Garden refresh

After our initial Spring gardening, we re-started the whole thing because most of the plants had either died or gone to seed. We did a simplified set-up for mid-June with basil, parsley, rosemary, cilantro, and mint.

J and I also added inĀ arugula, chives, and lettuce seeds just to see how they would grow this time of the year. I also have plans to add in some flowers to provide some natural pest deterrents for the herbs. J also wants flowers to bring in some butterflies like this one we found at the pool:

J has a love/fear of butterflies. He is intensely fascinated by all animals, but he doesn’t like them flying at him. However, this was an incredibly patient butterfly, who sat steadily as J creeped in and peered at its wings. It even waited until he turned around and jumped back into the pool before it flew away. Definitely one we would like to visit our garden!

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Why we “vacation”

When you have kids you always use the term “vacation” in quotations because it means something very different than the typical image of someone lying on the beach, relaxing endlessly with their toes in the sand. However, as we have learned over the past eight years, “vacations” are necessary. They cost too much, the travel is too long, somebody is going to get sick, and you may have to bribe a kid with endless cookies, so they don’t melt down and get you kicked off an airplane…or out of a Barnes and Noble. But we do it anyway. Because vacation time for us means a chance to disconnect from endless emails, work requests, and the full time nature of our jobs. Instead you have ice cream a lot, try out the Mario Maker levels your eight year old has been working on, and “bear-row” your five year old in the sand over and over at his request. And when your kids declare it the best week ever and ask when we are going on vacation again, you know that despite the fact you may return home just as tired as when you left it’s a different tired. A good tired. And you sigh, turn your computer back on, and start back to the everyday. And you start planning the next “vacation”.

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Wedding festivities

Besides the terrific zoo and museum, the major reason we made the drive to Ohio was for B’s sister’s wedding.

The boys danced the night away:

And I got a few pictures with this guy:

And this guy:

And this kid wanted to eat all the cupcakes:

And we got a family picture too:

And then we were off to our next summer adventure!

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Star Wars Costume Exhibit

The Cincinnati Museum at Union Terminal is under construction, but they still have exhibits and their children’s museum open to the public. When we found out that our days in Cincinnati coincided with a traveling Star Wars exhibit we knew we had to put that on our list.

They had everything from a light saber battle:

To Hans Solo and Chewbacca:

There was Boba and Jango Fett:

And many more costumes from both sides of the force:



For Star Wars enthusiasts like my boys it was very cool to see the actual costumes and all their detail, especially Darth Vader:

And per our usual, the boys watched every single video on costume production from beginning to end:

The exhibit itself is not very long, however, the boys extended it by watching the videos, and there was a really cool set of allusion mirrors at the end where you could dance like a storm trooper, C-3PO, and Darth Vader. It wasn’t an exhibit that I would have driven a long distance just to see, but it was definitely worth going to since we were in the area. My favorite part was seeing the interweaving and details of the designs, and the boys liked the interactive (light saber controlling, short film) parts of the exhibit.

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Cincinnati Zoo

By far one of the largest zoos we’ve visited, the Cincinnati Zoo is one that you really need two days to see everything. However, we only had one day to spend, so we skipped a few of the exhibits (insects, specifically), but the boys were troopers and most of it we did see.

It was hot, but the zoo does a good job of providing lots of shaded areas and walkways.

There were also several areas in the zoo where you can interact with the animals:

And get very close to them:

If you can’t tell from that picture, J is sitting under Flash (the sloth):

And there’s just a stretch of (heavy) glass separating you and a Komodo dragon:

Who meandered over towards J as he was examining him:

And even animals lounging in the shade can eventually be spotted:

There’s also a large savannah area with okapi, ostrich, pelicans, and vultures:

This is reminiscent of the set-up at The Animal Kingdom Lodge in Disney World. You can also walk almost 360 degrees around the savannah, which gives you great views of all the animals.

We’ve wised up over the years with our boys and we always do three things. 1. Eat lunch early (we ate right at 11), which avoids crowds and stops them from saying they’re hungry over and over. 2. Plan a snack treat two hours after eating (obviously our boys function better with food):

3. Let them read all the signs and don’t rush them through stuff.

We managed to get a few pictures of all of us:

And treated the boys to matching red pandas (their pick) at the end of the day!

It was definitely worth the trip!

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Trails & trails

Before the weather gets too hot and we have to do any hiking really early in the day we headed out on two different hiking excursions this past week.

First up, the boys and I started venturing through our closest trail, The Goldsmith Schiffman Wildlife Sanctuary :

This particular trail is a flat elevation for the part we walked:

And once you get past the beginning of the trail it is shaded:

It also has a shaded bench area at the start to bird and animal watch:

It was a good thing the weather was nice and a little breezy because we were still hot and sweaty by the time we returned home:

Then the next day my Aunt and Uncle were in town, so our whole family headed out to hike one of our favorite trails at Hayes Nature Preserve:

I think we’ve only hiked this trail in the winter, so it was definitely different to see it all in the late Spring:

We found a cool little cave:

However, I think the kids’ favorite part were the rocks to climb at the end:

And a fuzzy caterpillar to inspect was also the talk of the morning:

We had a great time adventuring through the forest!

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Last day of second grade

In August of 2016, A entered second grade…

He learned about arrays, higher level addition and subtraction, creating graphs, measuring, and more. He worked on handwriting, story creating, comprehension, and formal vs. informal speaking. He gave presentations on a variety of topics including the giant panda and a chronology of his life. He wants to be an author when he grows up, andĀ math is still his favorite subject.

He is definitely ready for third grade. He loves everything about school, and I’m little worried of how I’m going to keep him from becoming thoroughly bored this summer (thankfully my Mom dropped off a whole stack of math games). However, I’m sure with his brother to create games with, math games, and a stack of new library books he should at least have things to do the first week. Ha!

A loves reading, hiking, and creating books about all kinds of topics. He is always ready to learn anything and everything and I just hope he always retains his love of learning. He is honest and silly and sincere. And we celebrated his stellar gold rally day by going out for frozen yogurt as well.

I loved getting to take each of the boys on their own outings to celebrate the end of school. A is looking forward to moving upstairs next year as he is officially transitioning to upper elementary school. I can’t believe it! We are so proud of our sweet boy!

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Last day of pre-K

In August of 2016…

J began his last year of preschool.

In what seemed like a mere blink of an eye, our baby, the youngest, was suddenly a full on kid. J can count to 100, recognizes all letters, is steadily reading beginning books, and can color inside the lines like a rock star (although I feel like most rock stars color outside the lines). His teacher has commented throughout the year on J’s endless kindness and patience with his classmates.

As he began his last day I asked him a series of J’s favorites questions, so here are my questions and his responses:

What do you want to be when you grow up? Zookeeper.

What’s your favorite movie? Finding Dory. Show? Paw Patrol. Video Game? Mario 3D World. Dinner? Pasta. Tsum Tsum? Eeyore (although I’m pretty sure it’s Stitch & Roo).

What does Mommy always say to you? Get dressed.

What’s your favorite game to play? Freeze tag.

And a few more things that J loves right now: board games, giggling, eating dessert, going to the pool, and going to get frozen yogurt…

Which I treated him to after school on his last day! He met up with several of his friends and ate a whole bunch of candy with a little frozen yogurt and giggled a lot. And if his love of dessert isn’t clear here’s a closer look at that bowl:

A sweet treat for our sweet boy! Both B and I are a little sad that J is leaving his preschool years behind, but we are so proud of him and so excited for everything he’ll learn in Kindergarten!

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Eggs on a waffle

One of our favorite weeknight (or lazy weekend day) activities is to watch cooking shows. Our current favorites are any baking championship, Chopped, and Iron Chef. The boys are so inspired by the shows that they are more willing to try new foods, and have come up with ideas of their own. Hence, J’s latest concoction; eggs on a waffle.

He declared he wanted to make eggs on a waffle one night during Iron Chef Gauntlet and, of course, remembered this the next morning:

And he helped make it as well! My hope is that when the boys go to college they’ll have a stack of food items and recipes they can make on their own. Eggs are a good start.

As you can see J was quite pleased with his finished eggs on a waffle. He decided that he likes eggs “a little bit”. Next time he wants to make the waffles from scratch, too, so we’re off to the kitchen again!

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