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Friday, November 7, 2014

Halloween Festivities

Halloween has always been an amazing thing to explain to a child. "That's right, you go to everyone's house, even the people we don't know, knock on their door and they will give you candy." For free. No strings attached. You can imagine how excited our little sweet tooth was at this revelation.

"This has been the best Halloween of my life." That is a direct quote.

The kids were very excited to carve pumpkins, and then immediately disliked the squishy insides. They were excited to watch mom and dad take care of things, and stay far away from the stringy stuff.

Gretchen was trying her mightiest to carry the pumpkins, this one brought a bead of sweat to her brow.

As with most things these days, Halloween was a multi-day celebration. Between the pumpkin patch, carving pumpkins, school celebration, local mom-group celebration and the actual day, our kids believe that Halloween is roughly the length of Hanukkah. It was really fun to see her in the Halloween parade at school. She wanted to be Minnie Mouse for school, so the dress came out of hiding and a Minnie Mouse was born. Again.

Then Snow White came out on the real day.

Along with a precious little Sully Monster. Such a fantastic birthday gift for our little guy, thank you Santi and Diana!

Actual Halloween trick or treating was incredibly fun, even more so than I remember as a kid. It is incredible to watch your own kids light up as they collect their goods. It was a great first Halloween in a traditional setting, we had a blast and the kids were excited, exhausted and thrilled. Let's do it again next year!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Pumpkin Patch Weekend

Fall has finally found Houston!

We were told it was hot in Houston. It is. And just when you think it is time to cool off, it's hot for another month. Or two.

We found a day cool enough to spend a morning outside and visited a local pumpkin patch, called the Old Time Christmas Tree Farm. We had a number of neighbors meet us there, which made the afternoon even more fun. It's exciting to spend a season doing the holiday things, especially now that our kids are old enough to enjoy it. Even if the pumpkins are shipped in from somewhere else.

Gretchen loved sitting on top of the pile of pumpkins, and happily pointed out which ones were "really, really, dirty". She was hilariously excited about the really small pumpkins, and didn't want all that much to do with taking home the big ones. We tried for a family picture, but it turns out that a big pile of roll-y pumpkins are a bit hard to sit on as a squirmy group of four.

Alex, on the other hand, just wanted to push the wagon around. Any wagon, it didn't need to be ours. He pushed anything with wheels here, there and everywhere.

When he wasn't pushing the wagon, he was playing with the flag on the end.

And when he wasn't doing that, he was taking little pumpkins in and out of wagons.

He was a busy little guy.

Fall is fun! Especially when it's not freezing cold outside!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Alex Turns ONE

It happened. Our baby turned ONE.

When this milestone marker happens, most people say that they can't believe it's been a year. For us, in the year since we became a family of four;

  • We moved internationally
  • We bought our first home
  • We bought two cars
  • My mom was diagnosed, fought and beat cancer
  • Started a new job (Daddy), new school (Gretchen), new state, neighborhood, friends, life
  • We visited Brazil, Uruguay, California and Virginia (twice)
because of this, it is completely believable that it has been a full year.

That is not to say that Alex hasn't grown up incredibly fast. He goes with the flow, giggles at everything, smiles at everyone and is now (finally) sleeping like a champ. He is walking around, pointing at everything and has started protesting (loudly) when he doesn't get what he wants. He is a great eater, though he lets you know what he doesn't like by throwing it on the floor. Or when you're not paying attention, he'll throw food on the floor just for laughs.

I was not a very good photographer at his birthday party, but it was filled with friends, food and the first sunny day in a week of rain in Houston. We held out giving him cake until his birthday - and he dove right in.

He started with a bit of frosting, holding out until we had one picture with the special guy.

Then he took his opportunity to shove the cupcake right down the hatch.

Alex wasn't the only one excited about cupcakes. Gretchen held still long enough for a quick siblings picture, and then she was up to her ears in cupcake as well.

 Our precious, happy boy. He makes life fun, brings out the best in all of us, and reminds us of those wonderful first years of growing up with siblings.

Happy Birthday Alex! We are so happy to have you along for this crazy ride.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Save Me, San Francisco

This family was ready to travel again!

We have stayed pretty close to home in the last few months - with the exception of visiting our grandparents - we haven't been on an airplane since returning from Argentina. A fact that didn't sneak past this little one. She loves an airplane.
And the possibilities it brings to watch shows.

And we are thrilled to have a happy traveler, so the shows flow on during the flight. This flight was not quite the epic over-nighter that we had grown accustomed to with the Argentina trip, but a four hour trip to San Francisco to visit our aunts and uncles!

This is the first time we decided to stay at an Air Bnb instead of a hotel, which worked out amazingly. The place was in a cool neighborhood where we could walk around and use public transportation (it made us very homesick for living in a city), and it had separate rooms for us so to maximize everyone's sleep.

It also had this really cool bathroom.

We were super excited to see our only first cousin, Eve! What a cutie pie! Also, Uncle Dan has his charms, which include baby-wearing in style.

Within a few blocks of our temporary apartment was this fantastic donut shop, Dynamo. Gretchen went bananas. They had incredible homemade donuts, including chocolate, with delicious coffee and other breakfast treats. In the background of this photo you can see Alex reaching in vain for some delicious donut action. It was an awesome early morning meet up with our favorite family of 3.

Since everyone has jobs and responsibilities, we spent the weekdays exploring San Fran on our "own" (with the benefit of Aunt Lian to help us along the way. Thank goodness for her flexible work schedule...). There is so much to do downtown, we had to choose wisely how to spend our time. Our first stop was the Exploratorium, an incredible, hands-on science museum that focuses on putting big ideas into child-friendly exhibits. It is a must see for kids (and, quite frankly, adults).

Jon and I loved it, and both kids were enthralled from start to finish. After waking up, of course...

There is a particularly memorable exhibit at the beginning of the museum that involves an inclined moving belt (think grocery store check out line belt) and a slinky. That slinky kept us busy for a solid portion of our visit. 
Everybody's having fun!

We also visited the Aquarium and Fisherman's Wharf, concluding in a very sleepy cable-car ride home for the kiddos. Both were asleep within moments of sitting down.

The following day we visited the California Academy of Sciences. The kids also loved this museum, but most of it was a little over their heads. Alex sure loved these dials that demonstrated the shift of the Earth's continents over the last lotta-million-years. He was particularly partial to Pangea.

Luckily, Lian and Evie joined us in this adventure, it was so much fun to see the little ones interact.

Alex spent some serious time working to get Evie's socks off. When he succeeded, it was the happiest moment of his day. And, judging by the photo, Evie was pretty happy about it too.
We ended the day with a nice picnic lunch in the park across the street from the museum, enjoying the not-100-degree weather and running around collecting leaves. So happy to spend time with our little niece. Her mom is pretty great too.

We couldn't go all the way to California and not taste wine, right?! A beautiful Saturday was spent at Larson Family Winery, which - as it's name suggests - is great for families. They have bocce ball, bag-o (bean bag toss, whatever you call the tailgate game with beanbags), dogs, goats and a laid back atmosphere that is great for those who can't just sit and focus on the wine.

Lucky for us, we have aunts and uncles that will watch our little ones so that we could spend and hour tasting and purchasing and perhaps joining a wine club while we were there. Alex is pretty pleased with his Aunt Kyra here, even if he wouldn't nap, he was doing just fine with all of the loving attention.

The trip also wouldn't have been complete without a Golden Gate run-by - or run-over - which was a great way to end the trip. Lian and I battled our fears of heights, and almost lost the car keys to the water below on this fun morning run. If you ever need scenery to take your mind off of an exercise routine, this is the place to do it. The bridge, the water, Alcatraz, holy many things to see.

This is a particularly hilarious shot of our little guys sizing each other up. Alex is walking and has the freedom of life outside the saucer. Evie is confined, but has first grab of all of the great toys. I'm not sure who is jealous of who here.

Wonderful trip, wonderful company, we were so happy and excited to get back to San Francisco now that it is so much closer than before. It is also a great place to escape from the Houston heat. Jeans never felt so good! Great trip team, we'll be back for sure!

Monday, August 25, 2014

11 Month Countdown

11 months was quite the roller coaster for this little munchkin!

He got 2 more teeth, he's on a two-a-month schedule now. You can barely see the top ones in this picture, but he has the front four set.

He started walking. First on furniture, then from item to item a step or two between. Then he walked by me in the playroom as if he'd done it all his life.

With walking came the discovery of everything above eye level in the house. With Gretchen, this meant that she went terrorizing through our apartment grabbing the highest things within reach. With Alex, this means that he spends his days opening and closing the tupperware cabinets, taking out all of the plastic kids plates, then putting them back. He cannot get enough of the plastic ware.

He also decided that he cannot live without mom. By his side. All. Day. Long. When I leave the room, even for a moment, he is very unhappy. Like in this photo where I was right below him in the house ironing. He is up in the toy room with Dad, Gretchen and a zillion toys but yet cannot pull it together. It makes daily life difficult, but is also incredibly nice to be wanted.

He got salmonella. It was horrible. So much worse than all of the "it was such a bummer when I got food poisoning, it totally ruined my vacation" stories that everyone told me. We got through it, with very little sleep and lots of anxiety, though it took the better part of 3 weeks.... I don't have a picture of that.

But I do have this little gem when we spent the morning pushing the cooler around the house! Such a precious boy!

This age of curiosity and ability seems to be easier than when it came around with Gretchen. Maybe we were more prepared? Maybe we're more relaxed now? Who knows, I just can't believe we have an 11 month old.