Birthday Celebrations

This year Leah truly had an entire “Birthday Week” and not just a one-day birthday. The Thursday before her birthday, Leah celebrated her birthday at school. This meant that she was the “snack helper” for the day and got to pick out the snack for the whole class (chocolate pudding). She was very excited! 🙂

For Leah’s birthday weekend (October 12-15) we were in Iowa, spending the weekend with our good friends – the Lieslands. Their daughter was turning 6 the day after Leah was turning 5, so the girls were able to have a joint party/double birthday celebration in Iowa. The girls wore unicorn party hats, opened presents, and ate a delicious black cat cake. Leah absolutely loved celebrating her birthday in Iowa! 🙂

Back in Cincinnati we did our usual birthday week traditions. We decorated the house for Leah’s birthday and she was able to choose a special birthday dinner. Surprising us all, this year Leah chose Chick-Fil-A for her birthday dinner (up at the mall), which then also included a walk around the mall, stopping at all of her favorite stores (Lego, Disney, Build-A-Bear, and Bath & Body Works).

Birthday week culminated in Leah’s family birthday party back home, which was a “Fancy Nancy” birthday soiree! Leah requested that everyone dress in their most elegant ensembles to come celebrate her birthday. We made a “Fancy Nancy” inspired birthday cake, which the birthday girl thoroughly enjoyed. 🙂 We had a super fun week celebrating Leah turning 5 years old! 

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Happy 5th Birthday, Leah!

OCTOBER 14, 2018

Leah, we are so proud of the “big girl” that you are becoming! In many ways we cannot believe that you are already 5 years old, but in other ways you seem so grown-up to us! You are such an energetic, enthusiastic, lively, creative, sensitive, emotional, smiley, happy, empathetic, caring, kind, friendly, expressive, creative, snuggly girl. Despite being 5 years old,  you still love to snuggle and cuddle with us, which we love! 🙂 You are so outgoing and friendly that we all can’t help but want to be around you. Your smile is contagious!

What a year this has been for you! The biggest milestone/development this year is that you are now a reader! You are 100% able to read books (picture books, magazines, some simple chapter books) by yourself now and we could not be more proud! About 6 months ago we realized that you were truly reading… You would read things to us that we had never read to you before and that’s how we knew for sure that you were reading and not just memorizing books. WOW! Besides your reading skills really blooming this year, you are becoming more aware of and interested in math concepts. You have always been able to count, but now you are getting into “doing math” – which for you means simple addition problems like 1+1 and 3+2. We are excited that math is becoming an interest for you, as you have always been more interested in reading and being creative.

Some things have remained the same with you throughout this past year, or even grown deeper/stronger. For one, your love of baby dolls and pretending to be “Mommy Leah” to all of your babies is an activity that you can do for hours! You are absolutely so much fun to listen to and watch as you act out scenarios with your babies and create hilarious dialogues! You love to take the babies to “church” (where you sing “church” songs and read stories out loud). You also love to take them to “swim lessons,” put them down for naps, and bring them to “parks.” You are a great mommy to your babies – we love seeing this nurturing side of you. Another area where you have remained constant is your love of music, singing, and dancing. You love to walk around the house singing songs or sit in your room and make up songs. We could listen to you for hours! 🙂 You are also still our outdoor girl – you love to take walks and play outside (especially on the swings and slides at park playgrounds).

This year you are going to preschool four afternoons a week, as well as some Friday mornings for special science classes. You look forward to school every day – for the learning, but especially for the social aspect! 🙂 You also continue to be a good eater – being adventurous at trying new foods, as well as generally liking a lot of different foods. Your favorite ethnic food is Indian. Your favorite “fast food” is Chick-Fil-A. Your favorite foods we make seem to be soups and chilis of all kinds. And you are definitely a girl who likes her sweets and candy! 🙂

Perhaps what has warmed our hearts the most this past year is the continual growth of your relationship with Samuel. The two of you have become such wonderful playmates and friends, as well as doting/loving brother and sister. You are generally so sweet and loving with each other. Watching you two play together is one of our favorite things to do!

We love you so much, Leah! You are a light in our lives. Your smile and hugs and love make us so happy! Thanks for being wonderful YOU!

Love, Mommy & Daddy

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Birthday Celebrations

Samuel had three fun days of birthday celebrations this year!

On Thursday, August 30, Samuel celebrated at school with his teacher and friends. Leah and I came to school to eat lunch with him and then we were invited to stay and read a book to the class (Clifford’s Birthday Party).

On Friday, August 31, Samuel’s actual birthday, we all went downtown to have lunch with Daddy at work. Then we met up with three of Samuel’s school friends at the bowling alley for a bowling birthday party. The kids played two games of bowling, as well as a few games in the arcade. They also had homemade iced dinosaur cookies, followed by presents. Samuel’s friends got him some really fun gifts – a roaring T-Rex, a dinosaur sticker book, a new game (Fast Flip), and a build-your-own solar rover. Samuel had such a fun time with his friends. That night we had Samuel’s requested birthday dinner – homemade pizzas from Daddy. Then we opened presents. Leah got Samuel a soccer shirt and a Magic Treehouse soccer chapter book. Mommy and Daddy got Samuel two giant soccer goals for the backyard, which he had been asking for! He was super excited! After playing a quick soccer game outside we headed to Dairy Queen for some sweet birthday treats!

Finally, on Sunday, September 2, we hosted a World Cup soccer-themed birthday party for all of Samuel’s family. While Samuel was sleeping the night before, we decorated the house with several (9!) giant flags of different World Cup teams. We also made a secret cake for Samuel – a soccer ball and a Brazil #10 Neymar jersey. When Samuel woke up that morning he was so surprised and excited to see all of the flags and his cakes! That afternoon everyone came over to our house. Many people were wearing soccer jerseys to go along with the theme of the party. We opened presents, played with new toys, had a cookout, and played a soccer game with Samuel’s new soccer goals. It was a great day and a wonderful way to end birthday week! 🙂

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Happy 7th Birthday, Samuel!


Happy Birthday, Samuel! It is so hard to believe that you are now 7 years old… how did this happen??? 🙂 This past year of being 6 was a year of great growth and maturing for you. You had such a fantastic Kindergarten year – becoming more confident, outgoing, and participatory in large groups, as well as with new friends. Your goal for your Kindergarten year of school was to become friends with everyone in your class (which you did by November) and to play with all of your new friends (which you did by the end of the year!). These were two goals that you came up with all on your own and were determined to accomplish. It’s a great example of how hard-working you are and how confident you’re continuing to become in who you are and who you want to be. You are only two weeks into your First Grade year, but you are already comfortable and confident with your new class and teacher. You are participating really well in class and making new friends along the way. We are so proud of you!

Samuel, we love who you are so much! You are so loyal, hard-working, curious, observant, focused, enthusiastic, sensitive, emotional, kind, and loving. Thank goodness that you still are so cuddly with your family – we love that you still love to snuggle with us and that you still love when we read to you at bedtime. 🙂

While you still love dinosaurs and still want to be a paleontologist, this past year brought about some changes in what you most like to do. Beginning in January we allowed you to start playing a few video games on the Wii (Mario Kart and Fifa Soccer). You are allowed to play only on Saturdays and Sundays, for 1/2 hour each day. You never miss a chance to play and for a while there you were quite obsessed with anything Mario related! However, this past summer we spent a lot of time watching all of the Fifa World Cup soccer games, as well as collecting player cards in a booklet. This certainly has fueled your current obsession with soccer (specifically the Brazil national team, who you rooted for in the World Cup). Luckily, some things have remained the same this past year, such as your love of reading. You are a voracious reader who devours many, many chapter books each day. It is incredible how many books you can read in a day, how long you will sit and read for, how many times you will read the same books, etc. You still love all of the same series that you were reading last year, but you have found some new ones that you absolutely love: The 13-story Treehouse series, Geronimo Stilton books, the Imaginary Veterinary series, etc. Most recently you read your first two Roald Dahl books (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory AND James and the Giant Peach), both of which you loved!!! 🙂

You still absolutely love sports! As mentioned above, your current favorite sport is soccer – thanks to all of the World Cup games we watched this summer. You are currently on a soccer team this fall for your school, which is a lot of fun. You played baseball for your school last spring and loved that as well. By far though, the biggest development this year was with your swimming abilities! You set a goal for the summer that you wanted to earn a Yellow Swim Band from the Y by the of the summer and test out of the red swim band. In order to accomplish this goal you had to learn to swim 25 feet without stopping, as well as float on your back for 10 seconds. At the beginning of the summer you could not do either of those things, but by the end of July you were swimming very well underwater and you finally learned to float (you were floating for 2 minutes at a time!). One July day you were feeling very brave and you decided to take the swim test… and you passed! You earned your Yellow Band. We know you are so proud of yourself and we are too! Way to go!

Finally, we can’t help but notice what a wonderful brother you are to Leah. Your relationship with Leah is so special and continued to grow over this past year. Especially this summer, when you two were together all day every day, you got so close with each other. It was so wonderful to see you two play so nicely together and have so much fun together. We especially enjoyed when you and Leah would go into one of your rooms and close the door in order to have “secret kid time.” We hope and pray that your relationship with Leah continues to grow and be stronger and stronger.

Last but not least, you had your 7 year checkup a bit early this year (mid-July), so you may have grown since then (you certainly have eaten a lot of food this past month!), but as of July 19 you were 49 1/4″ (75th percentile) and 54 pounds (75th percentile). You still sleep about 10-11 hours each night – falling asleep between 8:30-9:00pm and waking up between 7:00-7:30am. Your favorite foods are still pizza, pancakes, peaches, and ice cream. You eat a good variety of foods – fruits, veggies, and dairy are your favorite and you still generally dislike most meats, but you will eat hamburgers and pork without much complaint. Your favorite color is still red. You love to do any activity involving dinosaurs, reading, or sports.

Happy Birthday, dear Samuel! Words cannot express how much we love you! We can’t wait to watch you bloom and grow over this next year!

Love, Mommy & Daddy


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Samuel participated in his first season of baseball through his school. He had so much fun and learned a lot as well. We’re so proud of his hard work! 🙂

Baseball Video

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Flying Piglet

May 5, 2018

Once again this year, Michael ran the Flying Pig Half Marathon (and got a personal best time!) 🙂 For the third year in a row the kids also wanted to run in the Flying Piglet race. Despite the rain and the cold the kids ran their fastest and earned a medal and a goody bag. We’re so proud of our racers! 🙂

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Leah’s Dance Recital

May 6, 2018

Leah was in ballet class this year – every Wednesday for 9 months! She made a very good friend in her class and she learned some ballet moves along the way as well. 🙂 She was very excited for her dance recital – mostly because of her sparkly blue costume. She did such a great job with her dance! We were all so proud of her hard work! 🙂

Leah Dance Recital Video

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Leah the Performer

April 2018

Leah has always loved to sing and dance. About a year ago Grandma gave her a bunch of Mommy’s old dance costumes. Ever since then, Leah has loved dressing up in dance costumes and putting on her own singing and/or dancing recitals. She doesn’t always let us video these performances, but when she does, they are gems! 🙂 Back in April we went to The Cincinnati Children’s Theater to see a junior production of Mary Poppins. The kids absolutely loved the show – especially the music – and they came home singing and dancing to the songs (specifically Supercalifragilisitcexpialadocious and Spoon Full of Sugar).

Leah the Performer

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Easter 2018

March 24 – April 2

We spent Spring Break and Easter at Hilton Head Island again with Grammy & Gramps and the whole family. While the weather was a bit up and down, we still had a great time bike riding, playing on the beach, playing tennis, golfing, bowling, and swimming!!! The kids spent a lot of time in the pool at our house because it was covered and heated. They spent so much time at the pool that we had some major breakthroughs in swimming abilities while there. Leah learned to bob and put her face in the water to glide/swim back and forth between adults. And Samuel learned how to swim under water all by himself!!! Both kids were so proud of themselves! 🙂 At the end of our time there we even had a visit from our friends, the Lieslands, who were passing through South Carolina on the year-round RV trip. It was great to see them and spend time with all of them. We had a great vacation! 🙂

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Leah is reading!

Watching Samuel read chapter books for the last two years has definitely influenced Leah! She loves to sit down and “read” chapter books to herself (usually fairy chapter books). While she can’t read all of the words/sentences, she knows a lot of the words and can both point out words on the page and read them aloud. She can sit down with a basic picture book and read most of it now. We’ve also looked at lists of basic “sight words” and she can read so many of them! We’re so proud of her! She is definitely an emerging reader!


For the last several months, Leah has also been “reading” out loud to her baby dolls and imaginary friends. It is the most expressive, creative, and hilarious thing to listen to and watch. She will pick up a chapter book and make up the entire story (which is usually based loosely on the actual story). Sometimes she will also interject a bit of singing into her “reading” time. She “reads” and sings during all types of different pretend events: school, church, library storytime, etc. It is so fun to watch! 🙂 However, if she sees anyone trying to video her while she is reading, she will stop… so I’ve had to take some sneak approaches to get some secret footage!

Leah Reads and Sings

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