Update: The Move

We finally made the move from Texas to Italy. It has been one heck of the last few months. At first, things were so hectic. 3 countries, 2 states and we finally made it to our final destination.

When we arrived, we found out the house we had planned to move into would not be available for a month and a half. We were nervous we wouldn’t be in anything by Thanksgiving. We ended up moving in a week before Thanksgiving. Family came for the holiday, so it was a chaotic time. Trying to settle in, as well as have family in our home while we are trying to find our groove was exhausting.

The girls started school a week after arrival. Both are doing well. Eva (our 3 year old) goes half a day. Arianna is in Kindergarten and is going full time. I’ve managed to get involved with the school, and I have really enjoyed it. It has been a fun adventure. I’ve been able to learn more about the school, how they function, as well as do what I love (teach)! The people there are amazing. The girls seem to be doing well.

We have been in our home for a little over a month. Most boxes are unpacked. Most rooms are situated. They have no decor, but they are up and running. They are functioning as best as we could get them for now. We still need to get some odds and ends to complete them.

The house is nice. It isn’t huge, but it definitely is nice. We’ve downsized so much. We’ve gotten rid of even more. Our bodies and house feels so clean and refreshing.

Baby Carl has just been growing and blossoming. He is 9 months today. Time has flown by so fast. He has 2 teeth and is over 16 pounds. He is a tiny little guy, but so so advanced in his development. I have a feeling he will be walking any day.

Life is fun, refreshing, and has been a great start to our new lives here in Texas. It’s a complete difference from Italy, but it will be great and rewarding – no doubt.

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Christmas Ideas for 9 Month Old

I recently did a post for Christmas Ideas for a 5 year old and a 3 year old. I thought I would do another for our little guy. He will be 9 months when Christmas is here.

You can view the Christmas Gift Ideas for 5 year old here.

You can view the Christmas Gift Ideas for 3 year old here.

I have started him a little Amazon wishlist like I do for all the children. The point of them is to give me ideas to buy for them for different holidays or their birthdays. It also reminds of what they have asked for, what they already have, and an idea for other family members to purchase for them.

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Here are the top 5 Ideas I have in mind for him!

I remember when Arianna was learning to stand on her own, one of her favorite toys was a Fisher Price Little People van that had the little people. It made a variety of noises. She absolutely loved to push it around the house. She really enjoyed it for a couple of years before she outgrew it and it was old news. For Baby Carl, I came across this super cute Fisher Price Little People Lift n Lower Firetruck.

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2. After the girls outgrew their activity tables, we passed them on. We want to get him one, but one that he will enjoy for a bit longer and won’t get as tired with them as the basic ones that we have had with the girls. I have been seeing these wooden activity cubes on a lot. They have great discounts on them. A friend of mine has a couple. She loves them, and so does her children. I have been looking at this KidKraft Deluxe Activity Table.

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3. Both of the girls really got a lot of play out of the soft blocks. The ones that were plastic but still squishy and squeaked when you squeezed them. I found these cute Earlyears Squeak n’ Stack Blocks on Amazon!

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4. I really love Melissa and Doug products. Baby Carl also loves vehicles. He thinks it’s funny when you push them to roll around. I found these cute Melissa and Doug Pull Back Vehicles Set!! They aren’t like the traditional smaller ones. They are actually fairly large, which is perfect for a 9 month old.

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5. Last but not least is an interactive book. My children love to look at photos in books. They love even more to interact and play with the book. We have recently found the Usborne Busy books. They are so fun. We have the car and the bug. The girls get a lot of play out of them. And while they are playing with the toy inside of it, I read the story to them. They came out with this new version that is a Wind Up Book. There is a pirate theme with a pirate boat!

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Here are my gift ideas for a 9 month old. The best part is it would be appropriate for both a little girl or a little boy!

What is on your child(ren)’s wishlist?

I Can’t Believe….

I can’t believe my oldest daughter is going to start Kindergarten. It seems like it was just yesterday that she was born. I can’t wrap my head around the fact that she is going to be considered a school-age child. I am having a rumble jumble of emotions about it.

Watching all my friends send their children off to school this week has been interesting. It just reminds me that in about a month our daughter will be headed off as well. I’m so incredibly thankful that I get a whole extra month with her.

Most people look at school as a time to have time to themselves. I just hate when I read that. Some I know are being sarcastic, but some I question. Teachers are not babysitters. But that’s not where I am going with this….

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I just don’t want my little girl to grow up. I mean I want her to grow. I want her to mature. I want to watch every second of it. But I hate knowing that it is happening. Sometimes I wish I could go back to the glory days where she was a tee-tiny little baby all cuddled up with her Daddy. Because goodness knows that she never snuggled up with me. That little baby of her didn’t want anything to do with me unless it was for the milks.

She’s just getting so big. She reasons with us. She knows and understands consequences. She loves to write and try to spell. She loves to do flashcards so she can show off everything she knows. She loves to sing. And she has a super high interest in music. Maybe that’s something we can consider doing for her…. some type of musical instrument lessons.

She’s her own little person, so pure and innocent. She loves things that sometimes I wonder where she learns it from. It makes me incredibly proud because she is just so sweet and sentimental. She loves everyone, and she wants so badly to be loved by all as well.

You know what, I’ll write her a letter:

Dear Arianna, 

It’s so hard for me to believe that you will be starting Kindergarten this year. It seems like just yesterday we were in the hospital preparing for your birth. I remember that day and night so well. Guh-guh and Uncle Bull came to be there with us, and we all huddled around the hospital room waiting patiently for you to decide when you were ready to see the world. Your Dad and I were so excited. We were so nervous to become parents, especially your Dad. He was so nervous to be a Dad to a little girl. From the moment you were born, you were so attached to him. I never understood how that happened. You would just lay with him on his little bed or the couch (after we got home). You would just sleep with him. You never would do that for me. Even after your Dad deployed when you were just 5 weeks old, you still wouldn’t just cuddle with me. You always wanted to be snuggled up to your Daddy, and if it wasn’t your Daddy, you didn’t want anyone. I would lay you down, and you go would go just straight to sleep in our own little world. And you were such a great sleeper. But as a Mom the dreams and desires of sitting in a rocking chair cuddling her baby, reading books, and rocking her to sleep just didn’t happen. Not until your Daddy was back and you were about 9 months old. Even though it took such a long time for you to come around to me, I cherished those moments with you. 

Now you are 5 years old. You’ve done 3 years in the Italian Asilo (Italian Preschool), and now you are about to be off to your 1st day of American Kindergarten. I look forward to that day. I can’t wait to see how you react and how excited you are for your new teacher and all the new friends you will make. I can’t wait for you to come home and tell me just how your day went. I’m pretty confident you will love it, and I’m pretty confident I will cry. It will be happy tears. Please know that they are happy tears. Tears of joy, a sense of relief knowing that you are going to succeed, and a flow of happiness as you continue on with who you are. 

Arianna, you are so pure, so innocent, so humble, and so incredible sweet. You are fragile in so many ways, but I know that overtime you will conquer the things that you need to be built upon. And in the other ways, I hope you remain so soft and kind-hearted. 

We love you. Your Dad and I want nothing more than for you to grow into a happy and healthy and inspired little girl. We want you to reach for the stars and never worry about leaving us behind. We want you to you. And we want you to empower those around you. We want you to remain confident and secure in your life and anything that life brings to you. 

We hope for nothing but a fun and exciting new school year, filled with new friends and new milestones! We love you with everything we have and so much more. 

Good luck and may God bless you.

Mommy and Daddy

Christmas Ideas for 3 Year Old Girl

I posted a Christmas idea list for my 5 year old daughter who loves art. If you have a little one that is in the similar age range with similar interests, you may want to check it out. You can read it here.

This post is going to be an idea list for my 3 year old daughter. Eva is our girly one. She doesn’t have one solid interest, but she loves a lot of things. I think at this age they are easy to please. Eva does have some things she does really enjoy. She also has a favorite color now and some favorite characters. This list is based off of her interests right now.

  1. Eva loves Peppa Pig. She has just now discovered her, and she has watched Season 1 numerous times on Netflix. She loves to make the pig sounds. Even though she doesn’t get much TV time, I find that it is a positive show for her age range. Eva also loves dollhouses and baby dolls. She loves to play pretend and it is ever so cute. On her wishlist right now is this adorable Peppa Pig Deluxe House.

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2. She is also a huge fan of My Little Pony. She loves the colorful ponies. She has tons of outfits of the characters, and she has a couple of the plush animals. She also loves vehicles. The little matchbox cars she can play with for days on end. While browsing the My Little Pony section, I came across this cute bus. It’s call the My Little Pony Friendship Bus.

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3. She also does enjoy some aspects of art. She has not mastered drawing or tracing, even coloring in the lines, but she LOVES stamps. She also loves Disney Princesses – all of the princesses. I found this adorable set by Melissa and Doug that is a Disney Princess Stamp Set. It includes the stamps, stamp pad, and some color pencils.

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4. Playdoh is also a hit with my 3 year old. She loves to try and build things, and we are always looking to add to our small collection. We cycle out our toys by donating the ones they start to get tired of and then they generally get a new set for their birthday, Christmas, or Easter. Here is a newer one that she has been asking for. It’s the PlayDoh Perfect Twist Ice Cream Playset.

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5. Another thing she is following in her sister’s footsteps with is puzzles. She loves to do puzzles, but she hasn’t mastered the level that her sister is on. She is bored with the wooden peg puzzles, so she needs the in between ones. I found some chunky puzzles that I think would be perfect for her during this stage. This is a Mickey and Friends Sounds puzzle, and I think it’s absolutely adorable!

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I hope you enjoyed my little gift idea for a 3 year old. I believe all of these could be for either a boy or a girl. Because even some of the girliest ones (like the princess stamp set), you can find many other themes of them.

What are your little ones getting for Christmas? Or if you don’t have children, what was your favorite Christmas gift you remember receiving?

Weekend in Review: Rakovica, Croatia

We decided last minute to take a fun weekend getaway to Rakovica in Croatia. The town is near the World Heritage Site of the Plitvice National Park. It is one of the oldest national parks in Southeastern Europe and has been a part of the UNESCO World Heritage since 1979. It is famous for its lakes that are arranged in cascades. There are 16 lakes that can be seen and hundreds of waterfalls. Based on the location of the lakes, the waters can be seen in a variety of colors. There are some blue, green, gray, and brown waters. It is absolutely gorgeous.

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It is a HUGE park. Huge is actually an understatement. We had planned on walking a 3-4 hour trek, but it ended up being 7 hours because we took two wrong turns. The way the paths are situated, once you start there is no turning back. We walked from one side of the park to the other. Then we took a train back to where we parked the car and had started the adventure.

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About halfway through, we stopped for lunch. They also do boat tours that crosses a lake, so we jumped on that to reach the other side of the land to enjoy that side of the park.

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The girls did great. They walked by themselves for the entire time. For Baby Carl, I wore him in the baby carrier.

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After our walk, we ended having dinner right outside of the park. The day ended up being a great day. We were so proud of how well all the children did. We were so surprised they lasted as long as they did. It seemed they really enjoyed themselves as well!

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And now for photo galore….

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There were so many different kinds of cascades. They had clusters and single sets. They had some where the steps to walk were right above them and you could feel the pressure from the flowing water.

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The girls loved being able to see the fish and ducks. The waters were so clear that you could see straight to the bottom. Some areas were so deep that you couldn’t see the bottom, but you could see several feet down. We also found some crawfish crawling on the bottom of the lakes.

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Some of the waterfalls were very tall. The looks over the cliffs were scary and intimidating. But the walkpaths were very well managed and safe. The girls did have areas where they had to hold an adult’s hand, but overall the hike was fantastic and didn’t make me too anxious.

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This is a great photo that shows how quickly the water color changes between the lakes.

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It was a beautiful site. There are no pictures that could do this place the justice it deserves. It really is a must-see site if you are in the area.

I may do another post on the other days we were in the area, as we spent it doing other small things. It was a great trip and nice little get away for us to help change the pace in our lives right now.

Back to School: Free Themed Printable Worksheets for PreK

Carrying on with my back to school series, I thought I would share some of my favorite character themed printable packs for PreK. The best things about these is that they can be adapted to a variety of age groups.

You can find my other two back to school posts – Lunch box must haves and PreK literacy books – here.

  1. FREE Jack and the Neverland Pirates Printable PreK Pack can be found at Freehomeschooldeals.com.

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2. FREE Frozen Printables and Activities by Embark on the Journey.

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3. FREE Tangled PreK Printable Pack from Mommy Saving Mom.

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4. FREE Minion Worksheet Pack from freehomeschooldeals.com!

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5. Disney-Pixar Finding Nemo Activity Pack by Mom Endeavors!

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Hope you enjoy these wonderful and FREE printable activity packs for your preschoolers!

Back to School: Best Literacy Books for PreK

I shared a post about our favorite Lunch Box Must Haves. I thought I would continue on since going back to school has begun for so many. With our move, the girls won’t return until the beginning of October. But technically, it is back to school time.

My girls love books. They love to read. I thought I would share what our favorite books have been for the Preschool age group, roughly ages 3-4 years old.

  1. My oldest LOVES Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss. We love many Dr. Seuss books. They are all very catchy with their words and to the eye, but the story lines are super cute as well.

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2. One of my favorite books that quickly became Arianna’s favorite book, then Eva fell in line is Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See? by Bill Martin, Jr. This book has great illustrations and of course is super catchy. In no time, she was reading it with me. It’s a great way to teach phonics and rhythm in words.

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3. Another book that stole the girls’ minds is The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister. This book is so cute. It teaches young children about sharing and what happens when you do share. The images in the book are eye catching, and the story is mesmerizing.

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4. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown is a great book for bedtime. The book focuses on telling everything around the environment goodnight. From the clocks to his socks, to the mittens and the kittens, and everything else.

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5. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle is a book that I chose for them. Generally when we buy new books, I let them pick them from the store. To my surprise, they never chose this book themselves so I did. They ended up loving it and still do. The caterpillar in the book literally eats his way through it. Such a popular book, and of course I can see why!

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There are so many great books out for this age range, and most of these books are enjoyed with even the younger and older children. I will start here since this is our grab and read most of the time. Maybe I will add to these another time once their taste in books start evolving!

Are you enjoying the back to school series? If so, let me know what you would like me to post about next!