Thursday, January 20, 2022

virtual, reality

We had a very light snow early in the month. It wasn't enough for sledding or snowmen, but the kids were determined to get outside and make the best of it. Mae discovered that it was perfect for making little snow castles using our sand toys. We had lots of fun making towers and then taking turns stomping on them!
We got a bit more snow early this week... just enough for sledding. Colin loved sledding on our driveway and at the little hill at the playground. He finished every run tapping his hands together and asking "mo' mo'?" Mae got her feet wet (literally and figuratively) on the little hills before Dan took her to the big sledding hill in the afternoon.
Back inside, we thawed out with hot chocolate and marshmallows. Mae and Colin snuggled up with books on her favorite warm spot, the dining room floor vent.
We finished up with a nice, toasty shower. We are all sharing our main floor bathroom at the moment since the upstairs one has been gutted for renovation. Fortunately, Colin has learned the joys of a warm shower and doesn't seem to be missing the bath tub too much.
I'm glad Mae and Colin have been getting along well recently. She's been doing remote kindergarten for the last week and a half, so they've been cooped up in the house together more than usual. She's done an amazing job adapting to remote school, and is frequently the first kid logged in, excitedly awaiting the teacher. She also stays on task with almost zero intervention from me or Dan.
The harder part has been keeping Colin entertained on my days at home. I'd gotten used to running errands with him just to break up the day a little bit! Last week, we at least had a lot of excitement watching the construction trucks digging a big hole in the neighbor's driveway.
Dan's been working from home on my days in the office. He spent some quality time with Mae building a snowman after school on Tuesday. I'm sure she'll enjoy being back at school in-person soon, but I think we've made the best of the situation!

Friday, December 31, 2021

a look back on 2021

I didn't write a post to wrap up 2020, but I'm bringing the tradition back for 2021. We celebrated several milestones including Colin's first birthday and Mae's first day of kindergarten! Here's a look back at some of our biggest moments from 2021.
Top Row (left to right): Mae's first time on a big sledding hill; a park picnic with cousins for Grandpa's birthday; our first post-vaccine visit from GranE and Batman; and our first time meeting our new niece Lillian

Middle Row: Colin's first trip to the beach during our vacation with GranE and Batman; Colin's baptism; Colin's first birthday and birthday party; and our trip to Lake George to visit Mop and Pop

Bottom Row: Mae's first day of kindergarten; seeing family at Keith and Liz's wedding over Labor Day weekend; making the best of our Halloween (and most of November) spent in quarantine; and a Christmas where we were able to spend time with both families!

We just finished up celebrating Christmas with Dan's side of the family! We had several days visiting with GranE, Batman, Tim, David, Colleen, and Bobby. The weather was dreary the whole time, but we managed to keep ourselves entertained with lots of fun indoor activities and brief trips to the nearby playgrounds every day.

We opened Christmas presents the evening of our arrival on the 27th. Somehow I didn't take any photos of Colin's giant pig stuffed animal, which was a huge hit with both kids. We all modeled our new robes. I especially love the frog print on Colin's little robe, and he looked like baby Yoda when he was all wrapped up in it.
The kids had to show off their new Batman sweatshirts, too!
Mae had fun playing her new Battleship game with Batman. (I'm not gonna say Batman LET her win, but close inspection of his board indicates Mae's sucess wasn't purely beginner's luck.)
We could have kept Colin entertained the whole week just using all the interactive Christmas decorations. He especially loved this toy where Santa ("guyguy") appears through a tiny door. He said "hi" every time it opened, "bye" every time it closed, and "uh oh" every time the lights turned off.
He also loved all the singing Hallmark snowmen and the train that goes around the base of the tree.
Colin helped GranE water some of the houseplants. He loved taking ice from the pitcher and putting it on the potting soil. I'll have to hire him as (second) assistant plant waterer back at home!
Colin cannot resist a good snuggle with GranE. On our last night, he had a really hard time going to bed and was screaming his head off. Just 20 minutes in GranE's arms and he was sound asleep!
Mae would not let me get a good photo of her with Colleen. I'm sharing this one, but my favorite might have been right after this when Mae buried her head onto Colleen's shoulder and you could barely tell where Colleen's hair ended and Mae's started.
We stopped by to visit Colleen and Bobby at their new apartment one evening. Of course the main attraction was the two cats. Colin was completely captivated and kept looking under the bed for more cats, even after the one that was under there bolted to another room. Mae was as patient and calm as is possible for her, and managed to coax them out from the bed with help from Bobby, a laser pointer, and a bunch of cat treats. She was so excited!
Batman's office is well-stocked with fun toys. Mae especially loves the Batman Little People set. This Christmas, he added Elvis, the Rolling Stones, and characters from The Office to his collection. I'm sure Batman had to rescue Dwight or Mick Jagger at some point.
On our last full day, Mae and Batman assembled this gingerbread house kit that Tim and David brought. I think it lasted about a half hour before Mae started nibbling candies from it.
We did a lot of driving, but it was a fun, relaxing visit! We had lots of quality time together playing toys, walking to the playground, and gathering for meals. Thanks for a fun visit and end to 2021!

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

all she wants for christmas

Well, we spent almost the whole month of November sick and quaratined, but at least we were able to see both families over the holidays this year! We visited Grandma and Grandpa's house for a few days before Christmas. We didn't have a whole lot of time all together, but we made the most of it and even got a pretty good family photo.
Our visit to the symphony's Christmas show was extra special for 3 reasons: 1) We hadn't been in 2 years, since it was cancelled last year; 2) It was our first time bringing Mae and Oliver; and...
3) Mae lost her first tooth (lower left incisor) while eating a cookie during intermission!! Her adult teeth are already coming in. If all she wanted for Christmas was her two front teeth, then Santa sure delivered!
She loved everything about the show, but she seemed particularly amazed by the full-company singing and dancing numbers. She loved the big sparkly dresses and audibly "awwwed" when the dancers came out in their big "Holly Jolly Dollies" costumes. Viewing it through her eyes made it feel so extra special this year!

The next evening we went to the outdoor lights on the grounds of the art museum. Colin was enthralled with the sprawling light display set to music from the Nutcracker, since they had big light-up spheres ("Ball! Ball!"). The kids had fun with their Christmas light necklaces from Grandma and Grandpa (and they made Mae easy to keep an eye on in the dark.)
The next morning we went on a really cute Christmas train ride. We rode in little train cars which were towed around the back lot of a hardware store decorated with all sorts of Christmas scenes featuring animatronic reindeer, elves, etc. Colin LOVED the moving characters and did his wiggly Kermit-arms dance every time we passed a scene with music.
He did NOT love sitting on Santa's lap. After baby Mae (who loved Santa from the second she set eyes on him), I could not contain my amusement of having a baby with the classic "screaming bloody murder" reaction.
Santa was a good sport, and Colin gained enough courage to play trains with him. But I could tell he was keeping an eye on Santa for any sudden movements.
We fit in several fun activities, including a trip to the indoor pool, while we were visiting, but we also managing to save time for playing. All the kids helped Grandpa out with his big puzzle. It's so fun that Oliver, Archie, and Mae are all old enough to help with puzzle pieces now!
Colin is starting to understand playing with trains (instead of just being a baby-zilla and destroying the track), so he had fun with Grandma and Grandpa's Playmobil train. He also got his own Playmobil recycling truck and airplane from them, which he loved! Mae had lots of fun assembling her new Lego Dots pineapple pencil holder set. I am especially looking forward to decorating my bedroom with the new duvet and quilt I got for Christmas. Thanks for such a fun Christmas, family!
We left their house on the 22nd to get Mae home in time for her second COVID vaccine. She was scared but handled it well, and we had MOD pizza to celebrate being fully vaxxed! Congrats, Mae!