Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
1 Corinthians 3:17

Friday, June 30, 2017

An Interview with 10.5 Year Old Isabelle + Our Backyard Portrait Session

What made you smile the most in fourth grade?
The last day of school

What made you most nervous?

What one thing did you look forward to the most?
Reading Group

What are you looking forward to next year, in the fifth grade? (!!!)
FACTS (modern home-economics class)

If you could spend the whole day doing whatever you wanted, what would you do? (It can be more than one thing.)
Reading, writing, swimming in the pool, spending the day helping out little kids...or something like that  (Seriously? Okay.)

If you could have lunch with anybody in the whole world, alive or deceased, who would it be?
Kate and Claire (friends)

What's your favorite color?

What's your favorite outfit?
The long dress that you made me, that you tie on the shoulders

What do you wish I would let you wear?
Mini-skirt, I guess (after probing for a few minutes)

What do you think Daddy would say if a boy asked you to be his girlfriend?

What would I say?

What super power do you wish you had?
I'm kind of thinking of the powers Elsa has, like ice power things. Oh, water powers!

Which season makes you feel the happiest?

What thing do you like best about yourself?
I was a pretty fast learner when I took piano [lessons]

What one quality do you look for in a good friend?

What one thing that has happened made you feel the most special?
When our family does something fun all together

What's your favorite memory?

**And this is where she got overwhelmed and got mad at me and refused to answer. Go figure.**

Ten and a half years old. I can hardly believe it. She made me a girl Mom, and I loved her from the very first moment I ever laid eyes on her, a blurry image on my computer screen. And we just knew. She was meant for us and we for her.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Isabelle's SURPRISE Half Birthday Fiesta Bash

Planning and executing a surprise party is not for the faint of heart.
Especially a weather-dependent one living in an area like New England, where unpredictability is pretty much the norm.
But we did it, our half-birthday girl was completely surprised and had so much fun, and I lived to tell about it. Win win. :)

The entire week leading up to the big day, I stalked the weather report, as if that's going to change anything, and every few hours, the forecast would be entirely different. From thunderstorms to just cloudy, back to showers, then partially was crazy! There were heavy downpours that morning, but I had a Plan B in case we couldn't go swimming, so I was determined to make the most of it. BUT the sun popped out around noon, and the rest of the day was glorious. Just absolutely beautiful.

A little backstory on the whole half birthday fiesta... since we have two December birthdays, we celebrate one in the beginning of December and celebrate Isabelle's later in January. It works for us. Well, this year, everyone and their uncle kept getting sick. Like really sick. This (school) year has gone down as the absolute worst in terms of fevers, coughs, colds, infections, and general illness. I blinked and March was here, and we had not celebrated our birthday girl. That's when I decided to throw her a pool party in June. Poor thing, she never asked about her party after it kept getting putting off- she must've thought we just weren't going to do it. :(

Decorations were simple but festive. I made just a couple flower poms, but most were from the dollar store in a package of two. Perfect. The rest was simply crepe paper streamers and balloons. It was so fun and colorful! I had arranged for Isabelle to hang out with my Mom that morning so I could decorate and finish the cake, and honestly, I did not get everything done. I ran out of time! And it was so, so sticky hot, which totally zaps my productivity. The cupcake cakes weren't how I wanted them; the rest of the streamers never got hung; I forgot to put out some of the food... and in the end, it didn't matter one bit. Everyone had such a good time, and I think anyone in a three-mile radius would agree, as they could probably hear the squeals and screams. Ten (and a half) year old girls are L-O-U-D, ha ha!

Here are some pictures of the day:

As she turned the corner and her friends yelled, "Surprise!" - love that grin!

Someone was feeling a bit left out that HE wasn't swimming.
 But Mimi and Grampy got some smiles...
And I know I've said it a million times, but the way Levi makes my Dad feel like a kid again is just the best thing in the world to watch.

Aw, look who's finally in the water! Big brother to the rescue!

In the middle of getting their dinner ready, I looked out at this scene and my heart nearly burst.  Laughter and love and friendship and fun. It really doesn't get any better than that.

There may have been some additional silliness for the blowing out of candles ;)

Lastly, we held the party from 3-6pm, so I bought some individual ready made pizza crusts (I think they came in a package o three) for the girls for dinner- we added the sauce and let them choose their toppings. Of course, when it was time to eat said pizza, they were all munching away on bags of chips and cookies- all the snacks I'd put out by the pool that I thought they'd eat when they first got out there. Oops. ha ha 
I also had apple juice, which no one touched, and Honest lemonade pouches, which clearly were the fave. So simple!

The only thing I'd really wanted to accomplish was taking Isabelle's portraits with the giant "10" balloons, and I was out of town all day Sunday (U2 concert...more about that later!), and then it has rained off and on since then, and now they are deflated enough to look kind of pitiful. So I don't know if I'll use them, but they were so ridiculously priced that I just may make it work. ;)

All in all, a wonderful celebration for our big girl!
Happy 10...and a darling girl!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Friday Favorites: It's OFFICIALLY Summer Here!!!

I woke up this morning without a gazillion lunches (okay, four) to pack. If that doesn't put a smile on a Mama's face, I don't know what will. :)

We enjoyed a leisurely pancake breakfast with not a care in the world or a place to be rushing off to...and ten minutes in, Miss Bookworm is bored. The one who I have to force to go outside and play because she lays around all day reading, has decided that TODAY will be the day she won't pick up a book. What?!?!
(In case you're dealing with the whinies too, here is a round-up of fun and easy summertime activities!)

Anyhoo. Today is humid and rainy, but the past week was gorgeous. Most evenings after dinner you'll find us playing frisbee or track ball out back and then jumping in the pool. We've even spotted the first fireflies of the season. Nights like those are my absolute FAVORITES.

I don't know anyone who doesn't love a pretty bunch of flowers, but backyard bouquets hold a very special place in my heart. They are my FAVORITES. I get so excited every time I check on our plants and see new blossoms. This was the first official bouquet of the season. We had a dark and wet spring, so I feel like all the flowers have had a much later start than normal.

I haven't shared his nursery yet, but it has been almost two weeks since we moved Levi out of our room and into his own. And wouldn't you know, from the very first night, his sleep improved dramatically. Like, dramaaaatically. Sleeping babies are my FAVORITES.

I've been meeting up with different friends in the mornings to walk for an hour or more, then we play at the park. On this morning, baby C feel asleep about five minutes after this, with both legs up on the tray, ha ha ha, and Levi looks like a grumpy old man...
  ...but he had lots of fun swinging!
Listening to baby giggles is one of my FAVORITES.

And traditions. Every year on the last day of school, we have ice cream sundaes for supper and supper for dessert. Traditions are my FAVORITES.

 Lots and lots of blurred excitement after this one had a little taste, ha!

And getting to celebrate our Dads is always a FAVORITE. We are trying to give more meaningful things in our family, so instead of random gifts, we all got in the kitchen together and made a blueberry pie from scratch. If any of you have been reading for a while then you know that pie crust is typically the bane of my existence. Well, it has gotten better, and I almost feel totally at ease with simply whipping up a pie crust. Almost.
Regardless, the pie was delicious.
 Ethan was playing around with the scraps and fashioned this crown. He guessed that it would collapse in the oven but I insisted it would be fine. Oops.

Now I'll be a little vulnerable here and share that as this day has worn on, it has been one of the worst in a long while. (As it's taken me, um, over four hours just to hit publish on this little post dealing with this, that and the other.) Not what I'd had in mind to ring in the official start to summer. At least the sun is shining now, right?
Grace grace grace, for myself and for others. And secret stashes of good chocolate. ;)

Joining in for Friday Favorites
and 5 on Friday today!

Have a great weekend, friends!
If you're new here and want to read more about my family and me, click HERE.
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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Catching Up

June is flying by and I haven't been posting as often as I'd hoped. I learned my lesson last year...having to go back and "recreate" is really not any fun at all.

We had some family birthdays to celebrate earlier in the month. My brother's birthday is the 7th, Bill's is the 8th, and my aunt's is on the 9th. Plus, the 6th marked five years since her husband, my Uncle Harry, died. On the one hand, it feels like it was just last month, and then on the other, like it was nearly a lifetime ago. Time is a strange thing, that's for sure. I miss my uncle. I have lots of special memories with him and my aunt and my cousins.

I made arrangements with my in-laws to come over and play with the kids while I took Bill out for Chinese food and a long walk in our favorite local park. I had really wanted to head to the beach or to the mountains, but when you only have three hours tops, and it takes an hour to get to each place... you stay local and make the best of it. :)

Neither of us was feeling our selfie mojo that night, so I'm not even going to post our attempts, ha ha. But we had a nice time.

Classic cheesecake with cherry topping (and whipped cream)- his favorite!
Normally I add a chocolate layer, but that's more for me because I like it that way. Not this time, this was all for him.

Here's the face you get when you tell him "no more treats."
ha ha ha ha

There happened to be awards night at the high school that night as well, so we headed out for that, just what everyone wants to do on their birthday, right? It was kind of a mess, and they could have cut the time in half, but it just dragged on and on and ooooonnnnn. I ended up taking Levi home when he couldn't contain himself any longer.

Looking as concerned as ever because there are way too many people for his comfort level. :)

 I had taken this monkey out into the hallway when Bill comes running after me... "Ethan's award, you missed it!" Ugh. I was not amused.

I didn't even get a picture of him with his award. Boo.
I cannot fathom the idea that he will be leaving home so soon. And to think, this had originally been his senior year! He has come a long way since that awful concussion, but truthfully, he is forever changed- he will have to contend with some issues for the rest of his life, mainly the increased possibility of secondary concussions from events that would not harm a "normal" person (happened already), and certain motions that trigger his symptoms. But he is well and recovered and we are so thankful.
So handsome, too, and friendly and respectful and smart...just an all-around great person.

Except a little forgetful sometimes. We brought him his lunch on this day, but we didn't mind. :)

We'd been enjoying the beautiful morning outside. Why does my baby look like he has the legs of a four year old here? I know they're long, but, really!

There have been so many wonderful summery days and evenings, which make it such a tease when you have to go to bed and get up for school in the morning. Two more days!

I'm going to have to try to get a better picture of his little pucker! Cutest thing I've ever laid eyes on!
Yet somehow the closer the wand gets, the lip purse disappears and the mouth wide open emerges. So funny.

Lots of time in and around the pool. I admit, it is a lot of work to maintain a pool, but I like that there is always something fun to do in our own backyard.

Sometimes all that swimming tuckers a little guy out and he just wants to rest his head on Mama's face. loooooove.
And I'm sure I am 100% biased, but does he not have the most perfect little head?! I still try to inhale baby smell when I snuggle up against that head, but it is long gone. Why can't baby smell stick around for at least a couple years?

Recently, we've had sweltering days when you can't even breathe because the humidity is so thick and heavy, so we play inside.
Of course he never stays on the towel, and then the tiles get all wet and poor little guy slips all around, which he thinks is fun...until all of a sudden it isn't. Then he's done!

Levi still shows zero desire to walk on his own. He doesn't really even like standing all that much. If he were my first baby, I think I'd be completely worried. But he isn't, and I'm not. ;)

We had to bring Caleb in for physical therapy for some back issues, poor guy. It was pouring buckets this day, and we nearly slipped walking through the puddly parking lot. Flips flops and inches of water aren't such a great pair! Levi did a great job, considering this first visit was more than an hour.
Even still, we opted for drop offs after that. ;)

This is what happens when you have a fan base everywhere you go. Someone holds you and someone else props up blankies to give you shade. Those afternoon ball games are no joke at some of the fields where there is NO shade. Whew!

And now I hear someone calling...gotta go! Here are a couple last pics of some serious cuteness. Have a great day!

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