July 4th

How was your 4th? Ours was very quiet and I’m still going to write this post as a holiday post, but it was more just like a regular weekend night over here.

Sean made burgers for our July 4th feast. He grinds his own meat and for this burger we have ribs, hanger steak, and veal. If you have the time and desire to grind your own meat I highly recommend it! It makes a big difference.

And while he did that the rest of us were playing chase and investigating boxes….

fishing off the stairs….

(Do you see Madeline trying to climb up the stairs down there?! Yeah, we need to find that baby gate again.)

and building pirate ships/voyager boats (voyager as in Moana).

This was the first day of Madeline’s Hand Foot and Mouth, although I didn’t realize it was Hand Foot and Mouth. We thought it was a fever and some other rash. It always amazes me how curious and active socks kids can be. We had initially intended for everyone to have burgers, but because of her fever Madeline went to bed and we had burgers with just Wes.

I had meant to make a cherry pie for the 4th, but it didn’t work out. I’ll keep it short but between cutting my finger while making my first round of pie dough and a sick kid, the pie didn’t happen until Friday.

Pie crust is something I would really like to master. I did okay this time but added too much water. And obviously burnt my crust. We used these canned cherries and are a favorite among Sean’s family and you can’t get here on the East Coast, so Rich and Beth brought some to us!

Sean and I want to start a social media network called “Instagross” where people post their real life pictures of the burnt crusts and sloppy plating. I love the inspiration I can get on Instagram but am so tired of the perfection. Just post some burnt crushes already! I should probably just get off of it, huh?

Anyway, happy belated 4th! Hope you saw some fireworks! I think we are still many years away from going to see fireworks, but that is something I look forward to. I’ll just keep practicing my pie crust until then.

Hot Sunday Night

It’s hot! Hot to point where we have heat advisories and “hazardous to be outside” alerts. Is it hot where you are too? On Sunday we got out the sprinkler to cool off and still be outside and at home.

Madeline was such a trooper here! She sat at the edge of the sprinkler for awhile watching Wes and feeling the sprinkles. She didn’t last that long, but a lot longer than I expected.

I bought these quick fill water balloons (I think I found my one package at Target, but I linked what I could find on Amazon, in case you’re curious). I somehow grabbed the bunch without the tag letting you know a smooth surface for their landing is critical. So note that if you make this purchase.

At least we knew for the second round. It was fun! Wes loved it. He’s never played with water balloons before. I would do this again, but what a mess! It’s fascinating to get the parent experience on these magical childhood moments. I loved water balloons. Thank you mom and dad for cleaning up my water balloon messes.

We finished the night with tacos! I love Sean’s tacos. (You guys have to check out these sweet posts from 2013 and 2014 about our adventures in tacos! Oh my gosh! One day when I have more time I need to read more about our newly married, pre-baby lives.)

Do you see Madeline?! She has a crude pincer grasp. She can eat small things. She is getting so big. She’s going to college tomorrow! Sometimes it’s too bad that I’m not a baby person because I wish for babies to get to about this point and then they get to this point and I don’t wish them to be little but I can’t believe how big they are. It’s curious.

Anyway, this Sunday evening was a nice end to our hit weekend.

First car cart ride together

We went to the grocery store yesterday and Wes and Madeline had their first car cart ride together! Despite the serious faces in that first photo they both enjoyed it. Madeline could probably stand to have a tad more personal space in her life, but she can be pretty tolerant. I’m so glad she was tolerant yesterday because watching her brother put his arm around her and then go in for a little kiss made me a little teary right there in the grocery store. My sweet children.

Hidden Pond

The other week a play date canceled at the last minute and Madeline slept way late (why can’t our children sleep in together…and on the weekend?).  I packed it in during the morning for Wes so he’d nap and after lunch we headed to a nature center.  This nature center has everything a playground, a pond, and a building with animals.

It was a really nice time initially. We played on the playground, put together the puzzles in the nature center, saw the baby turtles there too, and ventured around the pond.

We’d intended one last play on the playground before heading home, but I mentioned this was after lunch.  So Wes was tired.  Sometimes I wonder if I should give more allowance to defiance that happens when he’s tired and I’m the reason.  He really should have been at home but I was pushing for a) a nap (not just quiet time) and b) to start that nap at the same time as Madeline’s.  But then there’s that look.  You’ve given me instruction, Momma, and I heard you but I’m going to half smile at you as I stick my toe over the line as little as possible to make sure you’re serious.

I could stand to be more consistent, but this time I was serious.  Because I hate that half smile.  So we went home.  Crying child all the way to car and all.

When it comes to parenthood, why doesn’t winning always feel good? I set the boundary, it was crossed, I reinforced the rule. That’s a win! I did the hard thing. I was unwavering. Why doesn’t it feel better? Why does it feel like I still lost a little? Especially when there’s a child crying all the way to the car. Why doesn’t it feel like I made progress toward the end goal? What is the end goal here exactly?  Am I meeting it?  I really have to wait 20, 30 years to find out?

In the short term I didn’t even accomplish the goal of a nap. So long term, I’m really holding out hope for you. That the combination of these difficult moments really will matter.

A trip to the zoo

Wes has had this list for the last little while. “We need to go to the zoo, the beach, and the farm,” he says. Not so much to be annoying but enough to be memorable. I think Curious George’s influence? We bought a membership to the National Zoo last month and on Memorial Day Weekend we checked off that first item.

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We got there bright and early, which was a good way to go.  We arrived around 8:20 and left around 11.  It was a much different zoo at 11.  It was nice to have some time in a less crowded space.

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Some of the animals are still having breakfast or sleeping at 8:20.  We were still delighted with our visit and the timing.

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It was bright.  Some of these pictures looked awesome in my camera….

That’s a sleeping wolf, sleeping ducks, seals, and barely-made-it-into-the-picture-but-very-awake otters.  I didn’t realize ducks would be at the zoo, which was perfect because Wes asked about them specifically on the drive there!

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We did not talk about this trip with Wes before hand.  We decided just the night before after everyone was tucked in tight that we would go.  So I walked into his room in the morning and explained we were getting dressed right away because we were going to the zoo!  He laughed his sweet little laugh and was so off the wall excited until he started to crash around 10:45.  Usually I like to share in the anticipation of the event, but this time it was nice to surprise him.

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Tigers, their roar is no joke!  This tiger was hungry and was pacing around for food, and that roar would be so scary without a fence.

IMG_9855IMG_9857IMG_9859IMG_9861Wes and I rode the carousel as one of our last activities before leaving.  Remember almost two years ago when Wes didn’t enjoy the carousel ride?  He loved it this time!  It was so fun to be his carousel buddy.  We should have gone again because we can do that as members…next time.

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Wes still lets me dress him and I picked his one animal shirt for this outing.  I wasn’t sure if there would be turtles at the zoo but I’m so glad they were there.  I can’t wait to go to the zoo again.  It was so much fun!

Pizza Friday

I don’t know if this is actually true, but it felt like we had pizza every Friday growing up.  Or for a portion of my childhood.  A portion that overlapped at least a little bit with TGIF.  Wasn’t TGIF amazing?  I love our recorded shows, but I get so nostalgic for those days when everyone huddled around the TV watching the same exact person deliver the same exact news or the same exact TV shows at the same time.

Anyway, I love this idea of pizza Fridays.  I looked forward to it as a kid (because in addition to pizza you could have soda without having a glass of milk first!).  There’s a ton of pizza consumed over here, but it’s not always on Friday and it’s not always as a family.  It’s been awhile so bare with me I remind myself of details I’ve shared here, but we don’t eat dinner as a family Monday-Thursday.  Sometimes not every Friday either.  It just doesn’t work for us during this season of life.  But last Friday it all worked out that we had a family dinner and that family dinner was pizza!

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Wes asked to have his picture taken.  Look at that sweet face.

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It’s hard to have patience for pizza.  He kept asking Sean if he could help “saw” the pizza.  Ha!

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Sean and Wes have a big time together on Saturday mornings.  First it’s a little soccer clinic and then it’s the grocery store.  In their time together, the topic of changing your mind has come up, and how it’s okay to change your mind.  Wes has been a cheese only guy for some time.  But decided on this pizza Friday that pepperoni actually is okay.  And it’s okay to change your mind, right, Dad?

Oh, I realize I should clarify that although Madeline is doing great on solids, her 6:30 bedtime makes it difficult to have a family dinner with her when we’re home.  So when our family dinners are at home she goes to bed first and Wes gets some time with us and a later bedtime.  Again, this is what works best for us during this season of life.  IMG_8539IMG_8540

Sean and I have been doing in-home date nights for the last few months.  We try to go out for a date once a month, too, but that still leaves a lot of nights at home with sleeping children.  (Which reminds me of one of Joanna Goddard’s posts on Instagram.  So true.) So we started these in-home date nights to shake things up a bit.  We either pick something out of a jar (the jar contains ideas like play the Newlywed Game, share favorite songs, make a vacation bucket list, have takeout by candlelight, etc.) or a Datebox.  On this Friday we had an escape room Datebox.  It was fun.  Pirates attacked our cruise ship and we had to figure out the codes to open the dying captain’s room, get into his safe, and figure out the right frequency for sending our distress signal!  The box also had some questions to talk about how we’re stronger as a couple vs as individuals, and how we know we’re supported by the other, etc.  A mostly ordinary Friday over here last Friday, but a good one all the same.

 

New Orleans

Sean and I went to New Orleans at the end of April.  He had a conference, I tagged along, and thankfully my parents watched Wes and Madeline.  Although this trip is already behind us and I went on the trip fully thinking I had canceled the blog, this story is important.

We flew in on Saturday and soon after landing had dinner with Alexis and Christian.  We had the best time!  Alexis lives in Baton Rouge.  It’s a bit outside of New Orleans so I wasn’t sure how this might work out, but I’m so glad it did!  It was great to meet Christian and spend time with a cousin I never have without all of our aunts and uncles around.  (An earlier version of this draft said ” without adults around” because that’s what happens when you think about yourself in your family dynamic.  But I had to change that because all parties at this dinner are all very much adults!)

The only reason I have this picture of food is because I texted it to my dad.  I got frog legs in honor of my Grandma Sarah.  She loved frog legs.

Towards the end of dinner Alexis asked me if the blog was over.  I said yes.  I just canceled it and it’s over at least for now.  And then she asked me if I liked the blog.  And I said yes and then we got distracted by something.

After dinner we walked Bourbon Street.  I think you have to when you visit New Orleans.  It’s a fascinating experience.  Plus we were having such a good time I wasn’t ready for it to end.  Alexis and Christian took us for one last drink at Tropical Isle, where Sean got a Shark Attack and I got a Hand Grenade.  The Shark Attack comes with a plastic shark and a alligator (the victim of the attack), and both now have a home in Wes’s toy chest.

I was sad for this night to end.  We had such fun with Alexis and Christian.  But the rest of the trip didn’t disappoint.

We had brunch at Carrollton Market the next morning.  It was so delicious.  I took this picture because it’s poutine and I meant to text Alli and Mike about it.  Alli and Mike talk about poutine every time we see them, it seems.  And now I understand why!

Then we took a long walk.  We started with a lap around Audubon Park, then down St. Charles Street (where the houses are HUGE!), and ending up in the Irish Channel at Sucré.  Sucré is a sweet little sugar shop that I went to with my parents when we were in New Orleans just the three of us back in 2009?  2008 maybe?

As we walked around Audubon Park I asked Sean about the blog.  How Alexis had brought it up and that I do really like it and what I should do about it.  And he said that he loves the blog and we’ll figure out how I can make time to write.  So that’s why I’m including this story.  Because if we hadn’t gone to New Orleans and I hadn’t texted Alexis to see if she was available for dinner and if she hadn’t asked me such a simple question about it, we wouldn’t be here.

The rest of the trip was really refreshing for me, with parts that were really enjoyable for both of us.  Monday was still a work day for Sean.  As soon as Monday arrived relaxed Sean transformed into super stressed Sean right before my very eyes.  It was weird.  I know his job is stressful, but to witness how the stress transformed him was something I didn’t expect.  Sometimes when he comes home I want him to be more immediately delighted to see us.  Watching how his work affects him gives me renewed appreciation for his contribution to our family and more patience as he transitions between one stressful situation to another (because let’s face it, families are joyful but also stressful…especially as bedtime approaches).  We still had fun.  We ate lunch at the Gumbo Shop, another spot I revisited from my trip with my parents, and took a trip to the casino after a dinner.

Which left me still wondering who is in charge of choosing the carpets for these establishments.

Tuesday morning Sean woke up bright and early to speak on a panel at his conference.  I took myself to Cafe De Monde for a nice little breakfast.  I read a book over a hot cup of coffee.  That’s one of the things I liked most about this trip.  It was quick, but I was only on my schedule to do whatever I wanted without interruption.

Then we went home to our sweet children and our regular lives.  We really did miss those sweet children, but it was a nice break.  Thanks, New Orleans.  And thanks Alexis for asking me such a simple question about my blog.

2018 video so far

Yes, I really had canceled my blog.  When the auto renew notice popped up I thought this doesn’t make sense.  I hoped my archives wouldn’t vanish and that I’d revisit this hobby in a year.  But here we are.  I’m having a hard time parting with this blog.  Having a record is so fun (I mean, who are these fresh faced, kid-free people touring the West Coast 5 years ago?).

As a quick update, here’s our 2018 video up until April 22nd.  Not because I’m behind on it, but because I switched phones on April 22nd and saved that version in case it was lost in the transfer.  So for ease we’re going with this version.

 

 

Our 2017 Family Video

I love this app and video so much! What a great, easy way to record the happy highlights of the year.  I’m so glad I started to use the app and am already happy with how our 2018 video is coming along.  The logo displays at the end, but I used the 1SE to make this.  It’s completely free!

Hope your 2018 is off to a great start!

Happy 3rd Birthday, Wes!

Wes is 3 today!  It’s so exciting!  Remember when I told you I wanted to accomplish two things in October?  Well, the second was to  make sure Wes felt celebrated for his birthday, even though he now has a baby sister that takes up a lot of attention.  I’d planned for us to take a family trip to the National Building Museum.  We’ve never been but it sounds like there is a really cool kids space that Wes would love.  He’s in a real construction phase.  But when we woke up on Saturday morning I knew it wasn’t happening.  Initially I felt bad.  We laid out presents for Wes to wake up to, along with a cupcake breakfast.  He was SO EXCITED about these things when he woke up.  It was a glorious day for him.  It was a nice reminder that just cake and presents go a long way for a small child.


Again, he’s in a real construction phase, so we gave him this dress up set with the idea that it would also double as a Halloween costume.  We’re still not trick or treating, but we do have a Halloween party to attend.


Keeping with the construction theme, he also got a drill game.


My parents got him a guitar.  He promptly wrote a song for his favorite girl at school.  He also brought it on the couch with him while he watched his last TV show of the day and randomly strummed it.  Both things were so cute to me.


Sean has been trying to read science books to Wes since he was itty.  They have always been on his phone and without pictures.  So we were excited when we discovered these.  They maybe weren’t as initially exciting as some of the other gifts, but Sean is enjoying reading them and I’m glad we have them for both Wes and Madeline.


For the last few weeks, Wes had been pointing out these cupcakes at Wegmans and told me he wanted them for his birthday.  At first I was disappointed he wanted something store bought instead of home made, and then I remembered I have a newborn and decided to be grateful.  So Wegman cupcakes it was this year!  They weren’t bad.

Sean, Madeline, and I went to Wes’s classroom to read books for circle time and have a special snack.  We had kept it a secret that Sean was coming and it was very special to have him there!

So happy birthday 3rd to our sweet Wesley!  Thanks for making us parents and keeping us laughing with all the funny things you say.  We love watching you grow.