit the well of patience that's constantly running dry. 

Some days are better than others. When he's on his own without Hayes, for instance, it's like being with a different kid. Hayes somehow brings out the worst in him - well they really bring out the worst in each other, constantly fighting and clawing at each others throats these days. 
And on the flip side, he is the most hilarious two year old I've ever met with a personality that literally explodes out of his body, which is awesome to be around. High highs and low lows with that one.

Anyways, I came across this article a few weeks ago on the interwebs and loved it. It's a good read that reminds parents that tomorrow is a new day, full of possibility. I needed to read it and I can't tell you how much I relate to the author in this current moment.

Tomorrow I will try to do better. 
Tomorrow I will continue to remind myself that he's two. Tomorrow I will try and keep my cool, relax a little and indulge in some messy toddler time. Tomorrow I will remember that one day, I'll miss his insistence on having us change him into three different pairs of pajamas before he goes down for his nap and let him painstakingly go through every single sippy cup before choosing the first option I gave him. 
And tonight, I'll pour myself a large glass of wine and have comfort in knowing that there's someone else out there going through the same infuriating phase I am! 

Two year olds... ay yai yai.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Bucket List: Outdoor Movie

LA does these amazing outdoor screenings of movies during the summer months at a variety of places. They're usually older classic movies (we've taken Hayes to screenings of The Sandlot and Karate Kid in the past) and you just go with some lawn chairs and blankets and set up shop on the grass, enjoying food from the food trucks while you watch the movie under the stars. 
Snuggling under the blanket watching the movie...
On Saturday night, we took the boys over to our local park for an outdoor screening of The Sandlot. This one was a little smaller than the ones we've attended in the past, with everything being sponsored by local business (read: free for attendees). We had very little expectations for Greyson to be able to sit through the flick, but because it was free and literally 2 minutes from our house, we didn't care too much about everyone sitting down and watching the movie. It was really the experience of it all that we were hoping to enjoy.
Grey helping himself to his 100th red vine while Hayes waited for his third helping of cotton candy. Responsible parenting at it's finest!
We got a sitter for Angel Baby (thanks to Grant's cousin, Mackenzie!) and picked up yummy burritos and quesadillas en route. There was cotton candy, popcorn, hot chocolate and buckets of red vines that the boys treated like an all-you-can-eat buffet. Hayes literally had a tummy ache when he went to bed that night and I had visions of projectile vomit a la the Steve Martin movie Parenthood happening, although thankfully it did not.

The boys maybe sat through half of the movie, then spent the last half running around the park and watching from the bleachers by the baseball field. It was a little chilly, but such a fun and unique to LA thing to do. And this one was especially fun because it was a lot smaller than others we've been to so it really made us feel like we were at a neighborhood event at our local park.
Bucket list item: Go to an Outdoor Movie - check!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Cohen Fam Summer 2016 Bucket List

I'm going to start off by admitting that I am fully stealing this idea from somebody else - but I'm doing so in the most flattering way - it's a great idea.

Now that the boys (Hayes in particular) are a getting a little bit older, we thought it would be fun to create a Summer bucket list of sorts, filled with items big and small that would fill our lazy summer days with things to do and create a challenge for ourselves in attempting to complete every task. 
So Hayes and I sat down the other day and came up with a list (of 39 items to be exact - no rhyme or reason to the number, that's just where we ended up) of things we think would be fun for the whole family to do this summer. We put all of it on a big piece of paper and hung it in our "art gallery" (aka the interior of our laundry room doors where we hang all of Hayes' art) so we could reference it whenever we like.

There are some big items on there that were already planned for the summer - Hayes graduating from preschool, various summer camps, family trips to Cape Cod and Austin, TX, Aunt V's Bridal Shower - and some smaller items that we'd like to do - Griffith Observatory (we've lived here 13 years and have never been - what?!), take Greyson to the zoo (hopefully avoid a fall into the gorilla enclosure), go to the beach, individual sleepovers at Nini and Pa's. We also added a bunch of fun activities that are less outings and more simple things to do together - roast marshmallows, family movie night, make a lemonade stand, go for a night swim... the list goes on and on.

Finally, we added a big goal item for each of the boys. For Greyson, it's to potty train; for Hayes, it's to learn to ride his bike without training wheels. And come to think of it, we should add one for Henley: to start consistently sleeping through the night (item #40!). 

The nice part is, we can add to it when new ideas come to mind, but in the meantime, we have lots to choose from which should hopefully make for an exciting summer and a sense of accomplishment come Labor Day, the unofficial end of summer.

This past weekend, determined to do something worthwhile with our Memorial Day, we knocked the first item off the list: Griffith Park Trains.
Family photo on the train...
I'd taken Hayes here before on a date last summer but the rest of the family had never been. And with the recent opening of our neighborhood Metro stop (welcome to public transportation LA, it's about damn time!), the boys have been REALLY into anything trains (Hayes and Nini literally rode the train all afternoon yesterday - simple pleasures!).
Daddy and the littles...
Even the police uniform made a cameo again - it's been in retirement for the last couple of months...
We brought a picnic lunch (which the boys happened to pick up earlier that day via the Metro) and ate sandwiches before embarking on the train ride around Griffith Park. Hayes and Greyson sat together, Hayes putting a protective arm over his little brother to make sure he didn't fall out. And Grant, Henley and I rode behind them, pointing out the various sites along the way (random Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs sculptures, gnomes digging for gold, the Undertaker's office in the fake town (?!)). When we arrived back at the station, we bought the boys a thing of cotton candy and then headed home. A simple outing that they loved and that gave us something to do for the couple of hours we had between Henley's naps.
Daddy's girl...
I mean...
First item off of the bucket list - check!
Looking forward to keeping you up to date with our progress. Happy Summer 2016!


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Angel Baby

Look at this squidge and how big she's getting? Where is the time going?!
Henley's getting the most delicious rolls on her legs and arms. I honestly can't get enough and am borderline smothering her the amount of kisses I try and squeeze in during the hours she's awake (which aren't many, not that I'm exactly complaining!).
We literally call her "Angel Baby", it just rolls off the tongue now. Where is Angel Baby? (oops, forgotten on her play mat on the floor again!) How did Angel Baby sleep last night? (every night is different but she's been known to sleep from dream feed to morning without interruption - honestly, her brothers are up more than she is at night) Does Angel Baby need a tub? (no, she never needs one, but she loves her tub so damn much, I hate to deprive her of it!)
She loves her carrier and faces forward mostly now, wanting to be part of the action. I frequently have to ask Hayes if she's awake or asleep since she's so quiet when we're out and about. Often times he'll tell me she "looks like this" and follow it up with a squinty face, eyes not quite open or closed.

And she's started to talk! According to Hayes, she's said "hi" and "apple" (!!). She seems to already be losing interest in nursing (how can that already be!?) and will chatter away instead. Girlfriend has lots to say and I pretend to understand to keep the conversation going. I absolutely love our discussions and hope this is the beginning of a long life of girl talk about absolutely everything under the sun. I often say I feel bad that the boys have each other and Henley won't have a sister, but then follow it up by saying she has me, whether she likes it or not!
But seriously, I feel so lucky that our Angel Baby came into our lives. As most of you know, she wasn't exactly planned, but she has 100% completed our family and we're so glad she's here. I love our boys with all of my heart but a relationship with a daughter just feels a little bit different, even at this young age. 
And her brothers absolutely adore Baby Henry, constantly asking to hold her and burp her and sometimes keeping her company when she's being forgotton on the playmat ;-) I can already tell there's going to be a forcefield around their little sister when it comes to potential suitors and nothing makes me happier than seeing all of my littles together, even if it is mass chaos at our house 99% of the time (but of course, Angel Baby is never to blame for that!).