Saturday, May 21

Boston

We arrived in Boston so late on a Friday night--so late it was technically Saturday morning. The flight was a bit rough. For some reason Keaton and my boarding passes wouldn't scan, so Sol took Finley and Braden through security while I went back and got our boarding passes reprinted. Although by the time I got there, our flight was closed and they couldn't print them. I turned into a crazy person and managed to get the supervisor on the phone and basically demanded they reopen the flight. They told me they could reopen it but there was no way I'd make it in time. And I said, CHALLENGE ACCEPTED. I was carrying Merritt and Keaton and literally ran through security and the airport and Sol had to basically stall and physically block them from closing the door to the jetway. But I made it, and then we all stood on the jetway for like five minutes waiting to board. It made lots of sense. BUT I MADE IT. And then Keaton puked on me on the flight. So basically, it was awesome.

But! The next morning we headed into Boston to go to the Expo and buy all the things. Oh and I bought all the things. Sol's parents were randomly in Boston and we overlapped with them for just a few hours, so we all met at Fire and Ice for lunch. Vic ordered me some AMAZING donuts that Maya delivered as well. Oh man. They were insane.

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We intended to go to our old church Sunday morning--we were just staying a few blocks away. But Keaton puked again, so we decided to stay in and let him recover. We did meet our old bible study friends for lunch, which was lovely. We all did bible study together as newlyweds and its so fun to see everyone as parents of busy kids now!

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The marathon was Monday, and I insisted on Giacomo's with Alex and Heidi for dinner. Strangely, there was no line when we got there, making our coffee cup wine a little less imperative. I wore my jacket (because everyone wears the jackets forever) and my medal (breaking my rule about no more wearing the medal after you shower) and it was a good thing--because the girls at Pinkberry closed up a few minuets early and then let us in and gave us free quarts of yogurt when I pouted and held up my medal. Also, props to the best waiter ever who stood on a chair to get a picture of us with our food in all its glory.

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As you recall from the previous post--we saw the ducks. And rode the swan boat.

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While the marathon was unseasonably warm, the day after the marathon, when we planned to do the Freedom Trail and explore Boston was chilly and less fun for our Texas kids. We tried really hard to do the Freedom Trail, but we ended up being cold and slightly grumpy... so we'll try again next time. Miraculously, my legs felt great!
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We swung by Harvard Square and all touched John Harvard's toe.

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And we spent lots of time zipping around on the T. The boys liked riding the train and did pretty well on it. After much debate, we opted for no stroller and definitely think that was the right call. We generally carried Merritt and Keaton everywhere and had a backpack for our stuff. The stroller would have been cumbersome and slow--we were much quicker walking around. And Finley and Braden were troopers walking everywhere!

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It was a great trip and great to see so many friends and family! Next time... we may leave the kids at home. :)

Tuesday, May 10

Merritt || Eight Months

Look at this precious nugget. Just look at her. It's a miracle I haven't eaten her yet, she's so sweet.

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Braden was around for these photos so he snuck in for a few--he is just so sweet to her. He's sure she's a princess (I think he's right) and he's always willing to sit and play with her and read her books. It's adorable.

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Her biggest skill in month 8 is sitting! She's a fairly trustworthy sitter these days--I don't feel the need to surround her with pillows anymore. Her dismount is a bit clumsy, so sometimes she whacks her face on the floor when she's going for a toy... but she's getting better and better.

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No actual scooting or crawling yet--just those ninja moves where you leave the room and they are nowhere close to where you left them when you get back. Although since she's figured out sitting, she hasn't had the desire to be quite as mobile.

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She has sweet legs with just enough chunk to squeeze and her hair keeps coming in--I think its got some curl in the back. Just like I wanted.

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She got her fifth tooth and sometimes thinks solid foods are fun. She'll sit in the high chair and hold food... but isn't real motivated to put it in her mouth. She'll let me spoon feed her things, but isn't wildly excited about it. Her sleep improved when the tooth popped through--she slept the WHOLE WAY through the night for about three nights... and now I suspect there's another tooth coming through because she's back to her old tricks.

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She still likes to suck on her thumb and gnaw on her hands.

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She's definitely become opinionated--she'll fuss when I take things away from her that she can't have (she's great at finding every tiny piece of fuzz and trash on the floor) and she lunges for things while I'm holding her. It's fun to see her have preferences!

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The next three pictures were taken like 15 seconds apart. Babies, man.

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She's a fairly good napper when our schedule allows it--I try to get her two good naps at home and the last one is generally in the car. She's nursing a little better--and does much better when its right before or after a nap when she's tired.

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She's a jewel! Her sweet smiles and soft little hands make me want a million of her.

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Wednesday, April 27

THE BOSTON MARATHON


If any post warrants an all caps title, its this one. BOSTON MARATHON!!!

 photo IMG_1242.jpgWell. Twelve years after I first got bit by the marathon bug, I got to run Boston. It was my tenth marathon, the 120th Boston and 50th year women were allowed to participate. The math teacher in me loved all that.

 photo IMG_1252.jpgMerritt is seven months old--not the best sleeper and still exclusively nursing. So I had to bring a pump and pump at the starting line. It was comical--I stuck a trash bag with a hole in it over my head and walked the .7 miles to the start pumping in secret. Heh heh. And then I abandoned the liquid gold with everyone's sweatpants.

 photo IMG_2497.jpgHere's the race recap before I forget everything that happened... I rode the bus in to Hopkinton (our bus got off at the wrong exit and had to make a u-turn, not a great start to the day!) The races is basically 26.2 straight miles into Boston. Straight--but hilly. I had been warned about the hills, but Beaumont is so flat, and I decided that I'd just take it easy and then the hills wouldn't bother me. That didn't end up working very well... but I survived. It was an unseasonably warm day--so my Texas training helped me there! I forced myself to hold to close to 8:20s for the first 4 miles, then tried to stick to 8:15s for the first half. I was feeling great and it was tough to take it slow. I'm so glad I did, because at about mile 16 my legs decided we were done and it was tougher to stay on pace. At that point, I kept thinking WHY DID I WANT TO DO THIS RACE SO BADLY?? But I kind of had to finish... so on I went. The last four miles were quite a bit slower. Once I got to Boston, I just wanted to enjoy the experience so I kind of coasted back in. I stopped to use the bathroom (a first!) and stretched once.

The crowds and experience was magical--it really felt like the community's race. People were in their front yards handing out wet paper towels, water, oranges, bananas, vaseline... spraying people down with water. It was amazing to watch Boston step up and help the runners.

I ended with a 3:46:14--which I was happy with. I ran marathons after having Finley and Braden and was around 4:15, so this was a huge improvement over my post baby times. I fought and fought to get close to 3:40 for so many races, so to be able to fairly easily run a 3:46 felt great. I've learned a lot about how to train for a marathon and take better care of myself over the last 10 years and its paid off. Next step: qualifying for the Olympics. I kid, I kid. But seriously.

A video posted by Rachel Scott (@solandrachel) on

I felt horrible after the race. Terrible. Maybe worse than I've ever felt before? I think it was a combination of the heat and hills. My cheering section (who I failed to get a picture with! Sol and the kids, Aunt Maya and Uncle Tom and Tom's parents) met me on Newbury Street. I couldn't walk any farther. I had some Shake Shack milkshake and rested... then felt better.

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My sweet boys made some signs and were excited to be part of the marathon experience. Finley was hoping I'd come in the top 20. He was not impressed with me.

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I am now the proud owner of the ubiquitous Boston jacket. This year's jacket looks a bit like something you would have roller skated in 25 years ago, but I'll take it. Everyone wears the jackets all weekend and it's like a really cool club that I got to be in. People thought I was pretty fabulous when I walked around in the jacket while carrying Merritt--you ran a marathon after having a baby?? Yes, yes I did. I'm amazing.

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So I ran it. Much like childbirth, it hurt and I wanted to never do it ever again when I finished... but now the rose-colored amnesia has set in and I'm all about it. I'm running Houston in January, so we'll see if I can beat the stupid cut off time legitimately this time.

Thanks SO much to everyone who cheered for me and donated--you guys are amazing.

Tuesday, April 26

Make Way For Ducklings: Episode IV

Well, we made our bi-annual trek to Boston... and no trip is complete without making our kids sit on some ducklings (2010, 2012, 2014). We generally visit in the summer, so it was a bit cooler than previous trips! Merritt was our littlest duckling to date--she wasn't quite big enough to sit on a duck solo!

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We failed to get a family picture... this was actually the only time I took the big camera out on the whole trip. More people makes it harder to get good pictures of anything! I suspect this will get easier when they get less wiggly and more predictable. Hopefully there's a sweet spot before they hate me taking their picture...

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The ducks were dressed up in straw hats... maybe for spring? I'm actually surprised they aren't in something marathon-y.

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I made Merritt a hat for the trip--it did a good job keeping her melon nice and warm. I assume. She didn't complain, so it must have worked!

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Friday, April 15

Easter

Yay Easter! Here's a bunch of pictures. Braden and Keaton both had egg hunts at school--although I only photographed K's. This egg hunt was a turning point for him. He was no longer in it for the joy of finding eggs--he realized they were full of treats and the other egg hunts we did over the weekend were much slower because he had to stop and open them.

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I love how much Elisabeth and Keaton love each other! They are both the bossy, silent type and are too cute.

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I sewed some Easter baskets for the kiddos this year--because why not? My next door neighbor has an embroidery business and is kind enough to embroider things I run over last minute to her.

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Time for our yearly family photo where allergies force me to wear glasses!

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Aren't my boys the cutest? They are. I know I'm biased but... cute.

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It's cool that I bought a matching dress for M, right? This was my rehearsal dinner dress from 11 years ago and when I saw a similar one at Carter's I had to grab it!

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Third and final egg hunt! We have the greatest group of friends here who meet every other Sunday for bible study--all 13 of our kids got a ton of eggs! It was a lovely Easter and so fun to celebrate such a special day with our friends and family.

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Thursday, April 14

A Star Wars Party for Finley and Braden

I've thrown a lot of big fancy party over the years--this is not one of them. (Aside from the cake table--it looks pretty good.) My friend Lauren and I decided to throw a birthday party for all four kids of our big kids together--a lot less work for us in the long run! It only took a little bit of convincing to get the girl on board with the Star Wars theme.

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We rented the local indoor soccer field (again!) and gave each kiddo a pool noodle light saber and only a few kids were minorly injured. We confiscated real light sabers at the door. ;) Long picnic tables were covered in coloring paper for those who didn't want to run around and hit each other.

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Our two families all dressed up (Keaton was an Ewok for a bit!) and a lot of the guests came in costume too!

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My little Rey was a trooper, as always, and was happy to just come along for the ride.

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And little Leia was too cute too!

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Sol did a great job letting kids beat up on him and running around as Darth Vader. We thought the Braden-as-Luke and Sol-as-Darth was an important father-son moment!

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I was worried the kids would be bored and there wouldn't be enough to do--but apparently hitting each other for two hours just doesn't get old.

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It was a big party.

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I was also worried we wouldn't have enough cake--and there are currently two full cakes in my freezer. We were fine.

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Happy birthday to my big boys!

Wednesday, April 13

A Few Disney Tips

Let me start off this post by saying that Disney with four kids who are 6 and under is not for everyone. I think most people thought we were crazy when we told them we were going alone without grandparents to help. But honestly, it was our most fun trip to date and we had very few stressful moments. I think the biggest thing that made it successful and fun for us is that we knew what we were doing. It was Keaton's fourth trip, Braden's fifth and Finley's sixth. We're experienced. I've taken a ten week old before, so I know the nursing drill. We have a system for bathroom and diaper changes. We've perfected what to bring in our backpack and stroller. We know how to get kids to nap and plan our activities out so that we can minimize people sitting and waiting for other people. We know what we are doing and what we like to do. SO. If its your first trip, you can still have tons of fun. You just need to do research and have a plan. Do not show up to Disney World and expect to have fun unless you've done a lot of work making decisions beforehand. Because there is absolutely nothing more painful than trying to figure out a plan as you go and watching the lines get longer and longer while your kids whine... So here are a few tips!

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Look at a crowd calendar six months out and pick which days you'll be at which park. They aren't 100% accurate, but its a good guess. Six months is when you can make dining reservations, and if you plan to make any, you need to make them ASAP. We generally bring in one meal and eat one park meal every day, and do a nicer meal about every other day. The character meals are great--your kiddos get to meet a bunch of characters without waiting in line--and you get free drink refills. They are expensive, but the sit down meals tend to have better food and are often buffets (with unlimited Diet Coke). Everyone needs a break in the middle of the day! Aside from bringing in a meal, we bring tons of snacks. Granola bars, applesauce pouches, crackers, raisins, water bottles... I don't think we bought any snacks in the park at all on this most recent trip. But chances are, when your kids are fussy, they need a snack. Same goes for your husband. Our favorite place to take a break at the Magic Kingdom is the PeopleMover. Eat a snack, feed a baby and relax for a few minutes.

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Tip number two--be at the park early. In general, we try to get to the park about 20 minutes before it opens. Maybe earlier for the Magic Kingdom--you also have to account for the ferry/monorail, so those tend to be very early mornings. The lines get long fast, so getting in early assures you a spot in Jedi Training at Hollywood Studios and a chance to meet Elsa and Anna at Magic Kingdom. This was our first trip to have a pre-park opening breakfast reservation and it was awesome. The park opened at 9 to the public, and we got to go in at 8 for breakfast. We got this series of less crowded pictures on Main Street and I ate a $20 donut (not kidding--although it was delicious.)

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Next tip--plan some outfits. Outfits are great for several reasons--first, it helps you visually keep track of people. Knowing all my kids were in red shirts helped us be able to monitor them and not have to remember what they were wearing. It's much easier to find each other. And second, (I'll probably address this more in a post with costumes) the kids have more fun when they are dressed up. It helps make it magical--the castmembers fuss over them and sometimes they'll randomly give them free stuff. Disney is magic.

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And the last most important tip--plan out how to get everyone around. I don't think we have great picture of us in our total element, but this one is close. We LOVE this stroller--it has two seats and a glider board on the back, so we can get three kids around on it. We also brought an Ergo for Merritt and a Toddler Tula for Keaton (or occasionally Braden or Finley!) so that we could only worry about getting the big two around when we were walking from ride to ride. We generally leave the stroller parked and move it a few times a day--it's more like a home base for snacks and water bottles and a place to let kids nap. Merritt was carried 90% of the time and Keaton was up his fair share too.

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Those are my quick tips! I'm happy to share more if anyone has burning questions.
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