December 17, 2012

Simon: 2 years!!!

We did it!  Simon lived to be two years old!  With all his crazy shenanigans I wasn't quite sure if he would make it this far.  Without even a broken bone...yet.

He is the most expressive, hilarious two year old.  His lips are often quite pouty (so adorable).  His brow furrowed, belly pushed out, and mumbling his displeasure about whatever his issue is.  For a while, he would pout by slumping his shoulders and quietly resting his forehead on the wall, or my leg.

He loves music.  All my kids have enjoyed music, but there is something in him that craves it.  He is always dancing or bouncing to a beat.  He loves to sing.  If I try and join in he holds up his hand firmly, gets his pouty lips and furrowed brow in place and demands, "dop!" (stop).  And then he continues.  I recently caught him lip-syncing.  It was hilarious.  As the music was playing his large mouth was moving, as if he was singing, but no noise was coming out.  I laughed until I cried.

He is a major mimicker.  If a siren goes by he mimicks the sound almost exactly.  If Oliver says, "Nooo!"  Simon will repeat, the volume and intonation perfectly.  Toilet flushing, check.  Striking a match, yes.  You name it he's probably mimicked that sound.  My recent favorite, "I wa youuuu." (I love you.)

Simon loves (and demands) to be included in everything Isabella and Oliver are doing.  He is no longer a passive younger brother watching the big kids have fun.  No, he's there in the thick of it.  Cooking with all 3 kids has become a 3-ring circus.  Seriously.  Most of the time I embrace it and enjoy it.

He is strong.  Although he doesn't climb as much as he use to (or maybe it's just not as alarming now that he's bigger), he is still quite strong.  He will lift and carry a chair across the room.  Or a large, heavy pot.  Or the blender.  Or opening tightly closed containers; like nail polish.

When he runs he swings his arms faster than his legs (he use to just swing his right arm really fast, pretty cute), and he sometimes gets some extra hip action going.  I smile every time.

His smile is huge.  (He has the biggest mouth!)  His laughter is contagious.  You look at him funny and he will laugh hysterically.  He loves to pretend he's asleep and thinks he's the funniest thing...and we agree.  Isabella loves playing along when he's being so silly, which only encourages his hilarious behaviors.

He is a bit of a jealous type.  He doesn't like me to hold/cuddle Isabella or Oliver, especially in the morning (when most sweet mama cuddles occur).  He gets angry, screams, and throws books when I read books to Isabella and Oliver.  (Bed time can be a bit dramatic around these parts lately.)

Recently he's been willing to sit on my lap while we look (and attempt) to read a book together; just the two of us.  But he turns the pages and we mostly identify items in the pictures.  Sometimes if I try and read a book he insists, "dop!" (stop) and we go back to reading on his terms...spoiled baby!  In the last month I've "caught" him sitting and looking at books on his own...a first for this busy, busy boy.

When he gets angry (which happens often) he can be persuaded out of his funk by tossing him into the air or aggressively kissing his neck.  Either one makes him laugh uncontrollably and then he's ready to move on.

If he is screaming or angry (and just won't stop) I tell him he needs to leave.  He willingly and independently goes into the bathroom, closes the door and will return happy after a few minutes.  I love that he's learning to cool down on his own at this point.

He is a pretty good eater.  He definitely eats better than his older brother and sister.  He is willing to try just about everything and enjoys things like lentil soup, oatmeal and healthy green stuff that his siblings gag at.

Since Oliver was just recently potty trained Simon decided to hop on the bathroom bandwagon.  He often uses the potty and we've had some hit-and-miss success with it.  Fortunately he no longer stands at the bathroom door and pees into the living room.  (It's a circus I tell ya!)

When we had a little family birthday celebration for Simon on Saturday we each took turns saying what we love about Simon.  This was the first time we've done this and it is a tradition I hope to continue.  Both Isabella and Oliver were so sweet in showing their love for their little brother.  And Simon loved it.  He totally got what was going on.  After we each said our bit Simon would do/"say" something completely goofy and made us all laugh.  Good times with this sweet boy of mine.

Here are some of Simon's words:

oo-ee, oo-ee=siren

And there is a whole lot more that he communicates with sounds and gestures.

Simon is a very clever boy.  Super smart, super happy, and very clever!  He brings so much joy and laughter to our home and family.

*Photos by our talented friend Mark Weinberg.

**Hopefully I can upload more photos of our sweet Simon.  All our photos are currently on Brian's work laptop...Simon has a wonderful smile.

October 16, 2012

Why I don't bake anymore...

I just found this treasure in the hot oven. Formerly a plastic toy plate. Surprisingly (and very fortunately) it wasn't dripping or smoking. The oven has been on for a good 15 minutes preheating for some delicious bread.

For the record, Simon is the culprit. He loves to play in the kitchen and I've found many toys in the oven--always before turning it on.

October 4, 2012

You know your kid is a New Yorker when...

...he is terrified by an episode of Curious George. A specific episode when George gets separated from The Man with the Yellow hat in the subway system. George hops on a train and The Man is left on the platform. It, obviously, all turns out well (which makes me think I should have turned off the show, because I don't want Oliver to think it's all okay).

Oliver rarely gets scared. He knows subways. And he knows the rules. I'll take this healthy fear of subway separation.

I thought him expressing fear over this show was quite....curious.

September 26, 2012

Right Now: Daredevil

Praying this little boy lives to be two. Hoping this mama doesn't die of a heart attack first.

September 17, 2012

A Perfect Saturday

Lately we have been blessed with perfect weather, day after day. Cool in the mornings, sunny and mid 70's by the afternoon. Absolutely perfect.

It's days like these that rekindle my deep rooted love for New York City.

Saturday was fabulous. After hanging out at a church picnic for lunch we went out and enjoyed the city for the rest of the day. It has been a long time since we've wandered the city streets (something I use to do daily). And it had been months since I had been on the subway. Strange but true. So...Saturday was fabulous. We went downtown, walked a lot, browsed the Greenmarket in Union Square, happened upon a protest, went to the Folk Music Festival in Washington Square Park, enjoyed delicious tacos at Dos Toros, and wore ourselves out.

It was a perfect day in every way.

September 10, 2012

Right Now: Construction

Sometimes we stop to smell the roses. Other times we stop to watch buildings grow right before our eyes. Oliver prefers the later, at this point in his life.

September 8, 2012

First Day of 1st Grade

Last year I thought the first day of kindergarten was tough.  But the first day of 1st grade was even more heart wrenching.  I have my theories as to why.  Perhaps it's because the school eases the kids (and parents) into kindergarten with lots of half days in the beginning where parents get to hang out for a while.  Perhaps it was the of knowledge of what school really was, combined with the uncertainty of what 1st grade would be like.  Perhaps it was because Isabella knew it was the beginning of a long, tough journey.  (After the first week of kindergarten she asked, "How many more days until I'm done?"  In February they had a big celebration when they reached "100 days of school".  Isabella was convinced that was the last day of school; and stuck to her conviction, "School should only be 100 days!" until school finally got out on June 28th.)

Whatever it was, it made her extremely nervous.  (During summer break she never talked about school.  And just shrugged her shoulders and avoided eye contact if anyone asked her about it.)

On Thursday morning, the first day of school, I was convinced she was, indeed, quite ill with a stomach bug.  Brian insisted it was nerves.  In the end, Brian was right.  The drop off in the classroom was painful.  Several kids were crying (so glad mine wasn't the only one!).  But, of course, Isabella's teacher is beyond amazing and had all the teary kids busily helping her as I quickly tried to pry Isabella off my body and exited the classroom.  At pick-up my brave little girl was all smiles.  Daddy had promised her a first day of school celebration of frozen yogurt at 16 Handles.

It ended up being the only food she ate all day, but it was an exceptional day.  My little, tender girl fought a good fight that morning.  She stared fear in the face and she conquered it!  She came out of the battle stronger and taller than before.  I am so proud of her!

Washington D.C.

Labor Day weekend we headed to Washington D.C. for some fun.  The first day was extremely hot.  The second day was also hot, but a little more bearable.  Even though we tried to take the same relaxed approach as we did in Boston we found we were all pretty cranky and grumpy, because of the heat.  In hindsight we should have planned this trip a little better ahead of time.  (The reality is the week before we went I planned on planning the trip, but Simon was incredibly sick, so I held a cranky baby all day and night instead of planning...such is life.)

Brian got off early Friday so we could beat the traffic out of the city on a holiday weekend.  Unfortunately he didn't get off early enough (2pm??) we sat in traffic in SoHo for about an hour before we were able to get through the Holland Tunnel.  The kids napped, but then they were awake the rest of the drive.  A drive that should have taken 4 hours actually took 7.  It was a tad grueling, to say the least, but the kids were amazing.

We look forward to going back and doing D.C. better.  Here's what I will do differently next time: go in the spring or fall (not summer!), map out a few favorite sites/museums each day (double check operating hours), and carry more food with us.
the white house
Oliver's silly song/dance in front of the Washington Monument
Lincoln Memorial
Wide-eyed Isabella asked, "Was he really that big?!"
the Capitol
A highlight of the trip was the National Postal Museum (thanks for the tip, Heather!).  It's a fairly new Smithsonian Museum with lots of interactive stuff for the kids (and adults!) to do.  I really had no idea the history of the postal system could be so fun.

And for a healthy dose of reality, this is how Oliver saw the sites.
Lincoln Memorial
National Gallery of Art
National Building Museum

Blueberry Muffins

I found this post from two years ago still in draft form; never published.  But I still love this muffin recipe, so I thought I'd share.  Enjoy!


I LOVE blueberries. Growing up I didn't think much of them. All that we had in California were tiny, tasteless balls that were super expensive. Then Brian took me blueberry picking in Glastonbury, Connecticut--his hometown--a few weeks before we were married. WOW! It was absolutely amazing. Heavenly, really. Not only was the experience wonderful but the blueberries...WOW!...were fantastic. Handfuls of huge berries full of sweet, fragrant juice would fall off the bush as I went to grab just one. Brian took a some videos of us picking the summer I was pregnant with Isabella and very few of the berries actually went into the bucket. They were so tasty.

These muffins are good and pretty healthy. I think next time I'll cut back a bit (1/4 cup) on the sugar. I found the recipe Also next time I will only put in 1 cup of blueberries as suggested. Since I love blueberries I dumped a bunch in, but then the muffins were too moist. The berries I used were picked last summer and frozen.
Health Nut Blueberry Muffins

3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup oat bran
1/4 cup quick cooking oats
1/4 cup wheat germ
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 banana, mashed
1 cup buttermilk*
1 egg
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup blueberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin tin.

In a large bowl, stir together all the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl combine the wet ingredients. Pour the wet into the dry and mix until just blended. Then gently fold the blueberries and walnuts into the mixture.

Bake for 15-18 minute or until the tops of the muffins spring back when lightly touched. (It took my muffins almost twice as long to cook. Probably because I used large, frozen blueberries.)

*I rarely have buttermilk, so I just put 1 teaspoon lemon juice in 1 cup of milk and it works well.


A few weeks ago we jumped on a last minute opportunity to go to Boston for a weekend.  It was right after the tornado hit and my in-laws were without electricity.  Boston became the best get-away from our get-away.

I don't think I give Brian enough credit for all of our amazing adventures.  He's really the catalyst for all the amazing stuff we do.  And I'm so grateful for his adventurous, fun loving personality.  It definitely keeps life exciting!

One of the best parts of this trip; the part that made it really enjoyable for me (and everyone, I think) was we had no concrete plans.  We didn't have an agenda or checklist.  We went slow, took one moment at a time and just enjoyed being together in a great city.  I'm not sure if that would work for every trip we take, but for this trip, at this season of life it was perfect.

Here's what we did on our spur of the moment trip to Boston:

Lots and lots of walking

Dined on super-duper creamy clam chowder and cannolis

I caught this little boy sneaking into this box several times.

Enjoyed the beautiful city way past bedtime 
(and did not regret it the next day)

Climbed aboard Old Iron Sides (USS Constitution

Hiked 300 steps to the top of the Bunker Hill Monument.

 And treated ourselves to the 
"Oliver Pizza" and "Isabelle Pizza" at Figs Restaurant
(Coincidentally, the owner of the restaurant, Todd English, has 3 children; named Isabelle, Oliver and Simon.  The Figs Table has been our favorite cookbook for years.)

August 31, 2012

Summer Streets: An Epic Adventure

This was the 5th year of Summer Streets and, yes, it is still one of my all time favorite family events in the city.  But, truth be told, I was feeling a bit bored with it.  (I've probably gone 12 out of 15 times.)  This year there wasn't anything new and exciting--I wish they'd bring back the dumpster swimming pools; that was awesome (and refreshing!).

But to get me out of my slump of boredom we had lots and lots of family come into town the last Saturday of Summer Streets.

Here is the day in numbers...and then the photos.

The night before Summer Streets:
6 extra people slept in our apartment Friday night, making
11 people in 500 sq ft, with only
1 bathroom

The morning of Summer Streets:
2 hour delayed start because of the pouring rain
9 adults rode bikes
9 children joined, all were pulled behind adult bikes except
2 "pushed" their own weight
1 on a bike
1 on a scooter
18 people in our group

We rode about:
10 hours (with lots of breaks)
16 miles, over
1 bridge, took
2 ferrys, and had only
1 flat tire

Our route:  We rode from our apartment across Central Park to the Park Avenue where Summer Streets is located.  We enjoyed the car free roads and activities along the way until Summer Streets was ending at 1pm.  Then we rode across the Brooklyn Bridge, down to Pier 6 (ran into some friends), caught the ferry to Governors Island, stopped by the Jazz Age Lawn Party (ran into some other friends), took the ferry to Manhattan, rode up the greenway along the Hudson River until we got to the UWS, and then just cut through (on streets) to our apartment.

our apartment + bicycle storage
getting ready to hit the road
riding in Central Park
down Park Avenue
under the Manhattan Bridge
ferry to Governors Island
Simon + "Daddeee"
Jazz Age Lawn Party
Isabella testing the tag-along bike with Uncle Jon
Oliver all tuckered out

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