Lunch Dates with Dad

I’m lucky enough to work from home and to see the kids in passing at certain points during the day.  It’s awesome to get quick hugs, see them building fairy houses outside through my window, or to hear them playing.  But I decided this week that I should do an informal lunch date with each kid.  We’ve always had dates in the past, but they’ve been less frequent and are usually a big production (museum, out-to-eat, etc).

Natalie enthusiastically accepted her lunch date invite from Dad.  Elliott flat out rejected me.  I sweetened the deal to say we could watch some Star Wars scenes, which he’s never actually seen.  That did the trick.

Tuesday – Natalie date

Natalie’s lunch date was a bike ride to Forest Park.  It’s about 1.5 miles there and back, and not the easiest terrain.  She clearly was sooo excited to be doing this, and her level of excitement was an ironic reminder of how short this window is where she would rather have a picnic with me than anything else in the world.

Of course, Natalie wanted to first put on sun screen and, as always, She handled the biking like a champ, and it was a perfect day to picnic.  Forest Park is one of the prettiest parks I’ve ever been, too, which is surprising given that Springfield is not a pretty town.  We biked past where our family had its picture taken in the fall foliage, biked past ducks, and eventually came to a little man-made waterfall (more like a dam) where we set up our picnic on a big cement block thing.

It was great to be so unrushed in our conversation together, to casually chat, and sometimes, to even sit in silence and just be together.

At the end of lunch, we had carrots races, throwing carrots into the dam and seeing which made it to the bottom first.  Then, we biked a bit further and came across a man watching a baby snapping turtle cross the road.  The guy was a wealth of information about snapping turtles, and he even prodded it with a stick a bit so we could see just how fast they can snap.

We biked back home which meant going up a VERY steep hill.  Natalie can’t stand up on a bike yet, and I was pretty impressed how far she made it up the hill.  Major quad workout!  She pushed herself hard, and as you can see, was pretty wiped out when we got home.

Dad. I’m pooped! That was some intense bike riding!


Wednesday – Elliott date

As mentioned, it took some cajoling to get Elliott to agree to our lunch date – meaning, a bribe of watching a video.  He decided he wanted to take our picnic to the backyard and we would eat in our fort, which is part of the swingset.

Our date began with me unpacking our food as we sat in the fort, only to look one foot way to see Elliott, pants down, preparing to pee off the edge of the fort and down the slide like a waterfall.  I said, “Dude, you can’t pee down the slide!  Especially not when you are about to eat food!”  I had just enough time to point him to the right so he didn’t hit where we slide down, but it was still a graceful arc of urine to start our date.

We ate lunch and had a nice time chatting.   Elliott is hot and cold on conversation though.  Well, really, he often doesn’t say a lot UNLESS he is talking about transformers.  Then, he can go on 15 min soliloquies about autobots, decepticons and energon (most of which you cannot understand).  I’m comfortable with silence, so we spent some time just sitting, chewing, and being together.

We talked a bit here and there, and at one point, we started talking about “blueberry,” our new brother/sister.  Here is how that conversation went….

  • Elliott: “Blueberry is so lucky that she’s attached to Mom.”
  • Jordan: “Really?  She’s just in their in the dark all the time.  She never even gets to eat.  Would you still like to be attached to Mom if you couldn’t eat?”
  • Elliott: “Yes.”
  • Jordan: “Ok.  Well, Blueberry never gets to watch shows.  You wouldn’t want to be attached to Mom if you didn’t get to watch Autobots would you?”
  • Elliott: “Yes.”
  • Jordan:  “Ok.  I guess it is kind of like taking a really long nap in a big jacuzzi with Mom’s heartbeat right next to you.  Yeah, that doesn’t sound so bad.  And Blueberry never feels any pain.”
  • Elliott: “Yeah, yeah..mmmm..yeah..mmm….but Mommy does!”

Haha.  The kid cracks me up.  After we finished lunch, we watched some Star Wars clips.  I realized that I’ve only seen the original three Star Wars and like half of the next one.  Elliott loved the light saber fight scenes in particular, and it’s clear that I’m going to be catching up on all these when he’s older.  I was also surprised because we were watching a scene from the 6th or 7th movie – one I haven’t seen – and a plane was flying around.  He goes, “That’s the Millenium Falcon.”  I pulled back in my memory bank and realized, yes, he was right.  I said, “How do you know that?”  He says, “I’ve seen it on a Lego set that I want.”


Pretty great to get to hang out with these two.  Erin and I are so lucky to have such amazing, fun, and interesting kids.  I know/hope they will always love us, but it’s pretty great to also have them want to spend so much time with us.

On that note, here’s a picture of Elliott this morning.  He woke up early.  Erin was out on a walk, so this is him sitting on our front steps, eagerly awaiting her return.  I’d say that sums his relationship with Erin up pretty well.

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Lemonade Stand

kids made $13.20 at their lemonade and chocolate chip cookie stand today. We lost a lot of inventory due to frisbee hitting lemonade.


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13 years

July 16 Facebook post

2 grown-ups + 2 kids + 1 baby in utero + 2 pints Ben and Jerry’s ice cream + 2 toppings + biking 3 miles to get the ice cream + 1 85-degree house = 13 years of marriage. Happy Anniversary to the best hubby and father, Jordan Linville!



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Pen pals

Elliott’s best friend is at camp all summer. He wrote E a letter. Awesome mail!

E Wrote back.


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i loved higlights magazine as a kid and my mom has been getting Nat and Elliott High Five (the younger version) and/or Highlights for years. The kids made their first submission to the Magazine today.

Elliott’s is called Break Out (the top is the purple part)  it has something to do with transformers I Believe  Natalies is called Moon and shows a girl on a bunk Bed gazing at the moon

I have to cut this short. Kids are sneaking out of their bedrooms to see if I am awake and I’m pretending to sleep.

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Steep Falls Fighting

From our trip in Maine, I made a gif montage of Elliott and I fighting infront of the Steep Falls.  You have to click the photo to see it.  Be sure to check out Natalie’s face.  Hah.  Enjoy!

Click the photo below

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Our 3rd Annual Trip to Maine for the 4th of July

We’ve timed our trips to Maine for the 4th of July much better now – no more 7-hr trips that were supposed to only be 3.5 hours.  We left around 6:30am on Sunday to go to Sebago, Maine, to visit Elliott’s best friend Ethan and his family at Camp Micah, an overnight Jewish camp.  This place was top-of-the-line!  My personal fav – they spray for bugs and ticks, so we left unscathed.  The kids loved playing at the waterfront, which basically had an inflatable obstacle course in the water.  The super kind campers would help our smaller kids when needed.  Jordan and the kids also tried a Ninja Warrior obstacle course (on land) – led by someone who has legitimately been on the show.  Elliott’s fav, of course, though was just seeing his bestie – which I appreciated b/c they could discuss and perform Transformers (Elliott’s favorite show), which gave me a break from doing the same.  Then, 3 out of 4 Linville’s wanted to camp, so we spent two nights in a borrowed a deluxe tent, including cots for the adults.  I still think camping is an every-other-year excursion for me, preferably 1 night and no more than 2, assuming that in either case, the cooking is extremely limited.  The kids are heavily swayed by the s’mores (somehow, s’mores for breakfast has gotten to be a “tradition”) – and the mosquitoes (which unf, love Elliott – he has my sweet blood) aren’t deterrent enough.

Then, we headed to the Portland area to meet up with 3 of my college roomies – Daniele (CT), Dina (CO), and Tricia (NC) and their families.  Kids ages were: 7, two 5’s, 3, 1 and 9 months.  It wasn’t nearly as relaxing as our last girls getaway (in NYC two Novembers ago) but there was a lot more cuteness.  Natalie loves holding Cormac (age 1 – Daniele’s son) and Caroline (age 3 – Tricia’s youngest) somehow took a liking to Elliott by the end of the week.  Tricia’s parents always host a 4th of July party at Higgins Beach, but the best way to beat the heat (90’s!) was to be in the ocean.  On subsequent days, we went to Old Orchard (think: the Jersey Shore of Maine) and Ogonquit (think: the Cape Code of Maine – it was very crowded but quaint).  We toyed with the idea of going another 3.5 hours north to Acadia (we went 2 years ago – an extreme favorite), but decided against it.  My prego self doesn’t like long car trips – and we were afraid to run into terrible traffic on the way back.

No pics right now – Jordan downloaded them all off my phone, so here’s a public plea to him to really sweeten the blog post with cute pics.

Happy Independence Day/Week!

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Last Saturday

We were lucky to have a lazy Saturday morning last week…. a Jenga game with Optimus prime, while Natalie read a book about a red head with freckles.  So lucky to be their mama.

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June 13th email: “And baby makes 5”

Hey family,
We have some news from New England…. Baby Linville #3 (nickname Blueberry) is due on Christmas!
See attached for a pic of Natalie and Elliott with the ultrasound.  They just found out Monday and are very, very excited.  Natalie: “I’m going to be a big sister times 2!”  Elliott: “I’m not the littlest.  I’m a big brother!”
Thanks in advance for prayers and well wishes…. which includes no early arrivals.  I don’t think Nat would be too keen on sharing her bday (Dec 19th) with a sibling!

We love you all.

I feel so lucky the kids have taken the news so well, as Natalie has been telling us (and Elliott) for at least 1.5 years…. “4 is the perfect number family.  If we would have 3 kids, then we wouldn’t get as much time with Mom and Dad.”  So, I didn’t know how she’d take it, and we figured Elliott would take Nat’s lead.
After breaking the news, she even told me: “I totally thought I wouldn’t be excited but I was!  I was like WHAT?  Whoa!”  and later she says…. “I’m going to get to cuddle and kiss on the baby all the time!”
Elliott’s reaction was basically…. “I’m not the littlest!  I’m a big brother!”
They have also done lots of talking at my belly so that the baby can learn their voices.
As my stomach has grown larger (I’m still only 14 weeks but it definitely popped out sooner than it did with the first), Elliott and I have had some more difficulty snuggling.  His favorite snuggle position is me laying flat on my back, and he laying flat on his back on top of me.  As we’ve attempted to find a more comfortable position, I said sorry…. he sweetly goes: “You shouldn’t.”  I said, “I shouldn’t what?”  He continues… “You shouldn’t feel sorry.  You just have a baby in your tummy.”
He has also always loved the story about how, when Natalie was two, I used to read to her on a rocking chair, with her on my lap, but as my stomach grew bigger, she would try to push it to the side to make it more comfortable for her.  Elliott has this image of himself inside me pushing back, saying “Nope, I’m here.  You have to move.”
Jordan came up with the name Blueberry – based on the size of the baby in one of their earlier weeks.  When we told the kids around 12 weeks, the baby was the size of a lime, so Elliott wanted to call the baby Lime.  But Blueberry has stuck – which conveniently, is one of my fav foods these days.
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Church Camp

St. Mary’s church camp is awesome!  4 different bouncey houses – two that are water slides – greet the kids everyday and I think they get to go out 2x/day on them.  But there’s been some other nice highlights too….

Day 1 – Elliott gets to stay after with the neighbor girl & counselor (10th grader) who brings him home.  He gets a free counselor-only watermelon and a piggy back ride part way home.

Day 2 – At dinner, “Mom…. do you know who the King is?”

Me: “Um, no.”

Elliott: “Guess.”

Me: “King Edward?”

Elliott: “No:

Me: “Prince Henry? Prince Charles?  Prince William?”

Elliott: “No… those are princes, not kings.”

Me: “Who is it?”

Elliott: “JESUS!”

And then goes on to sing “Hallelujah, hallelujah, we’re going to see the king.”

Day 3 – He proudly shows me the sign of the cross.  (Woo hoo!  He’s learning more this week than in the past 450 Sundays.)

Day 4 – Elliott is like a rockstar with the kindergarten bible camp counselors.  Every time I go in to pick him up, multiple counselors (all teenage girls) ask Elliott for extra good-bye hugs.  Today, the hugs took so long that we missed the freezes on the way out (which Elliott doesn’t like anyways).

Then, when he got home…. “Mom, I’m so hungry.  I didn’t get to finish my lunch.  Can I finish it now?”

Me: “Sure bud, why?  Was it a short lunch.”

Elliott: “Well, there’s this thing called shout outs and I got called up for shut outs and ran out of time.”

Me: “Wow – cool.  What’s your shout out for?”

Elliott: “I don’t remember. ”


Elliott: “Do you know about the 9:30 choir?  I want to be in that.”

(I’m thinking…. whoa, seriously?  It’s almost all girls.  You’ve never shown interest in it before.  You like to eat O’s and play with cars… and what about when you “help” me be Eucharistic minister?)  but instead I say…. “That’s awesome bud; let me check into it.”

Meanwhile, Natalie is at basketball camp, which she apparently doesn’t like, even though she apparently likes basketball.  And she’s requested pick-up 1.5 hours early b/c she doesn’t like the 0.5-mile walk from the high school to the cold park pool.  Did I mention basketball camp was more expensive too??


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