Chanukah 2016

With 2016 officially in the books, I knew I needed to get my Chanukah 2016 post up!  If for no other reason, because I love looking back on old blog posts from special occasions.  I know blogging has not been consistent these days, that’s a whole different issue, but really it’s for good reasons. I’ve been enjoying life, out of routine, and blogging simply has not been a priority.  I thought I’d try to catch up on life in a few different posts as to not do one huge photo dump of the last month.  So today, Chanukah 2016!  While I have many more pictures from Chanukah, these are specifically the menorah photos, since nothing says Chaunkah like a brightly lit menorah and smiling faces!

William will be three in April, so this is the first Chaunkah he started to understand how it worked.  After the first snow in St. Louis, before Chanukah began, I took him outside to show him the snow in the morning.  “It’s Chanukah?” he asked.  It’s funny how people always associate Christmas with snow, but my little Jewish boy equated Chanukah with snow.  Then, when the snow melted, still before Chanukah began, he questioned, “How will we have Chanukah if there’s no snow?”  The associations he makes and questions he asks continue to amaze me.

William celebrated Chanukah at his school where they played games, ate snacks, and made their own menorahs.

The first night of Chanukah may have been celebrated in the morning because both William and I were too excited to wait for the evening.  We lit the menorah first thing after breakfast and I gave William his first gift.

William is really into playing games right now, so I gave him a new game (Pop Up Pirate), and it provided a lot of entertainment for the day.  His imagination is running wild these days.  We played the game, but then he took the pirate and the barrel and turned it into a ship.  Then, we drew pictures of our own pirate ship and he made the game pirate hop in.

The second night of Chanukah was a big family get together at my cousins’ house.  They host a beautiful Chanukah dinner every year with my mom’s side of the family.  The cousins play, the adults visit, and many menorahs are lit.

My parents had our immediate family over for Chanukah.  I say it over and over again, but it’s still true.  William is so close with his cousins Jacob, Audrey, and Jackson.  I hope that bond is always there.  Yaya and Pops sure instilled love in our family!

linking up with healthy diva 

And now the kids picture:

The following night, William and I went over to Stephanie’s house.  Audrey was so kind in letting William help her with her menorah.  She was cracking up when he went out of order in putting in the candles.  She so gently held his hand while they lit the candles together.

Another night, just William and I spent Chanukah with my mom.  I love our big family, but some quality one on one time is definitely nice, too.

At William’s school, they made menorahs and wrapped them up as gifts which was sweet.

It’s funny because even prior to seeing it, I helped William make handprint menorahs for a Chanukah card for his great-grandparents.  I’m pretty sure there is a handprint craft for every single holiday out there.

The last night of Chanukah fell on New Year’s Eve.  We, of course, spent it with Jacob and Audrey.  Bright lights and a glittery gold background!

I love that Chanukah traditions are beginning with William, and he is starting to appreciate the importance of the holiday.  With our hearts full, Chanukah 2016 (and all of 2016 actually) is officially over!  We have many memories to look back on and celebrate.

How were your holidays?

Thanksgiving 2016

I thought maybe, just maybe, I had better get up my Thanksgiving 2016 post before Chanukah rolled around.  And with as fast as time is flying these days, Chanukah is going to be here any minute!  Thanksgiving break was a wonderful one, as it always is.  The days off work were nice, and the entire break actually felt like a break instead of each day zipping by.  William and I spent a lot of time with family and friends, yet enjoyed much down time together, too.

thanksgiving 2016

My little boy looked so handsome on Thanksgiving!  Many times William wears Jacob’s hand-me-downs as he was quite the stylish dude, but I’m proud to say William’s outfit was all my doing.  (Even my sister was impressed!)  I bought his shirt and bow tie as a set and got him the cutest Toms boots, all from Nordstrom Rack online.

Just check him out:

jacob audrey thanksgiving16

And Jacob and Audrey are obviously adorable, as well.  Don’t they look like siblings here?  They were just missing their other cousin Jackson!

My parents hosted Thanksgiving 2016, as they always do.  With *just* (ha!) 24 people this year, the crowd was smaller than their usual thirty-something.

thanksgiving-2016

However, the company was just as nice, the laughter just as loud, the love just as strong, and the food just as delicious.  Spending holidays with family and friends is the best and Thanksgiving is such a lovely reminder of just that.

My mom did a beautiful job setting the table:

thanksgiving-table16

There was enough food to serve an army, quite literally.  We all ate leftovers for the following week.  I’d say I was sick of it, but I don’t think I could ever get sick of my mom’s stuffing.

My family has a strong bond, one that can / will never be broken.  We genuinely enjoy spending time together, and if you’ve ever been to a “Williams” event, you’d know why.  Holidays are just another occasion that confirms the everlasting bond my parents instilled in us at such an early age, and a joyous time that celebrates everyone’s good health and happiness.  I can only hope, pray, and do my best that William grows up with that same type of closeness and love.  Right now, I’d say he is. 🙂

dana mom steph nov16

I hope you, too, had a fabulous Thanksgiving with your loved ones.

rainy day fun

Has it been raining continuously for what seems like forever in other parts of the country besides just St. Louis? Most unfortunately, throughout the entire Fourth of July weekend?  Well, my family always goes to Innsbrook (lake resort area just outside of St. Louis) for the Fourth and this year was no different, despite the rain.  We made the most of our time, even braving a constant drizzle just so we could watch the awesome fireworks show on the lake.

innsbrook fireworks july16

Since when do we have to bundle up for fireworks in July?!  Clearly someone still had a ton of fun and loved watching the fireworks!

We HAD to get out of the house, especially the kiddos, so what’d we do?  Gave everyone an umbrella and went for a walk!

innsbrook umbrellas july16

William made it for awhile before he needed a lift from momma.

umbrella july16

I think we both won the “best outfit” award.

Whenever the downpour let up even a little, the kiddos were quick to get outside.  Fishing was the highlight of the trip as William had been talking about it forever.  He would have fished all day and night if we let him!

innsbrook fishing july16

This was at 7:00 am in the morning.  Don’t worry, William didn’t really wear pajamas the entire trip. 😉

The kayaks were brought out for a short amount of time and William went with Yaya for his first ride of the summer!

innsbrook kayak july16

Pops taught the kids how to drive in the mule.

innsbrook pops mule july16

Audrey made sure to keep a tight arm around William the entire ride.  (And I was on the other side of him, as well.)  Audrey literally couldn’t keep her hands off William.

innsbrook aud kiss mule july16

smush face

I love my family.  That’s obvious.  So being cooped up in close quarters with them for a couple days (literally, thanks, rain) is really fun.  A lot of us squeeze in a few rooms to sleep.  This time it was my sister and I in the same room as our kids.  I brought William into bed with me in the morning to try to get him to sleep a little bit longer though he was already excited when he woke up and saw Stephanie’s dog Ellie on the bed.  Within a few minutes, an upside down head popped down from the top bunk.  “Jacob!”  William exclaimed excitedly.   Sleeping in whatsoever didn’t happen.  But the kids were happy to come in my bed and pretend to sleep for a little longer.

innsbrook sleep july16

Audrey: Let’s close our eyes, but still smile!

Big thanks to my parents for having us out at Innsbrook again.  They’re the best Yaya and Pops anyone could ever wish for!

innsbrook yaya pops july16

Seriously, they’re the best.  They do anything and everything for us.

Oh, and right before we left, I had to get outside and do my obligatory split jump by the lake photo while the rain had let up.

innsbrook split jump july16

I hope everyone had a great Fourth of July!

What’d you do for the Fourth?

Pinterest Craft Wins for Father’s Day 2016

If you know me, then you know I’m the least crafty person ever.  I’m a fourth grade teacher, but have awful handwriting.  If I need to write nicely, I need to write very slowly and make an intense conscious effort.  (I will say, I do have nice cursive, if I take my time.)  My mom is an artist through and through.  My sister got that gene, too.  They both have great creative eyes.  Not me.  Anyway, I’m proud to share some Pinterest Craft Wins for Father’s Day 2016 today!  You’ll see what I mean when I say I’m not crafty.  These Pinterest craft wins were made by my toddler, facilitated by me for the special guys in our lives.

fathersday16 dad

My dad, he’s just the best.  Seriously the best.  And can you see why I’m obsessed with my hair?  This was the first time after I washed it and it took me five minutes to blow dry, no flat iron needed!  Alright, now onto Father’s Day Pinterest crafts!

My dad, William’s “Pops”

fathersday16 pops

William, if there’s one person in the world who I want you to be exactly like, it’s your Pops.  My dad is the smartest, kindest, most selfless, hardest working person I know.  We joke that he’s perfect and never make mistakes and I follow closely in his lead.  He can fix anything and do anything.  In fact, no matter where we are, if something is broken, William tells me, “Pops, fix it!”  We sure love our Pops!

A close-up of Pops’ masterpiece:

craft footprint pops

Made up of four footprints, I had this piece matted.  When I saw it on Pinterest, it was really four separate pieces, but I knew we could squeeze it onto one.  William is very into all of these, fire engines, tractors, dump trucks, and race cars, so it was perfect!

My grandpa, William’s great-grandpa, “Papa”

fathersday16 papa

Papa is the athlete of the family and calls William his number one!  He’ll be fine-tuning William’s skills for all sports soon enough.  Papa’s biggest sport is golf and he’s won some impressive titles during his golfing days!  So his craft:

craft papa

You are the best Papa by par!  Heh, heh.  Hand prints for the grass, golf tees, and colored pom poms for the golf balls.

linking up with katie and erin 

My grandpa, William’s great-grandpa, “Poppy”

fathersday16 poppy

Poppy’s expertise is fishing, boats, and cars, just to name a few.  He tells William to hug him, “but not too tight!”  It’s so funny to hear him say this since they’re the same words we heard growing up.  It won’t be long before William goes to his first circus or rodeo with Poppy, just like I did!

craft poppy

Hooked on Poppy!  Footprint for the fishing pole and hand print for the fish.  William so beautifully helped color in the water.

See?  Even I could handle those crafts!  William LOVED making hand and footprints!  It was fun picking out crafts for each of these wonderful men.  To say William and I are both blessed to have them in our lives would be an understatement.  We love every minute we get to spend with them!

One more bonus photo from the weekend.  Audrey slept over and brought clothes that she knew William could match.  When I did her hair in the morning, she requested a side pony, so of course William wanted the same thing, as well.

aud matching june16

Are they the cutest twinsies or what?!  Possibly my favorite picture of them.

Are you crafty? Do you enjoy making things?

suuuuperman

I LOVE SUMMER!  I’d say I’m sorry for saying that yet again, but I’m not.  However, I will say that I’ll try not to start every single summer blog post with that.  But it’s going to be really hard!  There are so many fun things going on and we’re really trying to take advantage of every moment.  We’re spending tons of time outdoors, I’m working out (like consistently, actually!), we’re with family and friends a lot, and so much more.  Summer is just amazing.  And it’s just beginning – even better!

Take yesterday, for example.  We had an impromptu play date with my niece Audrey.  I took the two to the splash pad for the first time this summer; then we played at my house for a bit before returning to my sister’s house.  Audrey and William both like doing “yoga” poses with me and flying superman, and yesterday they took matters in their own hands.  Suuuuperman!

superman may16

It may have lasted only half of a millisecond, but it was so hilarious while it did considering William is literally almost Audrey’s size these days!  I captured the photo at the absolute perfect time.  I’ll bet that within the next year or so William will be able to fly Audrey superman!

We headed back to Stephanie’s house and all four cousins were together.

aud jackson jacob may16

Family is obviously important to all of us, but sometimes it’s hard to coordinate all of our schedules.  “I get to hold William!”  Audrey, of course, shouted.

cousins may16

In order from youngest to oldest… because we had to find an order that everyone would agree upon and nobody could argue with this.  Though no matter what “order” or configuration we do, it always seems Audrey weasels her way next to William.  Sneaky girl!

I’VE BEEN WORKING OUT CONSISTENTLY!!!  It’s the first time in quite some time, and while I’m starting slow (mostly), I feel so good.  I actually feel really out of shape, but I’m glad I’m working out.  Hopefully my endurance, strength, and speed will improve.  Here’s what it looked like starting with the first weekend of summer:

  • Saturday – run two miles
  • Sunday – run two miles
  • Monday – run two miles
  • Tuesday – off
  • Wednesday – lower body workout at home
  • Thursday – off
  • Friday – upper body workout at home along with a long walk while catching up with Annette
  • Saturday – run two miles
  • Sunday – off
  • Monday – biked 32 miles

32 miles

Yeah, that’s right, I biked 32 miles.  It was the first time I’d taken my bike out all year and the longest I’ve ever ridden in my life.  We rode 16 miles out to Fast Lane Classic Cars Annual Memorial Day Car Show.  Once we were there, we ate (A LOT!); I was famished.  We hung out for about an hour before heading home.  The whole ride was hard and the hills were killer!  I was sore after, but felt awesome!  I think it’s time to sign up for some summer sprint triathlons and races!

My little jumping bean hasn’t stopped moving this summer either.

jumping may16

He jumps ALL THE TIME.  He jumps anywhere and everywhere.  Any time he walks down stairs, he will jump from the very last step.  Any surface that is slightly raised, he will jump off.  He will randomly jump throughout my house, stores, wherever.  “Jump higher!” he says.  And he gets some serious air.

Oh, summertime, we just love you.

may16

My little sidekick and I are off to enjoy another day! 🙂

How have you been enjoying summer?

It was their idea!

You know how much my little William loves to jump, climb, and hang, right?  Well, his monkey cousin Jacob is the exact same.  Rather, William is the same as Jacob and tries to emulate him in every way possible.  So on Mother’s Day when Jacob scurried up a tree and was hanging from a branch, William was right behind him trying to do the same.  Audrey, never one to be left out, also wanted to hang from the tree.  What’s one to do?  Obviously set the three little monkeys up on the tree branch for the most adorable photo ever.  I mean, it was their idea!

hanging from tree may16

Hands down (or maybe up?), the most hilarious picture from the weekend!  This whole thing took place in less than two seconds.  Audrey and William hang from things all the time, but for some reason, the second I let go of them a look of sheer panic appeared on their faces!  After quickly snapping the photo, I ran back over and grabbed the two down, and neither wanted to try again. And then we had Jacob over there hanging on, smiling, laughing, and having the time of his life!

I had a lovely Mother’s Day; my parents hosted brunch for my family.  It’s always fun to celebrate the most important women in your life.  For me, that’s my grandma Mama, my mom, and my sister Stephanie who all contribute to teaching me exactly how to be a mom.  Not to mention, their unconditional and constant love, support, and help with me and William.

mothersday 2016

Now if only they could teach William to stand still and smile for a picture!  We’ll just leave that up to Jacob who can literally get William to do anything.  (This will probably be trouble years down the road…)  Jacob was playing chess with Stephanie, and William pulled up a stool right next to him.  Jacob knew I was trying to get a picture of the two of them (learning chess at two years old? Amazing! Must be photographed! Haha 😉 ), so he was telling William to smile for the camera.

jacob smile may16

And William listened!  Stephanie, if you don’t mind, I’ll just keep Jacob around.  Like always!

Don’t worry, Audrey had her time to shine with William, as well.  She’s teaching him to drive.  (And if it’s anything like her momma Stephanie, we’re all in trouble!  Maybe I’ll take on this task for the kids!)

audrey car may16

William obediently held on during the fast (2 mph) ride.

When Jacob was climbing through the bushes to peer over the edge of the pond in my parents’ backyard, William was literally two inches from him the whole time.

jacob pond may16

William is Jacob’s mini-me.

And Audrey is just as obsessed with William today as she was the day he was born.

audrey snuggle may16

Only now he’s almost as big as her!  And now they almost pass for twins!

I’m so grateful for my little (big!) William.  I’ve always known I wanted to be a mom.  I never envisioned myself being a single mom, but it’s all working out.  It certainly has its challenges, but one thing I know for sure is that I couldn’t possibly love William anymore than I already do.  He fills my heart with such joy and brings an immense amount of happiness to my life each and every day.

mothers day 2016

He’s my world.

What’s something you’ve done that you thought was a good idea… and then realized it wasn’t?

just ONE afikomen

If you’re Jewish, you know that Passover began Friday evening.  If you’re not, well now you know. 😉  We started the holiday with a lovely seder at my grandparents’ house.  They’ve hosted every year for as long as I can remember and probably years before that, as well.

mama papa passover 2016

The evening was filled with warm bodies, full hearts, good food, and lots and lots of laughter.  It’s always so nice to be surrounded by those you love.

yaya pops jacob aud april16

Yes, William’s curly locks are just as amazing in person as they are in photos.

passover2016 steph mom mama

The strongest women in my family.

linking up with katie and erin

Lots of little ones present, but missing many more!

mama papa passover2016

Part of Passover’s tradition includes finding the afikomen.  The afikomen is part of a piece of matzoh broken off, wrapped up, and hidden to be found by the children.  But if you know children, then you know it’s totally not fair if just ONE child finds the afikomen.  So to prevent meltdowns, every year every child wins.  Yep.  This year there were eight afikomens hidden.  My cousin Michael did a great job explaining the rules before letting the children loose to explore.  He made it clear that they were allowed to find just ONE afikomen, and no matter how good of finders they are, they must exit the room immediately after finding their own.  Then he made them stay back while the babies got a head start.

Take a glimpse into our evening with this short video my sister made (including the rules and finding of the afikomen!):

Stephanie takes the best pictures and puts together awesome videos.  We’re always grateful for her capturing our memories!

Here is William and I last Passover (just look at that face!!!).  And this Passover:

passover2016

He is a growing boy, that’s for sure!

How was your weekend?

three peas in a pod

This weekend left little to be desired, and it’s very rare you’ll catch me saying that.  At the end of last week, I started feeling a little under the weather, but I attributed it to allergies.  Well, by late afternoon on Saturday I felt worse, and by Sunday, whatever bug I had was in full force.  Ugh.  I HATE being sick.  I mean, I know nobody likes it; it’s really just awful.  I know exactly why I came down with something, too.  My sleep has been horrible lately, for a variety of reasons, and I always get sick when I don’t get enough sleep.  Hoping I’m on the upswing this week for health, sleep, and sanity purposes…

Luckily, I have the best sister ever.  Stephanie picked up William at 9:00 on Sunday morning, so I could get some much needed rest.  While not much else was doing it, this photo definitely brought a smile to my face:

audrey 416

Totally an overalls type of day!

These three peas in a pod didn’t miss a beat spending all day together –

outside

Soaking up the sunshine, just as warm, sunny days should be spent!

aud416

linking up with katie and erin

I’m pretty sure Audrey wants William to live with her full time…

aud 416

And I think William would be just fine with that.  As long as his momma could come, too, of course! 😉

They literally spent the whole day outside, from chalk to bubbles to walks to bikes to basketball to soccer to baseball to watching Audrey’s tee ball game.  Even dinner on the patio!

dinner

And while I’ve been inside most of the day (in my bed, sleeping, or at least trying to!), I’m most grateful for Stephanie for taking care of William all day and for the bond these three peas in a pod share; for its something that will be cherished and grown for years to come!

What’d you do outside this weekend?

Watch Me Whip

Watch Me Whip. Now watch me nae nae. You know the song, right?  I know it all too well.  First, I learned about it from my darling fourth grade students as they always choose to dance to it during our brain breaks.  Then, my nephews and niece started doing it, too.  That’s when it really stole my heart.  They are so hilarious to watch and I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that it makes me want to break it down with them each time.  And I do.  But you’re not seeing my moves today!  Watch Me Whip plays frequently at my house, my parents’ house, and my sister’s house, so it’s no surprise that William has begun to catch on to his mom’s cousins’ moves.

watch me whip

Seriously so funny.

Since it’s spring break, we’ve been spending a lot of time with my sister and her kids.  She actually watched William for a day last week when I still had school, and then I had her kiddos for a day this week.  Since she’s super mom and all, she took all three munchkins to the zoo!

steph jacob audrey mar16

And then they stumbled upon a St. Patrick’s Day parade on the way out of the zoo.

st patricks day parade 16

I asked Jacob if he purposefully matched William.  (Blue gray camo pants and blue shirt.)  The answer was yes.

Besides the random snow we got, we’ve really lucked out with nice weather in St. Louis this week which means we’ve spent lots and lots of time outside!

biking mar16

William is learning how to pedal on a bike. He was especially excited to borrow Jacob’s helmet.  It’s the little things in life… 😉

We’ve made some trips to the park.

slide mar16

We’ve also gone on countless walks this week.

walk audrey mar16

And we’ve even gone on some runs…

running jacob aud mar16

I’m telling you, we’ve been LOVING the sunshine!

What have you been up to this week?

Let’s have coffee…

Let’s have coffee… shall we?  Grab a cup of joe (or tea or water or whatever strikes your fancy), sit down, and we can catch up about our weekend happenings.  Coffee was the theme of the weekend, it seemed, and my little guy even wanted to get in on the action!  He kept grabbing momma’s cup, saying, “Coffee!”

drink coffee march16

I let him pretend without actually tasting the good stuff!  He’s got to wait quite a bit longer for the real thing.

My spring break began on Friday.  I kicked it off with hosting a play date with my co-workers and their babes in the morning.  William and I hung out the rest of the day before going to visit his best bud, Wolfie, for dinner on Friday evening.

wolfie mar16

They were both holding Shabbat candles and we were singing Shabbat Shalom which is why William was so excited every time we said, “Hey!”

Saturday began with a coffee date with William at Starbucks.  I enjoyed a mocha, while William had a blueberry muffin and water.

starbucks

Cutest little Starbucks date ever.

Later on Saturday, I went to check out the True Runner Spring Gear-Up event.  I’d never been in the store before, but was impressed at the great selection of shoes and apparel.  I actually ended up buying a pair of CALIA (Carrie Underwood) capris that are just gorgeous!  And of course I had to take part in the #WhyIRun photobooth fun.

whyirun

Yeah, I run for my sanity, yet haven’t been running lately… So, maybe that’s why I’ve been feeling a little cray?  (Oy, did I just say cray?!)  Actually, I am hoping to get in a couple of runs this week during my spring break!

William and I went to my grandparents’ house on Saturday night.  Whenever I mention Mama and Papa, William immediately starts talking about pool and hitting the balls in the pocket.  First, he takes out the mini pool table, but eventually goes into the pool room to stand on a bench and reach the big pool table.

mama papa pool mar16

He’s seriously such a coordinated toddler!  It won’t be long before Papa puts a golf club in his hands!  Mama had William talking up a storm the whole night.  We were laughing because some of his language is still indecipherable, so after a long sentence / paragraph of him talking, we can catch the last few words.  Like I said before, his speech is exploding and he’s able to say more and more everyday!

linking up with katie and erin for my marvelous weekend snapshots

I received a MASSIVE delivery recently from Influenster.  Influenster is a community where you review products, take surveys, and provide feedback.  They send you surveys to see if you’re eligible for certain campaigns, and if you are, you get sent whatever box it is.  Then, you’re asked to complete a survey about the product.  You can work to earn a “badge” by completing different tasks, as many or as few as you’d like.  Typical tasks include sharing on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and/or Pinterest.  Sometimes tasks involve writing a review on a certain website, blogging, or vlogging.  Like I said, they’re all optional, so no pressure.  And the best part? Anyone can sign up! Not just bloggers! I’ve had several of my friends sign up.  (Sign up HERE if you’d like! It is a referral link and I get “points” for people joining.)  So the best box I’ve ever gotten from Influenster? THIS:

keurig influenster

Seriously, how amazing?!  I am so excited to be able to make coffee at home now, and the flavors they sent are awesome, too!  There is a breakfast blend, dark magic, and caramel vanilla creme.  They also sent a “My K-cup,” so I can use regular ground coffee if I run out of K-cups.  Totally stoked and definitely the best box I’ve received from Influenster!

Speaking of coffee, Sunday morning started with some coffee, as well.  (Check out the first picture in this post.)  We met my grandpa Poppy out for breakfast!  Some of my earliest memories with Poppy are of him taking me and my siblings out to breakfast at a local deli, so taking William out to breakfast with him was just as fun as I remembered when I was younger.

poppy march16

Everyone is SO happy!!!  I love cooking breakfast daily, but there is something extra special about going out to breakfast, especially with your baby and his great-grandpa and cousins!

As you may know, Sunday was the first official day of spring.  St. Louis welcomed spring by SNOWING!

snow march16

Boo, snow.  Luckily, it didn’t stick and we should have warmer temperatures later this week.  Let’s hope… I want to get out there and run!

Are you a coffee drinker? Do you go out or make it at home?