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. 🙂 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. 🙂

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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. 🙂

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I hope you and your family had a happy Halloween. 🙂

2015 4th of July

Once again we had an epic family Fourth of July! We started off with our traditional holiday photo:

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So last year, we picked cherries and then went to Timberline. The year before, we went to Timberline and then on a little hike to waterfall.

This year, we did all three! We started out by picking cherries at Draper Girls Farm in Hood River Valley (we drove during the boys’ naptime…the drive was only about an hour and they didn’t even sleep the whole time). They really had a good time finding and picking the cherries. We lifted them up so they could pick some, and then each of us went up on a ladder to get more too. We handed the cherries to them so they could put them in their buckets. They were very excited about the whole thing.

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We got them to smile for this photo because we had them say, “Happy fruit-picking day!” Thanks, Daniel Tiger. 🙂

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Our next stop was Mt Hood! We didn’t go into the lodge this time; we weren’t there very long at all. The boys kept saying, The mountain! The mountain! And they wanted to walk on the mountain…of course not understanding that we were already on it. Plus the big uphill walk was not easy or fun for them. It was a hot day and the snow was at the lowest level we’ve seen it. I made us take a couple pictures and then we left, and had dinner in Government Camp.

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Since they’re older now, and their bedtime is later, we still had time to go on our little hike! We did the Little Zigzag Falls trail again–it’s really short and there’s this nice waterfalls at the end. It was so cool and refreshing to walk through the forest (and that they could walk by themselves!)…and then of course they wanted to play with throwing pebbles in the water. 🙂

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It was a long day, for sure, but it was a great family adventure! I love that we’re doing little traditions like this, and it’s really neat to do the same things as they get older and can do and say so much more.

Spring 2015: Easter and Tulips

Early April was a busy time! First Andy went on a short work trip, and my mom came down to visit and help out.

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That weekend was Easter, and we took a trip to see the Easter bunny on Saturday. (Since it was the day before, there was no line! We also hit up the mall carousel, plus had a food court snack, and played with the trains at the bookstore, so it was a nice, full outing.) E was really excited to see the Easter bunny and waved and smiled and was cool sitting on his lap. M refused, so we did a family shot, and of course they looked their normal stoic.

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On Easter Sunday, we met my dad at Edgefield for the Easter brunch buffet. (I heart buffets for dining out with toddlers!) They enjoyed the food–mainly eating bread, bacon, some fruit, and orange juice, and wanted some of the chocolate dessert too (only one bite). Then we had some time to run around:

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After their nap, I ‘made’ their ‘Easter baskets’. They each got a random Easter-y book I found in a bin, a thing of bubbles, and a homemade snack baggie (almonds, a few chocolate cats, and cheesy crackers). They were very excited about the snacks, of course! I guess next year they’ll understand the whole Easter basket of goodies concept and I’ll have to do something not lame. DSC_9728_WEB

We also hid some eggs for them to find…but they were totally not into it! We did some practice egg hunting the previous weekend, and I guess they got over the idea. Emmett pointed at a few eggs but didn’t pick any up, and Malcolm didn’t even come all the way outside. Silly toddlers!

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The following week we made it to see the tulips at Wooden Shoe! I of course wanted to wander and take pictures…but twin toddlers don’t equal peaceful meandering. They investigated the various tractors and the tiny windmill and ran around, and I grabbed a few photos as I ran after them. Mainly I wanted a family photo and we did manage to get that. Third one in a row!

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Phew! Thankfully May is looking a little quieter.

Christmas 2014

We have had a wonderful two weeks of vacation for Christmas! I’d love for this to be one of those beautifully written and thoughtful essays on the meaning of Christmas, and the joy of the season with our small children that leaves you with a tear in your eye and a smile on your face, but…this isn’t really that kind of blog. So you’ll get a recap instead. 🙂

DSC_0125_WEBMostly our vacation was great because our daycare was still open for the non-holiday days. (So grateful!) And since we both took the time off work, we still sent them to daycare when we could so that we actually had some free time at home! It. Was. AWESOME. Oh my god, it was amazing.

The last six or seven months got really busy for me, and I was able to keep everything juggled, sometimes just barely. Most weekends as well as evenings after kid bedtime have been dedicated to at least some work (which is why things like this blog got pushed to the back burner). Don’t get me wrong, I was really happy about the work, but I kept wishing for an extra day of the week so I could get more stuff done. So, starting in late November, I had been clinging to the idea of TIME, finally, to just sit around and relax…and work on all the other things on my list. 🙂

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My first major accomplishment was catching up on Project Life. I’d been caught up to Week 49 with photos, but was something like 13 weeks behind on the journaling part. It took more than a few days, and it was hard to focus, but finally, that got done and checked off the list!! Hurray! (The other day I just got the last three weeks of pictures for the year, so I’ll have to get those done hopefully soon.)

IMG_9181_WEBMy next big task was getting some rest. CHECK! I took naps most of the first week, and slept in when I could. I literally hadn’t felt that good and rested since before the babies were born. The second week I’ve gotten less sleep again, but I’m hoping to get back on track. In addition, we worked on getting caught up on the big DVR backlog. I’ve also been watching some stuff on Netflix. I EVEN started a small knitting project. Look at me, such a lady of leisure! I love it!

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We also did some big household projects. With some amazing help from family, we now have shelves in our kitchen, which means a ton more storage for all the crap that has been accumulating on/in/around the cabinets. We also did major cleanup and organization in the basement! It only took an afternoon, but the results are INCREDIBLE. (No before picture, because it was pretty icky and messy). There are some other storage things I’m working on in the garage too. A couple smaller tasks got done too: Andy finally anchored a couple big pieces of furniture, which we’ve been meaning to do for over a year, and he also put together the new storage/dresser thing for the living room, which we’d left sitting in the garage for over a month. Generally, because we’ve actually had some time, we’ve gotten on a roll of getting shit done around the house! Woohoo!

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I’ve also been working on other personal photos, and trying to catch up on this blog, and also starting on my massive list of business-related tasks. I’ve made great progress for such a short amount of time, and I’m really happy and excited. The crossing off of items on my endless to-do list is so damn satisfying and has me all psyched up to keep up the good work!

DSC_0170_WEBThe Christmas part itself has also been really fun. Everyone says that the holidays are amazing through your kids’ eyes, and it’s so true! This year, the holiday decorations are so happy-making for the boys, and for me too. They know and talk about Christmas trees (which they adorably pronounce “mih-miss ree”), lights, stockings, ornaments, presents. I was really excited about the gifts that we piled up under the tree, though I had to consciously resist buying lots of stuff for the dudes, since they got lots of wonderful gifts from family. I got some cheap plastic ball ornaments for them to ‘decorate’ with. They loved it, and kept putting them on and then ripping them off again. Sigh.

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We did go see Santa again, to the downtown Macy’s Santaland. I would like that to be the place we go every year, it’s a fun outing downtown to see the big tree and see the Santaland display. They cared more about pushing their strollers around than looking at the moving reindeer this year, of course! The train stuff later on they thought was super cool. And the Santa there was great again this year too. The boys were not at all sure about sitting on a stranger’s lap. They didn’t cry, but they did do their classic wary/stoic thing. I wonder how old they’ll be before they’ll smile for Santa pictures. 🙂

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This year is an interesting one, because though they’re just starting to notice and learn things, they aren’t old enough for ideas like Santa Claus, or that there’s a special day, or that they can expect presents. Next year is going to be completely different, but this year they’ve been beautifully innocent and fun. I’ve really enjoyed it all, and I’ve been surprised at how happy and how emotional it’s all made me. Turns out I really am a big old softie. 🙂

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Christmas morning was so much fun–I started them off with stockings (because that was always my favorite). I gave them each a matchbox car and a packet of crackers. They were psyched and wanted to eat them right away, and I let them, because it was Christmas! 🙂 They got into the unwrapping thing, but they weren’t that good at it, or understanding that things have to be unwrapped or unpackaged before they can play. They got a fun new lawnmower push toy and a toy guitar, which were the two big toys they played with a lot right away. They also got the Goodnight Moon board game, a doll, some great new board books, some adorable clothes from their very fashionable auntie, a hammering toy, and some bookstore gift cards. Quite a haul for two year olds! They’ve been loving all the new stuff!

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Mid morning, though, we had a scare. I wasn’t paying attention while Malcolm was over by the tree, and suddenly there was something in his mouth. Little red shards. He had eaten or bitten something off the tree! Andy realized it was a tree light bulb. I found the end third caught in his bib and got some biggish shards off his tongue, but I had no idea how much else there was and how much, if any, he had swallowed. Oh god. I was really scared, and so worried, and so guilty. I took him to the ER – the children’s hospital where they were born has a pediatric emergency room, which meant that the decor was really friendly and nice, there was a toy right on the wall of the exam room, and the staff were extra gentle and wonderful and kind. That made things so much easier for both Malcolm and me. Happily, he seemed fine; the doctor told me that if he had swallowed anything, it would most likely pass right through with no damage at all. He was showing no signs of anything amiss, so they were not worried. Which meant that I didn’t have to worry anymore either. And indeed, he’s been totally and completely fine. I was so relieved!

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Later on, we continued our Christmas Day tradition of watching a movie and making/decorating a gingerbread house. Last year we watched Pitch Perfect and this year I sort of wanted to watch that again, but we ended up with 21 Jump Street, which was totally dumb in just the right kind of way.

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We also got in plenty of fun quality time with the four of us together. We went out for a walks a couple times; went to the indoor park; took the Max together for the first time; went to the bookstore; and went out for pizza. Not to mention the jumping and tickling and dancing and playing at home.

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Overall, like I said, it’s been a beautiful, productive, restful, and fun two weeks with our family this Christmas. I hope that you and your family also had a wonderful holiday and new year!

St Patrick’s Day Photo Series

Every month and every holiday, I take “official” photos of the babies. As they get older, it’s only gotten more difficult. I imagine that there are babies out there who sit still and play with props, but I don’t have any of those anymore. Both of these babies do not want to sit still, and they are too curious about the stuff I put on their heads to keep it on there for more than a second at a time. I don’t even bother doing holiday prop photos of them together anymore; I just do one at a time and make a diptych. (The couch ones do still work with them together, only because they are sort of semi-contained by the couch itself.)

I am no longer able to do photo shoots alone–either my husband or our nanny has to act as prop-placer, wrangler, entertainer. And I figured I should share all the photos I have to take to get something slightly decent. So here is the final St Patrick’s Day photo, with just some of the outtakes. Enjoy the chaos. 🙂

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