Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Turning Four: Our Little Girl

So there was the party, the big surprise, and the presents. It was all fantastic! And in the end we are left with our little girl. Our beautiful, wonderful, amazing little girl.

Each year since her first birthday Josie has donned this birthday crown. Each year we are amazed at how much we have to let out the velcro so it will fit her a year later.  Our sweet, incredible four-year-old Josephine Marie.

Sweet Josie - every day you amaze us with your kind heart. You are so unbelievably empathetic and although that big heart of yours will undoubtedly cause you trouble as you face the world, it is such a joy to watch that huge open heart of yours loving anything and everything you experience!

So many people who have the pleasure of knowing you comment on your infectious smile. If we had a dollar for the number of times we've been asked if you are always this happy...

 The people who know you best, know that you are truly fearless.  You may be scared of the things that go bump in the night, but you daydream about hand-gliding, zip-lining, flying in rockets and swimming with sharks.

Your imagination and your curiosity are probably the reason you've never been such a fan of sleep. That little mind of yours just never shuts off. You are always wondering, wondering, wondering. And while this wonder sometimes leads to worry, you mind is always put to ease by hearing the real explanation (even if we think it's too hard to explain).

Never stop asking those questions! Even the big ones that are really hard (in fact impossible) for us to answer.  Never let anyone silence you. And if someone isn't listening, find someone who will.

You are growing into such a big girl. And there are definitely moments when we miss the little version of yourself that you used to be. While we certainly don't want to stop you from your own evolution, there are times we would give just about anything to freeze time and keep you this little forever.

But, the more we give into to nature and just let you grow into yourself, the more we realize that you are simply an amazing little person - with your own unique style - head to toe - inside and out.

And even on your bravest, most 'big girl' days, you surprise us by wanting to spend a little extra time cuddling or (as has been the case recently) still asking if you can sleep on my chest like you did way back when we measured your age in days instead of in years.

And I see your sweet little face and look into those huge blue eyes, and I can see all the moments of the last four years flash before me.

And I wonder how the face around those eyes will change over the years. And I wonder how the rest of you will change too. And the thought of that breaks my heart and melts it at the same time. 

So in the meantime we will just continue to soak up every ounce of you and your perfect four-year-old self. The little girl who always has a new trick to show us, a new word to show-off, a new song to sing and a new story to tell.  The little one who tells us things are "complicated" instead of "hard" and wants to turn everything into a race or contest.

The little girl who doesn't just tell us she loves us all, but shows us that love every single day. From the time you wake up and insist on all cuddling in one big bed to the final cuddles at night as you drift off to sleep.

We are SO lucky to be your family! 

And as a sidenote, you aren't just a wonderful daughter but you are certainly the best sister that little Roly could ever have hoped for. We're convinced that you are the reason she's here! That sweet little soul just couldn't pass up a chance to be your little sister. Thank you for sharing so much of the amazing little girl you are with her.

 She adores you!

And so do we!  

I kid you not...

...the little one now sits!
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First sister bath!

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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Her Highness

We are all super excited that Roly is big enough now to rock a restaurant high chair!
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"fancy nancy"

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Friday, August 26, 2011

Back to School Party

It was the perfect way to ring in the new school year, meet the new three year olds & soak up the love of our little school.
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Turning Four: The Presents

While we work hard to emphasize to Josie that birthdays are about more than just gifts, we are grateful for the generosity of friends and family that wrapped up lots of fun new games, toys & activities for Josie in honor of her fourth birthday.  Here are some photos of all the unwrapping and all the oohing and ahhing that goes along with being four and getting presents!

You'll notice that she is wearing lots of different outfits in these pictures, because presents were unwrapped over the course of several days - between her party, her actual birthday, gifts by mail, etc.  It was definitely a whole birthday week!

She loves playing dress-up!

Here she is opening her new cowgirl boots that topped her list of birthday wishes. They had to be "real" according to Josie. Lou & I weren't exactly sure what that meant, but apparently we got it right because she was beyond-thrilled with these!
"ooooh" she said, as she tried them on, "very cowgirl-ish"

"take my picture in THESE"
Grandma & DD make another birthday wish come true with her new favorite spot in the house - a zebra chair! (Zebras are kinda her thing right now.)

Topping the list of this year's birthday gifts - books! Our little lady loves reading, being read to, and doing activity books. We all get SO excited to get new books and this birthday yielded some great new ones for the Schneider Library!

These are photos of "the box from Tia".  Josie knew it was coming and kept checking the porch over several days hoping it would be there. We get lots of boxes so it was easy to trick her to get the following reaction.

Before the box, "Mom, I think this is the Tia box.  READ IT! Is it?"  I told her it was probably just diapers for Bea...

And when I went over and read it and said it came from Chicago, this is the reaction I got -

I took a great video of this whole thing, but it took her about 4 minutes to get through everything which ended up being too large of a file for youtube. She was so excited by so many things in that box - and this explorer kit was her favorite. (Tia, you know Josie SO well!)

Last but not least, some presents from us. We got her more activity books (because she can't get enough of them at the moment) -

And - a big box -

With her very own DESK -

All in all it was a wonderful, wonderful birthday. Thanks to everyone for all the lovely cards and surprises. Thanks to everyone who made it to her party and helped us celebrate our big girl turning four. We Schneiders sure are a lucky (and very grateful) bunch! xo

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Ready for school...

...and channeling her inner Punky Brewster.
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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Turning Four: The Big Surprise

We love birthdays! And this year we wanted to make it extra special for Josie. Let's be honest - she had one helluva year. Poor girl moved away from the only home she ever knew, started preschool, had a very sick mama while I was in early pregnancy, then lost me to full bedrest. And it all "ended" with getting a new sister.  Her third year was one that ended very joyously BUT there were loads of really stressful and trying transitions  for her since last summer.  More on this thought in a later blog post - but she really is a totally different little girl than she was a year ago. And we wanted to celebrate her fourth year with something BIG! Lou and I both took off of work so we could spend Thursday - her "real birthday" - at Kings Island!

And we wanted it to be a big surprise! She had absolutely no idea where we were going.  She was hilarious trying to put the clues together - sunscreen meant we must be going somewhere outside and comfortable shoes meant we must be going somewhere to play. She thought we were either going to a swimming lesson or to McDonalds (how funny is that)? We just kept driving up 71 and here's the video from the moment she finally realized where we were going... I love her line at the end: "This is gonna be awesome..."

Feeling a little overwhelmed by the whole thing (oh and funny story - when she saw the "human slingshot" she looked at me and gasped: "What the HECK is THAT?!)

Her first KI ride - bumper cars - and the day was off to a perfect start -

It was an absolutely, beautiful not-to-hot day with what we call "Simpsons Clouds."

 Josie's first-ever roller coaster! Here she is with her hands up as it pulled out of the gate. And these hands very quickly came down as she headed down her first hill.

Ready for a big hug after her first coaster -

Josie has no clue who any of these characters were but she was very eager to hug them all -

Sweet Bea's first trip to KI was very uneventful. She was such a sweet girl - even though we stayed HOURS longer than we planned on staying.

This has to be one of my favorite photos from the whole day. These little swings just crept in a small circle a few inches off the ground. So what was the reason for this huge smile? Josie kept catching herself in a big mirror and thought it was the funniest thing ever!

We were a little surprised (for some reason) by Josie's obsession with the carnival games. She just kept insisting that we go back for "one more try".  (We will never take this one to Vegas.)  She did end up winning two big puppies (one for her and one for her little sister) and a teddy bear. She definitely has a competitive side.

The Eiffel Tower, Cincinnati-style:

Probably her most daring adventure of the day (holding Daddy's hand the entire time) -

Daddy and a sleepy Bea - and one of the puppies Josie won -

Oh, funny thing here as well - in the line Josie insisted on riding the pink Jeep. But this little girl hopped in it first. I wasn't quite sure how this would play out, but I was sure that after a long day it was going to involve tears. Instead, Josie just hopped right into the front seat next to this older very sweet little girl - even though there were loads of empty seats elsewhere.  The little girl didn't seem to mind and by their first time around they were chatting away like the best of friends. We were cracking up! When the ride ended, Josie got off and told us all about the little girl. Apparently they practically shared their life stories with each other.

Our sweet, four year old -

Did you notice she is rocking FOUR hair bows?

Up high together in the helicopters - complete with a handle and pedals she could barely reach. I'm glad she's still too little sometimes!

The Seaplane - which scared the pants off of her until it started going. I lifted my hand to wave at Lou and Bea and she screamed and wrapped my arm back around her. Once it going rolling, she thought it was great.

Josie, Pink Puppy & I on the train as the day began to wind down -

Probably my favorite photo of Beatrice and I in her five months of life - 

 We can never pass up a carousel -

Notice the purple finger nails? (Thank goodness for Piggy Polish.)

We were all whooped! Time to call it a wrap on the Schneider's first trip to Kings Island. (And I have a feeling this might just become a birthday tradition!)

We'll leave you with the first ride Josie actually rode at KI - her first bumper cars - although I'm not sure she actually got the idea that you're supposed to bump. She was so proud when she was finished, exclaiming how well she steered away from all the other kids.  Too funny. (Grandma & DD - I think those Barbie Jeep lessons have paid off!)