1Q14

I’ve found that I often measure time in increments determined by my job. When I worked at the magazine, I thought of life as pairs of months since we published bi-monthly (the January/February issue, the March/April issue, etc.). Since starting my current job four years ago with a financial research firm, I segment my life into quarters. And since we’ve just wrapped up the first quarter of the year (known as 1Q14 in my research reports), I figured it was a good time to post an update of our goings on since 2014 rolled around.

January

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We were in Virginia for the holidays, so we spent the first day of the new year downtown. The US Botanic Garden puts together a fantastic train exhibit each year, so we took Soren and met up with four of his cousins there.

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Soren is such a pointer. When he’s not eating or sleeping, he’s pointing at something (usually airplanes, trucks, buses, or, in this case, trains).

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We enjoyed a freezing cold picnic on the steps by the Capitol reflecting pool (Soren loved the seagulls that tried to eat our lunch). We made sure to save room for our Cafe Rio dinner that would come later that evening. I’m thrilled Cafe Rio is all over VA/MD/DC now, but I’m wondering when Boston will get a turn?

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We got a little dusting of snow in Ashburn the next day. Soren begged to go outside, so Pappy won him over for a minute by offering a ride on a little tricycle.

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The next day we made our way to Pennsylvania, where Tim had a conference to attend. Soren and I thought Philadelphia sounded fun, so we offered to tag along. We were very wrong — it was a miserable place. We pulled into the city after the three-hour drive just in time to drop Tim off for one of the sessions. Apparently Philadelphia doesn’t believe in snow plows, because the roads downtown were practically impassable. I’m a very competent city driver, but this place was a mess. But even though it was 15 degrees and crazy windy (that polar vortex was no joke), I figured it would be lame of me to go straight to the hotel and not see the place. So Soren and I drove around downtown Philly until we found the Liberty Bell. Of course Soren’s pants were soaked and of course I couldn’t find extra clothes or our hats and mittens. So I threw him in the Ergo and we sprinted to the building to warm up and do a quick diaper change. And of course there are no bathrooms in the Liberty Bell building — why would there be? So I laid my already frozen baby on the cold, hard concrete floor for a little diaper change, then put his wet pants right back on him. I let him wander around the bell for awhile, and he was photoed by many Asian tourists.

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Soren was a little annoyed he couldn’t get closer to the spots where the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were both signed.

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And then, the worst night of our lives. It started off only sort of badly, when the hotel’s promised crib was nowhere to be found. I demanded that someone go find one, and within 30 minutes someone showed up with a brand new pack and play from Target. But our adventure turned really crazy around 2 a.m. when a team of firefighters required us to evacuate the building because of a suspicious package in the lobby. I was ready to risk my life in order to keep my baby asleep, but the evacuation was mandatory — they went room to room to make sure we were all out. We spent a few miserable hours in the hallway of a neighboring hotel. Tim and I could barely keep our eyes open; Soren didn’t seem to mind being awake in the middle of the night. After going back to bed around 4:30 a.m. (back in our bomb-free hotel), Soren somehow felt ready to wake up for the day at 5 a.m. I literally cannot remember ever being so tired. I hate Philadelphia. We were so delirious and sleep deprived that we decided Tim would skip the Saturday sessions and we would instead drive back to Boston — a really smart choice when you’re super drowsy. But pizza in New Haven solved all our problems. And being home in Boston felt really, really good.

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We came back from Virginia with Gram’s stool, and Soren spends a lot of time on it. When there are so many trucks and buses and people and dogs passing by, why wouldn’t you stay glued to the window?

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Soren enjoys spreading our pots and pans and lids all over the kitchen floor, so I was really pleased when I walked into the kitchen one day to see he had tidied up and placed them all inside a laundry basket.

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Happy 17-month birthday!

February

I already documented the heck out of one week in February (see here, here, here, here, here, and here), but here are a handful of other February pics.

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We got to playgroup on time one day and Soren loved having the place practically to himself.

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Soren has really come to love personal reading time. He chooses a chair then does the sign for “book.” Then, like any spoiled only child, he waits for me to bring him books, one by one, until he deems one acceptable. Once he finishes that book, he throws it to the ground and demands another.

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At the end of the month Soren and I made our second-annual journey to the Lone Star state. Soren loved watching the planes from the airport, but I’m not sure if he understood he was inside one. Watching the luggage carts drive all around was pretty exciting, however.

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We spent our first few days in Austin, visiting Camilla and her three littles. Soren and Ruby had a grand time at the Austin children’s museum.

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The weather was strangely cold in Texas, but we got a few days of sunshine and warmth. Soren had forgotten all about playgrounds since everything in Boston had been buried under snow for months. It was extra exciting for Soren to experience the playground as a walker — no more crawling through woodchips!

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And then it was off to San Antonio to visit Page and the nieces and nephews. This is Soren’s “get me outta the car” face.

March

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I wouldn’t normally call Soren adventurous, as he prefers to stick by my side until he’s comfortable with his surroundings. But once he stepped foot on Page’s trampoline he was done with me. I couldn’t even bribe him to get off for pizza — his favorite.

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We relished our outdoor meals (in short sleeves!) knowing it was snowing in Boston.

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It’s SO nice to not have to help him get around on the playground anymore. Hooray for growing up!

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Soren plays with other kids regularly, but he definitely isn’t accustomed to sharing his space. He was not happy about Isla enjoying the slide with him.

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He makes this grumpy face intentionally, and I kind of love it.

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Carson and Everett

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Little Isla

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Not so happy about being captured by Faye.

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“Let me go!”

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Of course it was 30 degrees in Austin, so Soren and I had to sit on the runway for an hour so the plane could be de-iced. And Southwest wouldn’t dream of holding our connection for an extra 10 minutes, even though there were a dozen of us hoping to make the flight. So we killed a few spare hours in the Atlanta airport. I think I was more bothered than Soren.

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One day Soren turned into a monster and I almost ran away from home. He woke up 15 minutes into his nap, which is extremely unusual, and he wasn’t interested in going back to sleep. But he was also exhausted and not happy about being awake. So he cried and whined for an hour and we had a miserable time that ended in him falling asleep next to me in my bed.

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New England’s maple farms took a hit this year because of the looney weather. On the first good sugaring weekend we visited Turtle Lane Maple Farm to see how it all works. Their maple candies and maple cream (we dip pretzels in it for a salty/sweet post-dinner snack) are to die for.

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Soren’s favorite part was the tractor out front.

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Train ride! Sometimes we ride the T, just for fun.

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Back in Boston, we never really saw spring in March, but we did have a couple of days that weren’t freezing. Soren knows his way to the park by now, and sometimes I’m tempted to send him there solo.

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Soren’s first aquarium trip. He was enamored with the penguins and loved splashing in the shark and ray touch tank.

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One day we found a $5 bill at Home Depot and I was pretty sure that was the greatest thing that had ever happened to me. Soren didn’t think it was as cool as the fact that he got to drive the cart.

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I think Soren has great potential as a Target employee. I usually let him wander the aisles while I browse, and one afternoon I looked over to see him taking items off the shelves, one by one, and storing them on this neat cart. I’m not sure what his plans were for the giant cupcakes, but he was determined.

Now we can move on to 2Q14…

All in a Week’s Work: Saturday and Sunday

Continuing with our week of documentation (following our MondayTuesdayWednesday, Thursday, and Friday recaps)…

Soren hasn’t quite grasped the concept of sleeping in on the weekends, so our Saturday started as early as ever. Tim often plays with Soren for a little while after he’s had his milk, so I get to snooze a bit longer. After breakfast and a quick morning nap for Soren, our busy Saturday began with swimming lessons at the Y.

8:55 a.m.

8:55 a.m. Soren’s lessons are in the warm, zero-entry therapy pool. He marches into the water each Saturday and keeps on walking until the water reaches his mouth.

8:55 a.m.

8:55 a.m. Still going.

8:57 a.m. And then off to the deep end for some real swimming.

8:57 a.m. And then off to the deep end for some real swimming.

9:15 a.m.

9:15 a.m. Soren’s lessons include lots of games and songs. Here he was practicing his back float, using the duck as his motivation to put his head back and look to the ceiling.

9:16 a.m. Don't let this face fool you -- Soren only mildly enjoys his lessons.

9:16 a.m. Don’t let this face fool you — Soren only mildly enjoys his lessons.

From the Y, we drove straight to the church in Cambridge for a Relief Society meeting. Tim and Soren dropped me off and went on to Costco for some Saturday shopping. Two hours later, they picked me up and we headed back home for lunch and a long nap for Soren. I snuck off to the gym, Tim got some work done, and then we reconvened for an hour of afternoon playtime around the house.

We tried a new local restaurant for our Saturday night out – Taqueria El Carrizal. Good Mexican food is a little hard to come by in Boston, but this one was a definite winner. The added bonus was that Soren adored the waitresses. He is rarely friendly to strangers, but these ladies won him over in seconds. I guess he’s a lover of the Latinas.

5:31 p.m.

5:31 p.m. Soren is begging for more chips and salsa.

5:33 p.m.

5:33 p.m. This is when he realized he could get way more salsa if he used his straw instead of a chip.

We feel really proud of Soren’s restaurant proficiency. He plays until the food arrives, eats a fair amount, then plays a little longer until we finish. Let’s hope he can keep this up so we can continue to bring him along on our eating adventures.

6:54 p.m.

6:54 p.m. We stopped to visit some friends on the way home from dinner, so bedtime was pushed back a bit. Here Soren is prepping for sleep by searching under the bed for runaway pacifiers.

And then, just like that, it was Sunday. Our Sundays are often as busy as Saturdays — they’re generally not the day of “rest” we sometimes long for. But the switch to 9 a.m. church has helped things somewhat. Every other Sunday, Tim is at the church by 6:30 a.m. for meetings, and then Soren and I make our way there by 8 a.m. for ward council, which Tim and I are both supposed to attend. Soren either plays during the meeting (books, snacks, and a few toys keep him mostly quiet) or takes a nap in the stroller with Tim’s help. It’s a little bit exhausting, especially with the thought of three more hours of church to make it through. But Soren does surprisingly well, even on the days we have to stay late in addition to coming early. I think our record is somewhere around six hours. Anyway, I forgot about taking pictures of Soren’s church shenanigans until we were getting ready to go home (at 12:30 p.m. that day — hallelujah!).

12:31 p.m.

12:31 p.m. Soren is right at home in the clerks’ office, where he spends about an hour each Sunday while I’m in Relief Society. The vacuum always provides a little entertainment.

I have no idea where the rest of the day went, since I had mostly forgotten about my camera at this point. Sometimes it seems like the day is already over once we get through the afternoon nap and then dinner making and eating. I do remember that we had mushroom and sun dried tomato farrotto that night, and it was divine. Soren ate about three servings and was still asking for more.

6:04 p.m.

6:04 p.m. Just playing the old “chase” game in the kitchen.

6:09 p.m.

6:09 p.m. Another favorite game of Soren’s: He “hides” behind me while I ask out loud, “has anyone seen Soren? Soren, where are you?” Then he pops out to the side and “surprises” me. What a riot.

6:15 p.m.

6:15 p.m. When Soren gets tired of the library books on the bottom shelf, he goes for the novels that are at eye level. Sometimes he’ll let me get through a full paragraph before he takes it out of my hands and throws it to the ground.

6:35 p.m.

6:35 p.m. A little more pre-bedtime reading. This is one of Soren’s favorite positions for storytime. I sit or kneel on the ground, and he stands next to me with his hand on my shoulder.

6:35 p.m.

6:35 p.m. Eventually he makes his way into my lap, though. Once his foot is on my leg, I know he’ll soon be wriggling his little body in between me and the book.

Once Soren is in bed, I feel like we have just enough time to pick up around the house, clean up dinner, prepare ourselves for Monday morning, and get in bed. I love the weekends, and I especially love having Tim around full time, but a little piece of me is always ready to get back to our weekday routine of work and playgroups and storytimes and visits to the park. I guess that means we have a good thing going!

All in a Week’s Work: Friday

Continuing with our week of documentation (following our MondayTuesdayWednesday, and Thursday recaps)…

Happy Friday! Oh, how we love Fridays. After our morning of work, breakfast, nap, etc., we began to get ready for the day. Soren and I had a funny moment when he surprised me with a new and important skill he’d obtained. Every now and then, Soren does something that has us scratching our heads trying to figure out where/how/when he would’ve picked it up.

10:31 a.m.

10:31 a.m. I was, uh, going to the bathroom when I realized Tim had left me without even a scrap of toilet paper. (Please note these pictures are a re-creation of the incident.) So I called Soren over and asked if he could find me some more toilet paper. Keep in mind I’ve never told him or showed him where we keep the spare rolls. They’re in a nearby closet, hidden behind some cleaning supplies that he maybe shouldn’t have access to.

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10:31 a.m. Without any hesitation, Soren trotted out the door and over to the closet. He came back a moment later with this bag of TP in hand. What a kid!

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10:31 a.m. I LOVE how helpful Soren is becoming. It’s quite a dream to have a mini slave around.

Next up was our fantastic Friday playgroup — another favorite of Soren’s.

11:22 a.m.

11:22 a.m. Soren loves to help me set up the bowling pins, but he’s not wild about knocking them down. I guess he doesn’t take after Grandmama, a former BYU bowling team member.

11:24 a.m. Soren's kind of into the older ladies. This is one of his BFFs.

11:24 a.m. Soren’s kind of into the older ladies. This is one of his BFFs.

11:33 a.m. This playgroup is loaded with trucks and cars and all sorts of wheeled items. Soren's heaven.

11:33 a.m. This playgroup is loaded with trucks and cars and all sorts of wheeled items. Soren’s heaven.

11:34 a.m.

11:34 a.m. Trains and tractors and backhoes, oh my.

11:41 a.m. Soren enjoys the tents most when I'm pelting balls at him from above.

11:41 a.m. Soren enjoys the tent most when we’re playing peek-a-boo through the flaps or when I’m pelting balls at him from above.

11:57 a.m. During the first 45 minutes of playgroup, Soren regularly asks (by plopping down on the floor and clapping) when it's circle time (which is the last 10 minutes or so). He loves the songs and, most especially, the parachute. But every now and then, he starts wandering when the parachute comes out.

11:57 a.m. During the first 45 minutes of playgroup, Soren frequently asks (by plopping down on the floor and clapping) if it’s circle time yet (which is the last 10 minutes or so). He loves the songs and, most especially, the parachute. But every now and then, he starts wandering when the parachute comes out. I think he doesn’t like being underneath when it’s overcrowded. You can see him over on the left, observing from afar.

And then back home again for lunch and nap. Friday afternoons are my reward for making it through the week without killing anyone — Tim quits work at 4 p.m. and relieves me so I can go to my favorite gym class. He and Soren usually walk over to meet me, having some fun along the way at Trader Joe’s, Magic Beans (a baby supplies/toy store), or the library. That night we had a quick dinner of chipotle bean burritos, then bedtime — glorious bedtime. And I guess I quit taking pictures after playgroup, because I have nothing to show for the rest of the day. Now on to the weekend.

All in a Week’s Work: Thursday

Continuing with our week of documentation (following our MondayTuesday, and Wednesday recaps)…

Thursday: In true Soren fashion, he continued to bump up his wake-up time — 4:50 a.m. on this Thursday. I didn’t have the heart to leave him in his bed to whine since he was a little sick. So milk and cuddles and then playtime and breakfast with dad.

6:34 a.m. I came out of the office to get my breakfast and snap a quick pic of this sleepy-head. Also, I'm noticing a container of leftover pasta on the counter -- Tim says Soren picked it out from the fridge and requested it with his oatmeal. It's usually best if I just leave the two of them alone in the mornings and don't ask questions.

6:34 a.m. I came out of the office to get my breakfast and snap a quick pic of this sleepy-head. Also, I’m noticing a container of leftover pasta on the counter — Tim says Soren picked it out from the fridge and requested it with his oatmeal. It’s usually best if I just leave the two of them alone in the mornings and don’t ask questions. I’m also noticing that Soren slept in the shirt he was wearing on Wednesday. Sometimes we do that. Don’t judge.

Since Soren’s morning nap was fairly early, he woke up in time to make it to his favorite Thursday show — the garbage and recycling trucks.

9:14 a.m. Soren's greatest wish would be to have trash day every day. At least we live right next to a school, so there is a steady stream of school buses twice a day. Almost as good.

9:14 a.m. Soren’s greatest wish would be to have trash day every day. We do live right next to a school, so at least we get a steady stream of school buses twice a day. Almost as good.

On Thursdays we have a tough decision to make — baby lapsit at the library or playgroup at the Y? On this Thursday, we chose the library since our singalong the day before had been cancelled. I need to mention how much we love the Faneuil library branch. We have two great libraries within a 10-minute walk of our house, plus another that’s a 10-minute drive away (and about a dozen others within 20 minutes of our place). Pre-Soren, I always went to the Brighton branch because it was newer and bigger and just seemed nicer. But after just one visit to Faneuil with Soren, I was sold. It brought back great memories of going to the tiny Herndon Fortnightly branch (in Virginia) when I was little. So cozy and so welcoming. The librarians know and love Soren, and he regularly wanders away from the children’s room to play peekaboo with the ladies at the circulation desk. (He’s also started taking books from the shelf and bringing them to the librarians, expecting to be able to check them out on his own or something.) It’s things like this that make me never want to leave our neighborhood.

10:28 a.m. Soren snuck in a few minutes of playtime on the stage before the program began.

10:28 a.m. Soren snuck in a few minutes of playtime on the stage before the program began. I think he’s eyeing Ms. Anne here to see if it’s time to start.

10:34 a.m. Waiting patiently for the songs and stories to begin. This patient waiting probably lasted for about 60 seconds.

10:34 a.m. Waiting patiently for the songs and stories to begin. This patient waiting probably lasted for about 90 seconds.

10:48 a.m. Soren's turn to flip a page in the book.

10:48 a.m. Soren’s turn to flip a page in the book.

10:53 a.m. Never-ending fun with the shakers.

10:53 a.m. Never-ending fun with the shakers.

11:01 a.m. And then the ants in Soren's pants get the best of him and he begins to run free.

11:01 a.m. And then the ants in Soren’s pants got the best of him and he began to run free.

11:07 a.m. Soren's preferred book-choosing position. We've mostly mastered the no-standing-on-the-chairs idea.

11:07 a.m. This is Soren’s preferred book-selecting position. We’ve mostly mastered the no-standing-on-the-chairs rule.

11:21 a.m. Soren relishes the quiet time after the other kids have gone home for lunch.

11:21 a.m. Soren relishes the quiet time after the other kids have left.

After choosing yet another pile of new books (I think we have somewhere around 50 items checked out right now — yikes), we made our way home for lunch and nap. That afternoon nap (for Soren, not me) is one of my favorite times of day. What would I do without it?

3:28 p.m. After nap time we had a little fun with truck magnets. Soren is still trying to figure out where the magnets will stick, but I think he's finally realized they won't stick to my clothes, despite his best efforts.

3:28 p.m. After nap time we had a little fun with machine magnets. Soren is still trying to figure out where the magnets will stick, but I think he’s finally realized they won’t stay attached to my clothes or skin, despite his best efforts.

3:44 p.m. Don't worry -- I only put this pajama shirt on Soren for his nap. I don't usually take him out looking quite so mismatched (but actually sometimes I do).

3:44 p.m. He’s definitely running now. It seems so strange that he was still crawling just two months ago. Oh, and don’t worry — I only put this pajama shirt on Soren for his nap. I don’t usually take him out looking quite so mismatched (but sometimes I do).

After spending too much time researching homemade baby chest rub recipes and local spots to buy beeswax, I figured out that CVS carries Maty’s, so we left the house for an afternoon errands walk. We stopped by CVS, the bank, and Johnny’s for some bananas and plums and blackberries.

4:27 p.m. Heading out for errands.

4:27 p.m. Soren stays so cozy in his stroller sleeping bag. Sometimes I wish someone would bundle me up and push me around town.

For dinner we made mango fried rice, and then sent Soren off to bed for another night of coughs and a runny nose. But who can complain when Friday is on the horizon?

All in a Week’s Work: Wednesday

Continuing with our week of documentation (following our Monday and Tuesday recaps)…

Wednesday: Soren’s cough was as bad as ever during the night, and he woke up at 5 a.m. on the dot. We also awoke to yet another blizzard. I could tell it was going to be an off day — schools were cancelled, which meant our usual Wednesday plans were foiled. Wednesdays are normally action packed for us. In the morning we go to a bilingual singalong at one of our local library branches, and Soren loves the music, the children’s librarian, and the fun props (bells, scarves, puppets) he gets to play with during the songs. And I’m proud to now know Spanish lyrics to a lot of kids’ songs. Juancho Pancho Tiene un Rancho (Old Macdonald) might be my favorite. On Wednesday afternoons, we go to a great playgroup run by the Allston/Brighton Family Network at a nearby community center. But both events were cancelled, so we had to create our own fun.

After the normal morning routine, including a much-too-short nap for Soren, it was bath time.

8:44 a.m. Soren doesn't bathe very often, so he has a great time in the water whenever we get around to it.

8:44 a.m. Soren doesn’t bathe very often, so he has a great time in the water whenever we get around to it.

8:55 a.m. All washed, but not quite ready to stop playing.

8:55 a.m. All washed, but not quite ready to stop playing.

While Soren was in the bathtub, I had a genius idea. Since the weather was pretty wild, I realized most people would be staying in for the day and cancelling their appointments with the doctor. So what better time to pop in for a quick check of the cough? I called the office and they said we could come in as soon as we were ready. The sidewalks were already impassable by stroller, so Tim started shoveling and cleaning off the car. What a husband. The roads were pretty bad, but I find snow driving to be really exhilarating. And Soren loved seeing all the plows and big trucks full of salt.

9:55 a.m. Just waiting for his appointment, like it's regular.

9:55 a.m. Just waiting for his appointment, like it’s regular.

Dr. Oren advised Soren to cut back to one pack a day to get rid of his cough (he really said that), and diagnosed him with a little bit of bronchitis. We didn’t want to let a little sickness get us down (meaning I find it impossible to force a toddler to rest), so we stopped by the library on our way home. We were the only ones there, so Soren got all the attention of the librarians to himself. He loves those ladies.

10:57 a.m. It's a great day when you have the place to yourself.

10:57 a.m. It’s a great day when you don’t have to share the toys.

We checked out a fresh stack of books then enjoyed the beauty of the new snow on our drive home.

11:27 a.m. It's a winter wonderland.

11:27 a.m. It’s a winter wonderland. And it took me about 10 minutes to get out of my snowbank of a parking spot.

After lunch, Soren took another too-short nap, which is exactly the opposite of what a sick baby needs. We took it easy at home for a little while, reading and playing and reading and playing.

2:23 p.m. Soren occasionally leads me to the fridge and asks me to get out his baggie of homemade playdough. He doesn't love to touch it — I guess it's a texture thing — but he likes to choose cookie cutters for me to press into the dough. I can sometimes get him to play "catch" with me with a playdough ball, but that's about as close as he comes to actually playing with it.

2:23 p.m. Soren occasionally leads me to the fridge and asks me to get out the bag of homemade playdough. He doesn’t love to touch it — I guess it’s a texture thing — but he likes to choose cookie cutters for me to press into the dough. I can sometimes get him to play “catch” with me with a playdough ball, but that’s about as close as he comes to actually playing with it.

Soren also spent the afternoon nursing about every 10 minutes. I guess that’s what he likes when he’s not feeling great. I think the lack of sleep and the sickness were starting to catch up to him at this point, because he started to turn into a monster. He’d never really thrown a tantrum before and had never been very easily frustrated, but all of a sudden he began evidencing all the negative traits you associate with toddlerhood. I felt like I didn’t even know my own child. (This went on to last a few days, and I was in a serious panic thinking this was Soren’s new normal. Thank goodness he turned back into his sweet old self when he started feeling better, but I now have major empathy for parents who have to deal regularly with tantrums and crying and such. I also feel a little bad now that I was so frustrated with him when it was really the sickness and interrupted sleep that was to blame.) The whiny-ness that afternoon was getting the best of me, so we fled to the car and made our way to Target to pick up a few things and have a change of scenery.

4:18 p.m. He kept going for the Toblerones. I guess he knows better than to choose the waxy American stuff.

4:18 p.m. He kept going for the Toblerones. I guess he knows better than to choose the waxy American stuff.

We came home for a dinner of Tim’s homemade artisan bread with mozzarella and tomatoes (which Soren eats a TON of), plus cucumbers, leftover zucchini, and green beans. And then Soren did his chores.

6:21 p.m. OK, he doesn't really have chores yet, but he does love emptying the dishwasher. While I put away plates and bowls, he hands me the silverware, piece by piece.

6:21 p.m. OK, he doesn’t really have chores yet, but he does love emptying the dishwasher. While I put away plates and bowls, he hands me the silverware, piece by piece.

Then straight to bed at 7 with the humidifier going and the crib mattress propped up on one end. I ran out to the gym for my third and final snow adventure of the day, and I’m pretty sure I was fast asleep by 9:30 p.m. to prepare for a night of coughing sounds from Soren’s room.

All in a Week’s Work: Tuesday

Continuing with our week of documentation (following our Monday recap)…

Tuesday: Soren delighted us by sleeping in until almost 6 a.m. We did our usual 20 minutes of cuddles and milk, followed by the hand-off to Tim.

6:34 a.m. Just another oatmeal breakfast with dad.

6:39 a.m. Just another oatmeal breakfast with dad.

And then the morning nap.

9:15 a.m. Finishing off the morning nap and getting ready to face the day.

9:28 a.m. Waking up and getting ready to face the day.

9:20 a.m.

9:34 a.m. Page included a vinyl alphabet set with Soren’s Christmas gift. He can point out “S” and “O,” but that’s about it. I told myself I’d start teaching letters when he hit 18 months, so we’ll see if I follow through next week.

I told Soren it was Tuesday and asked if he wanted to go to playgroup at the Y, and he answered with his usual “Y, Y, Y” sound. So we bundled up and walked down the street to the YMCA, which is one of Soren’s favorite places to play. We’ve made some great neighborhood friends there, and it’s a perfect winter playground.

10:48 a.m. It was a lively day at the Y.

10:48 a.m. It was a lively day at the Y.

10:56 a.m. Soren loves to crawl through the tents and tunnels, and it's extra fun to bring a basketball along.

10:56 a.m. Soren loves to crawl through the tents and tunnels, and it’s extra fun to bring a basketball along.

11 a.m. The lawnmower is a recent addition, and it's one of the hottest items in the gym. Soren is thrilled whenever he notices it's free.

11 a.m. The lawnmower is the latest toy to join the playgroup collection, and it’s one of the hottest items in the gym. Soren is thrilled whenever it’s available.

11:06 a.m. Every now and then, Soren likes to let out a little yell. Or maybe someone stole the lawnmower and he's releasing his frustrations. I can't remember.

11:06 a.m. Every now and then, Soren likes to let out a little yell. Or maybe someone stole the lawnmower and he’s releasing his frustrations. I can’t remember.

11:14 a.m. The ambulance is another one of Soren's go-to picks.

11:14 a.m. The ambulance is another one of Soren’s go-to picks.

11:16 a.m. The various mats and wedges and other bouncy gymnastics apparatuses are the most fun of all.

11:16 a.m. The various mats and wedges and other bouncy gymnastics apparatuses are the most fun of all.

11:41 a.m. This is the look of a New England baby. I made up a rule that we only drive if temps are in the single digits.

11:41 a.m. This is the look of a New England baby. I made up a rule that we only drive if temps are in the single digits.

We had our lunch at noon (cucumbers and leftover gnocchi), then nap around 1 p.m.

2:43 p.m. This is Soren's territory when the school buses drive by each afternoon. We love having Gram's stool in the house.

2:43 p.m. This is Soren’s territory when the school buses drive by each afternoon. He also likes to look for birds in our tree and on the roofs of the nearby houses. We love having Gram’s stool around.

Next up — the afternoon outing. We brought dinner to a friend from church who had been sick, and then we stopped at the pet store on the way home. Soren could spend hours there, wandering from the fish to the birds to the rabbits to the mice to the snakes, over and over again. Sometimes I wonder what the employees think of us.

3:57 p.m. Let's hope it's many more years before Soren begins asking for a pet of his own. The answer will always be, "no."

3:57 p.m. Let’s hope it’s many more years before Soren begins asking for a pet of his own. The answer will always be, “no.”

4:15 p.m. Home again, home again, jiggity jig.

4:15 p.m. Home again, home again, jiggity jig.

We spent the rest of the afternoon playing around the house, including reading “Dinosaur, Dinosaur” seven times in a row. Sometimes I think I should become a professional book reviewer — I spend a lot of time reading the same books over and over again, and it makes me get super critical.

For dinner we made pasta with broccoli rabe, Tim’s current favorite, plus roasted zucchini and more mango slices. During dinner cleanup Soren invented a new game, which is now a nightly occurrence.

6:32 p.m. Soren made up a new game, where he runs away from me, then stands and waits for me to call him back. Then he runs into my arms and giggles at the hilarity of it all.

6:28 p.m. Soren’s new game: He runs away from me, then stands and waits for me to call him back. When I ask him to run to mama, he rushes into my arms and giggles at the hilarity of it all.

Soren had had a fever over the weekend and was going on a week of a bad cough, so he was ready for an early bedtime of 6:40 p.m. (Or maybe he was ready for bed so early because I had to leave the house by 7 p.m. for a Relief Society event. Either way, it worked out for both of us — he fell asleep quickly, and I made it to the church with time to spare.) So with that, we called it a day.

 

All in A Week’s Work: Monday

Despite this never-ending winter, life has been pretty fun around here. Soren and I, who both thrive on structure and order, have settled on a pretty wonderful weekly schedule. Long gone are the days of unpredictability that comes with a newborn baby’s timetable.

I decided I should document a week of Soren’s life, because a few years from now it will all be so different. So I committed myself to carrying my camera in hand for a week (though I still ended up with a number of poor-quality phone pictures) and I chose the very next Monday to begin capturing my cutie’s daily adventures. As fate would have it, the week was anything but typical. Soren and I have been talking about the letter “S” a lot lately, and our week ended up revolving around a few not-so-nice “S” words, like “snow” and “sickness” and “sleeplessness.”

I was tempted to abort my plan but decided I better just carry it out, since chances were slim I would recommit myself to the project the following week. So, here is a peek into a week with Soren. (For my journaling purposes, I’ll note that this was the week of February 3, when Soren was 17 months and two weeks.)

Monday: Soren made his first peep at 5:40 a.m., which probably sounds miserable to many. But it’s a great improvement from his prior habit of getting up at 4:30 a.m., so I felt happy and mostly rested. The first part of the morning is one of my favorite times of the day. Tim gets Soren from his crib and places him in our bed, where he snuggles up nice and tight next to me. Things are quiet and still and peaceful for a few minutes, then Soren starts tapping my chest and making the “milk” sign. He spends a leisurely 15 minutes nursing, and I lie there enjoying the cuddles. Eventually, Soren backs himself off of our bed and begins to wander the house. Tim is freshly showered at this point and takes over as primary caregiver while I sneak off to the office for a few hours of work. I don’t usually know what goes on during their morning time, but I hear a lot of books being read.

7:02 a.m.

7:47 a.m. – “Knuffle Bunny Free” is a current favorite. I wish I had a secret recording of Tim reading to Soren, since it’s usually not so much reading, but boisterous singing.

They also enjoy breakfast together, which is oatmeal and berries for Soren, plus as many bites of Tim’s cereal as Soren can get. At 8 a.m. Tim and I switched spots so I could give Soren his nap. (We’re both kind of thrilled that Soren hasn’t given up the morning nap yet — that means I get an extra hour or two to shower and finish my work for the day.)

Monday is the only day of the week where we have nothing regularly scheduled. So it’s the perfect day for either doing nothing, or taking care of random errands or appointments. On this particular Monday, we headed to Charlestown for part two of a chewing study Soren has been participating in through MGH’s Speech and Feeding Disorders Lab. The goal is to study children’s chewing development and food preferences. Right up Soren’s alley. Soren got to snack on a bunch of baby foods he’d never tried before (puffs, banana cookies, etc.) and the people running the study monitored his every movement via a bunch of wires stuck to his face. He looked like an alien, but he loved all the little cups of food I got to give him. We had a great time.

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Back at home, we had a little bit of reading/play time before dining on our lunch of leftover enchiladas and rice, plus yogurt with blueberries and chia seeds for Soren. And then a kiwi. And an apple. Sometimes he just keeps going.

12:21 p.m. Post-lunch playtime in the kitchen while I cleaned up. Soren's favorite playthings are sometimes not exactly toys. Here, it's a piece from the dishwasher and the lids from his smoothie pouches.

1:01 p.m. Post-lunch playtime in the kitchen while I cleaned up. Soren’s favorite playthings are sometimes not exactly toys. Here, it’s a piece from the dishwasher and the lids from his smoothie pouches.

12:23 p.m. The dishwasher is another favorite spot to play.

1:03 p.m. The dishwasher is another favorite spot to play.

After a two-hour snooze, we had a leisurely afternoon at home. Lots of books, lots of toys, lots of milk. I mentioned something about how I should vacuum (I didn’t exactly intend to actually do it), so Soren ran off to the closet to get things started. I hate vacuuming (and most cleaning), and I do it very infrequently, but Soren loves it.

2:43 p.m. Love those post-nap rosy cheeks. Soren's face makes me feel like he's disappointed in me for not using the vacuum often enough.

3:33 p.m. Love those post-nap rosy cheeks. Soren’s face makes me feel like he’s disappointed in me for not using the vacuum often enough.

3:18 p.m. Soren still requests milk at random times throughout the day when he wants to reconnect with me. Sometimes it's in the middle of a wild playgroup when he needs some quiet time, other times it's at home when he just wants a little break.

4:08 p.m. Soren asks to nurse at random times throughout the day. Sometimes it’s in the middle of a wild playgroup when he needs to reconnect with me and have some quiet time, other times it’s at home when he just wants a little cuddle break. What a sweetie.

One of this winter’s million storms was underway outside, so we decided to go out for a quick walk to the park before it got too dark. We even convinced Tim to join us for a break from work. Soren thinks snow is really neat to watch through the windows or from the stroller, but he’s not crazy about actually playing in it.

4:08 p.m. Not impressed with the powder.

4:52 p.m. Not impressed with the powder.

4:08 p.m. We tried our best to coax him along. He decided he'd rather be carried than walk in the white stuff.

4:55 p.m. We tried our best to coax him along. He decided he’d rather be carried than walk in the white stuff.

4:14 p.m.

5:03 p.m. Soren was content to sit in the snow as long as he was watching the dogs play.

After our snow walk, Soren and I started making dinner — baked gnocchi with bacon, tomatoes, and mozzarella, plus sides of peas, mango slices, and sautéed green beans. While I cook, Soren ”helps” by getting various ingredients out of the fridge and emptying all the pots and pans from the cabinet.

4:28 p.m.

5:14 p.m. He’s just tall enough to be able to take things out of the drawers, and he thinks it’s really fun to open them and slam them shut. No finger incidents yet. He’ll often take dirty dishes from the dishwasher and put them “away” in the utensil drawers.

While dinner was in the oven, we recruited Tim to come out of the office for a family home evening lesson. We’re really proud of our 2014 record — six Mondays in and we haven’t missed one yet! We’ve been using the nursery manual, and the super short lessons are perfect. A quick song, a little prayer, a few thoughts about a basic gospel topic while looking at pictures in the manual, and then Soren is off and ready for something new.

5:12 p.m.

5:58 p.m. Soren is kind of particular about which pictures we show him — he prefers the images where babies or children are involved.

5:13 p.m.

5:59 p.m. And he’s off.

5:14 p.m.

6 p.m. Here he’s requesting a book of his own choosing. Enough with the churchy stuff.

After dinner, Soren runs wild while Tim and I clean up, and then we try to get into quiet mode before bed. Which usually means Tim and Soren chase each other around the house while I tidy Soren’s room and round up all the pacifiers. Our bedtime routine is short and sweet. I change Soren’s diaper and put on his pajamas. Tim reads him a story, then turns off the light, turns on the fan, and begins singing a little song he made up — it’s called, “Milk Please, Mama,” and they sing it while signing “milk.” They sing until I come back in the room, at which point Soren giggles like crazy. Tim makes his exit, Soren nurses for a few minutes, then we sing a song, and down he goes into his crib. It’s usually about 7 p.m. at this point, and Soren falls asleep quietly and within just a couple of minutes. And then I go lie on the couch and check my Instagram to reward myself for a job well done.

(See separate posts for Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday/Sunday.)

Sweet Sixteen

I know the sixteen-month birthday is nothing significant, but it seems like Soren does something monumental every day. So what better time to boast about my babe than now? (Also, I’m reeeally proud of myself for remembering to take pictures of him on his monthly birthdays, so I need to document them before I get more behind.)

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Soren is mostly non-verbal, but he signs like crazy. He has about 25 words in his signing vocabulary, so communication with this kid is mostly a breeze. He can tell us when he wants food or books, when he wants to go out, when he spies a duck or dog, etc. He’s said a few words here and there (mama, hello, bye, dada), but he gets a little defiant when we encourage him to talk, so we’ll stick with signs for now.

Soren was practically the last of his peers to start walking, but he finally decided he’d give it a try last week. I wasn’t worried about his disinterest in using his feet, but it was a little funny to see babies half his size cruising around. I’ll go with the opinion that late walkers turn into smarter kids.

One of Soren’s favorite games lately is hiding things. He’ll place a ball or pacifier or toy inside a drawer or under a blanket, then hold his hands up as if to say, “Where is it?” It’s pretty adorable. Sometimes things go missing for a little while — like Tim’s glasses — until we remember to check Soren’s hiding places.

If I’m sitting on the floor playing with him or reading to him, he’ll periodically crawl or walk over to me and put his arms around me for a quick hug. I hope he never gives that up.

I like to teach Soren to do things that we think are funny. For example, when I say, “Who’s cute?” he knows to point to himself. He loves to look at his reflection in the mirror, and he’s finally figured out who the other baby is. He’ll give himself smooches in the mirror, and sometimes I catch him playing a solo game of peekaboo. He also points to himself when he sees his reflection — maybe he’s double checking to make sure it’s really him.

He’s mastered most of his body parts and can point out his head, hair, ears, nose, eyes, mouth, teeth, tongue, hands, fingers, belly, feet, and toes. We’re still working on things like knees and elbows.

Reading to Soren is really fun. He’s particular about which books we read — I’m only about 50% successful in checking out library books he likes. He knows some of the books really well, and will often act out what’s happening on a particular page before I’ve read the words. So in “The Cat in the Hat,” he starts bouncing up and down when I flip to the page that says “And then something went bump! How that bump made us jump!” He also reacts to some parts of the stories in ways we don’t understand one bit. In “Hop on Pop,” he giggles and squeals when we read the pages about Pat. No idea why.

Soren is endlessly patient with some of the less-fun aspects of life that we put him through. We spend a minimum of five hours at church every other Sunday, and he complains less than Tim does. I was dreading our road trip to Virginia for Christmas, and I spent more time planning for the car ride than I did for the actual holiday. But he was an angel, only whining a bit in the last 30 minutes of the 10-hour day. As long as he has books and snacks and a few toys, he’s pretty happy.

He’s maintaining his stellar eating habits, for the most part. He has some days where he’ll turn his nose up at new foods I offer, but he has a mostly adventurous palate. His eyes light up when I mention Costco — he’ll try any sample available, and he gets pretty confused if we shop during non-sample hours. Like his father, his favorite food is pizza. Like his mother, he can polish off a package of raspberries in one sitting. Soren is still a big-time breastmilk lover and shows no signs of giving it up anytime soon.

Although I’m permanently tired and always behind on work, church responsibilities, and life in general, things are pretty great right now for our family. Now if only we could get Soren to sleep past 5:30 a.m….

From Baby to Toddler

Shortly after Soren’s first birthday, I walked into Gap and was surprised and saddened to see that their toddler section is designed for ages 1-5. They were telling me that my baby wasn’t a baby anymore! He was suddenly a toddler, and I couldn’t do anything about it. And he wasn’t even toddling! I had tears in my eyes.

But the birthday itself was non-emotional and lots of fun. In the weeks leading up to the day, I had felt a little pressure from Pinterest — some people pull out all the stops for a party the kid will never remember. Plus, I knew a huge celebration would not be Soren’s preference, so instead I made the day all about his favorites.

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I did want Soren to know it was an out-of-the-ordinary day, so I had a room full of balloons waiting for him in the morning.

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Birthday breakfast = breastmilk pancakes. Extra antibodies for everyone.

Thanks to Shutterfly for Soren's birthday plate.

Thanks to Shutterfly for Soren’s birthday plate.

Following our normal routine, Tim took Soren out for a morning walk while I worked.

Following our normal routine, Tim took Soren out for a morning walk while I worked.

A birthday walk is the best kind of walk.

A pants-less birthday walk is the best kind of walk.

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Tuesday playgroup at the park was a hit, as always.

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Tim quit work early to join us for a late-afternoon family pool party. Good thing, since the water was too cold for my liking.

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End of the summer, and Soren still isn’t sure how he feels about the pool.

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Party time!

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Then back home for dinner and cake in Soren’s fancy high chair. Maybe Pinterest did get the best of me. But it only took one afternoon nap to create, so I don’t feel too bad about it.

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Soren chose Boca Grande for dinner, plus peas and watermelon. What a life.

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And then, the moment we’d been waiting for! Would he touch the cake? (He definitely did want to touch the flame.)

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He wasn’t exactly sure what to do with it.

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I broke the cake in half to make it a little easier for him to work with. He took one taste and was sold. I stuck with my no-sugar-for-baby rule — the cake was healthy enough that I fed it to him for breakfast the next few mornings (bananas, applesauce, wheat flour, oat flour, etc.)

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Yep. He liked it.

Happy birthday to the best one-year-old ever!

Happy birthday to the best one-year-old ever!

 

My Happy Place

It’s November 1,  and we’ve already had a number of really cold days. Like last Saturday — it was 35 degrees! Miserable. But today was a magical fall day that almost felt like summer. It was warm and a little muggy from the rain, and I had flashbacks to the hotter, happy days of a few months ago — specifically July 20-27.

The Dickson family trip to the Outer Banks is pretty much the best week of the year. I could go on and on about my love for the beach (and the family!), but I’ll stick with photos instead.

We started our North Carolina experience with barbecue at Sooey's. Soren was thrilled with the pulled pork.

We started our North Carolina experience with barbecue at Sooey’s. Soren was thrilled with the pulled pork.

Page's kiddies were a little wary of the water on our Sunday beach walk.

We headed out for an evening beach walk as soon as we arrived in Rodanthe. Page’s kiddies were a little wary of the water and the wind

My little buddy, Faye.

My little buddy, Faye.

On our first day at the beach house, Soren watched four other babies (younger than him) crawl all over the place.

On our first full day at the beach house, Soren watched four other babies (younger than him) crawl all over the place. After weeks of rocking back and forth on his hands and knees, he finally made his move!

That face!

That face! Those eyebrows!

It’s always a little tortuous to arrive Saturday night and keep the whole Sabbath day holy. But we packed in plenty of beach time starting on Monday. I have no idea which photos were taken which days, so these are in no particular order.

It's always a little tortuous to arrive on Saturday night, then keep the whole Sabbath day holy. Our first real beach day didn't come until Monday.

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A certain someone wasn't quite as wild about the beach as I am.

A certain someone wasn’t quite as wild about the beach as I am.

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But he did have some happy moments with Tim in the ocean.

And in the pool.

And in the pool.

And when he would tire of the sun before we were ready to go in, we resorted to the pacifier.

And when he would tire of the sun before we were ready to go inside, we resorted to the pacifier.

Snoozin' Shauna.

Snoozin’ Shauna.

Faye

Faye.

Brooklee.

Brooklee.

Truman.

Truman.

Dallyn.

Dallyn.

BFF cousins and our babies (born just a week apart).

BFF cousins and our babies (born just a week apart).

Same people, different backdrop. Also, don't mind my lovely shell necklace. It was part of a game, but I was unable to remove it without scissors. And no one has scissors out at the beach!

Same people, different backdrop.

Kite flying.

Kite flying.

Kite flying.

Everett was our second child for the week. He rode in our car to and from Virginia, and Page named us his godparents. I could totally have two kids if one of them was Everett.

These babies were all born within a month or two of each other.

These babies were all born within a month or two of each other.

Holmes family.

Holmes family.

He never warmed up to the sand. He did fine in the ocean, at the pool, and on a towel or in a tent at the beach, but the sand was just too much.

He never warmed up to the sand. He did fine in the ocean, at the pool, and on a towel or in a tent at the beach, but the sand was just too much.

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Cousins!

Cousins!

Little family.

Little family.

We tried so hard to get a picture of Soren's immediate cousins. We were missing Isla in this shot.

We tried so hard to get a picture of Soren’s immediate cousins. We were missing Isla in this shot.

Sisters.

Sisters.

Dallyn.

Dallyn.

Wild times in the pool.

Wild times in the pool. Anyone know which cousin is flying through the air?

Sandy snuggles.

Sandy snuggles.

Just a little morning workout. Camilla is always the designated workout instructor, and this year's CrossFit routines were tough.

Just a little morning workout. Camilla is always the designated workout instructor, and this year’s CrossFit routines were tough.

Story time while waiting for dinner.

Story time while waiting for dinner.

Family talent show. This was Brooklee's act — she read a book outloud that required audience participation.

Family talent show. This was Brooklee’s act — she read a book outloud that required audience participation.

High chair city.

High chair city.

Cousins bonding over a smartphone.

Cousins bonding over a smartphone.

Caught in the act.

Caught in the act. Never thought I’d see the day.

More story time.

More story time.

Morning devotional. What a family.

Morning devotional.

What a crowd! I have no idea how many people were there. But I love them all.

What a crowd! I have no idea how many people were there. But I love them all.

We stayed in Virginia for a few days after our beach trip. One week is never enough family time.

We spent Sunday at Reagan's new house and finally got a picture of all the cousins (with Grandmama and Pappy).

We spent Sunday at Reagan’s new house and finally got a picture of all the cousins (with Grandmama and Pappy).

Nuclear family.

Nuclear family.

Reagan, have you painted your walls yet?

Reagan, have you painted your walls yet?

Another successful cousins picture. Where else but in Pappy's truck?

Another successful cousins picture. Where else but in Pappy’s truck?

And another.

And another.

Trampoline party.

Trampoline party.

Soren totally wants a trampoline.

Soren totally wants a trampoline. Someone else break the news to him that we don’t have a yard in Boston.