Kellen’s Birth Story

​I went into my OB office for my 38 week appointment on Thursday morning at 9am. My doctor talked about having a plan in place for when Kellen decided to arrive, because we knew he’d come fast – with Damien, I labored for three hours after my water broke, and with Rowen it was less than two hours. We arranged for an induction Monday morning (when I’d be 39 weeks 2 days,) discovered I was 4cm dilated (“you’re two good contractions away from going into labor on your own!”), and she stripped my membranes. The rest of the day I felt uncomfortable and even felt one or two of my always-present Braxton-Hicks contractions. In my way home I stopped to pick up a few last-minute baby necessities – I guess that now that there was an official date in place I should be ready. Never having gone into labor on my own, I assumed we’d be doing the induction Monday despite what my doctor said.

At 38 weeks, you no longer have toes… Also note the ginormous belly in the mirror

My husband got home early from work and I had him help me do all the things we’ve been putting off to get ready for baby, like moving some furniture, setting up the cosleeper, and putting our hospital bags in the car. We ate dinner and got the kids ready for bed like normal – Dan got Damien to sleep, but as I was laying down with Rowen I noticed I was having painful, semi-regular contractions. I pulled up a counter app on my phone and found they were 2-6 minutes apart and 40 seconds each. I wasn’t sure I actually was in labor but I had Kassi call my mom to come home just in case. I called the hospital and they said to come in, so my mom cuddled up with a still-awake Rowen while Dan and I headed to the hospital, which is thankfully only nine minutes away. (Sad/cute story: while I was saying goodbye to Rowen, he could tell I was in pain and kept trying to give me the various medicines – cough drops, Tums – from the bedside table, so I would feel better. It definitely made me cry.)

On the drive over my contractions got more painful and every bump the car went over was awful. (Random: “Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing” was playing the radio, which is sweet and all but at that point I very much did want to close my eyes and fall asleep.) We got to the parking lot and found the night  entrance, since it was now after ten. An orderly put me in a wheelchair and whisked me to the Labor & Delivery wing. After checking in I had to be assessed in a room, where my contractions got worse and worse. I was now five cm dilated and allowed to stay. I kept telling everyone I would go really fast, and that I was ready for the epidural five minutes ago!

Once Dan and I were in a delivery room the next trial began – starting an IV. I had to get fluid before my epidural, plus I needed penicillin for being group B strep positive, so the IV was important – the problem was, the veins in my hands kept slipping away. It took four jabs in each hand by two nurses plus the nurse anesthetist (in the midst of contractions I was moaning/screaming through) before they gave up and put the IV in my inner elbow vein, aka my one good vein. Then I could finally get my epidural, which was super hard to sit still for in between contractions but oh so beautiful when it started to work.

Delivery room selfie – Dan was sick so he had to wear a mask

Now that I could breathe again, I met the doctor who would be delivering Kellen and really liked her. She advised that I get some rest (and get at least one dose of penicillin) before I had to push. I was able to rest for about an hour, but then I noticed the epidural was pooling in my left leg (which was completely numb) and I could now feel contractions in my right hip and running down my thighs (why?? The nurse theorized it was ligament pain.) I also felt a ton of pressure from my intact bag of water every time I had a contraction. A nurse checked me and I was 9cm dilated. A few minutes later, I was screaming from pain again, I needed to push, and my epidural was still only numbing my darn leg. I did NOT want to give birth and feel it – I’ve done that before and once was enough! – but I had no choice.

Happier times, with a working epidural…

The birth team assembled quickly – to their immense credit, they totally believed me when I said I’d go fast – and the doctor broke my water, which proceeded to burst like a water balloon all over everything and everyone (and would have probably been funny if I hadn’t been, you know, in mostly-unmedicated labor.) Right away I needed to push, but the doctor tried to slow me down to keep me from tearing (which didn’t work, but at that point I didn’t care at all – I wanted him OUT.) The first push brought his head down, the second push got his head out, and the third push brought out his shoulders – Kellen was out at 1:35am! 

They put a very vernix-covered Kellen straight on me for skin to skin, and he cried right away, demonstrating an impressive set of lungs. I was still feeling contractions and couldn’t focus until the placenta was out. Then I felt okay again…until my doctor started stitching my tear, without the epidural’s benefit. Luckily Kellen was a great distraction – we discovered his umbilical cord was twisted around his ankle somehow, which was weird but interesting, and Dan cut his cord.

Cord around the ankle

After I was finally done with stitches, I was able to breastfeed Kellen for over an hour while the nurse gave him all necessary meds. Then she weighed, measured, and bathed him – we learned he was 9 lbs 0.3 oz and 21.5″, securing his record as Biggest Baby Brother. πŸ™‚ We also noticed Kellen has lots of dark brown hair, looks like Dan as a baby but also like his brothers, and has this same teeny birth defect as me – a dimple/hole in the top of each ear. (For some reason I love this! It’s purely cosmetic and just unique.)

Nursing baby

Dada snuggles

Mama snuggles (once we were in our regular room)

Looking so tiny!

Lots of other stuff happened in the next few days (which will be another post), but the most exciting thing was definitely introducing Kellen to his big brothers.

They were both SO EXCITED and for Damien in particular, we were surprised at how long he stayed mesmerized just by holding and staring at Kellen. It just about made my heart explode.

And now we’re a happy, crazy, COMPLETE family of five. πŸ™‚


Summer ’16 Recap

It’s September and even though the weather is still hot (but not QUITE so unbearable) our summer is pretty much over. I didn’t write about most of it but I did take pictures, so here’s what we did during the summer of 2016, in photos:

I already wrote about the ocean-themed tot school we did at the beginning of the summer. (Since then we’ve done a bit if bug-themed school, but it’s been more difficult because so much of our stuff is in storage and I am SO PREGNANT.)

We also stayed at a beach house with Dan’s mom, which was lots of fun (and I wrote about it here.)

Here are some leftover pictures from our old apartment:

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We celebrated the fourth of July in the most American of places, American Canyon (which also happened to have lots of food trucks/free fireworks/activities for kids, and be close to our house, which is why we went there. Turns out it was right next to one of the middle schools I subbed at all the time, so that was kind of weird… I didn’t see any former students though.)

After trying to keep the kids entertained during that horrible space between when the activities closed and the fireworks started (there was live music, but they of course didn’t care), Damien watched about three minutes of fireworks and wanted to leave. (We didn’t let him. Rowen was entertained at least.)

And then, of course, we moved…

While we’ve been staying with my parents, we’ve done a lot of playing in the backyard:

Sometimes it was too hot to play outside and we had to stay inside, or go to the library.

We also went beach camping! We went back to Doran Beach and the boys had a great time. (I, however, got the worst sunburn in memory and literally couldn’t walk for a few days.. but it’s all worth it for the memories, right?)

My parents and all three dogs came with us (you can see Ripley and Molly in the above pics, but for some reason I missed Jethro – he was probably always moving!) Damien learned how to climb trees and was super excited about jumping waves; even though it was chilly, he ended up wet every day. We saw lots of birds, pelicans, and sea lions, and Damien was very excited to hold sea stars!

Dan and I celebrated our eighth wedding anniversary (and our eleventh year together). We spent the day in town going out to dinner, going to a used bookstore (and yes, coming home with books) and exploring a really pretty outdoor outlet mall.


I noticed later we’re in front of a phone booth, which is pretty much an endangered species…

For Rowen’s second birthday, we took him to a nearby zoo in Folsom:

We also met Marcia at the Sacramento Zoo


And that brings us up to now! The next two (very big) things on our plate are: have a baby, and move into our Cabin in the Woods (hopefully not the horror movie; maybe more Little House in the Big Woods, except we won’t use a pig bladder for a child’s toy ball… That part has always stuck with me for some reason, lol!) Because of their timing being so close together, I don’t know which will happen first, but I’m sure I will post about them…eventually.

Summer Beach Trip

Dan’s mom, Marcia, invited us to spend a few days with her at the coast in a rental house. She and Dan used to do this all the time and even though both Dan and I knew it wouldn’t be the same with small children (for one thing, not relaxing in the slightest…) we thought the boys would enjoy it, and they did! They were also very interested in the science side of hte ocean, since we’ve been talking about that in ‘tot school’/’home school’ (according to Damien, the first is what Rowen does and the latter is what he does, lol.)

We left on Friday around noon with the goal of Rowen napping all the way there (which was a success, even though we hit traffic.) Once we got there we met Marcia at the house, got settled in, and walked to the beach!

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The first beach we went to was called Shell Beach, even though we didn’t really find any shells. Rowen loved digging in the sand and Damien wanted to jump waves the entire time, despite thewater being pretty chilly. Damien also discovered climbing rocks and then wanted to do THAT the whole time – I made Dan accompany him because my balance isn’t the best these days. πŸ™‚

It was a longer walk to the beach than we realized, so on the way back, the boys and I stopped by the playground and Dan went back to the house to get the car.

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Here are some pictures of us at the house, from all the days we were there. I should have taken a picture of the whole house – actually, never mind, just go to this link. πŸ™‚ I’ve stayed in several rental vacation homes in the past year, and I have to say this was definitely the best for kids – the art/knick knacks were up high enough that I wasn’t stressing constantly, and there were toys, a Pack n Play, and a bed rail (which unfortunately didn’t work on the bottom bunk, where Damien slept – he fell out during the second night and scraped his nose. Still, it was a thoughtful thing to have there!)

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Saturday morning was the lowest the tide was going to be while we were there, so we went tidepooling! The best beach for tidepooling was currently hosting lots of mama and baby seals, so we had to go to a different beach (it still had a few seals but we kept our distance.) Damien was disappointed that we didn’t see a sea star, but we saw lots of sea anemones, crabs, hermit crabs, sea slugs, barnacles, limpets, and other shelled creatures.

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After our morning tidepooling, lunch at the house, and a nap for Rowen, we headed back to the beach. This time we took Damien through the tree tunnel that Rowen christened the ‘dragon cave’, and he and Damien rode one of the ‘dragons’ (apparently the trees that bend down toward the ground are dragons.) This is one of my very favorite places around here and I was tickled that my kids loved it too.

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Two last pictures…

Damien “decorating the baby to make him laugh”, and Rowen pouting because I said we had to go home.

Weekend Trip

We recently took a weekend trip up north to our former hometown. It was last minute – Dan got called for a job interview Monday and I thought, if I have to take a day off work, why don’t we extend it to a mini fun trip?

On Sunday, the kids woke us up bright and early to walk on the Sundial Bridge and visit Turtle Bay, a place we used to take Damien all the time. A big part of the park is currently under construction but the kids had a great time watching the fish, “driving” a car, and playing in the water (oh… And saying hi to all the doggies on the bridge. I’m pretty sure that was Rowen’s favorite part!)

On/around the bridge:


Damien, right before we went wading in the river


Damien and Rowen try out poses for their album cover πŸ™‚


Boys on the Sundial Bridge! (Rowen was tired of walking…)


I had to get in the photo somehow

In Turtle Bay:

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We also got to visit our two favorite thrift stores in the area. There’s just nothing even close to these stores anywhere near our house (that we know of, anyway, and we’ve gone to a LOT of thrift stores) and it was fun to actually have a successful shopping venture.

At Goodwill we found:

  • Clothes: Hurley shorts, a dinosaur T-shirt (from Target), and a Children’s Place button-up collared shirt and sweater – all for Damien, who is growing like a weed
  • Books: Star Wars 123, Ten Apples Up On Top, You Are My Little Pumpkin Pie, So Many Bunnies, and my personal favorite, a pop-up Star Wars book from 1982 (The Ewoks Save the Day, and yes this book totally belongs to me and not my kids lol – I put it up out of their reach on my own shelf and will share sometimes…maybe)
  • DVDs: a few Dr. Seuss stories (we have another DVD like this that the boys love) and Baby Van Gogh (we have a lot of Baby Einstein movies, all from Goodwill; you can sometimes find them on YouTube but it’s nice to have the DVD version for when your kid’s favorite disappears).

At That Baby Store, we found:

  • A raincoat for Damien (he’s been without one all winter and we’ve definitely missed it – we’re probably just about done with rain this year but the coat should fit next year too)
  • A tank top (now Damien owns exactly one, lol)
  • A giant play magnet (basically this, without the rest of the kit – Damien really wanted a toy, and I was so relieved when he found something relatively small, in one piece, and educational – he’s been trying to figure your what’s magnetic and what isn’t ever since!)

At the time I was wishing we knew whether Baby3 was a boy or a girl so I could do some shopping for him/her, but now that I know he’s a boy I won’t be buying that much anyway, especially because Rowen was born right around the same time of year.

$$ Diary

I’ve been reading a series of financial diaries of people of different means, living in different places, and not only do I find it interesting but I think it can be useful for self reflection. Even though our family uses a budget it can be tricky to keep track of cash spent, so for a random week in February I decided to write down every penny we spent, and why. (And I still probably forgot something!) If this kind of thing is boring to you, feel free to skip. πŸ™‚

First of all, income: I’m a substitute teacher and make between $1600-2500 each month, depending on circumstances (I sometimes have to miss work for job interviews, medical appointments, etc.) Dan is mainly a stay-at-home dad but also does freelance graphic design work and can add either nothing or $100+. Obviously our income is super variable and both Dan and I are looking for more dependable jobs, but this is what life is like in the meantime. Oh, and we have two little hungry mouths to feed as well. (Seriously, they eat SO MUCH.)

Damien ‘driving’ Rowen and Dan at Six Flags

Sunday 4/10: We used our season passes to visit Six Flags Discovery Kingdom – the passes were Christmas presents and the park is less than 10 minutes from our house, so it’s super convenient. However, since the park doesn’t allow you to bring in food and the parking lot is a LONG way from the entrance, we always end up spending money on food. We are allowed to bring in kid snacks, but this time I accidentally brought juice boxes and security confiscated my straws, so I had to buy a cup for the kids to drink from. After we got home I saw an email from Shutterfly offering free photo magnets if you pay shipping, and I love photo magnets (as my fridge can attest to), so I ordered some.

  • Theme park food: $40 (2 people, no drinks – we purchased cups with free refills on our first visit this season)
  • Souvenir cup: $6 (and the straw got destroyed in the dishwasher afterward…boo cheaply made products purchased out of necessity)
  • Shutterfly: $4
    Total: $50

My baby bump, and the desk I was stuck in shortly before taking this picture. Yep, looks like I’ve reached that stage of pregnancy…

Monday 4/11: Today was a typical day for our family – I worked while Dan stayed home with the boys. After I got home Dan did some laundry (in our apartment complex, which can get pricy but at least it’s conveniently located) and I ordered two ‘big brother’ books for the boys on Amazon (The New Baby for Rowen and The Big Sibling Book for Damien), plus a daddy-and-me canvas project I had purchased for Damien way back when and never gotten around to getting one for Rowen – until I realized they were discontinuing it. (I guess I should have bought one for the new baby too…)

  • Laundry: $10
  • Amazon: $28
    Total: $38

Rowen reading himself a book – this is literally the only picture I took Tuesday. Also, I thought I was videoing (because Rowen was ‘reading’ out loud) and was so disappointed to just find a blurry photo.

Tuesday 4/12: Dan had a job interview so I stayed home today. This has been a recurring problem for us – we’re both actively looking for work, but an interview necessitates a day off work for me, and as a sub, when I don’t work I don’t get paid. That said, it is nice that I am able to take days off whenever needed. After the interview we all went to the park and to Starbucks afterward for family treats.

  • Starbucks – $9 (it would have been more but I had a few dollars on a gift card.)
    Total: $9

Damien playing dress-up with his BB8 plushie

Wednesday, 4/13: I started a three day sub position at a middle school as a sixth grade math teacher. I forgot my water bottle and bought one from the teacher workroom. Today was also the day that the sub scheduling app I use autorenewed for the month. I forgot to bring a lunch as well so on the way home I picked up Taco Bell. Once at home Damien wanted to make cookies but we were out of chocolate chips, so Dan ran to the store to get some.

  • Water: $1.50
  • Taco Bell: $6.66
  • SubstituteAlert: $5
  • Chocolate chips: $4
    Total: $17.16

Rowen wanted to take selfies and then refused to smile…

Thursday, 4/14: Day two in my sub placement. Bought another water bottle (where is mine??) and picked up iced coffee after school after a long, difficult day.

  • Water: $1.50
  • Dutch Bros: $4.00
    Total: $5.50

I didn’t take any pictures Friday but here’s a duck that sums up my feelings for the day.

Friday, 4/15: The final day in this sub placement, and it was another challenging one (which involved a fistfight over a pair of shoes. FUN.) I bought iced tea on the way home to cheer myself up. Once at home, both my parents and grandparents happened to be nearby, so we all went out to dinner together (which was fun and free for my family!) After dinner my parents watched the kids so Dan and I could do some much-needed grocery shopping together, which NEVER happens.

  • Starbucks: $3.00
  • Groceries: $105 (from Walmart Neighborhood Market, which is less than a mile from our house and therefore where we always end up when we’re out of food and energy simultaneously.)
    Total: $108

Leo cuddling in my pregnancy pillow a few years back. We miss you, little bunny.

Saturday, 4/16: Dan scheduled another interview out of town on Monday, and since his mom lives near there (at the moment; she’s actually in the process of moving) and because I had to take Monday off work anyway, we decided to make a family trip out of it.

While we were packing to leave, Dan noticed that one of our pets – our boy rabbit, Leo – wasn’t doing well. He hadn’t been eating well all week but while we were getting ready to go he seemed to have a seizure that left him paralyzed. While we knew he was getting up there in bunny years (at age 7+), we had no idea his health would literally fail in a matter of hours. Dan took him to the emergency vet and we made the decision to put him to sleep. It was really awful and even harder to explain to the boys, especially Damien. (This is the first pet we’ve had to put to sleep since we’ve had kids, and that definitely made it harder, though it would have been rough anyway.

Even though we were all feeling horrible we decided to go along with our trip plans, and left around 4pm. With the pet drama both Dan and I forgot to eat lunch, so we picked up Del Taco on the way and later stopped for milkshakes so Damien could use the restroom.

  • Emergency vet bills: $90
  • Del Taco: $12
  • Carl’s Jr:Β  $14
    Total: $116

Weekly Total: $344 (I rounded the change)

Thoughts: I feel like that’s a lot more money than we normally spend in a week, but I don’t normally keep this close track so maybe I’m wrong. Obviously there were a few unusual expenses (vet bills, we don’t go to Six Flags every weekend, etc) but I also noticed once I ‘treated’ myself once it was way too easy to do it again. I also need to keep track of my water bottle… πŸ™‚ If we spent this much weekly we wouldn’t be able to pay rent and other bills, so it’s good for me to keep track and make sure that doesn’t happen.

Baby3: First Trimester

In case you didn’t hear from my Facebook or Instagram, life is going to get a bit more crazy for us:



I posted this on Easter, when I was 15 weeks pregnant

With the other two I posted more or less weekly about how I was feeling, how things were going, etc. This time around that feels like overkill, so I thought I’d post once a trimester (allowing for the occasional rant, because it turns out pregnancy does not get easier each succeeding time.) At the time I’m publishing this I’ve thankfully left the first trimester behind me (good riddance, most horrible part of pregnancy!) but here’s where I was for those thirteen not-so-glorious weeks:

How I’m Feeling:

  • At first, in total shock.(There was a lot of, “how is this even possible?!” Without getting into TMI territory, there are a number of reasons why this is a big surprise. We’ve come to the conclusion of: magic.)
  • From there, I felt sick all the time (I guess with morning sickness, third time’s a charm! I officially know every trick to keep yourself from vomiting in the trash can of a strange classroom.)
  • I also felt pretty worried about our car/job/living situation – it’s not like that’s resolved but we do have a bit of time to get things sorted out, so I’m trying not to unduly freak out in the meantime. (Some days I achieve this; others, such as today, I cry in the shower.) (Granted, part of that may be hormones. I also had a student make me cry – for the first time ever – last week.)
  • Now, I’m wondering if it’s a boy or a girl (but figuring boy, because we seem to be good at making those.) Damien wants a girl and neither Dan or I have stated a preference. (Rowen just wants chocolate milk and another cheese stick.)

Craving: Taco Bell burritos, cottage cheese and goldfish crackers (together), grits, unsweetened iced tea, bagels and cream cheese, Stripples (aka fake bacon)… By the end of this trimester I was actually sick of making myself eat every few hours (a strategy to keep my stomach from getting empty, which helped with morning sickness) so none of my craving food even sound good anymore. Lately I’ve been able to add vegetables back into my diet (with the exception of peas, which still taste funny for some reason) (which has been a challenge since we usually eat peas 2-3x/week) and I’m hoping that my nausea will continue to get better so I can eat like a normal person again.

Important Dates:

  • Jan 16: took pregnancy test (with about a 90% certainty it would be negative. It was not.)
  • Jan 25: I saw very tiny baby on U/S; the doctor saw the heartbeat (but I didn’t, because Very Tiny Baby and also possibly because I was in shock)
  • Feb 14: found heartbeat with my own Doppler (at 9w2d)
  • Feb 16: saw baby and heartbeat on ultrasound

Kiddo Quotes:

So far, Rowen is not really aware of the existence of Baby3. He does say “Baby” when he sees the Doppler but that’s about it. We didn’t tell them until around week 11-12, and even that was sooner than I maybe wanted to, but I wanted them to hear it from us and we were beginning to tell other people. (I held off on telling anyone as long as I could, mostly because I was trying to wrap my mind around the whole thing myself, but also because I had several job interviews lined up and if I actually got one of those jobs, I wanted my future employer to hear the pregnancy news from me and not, say, Facebook. But since I didn’t get those jobs it didn’t turn out to be an issue.) (I still desperately need a job. Someone hire me!)

Okay, here are some actual Damien quotes regarding Baby3:

  • When I told Damien he would have a new brother or sister, he said: “Yay, babies are fun!” He also commented: “I want to get a tiny BB8 for the baby” (lol). I showed him an ultrasound and he asked, “Did you get a picture of the baby at all your doctor’s appointments?” I thought it was pretty perceptive of him to notice my doctor’s appointments.
  • 2/28: “I think we should name the new baby Rowen 2.”
  • 3/4: Damien heard the baby’s fast heartbeat (on the Doppler) and asked, “Is the baby running?”
  • He’s also tickled my stomach several times and said: “I’m tickling the baby! Is the baby laughing?”
  • 3/13: Damien decided he wanted to name the baby Squishy Turtle – Squishy for short.

December Happenings 2015

Damien’s Birthday Party – I have a whole post written out about this, but – you guessed it – I don’t have pictures. I’m hoping one of my parents (or perhaps a grandparent) has pictures that I can steal, otherwise it will be really sad after all the fun we had (and all the work I put into having a party at all… But that’s selfish I guess.) (BUT STILL.)

Damien’s 4th Birthday – we went to Chuck E. Cheese on the actual day and, as always, the boys had a great time.


Damien wanted to help me make a cake – we had a teddy bear pan, so I made that and let Damien decorate it.

Moving – Ugh, oh yeah, that happened. We had to cram all the stuff from our (small) three bedroom house (with one car garage) into a (quite a bit smaller) two bedroom apartment (with NO storage whatsoever – we ended up with a very small storage unit to keep holiday stuff, baby items we don’t want to get rid of yet, tools and outdoor things we don’t have a place for because we no longer have a yard, etc.) We actually did get rid of a lot of stuff, even stuff that we liked, because I hate the claustrophobic feeling of a super packed house, but it’s never enough and we’re still crammed, because four people (plus pets) is just too many for an apartment this size. As always, it took much longer than expected to get everything out of our old house and to get it clean, so – as always – we couldn’t focus on moving in and cleaning up our new place. (The place you move into is NEVER clean, and it’s SO frustrating after spending hours cleaning the old one!)

Christmas – Right in the middle of the craziness… We moved a few days before Christmas and I barely got a floor space cleared for us to have any kind of Christmas celebration. We had the teeny tiniest Christmas tree but at least it had lights and presents under it.


Tiny Tree, happy Damien, Christmas breakfast


Matching PJs in the chair (with an offbrand Nerf gun, lol)

Snow – on New Year’s Eve, we drove up to my parents house so we could go hunting for snow on New Year’s Day. Damien was super excited and luckily we didn’t have to go far this year. Here’s a picture that sums up both my sons’ reactions to snow:


Rowen: meh. Damien: HOORAY.


There was much more sledding to be had – although we mostly stayed off the big hill and scooted around on a barely tilted surface. πŸ™‚

Rowen was a lot happier playing in the snow, although I think he was still wondering, “why is it so cold?” Damien, on the other hand, had a grand ‘ol time throwing snowballs and making tiny snowmen.

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Snow angel!