I hate to share this post cos it features sunshine. And right now all of my family and friends back in Ireland are getting blitzed by “The Beast from the East”. “The Beast” being the biggest snowstorm to hit the country since 1982 apparently. Life right now is on hold as schools and businesses close, freeing up the general population to get out onto the snowy streets and fields and enjoy themselves some snow related activities. But based on a text from my Dad earlier today, not everyone views the situation and opportunity for some snow play in the same positive light. Back on our side of the pond we are seeing more repeat sunny days. Spring is definitely coming. The boys have just returned to school from their Winter break week, which honestly, with all of the snow days they had back in December and January, it felt like they’d already had a Winter break. But a week off it was and on one of those days we hit up one of their favorite museums, The Fernbank. For extra fun Cullen brought along his best friend Henry.

This guy, there to greet all the arriving visitors.

All 3 of these boys love dinosaurs.

Too nice to stay inside, off to the Woodland Trails.

Lots of these branched houses to explore.

Cullen, not sure this plant is the real deal. Turns out his suspicions were correct, it was in fact a fraud.

Trekking dinosaur footprints.

Both excited and terrified at the idea of actually coming across one of these extinct creatures.

Keane believes he’s found claw markings.

Always good to get to higher ground, easier surveillance.

3 little explorers.

Time for a rest.

Dinosaur hunt over. We head back for some playground fun.

Keane was constantly trying to make sure he kept himself in front of Cullen and Henry. He’s the oldest of the 3, so obviously all of the leading should be done by him.

Henry tried to be the first onto the rope bridge.

But Keane wasn’t having that.

A little jostling for position from the brothers.

Like little monkeys.

Trying to investigate a fake birds nest.

Got stuck and needed to be rescued by momma.

As you can tell, we don’t pay much attention to signage.

One of the reasons Cullen and Henry are besties? They’re both obsessed with sharks.

An original piece as performed by Keane.

Group shot to end a fun day.

On Our Bikes

February 25, 2018

Hooray for the sun. Its been so long, we missed you. Bye to the rain, for now. Taking full advantage we took ourselves off on a biking adventure. Well, they biked, I ran to keep up, all the time reminding an easily distracted 4 yr old (Cullen), in the early stages of learning to bike ride, to keep looking ahead and stop steering into the mud. I said it so often he just became immune to momma and her annoying white noise of instructions. So he continued with his own plan of constantly looking around, veering into the path of others and steering a course aimed directly towards the mud. As you can imagine, we were not very popular with the other more “serious” Armstrong’esque bikers on the trail. But did we care?? Not one bit.

Someone’s excited for his first bike ride.

Initial concentration was good.

But now we are all kinds of distracted.

Keane’s a big boy now, so he was busy doing his own biking thing. But he made sure to keep coming back to check on Cullen’s progress and give him lots of encouragement.

Taking on the hill.

Patiently waiting for us to catch up.

Dismounting for a bike break.

Pause to take in the view of the busy road below.

Checking for passing Armstrong’s.

Back on the bike, headed for home.

Cullen feeling really good about his first bike adventure. Keane feeling very mature giving Cullen lots of encouragement.

A Break In The Clouds

February 22, 2018

Praise the heavens for the clouds have parted and the rain has stopped. Hurry, grab the kids, grab the dogs and lets get outside before mother nature changes her mind. Funny enough, that very afternoon mother nature did change her mind, the rain reappeared but we didn’t care. For we were the smug early birds that got up and out and basked in the day’s limited hours of sunshine.

Delegating the dog walking duties. Also, let me take this opportunity to introduce you to our latest foster. That cute little beagle Cullen is walking, is Tinsel. We took Tinsel on as a foster the day after Christmas, hence the reason we gave her such a festive name. Tinsel was in bad shape, but in the 2 months she’s been with us, she has done amazing.

Good old Dexter. The sweetest dog EVER.

Not long before both leashes were handed back to me so these little boys could head off on their own adventure.

Be it a puddle, a stream, a lake or an ocean, theses boys are just incapable of walking past a body of water.

Keane taking his stick throwing game seriously. Perhaps some Highland Games in our future.

Snack break, always.

If its not water their splashing in, its rocks their climbing on.

I didn’t realize until I posted this photo that it looks like Cullen is taking a pee break, but he’s actually not.

No In Between

February 18, 2018

I know its a very Irish thing to talk about the weather, but jesus, the weather we’ve been having lately is so very Irish, it deserves to be talked about. If we’re not getting pounded and buried in snow, then we’re being flushed out with rain of monsoon portions. Theres just no in between right now. And rain or shine these boys always want to be outside. But being the responsible’ish mother that I am, I had the smarts enough to wait for a break in downpours before I let them out to soak themselves in muddy puddles.

Cullen and his beloved sea creatures.

The boisterous Keane.

Keane’s face upon realizing the ground is actually wet.

Happy 4th Birthday Cullen

February 13, 2018

There are officially no babies in the house. This past weekend Cullen crossed the threshold from toddler to small boy. Not really sure if a 3 year old is still technically a toddler, but it suited me, a mother who can’t fully grasp the notion of her kids growing up, to believe it was. I mean, 4 short years ago all there was was babies in the house. Now I have 2 little boys, with personalities and interests as different as different can be.

Since turning  4 a few days ago, Cullen wakes up every morning and asks, “am I still 4 momma?“. He has been wishing and talking about this day since before Christmas, and now, he can’t believe its finally happened. I can hardly believe it myself. Shortly before his birthday, Cullen ended his 2 year obsession with trucks. Literally over night trucks were replaced by sea creatures, sharks and anglerfish to be exact. Thats all we play with, thats all we read about. Our conversations revolve around ocean creatures, especially the predator kind, and our screen time favors heavily David Attenborough’s Blue Planet. His knowledge is deep and vocabulary on the topic is downright impressive. Outside of wrestling with his big brother, swim class, gymnastics and ice hockey are Cullen’s favorite activities. Having a big brother also meant that Cullen inherited a network of friends, now however, he has started making his own friends, separate from his brothers. His personality remains for the most part unchanged. He doesn’t trust easily, he’s stubborn and determined in what he wants, but more importantly, what he doesn’t want. As a mother I try to walk that fine line of encouraging him to try things outside of his comfort zone, without being pushy. He’s smart, cheeky and funny, although most of the things that make him laugh theses days involve talking about farts and poop. His favorite food is anything with cheese and chocolate. Since he was 5 months old Cullen has had a special sleep pillow, it comes everywhere, without it sleep cannot happen. Adjustment to school was challenging for Cullen. The whole idea of being anywhere without momma, was too hard to bare. These days however, he bounces out of the car, forgets to wave goodbye as he rushes to catch up to his friends. His zero eff’s approach to life is never more evident then when I pick him and Keane up from school. Keane stands at the pick up point, shoes on, laces tied, backpack in hand, jacket full zipped. Cullen on the other hand races to the gate just as I’m pulling up, shoes untied and usually on the wrong feet. Jacket is on but upside down. Yes, upside down, the hood bouncing off the back of his legs as he runs. On a good day he’s dragging his backpack with him, but most days he’s racing back into the classroom cos he forgot his backpack. The whole scene never fails to make me giggle. The list of things on all things Cullen is endless. But in the interest of wrapping things up, I’ll end it all right here by saying “Happy Birthday” to our youngest boy, Cullen. Life without you, unimaginable.

Every year I take photos of the boys on their birthday. This year it rained most of the day of his birthday, there was a short window of an hour or 2 late in the afternoon when the rain stopped. So we raced outside to grab these few shots.

A quick demonstration from Keane on the 4-finger pose.

A shark and anglerfish themed party for the birthday boy.

Cullen was very motivated to help set up the cake and cupcakes.

The reward for helping with the set up was a shared cupcake.

This year we decided to have Cullen’s party at The Husband’s gym. Which given the horrible rainy day, worked out perfectly. A bounce house and bounce slide for added fun.

Excited to see the bounce things have arrived.

Shoes off in readiness to test drive the bounce house.

Integrating the gym equipment to the party fun.

Inflation complete.

The friends have started to arrive. Now the fun really begins.

Time for food and cake. Cullen and his friend Christopher stop to admire the dessert table.

Candle time.

Refueled on pizza and sugar, its back to the action.

Enjoying some of his gifts.