The Rest of the Story

Posted May 10th, 2012 by Sally and filed in Adventures, Doozy, Family, Kiddos, Vacation

Believe it or not, we managed to cram even more fun into our San Diego trip than just the zoo and the beach.

Since we had a rainy day that wasn’t very outdoor activity friendly, we met up with some old friends at the fabulous Balboa Park to check out a train museum and grab some lunch.

It’s no secret that Noah (and his daddy) love trains.  So, when Matt discovered that Balboa Park plays host to the San Diego Model Railroad Museum, we knew we had to make a visit.  It truly did not disappoint. Boasting 28,000 square feet of layout, it’s a train-lover’s dream come true!

Matt and the kids at the first viewing stage. Kevin Conner is Matt’s boss from Tyndall.

“Noah, what does a train say?” I think he hooted the whole time we were in the building.

A carnival on the layout.  The detail on these models was amazing.

There was a whole layout of toy trains too.  This part had a kid-friendly button that made a Thomas train go around a loop.
Noah pushed it several thousand times.

On our last full day, we visited the Birch Aquarium at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.  It was a fairly small aquarium, but perfect for a windy, chilly day.

The kelp garden was cool.

This child has never met a stranger.

Pretty coral.

The view from the aquarium balcony.

Those were the last of our outings.  We spent the rest of our visit playing the sand and, in my case, nursing a migraine.  So glad we took the opportunity to visit the Pacific coast while we are still so close.  Three cheers for husbands who call for a vacation in the middle of the day!  Let’s do it again soon! ;-)


Can’t forget to add that, on the way to San Diego, we passed the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile!  Totally random and very fun!

A Bunch of Monkeys (and a trip to the zoo)

Posted May 9th, 2012 by Sally and filed in Adventures, Doozy, Family, Firsts, Kiddos, Vacation, Whoozy

First exhibit of the day were some monkeys (chimps?).  Our little monkeys loved it!

It would have been insane to go to San Diego and not visit the world’s best zoo.  And, since we’re not really crazy, we went.  Rain was in the forecast for most of the days we were visiting, so we took advantage of the sunny weather on our first day in town and went to see some animals.  The truly lovely thing about San Diego was that it wasn’t hot or cold, just pleasant, so the animals were out and about doing their thing.  So much more fun to visit them when they’re playing than when they’re scrambling for shade because it’s a bajillion degrees outside.

We got to the park right when it opened at 9am and stayed until about 2pm.  I think we saw everything but the tigers.  The kids did great with all the walking and the no-nap day and Matt and I were in vacation mode (i.e., give them whatever they want so that they’re happy and we all enjoy this).   We had so many pictures from the day, it was hard to choose just a few.  So, will share a bunch with captions to tell this story.

Taking the double jogger was key.  Ava needed a place to sit by the end of the day!

These statues were all over the zoo and the kids loved climbing on them.

Early morning outing for the male gorilla, so that he can “take care of business.” This was pretty hilarious.
He walked right over in front of us, turned his back and got to work.

When he was done, he walked right over to the glass and got nose to nose with Ava.
Guess he wanted some privacy. ;-)

More playing/posing with the statues.

Totally her idea.

On Ava’s insistence we rode the gondola before lunch, from the top of the hill. Turns out she’s brilliant.  No line, and we got a roundtrip ride with no wait because our stroller didn’t fit.  Awesome! 

Noah loved this ride.  I was a nervous Nelly and had a pretty tight hold of him.
The kid has no fear and is a total thrill junkie.

More gorillas out to play as we coasted overhead.

The polar bears put on quite a show! They played a little water polo together and were very entertaining!

Can’t go to the San Diego Zoo and not see the pandas, right? We waited in line for about forty minutes, but the kids were pretty patient. I will say that I’ve not seen pandas this close before.  The ones in DC are far from the fence and usually hiding.  These guys were cute!

Noah LOVED the giraffes.  They were pretty busy and very near the fence, so he had a great view of them.

At the end of the day, we wound up at the petting zoo. The kids brushed the goats and Noah played with their dirt.
Gross, but they had a great time.

This about sums it up.  One last pose with a statue and, yes, we were all wiped out!

Passed out snuggling his new giraffe buddy on the ride back to the hotel.

Thanks for the memories, zoo friends!

A Trip to the Beach

Posted May 8th, 2012 by Sally and filed in Adventures, Doozy, Family, Firsts, Kiddos, Vacation, Whoozy

At the beginning of March, Matt called me at work one day (totally out of the blue) and said, “Want to go to the beach?  Let’s go to San Diego.  I’m online booking it now.” So, in early April, we went!  We stayed at the awesome Navy North Island NAS in some of the nicest TLFs we’ve ever visited.  I suppose, really, the rooms weren’t anything truly luxurious (and we were in the old building) but we weren’t there for the hotel room.  We were there for this…

See that ship?  It was waaaay out there.  It’s a BIG ship.

From our room, we walked across a lawn and then hit the beach…leading straight to the Pacific Ocean.

Needless to say, we absolutely loved it.  The weather wasn’t the most cooperative (we were freezing!) but that didn’t stop us from getting some play time in with the waves and digging up as much sand as possible.  This was Noah’s first trip to a beach and Ava’s first that she would really remember, so it was a highly exciting time!

Chasing waves.

Bundled up because he face-planted in the (cold) water.

“Ladybug Girl LOVES the beach!”


Each day we were there, we spent a couple hours just wandering the beach or going to check on the waves.  These kiddos are definitely water lovers, so it did take a little effort to keep them from just running straight into the water.  But, if we stayed back from the tide line, they were just as happy to play in the sand and make a total mess.

Nothing says “Day at the Beach” like winter coats and sweatpants, right? :-)

Like I said, they enjoyed getting messy.  Ahh…sand in fleece.  That’s so easy to shake out!

This guy loves the beach.

So does this girl.

A great start to a wonderful adventure.  More from San Diego soon!

Easter 2012

Posted May 3rd, 2012 by Sally and filed in Doozy, Family, Holidays, Kiddos, Whoozy

We had a very busy Easter weekend with three egg hunts, church and a picnic.  We had a lot of fun, though, so all the busyness ended up being worth it.

The weekend started with the annual AF Family picnic and egg hunt in the park.  We missed last year’s since we were in San Antonio, so we were excited to get to join in the fun this time.  Photos from the first year are here and the second year are here. The picnic is a potluck adventure, so it’s super easy for everyone to participate.  We’re grateful to the Hoffmans for always getting it organized! After lunch, the kiddos do an egg hunt but, before we turn them loose, they all have to smile pretty for the camera.  This is always hysterical to watch – when you turn around and look at the adults acting like fools trying to get all the kids to stay still, together, and happy.

But, once the paparazzi gets its fill, then it’s off to the races to find those eggs and eat that candy!

After we got home from the picnic and everyone slept off our sugar crash, it was time to color some Easter eggs.  Ava is still quite a color mix-master and Noah even got in on the action a bit this year.  (Excuse the semi-nude babies.  We weren’t interested in dying clothes, so this was easier than micromanaging.)

Since all the prep was done the day before, Easter morning dawned with a visit from the Easter bunny and a mini-egg hunt at home in the backyard.

Waiting patiently for the camera lady to be ready to document their trip downstairs in the morning.  :)

Found one!

We headed for church a little early on Easter because we wanted to do a little photo shoot with Noah.  We took about 300 frames and I think we got one shot for the wall.  Still have to sort that out.  But, while we were all dressed up with a green background, we grabbed a couple family shots as well.

Obviously everyone was thrilled with that idea. ;)

What we were all thrilled with was the (third!) egg hunt of the weekend.  And, wow, does St. Christopher’s know how to do an egg hunt.  There were easily 200 eggs for the kiddos to find.  Our own two came home with enough plastic eggs to last a lifetime.

The kiddos last year on Easter.

All in all, it was a joyful weekend full of family, friends, and renewed faith.  It was extra special that, this year, Ava understood the real meaning of Easter and celebrated that with as much enthusiasm as she gave the candy.  Surely, she’s setting a fantastic example for Noah, who watches her every move. As the Easter season continues, we celebrate new beginnings and familiar tradition.  Happy Spring!


Posted March 7th, 2012 by Sally and filed in Doozy, Kiddos, Lists

Shocking as it is, Noah celebrated his un-birthday last week. It’s so hard to believe that we’ve gotten to get to know this little dude for a whole year and a half, but there it is…the calendar doesn’t lie. In honor of the eighteen months of Doozers’s life, here’s a list of eighteen things about him!

1. Noah likes to learn how things work. He likes to make blocks stack, put things together, generally inspect items to figure out what makes them go. He’s probably his father’s child.

2. Dude understands that most often, to make things go, he needs help. He’s not afraid to ask for it. Noah doesn’t have all the words he needs, but communicates pretty well with gestures and an earnest look.

3. Speaking of words, Noah says: milk, cup, shoes, trains, “I did it!,” please, “woof, woof,” meow, duck, sit, yes, no, socks, baby, bath, and dance. He also has specific gestures or sounds for airplane, helicopter, water (says “milk” while doing the sign for water), please, eat, all done, hi, and bye. Maybe there are more that they get at school, but these are the ones we can rely on at home.

4. Loves trains. He wakes up in the morning asking about his trains and goes to bed at night saying “whoooo, whooo.” The child is obsessed.

5. Thanks to his obsession with trains, we have finally succumbed to character toys in our house. We had held out against buying any toy that was a licensed character (the kids have received some as gifts, but we haven’t purchased), but have finally given in to Thomas trains. The trains Doozers got for Christmas are great, but they don’t connect by magnets, so he can’t take them apart and put them together himself. How were we to know that the taking/putting was the very best part? So, Thomas trains it is. At least the wooden Thomas trains fit the track we already have from the Plan Toys set.

6. Noah has three favorite books. They are “Chugga-Chugga-Choo-Choo,” “Planes,” and “Hello, Day.” If he has a willing reader, he’ll happily sit through these three over and over and over again.

7. We finally had to remove the plasma car from the house due to Noah’s daredevil antics aboard it. He could turn corners at inhuman speeds and I was constantly terrified he was going to break his nugget on the tile. I’m sure he misses it, but I know my furniture and walls are glad for the break from the pounding.

8. Other favorite toys these days are matchbox cars, larger cars, die-cast airplanes, trains, trains, and trains. Noticing a theme? I promise, the kid has access to plenty of other stuff, but he’s in love with “things that go.”

9. Our boy still really likes his music. Since the great playroom reorg of 2011 (post-Christmas clean out), the boom box is more available for use in that room. As I mentioned in #2, he’s been known to come find us, indicate that we follow, and then go bang on the boom box until we turn the music on. After that, it’s all booty-shakin’ until the CD is done.

10. Although he’s become more demanding and more opinionated as he’s gotten older, Noah is still an incredibly good sport. He’ll go along with just about anything if he thinks it means that Ava is going to play with him.

11. I’ll admit that the draw to the above pictured game (which was hula dancing a la Lilo & Stitch) was probably the nakedness involved. He LOVES to run around in nothing but a diaper.

12. Speaking of running, I find that I’m shocked that he can. Since I last updated about him, at which point “running” meant a fast walk with an even faster left arm, he’s really hit his stride. Also, he’s really super fast.

13. Dude uses his speed to his advantage to scare the crap out of us. He really gets around and, apparently, has absolutely no fear of high places or concussions. He falls a lot and seems to lead with his head. No matter how cautious we are, his face always seems to show the signs of his most recent toddler moment.

14. Speaking of scaring the crap out of us, Noah also likes to hide. The whole “two kids” thing can sometimes mean that we let him wander alone in presumed “safe” spaces. But, then when we go looking for him in a few minutes, he’s nowhere to be found. He’s decided it’s pretty funny to get behind a door or just around a corner and stay absolutely silent. While I was gone to Kentucky for a conference, Matt found him hiding in our closet after searching for ten minutes. Sneaky little dude.

Who? Me?

15. Doozers makes great animal noises. He can do “moo,” “cock-a-doodle-doo,” “woof, woof,” “quack” and “meow.” Meow is my favorite because he always tilts his head all the way to the right and uses his whole face to say it. Hilarious (and very cute).

16. Still loves Pocoyo. It’s a cartoon short that comes on after Peep and the Big Wide World, and he recognizes the National Science Foundation ad that runs in between the two. When that ad plays, he drops everything he’s doing (even trains!) and comes running to sit and watch Pocoyo. Seven straight up minutes of happy.

17. Has discovered Little Einsteins! Noah asks specifically to watch these shows by pointing to the TV, saying “Sit,” and then “Pat, pat, pat!” Honestly, the kids only get maybe half an hour of TV an evening, but he sure loves it!

18. Noah still gives great hugs and kisses. Even though we sometimes feel challenged by his determination and strong opinions, Noah is still a very sweet boy. He’s very affectionate and gentle most of the time (just don’t take his stuff ;) ).

Love you, baby boy. Thanks for letting us watch you grow up!

ETA: At his 18 month appointment Noah’s stats were 24 lbs, 2 oz & 33 inches.  Growing boy!