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Disney Magic

March 25, 2018

This spring break we embarked on a magical journey – a Disney Bahamian Cruise!

First we hung out in Miami for a couple of days with our old friends from Seattle and their little duckling. Both Noah and Nate did a great job playing gently with the baby, but Nate was very uncomfortable with mom picking up the little one and kept saying “baby down!”.

Miami is gorgeous and the weather is perfect this time of the year.

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We visisted Pinecrest Gardens which has a large shaded playground, splash area, petting zoo, pretty plants and cool trees that are perfect for hide and seek.

We had a great time on Miami beach. Noah and dad played in the waves, Nate built sand mountains, and I ran on the boardwalk taking in the surroundings and fascinating tourist crowds.

We walked down the hotel and restaurant strip for lunch which reminded me of Las Vegas but with a giant beach instead of casinos.

We sampled fine cuban cuisine (Eric was super excited for Redhook beer!) and lots of local ice cream (Chillin’ being the favorite spot where the icecream is custom-made using nitrogen.)

Then the day came to board the ship. It was everything we hoped for and more:

  1. Spacious cabin with bunk beds
  2. Delicious cuisine
  3. Amazing kids club with super hero visits, scavanger hunts, cooking classes, ipad games, Disney movies, and more…
  4. Pool, Water Slide and Splash Zone

  5.  Pirates Party and Character Shows

Quoting Noah “I want to stay on the boat forever!”

Our first stop was Key West, a small island off the Florida coast. No beaches close to port, but the downtown area is pretty quaint. I did a quick 3.5 mile sightseeing run while the boys visited the aquarium.

If there is a wine tasting, I’ll find it: a sample of blackberry wine and a bottle to enjoy on the ship. (Disney is super cool about allowing 2 wine bottles per person at each port!)

Next stop: Nassau, Bahamas (our honeymoon destination 8+ years ago.) With two little kids, the easiest excursion was a nearby Junkanoo beach, about 20 minute walk from the port. The beach was small but not overly crowded (at least in the morning). White sand and clear water are all we need for an awesome time.

Our last destination was Castaway Cay (owned by Disney). I got up early, tiptoeing out of our cabin for a 5K Castaway race. It was a fun race with no chip timers, but they had a clock and I was the first female to cross the finish line ūüôā

After a breakfast on the boat, we all headed to the island.

Noah’s first pick was the Pelican Plunge. It was overcast and the water was a bit chilly, which kept the lines short but required true bravery.

Nate and I chilled on the beach while waiting for the heros to return from their Pelican conquest.

One of many things Disney does well is great entertainment for the kiddos, but also adults: adult-only pools, spas, beach, restaurants, lounges with live music and yummy grownup drinks (reasonably priced!), movies (Eric and I watched Black Panther), clubs and dancing.

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Alas, the time soon came to disembark and head home. It was a smooth trip back considering we had to take every major mode of transportation from boat to shuttle bus to airport monorail to elevators and escalators to airplane to shuttle bus and finally car.

It was nice to be back home in our beds, sleeping in until almost 9 the next morning. No more Mickey waffles for breakfast, but on the sweet side, mom made sure to secure a 10%-off deal for our next cruise in 2019!

 

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Half marathon sale

February 26, 2018

After my last half marathon (3M Austin 2017), I was left conflicted about racing. I wanted to take a break from racing and stick to leisurely runs around the neighborhood. But lo and behold, Groupon sent me a deal for the 2018 Austin Half Marathon and, being the penny saver that I am, I signed up.

Along with the discounted price, there were some other good things about the race:

1. Carpool: my neighbor across the street was running the race too, so I hitched a ride with her downtown.

2. Startline: We were able to sneak in right to the startline thanks to a gentleman who propped the fence open.

3. Weather: it was mid-50s and stayed that way the entire time. A light breeze with a cool mist at the start. Perfect!

4. New headphones: I got to enjoy my Valentine’s Day gift – Bluetooth wireless headphones.

The EarPods are amazing! I forget I am even wearing them! No more getting my hands caught in flimsy wires. I can also wear them around the house listening to tunes while doing chores. Props to Eric for finding a perfect gift!

5. Finish: seeing my guys dressed in bright neon colors with a sign “Go, Mom, Go!” definitely was the highlight of the race and a much needed pick-me-up at mile 13.

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For leisure, I would not have run 13.5 miles (I am obviously not good at cutting corners, adding an extra .4 miles to the overall distance) and especially not at 8:25min/mile, so the race did push my running stamina.

On the other hand, some things were not as pleasant which I, nowadays, have very low tolerance for — I’ve turned into a “racing diva.”

1. Racing etiquette: the runners around me were mostly late 20s-early 30s males that some may refer to as¬†beefcakes. They weren’t your typical slim, broken knees, tight hamstrings, weak arms runners, but instead Lululemon clad dudes who consume way too many protein shakes and spend too much time obsessing over their physique and fitness level. From fart clouds to overcrowding, those dudes did know the proper racing ettquette. My annoyance peaked when one of them tried to pass me on a tightly marked highway lane by saying “on your left” when clearly there was no room. With nowhere for me to move, he then said “I’ll come this way” and pushed me aside from the right. At this point I could not help but yell “of course you will! Just shove me over with your bulging bicep, why don’t you?!” I was wearing my headphones, so I did not hear his response nor did I care.

2. Course: I was excited to hear that a different company was organizing the race. The course I ran in 2014 was really hilly. I later found out the course was changed only for a full marathon (just before 13 miles, the half and full deviated, and half marathoners raced to the finish line, while full marathoners sadly waved us good bye. How crappy is that? I wonder how many fullers quit at that point?!)

I started off strong, even though it was an incline for three miles. Mile 8 was a hip replacer mile where I had to literally hold my right hip down to lessen the pain from uneven pavement.

I could not maintain my pace through the rolling hills after that but I still had enough to sprint at the very end, managing to beat my earlier time by 1 and 1/2 minutes. Chip time: 1:53:21.

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3. Recovery: As soon as I finished, the soreness kicked in. After over a week and numerous yoga classes, I am still not fully recovered. My regular five mile loop feels tough. Being a mom, I no longer have the luxury of post-race couch vegging. I am up and down: cleaning, cooking, washing, carrying and rough housing with my giant babies. I have lost the racing drive and my desire to compete with myself and others. I much more prefer my usual morning jogs as a warmup to a full day of endurance mom training that comes after that.

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I am writing this post as a reminder to myself: Next time I see a deal for a race (and there undoubtedly will be one) – resist the temptation to sign up! Instead shake things up by lacing up your shoes and heading to the Lady Bird trail while the boys play at Zilker Park. It’s a win-win for everybody!

PJs and Pirates

February 16, 2018

Nate is 2 years old! He weighs 30lbs and is 35 inches tall which puts him in the 75th percentile for his size and the 93rd percentile for his brainy head.

We did not plan on a big birthday celebration this year: cupcakes at school followed by present opening and celebratory dinner of pizza and cake at home. The Mother Nature interfered once again (seems to happen a lot here in Texas)! We were hit by freezing temperatures, which resulted in massive panic and school closures for two days. We made the best of the situation and enjoyed a family day at home in PJs!

Being Jewish, the kids don’t get the Christmas morning experience (poor guys only get showered with gifts for 8 nights!) so we try to recreate it on their birthdays.

Eric and I stayed up late unboxing the giant tower of Amazon packages in our living room.

Nate was super excited to see all the presents and Noah, the world’s best big brother, took the liberty of opening and explaining every toy to him.

Nate LOVES Playdoh! He was thrilled with all the playdoh sets, spending hours molding, cutting, squishing, ripping and covering monster trucks with it.

After escaping the pirate attack it was finally time for pizza and cake!

Mom’s famous carrot cake was a hit again this year!

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A month later, it is starting to dawn on me that Nate is no longer a baby (although we all still call him baby Nate and he seems to refer to himself as a baby.)

He has perfected his daily routines, saying numerous words together and even full phrases like “I don’t know” and “here ya go”. He has mastered all the colors “dink”, “yellow” (first one he learned and his favorite for awhile), “blue”, “urple”, “een”, “red”, “own”, “oran”, “ite”. He is learning his letters at a miraculous rate, building impressive constructions with Lego and independently feeding himself with both fork and spoon.

Stuck at home over the holiday break, we did a 3 day potty training method that Nate rocked! He still has accidents but is getting better at holding and indicating he needs to go potty.

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Nate adores his big brother!

The two of them are inseperable!

Nate is silly and fun just like his big brother.

From all the impressive developments thus far, the most important is his loving, caring and sweet nature! Nate gives the best hugs and kisses, shares all his presents and treats with his brother, and is always full of smiles and happiness! No wonder Eric and I are madly in love with this kid!

 

Festivities

December 15, 2017

I love fall! The Texas heat finally breaks, and being outside turns from unbearable to fairly pleasant. With colorful leaves, fall also brings loads of holiday celebrations: Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Hanukkah/Christmas hoopla. The sugar joy never stops! 

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We kicked off our fall festivities at Riverfest: we dressed up in funny hats, danced, bounced, played games, and hung out with school buddies.

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Then came a Halloween parade and Trick-or-Treating:

…Followed by two weeks of checking the “magic” candy bucket and wondering how it made all the candy disappear one night. The conclusion was that it must have been the wild animal that got¬†into our trash bin the night before; he stole all the candy to share with other animals since they don’t get candy on Halloween. (Makes sense to me!)

An annual visit to the Sweetberry Farms Pumpkin Patch:

This was the first year we all participated in Thundercloud Turkey Trot. So proud of Eric putting keeping up with me for most of the way while I vigorously zigzagged with a double stroller through flocks¬†of walkers. When signing up for the race I did not realize that the “untimed” option¬†was meant for strolling as a family in a single line, gossiping about aunt Marge and her poor cat Whiskers.

Nate napped through half the run and after some finishers’ muffins (sitting in the stroller sure makes the boys hungry!) we casually walked and hugged for awhile collecting “oohs! and ahhs!” from everyone on our path.

Later that day I made a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, roasting my first full size turkey (it was on a smaller side). Nate was skeptical about the turkey at first but the next day he could not get enough.

Santa on the Firetruck¬†is not really our schtick but it’s free and close to the house.¬†Neither one of the boys wanted to even come close to Santa (can’t fight those Jewish genes), but they were intrigued with the firetruck (or the bike rack in Nate’s case. Both are equally¬†amusing when you are 2).

We are quickly transitioning into winter celebrations, especially when we had our first snowday in over 5 years. This was the first time the boys got to play in the snow.

Hanukkah snuck up on us fast, even though Noah made sure to check daily “Is it Hanukkah yet?!”

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With Hanukkah being the holiday of lights, Trail of Lights was a perfect family outting.

We had a blast at the Great Gatsby Themed Holiday party at Speak Easy after discovering the room with the best food, replenished sparkling wine and pool tables.

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We usually celebrate the end of the year with a dinner at Hula Hut, duck feeding, treats and¬†hot drinks, a¬†light show at the Mozart Cafe, watching some TV broadcasting the New Year’s Eve¬†countdown, and passing out way before the clock strikes midnight.

How are you celebrating the holidays this year?

We’d like to wish you a very happy Hanukkah, the merriest of Christmases, most¬†amazing¬†Kwanza, the most joyous¬†Festivus, and all the best in the New Year!

 

 

Birthday Boys

July 30, 2017

It’s hard to believe Noah turned 4 years old last month. He is 44lbs (94%) and just shy of 3 feet and 7 inches (91%). 


I had a great and easily-executable plan for Noah’s birthday celebration (or so I thought): reserve picnic tables in our neighborhood park, invite a bunch of friends, order Papa John’s pizza (Noah’s favorite) from down the hill and celebrate with a custom HEB cake (Noah requested strawberry cake with chocolate icing inside.) For his theme, Noah wanted Rescue Bots but was willing to settle for Transformers (way more mainstream). How hard could this be, right?!


Well, the morning of Noah’s birthday, it started to rain. The park was all wet and we had to move the party to the house. A bunch of friends could not make it due to family vacations, so the ones that came had a great time playing with all the toys upstairs. Once the rain stopped we set up the bouncy house in the backyard. So in nutshell, we ended up with the same setup as last year. 


As for pizza, it turned out the store manager’s car broke down, so they had to cancel my order. Thank goodness for Subway in the same plaza. The one thing that went according to plan is the cake (that’s after a small hiccup with Eric’s cake order from Costco that we ended up canceling.) It was delicious (and I am very picky about store-bought cakes.) 


Nate celebrated his 1.5 year birthday. Nate is 27.5lbs (87%) and 34 1/4 inches long (96%). 


He is turning into a rambunctious toddler. Every evening with his playful mischivious smile he tries to climb over the back of the couch head down, making mom drop whatever she is doing and rush over in panic which puts him in a giggling fit. Almost all his teeth are in now. The canines have pierced last week. And he thinks it is so much fun to use them on his parents and his big brother. Hopefully this is just a temporary stage of teeth discovery and he won’t be an actual biter. He’s weaned off. It was a harder process than with Noah, who initiated the weaning himself. With Nate, nursing became cuddly time with mom, caressing my face, punching my nose and pulling my hair. But after a couple of weeks with dad taking on Nate’s bedtime routine, he is now putting himself to sleep with no problem. I still make sure to give him lots of snuggles, cuddles and kisses when he wakes up. 


As the boys get older, they are getting closer, playing more together, being more affectionate and most importantly being best friends. As soon as Nate wakes up his first question is “Oah? Oah?”. Noah reciprocates by constantly involving Nate “Nate, guess what?” “Nate you are going to really like this…” “Nate, watch this…” As much trouble the two of them cause they equally make my heart skip a beat with how great they are together. 

School’s Out

May 27, 2017

With preschool ending last week, we kicked off our summer break with an annual trip to Galveston Island. 

We did the usual:

1. Beach


2. Pool


3. Fresh seafood and walks on the pier

4. Hanging out


This time we also had some new experiences:

1. Moody Gardens Rainforest (the aquarium pyramid was closed for renovation)

The rainforest was super cool, a replica of an actual rainforest habitat featuring exquisite plants, insects, small animals and birds. Visiting with a three year old, we ran through the entire thing in an hour, him yelling “I see that. Let’s go!” every time I pointed out something interesting for him to look at. We spent the next half an hour playing hide and seek on the handicap ramp in one of the exhibition rooms, which was his favorite part as he explained his rainforest experience to dad. 


2. Pleasure Pier

Noah and dad went to the Pleasure Pier last year but this time we got to enjoy the afternoon of rides and ice cream as a family. 

Noah has been looking forward to the rides all year as he is now over 42 inches and got to ride three small roller coasters (44 is the next level up). 

Bumper cars were a thrill!

Nate was apprehensive at first. The rides were confusing since he did not go anywhere but around in circles repeatedly. By the end he got the hang of it and was smiling, bouncing and clapping.

Short ice cream break and again we go! Yippee!

Noah’s favorite ride was the water rollercoaster called Pirate’s ship. Dad, on the other hand, had mixed feelings acting as a shield to Noah through the splashy parts.

3. Hibachi Restaurant

One night we dined out at Yamato. Our fourth time on the island and how did we not know about this place before?! They have awesome sushi! Big chunks of fresh fish and cool custom rolls. The boys were mesmerized by the steaming onion volcano and fire grill as the chef prepared dinner in front on their eyes. Nate gobbled two pieces of sushi and his portion of fried rice. Both Eric and I caught flying pieces of rice from the chef’s spatula which really impressed Noah. 

4. Games

Holiday Inn Club Vacation, the place we’ve stayed four years running, has an entertainment room full of board games, books, movies, and ping pong and air hockey tables. Noah had a blast crushing dad at Sorry. 


In the room, the boys came up with “knock the suction ball down with your favorite object” game which kept them occupied for a solid 20min. 


We had a great time this year. The weather was mostly great with one rainy morning and one windy day. The kids are getting older and enjoy more things together. Come Friday Noah did not even want to leave and requested we stayed longer next time. The car ride went fairly smoothly with me only climbing over to the back seat a dozen times to entertain Nate and offer never-ending snack options. After five days of fun it was nice to come home to Domino, toys and our own beds. 

Walking Nate

February 16, 2017
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Nate is 13 months old, weighing almost 26.5lbs. Here are his stats from the one year checkup: 25.6lbs (92nd percentile), 32 inches long (90th percentile) and 95th percentile  for his head size. (Eric and I surely make big brainy babies!)


We started Nate’s 1st birthday with a trip to the park, where Nate loves to crawl, climb, explore, and play with his big brother.

After nap, it’s more fun with a visit to a local Gymboree, another one of Nate’s favorite places. 


Then it’s time for a family party! 


Noah was the party planner, picking out the Paw Patrol theme and decorating the cake for the baby brother’s special day.


Nate is not a picky eater, but he found the icing to be too sticky so he mostly just played with his cake– smearing it all over the table. 



Noah, on the other hand, was a big fan of the cake!


The weekend of his birthday, Nate took his first real steps. He wobbled from the couch into my arms and then continued to practice– getting up to 9 steps! He is now walking from room to room. Some other developments:

  • Nate’s got 6 teeth: two center ones at the bottom and four at the top.
  • He’s consolidated his naps into one  ~2hr long nap after lunch.
  • He is very verbal already using words like “dada”, “mama”, “oah” for Noah, “clap”, “bye”, “hi”, “boo” for book, and my absolute favorite is “ball”
  • He waves hi and bye, often saying bye, and loves to clap any time you say ‘good job’
  • He loves to eat, especially feeding himself finger foods and pouches. He is also starting to use a fork. 
  • He still loves to nurse and shows no desire to wean off. He’s been waking up at night somewhere between 2-4 wanting mommy’s comfort. 
  • Besides the middle of the night nursing, Nate usually sleeps for 12 hours from 7pm to 7am. 
  • Nate loves going to his preschool. He gives smiles and hugs to all his teachers as soon as he gets in. He is always playful, happy and cheerful. He enjoys participating in all the projects, especially finger painting.
  • He adores playing with his big brother and quickly picks up playing techniques, like monster trucks jumps, car racing at the hot wheel garage, sticking foam letters to the bathroom walls and block tower building. Unlike Noah, Nate does not care to swing at the playground. After 5 minutes he asks to be taken out so he can explore on his own. But he loves to slide on his belly, often doing a little penguin jump bellyflop on to the slide, making mom and dad rush over to catch him at the end.

Nate is an incredibly sweet and happy baby and we are so lucky to have him!