Friday, May 29, 2015

Memorial Day Weekend 2015

We kicked off Memorial Day weekend with an outdoor concert at Planting Fields Park. I've never been there before, though I think we'll definitely go back now that we know about it because it's beautiful. Long Island, you're growing on me.

Memorial Day Weekend 2015
Planting Fields

Memorial Day Weekend 2015
James checking out the fountains

Memorial Day Weekend 2015
Lately, James insists Fudgie wants to go everywhere

Memorial Day Weekend 2015
My boys

The concert was a cover band called Kokomotion, and they played music that made me want to get up and dance, but the other concert-goers didn't seem to share my enthusiasm. I danced a little anyway. 

Memorial Day Weekend 2015
Miranda investigating the crowds at the concert

Memorial Day Weekend 2015
Goldfish are my "kid leash"

Memorial Day Weekend 2015
Brought me a dandelion to wish on.

We were really starting to pushing up against James's bedtime (he goes to bed early than Miranda because he refuses to sleep in) but we figured, oh it's a holiday, let's get the boy some ice cream!

Memorial Day Weekend 2015
He requested sprinkles. "Everyone has to have sprinkles."

Memorial Day Weekend 2015
Miranda eating ice cream with no sprinkles, like a little savage.

Even though Miranda didn't even go to bed much later than her regular time, she rewarded us by getting up much earlier than usual. James got up at about his usual time, but grumpier. You're welcome for the fun, kids!

Sunday we also grilled out, while the kids did the best they could to injure themselves on the one dangerous spot in the patio.

Memorial Day Weekend 2015
Grilling out!

Memorial Day Weekend 2015
The rest of the patio is full of grass you say? Sounds boring.

Memorial Day Weekend 2015
We like to live dangerously!

Memorial Day Weekend 2015
Messy hot dog disappearing act.

The actual Monday of Memorial Day was low key except that we all got to chat for a long time with Uncle Andrew who is settling in to his new place in Japan.

Memorial Day Weekend 2015
Snuggling with Skype.

Happy summer weather, everyone!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Baby Maxwell T. 2015!

Megan and Ed had a second equally adorable son, Maxwell. I'm counting down until I can get back down to the DC-area to meet him. Congratulation Megan and Ed!

Max T. 2015
Snoozing cutie!

Max T. 2015
Max takin a nap under the watchful eye of big brother Will

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Miranda is 13 Months 2015

Miranda says: dada, tickle-tickle-tickle, mama, go, and yesh (yes) in that order of frequency. How exciting! She's been saying tickle-tickle for a long time now, but it really never gets old.

April 2015 

She also understands some simple things beyond the words she says, like when we tell her to get something (Get a book! Get the ball!), tell her to dance, or tell her no.

April 2015
Sly smile

She constantly brings us books to read to her. Usually it's the same book over and over again for days and weeks at a time: Dinosaur Versus the Library, and Hello Ladybug are her two favorites.

April 2015
Reading before bed.

She loves to dance and does so every day. She recently became interested in Country music. It's become our little thing.

May 2015
Dancing!!

April 2015
Rocking the Iowa outfits Dada got for them.

April 2015
I am so cute!

She has 5 teeth, the four in the middle and a bonus one on top. She really got chubby lately so we think she's about to growth spurt again. She can drink from a bottle or sippy cup on her own but prefers that we feed her.

April 2015
Hiding with a stolen sippy cup

She enjoys bath, but we think she might prefer showers because she insists on standing in the bath.

April 2015
Bathtime is the best!

She still sleeps well, from 8 pm - 7:15 am or so, but sometimes gets up an hour earlier when James gets up. She takes two naps but fights the second one most of the time, and sometimes we have to give up.

Cape Cod- May 2015  
Sleeping

She and James continue to be best friends.

May 2015
I don't know what this game is

May 2015
How did she get over the gate?

May 2015
By problem-solving! James is her stool.

And guess who goes down the slide now! Like James, Miranda started walking early (9 months for James and 10 months for Miranda) and so they both had the experience of being the youngest toddlers at the park. Being able to run around the park doesn't mean being able to get any use out of it though, and for a long time she just ate wood chips while James played. But she climbs up now and goes down the slide mostly on her own. Nonetheless, I took a ride with her, mostly because I would look silly going down by myself.

Wednesday:
May 2015
Weeee!

May 2015
James comes to greet us.

May 2015
On her own.

Thursday:

May 2015
Trying to hang with the big boys

Saturday:
Memorial Day Weekend 2015
Siblings on the swings!

Memorial Day Weekend 2015
Yay!

Memorial Day Weekend 2015
Excuse me, can I have your ball? No? Okay then.

Monday, May 25, 2015

KonMari- Kids' Toys 2015

First, a note: Please don't start with this category. Read the bottom of this post to see why.

So the KonMari book does not cover kids' stuff with any depth. Our kids, like many American kids, have too many toys. This despite the fact that Kevin and I have bought approximately 10 toys for the kids... combined. Everything else was a gift because we are blessed by people who love us and our kids. We are extremely appreciative, and we have never exchanged anything. If someone gave us something, our kids played with it.

But this happened:

Konmari- Toys 2015
Kids' Toys Part 1

Konmari- Toys 2015
Kids' Toys Part 2

Even with my toy-management tricks (more on that later) all of these toys became a full-time job. And now that Miranda is a year old, both kids have officially outgrown some stuff. So I waited until the kids were asleep because my kids are 4 and 1 and aren't quite old enough to make decisions regarding their stuff yet. If your kid is older, you might think about including them in the process- depending on the child's personality. Then I enlisted the help of my husband. Kevin had a few different opinions as to which toys he likes the children playing with, which he finds annoying, and even which toys he thought the children liked. All valuable input. 

We put all the toys on the guest bed and took out any that James isn't yet old enough for. Those went in a box I labeled, "James- Next Stage" and stored. Then we pulled out the toys that are too young/boring for James, but which Miranda is not mature enough for yet (this box had a lot of dolls) and labeled, "Miranda- Next Stage," and stored. Okay, two whole boxes out of the way.

Konmari- Toys 2015

We still had a lot of toys, puzzles, and drawing stuff. So we divided the toys into KEEP- MAYBE-NO. Our criteria was:

1) Does my child enjoy this toy? (Does it spark joy for him?) If no--> NO pile.

If yes--> 2) Do I hate this toy so much that I still want to throw it out (usually involved toys that were worn out, had a million annoying pieces, choking hazards, or talking toys with no off switch)

If we hated it--> No pile. If we liked it or could tolerate it out of love for our child --> YES pile. 

Konmari- Toys 2015
Pile of yes toys!

So we obviously still had too many! Enter my Toy Management System. I use a bunch of Ikea fabric boxes and plastic tubs to divide the toys. Puzzles and drawing stuff gets their own boxes.  All the other boxes have a mix of James and Miranda toys. I take out one such mixed box and leave it out for about 3 days. They play with the toys enthusiastically. After about 3 days I put the box away and take out a new box and they act like I just bought them a box of new toys.

This is because kids have kind of poor memories. Giving the toys a rest makes them new again. This is also why trying to talk a kid into donating a toy that "he hasn't played with in a long time" usually fails. The other good thing about my system is that if a toy is "like new" and she still doesn't play with it, then I can safely assume it's because she actually doesn't like it. Also, because each box only has about 20 toys in it, clean up at the end of the day is much easier.

Konmari- Toys 2015
All the boxes that are hidden in my living room
(not pictured/not in living room: puzzles, drawing stuff, easel, and
toy car which we currently keep in the office/playroom)

Konmari- Toys 2015
What the living room looks like with all the hidden boxes (in Ikea bookshelf)

* Note: 
    I really don't think you should start with this category, or any category that involves stuff that belongs to other people. If you start with your own clothing, as Kondo suggests, you not only get a reduction in stress from not dealing with the stuff you don't like, but also an increase in joy from seeing only the things that you love. 
    You don't love other people's stuff, and you only have limited control over how they treat it or put it away. Starting with this category is likely to lead to disappointment because you will still have a lot of toys, you don't love those toys, and every time things seem messy you might feel like KonMari failed. 
    Whereas, if you attack it after you have done your own stuff, you will already be a believer; you will already be surrounded by what you love in your spaces. The toys can be a less-than-perfect cherry on top. And I think the kids will learn best from seeing how you take care of your own things.
Any other kid toy problems I can help with?

Friday, May 22, 2015

Jon's 35th Birthday in Boston 2015

Kevin and Jon drove up to Boston for Jon's 35th birthday and met up with Casey and Jon's brothers-in-law that live in Massachusetts. They ate many dinners, watched a Red Sox game from the Green Monster, and drank beer until it hurt. Yay! Happy birthday, Jon!

Jon's 35th in Boston 2015
Casey, Kevin, and Jon at Fenway

Jon's 35th in Boston 2015
Just casually leaning against this bar

Jon's 35th in Boston 2015
Jon stopped by to say hi to the little ones too

Thursday, May 21, 2015

David and Melanie Are Engaged! 2015

Finally! David and Melanie started dating in December of 2005, about 8 months before I met Kevin, and when David was only 17 years old. At the time, I was in law school so I didn't come home very often. David would sometimes come by and see me at our Grandmother's place when I was home for holidays or in the summer.

But I didn't meet Melanie until after Kevin and I moved to New York. By then, they had been dating 3 years, and we had the sense that it was a serious relationship. When we met her we understood why. Kevin and I immediately began talk of "locking her down" lest she get away. Haha.

David and Melanie Visit 2009
Hanging out in Brooklyn, a few months after we moved to New York

We totally broke our "significant others" rule for Melanie at our wedding (engaged or living together). Luckily, no one busted us at the time.

663
At our wedding in Cape Cod with Grandma Daisy, June 2009

They were still really young when we moved to New York so it was tricky to go out. Then David turned 21! The party was on!

David's 21st Birthday 2009
Partying it up at David's 21st Birthday, November 2009

Oh, but, fail, I got pregnant less than a year later in July of 2010. But they were awesome even as Kevin and I grew progressively less awesome (and I grew bigger too). Melanie even came to my babyshower which was so nice.

Clou Baby Shower 2011
Melanie and Grandma Daisy at my baby shower in 2011

Easter 2011
Meeting James, Easter 2011

For a while there, Kevin and I thought we were becoming fun again. We threw parties! We took turns going to the city! We even sometimes did double dates!

11.11.11 Party
Cuban cuddle, sorry Irishman, 11-11-11 Party

James's 1st Birthday Party 2012

Hoboken with David & Melanie 2012
Double date in Hoboken, August 2012

Yeah, then we got pregnant again in 2013. But I am told we are done having babies? So we promise to be fun again! And not just at our children's birthday parties.

Alonso Family Visit 2014
When Miranda was born, April 2014

  Family Visit 2015
Random visit, January 2015

  1st and 4th Birthday Party 2015
James's and Miranda's birthday, April 2015 (hi Ash!)

Maybe on some level, I sensed it was coming because before the kids' birthday party, I moved David and Melanie's picture (from 2009) from on top of our bookshelf to our family wall where we have our grandparents' wedding pictures. It was a total cheat because they weren't even engaged yet, but it just seemed like the right place all of a sudden. 

But then when I met with David for happy hour a few weeks ago he suggested that maybe he had a time in mind to propose and he was super vague about it. I guessed December 2015 during their 10th dating anniversary, but he said, no he wasn't really thinking that, and I thought, geez, this is going to take forever.... oh I was super wrong! And I'm so glad.

He proposed 10 days later. David proposed at sunrise on May 18, 2015 on the Summit of Haleakala National Park in Maui at an elevation of 10,023 feet. He planned it so that their closest friends and most of her family was there to watch. Wow! 

David Proposes to Melanie 2015

So there it is, Kevin and I are getting a new awesome sister, and James and Miranda are getting a new aunt! Not sure if I'm more excited for David or for us!

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