Summer Coast Adventure 2016!

Hurray for another trip to the coast!

After a lot of trips to the Seaside/Cannon Beach areas, we decided to go somewhere new (Newport) this time for a two-night trip, and I’m glad, because it really did feel like an adventure.

The downside of traveling farther down the coast is obviously that it takes longer to get there. So we drove to Tillamook first (which was our first coast overnight trip with babies in 2013) and spent the afternoon in that area.

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The boys LOVED the cheese factory. They lay down on the floor and settled in like they were watching television. Probably they would have stayed for quite awhile…as it was we had to practically force them away, and that was to go get ice cream!

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Of course they loved getting to choose and enjoy their own big ice cream cones! (When we go to our local ice cream shop, they get a half scoop in a cup.)

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From there, we drove to Cape Lookout. The boys were excited to see a real live lighthouse! Sadly they were too small to go up to the top, but they’ll be excited next year to do it. πŸ™‚ It was a gorgeous day to enjoy the coastal scenery!

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We drove south along the coast and I kept oohing and aahing. I wanted to stop every five feet but sat on my hands. We did pull into this viewpoint and I decided I wanted to jump with my boys. Andy dutifully took photos for me. πŸ™‚ E & M did really well and they had a great time jumping with me! ❀

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We stopped for dinner at Pig n Pancake in Lincoln City (it’s our favorite place to eat when we’re at the coast), and continued down to Newport. The light as we approached was AMAZING. It wasn’t golden hour yet, but it was that perfect gold afternoon light and I was alternately so excited and so frustrated because I couldn’t stop and explore with my camera.

We arrived at our “hoo-tel,” as the boys kept saying, just across the street from the beach. It was going to be the boys’ bedtime soon but the weather and the light were perfect — PERFECT — so we dropped our stuff in our junior suite (literally half of our stuff was stuffed friends, by the way) and walked over to the beach.

Check it out. There was only a light breeze, and I was completely giddy with that light:

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They had a fabulous time scooping sand into buckets, running in circles, etc. We had to practically drag them away.

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Bedtime back at the hotel was…pretty much the worst. It took like two hours for them to calm down and go to sleep. It was after 10:30 I think. UGHHH.

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The next day we started out at the Newport Aquarium. This was the big draw for us and impetus for this trip; we’d been waiting a year or two until the boys would be big enough to enjoy it. We figured this age would be great. And since it cost so much for the four of us to get in, we were hoping they would think so too!

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We were there for 4-5 hours total, and we all enjoyed exploring. I had assumed it would be a bit bigger/fancier than it really was, but there was plenty to see. They didn’t care too much about the indoor exhibits, but they liked watching the otters swim in the outdoor exhibits. The tunnel, which we’ve seen in Goodnight Oregon for years now, was not quite as spectacular as I’d expected. But there were three or four, not just one, and that was neat. It was pretty cool to see sharks swimming above your head! Of course, the boys weren’t super interested in the fish…they were super intrigued by the scuba divers (which they pronounce scoopa-divers). They just wanted to sit and watch the divers float around.

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Once we’d exhausted the exhibits, we hit the gift shop on the way out. There, the boys discovered the shiny rocks bin. They played with them for probably fifteen minutes and would have happily stayed much longer. We did buy them a pouch of rocks of their choosing. (Which then would fall out/spill in the car and in the hotel for the rest of the trip, causing much distress.) After we’d finally left we asked them their favorite part of the aquarium, and they both said, the shiny rocks. Kids, man.

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That afternoon, after a nap and snack, we went to Seal Rock. I was hoping it wouldn’t be very windy, and there were supposed to be tide pools there. Unfortunately, E woke up super cranky, and he was very, very unhappy about the strong winds. M was happy though; he dug in the sand for a bit and then wanted to run around in the edge of the sand/water. I started to take E back to the car and halfway up the trail he decided that he wanted to go back to the beach. He was calmer and happier after that. M was having a great time racing near the water, and he and I went to explore the tide pools that were emerging. (Low tide was still several hours away, but the water was retreating slowly.) And eventually I found some sealife! I cut my feet really bad on some barnacles but I found a little puddle on a rock that was ringed with anemones! It was our first tidepool experience and wild sea creature spotting, and I was really excited about it. πŸ™‚

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The following morning we visited the Hatfield Marine Science Center. It’s fairly small, but has some neat things to see. There is one octopus which we saw for less than a minute before she went into hiding again. There were two really neat water tables that demonstrated the tides and tsunamis. I was as interested as all the kids were. πŸ™‚ And then we found the augmented reality geography sand table!! The boys would have played there all.day.long. (I can’t blame them; it’s a really fun tool.)

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Our final stop was theΒ Yaquina Lighthouse in the afternoon before we headed home. It was CRAZY WINDY and so foggy we could honestly just barely see the lighthouse from the parking lot. It was very dramatic to see the scenery in that weather! We went to the visitor’s center afterward and the whole place looks so different in all the sunny pictures. (Also, we learned there that it’s pronounced “Yeh-kwinna” not “Yah-keenha”, which is weird.)

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As you can see, it was full and fun family adventure! I love creating these little traditions and exploring new places with our boys. I wonder how and when they’ll start building permanent memories, but even just for now, it’s pretty wonderful.

Easter 2016!

Just as this past Halloween and Christmas felt like the boys’ first ‘real’ holidays, this Easter was the best one yet. They were so excited about the Easter Bunny coming to visit, and doing some egg hunts.

We attended a group Easter egg hunt and brunch at a golf course. They were psyched for the pastries, and then for the hunt. They willingly wore their bunny ears. πŸ™‚ I loved watching them eagerly grab eggs for their baskets! Then we all “played” putt-putt, and watching them push their golf balls around was adorable.

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That evening, we went to visit the Easter bunny at the mall! (The day before a holiday has been a great way to avoid crazy lines at Easter and Christmas for the last couple years.) The boys were SO happy and excited to see and meet and hug the Easter bunny this year! It made me smile with so-precious-it-almost-hurts feeling.

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On Easter morning we did a little egg hunt in our yard. My dad came to visit and helped us dye Easter eggs! I baked them in the oven instead of boiling them (I saw this video on Facebook), and they really seemed to like picking out colors for the eggs. I didn’t really let them do much…we only had one dozen, and I figured it would just be a giant mess if they tried to pick up those wire egg holders.

Then we went to a delicious Easter brunch at Edgefield–they ate a ton! Fruit, omelets, waffles, bacon, sausage, rolls, pastries, etc. (Kids four and under eat free at the holiday buffets, fyi.)

When we came home, we did another indoor egg hunt. Once the boys had found and gathered all the eggs, E took them upstairs to their room and proceeded to set up his own egg hunt for the rest of us. He announced, “Ok everyone, come find the eggs!” He’d made piles of eggs around the room, and then he pointed them all out for us. “Here’s some, and there’s some…” Heh.

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Hope you and your family had a fun Easter. πŸ™‚

Halloween 2015

Each new holiday that we have with our boys becomes more and more fun. They’re two years old, almost three. This year is the first time they understood Halloween. Through October, we all pointed out jack-o-lanterns and pumpkins in people’s yards, we visited a pumpkin patch (but didn’t have time to get a pumpkin) (I should add a post about that visit…), they picked out their costumes online, and we talked about how trick or treating works.

(We don’t really do holiday decoration at our house (partly because I’m lazy, and partly because in theory I don’t need more stuff and clutter to keep track of; I have enough piles and bins around the house and garage!) but I’m always impressed and a little envious of people who do.)

A couple weeks ago, I read this list of “Halloween Hacks” and was inspired to actually do something more Halloween-y at home. We bought four smallish pumpkins and then one evening had the boys paint them with tempera paint. They loved it! As you can see, they weren’t painting ‘designs’ or anything, just generally getting paint to cover the pumpkin. But hey, that works! It was a great activity, and they wanted to paint more the next day or two. I’d thought that perhaps I would do a monogram carving after they were painted, but I lazed out.

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I let the other two pumpkins sit until finally on Halloween morning I was like, okay let’s do this! I hadn’t done any carving of pumpkins since some time in the mid 1990s at the latest, so I wasn’t sure how I would do. It was a LOT of work and I was so awkward and jagged with the knife and I seriously have no idea how people achieve those beautiful intricate carvings. There must be different, dedicated implements as the ‘secret’ to those, right? Right?

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I made a generic jack-o-lantern face and then I made a train! It sort of looks like a creepy monster mouth, but I think the ‘smoke’ sort of helps, kinda? Again, these are not great, but I did it, dammit, so I was pretty proud of them.

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Then finally it was Halloween evening and time to go trick-or-treating! The entire afternoon was absolutely pouring torrential rain, so we waited until well after dark, after 7pm. By then the rain was more of a light drizzle and eventually it stopped altogether. We ended up going to a few spots in our neighborhood.

M and E held our hands and helped us notice houses with their porch lights on. They would climb the steps and knock their little fists on the door or push the ‘ding-dong’. We had been practicing the routine of saying trick or treat and then thank you, but occasionally they would be bashful and say nothing at first, or say thank you first. We would prompt them and they would say the right thing and smile at the people. Many of the neighbors exclaimed over their cuteness in their costumes, and they would tell what they were dressed as. As we walked away from a house, they would say something like, “they was there!” or, “I got candy!” They were very excited about the candy and wanted to eat some right away, of course. (We didn’t let them.)

Candy aside, I just really loved watching them be so excited about the whole process. I seriously died over how cute they were in their costumes, and I was impressed that they didn’t want to take them off or complain about wearing them. Plus, it made me happy to walk around holding their little hands as we did our first family trick-or-treating. They were just so small and so full of big smiles and innocence. I think this is a really special age and I felt very lucky and grateful to have this experience together, and to be able to watch them learn about all these rituals and adventures of childhood. My sweet boys!

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They got to pick out one piece of candy to eat after we got home. They were psyched. πŸ™‚

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I hope you and your family had a happy Halloween. πŸ™‚

Family trip in Washington, DC!

Here’s Part 2 of our first big trip–actually being in Washington, DC. (Part 1 was our flying experience) I booked us at the Hampton Inn near the Convention Center. It was pretty near to two Metro stations, and since that was our only mode of transport, it was very important.

Back when I was traveling regularly for work, I discovered Hampton Inn and it became my hotel of choice. It’s always a decent price, and they have a great breakfast buffet. (This one also had a pool, and I brought all of our swim stuff but we didn’t end up going.). Free breakfast may seem like a silly perk or amenity, but whenever I traveled on my own, having a free meal first thing makes the rest of the day seem easier.

Having two small children to feed made a big free breakfast on site even more important. It saved us a lot of money and a ton of effort to just go downstairs and have their choice of cheerios, oatmeal, milk, a muffin, a waffle, yogurt, a banana, a bagel, toast. (Otherwise we would have had to buy a bunch of food and utensils/plates and eat in the hotel room, or go out for breakfast, which would take a lot of time and money.)

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The first thing they did when we got to the hotel was start looking for things to play with, and they zeroed in the phones. We had to unplug them so they didn’t accidentally call people. Then the phones became real toys–the boys made them necklaces and guitars, among other things. (Here’s Emmett strumming the phone.) (They also do this with books, by the way–hold and strum them like guitars.)

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I was kind of excited about taking the boys on the DC Metro. They love trains, they usually like seeing new places, and it was their first foray into big city public transportation. They seemed excited to go on the escalators, and watching the trains come in and out of the stations. We also discovered that all (?) of the stations have an elevator somewhere. This was a lifesaver, because while we could take them out of the umbrella stroller to take the escalators, it took a lot of time and energy. Plus it was such a surprise, since many subway stations in NYC don’t have elevators. The only bad thing was that weekend service is pretty spread out, so we often had to wait ten minutes for every trip to get on a train.

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One of the best reasons to travel to DC as a family is all the free site-seeing. There are so many world-class Smithsonian museums, all with free admission. As anyone with small kids knows, they don’t have long attention spans, so I would have been pissed to spend a lot of money for four tickets only to spend 30 minutes there. As it was, we could sort of run in and out at our leisure.

Our first stop was on Saturday morning to the Natural History museum. We looked at the dinosaurs very briefly, and walked through the ocean room, and then the jungle/savannah area. They sort of liked seeing the dinos, I think, but didn’t seem super excited to see the other animals. We all had fun in the gift shop, though. πŸ™‚

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Saturday afternoon was the wedding! The boys stayed with a babysitter at the hotel, and we had a beautiful evening celebrating E & B!

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Sunday morning, the grandparents met us at the Air & Space museum. The planes were interesting, but their two favorite places were the re-created aircraft carrier area (especially the video that showed planes taking off from the deck), and this display of suitcases that opened and closed.

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On late Sunday afternoon, we went to the National Zoo, and the rest of Andy’s family met us there too. Hurray for more family time! The pandas were off exhibit with their new little babies, and so mainly we just saw the elephants.

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We all took the metro back into town together, and the boys were really sad when the others had to leave–they wanted more time with everyone!

Our last day was Monday. We began back at the National Mall again, at the Carousel. It opens at 11am, in case you’re wondering. DSC_0396_WEB

From there we spent almost two hours in the American History museum. A helpful lady at the front desk pointed out the areas that our toddlers would enjoy–the Kermit puppet, and the transportation exhibits: trains, cars, and buses. They did indeed love running around looking at all the cool things!

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The entire Mall is under construction…which is a bummer if you’re anyone but a toddler. They would seriously have sat and watched the construction vehicles for an hour, or more, I bet.

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Finally, it was time to head to the airport. We decided to just do the train after all, since Uber Family was unlikely to be around. I also found one of those suitcase straps that allows you to ‘carry’ one on top of another, which allowed me to drag all three suitcases at once, plus wear a backpack. Andy wore the other backpack and pushed the double stroller. And because of the elevators, it worked out quite nicely and easily! (Again, that would not be the case in New York!)

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So overall, as you can see, it was a great trip, and we all had a good time. Combining seeing family and seeing exciting new places was extra special, and this age seems like such a fun time to explore together. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I can’t wait to travel with our twins again!

Flying with Twin Toddlers

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We have just completed our first plane trip with our 2.5 year old boys, which obviously makes me a top expert in the field of traveling with toddlers! Haha, obviously that’s a joke. However, I was pleasantly surprised at how well the long weekend went overall, and wanted to share some tidbits in case they’re helpful.

I’m going to break it into a few posts: the flying part, the Washington DC visit, and the apps they like to play.

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This first tip is HUGE DEAL. Since my husband was out of town and our nanny has an injury, my mom was here helping out late last week, and she was planning to drive us to the airport and help us check in. But then while she was here she asked about getting a gate pass. I was like, huh? Turns out that you can get a special ‘ticket’ or pass for someone to help you in the airport, past security. (I called the airline and told them, and then the ticketing agent is the one who can issue it, or not.) Seriously, this was a gamechanger. Being able to have two adults for the entire process made a huge difference.

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We happened upon a kids’ area at the end of the Alaska (C) terminal at PDX, and my mom stayed with them while I went to buy snacks and lunch for the boys, and to the bathroom. Then we switched and she went to get a coffee. All this was done leisurely while the boys played happily!

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The next tip was something that I’d thought made sense but recently saw a blog post confirming it–don’t board early. Why on earth would you want your small children confined to a tiny airplane seat for longer than necessary? I let them keep playing after boarding began, and then we were almost the last ones on the plane. The taxi/takeoff happened really quickly after we got settled. It made the whole experience feel a lot more streamlined and efficient. (Of course, we were on a morning flight from a smaller-city airport, and a nonstop to boot. All those effected efficiency, I’m sure.)

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The boys were very curious boarding the plane and someone pointed them toward the cockpit, where the pilot brought them in and sat them on the pilot seats! We also got some coloring books and crayons from the flight attendant–can’t hurt to ask on your next flight if they have some too!

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The three of us had a row all to ourselves, which was excellent. No worrying about bothering other people with our stuff and constant moving around. Plus, since the boys’ feet barely reached to the end of the seats, that meant I had three underseat storage areas: one each for my backpack, ‘their’ backpack, and my feet. πŸ™‚

A random amazing thing is Alaska’s outlets at every seat. (I hear that some Delta flights have them too?) Being able to use devices as much as you want and not worrying about running out of juice? I’ve been on enough cross-country/international flights to know how precious that is! Overall, I was very impressed with Alaska. I hadn’t flown them in over a decade (since they don’t really fly to the east coast and I am/was a diehard Jetblue fan), but I will look forward to flying with them again in the future! Our flight attendant was really sweet and cooed at them, and also sat with one while I went to change the other.

On the flight itself, I was overly prepared with snacks and toys. I brought some silly putty and pullback racer cars, the Melissa & Doug Vehicles Reusable Sticker Pad, a Water Wow vehicles coloring book, plus our two iPads and 2 pairs of tiger headphones with a splitter.


The sticker pad was the first thing I pulled out, and they played with it for almost two hours! I wouldn’t expect them to play with it that long again, but since this was their first time seeing something like that, they really liked it. Mainly they just pointed to the sticker they wanted and then stuck it somewhere on their scene page. (I tore them out so they could each hold one, and I held on to the sticker sheets.)

(I didn’t end up taking out the coloring books or the new board books I had in my bag.)

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We had lunch and snacks, and then for awhile they listened to “songs.” (Which is what they call the kids music we play for them that they love: 52 Sing-A-Long Silly Songs, Children’s Favorites, Volume 1, and Volume 2) I was sitting in between them and I had them lay down with their heads in my lap, and they just zoned out. (And I watched a bit of a movie on the in-flight entertainment.) It was really sweet.

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At the end of the flight, they played a couple games on the iPad, and watched part of a Daniel Tiger episode. They did *not* sleep. The flight ended two hours after they would have gone down for their nap. And for the most part they were okay, but at the very end, after the seat-belt sign went on, E was really tired and wanted to lay down on his seat. Of course I tried to wrestle him into his seat sitting up..but gave up after ten minutes of shrieking (him) and a backache (me), and just put him on my lap. He calmed down immediately and looked out the window as we descended and landed. Sigh.

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On the return flight, my husband was there too, so we were evenly matched. Once again we had a row of three, and then the seat across the aisle. I made my husband sit with the boys and I helped out from across the aisle as much as I could.

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They fell asleep right after takeoff; it was several hours past their normal naptime. They dozed for an hour and then woke up again.

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The sticker pad wasn’t as interesting this time around, and the magic coloring pages only lasted a few minutes. Silly putty was a total dud. The racer cars provided some fun and interest! So did snacks. We also walked up and down the aisle a couple times, and the boys charmed the flight attendants. We put on 3 episodes of Daniel Tiger to finish up the flight.

So as you can see, overall our flying experience went quite well. What a huge relief. I think their age had a lot to do with it–a year ago they wouldn’t have been able to understand as much or communicate very well, or do as much, activity-wise.

If you have any great tips or favorite toys/activities for flying with little ones, please share in the comments!!

Clark County Fair, with Twins

Two weekends ago, we decided to brave the Clark County Fair. It was our first big fair experience, and it was certainly an adventure!

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First, thank goodness we brought the stroller. (I recently got a double umbrella stroller, which is perfect for this kind of thing!) We weren’t sure if we would need it, because you know, toddlers walk everywhere anyway, but we brought it just in case.

Obviously we are newbies at this, because a stroller was totally necessary. There was a long walk from where we parked to the entrance, and if they’d been walking on their own, I’m sure they would have run all over the place in opposite directions and gotten swallowed up by crowds. So it was a good containment device when needed.

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We went on Saturday of the second weekend of the fair, in the early evening. The traffic was ridiculous getting to the fairgrounds–not sure if it’s like that all the time. That meant that by the time we finally parked, walked to the entrance, and waited in line to get tickets, it was past dinnertime for the boys, so they were cranky. They kept wanting to go look at the Ferris wheel and were very whiny, but mostly they were hungry. We got a smoothie, hot dog, burger, and curly fries to share between all of us.

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We didn’t end up doing or seeing any of the kid-specific or animal stuff. We did pass the sealions, which definitely intrigued the boys. They were so focused on the rides and the kiddie stuff was off to the side and must have closed around dinner time? We didn’t leave until after 8pm.

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The first stop after getting food and ogling the Ferris wheel was the carousel. Of course they loved it and wanted to stay. However, we lured them out with the promise of checking out other rides.

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Since they were 36″ inches, there were a few little rides they could do–a tiny rollercoaster, flying elephants, and the “car-driving”. The first two looked a little bit intimidating for our toddlers, so we tried the cars. Of course they loved it. They looked around at the other kids, they waved at us, they ‘drove’ their cars.

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The number of tickets worked out exactly so that they got to go three times! The last time they shared a car. πŸ™‚ Β  DSC_1283_WEB

I was struck by the realization that they’re only going to get bigger and older and more independent and more capable. I couldn’t believe that we had kids big enough to go on a ride all by themselves! Even though it was the dinkiest ride possible, it’s still the gateway, if you will. Before I know it, they’ll be running off on their own to go on the highest possible roller coasters, wanting nothing to do with their dumb parents.

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Naturally, they were not happy when it was time to leave the ride for good.

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It was a beautiful night and we were glad not to be in the long lines for the big rides. DSC_1297_WEB

I couldn’t leave without getting an elephant ear, so I left all the boys to explore the the John Deeres while I got my treat. Once again, they would have stayed at the tractors all night long. They climbed up and down most of them, big grins on their faces. DSC_1336_WEB DSC_1348_WEB

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Final thoughts:

1: Going to the fair is EXPENSIVE. Parking, admission, food, ride tickets–it adds up really fast.

2: They’re at sort of an in-between age right now. Next year when they’re 3.5 they’ll be so much more capable and ready to do more exciting rides.

3: It was a lot of fun watching them explore and be so excited! I am already looking forward to our next time.

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Monday Cuteness

Last night we had one of those major moments where you just go Awwwwwwwwww but you can’t quite put into words the ‘aw’-ness that you feel as your heart expands and melts. (We actually have this fairly often when they do things like spontaneously give each other a hug, or tell one of us that he loves us, or just have a funny conversation between them, or similar.)

Anyway, after dinner we were at the big Mt Tabor playground and Emmett decided he wanted to go for a walk. So I walked with him up the road and then up to the summit, and M and Andy came up too. The sun was setting and Malcolm noticed a group of people. “What they doing?” he asked “They’re doing yoga,” I said, and Andy added, “It’s kind of like stretching.” We had this exchange about a dozen times and M kept staring at the group, before I finally got him and E over near them so we could try it out. I started copying what they were doing and encouraging him to also. By golly, he was totally watching and copying them. It was SO FREAKING ADORABLE! He actually kept up pretty well and just kept going, so I was able to grab a few phone shots. (E did a few of the moves too, but then he got distracted by other stuff.)

I was really impressed, and hit with cuteness overload, and like I said, in a big ol’ puddle. Toddlers are awesome*.

*Earlier tonight before dinner, there was like 15 straight minutes of screaming as E kept smashing M’s magnatile creations, which greatly upset M of course, and we put E in timeout a couple times which also caused screaming. And because he was crying so hard, M also kept being bothered by snot in his nose (so he kept screaming, “More snot!”). Toddlers are a handful sometimes, to say the least. But dammit if they don’t do fun and interesting things like this too!

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