Happy Birthday, Gavin!

I can’t believe Gavin is 2 already!  He’s such a sweet little guy with the most amazing giggles and guffawing laughs that you’ve ever heard.  “Goovin,” as Marcus has taken to calling him today, is quite thrilled to be 2.  When asked, “How old are you, Gavin?”, he responds with a very enthusiastic “I’m TWO!”, complete with a big grin and, if you’re lucky, a happy dance.  He loves to snuggle and be tickled.  He’s turned into quite the monkey, climbing and jumping on (and off) things with abandon.  He’s also very mischievous and gets into all sorts of antics with his big brother.  My dad actually said Gavin looked mischievous when he saw a picture of him . . . in my womb (it was one of those crazy 3D ultrasound images).  See that impish monkey face up there?  He apparently was baked that way.

Anyway, our celebration today was pretty low key as Adam was out of town.  Breakfast was eggs (soft-boiled “gooey eggs” for Gavin and hard-boiled for Marcus), bacon, pumpkin bread, and fruit smoothies.  We went out for lunch at a local NY-style pizza joint that turned out to be pretty decent.  Marcus had the standard pepperoni and Gavin asked for plain cheese.  Gav ended up ditching his cheese slice and eating my entire “Brooklyn” slice, which was pepperoni, meatball slices, onions, mushrooms.  Who’d a thought?  Then we popped over to a new cupcakery for some birthday cupcakes – vanilla with chocolate icing for Gavin, red velvet for Marcus, and lavender lemon for me.  The place is pretty fancy and there were all sorts of people just sitting about quietly enjoying their coffees and cupcakes.  The boys were quiet too as they made quick work of their desserts.  But then Marcus, out of the blue, says loudly (I think he only has one volume when he speaks), “I really have to poop.”  Before I could stop myself, I asked reflexively, “What?”  And he replied, “There’s a soft poop that wants to come out now, mama.”  Mmmm . . . enjoy your coffee and cupcakes, folks.

Dinner was a quiet affair too.  I made butter chicken with steamed broccoli dressed with a little butter and salt.  For some reason, the kids didn’t like the chicken that much (Gavin refused to eat it at all), even though they’ve had and enjoyed this particular dish and other similar ones in the past.  Even more strange  . . . they actually ate, enjoyed, and practically fought over the broccoli.  I was so confused.  But happy!

Here are some recent photos of the birthday boy.

Making a silly face while eating lunch.

Enjoying a book - love the crossed legs and exposed belly.

On a walk with Mommy.

"I sit on Elmo?" Indeed.

Biting into his birthday cupcake today.

Mighty pleased.



New Year Wishes

A favorite Tết custom of Vietnamese children all over is the giving of lì xì (lucky red envelopes containing money).  I have fond memories of giving my elder relatives and family friends traditional Tết greetings and then receiving lì xì in return.  I feel like a bit of a slacker parent on Vietnamese traditions as we’ve never really done this with Marcus.  Part of the difficulty is that we don’t live close to my family and have only been able to celebrate Tết with them in NC once (when Marcus was too young to remember).  Well, we finally got with the program.

Last weekend, we went with my friend D and her family to a local Tết festival.  The boys got dressed up in their finery and got to eat different Vietnamese foods, mill about with hundreds of Vietnamese people hawking various foods and wares, and watch some music performances and dragon dancing.  Marcus loves xôi (sticky rice), but Gavin wouldn’t try it.  Both boys loved the múa lân (dragon dance). Marcus and Gavin were coming down with colds, so they weren’t in the best of moods and we didn’t end up staying very long.  Some pics from the festival:

Truth be told, I think the festival was a little loud and overwhelming for the boys.  They were a lot happier once we got back home.

Yesterday we called my parents (out visiting our family in CA) so that the boys could wish them and our family a happy new year.  Marcus’ kept saying “Happy chúc mừng năm mới!” (which technically is “happy happy new year”) and Gavin was a total phone hog, grabbing the phone constantly and garbling out some crazy syllables that ended with “măm mới” (which technically, I think, is “new tray” or something like that).  Ha!

Then we got to the lì xì.  I had explained to Marcus that he would be getting the little red envelope of money after giving me and his dad some wishes for a happy new year just like in his Ten Mice for Tet book.  Now common wishes for Tết include things like long life, health, happiness, security, prosperity, success, etc.

Me:  Ok, Marcus.  What do you want to wish Mommy and Daddy for the New Year?

Marcus:  Uh, a rice cake.

Me (pause):  Thanks, honey.  Is there anything else you’d like to wish us for the New Year?

Marcus:  Um . . . I don’t know.

Me:  Well, what do you think Mommy and Daddy would want if we could have anything in the whole wide world?

Marcus (without hesitation): A COPY MACHINE!

I thought this was particularly hilarious.  I only found out later that he actually had said “a coffee machine!”  So while not as funny as I’d originally thought, Marcus is pretty darn observant.  At least where his daddy and coffee/espresso machines are concerned.

Chúc mừng năm mới!

Happy New Year!  Best wishes to you for a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year!

Here are some photos of the boys that we took a couple of weeks ago.  Ok, let me rephrase.  Here are a lot of photos of the boys that we took a couple of weeks ago.  I can’t help myself.  I love them all.

This is the shot we used for our New Year card. My mom says it looks like Gavin is asking for "li xi" (the traditional gift of money in a red envelope).

Doing a little dance.

Marcus gets into it.

Getting in synch

Gavin's best snooty face.

A little chilly?

Gavin looking quite mischievous.


My dad bought this blue coat in China years ago - while I was still in high school - and kept it for a future grandchild. Marcus wore it first, and now it's Gavin's.

He makes such funny faces.

Playing on our neighbors' trampoline.

Happy New Year!

We got back from Christmas Part III this afternoon and had a little time to rest and start unpacking before our friends came over for our little New Year’s Eve get together.  My friends, D and S, and I were all pregnant with our first boys together.  S gave birth to G towards the end of September 2007, I was two weeks late and gave birth to Marcus at the beginning of November, and then D was early and gave birth to E nine days later.  So our boys have grown up together and are pretty good buddies.  Fast forward a few years and we’re all preggers again.  This time I was first with Gavin in April 2010, D followed with her daughter J 12 days later, and then S brought up the rear with her daughter V in June (S was a little delayed on the baby bandwagon, perhaps because she went and moved to NYC).

Anyway, I was a little nervous as we’ve never hosted this large a group before — two families of four — and everyone was staying overnight.  But things worked out great!  The kids played together really well with a minimum of adult intervention, the adults were able to talk, and we were able to coordinate simultaneous bath times and get the kids to bed without too much difficulty. Marcus camped out in Gavin’s room on a toddler-sized blow-up mattress, E slept in Marcus’ bed with J in a pack ‘n play in the same room, and G and V were in the basement bedroom with another pack ‘n play and blow up mattress.  Then we adults vegged out on the couch, enjoyed some wine, and worked really hard to stay awake until the countdown.  We didn’t last much longer than that. 😉

Kid heaven: dinner of hot dogs and mac 'n cheese followed by D's chocolate pie (made with avocados!). L-to-R: G, E, Marcus

Gavin and J also enjoyed the pie.

After their dinner, we parked the kids in front of the Curious George movie so that we could eat (take-out Indian!). L-to-R: J, Gavin, E, G, Marcus (looking a little freaked out).

V joins the couch party.

The next morning, D and her family headed out after a delicious breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausage handmade by D and her husband, bacon, overnight baked french toast, and fruit.  S and her family stayed for lunch before heading out.

G and Marcus deep in conversation. (They were really cracking each other up.)


V and Gavin companionably eating together. At one point they clinked their cups together and V said, "Cheers!" So cute.

So now the last of our holiday festivities are over.  With all of our travel and whatnot, this was not the most restful holiday for us, but it certainly was fun!

Christmas, Part III

We had another little Christmas celebration at my parents’ house in NC.  Lots of fun and good food.  Some photo highlights:


Adam and Gavin making headway into the pile.

Marcus rooting around for more gifts to open.

My brother V looking like a monk in his new slanket.

Snuggling with Dad (with the infamous Mia who got punted).

Gavin wanted in on the action but didn't really want to share his Daddy.

Marcus playing with his new Mater alarm clock radio from his Uncle B.

One very excited little fella.

Rated PG

Some hilariously cute photos from bath time earlier this week.

Marcus' "angel face" (Gavin is skeptical)

No idea. Unicorn impression?

I can't get enough of these two. xoxo

Christmas, Part I

We’re having Christmas three times over this year!

For Christmas Part I, we traveled up to see Adam’s parents in the Cape.  The travel itself was ok overall.  Marcus was a total sweetheart, but Gavin was another story.  He’s developed a horrendous, piercing scream that he employs with way too much regularity and for no apparent purpose.  It’s not so bad when he does it at home, but it’s unbearable when you’re locked up in the car with him and downright embarrassing (and alarming) when he’s doing it on the plane.  Anyway, we made it to the Cape fine and in one piece.

The boys had a ton of fun this year with their Grammy and Grampa, their Auntie B and Uncle M, and of course their favorite cousin, A.  Gavin in particular was enamored with A.  He loves attention and playing with other kids.  Marcus rarely gives him the time of day, so he was tickled pink when A played with him.  So cute!

This was also the first time we bunked the boys together in the same room.  Gavin was in a crib, and Marcus was next to him in a twin bed with guardrails.  We were worried that they wouldn’t sleep, especially since Gavin is teething and he’s been fussy lately at night.  But things worked out.  We would get the boys ready for bed, then Marcus would climb in and I’d sit on the bed with Gavin.  I’d sing them ‘The Eskimo Song’ (a.k.a. Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…), or as Gavin calls it, “Eh-mos,” three times following by ‘White Christmas’ (“Wit-mit”) three times.  Then I’d pop Gavin into the crib, instructed Marcus what to do if Gavin cried, left, closed the door, held my breath, and hoped.

[Gavin starts crying.]

Marcus: It’s ok, Gavin.  Don’t cry.  I’m here.  It’s ok.

[Apparently unconvinced, Gavin continues crying.]

Marcus: You want me to sing?

Gavin: Sing?  Sing.

Marcus (a bit off key): Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way. [Pause.] Sorry, Gavin.  I don’t know the rest of the words.

Gavin cried at first every night, and Marcus sang to him every night.  Adorable!  Makes me think we should bunk them together for a little while.

Anyway, some pictures:

'Twas the night before Christmas...

My in-laws always do such an amazing job with the Christmas decorations. The tree was amazing!

Stockings on Christmas morning

Eating a hearty breakfast to sustain him through The Unwrapping.

One of my favorite presents

All cleaned up after presents and naps. With much cajoling and promises of cookies, we tried to get photos of the kids in their Christmas outfits. I like how they each are looking in a different direction. Classic.

Handsome little fellas, aren't they?

Enjoying the promised cookies

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