Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Giving Thanks

We have a lot to be thankful for this year. We have a great house in a great neighborhood, great jobs, and great friends. But we are most thankful for our family. This year, we are thrilled to have added to our family with baby James. It still takes me aback when we talk about "our sons." James has made us a family of four - and has made us complete. We look forward to all we will share together in the years to come.

We are also thankful for our extended family. We were grateful to share Thanksgiving with my mom and step-dad and with my sister and her husband. We hadn't spent Thanksgiving with them in a number of years (or had my mom's famous stuffing!), so it was really special even though we were missing other family members.

To all of our family, we want you to know that we so appreciate all that you have given us over the years, but we especially appreciate the help you have given us with the arrival of our new son this year.

Hoping you all had a Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 29, 2010


It is amazing to watch how James is similar - and how he is different - from his brother Jack. You can see how much they share in common, yet you can also see how they are unique. Over time, their similarities will bond them together, but their differences will also help each brother encourage the other to learn and grow.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Since James came home, he's met many family, friends and neighbors. Among the visitors, the grandmas put in extra time and energy to welcome baby James. Nonni took the first tour of duty, which included driving me back and forth to the hospital every day until James came home from the NICU. By the time he left, we were both really tired of hospital cafeteria food! Once home, Nonni helped us finish all of the preparations we hadn't gotten to yet since James was five weeks early. And, she did all of our laundry! Grandma "Boop" took the next tour. With her trademark home cooking, Grandma kept all of us well-fed and happy. Both grandmas spent just as much time keeping big brother Jack busy, which was much appreciated by his tired parents.

James also had visits from Aunt Niki and Uncle Nick and he met Grandpa Bill and Alice. But the most anticipated meeting was between big brother Jack and baby James. We were more than a little anxious about how Jack would react to James' arrival since he has thoroughly enjoyed his time and attention as our only child for the last three years. We're happy though that Jack seems really interested in his baby brother and wants to hold and help him (with close supervision of course!). Most of the time, Jack is not too jealous and we can tell he can't wait for his brother to get old enough to play with him. Jack can often be heard asking "Baby brother play cars with me?" Soon enough!

Thanks again to all who have visited and brought or sent gifts - especially food!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Marathon Man

This year, Michael decided he wanted to train for his second marathon. It had been seven years since his first one - the inaugural Akron RoadRunner marathon sponsored by his company. He figured he wouldn't have much time for running after our second baby came along this fall. Michael had a great training season and was more than ready for the Columbus marathon on October 17th.

Since I was five weeks from my due date, we decided that I should not make the trip to Columbus to cheer him on. But, his family was there to watch him run a great race. He posted a sub 3:30 time, besting his previous marathon by 30 minutes. He also managed to raise more than $2,000 for charity - the American Cancer Society - making him the highest ACS fundraiser for the event. Exhausted but excited to have met his goal, Michael planned to spend Sunday night in Columbus recuperating and celebrating with his family, returning to DC on Monday.

Back home, Aunt Niki spent the weekend helping me take care of Jack, who had much more energy than I did at 8+ months pregnant. She had a business trip on Monday, so she headed back to her place on Sunday afternoon. Around 7pm on Sunday night, though, I called her up to come back over. Five weeks from my due date, my water broke! She and Uncle Nick made it back to our place in record time. Meanwhile, I called Michael and told him to get on a plane because we are having a baby tonight!

Aunt Niki drove me to the hospital while Uncle Nick tended to Jack. I hadn't yet prepped Jack about Mommy going to the hospital since I thought I had a few more weeks. So, I told him I was going to the store! Back in Columbus, Michael and his family were frantically looking for flights to DC. Turns out the last direct flight to DCA had been delayed in Columbus so he was able to get on (for a considerable price that is). His plane was set to leave when all air traffic was halted in Columbus. Turns out President Obama was also in Columbus that day and Air Force One was about to take off! After about an hour delay, he was in the air and on his way home.

Back in the hospital, I was having contractions and getting prepped for a c-section. Aunt Niki was prepared to dress into scrubs to be there with me during the surgery. But, thanks to a delay in my pre-surgery bloodwork, Michael was able to make it just before they took me to the OR. He arrived at 11:30pm and James Engle Buening arrived at 12:01!

We were grateful that Baby James was born a healthy 6 lbs 4 ozs despite being five weeks early. He did have to go to the NICU right away though. He spent the first few days getting help with his breathing and then with jaundice. While it was difficult for all of us, especially not getting to hold him right away, we were again grateful that James did not have any serious issues to overcome as a preemie. He spent 9 days total in the NICU and has been thriving at home ever since.

Many thanks for all the well wishes from family and friends!

Here are some pictures of James' early days at Sibley Hospital.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Beach Boys

From Dewey Beach 2010

Jack made his second trip to Dewey Beach this year. This time, he was joined by cousin Ethan and Uncle Dave, which made for a great vacation. It was Ethan's first time at the ocean, so Jack showed him how to have fun in the sand and surf. They played in the waves, built (and smashed) sand castles, and ran down the shore all week long.

As a newcomer to the beach, Ethan was a little nervous about getting into the water at the beginning of the week. Each day, he waded in a little more (except for a minor setback after seeing a blue crab!). But by the end of the week, it was surf's up!

We introduced Ethan and Dave to all of our other beach favorites too, including Grotto's Pizza, the Jolly Trolley and the Rehoboth boardwalk. We hope we can all do it again soon!

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Big Three

From Jack's 3rd birthday

Somehow, Jack ends up having more than one birthday party every year. This year was no different. We started Jack's birthday weekend with a cupcake happy hour on Saturday. Jack helped bake the cupcakes, which the neighbor kids (and their parents) all enjoyed.

On Sunday, we hosted a small birthday party with family and close friends. The main attraction was a Thomas the Train cake. Jack had seen the cake at the grocery store last year (I did not attempt to bake a cake this time...), and he had been asking for the Thomas cake ever since. While I'm sure the other parents did not really appreciate the dark blue icing, Jack loved it.

Many thanks to all who helped Jack celebrate turning the big three this year!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Summer Fun Part II - Biggest Block Party Ever!

For the third year in a row, our stretch of Kennedy Street has hosted a block party in June (I realize that was several months ago now...). The first year, we had a good turnout from our block and a few friends too. By the second year, we realized we needed to invite more people to eat all of the good food our neighbors make for the party. This year, while we were missing friends and neighbors who've moved away, we ended up having the biggest block party ever!

We've made a lot of new friends in the neighborhood this summer and gotten to know others a lot better, which made for a great crowd. We had a kiddie pool for swimming, a supersize moon bounce, and face painting courtesy of neighbor Erica.

For fun and games, we had a water balloon toss (that quickly turned into a water balloon fight) and "cornhole," an import from Ohio known as a bean bag toss everywhere else. We even had a TV set up outside to watch USA play in the World Cup.

We're already planning the next one!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Summer Fun - Part I

It's been so hot here it feels like it's been summer for months. We kicked off the summer fun this year with a visit from Grandma and Poppy. We gave them a break from working on our house (for once!) and we toured around the monuments downtown.

We followed up with a visit to Ohio a few weeks later for Memorial Day weekend. Grandpa Bill hosted a cookout on Saturday and Grandma and Poppy hosted one on Sunday. It was great to see everyone... and to share the big news that Jack is going to be a big brother this fall. Jack announced the news himself with a t-shirt, which he read aloud on demand: "Big Brother...TO BE!" We're excited about the new addition and will keep you all updated.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Hoppy Easter

From Easter 2010

This year, we made a trip to Columbus to spend Easter with the Buening family. Jack had a great time reconnecting with his cousins Ethan and Mike, who he hadn't seen since Thanksgiving. They caught up in no time though.

We had great weather all weekend, and we spent as much time as possible outside. At Karin and Dave's house, the boys had great fun going on bike rides and playing on the swing set out back.

On Saturday, we started the day with a trip to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. Although we live in the nation's capital, I have to admit that the Columbus Zoo is way better than the National Zoo, which I used to think was pretty nice! The boys had a great time together. Jack was really into his cousin Ethan especially. He followed him everywhere, and when he couldn't find him, he asked "Where's E-tan?"

Later that day, we drove down to Cincinnati where Nana hosted Easter dinner and the annual egg hunt. The little boys were definitely more into it this year, although Jack didn't really get interested until we started cheering for each egg he found. We also celebrated birthdays for Grandpa, Aunt Karin, and Little Mike.

Back in Columbus on Saturday night, Ethan taught us to play Rock Band on the Wii after the little boys went to bed, although we didn't get any photographic evidence. It was really fun though! The weekend ended with a second Easter egg hunt on Sunday before we headed back to DC. Thanks for hosting a great weekend Karin and Dave!

Monday, April 5, 2010

It's so hard to say goodbye

Our dear neighbors and friends, Danna and Sanjay and their kids, are moving back to Montana this week. After more than five years together, it is hard to know what to say or where to start, so we'll start at beginning (but keep it short!).

Back in 2004, Michael and I bought our first house in Warwick Village. As a long-time rental, it was the kind of house you had to see the "potential" in to buy. But, we were so proud of our little house that we couldn't wait to move in. Driving by one day before our closing date, we met our neighbor-to-be Danna. She saw us peeking in the windows of our soon-to-be house and let us walk around hers so we could envision where our furniture might go. She also gave us the scoop on the other neighbors, who would come to be our "urban family" over the next five years.

We spent the next two years fixing up 34 Kennedy Street. When we weren't at Home Depot, we were hanging out with our new neighbors and friends on the front porch (also a DIY project). For years now, many a summer evening after work has been spent drinking wine and eating cheese in good company on our porch. And while it is hard to remember now, before Jack and Sonja joined us on Kennedy Street, there was Zane and Erica.

We had great fun watching Zane and Erica grow over those first two years while we were still "nesting." By our third summer in the Village, Jack came along. Always a good neighbor, Danna had Sonja three months later, an instant playmate for Jack.

Over the years, its has been so special to watch our kids grow alongside each other here on Kennedy Street. From pool parties to birthday parties to just hanging out, there was always an impromptu playdate right out our front door.

We can't believe we actually have to say goodbye this week, but we wish Danna, Sanjay, Zane and Sonja all the best on their new adventure in Montana. When can we visit?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

When Jack Met Ellie...

Actually, it started when Michael met Jeff... in the alley while taking out the trash back in 2007. We had been living in Warwick Village for about two years, and it turns out, so had Jeff and his wife Kathleen. They had moved to the Village from Glover Park in DC, and as you know, so had we. We were expecting our first baby that summer, and it turns out, so were they. As excited (and nervous) new parents-to-be, we started hanging out and awaiting our bundles of joy together.

Although Kathleen was due earlier than me, Jack came first that summer. In fact, he and Ellie nearly swapped due dates. She was due on June 28th and Jack was due on July 7th. Although I really wanted Jack to be born on 7/7/07, I didn't complain when he came two weeks early on June 26th. Kathleen had to wait it out a few more (long) weeks, but Ellie finally arrived on the 7th!

It was a long hot summer, but it was great to have another couple to share the ups and downs of parenting newborns with. Ellie was a superstar from the start. Like many girls, Ellie was ahead of most boys - Jack included - on just about everything - eating, sleeping through the night, crawling, walking. When we weren't jealous, we were happy to have good friends to share the worries and triumphs of new parenthood with us.

Through the years, Jack and Ellie have grown into toddlers, and new babies have joined the block. We're sad to see Ellie and her family move this weekend, but we wish them all the best on their new adventure in Thailand!

Sunday, February 14, 2010


From Snow!

When I moved to Washington DC almost twelve years ago, I actually donated my parka to Goodwill because it didn’t get nearly cold enough to use it. Well, I definitely could have used it this winter! Since December, we’ve had three major snowstorms, bringing us nearly 60 inches of snow total this winter. The last two came within a week of each other, snowing us in for days on end.

From Snow!

Luckily, we have great friends in the neighborhood who kept us warm with hospitality, not to mention great food and wine. The block also banded together to keep our sidewalks and service drive clear and our cars dug out of the snow. Here are some pics, mostly of the first major storm in December.


Thursday, February 11, 2010


This year, we unexpectedly found ourselves at home for Christmas instead of Ohio. But, Jack’s grandparents did their best to bring Christmas to DC. Grandma “Boop” came first bringing lots and lots of gifts and Grandpa Bill sent a big box too. The pile under the tree Christmas morning was huge; it took Jack almost two hours to open them all. He did draw it out by playing with each gift for about 15 minutes before opening the next one. We think this is probably the first and last year he’ll be so deliberate opening his gifts.

From Christmas 2009

About halfway through the gift-opening extravaganza, Jack sat on one of his presents and declared “I WANT THE CHRISTMAS!” Needless to say, he was ready for more. The next day, Jack said, “WANT MORE SANTA!” Luckily for him, Nonni and Grandpa were on their way with more presents for Jack.

From Christmas 2009

Enjoy these pics of Jack opening presents – and many thanks to all who sent gifts. Jack had a wonderful Christmas!