Saturday, July 14, 2018

Happy Birthday Ellie!


Dear Ellie, 

Today my sweet Ellie Belly you are SEVEN! It's so hard to believe and yet at the same time it feels like you have always been a part of our lives. 
You are a ray of sunshine for our family. You are almost always so content and even keeled. You just go along with the flow and do your thing. You are a perfect addition to our family. I was telling someone the other day that you and Emmie's personalities complement each other so well. Through those first few REALLY hard months where you weren't sleeping and were so cranky, I was super nervous about what the next few year would look like. I had no idea what balance you would bring to our family. (And once we got your tummy feeling better you became so much happier!) You have a personality that is so uniquely yours and the more time passes the more I see how perfectly you fit in your place as the second child. 
You love life. You are my bravest child. If we are doing something new and someone has to go first you are always willing to step up. Whether it's something fun like a ride at Disney or something not so fun like flu shots. Sweet Ellie, keep being brave and you will do great things! (Also, as you go through the teenage years please remember there is a difference between brave and stupid!)
This year I have loved watching you learn. Your reading has absolutely exploded. You even read the first 3 Harry Potter books all by yourself (and loved them!). I love to talk to you. You say the FUNNIEST things. You have a wonderful vocabulary and I just never know what new word is going to pop into the conversation. You don't always say a lot but you take in everything that is going on around you. You love to learn new and interesting facts about the world around you and then you love to share that information with us. I hope you always keep learning new things!
Ellie I love how excited you get about anything that you deem "special". Things like going to the zoo, birthdays, going to get ice cream. You love the little things in life and the time spent with family and friends. Your joy for life has always been one of my absolute favorite things about you. 
This year I have loved seeing the friendships you made in kindergarten transfer over to first grade. You have a sweet little group of friends that you always play with. For years I felt like your only friends were Emmie's friends and so I have really loved seeing you go out on your own and make your own friends and then carry those friendships into the next school year. 
This year for your after school activity you decided to do dance. You liked it at first and then you were kind of over it. But you stuck with it. You got more into dance when you found out your recital piece was from Mary Poppins. You really loved that and you loved being on stage! You did Dance Theatre and absolutely loved every minute of that. We also discovered that you are clearly meant to be on a stage...perhaps just not as a dancer. You're going to do theater camp this summer so perhaps that will be your "thing". You also have said that maybe swimming is your "thing". Whatever you decide to do this coming year I hope you love it!
We had such a great year together this year Ellie. Your rocked first grade, we went to Disney World, you danced in Red Riding Hood with Dance Theatre, and everyday you were a little more "big girl" and a little less "little girl". I looked at your beginning of school and end of school pictures and couldn't believe how much you had grown and changed. 
You are SO ready for whatever this next year has in store for you (we're starting life off with and I'm so glad I get to walk with you every step of the way on this fun, exciting journey through life!

Love,
Mom

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Monday, July 9, 2018

Weekend Fun

A few weeks ago Paul had a work conference at Biltmore. I went with him and we dropped the kids off to stay with my parents in Greenville.
The kids had a great time in Greenville. Friday after we left they went to TCBY (Ellie's favorite!) and met up with Grandaddy.



Saturday my parents took them to Roper Mtn. Science Center. Roper Mountain currently has a butterfly exhibit. The kids enjoyed that but what they REALLY loved was the living history farm. Emmie apparently spent most of her time in one room schoolhouse and Ellie very much enjoyed the farm where she could churn butter and wash clothes. Ruthie and JP had lots of fun too! The kids are STILL talking about how much fun they had. I think it made it even better for the big girls because we have been reading through the Little House books.





















Saturday afternoon they went to the pool and they also enjoyed some popsicles.

Paul and I came back on Sunday and we all ate lunch together.
Funny story...the girls had lots of options for sleeping arrangements. Ellie quickly claimed a room all to herself. Emmie said she "would have slept in a room by herself" but apparently Ruthie wanted to share a room with someone....riiiight...I'm sure it was Ruthie. LOL. So she and Ruthie shared a room and everyone was quite happy. (JP sleeps in his own room in a crib still.)

While the kids were having fun in Greenville Paul and I had a wonderful weekend at Biltmore. We ate lots of good food, hung out with friends, and I spent Saturday afternoon at the pool while Paul played golf.



We got back home Sunday night and the girls and I headed to see their friend Emma in Shrek Jr. (And we discovered our friend Nick was also in the show!) It was so good and Emma did a GREAT job...we were all so proud of her!
The cast came out into the audience at the end and sang and danced...Ruthie was thrilled to get to get up and dance with Emma!

Evelyn, Ellie, Emmie, Nick, Ruthie, Emma, and Emmie ( SOOOO many "E" names!!)


Friday, July 6, 2018

Neptune Island Water Park

Today we ventured to Hartsville with some friends to check out the new Neptune Island water park! Hartsville is about an hour from Columbia.

We arrived a few minutes before they opened at 10. We got in line to purchase our tickets. I saved a few dollars by buying the season pass and using the 3 guest passes that came with it for the girls and then JP was only $10 more (you have to buy some kind of diaper cover thing if they are 2 and under and it's a one time purchase if we go again he'll get in for free). I will say the line to get bags checked was SO slow and so I definitely recommend either arriving a little before 10 to get towards the front of the line or arriving once the first wave of people have gone in. Also they are super strict on the no outside food or drinks rule. Your water bottle has to be sealed (or you can bring in empty bottles and fill them up at the water fountain) and the only other thing they will allow you to bring in is baby food.
Once we made it through the bag check line we headed to rent a locker. If you have a season pass you get a dollar off locker rentals. The locker rental was all computer automated...you put in your card and created a passcode for your locker and then it tells you what locker you have. I actually ended up putting Ruthie's EpiPen in the locker, along with my keys, wallet, and phone,bc I didn't want to leave it sitting out with our towels and I obviously couldn't take it on rides with us. The lockers were in an easy to get to location so that seemed like the best thing to do with it.
Next we headed to the splash pad area and grabbed a table to leave our water bottles and towels. The kids were thrilled to explore the splash pad area. JP loved all the little fountains and sprayers and he and Ruthie both loved the small slide! Next we headed over to the lazy river! The lazy river is always my favorite water park feature! It took a little bit of juggling to figure out how to manage a float that had Ruthie, JP, and myself in it but we got it figured out and had a blast! (On a side note they have life jackets and puddle jumpers that you can use while you're there so I put one on JP while we were in the lazy river.)
After a spin through the lazy river Emmie and Ellie wanted to try out a slide. Ellie ended up being too short to go down the slide she wanted to ride on and the slide she could go down she didn't want to ride. (Being just under 48in is probably the worst time to go to Neptune Islands. Ellie was big enough to want to go down the tube slides but too short to go down them. She should be tall enough next summer though!)  Emmie loved the slide she chose to go down. Then she did a slide where you go down on your stomach on a mat and she was NOT a fan! We all headed back to the Lazy River afterwards. After that we met up with Danielle, Ainsley, and Anna (and Ainsley's big brother and his friend) and Danielle took the Emmie, Ainsley, and Anna to ride more slides and I hung with the little kids at the splash pad.
Many thanks to Danielle for getting pretty much all the pictures!


Anna, Ainsley, Emmie...sweet (silly) friends!




After some playtime we all headed out to eat lunch. You can't bring food into the park but they have a really nice, shady picnic area just outside of the entrance with a small playground and they just stamp your hand when you leave so you can get back in.


After lunch we hit up the splash pad again and then I took the oldest girls to do slides while Danielle watched the little ones. (Apparently she was lots of fun...JP talked about "Ms Danielle" the rest of the day!) I did the slide with the mats and one of the tube slides. Emmie stuck to the tube slides, and Anna and Ainsley did all the slides...including the big tall one that had a straight drop down! After that we headed back to splash pad area and collected everyone else to go lay around some more on the Lazy River.




We were getting ready to get a treat and then leave after a few rounds on the Lazy River and Emmie decided that maybe she did want to try the big blue slide. Neither one of the other big girls wanted to do it again so Emmie, who is scared of EVERYTHING, decided she would do it herself! I grabbed treats for the my other kids and then we sat at the bottom of the slide and waited for Emmie. I was SURE she would be walking back down the stairs before long telling me she decided she didn't want to do it. But no. This girl is braver than we (or she) thinks! She slid down the slide...jaw clenched and terrified but she did it! Poor thing was shaking when she got off! She didn't want to do it again anytime soon but said maybe when she was older she would try it again! I was SO proud of her for being brave! I told her later that I thought maybe she would decided not to do it and she said she thought about coming back down but she really wanted to see what the slide was like!


We got Emmie her treat, changed our clothes, and headed out about 4:30. We all had a great time!

PS. They also have a wave pool but there was an issue with the filtration system so it wasn't open today. Ellie was super sad about that.
Danielle and I survived the waterpark with 6 kids under 8 and 2 teenagers!