Thursday, December 26, 2013


This was the first year Nate stayed awake after church, so he could leave a snack for Santa. He chose a Christmas bagel (bagel with cream cheese and Christmas sprinkles) and lemonade. When he woke up, though, his first order of business was to cuddle with Grandma Happy, who was visiting. He stayed so long we thought maybe he'd forgotten it was Christmas morning. But after a while, he said, "Well, let's go see if Santa Cwase weft pwesents and ate his snack."

So downstairs he went, bypassed the tree and toys, to check on the snack. After expressing amazement that it was in fact eaten, he asked why Santa left some. Fearing hurt feelings, I was frantically searching for an explanation, when he brightened and said, "He weft some for me!" and dug in.

Then he took his time playing with his toys, handing out presents to others, and playing with Happy (and cousin Sara when she visited in the afternoon.)

He's a very wise three-year-old, so we took his advice:

Friday, December 20, 2013

{This moment}

Janet gave us a big roll of paper. One rainy afternoon, Mama turned it into a mat for Nate's cars and animal figures. Hard to say which of us enjoyed that more ;)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Nutcracker and Homestead

Jenny-Jen and Alex generously took us to Ballet Maryland's Nutcracker today. We had been reading a picture book about it from the library, so he'd know the story. Since he is so detail-oriented, I was worried that he'd be upset if the soldiers' cannons didn't really shoot candy like in the book. I stashed some soft peppermints in my purse, and brought them out at the right time. Nate and Alex also enjoyed Franny's opera glasses and taking their own nutcrackers to the show.

Afterward, we met Jack and Janet at Homestead to see the model trains and other Christmas displays. Nate shared some secrets with Santa's reindeer.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Thursday, November 21, 2013

National Aquarium

We had an amazing day today at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, thanks to Shannon's colleague Janice, who volunteers as a diver there. She showed Nate her scuba equipment before diving in the Atlantic Coral Reef exhibit to feed the fish.

We also enjoyed seeing the new Blacktip Reef (Pacific) exhibit, as well as the Rainforest and Australia exhibits, the dolphins, and jellyfish. Time to dig out Nate's "fwippers," since today was a day he'll be talking about for a long time!

Monday, November 11, 2013

New Jersey

We visited Andrea, Rick, Wes, and Dylan last weekend in New Jersey. Wes and Nate had non-stop fun, and Maisie enjoyed all the wildlife and running around.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Halloween 2013

Nate came up with his own costume idea this year. He wanted to be a spider, just "a little bit scary." He loved his short run of trick-or-treating, and was especially eager to eat the full-size Hershey bar. I told him he could open it that night if he read me all the letters, which he surprised me a little by doing.

And we got the traditional skeleton jammies photo, which shows the crazy growth over the past three years:

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Air and Space

Since Nate has become interested in rockets, we planned a trip with Honey and PopPop to the Smithsonian Air and Space Annex (the Udvar-HazyCenter.) He enjoyed the planes, rockets, and Space Shuttle, and got to "pilot" a small Cessna.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Apple Picking 2013

We joined Jenny-Jen and Alex for a trip to Larriland Farms to pick apples and enjoy other fall fun. It was a perfect day.

Monday, September 16, 2013

County Fair 2013

We were so excited to go to the Fair this year. The Antique Tractor Club display was a huge hit, like last year. This time, Nate wanted to take pictures of some of his favorites. He also thoroughly enjoyed feeding hay to a Holstein calf, before making his way to the midway. He amazed us with his bravery on rides and in the funhouse maze, and the quick way he made friends with other kids.

Monday, September 09, 2013


We finally got to take Nate camping for the first time. He enjoyed the tent and camp chairs, the campfire, his lantern, eating, riding bikes, canoeing, and s'mores.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Beach 2013

We shared a beach house near Hatteras with Grandma Happy and Uncle Bart, Aunt Tracy, and cousin Sara the week of July 4th. After a rainy start (perfect for exploring all the toys in the house,) we enjoyed gorgeous weather the rest of the week. Nate got to play mini-golf and kayak for the first time, and Mark got to fly kites, and teach Sara, as well.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


After a cold, wet sail with Mark on Woodwind last Tuesday, to mark eleven years since we met aboard, I was worried about today's planned sail with Nate and Mark's colleagues from SpinSheet. But it was a glorious afternoon to be on the water. Nate loved seeing the boat Daddy works on (he didn't remember this trip three years ago) and steering the boat, and Mama got a workout trying to keep up with his remarkable sea legs as he explored the deck, companionways, and cabins.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day

We had a fun day together, taking a borrowed boat for a spin to Cantler's for crabcakes. Now that Nate can recognize the colors, numbers, and shapes of the channel markers, plus left and right, he can steer the boat, with just a little help from Daddy. He also helped with the anchor before dozing off on Mama's lap during the return trip.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Slim Pickings

Nate took Mama strawberry picking today. Due to our Memphis trip, we were late in the season, so there weren't too many berries left. But that suited Nate's attention span perfectly.

He liked the challenge of hunting in the middle of the bushes, and managed not to taste test a single berry.

It was fun to watch him quickly befriend some kids. Their wonder and team spirit were contagious.

Also, the farm had tractors. A good day, indeed.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Memorial Day Trip, Part Two

On Sunday, we met up with some of Shannon's high school friends and their kids at the Memphis Botanical Gardens. My Big Backyard is set up for kids, so much so that Nate kept Mark too busy to get any photos of us girls. Which is just as well, since we were all pretty wilted from the afternoon heat.

In addition to catching up with good old friends, Shannon really enjoyed the monstrous magnolias, in bloom this time of year.

Wanting to take a different route home, we went north to see the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. With only a few hours to spend there, we just scratched the surface of the amazing exhibits and attractions in the park. But our day included a horse-pulled trolley ride, a pony ride for Nate (riding without Mama by his side for the first time, he showed no fear and even removed one hand to wave and pet Dudley,) a brief presentation of several retired racing champion horses, monuments to several famous horses buried in the Park, and a mare and foal presentation. 

Finally, we visited cousins Molly, John, Annalese, Lucy, and Isaac at their home in West Virginia. The second cousins graciously took Nate under their wing, and he again played for long stretches without so much as a check-in with Mama and Daddy. As much as we enjoy his company, breaks like that are welcome these days, allowing our eardums relief from his insightful but incessant commentary and questions.

It was a wonderful time together with family and friends. We are so grateful to our many hosts and hostesses, and hope to return the favor soon. Right after we get the swimming pool and master bath operational.

Friday, May 03, 2013

Memorial Day Trip, Part One

We drove to Memphis for a very special Memorial Day weekend, with a memorial service for Granny and Papaw, and visits with family and friends.

After a fun (although too-short) time with Kim, Johnny and Baby Maegan in Knoxville, we detoured en route to Memphis to see the cabin Papaw had built on the Tennessee River. It has been sold to another owner, but I was glad to show Mark the amazing job Papaw had done, with no formal training and no professional help.

The mountainous site has a beautiful view of the Tennessee River Valley, but an almost impossibly steep grade.

Papaw chiseled the family name into this stone, and built the long stone wall into which it is placed. The love and proud workmanship are still so evident, decades later.

In Memphis, we stayed with cousins Chris, Susie and Caitlyn. Nate experienced not a moment's boredom. Chris played the electric guitar, Susie taught him to throw a Frisbee for the dogs,  and Brody and Sam were willing to be chased around the yard for hours. Caitlyn drew for and with him, and convinced him that her upstairs bedroom was the tardis from Dr. Who. Which might be true, as he disappeared for long stretches of time, leaving Mama and Daddy to be wined and dined by their hosts.  Even the cats sought him out, a rare treat for a three-year-old boy.

The memorial service was a warm, loving remembrance of two amazing people, and the family they loved so much.
After the service was a brief graveside service. A Navy color guard was in attendance, honoring Papaw's service in WWII. After playing Taps, they presented a flag to my mother and her sisters, "on behalf of the President of the United States, a grateful nation, and the U.S. Navy." 

The grave marker reminded me of Papaw's oft-quoted philosophy, "Ain't Nothing But Money." Although a frugal man, he always knew what mattered most. 

We gathered afterward with aunts, uncles, and cousins, and got a rare group shot. Well, two: the kids insisted on one 'goofy' one. 

And one of the three sisters:

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Rain Date

What a glorious day at home! Nate filled his day (and ours) with hide-and-seek, giggling under the covers, dance parties, parenting his teddy bear Goodman, puddle stomping, umbrella walks to "Step in Time" on the "rooftops" of the neighborhood playground, lizard sighting, wet-bummed mulch excavations, bike ride, pretend grass mowing, and getting re-acquainted with his toys after a two-week housesitting gig.

Mama wants to start a foundation to give every three-year-old an umbrella. Certainly society has bigger needs, but it would be so morale-boosting for all involved. Derby hats optional.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

The March of Time

Every March, we housesit. From left to right, 2010, 2011, and 2013.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

{this moment} Mary Poppins overload

Watching the movie, reading the book, holding his George Banks hat (Mary Poppins and Bert Jolly 'Oliday hats nearby) and he just passed out. Minus the sleeping part, this captures our last month perfectly.

Friday, January 25, 2013

{this moment} Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

Nate has his first favorite movie. Can you guess?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Nate's Vintage Tractor Third Birthday Party

It had to be a tractor party.

The farm was a bonus.

Nate (and Goodman) and a few friends really enjoyed seeing the animals, and feeding (and chasing) the birds.

We also enjoyed a tractor-pulled hayride on a surprisingly mild January day.

It was a great party for a great little boy. But we still can't believe he is three.