A REALLY Big Whale

For our second year, my friend Emily and I are doing a homeschool-preschool co-op for our kids.  (Somehow, I don’t think I’ve blogged about this at all but it’s been a great part of our week for the past year and a couple months!)  Today, we were learning about blue whales and as part of that, we went outside to mark on the street how long a blue whale actually is.  They can grow up to 100 feet.  This turns out to be REALLY big!  I couldn’t find any sidewalk chalk so we improvised with rocks and pink paper every 25 feet.

IMG_0209 (600x800)I’m at the tail, the girls are at the head.

Walking from head to tail, you will notice that all four children declined my request to say “hi”.

It also takes a long time to run the length of a blue whale.

We also made blue whales out of cups, complete with blow hole spray.

009 (800x533)Although I avoid Pinterest almost all the time (too mind-messing, too time-sucking), it definitely came in handy for fun blue whale activities!

P.S. Lest you be concerned about the safety of all our children, rest assured that we were on a one-way street that has very little traffic, which comes from the tail direction.  We were A-OK! :)

Posted in Ellie, friends, Mark, school | 2 Comments

He Sings! He Talks! He Runs! Oh The Cuteness!

Mark is daily amazing us with his leaps and bounds forward in talking, moving, and generally just being super adorable.  Here’s three videos to let you experience the cuteness too. Sadly, two of them are upside down.  I’m still getting the hang of taking videos with my smart phone (because oh yeah, by the way, I have one now) and I just keep managing to hold my phone the wrong way.  Annoying, it plays them correctly on my phone so I don’t figure it out until I download them.  Anyway, if you’re a dedicated Mark-admirer, I suppose you’ll put up with the upside-down-ness of them because they are OH SO CUTE!!

First, he loves to sing and has a remarkable grasp of tune already.  Here is he singing in the car.  He usually chooses the “Twinkle Twinkle/ABC” tune for his chosen melody! :)

He is talking oh, so much.  He’s starting to make  three and four word sentences and comes out with new words all the time.  Most of his words, he drops the first consonant sound, which makes understanding him a bit tricky.  Duck and truck come out “uck” and plane and train come out “ain.”  He also loves giving kisses as you’ll see if you watch to the end!

Finally, he also loves to run.  We don’t even take the stroller with us on walks around the neighborhood any more because he doesn’t want to ride in it.  He says, “Un! Un!” and just takes off.  I’m so sad this one is upside down because I just love how he vigorously swings his elbows from side to side.  I hope you can get a sense of it at least!  Sometimes we do take our wagon with us so you’ll hear it rattling along in the background.

Also, don’t you love the classic “run but get totally distracted by something” behavior?

We’re so glad this precious boy is in our family!  I don’t know what we’d do without him!

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A Weekend Getaway, Part 3: Waterfalls and Vultures, Oh My!

Here’s part 1 and Part 2.

Sunday morning we decided to take a bit of a detour through Letchworth State Park on our way home. The main entrance to the park is only about 20 minutes from Houghton so during college, it was the place we went on an occasional Sunday afternoon for some exploring.  It’s also where everyone seemed to take their graduation and/or engagement photos.  This time, we went in a new entrance to us (the one closest to Lisa’s house).  On the way there, we stumbled across the Castile Cider Mill.  It had just opened for the day and they were selling piping hot cider fry cakes, which may just have been the best doughnuts we have ever eaten. Along with apple cider and delicious apples too, we were well supplied for our trip to the park!

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The first overlook after we entered was the Archery Field overlook, complete with gorgeous views of the canyon and soaring vultures.

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so cool to be looking down at the vultures!

At the Upper Falls, a train happened to be coming over the trestle, which TOTALLY made Mark a happy boy! “Ain!! AIN!!!!”

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I love Nik’s eye for color in photography.

At the middle falls, we all enjoyed the roar of the falls and the beauty of the canyon. IMG_0143 (800x600) IMG_0145 (800x600)

A very kind stranger obliged us by taking a picture, “no charge!”, of our whole family at Inspiration Point (note both the Upper and Middle Falls behind us).

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After lunch at the lower falls, Mark discovered a new best friend in the gift shop.IMG_0124 (800x600)saying “turtle”

And here are a few shots from our drive home, fall color, handsome driver, and all!

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Lisa, we’ll definitely be back sooner rather than later to visit if you can promise me that we’ll have time to go to the cider mill and buy more fry cakes! :)

Posted in Ellie, friends, Mark, travel | 1 Comment

A Weekend Getaway, Part 2: A College Reunion, Sparsely Attended But Greatly Enjoyed

Here’s part 1.

Saturday, October 4th was Homecoming at my college and also the ostensible reason for our trip up to western New York.  So, in the morning after the kayak rides on the lake, we headed for Houghton.  There’s been quite of bit of change on campus since we graduated 15 years ago, most recently ew soccer, baseball and softball fields along with a gigantic field house complete with a regulation-size indoor track and tennis courts.  When we got to campus, I was so disoriented I hardly knew where I was (which is ridiculous because it’s a really small campus). Once we figured out where we were, we went to the kids’ carnival in the morning.  All our kids had a great time, including Ellie jumping in a bouncy house, a new experience for her!

IMG_0090 (800x600)I had the fun of seeing three of my favorite professors – Dr. Young (psychology [my major] and my adviser), Prof. Roederer (Spanish and a kindred spirit – because their children live in AK), and Dr. Gaerte (communications [my minor], student government adviser [my on-campus love], and dear friend too [he and his wife even came to our wedding]).

IMG_0095 (800x533)Dr. Gaerte, who I know I’m allowed to call Doug but I just can’t make myself! :)

The new field house was dedicated that day so we attended the ceremony.  This is a terrible picture but it does document the ribbon cutting and gives some scale for how massive the building really is.

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A student played the bagpipes for the processional and recessional.  Houghton’s mascot is the Highlander and this sound is so full of many memories for me.  So I’m going to let you watch it even though I somehow managed to shoot it upside down.  I must say, it’s pretty funny to watch the people walk by on the ceiling! :)

Only six people from our class made it to the reunion.  Somehow, we didn’t manage to see one of our classmates (sorry Jessica!) and we forgot to take a picture with the other two (sorry Jill and Mike!).  So here are Lisa, Liana, and I.  Lisa and Liana were roommates our sophomore year and I was their suitemate.  It was fun to be together again!

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Nik and I took a little time in the afternoon to wander around campus.  It really felt weird to be walking in places that I know and love so well, but to have my husband and children with me, a totally different person than I was 15 (19!) years ago.

IMG_0056 (800x600)on the Quad, too sunny for Ellie to smile

I love Houghton in the fall and I’m so glad we went to visit in October.

(coming soon – a visit to Letchworth State park – waterfalls and vultures, oh my!)

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A Weekend Getaway, Part 1: The Friends Who Got Us To Drive 309 Miles With Two Children In The Back Seat

My fifteen-year college reunion was the first weekend in October.  As much as I love Houghton, I wouldn’t have made the drive all the way up there just to go to the half-day reunion.  Luckily, my dear friend Lisa lives not too far from our college and it had been FAR too long since we’d driven north to see her and her family.  I used to make the drive 2-3 times a year, after I’d moved to Baltimore and before Nik and I got married.  Lisa’s family has always truly been my East Coast family (starting when I was a freshman and a VERY long ways from home) and I spent holidays with them.  Lisa and her family came to visit us last year and so we were glad to finally make it to their house!  This was both Ellie and Mark’s first trip there.

Lisa’s house is on a lake so we spent Friday and Saturday enjoying the lovely fall weather both in their fun backyard and near the lake.

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throwing acorns – a game that could have gone on forever! :)

IMG_0073 (800x600) IMG_0074 (800x600) IMG_0076 (800x600)just missing Lisa’s older two kids (Poor things, they had to go to school.)

Here are a few lovely scenery shots for you from Lisa’s neighborhood (thanks to Nik!).

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The wind had made the lake super choppy on Friday but thankfully, we woke up to a lovely calm lake on Saturday morning.  Ellie and Mark went kayaking with Nik and C, Lisa’s oldest son.  Well, in theory that’s what happened.  In actuality, Mark screamed for all of his one-minute boat ride and then I took him out so we could take a walk and they could see the lake!

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Saturday night, Nik even got to watch one of the resident beavers swim right by him.

The whole weekend, both girls enjoyed have a sister to play with! :)

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We had such a lovely time with our friends.  Here’s hoping we don’t let another 4.5 years go by before driving up to western New York again!

(Coming up soon: Part 2- Houghton and Part 3 – sightseeing in Letchworth State Park.)

Posted in Ellie, friends, Mark, travel | 2 Comments

Mark is a Star! (what happens when a boy has an older sister)

A friend kindly gave Ellie a lot of fun clothes in her size.  Last week we were putting them away and Mark fell in love with one particular shirt .  He even insisted on wearing it! :)

001 (800x533)I think he’s quite handsome in that color, actually!

Ellie is fond of saying, “When Mark is big like me, he can wear  [my pink shoes, my fancy dress, etc.]”  I haven’t had the heart to try to explain to her that he won’t be able to wear her fancy Easter dress when he’s four because, well, he’s a boy and that’s generally frowned upon win our society.  So I usually just say, “That’s really kind of you to want to share your clothes, sweetie!” or something like that!

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“Children In Pumpkins”, The 2014 “Look! a Tractor!” Edition

As is our custom (here’s 2013 and 2012), we went to Weber’s Cider Mill Farm on Thursday evening to take pictures of our kids with the pumpkins.  Unluckily for the parents but super-happily for the “things that go”-obsessed Mark, there was a tractor moving huge pallets of pumpkins around THE WHOLE TIME we were trying to take pictures.  So we have a lot of pictures like this:

041 (533x800) 048 (800x533)Look!  Here it comes again – for the sixteenth time!

Thankfully, we did manage to get a couple good shots, mostly thanks to Ellie gamely trying to keep on smiling even when Mark was CRAZY distracted.  So, when he happened to accidentally look at the camera, Nik was clicking, Ellie was smiling, and hurray!  A picture for 2014! :)

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We also tried putting them in a different position.  It didn’t really work but Ellie tried!

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They both were kind enough to take a picture with their mama.

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Then Nik went to console himself by taking pictures of beautiful things that don’t care if a tractor is moving somewhere way off in the distance.

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Ellie and Mark each chose a gourd to take home.  Ellie thought it was fun to pretend to use it as a phone.  Mark didn’t have a clue what his crazy parents were gesturing at him to do.

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116 (800x533)the gourd? in his other hand!

And there you have it – kids with pumpkins because it’s autumn!

To all the grandmas out there, reading this post and thinking “Get that hair out of her eyes!”, I feel obligated to defend myself by saying that it doesn’t seem to bother her and she almost always turns me down when I offer to put it up for her.  So please, don’t think I’m a terrible mother! :)

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