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Cullen is 4.5!

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

It’s time for Cullen’s next letter…he turned 4 and a half on July 22nd. (more…)

The Sunday Somethings, 26jan14 and 02feb14

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

Something that makes me happy: Seeing the kids play in the snow (but I’m not so excited about making up snow days!).

Something I’m thinking: I’m thinking usually this time of year isn’t too busy, but we’re crazy busy this year. Only part of it is the cruise that we’re taking in a few weeks.

Something I’m hoping: I’m hoping that we do not have any more crazy wintery weather. I’m officially ready for Spring.

Something happening around the house: The house has been in a perpetual state of disaster with all of us at home a bit more than normal. Poor Gabe is used to a nice, quiet house during the work week. He’ll be happy to get back to that!

Something I’m reading: I finished The Selection. I also finished Sand, and I didn’t like it was well as Wool. It was still entertaining enough. I’m now reading The Returned, and I want to see the show.

Something Gabe is reading: Gabe finished The Golem and the Jinni. He started and finished The Ocean at the End of the Lane. He’s now reading Sand.

Something I’m watching: I’m not *really* watching the Super Bowl, but I am rooting for certain point combinations since we played a squares game at the Super Bowl party.

Something I’m playing: We have played some new games with the kids lately. They received several board games at Christmas. We have been playing Robot Turtles, Max the Cat, Too Many Monkeys, and Gobblet Gobblers. I’m a little sad to report that all four of us are playing Candy Crush. All four of us have also been playing Mario 3D Worlds on the Wii U.

Something I’m creating: I finished Cullen’s 4th birthday letter and I’ve been working on our 2013 photobook. I really want to finish it before our cruise.

Something tasty: I’ve been using MyFitnessPal to track calories, but I gave myself a holiday today since we went to a Super Bowl party. We had all kinds of yummy stuff there.

Something about both kiddos: The kids were so excited about the snow. We got about 3 or 4 inches, which is more than we have gotten in more than 3 years. I don’t think either kid really remembers our last “big” snow. The snow was very powdery, so they didn’t get to make a snowman. They still attempted to make snowballs, and they mostly threw them at Daddy. It was hilarious to see the powder fly. They were so happy. The snow stayed around on our grass for a couple of days, so they were able to play the next day as well. Last weekend, the monthly book club meeting was a field trip to see a play. We saw Hansel and Gretel. The next day, we went to see the Pinkalicious musical. That was a lot better than we expected! Gabe and I even enjoyed it. It had some humor for the adults, and it seemed to be better quality than several of the other plays from the kid series. Since my last update, we’ve taken the kids to lunch twice in the cafe at work. The first time was on Maddie’s holiday for MLK, and the second was one of the “snow” days when our roads were clear (but roads in other parts of the county were not).

Something Maddie is doing (5.5 years old): Maddie was probably the most excited of all of us to get snow. She didn’t have to go to school on Tuesday in anticipation of the snow to start falling at about noon. Unfortunately, the snow didn’t start falling until 5pm Tuesday night. We got about 3-4 inches overnight, so of course school was closed again on Wednesday. Temperatures were quite cold, so of course that means ice on the roads in the south. Our roads were fine, so we weren’t totally stuck at home for four days at least. Maddie’s school was again closed on Thursday AND Friday. So now we have FOUR Saturday make up days. I guess that’s one disadvantage to year round school! The first make up day was supposed to be yesterday, but that day got cancelled for continued icy roads. Maddie has school for the next two Saturdays. This isn’t going to be very convenient for us, but we will figure it out. I’m disappointed that she is going to miss her last two rollerblading lessons. She has been doing so well in that class, and her coaches felt that she could move up to the advanced class. We definitely want to sign her up for that, but we may have to skip a session given the number of Saturday plans (and snow make up days) that we have. Maddie celebrated her 100th day at school. I had fun volunteering in the classroom and manned the fruit loop necklace station. The kids also had a station where they built towers from 100 cups, one where they made their afternoon snack (10 of each of the 10 items), one with a 100-day book (with 10 items on 10 pages), and one with a coloring, cutting and pasting activity. It was such a fun morning, and Maddie loves having me in the classroom. We went to lunch after where I watched her eat lunch. I love the opportunity to volunteer, and I know that we will have less and less opportunities as she gets older! Maddie has been enjoying her dance/tumbling class more, but she doesn’t seem to love the hip hop part of it. She looks so nervous and doesn’t participate in that part. She wants to sign up for a gymnastics class with Sophie, so I hope we’ll be able to make that happen after our vacation. Maddie has a project at school where she was supposed to interview a community helper. She decided she wanted to interview a teacher, so she interviewed our neighbor. She is supposed to dress up as her community helper and do a presentation tomorrow. I made her an id badge on a lanyard in a card holder so she looks more official. Otherwise, she’s just going to look like she does any other day!

Something Cullen is doing (4 years old): Cullen is now four years old! We brought cupcakes to his classroom for his birthday. He was so cute when his classmates were singing to him. They all surrounded him while they sang, and he was grinning ear to ear. I loved that. He loved having us there, and of course the cupcakes were a bit hit. That night, we went out to eat with his BFF. Melissa and Jason were able to join us as well. The kids got a little crazy in the restaurant. He requested Zoe’s Kitchen as he loves the “kid roll ups” there (basically a rolled up chicken quesadilla). We had a little cake, so Cullen had quite a few treats that day! The cake had chocolate frosting, and he got a little crazy after it. We’re going to avoid chocolate as well as we can for a while. He’s sensitive to it (maybe it’s the caffeine?). We’ve also made a direct correlation between strawberries and reddened cheeks. We have noticed this before, but it has been more than confirmed with his recent exposures. We’re not sure whether we will completely avoid them, but we are considering taking him to an allergist for their opinion. We know that there are other things in his diet that cause a rash type reaction, but we haven’t figured them all out just yet. Cullen said the other day, “when I grow up like a Mommy, I want hair like yours. No, wait, I want to be just like you! Then there will be two Kerrys.” Cullen always wants to sit next to the pianist in the cafe. He had a great time on Friday, and the pianist played some special songs for him. Cullen is still obsessed with playing Daddy’s iPad. We’re trying to limit his time. We’ve thought about coming up with some system where he can earn iPad time for good behaviors and tasks around the house. He’s been a sweet boy, and he will often tell me that he loves me. Every morning, when we leave the house, he tells Daddy, “Goodbye! I love you! I hope you have a good day at work.”

Something I’m looking forward to: We are thinking about the Lego Minibuild this Tuesday. I have a rescheduled book club meeting (since we had to cancel last Wednesday due to the weather). Maddie has another dance/tumbling class. We have a gaming weekend, so we’re trying to figure out the logistics of how we’re going to get to play games and manage the kids. Cullen has a birthday party to attend and Maddie has school on Saturday. Next week, I have a haircut, and Maddie has an early release day. She has school on that Saturday, and we are officially celebrating Cullen’s birthday with The Lego Movie with a couple of his buddies and their families. My parents are coming to visit and celebrate with us.

Something captured:

The Sunday Somethings, 29dec13 and 05jan14

Monday, January 6th, 2014

Something that makes me happy: Group photos for events and vacations. I always regret it a little when I don’t make everyone pose for a group photo! I love having them later.

Something I’m thinking: I couldn’t live somewhere where the single digit temperatures and lower are common. Brr!

Something happening around the house: Legos everywhere!

Something I’m reading: I’m partway through both The Golem and the Jinni and Lexicon. I intend to finish both of those, but I had to take a break from the first one so that I could read Lexicon for this month’s book club. I finished the 4th book in The Book of Ember and read the first part of Sand by Hugh Howey. I also read (and recommend) a novel by a friend, An Uncertain Faith by Allie Potts.

Something Gabe is reading: He read the first part of Sand and is now reading The Golem and the Jinni.

Something I’m watching: We have caught up on most of our shows, and we watched the Downton Abbey premiere last night! The kids have been watching a ton of Ninjago now that Cullen has the first two seasons of the show on DVD.

Something I’m playing: 12-person Telestrations, Big Boggle, Village… not sure what else. Oh, and I’ve been playing Pikmin 3 on the Wii U. Fun!

Something I’m creating: I’ve been working hard on photobooks! I started and finished my WwDC/San Francisco book from last year, and I’m about halfway through my 2013 photobook. That one will be challenging to fit into one volume, but I think I can do it.

Something tasty: I was going to make some cookie dough truffles, but so far I’ve just been pinching off pieces of the eggless cookie dough. Yum! The best thing that I’ve had in a while was the Creme Brulee from the fancy dinner that we had with Gabe’s parents as part of their Christmas gifts from us.

Something about both kiddos: We had a wonderful Christmas, despite a little bit of illness at the beginning of our holiday break. We were supposed to spend Christmas Eve with friends, but nobody wanted to spread germs. We made chex mix and decorated sugar cookies. We did some crafts. We had a great time and read The Grinch and The Night Before Christmas before bedtime in preparation for Santa’s visit. The kids had a slumber party in Maddie’s room and were asleep fairly quickly. Santa visited early and finished depositing the gifts and filling our stockings by 10pm. The kids were excited, and Christmas morning started with stockings followed by opening Santa gifts. We had red and green pancakes (with chocolate chips) for breakfast. We lounged around in our pajamas all day. The next day, we celebrated with friends and Gabe’s parents arrived that evening. On New Year’s Eve, we had our usual games night party. It was a fun, chaotic evening, and we let the kids stay up as late as they wanted. Cullen made it until 11:30pm when he decided he wanted to lay down in our bed and promptly fell asleep. Maddie made it to 12:15am and watched the ball drop. She was so excited to have stayed up that late. They both need to work on thank you notes for all the wonderful presents they received, and they still have a few more presents to open. We like to spread out Christmas a little! The kids are getting along together fabulously (with the exception of our usual breakfast table drama where Cullen doesn’t want Maddie looking at him). They play with Legos, Ninjago, art projects, and more. I love how much they adore each other. They are still taking their sports lessons.

Something Maddie is doing (5.5 years old): Maddie and I worked on her science fair project last night. She is testing the strength of three different configurations of six sheets of origami paper (cube, tubes, and flat sheets). Her hypothesis was that the paper rolls/tubes would be the strongest, and she was disappointed to find out that she was wrong. She seemed satisfied that being wrong was part of being a scientist and doing science experiments. She did five different trials and recorded her observations and counts in her lab notebook. We will need to gather the results and make her presentation board by next week. Santa’s main gifts for Maddie were legos, the rainbow loom, and a kindle fire. She has made numerous bracelets since then, and it was cute when she loomed with the neighbors. Other gifts from friends and family included a Lalaloopsy doll (something she kept asking for), a bracelet craft set, Lego sets, a fancy art set, board games (shared with her brother), and new books. Maddie still loves the Legos, but she doesn’t sit and put them together for long periods of time. Her attention span isn’t as great as it used to be for that, but hopefully that is just a phase. Maddie has decided that she also likes Ninjago and plays battles and other imagination games with her brother. I think she has enjoyed the show, but she also learned that her brother will engage with her more if she’s willing to play what he wants to play.

Something Cullen is doing (3.5 years old): He barfed on the way into his classroom on December 23rd, which was supposed to be our last day of work and daycare. We started our break a little earlier, and he shared a bit of the stomach bug with me. At bedtime one evening, Cullen asked Daddy, “Daddy, is the Grinch a real person?” Gabe said, “No.” Cullen replied, “How do you know?” Daddy: “He’s just a story by Dr. Seuss.” Cullen: “Sometimes you’re not right about things.” Cullen also has said to Maddie several times recently when she has been singing, “Maddie do you think anyone wants to hear that? Nobody wants to hear that.” Cullen has had a rough time at nights, and he has been crawling into our bed in the middle of the night at least every other night. He was doing pretty well over the break, but he has resumed that pattern the last few days. I hope that it’s a short phase. Santa’s main gifts to Cullen were Ninjago spinners, Legos, and Star Wars DVDs. He has loved playing with his numerous minifigures and new Ninjago sets and spinners. Other gifts included race cars and a car track, more spinners, Ninjago DVDs, more Ninjago lego sets, and a Ninjago encyclopedia which may now be his favorite book ever. I think it’s safe to say that Ninjago was the theme of Cullen’s Christmas. He’s still crazy about Ninjago, obviously. He’s really enjoying all of his new things, and I love to watch him play with the figures and built sets. He doesn’t have the attention span to put big Lego sets together right now, but he does enjoy playing with the final result.

Something I am struggling with: Writing these reports…

Something I’m doing towards my goals: Finishing my photobooks!

Something I’m looking forward to: I’m reading to Maddie’s class on Friday, and I’m volunteering in a couple weeks for their 100-day celebration. I’m not looking forward to Gabe being out of town for a couple of days next week for a business trip. He’s going to miss Maddie’s science fair, too. Boo.

Something captured: Gabe’s family with Mickey ears – we’re ready for the cruise!

The Sunday Somethings, 10nov13

Sunday, November 10th, 2013

Something that makes me happy: It was several weeks ago now, but I love our anniversary tradition of going to a fancy restaurant that neither of us have experienced. I also love that we have a photo from each one!

Something I’m hoping: I hope that our nephew continues to heal swiftly from his awful, scary car accident. He has a long road ahead of him, and we have been thinking about him constantly in the past two weeks.

Something happening around the house: Our roof is finished! We still have to work with insurance and the roofers to get all the payments squared away. We also have a little interior part of the project left from the water leak last year.

Something I’m reading: I finished Steelheart, and I loved it! I look forward to reading more in that series whenever it gets released. I read Bad Monkey, which is one of our upcoming book club selections. I struggled to get through it, but I was stubborn and finished it. I didn’t enjoy it. Next, I read Once Upon Stilettos which is the second book in the Enchanted, Inc. series. I read the first one a while ago, and I don’t know why it took me so long to read the second one! I rather enjoyed it and look forward to reading the next one. It is a light, fluffy sort of read, and that’s exactly what I needed. Next was a quick read, Ajax Penumbra. I’m not sure I like the trend of authors putting out mini-books as spin offs from their series or other novels. I enjoyed reading it well enough, and it had a lot of fun little bits. Overall, it was just too short and sweet for me to rate it too highly. I’m now reading the first book of The Demon Cycle, The Warded Man. I’m liking that one so far!

Something Gabe is reading: Gabe finished Emperor of Thorns. He also read Steelheart, and now he’s reading The Daylight War which is the third book of The Demon Cycle.

Something I’m watching: Wow, I have been pretty slack on my Somethings… I can’t believe that I haven’t written since before our anniversary. On our anniversary, we saw Gravity, and we were both captivated. I thought it was fantastic, and it’s very likely that it will end up being our favorite theater movie of the year.

Something I’m playing: I’m not sure what else we might have played in the past several weeks, but last night for our small, rescheduled, last minute games night I played Dungeon Pets and Forbidden Island. Gabe played Kingdom Builder and Forbidden Island.

Something tasty: Chicken and waffles from Beasley’s! Yum!

Something I’m creating: I polished off the October 2012 Disney book and started the 2012 family memories photo book. I can’t wait to finish that one. I find the trip albums to be a lot easier to organize than the general photobooks (now that I’m not doing them chronologically – no way to fit everything into one book if I don’t group things into categories!). I guess by the time I finished the 2012 family book, it will be time to do the 2013 book! One day, I might catch up… I also have two more trip books to do from 2013.

Something about both kiddos: The kids both enjoyed another kid book club. October’s kid book club had a Halloween theme, and we had a fun costume party to celebrate. Activities included decorating a small pumpkin, some outdoor games, turning each other into toilet paper mummies, guess the body part (wow that sounds odd out of context – things like grapes represented eyes, cauliflower for brains, and they body parts were hidden from view to touch and guess what they were supposed to represent and later what they really were), and a Halloween themed votive jar. We also had lunch with monster mac ‘n’ cheese, mummy dogs, and sugar cookies. The kids are still doing rollerblading and soccer. The lessons seem to be dragging on forever this time. We will probably be doing different things after this session. Cullen still wants to take violin, and Maddie wants to do gymnastics with Sophie. The kids and I missed Daddy while he was out of town visiting with his family after our nephew’s accident. He was gone for four days. We tried going around the table at dinner Friday night, indicating one thing at a time that we were thankful for (and we were not allowed to repeat anything that had been said previously). It was fun to see what the kids would say. My favorite that Cullen said was, “I’m thankful that Daddy is going to let me play his iPad after dinner.” That was some nice wishful thinking! Maddie came up with some great ones like “love,” “electricity,” and “trees.” She was thankful for trees partially because of the pretty fall colors and the giant leaf pile in our front yard. But she also was thankful to trees because they give us oxygen and because we can make paper out of them and she loves to draw. Our thankful dinner was a good variation on good/bad. I took the kids to see the live Dora show last Sunday while Gabe was gone. I thought it was the worst production out of the series in terms of entertainment value for adults, but the kids enjoyed it. Fortunately, both kids agreed that they don’t really like Dora as much anymore, so I doubt we’ll be going to any more live Dora productions. I got some cute photos of the kids wearing their Christmas/Santa outfits. Also, while Daddy was out of town, we went to a birthday party with a camping theme and a fun magician. The kids were highly entertained by the magician! It was fun to see all the kids so happy. They both love Zoe’s kitchen. Maddie likes the grilled chicken and fruit and Cullen likes the chicken and cheese kid roll ups and fruit. It’s a good, newer restaurant that we’ve added to our rotation. We had a fun Halloween! Maddie was Sofia the First, and Cullen was a stormtrooper. We went trick or treating with our neighbor’s grandson and the grandson’s cousin. We had a great time sharing the fun with them, and the four kids were adorable. The kids designed their own jack-o-lanterns this year, and they turned out to be quite cute. We were running out of time to carve the pumpkins, but I’m glad that we made some time to do it after all.

Something Maddie is doing (5.5 years old): Things seem to be going pretty well for Maddie at school, and we are pleased to see that she’s showing her teachers some of the things that she can do. Apparently, she started a book making trend in her classroom. Maddie loves making little books! She’s still very interested in art projects and writing. She’s doing very well with her reading. She does some independent reading at school, but it’s hard to get her to read to herself at home. She does enjoy reading to us, so that is good! I look forward to her doing more reading while curled up on the couch with a book (or a kindle!). I know I spent countless hours reading in my childhood! We had a good meeting with Maddie’s teacher and AG coordinator, and they will be providing services within her classroom and outside of the classroom. I’m very pleased with their response so far! We had a play date with one of her classmates. He lives in a neighborhood behind ours, and we can walk through the woods to get to his house. I’m glad that Maddie is making friends! Of course, it may have backfired a little bit since Maddie got in trouble a few times the following week due to extra socializing with her new friend! Maddie had a birthday party to attend at a bounce house for one of her preschool friends. She enjoyed seeing some of her old friends! She also got a massive goose egg on her forehead after colliding with a friend. Ouch! It showed up immediately as a huge bump and bruise. It was a bit scary! The bruise is still healing and going through various stages of purple, green, and yellow. I hope it goes away soon!

Something Cullen is doing (3.5 years old): Cullen is making friends in his class, and we are so happy. He talks about playing with Austin on a daily basis. They seem to be two peas in a pod. He’s gotten into Ninjago as a result and is all about spinning around like crazy and using anything he can find as a ninja weapon (the other day, it was a toilet brush). Cullen did have a bad experience with a classmate’s birthday party. None of the kids acknowledged him or wanted to play with him, though many of the kids were not from his class. I think that made him a bit sad. Cullen and Maddie got into a fight while Gabe was out of town. I was trying to talk to our nephew on the phone, and within three minutes they were screaming at each other. They hit and pushed each other, and when I found them Cullen’s face was all bloody. He had hit his nose on the fireplace, I guess? It was scary for me as I wasn’t sure where the blood was coming from or whether a trip to the Urgent Care or ER was needed. Fortunately, he looked much better after I cleaned him up. Cullen had his first fall parade at preschool. He was such a happy boy parading around with a teacher who was dressed up as Princess Leia! We saw some big smiles out of him as he paraded around the circle. While Gabe was out of town, Cullen woke me up one night with a wet bed and wet pajamas. I got him cleaned up and replaced his pajamas and sheets with fresh ones. About 10 minutes after I put him to bed, he appeared downstairs and tried to climb into my bed. I told him that he needed to get back to his room. He said, “no, I’m scared.” I said there was no reason to be scared and that he needs to go to his bed. He replied, “but I think there’s something scary in my room!” “Cullen, there’s nothing scary in your room, I was just there, and everything is fine.” “I think there’s a long-necked animal under my covers!” “Um, you think there’s a giraffe in your bed??” I went up to check for giraffes and tuck him back into bed. When I declared the bed to be giraffe free, he said, “Maybe I didn’t actually see it. Maybe I just used my imagination.”

Something I am struggling with: Apparently, Gabe and I don’t get out much. On our anniversary, we attempted to leave the fancy restaurant without paying our bill! The waiter had to flag us down in the parking lot to let us know that we kinda needed our check. How embarrassing! We then took an “interesting” route to the movie theater, showed up to the movie quite early, and proceeded to accidentally walk into the last five minutes of gravity before realizing that the previous showing wasn’t finished yet. Maybe we need more practice going out!

Something I’m doing towards my goals: I’ve been keeping up with my photos pretty well, even with the barrage of October photos. I’ve been doing a pretty good job of deleting more than 75% of the photos that we take.

Something I’m looking forward to: Maddie is tracked out until after Thanksgiving! She’s going to art camp again for 2.5 of the weeks, and then a new camp for the partial week of Thanksgiving. The kids both have dental appointments on Wednesday, and we have an appointment to renew Maddie’s passport. We have a picnic and play date with a couple of Cullen’s classmates planned. Gabe has his trip to Cincinnati with his mom to see the Bengals play.

Something captured: The kids with me at the Dora show last weekend.

The Sunday Somethings, 14jul13

Sunday, July 14th, 2013

Something that makes me happy: Maddie and I have been working on putting together the Lego R2-D2. It’s quite a project!

Something I’m thinking: It’s hard to believe that Maddie is actually in kindergarten now full time! I’m having a hard time wrapping my brain around that concept.

Something I’m hoping: I hope that Maddie has a great first full week of kindergarten.

Something happening around the house: We’ll be preparing for guests this coming weekend! Gabe’s parents are coming for a quick visit.

Something I’m reading: I finally finished the 3rd Molly Fyde, and I think I’ll be taking a break from Molly. I like it well enough to continue the series, but I didn’t enjoy the 3rd one that much. I’ll still read the 4th, but I need to read some other things first. I’m reading Requiem (book 3 of the Delirium series).

Something Gabe is reading: He’s still reading Blood Song.

Something I’m watching: I’m watching Gabe play Super Mario Brothers for the Wii U.

Something I’m playing: I played a little Super Mario Brothers as well and a little Letterpress.

Something I’m creating: As I mentioned, I’ve been working on R2-D2. I also finished my 2011 photobook, finally! I need to run through everything and proof it. I’m so happy to have that finished! Next, I’ll have to do 2012…or maybe one of the two Disney trips…decisions, decisions. I’ll probably do the 2012 book first since the trips are easier than the general year albums.

Something tasty: The Maui Wowie pizza from Mellow Mushroom that we had delivered to our house this week.

Something Maddie is doing (5 years old): Maddie had big week with her last day of preschool, first day of kindergarten, and a special day of fun (since no kindergarteners attended on Friday). Her final day of preschool was Wednesday, and it was her last sprinkler day as well. It was also Cullen’s sprinkler day, so I thought that was cool that they were able to spend parts of Maddie’s last day together. On her last day, they had a special ceremony in the classroom (without parents) where all the kids and teachers said goodbye to her and gave her hugs. The teachers presented her with a special album of photos and messages reflecting on her 2.5 years at Children’s House. Maddie requested a dinner of cereal and strawberries as her night before school dinner, so that’s what she had! Gabe, Cullen, and I dropped her off for the first day. We arrived before the building opened so that she’d have plenty of time to get settled before the official start. The first week of kindergarten has a staggered entry, and each kindergartener is assigned a day (Monday through Thursday). Since our track (track 2) has two teachers, we didn’t know our teacher until after the first day. Maddie was apprehensive when we first walked into the classroom, but after she sat at her table a few minutes, she barely said goodbye to us when we left. We thought Cullen was going to have a meltdown, because he wanted to stay in the classroom with Maddie! We were surprised at how well the drop off went! We both went to pick her up at the end of the day, and we had our first experiences with the horrendous pick up line. It was even worse than usual because it was pouring down rain the whole time. It took a while to get her, and the first thing she said when she got into the car is that she wanted ice cream. I had promised that we would try a new frozen yogurt place when I picked her up, and I will say she never forgets promises like that! She talked a little bit about her day, but she didn’t say too much until later. Maddie and I went to Orange Leaf, a new to us froyo place. So far, it’s probably my favorite of the 3 that we’ve tried! By dinner, she was talking more about her day. She told us about all the tests the teachers did (she figured out she was being tested!) and that she got “lots of check marks, but not all of the check marks.” She did some reading, and she gave us an example of what she read in a very bored-this-is-so-easy voice, “The man gave the boy a balloon. Here it is.” Most of our fears were alleviated in the first day! Only one other girl was there for her staggered entry day, so she was disappointed about that. She still worries about making friends. She told me at bedtime, “I’m not scared of kindergarten anymore, even if I don’t have any friends.” We were glad to finally find out who our teacher is! Of course, we don’t know either teacher very well yet, but we were glad to find out who we had and to finally get a supply list! On Friday, Maddie and I had a special day of fun. We picked up Melissa who joined us for most of the day and went to drop Cullen off at school. The kids were excited to show Melissa their classrooms! Maddie was a rockstar with her friends! They swarmed her and gave her hugs. She’d only been gone for a day, but everything had changed in the meantime. It’s a big deal when the kids go off to kindergarten! From there, we headed to Pullen Park where the weather magically cooperated. It’s been raining almost every day for weeks. We rode the carousel, had Loco Pops, played on the play structures, did some swinging, rode the train, and Maddie rode the kiddie boats. The three of us went to meet Daddy at The Shiny Diner, Maddie’s request for lunch. After lunch, Maddie, Melissa, and I headed to Target where we went school supply shopping. Maddie was so excited to get all of these new things for school. I had my first taste of how complicated school supply shopping can be! After school supply shopping, we went to the mall where we went to Claire’s for hair accessories and a new necklace (she insists she wants to wear her hair in pigtails and such for kindergarten) and to the Lego store for the R2-D2 set. Maddie and I have been putting it together all weekend! She’s putting together about 95% of the pieces herself. It’s a complicated set! After dropping Melissa off at her house, we met Kristin and Chad at our house and all went to dinner together. All in all, Maddie had a fantastic special day and saw some of her favorite people. At night, we have been reading The Penderwicks. It’s the first book that we’ve been reading together that has no pictures, and she seems to be enjoying it. I’m excited because this will open up a new world of books that we can read at night!

Something Cullen is doing (3 years old): So, as you can see, we’ve been rather focused on Maddie lately. Maddie’s transition to kindergarten has had a bigger impact on Cullen than I anticipated. He has been having more meltdowns than usual, clearly looking for some extra attention. He seems to do well when we take a few minutes and give him some extra attention here and there. He already misses having Maddie at school with him, and I think that he’s sad about it. He’s pretty adaptable, so I’m sure he will be fine. It’s just going to be an adjustment for him. He was so excited about his first sprinkler day, especially since he got to bring a book bag with his towel and change of clothes. He wore his bookbag all morning until it was time to go to school. At school this week, one of his teachers offered him several food choices at lunch. After the third option, Cullen says, “that’s some good waitressing, Candice!” That cracked up all of the teachers (and us!). You never know what Cullen is going to say. He’s ramped up with his love of Star Wars, and he’s always running around throwing lasers and swishing light sabers. He’s been getting more into Legos, mostly building random things with random pieces, but he can do some of the sets, too. He’s been successfully pull-up free at night for several weeks with no accidents! I think it’s safe to say that he was ready this time. Lately, he wants to sleep in his underwear with no pajamas.

Something I am struggling with: Allergies! They have been awful lately. I’ve finally determined that I need to get back on a daily allergy medication. I haven’t needed that since before Maddie was born, so I guess my body is returning to it’s normal crabby self.

Something I’m doing towards my goals: I’m working on my photobooks, woohoo!

Something I learned: We finally learned who Maddie’s teacher is! And I learned what a pain school supply shopping can be…

Something I’m looking forward to: This week is Maddie’s first full week of kindergarten. Otherwise, we have a few appointments, an evening with a girlfriend, and a visit from Gabe’s parents. I’m also hosting the kiddo book club (and not nearly ready for it…).

Something random: After having the same manager for around 13 years, I apparently now have a new manager.

Something captured: I took a bunch of photos of Maddie’s first day, of course. Here’s one of those.

New York City: Day 4, part 2, Central Park, Baseball, and Chocolate Fondue

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

After the meal, Melissa and Jason rushed off to the Ed Sullivan Theater where they had tickets to see David Letterman. They had signed up for the lottery, and Jason got a call a few days before we left for NYC. He had to answer some easy trivia questions about the show in order to get the tickets. Gabe and I were a little jealous as they also got to see Will Smith!

Meanwhile, we went to Central Park. Cullen fell asleep on the way, so he slept through our stroll in the park. We ended up doing a bit of walking since we weren’t exactly sure where the carousel was. We wanted to surprise the kids with the carousel since we had been misinformed that it wouldn’t be open on Monday. We stopped at an ice cream cart and Maddie chose a Hello Kitty popsicle. She had a treat filled day!

We found the carousel, and it was running! The look on Maddie’s face when she realized that she was about to ride the carousel was priceless. It was too bad that Cullen missed out on the experience, but he definitely needed his nap. He slept through all the excitement.

Cullen continued to snooze while Maddie climbed all over Central Park rocks.

This was clearly another highlight to her day (and the entire trip).

Cullen was still sleeping when we exited the park to head to the Ed Sullivan Theater to meet Melissa and Jason after the taping. We were supposed to meet them somewhere across the street, but that place turned out to no longer exist! Fortunately, the taping let out right after we arrived, and Melissa and Jason spotted us (and we spotted them). They had a great time at the show!

We split up again, but this time Jason and Gabe headed to the baseball game while Melissa and I took the kids for further adventures. We at a Applejack Diner which was right on Broadway, and we all thoroughly enjoyed sitting on the sidewalk. The food was just ok, but the meal was a great experience. The waitress was very good with the kids and very nice to us. I just thought it was neat to watch the world go by during our meal. I think this was the first time that I had had a meal on a NYC sidewalk.

The big event of the evening was a trip to the Dylan’s Candy Bar and Cafe, or as we called it, “the candy restaurant.” Of course, the kids were excited about that! Melissa and I may have been a little bit excited, too. The restaurant is cute, and we sat inside of one of the cupcake booths (though you can’t tell from this picture). The kids thought the gumball table was really cool.

Melissa had a Sour Patch Kids margarita which was apparently quite sour and yummy.

The kids loved it, of course. I mean what’s not to love about chocolate fondue? We had marshmallows, bananas, strawberries, and gummy worms with the fondue. Cullen was a crazy nut with the marshmallows. He made an absolute mess of his shirt, prompting me to buy stain stick to pre-treat his shirt on the way back to the hotel!

It’s hard to tell whether Maddie was more excited about the chocolate or gummy worms. Both rank pretty highly in her world!

The kids were pretty spoiled on this day as I allowed them to pick out something at the candy store as well. They both picked cute donut pillows (and have been enjoying them ever since! Maddie even uses hers as her regular pillow at night).

Melissa helped me settle the kids down when we got back to the hotel. Needless to say, they were a little bit crazy after all of the treats and excitement of the day.

Meanwhile, Gabe and Jason were at the baseball game. When we found out that the Mets just happened to be playing the Reds while we were in town, we knew that Gabe was meant to go to a game.

They had great seats, and Jason was able to get some nice photos with their SLR.

They even managed to get a picture of the two of them together (which was my only request of the game).

Jason and Gabe were amused by the section of Choo fans in the stands. Apparently, they were Mets fans but also crazy about Choo from the Reds.

The Reds won! Gabe and Jason went to the bar near the hotel after the game, and Gabe was able to experience the tasty philly cheese steak egg rolls. Yum!

Our last full day in NYC was a great one!

New York City: Day 4, part 1, Chocolate and American Girl

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

I had so many photos that I wanted to share from Day 4, so I split it into two posts. As I have been doing, I’ll list the favorites (from the whole day) first.

Maddie’s Favorites

  • having chocolate milk at dinner
  • going to the Hershey store and getting the tin
  • going to M&M’s World and getting the light saber
  • **having lunch at American Girl and getting doll accessories**
  • riding the carousel at Central Park
  • climbing on rocks at Central Park
  • chocolate chip pancakes at dinner
  • **Dylan’s Candy Bar** (she listed this one as a favorite before we even went there saying, “I know what’s *going* to be one of my favorites today!”) (later she referred to it as “well, the candy bar thing”)**
  • having dinner on the sidewalk
  • the Hello Kitty popsicle

Cullen’s Favorites

  • watching the taxis at dinner
  • the Hershey place
  • M&M’s world and getting the light saber
  • dinner on the sidewalk
  • **Dylan’s Candy Bar**

Gabe’s Favorites

  • the baseball game
  • Central Park
  • the kids at American Girl
  • **the look on Maddie’s face when we surprised her with the Central Park carousel**
  • the woman and kids on the subway jeering at him in his Reds shirt and Gabe talking trash back

Kerry’s Favorites

  • **lunch at American Girl**
  • having dinner on the sidewalk
  • the first moment of the kids in the Hershey store
  • seeing Maddie so happy in Central Park
  • Dylan’s Candy Bar

Melissa’s Favorites

  • buying the dogs with Statue of Liberty outfits for Maddie and Cullen
  • **Letterman**
  • dinner on the sidewalk
  • chocolate fondue at Dylan’s Candy Bar
  • Sour Patch Kids Margarita at Dylan’s Candy Bar

Jason’s Favorites

  • the trombone joke at Letterman
  • Will Smith and Summertime
  • the baseball game
  • the Choo fans at the game
  • **Letterman**

Summary and Photos of Day 4

We started with breakfast again around 9am and then headed to the Times Square area where we had been talking about visiting “the chocolate store.” We had planned to go to the toy store as well, but we ran out of time. We started at Hershey’s World which is quite tiny on the inside. I think it’s probably one of the few stores in the world where the signs outside are like ten times bigger than the interior of the store. The kids didn’t seem to care. They were in heaven.

They spent a bit of time browsing the chocolate options.

For some reason, Maddie really wanted to buy baking melts. We wanted to get them something unique to the store and ended up with two Hershey Kiss metal tins with a NYC themed design.

Next, we headed across the street to M&M’s World which is three floors of chocolatey goodness (and related merchandise). The kids picked out unique colored M&Ms.

Oh, and Melissa did, too.

They met the red M&Ms guy.

They were allowed to pick one item from the store (in addition to the special colored M&Ms), and they both decided on the light saber. Cullen very seriously touched his light saber to every M&M pillow in the store.

We saw the same light sabers in a Cracker Barrel the next weekend. So much for getting something unique to NYC! Oh well, the kids had a great time in the store.

We didn’t have time to make a stop at the giant Times Square Toys R Us (and never made it to the store on this trip). We needed to head to our lunch reservations at American Girl so that we’d have a few minutes to browse the store.

The American Girl store is HUGE! It has three big floors of merchandise. If you’ve never been to an American Girl store, it really is a neat place. Sure, they have some crazy prices on some of their dolls and accessories, but it’s fun to “window shop.” The store is almost set up like a museum with all of the dolls and accessories on display.

Both kids had a lot of fun looking around the store. Cullen wanted to bring home another doll. We let them pick out some accessories, and Melissa and Jason surprised them with dogs that look like their dog Hugo (complete with little doggie-sized Statue of Liberty foam crowns).

It really is a fun experience (and no, we didn’t leave the store without spending some money!).

After browsing the store a bit, we were seated for our lunch reservation. They do a nice job with these lunches! Both kids were able to pick a “loaner doll” for the meal since we didn’t want to travel with their dolls just for lunch. We were not surprised that Maddie chose to dine with one of the Bitty Baby dolls.

I had to set a lady straight while we were waiting to be seated. She said to Cullen, “I’ll bet you’d be more excited if they had cars in there!” I said, “Actually, he’s really excited, too, and he has his own Bitty Twins.” Cullen didn’t list the doll store in his favorites at the end of the day, but I know it really did rank up there for him. He was a very happy boy during the meal. He chose to dine with one of the “real” dolls. He liked this one because of her purple dress.

The meal consists of a cinnamon bun starter (Maddie loved the idea of dessert before the meal), an array of fruits and vegetables appetizers, a main course (plenty of kid friendly and adult friendly options to choose from), and a trio of desserts with a pretty presentation. They have a lot of extra details like heart shaped fruits and napkin ring hair ties that you can take home with you. Quite a few girls in the room were celebrating birthdays.

Cullen enjoyed feeding carrots to his doll.

Maddie enjoyed every bit of the meal.

The dessert included a flower pot filled with chocolate mousse and chocolate cookie crumbs and a flower that we could take home with us.

It was a wonderful meal and one of my favorite experiences from the trip. I am glad we were able to get reservations and decided to experience the NYC American Girl Cafe!

New York City: Day 3, Dinosaurs and Rock of Ages

Monday, July 1st, 2013

Starting out, as usual, with favorites!

Maddie’s Favorites

  • getting the penguin

  • the cookie sandwich [dessert at lunch]
  • seeing dinosaurs (especially the one in the foyer)
  • Daddy’s chocolate cake
  • Mommy’s chocolate mousse

Cullen’s Favorites

  • seeing the elephants

  • making the paper bag whale [they had a special whale event, and the kids each participated in a paper bag whale craft]
  • seeing dinosaurs
  • **his new baby dinosaur buddy**
  • the cookie sandwich
  • Mommy’s chocolate mousse

Gabe’s Favorites

  • **the dinosaur tour**

  • being at the museum

Kerry’s Favorites

  • **the dinosaur tour**

  • seeing the kids with their new buddies
  • being at the museum
  • when Maddie said, “next time I’m sharing THAT with somebody” about the chocolate mousse
  • Rock of Ages
  • jello shots at the show
  • the bar and watching karaoke after the show

Melissa’s Favorites

  • the bar before dinner

  • the pear gargonzola pizza at dinner
  • **Rock of Ages**
  • jello shots
  • the bar after the show

Jason’s Favorites

  • **the bar before dinner**

  • lasagne at dinner
  • Rock of Ages
  • jello shots
  • the bar after the show
  • his sazerac
  • bad karaoke

Summary and Photos from Day 3

We had a leisurely start and went to breakfast shortly after 9am. We saw Melissa and Jason at the end of breakfast for a few minutes before they headed to The Great GoogaMooga. The forecast had been a little iffy, and we saw that rain was headed our way by mid-afternoon. Considering that the weather app was showing a 0% chance of rain for the next few hours, we decided to head up to Central Park. Once we gathered the strollers and stepped foot outside of the hotel, we discovered that it was raining. We quickly changed our plans to the American Museum of Natural History. We hadn’t planned to go there, but we knew that the kids would love the dinosaurs!

Unfortunately, every tourist (and maybe even local) in Manhattan was headed to the museum. The subway cars were packed, and we ended up on different cars. Cullen and I weren’t sure whether Gabe and Maddie had made it on the same train. Fortunately, we found them when we got to the museum stop. Then everyone on the train exited at the stop and tried to get into the museum. The museum was extremely crowded and it took us a while to get into the building and then to get our tickets.

As soon as we walked into the museum, we noticed that they had a dinosaur tour starting in less than 5 minutes. Only a few people were waiting for the tour, so we waited with them. Considering how crowded the museum was, this turned out to be a great way to see the dinosaurs! The tour guide who showed us around was very enthusiastic about the dinosaurs. He had been with the museum since the 80s. I was amused that he seemed to be wearing ordinary khakis yet he kept pulling bones, teeth, eggs, and claws out of his pocket to show us. I am not sure where he was keeping them all! The kids did fairly well on the tour which was about 45 minutes. The tour guide had lots of fascinating information for us, but he wasn’t particularly engaging with the kids. Still, they behaved rather well considering.

After our tour, we went down to get food. After our experiences the previous day, we were quite impressed with the food offerings at the Natural History museum! Everyone had a decent lunch. We then headed back up to take another look at the dinosaurs. It was difficult to navigate the museum at times, but we still had a good time. We made a stop at the gift shop where the kids picked out t-shirts and new buddies. They were excited about their new penguin and dinosaur buddies. Doesn’t everyone get a fluffy purple penguin at the dinosaur museum? Maddie’s actually jumping for joy in this one.

The whole family enjoyed seeing dinosaurs!

And the kids enjoyed acting like angry dinosaurs.


We explored a little more of the museum before heading to meet Jason and Melissa for dinner. We had intended on going back to the hotel for a little rest, but it took us a while to finish at the museum and ride the subway back to meet Jason and Melissa (and Bridget). We learned that parts of the museum have a really terrible cell signal, so twice we were separated and had problems reuniting. Having a very specific meeting plan is key if your party is going to separate in the museum. Also, if you’re going to meet in the room with the African mammals, be sure to specify which floor you are on.

While we were at the museum, Melissa and Jason had a miserable time waiting for The Great GoogaMooga, a food and music festival. It was horribly organized, and they wouldn’t let them into the venue well past “opening” time. It was raining and cold and miserable. We felt bad that their plans were not going so well. They ended up bailing on the event and later received notification that it had been cancelled due to the weather! This put them in a bad mood for a while. They did have some tasty items from a Chinese bakery in Chinatown.

We were going to meet somewhere kid friendly and quick and decided on Burger Heaven. Unfortunately, the Burger Heaven that we had selected was closing unexpectedly (their usual hours would have had them open much later into the evening). Melissa, Jason, and Bridget found an Italian restaurant about a block away, so we met them there. It was a tad expensive, and Gabe and I didn’t feel like we ordered the best things. Maddie and Cullen had to split a $22 spaghetti as they had no kid options. The kids behaved themselves well, at least, and the desserts were fabulous. Gabe shared chocolate cake with Maddie while Cullen and I had chocolate mousse. Once Maddie had a taste of mine, she said, “next time I’m sharing THAT with somebody!” Chocolate mousse for the win!

On a side note, the Italian restaurant ended up charging us an ADDITIONAL $600 on our credit card. They must have quickly discovered their mistake and credited it back to our card the same day. Long story short, they actually managed to pay the entire balance of our credit card two days before the bill was due with that credit. I had paid the current balance really late in the last cycle, so the new bill was rather low for that card. As a result, we had no late fees or interest. Whew. As someone who pays off the entire balance of her cards every time, I was relieved that they covered for my rare mistake. So, I can’t say that I regret eating there! Best $600 mischarge ever!

We helped Gabe get the kids back to the hotel, and then Jason, Melissa, and I headed to Rock of Ages at the Helen Hayes theater.

We decided pretty late to get Broadway show tickets, so it was difficult to get ones that we really wanted. We had “settled” for Rock of Ages. What a fun show! I mean what other Broadway shows sell jello shots in the aisles? None that I know! The music was fun, and the story was entertaining and absurd. Good times.

We took a leisurely walk around Times Square…

…and Rockefeller Center…

…before ending up at a bar near our hotel (which Jason and Melissa had visited before dinner with Bridget) for drinks and yummy philly cheese steak egg rolls. I had some sort of drink with Sweet Tea Infused Bourbon. We enjoyed some entertaining karaoke at the bar next door. It was clear that we had some Broadway hopefuls bartending at the karaoke bar! We witnessed a heated fight between some of the bar patrons and decided that maybe it was time to head home.

It was another fun day in NYC!

New York City: Day 2, Hall of Science, Max Brenner, and Times Square

Saturday, June 29th, 2013

Once again, I’ll start with the day’s favorites!

Maddie’s Favorites

  • **the chocolate restaurant**

  • riding on the bullet train [the subway]
  • the colorful shadows
  • designing the rollercoaster
  • the bubble prisms
  • the Lego store
  • music in the subway
  • seeing Times Square
  • meeting the policeman

Cullen’s Favorites

  • designing the rollercoaster

  • **music in the subway**
  • making music with lights
  • the giant globe
  • getting the sticker at the museum [the entry sticker/ticket]
  • the chocolate restaurant (“I loved the chocolate restaurant, it’s my favorite thing in the whole world”)
  • meeting the policeman
  • seeing Times Square

Gabe’s Favorites

  • the gravity mirror

  • the butterscotch/chocolate shake
  • Cullen holding up his syringe and saying “there’s no more chocolate!”
  • the globe
  • the Rockefeller Center Lego model
  • **seeing the kids at the chocolate restaurant**
  • Cullen sitting down in the middle of the subway station to enjoy the music
  • the kids getting their photo with the police officer

Kerry’s Favorites

  • seeing the globe

  • building molecules with Maddie
  • doing colored shadows with both kids
  • the gravity mirror and the kids’ reactions to it
  • the kids at the chocolate restaurant (Maddie saying, “I want that” when she say the drawing of the syringe and Cullen upset about no more chocolate and his resulting stomp dance)
  • doing the multiplication cube with Maddie
  • Cullen and his subway music
  • Taking the kids to Times Square
  • seeing the kids with the police officer
  • **spending time with Maddie at the museum**

Melissa’s Favorites

  • dessert at Max Brenner

  • **seeing the SNL rehearsal**
  • when Maddie ran up to her and said, “I love you”
  • having visitors to their hotel room [the kids at different parts of the day spent a little time in Melissa and Jason's room individually]

Jason’s Favorites

  • individual visitors to their room

  • his massive peanut butter chocolate sundae
  • **seeing the SNL studio**
  • Cullen’s master plan when he was in their room in the morning (“I don’t want to leave. I’ll only leave with just Jason and Melissa. I’ll hold Melissa’s hand and Jason holds Melissa’s other hand and Maddie won’t get a hand.”

Summary and Photos from Day 2

The kids slept pretty well, and we all woke up around 7am (not bad for us!). Cullen had joined us in our bed for a little snuggle time just before that. We all got ready and met Melissa for breakfast. We met up with Jason after breakfast and left for the Hall of Science in Flushing around 9am. While we were in NYC, we used the Hop Stop iPhone app quite a bit to help us navigate. We really liked that it would tell us the best route to get from point A to point B (including real time public transportation times). We thought that the kids would really enjoy the Hall of Science, which is an interactive science museum. Of course, it didn’t hurt that the museum was free with our Museum of Life and Science membership!

Overall, we were a little disappointed with the museum. The kids enjoyed it well enough. Highlights for them included the museum host who did tricks with a mirror, hanging out in the giant kaleidoscope with Melissa and Jason, making colored shadows (Maddie especially enjoyed this), probability “plinko,” spiraling balls in a funnel (Cullen), Math cube lights (Maddie, testing out her multiplication skills), building molecules, testing and designing rollercoasters (another one Maddie enjoyed quite a bit), making music with electric strings of light (Cullen), and when Melissa and I played “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” with a trombone like tube (with Maddie).

Maddie spent a lot of time dancing in front of the colored shadow screen.

She also spent quite a bit of time at the multiplication cube which explored math in a way that is not too different from her Montessori experiences.

I enjoyed building molecules. Jason created alcohol, Maddie made water, and I made caffeine.

Meanwhile, Cullen discovered the cure for the common cold.

We had planned on having lunch at the museum, and we were very disappointed in the “cafe” which was basically a cooler with a couple hot options. The kids were not impressed with their choices either. Cullen had a hot dog, and Maddie had dry cereal. Gabe and I basically made a lunch out of snacks like chex mix. Melissa and Jason decided to head back to Manhattan as they had reservations for the NBC tour. I think their “meal” was far superior to ours.

I knew we were close to the giant globe from the 1964 World’s fair. After getting directions from the museum host, we walked through the neighboring park to see it. Cullen did not want to pose for photos.

We posed for photos anyway.

We then let the kids run crazy in the area that we assumed was a working fountain in the summer. They had a blast. It’s the little things.

Because we can’t run crazy like this at home…

It started to drizzle while the kids were running (despite the fact that before we left the forecast was completely free of rain), so we headed back to the train. We headed to Rockefellar Center where we planned to meet Jason and Melissa after their NBC studios tour. I’ve been on the tour a couple of times and loved it! Melissa and Jason were even able to see the SNL studio and rehearsals for that night’s show. We had hoped to walk around the touristy areas near Rockefellar, but it was really raining when we got there. Cullen fell asleep, and Maddie and I went to the Lego store while Cullen snoozed.

We wandered around the shops while Cullen napped. Once he was awake, Maddie and Cullen spent at least 15 minutes looking at sheep made out of chocolate in one of the shop windows. Once we joined back up with Jason and Melissa, we headed back to the hotel for a few minutes before dinner. With the rain, it was a little chilly!

We had reservations at Max Brenner, but we still had to wait at least 30 minutes (maybe longer) to get our table. That was a little frustrating as the restaurant was quite crowded without a very good place to wait our turn (especially with two wiggly, excited kids). We had been talking about “the chocolate restaurant” for weeks.

Cullen wanted the smiley face pizza while Maddie ordered chicken fingers and fries (which she was able to paint with ketchup and a brush).

Everyone saved room for dessert, of course. Gabe and Melissa had milkshakes. I had chocolate, peanut butter, and marshmallow pizza. Jason had a gigantic sundae.

The kids had the chocolate syringe which allowed them to shoot chocolate directly into their veins mouths. Maddie saw the cartoon drawing of the syringe on the menu and said, “I. WANT. THAT!”

She was so excited.

Maddie is the well known chocolate lover, but I think we have been overlooking Cullen’s chocolate addiction. We were mostly watching for Maddie’s reaction and Cullen had sucked down his entire syringe before we knew it. We even checked under the table and on his clothes to see if he had somehow squirted it all over something. He took a look at the syringe after he sucked it down and angrily declared, “There’s no more chocolate!!!” We were all amused. Afterward, Cullen did his now-famous “stomp dance” for the first time that had a crazy head jiggle. He was how I would imagine Beavis and Butthead would be on a sugar high. Hilarious. His facial expressions were priceless.

The kids were interested in seeing Times Square lit up at night, and this was our best evening to do it. We knew it would mean another late night for the kids, but they were excited! By now, we were starting to figure out the best ways to navigate the subway stations with strollers. We were thankful that we had picked up a second City Micro from a friend. That stroller has to be one of the best city travel strollers EVER. It was fabulous.

We noted that most of the elevators in subway stations smell like urine, though some of them smell like someone tried to cover up the stench with a floral spray. Gabe dubbed this floral urine scent, “urinthamum.”

We stopped and watched a band in the subway perform. Cullen was mesmerized. This was one of the highlights of the entire trip for him! I loved how he just decided to sit down in the middle of the subway station to enjoy it. He was excited to drop money in their bucket as well.

We walked around Times Square and took some photos (of course!).

We saw some movie or TV show filming while we were taking in the sights and lights.

The highlight of the Times Square visit was meeting the police officer. He offered to take a photo with the kids. They were very excited.

The sketchy costumed characters were out in full force. We caved and let Iron Man and Spider-Man pose with Cullen for a few dollars. Then we were out of small bills and had to brush off the hordes of knock-off Minnie Mouses, Elmos, super heroes, Mario, Luigi, Statue of Liberties, and more.

When we got back to the hotel room, the kids had a hard time settling down for the night despite it being very much past their bedtimes. I think they had a little too much chocolate and excitement!

The Sunday Somethings, 06jan13 and 13jan13

Sunday, January 13th, 2013

Something that makes me happy: Sleep would make me happy, but that’s more theoretical right now than actual.

Something I’m thinking: I didn’t feel like writing this week’s Sunday Somethings either, but I figured if I didn’t I might drop the habit. I don’t want to do that. It’s the only way I can remember things.

Something I’m hoping: I’m hoping that we can get the kids sleeping reliably again. We’ve had a terrible time with both kids in the past two weeks. Our latest solution is to try to get them to share a room. So far, that has been rough, too. (and between writing this and getting ready to publish, we declared it a failure and moved Maddie’s bed back to her room)

Something happening around the house: We’ve been getting rid of baby clothes and paper lately. We have been giving outgrown clothes to friends and scanning, shredding, and recycling paper. It is great to get these things out of the house, but we have a long way to go.

Something I’m reading: I finished Valley of the Horses, and I didn’t feel like the second book was as good as the first. I don’t think I’ll continue the series. I started reading Delirium.

Something Gabe is reading: He’s almost finished with the first 5 books of the Wool/Silo series.

Something I’m creating: Last Sunday, we did two of the Kiwi Crate crafts – penguin bowling and aurora australis postcards. Fun! I also finished the first draft of our cruise photobook (yeah, from 2011). I’m so happy to have that done! I ordered it Monday and got it a couple days later. Gabe finished his fancy Lego firehouse.

Something tasty: I made my grandma’s chicken divan recipe for the first time in a while (last week). We always enjoy that!

Something about both kiddos: The kids have been absolutely terrible with sleep. For almost a week, we’ve been trying to get them to sleep in the same room. That has helped in some ways, but it is a disaster in most other ways. We just don’t know what to do or how to get them the sleep that they (and we) so desperately need. When they are awake and happy, they continue to be best buddies. They have a few new games that they play. One is “dark” or “light” monster where they go around the house turning off all of the lights. This is both amusing and inconvenient (like if we’re trying to do something that requires a light). They dress up and pretend they are going to New York City (Maddie especially asks frequently when we are going to go there). They have been playing an entertaining yet slightly disturbing game of “Titanic” since we read the Titanic book in the Magic Treehouse series. This involves a variety of play including Maddie determining who has a “life belt” and who doesn’t (“you’re dead”) and various versions of jumping to the life boats. Sometimes Cullen puts a blue blanket over his head and declares that he is the iceberg. It’s their favorite game when Sophie comes over. They love building forts out of the furniture and blankets. Both had a great week at rollerblading. We had them practice in the bonus room on the carpet the night before their lesson, and that seemed to make a very big difference. I think we’ll sign them up for another session after this one. Cullen and Maddie are both taking the pre-ballet class that my work offers for preschoolers. I was impressed with how much Cullen followed along.

Something Maddie is doing (4.5 years old): For breakfast every morning, she has Kix cereal and orange juice. She typically eats the Kix dry, but sometimes she has it with milk. We toured another school, and we registered her for kindergarten. After a ton of research and analyzing and thinking about schools, I think we have a plan. We are probably going to be trying for a year round school. We hear that the chances are very good that we’ll be able to get in. We won’t know for another month. If she gets into the year round school, then she will start kindergarten in early July. Yikes!

Something Cullen is doing (2.5 years old): Cullen’s daily breakfast consists of “breakfast toast” and milk. I’m not sure why organic toaster pastries are known as “breakfast toast” in our house. I love how Cullen says some things, and one of my favorites is how he says “alright” – it sounds more like “oh-right.” He’s been doing a little better lately with potty training and had no accidents at school last week. I am not sure whether he might have had one or two at home, but he’s been doing well at home, too.

Something I am struggling with: I’m struggling with the same thing I do every January…I’m resisting adding too many plans to our calendar since we already seem to be quite busy! At the same time, I am itching to plan a few things here and there. Some vacation plans are in the works at the moment.

Something I’m doing towards my goals: I decided in December to start scanning all the paper that comes into the house (and then to shred it). I’m so excited to eliminate stacks and stacks of paper and hanging folders of filed mortgage statements and such. I know there will be a few important pieces of paper that need to be kept, but the majority of it can be digitally stored and shredded. I plan to do this with a lot of the artwork that comes into the house from the kids.

Something I’m looking forward to: We don’t have too many plans this week. Both kids have pre-ballet and rollerblading as well will for the next several weeks, at least. Next weekend, we’ll have a “special Cullen day” like we did for each kid last year. We are all excited about the “special Cullen day” with Cullen’s birthday coming up fast!

Something captured: The kiddos were cute at the first ballet lesson. I was glad that Melisa was taking pictures and caught this one of the kids.