Ben and Words

Ben definitely has developed at his own pace, independent of how Evie did at and around his age, and it’s been, in a lot of ways, a great way to force us to notice and enjoy his own uniqueness. It’s great to see his own personality develop and come though, along with his own sense of humor. I think the thing we most enjoy is listening to him talk, in part because he’ll say the most surprising things and we’ll be like “when did you learn that word?!”

Some phrases in constant rotation:

“Dump truck!” and “Bigger dump truck!” He says this whenever he hears the distinct sound large trucks make and goes from one side of the house to the other to catch a glimpse of this elusive beast. The bigger dump truck bit refers to our waste management company upgrading either their recycling or waste trucks to the automated, larger ones.

“Mail truck” or “Cindy!” This is all interchangeable with UPS, FEDEX, USPS, and Amazon. Cindy is the name of our main mail carrier, with whom Evie likes to talk, and Ben generally assumes that she delivers all mail, regardless of the vehicle.

“Beautiful day.” This one is relatively recent and he said this for the first time completely out of the blue on an actual beautiful day. He says it so sweetly with his little toddler speech where he doesn’t really pronounce the T and it makes a beautiful day even better.

“What is that?” The first time he said this, he was climbing onto the couch, facing away from me, and music began playing from Evie’s school computer on the other side of the house, and he stopped what he was doing, looked back at me, and said, “What. Is. That?!” “I don’t know,” I replied. “Music,” he said confidently, and then abandoned the couch to run over to the the dining table to watch whatever was going on with Evie’s class.

“No time!” This is his general response when he doesn’t want to do something or he’s unhappy for whatever reason (whether injury or otherwise). This kid is, apparently, booked to the brim because he never has time for anything. James thinks he might be trying to tell us something, like the kid can see into the future, but that seems awfully terrifying, so I like to think he just has back to back meetings.

“1. 2. 8. 9. 8. 4.” This is a string of numbers he’s begun putting together. For the longest time, his favorite number was 4, but he’s begun to understand that there are others out there and that, perhaps, there’s an order to them. Sometimes it seems like he can count to 4 or 5, but other times, I don’t know. In my vivid imagination, this, too, is the start of a terrifying story, so we’ll go with James’ assumption that these are lotto numbers.

Random February Pics

Ben combined his markers with his feet and made a masterpiece. Good thing I get the washable kind. So… naps. Ben is so over them, but he will succumb to sleep on the occasional walk. And while he’s slowly getting into Snow as Fun, he supports James’ driveway clearing efforts wholeheartedly.

Evie has started playing this game where she’s a librarian and we are all patrons who must come check out some books. And when we check them back in, she is… diligent… in making sure they are clean and had been well taken care of.

James has been adding pockets to his pj pants that are missing those elements and he’s getting so good at it! He is also such a good sport when I give him the fabric to use and the print and color are really more for my amusement than anything else. Also, here’s a picture of Evie and James snuggling while watching something.

Random January Pics

More snow! Evie and James had a snowball fight with the side of the house, and Ben was skeptical of the white, cold stuff falling from the sky, so he observed the weather from the garage. Eventually, James got him on a sled, but, as you can see, Ben still didn’t appreciate the cold, wet stuff now hitting him in the face, even after seeing how pro Evie is at taking the sled up the hill and coming down, ready to throw snow balls at people. Once the snow stopped falling, though, Ben did get into snow ball throwing (though not making), and from then on, assumed snow ball fights were on the agenda whenever there was snow… or the possibility of going outside.

What Ben did enjoy, though, was coming inside to the lovely, warm fire, hot cocoa, and warmed chocolate chip cupcakes (Evie and I made the cupcakes a day or so before).

Evie’s Birthday

Evie turned 7! Normally, we try to go to a museum of her choice -or one we know she’d like (natural history and aquariums are always winners), but this year we stayed home for obvious reasons.

We started the day with French toast:

The main event was a tea party, as per requested. I made 2 types of mini scones, a handful of different sandwiches, cheddar and chive biscuits, and a few different cookies. And of course, a teapot of black tea, with sugar cubes and cream to add.

Afterward we opened presents, and while she enjoyed all of them, one was a pretty big hit with her (and the rest of us) for weeks afterward.

Dinner was spaghetti and meatballs, her most favorite food (sometimes tied with ramen, but often barely edging out the dish), and after some waffling, she settled on a strawberry cake with strawberry frosting.

Random December Pics

James Promoted to Lt. Col!

We thought we’d just let it pass since, you know, the Pandemic, but Col. Rondeau volunteered to come by and perform the oath and say some words, so we were able to have a little something. We held it outdoors to be as safe as we could, considering how little we could respect social distancing for this, and it was not as cold as it could have been, but it was rainy, so that was a bummer. We also had the laptop out so family and friends could watch via Google Meet, and we had the larger desktop monitor out so James could see that support system… but most people seemed to be camera shy, which was unfortunate.

I had a prenatal appointment that same day and had to scoot, so we didn’t get all of us in a picture! But we did get pictures of the family in pieces.

The main thing James wanted was potatoes gratin, and he consented to a ham to go with it… and we discovered that Ben LOVES ham. So much that he went from Evie to James and back SEVERAL times to eat their scraps. So yay! I have someone who will back me up when I want ham.


I like to split up presents and food so we can all enjoy everything, especially gifts. Here are the kids digging through their stockings in their adorable Christmas Morning PJs because I also, apparently, have made this a thing as well.

We always have to get some family pictures in, and testing the placement and settings has become a game in itself.

We ate early dinner so we could have dessert early enough for the kids to burn off some of the sugar…

And opened presents with enough time to help them burn off that sugar and to play with and forget about some of the gifts before going to bed. Though that green thing in the last picture is still in play. It’s supposed to encourage creative play, and boy does it. They can step on it, spin in it, wear it and look like a green-helmeted Dark Helmet, argue over it -so much fun.

Hatteras, North Carolina

We have discovered how much we enjoy being away from home over Thanksgiving. If we were able to get together with family and or friends, that would be one thing -because it’s no fun to cook a ton of food for so few people, and THE WHOLE POINT of Thanksgiving is to have a ton of food options and eat yourself into a coma! I will fight anyone who tries to tell me it’s about the Pilgrims and the Native Americans or a time to be thankful blah blah blah. Nope. Turkey and sides. I will allow for parades. … Where was I? Yeah -traveling. We take advantage of the Armed Forces Vacation Club (AFVC) to book cheaper places that are relatively empty of people. And this year, that made even more sense.

We went down to the Outer Banks last year, but stayed in Kitty Hawk. Hatteras is still on the Outer Banks, but farther south. There were very few people and we were able to avoid those who were there, and we did the vast majority of our grocery shopping at home so we didn’t have to venture out except for a couple things we found we needed once we got there (one of which was antacids for me to help, at least a little, with all-day sickness).

We didn’t do a whole lot while we were there -the point was really to get away from our house, but still socially isolate.

We had a full kitchen, which is generally what we try to get when we use the AFVC, so we cooked daily, to include Thanksgiving. I even made super quick apple turnovers-ish.

Random November Pics

Even though they were a week or so beyond the peek, James, Mom, and the kids were able to go leaf peeping, where they ended up back at Sky Meadows State Park for lunch, and further explored the Discovery Area. Clearly it was a nice day to be out and about.

These are just around the neighborhood. Evie is getting more adept and willing to ride her bike on various inclines, which has definitely broadened her enjoyment of the different trails around here.

I really enjoy Thanksgiving and I’m not a fan of extending the Christmas season beyond December, but I also do really enjoy Christmas ornaments and decorations (not enough to extend beyond what we have already, of course, but enough to be a little festive). Taking all of these notions into account, our decorations come out and go up the day after Thanksgiving, so instead of shopping, we stay in, make some wassail, decorate the tree, and hang the stockings. This was the first year Ben was generally aware that at least something was happening, and it was fun to see him involve himself in the decorating. Evie, leader of the kids, made sure Ben knew what to do and how.

Random October Pics

These are just of Ben enjoying his toddler bed, and him on a walk, throwing leaves into the stream below that bridge.

We went apple picking! This time to Hollin Farm, about an hour away from our house. It was a pretty nice day -clear and grew warmer as the day wore on -and there was an apple cider doughnut stand, so we all had a snack before we headed to the orchards. It took Ben a few tries to feel up to picking apples, and once he did, he had some trouble actually getting them off of the tree, but he had fun scurrying about directing us where to go. And by this point, Evie is a pro, so she knew exactly what to do. Also, by this point, Mom had come to live with us while the pandemic rages on, so she was able to go with us!

After apple picking, we went to the Sky Meadows State Park, which was pretty much next door to the farm, and found a lovely picnic area next to their Children’s Discovery Area, so we were able to have some lunch and the kids got to explore just a small bit of the Discovery Area before we headed back home.

Halloween! Evie wanted to be “Elsa from Frozen 2 when she finds the voice” and Ben had absolutely no opinion, so when I ordered Evie’s costume, I found one for Ben -Peter Pan! When we first got the costumes in and I had the kids try them on, Ben was not interested in wearing the hat. Once Halloween rolled around, and Evie made wearing the hat seem super fun for him, he was all about it. It was a pretty chilly evening, so the kids were wearing layers under their costumes, and they just rang our doorbell a few times to get some candy and pictures, then James took them to walk around and wave to neighbors at a distance as we all checked out each others costumes.