Sunday, February 23, 2014

Cousins: Forever Friends

I may have said this before, but it doesn't hurt to say it again. I absolutely love that my children have a lot of cousins whom they are close to.
The second week in February, we celebrated this amazing boy's 10th birthday. Malaki is my first nephew, the boy who made me an aunt. I cannot believe he's already 10.

We first celebrated with a dinner at his favorite restaurant, a local Japanese steakhouse where they cook in front of you. Below is Cohen and the birthday boy. Although there are quite a few years in between them, they are the best of friends and actually play quite well together. I love their friendship and I pray that it lasts as they grow older, despite the age gap. First cousins are definitely something to be treasured.

We finished the celebration of this beautiful boy's 10th birthday with a fun bonfire. He is such a silly boy!

I am sure you all have seen those hilarious photos where people recreate their old photos--Malaki and I had to try one out too. He's much heavier now. ;) He has really turned into a remarkable boy.

Last Sunday, we took the kids to the circus, the second annual cousin's circus day. The boys wore their matching shirts from last year and the girls wore cutesy clown attire too! The only thing missing from last year was my middle sister and her kids. These cousins are as close as they come! They spend a lot of time together and lately, it has been without squabbles, which I adore!

My little clowns

We had a blast! Below is me and my "sissy". The girl I used to call dogbone when I was a kid. It was a compliment, I swear.

A few days later, I got off on my lunch break to have some fun at the park with my kids, my sister and her kids. :) We always have a great time together.

Below: Cohen, Azlynn and Anzley feeding the ducks. They are 10 months older than Cohen, but he's bigger than they are. LOL!

My sassy girl was so giddy when she was feeding the ducks. It was presh.

Sisters, again.

See?! She was so joyful! Maybe we should get some ducks... and a lake.

Sweet, sweet cousins. Cohen, Chyenne, Anzley, Malaki and Azlynn.

Me and my Malaki.

Beautiful cousins! It is always fun to see their personalities in a group still-shot. They are all so very different from one another, despite how close they are.

On Thursday, my mother called me and asked if I wanted to meet up with her, my niece and my nephew (the middle sister's kids) for ice cream. We happily obliged. {My middle sister had a meeting after work, so since our mother keeps her kids, we met up with her}

Cousins. Built-in best friends.
Kadence, Chyenne, Korben and Cohen
Now, these cousins do not spend nearly as much time together, but they definitely still act like family.

These two girls are two peas in a pod, even though they are so very different.

Chyenne is very girly and Kadence is very...not girly. She likes girly things but she's definitely a tomboy at heart.
Apparently my sister bribes Kadence into doing things or eating certain things by telling her that Chyenne does that or eats that. Hilarious.

Korben is at a fun age--he absolutely adores Cohen. Much like Cohen adores Malaki. It's a cycle.

I hope they share a lasting friendship as well. Cohen is so excited to teach Korben things, especially how to build blocks and ride dirt bikes. He even wants to teach him how to play soccer and shoot bow and arrows.

I hope my children understand how blessed they are to have family as best friends.
My children are greatly blessed with many first cousins, all fairly close in age: 2 cousins from my middle sister, 3 (well 4 including Hannah) cousins from my oldest sister, 2 cousins from Colt's little brother. In addition to that, they also have distant cousins who are close too!
I love the bonds they share with one another. I love watching their friendships grow. I hope they always have each other, for ever and ever.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Confidence Explosion

As I mentioned in a previous post, Cohen is now taking martial arts: tae kwon do to be exact. It is rather hilarious how he cannot properly pronounce tae kwon do. He says something like "tike wonk to". HAHA!
Anyway, since being in "karate", he has had an explosion of confidence. I am pleased to see the "yes I can" attitude, even out of the studio.
This past Thursday, in class, he received a medal. Now, this is a huge deal for this boy--especially since he has been quite jealous of Chyenne's medal for reading/sight word mastery. His Grand Master stopped class, mid-instruction, to present this medal to Cohen. Cohen was the only one to receive the medal and apparently it's quite a high honor. The Grand Master stopped class and asked Cohen to come to him. Cohen quickly walked over while shouting "yes sir!". The Grand Master gave a spill about how Cohen is very determined and how he works so hard. He said that he puts in great effort and he is advancing very quickly. He commented on his eagerness to learn and his excitement when he gets things. He said that although Cohen is the smallest and youngest in the class, that he is always the loudest and the most determined.
Cohen beamed with pride. He quickly thanked his Grand Master and asked to be excused. He rushed over to me with the biggest smile on his face, showing me his precious medal.
I really could not be more proud of him than I am now. His Grand Master says that he is pretty much ready for testing which gives him the ability to get a yellow belt in place of his white belt. Testing isn't for another two months though, so I hope he continues to work as hard as he has.
The next day at "karate", he broke his very first WOODEN board! He has been breaking the folding plastic boards this entire time. He shouted "YES I CANNNN!" and broke the board with one hit of his hammer fist. This boy is going places, I am sure of it.

I am so glad I was able to capture this moment on camera. He was shocked at himself and shyly asked if he was able to keep his broken board.
Now, for being confident outside of the martial arts studio:

Cohen has always just gone with the flow. Although he can be hardheaded, he likes to make others happy, so he doesn't offer much confrontation. Until recently. He has been a lot pickier against Chyenne, forcing me to play referee a lot more, but it is such a welcoming experience. He is actually standing up to her and realizing that he does not always have to do things her way. He knows his voice and he is now willing to use it.
He has also been excelling in the classroom and his teachers have commented often how great of a leader he is.
He is even more confident with me and Colt. Just today, Colt took him to a potential deer hunting property to set out deer cameras and scout the land. Cohen was a champ and trudged through knee-deep mud and muck, unwilling to let his daddy carry him. Again, he presented his "yes I can" attitude and truly showed how much of a big boy he can be.
He has even been attempting to ride his dirt bike without training wheels in small spurts.
He has always been an amazing boy, but with his newfound confidence, he truly believes that he is unstoppable and I have no doubt that he is.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

A Fairy Tale Ball with her Prince Charming

Last Friday, the kids' elementary school hosted it's second annual Fairy Tale Ball.
While this school dance is trying to get away from the traditional daddy-daughter dates and bring more family togetherness, Chyenne specifically requested that only Daddy take her. This was, after Cohen decided to go to a friend's birthday party the same night rather than attend the royal ball.
She was quite specific in her requests too. That's something Chyenne is always good at--being controlling, in the sweetest possible way. She insisted that Daddy wear his "Prince Charming  Outfit" that he wears to military balls. A ball is a ball, after all. So, even though he knew he would be entirely overdressed, he welcomed her request.

I seriously cannot get enough of daddy-daughter loving. It melts my heart.

I also can't believe how grown up she is this year.

Last year, Chy was in pre-k and Cohen wasn't in school. We attended the first annual Fairy Tale Ball at their school as a family. It was super adorable last year, see?

It is amazing to see the growth in one small year. WOW. Pictured above is Chyenne, her cousin Kadence, and Cohen at last year's Fairy Tale Ball.  
Chyenne said that she wishes she could dress like a princess every day.

Cohen, The Karate Kid

I mentioned in a previous post that Cohen won the Role Model award for school. Such a great honor for such a little boy. He won a whole package of goodies--including an 8-week free certificate to a local martial arts class. WOW! He has been begging to take karate to be a real ninja for quite a while, so this was right up his alley.

He has done a phenomenal job. He has stayed on task, listened well to his Grand Master, and pushed himself to do what is asked of him.

I love that he has something that is ALL his. Something that he was interested in and something that he is genuinely excited to work on.

It is one of the cutest things I have ever seen. He shines in class. Usually, he is the youngest and the smallest in the class. That doesn't discourage him though. He is also the LOUDEST and the most persistent.
In fact, last week his Grand Master made all of the other students do push ups for not being as loud as Cohen.

He has already earned one stripe on his white belt, when he gets two, he is eligible to advance to a yellow belt. He can hardly wait!

Last week, my nephew Malaki joined the class too, after seeing how much fun it was for Cohen and the other kids in the class.

In other news, he is also excelling at school. He is the youngest one in his pre-k class and virtually the youngest kid in his whole elementary school. I met with his teachers last week and got nothing but great reports. He demonstrates incredible leadership skills, amazing creativity, compassionate teamwork, and so much more. His teachers said that he is right on target for everything and excelling in many areas. He knows all of his letters and letter sounds. He knows all of his numbers and can count past 100. He recognizes patterns and sentences. He is eager to learn. I was most impressed with his report of being so mature. That is something that many young kids in school struggle with. Maturity. He doesn't. According to his teacher, he is one of the most mature children in the classroom. He understands things at higher levels, he possesses great empathy and he controls himself. I have no doubt that his "karate" will help build on that.
Cohen, I am certain that you are going places, my boy. You have no idea how proud you make Daddy and me. You have a special joy about you that is completely indescribable. You are diligent and confident. You are strong and amazing. I am so very lucky to be your mommy. I am in awe of you every single day. Thank you for being you.

Snow in Georgia

In usual Georgia-weather fashion, we were surprised with a snow storm a week ago... after many days of 50-60 degree weather.

We literally went from getting sweaty in regular hoodies and jeans to freezing our tails off in umpteen dozen layers of clothes in the snow.
Here in Georgia, we don't get accumulation of snow like we did last week. We just don't. We aren't prepared for it.
It was a regular Tuesday. The kids' school closed because of the predicted snow. Thank goodness. I went to work, as usual and Daddy was lucky enough to be able to stay home with the kids. I came home on my lunch break to have lunch with my favorites. It was starting to snow flurry. So beautiful. None of us expected it to stick. So, I took the kids to a local restaurant to have some lunch and we watched the snow fall and stick in a matter of minutes. We wrapped up our lunch rather quickly as we could see traffic starting to thicken as the snow thickened on everything.

Here are Chyenne and Cohen walking out of the restaurant, as you can see, small snow flakes were falling quickly and the ground was getting white.

We had to go the back way home after noticing that our 2-wheel drive car wasn't doing too well in the snow/ice-covered roads.

It took us nearly 20 minutes to get home, after navigating around a lot of traffic and sliding on the ice. It only took us 4 minutes to get to the restaurant on the dry roads.

Here was our road... less than an hour after the snow had begun to fall.

Here was our yard when we arrived back home. The same field that Cohen was picture running with his soccer ball just days earlier. WOW.
When I say we aren't prepared for it, I mean it! We don't own snow boots or snow clothes. We don't have snow plows or anything like that.
Needless to say, much of Georgia shut down for the snow. We were fortunate that we all made it home safely. The roads were terrible and countless people were left stranded on the interstates. Many children were stranded on buses or still at school--for those schools that did not close due to the chance of snow. Here in GA, our chance of snow means flurries that you hope and pray build up enough to make ONE snowball.
 Well, we got so much more.
Hubby got called in to help people who were stranded in the winter storm with the military... so the kids and I just played and played. When we were too cold to play any more, we came in to warm up by the fire, eat something warm, change our clothes and head back out again.
(BTW, I am STILL trying to catch up on laundry. When we don't have proper snow clothes, we layer... fifteen layers were good.)

They both kept shouting "this is the BEST day ever!!!"

I agreed. It was funny to see how much  Chyenne loved the snow and how much Cohen liked the idea of snow better than the realization of the cold. He is a true Southern boy.

I am certain Chyenne would do just well moving up North. ;)

There is just something purely magical about seeing everything covered in snow. It was gorgeous. The sky was beckoning us to stay outside and enjoy the wonder of God's creation. So, we did!
We even called friends, our cousins, over to come and play in the snow. Thank goodness for four wheel drive, four wheelers, and RZRs. :)

We navigated the snow redneck style pulling the kids around on a lid from an old turtle sandbox. The kids made countless snow angels, attempted several snowmen (even though the snow was too powdery to form a good snowman), threw tons of snowballs, etc.

We even made a trip to the store on the RZR to get more gas for the fun and extra snacks for everyone.
I love snow!!! There is absolutely nothing more beautiful than being snowed in with the ones you love. I know a lot of people were going stir crazy, but I loved it. Georgia, you can send us snow any time!
Although I am sure those who were stranded for DAYS in their cold cars probably do not feel the same.