A big 70th in Boston!

Everyone who reads this blog probably already knows all this, but I’m writing the post anyway! :) This past weekend we spent in a mansion (practically) just outside of Boston, with family who came from near and far to celebrate Mema’s 70th birthday!!

It was a secret of the very best kind. My sisters and uncles and aunt all coordinated a mini-vacation, without telling my mom about it. I invited her to Boston for the weekend to do a whale watch with us and SURPRISE big family party! :)

The house belonged to this guy. We had a lot of fun admiring his posters and his house, and Googling him to learn more. :)

I didn’t take any pictures of just the house, but you can get an idea based on the pictures I did take. It was huge and beautiful! The house had a big backyard with all the amenities, including a jacuzzi and fire pit.

Friday night we did a little grocery shopping at the biggest Wegman’s ever, enjoyed a hearty dinner of kale soup made by Greg and Kathy, and generally just relaxed with one another.

Joyce was in charge of the decorations. We all enjoyed them. Happy Birthday Mema!! :)

There was a pool table, a foosball table, and a chess table! We called this the Red Room. I felt like the queen’s servant opening and closing those drapes each day.

First things first, chess!

Our jacuzzi even came with a mermaid!

The kids had fun with the lights and bubbles settings, creating an “RGB gamer hot tub.” The mermaid enjoyed herself.

Greg and I stayed up late with the kids the first night and played a few rounds of pool. Or maybe they stayed up late with us. I’m not sure anymore. We all had fun.

We might have gotten a little silly. :P

On Saturday we headed in to Boston to visit the aquarium and go on a whale watch. This sounds very straight forward, but choppy seas, broken transit, and unclear parking made it an eventful morning. Eventually we made it though and it was soooo worth the effort!

The Boston Aquarium was beautiful, as usual. Some people in our party had never been before, so if was fun exploring it with them for the first time.

We only saw one sea turtle this time. We were wondering where the rest were. I’ll have research that at some point. The turtle did a nice lap around the tank for us. Showing off just a little. :)

I missed the best picture of this guy smiling at me, but I got him on the second time around.

The penguins are always my favorite part!

What are these sea lions doing?!? Look at their flippers all wrapped up. Both of them had a side flipper and their tail flippers wrapped around each other (not tied, it looks like something they did themselves) and their other side flipper doing small turns in the water below. Like they were just chilling with their flippers all up in the air. It was so funny looking.

These three were also resting with one flipper down and the other straight up. It seemed to be naptime for most of them. One (not pictured) was having a good time with a toy, but the rest were pretty chill.

Then we headed out for a whale watch. The captain assured us the water wasn’t *too* choppy – yet. She said she thought she could get us out and back in before the water got too rough. Reassuring? I’m not sure. She was right though! She got us out there, the water wasn’t too bad, and the whales were a plenty!!

We say five different whales, two of which were a mother/calf combo that spent a lot of time feeding and playing around our boat. The boat had a “naturalist” (scientist? biologist?) on board who’s job it was to tell us over the loud speaker what we were seeing. She was also taking notes and documenting and doing science kind of stuff along the way. She was thrilled to see so many whales and just giddy over the “silly baby calf” that was playing and flipping and practicing it’s dives. She kept exclaiming over and over about how cute it was and how surprising and that baby whales like to play, just like baby people. Her enthusiasm was contagious and we all really enjoyed the experience. She said they don’t bait the animals or use sonar, so it’s kind of hit or miss what you see on each trip. I guess we got lucky. Maybe the whales wanted in on the birthday surprise too!

Everyone say CHEESE! Or WHALES!

We sailed on the Asteria. It sounds more glamourous than it really was, given the number of barf bags used. LOL. Not by our crew though!

I got LOTS of pictures of water. We saw so many whales and so close, yet my camera didn’t capture any of them well. Oh well.

I love this lady. 🧡💚💙

I got lots of pretty water pictures though. :)

Hi!

There’s a whale’s tail!

Despite my photography skills, I promise we had so many great views of the whales. We saw Freckles, and Dross, and Dross-2021-calf, and Owl, and a Minke. You can learn more about these whales on their website. The website is a little out of date, unfortunately, but you get the idea.

Back at home we were all exhausted so we ate pizza, tried to watch tv, and fell asleep. I say “tried” to watch TV because the homeowner and his family are Russian and therefore all of their books were in Russian, the clock was Russian, and even the TV was all in Russian. I can guess at some languages, but Russian left me pretty clueless.

We just wanted to watch Jeopardy! :)

Sunday came slowly and we all looked forward to a day at “home” enjoying each other’s company. I finished putting together the birthday cake, Greg and Kathy made another delicious meal, and we kept each other busy with games of Dominoes, Scrabble, Catan, and of course, pool.

Dominoes

Scrabble. Eve won, with a little lot of help from her neighbor! :)

This Catan game lasted longer than TWO rounds of Scrabble!

Yummy delicious strawberry cream birthday cake. I was looking forward to this all week! :)

Mema got a Lego flower bouquet for her birthday and asked for assistance building it. We were all eager to help out. Grandpa Tom was waiting patiently for the pool table to become available again.

A sneak picture of Eve. :)

Happy Birthday Mema!!

Uncle Carl and Mema, holding the completed bouquet of Lego flowers.

Monday morning we packed up and headed home, promising each other we’ll do it again soon. I’m so happy the pandemic is (mostly) over so we can gather again. I love my family!! <3

Sixteen!

Here it is. The big day. Sixteen years ago right now I was holding an hour old baby. Now I’m looking at a handsome teenager. We had a low-key day, just school, presents, pizza, and ice cream cake.

Happy birthday kiddo. I’m so glad to know you.

HBDE

Today we celebrated this beautiful spirit and her 14th trip around the sun.

It was a normal school day, so Eve work up to presents on the table, but had to wait until after school before digging in.

All morning I thought about 14 years ago, at 7am when we were going to the hospital, at 10am when they broke my water, at 10:45 when that beautiful baby girl was on her way. They were nice memories. She is an amazing human being. Alan came over to celebrate with us so we were all together to open presents after school.

This was the year of wigs. This lovely purple one is for an Entrapta cosplay.

Percy Jackson is always welcome too.

We can’t remember what this wig is for. Pure silliness, maybe.

Did someone say silly? She’s wearing a red beret hooked over the purple pony tail.

I love this wild child more than anything!

Guess what was in the big box from Aunt Mandy? A sword! It works well for cutting ribbon, among other things.

This looks safe, right?

How is she so tall?!? I think she must be wearing huge high heels. Yep, that must be it. At least she’s smiling for the camera. :)

14

So many smiles for mommy today!

Just when we thought it was done, UPS came with a big box from Aunt Rosy!

Eevee of many looks.

We ordered take-out sushi for dinner (Eve’s favorite) and watched Pirates of the Caribbean (Eve’s choice). A good night was had by all.

Eve is a pretty amazing child. Full of laughter, creativity, imagination, and chatter. She makes me laugh, she makes me crazy, and she makes me happy. The other day I came home from school totally exhausted and stressed. The boys were at musical rehearsal so Eve put on a good show and we snuggled and laughed on the couch for awhile. It was awesome. I felt so much better afterwards. Another day I came home and found her outside, in her woodland fairy whatever whatever costume, reading a book. It was such a lovely sight and she even let me take a few birthday photos. She’s so good to me. 💙💙

This amazing child has changed my world and I am thankful every day for her presence in my world.

 

A tiny pandemic birthday party

Eve’s birthday is coming right up so we had a tiny little birthday party. It has been so long since we’ve had company. It was a beautiful day so I set up the tables outside and the kids had a great time running around, laughing, painting, chatting, giggling, and talking about teenage stuff. It was awesome! My heart was very happy.

Outdoors and masked. As safe as can be.

Even Tsu came to the party.

This huge birthday cake looks small in his hands. These kids are all getting so big!

She promised me she was smiling behind the mask. :)

Blue ombre cake. Yum!

Pinterest worthy, for sure.

We are all so well trained from schooling in a pandemic. LOL. Space out at least six feet before removing the masks to eat.

Sarah bought Jasmine a hat. Jasmine was not amused.

Huxley wasn’t either. He looks more angry and aggressive than he was. Really he was just annoyed.

Back to work creating art, following the sun.

Even Laurens joined the party!

Artists at work

I love these kids. ♥♥♥

The big 15!

Happy birthday to this big guy!

We had a lovely day today.  Started with normal stuff. Nothing exciting. Just how we like it. :)  Eve worked on a secret Minecraft world for Lex, Alan did the Murph Challenge with his Cross Fit crew, and I baked birthday cookies.  Lex asked for oatmeal raisin cookies instead of cake and I can’t say no to that! :)

Around lunch time we were finally all ready for present time.  He’s a patient boy these days. He asked for Legos and books.  Guess what he got??

Legos

More Legos

A book about Legos

And of course, more Legos and books. :)  He was happy.

Then it was time for the birthday party!  We haven’t had a birthday party for him in a few years, but this year what started as a funny idea ended up a reality.  Eve created a whole world in Minecraft (with some help from Alan too) and we invited the friends Lex likes to play Minecraft with, and we had a party — in Minecraft!

Here’s me, flying into the top-secret party fort that has floors covered with cake and all the armor and weapons you could want! :)

His friends posed for a picture for me. :) Lex let me be a dorky mom for just a few minutes! Yay! (this isn’t actually everyone, but it’s hard to organize a Minecraft selfie!)

She even included fireworks!

They created three different activities. A game of hide-and-seek, a parkour game, and a battle in the Nether.  I joined them for the hide-and-seek game, which ended up being two games.  I rock at hide-and-seek. J/K. :)  I did hit the button that said DO NOT PUSH THIS BUTTON and released a bunch of Minecraft baddies into the game.  That was a good time. :)  By the time we finished two rounds of hide-and-seek, I decided I was done, so I shut off my computer, but the rest of the party carried on for parkour and dragon fighting.  Lex, Eve, Alan, and three of Lex’s friends. It was a lot of fun! A whole different world then the parties I’m used to planning. I offered to make a cute digital invite, but Lex wanted no part of that! LOL. Oh well. Birthday parties, like everything else, grow up and mature. This was a particularly good one for these Covid times too!

Then it was time for a family Zoom chat.  Unfortuantely the family on my couch was in a very silly mood (too much sugar and Minecraft partying, I think!) so the conversation was a little disjointed.  Sorry remote family!  We love you!

We are getting good at the Zoom family time! As long as we arent too sugared up!

Huxley was a little confused for a good part of the day. :)

When the pizza delivery guy got here we said our goodbyes and settled in for a Star Wars movie.  Lex’s choice, of course!

Another year has come and gone. I can’t get emotional now though, because the world is so topsy-turvy and everything seems so uncertain these days, I’m just glad to have this boy here with me every day.  He is kind and funny and smart and patient and everything I could have asked for in a son. I will love him forever and ever. <3

Birthday Girl!

Hey, we had a birthday around here.  Someone turned 13!!  Craziness!  Everyone kept asking “what are you going to do to celebrate?” but with social isolation and COVID-19 in the air, what could we do?!  We took a hike last weekend and celebrated the big day with birthday presents and waffles and “home school.”  She seemed to enjoy it though!

We started the morning as we usually do on birthdays.  A pile of presents on the table!

My baby girl is 13!!

Happy Birthday!

Eve opened presents and drank seltzer from her new favorite mug!

Maybe it’s time to cut back on the morning seltzer! :)

We all watched the present opening.

Eve had a very specific gift list, so she got very specific items.  She was happy. :)

Her favorite saying. Looks like she needs a nap already!

Talk bubbles need to be in the right place!

Lots of presents and cards kept her busy for awhile.

We had to take a short break so I could make waffles and she could do her Advisory Check-in for school.  But soon enough we were back to presents!

This present from Joyce was like a party in a box!

A fun, messy party in a box!

Cash and waffles! What more can a girl want on her birthday?! :)

The rest of the day was spent “at school,” in other words, sitting at the table in front of our computers.  It was a rainy day, so we did dog walks, but nothing else too exciting.  We are still working on the home/school balance now that they are one and the same.

Around dinner time we had a family “gathering” for cake and singing.

Oh yea, cake!

Quarantines = Video chat birthday parties. It’s a weird world we’re living in, but I’m glad the tech is there to support it!  I wish we were all together in person, but at least we got to see faces and hear voices.  <3

Eve ran away when everyone started singing. Remember when she used to LOVE the attention? Well, not so much any more.

Fortunately she came back for the cake. :)

We measured her on the wall at bedtime. She’s exactly the same height Lex was on his 14th birthday, which is actually a slow down in her growth spurt. We had fun looking at all the heights over the years. Then off to bed!

We now have two teenagers in the house. Yay and boo. She is an amazing girl, full of confidence and silliness and creativity.  I look forward to seeing the person she is becoming, but I also miss the smiley, bald little girl she used to be.  Fortunately she’s still smiley at home and still loves to snuggle!

Lex’s birthday adventure

I’m a little late with this post (by a week or so) but we still had fun and I want to share.

Alan got tickets to see Solo (Star Wars) and we spent a fun day playing laser tag, going to the movies, and eating too many breadsticks at the Olive Garden.  Eve didn’t want to see the movie and I didn’t want to play laser tag, but we both endured and even had a little fun. :)  The boys had a blast!

Laser tag makes me squimmish as a parent and teacher, but we played and I survived. The other three LOVE it.

We ate LOTS of popcorn. :)

Eve managed to stay on this moving wall for the entire three minutes. I couldn’t stay on it at all

We got home exhausted and happy.  In fact, both kids fell asleep in the car on the way home!  They haven’t done that in a long time.

The next day Eve tied all the balloons to the cat. Just because.

Lex got some birthday money and was excited to spend it all on Legos!

How many Legos does one teenager need?!

Not birthday related, but last night Lex ROCKED his spring concert!  He had parents and grandparents and kids and everyone coming up to him after the show to comment on his drumming.  He gets so into it.  So enthusiastic.  I love it!

Lex playing the timpinis.

I’m so proud of this guy.  He is kind and caring and fun and funny and a total rockstar!

Happy 13th Lex!

I can hardly believe it, but my baby boy is a teenager today! At what age does it become believable? At what age do you forget their actual birth day, forget what they are like as tiny babies, forget the sweet baby head and tiny fingers? I hope never! I love the growing boy I have now just as much. He’s kind and funny and smart and silly and still loves his momma! Always happy for a hug and still says “I love you” when we part.

He didn’t want much for his birthday this year. Just the usual books and Legos. I offered him a party or a weekend trip, but he said no thanks. He did take me up on my offer of a piano! :) That’s really a present for all of us though. We ordered it several weeks ago and it’s on back order. I hope it comes soon. I’m excited for that one.

I can’t have a birthday without presents on the table (and he sweetly reminded me of the tradition and asked if he would still get little presents even though the piano was expensive), so I got 13 presents, wrapped them all in the same paper, and numbered them. Just for fun.

We also got 13 balloons, wrote sweet notes on them, and left them in the family room for him to see when he woke up this morning. My original plan was to put them in his room, but reconsidered when I realized the fan would blow them around and it would probably be scary.

He said it was wonderful walking into a room full of compliments. :)

We had breakfast and presents, then it was off to school and work — for them! I got to skip work on this beautiful day and take Arlo for a visit to a dog trainer. It was a very nice experience and a lovely place. More on that later. Now, presents!

Back home I decorated the cake and then we headed out to friend’s house for a visit. Eve and her son are both auditioning for Matilda next month and wanted to rehearse together. Really it was an hour of bouncing on their trampoline and five minutes of rehearsing (while still on the trampoline). Lex and her daughter are chess pals and were happy to fit in a few games. He won one and lost one. He said they’ll have a play-off match at school on Tuesday. :)

By this point it was dinner time and if you know this family at all you know that Lex’s preferred place for birthday dinner (and any dinner) is Panera Bread! Alan met us over there and proceeded to be so silly he had both kids in tears. Dads are good at that. :) Then home for cake and more presents!

Now it’s 9pm and the boys are happily Minecrafting. Eve is in bed waiting for me to turn off her light. I am full of cake and love and peace. Tomorrow we will go see the new Star Wars movie (the boys are excited and the girls are along for the ride) and get dinner at the Olive Garden. Sunday we have an invite to a BBQ, but I’m secretly hoping it rains so I have an excuse to stay home and read the paper and drink tea all day. :)

PS. I measured him on the wall this evening.  62 1/4″.  He still has Eve beat by an inch and I still have them both beat!  For now.

11

Oh, this girl.  I can’t believe she’s eleven years old.  It seems so old, yet, after a day with her and her friend I was reminded over and over that she’s still pretty young. That made my heart happy.

She started her day bright and early with the one thing she wanted more than anything else in the world.

A special owl delivery. This owl is looking a little worse for the wear after a few run-ins with Arlo!

 

It’s her letter from Hogwarts!!!

She was squealing with delight!

Alan is in Florida this weekend so we did a video chat with him for morning presents.  Fortunately Mandy had made plans for the day so they were up early too.  Eve didn’t have to wait THAT long to open her presents!

Eleven years old! Eleven years of loving this perfect child.

Google hanging out with Daddy and Aunt Mandy.

Showing daddy her letter to Hogwarts.

Jasmine meets Leo. Jazzy had no interest whatsoever. LOL!

Eve got Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans and bravely tried the vomit flavor.

It wasn’t very good. In fact, it was hysterically bad!

She had to get up and walk it off! LOL!

A Ravenclaw banner for her room. I hope the Sorting Hat gets the message! (Thanks Rosy!)

Strorks the Rhinoceros from the Just So Stories. (Thanks Grampy Don and Pat!)

I made scones and we had a nice morning.  I measured Eve on the wall on our new measuring stick.  She’s 5’1″ and growing taller every second!  I eventually was able to round them up (they were pretty wound up!) and got them in the car for a day of adventure.  We picked up Eve’s bestie, put on an awesome audio book, and headed to the trampoline park!

These kids keep me laughing!

Jumping, jumping, jumping…

Crashing!

The SkyZone check-in lady offered us the option to “upgrade” to two hours instead of just one, but I think one was plenty.  They all wanted to leave five minutes before our time was even up!  They were exhausted!  I jumped too, but there are no photos of that. :)  Lex spent a lot of time on the dodge ball “court” and loved it!

Everyone was hungry after all that jumping, so we headed to the OG.

A celebratory Shirley Temple for this little curly-q.

Crazy girls

We are a bread and cheese kinda crowd! Sarah threw in a little shrimp, and I had some salad, but really we just went for the bread sticks and alfredo sauce.

They even sang to her! Nothing compares to the birthday song at the Syracuse OG, but this was fun too. :)

Once we had eaten way more than we should have, we headed to the mall!  Or more precisely, Build-A-Bear!

Build-A-Bear is a funny place, but Eve loves it.

Sarah got the Eevee Pokemon and Eve got a cat and named it Sarah. They both got matching Pokemon outfits for their stuffies.

We did a lap around the mall and the kids all griped about the stores.  We passed Victoria’s Secret and PINK and the kids were uncomfortable and made comments about how awkward the stores were.  One even said, “There are children around for goodness sake!”  We passed a few other stores with underwear models and the kids kept commenting on how unnecessary and inappropriate they were.  Good kids!  Then we stopped at a toy store.  On the way out the girls noticed a Motherhood Maternity store nearby and started making the same comments about awkwardness.  I tried to defend that store, saying pregnant women need clothes too.  They didn’t get it.  I asked which was more awkward for them, VS or MM?  They couldn’t decide.  I said, “Maybe they should be closer together because if you start wearing clothes from Victoria’s Secret you’ll probably need the maternity clothes soon after.”  Totally just making a joke. Their reactions were PRICELESS!  Huh? Heads cocked, noses crunched, eyes confused. “Why?” they asked.  I burst out laughing and walked away.  I wish I had a camera for those looks.  I texted Sarah’s mom about it to give her a heads up about possible topics that may come up later, but when we dropped Sarah off it came up within minutes!  Lisa asked how was the mall and the girls immediately started talking about all the inappropriate stores and displays.  LOL!  Still little girls.  Even at Claire’s they commented on the ridiculousness of the little makeup compacts and double mirrors.  “Who needs two mirrors?!” said Eve.  “Who even needs one in their bag?” added Sarah!  :)

We got back in the car for a quiet ride home.  And sweaty.  Turns out I have to get the AC fixed in my car!  It was sunny and in the 50’s today, so the car felt like an oven.  Not complaining though!!

We dropped Sarah off to have dinner with her mom. It’s her mom’s birthday today too. Wasn’t it nice of her to share her daughter with us for the day?!  Then we headed home. The plan was to dye Easter eggs and watch Coco with dinner.  Instead we all checked out into our own things.  (Minecraft, Harry Potter audio book, and Facebook — I’ll let you guess who did what!)

Daddy gave her the moon. More specifically, a 3D printed very detailed replica of the moon. It’s pretty cool.

I love this picture. The shiny above her head is a reflection off the new cats ears she got at Claires.

This one is her favorite. Also a little evil-villany.

Tomorrow is Easter and we have a low-key day planned.  I’m hoping to sleep late and read the Sunday paper.  The kids are hoping to dye Easter eggs, then hide them.  :)  I have little baskets planned for them, but nothing too exciting.  We’ve invited a friend over for dinner, which will probably be pizza.  I should do some homework and lesson planning in there too.  But now, wine and laundry!

Happy Birthday to Miss Eeveecat!  May she forever be wild and free. <3 <3

Bio Fair and Birthdays

Eve had her Bio Fair today.  Each year the fifth graders each choose a person to study.  The project goes almost all year and included writing, research, and art.  Bio Fair is the culmination of this project.  The kids have to dress as their person and “be” their person for the duration of the fair.  Parents and families come, as do all the other students in the building.  This has been going on for many years and all the students look forward to it.

Eve chose to be Emma Watson for her Bio Fair project.  Because Emma Watson is alive today, her “costume” was just regular clothes, but she looked oh so grown-up!

Emma Watson has a big fan club! They had lots of questions for her.

 

I tried to take a selfie with her and I just looked so tired next to her!  I tried three times, then gave up.  My friend took this one.  It’s the best we could do.  :)

Me and Emma :)

This afternoon she decided to come shopping with me while Lex was in karate.  She has been saying all along that the doesn’t want to bring in a birthday treat to school, but in the grocery store today she changed her mind and decided to make “bunny butts” for her treat.  Thanks YouTube!

Really they are Oreos and frosting.

Mini marshmallow tails and feet, pink frosting toes.

We ran out of frosting so she decided to melt chocolate and make some of the bunnies brown. Things got a little messy!

This might be considered a “Pinterest fail” but I’m going to call it a success because she did most of it on her own and she’s thrilled! :)

I did some Googling and it seems “bunny butts” are all the rage this Easter.  There are a wide variety of ways to make them, using cookies, cupcakes, cakes, etc.  Who knew!?