“But he looks the same size as he was yesterday.”

So my baby had a birthday! Ev was a bit confused as to why little Brother Bear did not appear to have changed very much even though he was suddenly 2. Tiny changes over time, Sis. It never ceases to be strange.

This year, we had a really special day celebrating our two year old boy. Rob always takes the day off or finds coverage for the kids’ birthdays, which I think just makes the day extra special.

We had a fun morning of pancakes and present opening, where Brother found such delight in every gift he was given.

Then we gave him some options of fun places to go spend the day, and he chose the train museum. It really was the perfect choice. The kids had an absolute blast, since trains are incredibly fascinating to them these days. They ran and climbed and imagined and rode the carousel more times than I can count.

I really think he felt celebrated. As the day went on, he understood that it was his birthday, and it was adorable. I can’t believe he is two. Our precious little love nugget.  bday3 bday4 bday5 bday6 bday7 bday8 bday9 bday10 bday11 bday12 bday13 bday14 bday15 bday16 bday17 bday2bday18 bday19 We finished the day at a soup place for dinner. Soup is such a favorite for him right now. It amazes me every time I see him scarf down the craziest soups. He loves them. French Onion is my new personal fave. bday20Happy Birthday, sweet boy! We love you!

2013

Is it too late to take a look back at 2013? It was one of the best.

I always love going back through old pictures and choosing a favorite from each month. The changes in the kids really shows the passage of time. Jan2013Febmarchapril2mayjunejulyaugustseptemberoctobernovemberdecemberI have one goal for this new year. Just one little, monstrous goal: make photo books. I don’t really know how long I will be doing this blogging thing. But I do know, that as long as there are cameras, I will be taking pictures. It’s really important to me to have hard copies of all these moments and have them organized. So I am looking into ways to do this, and I am going to attempt a really nice book of photos. Cheers to capturing the memories!

Family Photo Dump

We had a really wonderful time being with our family over the holidays. I didn’t feel like I took out my camera that much, but I still managed to make it home with over a thousand photos. Mysterious.

So here’s a photo dump of some great memories. IMG_1228 IMG_1263 IMG_1266 IMG_1310IMG_1328 IMG_1329 IMG_1335 IMG_1371 IMG_1375 IMG_1413IMG_1416 IMG_1419 IMG_1423 IMG_1427 IMG_1435 IMG_1439 IMG_1446 IMG_1472 IMG_1486 IMG_1494 IMG_1503 IMG_1521 IMG_1523 IMG_1525 IMG_1536 IMG_1540 IMG_1546 IMG_1559 IMG_1562 IMG_1563 IMG_1565 IMG_1569 IMG_1578 IMG_1582 IMG_1586 IMG_1591 IMG_1596 IMG_1601What a trip! My kids have the best cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents.

these winter days

IMG_1202We are having lots of low-key winter days around here, and it has been lovely. 

We have had several days of snow, which has finally convinced EBug that it is indeed winter. That’s her benchmark, so I’m glad we got some. It was the perfect snow too. The type that is beautiful but doesn’t shut everything down for days and days. I get frantic if I can’t go to Target. IMG_0878 IMG_0872 Ev has been doing lots and lots of cooking. Both real and pretend. Susu and Pops got her this cookbook last spring for her birthday, and she has loved it so much. The recipes are simple, delicious, and perfect for a 3 year old. Would be a great gift. Cooking and baking are our go-to indoor activities. IMG_0867The kids have been so great with the tree this year. They do like to play with the ornaments, but they are relatively careful, and we have only had a few casualties. IMG_1154 EBug is really into the snow and loves being out in it. Snow doesn’t suit Brother Bear and me as well. He hates the cold, and I pretty much do too. But we did brave it for a little bit to sled with our friends. IMG_1161 IMG_1177 IMG_1185Our indoor time has been surprisingly good. It’s hard to believe how good. IMG_1195 I was fretting a bit about so much time inside in our tiny little apartment with just a few toys. I am not big on having lots of toys, but sometimes in the winter I get a little panicky about not having enough. IMG_1198 Turns out, this fear is ridiculous. Never underestimate the imaginations of children. IMG_1144 EBug is constantly coming up with hilarious scenarios for her and Brother to play, such as, “pizza night,” “school park,” “babysitter” (my favorite!), “puppies,” and “zoom zoom.” I need to do a blog post detailing the specifics of these. They crack me up. 

One big development in their ability to play together is Brother’s communication. Ev has always been a good big sister, but her interest in him has grown enormously now that he can talk. He can say all the words. Rob and I can mostly understand him, but E is fluent in his language. The conversation they have. I need to record them. IMG_1226Such little loves. IMG_1212And last but certainly not least, we have been celebrating Advent. My friend, Erin, put together an amazing ornament exchange for Jesse Tree ornaments, and it has been such a joy to use them to prepare our hearts for Christmas. I have used them mostly along with the JSB, our favorite. 

Christmas music is also playing loud and strong around here. We have so many favorites. Dave Barnes’ Very Merry Christmas album is my daily choice, and the kids and I also love the Epiphany album by Pierce and Reagan-their version of Joy to the World is absolutely the best. 

Ev asked me yesterday if I would play, “Shepherds we have heard of you.” Close. 

I also wanted to record her most recent prayer. She asks to pray every night at dinner. She went through a phase when she was not interested in praying at all, and we did not push it. But now she wants to, so we encourage. Here is what’s on repeat at our dinner table:

“Dear God, we love you and we care for you. We love that we can be by your side. Amen.”

These little words are so precious, and have reminded me that at this time of year we are looking back at the first time that Jesus came to this world and looking ahead to when He will come again. I can’t wait. 

“For all the promises of God find their yes in Jesus.” 2 Cor. 1:20

Worth it

We ended our week with laundry piled all around in mountains. I don’t think we had one clean thing in the house. It had been a busy week, and life had piled up as it tends to do. So the obvious choice for our Saturday was to get caught up. Buckle down, make some lists, and get to it.

But that didn’t sound quite as fun as a jaunt up the road to the hustle and bustle of New York City! The Christmas tree at Rockefeller was calling to us. It only made sense to forgo the housekeeping and make a memory.

The only only only reason that a day trip with little people made any sense at all, because it is quite a distance, is due to our children’s looooooove of transportation. We knew riding the train would be part (maybe their favorite part) of the whole experience. So we drove up to Trenton and took a train into the city.

As we predicted, the train was a blast for them.
IMG_0892 IMG_0901 All aboard! All his dreams coming true. IMG_0908As soon as we stepped off at Penn station, things were already festive. Holly jolly right away. IMG_0926 This will come as a shock, but it was important to me that Brother Bear get a nap in while we were there. So I borrowed an ergo carrier (those things are awesome!) from a friend. Thank you, Maggie! He napped like a champ while we made our way to the children’s museum of manhattan. IMG_0939  Once at the museum he was rested and ready for some fun in the land of Dora and Boots!

Both children loved this exhibit. EBug was walking around narrating her own actions (very common these days) as if she were in an episode herself. IMG_0956 IMG_0971 Then we headed to another floor for some “skating” (slipping around in socks) on the Grinch’s pond. They were grinning and laughing the whole time. IMG_0978 IMG_0980 IMG_0997 IMG_1023 They made a point to slip and fall often. IMG_1029 We finally pulled them off the “ice” to continue our adventure through the city. IMG_1051 IMG_1057    One of my absolute favorite parts of being in the city is just walking outside taking it all in.

All types of people everywhere, Christmas trees being sold on every corner, and lots of unique spots to experience. Such as-the Treat House.

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Only in nyc can places this specialized survive! Rice krispie treats. That’s all they sell. But tons of unique toppings and mixin’s that made all of our mouths water. IMG_1061IMG_1064 A little coffee to-go, and it was time to take our treats to Central Park.

As we were walking, we were really talking up Central Park to Ev. A few minutes in, I realized that she was probably picturing lots of park equipment. Uh oh. So then we started back tracking trying to explain what the park was like, because if you’ve ever been, you know the park is huge with lots of spaces and paths and bridges, and I had honestly never seen any playgrounds. IMG_1072 Now, I don’t know Central Park. No clue what is where and blah blah blah. But we entered at some random corner and lo and behold an awesome park!IMG_1076 IMG_1084 The kids had the best time at that park. I will never forget it. They would sprint over to sip their cocoa and then sprint back to run and play and slide. IMG_1087 IMG_1089 This was honestly my favorite part of the day. We were all so relaxed, filling ourselves with fresh air and happy moments. We should have just stayed at that park til time to go back home, but the tree! We had come for the tree. IMG_1095 So we loaded the kids into a taxi, they were in heaven, and headed to Rockefeller Plaza. IMG_1096 IMG_1100 IMG_1104 IMG_1117 IMG_1119 IMG_1123 There is a line between festive and chaos and it is fine!

Trying to just get over to the tree was a huge feat. I was so thankful we had not brought the stroller! The crowds! It was insane. Everyone had the same idea we did.

So after a few attempts at pictures in front of the tree our brains were screaming, “Flee!”IMG_1132 IMG_1137 So we said goodbye to the Big Apple and made our way back home.

It was a long, full day, but worth every effort. The kids snoozed on the ride home, and we enjoyed some time to chat together and listen to things of our own choosing. IMG_1139 Brother must have played with his taxi car for two hours this morning! These children will be dreamin’ about nyc for weeks.

Holiday Happiness

IMG_0634 I spent Wednesday in preparation mode-kissing my china. I missed it so much. IMG_0639 We were not able to go home this year, so we spent the day with some dear friends who are also far from family due to residency. IMG_0644 IMG_0645 EBug loved adding to our Thanksgiving tree as we anticipated the holiday and listed all that we are thankful for. Listening to what kids are grateful for is hilarious. IMG_0646 This is Brother Bear’s contribution. Kites. IDK. “You mean food? or milk? or George?”

“No. Kiiiiiites.” Ok then. IMG_0648On the day of feasting I started the day off right: a giant cup of mocha coffee in my fave mug to sustain me through a marathon of cooking. IMG_0651 Brother was somewhat interested in the parade. Didn’t last long.IMG_0653 But he did tap his toes for a few beats to the marching band. IMG_0657 He was much more interested in a little 30 degree football time with Daddy. IMG_0668 It was cold but necessary for them to go with Daddy to the park. They loved it, and I got a lot accomplished. Cooking food for people is one of my all time favorite things in this world. It’s how I show love. And it’s so gratifying to work on something and then taste success. IMG_0674 Stuffing has gone from my least favorite holiday food to favorite. I have the best recipe in this world, and I plan to make it every year for as long as life permits. IMG_0679 Pinterest has a plethora of tablescape over-the-top-ness. I prefer free. Things that I can find outside or download and print. IMG_0693 A kids coloring table is a must. Again, free printable coloring pages. IMG_0702 There’s the stuffing. I cooked a good deal more than stuffing, but it’s the show stopper. The turkey is not pictured. He was delicious but not a looker. I decided to use a slow cooking method that truly did make the meat extra tender, but not extra pretty. Can’t have it all. IMG_0703 We had such a fun night with our precious friends. We even attempted a group pic, but between the flash and the crazy faces of my children and my own vanity issues, I am not posting. Please refer to previous post to see our lovely friends and their adorable children.

Today, we kept the holiday craze going with a trip to the tree farm. Yes, tree farm. We were on our way to a regular ole lot, and then we were like, “why?”

Our decision to drive the extra miles to do it was an awesome choice. Much more of an experience and a really fun memory. IMG_0735 IMG_0738 These trees! They were all gorgeous and all different sizes. The one we picked seemed perfectly average to small in size, and we got it home and it is taking over our apt. In a good way. Bring on the Christmas. IMG_0752 You know those moments when you see the world through your child’s eyes, and it is like the wonder washes over you all over again…IMG_0759 This was not one of those days. Sometimes the world through your child’s eyes is just filled with tears. Couldn’t even tell you why. Not a tree farm guy I guess. IMG_0765 Rob really got to get in touch with his farmer boy side. Cutting down your own tree is no joke. IMG_0770 Especially when your three year old wants a piggy back ride while you are cutting it. IMG_0772 But he managed!IMG_0776 IMG_0780 And I helped a little.

Actually, no, I could not get that saw to budge an inch. Not a single inch. I don’t even know why it was so hard, but it confirmed everything that I thought was true about myself. Strong in other ways.IMG_0784 “Ev, could you please go back and ask Brother to stop crying and follow us back to the car. Thanks.”IMG_0787 IMG_0793 IMG_0797 He perked up at the sight of the saws. IMG_0802She’s gone country. Just threw that tree in the back of the pick up truck and hauled it home.

No, we are not that in touch with our southern roots. Just have a zip car membership.

The past few days have been the perfect kick off to the holiday season. As I sat and ate my delicious leftovers tonight looking at our beautiful tree, I was reminded to continue giving thanks. We have had a ton of time as a family recently, and that has allowed for such enjoyment of this time of year.

The first two years of residency I found myself struggling to come up with ways to make this time of year fun for the children and myself. I felt two steps behind in my preparation and holiday cheer. But this year! This year feels totally different. Having Rob around for dinner and weekends and holidays has brought such calm to my heart. Tidings of comfort and joy for sure.

The upside

So maybe winter won’t be so bad. IMG_0614We have some wonderful friends in Annapolis, which is so fun, because it has given us many a reason to go over there, and it is just the quaintest place in the world.

So they invited us to head down the highway for an ice skating adventure, and it was about the cutest thing to see the little people attempt it. IMG_0604Little Brother running to get his skates. The backwards hat is becoming a wardrobe staple. IMG_0611 IMG_0608 IMG_0612 IMG_0613 IMG_0618  IMG_0620  IMG_0631IMG_0630We had the best time, and I was super proud of the munchkins for attempting such a slippery sport. I was nervous myself. 

We will have to go back again this winter. ‘Make winter bearable’ is my new motto. Thanks for the soup input! My mom sent me an awesome recipe that was my great grandmother’s! Things are looking up.