Wednesday, April 30

Braden is THREE

My sweet boy turned three over two weeks ago. We've been so busy with parties and Easter and life, that it's been hard to find the time to write this very important post. Because Braden--he's such a special fella. And at three, he's so many things that its hard to even figure out how to capture them here.

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Well. I guess we can start with the facts. Braden is 37" tall (38%tile) and weighs 31 lbs (42%tile). An inch and half taller and four and a half pounds heavier than Finley at three. He's a stout little guy. He's our great sleeper (probably thanks to the sweet thumb sucking). He still naps most days--he goes to his room for a few hours and normally sleeps--sometimes the lure of his toys is too strong and he plays. But mostly he naps. He goes to bed around 8 and gets up between 8 and 7. He normally goes to bed without a fuss--he asks for a few bedtime stories, then climbs into his bed with Tucker the giraffe and prays the same prayer (Dear Jesus Amen. Thank you food. Amen.) and then normally tells me to leave and close the door. He's not the best eater. He loves chicken nuggets, PBJ, corn dogs and taquitos... and can sense a vegetable no matter how hard you try to trick him. He's on to me.

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He was somewhat willing to take these pictures, and closed his eyes peacefully for a lot of them. Like he thought he was hiding. His curls are still wild, and so is he. He loves trains, the iPad, Mickey Mouse and Mary Poppins. He's an emotional guy and definitely marches to his own drummer. If he doesn't want to do something, he's probably not going to do it. He's gradually becoming less stubborn and more reasonable, but wild bouts of kicking and screaming are pretty common around here. But at the same time, he really loves hugs and kisses. He likes to cuddle and be tucked in on the couch. 

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He and Finley are playing better together everyday. For some reason, he's fairly respectful of Finley's Legos and does a pretty good job of not knocking them over. He chats about Doctor Who and Transformers and Legos even though he has no idea about them--he just knows they are things Finley likes. Keaton is sloooowlly growing on him. He's still pretty nervous about him and often tells me to "take care of Keaton" when Keaton is getting too close to him or his stuff. He really doesn't like it when Keaton drools, which is funny. Sometimes he'll randomly give Keaton a kiss or pat him--but mostly he tries to avoid him. We're pretty sure he's an introvert--he'd much rather stay home and eventually asks to go home when we've been out too long. He's happy to sit in the playroom and play with trains or watch Mickey--unlike Finley who wants to be around us all.the.time.

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Basically, he keeps us on our toes. Anything we thought we knew about being parents got switched up with this kid--in the very best way. It's so fun to watch him grow and learn and kiss his sweet cheeks whenever he lets me. We're so grateful for all 1095 days of this guy!

Monday, April 28

Easter 2014

I love looking back at our yearly Easter pictures and watching our family change! Braden wore the same vest Finley wore two years ago, and I rocked the same skirt from two years ago (and my college graduation!) 2009 2010 2012 2013

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We were at Sol's parents for Easter and the boys hunted for eggs in their backyard. Braden picked up one egg and was pretty focused on eating that piece of chocolate before anything else happened. Finley was a very serious egg hunter. I took way less pictures this year, but I bet you can imagine it.

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The best party of spending holidays with family? Someone is there to take your picture. We did our best.

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Lili and James helped hide and hunt with the boys. And I'm in love with this picture of my two pink shirted fellas! So cute.

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Three ornery boys. Braden just wanted to chew on his thumb and Finley was in a daze and not at all focused. And Keaton was cute. God bless babies.

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Friday, April 25

Mammoth Caves

We made the long drive to visit Sol's parents for Easter--and we survived. Barely. Three fifths of our family came down with a stomach bug and one fifth of our family still is not a fan of long car trips. Or short car trips, for that matter. (I'm looking at you, KJ.)

We met Summer and her family at Mammoth Caves--once we got there I realized I had been when I was little! The caves are amazing--we did a small cave that Braden and Finley LOVED. I could barely keep up with Braden, he was so excited!  The caves are dark (obviously) and not conducive to photography, but here's a sweet picture coming out of the cave of the grandparents and the big boys.

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Even though we still make up the majority of the grandkids, its still really special to get a picture of "all the grandkids." I have so many fond memories of playing with my cousins growing up, and we're glad that there's at least one cousin to play with! Even if Westley is three months younger than Keaton and considerably bigger...

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How darling are these two boys?!?! I love them.
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It was so nice to do something a little different and expose the boys to something new (the dark depths of the earth.) Braden also got a water gun, as you can probably tell. He loved the water gun and trying to catch birds during our lunch (he was unsuccessful.)

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Tuesday, April 22

Easter Activities

Holidays are a little more fun every year--kids certainly bring a new level of excitement to them! Finley is old enough to remember what we did the previous year, so we may actually be forming some traditions which is a little crazy to think about. I better not screw up. Our first Easter tradition has no pictures--but we love the Resurrection Eggs! It's a little carton of eggs that has a different bible verse and token for every day and walks very nicely through the Gospel. The boys alternated who got to open the egg every day and were pretty kind about it.

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Our second activity was making Resurrection Rolls. (Recipe: dip marshmallows in butter, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, wrap in dough, bake.) The boys had a lot of fun assembling them and its a great way to walk through the Easter story a different way. There are verses you can read for each step and then after you bake them--spoiler alert--the rolls are empty! Here's a great detailed description. (Also, please forgive Braden for his outfit. I tried to clothe him. Really I did.)

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And obviously, our third activity was dyeing eggs. Finley pointed out several times that dyeing is not the same as dying, in case you were confused about that. The boys tricked me into buying two $5 kits from Target (pirate and jungle) with lots of egg accessories that we never used. Next time--the cheap Paas stuff for us. They were VERY serious about dyeing. I loved how interested Braden was in the process and how careful Finley was with his eggs!

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We eventually remembered we had some cute ears so we stuck them on for a bit.

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I saw lots of other fun egg dyeing ideas floating around--next year we may try the Cool Whip/shaving cream option!

Thursday, April 17

Braden's Third Birthday Party

Braden has a deep, abiding love for trains. Even though we did trains last year, there really wasn't another theme he'd love--so we did trains again. I tried to make it as different as possible and I think I succeeded.

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We celebrated his birthday the day after our big outing to go see real trains--and he was kind of a grumpy hot mess until after his nap. I'm extremely and completely grateful for Jenn for bringing her family up to celebrate--and to capture these moments better than I ever could. My parties always look better through her lens! And I'm so grateful for these sweet shots of my THREE year old birthday boy.

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The child loved his cupcake. I'm not exactly sure what his strategy was for eating it... but it did make a huge mess.

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Could you die from the sweetness? These smiles were especially welcome since he had been SUCH a grump earlier in the day. He kept trying to tell Miss Jenn to go home. Not very nice, B. We love this kid and his wealth of personality. I'm having a hard time sitting down to write a post about his three year old little self because there's just so much of him!

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And a few of the dessert table in case you are interested! I'm hoping to have it featured somewhere soon--I just have to get my act together in writing a recap. I'll share the rest of the details eventually. I loved like, every detail of this party and I'm kind of obsessed with the pictures. I love the stripes. I love the yellow. I love the train. I hope it's not rude for me to be in love with my own stuff. Because I am. I love this stuff so much that Finley's birthday party next week is practically identical.

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Tuesday, April 15

Trains for Braden's Birthday

Braden turned three on Saturday! To celebrate our little train enthusiast, we took a trip out to Lancaster County to see all the trains. (Last year we took him to see the trains in Baltimore--they've grown!) There are three train museums and a bunch of other train related sites.  We started off by eating at the Red Caboose Motel and Restaurant, which is where we learned that Braden loves trains in theory more than in actual practice. The restaurant is in a train car and you can rent out individual cars to spend the night in. We could not get Braden near the train cars--it took some serious cajoling to get him in the restaurant! We were surprised how timid he was around the trains. Once we got in the train restaurant he had a good time--especially because out seat had a view of the train tracks and he got to see trains go by a few times!

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Lucky for me--I chose the right museum! We visited the National Toy Train Museum and Braden was in HEAVEN. Heaven, I tell you. I'm really glad we didn't visit the huge museums--Braden was just thrilled to run around and look at the trains.

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Finley loved it too, and Keaton mostly napped.

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Basically the museum was a large room filled with model trains--and a few displays where you could push the buttons and make the trains go. The pink one was my favorite--Braden said it was beautiful.

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This video pretty much sums up Braden's experience. I took about a dozen all like this--Braden running around in circles, overwhelmed by the excitement. It was adorable.

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I was barely able to get Braden to sit on this train for a picture--

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Finley insisted on getting "Conductor Bear" for Braden for his birthday. Sometimes he's a very sweet brother! We took some similar shots last year in Virginia--where my children were much more cooperative. Sigh. At least they are still wearing matching striped shirts.

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And a kind of family picture with the motel trains! Happy birthday buddy.

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If you have a minute, go check out our free Easter Printable on the RV Parties blog! Spoiler alert: it's adorable.

Thursday, April 10


Hello! Welcome to my 800th post, which is a tribute to another form of social media, Instagram. I'm way better at posting there than I am here... so if you go through withdrawal of my children, that's where you can get your fix.

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keaton and his best friend
three boys who like/tolerate/adore me depending on the moment
a successful eight mile run while three boys watched Frozen
me and my pal
finley can ride his bike! in style!
another mother/child selfie
a proud baby who can climb up a step

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rapsberry chocolate macarons
three of my favorite guys
keaton is getting into everything in an adorable way
and climbing up steps
finley keeping keaton entertained while i sleep and they are both up TOO DANG EARLY
thin mint macarons
first day warm enough to play outside! in the dirt!
braden successfully doing his first craft

Wednesday, April 9

Friends from Virginia

I apparently forgot to blog about East Coast friend time a few weeks ago! The stars aligned and my old high school pals, Megan and Carrie, were both able to come up with their families for a few fun days in ole PA. They've both made many appearances on the blog over the years--we've been so luck to live close to them for so long.

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Carrie and I have birthed five darling boys in total--and they all look good in blue jackets. We took the team to the zoo and they were all very well behaved (unlike last time with Finley seriously just pulled his pants down and peed in the middle of the road. Horrified.) We also love that our stroller doubles as a clown car. Finley loves to ride his bike with Edmund and did a decent job of sharing his Legos.

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I am struggling to remember to get out the big camera--more and more my pictures are on the iPhone, which luckily does a pretty good job. We love the way this crew has grown! Here's one of the first pictures of our group that I posted. So many sweet memories--here's to many many more.

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Thursday, April 3

Four Semi-Interesting Things

Hey there! I have some random things to share with you, internet, because I feel like there's some new stuff going on, and if I don't share it, it's like it isn't real. So here's a list of a few interesting things...

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1. I haven't bought bread this year. Not because I don't like bread--BECAUSE I DO. It's because I got a breadmaker for Christmas (thanks mom and dad!) and have been baking all our sandwich bread in that sucker. It's pretty much my fave. Except the one three times I forgot yeast. I don't know why that step is so hard. The recipe is so easy--I have it memorized and just dump all the stuff into the container and weigh it and five hours later--BREAD. And one day later--NO BREAD, because we eat it fast. Sol eats a slice or two a day slathered in peanut butter. I toast the heels for Keaton to chomp on and the boys devour it as sandwiches. And I tend to eat the boys crusts--because that's what moms do. (And--I would make a terrible food blogger. It's weird and hard to take pictures of food. Finley straight up snuck into the picture with the bread because, well it's weird that I was taking pictures of bread.)

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2. This one's a little weird--I am ridiculously committed to baking to the perfect macaron. I'm not sure why. But it's all I want to do, all the time. I'm possessed by it--making batch after batch trying to determine the perfect baking time and temperature, the perfect balance between under and over-mixing and what shelf to bake it on. I'm not going to pretend that it's normal because we all know that it's not. I'm over a dozen batches in and am making progress with them being less hollow.  The good news is, even the ugliest, hollowest macaron still tastes like a tender bite of heaven. You can quote me on that. I've been stockpiling them in the freezer and keeping copious notes on what I did and how the batches turned out. Folks, it's out of control. (Can we all admire my fancy attempt at stacked mac photography???) Pictured below from top to bottom and left to right... Raspberry with Chocolate Ganache // Triple Lemon // Apricot Mascarpone // Peanut Butter and Chocolate // Nutella and Coffee // Orange Chocolate // Raspberry with Chocolate and Buttercream

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3. I signed up for a 5k and am actually training. On the treadmill--I haven't run outside in over a year. I've never trained for a 5k before so I'm interested to see how I do. It's also my comeback race since having Keaton, so it probably won't be a PR, but that's ok. I'm using the training program I'm planning on trying for the NYC Marathon in November--it's called FIRST and has you do three HARD runs a week and cross train. No easy three milers. I kind of love it. This is officially the longest I've gone without running a marathon since I started making small people. Also--Sol and I have been doing T25 and it's kind of awesome. I'd like to say I have a six-pack, but please refer to item one and two to see why that is not the case.

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4. I've converted to doing most of my grocery shopping at Trader Joe's. I've always been fascinated by TJs and loved going there but haven't had it be my main grocery store because they don't care name brand stuff. But recently we've kind of changed our eating habits--some people are like NO SUGAR! or NO DAIRY! or NO MEAT! and that's all awesome. I've slowly decided to try to keep it real--as in eating less processed food and trying to buy food with few, simple, real ingredients. And as it turns out, Trader Joe's has that, for cheaps! This is my current favorite snack--corn salsa and Ak-Mak crackers. I mean, we go through like a can and a half of that salsa a week. It's delishy. I'm still picking up my important staples (Skippy PB, Nesquik...) at Target whenever I'm there. Which is several times a week.

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After I made this list I realized it pretty much all has to do with food. Either making and eating it or burning calories so I can continue the cycle... obviously I'm a nursing mom. #hungryallthetime #feedmeseymour

Wednesday, April 2

Virginia Weekend

As we frequently do, we made a quick trip down to Virginia this past weekend to see friends--and also have our taxes done. Priorities. We are so lucky that we only moved two hours north. It's been such a blessing to have so many of our VA friends come up and have so many excuses to come back. It almost feels like we didn't really leave! Finley knew everything was familiar but couldn't remember why--his guess was that we were at Disney World!

Finley got to have a sleepover at Margaret's house--but more importantly they got to watch Frozen together. They were a-dorable singing and dancing together. Less adorable was the chatter that happened until well past 10 pm... we had some tired kids on our hands the next day!

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We went to our old church the next day and had lunch with a good chunk of our old small group afterwards. I singlehandedly managed to cover up 60% of the Brooks family... sorry about that guys! When we joined the group there was one small newborn--and now there are LOTS of kids. I can't imagine my time in Virginia without these families. I spent so much time learning to be a mom along side these lovely women.

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Speaking of being a friend... it would be so kind if you'd help us out with our giveaway!

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You could win a plate OR a party pack! To win, you must be following us on Instagram. You can enter two ways.... 1) leave a comment tagging two people who may be interested in winning and/or 2) regram our post (using a cool app like Repost).

We're trying to move followers over from Facebook to Instagram so we can share more easily there--it would mean so much to me if you could take a minute and share our giveaway! Our friends are our best resource for growing our little biz. :) THANKS!

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