Thursday, July 7, 2016

Dearest Kayla,

Another year has flown by and it’s once again time for me to reflect on how much you’ve grown and changed.  My little 7 pound bundle is turning 7… on 7/7.  Seems to me that 7 is your lucky number!

This year you took your first shot at interior design, helping us redecorate your new bedroom.  You chose the perfect shade of pink for your walls, then promptly decided you didn’t like pink any more after I painted it.  Little turd.  You got new carpet and furniture and a closet that will hopefully hold everything you need as you grow.  I’m so happy that you finally have a nice space to call your own. 

You’re now on summer break from school, having flown through first grade in amazing fashion.  You made your daddy and I both ridiculously proud by blowing away the previous points record in the school’s “Reading Counts” program – by more than double!  You are a voracious reader, just like Mommy and Nana.  You love to stay up and read after we put you to bed.  You still say that you love math and now science too.  Your favorite special is gym, then library… but music is your least favorite right now. 

Around the end of school, you took part in the Warwick Youth Field Hockey camp.  You are an absolute natural with a field hockey stick in your hands; quick and careful with your ball handling, and it seemed to hold your attention much better than soccer.  We very much enjoyed watching you play and hope that your love of the sport only continues to grow. 

This summer you are back at St. Paul’s part time, spending time with old friends and making new ones.  We have other kiddos over to swim in the pool almost every weekend; it’s been wonderful to have someone with the same energy level as you around at least some of the time. Besides swimming, you still love to play games, color, and play with the dog.  Your favorite shows right now are Cutthroat Kitchen and Good Eats – we even went to see Alton Brown live this year. 

You have had three pet hermit crabs this year, two of which we have sadly had to say goodbye to.  Even though Snappy (aka Scuttle, aka Buddy) took one opportunity to latch onto your hand, I know you love the little critters.  It’s fun to watch you nurture something mostly on your own. 

Last summer we went to the beach, where you discovered your new most favorite activity – mini golf!  In May, we went to Washington DC together.  We saw the monuments, White House and the capitol – but the Museum of Natural History was by far your favorite.  We braved a drizzly day at the zoo to catch a close-up glimpse of Bao Bao, the baby panda, in a tree. 

This year we will celebrate with a Zootopia themed birthday party for you and your friends.  I know you’re excited to have everyone in the pool with you, and I am excited for you to have a good time. 

Although entertaining you is sometimes challenging, I still get my share of snuggles – my favorite thing.  Nothing makes me happier than a hug or an elusive kiss.  You’re still as sweet and sensitive and caring as ever darling girl, and I love to see you holding on to so many of these qualities as you grow. 

More than anything, little angel, I want you to know how proud of you that your daddy and I are and that we love you more than we could have imagined loving anyone.  You’re the light and joy in our lives and we cherish every moment of watching you grow. 

Happy birthday, Kayla. 

Love always,

Mommy and Daddy

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Happy 6th Birthday Kayla!

Dearest Kayla,

 Here we are yet again, another birthday. You were so excited, counting down the days you had left as a 5 (or 5 and 3/4 as you liked to say) year old but hesitant at the same time. Last night in the tub, you told me that you want to be 6 forever, that you never want to grow up. Oh little one, if you had any idea how we wish the same thing. It's so hard to believe that the teeny little 7 pound bundle that we brought home from the hospital is now preparing for First Grade. I snapped the picture of you in the car a few weeks ago, and it brought a tear to my eye to see that you are all little girl now - there are no traces of the baby that you once were.

 Speaking of school, Kindergarten was this year's biggest adventure and you loved it. Your teacher (Mrs. Hart) was a very special lady and it was wonderful to see you flourish under her guidance. You are now writing clearly, and reading independently. You still tell me that Math is your favorite thing; you love to count, add, subtract and multiply. Next year you and our neighbor Allie will be in the same class with Mrs. Morell, and I know you're going to do great.

 You still love to play outside more than almost anything, and the swimming pool is probably your favorite thing ever. The spring soccer season as a member of the Pink Pandas was a lot of fun. You had your first camp out last month, sleeping in a tent in Pepere and Grammy Sue's back yard. Playing games is very close to your favorite; this year found you learning checkers and chess. Every time I pick you up from Nana's house, you're deep into a game of checkers, or Pigeon or SkipBo. Aunt Paula came home to visit over Memorial Day weekend, and I loved watching you two play chess together. You are so smart, and you are able to reason and think things through in a way that I never imagined that you would be able to at this age. When you can't find a partner to play with (by which I mean we get tired of you beating the daylights out of us), you do an excellent job of beating the iPad at checkers.

 I love what a sweet little snuggle bug you still are. Curling up on the couch with you after a long day is my favorite thing. When I'm upset or stressed out, you always offer hugs; your empathy is simply astounding. We love spending time in the kitchen together - you're an excellent helper!

 I am so looking forward to celebrating you on Friday with a trip to the nail salon and to see the Minion Movie, having a party with our family on Saturday and your friends on Sunday. You're growing up so fast little one, and we couldn't be prouder of the young lady you are becoming.

 Love always,

 Mommy and Daddy

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

So Long 2014...

With mere hours left in 2014, I finally sat down to write our year in review post... only to realize that I have almost no photos from January or February.  Thankfully Facebook bailed me out of this one.  SO, here we are at last - the Gockley Family 2014.

In January we attend parents' night for the Warwick class of 2027.  Then realizing how close school really was, we booked a vacation.


This made us impatient in February as we counted down the days.  We booked our trip about 6 weeks in advance; I can't imagine how families who book a year plus ahead do it.  So to kill time, we did things like date night:

Even as the remnants of a stomach virus went through the family, we weren't going to be stopped.  Nearly 17 hours and 1,000 miles of driving later, we had the best week ever.  Then when we got home, mommy got her first new car EVER!  I am 7,500 miles in and still loving my Subaru. 

When we got back, there were many things to do.  April brought us egg hunts (at one of which Kayla won a new bike), a visit from the Easter Bunny, and the Crazy Days of April at daycare; both crazy hair day and mismatch day were big hits:
 May brought warmer weather, Derby Day, our annual trip to Dewey Beach, and the start of more big things.  We start renovating Kayla's bathroom a little earlier than expected, and Mommy interviewed for and was offered a new job. 
I started my new job in June.  This was a big adjustment as my commute time increased a lot, but we got through.  Not a lot else happened in June, but July is always a big month for us.  Our little Monkey Butt turned 5 years old in Ocean City.  We have a party for her at our newly painted (finally!) house.  We go to Avalon, and I cut a ridiculous number of inches of hair off. 
In August, Aunt Paula turned the big three-oh.  Even though she couldn't be home to celebrate, we wished her well in this big year.  Kayla goes bowling for the first time at her friend Laykin's party, and we count down the days...
Then September arrives.  With a mix of pride and sadness, I watch my baby girl walk through the doors of her new elementary school for the first time.  She also starts soccer this month. 
October brought us another wave of Frozen Frenzy as we go to Frozen on Ice and take our little Elsa Trick-Or-Treating. 
In November, we take a trip to Philly, Kayla learns about the democratic process, finishes up her soccer season, and we host our first two Thanksgiving meals in our new house, one with friends and another with family. 
Finally in December, we celebrate our favorite season, and Kayla loses her first tooth. 
Although this year also brought us some bad news and hard times, we are fortunate that the people we hold most dear to us are in good health and so are we.  As always, we have everything we need and a lot of what we want.  This year has been kind to us, and we are very much looking forward to what 2015 has in store.  



Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Third Project - The BIG ONE

Looking back at the dates on photos, it's hard to believe that we started this project a little over a year ago now.  When we moved into our house, the basement was already finished, which actually gave us a sizable leg up on this project.  It also presented some unexpected challenges. 

When you come down the basement stairs, there was a workout room and salon (the previous owner was a hair salon owner) to your right, and a powder room and larger room to the left.  We turned the larger room into our office, but left the other rooms empty, knowing their future was as the home bar we've always wanted. 

So the before:

The salon:

 The "gym":

 And the Powder Room:

First we had to scrape about 80 mirrors off of the walls in the workout room:


Then we replaced the ceiling tiles with a flat white version, installed some recessed lights and tore down a wall:

 Then we installed cabinets, patched the walls, built a bar and painted:


Then we laid down a wood laminate floor and had countertops installed:

Then came the appliances:

And the tile backsplash and hand made shelves...

We redid the powder room with a new vanity, mirror, light, toilet and a granite tile floor:
Finally we put in the furniture...

And the big-ass TV

Then we put up the bottles and called it done!


It took us four months of nights and weekends to accomplish this whole job, but the work was well worth it.  We finished the bar just in time for our annual Christmas Party, and we were so proud to show it off.  We've made a few small changes since we did the original build, but that will be the topic of a future post. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Happy 5th birthday!

Dearest Kayla,

It's hard to believe that another birthday has come and gone.  This year has flown by - it's been a fun filled one.  You're now a teddy bear at school and looking forward to starting Kindergarten in the fall.  We've been to Disney world and the beach.  You love swimming in our pool and playing with Mackenzie.  Last night was your first in your big new bed - an exciting transition. 

You love to make art projects and crafts, you still love puzzles and watching shows on Disney Junior.  Although some things seem the same day to day, I see so many changes in you.  I look at you sitting in your booster in the back seat of the car and I'm amazed that you are so much more little girl now than baby.  You have long legs and are chatty like me, but your smile still reminds me of your daddy.  You have so much spunk, attitude and curiosity.  You want to know everything there is to know about the world and everything else around you.  I love teaching you and it thrills me that you still love to read books and snuggle. 

You bring so much joy to our world, little one.  I look forward to your Frozen themed birthday party this weekend and celebrating everything you.  I hope someday you know all the love that we have for you and how special you are. 

Happy birthday, little angel. 

Love always,

Mommy and Daddy

Monday, December 30, 2013

2013: The Year in Review

At the end of last year, I knew that this year was going to be a big one for us.  I never could have imagined how some of the things that happened would play out, but 2013 was an amazing year for our little family. 

In January I took some passport photos.  My little Diva couldn't help herself. 

In February, I got a promotion at work that was beyond what I could have expected to be offered.  We start making plans for the rest of the year, take Kayla to the Hands on House for the first time, celebrate Shaun's birthday and Valentine's Day as a family. 
March brought us Easter, and the annual egg hunt.  Kayla did an amazing job running out and gathering eggs all by herself.  By the end of the month, we are in talks with a realtor to get our townhouse on the market.
By the start of April, we have a sign in the yard and are going to open houses and other showings on at least a weekly basis.  We put an offer on (and don't get) a house we like in a development we love.  We push on with resolve to wait until we no longer have to put in a sale-contingent offer.  We try to be patient, but it makes us a little nutty. 
It wasn't far into May that our luck turned around.  On my birthday, we received and accepted an offer on the townhouse.  By the 11th, we had an accepted offer in on another house in the same development where we missed out the first time.  The place was vacant and the owners worked with us to get a quick settlement.  This allows us to relax and celebrate the Derby, our annual trip to Dewey and Memorial Day.  I do manage to land myself back on crutches while in Dewey, but that's a story for another time...
June was a flurry of boxes and newspaper at both the old and new houses.  We were fortunate to have lots of help and things went pretty well, all things considered.  Kayla and the dog both settled right in to the new place with minimal fuss, and it became home much more quickly than I ever thought. 
 The beginning of July found us enjoying the gorgeous little island of St. Lucia.  After our return home, we celebrated Kayla's fourth birthday.  Once again, I'm stunned at how fast it all goes.  Kayla goes to the dentist for her first real checkup and does fabulously. 
Thankfully we were able to take August to relax after all the excitement of the previous few months.  We enjoy our new pool, take bike rides around the neighborhood and a visit from Aunt Paula.  At the end of the month, Shaun and I embark on our biggest DIY project to date. 
September came in on a beautiful warm day, and brought us a family gathering for labor day, Kayla's first day as a Teddy Bear at school, and her first try at ballet classes.  In between working on our project we enjoy the final throes of summer and then close up the pool. 
October brought pumpkins, leaves and another trick or treat as a black cat. 

November gave us more leaves, and lazy days at home.  We also all but finished our home improvement project.  :-)
December we called our basement officially done.  We made our annual trip to the tree farm, had an amazing Christmas party, Santa's visit, Kayla's first sledding experience and getting her ears pierced. 

All in all, 2013 was incredibly good to us, I can only hope that the coming year treats us as well. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Our trip to St. Lucia

While we are on hiatus from posting home improvement projects (we are working on a big one though!) I wanted to make sure I chronicle our trip to St. Lucia.  We booked this trip back in October of 2012, not having any idea how things were going to change over the following six months.  A promotion for me, putting our house on the market, accepting an offer on that house on my birthday then spending a week or two sweating it out while we worked out details and tried to secure a house we loved that would allow us to not have to move in with family temporarily.  We were lucky enough to get a 30-day settlement on this place, so we settled, moved in and two weeks later took off on vacation.  Out of the country.  With an almost 4-year old.  Insanity, right?  Maybe so, but it was worth every moment on so many levels. 

For our first time traveling, everything went super smoothly.  All of the things that had me worried (airports, security, long flights) were a non-event.  TSA really does handle families well, even at 4 AM.  Kayla was happy and cooperative and napped on the second (longer) flight on the way down.  During the week we ate and drank our fill, enjoyed the lazy river and pools, and had a blast with our friends.  Every now and again, Kayla asks me when we're going to go back to St. Lucia. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Second Project - Master Closet

The second project we decided to take on was our master closet.  Shaun wanted to move all of his clothing in there to avoid the in and out of the bathroom in the morning, since the closet is attached to the bathroom and not to the bedroom. 

First I had to choose the paint pallet for the master suite.  Voila:

From left to right (all Behr paint) Heavy Cream (ceilings and trim), Natural Grey (closet), French Court (bedroom - subject to change, this might be too dark) and Minted Lemon (bathroom).  It may not be super creative, but I like it and I think it suits us well. 

So, from there we started with this:

It worked well enough, but needed sprucing up.  There was a lot of wall damage...

And some of the storage solutions just didn't work for us.  I can't stand over the door shoe racks, for example. 

So we took everything out, patched, painted, installed Closetmaid Impressions storage on both sides, added a new light, a stool for putting shoes/socks on (and a mirror, which wasn't up yet when I took these) and some 5 1/4" trim around the new shelving, and now we have this:


Now we have an organized, functional space for clothing and shoe storage, as well as dressing.  I'm very happy with how this one turned out.