December 25, 2017

Christmas 2017

Christmas 2017 was the year of the Lego. For Finn anyway.  Last year he got a bunch as well, but this year - the kid scored big time. The funny thing is, we actually got the kids very little. Finn got a Lego set from Santa (the one he specifically requested from the big guy when we visited and Mary had a meltdown), Mary got a Sylvanian Families set (Calico Critters) also from Santa, they both got a book, a coloring book, Finn got a second Lego set from us and Mary got a little keyboard (a LOUD little keyboard), the rest of the crap stuff was from family and friends. Oh, and we got them movies on their kindles because tomorrow we leave for a nine day road trip. We had gotten them snow bibs, but those really are for the trip so I didn't bother giving them as gifts (but sorta hit all the 'want, need, wear, read' categories)

On Christmas Eve we made cookies, went to church (Finn fell asleep on my lap during the entire service!), and had an exciting evening preparing for Santa. The kids slept in until just after 8 (God Bless!) and even when Finn woke up, he didn't know what time it was so told Mary they had to go back to bed because Santa told them not to wake up until 8am. They are sharing a room right now as Miles' parents are visiting and I love that they were together for Christmas Eve and Christmas morning, I think it made it all the more exciting for them.

They were really pleased to see their cookies eaten and Finn read the note Santa left before they dashed off to discover the presents. I'm sure I say it every year, but the holidays with little kids are so wonderful.

If you're reading this, I hope you had a happy, peaceful day.

Oye, that lighting is doing me no favors. But the kids are cute!


December 18, 2017

Mary Turns Four

When I walked into her room the morning of the big day, I said, "it's your birthday today!" to which she excitedly replied in almost a whisper, "yeahhhh!" When I wished her a happy birthday she informed me, "I'm BERY big now" and at four, she feels just that - entirely too big.

She went from shy and skeptical of others to much more social and confident during the course of this past year. She was mostly really good during the travels throughout the year, though she is not a fan of cold weather (especially if wind is involved).

She could listen to the soundtrack of Moana every day and sings along with great enthusiasm. She loves books, playing picnic, and putting together puzzles. She is the worst at hide-and-seek, but loves playing regardless. 

When she needs to blow her nose she says, "I have snots" and she is obsessed with asking anyone she meets, "what's your favorite color?" followed by "what's your favorite dinosaur?"

She started school this year and was hesitant and nervous at first, but only a few days later she was happy and comfortably settled, quickly making friends and turning our hearts to mush with her after school running hug.

She has sass and attitude and does not like to be told no.

She is also empathetic and gentle and a lover of all animals, sleeping with no less than half a dozen stuffed animals each night.

She does not like to see Finn hurt, does like to rat on him when he's being naughty, and mimics his antics often.

We still call her our baby, and regardless of her big girl status, she will always be just that.


December 11, 2017

Snow Day

On Sunday we woke up to our first proper snow day! It snowed the whole night and when we woke up Miles said, "I don't think you're running today" as I had a 10k race that day, which got cancelled. I went in to wake the kids and it was so neat seeing their reactions when they looked outside. Finn jumped up and looked out the window right by his bed and goes, "ohhh I can build a snowman today!" and hustled to get dressed, heading outside before he even had breakfast. It snowed for the majority of the day and we spent pretty much the whole day outside except to come in and eat and warm up for a bit. It really was such a fun day - I felt like everyone was in such a good mood. I walked into town to get groceries (passing by so many people holding umbrellas which seemed so British to me to use an umbrella in the snow) and everyone was so friendly and we saw so many people outside just wanting to soak up the day before it turned to slush and mush and melted all away (as it did pretty much the following day). But honestly it seemed like it brought out a jovial side in everyone - we all got to be kids for the day. I have NEVER woken up to a snow day that involved actually getting to go enjoy the snow. I never did growing up (because, Arizona) and then while there was lots of snow at West Point there was definitely no running outside to build a snowman. It was more like look at the pretty snow while you walk to class and prepare for a Physics test you'll probably fail. Anyway, this snow day just felt really special. England doesn't get much snow - our neighbors said the last time they had snow like this was in 2011. It barely snowed last year - I remember it did ever so briefly one afternoon and if you weren't outside at the time you would have missed it. So unfortunately this probably will be the only snow day we experience while living in the UK, so I'm especially grateful we could enjoy it so much.

Mary and our neighbor Jack. Aren't they the cutest little things?

Next door neighbors. These buddies have so much fun together.

I took this picture in the morning and the below one in the afternoon -
you can see how much had already fallen off the trees!


November 29, 2017

The Italy Trip Recap

I feel obligated to post a recap of our travels while living abroad mostly out of an obligation to my future self who will be annoyed (maybe?) if I just stopped documenting our time here. So here you go future Caroline, here's what you did in Italy in August of 2017:

We flew in to Milan which several people had told us was not a city we needed to bother spending much time in so we didn't. We were only there for the night as we took an evening flight. For the trip we decided NOT to bring carseats or rent a car and instead take the trains which we heard can be late and expensive, but overall we had a really positive experience with them (and it was more affordable than renting a car, paying for gas, and having to deal with the nightmare of trying to find parking everywhere we went). Our first train ride was from Milan out to Vicenza where we linked up with an Army friend of Miles who is stationed there. We were only in Vicenza for a couple days and that included a day trip out to Venice. Venice was beautiful, but crowded and hot. That probably was the theme of an August trip though - beautiful, crowded, and hot. I can definitely see why people find Venice to be so endearing.

Poor kids, having to go to Venice on a hot day. What a rough life.

I took very few pictures from our time in Vicenza, but here are two from a lovely run I went on before we left. This is Monte Berico and the Basilica that overlooks the city of Vicenza.

We took the train to Rome next where we spent the majority of the trip. We did all the touristy things - the Colosseum, Roman Ruins, Pantheon (our AirBnB was a stone's throw away from the Pantheon!), Vatican City, Spanish Steps, we even went out to the coast for a beach day which was a nice break from the tourist things (though those were wonderful).

From Rome we took the train to Florence where we spent the last few days of our trip. I'm so glad we ended the trip here as it wasn't nearly as busy or grand as Rome, but felt more like a peaceful, relaxed city. 

This was probably the best meal of the trip, possibly ever!

While all of the trips we have taken since moving abroad have been special in their own way, Italy was definitely a surreal one. I wouldn't recommend going in August, but it just meant we had to eat gelato at least once every day! 

BOB Strollers - the real MVP