Wednesday, January 22, 2014

January...

January - such a funny month that follows December.  It is like we go 1,000 mph and then January hits and we go 0.  I struggle with the transition and most years I sink into a funk (thankfully this year I have a little extra help to get me through).  This week, I saw some neighbors out and about, neighbors we chat with at the school playground and wave to riding bikes in the warmer months and it has me aching for that time of year again when I feel like a "better" mom because we can get out to the park, take walks, play in the front yard, and keeping busy is a little less taxing on the creative mom brain.  But this year I made an effort to find joy in January and everyday I have been recording something I am thankful for on our large chalkboard in our dining room.  It is amazing when you reflect on your day just how much there is to be thankful despite it falling in the month of dreary January.   I am giving this month a complex, I am afraid.  

One of the things we have found, quite by accident, is playing in the sink with all sorts of kitchen utensils, soap and water.  Vera frequently asks to play with "water and bubbles" and starts to scoot the stools over. 

Another way we are staying active this winter is with some activities.  Grandma and Grandpa graciously gave us some tumbling classes for Christmas.  Solon had fun at the parks and rec tumble tots program and so they thought the kiddos would enjoy burning some extra energy in a class at the local gymnastics gym AND the kiddos have loved it.  Vera beams that she can finally do something too and mommy does class with her.  It is so fun to watch their little personalities with other kiddos in a group setting.  Much like her brother, she is timid and obedient toward the teacher but warms up quickly with the activities!  Solon is the only boy is in his class which they said is unusual, luckily having a sister at home, he is not phased by it.  Last week they were working on cartwheels and he WAS frustrated the girls could do it better....so we have been working on it at home.  They do all the different things - beam, bars, trampoline, big pit with rope, etc.  Solon's favorites are the pit and trampoline.  Vera likes the big blue triangle wedge in the corner of the below picture..she climbs up and slides down.  


We have also been taking advantage of some gift cards and HS coupon cards we purchased to go on some family dates.  The kids are really starting to be good at eating out (finally).  Vera still struggles to sit but we found lunch to be a better time to do it!

...and Solon is back to swimming at the Y once a week.  He is in a higher level this time and the other kiddos are good so it is pushing him.  He is a tad competitive so this is spurring him on as he is not the fastest anymore!  They are working on swimming independently - by themselves which we hope he masters by summer when we are at the lake and the pool frequently.  Vera SO wishes she could swim too, but you have to be 3 to start classes.  We will probably wait until January of next year though as we started Solon right at 3 and it was a tad young.

So between taking the kids to tumbling, preschool Tuesday and THursday, swimming on Wednesday, bible study and MOPS we keep pretty busy.  We cherish our pajama days and no gym days.  We still try to get there 2 times a week with kiddos and 1 time early morning *AH!  We are enjoying having neighbors and friends over for dinner, doing playdates and getting a few fun house projects taken care of (more on that in another post).

We will be back as we do more but just know we are taking January in stride, making the most of it and excited for spring on the horizon.  We have a trip to MN to see Grandma and Grandpa in February and a trip to Branson with Scott's parents to see his brother and sister-in-law in March to look forward to as well!


Friday, January 17, 2014

It's time to take responsibility...

Right before Christmas as I was taking the kids to school, we pick up an extra little one...we were talking about our mornings.  The extra we pick up mentioned she did all of her chores and I nearly stopped breathing - chores - why hadn't I thought of that.  Surely Solon was old enough to take some responsibility.  Our doctor even said he needed to get dressed on his own (yes I still dressed him - judge away).  SO after the hustle and bustle of Christmas and my new laminator burning (not literally) a hole in my pocket...I got to work after Scott and I discussed some reasonable jobs for both Solon and Vera.  The teacher in me came out making this little chart...pent up teacher craftiness, just waiting to come out...I know, I know!

I made a little chart with 4 boxes for Solon and 3 for Vera.  I got a free magnet that had just come in the mail with the calendar on it, clothes pin and hot glue after I had made the little picture icons (with my silhouette) and laminated them. There is just something about the smell of hot plastic....okay moving on...
I cut the magnet in half - one for each chart and glued that to the back and then glued the little icons on clothespins.  I really wanted to velcro but didn't have any so we went with it for now...I can always fix it when I remember to finally get that at the store!
Vera has 3 chores that are age appropriate...
1.  Put her jammies in the laundry room and throw her pull-up away in the morning and put clothes in laundry at night.
2.  Clear her place at the dinner table.
3.  Brush her teeth (we are horrible about remembering - this post is turning into a bare all...)
We stuck them on the fridge for a little visual reminder and you know me in fridges so eventually they have migrated to the side...but still work great as a visual reminder for me as much as the kids.  I have a tendency to just do it when I think of it - but I need to teach them the art of responsibility and taking ownership over themselves and keeping our home tidy.

Solon has the same ones as Vera except in addition to putting his clothes away, he needs to get himself dressed and put all the kid dishes and silverware away from the clean dishwasher.

 The first few days of the dishwasher were painful for him and me because he just threw it all in there while grumbling but it has improved, thankfully!

We will see what we add on in the future - so far they get nothing but the satisfaction of completing the task and some good old fashioned praise but I know the day is coming, they will want an allowance - just not yet!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Becoming more crunchy in 2013: Some changes we made...

Let me start out by saying....we are a big ol' hybrid mix of crunchy naturalness and mainstream goodness and we are not experts so we are doing what we feel best for our family and the best understanding we have....I love this lady's take on the world of whole foodness and God.  I laughed and nodded my head the entire article as I had many of the sentiments as we navigate this new found territory.

My philosophy when it comes to parenting has always been that God gave me wisdom for my family and that may not be what you do and that is okay. (As my dad would say it is not good or bad, it is just different.)  We can all learn from one another and I have enough to worry about in my parenting journey to sit in judgment of someone else.  Can I get an amen?  So many on both sides of the crunchy-mainstream debate do that and wow, seems like "a terrible waste of resources" to me.

Much like the blog post I shared above, I stopped subscribing to most whole food blogs and facebook posts, I found they if I didn't live by a strict traditional, no mainstream food diet, you would kill yourself and the lineage after you...well I don't know about you but I don't live in a black and white world.  Some days are meant for a McDonald's happy meal and I am a-okay with that!  I am happy for their family but I am happy to ride the fence, I have always had a desire to live on the wild side (not really but I can pretend, right?).

So why did we gravitate toward the crunchy side?  Well it is a long story that started when I was pregnant with Vera.  I actually had started to get a really nasty case of heartburn and got prescribed some medication....took it my entire pregnancy and hoped after she was born it would go away and it didn't.  I was so bummed and to top it off, it got worse.  The only course of action, I was given was to up my dosage.  At age 28, I was up to 2 capsules a day of acid-blocking medicine.  Something in my bones and Scott's just said that wasn't right.  I was otherwise young, at a good weight and "healthy".  I decided to try acupuncture treatment because I was aching to fix the root problem and not just the symptom.  Well lo and behold it worked and once you start down the acupuncture path, your acupuncturist shares other holistic information with you which you kind of just let sit in your brain archives because you have 2 small children and a household to run and it sounds great but overwhelming.

I had once heard some great advice in my former teaching life that I apply to my life, do one thing at a time really well or do a bunch of things not very well.  SO we changed one thing at a time over the last 2 years.  2012 was the year of acupuncture, introducing green smoothies and vitamins to my diet and 2013 proved to be a continuation - adding in chiropractic care, essential oils, all-natural cleaning products and a healthier "crunchy" diet.  As I changed one thing and got comfortable I would try another and over time we have in our minds overhauled our home.  We still have stuff to change and stuff that never will and I am okay with that.

I am careful that this doesn't become an idol in my life that circumvents my faith in God.  Our health can be a slippery slope especially when it consumes us.  Just this year, as I was struggling with depression....the proud, crunchy side of me desperately wanted to fix it naturally and I do believe there may be ways down the road but I don't believe that is where God has me right now.  Right now, His provision of medicine is what I need.  And thankfully He has used that story to bless others in their time of need.

So let's get to the fun stuff of this post...what have we changed?  There is not always a rhyme or reason and we still DO vaccinate our children, we still go to the doctor when we are sick, get physicals, eat out and sometimes don't buy organic (it is expensive).

1.  We use norwex cleaning clothes as well as vinegar and water to clean.  I use vinegar/water (50/50 mix) to clean my floors.  The cloths are great for kitchens, bathrooms, dusting, etc.  I love how fast I can clean without finding the million bottles of cleaner and although they were an investment, I really haven't noticed us getting sick any more and probably less!  The only exception is I use 99% natural toilet bowl cleaner.  I just can't stick my cloths in the toilet...they could do it, I just can't stomach it!

2.  I normally drink green smoothies with kale, stiggi's all natural drinkable yogurt (no hormones and non-gmo), wild blueberries (frozen from costco), strawberries (frozen and not organic) and bananas (don't buy organic).

3.  We take probiotics (even the kids).  I had a serious gut issue in 2013 and ended up with a colonoscopy and the works.  Taking the probiotics and getting my gut healthy has been a huge blessing.   It wasn't pretty before ;).  I also learned so much of our overall health comes from good gut health.  I am constantly in awe of how God made our bodies.  We take the refrigerated ultimate flora brand and get it 10% at Hy-Vee on their healthfood Wednesdays.

4.  We went hormone-free with milk.  We buy regular cheese and the kiddos poo-pooed all the healthy yogurts so I just get those simply gogurts.

5.  We buy organic for some things - mostly veggies, some fruits (especially if I am at Trader Joe's), I don't buy organic bananas, avocados or onions generally.

6.  We buy mostly Annie's for snacks and get a lot of the simply balanced brand at Target for kids snacks.  The kids love the all natural fruit snacks and fruit leathers.  They still love goldfish and pretzels and still buy normal crackers and chips, etc.

7.  I bake with organic flour and sugar in the raw

8.  We started buying cage free, organic eggs.  In the summer I buy my eggs at the farmers market.

9.  Really started reading labels and try to buy things without corn syrup, sweeteners and artificial coloring.  I didn't realize how many things corn syrup is in.  We also buy maple syrup (100% real) and locally made honey (great for allergies).

10.  Drinking a lot more water and trying to drink less pop (this is one of those vices I can't completely give up ;).

11.  Started using a chiropractor (just me for now)

12.  Started using essential oils (Young Living).  We love lavender to help with sleep (really works), thieves oil for colds and illnesses (on the soles of our feet and a drop on the tongue for us adults) and a blend called RC for coughs.  Peppermint for headaches and aches and pains.  Lemon oil in water for a fun tasting water and good detox.  Still learning but God made some great remedies in nature.

13.  We take a multi-vitamin and I take fish oil and cranberry supplement.

14.  We went with all natural free and clear detergent, dryer balls (instead of fabric softener), paraben and sulfate free shampoo, conditioner, face wash and make-up (go to Skin deep app for help finding good products).

So as you can see some has changed and some has stayed the same...the changes we have made haven't been too cost prohibitive especially since places like Target and Costco now carry store brands that are more holistic in nature.  I am not a bandwagon fan, I am more a lifestyle change kind of gal and stick with it for the long haul....these changes may not be for you and that is okay.  I just ask that you respect me and what I do for my family and I will show you the same courtesy.   Life is too short to get our panties in a bunch, don't you think?

Let's keep the main thing the main thing and that is Christ....the center of our lives and the reason we draw breath each day!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Potty Training Round 2...

It is true what they say when you do something with your 2nd child you are a tad more laid back (or in my case lazy?) and some things you are more hesitant to do because you know what is coming.  With Solon I wanted to be "that mom" who had her child potty-trained at a decent age and he was at some point...with a few bumps and bruises along the way (not literally just figuratively of course ;).

So when Vera started showing interest in using the restroom like a big girl, I put the brakes on.  I knew that this would mean I had to be diligent, on my game, on the ball, you name it - I had to be ready at all times with a bathroom nearby.  I also had to arm my purse with a change of clothes and cute little princess underwear everywhere we went and I knew there would be moments at someone's house or some public place where my daughter would be standing in a puddle beneath her....okay you get the picture.  I am not one of those moms anymore that pushes for the end of diapers, I am fine with the small nominal expense that allows me to be lazy ;)!

BUT my equal parts spicy and sweet daughter had other intentions and Scott and I knew we needed to seize the opportunity right after Christmas when the chaos had settled and we had a few days at home to practice (which is really important, choose a few days to not go anywhere so they have a chance to get the idea and be successful).

We had already gone to Target and Gymboree and let her pick out some tiny undies, washed them up and they were ready to go.  We also dug out the little frog potty and toilet rings.  Solon preferred the rings and Vera prefers the frog potty (I think since she is so petite yet independent, the frog potty is more her thing).  Funny how each kid is different - just go with it :)!

So one morning, she got up and wanted to wear them and so we let her.  We set the kitchen timer and every 20 minutes we would take her to the toilet.  She didn't go at first but eventually she did.  We feed them lots of choice drinks that we normally wouldn't - namely apple juice for us.  The one thing she differed from brother was she can hold it for a LONG time making practice harder.  She also missed once but came running and had stopped mid-stream only to finish on the toilet.  We don't discipline for accidents just explain that big girls or in her case princesses pee on the toilet (and yes I pulled the princess card - she is one after all ;).  All day we set the timer and she seemed to like company that day so I would generally go with her and use the restroom too.  Whatever works.  We also had purchased some fun new stickers and she had a whole shirt full by days end.

Now with Solon, we continued the whole take him often strategy for several days and then would have to ask.  Vera already 50% of the time tells us she has to go.  She is VERY independent and has been known to try to empty her toilet into the real toilet only to spill all over the floor.  We have talked at length about how mommy needs to help.  My floor is very clean ;)!

Now after two weeks of potty training, when we are out in public I always take her right when we got some place (she will never go at home - loves to see new bathrooms) and right before we leave some place.   So far she has done great at the gym, bible study and church with no accidents as long as I remember to take her before and after.  Playdates are tricky because she is so busy playing with friends, she doesn't take the time to potty and even if I take her, she doesn't always go.

Now, number 2 is always fun.  I say it is harder to teach because there is less opportunity to practice.  Vera was not interested and still is hit or miss in this department and several other moms agree this can either be a "you get it" or "you wait" thing.  We got some special "big" dollar spot prizes which worked initially but now she will wait til bedtime or vanish for a few minutes and come back so I don't have a clear answer for you there....trial and error.  She is smart, she knows....she doesn't want to waste her time sitting around ;).

So there is our 2nd round of potty training for you - nothing super wild, crazy or new but worked for us :)  If you want to see what I did last time check out this blog post....

And note Vera and Solon both tried once before this and failed simply weren't ready, we had several accidents and didn't seem to get the concept so I bailed and tried again a few months later.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Our 2013 Christmas Card...




Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Christmas festivities keep going and going and going...

We said farewell to Papa and Nana on the 27th.  They had to get home and packed for their winter in Florida (not jealous at all ;) and we had to clean up a bit for our next round of visitors...
Grandma and Grandpa and Auntie Ellen came to celebrate a little more Christmas, exchange a few more gifts and bring us the stuff they already gave us since they get free baggage check.  Solon and I had found some fur facial accessories and knew Auntie Ellen would enjoy getting them from the kids...we all had fun trying them out!


We spent the late afternoon unwrapping gifts and playing....it was a very relaxing day!

Auntie Ellen and Grandpa hard at work building something while Grandma and Vera have tea at the table they brought (which was mine when I was little and I think my mom's before that)...it is just on loan ;)!

After a delicious dinner of raclette, I may have instigated a plastic ball war....Grandpa is not competitive at all and hopped behind the couch with an arsenal of balls....
Solon got smart and used Vera's new sled as a shield.

The next morning we got up and worked on a gingerbread house.  We did have to use some hot glue for the structure...



...and we did some more playing and relaxing...and watching football, there was definitely football on :)!

....cheesers with Grandma (by the way doesn't she look fabulous she is this close to one-derland :).

My grandparents and Scott's best friend from college came Saturday too so we had a full house.  Mom, dad and Auntie Ellen watched the kids while we took Kelly, his girl friend and another college friend out to eat.  Sunday we did more lounging before it was time to say see you soon.

Solon has been going through grandparent withdrawal and called Grandma yesterday to see if she could come for a visit and she agreed....we can't wait to see her at the end of the month!

We were tucked out after a busy month and lots of celebrating....Vera even fell asleep on the couch that Monday when daddy went back to work....which never happens!!!
I think that rounds out our Christmas festivities - it was a great end to 2013...looking forward to what 2014 will bring!


Saturday, January 11, 2014

Frozen: Vera's First Movie...

The day after Christmas Marty and I went to Target and a few other places to grab a few good deals on things we always needed (as Scott says) and put the kiddos down for an early nap so we could go see the movie "Frozen".  EVERYONE loved it.  We of course got popcorn and Vera ate half herself, I swear!  We have been listening to the soundtrack non-stop and think we all have it memorized, we can't wait to buy it when it comes out.  It might be my favorite Disney movie ever!  I was nervous to take Vera but she did great...still contemplating going one more time....

Friday, January 10, 2014

Christmas Day...

The kids let us sleep in until 7:50am!  I guess wearing them out with travel helps the sleeping in factor.  I hopped out of bed so excited - I LOVE CHRISTMAS!  Of course I made sure Santa made it, turned on the tree and snapped a few photos before I took the ceremonial picture of the kids on the steps...



They were excited!!!

They ran downstairs and saw the jump-o-lene first....Solon said "we didn't even ask for this!"...and it was love at first sight, it has been worth every $37 I spent on cyber Monday even if we popped the top two rings already ;)!
It took them a few minutes to realize there were other things under the tree for each of them...they love to dig into their stockings first.  Solon found some underwear, socks, GUM, and some other fun gadgets and games in his.


They both got what they wanted and when Vera opened up her stroller, it was priceless.  She screamed "my stroller, my stroller" she was SO excited and then the same thing for her umbrella.  Yes she really wanted an umbrella, I will remind her of that when she is older.
She had all of her stuff on within the hour - the Sophia dress, her princess purse and popped up her umbrella all while cooking with her new little set for her house.  Solon got some motion-censored traffic signs.  A friend of mine found them at a consignment store and knew Solon would love them and they were a steal and SO cool.
We whipped up some sourdough pancakes and bacon for breakfast (a Port specialty) and sipped coffee while the kids played totaled the house.  It is the one day I let them get EVERY last thing out and not have to pick up - I know I am so mean!  I stayed in my pj's for most of the day and we hung out.

My mother-in-law did help me set the table and we had Scott's 2nd cousin Andrea with us for a lovely Christmas meal and of course Jesus' birthday cake for dessert.  We actually had 2 cakes so both kids got to blow out His candle!  We even did a little devotion that our church sent home to talk about the components of the cake - it was a great way to teach the kids about the reason for the season!
We ended the day with more relaxation, another round of appetizers and plenty of sweets!

What a perfect Christmas - we are so thankful and blessed.  And the cherry on top, it was a WHITE Christmas....

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Christmas Eve...

And just like that it was Christmas Eve!  Where did December go?  We slept in after a late arrival back in Des Moines from NYC.  We sipped coffee and cleaned up a bit before I headed to the store for a few fresh things I couldn't stock up on before we left.  Marty and Dale aka Nana and Papa, Scott's parents, drove down and arrived around noon.  The kiddos were so excited to see them.  We had potato soup, salad and bread for lunch and let the kids open a gift and then had them nap knowing they were worn out from travel the day before.  We hung out and relaxed which was marvelous...

Then when the kiddos woke up, we skyped the Australia Malin's and then quickly got ready for church.  Solon has been really into hats...my mini Bruno Mars.  We had a lovely church service with carols and gospel message that ended with a candlelit silent night...my favorite Christmas memory despite Solon nearly starting my hair on fire.

The kiddos were dying to get their hands on the goods (you can tell Nana and Papa showed up my tree instantly got smaller with all those presents surrounding it).  I quickly plated some appetizers and we ate while the kids unwrapped their gifts.  I always get them coordinated pajamas...finding matching is hard with a boy and a girl but my mom did it with us (still does actually) so it is a fun tradition!

Before bed we read "The Night Before Christmas" and laid out chocolate chip cookies (remember Santa said those were his favorite), some milk and of course a carrot for Rudolph and then got into their Christmas jammies and headed to bed! 

It was a perfect, quiet and fun Christmas eve at home.  I am so thankful we could celebrate with family in our new home.  And thankful to celebrate the birth of a tiny baby who came to the world to change your and my destiny -- the best gift of all!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

NYC Day 3 and 4...

We slept hard and woke up to an alarm clock so we could catch our "uber cab" to Radio City Music Hall for a 9am performance of the Rockette's Christmas Spectacular.  I am 99.9% sure I was more excited than my kids for this.  I have ALWAYS wanted to see the Rockettes and have never been to Radio City Music Hall, what a special Christmas treat (thanks mom and dad!).


Inside the building there were Swarovski crystal trees hanging with beautiful chandeliers.  It was a beautiful old theater.  Of course we grabbed a blinking bucket of overly priced but quite delicious popcorn and some waters, grabbed our 3D glasses, had our picture taken with a rockette and found our great seats!

I snapped a few photos during the show with no flash...we all loved the toy soldier number, their precision was amazing.  Solon loved when the canon went off and they all fell down, one after the other.

 The entire time they had objects and shames cast across the ceiling.  At one point they projected toy trains driving across the ceiling, Solon that was so cool!  Another favorite was when large beach ball-type balls came out of the orchestra pit and flew around the auditorium and then they flew back to the orchestra pit!
 They did so many neat numbers and even had a life-like bus as they sang New York, New York!
 It was a fabulous performance and we all enjoyed the 80 minute show.  It was the perfect amount of time, towards the end the kiddos got restless but then something would grab their attention.  You can tell whoever directed it had kids in mind.  The auditorium was full of them!  Those rockettes can kick too, it gave me chills to see them live.  As a dancer, I know how difficult it is to be so precise with a group.
After the show, my dad had made reservations at the Rock Cafe which is on the same level as the ice skating rink.  The line to skate was CrAzY long so we decided to skip that this trip.  We could have done the VIP line for a $130/person - ouch, no thanks!  After lunch we decided to go to the American Girl Store with Vera and Solon asked to go to the "American MAN store" so my dad and Scott took him to the lego store to pick out something.  We had fun getting some special doll things for Vera despite the MASS amount of people, by this point we were over the LARGE crowds!  It didn't help that it was in the 70's.  We saw people in shorts and t-shirts shopping...
After a little shopping we walked the few blocks back to quietness and to my dad's apartment.  Crazy just a few blocks over the crowds disappear...and we hung out and rested while the kids napped.

That night might have been my favorite.  We went to an italian restaurant a block south of my dad's place and it is also a piano bar.  The pianist played the beatles, to Christmas tunes and even played Itsy Bitsy Spider and the ABC's for the kids!  It was so much fun....a couple of older quintessential New York ladies walked in and chatted with us...they were a hoot and insisted on Ellen singing for all of us because they heard her singing along to a song!  She was shaking like a leaf but sung brilliantly :)!  I could have stayed all night....it was a blast and the food was great too.  The place was tiny and quaint and totally local...
 
After dinner we had promised the kids a carriage ride in Central Park, the only bummer was we couldn't ride together due to animal safety laws.  SO mom and dad took the love wagon :) and the kids and Auntie Ellen went with us!  The kids LOVED it as did we...it was fun to see the skaters skating in Central Park, stroll by the Plaza Hotel and enjoy the warm evening.  Solon even got to feed the horse a carrot when he was done.  He would have rode again if we had let him...think a trip to Great Uncle Jim's horse farm is in order!




 
(note the temp while we were waiting at the plaza for our uber cab...80 degrees at 8pm, it might have been heated a tad but it was beautiful out!)

After the carriage ride, Solon wanted to see Times Square....given the masses everywhere else we knew it would be beyond nuts so my dad decided we could rent an uber cab and have him take us the long way home through time square.  I will do that every single time from now on...
Getting in the uber cab and off we go!
The kids loved riding willy nilly in the car.  I didn't worry as we went about 5 mph MAX the whole way...so much traffic.  We had a perfect unobstructed view and made good friends with our driver who was from Niger!  We looked at the sidewalks and it looked almost like NYE with bumper to bumper crowds, I could see someone getting lost.  Thankful to sit and see!

After our awesome long way home cab ride, we all headed home to window watch and enjoy some time together before we hit the hay!

Our last day (we had an evening flight), we got up and it was super duper foggy but we decided to uber cab it to Battery Park to see if we could catch a glimpse of Lady Liberty.  We decided to forego the Ellis Island tour this time around as the kiddos are a bit too young to enjoy it.  We did see her and Solon snagged his prized souvenir an 8 inch replica.  He was so excited!
From Battery Park we walked north to see the Freedom Tower and the 9/11 memorial.  We also decided not to pay to see the memorial this time around because it started to pour rain and it was all outside...with only 2 umbrellas and 2 kids in strollers, we opted to move on towards China Town!
We walked by the start of the Brooklyn Bridge and by this point my kiddos were hungry, wet and fowl so we grabbed some street bagels and I was in heaven....get one, they are SOOOOOO good!  And then continued on to Canal St where my mom and dad entertained our kids at Starbucks while we shopped for a few minutes :)!
 
We took the subway one last time back north to midtown and head lunch at a New York diner before calling it quits, tired and wet.  We headed back to the apartment - changed and packed and hung out together before our car arrived to take us to the airport.
Funny thing was we asked them to provide car seats. They must not get the request often because Vera's seat was fine but Solon's booster was strapped in with the seat belt but had no buckles so his seat was secure but he wasn't...not much I could do to change it...luckily I said a prayer and God provided safety as we headed out of the city into the lincoln tunnel at a snail's pace.  5 minutes from my dad's place, Solon announced he needed to use the restroom....luckily he made it to the airport and informed us he only peed a little 3 times the whole way ;)....kids!  Vera past out in the car and of course uncontrollably sobbed during the whole check in process from sheer exhaustion...the trip home was quiet eventful but worth it for such a fun time with our family!
Our flight was delayed from 7:30pm to 9pm east coast time so Vera was beyond done when we boarded the flight and then spilled something on her shirt and cut her finger on the window...so she screamed from tiredness for the first hour.  I was pitted out and needed a stiff drink but thankful to say this was our first flight where she was like that and let's pray it is our last :).  Luckily it was mostly families and I finally got her to sleep so the last hour and a half were quiet, despite her being shirtless!  We arrived home around midnight just in time for Christmas eve.  We all hit our pillows and were out!
We had so much fun - thanks Mom and Dad for an unforgettable experience.  Solon is already planning his next trip out.  According to his beloved book, he still needs to ride the carousel, play in Central Park and visit the Central Park Zoo!  Hope we get an invitation again (wink, wink!).

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