On the Road: Ireland (Part 3)

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Family selfie at Blarney Castle

The next stop on our Ireland itinerary was Blarney Castle, located just a short drive from our temporary home base in Cork.

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The castle is, of course, best known for being the home of the Blarney Stone. The castle was no more than a simple wooden structure when it was built in 1200 and the current stone structure was erected in 1446.

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The interior of the castle is mostly in ruins. The 100+ stairs that wind their way to the top of the castle, where the stone is located are quite narrow and uneven. It’s definitely not a trek for someone with claustrophobia and/or a toddler. So, one of us strolled around the gardens with B while the other made the climb.

The exact origins of the stone are debated. But, legend has it that those who kiss it are bestowed the gift of eloquence. The stone is set in a wall over the battlements, so to reach it you have to lay down and lean backwards. Back in the day, this was quite a treacherous undertaking, since there weren’t any safeguards in place to make sure you didn’t fall to your death.

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View from the top

Yours truly made it all the way to the top, got into position to kiss the stone, and then made the mistake of looking down over the battlements. Even though there is a metal grate, a railing to hold on to, and a capable assistant to make sure tourists don’t die, I convinced myself that I would fall over the side and chickened out without completing the task at hand.

Chester was not such a scaredy-cat…although he seems to be no more eloquent than he was prior to our visit.

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Continuing on from Blarney, we drove to the harbor town of Kinsale. I will probably remember this site as one of the most spectacular parenting fails of the trip. B fell asleep in the car and we made the mistake of waking her up so we could go exploring. We should have just stuck to our tried-and-true practice of hanging out in the parking lot until she woke up on her own. I’m sure we were quite a sight as we tried to coax a squirming, screaming toddler into her stroller in this quaint, pictureqesue little town.

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Definitely not happy.

Fortunately, all was forgiven once we brought her a cute little hat. Retail therapy is apparently effective even at an early age.

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There were lots of cute little restaurants scattered around town, but unfortuantely many of them only opened at dinner time. We stumbled upon the Lemon Leaf Cafe, however, and ended up having on of our favorite meals of the trip there. B enjoyed a pancake with Nutella that was twice the size of her head and Chester and I chose two of the specials of the day—a salmon burger for him and an open faced crab and lobster salad sandwich for me. The seafood was some of the freshest that I have ever had! I wish that I had room for dessert because the pastry case was overflowing with delicious looking cupcakes, towering layer cakes and pies. Next time!

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Main Street Kinsale

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Colorful shops line the narrow streets

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We headed back to Cork for the night, and were up bright and early the next day to hit the road to Killarney. On the way to town, we stopped for a stroll in Killarney National Park, the first national park to be established in Ireland.

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Muckross House, which was donated to the Irish nation in 1932 and became the centerpiece of the park.

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Muckross Lake; you can rent one of those cute little jaunting carriages to take you around the park.

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Torc and Mangerton Mountains in the background.

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Ross Castle

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Chasing the ducks…and, yes, that is a leash.

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As was the case in Cork, we didn’t do too much exploring in the town of Killarney itself. But, we did stay in an adorable hotel that served amazing scones at breakfast and enjoyed a nice dinner (fish and chips!) at a place Cronin’s, right across the way. I would definitely recommend this stop as a base if your trip includes a drive around the Ring of Kerry, which was on our itinerary for the next day. More on that…as soon as I get around to editing those photos!

Little B: 22 Months

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So over this monthly photo project…two months to go!

It’s hard to believe that it’s almost time to stop counting B’s age in months—our little girl will be 2 years old at the end of the summer!

Here’s what she has been up to this month:

Personality

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The typical toddler mood swings continue. Sometimes, she’s so sweet and adorable that I want to eat her up. Other times, she is so disagreeable that I want to lock myself in the bathroom and never come out again. This is probably not going to go down in the books as my favorite age.

Milestones

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Spending a rainy morning playing at the Please Touch Museum

She cut one of her last remaining teeth (bottom incisor) so now she has a full set of pearly whites when she flashes a smile. I think she is still working on those two year molars, but she won’t open her mouth to let me see.  She can recognize a fair number of colors, letters and objects in picture books. Also, while she is far from being potty trained, she has used the potty a few times.

Favorite things

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Still a huge fan of Winnie the Pooh as well as some of the Nickelodeon shows like Dora and Team Umizoomi; balloons; playing in the park; her Tigger toothbrush; the letter B—she loves when hold her hand to help her write it and it’s one of the letters that she always picks out in her activity books. She must know it stands for Bridget!

Favorite books

At the moment, anything Olivia and Paddington.

Eating

Still loving her meatballs. Other favorites include any kind of long pasta (it’s seriously adorable to watch her eat linguine by the strand); cheese by the slice; waffles and pancakes, especially the kind that Granny makes that are filled with veggies, fruit and yogurt.

Fun experiences

We have been soaking up summer with plenty of outdoor adventures. She attended her first Drexel alumni event at the Zoo in June.

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Half of the job of someone who works in alumni relations is to hold the event signage, so I’m training her well already!

We took Daddy out to a Father’s Day brunch at Village Whiskey, one of his favorite places to get a burger.

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And, she (reluctantly) put on a Blackhawks jersey to cheer the team on as they won the Stanley Cup.

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At the end of June, the Tall Ships Festival was at Penn’s Landing, so we went to check that out. B could have cared less about the ships and ended up falling asleep. Luckily, she woke up in time to pose with one of the gigantic rubber duckies. It was not a good scene when we had to leave. I literally had to peel her off of the thing and she sobbed during the entire walk back to the car.

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Looking forward to more fun times ahead for the rest of the summer!

On the Road: Ireland (Part 2)

After our two days in Dublin, we packed up the world’s tiniest rental car and hit the road. Our first stop was Powerscourt Estate, which is set against the backdrop of the Wicklow mountains and is known for acres upon acres of landscaped gardens. The house on the grounds was originally a 13th century castle and was renovated throughout the centuries. The most recent renovations took place in the mid-1990s, after the house had been destroyed by a fire 20 years earlier.

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Incidentally, Powerscourt had probably the best cafe of any tourist attraction that I have ever visited. Make sure to stop for lunch if you ever visit.

After that, it was off to Lisnavagh, another estate. I was totally confused when we first arrived because the place was completely deserted. Turns out, this is actually still a family’s home and Chester explained that we were here to visit the tree that he had planted for our 5th anniversary! William, one of the owners/managers of the estate was kind enough to show us the tree and share a bit of the estate’s history with us. In the 1800s, it was one of the most advanced and efficient farms in the country. As the estate system fell away, and Lisnavagh was downsized quite a bit and William and his family developed other ways to sustain what remained, including hosting weddings and making cutting boards out of the timber that naturally falls on the property. The tree planting program also generates a bit of revenue and helps to maintain and repopulate the surrounding woodlands.

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Official owners of an oak tree!

In true Chester fashion, it was truly a memorable and thoughtful way to mark this milestone. I’m glad B got to be there with us, and maybe we’ll all return someday to visit our tree when it’s a bit bigger!

After that, we headed to Cork, which would be our home base for the next two nights. Although it might have been more fun to stay in one of the cute little towns that we passed through along the way, we decided to stick to the big cities with easy access to things like grocery stores and medical care, just in case those things were needed for B. Plus, it was centrally located for the next two major sights on our itinerary: Blarney Castle. More on that next time!

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We did zero exploring in Cork, but at least had a nice view of the city from our hotel window!

Summer Fun

 

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Happy first (official) day of summer!

If you are in and around Philly, like we are, there are plenty of ways to make the most of the warm, long days ahead. We have a few things that we want to check off our list, such as:

1. Hit up the spray parks, since we have a little water-lover on our hands. Although, I also will not refuse a run through a cool sprinkler on a hot day.

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2. Eat lots of ice cream. We’ll have to stop by our old favorites like Bassett’s in the Reading Terminal and Franklin Fountain, but there are a few new spots, like Big Gay Ice Cream and the new Passyunk Avenue location of Philly Flavors, to check out. When we get tired of ice cream, there’s always water ice at Pop’s!

3. Spend an afternoon at Franklin Square Park. We had such fun when we went last year that we want to make this a little birthday tradition for B. Hopefully, she won’t mind posing on the carousel for photos each year so we can see how much she has changed!

4. Visit as many of the cool outdoor spaces as possible, especially since some of them are only around for a limited time. Spruce Street Harbor Park was a lot of fun last year and definitely worth a re-visit (although I wish B was old enough for the roller skating rink!), but the Oval, the PHS pop-up gardens and Sister Cities Park also look like fun.

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5. Spend a day at the beach. Chester and I aren’t really beach people, but we do like to dip our toes in the water and eat junk food on the boardwalk. A great time was had by all last year, and I’m sure B will be even more into it this time around.

6. Check out the Tall Ships Challenge, mostly so that we can see the World’s Largest Rubber Duck.

7. See some fireworks. We skipped this last year because B was still so little, but I think she might be into them this year. We don’t have to travel far for them, as we can see them from our house when they have them at Citizens Bank Park after a Phillies’ game.

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8. Speaking of the Phillies–go to a baseball game. Yes, the team is terrible, but that means the tickets are cheap. Plus, Chester will want to see the Cubs when they are in town later in the summer.

9. Go to the zoo. We have a membership here, so making at least one visit is pretty much a given. It’s just a matter of finding a day that’s not blazing hot. The zoo is so not enjoyable on those kinds of days.

10. Escape to the ‘burbs. I know, I know. I’ve just been going on about all of the fun things to do in the city, but we are just a short ride from some great places to spend a summer day, like Longwood Gardens, New Hope and Grounds for Sculpture in New Jersey.

11. Check out museum exhibitions. These might not be the most B-friendly activities, but Chester and I would like to check out the Genghis Kahn exhibition at the Franklin institute and Discovering the Impressionists at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Hopefully Granny won’t mind hanging with B while we have a couple of date days!

That’s all I can think of for now, although I’m sure we will add more adventures along the way. Summer has a way of getting pretty busy!

What’s on your summer bucket list this year?

All photos in this post from a run through the sprinklers last week at the Camden Children’s Garden.

On the Road: Ireland (Part 1)

I wrote a little bit in a previous post about our adventures in Ireland, but I am just getting around the organizing the photos from the trip. With the slow pace that I work on this kind of thing lately, that should take me all summer. But, as the summer heats up around here, I’ll be happy to relive memories of the much cooler climate of the Emerald Isle, starting with this post about our time in Dublin.

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Pre-flight selfie at PHL

The first day of our trip felt like the Longest. Day. Ever. We left Philly at 8 a.m. and flew to Boston, where we had an eight hour layover. We met Bridget and Bill for a quick lunch and then headed back to the airport for our 6 p.m. flight to Dublin. B was great on the flight. She was easily entertained by the goings-on of airplane travel and distracted by an endless supply of cheese crackers. She ended up passing out right around her normal 8:00 bedtime and slept until we arrived in Dublin, very early the next morning.

Our hotel was very centrally located near the historic St. Stephen’s Green, Grafton Street (one of the main shopping thoroughfares) and the lively Temple Bar. We made our way there from the airport in a taxi at the crack of dawn, but could see that there were still plenty of people that were still happily partying it up at the pubs, even at 6 a.m.!

Since it was ridiculously early, there was not a room ready for us. B made sure we all knew how displeased she was about being awake at such an early hour. Chester and I tried to keep her calm and eventually, the hotel manager even resorted to bribery, giving her milk, a banana, an orange and a Kit Kat (all of which I’m pretty sure were from his own lunchbox) in an attempt to get her to shut up.

Finally, to keep from waking up everyone at the hotel, we went down the street to a cute little café to have breakfast while we waited for our room. Trying to keep a jet lagged toddler from a full meltdown while in a restaurant is an experience I will be happy never to repeat again. If it was just Chester and I, I’m sure we would have pushed through the exhaustion, loaded up on coffee and just wandered the neighborhood for a bit. But, with B in tow, the only thing I wanted to do was park myself in chair and hope she would fall asleep. So, we returned to the waiting area of the hotel to do just that and thankfully, our room was ready by mid-morning.

We all felt much better after long naps and headed out to explore in the early afternoon. Dublin is an eclectic mix of medieval and modern (there’s even a 24-hour Starbucks!). As you stroll through the main streets you feel like you could be in an U.S. city. But, then you round the corner and you catch a glimpse of Dublin castle or an old church and you remember all of the history contained within the winding streets.

Our first stop was Dublin Castle, which was originally built as a Viking fortress during the 13th century. It was destroyed and rebuilt throughout the centuries and served as the center for British rule in Ireland until 1922.

4The tower at the right is the only surviving remnant of the medieval castle
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Riding in style

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A pretty empty courtyard on this particular day, but the following week it would be packed with people as the announcement was made that Ireland became the first country to legalize same-sex marriage after a popular vote

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Old + new

Then, it was down the street to visit Christ Church, the he oldest building in Dublin, dating from 1028. The exterior is probably quite impressive, but unfortunately, much of it was covered in scaffolding for renovations at the time of our visit. Still, the stained glass and wall-to-wall mosaic tile floors inside made the visit worthwhile.

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Further on down the road is St. Patrick’s Cathedral. It’s a bit younger (dating from 1191), but it ultimately won out in the race for supremacy with Christ Church, and serves as the National Cathedral for the Church of Ireland. Fun fact: Johnathan Swift, author of Gulliver’s Travels and former cathedral Dean, is buried here.

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We ended the day enjoying some Irish music and pub fare at the Old Storehouse, one of the more family-friendly pubs in Temple Bar (i.e. one of the few places not overrun with the bachelorette party crowd).

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The next day, we went to Trinity College to see the Book of Kells (tip: purchase your tickets in advance, and skip the line at the door). There is an interesting exhibition that explains the symbolism behind and the process of creating the lavishly decorated 9th century manuscript of the four Gospels. Pages from two volumes of the manuscript are on display. Just as impressive is the Old Library, which houses more than 200,000 books.

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And, after that, we just wandered a bit more, taking in all the sites. I’m pretty sure that B’s favorite part of Dublin was meeting a real live leprechaun!

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52Ha’penny Bridge, the first pedestrian bridge to cross the Liffey River

We barely scratched the surface of what Dublin has to offer in our two days there. There were a few museums that we would have liked to check out, but we’ll save them for next time when B will appreciate them a bit more. I can’t wait to go back!

#tbt: Wedding Edition

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This is a big year for Chester and me–ten years together, and five years married, as of today! In honor of this milestone, I put together a little #tbt post about our wedding.

I’m kind of glad that we got married in the dark ages, before Pinterest was a thing. I didn’t feel the pressure to DIY everything or incorporate certain elements just because the Internet told me that they were on trend. I didn’t really have a theme or a color scheme. I just picked out things that I liked and that reflected our style.

There was a ton of pink, the best bridal party that anyone could ask for, family and friends to share in our joy, a dress that made me feel like a princess and a delicious cake (I’m told that the rest of the food was delicious too, but I was too excited to eat anything!). Glen Foerd, a Victorian era mansion located along the Delaware River, provided an amazing backdrop and the rain held out long enough for us to have our outdoor ceremony.

Although the event itself flew by, I remember nearly ever single minute of it like it was yesterday. I wouldn’t change a thing…especially not the person to whom I said “I do!”

Here are a few ton of my favorite photos of the day, as captured by the fabulous Kamila Harris.

chicken dance 2The traditional chicken dance to kick off the festivities.

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spanxA true friend will crawl under your wedding dress to fix your Spanx.

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My mom has never really been into parties, but she got more into planning the wedding than I expected she would. It would not have been as much fun to put everything together without her…

and my aunt

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L and M 2 He would never admit it, but my brother teared up while walking me down the aisle. I waited until we got until the end to lose it.

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L and C cordWe incorporated a variety of Filipino traditions into the wedding, including the veil and cord ceremony.

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bridal partyThere was a small ditch in the front lawn of the mansion. Chester found it!

dinnerOne of the few moments we sat down all night!

cake smashI promised Chester that I wouldn’t smash cake in his face. I lied.

danceOur first dance was to Van Morrison’s “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?” We took dance lessons to prepare, and its safe to say that we were the worst students that Arthur Miller had ever seen. I think we dropped out halfway through the classes, actually.

RFkOn the other hand, there was our friend Richard, who I’m pretty sure has never taken a dance lesson to perfect his moves. Insane doesn’t even begin to describe his performance. When people talk about our wedding, he never fails to come up in conversation.

carSneaking away at the end of the night

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Happy Anniversary, Checkter! Thank you for making sure that B and I have everything we could possibly want and/or need, supporting all of my crazy ideas/hopes/dreams, sharing your ice cream (and seeing through me when I pretend that I don’t want any), putting up with six seasons of Glee (especially towards the end when it was really a hot mess), being the numbers guy because I suck at math and just generally putting up with me day in, day out (for ten years. I really don’t know how you do it. I get tired of me sometimes.). You are my other half and everything is more fun with you by my side. I can’t wait to see what the next five years have in store for us!

Little B: 21 Months

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The only decent photo of her sitting in her chair this month. Poor Glo Worm.

I am pleased to report that we all survived B’s first international trip and had a fabulous time in Ireland! Yes, there was jet lag, a few tears and a refusal to eat anything but cheese crackers for the first several days (some of those things applied to all three of us), but I am so glad that we made the trip. This was definitely the highlight of our month, and I have plenty more to share about our experience in this and a few future posts!

Milestones

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This is pretty much how the rest of the shoot went.

Aside from her first passport stamp, B also cut one more tooth (a bottom incisor) and judging from the amount of time she spends chewing on her hands lately, I’m pretty sure she is starting to work on her two year molars.

She is now also a forward facing baby in the car. We turned her seat around in our little rental car in Ireland, because her legs would have been tremendously squished otherwise. She seemed to love being able to see what was going on out the front window, so we just re-installed facing front when we got home.

Personality

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I asked her to wink at me.

B is still pretty wary around unfamiliar people, but she also seems genuinely curious about them. She tends to stare down people (and, especially, other little kids), and she’ll wave at them if they aren’t looking. But, the minute they acknowledge her, she’ll revert to shyness. It seems that just wants to engage with people on her own terms—I suppose she’s a bit like her mama in that way.

On a related note, separation anxiety seems to be at an all time high this month. Some days, it’s so bad that even me sitting right next to her isn’t enough to keep her from completely freaking out! It’s a good thing I don’t remember who it was that told me that separation anxiety gets a bit better after 18 months. I would probably punch them in the throat for lying to me.

Saying

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She cracks herself up quite a bit these days.

Aside from picking up new words left and right, she is getting more expressive, in general. “Wow”, “Yay!” and Uh-oh!” are some of her new favorite phrases.

Favorite things

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She loved the experience of riding in elevators and on the airplane during our travels. While on the plane, she said “Airplane! Wowwwww!” over and over again as she viewed the activity taking place outside the airport windows and on the runway. Fortunately, she was so, so good while we were in the air as well. She slept most of the way there and part of the way back, much to the relief and delight of all passengers involved. The airplane obsession continues now that we have arrived back home. She’ll point at the sky and shout “airplane!”at random, and she has been favoring picture books and stories in which they are a prominent feature.

Sunglasses are her new favorite accessory. She sported her sparkly pink shades everywhere that we went and was the talk of the town!

Blowing bubbles, coloring and playing with stickers continue to be favorite activities. She continues to love the swings at the park and is getting to be a pro on the “big kid” slide This past month, my mom and aunt have started introducing her to Disney movies and she is a huge fan of Winnie the Pooh.

Favorite songs

“The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers”

Eating

Still pretty picky. Although, while we were on the trip she did try a few new things, including muesli (which I’m surprised that she loved!), scones and Nutella (not surprised that she loved either of those things).

Least favorite things

Being “redirected” from a particular activity before she is ready to let it go never fails to induce a meltdown; when the smoke detector in the kitchen goes off.

Fun experiences

Ireland, obviously! This was the perfect choice for our vacation because the flight was short and the destination offered activities that all of us could enjoy. We kept the itinerary light on the museums and tours and spent most of our time wandering through small towns and driving through the countryside.

Fortunately, B loves being outside, looking at the water and seeing live animals and there were plenty of opportunities for her to do just that. The other nice thing about Ireland is that the people are just so lovely. They never once gave us the side eye when we brought B into a restaurant or shop. Instead, they made a fuss over her and went out of their way to make sure we had a high chair and a place to store the stroller while we ate.

As I said, there was a adjustment period for all of us during the first few days of the trip. B was out of sorts because of the time change, unfamiliar foods and new routine, in general. And, Chester and I had to let go of the way that we usually travel, which involves packing as much as possible into a day (conversely, we packed more than ever in our luggage. Between the clothes, car seat, stroller, snacks and items to keep B occupied, we ended up with seven bags on this trip!), in favor of making sure that B was well fed and that there was time for her to nap in the car between stops. But, we all a bit more settled within a few days…by which point it was almost time to pack up and go home, of course!

I am glad that we had the opportunity (made possible in part by the frequent flyer and favorable exchange rate gods) to take this trip now. I don’t think that if a second kid comes along we will want to deal with all of the extra stress (and, probably, extra baggage) that would come with a big trip like this. Of course, I also said that I wouldn’t travel with a kid until it could drag its own suitcase through the airport and we all know that I broke that rule before B turned one!

It was definitely nice for all of us to have a change of scenery and I will carry such fond memories with me forever of what it was like to experience the world through B’s eyes on this trip. Seeing her face light up as she chased the ducks at a park, watched tour busses roll down the highway, tasted sticky toffee pudding for the first time, strolled down the street while proudly carrying a balloon in one hand and enjoyed countless other new experiences for the first time was absolutely priceless to me. I hope that she’ll always have a desire to see the world and that doing so will always bring her the same kind of joy.

Until I get a chance to sort through the photos I took on the trip using my real camera, enjoy some of these favorites from my Instagram feed.

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Jet-lagged at Dublin Castle on the first day of our trip.

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At Blarney Castle, where only one of us kissed the stone.

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Rollin’ with her homies

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Our final stop, in Galway

Little B: 20 Months

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20 months in, and I’m continuing with my trend of being fashionably late with B’s monthly updates. Work has been getting in the way of the rest of my life lately. Luckily, vacation is on the horizon!

Milestones

Nothing really from a developmental  perspective, but I spent my first full weekend away from home since B was born, which I would consider a pretty big deal for all of us. I missed her like crazy, but she got to spend some quality time with her Daddy! When they picked me up from the airport, B refused to look at me when I got in the car. But, after a few moments and some smooches, she was all smiles again.

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Hanging out at the park during Daddy-Daughter weekend

Doing

In general, B likes to be busy, but has a nice balance between being active and quiet. Sometimes, she is all over the place, climbing on chairs and running through the house. But, she also seems equally happy coloring or reading a book.

Saying

She calls me “mommy” on occasion and it melts my heart. She has started to say short phrases, like “under there” when her ball or a crayon rolls under the couch and “I got it!” on the occasions that she saves the item from slipping away. Although the pronunciation isn’t totally clear, we know what she means! I’m still anxious for her to really start talking because the whining—oh my god, the whining—gets under my skin in the worst way sometimes!

Personality

She can be sassy—we’ve had more than a few eye rolls at the dinner table in recent weeks! She gets embarrassed if she gets in trouble for something, though, often hiding her face or running into a corner when she gets corrected for something.

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Looking a bit too much like a teenager!

Favorite Things

Shopping—she loves picking out clothes; looking out the window; being outside; taking selfies; her jumperoo (yes, still); flash cards (she has a set of alphabet and number flash cards at my mom’s that she really likes to look at. She always pulls out the card that features a cat with a blue balloon for some reason); stickers; yoga poses–we say “yoga baby” to her and she goes into downward dog; putting her laundry in the basket; waving to cars and trucks as they go by.

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All jumped out…for now.

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We love a morning selfie session

Favorite Songs

Still singing and dancing up a storm! She loves the Wild Kratts theme song and The Hot Dog Dance from the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. She loves saying “bye-bye” to her favorite TV shows when the credits start to roll.

Favorite Books

Nothing really new this month!

Least Favorite Things

Still doesn’t like to have her hair done. Unfortunately for her, we have recently discovered that she looks absolutely adorable in pigtails, so there is no escaping the hair brush and barrettes!

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The pigtails kill me!

Eating

She is a big fan of spaghetti and meatballs lately, and any little toddler-friendly treats like cheese crackers and puffs.

Fun Experiences

Easter festivities were fun this year! B enjoyed her Easter basket immensely. I painstakingly picked out the coloring books and other items included in it, and at the last minute added a bubble wand that cost less than a $1 at Target, which of course, ended up being her favorite item in the basket.

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In the dress she picked out herself

She also had a date day with Jack at the Adventure Aquarium in Camden. I hadn’t been to the aquarium since an 8th grade class trip and was actually pretty cool! We all enjoyed the shark tank and the hippos.

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Do you see this, guys?!”

When I update you next, B will have added her first stamp to her passport—we are packing our bags and leaving for Ireland at the end of the week. I am curious/anxious to see how she does on her first international flight and how she copes with jet lag. Wish us all luck!

Little B: 19 Months

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I feel like I don’t have a ton of major updates to share this month, but I do know that our Little B seems to wake up cuter—and bigger—than the day before!

Milestones

Two more teeth, her top canines, appeared this month. They looked like little vampire fangs as they were coming in, and it was adorable, of course!

Doing

She loves carrying things up and down the stairs and thinks it’s hysterical to throw things down from the top of the steps. She really likes to “help” around the house lately, whether it’s by putting her toys away or handing her plate over when she is all done with her food.

Saying

Her newest word this month is “wuv” (love). She also loves saying “choo-choo” and “beep-beep” when she sees trains or cars. She babbles constantly. The way she strings sounds together makes me think that she is on her way to putting actual words together.

Personality

Strong-willed! If she doesn’t want to do something, like put on her shoes or a jacket, it can become quite the battle.

Favorite Things

Play food; stack rings; shape sorter; flash cards; baby doll and stroller; shoes; washing her hands at the sink; being tickled.

Favorite Songs

You’re a Grand Old Flag. She has a Duplo playset that is circus themed and she is obsessed with the two flags that came with it. So, I started singing this song to her and now she waves the flags around whenever she wants me to sing it. If I leave the words out, she’ll fill in the blanks (She is very dramatic about it when she says “brave!”)

Favorite Books

Lately, she really likes looking at photo books. Her particular favorite is a collection of all of the photos from her first birthday. She likes to look at the photos that feature the presents that she received and then she runs around the room pointing them out to us.

Least Favorite Things

When I wear glasses or pull my hair back; when I leave the room—I can’t even get away for a solo trip to the bathroom; bedtime—as soon as we finish our stories and shut out the lights, her lip starts to quiver and sometimes a few silent tears fall. She usually goes down with minimal fuss, but I think she just gets sad that the fun is over for the day; headbands or barrettes of any kind.

Eating

Mom bday

She will never refuse a sweet treat. Here she is, scarfing a Termini’s cupcake at my mom and aunt’s birthday celebration

She is picky, picky, picky. Even the things that used to be favorites, like sweet potatoes and bananas, get tossed to the floor lately. Her current obsessions are grilled cheese and peanut butter. She is an absolute fiend, when it comes to the latter—and we all know where she gets that from, right? She knows the exact cabinet where it is kept at both our house and my mom’s and often gets the jar out herself. She loves it on toast, crackers and straight from the spoon. I’m so proud!

Fun Experiences

We did a Saint Patrick’s Day photo shoot. She was really into throwing the coins around!

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Now that Spring is finally here, there’s much more fun to be had! We can’t wait to go out exploring with our little adventurer!

Ten Years.

chester and lauren

Our very first picture together

Today is the tenth anniversary of the day that Chester and I first met. TEN years, people. That calls for a little trip down memory lane, yes?

Let’s look back to March of 2005, when I had just ended the relationship that I was in through half of high school and all of college. I quickly realized that spending all of those years with the same person had left me with virtually NO idea of how to date. Prospects in my circle of friends were slim and I was absolutely not the type to hang out in a bar, hoping that the love of my life would walk in.

So, I decided to take my search online. After several horrible experiences with guys from Match, I decided to move over to Yahoo! Personals (which has since been purchased by Match). I had no reason to believe that this would yield better results, but it was cheaper and you all know how I love a bargain.

I had been on for about three days when this cute guy (that would be Chester) sent me an “icebreaker”—a short, little message to say that he had liked my profile. Thankfully, I had chosen a photo taken before my despair over being single led me into the poor decision of letting my mom cut my hair.

I sat on the icebreaker for several days, not really sure if I wanted to be disappointed again. But, late one night, just before I was about to go to bed, I just felt like I had to answer him. Something was telling me that he was different.

And, the rest, as they say is history.

For the next month, we e-mailed and IMed (those were the days, right?) and agreed to meet in person. On April 23rd, I showed up to our agreed upon meeting, on the corner of 3rd and Chestnut Streets.

And, I waited. And, waited.And, waited.

It started to rain. I became annoyed that I had bothered to spend the money to have my hair professionally blow dried so that the mullet was less obvious.

When random guys riding by on bicycles started whistling at me, I mentally gave Chester five more minutes to show up before heading home.

Luckily for him, he careened around the corner in his silver car, just in time. Which was actually a full 45 minutes past the appointed time. So, it was also lucky for him that he was just as cute in person as he was photos.

And, I was hungry, so I figured the least he could do was buy me dinner. So, we headed to Continental.

I kept up the charade of being annoyed for awhile. But, he was so nice and easy to talk to that it was hard to stay mad. And, he didn’t seem to mind that my hair was reminiscent of David Bowie’s, circa 1972.

We ended the night with coffee at Cosi and a walk on Penn’s Landing. By then, I knew that he was the “The One.”

I cancelled my Yahoo! membership that night. By that summer, we had moved in together.

In 2009, we got engaged—which is also a good story, but one that I’ll save that for another day.

engagement

Returning to where it all began, for our engagement photo shoot

We got married the next year.

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Three years later, B came along.

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We had NO idea what we were doing.

So, ten years, one apartment, one house, two cats, one dog, one kid, several job changes, thousands of miles traveled together by plane, train and automobile, hundreds of fights, millions of laughs later, there is still no one else that I would rather be with.

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One of my favorite photos of us, in Toledo, Spain on our honeymoon

Every day has been THE BEST.