Alexandria’s Saint Patrick’s Day Parade

Even though St. Patrick’s Day is about two weeks away, we got the month started off in full holiday mode by going to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Alexandria, VA this weekend (as some of you may have seen on our Instagram feed).

We went as part of a quick overnight trip to see some of our family that lives in Northern Virginia (about 2 hours away). You can see them all the photo below, starting from left, my little sister Carrie, her boyfriend Robert, Sherry, some guy we don’t know in the background, my cousin Travis (holding almost-2-year-old Edison) and his wife / Sherry’s BFF Cat (who is sporting a “Kiss Me I’m Iowish” shirt to show off her Iowa pride). Oh yeah, and that’s Clara and Elsa (Travis & Cat’s 3 year old) in the strollers.

As you can tell by how everyone’s dressed – particularly Carrie – it was FREEZING. The forecast was originally for somewhere near 50 degrees, but instead was in the mid-30s. We thought the temperature might make the outing miserable – especially with three toddlers. But, surprise, they seemed oblivious to the weather (yanking off their gloves every chance they got) and everyone had a great time. Phew!

Clara must take after her Grammy, who could be happy watching parades (or fireworks) all day every day.

Since we were in the historic part of Alexandria (Old Town) there of course had to be some old school marchers (complete with fifes).

We ended up finding a spot on the parade route after hitting up a very cool toy store called Why Not? (see my bag below) – which gave us the chance to encounter this dog character who Clara absolutely adored (just check out that smile). She was convinced it was Snoofy (that’s her version of Snoopy) and totally leaned in with a giant grin.

And these sweet Irish dancers got us all into the Irish spirit (my mom’s maiden name is Kelley after all). You should have seen Clara’s face as they danced by. She was mesmerized.

I’m not sure these Kena Shriner cars are Irish, but I’m not one to complain whenever they show up in a parade. They’re always a crowd pleaser – along with the free lolly pops that banks or credit unions hand out as they parade by (Clara screams “thank you lady!” or “thank you man!” whenever she gets offered one).

And of course, there was an appearance from the fabled St. Patrick’s Day Unicorn who’s believed to show up at your doorsteps in the night so that the leprechaun on his back can deliver chocolate gold coins to the good little boys and girls inside. Okay, I totally made that up. I think this was just a local restaurant’s attempt to be festive. But I think the St. Patrick’s Unicorn should become a thing.

We didn’t quite survive the temperatures all the way to the end of the parade. The kids were doing fine, but us adults were starting to loose feeling in our hands and feet since we didn’t get to be snuggled under blankets. We felt terrible ripping the girls away from the fun, but luckily we still got to watch a bit more as we the made the long (and toe-numbing) walk back to where he had parked.

How hilarious is Elsa in that pic above? She’d doing the classic toddler expression of “You told me to smile. Am I doing it right?This is a smile, right?”

Happy early St. Patrick’s day folks!

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A Merry Nonna Christmas

Since spending Christmas at home in Virginia means we usually miss out on celebrating with my family up in New York and New Jersey (we do Thanksgiving with them since traffic around Christmas is even worse when it comes to driving up there), we had a special pre-Christmas visit from someone… my mom! Aka Nonna.

She stayed for about four days of the week before Christmas (yikes, these photos are late!) and among other adventures during her stay, we took her to see the GardenFest of Lights at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens here in Richmond. Since John’s parents (and Clara) enjoyed it last year, we knew it was bound to be a hit with my mom.

Clara’s favorite lights of the night were the ones that created a giant dragon at the entryway to one of the walkways. She was a little too excited to stroll right into it’s jaws, though. Where’s that self-preservation instinct?

My mom and I agreed that our favorites were these glowing orbs. The photo isn’t quite as enchanting as they were in real life, but both of us kind of wanted to sneak one out under our coats. That’s one way to start a prego rumor… haha!

Although we didn’t go home with any of those, Clara did take home one illuminated accessory: a light-up sword that kept her entertained after the decorative lights outside started to lose their toddler appeal. Let’s call it our lifesaver lightsaber.

Since Nonna had to head back home before the 25th, we also did a little early Christmas celebration with her. Clara got to unwrap a few fun presents like this wooden doctor kit (#3 on our kiddo gift guide this year). It was a strategic gift to help Clara feel more comfortable going to the doctor (she loves talking about it and pretending to check out her stuffed animals, but actually going used to make her cry). Since she had a regular old check up the next day  – which my mom also got to join us for – we thought it might make our infrequent visits more bearable. (Jackpot, it helped).

Nonna didn’t forget about her fur-grandchild either. Just check out that tail wag! Don’t mind my crazy face. I’m obsessed with my fur kid.

Nonna’s also got Jingle (the dog from Hallmark that barks along with a story as you read it) which Clara is still quite obsessed with. Not necessary for its magical story-barking abilities, but just because she’s obsessed with stuffed animals. She even brought Jingle to Target and sat him in one of the kid-potties in the toddler aisle and screamed “Mommy, Jingle’s Pooping!” loud enough for everyone in a five aisle radius to hear. #thatreallyhappened

Nonna also got Clara her first set of Lego’s. She wanted to find something to go with the doctor kit theme, but none of the bigger toddler-sized Lego’s worked, so we got a regular Lego ambulance. The pieces were too small for Clara to work without a certain Lego-loving husband of mine’s help, but he was in heaven while assembling it. Basically that was John’s favorite ten minutes ever.

And once it was all assembled, Clara was completely in love too.

So glad my mom was able to come down and hang with us before the real Christmas insanity began just a few short days later. Thanks momma! Clara just looked over my shoulder as I was editing this post and asked when you were coming back. Aww. We love us some Nonna time…

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