in January we went to Mexico!

And three months later, I’ll post about it!

So this was our first official family vacation (other than the Chicago experience from the fall).  We traveled over the MLK weekend break in January- 6 nights in all. And Grandma Karen and Grandpa Bob were with us, which was a genius arrangement!

We stayed at the Barcelo Maya, a resort that’s over an hour drive south of the Cancun airport. The weather was mainly nice and sunny, but highs were only in the low 70s, and we did have some days of clouds/rain. The temps were lovely compared to MN, but definitely not as hot as we’re used to when vacationing in Mexico. All the photos were taken with my iphone or the PowerShot that has become the boys’ camera. They loved taking pictures and videos…

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Ryan actually has a lot of memories from our trip to Mexico in 2010 a couple months before Sam was born. Highlight of his memories? Red drinks.

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So we had to have a LOT of red drinks.

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the swim up bar. It was not quite hot out, and the pools were frigid…but they wanted to have a drink in the pool anyway.

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My favorite of course…the ocean and beach.

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Ryan tried snorkeling for the first time, and loved it! He also just suddenly took off swimming as if he’d been doing it forever. Previously he’d just flail around and would claim to not know how to swim. Apparently all it took was a little Caribbean Sea for him to get his swim on.

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We did almost all of our swimming in the ocean because the pools were just too cold. The boys did have a blast in the kiddie area/water slides though. And they would come out of there completely blue and shivering.

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playing giant chess with grandma early in the morning was a big hit!

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We got ‘dressed up’ and had dinner in one of the reservation restaurants just once. This was on the way to the Japanese resto. The boys loved watching the knife-wielding chefs at work, and Ryan was extremely worried that the fire-blowing, smoking onion volcano was going to start the whole place on fire.

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These yucky iguanas were lurking around the deck the whole time we were eating lunch.

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Tried mini golf for the first time- boys loved it!

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Another thing that happened on the daily was a stop at the resort’s stage. Each morning after breakfast Ryan and Sam would put on a two-man show for an audience of…us. It was hilarious, and I have some video I should get up here. (also, in the below picture? Sam has to poop.)

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pre-dinner cocktails

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Ryan’s usual burger lunch.

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We had a wonderful, wonderful time with a minimal amount of child freak-outs. The earliest we could ever eat dinner was 6:30pm when the buffets opened, so most nights we had to deal with really tired boys who could barely get through dinner without falling asleep. It was so nice to have my mom and dad along for company and extra help (like when we were trying to get out the door for the day and the kids could run down the hall to grandma’s room and bug them while Pat and I finished getting ready.) A few other take-aways… Ryan talks in his sleep and grinds his teeth. And Sam snores.

And Mexico is awesome in January, but next time we should plan on January AND March.

 

 

interview with Sam, age 3 (almost 4)

After lunch the other day Sam was being cute so I decided to get out my phone and record him answering interview questions. I quickly went to the blog and found this interview that I did with him last year and just used the same questions. I don’t love these questions, but it was pretty funny to see how his answers compared to last year’s. Sadly my phone ran out of storage space and the video portion of the interview is cut short RIGHT before he gives the best answer ever.

Here’s the full interview, script format.

My favorite food is: pizza
My favorite movie: Thomas the Train (“um, I don’t know. Mommy do a different question.”)
The best show on television right now is: Word Girl

The coolest person on earth is: MOMMY!!!!
My best subject thing to do in school is: play with the tool box
The thing I do most awesomely is: [i need to ask this one, missed it]
If I could go anywhere in the world, I’d go to:  Chipotle
My favorite color is: red and orange and blue
My current favorite band song is: Hamburger Heaven (and then he proceeded to recite the little letter H skit from a kids’ ABC CD)
The book I am reading like is: Super Pooper, No David
When I grow up I am going to become: worker man
The thing my parents are too strict have rules about is:  no kicking toys, no hitting, no throwing toys
Three words that describe me are: S-A-M
When I was little, I used to: play with my papis, suck and chew on my papis
My favorite season of the year is: summer and fall
The snack I could live on is: goldfish and craisins
The food that makes me want to puke is really icky is: pickles
My best friend is: daddy
If I could make one wish it would be: a worm
My best memory is: toot Pierre la Toot

valentine’s day

Historically, I blog about Valentine’s Day! Better keep that tradition alive by documenting the excitement that was Valentine’s Day 2014.

Ryan had school but his class was officially not having a celebration to make up for all the weather-related school closures they’ve had this winter. He wore a reddish orangish Star Wars t-shirt as his celebratory attire, and toted along 25 Lego Star Wars (for the boys) and Disney Fairy (for the girls) valentines to exchange with his classmates. He remembered that last year he gave out two different types of Valentines to please both the boys and girls, and insisted he do that again.

Sam and I lazed around the first few hours of the morning, me wishing I could go back to bed and he wanting me to play with him. We compromised with me lying in his bed while he played with his construction tools on top of me. The night before I had read about a kid exploration-in-a-castle event at the American Swedish Institute, so I decided to take us to that. We enjoyed a coffee/cookie snack in the cafe, and then spent an hour listening to stories and songs, and going on a heart scavenger hunt through the mansion at the museum. It actually ended up being really fun- I was pleasantly surprised.

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We came home and ate lunch and then worked on a few last minute valentines (I made some awesome homemade ones for my three guys!:). Sam made one for daddy, put it in a Ziploc bag, and threw it out the front door so “daddy will see this right when he gets home.” When Ryan arrived off the bus he emptied his stash onto the living room floor and the boys dug into the candy. We went and played outside for awhile, the boys did some sledding on the snow piles around our sidewalks. (I’ll have to come back later to add some of the outdoor pictures I took with the new camera I got for my birthday!)

For dinner we set up a fancy scene with red place mats and candlesticks. We had steak and brussel sprouts and sauteed mushrooms (boys didn’t eat either side dish, who are we kidding here), and for dessert had Readi-Whip that daddy squirted into mouths, and then strawberries with aforementioned whip (or coconut cream, depending.) [Pat and I were on day 3 of a Whole30 dietary re-set, hence the non chocolate dessert. I’m not gonna lie, it was hard being around all that V-day candy. And the Girl Scout cookies! I don’t even like those things, but when you can’t have something, you want it even more.]

After the boys went to bed we spent the rest of the evening on the couch watching ice dancing in Sochi. The excitement, I tell you! Oh yeah, and Pat got me a new bike helmet for v-day. I gave him this:

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j-term, revisited

20140205-204805.jpgSchool was cancelled a total of five times during the month of January. Add to that the three missed days of school when we were vacationing in Mexico, and Ryan attended school a total of approximately 12 minutes the entire month. (Really he was there 10 full days, I just counted. But it felt like only 12 minutes.) I won’t even get into what that made Sam’s school attendance, which only happens 3 days/week anyway.

Basically what this amounted to was a j-term, for the six and under set. [[Can I hear a woot woot from anyone who knows what j-term is/was? Do any colleges still do j-term?]]

Day 1 of no school: block towers (bored child photo bomb on right)

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Here we are looking like it’s a regular school morning, but nope, we’re heading to Mexico instead!

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bevvies of choice

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awesome recess

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this!!!!

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THIS :(((((((

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here’s me during the interminable winter (yes it’s supposed to be upside down)

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field trip: coffee shop

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homework at the coffee shop

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swimming party in the arctic

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Thank goodness it’s February now.

for my mother

(who’s probably the sole remaining reader of this blog)

and

who has complained that she’s tired of seeing a christmas post as the most recent thing I’ve published…

here is a picture of me sitting on your couch

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and a view from the car as we departed.

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christmas morn

How they left things the night before…

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How things looked the next morning. Ryan had gotten up before everyone else and scoped out the whole living room scene. This was the first thing he went to- the letter from Santa. Santa ate and drank everything (except for a few crumbs), and dropped candy canes on the floor which were all smashed up.

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The boys went for their stockings first.

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Then the Santa gifts. This was a green ninja suit that Santa had hung on the porch knob.

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Ryan got a Darth Vader light saber.

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Darth vs. green ninja. (Ninja was upset he didn’t receive a sword with his costume.)

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Ryan gave Daddy a new sled that accommodates grown-ups (which has since broken in the sub zero temps).

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And I had to get a picture of Sam giving Daddy a snowflake ornament. Before we went out shopping for Pat, Sam decided he wanted to give him a snowflake, and picked out this beautiful tree ornament.

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Pat in a new hat. Sam wearing FANCY DRESS CLOTHES in honor of Christmas Day:)

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Apparently I didn’t make it into any shots on Christmas morn this year. But trust me, I was there. We had egg bake and coffee and cookies, and did some really fun family sledding in the late morning. The weather for sledding was perfect!

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We hosted a very small (two guests) Christmas Eve dinner gathering at our house. Most of the day was spent around home, cleaning up and cooking and doing a few errands. The boys were very cute- since we were preparing for a fancy dinner in the evening, they decided to get dressed in their ‘fancy’ clothes at 8:30am. (Fancy being jeans, and any type of shirt that doesn’t have a character on the front). Ryan spent much of the day carrying around Hermie the Elf. He was very sad that it was Hermie’s last day with us, so he talked to him a lot and took him all through the house, and snuggled him up in a blanket. Just when I think that Ryan is so grown up, he goes and does something completely sweet and innocent such as this. It was heartwarming. (Hermie had given us permission to touch him softly this year…too much anxiety last year when the MAGIC would disappear if a person so much as brushed a finger against him).

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Another cute thing that happened… Ryan and I were getting a present all ready for his cousin Brynn. Part of the present was fun/colorful socks. Sam saw this pair of navy and pink striped socks with silver sparkly toes and just LOVED them. He wanted to try them on and then asked if he could keep them and how could I say no to that?

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(he insisted I take a picture of each foot)

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The evening consisted of hanging out with Grandma Mary and Grandpa Jerry, opening a couple gifts, dining on Pat’s famous prime rib Christmas meal, and scarfing a lot of cookies. The boys (Ryan especially) were really serious about getting things just so on the cookie plate for Santa. He chose one of each kind of cookie, and made sure the reindeer had carrots.

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Getting the carrots and milk out of the fridge…

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(these are some sad-looking carrots. Must have come from an uneaten kid lunch.)

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Note reads: Dear Santa, Hrmye is the best elf in the world. love, Ryan. With an adorable drawing of Hermie on the back.

merry christmas tree farm

It’s Christmas Day (night), and I’m blogging about when we got our tree on Dec 1. Ah well.

I need to start by saying for the first time in at least three years (if not six years), our road trip to the tree farm was drama, tantrum, and meltdown-free. It was pleasant, FUN even!! Historically the children have always had some sort of spastic issue on the way to, from, or during the tree farm experience. This year? The drive was nice, the lunch at Culver’s went well, and the tree farm itself?! Fabulous!! I just HAD to get that recorded:)

We went to the tree farm this year the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend- early for us, but that’s how it worked out this year. There was no snow this year, which is always a bit strange when you’re selecting a Christmas tree. But the temps were relatively mild, so that made up for it. The first thing we did when we got there was visit with Santa. Sam was a little shy with the jolly guy, but did manage to sit on his lap. Sam told Santa he wanted a ninja suit, and Ryan asked for a light saber.

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We found our tree relatively quickly in the balsam fir field.

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The boys wanted to be in charge of pulling the tree on the sled back to the car. But when there’s no snow, a sled with a tree on it doesn’t go very well:)

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We got our tree bundled up, visited the petting zoo animals and little playhouse (and some toboggans, the boys didn’t want to leave those), and the outhouse (it wouldn’t be a tree farm visit without a stop in the outhouse) and then we were on our way back to Mpls. We got the tree set up and decorated that same afternoon/evening. Both boys were thrilled to be hanging ornaments, and I don’t think we lost any this year until a few hours after decorating when a couple ornaments fell off overloaded branches and one shattered.

Oh yeah, I was there too. Here we are riding in the back of the Volvo while pulling the tree behind us.

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chicago

Well, the blogging every day in November didn’t exactly pan out, but I was able to get a few things blogged that I had wanted to. I’ve been meaning to post about our first ever official family vacation, which involved an airplane flight and a stay at an Embassy Suites and EVERYTHING. We went over MEA fall break to Chicago- it was Sam’s first airplane experience.

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Notes on the airport/flight experience… security lines were short. We carried on everything. Humphrey Terminal, so kids at least got to play in that kiddie play area. Ryan had an incredible amount of ants in his pants about when the airplane would get to our gate, when we’d be getting on the plane, when we’d move, etc etc. The boys and I were sitting together with Daddy tagging along across the aisle. Sam did fine, however for our first fight 70 minutes was plenty:)

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We stayed at the family friendly Embassy Suites downtown on the river/lakefront. Lovely set-up with a bedroom for the ‘rents and a living room pull-out sofa bed for the children. The boys loved the hotel- especially the glass elevators, the escalator, and the open hallways where you could look all the way down 14 floors to the lobby/atrium area. They thought the pull-out sofa was the coolest thing ever. And the swimming pool, the swimming pool was also a huge hit. No photos of that, but here is some hallway running.

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We didn’t have any real grand plans for the trip. We went in with the following agenda: walk on Michigan Avenue, go to the top of a skyscraper, ride a train, visit Uncle Jim, go to Millenium Park, and look at the lake. My non-plan for this trip very much involved going wherever the wind may carry us, but I didn’t exactly factor in the LITERALNESS of this. I mean doh, we were in the windy city. In October. The weather was not ideal for walking around the city with two small children. After night one of staying up way past bedtimes and eating a dinner which consisted of goldfish and trail mix from the evening ‘manager’s reception’, the boys were eager to try out the pool the next morning. So we got a late start on our first day of sightseeing. In the rain, we walked Michigan Ave to the Hershey store and then on to the Lego store. The boys whined the entire time about it being too cold, too rainy, too far to walk. We ended up eating lunch at the Cheesecake Factory (at base of the Hancock), but when we were done it was still cloudy and foggy and the view would have been horrible and everyone was tired and grouchy so we just went back to the hotel.

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We pretty much forced a family nap upon everyone that afternoon, given the not so terrific moods we were all in and the late night we’d be having visiting Jim and Erik. Family nap was a roaring success until we all woke up and the boy-devils erupted in screaming fits. That lasted a good hour before we could finally leave the hotel and get in a cab for our evening with the uncles. The boys entertained themselves at Jim and Erik’s with imaginary fun involving a magic bowl and a magic pumpkin. We were able to stay for a good three hours- a remarkable feat given we used no toys and no TV the entire time.

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The next day it appeared sunny and nice outside, so we decided to make our way to Millenium Park. After about 30 seconds of being outside the boys were complaining about being frozen and unable to walk another step and IT’S TOO WINDY LET’S GO BACK TO THE HOTEL!! We stopped halfway to the park to step into a tourist shop and buy kids’ winter hats for the boys. We made it to the park and saw the bean and fountains. We then had hot choc/coffee at McD’s/Intelligentsia, and then we finally, FINALLY hopped aboard the el for a train ride to nowhere. When we got off the train, we looked at Halloween stuff in a Ragstock and then grabbed sandwiches from PotBelly. All the while dealing with lots of whining and lots of crabbiness from everyone (ESP Pat). We took the food back to the hotel and ate lunch. After decompressing with some TV, I gave the boys a choice of making that looooong walk back to the Hancock tower to go to the top, or staying at the hotel and swimming. They chose swimming.

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This post has been sitting here for a really long time. I think I was meaning to add more photos…perhaps I’ll come back and do that one day.

To sum up this vacay– imho our kids were still too young to appreciate and enjoy this type of a walking-around trip, especially when the weather was sub-par. Also, Ryan had a very hard time not knowing exactly what the PLAN was every second, which kind of takes the fun out of letting a vacation day evolve on its own.

Oh yeah, one more thing. Both kids were obsessed with all the PIGEONS.

give-thanksing

Last week will not go down in history as one of my better weeks. I admit my wrongs here (for future amusement), and in the spirit of Thanksgiving have many things to be thankful for…things that stand out above and beyond the inconveniences of my bad luck.

-I am thankful that the wooden spatula that fell under the pot I was cooking with and got scorched in the flame DIDN’T start on fire.

-I am thankful that my closed-flue fireplace fire only burned for about 10 minutes (could have been much longer)… and thankful that the stank and mess I’m still cleaning up was due to a silly mistake in a contained fireplace, rather than a house fire.

-I am thankful for Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser.

-I am thankful for the plentiful food we have to eat, even though on the night of the aforementioned happenings the dish I was preparing was over-cooked, under-seasoned and mushy.

-I am thankful for evening extra-curricular activities, literacy that takes me to Barnes and Noble, and a functioning vehicle in which I locked my car keys last Wednesday night.

-I am thankful for a husband who is kind enough to leave his pre-Timberwolves game restaurant meal to come and rescue me from the Barnes and Noble keys-locked-in-car debacle of 2013.

-I am thankful that no evil-doers entered our house that I unintentionally left unlocked during the time we were dealing with the aforementioned two bullet points.

-In addition, I feel much thankfulness for… retired grandpas, ghiradelli 60% cocoa dark chocolate chips, vino tinto, first grade teachers, coconut milk lattes, Amazon prime delivery, wool socks, a happy family, silly boys, nice friends, HEALTH, and an upcoming massage.

Happy almost Thanksgiving to you and yours!