Category Archives: Family

Oliver plays “Favorite Things” on his new guitar

First, I know that I haven’t blogged in ages. Please forgive me. I’ve been busy in every facet of life – never busier, in fact.

But I had to post this. It’s pretty amazing. My sister and her husband got Oliver a guitar for Christmas, and he has taken a liking to strumming the strings and singing. Unprompted the other day, he sang “Favorite Things” from “The Sound of Music.” He knows the words because Sarah sings it to him several times a week when putting him to bed. However, we were still shocked that he knew the lyrics THIS WELL. I had no clue he had the lines down. Again, pretty cool stuff.

It’s a little hard to hear, but I was lucky to have the camcorder in my hand and to be taping when he started. Enjoy.


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Halloween weekend, plus an apology for being an absent blogger for two months

Where to begin? Yes, I’ve totally slacked on keeping up this blog. Yes, I’ve heard the complaints. And yes, I do have an excuse (several, but I won’t get into much detail). The main issue is that our laptop has pretty much died, so finding time to sit in the office and upload photos and videos has been scarce. But I hope to change that.

I feel mostly bad that the past few months have not been documented here on the blog. We’ve done so many fun things, including two trips to the Museum of Transportation, several visits to our house by my parents, a special visit from my sister who lives in Minnesota and the surprise move of my other sister to a permanent (for now, at least!) residence here in St. Louis.

Apologies aside, I’d like to just pick up like I never left. We had such an awesome weekend, and I captured so many cute pictures of the kids that I thought I’d just dump them on here for public consumption. Many of you readers haven’t seen pictures of the boys since July, so this should be a treat (at least I hope so). And with that, here’s how our weekend went:

On Friday night, Sarah and Oliver baked cookies:
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On Saturday, we went to the farm near our house to pick out pumpkins. Oliver had fun petting the animals:IMG_0065 

And we played in the hay maze:
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Oliver sat on the hay maze and had a blast:
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Oliver went on a pony ride:
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On Saturday, it was all about Halloween. Owen wore his pirate shirt during the day:
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Oliver painted his pumpkin:
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Owen had fun watching:
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Here’s Oliver hugging the pumpkin that I carved:
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For the big night, Owen dressed up as a dragon (the costume may look familiar, as it made an appearance two years ago on his older brother):
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Oliver was a puppy:
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Oliver then went trick-or-treating for the first time at a church in Maryland Heights. Here he is getting candy from “Fred”:
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After getting treats, we went inside and played some carnival games. It was fun. Then, at home Oliver wanted to go trick-or-treating at houses, so we walked around the two courts at both ends of our street.

While walking around, he kept begging for candy, so we finally gave in. By the time we got home, that boy had more sugar in his system than he’s ever had. He was acting kooky. First, he sat in his rocking chair, handing out candy to kids, telling them, “Take two.” Then, he sprinted around the yard and kicked up leaves. Eventually, we put him to bed and he fell asleep before the door closed he was so tired.

All in all, a fun Halloween. So what do you think? Is this a welcome return to blogging or what?

Day trip to Springfield, Ill. – “Cozy dogs” and my first “shoe”

Last weekend, we loaded up the car for a day trip to visit my sister Carrie and her boyfriend. They have been living all over the country, often in cool cities like Seattle and Boston. And now? Springfield, Ill. Not the most exciting place, and Sarah and I just visited there just over a year ago , but we still had fun. And we got to do two things I didn’t get the chance to do last time we were there: Eat corn dogs at Cozy Drive In and eat a “shoe” at another restaurant (yes, both items involved horribly unhealthy meals).

After arriving, we walked around the downtown area to visit the city’s farmer’s market. It was really hot that day, and about lunch time, so we headed to our first big destination, Cozy Drive In.

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Cozy Drive In is a novelty along Route 66. And it’s the birthplace of the corn dog. Yes, the first person to go, “Let’s shove a stick down the center of this hot dog, roll it in cornmeal and dunk it in the fryer,” was at this location.

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It was a kitschy place, and the corn dogs (“Cozy Dogs”) were pretty good. Glad to have finally had the chance to eat there.

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Being so hot out, we were desperate for an indoor activity. So we drove over to Chuck E Cheese and got a bunch of tokens to kill a couple hours.

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I had fun getting my butt kicked at “pop a shot” basketball, playing against Eli. Carrie’s boyfriend also was popular with Oliver, who made Eli join him as he climbed through the tunnels that lined the ceiling.

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Next, we headed back to Carrie’s place for a while. Neither of the boys would nap, so we just hung out for a little while until dinner time. We headed to a Mexican restaurant. It sounded like good food, but I was a little disappointed because I had always wanted to try a “shoe.” Just about every restaurant offers a shoe, and the city is known for it. We had even previously watched an episode of “Man v. Food” in which host Adam Richman visited Springfield, Ill., to down one of these bad boys (he also went to Cozy Drive In).

Basically, it’s a piece of bread with a hamburger patty on it, topped with french fries and nacho cheese. Sounds yummy, doesn’t it? Well, much to my delighted, the restaurant we picked offered a “Mexican shoe.” This bad boy featured two fried tortilla, each with a giant hamburger patty on top of it. Each mound was piled high with french fries, queso cheese and fresh salsa. It looked fantastic. Here’s the “before” picture:

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I couldn’t quite finish the thing – it was HUGE. But I did pretty well. Here’s the “after” pic:

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With dinner over, we got back into the car to head home. We had a lot of fun, though all that fried food really made Sarah and me nauseous for the drive home and the rest of the night. The next day was filled with a lot of fresh fruit and salads to make up for it!

Big family visit at the Lopinot household

We recently had a rare-but-extremely-welcome visit from my sister Jennifer and her husband, Ryan. My other sister, Carrie, and my mom also joined us for a long weekend. We had a blast, hitting a farmer’s market, a park and the Magic House. We also celebrated my mom’s birthday. It was so much fun, but Oliver was a little confused when we didn’t use the lyrics “Happy birthday, dear Carrie,” during the birthday song. We all miss the family so much. Stinks that they’re spread out all over the Midwest!

Below are a few pictures from the visit (only wish I had a picture of mom on my phone to upload – sorry!). Enjoy.

Carrie holding Owen:
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Jennifer and Ryan teaching Oliver to “magnet fish” at the Magic House:
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Oliver and Jennifer inside a giant bubble at the Magic House:
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Oliver mystified by floating objects at the Magic House:
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Another trip to Las Vegas in the books

I just got back from Las Vegas. Went by myself and had a pretty darn good time. Before I left, the most frequent comment/question I’d get was, “You’re going by yourself? For a bachelor party?”

My response?

“The exact opposite: My grandma’s 80th birthday!”

And so it was that I headed out to Vegas to hand with my family, including aunts, uncles and cousins that I see just every few years. The first night, my sisters and their men walked the strip – all the way from Mandalay Bay to the Wynn. Basically, a looooong walk. We did stop at about 20 places along the way.

We saw just about every casino:

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Everybody made “sad faces” so I could send my wife a picture to show how much she was missed:

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And we had a LOT of fun:

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One of my cousins eventually met up with us, and we continued late into the night. I believe it was around 3:30 a.m. when we rolled into our hotel. We stayed at Mandalay Bay in an approximately 1,500-square-foot corner suite. It was, well, a pretty sweet suite. Ha. It’s a pretty cool building. And it has a basic waterpark, which we spent most the daylight hours at the following day.

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That night, the cousins were joined by the parents and my grandma and we visited one of my favorite places: The Old Las Vegas Strip. It’s just grungier and more like what I envisioned Las Vegas was like as I was growing up.

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Below’s a picture of me at the Old Las Vegas Strip. This is just before the cousins and I all went out to a nightclub. Before we had free VIP table/bottle service. Before we had so much fun. Before an incident involving an ice bucket. Before a long cab ride home. Ohhhh, the innocence of this picture:

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The next day was all about my grandma, as we celebrated her birthday at my aunt’s house. We all hung out, telling old stories, getting salsa dancing lessons and enjoying rare time together as an extended family.

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That night, we did some light gambling at our hotel and then called it a night. (For those curious, I think that I lost about $50 total gambling over the three nights – not bad considering how much blackjack we played.) The next morning, I got up early and walked down to the famous Las Vegas sign by myself. This picture was taken by a couple I met there who were in town from Alberta, Canada, to celebrate their anniversary:

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Here’s a close-up of the sign:

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And here’s the rarely seen back side of the sign:

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And with that, I was gone. Another trip to Las Vegas in the books. I was happy to be home to celebrate Father’s Day with my two boys and my loving wife. I missed them all so much, and hope to drag them along next time I head out west.

Celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary

Sarah and I are celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary. It feels significant, and I guess that’s pretty accurate. I mean, five years is a long time (well, at least in dog years). At lot has changed over the past five years. For example:

  • I’ve gained 5 pounds;
  • I’ve lost 5/16th of an inch in my hair line;
  • I have 5 times as many gray hairs;
  • There are now 5 members of our family (if you count the dog!); and
  • I’m more than 5 times happier to be with my wife than I could have imagined when we got married on May 29, 2005.

It’s a happy day. We hope to celebrate and do something fun. My parents are in town and will be watching the kids (and dog) tonight. Not sure what we’ll be doing, but it will be good to have some (rare) alone time. Our first alone time as a married couple took place a few minutes after our wedding and before people left the church. We celebrated with a kiss. Turns out we weren’t alone as one of our wedding photographers captured the moment:

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Today should be fun. Today we celebrate five happy years. Happy anniversary to me and the wife. Happy day.

When worlds collide: The boys visit the office

Tomorrow will be my last official day working at the Standing Partnership , and I have a lot of great memories. Though most of my memories involve learning opportunities and client work, I’ve also had a lot of fun. This includes

  • Countless “Fridays at 4” happy hours that went a bit too long (though I never got “grounded” by my wife, despite joking about it);
  • Riding our receptionist’s scooter around the hallways; 
  • A surprise baby shower in which my wife showed up at the end of a loooong retreat as “one more guest” (hopefully nobody saw me roll my eyes before I realized the guest was Sarah!);
  • An awesome visit to our former Portland office;
  • Getting an Alyssa Milano autograph despite not getting to meet her in person (12-year-old Justin would have DIED to know that I almost had this opportunity);
  • Touring an underground mine;
  • Talking hockey with the boss;
  • Seeing the other boss’s husband’s band rock some ’80s hair metal;
  • Tuning in a Cardinals’ playoff game on the television and my co-worker’s resulting excitement; and
  • all the fun I’ve had with the great group of people I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside.

During my nearly four years at this company, I also welcomed my two boys into the Lopinot clan. Last week, my worlds collided when Sarah brought Oliver and Owen to the office to eat lunch and mingle with my co-workers. Below are a few pictures. Enjoy.

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Oliver wants some cake at Grandpa Gil’s birthday party

Local and Dallas-based family were in town this past weekend for the 92nd birthday party for Sarah’s Grandpa Gil. We had a lot of fun. Oliver was mesmerized by the song “Happy Birthday,” and he’s been singing “Happy biiiirth-daaaay tooooo grandddd-pa” over and over ever since.

As always, Oliver got a lot of attention. He even helped Grandpa blow out the candle on his cake. After the flame was extinguished, he immediately commented, “I want cake,” much to the delight of everybody present. Good times. I got a video of it, but it’s a little difficult to hear his big line. Enjoy!

Happy belated Easter slideshow

I’m at little slow on the blog updates lately, due to about a million things going on in my life right now and a huge dearth of free time. That’s my lame excuse for why this Easter post is six days late. Anyway, we had a great Easter. We spent the morning here at the house. Oliver and Owen got Easter baskets and posed for a few pictures before Oliver darted over to play with his new trains.

Then we headed over to Sarah’s parents house, where we let Oliver and our sister-in-law (it was her first time, since she’s Indian) hunt for eggs. Afterward, we had a great meal. Everybody was tired when we got home.

Below is a slideshow from our day. Enjoy.

Our visit with Jennifer and trip to the zoo

My sister Jennifer flew down for a few days to meet Owen and hang out with our family. We had a blast, and we already miss her.

Oliver really took a liking to his aunt. They were buds every day, wrestling, playing trains, throwing sticks and going for walks. Jennifer seemed to bond with Owen, too. Well, as best a person can bond with a newborn. She did change at least one diaper, so that counts for something, right?

Anyway, it was fun. For her last day here, we all headed down to the St. Louis Zoo. It was about 80 degrees, and I read somewhere that 30,000 people were there. It was packed. Oliver really liked the carousel, train and elephants. Below are a few photos from our day. Enjoy.

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