Thursday, August 30, 2012

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tribute to Maurice Sendak

Ben and Hannah LOVE Where The Wild Things Are. This, of course, makes me happy because this classic is my all-time favorite. I loved reading it when I was young. I loved reading it aloud in the classroom. And now I love reading it to my children.

What makes me most proud is how much they know the story now. We have a poster of Max in their bedroom and they say "Max" and point to it every day. And now when I read, Ben especially fills in parts of the story for me. I love it! (You'll also hear me read the entire book, which if you don't want to hear, I won't be offended. I also am not as smooth as usually when I'm reading it - it's hard to read and hold a camera!)

Thursday, August 23, 2012


I believe nicknames are the true marker of being loved. There is something loving and familiar about allowing someone else to call you a name other than your given name. My given name (Tracy) hardly has any nicknames. I often say if you call me "Trace" I will kick you. But, there are a few select people who do get to call me Trace, and my best friend calls me Tray, and that is comforting to me. We are close enough that I can trust her to call me a different name and it comes with affection and love and acceptance. (As does my husband's nickname for me: Stink. Seriously. If that doesn't scream trust and love to allow someone else to call you Stink, I don't know what does!).

There is also something cute about parents calling their kids something special. Be it pumpkin, turkey, babe, whatever - you can tell a mom who loves her kids when she has a cute nickname for them.

If you remember from reading about how B&H became known as B&H , I wanted my kids to have names that lent them nicknames. But, I failed in that quest as the nicknames for Benjamin are pretty standard, and there aren't really standard nicknames for Hannah. Still, since nearly the very beginning, the kids have had nicknames.  I remember calling Ben "Buddy" in the hospital. Thankfully that one didn't stick.

Yet, through our love for B&H, we found fitting nicknames for them anyway!

My stepdad (known as Papa to B&H) first started calling Ben "Benjo" around the time he was 2 months old. It stuck and most of the time we refer to Ben as "Benjo." It's silly, but so is he!
Watching the "hey-topper" fly over our house

Soon thereafter, Hannah became "Hannie." While it's mostly just family that call Ben Benjo, it has become standard for people to call Hannah Hannie. I even heard our friends Zoe & Kaylee call her Hannie last time we had a playdate. It's cute, and I'm not sure where it came from, but it sure fits, dontcha think?
Cool morning, new sweatshirt
In the past 20 months, we've come up with other nicknames for the kids. Some are funny and some are sweet. But surprisingly, they identify themselves and each other with these names.

B&H's Nicknames
Lady Bird
Fancy Face

Handsome Face
Squirtball (though that's old and we don't really call him that anymore)
Doodle Bug
Booger (a new one, based on his new favorite word)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Block Par-TAY!

This year, after months of walking with B&H by our neighbors house and wondering who lived in each one, I planned and hosted a National Night Out party for our neighbors. Now, it sounds like a bigger undertaking than it really was. The beauty of hosting a party on NNO is that the format is there. You just have to execute it!

So with a few neighbors' help, I planned the party and invited about 50 neighbors to join us at the park for root beer floats. I asked neighbors to help by pitching in a couple of bucks if they could, donating cups or straws or ice, and bringing their own lawn chairs and tables. Funny thing happened: about 10 families donated cups. And then about another 5 families brought ice. So, I'm not lying, I felt exactly like this:
Lesson learned: next year, assign people to bring stuff. Thankfully, we don't need any cups for the next 2 or 3 years!

The party was a blast! We had about 20 families from 3 different blocks attend and I felt like everyone mingled and visited with each other. I personally got to put some names with faces I'd seen on the block for a while and we met some really cute younger babies that are going to join our gang of toddlers soon! :)

Best of the night: we were lucky enough to have the St Paul Police Mounted unit, the firefighters from St Paul Fire Station #19, the St Paul K-9 unit, AND McGruff the Crime Dog all visit our party! All were big hits with kids and adults alike!

Unfortunately, I was too busy having fun to take a lot of photos, but here are a few to document the evening.

King, such a nice horsie!
Ben was a huge fan of the horse; Hannah just wanted to play with bubbles

Sittin' on a Fire Truck. Heaven!

Ben's first rootbeer float. Mmmm.

This is when I said, "Ben, want to get out of the
fire truck?" And he said, "Nooooo!"

For a fun video wrap-up of the event, watch our neighbor Nick's video! He's a video producer for the City of St Paul and created this great video of our party!

We're all already looking forward to next year!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Still recapping. Hang in there with me, people!

When we left Grampa's house, we went to Omaha for the night. Because we didn't feel like jumping right in the car that next morning (and we wanted to wear B&H out), we decided to seize the opportunity and visit Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium. We had high expectations.

But, the crankiness, tiredness (Hannah didn't sleep again the night before), and the extreme Nebraskan heat caused for a very short loop through the zoo. Parts were awesome - the aquarium is really very cool! Parts were underwhelming - the "rainforest" is boring - the Tropics Trail at the MN Zoo is far better! Parts were so unique - the Desert Dome is unlike anything else I've seen at a zoo!

Here was our day, documented in Instagrams. :)

Parrots grooming

Penguins standing at attention

More interested in the tractor than the animals

Desert Dome

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree

High Five! We get to get back in the car!! (sarcasm)

20 words for 20 months

Today B&H are 20 months old, or as Aaron said "one and two-thirds" years old. I'm baffled by their rapid aging. Wasn't it just yesterday, not last year, that they looked like this??

At 8 months they'd stopped looking like newborns, but they were definitely not the toddlers they are today! They'd sit nicely for a photo and not wander off anywhere. Oh, I miss those days! Nowadays, I'm lucky if one kid is looking at the camera and the other one isn't wandering off. This is a recent trip to Choo Choo Bob's - these toddlers were BUSY BUSY for a good hour. My new favorite place.

So, in honor of their 20 month birthday, I've decided to tell you all about them in just 20 words. Those of you who really know me, know this is quite a feat!

BenLoves to laugh, super silly, always smiling. Strong language skills, loves books, new words every day. Gives momma good kisses.

Thoughtful and contemplative. Serious with a hint of silly. Dexterous and scientific, loves puzzles and building blocks. Definitely daddy’s girl!

The biggest *new* thing this month is they self-identify! Both will point to their chests if you ask "Where's Hannah?" or "Who is Ben?" (obviously Hannah self-identifies as Hannah or Hannie and Ben self-identifies as Ben). They also refer to themselves in the third person. If Hannah wants something she yells "Hannie! Hannie!" and Ben can point to his high chair and say "Ben." It's pretty cute. (And also: a big insight as to why Elmo is such a hit with the toddler crowd!)

Today, even, Hannah identified herself in photos (with a little help from me). These kids are too smart for their own good!!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Grampa's House

Again, please excuse me as I continue to back-track and relive our recent week-plus-long cartrip. I feel the need to document it - so we can remember how much fun it was to see our relatives, but also so we remember NEVER EVER to go on the road that long ever again. (It was beyond wonderful to see so many of our relatives in just about a week, but being in the car for that long was pure torture; nothing against you family members! We will visit again, just not all in one fell-swoop like we did this year...)

After Manhattan, we once again (are you keeping track yet?) got in the car and headed somewhere new. This time we went to Grampa's (Aaron's dad's) house in Galva, Kansas for a few days.

The weather proved to be very Kansan (Kansas-y?) with temperatures over 100

So we had to find lots of cool things to do. Like playing AND watching trains.

 And splashing outside. Grampa didn't have a pool, but he did have this handy washing machine tray. A couple of inches of water proved to be the hit of the afternoon as we all needed to cool off from the heat & humidity. (And we were stir-crazy inside). Hannah liked to splash; Ben liked to put his feet in it and kick. FUN!

And playing with some vintage toys inside with the air conditioning cranked. Grampa dug out Daddy's and Uncle Jon's old Little People sets. They are much more fun than the contemporary ones, IMO, but maybe because I remember playing with similar toys. Grampa had a bus and a school and lots of people! I sort of wanted to bring these awesome vintage toys home to play with, but we left them in Kansas for future playing-with.
Vintage Little People (IMO, more fun the contemporary ones!)
Grampa also treated us to a few ice cream cones and a drive around McPherson (the "big" town just a few miles from his house where Daddy grew up).

The visit with Grampa was so wonderful! B&H felt totally at home at Grampa's house and made themselves comfortable sitting at his coffee table coloring, running circles through the kitchen/living room area, and watching the trains out his patio door - definitely the favorite past-time

A few days later and it was time to move on. And guess what? We didn't even get a photo on Momma's camera with Grampa! (We did on Grampa's camera, though, so maybe we can get a copy of it to add here.)

Can you remember where we went after Galva? I already wrote a post about it. Guess, then find out here.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Eighteen Month Photos

Early in July, we had our family photos taken by Heather Hanson Photography. I can't say enough wonderful things about our experience! She is professional, caring, energetic, and great with kids! (probably because ed to be a 2nd grade teacher AND she has 2 kids of her own!). I have always been impressed with her service, and today was no exception. Our CD came in the mail with the rights to the photos (this, IMO, is the MOST important criterion when choosing a photographer). I couldn't wait to upload them and share! Here are a {few} select favorites.

OK, so maybe that's more than a *few* - but they are so many great images, I couldn't choose!