Thursday, December 24, 2009

Thanksgiving is a special time

This Thanksgiving, the Buening clan made a special trek to DC instead of our usual 20-hour round trip car ride to Ohio. Considering Jack's past performance on such trips, we were rather grateful! It was great to have everyone in town, but it was especially fun to see the cousins together, Ethan, Mike, and Jack. Although they are 9 months apart, Jack and Mike look like tow-headed twins right now causing all of us to do more than a few double-takes. Ethan was a patient big brother and cousin putting up with Mike and Jack's toddler antics.

From Thanksgiving 09

Thanksgiving day was cold and rainy, but that didn't stop Uncle Mike from running in the Del Ray 5 Mile Turkey Trot. We all walked down to see him start the race at the end of our street and then stopped by the Caboose coffee shop for hot cocoa and chocolate chocolate chip muffins - Jack's favorite - while we waited for him to make the turn back home.

That night we had a great feast at Aunt Lynne's house, and the next night a perfect party at a nearby restaurant to celebrate Aunt Pam's 60th birthday, also hosted by Aunt Lynne.

While everyone was in town, we spent some time touring the local sites. In school, Ethan recently learned about the Eternal Flame at JFK's grave, so we made a trip to Arlington Cemetery at his request. We also went to the Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum near Dulles Airport, a giant airplane hanger with many planes and other aircraft to see, including an actual space shuttle (or "pace shubble" as Jack would call it).

From Thanksgiving 09

We finished the weekend with brunch at our house. The weather was unseasonably warm and the boys had a great time playing outside together before everyone headed home.

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Reader

We've mentioned in the past that Jack is a big fan of his books. In his 2+ years, he's had a steady diet of books read to him. From the beginning, he's been studious when reading. Turns out he was busy memorizing entire pages, which he recites back to us in his toddler way (meaning, only his parents have a clue what he's saying and everybody else thinks he is babbling.)

Jack also loves the anticipation of knowing what is coming on the next page. If he ever jumps ahead or back in a book, it is inevitably to the page just before the one he really wants to see and hear.

We only have a couple of pop-up/reveal books in the current repertoire. When Jack was really little, he pretty much tore these kinds of books apart. The reading of "Grandpa and Me" below is a fun little highlight reel of what it's like to read to our precocious boy.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Halloween Parade

This weekend was the 13th Annual Del Ray Halloween Parade. It was Jack's third. His first year, he was a Jack-o-lantern (pun intended).

From First Halloween

The second year he went as Curious George - still one of his favorite book characters - and Michael went as (or should I say went along with being) the Man with the Yellow Hat.

From Halloween and Election 08

This year, I wanted Jack to be Max from Where the Wild Things Are. But, he is against wearing footed pajamas and hats or hoods of any kind, so that was definitely out.

Instead, he was a UPS driver! As you all know, Jack is a big fan of the "Lou Pee Ess truck" as he would say and owns three mini-UPS trucks. (Short story: he had one, lost it, asked for it for weeks, we bought two replacements, and the original one showed up the next day!). We bought a costume online, but decided to make a homemade UPS truck for the Halloween parade.

Each year, there is a stroller decorating competition as part of the Halloween parade as well as a costume competition - people and pets. We've never entered the competition before, but we were motivated by Jack's truck love. We recently bought him a train table, so we had a giant cardboard box. And, we used his big plastic red pushcar for the base. We constructed the truck during nap time on Saturday, painted it brown Saturday night, and painted the logos and other details on Sunday morning.

From Fall Fun

We were feeling good about our odds in the competition walking down to the parade where early parade goers staking out their spots were cheering us on as we made our way to the starting line. Once there, we soon remembered that some families go all out for the stroller competition, and took our place in the middle of the pack so to speak. There were some great entries, including a multi-wagon and stroller Hogwarts Express! We didn't win, but we were definitely a crowd favorite. All along the parade route we heard "Hey UPS man!" and "What can Brown do for you?" and more than a few people came up to take pictures.

From Fall Fun

A great time was had by all!

Fall Fun

Monday, October 12, 2009

Summer's End

It's been awhile since our last post! Fall is officially here now, but we're still thinking of summer. We had a great time running around with Jack this summer - and so did our family members who came to visit. Nonni and Grandpa came out a few times. As always, they had a project or two to do while they were here. They'll be back in a few weeks, just in time for the Halloween parade.

Grandma and Poppy came out too. Grandma pitched in for three days when the babysitter was on vacation. She and Jack had great fun together, although the visit ended with a summer cold. Poppy drove in for the weekend, and we checked out the Air and Space museum before they headed home.

Aunt Pam made a quick visit to see Aunt Lynne over Labor Day weekend and Jack dropped by to say hello. We didn't take nearly enough pictures when folks were in town, but we've got a few to share:

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Beach Babe

After three years, we finally made it back to the ocean this summer! We drove out to Dewey Beach on the Delaware Shore, a 3-4 hour drive from DC. It was actually the 10th anniversary of our first trip to Dewey Beach back in 1999. Back then, it was my second summer in DC and we didn't know the area at all. We stayed in a house more than 3 blocks from the beach, which is far when you're carrying your beach chairs and umbrellas. It was the height of jellyfish season and only the boys - Michael, Matt, and Ben - were brave/crazy enough to go in the water. But we had a great time, and we've made it out about a half dozen times since then with some formation of the beach crew. (Check out some pics from the second year and the last year here).

Our last trip to Dewey was three years ago in 2006. We had a full house with 12 people, the whole crew and then some. We were all PWOK (people without kids) that summer, although Shannon and Steve were expecting the twins. (Shannon, by the way, taught us how to really do the beach right our second year out, and we still set up camp early each morning at the beach, just like she told us.) We all must have gotten baby fever that summer because Jack, Austin, and Alex were all born the next year. Since then, we've been too busy changing diapers and chasing toddlers to get back to the beach, but this year we made it back and took Jack out for his first beach vacation.

Jack was a beach babe from the start. He ran right into the ocean the first day and we chased him up and down the beach the whole week (except for a few days out for a summer cold that Jack took home as a souvenir). We're pretty sure we're going to need to check into top surfer colleges in about 16 years! Jack loved the sand as much as the surf and we can't wait to get him back next year. Even now, Jack will ask to "go to the ocean" even though we're back home.

A great time was had by all. Enjoy these pics of our beach baby and the rest of this year's crew.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Let's go to the beach!

We have piles of photos to post, but in the meantime, here's a quick video from our recent trip to the beach. Jack loved the "big water" and loved to yell "CRASH!" when the waves hit him. The boy was fearless!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Five Alarm Fourth of July

Jack has been celebrating his birthday for several weeks now starting with our block party a week before his birthday. The second annual summer block party was a blast complete with moon bounce (which Jack refused to go in again this year).

The fun continued with dinner at Los Tios on Jack's actual birthday and lunch with Aunt Lynne the next day when Jack got his tricycle.

The big celebration was this weekend though. We hosted a cookout on the Fourth to celebrate my birthday (July 1), Grandpa's birthday (July 2), and Jack's birthday (June 26). We had a great turnout of friends and family. Grandpa and Alice drove in from South Carolina for the festivities and helped make the party a great success.

The main attraction at the party (besides Jack) was the fire engine cake, which was quite the production. Last year, we had Jack's birthday cake made by a great local baker, but she was busy this year (along with the three fellow bakers she referred me to). So, I "googled" fire engine cake and found a video about how to make one. How hard could it be? Well, it turns out it's quite hard to get white icing to turn red, even after an entire bottle of food coloring! The fire engine was almost hot pink until I got a tip on Wilton's food coloring gel at Michael's craft store. Crisis averted! Aunt Niki was a big help in the cake decorating adventure, including designing the hoses on the side. The red icing was a big mess (as you'll see in the pictures), but Jack loved it, and most importantly, it also tasted pretty good!

We finished the night by walking up the hill in our neighborhood to watch the fireworks across the river in DC. It's not a bad view for not being downtown, although the weather was so (uncharacteristically) lovely it would have been a nice night to go into the city.

Many thanks to all who brought or sent Jack gifts for one of his many birthday celebrations this year. He is so lucky to have so many people who care about him.

Jack's Birthday Celebrations

Friday, June 26, 2009

Jack's 2!

From I'm 2!

Our boy turned 2 today. We can hardly believe that the baby we brought home two years ago is now such a big boy. So much has changed since last year:

From June Baby

A year ago, Jack wasn't walking or talking. Today, he practically runs wherever he goes. And he says something new everyday. Jack's "likes" at two years old include:
  • Nightly walks around the block, picking clover flowers along the way, each time saying "That for Mama."
  • Singing songs in broken baby English (see Twi Twi Twi Little Star).
  • Naming every vehicle he sees - "Car! Airpwane! Twuck! Mo-cycle!"
So far, the 2's aren't terrible at all, despite a few tantrums here and there (and a few bites!). We're having so much fun watching Jack learn and grow.

From Knee High by the 4th of July

Happy Birthday Son!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Our Little Star

Jack may not be the next American Idol, but we're enjoying his singing, all the same.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Memorial Day in Ohio

From Memorial Day 09

Last weekend, we traveled to Ohio to visit Grandma and Poppy for Memorial Day. It was the last flight Jack could fly for free since we've got to start paying for him when he turns two next month. Jack was a prince during the plane ride (not so much in the security line).  He loves all types of vehicles these days, including airplanes.  The whole ride to the airport, through security, and to our gate, Jack just kept saying "airplane, airplane, airplane!"  He was downright ecstatic watching airplanes take off and land from the window of our airplane while we waited to take off.     

The fun continued when we got to Grandma and Poppy's house.  We had a full house with Amy, Jacob, Sam, and Gavynn visiting from Rhode Island too.  They hadn't seen him since Christmas, so Jack enjoyed showing off all his new tricks. Lately, he's been trying to say everyone's names like "Aunt Ni."  He didn't quite figure out how to say Poppy while we were there, but he still can't stop talking about "Grandma Boop."  Amy's kids, Sam and Gavynn, have been calling my mom Grandma Boop for awhile - a reference to her liking Betty Boop.  Jack thought saying Grandma Boop was hilarious, but most of all he liked spending some quality time with his Grandma.
Grandma and Poppy put on a great party for the family on Saturday in their big backyard.  Jack had a lot of fun running around their acre-plus lot and it was nice to see everyone.  Other highlights of the weekend include hitting the playground at the beach at Lakeview Park and driving by Lorain High, scheduled to be torn down later this summer.  Jack also got a trim from his favorite barber Joe, who gave him his first haircut last Labor Day.  We also had a run-in with Lorain's finest ("How fast were we going, officer?), but luckily we know a guy...

Enjoy the pics from the weekend below.  We also added some pics from a recent trip to the zoo, Jack's first, with Alex and Matt a few weekends ago in DC.

Memorial Day 09

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Out of the Mouths of Toddlers

In the last three months, Jack has gone from saying two words ("no" and "more") to saying two-word phrases ("no way") to trying to repeat nearly everything we say.  This means we have to be much more careful about our choice of words these days!  Jack's vocabulary has grown so much that we can no longer keep count of all his new words - although many still probably only make sense to us.  He tends to shorten his words to one syllable ("app" for "apple") although he has tried a few multi-syllable words lately ("wa-mel" for "watermelon" and "tatpill" for "caterpillar").  He's also getting better with using his words to tell us what he wants like "watch show" when he wants to watch Baby Einstein (He really loves that "tatpill" at the beginning!). Sometimes, we think he might be mocking us like when he yells "sit down" while standing precariously on the couch or yelling "no no" while drawing on the wall with a blue marker.  He clearly knows what we would say in the situation, but it doesn't seem to stop him! 

Still a voracious reader, we're starting to understand just how much Jack knows about his books.  He can name pictures out loud now; he actually tried to say "Mater Tow Truck" and "McQueen" today in his Cars book.  He also seems to know the first word on each page of many of his books.  If you don't keep reading fast enough, he will say the first word for you to get you started.  He also likes to fill in the words while you read.  Jack said his first full sentence last week while reading a Mercer Mayer book - a gift from Aunt Pam when he was born.  I read: "I wanted to keep some frogs in the bathtub, but Mom wouldn't let me." To which Jack correctly answered: "I so mad" minus the "was."  It's become his new catchphrase (along with "no way") and we hear him saying it on his own now.   This would be the sentence that our independent-minded son picked up from this book!         

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Easter in DC

Last weekend, the whole Buening family came to DC to celebrate Easter.  There were 14 of us total spanning in age from 1 to 93!  Aunt Lynne was the ultimate hostess.  Most of the clan stayed at her house where she served up amazing food and fun all weekend long.  

Nonnie and Grandpa stayed at our house - and helped us get the place ready for Nana's first visit to the place on Sunday. We're grateful for the help hanging pictures and curtains that have been waiting to go up for longer than we'd like to admit.

Highlights from the trip include a guided driving tour of DC chauffeured by Michael to see the monuments downtown.  Our guests missed the cherry blossoms by a week, but they enjoyed the tour anyway.   The (not-so) young parents - Michael, Jen, Karin and Dave - also enjoyed a night out at a DC hotspot in Dupont Circle where we joined Niki and her posse to celebrate her birthday.  

The big highlight though was the Easter egg hunt at our house on Sunday.  Michael hid 72 eggs in the backyard, each one filled with loose change by Aunt Lynne (ranging from 13-cents to $1). Sanjay hid some decorated eggs in their yard too and we opened the gates for a two-yard egg-stravaganza.  Ethan and Zane led the way while the little kids - Jack, Mike, Sonja and Ellie - mostly toddled around the yard. Between them, they found most of the eggs in short order, but there were still a few cleverly-hidden ones that required a helpful hint.

The Easter Bunny also stopped by with baskets full of candy for the kids and the adults alike. Thanks Aunt Lynne for letting him know where to find us!  Jack also received an early shipment from the Easter Bunny last week sent by way of Grandma and Poppy in Ohio.

A great weekend was had by all.  Enjoy the pictures by clicking the album link below.   
Easter Weekend in DC

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Hillbilly Roots

Thank goodness Jen got us back on track with last few posts. We're going to keep them coming, because Jack is in such a great phase right now: the word explosion, the tireless running around, the obsession with cars, trucks and buses. It's all so much fun.

On Sunday, Josh and Jenn brought Austin over and we all walked down to a restaurant in Del Ray called Fireflies. They have a regular calendar of small bands that play in the restaurant and a standing Sunday Brunch featuring bluegrass music.  Turns out, Jack inherited his mother's "hillbilly" roots-- and loved the Big Hillbilly Bluegrass band. Enjoy the video:

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Look Who's Talking

After a laid-back start to talking, Jack has moved on to using two-word phrases this week.  His first was uttered at the playground.  Jack was standing near the fence watching the cars and buses and garbage trucks go by (as usual) when Kamala asked him if he wanted to go play with Sonja. To which Jack responded: "No way!"

Since then he has said "turn page" and "the end" while reading.  We taught him to say "again" (instead of whining) when he wants to read a book again, to which we usually say okay.  He now will bring us a book and say: "Again? Okay!"

He also said "upstairs" and "brush teeth" tonight when heading up to bed - and "all done" when he was finished.  Some of his words and phrases are really clear like "no way," but some are best understood by his parents for now.

In other news: Jack also developed new attachments this week.  He now takes naps and goes to bed with his stuffed kitty, which was the first gift I bought for him when I was pregnant. He really had no use for it until this week though!  He now usually carries one or more Hotwheels around with him most of the day.  But his biggest crush is on... Sonja!  
From Building Blocks
For a long time, I've asked Jack, "Who did you dream about?" when he wakes up.  He's not had an answer for me before so I usually start down the list of his daily interactions, "Did you dream about Mommy? Daddy? Kamala?  Sonja?"  Every day this week, when I've asked the question, Jack immediately says, "Son," his name for Sonja!  Kamala also reports that Jack landed a kiss on Sonja this week too.  They always fall for the "girl next door."

Friday, March 13, 2009

Life's a Beach!

From Sarasota

Last weekend, we traveled down to Sarasota for Michael's cousin's wedding reception. We missed the main event in Antigua, but Rusty and Courtney's parents threw a great party to celebrate the happy couple.  This was Jack's first time meeting the Florida Tatone clan too. Jack had a lot of fun running around at the party - and dancing to Uncle Steve's rendition of some Neil Diamond classics.  Check out this video:

Jack also went to the beach for the first time on this trip.  He loved it!  We hadn't expected to actually go into the water.  The temperature was in the 70s but the water was still cold.  That didn't stop Jack.  He ran right into the water with his clothes on!  We couldn't keep him out - check out this video too:

Jack loved the sand as much as the water.  We are definitely going to plan a beach trip for this summer.  Here are some more pics from a great weekend:

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Christmas Time Was Here...

We've got some new pictures to post from our mini-vacation to Florida this past weekend, but we are still overdue on holiday posts.  As our loyal readers already know, Jack made his second annual trip to Ohio for Christmas. 
From Christmas Part I
He was a better traveler than last year, but that's not saying much!  We've got friends who also made long treks for the holidays, but when we tried to share tales of travel woes with them, they told us that their kids slept half the way there.  That is not how Jack rolls.  We did buy a DVD player this year, which kept him busy for about 15 minutes at a time, but Jack prefers live entertainment, so we had a stash of toys, books, and snacks to fill the eight hours to Northern Ohio.

Once there, Jack had a great time though.  Jack was spoiled by all of his grandparents as you'll see in the pictures.  He also met up with the same Santa from last year.  They must have made a good connection since Jack got everything he wanted and more this year.

Enjoy these pics from Christmas, Part I in Vermilion and Lorain.  We accidentally used Nonnie and Grandpa's camera when taking pics for Christmas, Part II in Dayton, which we haven't retrieved yet, but look for those down the road (maybe summertime?)
Christmas Part I

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Thanksgiving is so 2008

Since we joined Facebook, we've been too busy trying to make new "friends" to update our blog.  Jack hasn't figured out how to join yet (it's only a matter of months, I'm sure), so he's asked that we get back to the blog.  

We had a rough start to the year with several bouts of cold, flu, and an ear infection, but Jack is a healthy, happy, and growing boy now. He kicked off the year by surprising us with the alphabet.  He started calling out letters while playing with magnets on the fridge one day and hasn't stopped since.  He can recite the alphabet now, but often skips "N." He can also count to 12, but doesn't know 11. He started with letters and numbers and has moved on to words and animal noises.  It's been lots of fun to watch him grow up.
Enjoy these pics from Thanksgiving with Nonnie and Grandpa. Jack had a great time with cousins Ethan and Michael.  He didn't try any turkey, but he had fun watching his Dad and friends playing the annual "Turkey Bowl" in the backyard.  No one was (seriously) hurt.
From Thanksgiving 2008

Sunday, January 11, 2009


Nearly a year ago, I wrote a post about the healing power of Neil Diamond. Since then, despite the scurrilous rumors, I have not been bathing Jack's young ears with the music of Neil. Instead, he's been enjoying the tunes of Laurie Berkner and all the music-making toys in his arsenal. The kid is definitely into music.

Okay, I need to amend something I just wrote. I might occasionally sing a Neil song to Jack while he's splashing around in the bath. That doesn't explain the video Jen shot last night after the bath, though, where Jack picked up the triumphant finger-pointing cues from the big finale of "Coming to America" while I was putting on his pajamas.

We're now about 2 months behind on pictures, but I have finally off-loaded them from the camera, so I hope to get a few photo albums up soon. Thanks for your patience!