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Elfcapades 2014: Days 15 & 16 (Weekend fun!)

The weekend was here (hooray!).  Saturday morning (Day 15) the kids and I headed downstairs to look for Elfis.  We couldn’t find him in the tree or the kitchen, but Bennett quickly found something on the kitchen table.  There was a note and three water bottles filled with… something…?  Chocolate kisses!??!  YUM!


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The note read:

With little elf eyes watching you, there’s not a lot that Santa misses.  So, to help you be good today, here’s a bunch of sweet elf kisses.
Drink the kisses up then enjoy your new cup!  It’s gonna be a fun day, now let’s go and play!
Remember not to hurt, yell, or fight, and surprises could happen; they just might!  In fact, there is one now I bet.  Have you found your theater yet?

What?  What theater?  What’s he talking about?  And where’s Elfis?

Well, after eating one elf kiss each, they got down to see what was going on.  Again, Bennett was the first to see something.  We heard him say, “What… heck?”  (So cute, his way of trying to say What the heck? with the perfect pause in the middle while missing the the.  …  Right in the hallway to the garage, we found a little puppet theater set up.  There was a curtain stage and a bag full of animals and a princess puppet.  What fun!  We also found Elfis close by on the wall in the hallway, hanging on one of the sconces, in a perfect position to watch the puppet show.  (We had so much fun playing with his surprises, it seems we forgot to take his picture this time!)

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Sunday morning (Day 16), Cooper woke up first.  He came into my room and told me that Elfis tried to tape a trap for him to stay in his room!  … So much for our nice elf!  I asked him what he meant and how he got out, he told me that he just crawled under!  Well, one point for Cooper and none for Elfis – this kid can’t be tripped up!  He didn’t walk into it, and he didn’t get frustrated.  He thought it was pretty clever.  (The kittens were pretty impressed with it too – they kept trying to play with it.)

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Bennett was a sleepy head this morning and we had to wake him up.  Rather than break down his trap to go in and get him, we knocked on his door and told him to come see what Elfis did.  He opened up the door (still half asleep) and was so confused.  He stuttered, “He – He – He  – He trapped me in here???”  Once he woke up a little bit though, he also thought it was funny.  Here he is showing us how he could get out of his trap.  Then, later on in the day (no pictures, sorry), he took his swords and ripped it all down.

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It seems Natalie couldn’t be fooled either.  She also crawled right under hers to get out.  Cooper found Elfis wrapped up in a bunch of tape outside Natalie’s door.  We’re not sure what he was planning to do, but figured he didn’t get to it since he trapped himself by mistake!  Silly elf!

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And, just for good measure –
We have only 11 days left until Christmas!!!



Summer recap – September 2014

Still beautiful and sunny, September was another great month filled with fun adventures.

On Labor Day, we all packed up and headed over to the Evergreen State Fair.  It was our first time, and the kids were not disappointed.  One of the biggest highlights for all of us was the petting farm area, which included goats, sheep, cows, donkeys, bunnies, deer, and even a couple wallabies.  We also ran into some cousins and got to watch the cow milking contest.  Wow, that was… different.  🙂

The boys also rode around on mini tractors and the best part – the big rides!


The first week of Labor Day, Cooper started his pre-K program at school.  He was so excited to come home and tell me how fun it was.  They work on letter and number recognition, writing their names and selected site words each week.  His first day, he brought home this picture that he said he made for me, a picture of him & Bennett.  So sweet!
They also do daily exercise, which I didn’t know about at first…  Fun story:
One night, Cooper was in the bathroom for a VERY long time, and it was after he’d flushed, so I knew he wasn’t handling his business anymore.  I finally went up and asked what he was doing.  He opened the door and matter-of-factly told me “I’m doing my lunges.” Apparently he learned them at school during exercise time.  Well, I told him he should wash his hands and that he didn’t need to do them in the bathroom.  Ha!  —  When I learned this, I tried teaching them to do more moves.  Here we are working on our planks:

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The weekend after Labor Day, Bennett was doing a bit better with using his potty, so I sprung on him (totally unplanned!) the cool big-boy underwear he could have.  We talked about how cool it would be to stop wearing diapers and to wear underwear instead.  He was totally excited!


And thus began our spur-of-the-moment potty training spree weekend.  The program we used before with Cooper was a 3 day plan, with no diapers, just underwear.  And I was determined to try it again.  Well, there were lots of accidents, but he caught on pretty quickly.  We went through 3 pairs of wet underwear in two hours, then had our first potty success followed by 3 more successes in that next hour.  He was definitely motivated by Skittles as a reward!  And peeing on cheerios in the toilet was pretty fun for him, too.  He did so well – he even managed to keep his bed dry the first three nights in a row!  Unbelievable!!!

So, our 3-day program got cut down to 2 days.  I was nervous to send him to school that following Monday, but when I picked him up in the afternoon and found out he had ZERO accidents that day, I was so proud of him!  That afternoon (after he chowed down a handful of Skittles!) we packaged up all his old diapers to bring home and throw away  – as he thinks that’s what he did with the other ones from home – he put them in the garbage to say goodbye, but I took them out when he wasn’t looking – but he said he wanted to give the diapers to Baby Ryder instead of throwing them away.  Such a big boy!

Another fun moment this month was when Jeff decided to introduce the boys to his favorite childhood toys: Mask toys.  He has a big box of them that are probably 25+ years old.  He was so excited to show the boys to the boys, and the boys were super excited to check them out.  It was hard to tell who was enjoying it more.


A few more September highlights:

  • Cooper and Bennett became Seahawks fans.  Cooper specifically likes Russell Wilson, though how he knows anything about him, we have no idea.
  • Cooper met a new neighbor kid, Alex, and quickly they became best buddies for a couple weeks.  Every single day they wanted to play together.  But once school started and the daylight started fading, their play sessions started slowing down.  I’m sure next spring/summer they’ll be tearing up this neighborhood!
  • Jeff and I got away for another short day of hiking.  It was just through some wooded trails at Cougar Mountain.  Nothing near as strenuous or exciting as our previous hike, but it was still nice to get out away from everything (i.e. – Kids!) and do something together.  And, the sunny warm weather made it even better.
  • Bennett joined Cooper for swim lessons in their own private session.  They have a lot of fun together and are both improving their skills.  Bennett loves to jump in, but is working on putting his face in the water; Cooper loves being underwater, and is working on swimming across the pool (side to side, not the long way) with his “big arms” (which is basically sloppy crawl stroke).
  • We spent one sunny afternoon drawing with sidewalk chalk.  We even traced shadows and drew in clothes:
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  • We made a couple after school trips to Elevated Sportz to play in the indoor play center.  The boys love it there.  Bennett can’t do the trampolines until he’s three, so they are anxiously awaiting next spring so they can do everything there, not just the giant big toy.
  • And finally, Cooper, the boy who is growing up way too fast, asked me how babies come out of mommy’s tummies.  It was one moment I was so thankful to have had C-sections both times.  It sure feels a lot simpler to explain, “Well, MY babies came out when the doctor cut open my belly and took out the baby and then fixed my cut so it got all better…”  So much easier than the alternative!

Here are a few more pictures we wanted to share:

Watching TV haircuts

Summer recap – July 2014

July brought on great summer weather, which meant we were able to take full advantage of sunny afternoons and weekends.

For seven Friday afternoons, starting in July, Cooper joined a group of kids his age for his first ever soccer team.  He had so much fun!  Practice was at a park nearby, so while he ran around with his new team, Bennett and I hung out and played close by.  After every practice, we headed over to the big toy for a while, too.  (Bonus!)  It was after the first practice when Cooper was climbing on to the big boy, and announced “Soccer player coming through!” when he tried to pass in front of me.  He definitely thought he was hot stuff!  And when I tried to take his picture during a water break, he insisted, “Mom!  I have to go!” because he certainly didn’t have time to waste on pictures.  Haha!

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For Bennett, his highlights for July included his first chair ride at the dentist.  He did really well listening to the hygienist (surprisingly!).  He couldn’t wait to have his teeth counted (all there!) and his big brother even got to get dressed up to help out!  AND – also in July, Bennett go to go from a crib to a big-boy (well, toddler) bed.  He was thrilled!  And, at the end of the month, he started taking swim lessons.  Unlike his brother, he started out with NO FEAR of the water.  (No surprise there.  He is the wild one, after all!)

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Late July, we took the kids to their first parade at the Renton River Days festival.  They thought it was so cool.  We saw the Seafair Pirates & Seafair Clowns, a pirate dog, lots of drill teams, and more.  By far though, the best part was surely the fact that many of the groups were handing out treats (candy!).  We didn’t have any bags to stuff the candy in, and Cooper saw another kid holding out his hat to collect the goodies, and he quickly started doing that himself.  Smart kid!  🙂

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We also spent plenty of time in the backyard playing in the sprinkler and the pool.  One afternoon, things got a little crazy and this happened:

Nakey pool time

This still cracks me up.  But leaves me speechless…
Oh, boys will be boys all right!





We love the beach! *** Cannon Beach – June 2014

Even though we just had a fantastic desert vacation, we decided that wasn’t enough and we needed a weekend at the beach.  And not just any beach, THE Beach.  Cannon Beach.  We rented a 4-bedroom house right on the beach near haystack rock and were so excited to have a nice, fun, beachy weekend.

The trip didn’t get off to a great start though, as the night before we headed out, Bennett caught some sort of stomach bug and was throwing up all over.  The next morning (Friday), he couldn’t keep a cup of apple juice down.  But, call us crazy, we decided to go anyway.  The house was paid for.  What’s a little vomit all over the car during a 5-hour drive, huh???  So, we packed up the car with everything we needed for the weekend, and made sure to include a barf bowl, paper towels, a large bath towel, garbage bags, and a hand towel.  We were prepared.  Thankfully, we didn’t need any of that stuff.  Bennett was back to his crazy (healthy) self with no more problems.

The drive was long.  Like I said, five hours.  We rolled into Cannon Beach before our check-in time, but were lucky that the house was ready.  While the house does not compare to our last vacation rental in Arizona, it was perfect all in a completely different way.  Look at this place – huge deck with lots of seating, a nice grassy yard, and our own steps right down to the beach, and a short walk from Haystack Rock!


The kids immediately wanted to go to the beach, so we unloaded the car, changed our clothes, and headed down.  The weather was nice – 60 degrees and sunny, not a cloud in sight; a little windy, but not unbearable.  The water was freezing!  But that didn’t stop our crazy kids from getting wet!  I could not get over how much they loved the sandy beach and the water.  I could just sit and watch them play and listen to their squeals of delight & laughter forever.  It was great.

It took Bennett a little while to adjust to walking on the sand.  He didn’t care for it at first.  (He still doesn’t like bare feet on the grass!)  But he got over it.  And he ran.  And ran some more.  We played with shovels, buried our feet, and managed to get sand in everything (of course).

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After a little time on the beach, we changed out of our sandy clothes and walked into town for dinner.  We made a stop first at the candy store.  (It’s ok to bend the rules on vacation!)


After our candy and dinner, we walked on home and played on the beach a little longer before settling down to wash off the sand and go to bed.  The kids all had their own rooms and did great.  The house was old, but perfect for what we needed.

Saturday morning, we decided to drive back to Seaside for some adventures over there.  The kids just wanted to go back and play on the beach, but we convinced them we’d have fun in Seaside, and then we’d come back and play on our beach again later that afternoon.  I think we managed to have fun:

We started the morning off walking down Broadway towards the beach and had to stop to get Jeff some coffee.  The coffee shop was connected to a gift shop full of crazy hats.  So, of course, we had to try them on.  What do you think – how do we look???

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After the hat store, we headed over to the Seaside Aquarium.  We’d heard they had a brand new baby seal to see, and they did not disappoint.  We watched the seals beg for food for quite some time, saw the baby seal swimming with his mom, and even fed them ourselves.  That was fun.  And we headed inside to check out the rest.  Bennett posted next to a 28lb lobster (same weight as him!), we saw a big octopus, and checked out the scary sharp-toothed wolf eel.  There was also a touch-tank, but none of the kids were feeling very adventurous and kept out of it for the most part.




After the aquarium, we headed over to the bumper cars.  Unfortunately, because we all were playing, we didn’t get any pictures.  But, we all had a blast!

We finished off our morning in Seaside with lunch at the pizza place (at the arcade) and even allowed one quick game for anybody who ate their lunch (Cooper = yes, Bennett = no).  Then we headed back to the house for naptime.  The kids must have been worn out with all the fun and ocean air, because it seemed like they napped forever.  Cooper finally woke up and wanted to go to the beach.  The tide was out, so he and I took off by ourselves (the rest of the crew would catch up after Bennett got up).

Cooper and I had so much fun down on the beach.  We splashed in the water, jumped over waves, dug in the sand, played in the tidepools, found hermit crabs and starfish, and more.  I could not get over how much fun Cooper was having down there.  I asked a couple times (after nearly two hours) if he wanted to go back and find everybody else, and he just said NO every time.  He did not want to stop.  His sweatshirt and shorts were soaked, but he didn’t care.  It was just fun.  So much fun.

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Finally, the rest of our family tracked us down over at Haystack Rock and joined in the fun.  The kids played in the tidepools some more, found more hermit crabs, and (again), did not want to stop.

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As the tide came in and the tide pools began to disappear, we managed to pull the kids away and head back towards the house.  (Some of us faster than others.)


We walked into town again for dinner.  This time, the candy store was after dinner, and we all had Tillamook ice cream.  YUM!  On the walk, I asked Cooper if he was having a good vacation.  His answer?  “No.”  I couldn’t believe it and asked him why not.  And he said, “Because this is a mom vacation.”  —  A WHAT?  I explained to him that yes, I was having fun, but pointed out that I knew he was having fun, too.  He agreed.  (Silly little dude.)

After we got back to the house, we played around on the grass and the beach (dry sand) one more time before heading up for baths and bedtime again.




As a side note – we overheard that it was a Goonies anniversary celebration weekend in Astoria.  We didn’t fit it in our schedule, but we could have gone in to join the Group Truffle Shuffle and treasure hunt.  Maybe next time.  🙂

Sunday morning, it was time to pack up and head home.  But we had a little time, so we played on the beach one last time after breakfast.  Even though it was a short time, the kids still had so much fun.  It was tough to get them back into the house to get cleaned up (another bath!) and ready to go.


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As we headed back north, we made a quick detour at Fort Stevens and let the kids run out a little more energy before sticking them back in the car for another 5 hours.

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We managed to get home without too much complaining (and a lot of napping, thankfully!).  All I want to know now is – When can we go back????



Binkies are for Babies

In April we started talking to Bennett about trying to get rid of his binkies.  He was down to only using them at naptime and bedtime at home (no binkies at daycare).  But he was not having it, didn’t want to talk about it at all.  He had three binkies in his bed: one for his mouth and one for each hand.

We talked to him about binkies being for babies.  We even tried to suggest that he give his binkies to Baby Ryder.  Well, at his birthday party, we suggested it to him again, and he happily handed over one of the three coveted binkies to Baby Ryder.  We were surprised, ,but went with it.  So then we were down to two.

For the next month, we got by with just two binkies at bedtime.  Sometimes he substituted a Hot Wheel or other toy in his spare hand and was fine with that.  He didn’t seem to notice that he was missing one of his binkies.  We continued to talk about giving the remaining binkies to Baby Ryder and Bennett seemed on board some days and other days insisted, “No.  Bennett binky.”  And that was that.

And then one day in mid-May, Baby Ryder was coming over.  I asked Bennett if he wanted to give Ryder another binky that day.  He happily agreed.  “Baby Ryder binky” he kept saying.  (Uh oh, down to one – Could he do it?!?)

So that day, Ryder (and parents) showed up.  We hung out for a little bit.  Both Bennett and Cooper enjoyed getting a chance to hold Ryder by themselves:

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After playing for a bit, we asked Bennett if he was going to give Baby Ryder a binky.  He happily ran upstairs to his room and came back with his red binky.  He had one red one and one blue one.   But I had backups that he didn’t know about, and they were all red.  I was worried that if we got rid of the red one, and if I had to use an emergency binky, he would know there was more than one.  That couldn’t be good.

So, I asked Bennett if he wanted to give Ryder the blue binky instead.  He ran upstairs again and got the blue binky.  And then gave BOTH binkies to Ryder and didn’t want any of them back.  I couldn’t believe it!  Here he is handing over the last of the binkies:


Ryder eagerly accepted his new binkies.  And Bennett seemed happy with his decision.

The true test was a couple hours later when naptime came and he refused to sleep and cried to get out of his room after just an hour.  That afternoon was miserable for all the rest of us because our poor little binky-less two-year-old was so tired and cranky.  That night he asked for his binky at bedtime and I reminded him that he gave them to Baby Ryder.  He went to sleep just fine and slept all night.  He MUST have been exhausted!

And since then we haven’t had a single binky-related problem.  A couple times he has asked about his binky.  All I say in to him is, “Where is your binky?” And he responds with “Baby Ryder has it.”  And we move on.  No problem.

Binkies are for babies, so my big boy doesn’t need them.  Perfect way to move on – give them to the newest baby.

Hooray!  🙂


Elfcapades 2013: Day 7

That crazy elf is at it again!  It seems we woke up this morning and caught him in the act of a wild ride.  Literally.


Cooper discovered Elfis on a racing motorcycle ride on his way up our banister!



I’m not sure if Cooper was more impressed with Elfis’ cool antic, or with the awesome motorcycle he didn’t know we had…  He kept asking over and over if he can play with it tomorrow when Elfis is done with it.

And most importantly, today we got out of the house and headed down for the family to meet Baby Ryder.  Cooper was so excited to go meet him – we talked about it all week!  Twice on the way we made quick stops, and each time Cooper anxiously asked, “Are we there yet?”  And after an explanation of why we were stopping and what we were doing, he whined, “But I want to go see Baby Ryder!”  When we finally got to meet the baby, Cooper was instantly smitten.  He wanted to hold him so long, and for so many times.  He is a baby hog!!!  He held the baby more than I did!

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He shared some of the baby love with Bennett, who gave many kisses to his new little cousin.  He thought Ryder was pretty cool, too, but was not nearly as impressed as Cooper.

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Here are all four kids, and even a pic of Jeff snuggling with little Baby R.

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And me, wishing I could hog this tiny bundle of snuggles all to myself.

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At one point, Cooper was holding Ryder and announced to me, “He just popped out.”  A little confused, I needed to clarify, “He just popped out of Steph’s tummy?”  “Yes,” he said.  Then of course I had to egg him on.  I asked, “So do you think that Uncle Matt just poked Steph in her belly button and then Ryder just popped right out?  Just like that?”  Cooper replied, “Yep!”  And Matt chimed in, “Yep, that’s exactly how it happened.”

We had a nice visit, but as always, it had to end.  As we were saying our good-byes, Cooper (unprompted) asked Ryder “Are you gonna miss me?”  Then, walking out to the car, Cooper said to me, “Mom, I really like Baby Ryder,” followed by (for the third time) “He sure is cute.”  And not even a block down the road, he started saying (in a half-whiney voice) “I miss my cousin a lot.”  He repeated that at least five times on the way home.  He cannot wait a couple more weeks until Christmas when we will get to see Ryder again.  So sweet!

Spring Break 2013!

Mid-April we were lucky enough to get away for a small vacation to Scottsdale, Arizona.  It was convenient for us that Jeff had a quick business trip down there, so we decided to pack up the boys and join him down there for the better part of a week!  (Sure beats staying at home playing single mom!) 

This was Bennett’s first flight, and Cooper’s second – though his first was when he was only 10 months old, so he doesn’t remember it.  Both boys did much better than expected during both flights.  Bennett slept most of each flight, and was able to stay pretty happy (out of his carseat) for the final legs of the ride.  Cooper thought it was the coolest thing.  He got to sit in a seat with a seatbelt – like a big boy (no carseat); he was served ice water in a cup; got to get a bag of snacks on the plane and eat lots of fun lunch food; and he watched a movie on the laptop we brought.  He was a happy kid. 

A couple pictures at the airport:

The boys watching the airline employees outside, seeing the planes come & go, getting loaded, etc.

Ready for take-off!

We found a vacation rental home with all the bells and whistles we wanted: 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, fully-stocked kitchen, 80′ big screen tv (with hundreds of movies and every cable channel available), a piano, pool table, and reclining leather sofas.  (Not to mention Jeff’s dreamy set up with all of the fancy electronics – inside AND out!)  And then there was the outside – the backyard was amazing!  There was a huge covered patio with a table & chairs and outdoor ceiling fan; a nice grassy area for running around or laying in the sun; a built-in BBQ with bar-top on the backside; an in-ground gas firepit with seating all around; an in-ground jacuzzi that overflowed into the over-sized in-ground pool; another private seating area by a horseshoe pit; and a small putting green with a dozen or so holes/slopes for practicing your putting skills.  (Of course they had plenty of putters, horseshoes, pool floats, etc. to keep us busy, too.)  Everything outside (fans, music, pool bubblers) was controlled via remote; Jeff was loving it.

The house was perfect for us, both inside and out. We spent as much time as we could in the backyard.  Here are some photos of this amazing place:

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It became very clear to us that we need to work on some swim lessons for Cooper.  His fear of the water was a bit of a downer as he spent most of his outside time sitting on the edge and letting his toes dangle in the water rather than getting in and having fun with us.  Here are some pictures of him with his dad, testing the waters.

Testing the waters Playing in the Little Pool 

Bennett, on the other hand, is a total fish.  He was content just floating around for an hour or so without much entertainment at all.  He loved the pool and even demanded one morning that I take him in there! 

Pool Time-1  

We only were able to get Cooper in the water by a forceful effort, but after a few minutes of tears we tricked him into having fun and he (for the most part) forgot about his fears for a short while.  He really enjoyed playing with the pool noodle.


We did manage to do a couple things away from the house.  One day while Jeff was working, I took the boys to the Penske Race Car Museum and they sure thought that was cool!

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Funny story –
One night when we were out to dinner, we had a strange number of people talking to us.  (Something we are not used to here in the Pacific NW apparently.)  The older man sitting at a table by himself behind Bennett talked to Bennett for quite some time, keeping him busy “so mom can eat her dinner in peace”.  Then there was another group that talked to us & the kids as well, saying how cute the kids are, etc.  But the best part of all was when a couple that was probably 3 tables away got up to leave and walked past us on the way out.  The man complimented us and our well-behaved children.  (Ummm, did he NOT see Bennett tearing apart the paper table cloth and trying to eat it?!?!!)  Anyway, after he walked off, Cooper asked us what the man said.  We told him that the man said we had good, well-behaved children.  Cooper’s response was hilarious (I almost spit out my dinner!).  He scrunched up his face and very bewildered said “Naaaahhhhh” in total disagreement.  So funny!

We also went to a pretty cool park with a railroad theme.  They had some parked train cars to look at, a huge playground, a carousel to ride, and a fun train ride to go around the park.  The boys had fun there as well.

It was a great trip.  We will document & remember all the fun we had.  No need to talk about how Bennett cried throughout every night because he was scared of sleeping in a strange place (and we parents got very little sleep), and no need to detail the arguments with Cooper about why we weren’t going to watch tv all afternoon.  This trip was fun and we need to do it more often!  I can’t wait until we get a chance to go back!


Attempt at a self-portrait. Fun in the sun!

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