Volcanu

The other morning I went into Wes’s room. All the coins from his front loader money bank with out on the floor. “I’m trying to make a volcanu,” he said, “but the coins aren’t stacking. How can we make a volcanu?”

I paused and thought. How can we make a volcano? Hey wait! There’s an abandoned newspaper next door! As luck would have it our next door neighbors went on vacation just the day before. We talked to Mr. Steve in the driveway as he canceled his newspaper. He told us he was too late to cancel his Sunday edition, so we could have it!

“We’ll papier-mâché a volcano today, Buddy!” I said. And he giggled. I love when he does that. He doesn’t really know what I mean about something but he can tell enough that I’m making something happen for him so he giggles in delight. It’s so great.

Sean did a decent amount of this himself, but he was happy to do it. We used a recipe that called for boiling the flour and water, so it was really hot at first. Plus, he wanted to get a good base going before Wes started to add things.

But Wes did help!

And it was a success! What a fun little experiment! I’m so happy our neighbors forgot to cancel their paper in time so that there was an abandoned newspaper on the morning Wes asked to make a volcanu! What are the chances!

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When I explain to Wes that these four are coming for a visit, sometimes I will shorten it to Nana & Papa. Because the whole thing is a mouth full. Wes is always quick to correct that it’s “NanaPapaAuntMaggie&Evelyn” and it gets all mashed together like that. They are a unit and no name can be excluded. Those four came to visit us four a few weekends ago.

It was hot but still a nice enough day to get outside. This is the “Ant House,” one of Wes’s favorite digging places on our street. Wes could dig to the center of the Earth. Have I mentioned that before? I think I may have. It is named the “Ant House” because you can often find ants there, just like we did on this day.

Another favorite digging place. I think in the fall it was called “The Castle” but may be nameless now.

It was very cute to watch them trace each other and then spot the random arms or other body parts in the middle of those tracings.

As close to an on the ground cousin picture as we will probably get these days. (Past cousin pictures here and here and here.)

Nana’s turn!

I had been hearing great things about an ice cream shop in Clifton, VA. So I thought it would be fun to take everyone there. We had a nice dinner followed by a visit to a train car.

Wes and Evelyn really wanted to find a way in!

My mom asked Wes where he was driving. “Kansas City!” Luckily for him we are headed there later this month! Although not by train, even though he keeps making that request.

We had started to leave the train car when lucky us! A real train rolled on by!

Clifton is a very cute little town. The Main Street here is very small, but it’s so cute! I can’t wait to go back!

Totally missed that the train was not for climbing! Sean saved us on that one.

We finished our night with really great ice cream! Such a great visit and a fun little night out in Clifton. I had wanted to get a group picture but that did not happen. Another time, hopefully.

Date Night

Okay, let’s address this second picture. Let’s just get this out of the way. It’s ridiculous, I know. We are hanging on to the table and each other for dear life. Not to mention that this is such a classic honeymoon pose. Or at least honeymoon circa 2006-2009. Before people took a lot of selfies or pictures of their food but all meals on a vacation like a honeymoon had to be documented for Facebook. Sean was taking my picture and a waiter noticed and offered to take a picture of us together. Why not, we thought. When do we ever get someone else to take our picture on just a regular date? So here we are having a great time and looking awkward.

We really did have a great time!

We went to a steakhouse that promised to elevate the classics. Now, usually I’m all about some Gorgonzola snow, but this is a take on a wedge. We love our wedges, Sean and me. We get a craving for them every now and then. In my personal opinion, the wedge should be left alone. The people who are drawn to wedges in the first place are not looking for snow. They want all the bleu cheese and bacon. We liked our meal overall, though.

Our restaurant was in the MGM Grand at the National Harbor. (Baby Wes and I have visited!…the Harbor, I mean.) It has been so terribly hot here, but we lucked out because it was a beautiful night. Just perfect. My preference is to always sit outside if it’s bearable, and I’m so glad we were able to enjoy a dinner and a little walk outside. And a little snuggle because they had chairs that mostly fit two. 🙂

It was a really nice time. The only downfall is that this was our last date with our most favorite sitter staying with Wes and Madeline.

She’s getting married and we couldn’t be happier, but good sitters are so hard to find! I’m so grateful we had her to sit for us for 3 years!!

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.

Happy birthday to me!

I turned 35 on Saturday the 2nd, and we started the day off right with cake.  Yes, same cake, new year.

Remember last year I did it with Wes and he dropped an egg on the floor and it was kind of frustrating?  This year I did it myself in phases at night.  It just worked better because of more days in preschool and Madeline’s schedule.  I kind of missed him!  Dropped egg and all!  Oh, life!  We ate that cake for breakfast all the way through Tuesday!

Sean and I got a date night in Saturday night.  We hadn’t been on a date since New Orleans and so we were ready!  We had one set of plans that really needed good weather to work.  It seems as though the rain will not stop here!  So we switched plans at the very last minute and it worked out so well!

Sean ended up with a beef carpaccio  appetizer the size of his head!

And I got sushi which made me so happy.  Sean doesn’t like sushi so we never go for sushi.  I might have a craving now and I’m not sure how I’ll solve that problem.

That’s it for pictures.  In some ways I’m still getting back into the habit of telling the story.  I personally think the story is a little better with pictures, but sometimes it’s hard to take the pictures when you’re busy living the moment.

It was a good birthday, but I’m feeling a little sad about birthdays this year.  This is the first year where I’m feeling…different, weird, older, I’m not quite sure about my age.  This year Wes will be 4 and that’s very much a wow age for me.  I’ve never been unhappy to see him get a little older and now I’m like whoa!  4!  What’s next, college?  And Madeline completes our family and so our last child who will have a 1st birthday, which is more bittersweet than I imagined.  I can’t wait for children to turn 1 normally.  So I guess what I’m saying is 35 is the first official year when life started to move to quickly.  And it feels weird.

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!

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.

Pumpkin Patch

Even with Madeline, I wanted to make sure we accomplished two things in October.  The first being finding pumpkins at a place somewhere other than the grocery store.  And luckily, my mom friends told me about Nall’s Produce, 12 minutes from our house, and I knew that pumpkin picking could still feel fun this year even if we didn’t make it to some of the big festivals we did last year or the apple orchard.  

This place was right on a busy road but still let their chickens run around with no fences.  It felt like a bold move to me!

  

This poor pig.  Wes threw a handful or tiny pebbles into her pen and she thought it was food.  She didn’t eat our pebbles, but I’m sad we fooled her.

Wes had a great time!  He jumped and danced and didn’t want to leave.  He didn’t realize at all that we weren’t at some big fall festival.  

And I’ve been meaning this whole week to take pictures of the pumpkins we picked but still haven’t.  So you’ll just have to imagine.  

Father’s Day

IMG_7579I reread my Father’s Day post from last year before writing anything this year.  I was curious how things compared.  I had forgotten that Sean was pretty special on the weekends a year ago.  Although it’s definitely magnified.  Wes wants Sean to do everything when he’s home.  Give him a snack, change his shorts, go outside, answer the question that I just answered, do bedtime, everything.  It’s sweet.  Sometimes a little annoying because I really did just answer the question in the same way Sean would!  It’s such fun to watch their relationship grow and develop with each year.  While needing constant attention from Daddy can be tough too, it’s still much nicer than the rejection from two years ago.

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We kept with tradition and went to our same beloved brunch place for Father’s Day.  They only had waffles.  Wes doesn’t believe he likes waffles.  He only likes pancakes.  With the help of our waiter we came up with Belgian pancakes.  About midway through the meal Sean finally breaks the news to him that he’s eating waffles.  Wes almost looked like he might cry.  Then I said it again and he said.  “These aren’t waffles these are pancakes, silly goose!”  We laughed.  I’m not sure when Belgian pancakes will be called waffles in our house.

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Thumbs up for Belgian pancakes!

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I always say this but it never fails to be true, thanks so much for all you do for us, Sean.  Thanks so much for working so hard and for waking up so early for us!  Happy Father’s Day!

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Ithaca is Gorges!

I almost added all of these photos to the law school reunion post, but decided Ithaca’s gorges needed to stand alone.  The pun seems silly at first, at least to me.  All these shirts and mugs and bumper stickers and all kinds of things claiming that “Ithaca is Gorges!”  But then we hiked two and I totally got it!  Ithaca in generally is a lovely town, but the gorges are so, so beautiful!

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On Friday morning, Sean and I hiked Buttermilk Falls.  It was a great hike and the perfect day for it!  We heard it had been raining in Ithaca for days before we arrived.  The whole weekend we lucked out with beautiful weather.  It caught Sean a little by surprise.  He’s used to Ithaca being very cloudy.  Similar to our recent date for my birthday, we had a really great time being together.  Chatting and planning about things.  We love Wes so much, but it is just so nice to have these opportunities to just be us.  I know I already said this, but I just always feel so grateful for these moments with Sean.

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On Saturday morning we were joined by Sarah, a classmate and good friend of Sean’s who also lives in DC, for a hike around Lucifer Falls in Treman State Park.  Even though she lives close by and we do see her occasionally, it has been a little while so it was nice to catch up.  She’s the one that suggested Lucifer Falls specifically and I’m so glad she did!  The pictures don’t do it justice at all!  This was a beautiful hike.  We were dressed for the law school’s lunch that day.  We weren’t in the most sensible outfits or shoes, but we made it work.  This hike was tougher for me, but we just took lots of breaks.  Hiking while pregnant is apparently something I like to do.  Although the last time I hiked while pregnant I had no idea!

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Thanks for going to law school at Cornell so we could have a great trip 10 years later, Favorite!