Tag Archives: 3 years old

She Says… Vacay 2014

Ahhh, home. It’s good to be home.

No matter how much fun we have while we’re away… it’s always good to be home.

We skedaddled for a little vacay last week! I went from full throttle work to full throttle “closing the computer and leaving the phone turned off”. Didn’t think once about blogging or checking Facebook or anything more than a cursory glance at my personal inbox. Barely even Instagrammed or Tweeted, which is kind of unlike me.

It was, in a word, freeing. And relaxing. And fun. (Ok, that was 3 words). Not that my vacation couldn’t have been all of those things WITH the computer/phone connection, of course. I’m not one of the “you have to get rid of your phone in order to enjoy life” types of people; there’s a time and a place for all types of social interaction. But it did remove an element of “oh, I have to just do this one thing” from my day, and it felt good.

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The boys’ school is closed every year for the week of July 4th, so it has become our annual family vacation week. Since we’re still very much in the throes of scheduling our days around kids’ needs (naps, meals, snacks, bedtimes), I find it more comfortable to “vacation” somewhere that feels like home rather than an exotic locale where we’ll all be sleeping in the same hotel room or something equally as inconvenient.

And nothing feels more like home than… my sister’s home! As I’ve mentioned in the past, my 3 siblings and mom all live in the Delaware/Philly area, and my Dad still lives in Baltimore, where I grew up. I’m the only one who flew the coop to come up north, so all it takes for a real family reunion is for me to say, “We’re coming to visit!”. And that’s exactly what happened.

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It was a COUSIN PARTY.

– 6 kids under the age of 7
– 5 days
under 1 roof

To say that we need a vacation from our vacation is an understatement. But it was a blast!

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The last time the bigger cousins saw Emmett, he was only 2 months old or so (for my little sister’s wedding last summer). This time they kept saying, “Can I hold him in my lap on the couch?” and I’d have to remind them that he’s in charge now. And he doesn’t sit for very long in anyone’s lap. He’s toddling and cruising everywhere… even despite all of the cousins picking him up, knocking him down and otherwise impeding his wobbly steps.

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Our week was chock full of playtime, playtime and more playtime. We took 1 field trip to a nearby potato chip factory (fun!), and 1 day trip down to Baltimore to see one of my dearest friends, but other than that we stuck around my sister’s house and ate and played and ate and played and ate and played some more. It takes a lot of carseats to get a group of this many people out the door!

Biggest perk of vacationing there? THE POOL.

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Benjamin took an underwater camera and captured some awesome footage of our little fishies. I’ll share that once it is edited.

Thanks to following his big cousins around, Owen learned how to hold his breath underwater and REALLY SWIM! We just started swim lessons before vacation and when we went back on Monday his teacher said we need to move him up a level or two because he can actually swim. What a difference a week makes! Perhaps he WILL be the next Michael Phelps.

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This year marked the very 1st 4th of July when we let Owen stay awake for the firework festivities. I was nervous about how he would react to a bedtime several hours later than normal, and the loud noises and unpredictability of the fireworks themselves (as one gets after having a “spirited” child for nearly 4 years!), but as it turned out, he impressed me yet again.

He stayed awake, acted like an angel waiting for fireworks, was mesmerized by the display of lights (and shielded from the noise by Aunt Kim’s magical headphones — GENIUS) and went right to bed when we got home.

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Thankfully my sister’s husband offered to stay home so Emmett could sleep right through the excitement. Hallelujah.

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As if staying up for fireworks wasn’t enough for one day, we also went to a parade! Again, the headphones were key for the sensory sensitive.

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It was also the first year I felt comfortable with handing my wild child a lit, burning stick.

Once again, it went fine. Better than fine. It was fantastic.

Pajamas + glow sticks + sparklers + fireworks = best night ever.

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We capped off the almost week-long festivities with our annual crab feast to honor our Baltimore roots. If you’ve never had Baltimore crabs… you’re missing out.

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Even Emmett thinks so.

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We may have been pushing our luck on this one, but we closed out the crab feast with post-dinner swimming (when it’s usually bath time), s’mores and setting off fireworks of our own right in the back yard (aka another very late night). Once again, I was thankful to be able to put Emmett to sleep so he never knew what he was missing, and I could enjoy the fun without a squirmy baby in my arms.

 

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It was a week of firsts, especially for Owen.

  • First time swimming underwater and coming up for air in between
  • First time staying up super late and partying with the big kids
  • First time having s’mores (we found gluten free graham crackers!)
  • First time seeing fireworks
  • First time doing sparklers
  • First time LIGHTING fireworks
  • And many, many more memories

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It was a very happy and full week. But nothing like a trip away to make you appreciate being home.

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A Lot of This

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Well that week certainly flew by. Last week I was in New York for work and missed my guys for three bedtimes. Sad face. Our weekend, however, was chock full of soaking up every sunbeam and blue sky day. And this week was an unending cycle of the stark juxtaposition of being glued to my computer during work hours (and a few and post-kid bedtime evenings), and playing/eating/laughing completely unplugged with my family in between.

It’s the way it should be. It’s the way I want it to be. It’s what I work so hard for.

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Want to know what we did? Grilled dinner and ate corn on the cob and played on the swingset and went swimming at the town pond. Bathtime a little bit late and feet covered in dirt, but the kids were giggly and goofy right up until their heads hit the pillows. Benjamin and I clinked our glasses and smiled at each other over another happy day together. Pretty much every day.

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Lather, rinse, repeat.

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Work is nuts and our family is nuttier, and it’s a delicate balance to do both wholeheartedly without compromising. I find myself saying no to things and to people now, when I used to try to fit every gosh darn thing into every day. But when you get that balance right, even for a week? It’s glorious.

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We capped off this week with a pizza dinner eaten out on the swing set. Since I didn’t have to cook it, it was done mere minutes after we got home from school, which meant early dinner and plenty of post-dinner playtime. Then Owen deemed it time for “everyone to take their clothes off!” and after a bit more naked playtime in the backyard (kids only), we tossed those cute little butts in the bath and wrangled them into clean pj’s. The best kind of summer night.

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I have a feeling we’re going to be doing a lot more of this as the summer progresses.

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And I couldn’t be happier about that.

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Weekend Adventure: Part Deux

Our spontaneous Newport trip two weeks ago was so much fun that we couldn’t resist another friend’s impromptu invitation to join her family on the Cape last Saturday.

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Emily is a friend I met in mom group when our babies were just 6 weeks old. These two have been playing together for nearly 4 years already!

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The drive there was… slow. It took about 2.5 hours when we were expecting 1.5-2, thanks to a couple of accidents and general Cape traffic. I think I’ve figured out our happy car ride limit for the moment, and it’s just about 1.5 hours — that last hour wasn’t the highlight of the trip, that’s for sure!

But the second we arrived to a perfect, blue sky day, all was forgiven.

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Even Emmett had a buddy to play with, and we noticed them noticing each other for the first time. We handed them some plastic measuring cups to bang around and they were happy as clams. Happy, easygoing Baby #2’s.

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As a baby, Owen’s beach experiences have been hit or miss. He doesn’t like the feeling of sand, or the way it gets all over his body (I can relate). Even last summer the crash of the waves was too loud and the sun was too hot. He just wasn’t comfortable.

But this year? This year he couldn’t get enough. The water! The sand! The rocks! The crabs! The seashells! He was all over it.

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Emmett, however, took to the beach like a fish to water. He got right down in the sand and squished it in his chubby fists and licked it off his fingers and splashed in the shallow water. He was in heaven.

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The drive home was better than the drive there, as the kids fell asleep as soon as we closed the car doors (after a quick stop for ice cream, of course!). Post-beach naps are the best.

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Despite how much fun we’ve had with our little weekend adventures, Benjamin and I are both shooting for less driving this weekend. Time to explore some of our local summertime faves.

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Summahtime, my friends. Looks like this.

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Mercury, It’s All Your Fault. Right?

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I don’t generally put a lot of stock in astrology, or where the moon is in its orbit or whatever. Sure, I love a good horoscope as much as the next girl, and once even had my “stars read” or whatever you call it when you get a report about yourself based on the planetary alignment at the moment of your birth. It’s all very intriguing to me, but in a very theoretical way.

After perhaps one of the roughest parenting days I’ve had in a while on Monday, Benjamin sent me a link to this article about Mercury in retrograde making people “go haywire with miscommunications”. And jokingly noted, “Maybe this is the reason they are so crazy?”. Ha, I thought.

As I scrolled through my Instagram feed last night, I noticed 4 separate and unrelated posts where people mentioned their kids acting completely out of character and jokingly blaming it on Mercury’s retrograde. Ha, I thought.

Benjamin’s father is a pediatric dentist and has mentioned in the past that it may seem unlikely, but his office definitely gets packed with strange dental emergencies during certain planetary alignments (and I’ve read the same about emergency rooms when there is a full moon). Ha, I tend to think.

Well, maybe the joke’s on me.

Sunday (June 8) through today my kids have been acting uncharacteristically wild. Emotional. Delicate. Fussy. Defiant. Mercury has been in retrograde since June 7 and will be until July 1st. Coincidence? Perhaps.

But if there’s any truth to this, hold onto your hats, folks. It’s going to be a long three weeks.

Have you noticed your kids losing it more than usual in the last few days? Or any weird connections to behavior and the planets/moon?

 

On a  somewhat related note, Owen’s class did a unit on the solar system last month. He LOVED learning about the planets and brings up random planet facts in our conversations every day now. Everything that is a circle becomes a planet, and he knows the order, weather and relative size of all of the planets in the solar system. I’ll be the first to admit that space knowledge is not my personal forte, so I have learned a lot from him. Here he is singing about the planets about a month ago. Perhaps HE can teach me something about this Mercury retrograde situation!

The Best/Worst School Photo Ever

I don’t even know where to begin. This school photo is too ridiculous.

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Contrary to how it looks, Emmett is not actually an 800 pound man walking with a cane.

I can’t stop giggling.

It’s so bad it’s fantastic.

 

2012:

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2013:

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Can’t… stop… laughing.

Poor Emmett.

I love these little faces so much.

She Says… Weekending

This weekend was like a breath of fresh air.

It was pure, summer fun.

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Generally our weekends are booked up with playdates and playground trips and sometimes errands that need to be run. We have an activity for most morning and afternoon blocks, and spend the rest of our time hanging out in our pj’s, going for walks/scooter rides or swinging on the swingset at home as a family. But miraculously, when a college friend of mine asked if we could come down to his parents’ house in Newport, RI for a visit last Friday, we had a completely open day to do so.

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When Owen was a baby, the thought of driving anywhere over 30 minutes made my stomach clench up — he was not very flexible with his schedule and car rides almost always ended in puking. But, thankfully, Emmett tends to go with the flow quite easily and doesn’t mind riding in the car at all (and even sleeps!) and Owen has grown to be much more tolerant of car rides and adventures, so we were able to easily drive down during Emmett’s morning nap.

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We arrived to a beautiful home right on the cliff walk, a positively elegant spread of mimosas and quiche, and a small group of friends with no agenda other than enjoying the weather and the view. Aside from my friend and his husband (who have a 4 month old), no one had kids. Which meant we were automatically “those people” with the rowdy kids. No matter, though. Everyone seemed entertained by to tolerate Owen’s antics and a great time was had by all.

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Owen relaxed just like a little big person, lounging in the hot tub and strolling the cliff walk.

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NOT! He splashed and “swam” in the hot tub and hitched a ride on my friend’s shoulders and whined the rest of the way on the walk. But it was cute anyway.

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When we got home, the long weekend continued just the way Memorial Day should. Warm sun, a cool breeze and lots of time playing. Just playing. Full of hours of “water slide” with Owen’s new best friend, the 8 year old boy who lives across the street.

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I didn’t open up my computer once over the weekend. It was glorious.

(Which, consequently, is exactly the opposite of what has happened since I went back to work on Tuesday morning. I’ve been buried in work on my computer 24/7 except when spending mornings/evenings with the kids. It’s brutal. Hence the quiet blogspace.)

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Is there any better mark of an awesome day than dirty baby feet?

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I think not.

She Says… The Next Chapter

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Let’s talk about chapter books, shall we?

Chapter books are a milestone I didn’t think we would be ready for until, oh, I don’t know, age 6 or so. I’m not sure why I had that arbitrary number in my head, but I assumed that my needs-to-move, kinesthetic learner (aka wild child who can’t possibly sit still for more than 5 seconds at a time) wouldn’t want to sit still for long enough to listen to pages of books without many/any pictures. I doubted he’d be very engaged. He loves to be read to, and to look through books, so I’m not sure why I wrote them off, but I just thought we weren’t quite there yet.

So I had been saving the “books with too many words” up on a high shelf in his closet as they have been gifted to us or accumulated along the way. But a few days ago, Owen asked me to pull them down so he could see them. He carefully examined the covers and then handed me “The Secret Garden” and begged me to read it.

As usual, he surprises me again.

Ok, so this one isn’t technically a chapter book, but it’s much, much longer than any book I’ve ever read to Owen. This story is very special to me, and I’ve been saving this particular copy since I was a little girl. I loved this story and read it over and over and over again as a child. Then, when I was a musical theater-obsessed sophomore in high school, I got the coveted part of Mary Lennox in the musical the boys’ school across the street from my school was putting on. It was a dream come true. It was my first lead role in a musical, and the start of what I thought would someday become my road to being a Broadway star (spoiler alert! I never made it there).

So I started reading to Owen and immediately realized it uses words I tend to shy away from (name calling like “horrible witch!” and words like “hate”) and topics like death and chronic illness. But, as these are all parts of life that he’ll come into contact with eventually, I resisted the urge to edit the words or omit certain sentences. We’re all growing up a little bit, eh?

He was hanging on my every word. He asked very astute questions like, “What’s a moor?” and then, when I told him, he asked follow-up questions like, “I wonder what animals live on a moor? Birds? Maybe… mice? Or voles?”. Once in a while I stopped and clarified part of the story or asked him things like, “Who do you think is crying?” to see if he was really following along (because it’s not always so clear — the sentence structure is different than most of his books and the references are vague and there are lots of names). He was right there with me every time.

When we were about halfway through, it was past his bedtime and I told him we could stop and read the rest the next night. He bargained for more pages (either really into the book or just stalling bedtime… you decide…) and we settled on 2 more pages, then I showed him how to fold down the corner of the page so we could start there the next morning. The next morning he came into my room with the book in hand and asked me to finish it. And finish it we did, before his normal milk or tv show. Unprecedented.

That night at bedtime we started “The House at Pooh Corner”. It was one we had been gifted a year or so ago, and it had been relegated to the top shelf because it was so dense. I figured it had to be appropriate for kids (duh, it’s Winnie the Pooh), and it is, but what I didn’t realize was that the writing is terribly confusing, especially to read aloud. As an adult I see how clever it is and find so much humor in the writing, but a three year old, even an astute 3 year old, doesn’t necessarily pick up on those things. So we’re halfway through at the moment, and Owen loves it, but I’m thinking there have to be better 1st chapter books out there somewhere.

I’m not sure we’re ready for Harry Potter yet (though perhaps not far off!). So what are the best chapter books for little ones? I would love a series, since Owen loves to get multiple books out of the library in a series (we love anything Pinkalicious and Toot and Puddle). Owen’s teacher recommended “The Magic Treehouse” series, so that’s on the list, even though I’ve never heard of them.

Suggestions?

She Says… It’s Aliiiiiiiive

Caterpillars. Butterflies. Chrysalises.

Of course I “knew” how it worked. But I never really knew how it worked until I saw it happen right in my kitchen. And now that I’ve seen it happen I am completely awe-struck by the entire process. So is my preschooler. And my husband. And the many friends who came through our kitchen during the 4+ week transformation.

 

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Let me start at the beginning. For Christmas my sister got Owen a book about the butterfly life cycle along with a pop-up tent for “growing butterflies”. We chatted about it at the time and decided to put it away until spring/summer time, since the idea is that you “grow” the butterflies from caterpillars and then let them go, but they only survive when it’s above 60 degrees. When you’re ready to start the process, you order a canister of live caterpillars from a website.

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It’s a little weird. I know. They come in the mail all enclosed in it with all of the food that they need, so all you do is leave them still on your counter after getting them acclimated to your temperature.

And then, they grow. They eat and grow and crawl around. And slowly but surely they eat away at the brown goop inside the container and become chubby little caterpillars.

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And then they attach themselves to a piece of paper on the top of the canister and the chrysalises grow around them. This part is the beginning of the amazingness.

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You transfer the paper with the chrysalises to the little butterfly tent, and then you wait.

Well, at least that’s what the directions said would happen.

But when I transferred my paper from the plastic container to the butterfly tent, one of the chrysalides STARTED FLAPPING AND SHAKING. I nearly threw the entire paper across the room. I may or may not have shrieked. Which is really quite stupid because, duh, they are just caterpillars, and I am not generally a squeamish person, but something about this flapping mummified insect (that I expected to be in a hibernation-type sleep) kind of threw me for a loop.

As it turned out, that one was the first one to “hatch”, so I’m guessing it was just further along in the process and maybe had some nervous system response to being moved? Not sure about why that happened, but it sure did scare the bejesus out of me.

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Eventually we got them transferred safely (not quite sure how), but then we waited. And about a week later they started hatching. Err, emerging. We had 5 caterpillar/butterflies and we didn’t manage to catch ANY of them in the process of actively emerging — unfortunately they all did it overnight or when we were out. But, lo and behold, by the end we had 5 beautiful butterflies.

There was something so exciting and lovely about coming home and checking on them and seeing Yes! A new butterfly emerged! A little butterfly baby WAS BORN!

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(Note to those who may ever do this: That red stuff, in the picture above? Yeah. It’s meconium. It drips out when the butterflies emerge from the coccoons, and it looks like blood, which can be disconcerting and a little scary. And gross. But, you know, sometimes the gross things are also the most fascinatingly beautiful.)

So then we fed them, by putting flower petals inside the tent and sprinkling sugar water on top. Owen loved this part.

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Finally we had kept them long enough, and we decided we were ready to let them live free, in the wild (the suburbs of Boston are “wild” enough!).

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So we Owen named them (Ellie, Tennis Ball, Emmett, Whistle, Pretty Baby), appreciated them one, last time as they hopped obediently onto his finger, and then let them fly away, fly away, fly away home.

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Owen absolutely loved setting them free. I am still overwhelmingly amazed and in awe of the fact that those teeny tiny caterpillars grew right before our eyes and emerged from their hard little cocoons as beautiful butterflies.

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Mother Nature certainly knows what she’s doing, eh?

 

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If you want in on the butterfly-growing, the kit we used is this one.

(We’re not being paid to say anything about this product, we just received it as a gift from my sister for Christmas and loved using it. That link above is my Amazon affiliate link, so I’ll get a few cents if you order directly from there).

She Says… Blabbing with my Boy

Owen and I had several conversations this weekend that made me chuckle. I wish I could follow him around with a little tape recorder, as I can never remember all of the sweet, honest, hilarious, wise things that come out of his mouth. It’s amazing to me how our conversations these days are, like, real conversations. We can just… shoot the shit once in a while.

Owen: When I am 25 1/2, how old will Emmett be? (We’ve had this conversation about a bazillion times in the last few days… either his brain is working on understanding the math behind how he will always be three years older than Emmett, or he’s learned that asking me this question over and over is a hilarious way to make me go insane)
Me: When you are 25 1/2, Emmett will be 22 1/2.
Owen: What will I be doing when I’m 25 1/2? (A nice diversion from the usual exchange of asking the same question with different numbers for 10 minutes)
Me: I don’t know, exactly. You’ll probably be out of college. Maybe you’ll be in another school, like medical school or business school, or maybe you’ll have a job. And maybe a family. Would you want to have a family?
Owen: Yup. I want to be a Daddy and have a family. I want boy babies. Two boys. Like me and Emmett!
Me: Well, I hope you get that! You know, you don’t always get to choose what kind of babies you get, or if you get babies at all, though.
Owen: What’s medical school and business school?
Me: They are schools that you can go to after you finish college. To learn how to do certain jobs. Like to be a doctor or a lawyer or someone who works in business. What kind of job do you think you want to do when you grow up?
Owen: I want to go to medical school and then business school. And then I want to paint pictures of what I want to eat for snack as my job.
Me: I love that plan. (How apropos for the offspring of two liberal arts students: going to school forever and then becoming a painter!)

Owen: When do people stop growing?
Me: Well, it’s different for every person. I think around the time they go to college.
Owen: So when are you going to be as tall as Daddy?
Me: I’m not. I’m done growing. I went to college already.
Owen: And what about Schnitzel? When is he going to be as tall as Daddy?
Me: He’s done growing too. He’s “full grown”, which means he will stay the same size for the rest of his life. But his hair will keep growing.
Owen: But he didn’t go to college.
Me: True.

Owen: I hear a woodpecker!
::Owen runs to find his binoculars to see if he can see it::
Owen: What if a woodpecker pecked into your head and all over your face? Well then you’d need a LOT of bandaids. And you’d probably have to go to the store to get new ones because that’s a LOT of bloods. And you might have to see the doctor and they might say, “Why did a woodpecker peck your face, silly?!”.

 

I love this kid and his little brain so much.

She Says… Easter Bunny Dreams

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I’ve always been a little bit on the fence about creating and maintaining the myths of things like the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and Santa. Don’t get me wrong, I grew up believing in all of these, and more, and I don’t think that I’m any worse for it. But there is something… strange… to me about telling your kids lie after lie to keep up this farce.

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To Benjamin and I, Santa is worth it. Santa is the pinnacle of the magic of the holiday season. The Tooth Fairy we haven’t decided about yet (we have a few more years before that milestone hits), but I’m thinking we’ll spin that imaginary web as well. But the Easter Bunny? That one just seems downright strange to us. A gigantic bunny hippity hopping into your house and delivering a basket? Perhaps no weirder than a dude in a red suit coming down your chimney, but Benjamin and I agreed that it seems unnecessary to lie about this one too.

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At our house, Easter baskets are from Mommy and Daddy, and the big bunny who we happened to see last weekend is just a person dressed in a costume for Easter.

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I think the whole “person dressed in a costume” conversation is why Owen insisted that he wear his frog costume after the Easter egg hunt (see below). Perhaps in our effort to keep Easter a little less lie-oriented, we confused Easter and Halloween. Ha!

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Maybe if Owen was a different kid, one who reveled in stories of make-believe or didn’t try to “figure everything out”, we might have been more likely to tell him some tall tales. But this lie just seemed like more work than it was worth.

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Nevertheless, Owen and Emmett were both tickled to come downstairs and find their baskets. We opted not to do an egg hunt at home, since we always go to Grammy and Grampy’s house for the hunt in the afternoon, so we had a nice, quiet morning playing with Easter toys in matching monster pajamas.

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In the afternoon we had a nice early Easter dinner with part of Benjamin’s family and the boys did the annual egg hunt. I think this is the last year Emmett will be placated with “finding” just one egg on his own. Owen is going to have some competition next year!

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Owen loved being just like the adults this year, with his own little pre-dinner mocktail and blazer/tie combination (that he picked out himself, without fussing at all).

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He even asked Grampy to put on a tie so they could match (copycatting again!).

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You know, just like the adults… with a frog suit on.

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Easter Bunny or no Easter Bunny, we had a sweet day celebrating with family.

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And everyone was pooped at the end.

 

Side note: Apparently we’ve really gotten our money’s worth with Owen’s “fancy clothes”. That red tie was featured on Easter 2012 (HOW CUTE IS LITTLE OWEN!) and the blazer on Easter 2013! I think they’ll both need to be replaced for 2015, but perhaps Emmett with be big enough for the tie by then…