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Maddie is 4.5!

Saturday, October 6th, 2012

I can’t believe that Maddie is four and a half (or was on August 20th!). Time for another letter to Maddie! (more…)

The Sunday Somethings, 27nov11

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

Something that makes me happy: The GIANT Christmas tree that we have in our library right now. It has lights, and we’ll have to do the ornaments soon.

Something I’m thinking: The holiday season is going to be so rushed this year with our cruise coming up really soon now!

Something I’m hoping: I hope that we can get all the things that we need to get done before vacation and Christmas.

Something happening around the house: We’re getting the house decorated after a few days visiting my parents.

Something I’m reading: I finished The Peach Keeper today, thankfully. I wanted to make sure I finished before it was due back at the library on the kindle. The waiting list is huge! Fortunately, it’s a quick read. I enjoy Sarah Addison Allen’s novels!

Something Gabe is reading: Hero of Ages. I don’t think he read any of it this week.

Something I’m watching: Getting ready to watch tonight’s Amazing Race.

Something I’m playing: We played a lot of Words with Friends on our iPhones this week. We played Wits and Wagers twice with my parents and Kristin and Chad and then Ticket to Ride twice with my parents. We had so much fun with my family!

Something tasty: Thanksgiving dinner at my parents house, though my favorite part was probably the turkey and country ham casserole the next day. Yum!

Something about both kiddos: We visited Santa on Saturday, and this year’s Santa was much better than previous ones. He attempted to make Cullen feel more comfortable, since he was not at all interested in sitting on his lap. And the photographer was amazing! I could not believe that we actually got a photo of both kids smiling. I was not even aware that Cullen smiled at all until I reviewed the photos. He was crying and trying to get away for the most part. I couldn’t hear what Maddie told Santa at first. Santa tried to ask Cullen what he wanted. Cullen was not talking to Santa, and he asked, “would you like a truck?” I told Santa, “actually, he wants a doll.” Maddie then said, “Hey, I want a truck!” So my son wants a doll, and my daughter wants a truck. After the Santa photos, we went to have lunch with my parents. I then had a spur of the moment idea to get haircuts for the kids (too bad we didn’t do that *before* Santa photos), and amazingly a kids’ salon was literally 30 feet away. Saturday went extremely well, and we were so happy to have haircuts and Santa photos out of the way. We had dinner at my parents’ house and headed home. We had a smooth ride home with no traffic jams. It was a wonderful ending to a wonderful visit. While we visited my parents, we took them to a children’s museum that opened last year. The kids had a blast, and the adults were completely worn out by the end of the morning. Whew!

Something Maddie is doing (45 months old): She has a new habit this week of saying “ya” instead of “you.” I’m going to have to try and break her of that habit. It’s cute at times, but it’s annoying at other times! I have noticed recently that her vocabulary is getting more and more sophisticated. Lately, she hasn’t allowed me to do anything with her hair, so it’s good that we trimmed up her bob again. It’s an adorable look on her! She looks so cute with pigtails, ponytails, bows, and braids, when she allows it!

Something Cullen is doing (22 months old): When you ask Cullen a question that doesn’t require a yes/no answer, Cullen starts his answer by saying, “um….um…..um…..um….” He also has a habit of saying “Awwww, man!” whenever he doesn’t like something or drops something or anything negative. Both habits are hilarious, and he says them at extremely appropriate times. He should be entertaining on the cruise. When we were having lunch with Nana and Papa, he had a taste of something he didn’t like. The next thing we knew, he had leaned over and spit it out on Maddie’s plate. Hilarious!!! He didn’t want to have anything to do with that piece of food! No way he was going to spit it onto his own plate. Too funny. We don’t get a high chair for him most of the time in restaurants, though he still uses his high chair at home. He’s so proud of himself, and I don’t think it will be long before we ditch all high chairs. We are probably going to transition him to a big boy bed after the cruise. He’s still resisting naps on the weekends, but most of the time he still takes one each day.

Something I’m doing towards my goals: Getting ready to go on the cruise on Allure….so soon now! Even Gabe is starting to get excited.

Something I’m looking forward to: I’m going to see Breaking Dawn with girl friends (rescheduled from last week), book club, early Christmas with friends, a birthday party, our annual poker tournament, and my annual Christmas date with a friend. Whew. Busy, fun week.

Something captured: This year’s Santa photo!

Others writing The Sunday Somethings: Audrey

Cincinnati: Day 3, back to the Children’s Museum

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

And now, more than 2 months later, I’m finally finishing up the Cincinnati posts. We returned to the Children’s Museum on our last day. Gabe’s mom joined us while Mick headed back to Lexington after breakfast. We played in some of the same areas and explored some new ones. Cullen enjoyed hammering nails in the construction area. I was surprised that he was able to put the nails in the hole and hammer them most of the time.

Maddie built a rocket ship with Grandma.

Both kids played in the water for a little while, and Cullen ended up absolutely soaked! This was not a surprise to us. We were prepared with a change of clothes in the diaper bag.

Daddy!

Cullen did some more climbing. You can see in this photo that he is soaked from the water play.

We spent a few hours at the museum and had lunch in the cafe (as we did the other day, too). We stopped for a moment and took some photos outside before heading to Lexington.

Cincinnati: Day 2, Newport Aquarium

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

When we visited Cincinnati in 2009, we opted to not go to the aquarium because we were there at peak times. They do not allow strollers at those times, and there is no way I’m taking a kid under 3 (much less 15 months old) into the aquarium without a stroller! This year, we went on a Wednesday (June 1, 2011), so we had no issues taking the stroller. We nearly had the aquarium to ourselves, so that was nice.

We heard that they had a daily penguin parade before opening, so we wanted to get there bright and early. We arrived as the penguins were parading, if you can call it that. Mostly it consisted of a couple of goofy guys spouting out facts about penguins. The penguins were pushed in a cart. I guess that I shouldn’t have been to surprised that they weren’t going to actually have the penguins parade around on the plaza in the heat, but I had images of little penguins waddling around in a line. We got this goofy dude instead.

Maddie wanted to meet the turtle mascot, but then she was a little shy.

Cullen was fascinated by the penguins in the penguinmobile (which was not unlike the popemobile).

We did not get any great photos all day, and we debated whether to buy the photo they snapped of us at the entrance. I’m glad that we did since it’s the only photo that we have of the 4 of us from the trip.

The kids took in all of the wonders from the stroller in most of the aquarium, but we did get out for a little bit in the Frog Bog and the Rainforest. The aquarium didn’t blow me away. It was OK for a couple of hours with small kiddos, but it probably is the least inspiring aquarium that I have seen. The kids enjoyed it well enough, but we probably won’t pay it another visit in the future. The Children’s Museum was a better bang for our buck.

We tried to play Frogger with a dance pad control.

The kids look utterly thrilled. They got a little cranky toward the end, but overall this is not an accurate portrayal of our morning.

Maddie is thiiiisssss tall.

I was most excited about the penguins. I remember in high school going to the Boston aquarium, I believe, and seeing this fabulous penguin exhibit. I don’t think that the penguins were even behind glass, and they were climbing on rocks, diving into the water, and swimming around. They were very active and fun to watch. The penguins at the Newport Aquarium were behind dirty glass. You could sit in a small set of bleachers to watch them, but it really wasn’t what I was expecting. I was disappointed.

Wouldn’t you expect a little more from an exhibit called Penguin Palooza??

They had a little area with activities related to penguins.

And they had some viewing portals to a tank of sharks. Earlier in the circuit, they had a pool where we could have touched sharks and stingrays. Maddie talked about it before we got there, but then she didn’t want to do it when we were there.

We had fun, I suppose, but overall I wasn’t impressed with the Newport Aquarium. We will have to finally try the Georgia Aquarium one of these days and see how it compares! We still had fun spending time together as a family of four.

Cincinnati: Day 1, Children’s Museum

Monday, August 15th, 2011

I’m a few months behind on my photos. I have more photos from the trip that we took over Memorial Day week (so at the end of May). I think I’m doing pretty well to get these posted before Labor Day, right?

We started our first full day at the hotel with the complimentary breakfast at the Embassy Suites in Covington. We stayed across the river on our previous trip, and we enjoyed the riverwalk and the views. We considered other locations this trip, but this is where we could get a two-room suite for the best deal. We knew that we wanted to be able to put the kids in separate rooms, if we could!

After breakfast, we made our way to the Children’s Museum. We were excited to go back to the museum as we had such a wonderful time with Maddie when she was Cullen’s age. I posted some photos in the Then and Now post, but I had a few more that I wanted to share.

We spent more time on this trip in different parts of the museum. Both Maddie and Cullen enjoyed the baby doll section and the grocery store and other food related areas.

Cullen liked the section with rocks and trucks and shovels.

He was adorable in the construction vest!

I thought that the treehouse section of the museum was mostly for 8 year olds, but Maddie ended up spending some time in it. It was a little scary for me (and we didn’t manage to get any photos of it as we were too busy making sure that both kids were safe). I went into the treehouse area with Cullen and found Gabe but no Maddie. Maddie had gone up into the treehouse and Gabe wasn’t exactly sure where she was! (The tree house only has a few exits, and there is only one way out of the room). This made me very nervous!!! First of all, I didn’t think she was old enough for the attraction. And secondly, I did NOT like that we had basically lost our child. I went up the ladder into the tree house structure and found her. Of course, she was fine. We crawled around in different parts (I’m too old for this! That was rough on the knees!) and went down the slide together. She went up into the treehouse a few times after that, but I made sure we knew exactly where she was at all times (mostly by following her around in there). It turns out that she can handle the majority of it. One section would have been tricky/scary for her, but we stayed away from that part. I felt much better after I saw the different parts.

Cullen also liked to climb anything he could find.

Maddie played in the water area this time. Last time, we didn’t take her into that section as we didn’t want to deal with a soaked child. This time, we were more relaxed and didn’t care if the kids got soaked. We had back up clothes, anyway, and they enjoyed splashing a bit in the water. I think on the first day, only Maddie played in the water.

While Maddie was playing in the water, Cullen was hanging out in the ball section. He tried to work the treadmill. He knew how it was supposed to work, but he wasn’t heavy enough to be able to move it.

He was able to collect lots of balls with no problem. The ball room is a toddler’s dream world.

This photo cracks me up because it looks like he’s annoyed at me for making him dress up in a tutu. In reality, he didn’t care. I thought it was hilarious. I’m sorry, son.

We spent a little time in the different sections that represented various cultures around the world. The kids liked playing the drums, of course.

We went back to the hotel for a nap before heading to dinner with Gabe’s dad, sister, and niece. We had a nice dinner with them, but we wish we could have worked out our schedules to see them a bit more! Hopefully, we can see them again before too long.

Cincinnati: Then and Now

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

We took a trip to Cincinnati for Father’s Day weekend in 2009. This year, we made the trip again during Memorial Day week. We went to some of the same places that we went two years ago. Cullen was almost exactly the same age as Maddie, so it brought back memories from the first trip. I thought it would be fun to post some pictures from then and now.

In 2009, we used a stroller built for one. We also had different paci rules (Cullen is only allowed the paci when he’s sleeping or in the car. We were more liberal with Maddie!).

For our trip this year, we made good use of the double stroller. This was taken on the first night after we arrived at the hotel. The kids were adorable with their Mickey and Minnie buddies. Are we in Cincinnati or Disney World?

We stayed in a different hotel, but our view was very similar. Maddie was excited about the view in 2009.

She was excited again about the view in 2011. Oddly enough, the skyline changed between visits. The Great American Tower was completed between our visits. We were walking along the waterfront one day, and I said to Gabe, “um, was that building there last time? I don’t remember it.” Sure enough, it’s new. The then and now photos show different angles, but our view was essentially the same for both visits. We could see both stadiums as well as the Cincinnati skyline.

One of the highlights of our first trip to Cincinnati was Maddie’s reaction to the room full of contraptions and balls. She was very excited about what must have seem to her to be a giant ball pit. She crawled around on the floor in the balls (despite being a stable walker at that point), giggled, and repeatedly said, “ball!”

We couldn’t wait to see what Cullen would think of the same attraction at the Children’s Museum. He did not disappoint. He was excited about all the balls, too. We explored more of the museum this time, but Cullen did get some extra time in the balls while Maddie was playing elsewhere. He was especially concerned about the balls that escaped the netting and were out of place. He made sure to return them to inside the ball area. He liked pretending to run on the treadmill, too.

I’m not sure what it is about shopping carts. I remember I had one when I was a kid (the classic orange and yellow terribly different from the ones in these photos, if I remember correctly). Kids love to push shopping carts, especially toddlers. My kids are no exception. The shopping cart was another favorite of Maddie’s in our first visit in 2009.

Some things haven’t changed! She played for quite a while in the grocery store section, filling her grocery cart and pushing it around to the various stations.

Cullen had fun pushing around the grocery carts, too. He collected food that was outside of the grocery store area and made sure it got back to the proper play area.

Maddie loved the ride on toys. As you can see, we were nervous first parents and made sure to stay close to her while she was riding on the various push toys.

Cullen made some of the same discoveries, plus he liked just sitting in this car and pretending to drive. He spent a lot of time on the ride on toys and anything that resembled a vehicle.

After our museum trip in 2009, we took some photos outside and walked around the fountain area.

We took photos outside again in 2011. It was hard enough to get just Maddie in a photo. It was even harder with two kiddos!

The same was true when we met up with Gabe’s dad. We tried to get some photos, and Maddie did not want to be restrained!

She was only slightly more compliant in 2011. Cullen looks like he was posing nicely, at least! We had the same issues with bad lighting and sun in their eyes. Next time we get together, we’ll have to find better conditions for family photos.

In 2009, we went to a baseball game. Gabe and I took Maddie and were joined by Mick and Debbie. At the game, we decided that Maddie was not going to another game for quite some time.

So, in 2011, Gabe ventured to the game with just his parents. They had a much better time. Plus, it helped that the game was at night and that the Reds won! I watched the fireworks from across the river.

I have a few more photos from the Cincinnati trip that I would like to post, so hopefully I can get around to those soon!

Maddie’s party at the museum

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

We had Maddie’s birthday party at the Museum of Life and Science. For the first time, Maddie was pretty specific about who she wanted to invite. She was excited about most of her classmates being able to attend the party! It was a little overwhelming as we had 15 kids running around. Most of the kids were right around Maddie’s age with only a couple younger and just one older than 3. The hour that we had in the party room went by very fast.

Dylan and Maddie had fun running around in circles around Cullen and dancing to the music.

Cullen thought it was hilarious.

He was a sweet boy throughout his sister’s celebration.

Some of the girls hadn’t seen each other in months, and they were clearly excited. They danced and ran around and played ring-around-the-rosie.

The stools were a feature of the party.

Need to plan a party for a bunch of 3-year olds? Just make sure you have a big table with paper and crayons and enough stools for everyone.

Oh, and don’t forget the cake. Kristin helped Maddie blow out the candle since her birthday is the day after Maddie’s.

After our hour in the party room, we went outside to explore the museum. Despite it being February, we had perfect weather for exploring the outdoor exhibits.

Maddie played on the drums with some of her buddies.

Ponies make excellent hats.

Daddy looks cute with our new, adorable diaper bag.

The girls had so much fun together. They were very cute as they ran around the museum grounds.

Our family had a wonderful day celebrating our special 3-year old girl! Happy birthday, Maddie!

Cincinnati: Day 2

Monday, August 17th, 2009

We started our second day with breakfast in the hotel lobby. They were in the process of renovating the restaurant, so they had a temporary “Construction Cafe” in the atrium. It was an overpriced and very mediocre buffet. Gabe and I decided that we had had much better breakfasts at extremely cheap hotels. The only good thing that I can say about it is that they didn’t charge us for Maddie.

After breakfast, we went back to the room to get ready for the pool! We brought Maddie’s new raft in anticipation for the event. That morning, we had to change a series of dirty diapers which we felt may have been a reaction to the antibiotic. She only had issues for that one day, but we were seriously concerned about running out of diapers (and the swim diapers, since we only brought 2 or 3 and wasted one before we got to the pool). I mean, I know they have stores in Cincinnati, but we really didn’t want to have to go out and buy more diapers!

The hotel had a very convoluted elevator system. Since they were doing renovations, the elevator on our side only went down to the 2nd floor. From there, you could either go down the stairs to the lobby or take the elevator on the other side to the lobby level. If you wanted to go to the parking garage, you had to take yet another elevator. This same elevator was one that took you to the gym. We had a hard time finding the pool! We finally discovered another secret elevator in the gym that lead us to the pool. Crazy!

Maddie had a great time playing in the pool. Afterward, we went back to get baths and showers. We decided to put Maddie in the stroller and walk around to see what we could find for lunch. We ended up finding two potential places for breakfast/brunch the next day, and settled on a bar and grill looking place for lunch. It wasn’t too bad and reasonably priced. We took a nice stroll along the waterfront after our lunch, and Maddie took a nap in the stroller. Once she was soundly asleep, we went back to the hotel room to relax while she snoozed. Gabe’s parents arrived during her nap.

Maddie took a nice long nap! Once she woke up, we decided to take her back to the children’s museum where we hoped Maddie would show the same excitement she had the previous day. We didn’t have much time at the museum before it closed, but it was plenty for Miss Maddie. She wasn’t excited about the same things as the first time, but this time she LOVED the slide and had fun in some areas that we didn’t see the previous day.

After the museum, we went to pick up Mick so we could all go to dinner. Gabe and his mom remembered going to the Spaghetti Factory on previous trips, and we knew that Mick would like it, too. We didn’t tell him where we were going and set out with the GPS. I drove the rental car…right into baseball traffic. UGH!! And to make matters worse, it was so congested that we missed a few turns and had to drive back into the traffic several times. It was awful! The worst part was that by the time we found where we were supposed to be going, we came to the horrifying realization that it no longer exists!!! We ended up going back to Newport on the Levee to eat at an Italian restaurant which was pretty tasty.

Shortly after we returned to the hotel, we decided to take Maddie on another walk along the riverfront. We really enjoyed our hotel’s location! Grandma Debbie joined us for our walk, and we walked until Maddie was asleep. We used the camera to zoom in on the scoreboard at the baseball game so that Gabe could stay informed on the progress of the game. We saw lots of people enjoying the night with lawn chairs facing the river and the baseball stadium. Very nice!

Maddie didn’t sleep very well in the hotel on this trip. She ended up spending very little time in the pack-n-play and quite a bit of time in our bed. We think she was getting over her ear infection and maybe had a bit of an upset tummy. Fortunately, this didn’t put too much of a damper on our trip. We still had a great time!

Cincinnati: Day 1

Monday, July 27th, 2009

When we returned from Cincinnati, I could have sworn I was going to write up the review for it almost immediately. Obviously, that didn’t happen and here we are over a month after the trip and I still haven’t written anything…or sorted the photos. The Cincinnati trip far exceeded my expectations. We had a wonderful time as a family, despite a few challenges.

Our trip started out bright and early on a Friday morning…or actually, NOT so bright but way too early. The sun was not up when the alarm went off, and we actually had to wake Maddie up far too early as well. We arrived at the airport with plenty of time and grabbed some very mediocre airport breakfast. Maddie had been diagnosed with a nasty ear infection just a day or two prior to our trip, so we were very nervous about the flight. We gave her some Motrin and her numbing ear drops before boarding the plane.

Unfortunately, this did not stop us from having a miserable flight. We had her carseat on the plane, but she didn’t spend as much time in it as we would have liked. She got very restless and wanted to move. Being confined in a small space for almost two hours is not a toddler’s idea of fun. She did a lot of screaming. This time, we were *those* people. We did everything we could to try to keep her happy, and we couldn’t have been more relieved when we finally arrived in Cincinnati.

We got in touch with Gabe’s dad and sister Jessica, and we arranged to meet them at a pizza place. This was the first time that I had met Gabe’s dad, sister, and his sister’s daughter, Ava. We had a nice lunch and then decided to head to the Cincinnati Children’s Museum.

The Children’s Museum was a lot of fun! The first exhibit that we encountered was a very cool area with tons of gadgets, catapults, pulleys, gears, blowers, and more all to manipulate the hundreds of balls in the room. Maddie looked through the mesh enclosure in awe and simply said, “ball!” She found the entrance quickly, and we spent some time playing with the balls. Maddie was in heaven.

Our next stop in the museum was the area for kids under 5. We’ve only taken Maddie to the local children’s museum, and this one is far more extensive. We were impressed! The toddler area had lots of places to climb, a slide, carts to push, things to build, and more. Maddie and Ava mostly played on the slide. Maddie spent some time pushing around a shopping cart.

We really thought Maddie would take a nap in her stroller at some point, but there was just too much for her to see. We explored some of the rest of the museum. Ava enjoyed the water play area, and we kept Maddie away from all the splashing. We didn’t want a wet toddler on our hands on that day!

We looked at the turtles and briefly explored another section of the museum with many play areas like a grocery store, restaurant, city bus, earth movers, various cultures around the world, and much more. We knew we wanted to come back to this museum again! I think we were most impressed with an area that Maddie won’t be able to take advantage of for a long time. It was an area for kids 8 and up and had all sorts of places to climb and slide with bridges and ladders in a big treehouse sort of setting. Very cool.

We left the museum and took some photos outside. The museum is inside of the old train station along with several other museums. It really was a neat place, and I hope we’ll be able to come back and see the other museums sometime.

Maddie fell asleep in the car, and we were actually able to transfer her from the carseat to the stroller without waking her up. We were SHOCKED. This has never happened for us. She continued to nap for a while. We checked into our hotel room where we discovered we had a really neat view of the river as well as both the football and baseball stadiums. We were happy with our hotel accommodations overall. It got a tad noisy at times since all of the rooms border a huge atrium in the middle of the hotel. We got some people returning from the bars and/or the baseball game causing a little bit of a disturbance for those of us trying to get toddlers to sleep!

After Maddie’s nap, we headed to dinner at a place across the street from the hotel. One of the bad things about the area we were staying is that it seemed like the restaurants nearby were a tad on the pricey side. Maddie did very well during dinner (we entertained her with crayons and stickers), and we headed back to our room for the evening.

We had a really tough time getting Maddie to bed. She did not want to sleep in the pack-n-play pretty much the entire weekend. I guess it’s tough when you’re not in a familiar place, and there’s so many exciting things happening around you.

Gabe tried to “watch” some of the baseball game as he couldn’t find it on TV. He saw some score updates here and there scrolling on the sports channels, but he could figure out when something good or bad happened for the Reds by watching across the river.

Later that evening, Maddie still wasn’t sleeping. We were all treated to a spectacular fireworks show which we enjoyed from the comfort of our room. It was great for Maddie since the booms weren’t loud enough to scare her. I think she enjoyed all the bright colors.

All in all, we had an excellent first day of our vacation in Cincinnati. We had a nice visit with Gabe’s dad, sister, and niece, and the three of us really enjoyed being together as a family.

A Day at Marbles

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

Maddie and Paolo had a play date at the Marbles Kids Museum. This was Maddie’s first visit to Marbles, and I think she approves! She had fun playing with Paolo, climbing on the baby structures, playing with toys, watching the fish, picking veggies in the garden, hanging out in a basket, and dressing up backstage. The photos have been posted.