That’s all (for now).

Seven years ago this month, I clicked “Publish” on the very first post on this blog.

Back in the spring of 2011, I hadn’t even been married for a full year yet. We had all the time in the world to explore the city and take two week vacations in the summer. And, if you’ve been following along since the beginning, you know that all of those adventures were the basis for the early days of this space.

Then, two years after that, life became less about finding adventures “out there” and more about the adventures close to home, as we navigated the early days of new parenthood. Life was different and more exhausting, but still pretty amazing.

Fast forward again. Another two years, and one more baby later, we basically never left the house. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, we went to Target—a lot—and we literally left one house for another one. Life became different again, and even more exhausting. But, even more amazing.

As I scroll back through the 316 posts contained on this site I can’t believe all the things that happened, in a relatively short amount of time.

This blog was kind of my first real hobby. I’ve been able to blend my love of words and pictures into a pretty fantastic record of some of the best years of my life (so far). And, as I’ve said before, it’s a good thing I kept up with it because I filled out exactly two pages of the fancy baby book I bought for B and I didn’t even bother to buy one for A.

So, it’s with a little bit of sadness that I leave this space behind. But, truthfully, it doesn’t really feel all that inspiring anymore. The overall design is out of sync with what my life is really about now. And, as much as I love my girls and think they are adorable, they aren’t the only things that I want to talk about.

At some point—hopefully in the near future—I hope to have another home on the Internets that feels a little bit more like…me.

If you’ve been reading for all of this time, thank you for being a friend. Thanks for making me feel like some sort of expert when you asked me advice on food and travel. Thanks for telling me how much you’ve liked my writing. Thanks for putting up with all of the photos of my kids and telling me how cute they are.

I’ll let you know where I end up!

xoxo,

LV

Alice: Two Years Old

And, then she turned two.

(Well, she’s been two for a couple of weeks, but I’ve been fashionably late with the updates for the entire last year. Why start being on time now?)

Alice has already seemed like such a big girl for awhile now (and, at 27 pounds and 2 feet, 10 inches tall, she is one!). She moves at the speed of light, talks a mile a minute, has the strong opinions of a teenager and can operate most electronic devices better than I can. From the moment she was born, she has seemed like a much older person to me, right down to her love of long afternoon naps. I don’t know if it’s the fast pace of life with two kids that makes it seem like her babyhood flew by in a blink, or if having a big sister to look up to made A grow up too fast for my liking.

B’s second birthday was bittersweet because I knew we’d soon be adding another little one to to the mix and A’s second birthday was tinged with wistfulness because she’s our last baby. The copious amounts of sugar and sparkle that we incorporated into her unicorn-themed bash took some of the sting out of it (although I did end the day in tears at the kitchen counter).

Happy Birthday to my sweet little girl. You tell the worst jokes (“Knock, knock? Who’s there? Poopie. Poopie who? Poopie goes in the toilet!), are terrible at I Spy, and can whine from sunrise to sunset, but your hugs and snuggles make me happier than a unicorn eating cake on a rainbow.

And, friends, that’s a wrap on these monthly posts. I’m glad that we kept up this project for the first two years of both the girls lives, but now it’s time to retire that pink chair and fight with the girls about something other than posing for photos every few weeks. But, I can’t resist leaving you with one last Allie glamour shot–I dare you to find a more adorable passport photo than this girl’s!

Alice: 22 and 23 Months

22 months

At this point, I think it goes without saying that I’ve done a pretty crappy job of keeping up with Alice’s updates. We take the photo pretty much on time ever month, but it gets harder and hard to find the time to put together the words that go with them. At least this time around, I can blame the craziness of the holiday season and subsequent hung over feeling that followed, right?

23 months and currently obsessed with dishtowels

Christmas was just so much fun this year, so that seems like a good place to start this post. Both of the girls were super into all things festive, from the decorations, to the movies (they can recite portions of A Charlie Brown Christmas, Elf and Frosty the Snowman from memory) to the songs, and we’ve got plenty of photos to prove it.
                                       Twinning with her big sis at Brunch with Santa at Drexel

Definitely wanted no parts of Santa or Mario the Dragon…

…Happy to eat all of the sugar, however.

Taking advantage of an early December snowfall to snap our Christmas card photos

“Mr. Ginch” was another seasonal obsession

Annual trip to Macy’s Center City for the Light Show…I promise they were happy about it!Teamwork to make Santa’s cookies

Twinning again on Christmas Eve
Still half asleep, surveying Christmas morning spoils

Hanging out in one of their joint gifts from Santa, a princess tent

Technically, a gift from Santa, to B. But, they are both enjoying the world of Calico Critters

Christmas is exhausting for all involved. Good thing Tracy got a new bed to lounge on.

Her (and her sister’s) smile is the best gift ever!

One of the things that I love most about Allie lately is her hair. I had begun to think that it was never going to start growing out, but in the last couple of months, it has finally become long enough to style. Doesn’t she look just like Boo from Monsters, Inc?!

Allie’s current obsessions include babies (she loves interacting with them, although she’s very clear that she does not want a baby brother or sister to join her at home) food (eating it, and talking about it. If you ask her what any of her stuffed animals are named, chances are she’ll tell you carrot, pizza or something similar), and sleep. We’ve been lucky that both of our girls have been good night time sleepers, but Alice also loves to sleep in, in the mornings, or take two hour-plus afternoon naps. She loves to sleep with the covers over her head, and she is none to happy if we have to pull them off her to rouse her from a slumber.

Alice’s flair for the dramatic and for telling people exactly what’s on her mind seems to become more pronounced as she gets older, too. She can keep up with just about any conversation, and I love when she chimes in from the backseat of the car when the people in front are talking about absolutely nothing that relates to her at all–she just has to have something to say. She has picked up some of her sister’s snappy comebacks and propensity for turning on her heel and throwing a “Bye!” over her shoulder at us if we ask her to do something that she doesn’t want to do or tell her something that she doesn’t want to hear.

 

She is also becoming Little Miss Independent. She tries to do a lot for herself, like taking off/putting on her own clothes, opening the bathroom door, brushing her teeth and carrying ten times her own weight in toys. She isn’t always successful, but I do love that she is so determined!

How is she already doing the big girl swings?!

For the most part, Alice and B get along like the best of friends, although now that their interests in toys and activities are pretty similar, they have their fair share of clashes over who has to share what. Mostly, I just let them work it out for themselves and only intervene in their disagreements if it looks like things might end in bloodshed. So far, this seems to have worked out pretty well. And, it is a beautiful thing that they will mostly play nicely together and don’t need to rely on me for 100 percent of their entertainment.

Next time you hear about Alice, she’ll be TWO. I couldn’t decide on a party theme, so I wrote my ideas on scraps of paper and let her pick it out of a bowl. I’m pretty happy with where we ended up, and I think she will be, too!

Alice: 20 and 21 Months

20 months

The plus side about these posts being so far behind is that I have lots of fun photos of the last couple of months to share! The worst part is that someday Alice will compare the painstaking level of detail with which I chronicled her sister’s every move and  will wonder why I could barely even keep track of the number of teeth that she had at any given time, resorting to sweeping generalizations like “several.”

But, I digress.

Last time around, I noted how Alice’s favorite phrase is “I don’t wanna.” She’s super coordinated, so now she’s able to pair that statement with the ability to run pretty fast, so things like getting her dressed in the morning are an Olympic sport.

Her strategy for avoiding me seems to be to back herself into a corner, which as you can imagine, doesn’t work out so well.

21 months

Like, just about everything in life, this reduces her to tears. I really thought that once her communication skills were more established she wouldn’t be so dramatic. But, that has not been the case at all. Sometimes, I just throw up my hands and say “Do you ever stop crying?” To which B usually offers a resounding “No!”, on her sister’s behalf.

The good part about her emotional nature, I suppose, is that she already seems to be a pretty empathetic little person. If B is crying, Alice is the first to stop what she is doing, pat B on the arm and say “Bid-gee cry? It’s okay, Bid-gee.”

Other phrases in heavy rotation for her this month include “Mommy (or daddy, or Bidgee)! Look!” and  “Oh my God!” which she often uses in the appropriate context. She also may be part ninja, because try as I might to stealthily sneak some chocolate out of the cabinet from time to time, it never fails that I’ll find her standing behind me as I close the cabinet, asking “Whatcha eatin’, mama?”

I love that she has also discovered how to whisper, although most of the time she does it for no good reason…and that’s probably what makes it so completely adorable. She has also been working hard on learning the alphabet, how to count up to ten and colors.

Monkey see, monkey do.

We continue to do well on the potty training front, and she has racked up many days of dry pants at this point. Still, we aren’t ready to declare the house a diaper free zone, but I’m hoping some of our extra time off around the holidays will allow us to kick them to the curb once and for all.

Speaking of holidays, she has been so into all things fall and festive during the last few months. This was the first year that B was really into all things Halloween and Thanksgiving, and her level of excitement rubbed off on Alice.

They enjoyed pumpkin picking at Linvilla Orchards.


I swear–she was having fun!

And, they made quite the dynamic duo as a princess and her unicorn on Halloween. B was very dainty in her selection of candy at all of our stops. Alice, on the other hand, had no problem scooping up treats by the handful. Luckily, the neighbors thought she was cute.


…And, as soon as Thanksgiving was over they helped us get the house ready for Santa’s arrival later this month.

Alice picked this ornament for herself this year, and she was very sad to have the leave him on the tree! Tears followed shortly after this scene.

Getting into the holiday spirit!

Happy (belated) 20 and 21 month birthdays, Allie. You are really something else!

 

On the Road: Fall Trip to the Berkshires

As I mentioned in Allie’s most recent update, we took a little road trip earlier this month to the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts to check on the leaves and partake in some fall fun.

(Yes, I know—#basic. But, I don’t care. I <3 this time of year, and I’m going to make sure that A and B do too).

We stayed in Pittsfield, which was about a five hour drive from Philly, and centrally located to all the places we wanted to visit. The suite-style property was ideal for traveling with A and B because it had extra space for them to play and a kitchen that was stocked with all the basics, so that we could make breakfast and dinner.

Enjoying hotel life

On our first full day in the area, we drove up to Mount Greylock, the highest point in Massachusetts. Had it not been so cloudy and windy, we would have had a better view from nearly 3,500 feet up. But, B enjoyed picking dandelions and tolerated my requests for photos, so it wasn’t a wasted venture.

Stopping at a scenic point on the way up

Obsessed with dandelions

It was windy up there!

On a clear day, you can see up to 90 miles away

We made a pit stop to visit some alpacas.

After a quick stop for lunch at Blueberry Hill Market and Cafe (located in New Lebanon, NY, which is basically just over the border from MA) we headed to the Harvest Festival at the Berkshire Botanical Gardens. All of the dreams that the girls never knew they had came true, when they got to jump into big piles of hay, and B had her face painted for the first time.

My little puppy

The next day was pretty rainy, but we ventured into downtown Pittsfield for brunch at Otto’s Breakfast and Deli. The entire town seemed deserted, but it turns out that’s because everyone had the same idea for brunch and was waiting for a table at Otto’s. A and B kept everyone entertained while we waited, and the omelettes were excellent.


Walking to brunch in the drizzle

After that, we did some more leaf peeping, and walked around Lenox, a cute little town filled with shops, art galleries, and delicious ice cream.

I wish the weather had felt more fall-like, but it was unseasonably warm and rained off and on during the weekend. But, we made the most of it and had a great time anyway—we are already talking about going back next year!

Alice: 19 months

These updates get later and later, but it finally happened: Alice is a few days into another month, and I’m just getting around to posting her update from the prior month. We did take these photos pretty much on time, though, so I’m sharing them anyway!

Allie’s language explosion continues, and this month, she’s started showing off her singing skills. Her favorite tunes are “Rock-A-Bye, Baby,” “Happy Birthday,” “The Alphabet Song” and “You Are My Sunshine.” She is also really good at filling in the blanks of her favorite stories, if I leave out a few words here and there. And, we like to have fun on car rides to work by getting her to repeat words that we say to her. Sometimes, we keep it simple and go with “bus”, “car” and other things we see along the way. Other times, I like to pick longer words like “stupendous” just to see what she’ll do with them. Her ability to pick up and parrot whatever she hears sometimes produces hilarious results, such as the other day when my mom was putting her into her high chair at lunch and Allie said “Nee-Nee, hungry, dammit.”

In terms of her personality, she’s still as dramatic as they come. When she is told no, or something else equally distasteful, she is prone to throwing herself on the floor, turning her back to everyone in the room and saying “Sleepy” to indicate her disagreement. In addition, she’s Little Miss Independent. She always tries to put on her own shoes and socks, can climb up on the kitchen counter stools and knows how to open the cabinet where we keep the snacks so that she can help herself to Goldfish crackers whenever she wants. It’s really crazy how much the second kid can pick up just by watching everyone around them—it’s the total opposite of B, who pretty much still has everything done for her.

Related to both of these things if that Allie’s favorite phrase lately is ” I don’t wanna.” This is particularly true when it comes to sitting on the potty lately. Then, once she finally gets on, she doesn’t want to get off. Basically, she makes her own rules, and wants to do things on her own time.

This month, we took our first road trip with both of the girls, and spent a long weekend soaking up fall colors in the Berkshires. Initially, I was worried that the the time in the car would be spent with lots of whining coming from the backseat, but both of the girls did really well with the long time spent on the road—it probably helped that we stopped for McDonald’s on the way there and back…you gotta do what you gotta do.

If I get around the finishing the trip photos anytime this decade, I’ll share more about the weekend. But, for now, here are a couple of my favorite Allie snaps!


Visiting alpacas at a farm

At a harvest festival

Happy 19 months, Allie girl! I love you more than pumpkin spice lattes.

Alice: 18 months

We had two milestone birthdays this past month, with B turning 4 and Allie turning 18 months. I’ll use that as an excuse for why this update is actually being posted on the day that A turns 19 months. The Second Child Syndrome really does get worse with each passing month.

This seemed to be a month where things happened in the blink of an eye. For example, she cut multiple teeth at once (we think she has 12 now, but it’s hard to count) and started to string three word sentences together practically overnight. It seems that both of these things have enhanced her love of food, as she can now chomp down on things like apples and carrots and can ask for “more broccoli, mama” at the dinner table.

(Lest you think she is a healthy eater all the time, she—and B—also discovered Kit-Kats this month and both of them are in love).

The only thing that hasn’t happened yet is achieving the status of being a diaper free household. But, potty training continues to go well, and I’m hopeful that we will be there soon!

At her 18 month doctor’s appointment, Allie weighed in at 24 pounds, 4.7 ounces and was 2 feet and 8 inches long. She is mostly wearing 24 months and some 2T clothing.

Allie’s favorite things this month include playing with her baby dolls, giving hugs to her sister, reading books in the car and riding her tricycle. Dislikes include being kept waiting for food, having her hair rinsed in the bathtub and socks. It was around the 18 month mark that we started to refer to B as “Bi-Polar Express” and this label seems to fit Alice as well.

There was a lot going on this month, and we went on quite a few adventures, as seen below:

Hunting for butterflies at Tyler Arboretum

Scarfing down cake at B’s 4th Birthday Party

Enjoying her first Phillies/Cubs game (we lasted one inning in the seats)

Double fisting apples at Linvilla

Happy 18 months to our Allie Girl! We love you more than Kit-Kat!

Alice: 17 Months

There is something so sweet about a little one who is hovering between the baby and toddler stage.

This is the stage of those first unsolicited and totally genuine hugs and kisses; the stage of increasing curiosity and wonder; the stage where even the tantrums are adorable; the stage where cheeks are still chubby enough that mama can’t help biting them.

Having experienced this stage of life with two kids, I can easily say that it is my favorite. This time around, though, brings the bittersweetness of knowing that this is the last time I’ll witness all of this with my own babies. I am trying to savor every second of this time between the end of A’s babyhood and her entry into toddlerhood, but she is not helping me because she seems to be doing everything even earlier and faster than her sister did.

Fortunately, she still loves to be held and cuddled. Sometimes, she’s pretty demanding about it, and although she weighs a ton, I usually give in. Often, she’ll yell, “Baby!” and she’ll arrange herself in my arms so that I’m cradling her, just like I did when she was a newborn. Then, just as quickly as the game started, she decides she wants to get down, and she’s off and running (literally) to the next thing.

This month, Allie’s became even more interested in the potty, and she’s even used it a couple of times!  Even when she doesn’t go, she loves the whole routine of sitting on it, using toilet paper, washing her hands and flushing. All the credit goes to my mom, who is the Potty Training Whisperer. Sorry, A and B, when it’s time to potty train your own kids, you are going to have to go ask Nee-Nee for help.

Her vocabulary seems to be exploding at the moment. She’s fully of questions, always asking “wha?” and “why?” and I particularly love the way she pronounces her name (“Al-di!”) and the word broccoli (“baa-key!”).

Speaking of broccoli, I would say that’s pretty much her favorite food right now, along with “mupp-ins” (muffins) and just about anything sweet—yes, both of my kids definitely take after me in that regard. She’s getting very good with using a fork and spoon, but still loves to slather yogurt all over her arms as if it’s lotion. So, if you are ever around us after lunch and wonder why she reeks of strawberry banana, that’s why.

Alice’s favorite things right now include the Teletubbies, singing and dancing, the Baby Lit version of Emma, her bumblebee backpack (a hand-me-down from B, naturally) and afternoons on the deck, where she blows bubbles, collects acorns and keeps watch for the neighborhood bunny.

I’m not sure if this is the stage where sibling rivalry is supposed to start (I don’t have time to Google this stuff anymore), but I’ve noticed that the “fights” between A and B have picked up a bit. If A has a toy, B immediately wants it, even if it’s a thing she hasn’t played with in months. If B is getting a bit of attention, A isn’t shy about loudly voicing her displeasure. Sometimes, I intervene, and other times I just let them go at it and work it out for themselves (My brother and I didn’t succeed in killing each other, despite our multiple attempts, so I have reason to believe that A and B won’t succeed in doing each other in, either). Still, if A is crying, B is usually the one who can make her feel better and if B is upset, Allie goes right up to her to offer a hug or a toy. It’s nice to see that they have each other’s backs already.

A’s been enjoying summer fun, both at home and otherwise:

Enjoying a snack at a birthday party

Scarfing up seconds of Uncle Billy’s plum tart

Visting the ancient dioramas at the Academy of Natural Sciences…

…and, making friends with a turtle

Zoo day!

All about that #decklife

Taking the new backyard swing set for a spin, nine hours after Daddy started the assembly

Happy 17 (almost 18!) months, Allie Girl! We love you more than mupp-ins!

Alice: 16 months

 

Since Allie will turn 17 months in just three days, this seems like a good time to post her 16 month update!

It’s hard to think about Allie without bringing up B, especially since Allie wants to do everything that “Bid-gee” does. B was pretty tolerant in the beginning, but now, screaming matches are a regular occurrence. It’s a toss up between who is the loudest person in the house at this point. At what point is it okay to lock myself in the bathroom, with earplugs, and just let them sort it out for themselves?

It doesn’t help that, like her sister, Allie seems to have entered the terrible twos, fashionably early. O-M-G. The tantrums. Not just a little tear here and there, but a full on, red-in-the-face, writhing on the floor meltdowns. It’s a sight to behold. Fortunately, she hasn’t had one of these incidents in public yet, but I know it’s only a matter of time.

Allie continues to add new words to her vocabulary. She can point to any name various body parts and even has some two sentence phrases, like “E-Go” which translates to “Here You Go!” She’s also started to call me mommy and the way she says it makes me weak in the knees. However, her most favorite words at the moment are poop, potty and pee-pee. I would like to think this means we’ll be ditching the diapers soon; she knows when she has a full diaper, but isn’t showing consistent interest in using the bathroom like a regular person—apparently, she just has a potty mouth.

Enjoying a visit to the Please Touch Museum on the 4th of July

Along the same lines, Allie’s current favorite thing to do is to flush the toilet repeatedly, so our water bill should be sky high this month. She also loves nose kisses, “reading” catalogs of any type, posing for photos with my phone (Cheeeeeese!” she says), and the Hot Dog Dance from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, blowing bubbles and playing with baby dolls. She seems to want to be carried more often than ever these days, and while I love the opportunity to snuggle her, she is getting pretty heavy (But, not being picked up is the source of many tantrums…see above).

Cruising along at the Zoo.

Her least favorite thing seems to be shoes, as she takes them off at the earliest opportunity—usually in the car, so she can chew on her toes…which is just super weird.

She got one more tooth this month and is using it to devour blueberries, watermelon and strawberries. It also seems like she is trying to transition from two naps a day to one, which is good because it will open up the days for us, and bad because it’s nice for B to get at least a couple of hours of one-on-one time during the day.

Happy (very belated) 16 months, Allie! We love you more than Fourth of July fireworks!

Alice: 15 months

At 15 months old, Allie is more outspoken than ever. She’s been loud from day one, but it seems to have escalated this month, as she and her sister compete to see who can yell the loudest. B usually starts things off with a high pitched shriek for no apparent reason, Alice follows suit, and then B corrects her with a stern “Allie, stop screaming!” Apparently, practice of siblings trying to get each other in trouble starts early.

Lately, she insists on holding something for her photos. This month, it was a Tiffany’s pouch. Starting her young!

At her most recent doctor’s appointment, Allie weighed in at just over 23 pounds and was a little over 2.5 feet tall. She’s got one more tooth poking through her bottom gum, which will bring her grand total to eight!

Alice understands everything, so it is fairly easy to communicate requests to do certain things, and not to not do others. This month, I’ve noticed that if we ask her a question, she’ll say “Um…” before replying, as if she is really considering all of the options. She picks up new words on a regular basis. My personal favorites are “Awwww!” (mostly reserved for pictures and videos of cats. She will love the Internet someday). “hun-gee!” (hungry), is “dit!” (sit, usually accompanied by a firm pounding on the chair for emphasis. She, herself, has also developed a fondness for sitting in grown-up chairs and on B’s bed, so we hear this request a lot).

Allie’s love of books continues to grow (and I love how she asks us to “ree!”). It’s still hard to get her to sit still for story time, but she will gladly go about her business of destroying the house while being read to, so I consider that a win. Her current favorites are “Goodnight Moon” and the Baby Lit edition of the “Wizard of Oz.” We recently took our first trip to the library and I wish that I had my video camera out to capture Allie’s delighted expression as she took in all the books.

Other favorite things include her “lubby” (lovey, which is her little giraffe blankie), playing Ring-Around-the-Rosie and hide-and-seek with her sister, dancing to “Pop Goes the Weasel,” humming songs to herself, flipping the light switches and slamming doors.

Other fun experiences this month included attending her first wedding (congratulations Aunt Sabrina and Uncle Mike!), celebrating B’s pre-k graduation and spending lots of time playing outside.

Wedding day for Aunt Sabrina and Uncle Mike!

On B’s move-up day, at the moment that B was about to break down because there was not a balloon for her. Alice asks for help escaping her sister’s wrath.

A visit to Tyler Arboretum. Photo credit to Auntie B.

At lunch after Tyler, where she ate all of Auntie B’s fries.

A Saturday afternoon playing outside, trying on her sister’s “hat.”

Happy 15 months Allie Girl! We love you more than bubbles on a summer day!