Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving: Thankful for Family and My Amazing Kids

She gets more beautiful
and more clever every day

Time with Uncle Dean

We love Uncle Dean and Aunt Emily

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Abigail's First Hike on Old Rag Mountain

Lar and I recently had the chance to go for a hike.  There is a massive 10 mile hike we want to do in Shenandoah, and also there is Old Rag, which we haven't done yet in 2016.  (Where did summer go?) But when Abigail expressed interest in going with us, we eagerly chose to hike with her on a shorter hike than go without her.  You have to nurture things like love of hiking and Broadway early!

So, we went on Old Rag on a crisp fall day, the leaves were just slightly past their peak and the temperature was somewhere in-between "I need two layers and I need only one."  Abigail only complained once around lunch time "when are we going to get there?" but when given the chance to turn around, she eagerly said that she wanted to keep going.  

We ended up going the first 3 miles up to what we call The First Break Spot, the big bald outlook before the all-rock scramble continues across the top.  (It took Abigail 1:40 to do this.) The 3 miles down from there were harder than I could have imagined.  Abigail declared "I agree with Mama.  I like going up better than down.  When you go up, the rocks help you but when you go down the rocks roll and try to trip you."  Preach it, girl.  (Wait until she has 40 year old knees!)

For lunch, we spent a leisurely half hour enjoying the view and greeting the other hikers coming past.  Abigail was by far the youngest.  Abigail loved eating Slim Jims and sipping "chicken breast soup" (broth) from a Thermos.  Larry and I loved giving her 100% of our attention for hours and hearing her stories from the world of 2nd grade.  ("We tried to spy on them at recess, but things didn't turn out as planned!" she said of the 2nd grade version of the Mean Girls.)

It was her idea to bring binoculars

We love her so much!

mmmm, hot broth on a cool hike

Where she is standing is rolling and steep.
This spot makes Larry hella' nervous, but what a great picture!

Standing on a spot that made Baba feel more comfortable.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Changing Peer Group: Sunday Snapshot

Abigail's peer group at her birthday party 3 years ago and her current peer group at her party today.  The composition has changed so much.

(Sunglasses were added to help protect the anonymity of the kids who do not belong to me.)

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Joseph, approaching 4 years old

This is an update about Joseph.  He is attending Montessori School and thriving.  He is learning about the big world around him and his place within it.  He can name major landmarks (there's nothing cuter than hearing him say "Mount Rushmore") and he is learning discipline, focus, and pride in his learning.  We are so proud of him.

He has conversations with us.  His conversations and speech are developing and he speaks long sentences that contain abstract things like his thoughts, wishes, or jokes.  He is a witty little guy and we love talking with him.  He no longer wants Abigail to be his voice for him.

Joseph wants to do the things the rest of us do.  Yesterday, he ran in his first race, a tot-trot of about 100 yards at the Go For Bo event.  He had a bib-number and everything.  (Do NOT call it a bib to him; bibs are for babies!)  Feeling whiny about having to wear a number, he clung to Larry's leg as the tots lined up.  He clung as the announcer said "On your marks."  But as the announcer said "Get Set," Joseph jumped off of Lar's leg in a 180 degree pounce and assumed a ready position.  He took off at "Go!" as though he was being chased by a lion.  I only had one shot at a picture and it really doesn't do his intensity or his speed or his sheer joy justice.

As Abigail is getting older and doing a few more things that he can't yet, we try to do special things with him.  His favorite special thing?  Going out for sushi with his favorite grown-ups in his life.  Last Sunday night he had sushi with Lar and me while Abigail had a sleep over with her grandparents.  Today, while Abigail was at a birthday party, Joseph went for sushi with my mother and me.  I ordered 4 rolls for he and I to split.  He ate a California while I ate a tuna roll.  Then we started sharing the salmon skin and smoked salmon rolls.  As we got down to the last 2 pieces of smoked salmon roll, he grabbed them and put them on his plate to lay claim to them.  Then, as we approached the last two pieces of the salmon skin roll, he wrapped his arms around the ends of the sushi-boat-plate and slid it away from me and more towards him.  All-in-all, he ate 11 pieces and was pretty proud of himself.  My mom and I laughed and laughed at him and how intense he is when he eats sushi!

He and Abigail continue to be best friends.  They have their own imaginary world, their own games where they already know the rules that have been pre-established and evolved together in their world.  They have their own jokes and even their own language for things.  They are an amazing duo and are better together than apart so often.  

Fall Pumpkin Patch Tradition

This morning, we decided to make the most of this gorgeous fall weather and spend some family time at a working farm that was doing a low-key version of the sometimes over-blown fall festival.  We had a favorite pumpkin patch farm in Pennsylvania, but the 10 hour round-trip seemed like too much for a great festival.  We chose a local farm with plenty to do for kids approximately under 8 or 9 years old.  They weren't overwhelmed with too many people or too much to do but they were dirty, exhausted and happy 2.5 hours later.
We found the Great Pumpkin!  Jos was SO excited.

A family pic in a tree house that we will not be
using for our Christmas card, so, therefore
you can see it now.

Joseph, pining after the tractor driver.

So much dust in the hay barn

Joseph's uncles nicknamed him Badger for his strength
but I think Abigail gets the toughness award here!

Joseph drove the pumpkins from the car to the porch using
his awesome tractor.  

The enormous piles of sand filled with dump truck, back hoe, and excavator toys made it worth the price of admission for both of my kids.  They also loved picking out their pumpkins, petting animals, and swinging in a hay barn.  They were fascinated by the free-range chickens, in love with the fresh popcorn, and delighted that their grandparents could once again join us in the fun.  Joseph liked the hay ride and would like to grow up to be the tractor driver.  

Happy fall, y'all.  It is my favorite time of the year!!
(Can I pull off "y'all"?  I've been south of the Mason Dixon line for about 16 years.  It doesn't really roll of my tongue, but maybe I can get away with it in print?)

Sunday, August 28, 2016

New Milestone!!

Today my big boy had his first real haircut.  

I miss my floppy headed Muppet!  

Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Summer of Swimming

Last night was our official last night of summer vacation: today is just a weekend and Monday Lar and I will start back to work while the kids do a week of "day camp."

This summer was jam-packed with stuff to do, places to go, and really enjoyable days at home.  We originally planned to have Joseph spend approximately half his time in day care, but he only went one full week (the same week Abigail did sports camp) because, for the first summer since joining our family, he was delightful to have at home!  So, our little family of 4 got to have lots of fun quality time together all summer long.

We did some amazing things and went to some wonderful places, but the biggest growth in both kids this summer was in the area of swimming.  We put the kids in 8 once-per-week swimming classes in the spring.  Joseph never progressed past the lesson in which he had to pour a small cup of water on his own arms and head.  Abigail was floating for 10 seconds and doing 20 "bobs" off of the bottom of the pool.  By the time we went to the lake house at the end of June, Abigail was a strong doggie-paddler and Joseph was independent in the water using his life jacket.  Abigail spent the week at the lake jumping off the dock and swimming with her life jacket.

When we got home from the lake, Abigail wanted to try to swim without her jacket.  She began swimming under water first, but within days was doing a rough freestyle.  Now, she swims as gracefully as a mermaid and is darn good at freestyle and breaststroke.  She can also do a bit of backstroke, has dabbled with butterfly, and can do flips under water.

Joseph witnessed his sister shedding her life jacket and the elated responses from us and he naturally wanted to ditch the life jacket too.  This was first accomplished by him being sneaky.  He asked if he could swim without his jacket and I told him no.  (He was sitting on the steps of our pool.)  So, he swung himself onto the side of the pool, held on for a second, took a deep breath and let go.  He sunk and I grabbed him up out of the water where he sputtered and wiped the water off his face and proudly declared "See!  I don't sink.  I float!"  That made me laugh pretty hard at his interpretation of what had just happened.  But his can-do attitude was enough motivation for Lar and me to start to teach him how to swim.  He can now swim underwater well enough to retrieve dive sticks and dive rings on the bottom of the pool.  He can swim on top of the water if we are there to help him when he needs to get his breath in a sloppy freestyle and he can go about 10 or 11 feet on one breath.

We are SO proud of the kids and their swimming this summer!