highs and lows

Last week was a week filled with highs and lows.....

David spent a lot of time in Lake Charles with one of his oldest and closest friends. His Mom had been battling cancer, and late last weekend David found out that she had rapidly declined. He was able to go and see her and be there for his friend during an impossible time. And then, this past weekend he went back for her Service and Memorial after she sadly passed away. He has been so saddened by the loss and we have talked a lot about all of the wonderful memories he has of her growing up. I know it was an incredibly exhausting and difficult time for him, but one he wouldn't have traded for anything. And I wouldn't have wanted him to be anywhere else.

Meanwhile, back home, here, the relaxed days of summer seemed to catch up with us. It wasn't our best week (as you saw here)...and I know I lost my temper more than I should have. We were all missing David, the kids weren't sleeping well without him home, and I was tired and short on patience....

My Grandfather had another fall, and the pain is obvious when looking at him...the therapy sessions that had been so good for him, and that we enjoyed taking him to, are no longer possible. I am just sad for him. It is just sad. I was a little selfish last week and did not visit as much as I should have. It is hard to see him not feel well. I am going to get over myself and do better this week. Visits are all he really has to look forward to...

But, then late Thursday night, we got the unexpected news that our close friends were going to get to meet their sweet baby boy a few days earlier than planned. I was thrilled to get to go and meet sweet Baker on Friday, and looking at his sweet little face, and his beaming and proud parents, kind of put everything back into perspective. What an incredible blessing.

Life is going to be full of highs and lows of varying degrees and we have to weather the lows and celebrate the highs.....
That's life, isn't it?


art show

Elise has loved to do art projects since she could hold a crayon and so when I heard about an adorable Art Camp they offer in town for the summer, I knew it was for her. Just an hour and a half each morning for a week...she was thrilled at the idea, and had such a great time. I must say I was pretty blown away each day by the work she brought home. So, here it is, her first art show:

day 1: markers

day 2: markers (she was slightly disappointed as she was looking very forward to working with other mediums- but I loved the picture!)

day 3: oil pastels (I seriously am still in awe that she did this....I think it is going to be framed in my kitchen somewhere.)

day 4: markers/watercolors

day 5: markers (They each received a stuffed parakeet and drew a picture of their new friend.)

I am so proud, and so glad she had fun. She told me she had been having lots of fun playing with her brother and sister everyday, but that it felt good to do something by herself. I think she felt a little guilty for feeling this way, so I tried to assure her that was normal to feel that way, and that it was important for her to get to spend time doing things she loves on her own. She had a great week, and is sad to see it end.
We are proud of you, E!


more of bennett's musings....

Per my Mom's request I have decided to document a few of the things Bennett is saying these days.....making me smile daily.

- "ok guys, here's the deal."

- "that can't be possible"

- "this is serious."

- "oh, maaaaan."

- "you're the BEST!"

- "I won't do it ever again. Ever."


deep breaths

Oh my goodness. One of those days. I have been taking many deep breaths and counting to ten so that I don't loose it. I'm close.

David has been gone since Sunday afternoon...don't know how single Moms do it. Doesn't help that the kids haven't been sleeping well without him here, so I am a little sleep deprived. Add in a rainy day, and my idea to play catch up today (surely they can entertain themselves at home for one day, right??) and it is a recipe for disaster.
Need to stick to my "plan something every day motto". DEFINITELY.

The kids have been mostly in the playroom while I have been in and out. There were stacks of clean laundry covering my dining room table to put away and their rooms needed to be vacuumed badly. So, I thought this seemed doable. Put away the laundry while they play and check in on them periodically. Only if it had gone so smoothly.

Came down to fold my last load...they were pretty loud, but I thought they were still playing "vacation" like they had been, with Bennett's bed being the car. After a morning full of knock -down-drag-out fights, they were finally playing well together. SO I THOUGHT.

Went back up to check in, and this is what I saw:

If you can't tell, basically every object that they could lift was thrown on top of their beds. IN EVERY ROOM.

At this point they are all locked in their rooms and cannot come out until they put their (JUST CLEANED) rooms back in order. And I am sitting here......taking deep breaths......reminding myself to be grateful for my little mischievous bunch.

in bennett's mind....

...he can fix anything. So, imagine his dismay when he couldn't find his tools today.

"Mom, this is serious." He said, very seriously. "I can't find my tools. I have stuff to fix."

My little man cracks me up. Will be back later with some pics of the art Elise has been working on in art class this week!


a good buzz

Pardon the pun. I couldn't help it!

We took the kids to see Toy Story 3 (3D) today. They have been so excited all week!
This was going to be Lila and Bennett's first movie and Elise's second, and so David and I were looking forward to it as well. I was pretty confident that the little ones could sit through the movie, but slightly worried about how they would do with the 3D glasses and that aspect of it. This was actually my first 3D movie as well!
One of David's "quirks" is that if you go to a movie with him, you have to go early. I mean early. He likes to get the seat he wants, doesn't want to miss any of the previews, etc. So, we were 2nd in line to get in this afternoon. The kids actually did a great job hanging in there for the 30 minutes before the previews started. The fact that we made a candy run before probably helped....

Elise really wanted to get dressed up for the movie. So, then, of course, Lila did too. I promise I wasn't the one pushing for smocked dresses to the movies...that would be my 4 year old!

Bennett ready to go in his adorable Buzz shirt. He has worn it on average every other day since he got it for his birthday from the Bristers. Can't wait for Suz's shop to open back up- as I know these will be a hit on the birthday party circuit!

They were soooo excited about the glasses!

They didn't complain once. It took my eyes quite a while to adjust to the 3D glasses- I don't know if it was my contacts or what, but they didn't seem to notice at all.

We didn't hear a peep, nor did he move much at all the entire movie. He stared in awe and ate his "tweezers" (twizzlers).

Me and my gang!!
GiGi came along with Elise - just in case. She got spooked a few times during the Princess and the Frog, and so she wanted GiGi with her this time. She did great with this movie, and was quiet in her seat...she jumped on my lap once during a "scary" part..but, since she is highly, highly sensitive this wasn't surprising.
Lila did actually better than I expected. She has the hardest time sitting still of the the three. She made it until very near the end and then got a little big antsy. Luckily I had stashed an extra bag of twizzlers in my purse for such occasion and we were able to get her situated to finish the movie.
I can't say enough about how adorable the movie was. It was precious!!!!!!!!! David looked over and laughed when he saw me crying at the end, but it really was such a touching movie. I loved the way the characters are so well rounded and struggle with good and bad, but ultimately do the right thing...subtly enough that it is believable for the kids. I wish they could leave out the "idiot" and "dummy", but other than that it was perfection!!!!!!!!
After the movie, Lila and Bennett had a birthday party to go to for a friend from their Mother's Day out class...they were sooo excited. David wanted to take them, so I was going to get to hang with Elise. Birthday parties are a HUGE deal in the life of a 4 year old (almost 5!) and so she was pretty bummed that she didn't have a party to go to. (She was also a little droopy because she has her first, of I'm sure many, case of swimmers ear...supposedly pretty uncomfortable- my poor girl!) So, I decided to take her to dinner at McAlister's so that she could have a fun night as well. Parties were on the brain, and so we talked alot about her upcoming 5th birthday party. She has alot of ideas, many quite different from the ideas I have! :) I guess this is good practice for her teenage years!! I am trying to find that perfect balance between letting her know that her input and opinions matter, without letting her feel like she runs the show and gets everything she wants. We are having it at the place she requested (not my first choice, but it is her party!), and tonight we discussed the guest list, menu, and favors. She seriously has opinions on all of these things. At 4. Do I maybe have a future event coordinator like her Aunt Mo??
I told her I wanted to take a picture of her on our "date" and so she started hamming it up for the camera....

It was a fun, full day.....
Now off to bed to get ready to honor the Father's tomorrow!!
Love, Nicole


birthday wishes and kisses for susu

Happy Birthday SuSu!!! Hopefully we will be seeing you on your birthday...but the kids still wanted to blow some birthday kisses your way!
We love you!!!
Have a great day!


can i get some participation??

Lately, I have had a few unexpected people mention to me that they keep up with us on my blog. I must say, that although I truly don't care if anyone reads this or not, I do find it EXTREMELY flattering that people care about what is going on in the Parnell house. It definitely brings a smile to my face. I obviously think our children are cute, funny, and entertaining, but to know some others do too feels great. Checking in on friends' blogs and watching their lives develop and children grow is definitely one of the ways I choose to spend the free time I have!!

With that being said, I was wondering if I put this out there if I might get some participation...you know...from those of you who read this but don't usually comment??

I am going to list a few random things that are working for me this summer...and I thought maybe some of you would want to share some things that are working for you....so we can all benefit from each other's ideas....
I figure it is worth a try!! {This post just might mysteriously disappear if I don't get any participation. Just being honest.}

Things working for me this summer:

1. Swimming. Think this is obvious from prior posts, but we have been spending alot of time and having ALOT of fun at the pool this year. Keeps the kids active, without risking a heat stroke here in South LA.
I'll go ahead and lump this in. SO far I am pretty impressed with Redken's After Sun Shampoo. Having three blond kids I am trying to avoid the green hair that seems to happen after so much swimming...so far, it is working. Thanks so much to my fab friend Casey for this recommendation.

2. Rotisserie Chicken. Seriously. I don't know what I would do without this miraculous invention at the supermarket deli. I buy two at a time and use them to make a slew of quick dinners around here- from enchiladas, to bbq chicken pasta, to chicken salad....etc...

3. A DVR (and specifically Yo Gabba Gabba). The show is strange, but for some reason all three of my kids will sit still and watch it. And I'm down with them singing, "don't bite your friends" and "keep trying, don't give up"- it does have some great themes even in all of its weirdness.
It is my go-to when I need a shower, to make an important phone call, to cook dinner...you get the point.

4. Plan something every day. Even if it is nothing big. Just having something planned seems to make a huge difference. I've made the mistake of not doing this a few days, and that tends to lead to a day spent with me being a referee rather than a Mom enjoying a summer with her kids.

I'm sure I can come up with some more, but this is a start. I'd love to hear some of your ideas for making summer great!!



to infinity and beyond

I am sure there will be more Toy Story themed posts to come (our kids are obsessed), but for now I am referring to the awesome time the kids had yesterday playing on one of their birthday gifts from the Bristers- a Buzz Lightyear slip and slide.
The only way it is bearable to be outside these days is to be playing with some type of water...so, it is great to have an alternative to the sprinkler and pool. As you can see, Elise had a blast! :)

Got to go feed my kids. Elise just told me, "I can't wait one more minute to eat or I am going to throw up."
We did spend all day at the pool, and I am pretty hungry myself!
Happy Monday everyone!


calendar girls

It has been a fun and exhausting two days as the girls finished their year of dance with their recital. We were at dress rehearsal last night until around 10:30 and back at the theatre this morning for the 1:00 show. The theme was "Calendar Girls" and the dances were all about different times of the year, holidays, seasons, etc...
The girls have been looking forward to this for so long, and both honestly had an absolute BLAST today. In fact, it has actually been a rough evening as they are very depressed that it is all over. They both love dance, love being on stage, love the costumes, love it all!
I was a little concerned about how Lila would do because she started a whole year earlier than Elise....but, I shouldn't have wasted time worrying because she had a blast!! No stage fright for my girl! :)
It is so adorable because they introduce, one by one, all of the 2/3 year olds and 4 year olds before their first performance. So they each get to walk across the stage, in a spotlight, curtsy to the crowd, and then walk the rest of the way to go line up behind the curtain. It makes the little girls feel so special and it is a nice touch for the parents as well.

Lila's tap routine was to a song about brushing teeth. I was interested to see how this would fit in with the theme, but it actually ended up being really cute. They had big tooth brushes that they danced with. She really likes to shake it!!

Elise's ballet was to "Girl for all Seasons"...was adorable!! I loved this outfit- my favorite.
Can you tell she loves it too?

She requested the braid in her hair...she told me "it's my style". (I have a feeling "her style" is inspired by her Aunt Erinn, who has great style, and often wears her hair this exact same way).

This goofball. As soon as she got off of the stage she wanted to know when it was going to be her turn again! To say she likes the limelight would be the understatement of the year!

My girls in the dressing room...
Although it is a slight pain that we have to go to Hammond (about 30 miles) for the recital, the theatre really is neat and creates a great experience for the girls. It has real dressing rooms, and a very intimate feel....it is a great location.

Nothing like a big tutu to make a 4 year old happy!

Elise's tap was to "Singing in the Rain" and "Raindrops are falling on my head". Really precious. She got very lucky with the costumes this year. I thought the rain boots over the tap shoes were adorable, and these costumes looked great on stage.

Elise and sweet Camille. Her Mom and I have been friends forever and Elise has grown up wearing many of Camille's hand me downs, which we have loved and appreciated. She has two little brothers, so we got lucky there!!
It was so sweet, when Elise came off stage Camille ran up and hugged her and said, "Elise- you shone up on at the stage!". How precious is that???
Ella, Jenna, and Elise....all three of these girls started off in Mother's Day out together and this is their second year doing dance together. As they have gotten bigger and gone off to their different schools Elise has loved still seeing them at ballet each week.
A rare picture of me and Elise. I am trying to get over myself and be better about being in a picture now and then. I would like their to be some proof that I actually existed! HA! :)
And with my sweet little bunny, Lila.
Lila's ballet was to Here Comes Peter Cottontail. It was soooo cute. I was so impressed with how well she did considering she is the youngest one in the class....you wouldn't have known....

Lila and her friend Landry....
And with her friend, Gaby.
Can you tell someone likes to be photographed?

My two girls. So glad that {so far} they both love dance and can share this together. I have lots of great memories involving my sister and I and dance and so this thrills me to death!!!

And, of course, E and her first BFF Ella. These girls love each other. It is sooo sweet.
It was a good day. I am so thankful to David, his parents, and my parents for keeping Bennett under control. Poor thing, was a little much for him. Think this may have been his last recital for a while.
The girls loved their pretty pink roses from Emmy and Pop and so I put them in vases for each of them to keep in their rooms. They also loved their sweet ballerina necklaces from SuSu and G and are pumped about wearing them to church tomorrow. Bennett got each of the girls a tshirt with ballet slippers on the front (old navy- precious). So, they were definitely spoiled today.
Lila has already asked me 273 times when she can do her recital again. In fact, the first thing she said when I went to get her after her first performance was, "when can I do that again?".
I couldn't help but tear up seeing my little ones on stage. Am a very proud Mom today, and it has nothing to do with how well they knew their dances or how cute they looked in their costumes. Just so thankful for the 3 amazing blessings in my life and special days like this spent celebrating them.
Think we'll all sleep well tonight. I hope.


words of wisdom from elise

{overheard just a few minutes ago}

E: "So, Lila, you know why this is called a restroom?"

L: "no. why?"

E: "Because when you go to the restroom, you have to relax."



pop's turn!

Told ya'll it was a big month for Parnell birthdays!

Have a good one Pop!



Today was a good day. One of the best parts of it was that Shelley came to visit. She makes everyone around her smile. The kids were fascinated with the baby in her belly and wanted to know when she was going to come out. Elise is very excited that it will be very close to her birthday.

Shelley brought Lila and Bennett birthday gifts. Elise handled it really well. Was proud. Bennett's gift was the cutest conductor dress up I have ever seen. He wore it all afternoon and kept yelling, "all aboard"...in a very deep, "conductor-y" voice. Then late tonight he added, "all aboard. Next stop, Cretaceous Time Period."
I could not stop laughing....
Can you tell my kids have been watching a little Dinosaur Train on PBS?
At least they are learning something!

Lila and Bennett's first official day of soccer today. David dressed them this morning- Ronaldo jersey for Bennett, Mia Hamm for Lila. He was slightly excited. I wished I could have gone to work for him so he could have gone to watch. I know he was dying. Tried to get some good video, but it wasn't my best. They had a blast. I feel sure that this is the beginning of lots of time spent at the soccer field.

Broken A/Cs are not a good thing in South LA. We have two, and this week both have taken their turn at being broken. Monday I noticed water running down the wall of Lila's bedroom, and looked up to realize a big patch of her ceiling was soaked.
Not good.
Last night, David and I were sweating bullets at 8 pm and realized it was 80 degrees in our room. Not good.
We are lucky in that we have a home warranty that will help with some of this, and that the issue with our downstairs unit was just a blown fuse. But, I have had to turn negotiations with the warranty company over to my attorney :) (so many reasons it is good to be married to one!)because they are (not surprisingly) being a little difficult. We will get it worked out, and it definitely could be worse. At least our house is cool at the moment, and at least we usually have a cool place to sleep. Unlike a lot of people in our world....

Ran into the Bristers at dinner tonight. Their boys are precious. I would love to adopt Jacob (I'd take Patrick too!). My kids are obsessed and Bennett would love a brother. Lila was waving to him throughout dinner and also attempting a thumbs up-- with her pointer finger. We are working on this.

Lila slept through the night last for the first time since she gave up her pacifier on her 3rd birthday. Can I get a wooohooo???
Was nice.

Kids are out and I am about to go watch So You Think You Can Dance.
Fun times.

date night

No, it's not what you think...not a date night for David and I (although we have one of those coming up since Eclipse is about to come out!). We have decided to make an effort this summer to each get some individual time with the kids. It has been a really long time since either of us have had one on one quality time with just one of our kids....
David took Elise and Bennett to see his indoor soccer team play. Obviously, because of his arm, he is sidelined from soccer from the time being.
(Although he was trying to figure out if he wrapped his arm in foam, and taped it to his body if he could play....I DON"T THINK SO. We don't need two broken arms!)
I'll have to see if I can get him to post about their time together.
I took Lila out to dinner. We really had so much fun. We went to eat at my favorite Japenese restaurant, because all she cared about was that it was a "restaurant", and if she could have Sprite. So, I took advantage of that and decided to go eat sushi, which I am always craving, but we rarely eat. When we got there I let her pick where to sit and she picked a booth and wanted us to both sit on the same side. So we were nice and cozy on our date night. She was thrilled to get her Sprite (as far as our kids know Sprite is a special drink they only have at restaurants) and fascinated by the warm hand towels they brought us at the beginning. She continued to make me laugh and smile throughout the dinner. She told me her food was "wonderful". She also told me she loved me about 20 times, and that I was the greatest Mom, which, of course, caused me to tear up right at the table. She did mention a few times that she missed her "brudder and sister", and asked to bring her cantaloupe home for "her friend Elise". She is never without them, and although I think she had fun, I think it is really weird for her to be without them- especially Bennett.
The funniest moments, though, came whenever new people would enter the restaurant. For those of you that know Lila, you know that she doesn't really have an "inside voice" and is a pretty loud kid. Well, anytime someone entered she would ask me "what's their name?", and "are they a boy or a girl???". She also called our waiter "little boy" the whole night, although I am pretty sure he was in his mid 20's. This made for some interesting looks, but then she would flash her sweet little smile and usually get a smile in return. She definitely got a lot of smiles from me.
What a fun night.....


a message to emmy

Happy Birthday!! Bennett says Happy Birthday too, he just wasn't in the mood to sing. He is having a hard time realizing that his day is over....we are working on that. :)


and on...

The jumping and partying continued today as our parents and my grandparents joined us to celebrate. We had a bunch of fun, and our very overtired, yet excited, kids were thrilled to continue the celebration...
Even Emmy, Pop, SuSu, and I got in on the jumping action! Whew!
Not a whole lot more to say, but lots of pictures to share!!

We are all so thankful for all of the love for the kids on their third birthday!!! Our family and friends spoiled them with love and gifts and they had a very memorable week! THANK YOU ALL!!
And now we are ready to get back into our summer routine!
Hope everyone has a great week!