Hot chocolate bombs

So one person in this house isn’t into the hot chocolate bomb fad – he was upset that the warm milk was melting his chocolate so we had to change course. With Jordan Linville

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Honoring MLK day

On our way to get COVID tests this morning, since we just got back from traveling, I heard about a poetry challenge on NPR, based on the Langston Hughes poem that inspired Dr. King’s I have a dream speech.
I talked about it with the kids today… here’s what we came up with.  I think you can still contribute too!
Natalie

I dream a world of peace, not a world of war.

A world of peace mountain high,
down to the deepest ocean blue.

And hopefully people will see too,
we can all get a long,
a world where we will right our wrongs.

Sun and moon gaze down on a practically perfect early,
a world where no fighting can be heard.

Love drives out hate, and enemies can become friends.
Oh I hope this world, oh I hope this world, will never ever end.

Elliott had a line he’d like to contribute:
I dream a world where the sun gazes down on a perfect earth, where no troubles exist.
So did I….
I dream a world where a different opinion is a starting point for a conversation, rather than the end.
I dream a world where being a leader means lifting someone up, not tearing them down.
I dream a world where we eliminate the racist not racist binary, thus allowing us to confront our bias.
I dream a world where systemic racism becomes more visible to white people too.
I dream a world where the coronavirus is controlled and our children can learn and play again.
I dream a world where the terrors of day and night subside.
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Happy 2nd Birthday, Conor!

Happy 2nd Birthday, Conor!    (His birthday was Thursday, January 7th.)  We are so ready for two! He is increasingly less crabby and more fun to hang out with – yay!  Here’s to a strong 2021! **A big thanks to Natalie for helping me write this blog post.**

Nicknames: C-man, Best Buddy Boy (that’s what Natalie says), My C (from Elliott), Conor-man

Hair Color: Red

Eye Color: Blue (Technically, the outer ring is a turquoise blue, in the middle blue, and then going in, a gray blue)

Personality:  Silly.  Picky.  Cute.  Energetic.  Stubborn.  Insistent.  Excitable.  Adventurous in places we don’t want him to be.  Likes to imitate Natalie.  Trouble-maker.  He is seriously a little stinker… just today, dumped milk on the ground, poured water from a cup into a shot glass (on a night stand), hid behind a curtain because he didn’t want his diaper changed, etc.

*Elliott wants me to note… that Conor always wants his Mama time.  (This is true.)

Favorite Activities:  Dumping water from one cup/bucket to another.  Playing tea (ugh – he’s so insistent and particular about this, it can be very annoying because he wants to use his Dad’s set, not a play set).  Handwashing (also annoying – just sitting in the sink to wash).  Spinning in the chair with Natalie.  Playing with trucks.  Reading books about trucks and dogs.  Baby breakaway to Natalie’s room.    Watch-out Daddy…. Natalie pushes him super fast in Baby Ellie’s stroller.  Being outside.  We rode bikes many times a week when the weather was nice.  Playing in the wagon at Nana and Pop’s house.  He runs a lot; he loves to run free fall down hills.  Saying hi to grandparent pairs on Facetime (Grandma/Grandpa or Nana/Pop – he always wants them to be together and has a disturbed face when they are not.)  Throwing stuff.  In the last week, he and I have played “Matching” with these go fish cards.  We match face-up though!  He is just learning how to scooter too.

Things he is obsessed with: Mail trucks.  He also loves roller trucks and fire trucks.  This is why he likes bike riding so much – you can see a lot of transportation on a bike ride.  In December, he and I probably visited the outside of the fire station 3x a week… there’s only so much to do in the winter in New England during COVID with a toddler.

Mom’s Favorite thing to do with Conor: Snuggle and read (when he will let me – we read a lot, but he is not a big snuggler)

Dad’s Favorite thing to do with Conor: TBD – J has to fill in.

Natalie’s Favorite thing to do with Conor: Cuddling (almost never happens) and spinning in the chair in the living room

Elliott’s Favorite thing to do with Conor: “Wrestling”

Favorite Songs: Like the Zombies Do, Wheels on the Bus

Favorite Books:  I’m Smart.  I’m Fast.  I Stink.  Biscuit goes Camping.  Otis.  Good Night Good Night Construction Site.  Machines at Work.  Little Blue Truck.  Blue Truck Leads the Way.  I love you Stinky Face.  Foreman Farley. Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and things that Go and Airport book.

Favorite TV show: Wheels on the Bus on Tubi.  (We wished he liked more things – it would be easier for traveling.)

Words: He knows a lot of words, but he is hard to understand.  Mama, Dada, Eeee (for Elliott), Na-na, Nat-ee, or Nat-Bu’ (for Natalie), cheers (it sounds more like che), I’m Smart, I’m Fast, Nnn-eee ( for Fawny, his lovey. ), P (for Penny)… the list goes on.

First Joke: He says “Bye Bye Natalie” and then Natalie responds “Natalie’s not going bye-bye!”  Then he goes on to repeat this with every person in the room.  On ocassion, I’ll say, “Bye-bye,” and then he goes “No Mama Bye-bye.  No Mama Bye-bye”

Key phrase: “know that” (no dat)… often in response to “Mama loves you.” or “You’re my best buddy boy.” (Natalie says this)

Colors: Can identify and say blue, green, red, yellow, orange, black (is chocolate)

Numbers: He has independently counted to three and can kinda count up to 10.  This is a super new development.  It started with counting up to 7, when counting airplanes in a book.

Favorite Foods: “Hot dog, mac ‘n cheese” and Protein shake (he says all of these items so cute).  Bagels with cream cheese, peanut butter, blueberries.  He also eats peppers with hummus.  For treats, he likes a dum dum sucker (aka lollipop) and chocolate –> we have Halloween to thank for the introduction of those items.

Height/Weight: He has an appointment in February, but we weighed him on the scale at Nana’s and Pop’s house… he was about 31 lbs, which is at least 2 pounds more than Natalie was.

How we celebrated: We are in Florida for an extended trip (thanks Nana and Pop)!  So, we decorated the dining room with blue and orange streamers and balloons, as well as a happy birthday sign.  Mammaw and Pappaw came over too.  We ate his favorite dinner – mac and cheese and hot dogs.  His birthday cake was from the Cake Boss’s bakery in NJ… they freeze the cake, include dry ice and overnight it.  (Jordan’s client had given him a gift card.)  It was a beautiful 6-layer rainbow cake.  Not only did he like eating it, he liked pointing to all the colors.

Morning with Mommy – on our way to “mail truck land”

You the man!

Pants optional

Climbing on the Banyan trees

I fill out this shirt much better than my big bro and Dad

Happy Birthday, Conor – we love you so much!

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This boy

This cutie just sang “I can’t help falling in love with you” by Elvis to me while we cuddled before bed tonight  This is after he baked cookies with me, ran around joyfully on the beach, and actively participated in his Faith Formation class (I’m his teacher)  He is pretty awesome!

 

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Natalie is 10!

So, what’s it like to turn 10 in a pandemic (when its 20 degrees outside and you don’t live near any family)?!?  Well, Natalie said that even without a friends birthday party, it was one of the best birthdays ever!  How did everyone join together to make it fun? Here are 10 ways…

  1.  It was on a Saturday, so no school and tons of family time.
  2. Conor helped me decorate the dining room – he was a big fan of the blue streamers.
  3. Elliott made a sweet happy birthday sign on a white board.
  4. Check out the last 4 pictures… there’s a lot of gifts there!  Thanks to everyone who sent her something.
  5. She and I baked pies two weekends in a row – the weekend before her birthday, it was french silk pie and the weekend of her birthday, peanut butter pie.  Baking is our favorite activity to do together, so it was a date.
  6. Best of all, important people from her 10 years of life submitted videos for a birthday video compiliation.  She had submissions from Alaska, Florida, Illinois, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey and even Dubai! (Her preschool teacher.)
  7. Alison sent a picture slideshow of adorable pictures when she was our nanny… about agest 4-6.
  8. Two of her closest friends came over the week before for an outdoor play date when it wasn’t as cold and one brought cupcakes.  She got a gift dropped off later too.  It’s the thought that counts!
  9. We had belated birthday dates… Jordan took her out for breakfast at a resort in FL, and Natalie and I painted toe nails on Christmas.
  10. Movie night!

Look at my big sister, Natalie!

(Natalie watching her birthday video!)

Cheers to our big sister!

Showing off another impressive baking feat – peanut butter pie!

E-man loves and looks up to his big sister so much. (this is more of a birthday present for him!)

Yum – celebrated with pastries for breakfast and Indian for dinner (her choice!?!)

Her birthday video was amazing…. here are 10 of the themes I heard from the video:

  1.  Kind
  2. Smart
  3. Funny
  4. Creative
  5. Graceful (dancer)
  6. Silly
  7. Cute
  8. Fun
  9. Great Friend
  10. Thoughtful

Here are 10 neat/cool things about Natalie:

  1. She’s a terrific dancer – and always has been.  From her silly toddler moves to pineapple princess in PreK to her graceful ballet now, this girl knows how to move.  She started a new ballet school this fall and has learned so much.
  2. She’s an avid reader – she is often found cuddling in her bed, reading a book… and still enjoys reading at night with us too.  Although she loves some of the most popular books for her age, like Babysitters Club graphic novels, she is open to new books that I get her and likes stories of people with various backgrounds, like My Family Divided by Diane Guererro (her parents were immigrants to the USA and were deported when she was in high school in Boston and now she is a famous actress).
  3. Natalie loves to bake… we’ve baked cookies since she was 1, but especially this year, she’s encouraged me to try more adventerous ones with her like creme brule and crepes.
  4. She writes great poems – she is insightful and funny.
  5. She loves playing soccer and did an extra league this summer, which helped her confidence.  She’s played on the same travel soccer league for 3 years.
  6. She is trying out an acting class this winter!  Due to COVID, it’s going to be online. I’m excited to see what she learns.
  7. She has been my best biking buddy… well, she and Conor (he’s on the back).  She’s always up for joining us for a bike ride.  She got a great new bike in the beginning of COVID, since her hand-me-down was too small.  Great investment.
  8. She is an excellent drawer.  She can draw so many things… I love the characters she draws.  They have these sweet big eyes.  She is super detailed and conscientious when making a card for someone with her drawing.  She and Grandma often draw while on Facebook Messenger.
  9. She is a collector.  There are so many precious things in her room.  She says she needs a bigger room.  Amazingly, Jordan and I agree.
  10. Natalie is hilarious.  Although she is cautious with sharing this outside of her family, her friends and classmates catch glimpses.  With her immediate family (and sometimes Pop too), she can let her silliness shine.  I would get in trouble if I shared the details.  I will say, she has made it a personal goal to tease me and get a rise out of me.
  11. I cannot stop at 10. She also began piano and tennis this year. And she names everything – our house (Vanessa), last years Christmas tree (Joy Noel), the avocado stuffed animal (Liam), the milkshake squishie (Cecily) and our car (Regina).

Natalie’s favorites:

Food: clementine

Treat/dessert: trois chocolate (from the French bakery in Florida)

Ice cream flavor: cookie dough as long as there are a lot of chunks

Hairstyle: straight and long

Books: Matilda and Roller Girl

Songs: natural by imagine dragons, if the world was ending, someone you loved

Movies: parent trap (the “newer” one with Lindsay Lohan)

Christmas movie: Elf

Place in the house: her bed

Color: periwinkle

Number: 13

Teacher: Daddy (piano!)

Sport: soccer and ballet, followed by basketball

Flavor of gum or mint: peppermint

Thing to do with Conor: play and cuddle (when he lets her!) and spinning on the chair (he always loves that)

Game: Life and Scattegories

Restaurant: Potbelly’s and Chipotle on the corner of Belden and Halsted and Bina Vita pizza in Enfield

Gemstone: blue zircon (Dec )

Subject: writing or reading if it’s free read. Or PE if it’s with Mom and Dad.

Things to do with me: baking and working out

Things to do with Dad: Piano and basketball

Thing to do with Elliott: wrestling

Other Fun Tidbits:

Trip taken: anytime we go to Chicago because it feels like home and good memories

Dream trip: Paris, France

States visited: 14 IN, CT, Ma, Vt, NH, NY, Wi, IL, PA, FL, OH, MI, Maine, AK (Thanks Grandma for remembering that last one!)

Countries visited: 2 (USA and Canada)

Stuffed animals on this trip: Fern the Fox, Yot, Mousy. (The last two are from when she was a baby. Fern was from Valentine’s Day a couple years ago)

Future baby names: Joy Noel, Tyler. Unless they are twins: Summer and Winter

Time she goes to bed: 10pm

Time to wake up: 730am on school days and 7:45am on weekends

Nicknames: Nat, Natbug, Naterpillar, My Girl, My chocolate chip, Spunky Star, Na-Na, Nat-eee, Nat-bu (drops the g). Those last three are from Conor.

 

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Early Christmas

We leave (God willing) for FL on Christmas Eve. And next weekend is Natalie’s bday. So we celebrated early today. Thanks Grandma and Aunt Becky for the presents! We miss everyone.
Natalie loved the snow globe and cozy slippers.   Elliott loved a dragon pod Maximus and lego set. Conor loved everything with wheels – a blue monster truck and bus with flashing lights. They were excited about a bit of cash too!!

 

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French silk pie

Natalie chose two birthday pies. We made the first one this weekend. French silk! Fun and delicious (and time consuming – good thing I cheated and bought the crust).  Recipe fr Sally’s baking addiction.

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Nanny sick day

Continue reading

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Happy Halloween

The little smug skeleton just threw his “dinner” of goldfish on the floor.  Natalie was a ghost (a beautiful one)!

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Training time

Big bro “training” little bro.
to be honest this trading set up is a little complex for Conor and he is getting frustrated the trains don’t stick together. He loves the hills. 
last pic is as Elliott said once in a lifetime. Conor was watching a wheels on the bus video after his hands were cold outside and he wouldn’t stop crying.  Which is just like Natalie at age 1/2. Oh no. What did I get myself into?!?

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