happy 4th birthday, jude!!!

jude's soul has always spoken to me in a unique and special way. from the first moment we met, things were different for the two of us- he arrived, acted, looked, and all-around was a different human than i ever expected. his demeanor has been the yin to my yang. 

as we sat across from each other in a bagel shop a week ago i stared at him and started to contrast his tiny, 7-lb. body was 4 years ago to how he looked now. still with a head full of brown hair. and a gaze that continues to melt my heart. just as elle has mike wrapped around his finger, jude has me wrapped around his. i never imagined just how silly a boy he would be. the things people say about him more than anything else (strangers included), are either, 1) comments about his hair, or 2) how he is a literal manifestation of joy. his smile, energy and enthusiasm is PALPABLE. he's 100%, 100% of the time. on the flipside to his joy, when he's mad, it's horrendous. he usually storms into his room, violently destroying anything in his path, then a few moments later calls, "mommy! scratch my back and sing me a song!" 

he will drink anything you put in front of him. he's huge for his age. he's terrified of pain- either his, or anyone around him. he's an early riser, but still a great napper. he asks for every character mask he sees, and loves superheros and legos. he makes a drum set and/or creates his own band daily. he dresses up and sings and dances allthetime. he's always sticky and sweaty. he'll only wear "svet" pants (aka: not jeans), and changes clothes 10x a day. cvs has replaced the dollar store as his happy place.  he yells, "STOP IT!" frequently throughout the day, and has unpredictable mood swings. he'll drop anything he's doing if i ask for cuddles. he requests each of his toes be kissed after his nap each day, and if i forget, he usually cries the moment he realizes it's been forgotten. he's curious and inquisitive. he loves his "gampa gaddis blank-blank," a blanket my grandpa gave him a year or two ago. he still sleeps with a binky (which i should care about more than i do). he always misses his big sister when she's not around, and he gives my belly kisses and hugs 10x a day as he yells, "hi baby brother!!!!" which of course, entirely melts my heart. (i'll never forget the smile on his face the instant he learned this baby was a boy.) he oooooooooooozes emotion- he oozes love. he has gotten so much better walking everywhere with me (instead of riding in a stroller), and insists on holding my hand and telling me to slow down. he struggles to say the "k" and "g" sounds, but is finally saying his "s" sounds better, which is both comforting and painful. why am i struggling so much to let him grow up???

our awesome little toasty ball of joy is 4...
happy 4th birthday, juju! we love you!!!!


disney world 2017, part 4!

 my parents headed home wednesday afternoon, but before they left we all headed back to disney springs via boat for souvenirs (we always let the kids pick out 1 present the last day- it saves from SO much extra/unnecessary purchases and gives them something to look forward to on the trip home:)  then we all ate lunch at wolfgang puck & ate ice cream one last time at ghiradelli:)
 we had a lazy afternoon playing around the hotel grounds- promised pool time, and MY FAVORITE........ bikes!!!
 we laughed andlaughedandlaughedandlaughed as we went around the resort. mike swore at me for talking him into this. i just laughed and tried to take pictures and video of how entertaining the whole experience was. sort of like this time paddle boating in dc, or that one time we rented a water trike in the caribbean long before we had babies...
 we got shirley temples by the pool (a total love from my childhood... plus, free snacks!), and the kids swam around in the lukewarm weather (it ALMOST got to 70;)
the sun set, and we went out for one last sit-down dinner as a family at the hotel. then we hit the arcade before going to one last movie night on the grass... 
 more pictures from our final morning are on my phone (one more post!), but for now, this is where it ends. we jumped on the magical express thursday afternoon and headed back to the airport for our trip home.

thoughts on vacations coming to an end brought to you by jude...
we did manage to have our own rows for the flight home. jude slept next to me and i watched tv on my phone as we flew back into the city. back home. it's always so bittersweet isn't it?? mike loves the days before vacations- he says the build up is better than the actual trip since the ending just hurts. it ended rough, but the memories we made with the kids were just so wonderful!

darn you, disney. we sure love you.


disney world 2017, part 3!

coats are comin' off!!!! well, at least mid-day. 
whilst not in shaded areas.

here's the rest of our day at the magic kingdom, and our last full day together at epcot! 

take note of jude's napping, elle's posing, and mike's absence as he rode on spaceship earth. also, teacups for the win. kids love the teacups. moi, notsomuch. (my first time, here, with a liiiiiittttllllee elle!)
 dole whips are worth (free) snack credits! (we had FORTY snacks! FORTY! so much sugar was consumed in 6 days.) 
pineapple makes my tongue itch.
in the evening, just when we thought our tired legs couldn't move another inch, our ears heard the sound of the infamous dance party- this was SUCH a highlight on our last trip and magically all of our feet put aside their anger and were as happy as could be for 20 minutes as we all danced around like crazies. and mostly watched jude as he roooooocccccked. that man DANCES. 
last day together at epcot!
 jude was NOT feeling family photos, but also was not feeling being left out. it took us 15 minutes to get past this spot. he was so angry and unsure what he wanted to do. in? out? yes? no? 

oh, he was totally fine taking pictures with nana & papa though...
 we spent a long time at the seas- riding on nemo, talking with crush, and seeing all the fish. 

there was also this lady who didn't understand that she was in everyone's photos..............
 we took an afternoon break, then headed back for the evening, starting with dinner in france.

i have to say- epcot is usually a favorite park of ours, but this day was SO frustrating. there are very few rides, so the ones that are there can get really busy. in the morning, some of our favorites were "temporarily closed," which was a bit annoying. we had fastpasses for the new frozen ride in the evening- which was a BIG deal since the line is crazy long! well, by the time we ate dinner and we walked around while waiting to ride frozen we noticed that EVERY RIDE was shut down!! all of them. ALL THE RIDES! since we'd saved most rides for the evening that meant we did almost nothing (only the seas & soarin' earlier in the day). we sat around and waited an hour, then gave up. defeated. such a sad way to end our park days!!! on the plus side, the new soarin' was great! and jude was tall enough to join us- which was awesome:) his reactions were priceless. 
also, food at epcot is always a joy. that france pavillion... mmmmm!
(that same family photo issue jude had when we arrived manifested itself again halfway around the world- see? ^^ :)

*i should note that after we got home i contacted disney and they were very apologetic and are working to rectify (with us) the all-day-and-no-rides-working situation. disney customer service is oooonnn point.
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