Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Easter Weekend

We started our Easter celebrations with Olivia's annual Easter Hat Parade at school.  The day was cold and rainy, but that didn't stop the little participants from enjoying their parade!

Like last year, we made plans again to head to Dallas this year for The Blast, a walk/run benefiting neuroblastoma research for Cook's Children's Hospital.  The weekend also coincided with a birthday celebration for our good friend Palmer, so after a long week, we were looking forward to a weekend out of town with good friends.

Unfortunately, I did not get many pictures from the weekend but we stayed BUSY.

We spent Friday morning at the zoo, hung out a little with Blythe and Erica, and then headed over to celebrate sweet Palmer's FIFTH birthday.

This girl has not fallen asleep on me in years - but I guess a long drive to Dallas, followed by a morning of running at the zoo will wear a girl out!  I didn't have any complaints either - I could have snuggled this sleepy little love bug ALL. DAY.

Unfortunately, our plans to come home on Saturday afternoon were ruined by the fact that I caught a nasty stomach bug in Dallas.  Instead of driving home and doing Easter with the family, we were stuck up in Dallas at a hotel pumping me full of medicine!  But, after a good night of sleep and another round of meds, we made the trip back to Houston.  And after some lunch and a nap, Olivia was thrilled to see that E. Bunny did come to visit.

He even left her a scavenger hunt to find her basket.  The clues took her all around the house...

The mail slot

The fridge

Her stinky shoes

Until she finally found her basket hidden in the bath tub!

She quickly dumped it all out to examine her loot!

And then, it was out to the garden to hunt for eggs!

One of the goodies Mr. Bunny brought her was princess playing cards for her daddy-daughter poker games.  She was thrilled!

While, our Easter didn't go as we planned (which is a lesson we are learning more and more these days!), I think our little bubble-blowing bunny had a good day!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Half Year Old Birthday

Like most kids, Olivia is obsessed with birthdays - especially her own.  She marks the year by holidays and birthdays.   And, in my family, birthdays are a big deal so pretty much her whole life has been filled birthday celebrations for various family members.   So, when 2016 started and she found out that my birthday was in March and hers wasn't until September, she was pretty disappointed FURIOUS.  I quickly remembered that her half-birthday was in March and mentioned that to her.  Well, she took that one and ran with it.  Her little steel-trap memory locked that one away and has been looking forward to March 20 ever since Christmas ended.  For the past week, she has been telling everyone she sees that March 20 is her "half-year-old birthday."

We typically do a little something to celebrate but I've tried to refrain from doing anything too over-the-top.  This year I found out that Mary Poppins was coming to town and happened to be on her half-birthday so I thought that would be a fun thing to do.

And, I intended to stop there with the treats.  But, then Miss O discovered the coveted American Girl doll.  I had some reservations about getting her one, especially for a half-birthday.  It just seemed kind of excessive.  But then we had some tough times at Casa Dean I thought - being a grown up is difficult.  It's full of hard decisions and outcomes that don't make sense.  Sometimes all the research, effort, time, money and hope in the world can't change a situation.  So, if I can buy my girl a new dress and a new baby and cause her to squeal with joy, then that is what I want to do.  At four-and-a-half, there are some things that I may not be able to give her.  But a baby doll, I can do that.  So on a day at our house that may otherwise have been filled with sadness, these little squeals of joy lifted our hearts and made us take stock of this little blessing that we got four an a half years ago.

Meet baby Ella.

So, Olivia, Matt, baby Ella and I enjoyed Mary Poppins and then met Mimi & Grandpa for dinner.

At four-and-a-half, Olivia lights up any room she goes into, makes friends with ease, is fiercely loyal, hilariously funny, brave, strong, smart, silly and kind.  I marvel at her everyday and don't know what I did to be lucky enough to be her mommy, but I hope she knows that I don't take it for granted.  This little one fills our hearts with joy and we are so thankful for her.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Birthday fun and a Rodeo Day

We started March off with a bang at Casa Dean.  First up was my birthday which my sweet girl has been anticipating for months!  About a week before, she got super excited and I guess she told everyone in her class because each day she came home with a backpack full of birthday cards from all the kids in her class.  Embarrassing?  Yes.  Adorable.  Beyond!

When the big day finally came, she could not wait to give me my presents!  A scarf that she claims she picked and a Fitbit like daddy.  (Note, it won't surprise anyone to learn that the idea of a bracelet just for exercising is completely enchanting to Olivia.  She constantly asks for her own Fitbit so she can see how many steps she takes during a day and how much exercise she gets at school.  All about the accessories with this one.)

As soon as she wished me a "happy birthday" she quickly shooed me back to bed so that she and Matt could bring me breakfast in bed.  I was curious as to what would happen since I had seen the bare contents of our fridge the night before.  So, I wasn't totally surprised when they reappeared a few minutes later with a piece of toast and a glass of water.  Matt said "Happy birthday...prison style." 

I didn't get a picture, but we went out for pizza that night and Olivia mentioned to the waitress that it was my birthday and then I got embarrassed.  Which Olivia LOVED!  So, as we sat outside eating our pizza, she would pat my shoulder loudly say as anyone walked by  "Birthday girl.  Birthday girl right here!  I'm with my birthday girl!"  and then flash me her rotten smile!

And we continued the celebration with the Mehtas with the traditional birthday party.  I got lots of great gifts

And my sweet mother cooked one of my favorite meals (moscow mules, Ninfa's green sauce, swiss sherry chicken and chocolate fondue!).  

Olivia is the only baby at these events, so she is usually the center of attention.  But this night, she was in RARE form!  She was dancing and yelling and screaming.  There were tons of selfies, some made-up game where Grandpa, Naz, Yasmin and I had to keep standing up and down.  And lots of direction on how we should be acting.  Poor Yasmin who is usually ever patient with her drew the line when she told the 3 sisters to dance like the Rockettes - Yasmin quickly yelled "Mimi!! Isn't it time for dinner?!" in a panicked voice.

So, it was no surprise when this happened before we even got on the highway that night.

And, we also made our way to the Houston Rodeo this year for the first time.  I convinced my friend Holly to keep Emma home from school one Friday and we stole sweet Cate as well for a day of fun.  It was a gorgeous day with small crowds - the perfect way for 4 year olds to see the Rodeo.

First up were pony rides.  Now, Olivia is not a huge animal person.  Yasmin's dog Crosby is about as close as she will get - and only when he's sleeping.  We saw a small cocker spaniel at the park a few weeks ago and she shrieked so loud that you may have thought a wolf was trying to get her!  (I have no idea where she gets this from - certainly not me ;)

Anyways, with that as the background, I was slightly nervous about these pony rides.  As I went to get in line with her, Emma's mom said "Oh, we can just stand at the side.  They are big enough to go alone."  So...I quietly walked to the side hoping Olivia wouldn't notice.  She let the men working the booth put her on the pony and buckle her in.  And then, the pony took one step and she burst into tears and wailed "Maaammmaaa!"  But, at that point I was outside the gate and she was strapped in.  So the pony kept going.  And she was fine.  After 2x around, she had a huge smile on her face.

Then we went to the petting zoo.  Again, I would have thought Olivia would have hated it, and at first she seemed a little intimidated.

But then she saw the brushes.  She is really into brushing her baby doll's hair now and, once she saw you could brush the animal's hair, she was hooked.  She didn't like the animals that were awake and could run away from her or were big.
So she found this poor little sleeping goat, and gave him a nice makeover.

We all thought this little llama was pretty cute!

Next we walked through Agventure Land and saw all the animals.  At this point the girls were starving, so they weren't that into it.  The big hits were the baby chicks that had just hatched.  They were so cute and sleepy.

One of the "games" at this place was to collect the 10 cards with the different animals represented at the rodeo.  Matt has been teaching Olivia to play poker, so she immediately put them like this and said "Look mommy, I fanned them like daddy taught me."  (In other news, poker is literally her favorite thing in the world.  Those Dean addictive genes run STRONG.  Like we use poker as a way to punish/motivate her ("If you don't listen, we won't play poker when we get home..").  The other night, we were all playing after dinner and she looked at her hand and mumbled something under her breath.  It sounded like 'dammit' but surely that couldn't be right for my precious 4 year old.  So we asked her what she said and she looked us square in the eye and clear as a bell said "Dammit!"  Not my proudest parenting moment but has given me a good chuckle every time I think about it.)

The girls also liked this little cow.

We went to the food tent next to try some rodeo food.  

At this point, one of the girls started singing a song they learned in their weekly chapel lesson (Praise God).  Then all 3 of them joined in and serenaded us (and anyone around us).  I'm not sure if the Rodeo is the most appropriate place for this, but whatever works. 

I think the day was a hit!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Mommy/Daughter Day

Olivia and I usually try to catch up with friends/family on our Fridays together. My social little one really enjoys being with friends and usually events and activities are better when you can share them with your friends.  But, last Friday I thought it would be fun to do a mommy/daughter day to end a week together while Matt was traveling.  We lucked into a BEAUTIFUL day on Friday, so Olivia and I headed to Blessington Farms to pick some strawberries. (Truth be told, this idea - like so many others in our lives - comes from good ol' Daniel Tiger.  We recently watched an episode where he picks strawberries and then makes strawberry pancakes, so Olivia asked if we could do that.)

We headed out bright and early and were the first people to arrive.  We had the whole strawberry patch to ourselves.  And, after a few days of rainy weather in Houston, they were ripe and ready to be picked.

She was TOTALLY into it - she was able to snip the strawberries with scissors all by herself and she WENT. TO. TOWN.

She picked 5 pound of strawberries!

Then we enjoyed all the rest of the activities at the Farm


We had a picnic lunch and then headed home (and I count as one of my biggest accomplishments the fact that I was able to keep her awake for the 40 minute car ride home and we both enjoyed a 3 hour nap!)

That night, we had a mommy-daughter date.  My little mouse loves cheese as much as her mamma, so when I suggested we have a cheese plate for dinner, she JUMPED at the idea.

So we got all dressed up, and headed out.

I was very happy that the cheese plate did not disappoint.

The waiter came by to check on us and before I could say we were fine, Olivia asked for a spoon.  The waiter and I both had a good laugh at her spooning up brie and eating it!

And, the next morning we were thrilled to have Matt home and we celebrated with strawberry pancakes and strawberry muffins.  (And bacon because...well, its bacon!)