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#DearMom :: Lands’ End’s Mother’s Day Celebration {and Giveaway!}

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I’m convinced that being a mother is actually the hardest job in the world. The hours aren’t just long, they’re unending. The sleep deprivation is akin to torture. The messes are ever present — poop, crackers smashed into the rug, vomit, Legos in every nook and cranny of the house. The tiny people in this house seem to need food prepared for them at all hours of the day (and night, for the infant). The patience a needy newborn demands is astonishing. And the skill required to negotiate with a threenager is often beyond my abilities.

So to say that mothers deserve a little more appreciation is an understatement. Even knowing full well how thankless the job can be, I’m as guilty as the next person of not showing my own mother the gratitude she deserves!

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This Mother’s Day, Land’s End is making it a bit easier on us all with their #DearMom campaign. Through events in Sears stores and online, Lands’ End is providing creative new ways to celebrate mom. Here’s how you can join the fun (and take home a Lands’ End gift card!).

  • Stop by Sears in Natick to celebrate mom: On Friday, April 29, and Saturday, April 30, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sears in Natick will be all decked out with Mother’s Day fun. The first 50 people at each event will receive a Lands’ End gift card to be used toward a Mother’s Day purchase! Try the #DearMom custom video booth to record and send a message to mom (and be automatically entered to win a $500 gift card!). Or visit the #DearMom custom lettering station, where a local lettering expert will be on hand to write a custom card from you to your mom.
  • Show mom how much you care: Through May 6, share a Mother’s Day message, photo, or video on Instagram and/or Twitter using #dearmom, #contest, and #mylandsend for a daily chance to win a $100 Lands’ End gift card. (Each day, @LandsEndPR will post a unique prompt or question.)

Also, stay tuned for an Instagram/Twitter post that’ll give you a chance to win a $100 Lands’ End gift card!

Proof that my mom is a supermom — she made us these coordinating rompers. I refused to wear mine.

Proof that my mom is a supermom — she made us these coordinating rompers. I refused to wear mine.

January 2016

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We kicked off the new year with our third annual New Year’s Day visit to the train exhibit at the Botanic Garden.

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Soren remembered that James was part of the exhibit last year… but we couldn’t find him anywhere this time. Finally, at the last minute, we discovered his hiding spot!

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Both boys were napping by 10:30 a.m. Thank you, pacifiers.

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Highway potty stops for all.

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Back at home, this lover boy turned two months old!

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Our Christmas just kept coming. We had a pile of presents under the tree that didn’t make it down to Virginia, so we opened a few every couple of days.

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At a recent checkup, Soren’s world was rocked when he saw Curious George on the waiting room TV. He had no idea George was anything but a book character.

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I’m kind of embarrassed to post this picture. But this is what the back of Soren’s hair had become before his very first haircut.

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As he does with most new experiences, Soren took this very seriously.

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Inches and inches… gone.

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Just another afternoon nap with my baby in my lap and my laptop by my side.

December 2015

Happy December! Since Shaw was born I’ve been feeling like I never take pictures anymore. After loading them all here, though, it seems we’ve got plenty!

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This sight is a regular afternoon occurrence. The sunglasses are usually safety goggles for construction work. The cape is always on backwards. On this particular day, he ran into the room and yelled, “I’m Superman! I do baaaad things.”

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For about a week, Soren would ask to have Shaw join him in his crib after he woke up for the morning. He also would regularly ask, “Is Shaw big enough to play yet?” I think he’s now figured out that it’s going to take awhile.

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Santa and the mayor made their way around Boston for the various tree lightings throughout the city. We walked to the Oak Square festivities and arrived just as Santa was wrapping up — so no line! We reminded Soren a number of times that Santa isn’t real, but it’s pretty confusing when you’re sitting on his lap.

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Just another Sunday evening.

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Four weeks old.

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Grandmama came to town to help for a few days while Tim crammed and slept in preparation for his Harvard interview. When it was all over, we celebrated by getting Reubens at Boston Public Market. Soren mostly cared about the play place.

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One month old!

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During a midnight feeding I decided we needed to take family pictures before the winter weather set in. So first thing in the morning I texted a friend who met us 15 minutes before the church Christmas party was going to start. She snapped a few photos and we called it good. Impromptu photo shoots are kind of a good way to go — no time to think about what to wear and no time to stress over the fact that I was months overdue for a haircut. You just do it, and it turns out fine!

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This is the photo that ended up on our holiday cards. It’s now February and I still haven’t sent them all out.

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At the church party, Soren worked on a gingerbread village with two doting girls. I love watching him work the crowd at church or church functions. He knows everyone (and most adults he addresses by first and last name) and doesn’t feel the need to stick too close to his parents.

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During the church Christmas program the next day, the Primary kids sang a few songs. We didn’t know if the rising Sunbeams were supposed to join or if Soren knew the words to the songs. But he decided to make his way up there and sing off to the side. We still aren’t sure if he knew the songs.

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Look at this fatso!

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Soren’s preschool Christmas play was pretty awesome. Despite singing all the words at home, he kept his mouth shut during the performance. And he was pretty distracted by the action on the stage.

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Another day, another Duplo creation. He called this one a “train track party.”

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And then we made our way to Virginia for interviews for Tim and family holiday fun. Our drive went pretty smoothly, other than too many stops for Soren to go potty and for Shaw to nurse. We stopped at a large Wawa gas station hoping to find an eating area where I could feed Shaw. No go. I asked an employee if there was any place to sit, and she graciously wheeled a comfy chair out of their small office. Beats nursing in the car!

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At my parents’ church we sat in the first row of chairs and had the giant aisle in front of us. Since we were at vacation church, we decided to forego any attempts at reverence. Soren enjoyed parading around the chapel singing the hymns and waving a squirrel puppet to the beat.

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Of course I can never catch the smile in a photo. But at six weeks, Soren started giving us some good grins. Right on schedule.

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I love a baby in a onesie.

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When I heard the Elephant and Piggie play was at the Kennedy Center, I jumped online to search for tickets. After a few days, the unsold handicapped seats were released for purchase! Look at this kid parading the Hall of Nations like he owns the joint.

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Watching Soren watch this play was one of my favorite motherhood moments to date.

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Another attempt to catch a smile.

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Little grump.

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Soren liked making his way down to the basement to visit Beau and Mackenzie. And their bed, apparently.

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We had to visit the zoo while were in Virginia. But this time we got our first zoo lights experience (after it got dark, of course).

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We took a day trip to Charlottesville with my parents since we knew Tim would be interviewing at UVA in January. Soren was sold on the place after trying the fried chicken.

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Pappy and Grandmama taught Soren the fine art of getting trucks to honk.

November 2015

November has become a bit of a blur. But I’m proud of myself for not getting more than a few months behind on our family journal!

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The first day of November was just about the most amazingly beautiful day I could imagine. Super warm, perfectly sunny, and autumn goodness in all its glory.

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We met friends at Beaver Brook for stream stomping, playground exploration, and a picnic party.

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Soren and I typically stopped by the playground on Mt. Auburn street after my prenatal appointments. One day we left the hospital at 5 p.m. and it was pretty much pitch black outside. I had a hard time explaining to Soren why we couldn’t play, so we played. In the dark.

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I tried to prep Soren verbally for the big life change that was headed our way. Many days he would ask if I could tell him something about babies. So one day we had a swaddle lesson.

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We visited the Museum of Science one morning when I started to realize that impromptu trips would become much more difficult soon. He spent a long while experimenting with bubbles (and safety goggles).

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A house full of sweet friends joined me for a baby “sprinkle” (not to be confused with a baby shower). So fun to celebrate! And check out this cake!

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It’s kind of nice to have a tiny yard and no responsibility for raking (thank you, landlord!).

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I love when Tim and Soren take Sunday morning adventures and leave me to nap in peace. The Arboretum is one of their favorite spots.

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And then, Shaw was born! Full story and more photos here.

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First car ride (coming home from the hospital).

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Remember this sleeper? (5 days old)

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Soren has been strangely adaptable with this new brother thing. He even shares his Llama Llama with Shaw when he’s feeling sad. (5 days old)

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Lots of sleepy snuggles. And lots of time on the Boppy.

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Eight days old.

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Dads’ breakfast at Soren’s school.

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Soren had been eyeing this construction site on the way to and from school for weeks. So he and Tim stopped one day to check it out.

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Sunday naps for all! (9 days old)

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A blurry selfie from our first family-of-four walk. (10 days old)

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Nobody turn me in to DCF, but Shaw didn’t get his first bath until he was 11 days old. I guess we were busy or something.

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I told Soren about the giant bagel sculpture at The Street in Chestnut Hill, and he begged for days to be able to go see it.

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Thanksgiving Day family kickball game.

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His form looks good until you notice that he’s kicking the ball in the completely wrong direction.

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Tim and Soren took a Black Friday bike ride while Shaw and I were lazy at home.

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Disc golf! Look at that form!

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The cutest caddy you ever did see.

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My sweeties.

Happy Birth Day, Shaw!

Welcome to the world, Shaw!

Welcome to the world, Shaw!

During labor and for the few days after Shaw’s birth, I was fairly certain I’d never want to do it again. I thought Soren’s birth was the hardest thing I’d ever done. But this topped it! At the same time, I keep reminding myself that I can do anything for four hours, no matter how painful or difficult it may be. So maybe I’ll have a third kid someday.

On to the birth story! Shaw’s birth day was not exactly what I was expecting — all I’ve ever known is Soren’s birth, which seemed perfect, and I’d wondered for months how we would all deal with things the second go ‘round. I’ll admit that my primary concern was Soren — how would he handle having someone else put him to bed? What if he woke up one morning and Tim and I weren’t there to greet him? Would Tim be able to take care of Soren while also spending time with me and baby post birth?

Partly because I’d been so worried about all that and mostly because I rocked childbirth the first time, I didn’t exactly prepare for labor and birth this time. I definitely thought about it, but I didn’t dive in to the books and my Hypnobabies mp3s and internet research like I did when I was pregnant with Soren. I was banking on the belief that childbirth is a perfectly natural experience that my body and mind would know how to handle when the time came. And although labor was insanely intense and difficult, everything happened as nature designed it to, and the end result was as perfect as can be.

In the weeks leading up to Shaw’s birth day, my body had felt much differently than with the last few weeks of my pregnancy with Soren. With Soren I was hoping to go past my due date to better accommodate our pending move to a new apartment. I felt great and was still going for long walks every day, fully enjoying the pregnancy and all that came with it. This time, I wasn’t quite as enamored with the whole nine-months-pregnant stage. Don’t get me wrong — I still loved my pregnancy and found it far easier to deal with than taking care of a newborn. But I was more tired this time around. I was less active in the final month, so my body was feeling a little out of shape. I had a harder time sleeping. The “practice” contractions I never experienced with Soren were very real this time, and each one reminded me what labor feels like (which scared me very much!). And I loathed all the bending over and getting up and down from the floor that parenting a preschooler requires. And since Soren was born at 38 weeks, I had a hard time not thinking that pregnancy lasts 38 weeks, and once I drew close to that marker it became difficult to imagine dealing with my huge, heavy pregnant body much longer.

A couple days before I hit 38 weeks, a few dear friends threw me a baby “sprinkle,” which is a casual version of a baby shower, free of presents and games and anything organized. We joked about the fact that Soren was born two days after my baby shower for him — maybe the same thing would happen this time?

We continued on with our weekend, and on Monday morning I had a scheduled appointment with Dr. Hardiman. As usual, it took forever to get Soren out of the house, and we were very late, and we had to wait awhile in the waiting room. And, as usual, the appointment took about two seconds because the heartbeat was normal and I had no concerns or questions. I declined any sort of vaginal check, knowing it wouldn’t mean anything either way. I joked with Dr. Hardiman that today could be the day, but I admitted that I felt no signs of labor coming on. So off we went, stopping to play at the playground. And then Soren and I got in a little tiff when it was time to go home for lunch and naps. I was incredibly frustrated at his defiance since he behaves that way so rarely, and I eventually had to climb up a shaky ladder on to the play structure to carry his screaming self down and to the car. I remember thinking how ridiculous I probably looked climbing up there, dragging a 40-pound kid down the ladder, and battling him into his car seat, with my giant belly getting in the way all the while. Not our finest moment. I don’t remember what else happened that morning, but I do remember there being a few other tough moments, where Soren and I just weren’t clicking like we usually do. It made me feel really sad, since we typically get along swimmingly and don’t experience much contention.

So then, during Soren’s nap, when my body started feeling a little different, I went into panic mode. What if the baby was coming tonight, and Soren and I were on bad terms? This was not the day to have a baby! I couldn’t leave him when I’d been feeling so frustrated with him! I was already beginning to miss Soren being my one and only. And I got kind of emotional about it. (I did realize that all these feelings were probably not on Soren’s radar, and the events of the day probably didn’t phase him much.) So I got him up from his nap around 3:30 p.m. and we headed outside to the park — I wanted him to know he had my full attention in case this was his last day as an only child!

Before we went out, I started to feel a little crampy. And leaky. Neither of which I had felt when going into labor with Soren. I knew my water hadn’t broken, but there was definitely some fluid leaving my body down there. There was also a little bit of blood when I went to the bathroom (something else I didn’t experience when pregnant with Soren). I started prepping Soren, letting him know the baby could come tonight, and what would he think about having someone else there to put him to bed or take him to preschool in the morning. (We’d gone over these possible scenarios with him many times, but this time it was for real!)

I next called my mom to let her know things maybe were happening, since they were planning to drive from Virginia to Boston whenever I went into labor. I told her it might all be nothing, but who knows? I also called Tim, who offered to come home right then instead of waiting another 30 minutes, when he’d been planning to end his work day. I told him there was a good chance nothing would happen tonight, but I never refuse an offer to have him come home a few minutes early. So then Soren and I continued on with our play. We raced around the track at the playground. We kicked the soccer ball around the field. We threw the frisbee. We jumped around on the hopscotch numbers. And then I got a little crampier, and the sun was beginning to set. So we walked back home and settled in on Soren’s rug with a few books. I texted our doula to let her know I was feeling things, and right when she texted back to ask if I’d had any contractions — it was 5:15 p.m. — the first one hit me.

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The final belly shot.

I was on my hands and knees, breathing through it, and Soren was wondering why I couldn’t focus on the book we were reading. But he was a good sport through the first few contractions, which came about 15 minutes apart. After two or so, I texted the doula again and called Dr. Hardiman to let her know tonight was the night. She said she’d be ready for whenever the contractions got close enough together that I wanted to come into the hospital. Tim came home around then, and things started to really pick up. Tim says that at this point I kept saying, “I don’t know what to do! I don’t know anything!”

From there, I moved to my bed to labor away, and Soren joined me at one point — complete with deep breaths on his end to “help” me with mine. He was a little concerned about me. We shared some good cuddles in between.

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Tim got dinner going for Soren, and the doula showed up at 7 p.m. I kept telling her I didn’t remember what to do — I was sure she’d have a magic position for me to try that would make it all bearable. The contractions were more intense than I remembered with Soren, and although I managed the pain in the same way I had with Soren (basically just lots of breathing and moaning), everything seemed harder. I did love having the doula there to squeeze my hips during contractions — it provided a teensy bit of relief each time.

I think one thing that made everything more difficult this time was my distraction from the moment — I could hear Soren and Tim reading stories and getting ready for bed. I knew Tim had called some friends to come over and stay at our house with sleeping Soren, but I didn’t know the details and was curious about how it would work out (they’d need sheets and pillowcases and instructions on how to use the baby monitor, etc.). I wasn’t sure what I should wear. I hadn’t packed any sort of hospital bag, so Tim quickly threw a few things into a duffel. And I was really concerned about the fact that I hadn’t eaten since lunch — I became a little bit obsessed with trying to think of something to eat that would sustain me through the most difficult thing a body can do. But of course nothing sounded appetizing — I was probably entering the transition stage at this point.

My contractions quickly moved from 10 minutes apart to 5 minutes apart. And I started getting nervous about the potential for the baby being born in the car, since with Soren I had only arrived at the hospital with just enough time to push. So the doula and I made our way down to the front porch while Tim loaded the car and brought it to the street (Soren was in bed at this point). I moaned my way through a few contractions on the porch, and our friends arrived to stay with Soren. (I remember apologizing to them that I couldn’t make eye contact.)

The drive to the hospital is about 15 minutes, and it took everything I had to manage those contractions on my own (with Soren I made Tim pull over every time I had a contraction, which really prolonged the trip). I somehow was with it enough to direct Tim’s driving, as well — sorry, Tim. (Tim says, “You were basically having contractions the whole drive there, except for that brief moment when you tried to backseat drive.”)

We pulled into the emergency parking, and a couple of nice EMTs quickly brought a wheelchair over to the car. No way my body was capable of walking at that point. Tim pushed me through the emergency room, and I almost lost it when an old man was blocking our way by standing in the center of the aisle, oblivious to my pain. (Fortunately, a nurse yelled at him for me.)

When we got to the labor and delivery floor, the nurses asked me to walk to the nearby room I was assigned to. As if I could walk. I refused their request and opted to be wheeled into the room instead (the same thing happened with Soren). Once I was in the room, they had me go to the bathroom, and then once I made my way to the bed they strapped the fetal monitor to me for the initial check. I don’t have any recollection now of what was going on at that point — I wasn’t exactly conscious of my surroundings — but I guess everything was safe and sound, because I know they took the monitor off me before I started pushing.

Contractions were as hard and heavy as ever, and I was expecting everything to be over quickly since with Soren’s birth I walked into the hospital room fully dilated. But when Dr. Hardiman arrived at the hospital — which was a breath of fresh air for me — and checked me, I was so disappointed to hear I was only dilated to eight centimeters. Kind of discouraging. Only three hours had elapsed since my first contraction, but it sure felt like the hardest and longest thing in the world.

I was still struggling to feel like I was managing my contractions effectively. I kept thinking there surely was some miracle position I could try to make it bearable. I tried laying down, I tried on my hands and knees, I tried leaning against the raised back of the bed. I got to the point where I said — out loud — that I just couldn’t do it. But Dr. Hardiman told me I was probably close to push time, and she asked what position I’d like to be in for that. I still wanted someone to just tell me how to do it, so I asked what she recommended. I was on my hands and knees at this point and not feeling particularly confident there, and Dr. Hardiman told me that was just fine if I preferred it, but she also said that if I pushed laying on my side it would make it easier to hand the baby to me for cuddling as soon as he came out.

So on my side I went, and the pushing was even harder than I remembered with Soren. I just wanted it to be over. I felt like there was no way I could do it. And everything still felt like it was taking far too long, even though I could see the clock and I knew it was not quite 9 p.m. I had the nurse and the doula help hold one leg up, and I pushed with all my might. I remember Dr. Hardiman saying I was doing it just right, which seemed impossible to me since the baby was still inside me and not out where I wanted him to be. And even when they said they could see the baby’s head, I still felt like we weren’t making any progress. I just wanted the whole thing to end! But it was only three sets of pushing — so less than 15 minutes — and the little guy popped right out at 9:07 p.m. And I felt absolutely drained.

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Our first picture together, taken 13 minutes post birth.

They placed Shaw on my chest right away and he whimpered and cried while I laid there, exhausted and not feeling capable of doing anything more than keeping my arms around him. Dr. Hardiman helped me deliver my beautiful placenta a few minutes later, and she and Tim clamped and cut the cord after it had stopped pulsing. Dr. Hardiman also stitched up one small tear. After about 40 minutes of cuddles with Shaw, they borrowed him for a quick in-room weight, height, and APGAR check. He was 7 pounds 14 ounces and 20″ (Soren was 7 pounds 2 ounces and 20 ¼”). And then after they handed him back to me for more skin-to-skin time, he quickly made his way to the breast for his first attempt at eating. I was surprised at how hard that tiny baby could suck!

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After birth pains, anyone?

After birth pains, anyone?

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After Soren’s birth I had felt so invigorated and strong and powerful — I remember telling everyone I could do it a million times over. This time, while I was still proud of what I’d accomplished, I felt like I could never do it again. Which is funny, since Dr. Hardiman told me she wished she could package up my births and gift them to all her patients. It’s a great feeling to know you’re loved by your doctor and nurses because you make things very easy on them — Dr. Hardiman was at the hospital for a whopping two hours for Shaw’s birth, from arrival to finishing up her paperwork.

But now, weeks later, I still feel wary of having another baby. I’m convinced it’s the most difficult thing in the world you can do — physically and mentally. I don’t mean to make it sound like the whole experience was negative — in fact, I can’t think of anything that would’ve made it better or easier than it was. But man, it was intense. And certainly the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But it was worth it! Just look at this guy!

Two hours after birth.

Two hours after birth.

Tim and Soren came over early the next morning so Soren could meet Shaw before preschool started. Soren was enamored by the fun buttons on the hospital bed.

Tim and Soren came over early the next morning so Soren could meet Shaw before preschool started. Soren was enamored by the fun buttons on the hospital bed.

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October 2015

October might be my new favorite month. So many fun things to do and events around town, not enough time to do them all. I think the fact that we were down to our last weeks as a family of three also motivated us to make the most of our month. As each weekend approached we noticed our Saturday calendar was filled, and all my hopes of getting errands and cleaning done on our free day were killed. But it was worth it.

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My good friend Rachael came over one night for a DIY binge with me. We made elderberry syrup for immune support, lip balms spiked with essential oils (I added washi tape to the containers later and they look SO cute), and dozens and dozens of Larabars.

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As we wrapped up dinner at Punjab Palace one night, our server brought Soren a complimentary dish of ice cream. “I might need to brush my teeth,” Soren said. “It’s sugary!”

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Sunday morning adventures.

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These kids had a train, and Soren walked circles around them for awhile, looking longingly at their fun.

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We ditched Honeypot Hill this autumn for Parlee Farms — a new favorite. In the past I’ve enjoyed apple picking for the fun of it, but I’ve never been wowed by the apples we’ve picked (especially considering the cost). But this year was different. Best apples of my life. (And great cider donuts, too!)

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And the hayride to get to the orchards can’t be beat.

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Hay bale maze? Yes, please!

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One Friday afternoon Soren and I headed to the waterfront after nap time for a fall festival outside of the Children’s Museum. Turns out it was $1 night at the museum!

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The next morning we found more vehicle fun at a touch-a-truck event in Waltham. Soren got to “drive” and/or play in a fire truck, a tow truck, an ambulance, a moving truck, a few school buses, and more.

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He opened and closed the school bus doors for a good 20 minutes.

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That afternoon, we ventured to the river for the Head of the Charles. We got there just as the races were ending, so we found a dreamy parking spot and didn’t have to battle the crowds. We even saw a few boat collisions! And then we loaded up on ice cream.

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My dad flew in for a quick two-day visit. We played at the playground, we ate pizza and watched the trains at Regina’s, he took Soren to visit a few nearby construction sites, and we spent a morning at Drumlin Farm.

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Soren was excited to learn that Stephen Savage would be at this year’s Boston Book Festival. He’s the author of “Where’s Walrus,” which has been a recent favorite in our house. (“Supertruck” and “Little Tug” are also great.) I love how Soren is sitting front and center.

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After the reading, there was a little time for Q&A. Look at Soren up there with his hand raised!

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Soren’s question was this: “Can you draw a penguin?” Stephen Savage thought he said “pumpkin,” so Soren got to take home a signed drawing of a penguin and a pumpkin. Tim and I were REALLY glad for this — it meant we didn’t have to stand in the long line and buy the book!

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After grabbing a smoothie at B. Good we zipped over to Harvard’s football stadium for their annual community day — free tickets (and lunch!) to a football game. I’m 36 weeks pregnant here, but I don’t think I looked quite that puffy in real life — I blame it on the coat and the angle of the photo!

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That night was our church Halloween party. We had to snap a shot with our monster door, which was partially brainstormed and executed by Soren.

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On the 30th we did the annual trick-or-treat on Washington Street. Many of the candy givers offered treats to me as well — “it’s for the baby!” they’d say.

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After trick-or-treating we walked down to the Y for the Halloween pizza party. Soren axed every tree and apartment building he could reach.

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Along the way, Soren started noticing other kids eating their candy. I don’t know if it had occurred to him before then that eating the treats was an option. “I want to do what those kids are doing,” he said. So we let Soren eat the donut half he’d received from Dunkin Donuts. His dream come true.

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On actual Halloween we went to the library parade in the morning. Soren was pleased to be at the front of the line, right behind Anne the librarian. After the brief walk around Oak Square everyone ventured into the fire station for a little celebration there.

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Soren went trick-or-treating three times this year, and he never once ate candy! Major mom win. Leading up to the holiday we had discussed the “sugar witch switch” thing. I don’t know if he completely understood it, but he didn’t really ask about the candy. The morning after Halloween we gave him a $0.40 Matchbox car and a cheap paperback book and told him that was the gift from the imaginary sugar witch. He seemed pretty happy. A couple weeks after Halloween he asked about the candy and said he wanted it. But I reminded him about his gifts, and that was that! We’ll see how many more years I can pull that off.

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I hit 37 weeks of pregnancy at the end of the month and started feeling the nesting urges. The result was an IKEA trip and lots of package deliveries. I never actually got around to the organizing projects I dreamed up, though…

September 2015

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After so many years in Boston, we finally made it to the deCordova Sculpture Park at the start of September. It was a 95-degree day, but we made a big morning of it by hitting Drumlin Farm first and then exploring the fun creations at deCordova.

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One Friday morning Soren and I went to BU to participate in one of their child development studies (partially because we love supporting research, partially because I love seeing the way he reacts to the various scenarios they put him in). While we were out, we jumped on the train to Copley for some library and park fun. We tried to take a selfie at Copley Square and had a few failed attempts.

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This is from a Soren/Tim adventure, so I’m not entirely sure what it’s about. But I think this is somewhere along the Charles?

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We spent one Saturday in Maine at Tim’s boss’ amazing beach house. We made a stop along the way at an underwhelming nature center near Plum Island. But the views were lovely!

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And then, the beach.

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The next day we packed up our post-church dinner and took it to the temple for a picnic.

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We paddled around the river on Labor Day.

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We spied loads of turtles along the banks.

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A few days later we found ourselves at Walden for an afternoon swim. We didn’t expect to be entertained by a bubble man! (Tim and Soren are in the background here — Soren is on Tim’s shoulders.)

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Every time we go to the beach or pond in the fall I get a little panicked that it’ll be our final trip for the year. Fortunately, this September Walden visit was not our last.

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Our second annual ward clambake (organized by me!) went off without a hitch! Although this is the only photo I managed to snap.

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We snagged a few extra lobsters and turned them into lobster mac and cheese.

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And then, life as we knew it was forever changed with the start of preschool for Soren. Tim and I attended the parents’ meeting the week before (while the babysitter put Soren to bed!), and it was the weirdest feeling. I was prepared for a rough transition and difficulties with separation. I cried on his “first” day, which was actually just a one-hour, ease-into-things introduction day. But Soren had no trouble and has been SO happy there. I’ve had a much more difficult time than he has — I hate not knowing what he’s doing for three hours without me! Though he’s spent plenty of time apart from me with a babysitter or at the gym nursery or at his EI toddler group, I was always nearby and had a general idea of what he was up to. So I worried a LOT those first few weeks of school. But both he and I have really fallen in love with his school and his amazing teachers.

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After his first day we celebrated with a trip to a nearby park, where Soren braved the crazy tall slide.

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Uncle Ben came to town, so we tried a new North End dinner spot. Soren made his way along the Freedom Trail.

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We spent our five-year anniversary in Cape Cod — with Soren and Ben. We started at Mayflower Beach, which was a little rockier than we remembered at high tide.

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This picture pretty perfectly captures Soren’s preferred way to play at the beach. He takes the role of superintendent, bossing other people around and telling them what to build for him.

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I spy Tim, Soren, and Ben — way out on a sandbar.

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The next morning we went for Mayflower again, this time to enjoy low tide.

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The shallow pools make it our favorite.

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Too big to fit anything but my stretchiest swimsuit top.

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The next morning we tried out West Dennis Beach for an oceanside experience.

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It wasn’t our favorite, but the seashells were superb (that’s what those three boys are searching for in the shallow water).

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After naps, we made our way to Corporation Beach.

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Anniversary selfie.

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And after a spin on the swings, we called it a trip.

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This is on our drive back to Boston — Soren’s hand on my belly, my hand on Soren’s. We stayed this way for awhile.

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Probably once every three months or so, Soren has a fluke early wakeup from his nap, and the only way to save it is to bring him into our bed and hope he falls back asleep. Tim and I have lots of photos like this that we’ve texted to each other over the years — trapped in bed with the sleeping boy.

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Soren has inherited his parents’ poor art skills, and he’s never been interested in coloring or drawing. When we play outside, he wants me or Tim (or Paulina) to do all the sidewalk chalk work — and of course he dictates what we draw. But this month he turned a corner and actually attempted something on his own! Miracle! I think it may be his first attempt at drawing a person. It’s pretty much a head and a penis. In his words, “Look how long it is!”

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Tim and Soren rode to the end of the Minuteman one Saturday. And the train car in Bedford was open for touring — the first time we’ve seen that happen.

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I’m starting to feel a little bit silly at the gym, attempting all my same workouts but with a huge belly and an extra 30 pounds hindering me. This was at about 32 weeks — funny how I thought I looked enormous then. You should see me now just three weeks later!

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Oh, library day. Nothing better than a huge stack of new books. It’s the one day of the week Soren will sit silently in his room for a long stretch. Our favorite is to make a big bowl of popcorn after naps and then read a ton of books together right in a row.

August 2015 — Part 2

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Back in Boston, we had a sad Friday saying goodbye to the once-a-week preschool Soren had been attending for about a year. He started there through the amazing Early Intervention program, and then he got to stay on as a “community” kid when he didn’t requalify for EI services (although the beloved in-home play visits had to end). Oh, how we loved Miss Courtney. I snuck into class on the last day to properly document things.

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Soren loved playtime at the school’s “gym” (also known as the gross motor room).

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I already have plans to get my second baby into Miss Courtney’s group as soon as he hits 18 months!

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Tim and Soren often go on “adventures” on Saturday and Sunday mornings. When I download Tim’s photos, I’m never quite sure what they’re about, but Soren just explained this one: “Remember that big huge dead fish?”

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A happy Saturday at our beloved Nahant Beach.

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I started getting crazy sentimental the day before Soren’s birthday and had to start taking loads of photos and videos.

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I can’t remember how this started, but Soren loves to play games that involve slides and balls of any size. He throws them down the slide, and I’m supposed to try to catch them.

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We loved the outdoor concerts at one of our libraries this summer (even if they were really poorly attended). We’d bring takeout, spread out a blanket, and enjoy nearly private concerts and free books to take home. Plus, Soren loves those lion sprayers.

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I decided I would try to document (on video) a bunch of things Soren learned while he was 2. But, of course, he was opposed to the idea since it involved videos. I used M&M’s for bribery, and on the day I finally got him to agree to doing the videos, I couldn’t think of very much to ask him to do! Oh well.

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And then, the birthday! The stupid package of balloons I got from the dollar store only had ONE red balloon in it. So Soren latched on to that thing and played with it for weeks.

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Candles at every meal! Actually, I think we only did candles at breakfast and forgot about them the rest of the day. I told Soren he could pick a special birthday breakfast, and he chose boring oatmeal. (In “Curious George and the Birthday Surprise,” George and the man in the yellow hat are eating breakfast, and the food in George’s bowl looks like it could be oatmeal. Soren decided he wouldn’t have anything else for his birthday breakfast.)

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Soren’s birthday outing took us to Sunshine Farm for raspberry picking (and ice cream eating).

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Chocolate peanut butter cookie dough. Let’s just say I’m good at picking ice cream flavors.

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The day after the birthday is just as fun — new toys! Oma and Opa indulged Soren’s Duplo obsession. Soren has more than once referred to himself as a “Duplo maniac.”

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While I was at a baby shower, Soren and Tim took an adventure on the train. I loved seeing this sight on my drive home. I also love Soren’s go-to position when riding on Tim’s shoulders — arms crossed, resting on Tim’s head.

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Oh, and here are a few pics from Tim’s phone from that day’s outing. Tim says Soren needs to know the type of each tree in the Public Garden.

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Busy day with the ducklings. Of course Soren commandeered Mrs. Mallard.

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People may think he’s a girl on occasion, but how could we cut these curls? I get comments at least weekly from strangers who tell me I shouldn’t cut his hair. “I cut my son’s curls off and they never grew back!” the sweet grandmas tell me.

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And then, Soren’s birthday party! We didn’t do any sort of a party when Soren turned 1 or 2, so this year we decided to throw a minimalist bash in the “backyard.”

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Costco pizza is all Soren really needs to be happy. He spent much of the party lounging and eating, watching the other kids run wild and make a mess of his sandbox and pool.

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I don’t like cake. And I’ve never done a birthday cake for Soren before. This year I figured I’d persuade him to choose ice cream or brownies or a pie for his birthday treat. But then I got sucked into Pinterest one day and my cake aversion went out the window. So, Sorens greatest dream came true — chocolate cake plus construction equipment.

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In the weeks leading up to his birthday, I asked Soren repeatedly who he’d want to invite to a party. His first answer was always Paulina, his beloved babysitter.

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Sidewalk chalk for the win! And then our driveway was full of chalk outlines and looked like a crime scene. Also, if you want a great deal on sidewalk chalk, I got this giant box for only $5 on Amazon. Waaay better deal than Target.

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Toward the end of the month Soren was running through the house and stepped on a stray birthday balloon. He did something to his ankle in the process, and he spent the morning crawling around the house to avoid putting pressure on the ankle. He would lay on the couch with books or scoot around the rug playing with Duplos. Nothing had changed by the afternoon, so I took him in to the doctor to have it checked out. First X-rays!

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He was very serious about the whole thing.

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The doctor concluded it probably wasn’t broken, but advised us to come back if nothing had changed in a day or two since those tiny ankle bones can be tricky. She wrapped up his ankle and sent us on our way (with advice to have him wear shoes that would support his ankle… as if we own any like that). Here he is crawling up the stairs.

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I couldn’t love a photo more than I love this one. So many wonderful things happening here — sunset, Walden, my boys swimming, perfect late-summer temperatures.

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One Saturday morning I got to go to a killer barre class in Back Bay for one of my “work” projects. So Soren and Tim headed to our beloved fountain park.

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His happy place.

August 2015 — Part 1

Our August was filled to the brim with beach trips, birthdays, and everyday, around-town fun. So I’ll have to split our monthly post into two!

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After a little bit of church with the family, we hopped in Pappy’s truck to drive to Rodanthe. Soren was ready for naptime.

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I didn’t get any beach pictures on Monday, but that night’s activity was the annual family rodeo. Soren chose a pink hat, naturally (because it’s the closest to red).

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Game face.

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Killing time waiting for his event to start.

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Smooching my little cowboy.

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The evening sunset.

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And on to the beach. Soren started strong and a little overconfident the first day, so when he took an early spill into the water from the boogie board he decided he wasn’t an ocean kinda guy. Here, on day two, he stuck with the sand.

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Fortunately, the sand provides plenty of fun when you have a shovel!

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I think he’s contemplating whether he should face his fears.

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Standing near the water! An improvement!

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Another day, more digging.

Digging trenches is Tim's specialty.

Digging trenches is Tim’s specialty.

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Feeling a little friendlier with the water!

Page and Isla.

Page and Isla.

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Mara.

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It was rare to find all 10 cousins on the sand at once. Although Truman didn’t quite make it into this silly-face photo.

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A little Pringles bribery never hurt anyone.

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Welcome, Truman.

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Soren’s favorite silly face to make.

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Pappy worked his magic to get Soren into the water.

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One of my favorite views.

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Back on the board, and couldn’t be happier!

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I didn’t end up with any shots of the huge group (Salem?), but how amazing is it that all 20 of us are here?

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From beach to pool and back again.

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I was sitting by the pool one afternoon and really wanted a snack. The twins worked some magic and lowered an apple down. Next came Otter Pops for all.

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First ones out on this morning.

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Some cousins found this enormous pipe at the bottom of the ocean one afternoon. For the rest of the week it was used daily.

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Sand crabs!

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Getting into the house after beach time was very difficult most days, because It was reeeally hard to pull Soren away from his firefighter hose.

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Downtime at the house.

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Flying from DC to Boston is typically quick and painless since we normally fly JetBlue. On this day, there were tears and angry words thanks to the idiots at US Airways/American Airlines (we had to use some vouchers from the flights we canceled last December due to that pesky miscarriage). Moral of the story: Only fly JetBlue!

July 2015

We escaped the US of A at the start of July for our holiday weekend in Canada. Tim’s moral opposition to patriotism/nationalism and my firm abhorrence of expensive, large-scale fireworks shows make us a perfect match.

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We kicked off the fun with a gas station picnic and a game of what Soren labeled “hopscotch.”

We kicked off the fun with a gas station picnic and a game of what Soren labeled "hopscotch."

We spent our first evening getting settled in at the apartment (an awesome Airbnb find — stay there if you go!), playing at the beautiful Parc Sir-Wilfrid-Laurier around the corner, and gorging ourselves on poutine at La Banquise.

The next morning, our first priority (after a healthy breakfast at the apartment, of course!) was breakfast dessert. We swung by Boulangerie Les Co’Pains D’Abord on our way to to the Biodome.

Look at this face! He knows about the important things in life — pain au chocolat.

Look at this face! He knows about the important things in life — pain au chocolat.

Hatching out of a giant egg.

Hatching out of a giant egg at the Biodome.

Smoochin' penguins.

Smoochin’ penguins. Soren is now well versed in the various animals we used to refer to simply as “penguins.” Puffins, macaroni penguins, rockhopper penguins, king penguins.

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Our afternoon walk led us to more treats.

That evening we hung out at Parc La Fontaine, walked around the quartier des spectacles, took the Metro back to our neighborhood (obviously the highlight for Soren), and got our Mexican on at El Zaziummm. After dinner I was able to confirm one of my biggest fears — I have definitely developed an intolerance for avocados! And this is coming from someone who is completely skeptical of most food intolerances and allergies. I’m hoping it’s just a weird pregnancy thing and will go away soon.

The next morning we took off for Jean-Talon Market, but not before making a two-minute stop to pick up this bad boy (the machine, not the child) off the side of the road.

Just $2 (in Canadian dollars, no less!)? Don't mind if I do.

Just $2 (in Canadian dollars, no less!)? Don’t mind if I do.

During our market excursion, we feasted on croissants, breakfast sandwiches, peaches, plums, a spicy sausage sandwich, yogurt, smoked salmon bites, and ice cream.

We didn't leave room for macarons.

We didn’t leave room for macarons.

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Market entertainment.

That afternoon we walked through yet another park on our way to dinner.

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Soren made friends with the sweet owner of the creperie. He brought Soren a lovely fruit plate while we waited for our meal.

Soren made friends with the sweet owner of the creperie. He brought Soren a lovely plate of fancy-cut fruit while we waited for our meal.

Then we were off to Juliette & Chocolat for dessert. Two sit-down restaurants in one night? Soren lives the life of a prince.

Then we were off to Juliette & Chocolat for dessert. Two sit-down restaurants in one night? Soren lives the life of a prince.

Dessert is served. I wish I could remember what each of these delicacies was. All I remember is magic.

Dessert is served. I wish I could remember what each of these delicacies was. All I remember is magic.

Heaven.

Heaven.

Had to lick every last drop.

Had to lick every last drop.

And then it was Sunday, and time to head home. But not without a stop first at the famous Fairmount Bagel, plus a failed attempt to go to French church (thanks for nothin’, mormon.org).

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Montreal or midwest? We couldn’t believe how flat and never-ending the land was. Also, travel potty for the win! This awesome potty is one of my best motherhood purchases to date.

On our way home we swung by the King Arthur bakery and store in Vermont. King Arthur is always a good idea.

On our way home we swung by the King Arthur bakery and store in Vermont. King Arthur is always a good idea.

Manually grinding flour. Something I'd never have patience for.

Manually grinding flour. Something I’d never have patience for. But isn’t the machine beautiful?

I forget why I took this picture — Soren must've said something funny. This kid has never met a grate he didn't like.

I forget why I took this picture — Soren must’ve said something funny. This kid has never met a grate he didn’t like.

The week we got back brought a long-awaited day for Soren — firefighter storytime at the library. He’d been talking about it for months, and the event did not disappoint. After firefighter Dwaine read a story and answered questions, we walked to the fire station next door (where we are frequent visitors) for a tour.

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That weekend we got free tickets to the WGBH FunFest thanks to my new connection with Boston Moms Blog. With bounce houses, face painting, and unlimited ice cream, we were in heaven.

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As far as Soren knows, Curious George is ONLY a character from a book. Don’t tell him there’s such a thing as Curious George on TV.

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Tim’s parents (known in our home as Oma and Opa) came to town the next week. We played in town for a few days then spent a long weekend in the Berkshires. This time we found a perfect HomeAway win — we stayed at a cute cottage on an actual sheep farm!

The house just happened to be a few feet from the Appalachian Trail.

The house just happened to be a few feet from the Appalachian Trail. Yes, Soren is missing his pants.

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From Tim's morning run up some mountain.

From Tim’s morning run up some mountain.

We hiked around Race Brook Falls one morning.

We hiked around Race Brook Falls one morning.

Always throwing rocks in water.

Always throwing rocks in water.

On Saturday we made it to a Boston Symphony Orchestra rehearsal at Tanglewood.

On Saturday we made it to a Boston Symphony Orchestra rehearsal at Tanglewood. “I hear violins!” Soren says.

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Back at the sheep farm to say farewell to our friends.

Back at the sheep farm to say farewell to our fuzzy friends.

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Our drive home was somewhat of a nightmare. The usually pleasant MassPike turned into a parking lot, and we sat in traffic for a few extra hours. We swung by Springfield before the worst of it to check out the Dr. Seuss Sculpture Garden.

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It had rained earlier, so the sculptures were slippery. Soren took two or three big falls and let out plenty of tears. Tim was insistent that we not let him play on the sculptures anymore, but I wanted him to keep trying. And so did Soren.

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Soren regularly refers to himself as "the gate master." We have no idea where he came up with it.

Soren regularly refers to himself as “the gate master.” We have no idea where he came up with it.

Near the end of the month Soren’s six-week Rock-a-Baby music class wrapped up. I’ve been mostly successful at attempting to practice “slow parenting,” this summer, so we’ve kept our schedules free and clear from sports and lessons and organized classes. But I was assigned to write a review of Rock-a-Baby for a local parenting site, so we couldn’t pass up the offer of a free class. I snapped a few photos for the review, and I think they pretty well capture how much he loved the experience.

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He also loved the chance to watch traffic on the Pike from our spot in the parking lot.

He also loved the chance to watch traffic on the Pike from our spot in the parking lot.

One day, during a rainy walk home from the library, I got all reminiscent about how my sisters and I used to devour our books on the drive home from the library, and my mom would complain that none of us would talk to her because we had our noses stuck in our books. Same goes for Soren today. Only he’s in a stroller.

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I love when Soren asks me to request particular books from the library website. Here, we have “Little Blue Truck Leads the Way.”

That weekend we spent our Saturday afternoon downtown at the Figment art festival. It was the weirdest.

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Thank you, Greenway, for providing hammocks for all.

Thank you, Greenway, for providing hammocks for all.

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And then we were off to my homeland for hangout time and beach prep in Virginia.

We spent our first day hanging at Reagan's and visiting the National Harbor.

We spent our first day playing at Reagan’s and visiting the National Harbor.

I'll be honest — I do not like this new location for the Awakening statue. Move it back!

I’ll be honest — I do not like this new location for the Awakening statue. Move it back!

High fives

High fives

Back in Ashburn, Soren lived for fun in the backyard. Clothing always optional. "It's a wrecking ball!" he says of Grandmama's tetherball game.

Back in Ashburn, Soren lived for fun in the backyard. Clothing always optional (all the better for luring ticks). “It’s a wrecking ball!” he says of Grandmama’s tetherball game.

Next up is August and lots and lots of beachy fun.