Thursday, January 29, 2015

Surviving the Long, Cold Winter with Furry Friends

Here in Pittsburgh, it's cold, snowy, and the germs are running rampant!  I'm not quite sure what I would do without Netflix!

Netflix #StreamTeam

All I want to do in the evening is curl up on the couch with a blanket, and watch episodes of our favorite shows with my husband!  We started watching The Office in late Fall and we're currently in the final season. This show is hilarious, but I admit, I cried a few times! I'm already getting sad about the show being over!

I do limit the amount of TV that my kids watch, but I let them watch a bit more in the winter. We're just home and cooped up indoors more often, and that's also when they tend to get sick. My kids don't get sick often, but over the past 3 weeks, Lily and Liam decided to catch every illness going around.  First came a mild cold, then came Croup/RSV/Bronchiolitis, and that was followed up with a stomach virus.  We are REALLY hoping it ends there. 

Netflix on the iPad really helped us get through the latest bout of illness.  My feverish 3 year old is getting some rest while watching her favorite shows and movies.

IMAG3371-1

Lily's current obsession is Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. She LOVES that show, and I love the fact that it isn't obnoxious.  It's a perfect show for preschoolers to watch!

My kids LOVE the "buddy" movies.  Snow Buddies, Santa Buddies, Space Buddies, Super Buddies, Spooky Buddies...they love them all and watch them often! The movies feature a group of adorable, golden retriever puppies going on adventures.  The kids laugh their way through the movies!

One show that we are planning to check out is The Adventures of Puss in Boots.  This is another Netflix Original Series.  We love Puss in Boots from the Shrek movies, so we can't wait to watch!  We watched the first few minutes of the first episode and it seems really cute and funny.  Judging by those first few minutes, I'm certain my family will enjoy the show!

The Adventures of Puss in Boots

{source}

It isn't a big surprise that my kids love animal movies and TV shows. My kids are animal lovers, and they have been around animals their entire lives. Their dog, Bailey, is their best buddy! 

Bailey has been with us for nearly a decade. We got her when Dylan was just 5 months old.  She was a tiny, blue Great Dane puppy at the time, but was already the same size as Dylan.  It wasn't long before she passed ME up in size! Dylan and Bailey quickly became best buddies, and they grew up together. She welcomed three additional children into our family, and instantly became a big part of their lives, too.

1

Bailey is the BEST dog and has so much patience with the kids.  I can't imagine a sweeter, more loving dog.

She endured hours of dress up play with Lexie.

2

She loves to just be around them.

3

Lily is the one who formed the closest bond with Bailey.  It all started with one touch when she began crawling...

16393738371_e83f43bdd6_z

It wasn't long before she started curling up next to Bailey and falling asleep.  I have countless pictures of their almost daily naps together.

4

They grew even closer, and could always be found next to each other.

5

Over the past year, Bailey's health declined.  The average lifespan for a Great Dane is 8-10 years, and Bailey has reached the end.  In just a few weeks, we have to say goodbye to the dog who has been with us since the start of our journey through parenthood.

She will be missed, mostly when we're in our backyard.  It's her favorite place.  She loved to race through the yard, and was always trailing behind the kids as they played.  She still trails behind them, even in the snow.

Saying goodbye seems impossible right now, but I'm glad we have so many incredible memories to look back on.

15773068224_f9889e51b4_z

Now that I've made myself cry, I'll leave you with a list of other great titles that feature four-legged stars:

For your little kids:
Pet Party
 
Clifford
 
Littlest-Pet-Shop EN DE 571x800
Milo
 
Snow Buddies
 
Sabrina
***
For your big kids:
Puss in Boots
 
Annie
 
Step Dogs
 
Jumanji
Hachi
 
Air Bud
 
Monkey Trouble
***
And for teens and parents:
Anchorman
 
Frasier
 
Family Guy
FRIENDS
 
Red Dog
 
Wilfred
1. Anchorman 2
2. Frasier
3. Family Guy
4. Friends
5. Red Dog
6. Wilfred





 *I'm a member of the Netflix StreamTeam.  I was given a free year of Netflix Streaming in exchange for my review.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year!

We had the best Christmas!  Christmas Eve was wonderful, and Christmas Day was just as good. Although we didn't get to see as many people as we would have liked to see,  it just felt perfect!

I found myself wondering at times if it could get any better than this?

Our Christmas morning began shortly after 9 AM.  We heard Lily wake up and go into the living room. Seconds later, we heard her racing down the hall toward our bedroom, yelling,  "Mommy!  Daddy!  Santa came to our house!  There are pesents!  Lots and lots of pesents!" It was the best wake up ever!

We woke up Dylan, Lexie, and Liam, and we all gathered in the living room. Everyone was so excited!

011
3
006

Of course they spotted their big (unwrapped) gifts first!

2
1

Unwrapping presents in our house is surprisingly calm and organized.  We developed a good system years ago, and it works well for us!  The kids open one gift each from the oldest child to the youngest child and keep doing that until all the gifts are unwrapped.  They truly enjoy seeing what their siblings get, and have time to appreciate each gift!

1
1
1
1
2
2
2
2
2
036
133
3
3
3
065
1
3
4
1
2
124
226
224
184

The kids were thrilled with everything they received, but I swear, they get even more excited about giving gifts!  Dylan and Lexie buy for Grant, their siblings, and I at their holiday store at school.  I help Lily and Liam choose gifts for each of their siblings.  After they open gifts from Santa, they immediately jump up to exchange gifts with each other!

PicMonkey Collage
1
2
1
2

After our gift exchange, Grant and I open one toy for each kid, and let them play so we can exchange gifts with each other.  We're surrounded by kids, but we love exchanging gifts with each other!

Finally, we give the kids their stockings.  This year, my dad showed up a few minutes early for breakfast (my mom had to work), and he loved watching them exclaim with joy over each item in their stockings!

284
285
2
1
308

This year was the first year we didn't rush off to Grant's mom's house to open gifts with his family.  We were bummed at first, but it ended up working out really well!  We were able to open and assemble some gifts for the kids, with my dad's help, and we enjoyed a relaxing breakfast together with my dad.  We really hope my mom and Grant's mom can join us next year!

My dad left after breakfast to pick up my mom, and they returned about an hour later so we could exchange gifts.  We sipped coffee and hot tea and didn't have to rush through our gift exchange.  It was really nice!

1
2
3
4
5
318
328
349

My kids are so lucky to have incredible grandparents in their lives!  We are all lucky to have each other.  I love the fact that we still have our own little gift exchange.

My parents headed 1 mile down the road to my sister's house, and we soon joined them for dinner.  We had a very quiet (that's rare in my huge family!), but very nice dinner with my sister, Sharilyn, and her family, and my parents.  My nephew, Kelvin, was home from Florida and I hadn't seen him in over 18 months.  Unfortunately, he was returning from another dinner just as we had to leave.  We were bummed we didn't get to see him, but we did get to see him a few days later!

377
PicMonkey Collage
373
371

We finished out our Christmas at Grant's mom's house.  Grant's brother and his family, Grant's Nannie, and Grant's Uncle Scott joined us. This was our first time doing this, and we decided we loved it!

436
437

We were unable to visit Grant's maternal Grandma, but she sent her gifts for the kids home with Grant's mom!  They loved them!

1

They loved their gifts from Grant's mom, too! 

388

During our visit, Liam woke up to play and Lily took a nap in her Grandma's arms.  We all talked, snacked on cookies, and enjoyed the evening!

2
3
5
4
6

We had so much fun that we decided we needed to keep this tradition next year.  Christmas usually feels over right after dinner, but this extended the festivities a few more hours!

Once we got home, we let the kids play with their new toys for a little bit before sending them to bed.  Grant and I stayed up late to watch "It's a Wonderful Life." It was the perfect end to a perfect day!

433
 434