Tiny Teddy

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How big is Teddy? Sooooo big! Kinda

Teddy had his 18 month well-child doctor visit this morning. I wasn’t at all surprised to discover that Teddy is a really small kid. He’s 20 lb 10 oz (8th %), 31.75″ (25th %), with a giant 19.25″ (87th %) head. He’s shy and hesitant to meet new people but hitting all the important milestones, learning new words all the time, likes reading, roughhousing, and snuggling.

In fact, Teddy was so overwhelmed by having to meet with the pediatrician this morning that after his exam, when the doctor and I were chatting about our London trip and Teddy’s development, Teddy curled up against my chest and fell asleep. That was a new experience for me! At least I don’t have to worry about Teddy being too friendly with strangers unlike Ben, who thinks everyone is a new best friend.

 

Meet Me Monday: Obsessed

Good morning! Did the past weekend go by far too fast for you too? We got snow on Saturday which made the whole weekend feel weird. Snow shouldn’t happen in April!

Today’s Meet Me Monday question is, “What is something you’re obsessed with?”

I am interested in a fair number of things but incredibly passionate about very few. The closest I could come to a full-blown obsession is my feelings about Disney World. As long as I can remember, I’ve loved Disney music and movies and since our marriage almost 8 (whaaaaat?!) years ago, Brian and I have vacationed at Disney World in Florida every year. Each vacation has looked different; we’ve had short, long, on-property, off-property, extended family, just the two of us, indulgent, and thrifty trips over the years.

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Two-year-old Benny meeting his hero, Buzz Lightyear. He still talks about it!

Our trips look so much different now than they did before we had kids but we’re thrilled to introduce our love of Disney to our offspring. Ben is already looking forward to going back in May.

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(Low Res, my apologies) Our 2015 Disney vacation family portrait. We get our photo taken in the same place every year and I love that the photos show our family growing from just the two of us, to being pregnant with Ben and Teddy and now the boys as they get bigger.

How about you? Do you share my Disney infatuation? Do you love reading? Collecting stamps? What is your obsession?

Meet Me Monday: Destress

We’ve made it to another Monday!

Today’s Meet Me Monday question is: What do you do to destress?

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There’s nothing as calming for me to close the shades a little and crawling into bed to enjoy the silence

I recently learned that I’m an ISFJ personality type and like most introverted people, I need to withdraw to recharge and destress, which is a little hard to do with my little guys running around the house. When there’s another adult around to watch the boys, I like to hide in my room. Just 30 minutes of laying on my bed and reading or playing with my phone is enough to give me a boost to make it through the day.

How about you? What do you do to relax and get rid of stress?

Meet Me Monday: Funny Video

As an exercise to prompt myself to write more often, I’m going to start posting answers to conversation starter like questions every Monday. If you feel inspired, join on in by commenting or posting on your own site!

This week’s question: What was the last funny video you watched? 

I watched this video of Morgan Freeman doing a dramatic reading of the lyrics to Justin Beiber’s “Love Yourself” earlier this week and was giggling to myself the whole time. Enjoy!

Teddy Toddler Tantrums

Our Teddy is almost 18 months and has discovered that he can throw a fit. He’s really good at it too; most times the only thing I can do about them is to carefully lower his tiny, rigid body to the floor and wait for him to start sobbing over something tiny and insignificant. 

He had tantrum after tantrum for a solid hour this morning so I decided we needed a hard reset. I plopped him in his crib with toys, books, and all the comfort items he might need if he spontaneously decided to take a nap. I put a favorite Baby Einstein on my laptop across the room and crept into the bathroom for a shower.

Teddy needed some downtime

Shout out to all the parents who have already done resorted to their backup strategies to make it through the day!

Our Favorite Board Books

Reading has always been one of my favorite pastimes and we wanted to do what we could foster a love of books and reading in our boys from an early age. Our boys LOVE books so we read a lot of the same books over and over and over. These are the board books that have passed both the baby/toddler test and the parent test.

Touch and Feel Books

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Clockwise: Home, Puppy, Pat the Bunny, Animals, Curious George at the Zoo

The Unique

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Pantone Colors: This was both boys first favorite book

Sandra Boynton

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Sandra Boynton’s books are funny, witty, and rhyme without being annoying. We’d really recommend any of her books! Other favorites include The Going-to-Bed Book and Doggies.
Clockwise: Blue Hat, Green Hat, But Not the Hippopotamus, Hippos Go Berserk, A to Z, Oh My Oh My Oh Dinosaurs

The Classics

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Clockwise: Goodnight Moon, The Napping House, The Runaway Bunny

Babylit Board Books

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If you are a fan of classic books, you owe it to the children in your life to read these together. The books cover colors, animals, counting, a simplified version of the classic stories, flowers, emotions, and sounds. The illustrations are adorable too! There are so many more Babylit books than what we have. I have Huckleberry Finn, The Secret Garden, and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz on my wish list!
Clockwise: Moby Dick, Alice in Wonderland, The Jungle Book, Dracula

February Update

It’s hard to believe it has been a month since I last posted.

Where did the time go?!

We’ve been working hard on lots of things around here, including keeping our sanity through the Michigan late winter. This year has been particularly mild though (as I write this, the sun is shining and it’s a balmy 50 degrees) so it is easier to endure.

I still owe you all a post on our trip to London at the end of January for the A Day of Rest conference and a few days of site seeing. I have some scanning to do before I have enough pictures to post so know for now that post is in the works.

Note to self: Go find the functioning scanner

Teddy started walking while we were out of the country, of course, and just before our pediatrician’s 16 month deadline before we’d need to seek professional intervention. One day he took 5 steps on his own and the next day he was practically running around my parents’ house. Typical of Teddy, he was waiting until he was sure he was ready.

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Our Teddy Bear action figure with his remote and Wii wheel accessories
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Teddy is more of a climber than Ben has ever been

Just like most skills that Teddy has learned, his teeth are taking their sweet time. Ben always cut 3 or 4 teeth at a time but Teddy gets one slow tooth, has a week off, then gets one more slooooooow tooth. It looks like he is cutting both of his top one year molars right now so hopefully those will be in soon and Teddy will become less of a drama queen again. He learned to throw full toddler-sized tantrums too and exercises his right to throw one daily.

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Our Little Mouseketeer

Teddy is talking much more too. His words include mama, dada, Nene (Benny), kkkkk (kitty), fffft (hot aka coffee), mo (more), baba (his burp cloth), da (down), bah (ball), chhhhh (cheese), and kawkaw (cracker). He has perfected the signs to accompany many of his words and also regularly signs please, drink, water, and milk. He adorably will wrap his arms around our legs and left one leg to indicate he wants to be picked up (never arms raised, for some reason).

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Stealing a sip of Mommy’s fffft

Ben is so, so, so, so ready for school and it’s killing him that it is so far away still. It’s especially hard because I registered him for preschool (afternoons but first on the waitlist for mornings) at the beginning of February and he can see the kids playing at the school from our house. He tells me often, “I’m BIG so I can go to school now.” He craves more stimulation than what hanging out at home with mom can provide and often asks to go play at someone’s house or “go somewhere.” He never has any answers of with whom to play or where to go but he’s ready to have a big kid routine. I’ve started donating plasma and our local donation center has a locked, supervised kids play area and he’s already chomping at the bit to go play while I “give my blood to the sick people.”

Also of note is that he finally chewed a hole in his last pacifier and, with plenty of warning, that got thrown away and he’s now pacifier free! It was a rough few days and I don’t think he’s taken a nap since we took it away at the beginning of February but he still sleeps well at night.

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Ben loves any excuse to stop by his new school, even if it is just to pick up paperwork

To (hopefully) protect my lose grasp on sanity, we’ve been talking through days of the week and working on a preschool friendly way to mark the passage of time. He has a calendar that we write important events in and he helps count the number of sleeps we have until the next event. He is doing a great job at counting to 10 and number recognition but the alphabet is still rather mystifying to him. He’s got “B” down and we’re working on recognizing and writing “E” and “N” so he’ll be able to write his name soon. He’s made pretty good progress with our really casual approach to pre-pre-preschool. He has a super short attention span and seems to struggle with creative drawing so we’re slowly trying to make some progress on those skills too.

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Picking up letters and numbers with chopsticks

How is potty training going? Two REALLY BIG thumbs up! I can only recall one accident in the last month and that was because he got distracted by toys instead of heading straight to the potty chair to do his business. He’s self-initiating all trips to the chair (that we leave in his room), stays dry overnight, and takes himself to the potty chair without a parent in the morning. We ended up using pull ups for about 3 weeks before feeling comfortable going without. We are really proud of him!

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Ben set up a toy store with all the toys from the toy box

Upcoming excitement for the Richards family includes a trip to Atlanta for Brian to speak at a WordCamp (and for the boys and I to spend lots of time playing with friends) and hopefully a long and slightly overdue family trip to Orlando and, of course, Disney World!

Two Weeks of Potty Training

toilet-1552924We started potty training Ben, our 3 year old, on New Year’s Day. I had avoided starting for longer than I should have because I had zero experience with potty training kids and was really overwhelmed by the whole process (plus I hated the idea of cleaning up pee). It wasn’t going to happen without our involvement, however, so we picked a book, picked a day, and took away the diapers.

I’ve collected a few random thoughts about the process thus far as a way of remembering how to do this the next time around

  • Both Brian and I read Oh Crap Potty Training by Jamie Glowacki to give ourselves a baseline idea of how to start the process and deal with any problems that might arise. The book is more of how small kids learn and what their physical limits are at the age when they train than a tried and true method.
  • Like most parenting philosophies, there’s no one way to potty train that will work for every child. Ben is incredibly stubborn and we’ve had to come up with a small handful of tactics to work around that.
  • This little potty chair is pretty great
  • The first week sucked because it is so dang exhausting to be that vigilant for that long. I mourned the sudden loss of my tiny bit of free time during the day because Ben was always right there.
  • At two weeks in, we’ve got a handle on his rhythms and I can trust him to have quiet play time or a nap in his room after lunch without fear of accident
  • Our kid just doesn’t get that there are times that one has to try to pee, even if one doesn’t think one needs to (such as before leaving the house or getting ready for bed)
  • Even though the author strongly encouraged skipping pull ups entirely, we learned that it was worth the drop in stress level and not having to wash bedding 2 or more times per night to give him a pull up. We called them “nighttime undies” and he doesn’t consider them as diapers so it works for us.
  • At two weeks, night time success is only about 30% but he’s about 90% during the day, especially if I’m able to pay enough attention. The weather has been cold and snowy for the last week so we haven’t experienced having to use a public bathroom yet. Ben has always been terrified of them (they’re too loud!) so will be a challenge, especially with a not-yet-walking 1 year old tagging along

 

A Look Back at 2015

A bunch of my friends have been writing blog posts or business updates that focused on what they accomplished in 2015. I didn’t get a chance to write a “year in review” for our family Christmas cards this year so you all are the luck recipients!

January

When I asked Brian what we did last January, his response was, “Survived!” I couldn’t agree more! Teddy turned 3 months at the beginning of the year and we were still a sleep-deprived state, learning to juggle the very different needs of our small infant and toddler. Brian attended PressNomics 2015 in Phoenix at the end of the month. I accidentally gave my computer a bath, lost a bunch of data, but had help from wonderful friends replacing the dead laptop with the one I am using to this day.

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Teddy was the smilest, happiest, most contented baby I’ve ever known

We were able to fill our empty rental house at the beginning of the year with fantastic tenants who have treated the house well over the year. The house had been vacant for a few months and our family and the renters were happy to have found each other.

Of note, I learned to make roasted chickpeas to trick our 2 year old into eating something healthy. He randomly stopped eating anything at dinner so I upped my healthy snack game in attempts to give him something with nutritional value.

February

We went to a wedding, the boys got bigger (Teddy started adoring Ben, which was so much fun to watch), stripped wallpaper in our kitchen, dining room, and hallway in preparation for painting, which was completed during our Florida trip, and we left for our annual Disney trip. This was Teddy’s first trip and even though it took him a day of travel to get used to being in the car, he adapted very well and we really enjoyed ourselves.

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Brothers!
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Meeting one of Ben’s heroes. He’s ben saying for the last 11 months that on the next trip, he’s going to meet Woody.
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Happy Teddy along for the ride
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Brian and Mini-Brian

March

We met up with the spring break group from His House Christian Fellowship from Grand Valley in Fort Myers after our Disney vacation. Brian helped lead the trip while the boys and I helped cook for everyone. The boys enjoyed the attention from all their “Grand Valley friends” and we all enjoyed the extended Florida weather with our students, even if it was colder than normal.

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(L) Ben at 5 months in 2013, (R) Teddy at 5 months in 2015

Our big painting project was completed while we were gone, thanks to the work of the talented Becky. It was such a blessing to not have to worry about Ben ruining all her work by running his hands through wet paint.

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Clean slate!

Brian and I experienced a “first” by attending WordCamp San Diego together at the very end of March. Teddy was too young to be left behind but Ben spent a week with Grammy and Papa. WPSessions sponsored and Teddy was the youngest and quietest attendee. We squeezed in a day trip to Disneyland, which only made us want to go again soon!

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Napping during WCSD 2015
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Radiator Springs Racers at Disney’s California Adventure

April

We returned home and readjusted to being responsible for chores again. The weather got warm enough that I was able to start spring clean up a bit earlier than I have in years past. Teddy started eating solid foods and we geared up to have lots of fun around our house during the summer. We also took what is possibly the best set of photos of our boys together.

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Bananas!
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I <3 matching outfits
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*dies*

We got a new water heater, so exciting, but since we haven’t had any issues with out hot water since, I think it was a significant event!

May

Brian had his 29th birthday, we celebrated our 7th anniversary, and Brian attended LoopConf in Vegas during the first few weeks of May. The whole family participated in the Civil War reenactment at Greenfield Village in Dearborn over Memorial Day weekend.

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May is the beginning of the months that, for me, redeem living through winter in Michigan. It is so beautiful and we spent as much time enjoying our new neighborhood as possible. We have an established asparagus patch in our garden and ate asparagus every two days all month long. It was great!

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June

One day in June I woke up and didn’t feel completely overwhelmed by being outnumbered by my two tiny tornado children. It took almost 8 months to feel like I could take on anything and, naturally, to celebrate, I went out and got a job. I started working for poststatus.com at the beginning of the June and even seven months later am still surprised how much I enjoy doing something that exercises a completely different set of skills than raising children.

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We bought our Chrysler minivan with cash at the beginning of June. This was one of the goals we set at the beginning of 2015 and I’m still pleased and proud we accomplished it. Our van, Van-essa, has taken us on many trips in the last 7 months, the first of which was to a retirement celebration in Iowa for my uncle at the end of June.

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Van-essa

The two most significant home improvement tasks we took on were cleaning and rearranging our breezeway to be a quasi-outdoor play and hangout space for our family when the weather wasn’t quite nice enough to be outside and hiring a landscaper to remove the remnants of a spruce tree (and about a million weeds) out of the north side of our lawn.

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Hi Baby Teds!
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We love playing in the grass!

We spent Father’s Day with friends from out of town and took the boys to play on the playground behind our house. Everyone had a lot of fun!

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Family slide time
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Happy Father’s Day!

July

We kicked off July by hosting my extended family for brunch on the 4th. Our city’s 4th of July parade is spectacular and goes right past the end of our street so back when my grandparents lived here, it became a family tradition to have brunch and walk to the parade together. Now it is our turn to host!

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Most of our photos from July are of our boys at the playground. We live very close to two elementary schools and within walking or biking distance from one of our city’s biggest parks and playgrounds so our spare minutes were spent feeding ducks, eating ice cream outside, and playing on all the play equipment.

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Aggressive ducks
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Ben’s favorite ice cream is “white” aka vanilla
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At the playground
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Exploring
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Dino ride
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Teddy loves swinging as much as his big brother
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Home Depot!!!!!!

In the last week of July, our family left on a 2 week camping road trip to Colorado. The boys were really excited to play in our popup camper!

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Chunky baby in the camper
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Snack time in the camper!

August

We spent the last few days of July and the first 10 days of August on vacation in Colorado. We camped in Moraine Campground in Rocky Mountain National Park for 5 nights before driving to Breckenridge, Colorado for the rest of our trip. We hiked, played on almost every playground we found, and didn’t sleep a whole lot.

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Ben never walks when he can run
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Without a doubt, this photo sums up what life with Ben, age 2, was like
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Our Teddy is a multitasker: snuggling and hiking at the same time

During the rest of the month we had one day trip to a reenactment and a trip to the zoo but mostly spent time near home. We love to travel but being able to recharge at home is really important to us.

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September

September was abnormally busy for us. We took the boys camping near Ludington for a long weekend. Our family celebrated Ben’s 3rd birthday on the 19th (sniff!). Brian had a great time at CaboPress, a business mastermind event put on by our friend Chris. I started running using a couch to 5k app but ended up with terrible pain in my knees from unsupportive shoes and had to bench myself for the remainder of the nice weather last fall. I’m hoping to take it up again (with new shoes) in the spring.

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We spent a ton of time at the campground playground, naturally
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Very happy Teds
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Bobble-headed babies in a buggy
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Big boy Benny turns 3!
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He’s still my buddy, even though he often thinks he knows more than I

October

Teddy turned one year old at the beginning of October. I still have so many feels about my baby being older than a year old but we have no immediate plans to force him into being a middle child. He’s so good at being the baby that we’ll let him keep the title for a while.

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CAKE!

 

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Our birthday baby

We explored ArtPrize in Grand Rapids and had a blast trick or treating at both my dad’s office and in our neighborhood. This was the first year that Ben knew what was going on and wanted to be part of every minute of such a fun day.

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Wreck-it-Ralph and Fix-it-Felix

November

The month of November is a giant blurry spot in my mental calendar. The boys and I all got our first colds of the winter, I finished up 5 weeks of doing yoga at church on Monday nights, and we celebrated Thanksgiving with my parents, siblings, grandma, cousins, and aunt and uncle.

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Because we were all sick, we set up our own “campground” in the basement. So far, it has provided the boys with nearly 2 months of enjoyment
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Short sleeves in November? Craziness!

I purged several trash bags worth of clothes, toys, and household items before Thanksgiving so we could enter the Christmas season without feeling bogged down in stuff. Ben and Brian made a large snowman from our first snowfall and Ben is still asking when it’s going to snow enough for him to do it again.

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Benny’s snowman was nearly twice his height
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So many heart eyes! 😍

December

Brian and I experienced a first at the beginning of December: Traveling without kids! We flew to Philadelphia to participate in the inaugural WordCamp US. Brian has been working with WordPress for longer than we’ve been married so I finally got to meet so many people face-to-face I’ve heard of and chatted with online. We also took the opportunity to spend a day exploring Philadelphia together and were able to see lots of the notable historic sites.I’ve meant to do a post devoted to that trip but face it, at this point, it’s probably not going to happen. Suffice it to say that I think I’ve found my people.

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Oldest continuously live in neighborhood in the US
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Date day in Philly
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Liberty Bell

You can’t talk about December without also talking about Christmas. We spread out festivities as much as we could this year so the boys didn’t completely fall apart. We had a ton of fun with extended family and were thrilled that Brian was able to take the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day off of work. We played, watched lots of movies, ate lots of junk, and had fun being together as a family.

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Play structures: Fun for small kids and cats alike!
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Playing with their new Christmas toys
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Reading time with the best daddy ever

Other small notable events from December: Ben had his first dental cleaning (and did great!), unseasonably warm weather prompted us to spend extra time outside,, Ben really got into decorating the house for Christmas, Brian and I saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and we discovered and eliminated a mouse in the basement.

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Ben loved watching what was going on in his mouth with the mirror
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Ben created a story for every ornament he put on the tree

So heres to 2016! May it be full of as many memorable moments!