Saturday, December 22, 2012

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A holiday weekend with three. Trains, gardens, trees, and lots of hot chocolate!

I love this new family picture! It captures what our whole weekend was about. Being together as a family in D.C. for the holidays. We kept talking about how perfect this weekend was and how much fun we were having. I am so glad we had this time together to enjoy before Taryn and I left for California the following Monday.

We took Tyson to see the trains at the US Botanical Gardens. Taryn loved it all again and enjoyed running around with Daddy showing him all the "Trains!" Seeing these two together was the best part of the weekend.


We said hi to the ducks and seagulls again. Taryn was a champ all weekend long as she napped well in her stroller multiple times a day. It's exhausting to run around seeing trains, chasing seagulls, and dancing to music as a little babe! She fell asleep just as we arrived at the White House to see the National Tree. It was beautiful and again, there were trains! We almost woke up Taryn to see them but knew we would probably see them again next year (?) Each state has a mini Christmas tree surrounding the national tree. We spotted many with beautiful handmade ornaments kept in protective plastic bubbles. I cried as we passed the Connecticut tree. There were little teddy bears placed at the base of the tree, little letters of love, and signs. I cried all weekend long every time I saw more news about that tragic event. I can't even begin to imagine what it would be like to go through that as a parent. Our prayers are with those families.

Again, this simple weekend was just so great. We loved being together in this city that we've made our own with grand adventures. Being bundled up, sipping peppermint hot chocolate (multiple times!) and having my two favorite people by my side was wonderful! 

Eastern Market for the Holiday

Saturday morning brought us to the Eastern Market to peruse the market in search for a unique D.C. ornament to add to our tree (no luck!) and maybe something special for Taryn. We had another super yummy lunch at Market Lunch (we love their fish and we have plans to take all our visitors there!) and found the cutest finger puppets for Taryn. Taryn danced along to the live band playing fun music and spotted several Santa's walking the streets. This little girl became very concerned every time Santa walked away saying, "Santa! Where you going?!!!" yelling on the top of her lungs. As long as Santa is at a distance, we are golden. But I am not even going to attempt to have her sit on Santa's lap this year, knowing that she won't even make it without bursting into tears. Maybe next year, right?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Zoolights in the city

Taryn and I went to visit Tyson at his internship on Friday so Taryn could see how they decorated the halls with holiday cheer at the I.T.A. We had to go walk forever through an underground tunnel and then through two security check points to get to his office! Serious business! After we left, Tyson thought it would be a great idea to get the Zoolights in earlier in the night. We hit the lights at the perfect time as the sun was setting and the air wasn't too cold yet. We enjoyed our Peppermint hot chocolate and Taryn loved her special snowman cookie as we walked through the beautiful lights.  It was such a great night to be out in the city and enjoy the free holiday activities as a family. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

So much to share, but so little time!

Tyson, Taryn and I just spent a wonderful weekend together after Tyson finished all his finals. We soaked up all the Holiday Spirit we could from D.C. and had so much fun. It was a perfect weekend to end on as Taryn and I make our way to California today and Tyson follows in a few days. We are looking forward to seeing family and sharing more with you soon!
 T, B & T

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Adventures of B & Lil' T. Loving the holidays

We started off our Tuesday with some good ol' grocery shopping together bright and early. We raced home, got ready for the day and headed for the metro. I couldn't contain my excitement! I'd been talking to Taryn for days about the trains we were going to see and I knew she would love them.

Before we made it off the metro, Taryn was already starting to fall asleep. What? Super early nap time? So I went with it. She fell asleep before we got to the Capitol's Christmas tree. I had a little mommy break as I sat inside the U.S. Botanical Gardens admiring the beautiful plants and Christmas displays. My heart filled with such a strong happiness. I instantly became overwhelmed and grateful for what I have in my life. Those simple moments where I get to experience pure joy with my little toddler, being able to have a husband who wraps his arms around me and works oh so hard, and two big loving families (Smith's & Scott's) who have shown so much love for us.

 Fast asleep and so happy are we

 Washington Monument made of natural elements

 The Capitol

 The Library of Congress- close up- acorns, sticks and more! How cool is that!?!

 Homes on the Hill

 Dancing reindeer- loved these

Once Taryn woke up we entered the Train exhibit. Her little yelps of joy filled my heart with joy and brought big tears to my eyes. I couldn't help but cry as I watched her running around saying, "MOMMY LOOK!!!!! TRAINS!!! OHHHH!!!! TRAINS!!!" 
over and over again as she ran about the place. She was so incredibly happy and so was I. I think I cried almost the whole hour we were there. My little girl is getting to be so big and being able to experience these special moments in life with her are the best. 

 Pure amazement on her little face!

On our way out, we stopped by the "BIG TREE!!!" in front of the capitol building, shared cheese sticks, granola bars, an apple, and gold fish crackers. The seagulls nearby squawked as Taryn said goodbye when we headed for the metro.

Oh, she's awake. Mommy just needs to learn a new word for taking pictures besides "Smile!" Cause this is what I always get!

We ended our day with books, movies, and magazines loaned from the local library. We even got on the swings for a bit at the park across the way in the frigid night air together before going home. When we arrived home Taryn dug through my huge library bag packed with books & movies- finding just what she wanted. She loves the library so much- "Books! mommy! Books!" And I must mention that this girl ate So much for dinner that night too. I am one very happy mama!
The little video from the exhibit below!

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Nutcracker Puppet Show and the Performaning Arts for littles

        Taryn and I went to a Nutcracker Puppet show for ages 0-3 put on by the Puppet Co. in Glen Echo Park, Maryland. It was so perfect for her. You could also tell from all the little ones that it was a hit and the fact that the shows sell out FAST!
       Taryn hugged & kissed me throughout the entire show, a true sign to me that she was so happy I took her there. She could hardly sit on the carpet for 3 seconds at a time because she was too excited to see the next puppet and what they were doing! It made me so happy to see her so happy. It was one of those perfect moments where our smiles couldn't be bigger.
       We watched and laughed and loved how the puppeteer brought each puppet to life. It was interesting how he broke down the play into simple puppets and little dances. It made me want to see the real Nutcracker ballet someday. (Maybe when we can afford the $45-$110 a piece tickets here in D.C.! WOW!)

     After coming home I remembered how we had taken Taryn to two art performances in November that I just never blogged about. As a part of the KidsEuroFestival  there were many productions put on by different countries and hosted by various embassies. Both were fun and different and Taryn loved them. We saw "Max: The Play about the Ball, the car, and the Lamp" in the Sweden Embassy. Even though Taryn tried multiple times to play with the balls in the performance, it was still a good experience to attend. They had many crafts and games for each child to do, and a photo booth for children and parents. The Sweden Embassy was amazing and had a fantastic view of the Potomac. They had ipads set up with different apps used in Sweden by school children, a book and play center etc... I could see myself and Taryn going back for more visits!

      The second performance we saw was in the Kennedy Center called "Wind". We were lucky enough to go on a night that worked with Tyson's schedule! We met him by the metro in D.C. and walked to the Kennedy Center (with expert navigation from the Anderson's!) The company performing was from Bologna and when they did speak, it was in Italian. It was a great night out as a little family and a fun experience to see a play just for Taryn in the famous Kennedy Center.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

This week with T, B & T

Ahh....breakfast time

Taryn figured out how to get out of her crib. I was really hoping we wouldn't have to switch her to a big girl bed until we moved. But this girl works on her own schedule! We've got a big girl on our hands now!

We all woke up super sick this weekend. We've never been sick all at the same time but maybe it's better that we're all going through it together. Taryn & I have 8 days to get all better before we fly to California. Tyson has 5 days to get better before his last final and 11 days before his flight to California. Written out, it seems like a lot of time so I hope it works out!

We've been out almost every night before bed time to tour the neighborhood and see Christmas lights. Taryn can point out and say Baby Jesus, Santa, "Whites!" or lights, and "Snownan".

After giving Taryn a handful of goldfish, Taryn said, "Thank you sweet girl!" to me. I loved it!

Her favorite phrases this week are:
 "Mommy (or Daddy) -  you ok? "
"Daddy (or Mommy) - wha you doing?"
"Oh no! It's broquin!" (broken)

I made an entire calender full of events for the Christmas season. Slowly, we are checking things off! More to come on our Christmas events!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Sharing a little bit of the holidays from Italy. What we've learned from living, studying, and visiting Italy

 Taryn holding our La Befana doll

As a part of a "Polar Express" night, we were one of the countries that children visited on their way "around the world." Tys and I had both signed up for Italy so we gathered our Italian Christmas items we have collected over the past few years with my study abroad and us living their last year.

We learned so much about different holiday traditions last year in Bologna and it was so fun to take that knowledge and share it with tons of little children. Each child had a special Polar Express passport and with each country they visited (Guatemala, Sweden, Germany/Austria, France, Italy, Mexico, and more) they got their passport stamped. Tyson made sure each child tried to say, "Buon Natale!" or "Merry Christmas" in Italian before getting their stamps. I was super impressed with the children and how they paid attention to every word and attempted to say (some did so well!) "Buon Natale!"

 We talked about La Befana, panettone bread(we actually found a store that sold some!), 
the origin of the Nativity and some other christmas traditions.

This was the best Christmas Party we have ever been too. I wish we could have taken pictures of the entire building but we were so busy! Taryn kept hearing the Conductor (Think Tom Hanks from the Polar Express movie- spot on) blow his train whistle. She was convinced there was a train down the hall way and got so excited/confused. She finally got to see the train when they started the movie for the children later on. We loved the "hot chocoLate!" bar - so delicious and well displayed and the yummy cookie exchange. Held on December 1st, it was the best way to start off the month of Holiday celebration.

More on Italian Christmas celebrations here, here, here, here, here and here.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Story Time at the Library of Congress

She looks oh so tiny next to the gorgeous stone building of the Library of Congress
 (Jefferson Building).
First of all, how cool is that?! To be able to attend a weekly story time just for little ones from 0-3 years old at the Library of Congress?!! 
It was amazing and I loved watching how much Taryn enjoyed every second. The leading lady was great, the songs were fun, play time was hilariously crazy and just as fun. Each child had a name tag and was recognized multiple times during songs and little activities. 
I felt such a strong bond with Taryn as we wiggled out feet, made twinkle stars with our hands, and jumped up and down together. Her smile and laughter warmed my heart so much. It's those special mother-daughter connections that we get to make each day that will be implanted in my memory forever.
 Taryn instantly responded to "The Clean Up Song" from Barney & Friends as playtime came to a close. (Thanks to Nursery at church each Sunday & Mommy who sing it over and over and over again during the week!) And instantly fell in love with an Elmo doll the second we walked in the door.
One of the best parts was being able to sit next to our friends Paige & Ada and enjoy the story & singing time with them. Afterwards, we headed outside, sat on the grass and chatted while our two little girls ran around in the shrubbery eating snacks together.
It was such a simple but yet such a great way to start our weekend. I just can't believe that it's been on my "To-Do" list since the first weeks we moved here and I am just getting to it now! I know there will be much more twinkle star hands & Elmo hugging in the future.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

"It's the most wonderful time of the year"

We pulled out our Christmas decor on Sunday and I love how it fills our little home. 
Twinkle lights, green and red, and memories from past adventures and moments in our lives.
I was impressed that I still remembered where I had packed them all away almost 2 years ago and said goodbye.
There is still one box with La Befana from Italy and a few other European ornaments that I need to find by Saturday for an International Holiday presentation Tys and I are doing. Wish me luck, because I know I've gone through almost all the boxes once already!
Let the Christmas music play!

 Some of our international Christmas collection. 
Our Due Torri ornament from Bologna, Italy
A little manger scene that Tys and I searched for together on the island of Murano in Venice, Italy.
A traditional European Santa with his long red coat that I bought with my sister in Rothenburg, Germany from the Kaethe Wohlfahrt Christmas store.
Not pictured
A Nativity from  my Study Abroad in 2009 from Assisi, Italy
A European angel ornament- I love their unique faces
Le Befana"kind old witch" from Bologna, Italy


Truth be told, when I pulled out our stockings, the third one still said "mason" on it. We had to laugh that it seems like so long ago we made it for "him" when I was 7 months pregnant. We were happy to make a few changes on it for Taryn.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A cure through Cookie Dough

By 11 am this morning I was way beyond the "I'm gonna pull my hair out" moment. So far, in fact, that I considered giving myself a big mommy time out. But because life keeps moving forward, it wasn't an option. 
So instead, I made cookie dough. 
Taryn was my little helper and it was actually the only thing that took away those big crocodile tears for a couple of brief moments in time. I had tried painting, naps, coloring, games, playing with puff balls and ice trays, going outside, etc....
 But then again, after a small handful of M&M's, what toddler wouldn't be happier sitting next to you helping you pour flour into a mixing bowl?
 I had to keep reminding myself all morning long that she was overly tired and cranky because no one slept for more than 30 minutes at a time last night because Taryn kept waking up, unable to self soothe. My frustration appeared multiple times last night as I searched for her sippy cup, fumbled in the dark to fill it with milk and give it to my little one. 
By 5 am I had given up on sleeping and put all my energy and frustration from lack of sleep into a good morning run. When I returned home at 7am I found Taryn and Tyson still fast asleep- the longest duration of sleep all night long and I wanted to freeze time. But soon the house was buzzing with our normal morning routine, and thankfully, Taryn woke up as happy as can be (only to last a wee bit of time)
 I think the only way I am still standing right now is because of a great thing called endorphins.

So even after the crying and even though my little apartment looked like this all morning long, I had found that 5 minutes of peace in making two batches of different cookie doughs all to be used during this busy weekend.

Monday, November 26, 2012

We may have started a new tradition

On our last day in Williamsburg we went to the Christmas Mouse, a christmas decoration store. There  were many christmas trees filled with there own themed ornaments like the Shoe tree, the Job tree, the Holland Windmill tree, the Sports tree, Baby first Christmas Tree and so much more! 

We picked up some ornaments and also made sure not to leave without buying Taryn her "First Christmas" ornament. I know, she's 21 months old and I am just now getting her one?!! Well, this is her first U.S. christmas so I thought it was fitting. Plus, I can't remember seeing any "Baby's First Christmas" ornaments in Bologna, Italy that I liked. Tyson found the perfect one for her and I actually cried when I saw it. For me, when you cry over something, it means it's a perfect fit. 

Down the street from Peter and Ashley is the biggest Yankee Candle store I have ever seen. The picture above is just half of it- my camera couldn't fit it all in from where I was standing in the parking lot. Clothes, toys, candles, candy and Santa's workshop were waiting for us inside. It was incredible!

After lunch we hit the road and sailed home. I was so happy that we never had to deal with traffic and that we got to spend so much time with our good friends. Peter and Ashley were so awesome to host us in their beautiful apartment, cook such yummy food and Miles was so happy and adorable! Tyson and I are lucky that we live so close to them and get along so well with the Dansie's.
 Thank you to the Dansie's for a wonderful Thanksgiving that we will never forget!! 
We loved every minute!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012, "Friendsgiving"

 I was nervous to prepare my first turkey for not only my little family but two other families! I combined different methods of turkey preparations and roasting and the finished product turned out beautiful and very yummy!

Peter craved his very first turkey thanks to the help of YouTube and Tyson- his rewind, pause, and play assistant. 

Being inside forever was very hard on Taryn. There was much to be done for the dinner so Tyson came to the rescue and was Super Dad as he tended to Taryn, took her to a nearby park for hours, played outside the condo with her and kept her entertained with various building blocks, games, and some Curious George netflix.

It was a combined effort to decorate the table. I brought my table cloth, cloth napkins, and decorative balls. I remembered from years past that we used fresh fall leaves on the table and they looked beautiful inside Ashley's Charleston Dish (I love that we both have one!). Ashley prepared place cards and had cute napkins to use along with her beautiful tableware. It's amazing to me how much we were able to do once we combined our "things."

Everything was delicious and we continued to eat again and again through the night and the next day. Thanksgiving wouldn't be right without a little game action either. We learned to play Bohnanza and loved it.
Such a successful, flavorful dinner!