Category Archives: uncle ben

Penguin Suit No. 2

I am giving an advance warning, this is a photo heavy post.  I am still working though the mounds of photos from this last trip, color correcting, cropping etc…  but if I don’t get a post up tonight it will be a while before I do.  What follows are some highlights of last week’s adventures in Chicago.  The kids and I headed out on Tuesday to spend some time with Yiayia and Papou before Kristin’s wedding.  Despite Irene doing her best to stop him, eric made it out on Saturday for the big wedding and by the skin of our teeth we made it back to PA on Sunday.  18 hours after eric got to Chicago he was back at home.  It was a crazy but wonderful week.
Wednesday we spent most of the day at the Aquarium.  The kids (and me truth be told) had a wonderful time.

We did everything, we saw the Dolphin show, the 4D Dora/Diego show, Jellyfish, everything!

We of course hit up the local water fountain park for some fun in the sun!

Complete with neighbors grandchildren to play with we had a s’mores party in the back yard.

Mette loved the outdoor painting area at the local children’s museum.

She was also the master of the check-out aisle at the grocery store.

The big day approaches so we did a little size checking in preparation for this…

Otto carried the Stefana (Greek wedding crowns) on a big silver platter with total seriousness and control!!

Mette rocked her same dress from Ben and Shannon’s wedding, I just dyed it light purple/pink.  She loved it and looked adorable!

Dare I say it, this is a really nice photo of eric and I!

Working hard on picking up all the flower petals.

Here is the beautiful bride (eric’s cousin) and her groom leaving the church.  Notice Mette’s nice first shot with the rice!  Photo credit: Uncle Ben

Here’s the whole gang.  Dee (eric’s step-mother), her sister and brother and all their respective children and in the case of Otto and Mette, grandchildren.

As soon as the band fired up the kids ran to the floor.  They had been begging to dance from the moment we got it there!  They can really cut it up.

All our dance parties at home have paid off!

Letting loose!

Newlyweds Ben and Shannon taking Mette for a spin.

Ben was quite the dance partner.

Mette danced and danced until she could go no further.  At once she stopped and asked to be picked up. She promptly fell asleep on my shoulder.  It was time to make our rounds saying thank you and head home.  A great night was had by all.

I have a bunch more photos to share but I know there are some of you out there waiting to see these so I thought I should get in gear!

On a side note, Otto starts Pre-K next week!!!!  How did that happen??


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Filed under aunt shannon, chicago, dancing, kristin, papou, uncle ben, wedding, yiayia

Gratuitous Cuteness

This post is of course for everyone, but especially my mom and Rachel who have been asking for pictures of the kids in the wedding.  I have axp. a million pictures but will spare you all the gory details.  Below are some of my favorites along with a few of the man and woman of the day.
The kids did amazing.  They followed direction, walked down the aisle and thanks to the beauty of iPhone’s and iPads they stayed quiet for the ceremony.  The rehearsal dinner, ceremony and reception were all beautiful and wonderful.  Mette got a quick power nap in from 6 -7 pm which allowed her to stay up for the fireworks at 10:30.  Yeah, that was awesome, 🙂  At 10 she was still wide awake with the babysitter and crying to go to the party and dance.  So Eric went down to relieve the babysitter and I took Mette upstairs to the party.  It was midnight until she went to sleep.  Despite that, she was up at 6:28 wanting to go back and dance.  
Despite all of that, we had a wonderful time.
Here they are getting ready to get on the bus to the rehearsal.  I made their matching outfits.  Mette has a new seersucker dress and Otto has fully lined, flat front seersucker pants.  Cuter than cute.

The best picture I managed to snap while getting them to walk down the aisle.  It was a great practice run.

Otto macking it up with eric’s cousin Kristin (he is in her wedding this August).  He would follow her to the ends of the earth.  On thursday we are going to watch one of her baseball games and have dinner at her mom’s house.  He is pretty excited.

Here is where it gets good.  Mette all dressed up with hair curled (yes, I braved all my fears and took a curling iron to her hair) and in her party dress.

Getting on his penguin suit.

I love this photo.  It would be better if there wasn’t a huge light over eric’s head, but in a small hotel room you have to take what you can get!

Biding time….

Hey, Mette, what is in your hair?

Rarely do I do the whole posed photo thing, but this seemed like a good chance.  That’s me rocking my new dress I made for the wedding.  More pictures to come later of the dress….

Serious discussions about how flower girls act in a wedding.

Because I had to “catch” the kids as they came down the aisle I had a hard time getting action shots of them in the church but I will get more soon.  Here is the best I have.

Trying to hard to be quiet.

The lucky man as his soon to be bride walked in the door.

Here she comes!

In between the ceremony and reception I took the kids up to the hotel room and got them a room service dinner.  We had a picnic W style with hotdogs, french fries and a veggie platter.

This is pretty much what the kids looked like during the cocktail hour.


As I sit here at the table posting this YiaYia is working on narrowing pictures down to 200 to fit in an album so to say there are more photos would be an understatement.  As the week goes on I will add more along with other shots of the kids and grandparents on our adventures this week.

Last night eric and I celebrated seven years of marriage with an AMAZING dinner at TRU complete with personalized menus (good job eric!) and possibly the best meal I have ever had.  More on that to come as well.


Filed under aunt shannon, chicago, dress, handmade, papou, uncle ben, wedding, yiayia

Treks and Trains and Trees, oh my

A few weeks ago I mentioned that if it worked out I would really like to take the kids to NYC to see the big tree, lights and hustle and bustle of Christmas time excitement. As I am sure you all know, NY can be really cold in the winter and the idea of freezing little children and an insane amount of gloves, mittens and hats to loose did not really appeal to me. So, we decided to watch the weather and if a good weekend came up, great, if not, it will all be there next year. Well this past Saturday the high was predicted at 40 degrees which sounded balmy considering the snow we had all week leading up to it. A quick check with Ben and Shannon confirmed they would be home that weekend so we could visit with them for a little pre-Christmas festivities and we were packing bags. I love a last minute get away, almost more than one you plan for months for. Eric had meetings until mid-afternoon on Friday but once he walked in the door we loaded up and hit the road.

Despite driving to Hoboken at dinner time we made it there in good time, perfectly timed in fact for the kids to run around like crazy banchies for an hour, open presents and then go to bed exhausted only an hour late. Works for me.
We weren’t quite sure where everyone would sleep at Ben and Shannon’s but neither of us felt like carrying a pack-n-play up three flights of stairs so we decided to wing it once we got there. It was decided that Mette and I would sleep in the spare room upstairs and Otto and eric would sleep on the couch downstairs that converts to a bed. That was great except Otto needed to go to bed before the adults were ready. No worries, we put Mette to bed first, then once she was settled we took up Otto who was by then pretty sleepy. When we were ready to go to bed we carried Otto down to the bed downstairs where he slept with eric. Both our kids now can be transferred with fairly high success rates once they are sleeping which is possibly the greatest thing in the world and something I was sure would never happen!!!
When we went up to get Otto I snuck a quick picture of them because it possibly the cutest thing you have ever seen. This is how they were sleeping after being in the bed for a few hours by themselves.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you about the extreme level of cuteness you just witnessed!!
On Saturday the plan was to bum around the apartment, eat and hang out for the morning then take the train into the city for the afternoon. Aunt Shannon watched Christmas videos with the kids which were a big hit. Gotta love YouTube.
There was much tickling involved for Otto and Uncle Ben over the course of the whole weekend.
Being as it was a warm and lovely December day in NYC we were not the only ones who had the idea to go downtown. It was PACKED!!! But since we don’t usually have to deal with crowds (or ever) here is the ‘burg, it was a nice change of pace. For a little bit at least. Thanks to our kind hosts we even managed to get some pictures with all four of us. I think this one is even cute!
The tree was a big hit. We managed to get right up to the base.
Which was no small feat let me tell you.
Uncle Ben and Aunt Shannon braved the crowds and took Otto to see the skaters.
See the LEGO display in the background, yeah, so did Otto. We worked hard on convincing him that store was not open right now.

Our kind hosts!

I love this picture that Shannon took!

Both Mette and Otto took turns falling asleep in the stroller. Otto slept through stairs, crowds and lunch. Don’t you wish you could do that?

Again, adorable.

The Faden Boys.

Back at the ranch that evening, Mette decided to make herself at home. We have been telling Ben and Shannon funny stories of Mette and her undressing skills but nothing beats the real deal. Mid sentence she stopped and started this….
What comes next?? Why running around in circles of course.

On Sunday we said goodbye to Uncle Ben and Shannon and drove into the city in pouring rain. Our goal, the Natural History Museum and it’s underground parking facility. The museum was a HUGE hit with both kids. How could it not be? That has to be one of the greatest museums ever. The gift shop was also a winner. Otto who is really into space right now found this and I had to get a picture.
I saw many a potential birthday present there.

We did a tour of the dinosaurs and then headed down to the African Animals. Mette went crazy here. She was running from one diorama to the next. It was very exciting.

Taking kids to museums like this is so much fun. Everywhere you go there are amazing things to see and for weeks there are new topics to explore at home. We bought a membership and plan on many more trips.
They had a live butterfly exhibit which was really cool. There was a nice hot and humid room full of plants and amazingly beautiful butterflies everywhere you looked. Some even were landing on people’s clothes.
Otto holding out his finger in the hopes that a butterfly thinks it is a good resting spot.

“there’s one”

It was a great weekend. It was wonderful to have a mini-Christmas with Ben and Shannon and it was refreshing to just pick up and go somewhere without having to bring our entire house with us. If we didn’t need a million jackets and sweaters we really would have been packing light. There is hope, we will be able to go and do more and more stuff. They go to sleep at other people’s houses and they can hack long days of exciting adventures.

The holiday excitement continues to grow here. There are fewer and fewer doors to open on the advent calendar and I think Otto really understands how exciting is. I can be a bit of a scrooge over Christmas I realize, but this year is going to be awesome. Let’s just hope we don’t get a stomach bug like last year!!!


Filed under aunt shannon, christmas, mette, natural history museum, new york, otto, uncle ben

Uncle Benny and Aunt Shannon

Last weekend we had a wonderul, and long overdue visit from Uncle Ben and Aunt Shannon. The kids were so excited to see them!! They arrived at lunch time on Saturday and it is quite the testament to how much they ran around being chased and thrown in the air by Ben and Shannon that they took naps at all on Saturday. But nap they did, and when they woke up, Shannon was there to snuggle with them.

One of Otto’s favorite (and I think eric’s) parts about Ben visiting is waking him up in the morning. He gets to go into the guest room and crawl all over a sleepy Ben. Even though Sunday was the first day of daylight saving time Otto was nice and waited until 7:15 before waking him up 🙂
Sunday was a brisk fall day but we headed to the park anyway. Mette was showing off her train skills.

“All ABOARD!!”

I love the colors in this. It was a good choice of jacket I must say!

Otto spent most of the time at the park swinging. Some things never change.

Before they headed home on Sunday night I was determined to get some good photos of then with the kids. Otto of course only came as the STIG. It is next to impossible to get a family photo from these kids at the end of the day, but a few out of the hundred I took look pretty cute.
There is something about this one that I find very charming.
It IS impossible to get a photo of the four of us, when you try to do it after a photo shoot with Ben and Shannon. This is the only one I am willing to share.
It was a great weekend and something we have to try harder to do more often. I would really like to get the kids into NY to see all the Christmas lights this year if the weather is good for a weekend. Hopefully we can meet up with them for that!

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Filed under aunt shannon, ferrari outfit otto, otto, otto and mette, otto ferrari suit, uncle ben

Where were we?

Sometimes I worry that this blog will look like a visual version of a playgroup conversation. For those of you not familiar with “conversations” that take place when there are upwards of 10 small children ranging in age from one year to 4 where everyone is talking at the same time and disagreements can end in hitting are biting so they must be monitored very closely, let’s just say that many ideas are started never to be finished. Every Wednesday once I feed and get the children to bed after playgroup I sit and think about all the things I started to say to someone only to be interrupted along with all the what sounded like they would have been interesting stories I heard fragments of but never really got the whole thing. It is the same with the blog, in the evening when my mind is finally free to wander I find myself writing long posts with funny interludes and great stories. The problem is I am usually in the shower or already in the bed, no where that I could actually capture the thoughts and but them in a safe place for a later post. I need a voice recorder for my inner thoughts. Can someone invent that for me? Thanks.

There are a lot of things to catch you up on so forgive me if this is a hodgepodge list of accomplishments and stories.
Where to start…. how about swimming lessons? Otto has been taking swimming lessons every morning, this is his second week. He goes with eric which is a nice special time they get to spend together just the two of them. We were hesitant to sign him up for classes because he gets very overwhelmed in group settings and I was fearful of him getting scared of the water because he was scared of the class. Then we went to a pool party at a friends house and he was terrified of the water. That sealed the deal, he was going to be scared with or without the classes so I thought we better try. Learning to swim is something that i think you HAVE to do. The thought of an older kid who can’t swim scares me a bit. Plus, I am like a fish in the water and I am really looking forward to having many a long summer day with the kids at the pool and in order for that to happen they need to learn how to swim. I fully thought that Otto wouldn’t go near the pool and would be terrified in the class but he has surprised us and is doing great!! All of the other kids in the class have taken the class before which I actually think is good because he gets a chance to see the other kids doing stuff without being scared. Each class he is more and more brave but the best part is he loves swim class. He is excited to go everyday and tells me “it was GREAT” everyday when he gets home. Eric is pretty sure that if enough treats were offered he would swim underwater across the whole pool. I am fine with him being motivated by a piece of candy at the end of class from the teacher if it means that he pushes his boundaries and tries new things. After this week he has a week off then we will starts two more weeks of class to finish off the summer. I think that we will try a program over the winter as well to keep the momentum going. Perhaps Mette will try some too. Something tells me she would LOVE swim class!
In more Otto news, he a had a complete allergy testing done a few weeks ago. We needed to check his peanut levels so he had an appointment with the allergist but I also wanted to get him tested for seasonal allergies because he seemed to be very sniffly lately. There is a lot of talk that SPD can be caused by allergies or at least aggravated by them so I wanted to get any allergies he might have in check. Eric is allergic to quite a bit so it would stand to reason that Otto may be as well. He tested positive to dust mites, trees, grass, cats, cockroaches and ragweed. The allergist said as long as we keep the cats out of his room (which we have always done) that it shouldn’t be a problem. He asked what Otto’s reaction to the cats was, which is nothing unless he actually lays on them, then he wants to rub off the cat hair. He doesn’t get a rash, he doesn’t itch, he eyes don’t burn or run and his nose doesn’t run. So for now the cats are staying, but if his allergies become worse we will have to think about new homes for them. I am going to ignore that for now, good old Storb repression at it’s finest! The dust mites we can and have done something about. I have been washing ALL of his bedding down to his new allergy protective mattress and pillow protectors, along with Mette’s in hot water and running them through the dryer, normally I would line dry them. This includes blankies, alligator and mun-key which requires quite a bit of planning on my part. I order an all natural laundry additive so I won’t have to use hat water or the dryer which will be nice. I am all for killing dust mites, but the environmental impact of all that hot water and dryer time is a bit much. I also ordered a earth friendly, plant based spray for the furniture and rugs to use between steam cleaning that should kill dust mites as well as neutralize pet dander. Uncle Ben, all of this should be good for you too! 🙂 Just in case you were thinking you would google dust mites to learn a little bit more about them, I would like to stop you. Take a minute and think about how prepared you are to change how you look at everything in your house that is made of fabric. You also need to think about how you feel with bugs crawling on you all the time. If only someone had warned me before I started googling. There really should be a page that blocks you from learning too much about something that is totally going to freak you out. Needless to say, Otto’s bed is not the only one that is getting the FULL weekly cleaning. And I should add, I always changed the sheets every week, but I do so much more now. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Right now, while the grass allergies are high we are giving him children’s Zyrtek in the morning. It works great and makes a big difference. The allergist said when ragweed hits we might need something stronger but we will cross that bridge when we get to it. He also thinks that Otto may be growing out of his peanut allergy which 10-20% of kids do. That would be AWESOME!!! He is going to do a blood profile in 6 months to see if his levels are going down. We know now that small amounts of peanut don’t cause immediate anaphylaxis shock which is great, but the less I have to worry when sending him out in world, the better.
Speaking of sending him out into the real world, he starts preschool this fall! I can’t believe it. The week after Labor Day he will be going every Tuesday and Thursday morning. I don’t know what I will do with myself.
And now Mette. Mette, Mette, Mette my darling. First, she is scheduled for her plastic surgery to remove the cyst above her eye on the 3rd of August. We had the pre-op last week and she has been cleared for take off. We have to be there at 6 in the morning so my mom is coming the night before to hang out with Otto while we are at the hospital. It should be a very simple procedure and we should be home by lunch. There is a chance that she will have a black eye with some swelling for a while but other than that she will be the same. Let’s hope all of that goes well.
Mette is an adorable little stinker. She throws a temper tantrum complete with throwing herself on the floor screaming, tears, holding out her hand and yelling stop, the works, when you kindly remind her not to eat books. It is a bit intense here these days. I keep telling myself that it is just a phase and it won’t last forever, but WOW, she is a drama queen! She is also insanely charming and sweet so that helps her last through the day. She is in a big mommy phase and me leaving the room and/or other people looking at her is often enough to send her over the edge. In her defense she has cut three molars in the last two weeks and there may be more teeth coming but I am too scared to stick my fingers in there to be sure. These teeth are ones she has been working on, no lie, since last Christmas. It has been a long road. The past few weeks there have been many tears, some fevers and diarrhea but I think they are finally cutting through and not going back up, I hope.
The other news from Metteville is the potty. I am hesitant to write about it, but here it goes. I am also fully aware and fine with the fact that this may turn into nothing. For a while now she has been interested in sitting on the potty and she has pooped once or twice on the potty and there has been the occasional pee but really most of the time she sits there for one millisecond and pops up and announces “done!”. But as of last evening and this morning she has been peeing an pooping on the potty with only two small mistakes. I have just had her in a t-shirt and nothing else around the house to make it easier. A couple of the times she has said potty and ran over and peed. Often I ask her if she needs to go and when she sits on the potty she pees. She thinks it is very exciting. With Otto, he was 2 1/2 which was very early for a boy, but he still got it in a weekend. With Mette only being 17 months old I am sure that I will have to ask her about 100 times a day if she needs to go potty for it to take and it still may not. But regardless, I haven’t changed a stinky diaper in a while so that rocks!
As for me. I am doing well. A bit on the tired side, but who isn’t really. It has been crazy hot which I hate. It is cooler today but really anything above 75 I am not too fond of. I am already dreaming of fall. I have been working of a few small projects but mainly just trying to keep up with laundry and cleaning. It seems like a never ending quest.
So that’s the news from our side of town, how are you?


Filed under doctor appointment, list of skills, memories, mette, mette milestones, mette teething, otto, otto doctor, otto spd, phoebe rant, preschool, uncle ben

The Party

The main reason for us traveling to Chicago this weekend, besides visiting family, was to celebrate uncle Ben’s engagement to Shannon. Yiayia and Papou held a wonderful party in their back yard for the occasion. It was quite a beautiful night. As an engagement gift to the couple I made the a banner to hang at the party and future events should they desire. Tentative colors for the wedding are navy and lime green with a hint of pink.

The happy couple on the left, Eric Mette and I on the right.

Mette in her party dress, thank you Nonna Jen!

Eric, Otto, Dee (yiayia), me, Mette, Rogers (papou)
Ben, Shannon

The whole Greek clan.

Summer parties are magical.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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Filed under aunt shannon, chicago, handmade, otto and mette, travel, uncle ben, vacation


After nap time we hit the cupcake store to get some sugar to burn off at the park. Yum!

Are you surprised my kids found the water?

The ever brave and fun aunt Shannon.

A very happy boy contemplating his next move.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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Filed under aunt shannon, otto, travel, uncle ben