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Portugal Day 2 — Lagos (August 2017)

After a surprisingly good night’s rest, Tim and Shaw ventured out first thing to round up some breakfast. Apparently, the place was dead even at 8 a.m. — not a soul in sight! (I had assured Tim he would be able to grab a few things from a fruit stand — oops. They eventually found a grocery store.

After Soren and Paulina finally woke up (teenagers!), we headed to the “tourist train.”

Tim was quite skeptical of a “train” that is more like a little tractor pulling a few passenger cars and driving on the main roads. But the kids loved it, of course, and it took us on a nice little tour of the town. We hopped off at Ponta da Piedade. Absolutely stunning!

The western Algarve is loaded with vast sandy beaches and sky-high cliffs, and Ponta da Piedade is the best of the best. There are cliffs, grottos, tunnels, and rock pillars as far as the eye can see. And the contrast with the blues, greens, and turquoises of the water? Amazing! We climbed lots of big rocks, took lots of selfies, and prayed our kids wouldn’t run straight off a cliff. Europe doesn’t child-proof quite like the US of A.

After checking out Ponta do Piedade we began the long trek back to the house. (The tourist train wasn’t coming back anytime soon, so we were on our own.) We passed a few beaches along the way, including Praia da Dona Ana, ranked on some websites as one of the top 10 beaches in the world.

We grabbed some popsicles at a nearby shop then kept walking. Saw some neat houses and fun street art on our walk.

Once we were home and practically melted, we changed into swimsuits and headed out to walk to Restaurante Piri-Piri for lunch — our first official Portuguese meal. (Piri-piri is a local specialty — sort of a spicy fried chicken.) Tim asked the waiter/host how he was doing, and he said, “Not good. I am supposed to go home.” So… not the best service, but the food was pretty good — grilled prawns, grilled sardines, and piri-piri chicken.

Then, we were off to the beach — this time to actually DO the beach. A quick walk brought us back to Praia da Batata, the beach we’d briefly checked out the day before. Tim and Soren quickly went off on an adventure to explore the caves and secret tunnels to other beaches along the coast.

Tim said it might have been the best day of Soren’s life. Perfect blue water and amazing beaches at the bottom of enormous cliffs. Tim told Soren he should write about it in his travel journal. He said, “Maybe we should write about it in the Wall Street Journal. Just kidding!”

The water was chilly, but we swam!

It eventually became our private beach as everyone headed home for the day. We closed it out and then ventured back into town to get dinner.

No idea what this public body of water was, but Soren made it his personal bathtub.

Tim introduced us all to kebabs. The kids loved it (and we ate it many more times on the trip). We capped off the night with gelato. Could the day have been more perfect?!

Portugal Day 1 — Lagos (August 2017)

Well, we did it. We went to Portugal for two weeks with two little kids. Not only did we survive — we loved it and are ready to go back!

We were terrified of the overnight travel, so the night of our trip we put the kids to bed around 6 p.m. to ensure they’d at least get some sleep (we were expecting Soren to sleep peacefully for the whole flight and for Shaw to wreak havoc). Tim and I packed up our last few things, and then we woke the kids around 9 to head to the airport. They were, understandably, quite confused, but the excitement of going to the airport beat out any negative feelings. Soren thought it was quite amazing that there were so many people out and about, playing baseball, etc., when it was the “middle of the night.” Shows how often he gets out at night. We were also nervous about the possibility of a delayed flight (which would mean many hours in the airport with tired kids) because we were flying Azores Airlines — they had been experiencing a number of strikes from their employees, so flights all summer had been less than reliable. While we waited to board, Tim and Shaw picked up some snacks and drinks for us in the lounge (Tim had access since he was flying business class, the lucky dog).

We were thrilled to board and take off on time — 11:45 p.m. Shaw and Tim had a row to themselves in business class. Shaw was a little fussy until Tim moved to a window seat. He was also annoyed because the flight attendants made him wear a weird seatbelt that attached to Tim’s. After we took off, Shaw kept pointing out the window and saying “boat.” Eventually, Tim had Shaw lay on him and told him to go to sleep. Instead, he would pop his head up every few minutes and laugh at Tim. After about an hour of playing, he was out. He slept uninterrupted until we were 30 minutes out of Lisbon and Tim had to raise his seatback, causing Shaw to flip out for a good 10 minutes. He calmed down in time to land, and all was well.

Meanwhile, Soren and I were with the commoners in coach — and our dear Paulina was across the aisle. Soren was pretty excited and not at all sleepy. The flight attendants brought “dinner” by sometime after midnight. Soren was in heaven. He talked to me nonstop while I nodded off. After a couple of hours, I had the bright idea to have him listen to an audiobook. I was able to sleep a little while he listened, and before the book was over he was fast asleep. Glad he finally got an hour or two of shut-eye — I had expected him to sleep the entire six hours!

Next thing we knew, we were in Lisbon! We were still a couple of hours out from the fun beginning, though — had to get through immigration, wait for bags, a rental car, etc. Eventually, we were on our way to the Algarve (about a three-hour drive), with Tim at the wheel of a stick shift that he couldn’t figure out how to reverse (we almost went over a cliff trying to figure it out).

We made a pit stop at Alcácer do Sal to see a castle. Turns out, it wasn’t much of a castle — it had been turned into a hotel. And there was no signage to indicate what anything was. And we were very hungry. And it was a million degrees. And I was grumpy. But… I guess the views were alright.

We were desperate for food at this point, so we drove into the little town to search. The few restaurants were full, and we were feeling timid about our lack of Portuguese. Eventually, we sent Tim off to scour each shop while Paulina and the kids and I roasted in the sun. Shaw chased a lot of birds and was oblivious to our misery. Paulina was her usual positive self and appreciated

Tim finally found a bakery and asked them to make us some ham and cheese sandwiches. They obliged. We hopped back in the car to eat while driving. Best ham and cheese we’ve ever had.

We were in somewhat better spirits when we arrived in Lagos that afternoon. Soren somehow stayed awake the entire drive, so he was going on very little sleep (Shaw napped some, thankfully). We found our Airbnb and a parking spot after a few trips around the block on super narrow streets. We waited on the sidewalk and checked out the scene while Tim connected with Joao, our host. Do we look tired?

And then we were in! The place was perfectly located and just big enough for our needs. Soren and Paulina bunked together; Shaw slept in our bed between us. These pics are from the inside looking out.

Then we headed out for an evening beach adventure — just a few minutes’ walk from our apartment on the cutest (and slipperiest) cobblestone streets.

The beaches were amazing. When we first walked in to Praia da Batata, it looked awesome but a little small. Then we discovered the secret passageways through little caves and rock formations that allowed you to venture from one beach to another to another. Really cool.

We walked back through town to find dinner — Tim and Soren grabbed some kebabs and fries. The kids LOVED them. Paulina and I picked up some OK burritos. Then back home for bed around 8 p.m. Still not sure how both kids survived that 24-hour period on such little sleep. Soren was the most shocking of all — that kid needs his sleep, but he was miraculously cheerful and easygoing the whole day, despite running on maybe four hours of sleep. Both kids were out pretty immediately when we put them down — and Soren slept hard for 14 hours!

August 2017

August was THE month of travel. So many trip pictures I might have to break this month up into multiple posts.

We started our August off with a regular park visit (this is a near-daily occurrence).

That same day, Soren and Tim went on a boat tour for Tim’s work, so Shaw and I hopped on the train and met them at the Frog Pond after.

Free as a bird.

Stopped at Area Four on the way home for dinner, and Soren was pleased to find a nice scootering path right next to our outdoor table.

And then, I headed off for my very first kid-free trip! It could not have been more amazing. We kicked off our first morning with a little capitol-building workout.

Wedding day!

Why yes, this is in a hospital chapel.

DDD forever.

I had the best visit with my favorite Bennetts.

Then on to the party. Perfect backyard reception.

Spent the next day walking the city, eating, pedicure-ing, shopping, talking, and taking photos.

Sunday morning brought us to Music and the Spoken Word at the conference center. My first time attending (or listening/watching at all), and it was amazing!


Then on to brunch at the Grand America. Also amazing.

Got to see this love twice in three days while in Utah! Also got to see Reagan and fam, Aunt Dana, and a few cousins. When I moved away from Utah 8+ years ago, I thought I might never return. But that place is filled with a lot of people I love!

We were surprised to see Soren on the front page of the WSJ one day. He’s famous.

While I was in Utah, Soren did a lot of this.

Shaw chased ducks.

Spotted this creepy lady at the park one day. Shaw was fascinated but would not go near her.

The next day he faced his fears and picked up the doll head.

And then we were off to Portugal! Portugal needs its own few posts…

July 2017

Tim and the boys kicked off first weekend of July with a Sunday morning jaunt to Ipswich.

On Monday went to Wingaersheek Beach (our first time!) for some pre-holiday fun. The beach was as dreamy as we’d heard — minus the fact that the city of Gloucester has banned puddle jumpers.

What would a beach day be without seafood?

July 3! What are the chances?!

For the 4th of July we took a family bike ride in the morning then had a classic summer dinner on the porch — ribs! Afterward we took another family bike ride for ice cream.

Tim and Soren trekked out to Burlington for fireworks — theirs had the earliest start time of all the towns around! Shaw and I went to bed.

Soren told Tim the fireworks were pretty boring this year. “Maybe next year we can go to a shorter one so I can go home and go to bed.”

Tim’s greatest dreams came true when Shaw recognized and said “Tintin” for the first time.

These two were the craziest during a library singalong one day. Shaw was ready to wrestle!

Had to document a rare date night. Mostly because we got a parking spot RIGHT in front of the Pru.

This chocolate was the best part of my night.

Just a bowl of fresh raspberries from the backyard.

Naps are a rare occurrence for this kid. Love this Saturday afternoon scene.

We went to a minor league ball game one Saturday afternoon. Brought back good memories of Orioles games with my family!

We were early to church one day, so I had to document it.

Once or twice we’ve had to take the car over the bike because of the size of our cargo. This one was close, but Soren kept it in the trailer.

We spent a rainy morning at Imagine. How cute are these firefighters?

Then, we were off to Virginia for a couple days with the grandparents and a week at the beach with the Dickson clan. Pappy had secured a small bike for Soren to try out, and after about 30 seconds of working with Pappy, Soren was off and riding!

The best week of the year!

The beach wasn’t too far, but we were glad we brought the scooter!

Couple of (second) cousins trying to catch a seagull.

Second cousins comparing pacis.

Napping buddies, every day.

Sometimes like that, sometimes like this.

All the love for Aunt Dana.

So many cousin Parcheesi games.

Lots of early-morning time with this kid. Sunrise, anyone?

Many thanks to Uncle Kaplin for the trip to the boardwalk ice cream store.

Soren and the big kids (his first cousins once removed).

Yep, definitely the best week of the year.

And then, sadly, we were headed home. But not without a stop for breakfast sandwiches. Because #diners.

Another Sunday morning hike with dad.

On Shaw’s first Sunday back in nursery, he had an accident with a toy shopping cart. Look at that shiner!

June 2017

Why is June so busy? One of the more notable events of the first few days of June was an info meeting for parents at Soren’s kindergarten. How are we already there?! I didn’t take any pics, but if I did it might have been of me getting a little teary as I walked into the school.

Also, Shaw at almost 19 months:

On Saturday, another round of headshots with my Boston Moms Blog ladies (photos courtesy the lovely Jennifer).

Next we were off to the Greek Festival in Arlington, which we biked to. Our first ride with Soren on the trailer bike behind me and Shaw in the trailer behind Tim!

We ate souvlaki and bounce housed it up all afternoon long.

We made some progress on our “yard.”

On the first Sunday in June Soren gave his first talk!

We had a few minutes to kill after church since Tim was still at church in another building in the stake, so we walked up to the temple to run around.

That week Shaw had a mishap with the floor. He and Soren were running around — lots of laughter — until they smacked into each other and Shaw’s chin hit the wood floor. Not too much blood, and he was fine after a few minutes of crying, but we decided the gash was big enough to merit a visit to the ER. Tim and I went back and forth for far too long about which of us should take him in. Mom guilt got the best of me, so I took him in. I was nervous after the trauma of the experience with Soren. Fortunately, this time was somewhat better. I hated the doctor who did Soren’s, but I loved this doctor. And instead of being there until 11 p.m., we were out by 9 p.m. this time. He ended up with eight stitches! The best part was when I almost passed out. I was doing fine and was even watching her stitch it up and asking questions (the little chunks of fat that were coming out of his chin were fascinating), but then after awhile I started feeling really hot and a little lightheaded. So the doctor told the nurse tech guy (who was holding Shaw’s head) to call for a nurse to bring me juice and come hold Shaw’s hands down (since I had been doing that). Suddenly, all these people came rushing into the room — turns out he had pushed the “code” button. Embarrassing for me! I kept my head down for a few minutes then was fine. I asked the doc how often the dads come in versus the moms, and she estimated 75% moms. She said the dads are usually the ones who get queasy or pass out.

The doctor assured me Shaw would sleep really well that night since he would be exhausted from the whole experience. Joke was on us — he ended up in our bed after waking up crying a few times. Traumatic night, for sure! The next day’s naps were no better. Cuddles with Tim during morning nap, sleeping in bed with mama during afternoon nap.

On Friday the kids and I spent the morning at Drumlin Farm, complete with a hay ride.


This is the photo that should earn me “Worst Mom of the Year.” Shaw was climbing up the slippery water/sand chutes like a maniac, and I was videoing him instead of bringing him down to safe ground. Then he slipped and knocked his chin against the metal. The chin that had just received eight stitches. It split right open. I called the doc to see if we really needed to go through the same miserable stitches experience again, and they said yes. Thanks to Shaw’s drool-y nature, the original stitches had dissolved quite prematurely. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it again if it was mainly for cosmetic reasons, so we brought Shaw home for a nap and decided to wait it out. By evening time we decided we should probably do something about it. But maybe not another traumatic experience (and another $100). So we brought him to see a guy in our church who happens to be an ER doc. He used some steri strips (and some super glue) and sent us on our way. Oh, and you know how I thought I was recording a video the whole time I should’ve been protecting my baby’s precious chin from another fall? Turns out I wasn’t even videoing, I was holding up my phone in photo mode like a total dummy.

Sometimes Soren and Tim bike to the pond to have snacks and read Tin Tin.

I fell in love with my back yard after seeing this babies pop up outta nowhere.

We went to an event at one of our old favorite libraries in Boston, mostly for the free Ben & Jerry’s and the concert with one of Soren’s favorite kid bands. He’s totally geeking out here talking to Karen K (of Karen K and the Jitterbugs).

Soren had his last day of preschool in June. The final day was a family party, and my contribution for the breakfast was one million mini muffins. Is this muffin pan the best or what?

Face painting, bounce house, balloons, games, the works.

Soren + teachers.

After almost a year of being closed, our neighborhood park finally opened and is better than ever!

It was set to open on Saturday, but when the construction workers began tearing down the temporary fence on Friday afternoon, we all broke in.

The next day we got started on our garden. Lots of weeds to take care of!

Look at that beautifully weeded plot. Too bad the soil was such poor quality.

Then Soren and I headed to the Feast of the East — the biggest event of the year in our neighborhood. We joined the parade and walked next to a dog-walking organization — Soren and I somehow ended up walking one of the dogs during the parade!

Tim and Shaw came to join after naps — Shaw is obsessed with the crosswalk flags and will NOT cross the street without one.

After the feast we went back to the garden for more work.

On Sunday morning I was in charge of early morning duty with Shaw. Off to the park we went.

To Shaw’s delight, we saw lots of wildlife on our neighborhood adventure — squirrels, baby bunnies, and a snapping turtle!

Then Tim took the boys to Gloucester for a walk along the Ocean Lawn.

In mid-June we got to see the tall ships docked in Boston — first time they’ve been here since 2000 (and Boston is the only U.S. city that got to see them this year).

True love.

Our friend Jana invited us over for a playdate one day. Trains, chicken nuggets for lunch, and a tire swing!

First backyard raspberry of the year!

Just a regular day around the house — hard hat, necklaces, lei, Home Depot apron, Superman cape, and backpack on, with paint stirrer in hand.

Falling in love with my backyard a little more every time a new flower blooms!

Who doesn’t love a trip to the hardware store?

At the end of June I finally became a biking mom. I can’t figure out why I didn’t start sooner. On our first day we rode to Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, the library, and Otto in a fraction of the time it would’ve taken us to walk. I’m hooked!

Free delivery by these two.

We finally finished planting at the end of the month!

May 2017

Tim started the month with trips to New York, Austin, and Chicago, so the boys and I found our own fun. One rainy day we went to Imagine for hours of indoor play with no mess for me to clean up.

“Tim – we luv u so mch.”

Soren decided he’d like to start wearing bow ties to school. No complaints from me!

Had to document the day Soren read an “Old Navy” tag and realized it’s not actually called “Old Maybe” like the thought.

On my birthday Tim took the boys to the waterfront for visits to the Fire Museum and the ICA. Fine by me!

Some art project or another at the ICA.

I spent my day at Brimfield, where I got this cute whale belt buckle, among other small gems.

On the day after Mother’s Day, I had to laugh at the contrast from the day before. One day we’re pampered and praised, the next day we’re swimming in laundry, food spills, dirty dishes, and crayon on the walls.

Soren and his BFF had a sweet goodbye as her family prepped to leave for China for the summer.

Shaw’s favorite spot in the library.

I love when Tim whisks the kids away for a morning of hiking.

Tim gets to take the kids to church on his own some Sundays when I need travel around to different congregations in our stake. Sometimes the kids actually keep each other entertained during sacrament meeting!

Shaw boy had his first real illness! He was SO lethargic, so we had lots of snuggle time while he dozed on and off. He made it to 18 months without ever having baby Tylenol!

Only 4 years old, but he lost his first tooth! He had a hard time figuring out which smile would show the gap best.

My dear friend Marci came to Boston with her husband for a conference, so we got to catch up one Saturday. We hadn’t seen each other in 10 years! We visited SOWA, tried lots of food trucks, walked through the Common and the Public Garden, and rode the swan boats.

Boston Common all decked out for Memorial Day.

Soren and I rode the carousel and topped off our day with a to-die-for ice cream/cookie sandwich.

Soren snapped this photo of me. I don’t think he meant to make it a chest shot, but I liked the way he captured my title.

Sunday morning family hike.

After 9 months in our house we decided it was time to tackle the front “yard.” It seemed easier to start from scratch, so we went from this…

to this!

UppaBaby has my heart, and I loved taking my old, beat up stroller in for a free tune up. They gave me some spiffy new wheels and a new handle bar, then cleaned the whole thing up. Good as new (almost)!

April 2017

We kicked off our April with a general conference weekend. I can’t say the kids were this attentive the entire time, but we had a solid start!

I’ve never taken the kids to Ben & Jerry’s free cone day for fear of the lines, but it turns out it was a breeze. We got a miracle parking spot in Harvard Square, and we didn’t have to wait for our ice cream! Totally worth it. (I even tried to share my ice cream with Shaw — I figured at 18 months he at least deserved a taste. But he was NOT interested.)

Tim’s parents came to town for a few days. Drumlin Farm is always extra fun with friends.

Cambridge Common in coats.

We cleared some space in our backyard for a trampoline, which meant we had to pull out the weird metal pole that was cemented into the ground. Only took three guys and a handful of kids.

Middlesex Fells fun.

This is typical Shaw — covered in dirt, making a grumpy face.

How cute are these two BFFs? Reading in their recliners like an elderly couple.

We went to our traditional Good Friday egg hunt with friends in Cambridge.

Soren’s first year in the older kids division!

I love this scene — cuddles and books.

Our church also had an Easter egg hunt. Never gets old.

Happy Easter from the great-grandparents. Nothing like a solid chocolate bunny.

Marathon Monday!

We had an MFA membership for a year, and it wasn’t until our last visit that we discovered the courtyard.

Saturday morning park renovations.

We drove to New York to find my parents along the Appalachian Trail. They’re thru-hiking all summer, so we had to catch them when they were ready for a weekend break. The trail goes through a small zoo, complete with a Walt Whitman statue.

In the weeks leading up to our visit with the hikers, Tim talked nonstop about taking them to a Chinese buffet, since that was what thru hikers were supposed to do. It ended up being a most fascinating people-watching experience.

We met up with the Laidlaw-Morrises at a cute goat farm in Poughkeepsie. Soren decorated one of the farm cats with dandelions.

This is how we drove around all weekend. “We shoulda gotten a minivan!” Tim says.

March 2017

Our Austin fun continued with a visit to the wildlife rescue zoo.

Shaw and Charlotte had a few brief moments as friends.

We took a hike to beautiful Hamilton Pool — picture-perfect setting!

Lots of rock throwing/skipping.

Camilla arranged a babysitter, so we had an actual date night complete with dinner and a show (The Second City).

Felt pretty strange to stay out past midnight!

Made it through another flight. Soren and I played some games and read a lotta books.

Shaw did some sleeping and some screaming (probably… I can’t actually remember).

While we waited for our luggage in Boston we noticed a group of guys who looked like they might be from some kinda sports team. I spied enough to figure out that they were the Harlem Globetrotters (saw the logos on their bags). I pulled up some YouTube videos to show Soren what they were all about. With some prodding, Soren approached a couple of them to ask if that’s who they were. He showed them the videos and they confirmed it was them! They gave Soren some souvenir sweatbands.

My parents arrived the day we got home from Texas. Pappy completed some house projects while Grandmama wooed Shaw.

Pappy spoiled Soren with more than one pizza lunch after preschool.

A fellow parent sent me this pic from preschool one morning…

Toddlers are the weirdest.

Trash day. Never gets old.

We went to the diner one Saturday morning for brunch. Obviously the whipped cream is the best part.

When quiet time turns into nap time.

I started hosting an open house-style family history night once a month for anyone to come work on their family history. Ellen Patton (photographer of this shot) dubbed it “family history cafe.”

Sometimes Tim takes pictures of the food he makes.

Always plenty of scooters at the library.

This is where homeless people live. Not sure why my people are up there.

Always fun to see pics of what goes on in Primary at church.

This was the first day Shaw ever wore shoes — in his whole almost-17 months. Finally walking!

Sometimes on Fridays I’m completely burned out. So Tim comes to my rescue and sends me out the door with instructions to take care of myself. On this Friday afternoon I bought a new throw pillow, enjoyed the best sandwich (and cookies) at Flour, and caught up on work.

February 2017

Hasn’t been a super snowy winter — yet. Soren must not remember what 108″ feels like, because he called this 1″ storm “the funnest snow day” he’s ever had.

I forget, but the video above might have been taken on the same day I was verbally assaulted on the bus by a crazy woman. Her opinion was that my stroller was too big and was inconveniencing other riders. (The bus was nearly empty.) At first I ignored her, since I was quite sure she wasn’t one to be open to having her mind changed. But then I decided I didn’t want to sit back while she criticized by beloved stroller. So I politely assured her my stroller was ideal for hauling groceries and navigating Boston’s bumpy sidewalks. But she insisted it was just wrong of me to use such a stroller. Eventually the bus driver chimed in and told the woman to stop harassing me. I made sure to call a “Have a nice day!” as she exited the bus.

We headed to Drumlin Farm one warm day in February. Still some snow on the ground, but mostly squishy mud! It had been pajama day at school, so we turned it into pajama day at the farm.

Now this snow is more like it! Thank you to all the neighbors who shovel a wide enough path for my stroller! Nothing gets my blood boiling like poorly shoveled walks. I may have called the non-emergency dispatch line to report a business or two that hadn’t shoveled very well. Felt vindicated when I saw a business owner out re-shoveling later that day.

A snapshot of our fancy and romantic Valentine’s dinner. I’m wearing a stained sweatshirt, Soren is reading at the table, Shaw is probably throwing pad Thai all over the restaurant. Just another day!

Kids are the weirdest. For a few days I kept finding letters in cups of water. Who knows why!

We recently discovered Mucky Kids open studio in Cambridge and could not love it more. All the art projects you can imagine, and I don’t have to initiate or clean up a thing! Liz is the most calm and patient teacher/artist.

Two boys, one canvas.

We went to a movie! It was the first time we’d seen a movie together in FIVE years. We were a little late to leave the house, so we ran to the theater (like actually ran on our feet). Running and seeing a movie — two things Tim dreams of us doing together!

Tim’s grandparents sent Soren a card with money enclosed for a family ice cream trip. Perfect!

Boys’ day out — a train ride to Harvard Square, plus the Harvard Natural History Museum.

Scooting through Harvard Yard.

My two favorite monkeys.

The MFA is always our favorite vacation week spot. On this day we sketched ducks (a la the Make Way for Ducklings exhibit), did a family art tour, and watched a great puppet show.

Then we traded in our snow boots for cowboy boots. Time for the annual Texas trip! This year was extra special since Tim came along.

Plenty of livestock…

Front row seats for the pig races!

This little petting zoo was the weirdest. All the animals — and people — simply roam free. Soren is boxed in here by a llama and a couple sheep.

I’m still surprised he wasn’t freaked out by being face to face with these guys.

Next up, bumper cars (and selfies).

Soren’s face in the video below is pretty much my favorite thing in the world.

And then a family ferris wheel ride! We were able to squeeze both adults and all five kids in one car. I love this sisters pic!

Ferris wheel selfie — everyone made it into the shot except for nervous Faye.

Evidence of a day well spent — five snoozers!

Sunshine, a huge backyard, and plenty of dirt and buckets. We love suburban vacations!

We went to a Mexican market in San Antonio then stumbled upon a fun dance performance.

I don’t even know what this was about.

Total dad move — pushing a low stroller through fountains, completely soaking baby’s bottom half.

Shaw made himself right at home in Camilla’s house in Austin.

What a fun neighborhood hike!

Soren insisted on carrying this stupid giant rock on our hike back up to the car. Slowest pace ever.

Austin truly is as weird and quirky as everyone says. See if you can find Soren in this graffiti park!

That’s Tim waving from way up top (with Shaw and Soren).

Christmas card photo?

Pizza/park night.

January 2017

Started the new year in VA with the fam. Soren helped Pappy with a few outdoor projects, including filling in holes in the driveway. (They also looked under a manhole cover, made a wrecking ball with Truman, watched a hibernating turtle, and more. I love my kid roaming free in the backyard and woods with Pappy as his guide!)

Back in Boston… I asked Soren one morning what he wanted to do while I showered. He said he’d like to copy words out of a book. Fine by me!

Still not walking, but definitely climbing!

One afternoon Soren told me, “Look, Mom! It’s Martin Luther King, Jr.! He has light skin, and he tells all the light skin people they can use the drinking fountain!” I think there MIGHT have been some confusion after a week of MLK talk at preschool. I think we cleared things up, but I’m not entirely sure!

Sometimes things get very quiet when Soren and Ophelia are playing. I usually find them both reading — sometimes this will go on for 30 minutes.

We had an errand to run at the mall, which is pretty unheard of in our family. I don’t know if Shaw had ever been in a mall before in his life. And Soren’s mind was blown when I showed him the LEGO store.

We spent a frigid afternoon at the Stone Zoo. Pretty close views of this cute black bear!

I loved taking my little people to the Boston Women’s March. It was a perfectly beautiful and warm day (following the very dreary inauguration day).

I’ve been printing photos and finding art for my new picture ledges. I ordered this one from the lovely Leslie Graff, and I LOVE it.

We went to a Harvard hockey game for my Bosto-versary. (Thanks, Harvard, for the free tix.) The Zamboni love is still strong.

And, of course, a Boston-themed treat for the special day. We usually favor Modern Pastry, but sometimes you just need a florentine!