Goodbye July

Some friends gave us this picnic table their kids have outgrown and it's gotten a lot of use already.

Freshly bathed after a day at the beach and wearing new dresses Nana sent.

Lots of house projects means LOTS of trips to Lowes.  Good thing these girls love it there.

They have free Friday night concerts in downtown Towson.  This was our first time going and it was a great night- the girls loved dancing to the 80s revival band.

Our first anniversary of living in our house!

We found out a few months ago that Jillian has some hearing loss in her right ear.  This can be a symptom of some other health concerns so her ENT had us do a ton of testing.  Among other things she had an EKG, a CT scan, and an abdominal ultrasound.  It was many weeks filled with many doctor's appointments and through it all Jilly was happy and delightful and I tried (and didn't always succeed) to be calm.  We recently went back to the ENT to get all the results and besides the hearing loss (that hasn't affected her at all thus far so it will just be monitored) she is perfectly healthy.  Hooray!  

I'm knocking on every tree in the forest right now but lately the girls have played SO well together.  They wake up in the morning excited to go downstairs to play family or legos or doctor or princess.  They certainly have fights, but for the most part they really love playing together and can play for hours.

A fun visit to Storyville.  It's a library/mini Children's Museum that is only for kids 5 and under so this may have been Jilly's last time there!

Each week for family night Mattie runs to grab a pencil to lead us while we sing the opening song.  It's one of my favorite parts of the whole week.

This is big news.  Jilly came home from California talking about Kirra's cute outfits and asked if we could get her some shorts.  I rushed her off to the store before she could change her mind and she looks darling (and so grown up!) in her new shorts.

This has been a hot, steamy July and ice cream has been one of our favorite ways to cool off.

Another Saturday at Lowes

For Father's Day I let the girls choose a tie for Bryan.  Mattie insisted on this striped/polka dotted beauty and I thought I could get it then return it another day.  But of course she never forgot about the tie and was so excited to give it to Bry then beg him every Sunday to wear it.  It makes her SO happy when he wears it.  

We had a fun singing time on Pioneer Day and the girls had fun dressing up in bonnets at home.

Bryan being snarky after I was being lazy and asking him to look up a bunch of things for me

The girls completed their summer reading charts and were excited to go to the library to get their prizes.  Last year they got coupons for free pizza and cupcakes, a new book, and a toy.  And this year the only prize was a little squirting turtle.  I think I was probably the one that was most disappointed.  But we still got a picture with the creepy cat(?) mascot.

Another fun beach day with friends.  I love how well these kids get along- makes it easy to sit and talk to my friends while they all play.  

School supply shopping- I was dying for a fresh pack of markers and some blank notebooks of my own!  We have 3.5 weeks til school starts and I'm planning to soak as much summer fun out of those days as I possibly can!


Richmond again

Jilly wanted to visit my family sometime this summer and since they're going to Utah for a couple weeks in August the best time for us to go was just one week after Mattie and I had visited.  This time we picked up Katie and Joey on the way down.  I didn't take many pictures, but we had fun at a Splash Pad, meeting up with my dad for lunch both days, swimming at the pool, going to Tyler's basketball game, going to the Children's Museum, and watching the RNC every night.  We always love visits down to Richmond.

^ Jilly put this hat on Joe and took this picture all by herself.  She loves to play with him and I'm hoping she'll feel the same way about her baby sister!

We came home Friday afternoon to find that Bryan had been busy painting our bedroom.  He's the best.

Divide and Conquer

Since we all went out to California for Christmas we decided to just have Bryan and Jilly go out this summer.  Mattie and I were so sad to miss the fun, but these two had a great time together.  

We dropped them off at the airport early in the morning then started our own week of fun.  Mattie and I went to see Finding Dory- she made sure to bring her backpack full of treats and her socks and jellies.

The next day I had all sorts of projects I wanted to work on at home but it was just so hot I couldn't get the energy to get very much done.  Finally when I put Mattie to bed I realized that our A/C was broken (it was blowing air, so I kept thinking it was working, but it wasn't blowing cold air.)  It was the hottest and one of the most miserable nights of my life but we made it and escaped down to Richmond the next day.  We stopped in D.C. on the way and got to play with Joe while Katie and Neal went to the temple.  He is the sweetest little guy and has the best smile.

It was so nice to be down with my family for a few days instead of home by ourselves (and they had working A/C!)  We got free slurpees on 7/11 but I couldn't quite stomach dressing like a cow when I already feel like a cow.  Instead we went to Taco Tuesday at Cafe Rio and played at a fun splash pad.  My mom watched Mattie one day while I got a haircut.  Mattie fell asleep and I had warned my mom that she's a wild sleeper so it would be a good idea to put a pillow on the side of the bed so she wouldn't fall off.  I came home to find Mattie in a nest of pillows, she has the very best Gigi.  My mom also watched Mattie while I went to see Captain America with my dad, Ty, and Beth one night at the Byrd Theatre.  

I arrived home just an hour before the A/C repairman came and then we picked up Bryan and Jilly later that night.  It was fun to hear about their adventures.  Jilly had a wonderful time playing with her cousin Kirra, and she hasn't stopped talking about how brave she was to jump off a cliff into the lake.  I'm glad they had a great time with Bryan's family, but even gladder that we're all back together again.


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.