My plan to post quarterly updates in this journal of ours has been foiled. April, May, and June have all brought extra exciting, picture-worthy events, so it’s time to move to a monthly blogging schedule. Here is our April report!
Our month started with three out-of-town guests who came to celebrate the close of Tim’s 22 years of schooling. Jim and Cindy arrived first, and we kicked off their visit with a Saturday morning trip to the park.
And then some inside playtime in the afternoon.
Soren loves his made-by-Grandma bean bags.
Soren likes to sit on toy animals (the giant stuffed puppy at the library, for example) and pretend to go for a ride. In this instance he’s preparing to sit on a tiny pig.
We also checked out the SoWa Winter Market in the afternoon and had an Ethiopian dinner at Addis Red Sea in the South End. Soren felt a little confused about the situation, since all the food was served in one giant wicker bowl/table. So he roamed the place while we dined, checking in occasionally to eat a handful of diced tomatoes.
While Tim made last-minute preparations on Monday for his dissertation defense, the rest of us went to the Boston Children’s Museum.
The construction zone was a hit — no surprise there.
And the water play was fun, even if Soren wasn’t quite tall enough to see what he was doing. At least he liked the taste of the germ-filled water.
Trains are the latest obsession.
Back at the home front, Soren was won over when the grandparents bought him red grapes.
When the morning’s rain and hail cleared, we made it out for a little walk.
And then it was Tuesday — Tim’s big day! During the months (years, I suppose) leading up to Tim’s dissertation defense, he worked tirelessly to complete the 196-page document. I spent those months preparing myself to leave Soren with a babysitter. Luckily, our dear friend Brenda — who was the only non-parent in Soren’s life he was OK being with — agreed to sneak out of work for a few hours to take care of Soren. She texted me pictures throughout the defense, and I was so relieved to see she was working her magic so effectively with Soren. Lots of smiles and no need for a pacifier (or a mama).
Brenda even bought Soren a celebratory BU shirt!
Tim passed his defense (phew) after wowing the panel. He wasn’t even asked to make any edits! He’s a smartie pants. And a really hard worker. And handsome on top of all that!
The distinguished panel. And the only people in the room who had any idea what Tim was talking about. My dad did jot down notes and about 32 questions to ask Tim later.
Presenting Dr. Layton!
Later in the day, Soren continued to impress us when he let Pappy carry him away from the house. I guess a giant truck is a pretty good incentive.
The next day, it was back to normal life for us. For a few days, normal included Soren sitting on the potty and having successes his first two tries! We’ve since put the whole thing on the back burner due partially to a lack of interest on Soren’s part and mostly to a lack of desire to go through with it on my part.
This is Soren’s “thumbs up.”
Most days include a walk (or two) to the park. I usually let Soren wander to his heart’s content, which usually means we pay a visit to the dogs.
Sometimes this is Soren’s face after Costco samples. I don’t know what it is about that place, but Soren will eat absolutely anything that’s offered to him. He doesn’t like avocados at home, but when it’s Costco guacamole he’ll beg for seconds (and thirds).
Soren’s cute friend Ella had a Zumba-themed birthday party at the YMCA. He didn’t know what to make of the room full of people jumping around like crazies, but he quickly loosened up.
On Soren’s first Easter (2013) we were flying back from a week in Texas, so he missed out on egg hunts and Easter baskets and candy (OK, that’s not why he missed out on candy). This year, he made up for it by going to two egg hunts. On Good Friday we met up with church friends at a Cambridge park.
Soren is clearly a novice here. Also, who ever heard of winter coats at Easter time?
I really had to coax Soren into the egg-finding. I would plant his basket down near an egg and wait for him to go get it. He got into it eventually.
Don’t expect this stone-face to show excitement over a basket full of eggs.
The next day Soren did it all over again, this time with about a million other kids. Brighton Main Streets hosted the hunt on BC’s lovely campus, and the eggs were plentiful.
Thankfully, there was a separate area for the older kids.
Look at all those eggs!
Actual Easter was one of my greatest ever. Some of our favorite extended family members were in town for the Boston marathon, so we invited all 18 of them (plus one in utero) to dinner. Everyone came over soon after church to help cook and set up, and I was surprised and pleased that eight little kids (ages 1-8) were happy to play with Soren’s toys for more than an hour (though they also killed some time at the park). I was mostly excited that Soren was so entertained by the cousins that he forgot I existed. And I got to spend great quality time in the kitchen with some of my favorite ladies. We ended up with deviled eggs and spinach/artichoke dip for hors d’oeuvres, roasted leg of lamb and grilled pork tenderloin for the meat eaters, rosemary roasted potatoes, asparagus tart, spinach and Gruyère strata, beet and goat cheese salad, and boring Costco rolls (because I knew I would be crazy to make my own on top of everything else we were doing).
As it turns out, hosting dinner for 21 people is a cinch when other people do the cleaning up. I loved seeing this giant stack of clean dishes and knowing I hadn’t touched one!
We reconvened the next day — Patriot’s Day — on Comm Ave. for a few hours of marathon watching. We found the Joneses in a great little spot near our house and just after Heartbreak Hill.
Soren waved his little cowbell each time a racer passed. He strongly preferred the push-rim wheelchairs to the actual runners.
While we debated whether we should go back home to put Soren down for a nap, we looked down to see he was fast asleep. So Tim watched the race while pacing.
And then, after all the anticipation, Tristram finally showed up! With 21 miles down, he looked like he was having the time of his life. But he didn’t see us or hear our shouting. And his wife, Emily, didn’t see him at all! Within seconds, we had formulated a plan to go catch him before the finish line. Six of us sprinted the .8 miles back to our house (although halfway there I realized I didn’t have my keys and had to run back to Tim to get them), jumped in the car, and sped off. I’ll take any chance I can get to pretend I’m a race car driver. During the journey we all attempted to calculate how long it would take him to hit each mile marker, and we had no idea if I could get them there in time to get a glimpse of him running. They hopped out of the car at Kenmore Square, and within minutes I received this picture on my phone. Success!
Our long weekend of fun continued with a visit from Tim’s brother, Ben. We visited Gloucester, spent some time in the Public Garden and the North End, and ate a lot (Regina’s, Bartley’s, Causeway). We’re doing our best to woo him to Boston for grad school.
We love Manchester-by-the-Sea, but this day was just too cold and windy. The presence of geese was enough for Soren, though.
The rest of our month was more typical. Here are the randoms:
I stopped at a thrift store on a whim one day to see if there were any gems for Soren. I scored a Fisher Price popper, a Melissa & Doug train, and this book — now Soren’s favorite of all the books in the world — for about $5.
I was surprised he became so absorbed in a book that doesn’t have a story for me to read to him. So we just look at the pictures and I tell him what each thing is. He can correctly identify about 55 of the “things that go,” including favorites like the rickshaw, street sweeper, high-speed train, and the Chinese junk.
After reading the Atlantic cover story about overprotected kids, I’ve been pining for an “adventure playground.” When I saw this giant pile of sticks at our park, I steered Soren in that direction hoping it would be the equivalent of the “junk” play areas in the UK.
And this is how Soren feels about nursery. He hit our church’s nursery age in February, and he has yet to make it more than 10 minutes in there alone. He likes the toys, he likes the lessons, he likes the songs, and he loves the snack. But all those things are only good if mama or dada is nearby. One Sunday I had to leave for a meeting, so I left a crying Soren and the pacifier in Emily’s capable hands. And I came back to find him conked out in her lap. I think falling asleep was his coping mechanism.