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Finn: Almost Three

2017 September 21
by Becky

Finn-AlmostThree-FirstDayOfSchool

In true second kid style, I completely forgot to talk about Finn’s first day of preschool!! Well first day at his new preschool anyway. In St. Louis he went twice a week all day, lunching and napping there so I could grab him after work at around 4pm. Here in Northern Virginia, the preschools for littles are more of a half day situation, therefore Finn had no issues transitioning. He’s loving the small class and nice teachers at the new place, taking great pride in choosing the snack we pack each day. If anyone has trouble with the back-to-school schedule, it’s me, trying to figure out a normal routine with every day being a little different.

Don’t get me wrong, I love having lots of Finn time. His recent developments have me realizing just how short these toddler years are. He tries so hard every day to keep up with big brother, doing all the things I’d never have let Ethan do at this age. Just the other day I was talking to friends about how much we expect of the second kid, it’s a little unfair.

That is, until they prove they CAN do just about everything you think they are capable of, which brings me to our biggest news of the month. Finn is POTTY TRAINED!!!

Finn-AlmostThree-WashMonumentPose

Just three weeks ago, we were changing full diapers and assuming he would be well over three when he decided to do this. He was SO defiant and even seemed to take pleasure in using his diapers, holding power over us in any little way. But Stu left for a work trip (to Paris…must be rough) and not a day later Finn started saying “YES!” every time I asked him to go potty, getting ready excited when I mentioned a sticker chart. In one day he filled a whole row of his chart and got a prize, setting him with a determination I’ve never before witnessed in him. He was on a roll.

Oh, and here’s another prime first vs second kid example:

PottyTrainingCharts

Yes those are eye ball stickers, frantically dug out of a coloring book drawer after promising “star stickers”, which I had no luck finding at the grocery store, the only place we went that could possibly have stickers on the day he decided this was going to be a thing. Finn did not care one bit! He was pumped about his chart and was filling it up so fast I ended up adding a couple more lines to the bottom that first night.

It took about three days.

I’m STILL in shock. I even sent him to his second day of preschool in underwear because I was SO confident he would be ok! (And because he was heading to the potty every 4.5 minutes, leaving little time to have an accident.) Life feels lighter without diapers. But I almost cry every time I see the boys both running around the house in underwear (their FAVORITE thing to do), in shock that our baby days are over.

Finn-AlmostThree-FeedingDucks

When he doesn’t have school, we explore. It’s weird not having Ethan with us, I’m still not used to him being in school every day and I’m constantly having deja vu from my days with Ethan at this age. Especially after I trimmed Finn’s mullet-like baby curls and he looks SO much like his brother. What started out as a bang trim ended up being a full cut because I just couldn’t stop, it looked so cute!!

And then I cried about the piles of curls on the floor and freaked out wondering what Stu was going to say when he got home. ( He loved it! Whew.)

We’re doing lots of the same things E and I used to do when we lived here 4.5 years ago. Walking around the National Mall and feeding the nicest ducks in the world (that hopefully don’t have rabies), checking out museums, the zoo, and new-to-us places like Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens (which will be a post in itself soon), steadily checking off our mile-long list of “Things To Do Immediately in DC”.

So while we still see plenty of toddler behavior—like when he refuses to eat a piece of breakfast sausage because it broke in half as we took it out of the package—this dude is growing up too fast.

Anyone need a hundred diapers? I was overbuying in an attempt to reverse-psychology fate into getting him potty trained. Worked!

Sunday Drives in Virginia

2017 September 14
by Becky

We’ve spent the last two weekends exploring the Virginia countryside and Oh. My. it’s gorgeous. As if I wasn’t enamored enough with our new home, it had to go and be all mind-blowingly beautiful just an hour from our door step.

GreatCountryFarms-VirginiaLandscape

We didn’t explore very far West last time we lived here, there was so much to do! We ventured East and North and then moved. But we couldn’t wait another second to see what this fine state had to offer!

It’s hard to capture. The beauty of the lovely little farms and crumbling stone walls and old barns shadowed by the incredible Blue Ridge Mountains is tough to translate through a camera or computer screen. So far we’ve meandered down the first leg of the Skyline Drive and picked apples at Great Country Farms.

GreatCountryFarms-TractorRide

Stu was traveling last Sunday so I asked the boys what they wanted to do. “Apple picking or the aquatic gardens?” were the options I put forth. “Apple picking!!!” was the unanimous reply. This was before I told them about the jumping pillow and obstacle course and plethora of slides featured at said apple orchard. And after I explained we’d have to drive for about an hour to get there. They were still on board so off we went. My little explorers.

The beauty sneaks up on you. Here we’re driving down the interstate, passing Dulles airport exits, and suddenly things get interesting. “Horse!” shouts Finn from the back seat and, while he’s probably just trying to be a part of the conversation, there really are horses and cows popping up around each bend in the road. Small towns and apple picking signs become more frequent sights.

GreatCountryFarms-Ethanpicking

We arrived at the cutest little farm, past a pristine pond surrounded by rolling hills covered in vineyards…just what we were looking for. (That’s right, the Virginia orchards/pumpkin patches have wineries—and a brewery!—right next door.) We took the wagon ride out to the orchard and filled our boxes with gorgeous apples.

ApplePickingBoys

Finn ate no fewer than five apples in the thirty minute picking adventure.

Ethan was committed to finding the Honey Crisp apples and, though we thought we missed the window, he was successful! They weren’t as shiny as in the store, but he knew exactly which ones he wanted and he was right.

GreatCountryFarms-Finnpicking

We headed back to the farm, dropped our bounty at the car, and spent the next few hours doing EVERYTHING Great Country Farm had to offer. Ethan flew down every slide, Finn conquered every swing. We mined for gold. We saw animals. We tasted apple cider and had apple cider donuts thrust upon us and sipped apple cider slushies. There was a theme. The boys climbed into the car sticky and exhausted.

The weekend before this trip, we checked out the famous Skyline Drive. Not knowing what to expect, we headed west on a Saturday.

BlueRidgeMountains-skylinedrive

We noticed the hills getting taller, but really didn’t see an incline as we passed through the town of Front Royal, Virginia onto Skyline Drive. It wasn’t until we slipped through the dense forest to our first lookout that we really understood where the road had taken us.

BlueRidgeMountains-mountaingazing

“They really are blue mom!” exclaimed Ethan as he looked out over the countryside. Finn spent the day looking for volcanoes, his new obsession. (I’m staring straight down the path of a volcano-themed third birthday party people…he never stops talking about them. Anyone have a dry ice hook-up near Old Town Alexandria?)

We slowly took the road to Luray, Virginia and headed toward the Luray Caverns, which are supposed to be amazing and feature an organ made from stalagmites. I say “supposed to” because one look at the full parking lot and long lines had us turning the car right around. It was close to noon and apparently peak visiting time. So we opted for lunch in picturesque downtown Luray, popping into West Main Market for delicious sandwiches and potato salad, sitting on the patio in the perfect, breezy fall-like weather before heading home.

BlueRidgeMountains-sleepyFinn

We brought reinforcements (Finn’s blanket) to ensure naps on the ride back. Worked like a charm!

We headed up 340 highway to Front Royal to get back home since the Skyline Drive is a 35 mph max speed. I think next time—there will be at least one next time to see fall leaves—we’ll head down to Luray first, then take in the sights of Skyline. Or maybe just leave waaaaay early (like 7am). That way we’ll beat the crowds!

Next time we head out to the country, I commit to pulling over at every old barn for a picture, no matter how many cars are riding my tail. Driving through these winding roads is like being in a movie, the quaintness overwhelms.

This is just our first taste of exploring Virginia. We plan to visit Richmond, Williamsburg, Charlottesville, and more of Shenandoah State Park within the next few months. Even though we’re here for the foreseeable future, I have all this adventure energy built up in me from our four years away from the East Coast. No waiting around this time! I want to see it all.

It’s a good thing my kids have become flexible thrill-seekers ready for the next adventure…because I’m ready to take them everywhere.