four and a half

I may change my mind in the future but so far 4 1/2 is the very best age.  Jillian is sweet and helpful and usually quite reasonable (not something I can say about the two-year-old in the family.)  She's a rule-follower and has a strong guilty conscience.  Jilly loves crafts, books, friends, and dress-up.  She has not worn a pair of shorts for two whole years, only dresses and skirts.  She hates to have her hair brushed but loves to have her hair done in curls or braids.  She is constantly singing- mostly songs of her own creation.  Jilly has neat handwriting and loves to make cards and write notes for her friends.  I think the world would be a much happier place if everyone had a Jilly; she's very enthusiastic and tells me regularly "this is the best day ever!"  I love that it's (usually) so easy to make her happy.  I can tell she's getting older because we're calling her Jillian much more.  Mattie actually started this (she is the only person I know who always uses her sister's full name) but I catch myself calling her Jillian much more frequently as well.  This girl is a gem and I'm so happy she's ours.


celebrating Mattie

Birthdays are the best best best.  We had so much fun celebrating our little Mattie last week.  She tried a few times but couldn't blow out the candle on her birthday pancake so Jilly was more than happy to step in.  We went to the "Pet Zoo" (aka the Pet Store, but the person who tells my girls that some people take the pets home will be my new worst enemy.)  Then we had a McDonalds picnic with Bryan outside his office.  

After Mattie's nap she got to open a few presents then we ate dinner quickly and headed over to the park to have a little party with friends.  I made an M&M cake and a bunch of mini cupcakes.  I'm never making anything but mini cupcakes for kids' parties from now on.  They're just so cute, and it seems like most kids (at least mine) only eat the frosting so this way they got a little more frosting bang for their buck.  I wish I had gotten a picture of all our friends but everyone was running around having so much fun.

For her birthday we wanted to give Mattie a scooter.  Since it would have been a disaster to only get one scooter we also got one for Jilly.  It's kind of silly that Jillian got a scooter for Mattie's birthday, but it's definitely for the best.  In the morning we had Mattie's scooter out with her other gifts but kept Jilly's hidden and I loved her reaction-

Such a fun day celebrating our fun little lady.


a series of unfortunate events

+ Late last Saturday night I jammed my toe when I walked right into a chair.  It turned a lovely shade of purple and hurt.  I taped it up for a few days til Mattie hid the tape and then I just gave up.  It's still tender but much better.

+ On Monday night we had a huge storm.  I went down to the basement to start some laundry and there was water pouring in from outside.  Bryan jumped into action using the wet vac to clean up the water and getting sandbags to block the door and engineering a contraption from a trash bag and a couple dowels that would guide water from the gutter away from the house.    And I clumsily fumbled around trying to figure out what to do.  In the end it was a huge pain to clean up but the only casualties were a few rolls of toilet paper that were on the floor and our 72 hour kits (that desperately needed updating anyway.)

+ On Wednesday we were leaving for the park and I heard a strange noise in our gutter. Through a crack I saw that a bird was stuck inside, and I could hear its wings hitting the sides; it must have fallen down and was stuck.  I felt so bad for the bird, and was even sadder when I saw that its mom/sister/friend was sitting on the roof at the top of the gutter waiting.  I couldn't figure out a way to help it so I was in a panic and then my neighbor came out and after I told him about it he said, "Oh, that's sad.  Nothing we can do."  We were already super late to meet friends, so I just had to leave.  I texted our landlord because he happened to be coming over while we were out and I'm hoping he got the bird out; I haven't heard anything from the gutter since.

+ Mattie is (of course) sick again.  She woke up from her nap yesterday afternoon with a fever and I haven't been able to get it down since then.  Poor baby, she just can't catch a break.

But this week hasn't been all bad:

+ Jilly found a library movie that has been missing for weeks; I knew it was somewhere in our house and it was driving me crazy.

+ Kaitlyn was chosen as the bachelorette, though I really thought the whole guys vote on the first night was dumbdumbdumb.

+ Now when Jilly comes running to me with a "Sorry, I'm so sorry, there's a really big spill" I'm hardly phased at all.

+ I used Amazon Prime Now for the first time this afternoon since I didn't want to take Mattie out to the store and I needed printer ink.  It's quite handy.

+ And I found my girls sitting like this one day: side by side, feet up, and reading some of their favorite books.  And now I know I've made at least one positive contribution to their lives.


Leslie comes to town

Each night before bed Jilly likes to go over our schedule for the next day (apple doesn't fall far.) On the days when we have something really exciting (like a visitor) she goes to bed so easily because she can't wait for the morning to come.  This is just one of the many, many reasons we love visitors.

Last week my sister Leslie came for a couple days.  She was nice to tag along to Jilly's swimming lesson, the apex of entertainment in Baltimore.  After the lesson we took her to the mall for lunch and a visit to the Disney Store, and so she could watch the girls while I went into Francesca's to make a quick return (maybe if you come visit me you'll get lucky and get to watch my kids at the mall too ;) )  During Mattie's nap we turned on a movie in the basement and after a little while I realized Jillian and Leslie had both fallen asleep on Leslie's bed.  That night we had ice cream to celebrate Mattie Claire and Leslie Claire's birthdays later that week.  Then Bryan watched the girls while Les and I went to see Hot Pursuit; it was a real treat as I can count the number of movies I've seen at a theater in the past year on one hand.

The next morning we packed a picnic and headed down to the Inner Harbor.  It was my first time back since the riots and it was nice to see everything calm and back to normal.  We had a great time walking around, watching the ships, and eating our picnic.  A kind lady offered to take a picture of all of us together and then Jilly wanted to take a picture of Leslie and me, which almost turned out perfectly. Both of the girls fell asleep in the car and were so sad when they woke up and Leslie was gone.  Aunts are so fun, and my girls are lucky to have the very best!



I remember hearing my uncle compare his youngest daughter to the last french fry in the box; she was a special treat at the end.  That's exactly how I feel about Mattie.  When I found out we were having another girl I thought "I got this, just another Jilly."  But Mattie is definitely not another Jilly, she has her own funny, sweet personality and I'm so, so happy she's ours.  Happy Birthday cute girl.

Some things I want to remember about our newly minted two-year-old:

+ She's a scaredy cat.  Things she's afraid of include but are not limited to: my blow dryer, the lawn mower, the blender, the vacuum, hand dryers in public restrooms, all bugs and all pieces of dust that could possibly be bugs.  She says "cary!" and covers her face with her pudgy little hands.

+ Mattie is an entertainer; she loves to make us laugh.  She'll put on my shoes or Jilly's skirt or her sunglasses (always upside down) and say "Tada!"

+ She can easily sit through a whole movie (not something to be proud of, but does make my life easy) and especially loves Dora, Frozen, and Minnie Mouse.

+ She still loves yogurt smoothies and would eat "yogret" for every meal and snack if I'd let her.  She also loves marshmallows, scrambled eggs, chicken nuggets, fruit snacks, and M&Ms (she's the picture of healthy eating.)

+ She loves to play with babies, swing at the park, blow bubbles, and do anything Jilly is doing.

+ Mattie loves clothes, especially "pitty desses" and jammies, and she changes at least 5 times a day.  She asks for piggies in her hair nearly every day and always requires a bow.

+ Mattie has turned into quite a napper and can sleep for sometimes 3+ hours.  Because of this, she usually isn't quite ready for bed when Jilly crashes at 7pm.  One-on-one time with Mattie is so rare that I loves these evenings we spend together.

+ Mattie is still completely devoted to her blankie + paci, and will stay that way until I get much braver.  

+ Mattie is super chatty and we finally can almost always figure out what she's saying.  When someone coughs or sneezes she always says, "you okay?"  She is the only person who always calls her sister "Jillian" instead of Jilly.  The other day Bryan said to Mattie, "When did you become so spunky?"  And she told him "I not punky!"


Mother's Day Weekend

We live for weekends when Bryan is home.  On Saturday morning there was a bike demo at Patapsco Park nearby.  We tagged along and while Bryan rode we played on the neat playground and even found a little caterpillar friend.  During Mattie's nap (and mine too!) Bryan and Jilly did some Mother's Day shopping then we all had a backyard dinner picnic and Rita's for dessert.  Jilly kept saying "This is the best day ever!" and I had to agree with her.

On Sunday morning I slept in then Jilly met me on the stairs with a DDP.  She (and Bryan) sure know the way to my heart.  They also made me a delicious breakfast.  We went to church, had a relaxing afternoon, then Bryan made an incredible dinner with dutch oven peach cobbler for dessert.  Jilly loved using the fancy dishes and now asks to use them nightly.  Before bed we walked around a beautiful public garden downtown.  I'm sure lucky to have these sweet girls; being their mom is my greatest dream come true.  

^ I love this picture because you can see the bribery chocolate in Mattie' mouth


five things I've been loving this week

one- This card Jilly made me.  She is giving me a flower while Bryan holds Mattie.

two- this book.  After reading so much nonfiction recently I was ready for a quick and easy YA novel.  This book is a combination of The Bachelor and Hunger Games and it fit the bill perfectly.   It was nothing monumental, and quite unoriginal, but charming nonetheless.

three-  New nail polish I gifted myself for Mother's Day.  I can almost always find Essie polish for $4 at Marshall's and then I always think why do I even bother with any other brand??  Also, the azaleas (insert heart-eyed emoji.)

four- Lots of snuggles from sick Mattie (but I definitely didn't love that she was sick during one of the most beautiful weeks of the year.)

five-  This message from Bryan.  Autocorrect can be a real pain sometimes but this day it had me in stitches.



May is kind of one big party around here- birthdays, birthdays, and more birthdays, Cinco de Mayo, Mother's Day, Memorial Day, and beautiful weather make it one of my favorite months.  So far our May has been excellent, so I have high hopes for the rest of the month.  

On Saturday evening we took a picnic to a park we hadn't been to.  It was gorgeous with a lake and a really fun playground.  It's lucky that we liked it there so much because as we were leaving we realized that our keys were locked in the car.  So we got to spend an extra hour at the park waiting for AAA to come and break into our car for us.

On Monday I let the girls play with the water table, which quickly turned into a mud table.  The girls were filthy so I gave them a bath at 1:30 in the afternoon and they wore jammies the rest of the day- just the way they like it.

We had some friends over for a Cinco de Mayo dinner.  There are few things cuter than a kids' table full of girls with enormous flowers in their hair.

On Wednesday we drove down to have lunch with Katie.  Jilly had been so excited the day before she kept chanting "Katie! Katie! Katie!"  Our friend asked who Katie was and she said, "my best friend."  I love how much Jilly loves my sisters.  We had lunch at chick-fil-A then Katie had to go back to work, which made us all so sad.  We stopped at the temple on the way home to see the beautiful flowers.

We've been having picnics for as many meals as possible and even busted out the freeze pops.  Hooray for May!


friday five

1. This was a week in Baltimore I won't soon forget.  On Monday I went downtown to have lunch with some friends.  While there I saw on my phone that they were expecting violent protests that afternoon and as we were leaving the city there was a huge police presence.  Later in the day I sat on my couch watching the city I had just driven through turn into chaos and destruction.   We're having a stake-wide fast this Sunday for peace in Baltimore.  The cool thing is that this fast was announced a week ago- before any of the rioting.  I'm grateful for moments of hope and peace amidst the sadness.

2.  Jilly started swimming lessons this week and I had to bribe her with an oreo to go (my mom trick of choice the past few weeks) but after all the drama getting there she loved it!

3. We've been in ultra dress-up mode this week.  Both girls have had a minimum of 5 outfit changes per day which is kind of fun and kind of exhausting.  Jillian often comes into our room in the morning already wearing her first dress-up and Mattie takes me to find a "pitty dess" to wear as soon as she's out of her crib.

4.  It is so magical to have our first spring in Baltimore.  All year long I had no clue that we had a dogwood tree in our front yard or azalea bushes.  I love all the beautiful surprises popping up and the girls are giddy about pointing out all the colors they see.

5.  I kind of can't believe I'm sharing this but this website tells you how old you look and I'm peeved that not only does it think I am 7 years older but it thinks that Bryan is only 27!!!  I'll have you know that I have yet to find a gray hair and Bryan got his first when he was 14, so take that 27!  I also find solace that the website thought Jillian was 4 and Mattie was 5- clearly completely inaccurate.

Happy Weekend!