Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Catching up on the ordinary

George got his first bee sting yesterday at the playground.

After my initial worry that he would have an allergic reaction (he didn't, thank goodness), I could not have been more proud of my boy.  He cried, of course, but he was a terrific sport about the whole ordeal.  By nap time, he had forgotten it happened.  That was about the time that my heartbeat slowed down to a respectable pace and I could stop checking his breathing every five minutes.



I am somewhat envious of Frances's ability to pull off the most adorable bob I've ever seen.  With good behavior comes reward--playing with Mr and Mrs Potato Head at the local Great Clips.


The kids aren't the only ones who have had a recent haircut.

He looks ridiculous, but it was very necessary.  Marshall's beard was starting to take on a life of its own.


A typical afternoon scene.

All three kids waiting at the door for Gram-E to come visit.


Another typical scene.

Frances's shoes without their owner.  I think she would be barefoot the entire day if I let her.


Frances's interpretation of Minnie Mouse.

She wanted me to send it off to Disney World as a "Thank You" note for our June visit; but they're just going to have to wait, oh, ten years or so until I'm ready to let it go.  


Post-dentist check-up milkshakes at Chick-fil-A.

I know, I know - concentrated sugar might defeat the purpose of the teeth cleaning.  But they were so good at the dentist and I so needed a giant diet lemonade to get me through the rest of the day.


A typical summer afternoon scooting down the street.

These are the moments that I am certain, and sooner than I would like, I will miss so much my heart will ache.  Thank you for letting a sappy mother share them here!

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Monday, July 29, 2013

I may never be able to teach "perspective" now

This past Friday, George, Frances and I made the drive north to the DC area to visit with my sister, Katherine, and her family.

We have been many times as a family (usually with Will who had to work this time - the little stinker), but Frances has always envisioned a night alone with her favorite godmother and I thought it was high time she had one.

Friday afternoon, we all took in a Nationals MLB game (the kids' first).  It was a perfect day to be at the ballpark.

Popcorn is the surefire way to keep wiggly three-year-olds in their seats.  For about 5 minutes.

We had great seats!
Silly cousins.

The Nationals built an incredible playground right in the ballpark.  Pure genius.

It felt odd to be there without our number one fan, but Will sent me player updates and stats about the game and I sent him a video of the Presidents' Race.

Stock footage.  Teddy lost this time.

This might have been my favorite part of the day.  I laugh every single time.

That night I left Frances in good hands and George and I made our way to a local hotel where we ordered room service and watched intellectual television ("The Care Bears Movie").

In the morning, we went for a run on the beautiful Teddy Roosevelt Island (steps from the hotel's front door).

Squeezing the statue of Teddy Roosevelt into the jogging stroller would have been easier than getting George in there - but he was a good sport.

But nothing can quite compare to Frances's Saturday morning with Katherine, which included:

Brunch at the American Girl doll store.

Why yes, that IS a milkshake the size of Frances's head.  Breakfast with your aunt must include dessert!
Even the dolls had their own seats (and breakfast, of course!).

I write this assuming that everyone knows just what an amazing product (and complete racket) the American Girl doll is to the average five-year-old girl and her parents, grandparents and now aunts (sorry, Katherine!).  If not, please click here to be mesmerized.  And for those of you with little girls who have not yet been exposed to these dolls (Brooke!), run like the wind!

A personal shopper.

And, from what I understand, every single American Girl doll accessory you can imagine under one roof.  

Even a hot air balloon (which, thankfully, did not make it home with Frances).

Needless to say, Frances returned with quite a loot.  We spent the better part of Sunday afternoon taking it out, playing with it, and deciding on the perfect place in her room to house these new treasures, which also included some hand-me-down American Girl dolls and clothes from a very generous cousin (thank you, Alison!).

And now we're back and left to explain that we no longer have dessert for breakfast, dinner delivered to our hotel room, and a standing weekend date to shop for doll clothes.  At least not until their visit to Nana and Pop's house.

Happy Monday, everyone!  And a HUGE thank you to Katherine for making all of Frances's dreams come true.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Two Princes

Prince George Alexander

Meet Prince George West

We are all so happy you are here!

PS - just in case the name has anything at all to do with it, please pass on to your parents an excellent read.  

And good luck!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Our weekend at The Homestead

This was our first and will very likely be our last five-star weekend with the kids (at least at these ages):

So we made the most of it.

The Virginia Bar Association has their annual summer meeting at The Homestead, but we had never taken the leap to enjoy it until this year.  Years ago, my parents would take us snow skiing at The Homestead and every so often we'd make a summer day trip to stroll through the shops when we were at the river; but I had no memory of how kid-friendly it was, so I was never inclined to schlepp the family through the mountains in July so Will and I could attend meetings.  But I am SO glad we decided to try it out this year.

We swam.

This picture does not do the three (yes, three) pools justice - they were incredible, including a lazy river with tubes.

We played mini-golf.

The game was as scattered as this picture suggests.  George took it upon himself to be in charge of the flags at each hole and Frances made at least two holes-in-one.  Everyone beat me.

Frances had her nails done.

This is a picture of a little girl in complete bliss.

Will and I took advantage of the half-day kids camp for ages 3 and up (!!) and went on an adult-only morning hike.  Heaven.

We ate way too much of far too rich food--and didn't feel a bit guilty about it.

And we are all completely exhausted.  

I think one of us got a little too used to the Homestead lifestyle.

Happy Monday, everyone!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


I know I've been the worst stay-at-home blogging mother this summer.  And crickets is pretty much all you get when you look out for one of my posts.  Nada.  Nothing.  I have no excuse except that the very beloved little creatures that I so enjoy writing about and taking pictures of are taking up all of my writing/picture taking time.  Alanis Morissette would have a field day with that little bit of irony.  

We are back from a wonderful (but MUCH too short) beach weekend in Pawleys Island and we are off tomorrow for another long weekend at The Homestead--I know; we are slumming it this season, aren't we?  So it looks like it will be another few days before I can/might get my act together and tell you about our trips and just our day-to-day life.  But until then, you'll have to watch Will's latest video montage that he made of one of our beach activities--the treasure hunt!

The handsome man in the middle was not only our host with the most for our weekend (beachfront house that slept all 12 of us comfortably!), but put on an incredible treasure hunt activity for the kids.  If you are in Atlanta and need a party planner, Fleming is your man!  And without further ado, Will's interpretation of the treasure hunt extraordinaire:

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Life's a beach!

And we'll soon be walking on it.

Sadly, I think Tropical Storm Chantal will have us under more clouds (and maybe rain, but really, really, really hope not!) this trip, but we're going to make the best of it.  Or at least I know Will will make the best of it because he is so good about that and I may be traveling 1 1/2 hours to the nearest Bikram yoga studio to relieve my rainy beach stress.  Either way, we are very excited to spend a long weekend on the South Carolina shores, smelling that beach air and listening to the waves crashing on the sand.  The human soul was meant to be near water, wasn't it?  It never fails to slow your breath, relax your muscles, and help you appreciate what an incredible planet we live on.

I also should apologize for my pathetically short and boring blog posts this summer.  I am still trying to figure out a good schedule for writing (in part because I miss it so much!) and can't seem to find one that works for me.  I have a feeling I won't get there until school starts in the fall, so until then I will do my best to keep up with things as much as possible.

A quick "Bon Voyage" to my parents who leave for Italy today (lucky ducks!).  And a "GOOD LUCK!" to one of my dearest friends on the planet, Brooke, who is set to have her second baby (a little girl!) on Friday.  I am beyond excited to hear the news from both adventures!

Happy Wednesday, everyone.  I'll be back next week!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Honey beets

Beets--you either love them or hate them.  And I'll confess that up until very recently, I belonged to the latter group.  I could never get past the bitter-ish taste, the sort of hard, but equally squishy texture, and the seemingly unnatural color (although as one of my previously white wash clothes suggests, that red-purple juice is indeed found in nature).  So when we got a two-pound shipment of raw beets from our bi-weekly Dominion Harvest delivery, I was underwhelmed.  Until I tried this incredibly delicious (and easy!) recipe:

Honey Beets
 2 cups cooked diced beets (I cooked the raw beets by steaming them whole with a tiny amount of water in the microwave for about 5 minutes.  Check half-way to ensure they don't bubble over and create a huge, purple mess!).
 2 tablespoons butter
 1/4 cup orange juice
 1 teaspoon grated orange peel
 1/2 cup honey
 pinch of sea salt
 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Put diced beets in a saucepan. Add remaining ingredients and mix gently. Cook on moderate heat until liquid evaporates and butter and honey form a glaze over the beets. Remove from heat and serve immediately. Beets pair well with pork chops or pork tenderloin.

And now?  I love, love, love beets.  I will eat them in a boat.  And I will eat them with a goat.  (Sorry, apparently George's recent love affair with "Green Eggs and Ham" is starting to rub off on me).  The recipe claims that even your kids will love them; but alas, mine did not.  But don't let that deter you from trying them with yours.  What is not to love when you combine butter, honey, and orange zest?

Enjoy!  And happy Monday!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Happy Birthday, Will!

In our world of crazy,

You are our rock.

Happy, happy birthday!  Enjoy your cake!


Friday, July 5, 2013

July 4th

One day, we will have a lake house:

But until then, it is incredibly wonderful to have friends who have a lake house; especially when those welcoming friends invite you over for an all-day July 4th party.

Lynne (one of our hosts) in the pool some of the kids.

And party we did!

So much so that I hardly took a single picture all day.  We swam (a LOT!), the kids went on the boat, Will took a spin on the inner tube behind the boat (and apparently had a complete wipeout, which sadly I missed), and I tried my best to keep everyone coated in sunscreen.  Considering we were in the sun for about 6 hours and we are all very, very pale people, I consider the fact that we are sunburn-free to be a huge victory.

One big happy pale family!

Happy Independence Day from all of us at the Conte Café.

And a happy Friday – enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Summer gymnastics

For the most part, our summer has been a free-for-all activity-wise.  I thought the kids needed some unscheduled time after a busy school year and this summer may be our last truly relaxing one (Frances has already talked about wanting to swim on our local team and I thought I’d give it one more year before taking her up on that offer).

But I’d heard from several people independent of each other about a great gymnastics program close to us and after learning that they had once-a-week afternoon classes for 3 and 5-year-olds at the same time and on the same day, I jumped on it.

We’ve been to two classes so far and the verdict is pretty predictable—while both kids are insanely athletic and coordinated, Frances loves it and George has zero interest in removing himself from my leg once we enter the building.  I’ve been remiss in taking pictures of the kids in action, primarily because the other mothers waiting for their children are super-nice and I selfishly use that precious 45 minutes to have a little adult time.  But I did manage to take a few shots yesterday.

Frances trying her best to ease a crying George into his class.

George's sweet coach, Robin, comforting him (still crying.  Even Frances couldn't stop that!)
They are in different classes, but were right next to each other during warm-ups.

The "after" picture.  He really did have fun.

Robin gave each student a Mickey stamp on their feet.  As if he weren't already in love with her!

The saving grace for George this week was that another 3-year-old boy (yay!) joined his group.  The first week, George was the only boy in the class and I think he felt out of place.  But once those two males found each other, they strutted their stuff around the balance beam, parallel bars, and trampoline area liked they owned the place.  Arms out, chest inflated, legs bowed—I failed to get a picture, but I’m sure you get the idea.

Fingers crossed his newfound gymnastics bud is there next week.

Happy Wednesday, everyone!