First Day of School 2018

September 6th, 2018

This year, Evan is in 4th grade, Caroline is in 3rd grade, and Lincoln is going to full-day preschool. That means from 9 am until 4 pm every weekday I have only ONE KID to take care of. So far it’s going great, both here at home and at school. Evan and Caroline both love their teachers. Evan gets to take band this year and he’s chosen the trombone, so he’ll also get a pretty good workout carrying it back and forth on the bus twice a week. Caroline is pretty jealous but she’ll get to pick an instrument next year. Lincoln has gotten on and off the bus cheerfully every day, even if he is still mad he’s in a “downstairs” classroom instead of his old class upstairs. I’m not even sure his best friend goes to his school anymore, but I’m sure he’ll make a new best friend quickly.

Besides these big kids, Finnegan and I are SO excited to hang out together. He’s so NICE when he has my undivided attention. His language has exploded, he likes riding in the car and he has chosen to take naps almost every afternoon, so I’m getting our disaster house back under control and preparing for some big renovation work this fall. It’s a good time of year for all of us.

Linc and Finn’s Superhero Birthday Party!

August 20th, 2018

Lincoln turned 4 on July 23rd and Finnegan is turning 2 on August 30th. Since they’re only 5 weeks apart, they get joint birthday parties. I asked Lincoln what kind of party he wanted, and since he’s totally Batman-obsessed, his answer was A SUPERHERO BIRTHDAY PARTY! Finnegan has no objections because a) he’s still 1 and b) he also loves superheroes. I had a hard time narrowing it down to which superheroes – generic Super Hero stuff? The DC Universe? Just Marvel Comics? Am I a monster for mixing it all together? I decided I didn’t actually care and we went with every kind of Superhero from all the worlds. Fight me if you think that’s a crime.

After years of throwing Evan cold spring parties and Caroline cold winter parties, it is SO FUN to throw a party where 90% of the activities are outside. This was also the first party where I planned actual activities for almost the entire time – we had 2 straight hours of games before we did cake, then the grown-ups all got to sit down while the kids burned off some of their energy. It was the most fun I’ve had at one of my own parties ever, even though the noise level was insane.

Previous parties for Lincoln and Finnegan: 2017 Children’s Books, 2016 Camping Party, 2015 Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

There is a ton of superhero stuff available everywhere from party stores to Target, so I grabbed stuff whenever I saw it. The pinata was from Walmart, the napkins are Party City, the backdrop and banner are from Amazon. All the crepe paper and regular balloons and silly string came from the dollar store and the quick-fill water balloons have been purchased for the last year every time I saw a pack on clearance (although they are available online as well). Let me know if you’re looking for anything and I can be more specific.

The party wasn’t just a party – it was Superhero Training School. The kids had to complete their superhero tasks in order to get a certificate (my husband had all the parents fill in the name once the kids were here).

The training stations included:

Hulk Smash Bricks
Laser Maze
Bomb Disposal
Web Slinging
Bad Guy Capture
Leaping Tall Buildings Practice
AND
The Infinity War

We used jumbo cardboard blocks to make smashable tours for Hulk Smash practice.

Almost all the kids at the party fell between age 12 and age 2, and they all loved all the activities. Once they picked out their mask they were ready for training.

These masks I got from Amazon were GREAT – 2 of each hero so there wasn’t any fighting over who got to be the only Superman or whatever, plenty of “girl” heroes, and they held up through a lot of wear without falling apart.

After we finished the training, we celebrated with the pinata. I hate the pull-strings, so we did it the old-fashioned way. We lined the kids up by size and they each got two hits. It survived all the way to the last kid!

Of course, all these superheroes needed plenty of energy to save the day. I’ve always loved doing themed food at parties, but I’ve learned over the years what is popular and what just ends up as leftovers. I definitely over-estimated on the cake, but I’m not even that sad because I love leftover cake.

superhero birthday food

superhero birthday food

superhero birthday food

superhero birthday food

You can buy a 40-count box of individual Fritos from Amazon for around $15, which works out perfectly for portable, fun taco salad. At the camping party we called them walking tacos, today they were “ready for action” tacos, since you can eat them while running to stop bad guys.

Two bottles of red wine, a bottle of lime selzer, some fresh fruit. It was DELICIOUS.

We also had favors (bubbles, tattoos and a toy) as well as a tattoo station.

Finnegan did not understand how to blow out his candle, but he definitely liked the cake and the part where everyone sang. Linc just loves everything about birthdays.

At the end of the day, we even managed to get some family photos of us all in our on-theme outfits. It was just a perfect day with amazing weather and SO many great friends. A huge thanks to my parents who did an enormous amount of work for party prep and clean-up and all our Ohio relatives who made the super long drive to help celebrate the babies! Having cousins here for their birthday was such a treat.

(Finnegan isn’t dripping blood, it’s ring pop. He’s obsessed.)

Happy Birthday to Lincoln and Finnegan! We love you!!

 

 

Sunflowers for Wishes 2018

August 9th, 2018

Previous year Sunflowers for Wishes: 2013 2012 2011 2010

Apparently, I didn’t manage to blog our trip last year, even though I know we went. I have one picture in my 365 project but I remember it being REALLY hot and crowded so I don’t think I took many photos.

This year was not at all crowded and only a little bit hot. I took a ton of pictures.

Key lime & chocolate brownie batter

Lavender honey

Peppermint stick

Blue Star Museums Summer: In Our Town!

August 5th, 2018

Since I made the list of Blue Star Museums for the wall, Lincoln has been obsessed with “moo-see-ums”, and asks every day if we can go to one. Our summer weekends are blessedly empty of commitments, so we get to say yes pretty often. Last weekend though, we looked at the list, mentally calculated the costs of lunch and/or dinner out, the drive times, the 95% humidity and dragged our feet all morning, hoping the kids would entertain themselves.

Then I remembered we had two Blue Star Museums right here in Norwich. I hadn’t even bothered to add them to our list because they are walking distance from our front door and I pass them several times I day. They don’t really count as GOING somewhere. But E and I had never been to either one and figured it would be a good compromise between doing nothing and moo-see-ums.

It turns out, both places are TOTALLY worth visiting! They were interesting! And bigger than I thought! And really fun, even if it was a million degrees inside!

First, we visited The Slater Museum. It’s on the campus of Norwich Free Academy, which is the high school in our town. It’s an endowed academy, a private school that serves as a public school. You can read about the history here, which is the sort of stuff I love, so when we bought this house one of the main draws was being super close to NFA.

From their website: Slater Memorial Building, dedicated in 1886, a gift from William A. Slater (NFA 1875; 1857-1909), was the second structure built on campus. It included the Slater Memorial Museum. The Norwich Art School launched in 1890, because the Museum offered a World-class laboratory for art instruction. By 1906, the Art School, enjoying ever-expanding success and popularity, moved into its own building, named for benefactor Charles A. Converse. (More dorky stuff: my favorite house in Norwich is the Converse House, a Victorian Gothic mansion around the corner from us. I bought a bedroom set at a garage sale there once and got to go inside and look around. It’s AMAZING. Also, it’s for sale.)

This is all really typical New England stuff. Towns on rivers all used to have huge mills and factories, lots of people used to be super rich, and if you walk through the graveyards the names on the stones are all the names of the streets, hospitals, museums, banks, buildings and people who still live here. I love it.

Anyway, back to our visit. The Slater Museum was actually free for everyone the day we went, not just military families. (It’s free on Saturdays during July and August for everyone, so if you’re close enough I recommend a visit!) I’m going to go back with fewer children so I can actually read signs and learn stuff.

Then we went over to the Leffingwell House Museum, which is WAY older than NFA. It used to be a private house, then an inn and tavern. It also was full of familiar names – at one point it was owned by the Backus family, Backus Hospital is where I delivered all four babies.

I took a lot fewer pictures because I was actually listening to our tour guide, who was very entertaining, knew tons of interesting facts both about the house and about the 1700’s in general, and kept the kids entertained.

That thing is called a weasel, and they used it to measure skeins of yarn and when you spin it it makes a pop sound when you have the right length. Pop goes the weasel.

Standing in the exact spot where George Washington stood. Since my children are obsessed with Hamilton, this was very exciting. There was also a lot of Benedict Arnold stuff (he’s from Norwich) but I’m going to need a hip-hop musical about his life before I’m super interested.

I can’t believe I’ve lived in Norwich for 10 years and haven’t been to either of those museums before. If you’re local, don’t make the same mistake!

Lake of the Woods 2018

July 30th, 2018

This year, my parents moved full-time to their lake house. That means my mom officially retired and my dad sort of kinda almost retired except that he still works almost every day and has to commute up to Washington D.C. a couple times a week. I sort of doubt he will ever truly retire, just because he literally does not know how to relax. He needs stuff to do. The lake house was a good purchase because it always needs something done – fix a leak, build a garage, mow the lawn, do boat stuff, go to Home Depot three times in one weekend. It’s also an incentive to get us to visit – lake houses are much more fun than the nice but boring house they lived in when I was in high school. The kids beg to visit and cry when we have to leave.

Our visit this year was extra exciting for Caroline, since the week included pony camp for her each morning at the community’s equestrian center. The boys didn’t seem to care that she got to go to camp and they *only* got to swim in the lake, kayak, tube, boat and hang out with my folks. Unfortunately, E couldn’t get out of work that week so we went without him.

Here are way too many photos from our trip. You’re welcome, Mom!

This is Fancy saying “HI”, not being mad. Caroline and Fancy are BFFs.

My children are incapable of making normal faces for photos.

Finnegan was nervous about jumping the first day. It didn’t last long.

Get Adobe Flash player