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Snakes & Cake — Finn Turns Four!

2018 November 6
by Becky

Finn turned four! And it warrants a blog post—I know it’s shocking since I haven’t even though about this blog for over a month. But when my kid has a birthday AND holds a gigantic snake, it’s got to be broadcast to the world.

What does Finn love at age four? Well apparently snakes! But he’s also pretty obsessed with becoming a Beastmaster (see Netflix) or Ninja Warrior and scaling/jumping off of/running around/launching over any and all things. He’s a physical kid. On his birthday he did the big kid monkey bars all by himself for the first time. He’s extremely stubborn but also very sweet and holds my hand everywhere we go. He loves showing off his knowledge of letters and numbers, is interested in adding and subtracting, and is a leader in his class at school. He’s become quite the friend, so interested in playing and spending time with the kids from the playground, school, and neighborhood.

So it’s with these little buddies that we celebrated Finn’s birthday, inviting them over for “Snakes and Cake” last weekend.

We borrowed that snake costume from a friend as soon as Finn made his final theme choice. We Reptiles Alive to put on a reptile show at our house…that’s right, we invited a dude with giant lizards and snakes into our house. And it was awesome! Finn was center stage, helping pass serpents around for his friends to pet.

But it wasn’t all slithery entertainment! The kids created obstacle courses in the living room with giant stuffed snakes and a springy snake craft using paper plates and googly eyes. Fun stuff!

And of course Finn has to share his current favorite book, The Snake Who Said Shhhh. He announced to the room that he was going to read the book to everyone—no one stopped jumping over snakes or coloring—and proceeded to “read” the whole book aloud. I enjoyed it!

And of course there was cake, Snake Cake to be exact. I’m sure you can guess how much I loved making this year’s masterpiece!

We took inspiration from the web of course, I googled “Snake Cake”, which resulted in limited images, and let Finn choose his favorite one. To my delight, he skipped right past the realistic ones covered in fondant and paint to pick one covered in M&Ms. It took three and half cakes baked in a rounded bundt pan to make this shape, a vat of green tinted Italian meringue buttercream, two large bags of m&ms, and a fruit leather to create this delicious creation.

Since the snakes weren’t available on Finn’s actual birthday, we celebrated twice. Once on the day and once a week later. What did he want for birthday dinner? Sushi of course. Just like his big brother. We headed to Momo’s and let him indulge (pretty great for the rest of us too!). Momo’s helped us celebrate with candles in green tea ice cream.

And while I’d like to say things like “time flies” and “I can’t believe it”, these are lies, because it feels like he’s been four for about a six months. His abilities and conversations defy his age. Second kids grow up so much faster.

It was a sssssssensational birthday week for our littlest guy!

Our Week in the Outer Banks

2018 September 2
by Becky

Outer Banks - Wave jumping

After years of saying we would, we finally made it to the Outer Banks of North Carolina!

Summers in Old Town are busy with tourists but void of residents as they all flock to places like Ocean City, NJ; Virginia Beach and Rehoboth Beach in Virginia; and then all the little towns in the Outer Banks like Duck, Corolla, Kitty Hawk…it’s a ghost town. Getting together with friends was almost impossible as we all had different schedules and traveling at different times.

When we found ourselves here alone last August, we decided we’d plan an Outer Banks trip for THIS August and it’s a good thing we planned it early because the rental houses go fast. After hours of researching and looking at every available place in our budget that had a) a small swimming pool, b) a hot tub, and c) was right on the water, we picked one and kind of forgot about it.

Nine months later here we are! We did it! We made the 4-5 hour drive here to Duck, NC, this unbelievably quaint little area and loved every minute. The weather was fantastic, ocean had the perfect size waves for us to jump through, and the beach was pristine. Our pool came in very handy too, as Finn learned how to swim that week! A couple days before he said, “I don’t want to use my floaties any more” and boom, he never put them on again. Just shy of four years old.

The house was huge and weather-worn from sea salt air, but nice and cozy and just right for relaxing, lazy days spent in our swimming suits. We had a our bikes to ride the short distance to the little shopping area of Duck where we got ice cream, walked the boardwalk, and inspected all the trinkets in the shops. There was even a kids night with a DJ who held a dance contest that both our boys participated in—it was awesome. Watching the sky each night was a show in itself, so we did it from the boardwalk or from the beach or from the little balcony off the kitchen while eating dinner.

We took a 20 minute drive down to Kitty Hawk to check out the First Flight memorial and wow am I glad we did. It was fantastic! We learned so much about the Write Brothers and their incredible commitment to learning the science behind human flight. Extra special was the kite checkout booth where we grabbed a kite and flew it above the field that saw over 1000 test flights of the Wright Brother’s glider creations. It was downright magical.

Another morning, while Stu had to do some work, I took the boys 20 minutes North to Corolla to see the historic lighthouse and check out the very tiny town. The boys made the climb up to the top and one of them joined me in the walk around the balcony…the other stayed just inside the door. It was pretty high! We had fun driving through all the different types of rental house neighborhoods, some where enormous! But in the end we liked Duck the best. I did want to check out the 4×4 beaches north of Corolla but was scared of getting stuck…even with our SUV I wasn’t so sure about airing down my tires and giving sand-driving a try. So we skipped it.

The favorite evening activity had to be Ghost Crab hunting, which is a pretty huge thing in the OBX. You head out at dusk or dark, armed with flashlights and buckets and nets, to find tons of sandy-colored crabs coming out of their hidey-holes and running along the beach. The boys thought it was amazing and spent lots of sunny beach time finding baby crabs who didn’t know about staying hidden.

The boys were in water 80% of our days, be it hot tub, pool, or ocean. My favorite activity was floating on a raft in the pool reading my ziplocked Kindle, I flew through A Little Stranger and right into Crazy Rich Asians…both awesome reads. In the evenings we usually made dinner on the grill, a couple times heading into town to check out the restaurant offerings. Coastal Cravings wasn’t bad and, though we really aren’t a donut family, the kids loved their early morning trip to Duck Donuts. After seeing the insanely long lines there the day before we figured it must be something worth checking out. (The ordering process is cool but really, they are just donuts) The best meals were the ones on our deck.

 

We loved this trip so much we almost booked it again right then and there, but decided to wait a bit. The best part of the trip was how rested we felt coming home, which isn’t the norm—usually we feel like we need another vacation after our vacations! And it was so nice to just pack everything up in the car like groceries, beach gear, puzzles, toys, the works.

This trip will be repeated for sure! Have you been to this area? What did we miss? Where do you stay? We’re already planning for next year.