Second Quarter Books

I love sitting down to review the books I've read in the past few months.  By far my favorite this quarter was The Nightingale, but there were plenty of other great books I enjoyed.

9. The Crossover by Kwame Alexander - This was really great, it's neat to find a sports book for middle-graders that is also really well written.

10. One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson - I hadn't realized what a historic year 1927 was, but it was fun to hear the stories of that summer from Lindbergh to Babe Ruth to a few notable murder mysteries.  This was great to listen to while doing house projects.

11. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley - I hadn't read this since high school and was surprised at how much it resonated with me as a mom.  This was one of my favorite book club discussions ever.

12. Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty - Nothing lives up to What Alice Forgot, but I enjoyed this fun story about triplet sisters and the unexpected twists and turns their lives take in the year before their 34th birthday.

13. Isaac's Storm by Erik Larson - Isaac Cline was the head meteorologist in Galveston, Texas when the Galveston hurricane of 1900 devastated the city.  This was Erik Larson's first book, and definitely not his best, but still an incredible story.

14. The Complete Book of Home Organization by Toni Hammersley - One of the things that really annoyed me about Marie Kondo was how much she hated any kind of storage container.  And that's why I liked this book, Toni was all about the containers which gave me all the justification I needed to run out and buy some containers to organize my kitchen cupboards (at least organize them a little more.)   This book was fun and useful, nothing life-changing but still worth a read.

15. Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein - I have lots of thoughts on this book, and you should be grateful you aren't Bryan and weren't subjected to hearing all of them.  Orenstein makes some good points, but overall she had very different opinions than me.  I don't doubt that there are some negative effects of the princess culture, but I think many of these effects can be countered with positive female role models and parent involvement.

16. The Collapse of Parenting: How We Hurt Our Kids When We Treat Them Like Grown-Ups by Leonard Sax - I thought this was SO interesting and it has really made me think about how I'm raising my girls.  His premise is that in the past 30 years the trend has been to give kids more independence and control but we're hurting them in the long run and need to take more of an authoritative parental role.

17. Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow - After listening to Hamilton the musical 8 billion times I thought I should actually read the book.  It was quite fascinating, and believe it or not, I learned even more about Hamilton than I did listening to the soundtrack.  My only stumbling block was that as a proud Virginian I had a hard time hearing about what a terrible person Thomas Jefferson was.  Two sides to every story.

18. Keep Me Posted by Lisa Beazley - This was really fun chick lit, perfect to start out the summer.  Two sisters living continents apart decide to write letters to each other to rekindle their relationship.

19. The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo - I've read this three times now and hard as I've tried, I just don't like it.  There are some parts I really enjoy but for the most part I just think the whole story is a little silly and too idealistic.

20. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah - This was so, so wonderful.  It's a great story of two sisters dealing with the terrors of living in France during WWII.

21. Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly - I kept with the WWII theme and read this immediately after finishing The Nightingale.  This book follows three women- a New York socialite doing all she can to help the war effort, a Polish girl who terrifyingly is sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp, and a female German doctor trying to find her place in the Nazi world.  I was really captivated by this book and couldn't put it down, but there was also A LOT of unnecessary little plot lines and parts that were just kind of awkward and incomplete.  Overall it was a great story, but not the most well-written.

First quarter books here


4th of July Weekend

My little holiday lover chose her 4th of July outfit and a little surprise for Mattie and found a box to save them til the 4th.  

On the Saturday before the 4th Bryan planned a hike for us.  It was a beautiful day and we all walked the whole 3 miles (not sure if I'm more impressed with Mattie or myself) then Bry and the girls played in the river a bit.  It was a fun way to spend the day.

On Saturday night we decided to divide and conquer- I gave the girls a bath and put them to bed while Bryan ran a few errands.  He came home with these adirondack chairs and had them set up in the backyard with cold drinks and a bag of M&Ms.  It was such a nice night and our yard was full of fireflies, it was so wonderful to just sit out there.

On Sunday we had fun dressing in red, white, and blue for church.  I had the primary kids sing patriotic songs and it was so fun.  I hadn't planned on singing "The Star-Spangled Banner" but the kids asked to sing it and they totally knew the words and did an awesome job.  

After dinner we let the girls stay up to see and catch some fireflies.  We knew it was supposed to rain a lot on the 4th so we found a fireworks show planned for the 3rd.  We got the girls in jammies and loaded up blankets and a few snacks then parked across the street from the show.  They weren't the best fireworks since the trees blocked some of our view, but we still had fun and were able to throw the girls in car seats and zip home before traffic got too crazy.

Monday, the fourth of July, started out with a bang.  Bryan went into work early to get some extra hours before his trip later in the week.  He must have really threatened the girls to not wake me up because I didn't get up til 7:55!  The girls were downstairs watching tv and we were supposed to be at our ward breakfast at 8am.  We rushed around getting ready and left the house by 8:15.  We had fun at the breakfast then stopped at the Towson parade.  We spent a lot of time waiting for the parade to start and saw the beginning but then had to leave.  Bryan came home at 11 and we all left for a bbq with some friends.  A couple of sweet 10-year-old girls played with our girls the whole time so it was quite an enjoyable afternoon.  At 2pm the rain started and since the girls both fell asleep in the car on the way home Bryan and I stopped by Sonic for drinks.    

That night we went to another friend's house for another bbq.  Mattie ate her 3rd and 4th hotdogs of the day- so patriotic of her.  It poured all afternoon and evening but as we were getting ready to leave at 9 it cleared to just a drizzle so we lit a few fireworks in their yard before heading home.  After letting our girls stay up til 10pm two nights in a row we felt like the 4th was very sufficiently celebrated.  We love this wonderful country we live in.


Summer lately

After a busy Saturday full of a birthday party, painting, working in our yard, errands, and Bryan taking the girls on a 3 mile hike by himself (for part of the hike Bryan carried both girls!) we ate hotdogs and watermelon in the backyard for dinner and life felt just about perfect.

Cute group of girls at another birthday party

A trip to the aquarium with friends - all the kids were fascinated by the puffins 

Play-dough feast

Bryan was in Palmyra, NY with the youth for a weekend so naturally we went to Chick-fil-A for dinner one night and the beach for a day to keep ourselves busy.  We had fun but were glad to have him home.

Found a turtle on our Sunday walk

Mattie's been working really hard to master winking

Summertime is for crafts- I bought these little heart boxes for the girls and they loved spending an afternoon painting them.  Also, we bought a big jar of perler beads and Jilly is obsessed.  I haven't put my iron away for over a week because she's constantly needing me to iron creations.

Our first homemade popsicles- they were a big hit

And lastly, Bryan and I laughed SO hard at this story.  This could 100% happen at our house.


Graduation + Beach Weekend

A couple weekends ago we went down to Richmond for Bethany's graduation.  We left Thursday morning and picked up Katie and Joe on the way down so Bryan and Neal could ride together after work.  We had a party car for sure.  Katie was a champ taking care of all the kids while I drove.  That night was graduation, hooray for another GHS grad in the family!  

On the way home a huge storm suddenly arrived.  It was super windy and raining so hard; we saw a tree fall down and nearly hit the car in front of us.  It blocked our way so we had to detour through another neighborhood to get home.  I called the babysitter who was home with my girls and she said the power was out, but the girls were peacefully asleep.  Once we made it home we spent the rest of the night talking and eating treats by candlelight.  Luckily my parents are amazingly prepared and we hardly missed a beat.  Their power didn't come back on until Sunday night but we all left for Virginia Beach on Friday afternoon.

^ the hotel front desk had a basket of lollipops and Mattie never passed by without grabbing one.  

^ Our first day was a bit chilly, Mattie was happy to snuggle with Grandma Rice

^ Jilly and Papa braving the ocean

^ At the beach I always make sure the girls get naps so they can stay up later than usual.  One night we went swimming after dinner and didn't leave the pool til 10pm!  

^ Joey was too cute in his sunglasses.  He's the first baby I've ever seen who never tried to pull his sunnies off.

^ The beach builders- they made an awesome Elsa's Palace then a little kid came and stomped on it!  So superdad Bryan consoled the girls by making Rapunzel's Tower complete with seaweed hair.  I can't believe I didn't take pictures of either finished creation.

^ It's so fun to go to the beach with Grandma and Grandpa Rice.  Some of my best childhood memories are at the beach with all the Rice family and I'm so glad my girls will have these memories too.

^ Both girls zonked out with a bag of chips in their hands just seconds after we started the drive home.  Sign of  a great weekend.


five on friday

1. For the most part Summer so far has been very, very good to us.  There are moments when I panic that we have a looooong, hot summer ahead with a lot of unscheduled together time.  But, I'm perfecting the art of wearing the girls out with fun in the morning so they either crash for a little afternoon rest or are totally ready for bedtime at 7pm.  I'm also passing along my love of lists.  In addition to our List of things to do this Summer, I printed off Janssen's list of 100 Picture Books to Read and we're making our way through.  Our library basket is overflowing, we've been loving our backyard, and we've had some fun days with friends this week.  

2. I took the girls to lunch one day and while we were eating our sandwiches a thug-ish looking man wearing a big gold chain necklace walked by.  Mattie said (very loudly) "Hey, boys don't wear necklaces!"  I told her that sometimes they do but even louder she replied, "No, boys should NOT wear necklaces."  I didn't dare turn around to see the man's reaction.  

3.  The girls convinced me to play sleepover with them- we had story time, singing time, and then snuggled into beds they had made.  I don't think they had expected me to really fall asleep though.

4.  Katie and Baby Joe came up to go to the aquarium with us.  We loved showing them all our favorite animals and even got to see the sharks being fed- scary!!

5.  You thought I was kidding about going to tcby every Wednesday for the rest of the summer?  We also made it out to Prigel Creamery this week for our first visit of the year.  


Welcome Summer!

I am so, so excited for this summer.  Lots of people have told me what a shame it is that I'll be pregnant all summer, but it really doesn't bother me (at least for now...) and I'd much rather be pregnant than have a newborn in the summer.  Our girls are at great ages for some little adventures and after moving two summers in a row we are so happy to be staying put.  We made a list of some of the things we want to do and are excited to chip away at it.

We went strawberry picking one morning.  I had never been and had low expectations but it was so fun and the strawberries were the most delicious I'd ever tasted.  We got three baskets then promptly ate one in the car on the way home, gave one away to a friend, and saved one more for dinner that night.  Mattie had told me all morning that she did NOT like strawberries.  I convinced her to just lick one and after that tiny taste she was hooked.  I wanted to make freezer jam so we went back a few days later to get four more baskets.  Nothing is prettier than fresh red strawberries.

Jillian's last day of Preschool
 I pulled up to the school and saw the Class of 2016 sign and lost it.  This preschool was a million times better than I ever imagined.  It was so fun to see Jilly learn and make friends and love school so much.  We adore Miss Tracy and Miss Leah and can't wait to go back when Mattie is four.  They had a little ceremony where the kids recited the pledge for us- "with liverty and justice for all" and sang some songs.   I am seriously not ready for Kindergarten but Jilly is totally ready so I guess it's coming!

The same day as Jilly's preschool graduation Jenn and Leslie and their boyfriends came to visit.  We all went to a Nationals game which was super fun thanks to great company and refillable soda cups.  Mattie had been telling anyone that would listen all day "we're going to a baseball game!"  I realized that we hadn't been to any baseball games the previous summer so she probably had no clue what it really was.  I asked her what she was excited for and she said "eating popcorn!"  Gigi bought her an enormous tub of popcorn and she was happy as can be. 

We spent the rest of the weekend down in Richmond.  We all fought over time with baby Joe, had a picnic at Maymont and actually made it through all the gardens, went to the pool, played some intense games of backyard baseball and ping pong around the world, and went to church.  Our family is getting bigger and it makes me sad that we're not all together as often as we'd like.

We came home Sunday night and went to our ward Memorial Day Picnic on Monday.  There was a 100% chance of rain but somehow miraculously the weather cleared and it was a perfect picnic day.  We had a great time with friends and the girls had their faces painted with butterflies.  After our busy weekend with family and the picnic both girls fell asleep in the car around 3pm.  Bryan and I were busy working on the house and suddenly realized it was 6:15 and the girls were still asleep!  We woke them up and it was an unusually late night for our family with dinner, family night, and strawberry shortcake for dessert. 

Other favorite summer activities-

We plan on logging lots of library time this summer.

While we've been working on Mattie's room we moved her into Jilly's room.  It hasn't been the most smooth transition- Jilly is adjusting to Mattie staying up late and Mattie is adjusting to Jilly waking up super early so neither girl has been getting enough sleep.  Hopefully they'll figure it out soon and stop waking each other up!  In the meantime it sure is cute to see them snuggled together (we moved Mattie's mattress in there until we get a new bed but she ends up in bed with Jilly almost every night.)

A friend let us in on the greatest news ever- TCBY does Waffle Cone Wednesday where waffle cones are only $1.  And this is where I plan on spending every Wednesday for the next 3 months.

Not all crafts are created equal, but this one lasted a while and required zero adult help so it was golden.  I really love that my girls are little crafters.

There are so many great parks around us.  We have a park day with our ward friends every Thursday and often end up at the park at least one other day a week.  The girls were cracking me up with their feet through these holes.  Also, one of their new favorite park games is collecting twigs to make a "campfire" that they can all sit around.    

And last, but certainly not least, we found out we're having another girl!!!  Mattie is thrilled and Jilly was a bit disappointed at first, but she's coming around and was pretty excited when I told her we could get out all her old baby clothes for this baby.  Hooray for a healthy baby and more pink and purple!