Sunday, June 26, 2016


The girls had been asking to go to the carnival just about every day (well, Josie asked "When can we go to the caaaarnivaaaal?" and Audra demanded "Wanna go CARDIBAL!"), so we finally made it out there a couple of days before it moved on. They had certainly seen it from the road, but they momentarily seemed shocked at seeing it in such close proximity once we got out of the car, since they just kind of stood there... until Josie made a run for the midway, and then it was on ;)
First up was dinner - the girls had hot dogs, which they appear to love most of all (I don't understand this). I briefly considered getting funnel cake too, which, although a poor substitute for elephant ears, is still quintessential "carnival food" to me... but then I only needed to remember the time Ryan and I had funnel cake a few years back and got horribly sick afterwards to provide enough incentive to pass on it this time ;)

Then it was on to the rides. Audra met the height requirement for the little roller coaster there, so although I had some misgivings with sending her off on a ride without an adult, she sat nicely with Josie and they both laughed and squealed with glee ;)
Next, the girls wanted to go on the spinning swings, so Ryan went on that with them. Luckily, Josie is big enough now that she was fine sitting on her own, since Audra would not be deterred from riding too... and there is no way I was going to join them, given my motion sickness issues. I felt nauseated just watching them going around... and around... and around :(
We headed over to the giant slide next (the kind with the accompanying burlap sacks to ride down on). The girls loved it so much the first time down that they immediately wanted to go on it again... meanwhile, Ryan and I started hand-wringing over them "wasting" their meager tickets on the same ride, but hey. I guess if they liked it, then it was worth it to them :)

The last thing they chose was an obstacle course, so I went through that with them to make sure Audra made it through to the finish. Although I felt a little ridiculous crawling through the tunnels, I think it still ended up being a good idea that I went with them, since I almost lost Audra (and my shoes) in the ball pit that turned out to be just a little too deep for her.

Apparently, we had bought only enough tickets to whet their appetites for the rides and lead to eventual tears when we ran out of tickets. All good things still seem to end in tears for the girls... sigh. But then they had ice cream, which seemed to be an acceptable consolation prize... at least momentarily, since as soon as we started walking back to the car, the plaintive wails to go back to the CARDIBAL started up again, and I'm not sure if they quite comprehended when I said, sure, when it comes back next year ;)

Tuesday, June 21, 2016


At last, the day Ryan and I had been looking forward to for over two years finally arrived: both girls are now attending the same school. Audra had been going to the same in-home daycare as Josie did for the first couple of years, but - as happened with Josie too - she started sending the message that she was ready to transition... mainly by biting. We had been looking to transition Audra in the fall, but that timeline moved up a bit when Audra bit another of the babies on her face. So the next day, after Josie's school first told us that they wouldn't have space until September (which prompted a flurry of research and discussion of moving them both to a different school), they ended up being able to have Audra start there on June 8th.

[Not too auspicious a start...]

[... since this was the best I could get out of Audra for a "first day of school" picture]

I was very worried about Audra's transition (since Josie's was so rough - weeks of screaming, kicking fits at dropoff, and Audra tends to be even more dramatic), but she has actually been doing pretty well. She does get upset when Ryan drops her off, and whimpered and cried for the first half hour or so of the first few days, but her teachers are saying that she's bouncing back quicker now and doing really well... no longer comforting herself with finger sucking and hand washing (since she loves to play in the just-her-size sinks there), and now she's participating in circle time and playing with her new friends. She's even napping really well there, which was unexpected ;)

Josie also had a change at school this month, since she graduated from Pre-Kindergarten :) She was so excited, and insisted upon singing (or at least doing the hand motions) for the "surprise" graduation song she performed with her class during the ceremony. Besides that, it was a little anti-climactic, since she's still going to be in the same class through the rest of the summer, and will officially move into Kindergarten in the fall instead. And it doesn't really feel like that big of a transition, since while she will be commencing her years of formal schooling then, it will still be at the same school she's been for the last 2.5 years. Ah well... perhaps baby steps for her growing up is better for all of us anyway ;)

[Waiting her turn to line up]


[Audra impatiently waiting for the picture-taking to be done]

So after that busy week (with Audra starting at school and Josie graduating), we took a short trip to a cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It was perhaps a bit more rustic than we should have done with little kids (read: there were a lot of rather large bugs inside the cabin), and hiking is probably also not the best activity with little kids, but Josie got to go in a hot tub and we did step foot on the Appalachian Trail, so I guess we met our goals ;)

So yes, although it kind of seemed like a celebration for the end of the school year, given the timing, this was actually my 10-year anniversary present to Ryan, since he likes to hike. And so hike we did - we were out on the trail for probably about 45 minutes, and we spent probably 30 arduous minutes of that time cajoling the children to place each foot in front of the other. But it was beautiful out there, the girls got to climb a GIANT ROCK (so exciting!), we apparently turned around just in time to miss the dead fawn on the trail, and I got a good workout by swinging 35-lb weights (i.e., children) uphill, over rocks. So while it wasn't the most fun vacation I've ever been on, it really could have been worse :)

[Appalachian Trail!]

[Looking for poplar flowers is apparently scarier than I give it credit for]

[Found one!]

Saturday, June 4, 2016


We went up to Vermont over Memorial Day weekend for a burial service for Ryan's grandpa (who passed away over the winter), 90th birthday party for Ryan's grandma, and general family reunion for Ryan's side of the family. Coming from a much smaller (and quieter ;) ) family, I was talking up all the cousins/friends Josie was going to make to her, but was a bit concerned about being overwhelmed myself. It ended up being a great (and not too overwhelming) trip, though, so maybe we'll try this again sometime ;)
[The girls (somewhat) helping at the airport]

We stayed at the home of Ryan's Aunt Mary and Uncle Guy, which was really nice to get some extra time in with some of Ryan's family, apart from the "official" events. The girls especially loved staying with them... once they got over their initial shyness :) Although Audra said (and I quote), "I'm tired, I want to go home" the first couple of days, after that she just kept asking "Go Mary's house? See Tango? See Meg?". Tango and Meg are dogs, and are otherwise known as the highlight of the trip for Josie and Audra :)

We got in to Burlington in the morning, and after dropping off our stuff at Mary and Guy's, we went out to lunch, where we sat near some folks who were earnestly and energetically talking about Bernie Sanders. I was expecting some Bernie talk over the weekend, but just not quite so soon ;) (and that was before we saw the house that had "Bernie Sanders" painted in giant letters across the side of it).

The next day, we met up with Ryan's parents and wandered around downtown Burlington, which was cool and pretty... and very chill. I think I'm usually pretty crunchy, but no. Not in comparison to some of the people we saw in Burlington ;) And I got to practice my vocal fry impressions, since that seemed to be prevalent as well. I did really like it though, and if it weren't for its latitudinal location (i.e., too far into the wintery north), it would go on my short list of places where I wouldn't mind living :)

[I ruined Audra's day by declining to carry her]

Audra may also have been pouting because she was a bit hungry, but it was interesting to see that she apparently starts sucking her fingers when she's tired, hungry, and/or insecure. While vacation is fun, the girls both seem to rely on their normal routines and it seemed in particular to shake Audra up a bit. Audra seemed a little more sensitive emotionally (in a sad and clingy way instead of her more normal screamy way), while Josie seemed just fine until the last day, when she asked when she'd be able to get her vitamin in the morning again... which I interpreted as shorthand for Josie asking for her normal routine back (of eating breakfast, brushing teeth, and getting a vitamin, always in that order).

We went back for nap time after lunch, and Audra slept pretty well for being on vacation, given that her sleep tended to suffer a bit on previous trips. But she napped really well, and slept fine overnight, with the only problem being that she'd usually wake up in the wee hours of the morning to relocate herself. This is because she kept rolling off the bed, despite all of my attempts to block her. We were sleeping on a mattress on the floor, and I put pillows, a large storage container, and my suitcase around the mattress, and she still rolled off the mattress just about every night. It really wasn't that big of a deal, because it wasn't very far of a fall and she usually just kept sleeping... but she rolled onto the storage container a couple of nights too, and apparently sleeping crouched on her belly on top of the storage container wasn't that comfortable since it woke her up (but not before I woke up first and laughed at her).

[Helping Aunt Mary decorate cupcakes for the parties] 
Then it was Saturday, and we ventured out to eat lunch at a restaurant (ok, a bar, and I get the impression it is less socially acceptable to bring kids into a bar there than it is at home...oops), and then we surprised the kids with VACATION ICE CREAM. We don't give Josie too much advance warning about ice cream because then she gets so excited that I'm afraid she's going to hyperventilate (only partially joking), but then she chose to get sorbet anyway... and still wanted it in an ice cream cone... with M&Ms on it (which I guess is weird?). But Josie ate most of the sorbet, and Audra helped with the cone and M&Ms, and they were both happy with it.
Ryan took Josie to his grandpa's burial service after that, while Audra and I did naptime. Josie apparently was fine for the burial, except she had many, many questions for Ryan... finally culminating with her whispering to him "Daddy, are we in heaven??" when they were at the cemetery, and Ryan answering "Yes, now be quiet". ;)

We then met up with the rest of the family for a party at Ryan's Aunt Cheryl's house, where Josie had apparently made fast friends with several of her cousins.... although I apparently didn't get any pictures of ANY of the cousins, only of Josie and Audra after just about everyone else had left.
The next day, Audra threw her first (and only) sizable tantrum of the trip. We were so impressed with how well both girls were behaving while we stayed with Ryan's family, especially given Audra's predilection for screaming tantrums at home, at least. But yes - after skipping joyfully through the (empty) aisles of the grocery store, Audra was not ready to call an end to the fun when I wanted her to, and she ended up on the floor. Like she does.

Then, after a break for naptime (where Audra actually fell asleep for me at "daycare naptime" (i.e., 12:30) instead of "home naptime" (3ish)), it was off to the park for Ryan's grandma's 90th birthday party. It did rain almost the whole time we were there, but no matter. Kids don't melt, and clothes are washable, so off they went to play in the rain. Note: I am not claiming any responsibility for Josie's and Audra's outfits.
[Poor Josie Red Nose - Audra had (accidentally, for once) kicked her in the nose]
[Ryan's grandma: the grande dame of the extended family]

The next day (Memorial Day) was already our last full day in Vermont. We headed out to The Skinny Pancake (which is apparently owned by a relative - he was introduced to me as "Skinny Pancake Guy", although I assume he has a regular name as well ;)), where we gorged ourselves on Nutella pancakes.
[Waiting in line to get in, even first thing in the morning on a holiday]
[She seems to have realized she was dirty]
We went down to the waterfront after that to try to walk off some of our breakfast, and the girls were delighted to see some ducks up close and personal. Josie had many questions about all the boats at the marina, and was really quite determined to take one of them. Audra just tried to walk directly into the water - I guess playing in the rain fully clothed the day before had made her more bold in that regard ;)

After naptime, Audra and I headed out to the house one of Ryan's other uncles was renting for the weekend, where Josie had been spending Audra's naptime quietly building a fairy house in the sand. The water was a bit too cold (for us, at least) to go swimming in, but the girls still had plenty of fun playing in the sand and going ankle-deep in the water.
[Josie and her fairy house]

And that was our trip to Vermont. We had a lovely time, and yet I still told Ryan on the way home that I didn't want to make the trip again for another couple of years. The drive is too long for our kids still, and I think we need a couple more years before Audra will be able to handle the plane trip again. This was her first trip with her own seat, and keeping her sitting relatively quietly with her seatbelt on was not for the faint of heart. She did mostly well for both flights, but especially on the way home, I felt like we were teetering on the edge of disaster as I tried to head off each tantrum (or collapse and slow slide down the seat) with new or different toys and activities. Let's just say I'm still recovering from that ;)