the life and times of lauren, andy, and mainly, our little dean beans…

Legos, Thanksgiving, and SNOW!!!

Posted on November 30, 2014

November wraps up today, and it was an eventful month. We had a first-ever Thanksgiving away! We ventured over to New York to stay with Lauren’s Uncle Mark in his gorgeous cabin in the woods in the Catskills. We really lucked on the travel (we left super-early on Wednesday morning and got there right as the snow started to fall, the trip back was less smooth, but not unbearable). It was perfect because noah has been asking about when he could play in the snow pretty much since it stopped snowing last March. So he spent most of the week outside making snowmen, smashing snowmen (apparently more fun than making them, since I did most of the making and he did most of the smashing), snowball fights, snow-fort making, snow-angels, snow-baseball, snow shoveling, sledding (sort of, no hills around), and walks in the scenic woods. More importantly, the kids got quality time with the DeNat/Mistretta side of the family and got to hang with cousin Matthew (emily was excited to see “Pee and Jayter,” cousins Peter and Jay). noah found a new favorite food, matza brie, and TV show, Octonauts. emily found new ways to wake us up early (we all slept in the same room upstairs), and got to do lots of coloring and building with magna-tiles and mega-blocks. Other than that, this month was filled with fun activities. We had a pretty sweet bowling date with the AhnAllens (noah’s best buddy, Noah) at Ron’s Gourmet Ice Cream and Bowling (and yes, we had ice cream too, of course, and it is super gourmet!). The noahs had a lot of fun, and Jacob got into it too, but em was iffy on the whole thing (I ended up having to bowl for her). We also had another trip to the Science Museum (that membersip is gonna pay off this time!) with Micah and his parents Hsindy and Victor (who should have his own little science museum in his house with all the stuff he makes!). The kids probably would have been fine to just play at the ball wall (a wall with magnetic PVC pipes to make mazes for plastic balls to drop down through) all day, but we motivated them to see a bit more of the museum. We also had a trip to the Audubon Society’s Drumlin Farm with neighbor and friends Omri, Idan and their mom Sharon. The space is beautiful and, bonus, there’s farm animals, always a good thing. Other than that there was a lot of raking of leaves. The kids are super helpful/not helpful depending on whether they are running/bike riding through the piles or being used as compactors (they like to jump up and down on the leaves in the barrels). And there was some modeling of the City Year children’s red jacket tee with good friend Phoenix, check it out on cityyearstore.com (and get your own!).

emily is all about showing us what she can do these days, she is a very proud munchkin. Her favorite phrase is “Look it, mommy/daddy, LOOK IT!” (while showing us something she did/found/noticed. She is still an avid reader (that is, she likes us reading to her), now sometimes she will sit with a book herself and read it to herself (she says to me, “Daddy, let me look at pages first)!). Her language has been expanding in leaps and bounds. She has always been a talker, but she can clearly describe things in paragraphs now, a huge advance on the non-sequitur tangential phrases toddlers speak in. And she remembers and focuses on specifics things. Like every day when we drove by Halloween decorations of a blown-up vampire and separately a blown-up pumpkin she would be excited to see them, so of course, every day this month she has asked where they are and when they will come back (umm, next year?). She recently found noah’s old Scout dog (a stuffed dog that speaks and sings incredibly catchy/annoyingly-stick-in-your-head tunes), and loves to carry it around and sing with it. Thankfully noah most often is ok with her adopting his old toy. But sometimes he chooses to be mean about it and yanks it back, unfortunately that’s standard older sibling behavior we get too much of these days!

Speaking of noah, his world has been officially altered forever. Legos have arrived in our house. There had been some tinkering at Nonna’s prior to this arrival, but now we are in full-blown Lego mode. I don’t think I have seen him take to a toy quite like this since we got him his first wooden train set at age 1. And, frankly, I am right there with him. It’s pretty darn fun to build with Legos, I would be happy to sit and build with them all day, just like noah. My mom, in all her infinite wisdom, saved all my Legos from my childhood, so it was pretty amazing to open up a box with so many pieces I remember so well (including classic red/blue/gray space Lego sets, YES! And a 1996 Wild West set unopened box, what?). noah’s current favorite activity with the legos is building spaceships, and they are AWESOME! Sometimes they are more like space-stations they have so much going on. He really likes to add the “gold” pieces (neon/translucent ones).

Here’s the pics from the month:

Apples, Archaeology, and Astronauts (and Aliens)!

Posted on November 24, 2014

October may be my favorite month. Between the beautiful fall colors, the apple-picking, the perfect inbetween weather (50s-70s), and then there’s the end of the month, HALLOWEEN! I was never big into costumes as an adult, but I fondly remember making the costumes as a child with my mom and I have continued that tradition with noah’s costumes (and hopefully soon emily’s, she’s just been less on board so far). Because we LOVE apples and our kids love apple-picking and everything that comes with that (eating apples, hayrides, animals, pumpkin patches, climbing on mommy and daddy’s shoulders, and, of course the deeply fried, sugar coated CIDER DONUTS! Yum.) we go apple picking twice. Once with the Mistretta’s and once with the Dean’s. Our first trip was to Shelburne Farms which comes with all the kids activities you could want and we got perfect weather and we apparently invited half of New England to come with us because it was packed! The second trip was to a new place for us, Carlson Farm, and we LOVED it! It didn’t have a lot of extra frills, but the apple variety and quality was awesome and they were super nice (free hot apple cider!) and no crowds (it was a tad bit colder that time!). Between those trips we also checked out the Cranberry Harvest Festival which was amazing, except for the fact that we went on the day it downpoured, pretty much torrential rain (there were mini-rivers on the roads). Despite that, we loved the experience, the bogs are so beautiful and the process so interesting and there was a lot to do, but we only partook in the free horse rides and hayride tour (after that we had to head out, we were cold and wet much like the cranberries we observed). noah’s t-ball also wrapped up this month, which he definitely misses (he still wants to play baseball no matter how cold it is outside!). We had a trip to the Science Museum with noah and em’s friends Layla and Kira for an Archaeology Fair. They were all pretty excited to dig for treasures and learn all about ancient cultures (and noah got to try out a “bone” and arrow as he calls it).

Then there was Halloween. By Halloween, I mean more than just October 31st. We had a Halloween Parade at Legacy Place with noah’s friend Linus, a Halloween Parade at my office that I organize every year and is the cutest thing ever, a parade at noah’s school, and finally trick or treating both at the Mistretta’s Pirate Ship with friends Jackson and Scarlett and in our own neighborhood with buddies Quinn, Gwen, Clara, and Cece. That’s a lot of Halloweening (and a lot of candy, oy.). The kids loved it. This year was the first year that emily really got it. Like you get free candy just for walking around in a costume? SCORE! She loved the City Year parade, after every piece of candy she would walk up to Lauren and say, “Look it, mommy! Look it! Candy!” and then do the exact same thing with me. Every single piece (and there were way too many candy stations in my office!). It was adorable. noah just soaked in all the compliments and awesomeness of running around with a big spaceship attached to him (arms out running was my favorite, like he had wings too!). Needless to say, they had a lot of fun (and I did too). :)

emily is still pretty particular about what she wears. It’s unclear how she picks a favorite, but if you are able to get her to wear something a few times it usually becomes a favorite. But don’t let it be “too tight,” once that happens it is all over. She is fond of her Hello Kitty t-shirt, her “bicycle shirt” from Ann Arbor, and her “gwweeeen” (green) shirt from Halloween. Everything else is a battle! And rarely will she wear anything but leggings. And don’t even think about trying to get her to wear anything other than her rainbow sneakers (which she hated originally). And finally, her preference, no matter the temperature, is never, ever to wear a sweatshirt or jacket, but if she must, she only wants to wear her “stahh coat” (raincoat with stars on it). Her eating is still the same too (grazing), but getting a little better. She still singing any chance she gets, and loves to dance. She has also added “squats” to her favorite moves, which she learned while watching me workout, she gets a kick out of doing them because it always elicits a laugh from everyone.

noah and emily like to “wrestle” with me now. Half the fun is the anticipation as I announce the fighters and how much they weigh and what corner they are in and then the bell rings and we are off and at it (basically I roll around toss them around a bit and throw a couple tickle attacks in until I let them climb on my back and pin me down). Good clean fun, no folding chairs necessary. noah has really gotten into activity books, basically mazes, connect-the-dots, hidden pictures, and learning his letters and numbers. As usual, he is full of questions, always soaking everything in and curious to no end. One morning he quizzed me on how bumps and cracks get in the road, try explaining potholes to a child, not easy!

Here’s the pics (a lot this month!):

A September to Remember

Posted on November 8, 2014

There has been a shift in the colorverse at our home. emily, imitating her brother, has decided she always wants a “gweeen” bowl and cup, and spoon, and fork, etc. Of course this means they fight over who gets each every time. Meanwhile noah sometimes tells us red is his new favorite color (perhaps, because it is also mine?), but this doesn’t affect his eating utensil choice/fight with emily. Speaking of eating, emily is still the world’s worst sitter, that is, she refuses to stay seated at the dinner table for longer than, mmm, 30 seconds. She is the definition of a grazer. She will take a bite play with her spoon, wiggle out of her seat, run a lap, find a toy to play with, then run back and repeat. No matter what we say, demand, threaten, she refuses to keep her bum glued to her seat. She also often demands every other kind of food she can think of (her favorite though being “PAS-TAH!”, not including mac & cheese), and will be unhappy with it once she gets anything she actually asked for. I’d think she wasn’t getting enough food except for the fact that she is an avid snacker (which probably exacerbates to the grazing problem), she pretty much eats her weight in goldfish. noah, meanwhile, has become a much better eater, even eating the “grown-up” food, so long as nothing green is on it. He’s back to eating “frozen” pancakes in the morning, as in still frozen, not cooked pancakes from the freezer. Both kids have this thing where they say they are going to “throw” each other places as a joke, like, “emily I throw you in the tub!” “noah, I throw you on the couch!” I don’t get it, but they think it is hilarious!

The morning routine changed about a month ago, now I do my T25 work-out before the kids wake up. Or at least that was the plan, noah disrupted that when he discovered he could sit and watch my work-out video with me (apparently our depriving him of TV means he takes anything projected on the screen as entertainment). There are some funny moments when he tries to imitate the moves, tries to crawl or run around me while I do a balance move, when he repeats something Shaun T (the instructor) says (i.e. “Daddy, he said not to touch the ground, and you are touching it!”), or complements and encourages me, it’s like I have my very own mini personal trainer.
The other part of the morning that has changed is that I now drive the kids to school in the morning. So after I shower Lauren heads out and I get the kids ready and out the door. This usually involves a lot of juggling as I also try to get myself ready, but there’s a 50/50 chance they play nicely together while I brush my teeth/put my bag together/etc. Regardless of that, there is a 0% chance that emily will wear a jacket and/or sweatshirt/anything to keep her warm. Gonna get interesting when the weather gets super cold! The big change in my car is that I started playing a CD of the (University of) Michigan marching band which the kids LOVE! It’s kind of awesome because they actually don’t fight over which CD to play and I don’t get children’s songs stuck in my head for the rest of the day, although sometimes I miss Caspar Babypants and their silly wittiness!
Besides being really into outer space now (clearly fostered by us and the Halloween festivities), noah is also into dinosaurs, because dinosaurs. We’ve got a bunch of books we read together, and he’s full of questions like is this dinosaur bigger than this one and which dinosaurs were strongest or fastest or tallest (many of which I wish I could answer, but cannot!). noah’s starting to do a little finger math these days. He often asks how much more something is than another thing or how many more he needs and so on (a favorite is “how old will emily be when I am…”), he’s pretty good at solving it when we put up our fingers for him to count, sometimes he doesn’t even need a hand (get it?). :) emily, meanwhile, is a super counter and can count to 10 in french thanks to nonna!
So the month of September was a good one. It included a Sox game for noah and me, a trip to the beach on the last hot day with the Deans, and Halloween costumes arrived! We celebrated Julian’s birthday, got to see one of noah’s oldest friends, Cora, hit up the always classic Renaissance Faire with the Boros family who make us look lame with their period costumes. noah and I also hit up the mini-Legoland with friend Micah, had cousin Matthew over for dinner, and had a playdate with the other noah (one of noah’s good friends from pre-school who went on to kindergarten this year). Most important of all, there was a trip to Ann Arbor to see our good friends Jon, Josh and Valerie and their daughter Mira! We got to stroll the campus with the kiddos, play a little football, watch a little football (let’s not talk about that, I had planned to put noah to bed after Michigan scored, thanks for not scoring in the first half Michigan). There was some sprinkler fun, a short hike and playground fun, Washentenaw Dairy ice cream goodness, and of course, ZINGERMANS!!! The best.
Here’s the pics:

An animal-filled August!

Posted on October 12, 2014

August seems so distant now that the leaves are changing and the temperature is dropping (not that I’m complaining, I love fall!). August always starts with Nonna’s birthday, yay! and ends with, well, summer stuff I would guess. We had a pretty animal filled month, a trip to Stone Zoo to see Wally (the zoo was pretty small, but the birds of prey show was pretty cool), a trip to Southwick Zoo for noah with the school (it was a huge zoo, pretty cool, but we didn’t have enough time to fully explore it), and a trip to the always awesome Davis Family Farmland (petting zoo/water park/bouncey house extravaganza) with the Boros & Karl families. We ventured down South for a Paw Sox game, em and noah definitely enjoyed cheering on the team, but really loved running the bases after the game, short but sweet fun! There was a very yummy Blueberry picking trip to Smolack Farms with the Hayes family and a great trip to a Cape Cod beach to meet our good friend Matt and Nikki’s adorable baby Cade. And as I mentioned before, ended August with a very summer-like trip to Boston Common with the kids’ first ever ride on a Swan Boat! There were also two trips to the Emergency Room within a week, oy. emily had a tumble from our climbing wall on the swingset, cut under her chin deep enough to need stitches. She won a free trip to the ER, and they had to give her drugs to calm her for the stitches that apparently made her quite amusing according to Lauren (essentially drunk). Then two or three nights later noah decided to jump from his dining room chair and did a pretty bad faceplant. After 45 minutes of a bloody nose, Lauren headed back to the ER with patient number two. Both of them are ok and all better now, and hopefully no more trips to the hospital!

emily definitely has a flair for the dramatic. These days when she doesn’t get what she wants or more often when we ask her to do something she doesn’t want to, she just flips a switch, starts crying, stomping, and, most importantly, waving her arms around with floppy hands because somehow the proportion of shaking body parts is directly related to how upset a toddler is. She is still very much a grazer when it comes to eating. Most dinners she takes a few bites declares she is done and asks if she can go play. This is followed by a few walk-by nibbles every once in awhile and capped off with a fit when we say dinner is done and put everything away (clearly she needs at least 2 hours to eat dinner). When it comes to snacking she LOVES “bunny cheese” as in cheese bunny crackers (not cheese made from bunny milk, that would be weird). emily has two favorite activities: play-doh and drawing “happy faces” (well, really three, the third being anything noah does). She loves play-doh, mainly just  stuffing it into the various play-doh contraptions we have, and getting it all over my office!

noah meanwhile continued his obsession with baseball. It was pretty much required that we play wiffle ball after or before dinner every night (if it was before, good luck getting him to come up for dinner!). I eventually switched him to a thinner bat as he was blasting every pitch and then eventually I had to start wearing a glove as one too many times I tried to barehand catch one of his line drives, ouch! Just like with every other game, he makes up rules as we go along that keeps everything in his favor. In baseball he is always asking if every hit he gets is a home run (and if he runs, it always is… as he can run the small diamond we have a lot faster than I can run to get the ball). When we play hockey he makes his goal smaller and smaller until it basically doesn’t exist. In board games he sometimes throws a fit if the outcome isn’t to his liking. I guess being a gracious loser is a learned trait, one that takes time and maturity (something Ohio State fans are still working on). GG and Papi gave noah a balance bike that he took to very quickly, hopefully first step to moving to a real bike with no training wheels. For now he’s bouncing off his feet scooting along at a pretty fast pace. noah has also picked up some new sayings like ending a declarative statement with the always informative, “for real!” He has been having a tough time with the transitions in upper preschool, almost all of his friends left to go to k1 in the boston school system. Luckily he still has his buddy Linus and we have been able to see his other friends at playdates. noah also gets to spend time with his science idol, Mr. “He knows all” Will. It’s pretty awesome, noah gets to learn about the ocean, bugs, weather, the solar system, basically answering every preschooler question about the world around us. noah loves learning from him, noah often tells me things that I suspect get a bit mixed-up in the retelling, but noah refuses to budge. If he believes Mr. Will said it, that’s it, it is infallible.

Here’s the pics:

BBQs, beaches, & batman

Posted on September 1, 2014

Lately, noah has been getting up on the weekends around 7am coming into our room and asking if he can play in his room (YES, and you know, you don’t have to wake us up to ask!!!). Besides taking out every toy imaginable and making a huge mess (and sometimes waking me up again to find something), he also often plays dress-up to hilarious ends. Putting on full costumes from his closet (fireman/spiderman/batman/etc), usually it’s a complete ensemble, but when emily gets involved he dresses her up (and presents her to us) in various mash-ups to form ridiculous combinations (fireman’s hat/superhero cape/hula skirt/luau necklace). If only I was less lazy and was willing to get out of bed and get my camera!

emily is all about doing things on her own, she doesn’t want to get help climbing or putting stuff together or building or eating. Little Miss Independent, she is. Except when it comes to noah, she will follow him around and do whatever he is doing. Sometimes they are on the same wavelength and are cracking each other up, other times they are fighting over toys or complaining about what one or the other is doing to one or the other of them. All in all, I’d say it’s pretty standard siblingness, usually all in good fun. But, oh man, when one of them erupts and then the other, there’s just no calming them. Well, emily can be soothed usually, noah on the other hand just continues escalating until he wears himself out. Good times. noah has also discovered “the scream” a useful tool for causing the most possible disruption and annoyance in others. More good times. On the plus side, he is still hilarious and adorable and maybe 30% of the time a really good kid who is happy to go along with anything. Plus he looks like us, so we kind of have to keep him. ;)

July was a month to remember. It started with the City Year BBQ where noah went into overdrive (and basically ran around in circles for over an hour after pushing emily around in a plastic car) and ended with our now annual trip to the Rhode Island house (a friend of my mom’s kindly lets us have it for a week each summer). In between there were a lot of BBQs and festivities. We visited our friends Jeff and Sharon and their children Bennett and Nadia on July 4th (and because of the rain the only fireworks were on em’s dress). We checked out the Newton July 4th festivities again (noah and emily both got to take part in the mini (emphasis on mini) races and see friends Barrett, Sloane, and Henry. We had a day at Larz Anderson flying kites with Micah and his parents Hsindy and Victor (check out the adorable pics of em and Micah flying a kite together and playing with a beach ball which I had to chase down the hill on more than one occasion). Lots and lots of baseball in our backyard, sometimes just sometimes with friends including best bud Patrick and cousin Matthew. There was oddly a lot of Batman mask wearing (not sure why, but it became a thing). And then there was the trip to RI, one of the favorite weekends for noah and emily (they love the beach, me not so much, but I love seeing them love it!). We all love the swimming pond in the back, and floating around on the various flotation devices my mom brings down (including a small boat!). We also had a nice visit from our good friends Dan and Sheila and their daughters Mia and Evie (which included a trip to the very delicious Matunuck Oyster Bar where we somehow managed to have the kids stay seated and eat while we all ate – and noah even tried an oyster and clams!). We also got to make s’mores with the kids for the first time, they approved, mainly for the chocolate involved, and saw fireflies the same night! The beach trip involved lots of boogie boarding/surfing, sand castle making, and wave jumping all to the glee of noah and em (who eventually also napped in a little tent).  Other than that, we also had a trip to the zoo with Ada & Matthew and Layla & Kira and their respective parents. And a BBQ with Quinn, Gwen, Clara, and Ceci that involved lots of baseball and soccer and in general running around chasing and bumping and other nuttiness. Lauren and I also made it to a wedding in Rochester sans kids who got to play in a real live baseball game with Papa and, of course, venture to a beach again!

Here’s the pics:

summer, summer, summertime

Posted on August 16, 2014

noah and emily have been quite the handful lately! They find ways to escalate their play very quickly. They’ve come up with games like “choo choo train” where emily holds onto noahs shirt and they march/run around the house together bumping into things. They also have found the joy in teasing a sibling i.e. anything they don’t want, DO IT! That and egging each other on when they are doing things they shouldn’t be. Oy. Speaking of which, emily managed to draw a masterpiece on one of our couch cushions a while ago (good thing you can flip them over!).

Other than couches, emily loves drawing on paper. She is constantly running into the office, grabbing paper from the printer and scribbling like crazy. She’s very prolific in her output, which brings down the selling price of each of her works of art, but I think she is willing to sacrifice sale price to get her artwork to the masses (bonus: usually it comes folded for easy shipping). She is also obsessed with going on the swing, anytime we can get outside she wants to be on the swings (“Underdog mommy! Blast off daddy!”). She is still a very strong minded toddler, one of her favorite phrases is “I CA-NOT daddy!” for things we want her to do or “I CAN daddy!” for things we don’t want her to do. She likes putting “ey” at the end of all her nouns, especially “milk-ey.” She also has created a new game where she asks Lauren to say a particular word when emily says a particular word. For example: “mommy you say Gah-raf (giraffe) when I say “shorts!”

noah, meanwhile, is still all about baseball. Every chance he gets he wants to be outside being pitched a wiffle ball. The problem is he is so good at hitting, and he hits it really hard, and when you pitch to him you have to be pretty close due to the shape and size of our yard. So after getting smacked with the ball a couple times I think I have developed a bit of a flinch after every pitch! After I tried catching a 150mph line drive off his bat with my bare hand I decided I should maybe wear a glove. I’m actually kind of surprised the Sox haven’t called him up after they traded away their whole team. noah is prone to getting a lot of boo-boo’s due to his constant activity, thankfully band-aids are the cure-all. noah has also been into doing things with the “guys” lately. He sometimes informs us that he is only going to do a certain activity or go somewhere with me, or Papi, or Papa, or Marvin or all of us, but not the girls! He’s gone from mainly requesting Lauren to snuggle every night to almost exclusively asking for me. We’ll see if it swings back the other way.

The rest of June was lots of outdoor play, pool and sprinkler fun, baseball, basketball, soccer, swings, you name it! noah and I also went to our first Sox game of the season, which he absolutely loved and refused to leave until the field had been cleaned and cleared. It was a pretty perfect game since it was one on back-to-back home runs including one by noah’s favorite player, Big Papi! We also had the pre-school graduation where each pre-school class performs music and dance routines, it’s exactly what it sounds like, cuteness overload! This year’s theme was summer which meant bathing suits, hula skirts, sunglasses and Surfin’ USA (and I was able to help with the look and feel). Hard to believe this is noah’s last year at his daycare, he’s getting so big! We also had a trip to the aquarium and my mom’s retirement party (which noah attended on stage with my mom!. And since noah has asked about it so many times, we finally went on a Duck Boat Tour, noah particularly enjoyed getting to drive it when it was on the water (it is a truck and a boat!). So here’s some of the pics from June:

T-ball, Storyland, and spring!

Posted on July 6, 2014

So this post will attempt to catch up on the two months or so that have passed. I don’t know how it is possible but it feels like I have less and less time (and energy) to edit photos. Thankfully, my prolific photographing of the kids has slowed a bit, a tiny bit, well, maybe not much. The kids certainly haven’t slowed down, and neither has their photogenic adorableness.

So this spring was an eventful in more ways than one! At work I had the biggest event of the year (and maybe 25 years) as we celebrated City Year’s 25th Anniversary at the Boston Pops with President Clinton. While at home we celebrated my sister’s, my dad’s (with a surprise 65th birthday party), my birthday, lots of BBQs (both on our lovely newly painted deck and around the neighborhood), and a trip to Storyland in NH (more about that later)! We continued with swim classes for both noah and em, emily for the first time started transitioning to class without my mom, just with the teacher. It’s hard to believe after almost four years of being in the pool every weekend with the kids my mom is now just a spectator. They’re getting big! noah, meanwhile ventured into a new(ish) sport this spring, t-ball, to tremendous success. We already had an inkling he would like it given his love of all things red sox and general joy for wiffle ball. The t-ball league is probably the most organized sport he has taken part in so far, not really games, but actual, real drills like throwing, catching, hitting, running, the works. And he got to do it with two of his neighborhood friends, Gwen and Quinn. It’s pretty amusing watching pre-schoolers run the bases (let’s just say they break a few rules and may miss a few actual bases and might just entirely forget to go near home plate).

emily has lots of great new sayings. She likes to assert her independence, often telling us she can do it, “her very own self.” She is big into saying “yeah” instead of “yes.” One of our favorites is at bath time when she asks for “pan-shoo” (shampoo) because of the ensuing fun with the soap suds.  She and noah have also decided that guitars sound like “bampa bampa bampa,” and so they pick up the blow-up guitars from emily’s 2nd birthday party and rock out bampa-bamping all along. emily has really gotten into puzzles over the last couple of months. She is an expert at putting together the animal alphabet puzzle at my mom’s house, she has memorized every piece. It’s incredible the amount of information they can retain. She has followed in noah’s footsteps with loving “The Little Blue Truck” books, she sometimes sits down and flips through it herself saying a majority of the words from the book on her own. When it comes to dessert noah is still all about the chocolate ice cream while emily has developed an obsession with “sprinkles” and will just eat a cup of sprinkles instead of ice cream when we go to JP Licks. She is still an avid singer, often when we put her down to bed she will just sing to herself for a long time before going to sleep. What does she sing? I am glad you asked. She is quite the DJ, she creates her own mash-ups. It might start as BINGO (was his nam-o) and then halfway through transition to the Wheels on the Bus or You Are My Sunshine, there’s really no limit to mixes she’s willing to create. She, and noah, and every other child with ears has become obsessed with the Frozen soundtrack, and the song to end all songs, “Let it Go.” Both she and noah know all the words (or some version of them) and happily, loudly sing along with it any chance they get.

So, Storyland. Lauren was able to throw together a quick trip for us to New Hampshire that included a ride on the Conway Scenic Railroad (an hour trip on an old railway line, noah ate it up), a full day at Storyland and before we left, a round at Pirate’s Cove mini-golf. Storyland was awesome! It was everything you would want in an amusement park trip: no lines, no wait, no scary rides (although noah would beg to differ, he did not like spinning rides that made him queasy), not too many extra costs, not too many overwhelming cheesy characters, no meltdowns, and a condo we rented that was directly across the street so Lauren was able to walk em over for her nap! We got there first thing as it opened and immediately got a ride on the antique cars. Luckily noah has a while to work on improving his driving skills. Then we took a ride around the park on the train (one of em’s favorite rides). A highlight was noah’s first roller coaster, the “polar coaster,” which he mainly enjoyed, only got slightly scared, and I mainly enjoyed other than the sudden stop that banged my knees! Then there was “tea” with cinderella (we were the only ones that signed up for that day, so it was a private gathering!), which both emily and noah really liked. noah was clearly nervous and enthralled while em would just go right up to her and then run around on her own. We also got to go on a “safari” ride all together and both noah and em rode on the flying shoes. While em was sleeping noah and I got to explore the tractor ride and play excavators and we discovered the massive foam ball room: basically a bunch of vacuums and air guns so, a room where foam balls are flying everywhere!. noah also got his face painted… his ENTIRE face painted like a Spider-Man mask. As soon as it was done he showed off his “Spider-skills.” emily and Lauren would met us at the ball pit post-nap. I think that’s where we spent the most time, noah was pretty happy just stuffing the balls in the tubes to make sure the “kids upstairs had enough to play with.” Always the considerate one! We ended the day with the water rides including my favorite, the flume ride which has a massive downslide at the end, fun and splashy! We pretty much covered the whole park in one day. And it was a good day. The kids were still riding the buzz from the day at bedtime, so it took a bit longer for them to go down, but totally worth it. The next day we had a great brunch at Peaches and then got in a little mini-golf before heading home. All in all, a great, quick trip!

city year summit and gala!

city year summit and gala!

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