A Return to the Farm

You might remember that I used to blog at least a few times a year about a place called The Farm. I even have a topic category devoted to it. The Farm is my in-laws’ property where our family often spends vacation time. My husband hunts and fishes there. We used to have the big Labor Day party there. My husband and I spent much of our first year of dating there (it happened to be halfway between the place where I did my internship and where he did his transitional residency). We got married there.


We love The Farm.

For the past year and a half or so, The Farm has been under serious construction, so the kids and I have not been able to visit. It’s been strange to be away for so long.

But finally, it’s done enough that we were able to go with my husband for his annual deer hunting trip. We loved being there again and did our best to make the most of it.

Two weeks, we were there. My kids played with cousins, met some new friends, went on treasure hunts, fished, and had fun with grandparents. Here are a few photos to document our return to the place we love:

The girls got to experience trick-or-treating with their cousins in Iowa the way my husband has always said is the “right” way. The kids there have to tell a joke in order to get their candy. It’s quite odd, but the kids loved it. Even my shy girls (Miss and Sis) had no trouble telling their jokes, and it was so fun to watch them ham it up a bit even.



^With all of the cousins except one on my husband’s side of the family^



Two weeks is a long time, and we couldn’t skip school altogether, so I brought some of our work, which we did in the mornings. Then the girls spent the afternoons playing outside, fishing with their dad, and going on nature treasure hunts.


^That is a bucket of dead leaves in water, which she said she was “bringing back to life”^





We took a field trip to the big city to meet some other homeschooling friends (it’s nice to be practically the only kids in the park on a Friday afternoon).



I have been friends with this lovely lady since I was pregnant with Miss and she was pregnant with her oldest, but we’ve never met in person before. It was so delightful to see her face and give her a hug. We had so much to talk about and the afternoon just flew by.

Our second weekend we had more cousin time (they came down to The Farm this time) including some big treasure hunts.







^Bubba got pretty tired out after his first time in the woods^

My husband got two deer, one with a bow and one with a rifle.


 ^The deer he shot with his bow^

And there was so much more. It was a wonderful two-week getaway to a special place.

I forgot a little how much more involved it is to travel with an infant, and we’re still trying to get back to normal now that we’re home, but it was all worth it to see the joy on my girls’ faces when they spent time with their cousins or fished with their dad all day.

We’re already looking forward to our next trip at Christmas time.

Five Favorites – Anticipating Edel

Tomorrow morning I’m getting on a plane and heading to the Edel Gathering for the weekend. This will be the first time since having children that I’ve taken a vacation by myself. I’m excited and nervous, and I kind of miss my girls already. Whatever. Here are five favorite things in anticipation of a fun and relaxing weekend:

1. I’m going to be meeting lots of women whose blogs I enjoy reading. Of course Jen and Hallie are the hostesses of the event, but Kelly, Haley, Heather, Kate, Dwija, Bonnie, Kathryn, Jenny, and Cari will also be there, along with other bloggers I’m sure I’m forgetting and many, many other lovely Catholic moms, and I know it’s going to be fabulous. I’m kind of excited.


2. I will be flying without children. I will have only carry-on baggage. I will not have a stroller or car seats or sippy cups to manage. I will get to check in online and print my boarding pass before I get to the airport. I kind of don’t remember what it’s like to get on a plane and have it be a sort of relaxing experience.

(My husband is laughing at the idea of flying with me being a relaxing experience, even before kids, because he is remembering all the times I forgot my wallet and/or driver’s license and realized it while pulling into the parking structure at the airport, 45 minutes from our house. But tomorrow? Tomorrow will be relaxing).

3. My two older girls helped me create my shoes for the “crazy shoes” competition tomorrow night.


Miss: “Mom, are you wearing these for a contest?”

Me: “Yes, Honey. It’s a contest for who can wear the craziest shoes.”

Miss: (doubtful) “I don’t know if these shoes are the craziest.” (adoring) “These shoes are beautiful.”

I won’t share a photo of the finished product until after the contest, but I already have a built-in response for her if I don’t win. I’ll tell her the shoes they made were just too beautiful.

4. I have a traveling companion. Super Friend is coming with me!!!!!


My husband is a little afraid I may not come back. Which brings me to number five, and my very most favorite favorite:

5. My hubby is watching our girls so that this trip is possible for me. And he’s doing it cheerfully and with a big, “You-deserve-it-Honey” kind of attitude. I love him.

DSC_0107If you’re going to Edel, I can’t wait to meet you!

Five Favorites – Little Moments

My five favorite little moments of this week.

1. Watching the girls play in this tall grass:

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I took the next picture thinking I was going to capture a total “Little House on the Prairie” moment as they were running, slightly downhill, through the grass. Laura and Mary for sure:



2. Our “Secret, Special Snack” up on the platform of the swing set. They thought this was pretty awesome, and kept talking about all the animals that wouldn’t be able to “get us” or take our snack because we were up so high. My arm wasn’t long enough to get a selfie of all four of us:



3. My eldest in a nice display of sisterly love and helpfulness.

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4. The other night after I put the girls to bed, I saw several deer right near the house drinking from the pond.


I could hear that Miss was still awake, so I ran downstairs to get her so she could see them. The first thing she said, when I told her there were deer right by the house and I wanted her to see them was, “I can’t believe I’m up so late!!!!” She giggled like she was getting away with something and ran back up the stairs with me. She said the same thing over and over. “I can’t believe I’m up so late!”

Clearly it was much more exciting to be up out of bed five minutes after I had tucked her in than to see four deer up close.



5. The fishing tournament weigh-in.




My husband and our brother-in-law won the tournament.



The girls kept grabbing his plaque and telling their cousins, “My Dad won this.” The pride in their voices was priceless.

Happy Father’s Day to my BFF.

For more favorites check out Five Favorites at Moxie Wife.

A Mother’s Day Stay-cation Extravaganza

I had a nice Mother’s Day. It’s lovely to go to Mass and see my children present flowers to Mary, to listen to the men’s choir sing some special songs honoring mothers, and then receive a special mother’s blessing from our priest. It’s nice to get lovely cards from my husband and kids, to (try to) take a nap, and have my husband happily cook dinner (even though he was grilling in a torrential downpour).

I don’t need fancy presents or a big to-do for Mother’s Day, but these little things are special each year.

This year, however, I felt like I got a super-bonus week-long Mother’s Day extravaganza. My husband was on vacation last week and we decided not to travel, but to have a stay-cation instead. He was home all week and it was wonderful.



In addition to the fun of spending tons of quality time with my man, he was very invested in making the week a little vay-cay for me too. I got to run errands whenever I wanted. I went to the library, to my favorite Catholic store, to Target. I was fairly skipping around town, reveling in the ease of running multiple errands in one day. In-and-out, and in-and-out, and in-and-out of the car like it was nothing.

I had a fabulous mid-week playdate with Super Friend while our husbands went fishing together. I had lunch with The Godmother.

We hung out outside as a family, planted our garden, and played and played. Hubby and I had beers by our fire pit one night.

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I could have even slept in every day if I had wanted to, though my 5:30 am waking time is just too much of a habit to break now. Quiet coffee and Bible-reading and writing time was too alluring for me to stay in bed. But I could have if I had wanted to.

And one day? Oh my goodness, one day: I got up at 5:30, drank my warm coffee in the quiet, read my Bible, said my prayers, spent some time on my computer. Then the girls and my husband got up, and he noticed that I looked tired. I hadn’t slept well because of a little cold.

He said, “Why don’t you go back to bed for a bit?”

I thought What?!?!? Really?!?!? Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh.

I said, “Are you sure?”

He was. I did. For two hours. It was awesome. I got to have my early morning quiet and to sleep in. True luxury.


It was a delightful week. I think I’m in love with the stay-cation. I hope you all had a lovely Mother’s Day too.


This winter, I have heard of “Snowmageddon.” I have heard of “Srirachamageddon” (Wha??). I am going to jump on the “-mageddon” train and call the past week in my home “Flumageddon.” My husband woke with a high fever last Tuesday morning. By Tuesday night Lass had a fever. Sis woke with one on Wednesday morning. Somehow, some way, Miss and I have not gotten sick (though she did have a nasty stomach bug/puking reaction of some sort all day Wednesday, which was notawesome).

Yeah. Flumageddon.

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Note: I do not mean to sound as though I’m making light of the flu. The flu is bad business, though I have at times been guilty of not taking it very seriously. I always worry about my kids getting the flu, but I never think of it as being too much of a big deal for a healthy adult like myself (except in 2009 when I was pregnant with Lass). This year with the H1N1 strain of flu being prevalent again, relatively young, healthy people are dying from the flu, like this man or this woman. Awful.

Not that this is any more tragic than when elderly people, sick people, or children, those typically at highest risk from the flu, die from it. It’s just scary because young healthy people often don’t get vaccinated because they think they aren’t at much risk of complications from the flu. And because of that they don’t recognize when they do have complications from the flu. It’s a reminder that the flu should be taken seriously.

Anyway, this is why my husband was quarantined in our bedroom, on the recommendation of his pulmonologist friend, to try to keep the girls and me from getting sick. Thank God we all got the flu vaccine (it contains the H1N1 strain this year) and the girls’ symptoms were relatively mild as a result (highest temp only 101.4). I’m sure this is also why Miss and I were able to resist the virus.

Unfortunately, my husband had already been battling a nasty cough for about a month. So after the flu hit, he developed pneumonia. Hello. Commence freak out. When I heard “pneumonia,” I started to panic a bit, worrying that he would end up being hospitalized or worse.

So, my poor husband has been terribly sick, confined to our bedroom, fearful that our kids will get this horrendous flu, and we’re both scared to death because pneumonia can be bad stuff. It’s been a heck of a week.

And as much as I have tried to be stoic and uncomplaining (heroic even?) in my caring for my family, I am not above an occasional bout of self-pity. On Wednesday in particular, when I had a very sick husband, two kids with fever and one puking up every bit of liquid I tried to give her, and I was worried about dehydration and pneumonia, and I was working on very little sleep (because of sleeping on the couch), and I had no help (though my dear Super Friend did offer to deliver supplies to my doorstep if needed), I was a mess. In my own head at least I was. I think I kept the frustration and worry from showing too much to my kids and hubby. But yeah. I was a mess.

I had lovely little battles in my mind between my “Oh-my-gosh-this-suuuucks!” self and my “This-isn’t-about-you-be-grateful-it-isn’t-worse” self. Fortunately the latter self typically won out, and honestly most of the time I was thankful to be able to care for my family, but I’ll admit to a few tears and a whiney phone call to my Mom Wednesday night.


We’ve watched a lot of movies during Flumageddon. Wednesday the all-day movies were for them. They were too miserable to do anything else, and I was trying to minimize their interaction with each other anyway.


Thursday they were feeling much better, but the movies were for me to recover from Wednesday.


Though Wednesday was the toughest day, by far my worst moment came on Friday evening. My husband’s fever was gone on Friday morning (as were the girls’). I have always understood the sickness rule to be that after you are fever-free for 24 hours, it’s safe to go back amongst the healthy folks without contaminating anyone. He had assumed the same thing, so I was giddy thinking he would be out and with us on Saturday morning. He offered to let me go to the spa Saturday. I said (texted), “No thank you, but I would like a nap.” I was dreaming of sleeping in my own bed, having another adult to talk to, and having my usual level of support and help with regular stuff around the house and with the girls.

Friday was a pretty darn good day in spite of Flumageddon. We took our lemons and we made lemonade.

We made a fort.

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The perfect little spot to read.

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We played with PlayDoh.

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I was so happy thinking about my husband being with us again on Saturday, I practically floated around the house.


Then he made a rare and brief appearance out of our bedroom (with antiviral mask on, hands clasped behind his back, and the girls safely gated in the family room) to tell me that he had been checking on things and had learned that 24 hours just wasn’t enough time to be considered safe around others with this flu. So he was not going to be released from quarantine on Saturday morning as we had been anticipating.

Kick. In. The. Gut.

I reacted like a big baby. At least at first. I grumbled. I cried.

Then I took a deep breath. I apologized to my hubby for grumbling. And I went and got ice cream (for both of us).

Now hubby is out of our bedroom, but still not going near the girls. It’s so sad to see Sis reach for him and say “I hode!” (hold) or “I hug!” Watching him play with them through our french doors is precious and heartbreaking. I feel so bad for him. He feels like crap and he can’t be around our kids, the best medicine I know of.


Some time tomorrow he will declare himself all-clear and we will (hopefully) get back to normal. He will need to take it easy for a bit to recover from the pneumonia. We will pray that the girls don’t develop it (it can begin after the flu symptoms are gone). Soon we will hopefully go back to interacting normally with the rest of the world (the girls haven’t left the house since last Tuesday).

Okay. So, after all that I’ve learned about the flu and pneumonia in the past couple of days, consider this my Public Service Announcement for the year: The flu is serious stuff. As a general rule, I never get into the vaccination debate here, and know lots of people think the flu vaccine is not effective or necessary. You can check what the CDC has to say about it if you’re so inclined. If you get the flu and you don’t start to feel better in a few days, call or go to the doctor. It’s hard for a non-medical person to know the difference between flu-cough/fever and pneumonia-cough/fever. Don’t assume that it’s “just the flu” and thus “no big deal.”

I don’t want to seem melodramatic, but seeing how sick my husband has been from this flu, when he is not even 40 and very healthy, has freaked me out. Reading about potential flu complications made me remember that the flu is a big deal. So there you have it. PSA complete.

Bonus PSA #2 – In case you ever thought it would be a good idea to allow your toddler to eat as many prunes as she wanted at lunch time? Just, don’t. Sis discovered a serious love for prunes yesterday. And now, just as we’re recovering from Flumageddon, I’m dealing with our very own little Poop-pocalypse. Geez.

Stay healthy 🙂

Bumpy Christmas

Merry Christmas! Our day was wonderful and joyful and kind of rocky. I always like to imagine that our holidays will be Hallmark perfect, with everyone happily playing and rejoicing and enjoying each other. We had some of that, but some of the not-so-perfect stuff too. It was kind of a bumpy Christmas.

As promised, baby Jesus:

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I enjoyed playing Santa last night. My husband enjoyed that I didn’t buy anything with “some assembly required” this year.



This morning, ready to go…


Trying to eat the big guys’s leftovers:


Toy packaging is absurd.

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The girls each got a nutcracker and were thrilled with them.

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We have princesses…

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Miss loved her little wooden Saint Cecilia doll:


Sis got a baby doll, and her favorite thing from the box was the spoon. “Poon! Poon!” She’s sleeping with it as I type this.


She also wanted to constantly play with “Baby Cheesis.”


Miss loved her fairies and her Elsa and Jasmine dolls. But she refused to take them out of the boxes and played with her sister’s new dolls instead.


We had a lovely, soft snowfall all morning.


It was all so idyllic. Until about 10:30 am.


Lass randomly threw a rubber ducky (of all things) into the air and hit Miss in the eye. In spite of her Daddy being able to find and retrieve a small speck of something from her eye and then flushing it with water, she still could barely open it and complained of pain for quite a while.

She ended up taking a trip to the emergency room with her Dad to have it checked out. Can I just take a moment to comment on how hard it is to stay at home while your child goes to the ER? My husband is a medical professional, and knows the ER doctors, so it made more sense for him to take her. And there was no way we were getting a babysitter on Christmas. So. I stayed home with Sis and Lass, who bawled because her sister had to leave her, and I fretted for the entire time that my girl was gone.



Of course she was in good hands, and she got the royal treatment at the hospital. Poor girl has a corneal abrasion.

The rest of the day was kind of a wash. We put on Christmas movies all evening to distract her from the pain, and to distract all of them from the fact that my prime rib dinner took forever to finish cooking, so we didn’t eat dinner until more than an hour after our usual dinner time.

But. Dinner was delicious. My biggest girl is now snoozing peacefully after her Daddy snuggled her until she fell asleep. I’m staring at a big mess of wrapping bags and presents strewn about my floor around the tree, and I’m not cleaning it up. I have a glass of wine and some time with my hubby.

In spite of the bumps, it was a great day. It was a beautiful mess of a day. This Christmas season has been extra special for me. I’ve spent a lot of time today thinking about what Christmas means to me now. I have so much to be grateful for.

I hope you had a joyful Christmas too (minus the bumps).

Our $5 Birthday Tradition

I think I might be experiencing the beginnings of a sinus infection today. Consequently, my brain feels like a blob of sludge. Instead of trying to write anything coherent, I’m just going to share lots of photos from our birthday party for the Daddy over the weekend.


If you’re not familiar with our tradition, I take the girls to the Dollar Tree store, give them each $5 and let them pick five things to give their Daddy for his birthday.


As you can imagine, it’s a very fun tradition. I think I enjoy it as much as my husband. I love watching how the girls select their gifts. Lass picked all of hers from the first aisle we entered (office supplies/teaching aids).


So, from her Daddy got fish stickers, glue sticks, a package of plastic clip/link things, some rulers, and a pink, feathery wand/pen (see first pic above).


She was so happy about his reaction to her presents. She gets snuggly when she’s happy:


Like last year, Miss searched the whole store in search of the perfect gifts. We even went down several of the aisles twice. She was so pleased with her selections.


My favorite part of the whole process is seeing how much fun the girls have watching their Dad open the gifts they selected just for him.

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They feel so proud of themselves when he gets excited over their selections.

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Gifts from Miss: Scissors, colored paper clips, a dish drying mat, a new pair of glasses, and a pair of earbuds.


Even Sis picked out one gift this year.


A fake apple.

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My Grandma and aunt got to be with us from Florida for the party this year. Gram made all sorts of fun stuff from the tissue paper, which the girls had a blast with.

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I’m off to wrap presents. Miss has been on me about getting more of them under the tree for her to inspect and question me ceaselessly about.

A Deer Already and It’s Only Monday

It’s only Monday night. This was only my husband’s fourth night of bowhunting. He already got a deer! Woo Hoo!!

I am so excited. This never happens. Usually it is the very last day that he gets a deer. There are several reasons for this, and they basically all boil down to the fact that my husband is meticulous and picky. He will not take a shot at a deer unless he is quite sure he can kill it. He also won’t shoot if the deer is too young, as he wants them to be able to grow on the property here.

In years past, he has waited and waited for a deer worth shooting that was within range for him to get with his bow. This year he got an opportunity at the beginning of the week! And since he had a perfect shot and the deer died almost instantly, he didn’t need to spend all evening tracking it, so the girls and I were able to go out to his hunting spot and watch him field dress the deer.


We found him and he led us right to the deer, just a few feet away.

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The older girls had already observed the field dressing of a deer that their cousin shot yesterday, but they were still excited to see Daddy’s deer.

WARNING – There are photos of a dead deer below.


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The girls walked with their Dad to see where his arrow landed in the ground. It went clean through the deer.

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SECOND WARNING – There are a couple of photos of a dead deer being field dressed below. I am not posting anything too graphic, but the third photo down from here is a little gross.


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The girls really enjoyed watching this process and hearing from their Dad about what he was doing and why. He showed them the various organs of the deer and explained what they do. Lass was especially interested in getting up close, though she did say, “No more killing deer now, okay?” Sweet, tender-hearted girl.


They covered their noses when he cut open the stomach to show them what the deer had been eating.



I stood back a little, because I have actually never watched a deer be field dressed up close myself (the last time I was in the field when it was done I stood waaay back). This time I wanted to see what my girls were seeing. But I was a little worried I would get really grossed out, so I didn’t get too close.

Turns out it wasn’t really that bad. At least from a bit of a distance. With my camera in front of my face most of the time.

I love that the girls got to experience this with their Daddy. Miss was so intrigued and kept talking about when she will get to go hunting with him soon. I am thrilled that it’s only Monday night, and I will now get to spend some time with my hubby for the duration of our vacation.

Unless he decides to spend the rest of the week fishing…

All Things Pumpkin

We have been a little pumpkin crazy here this weekend.

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We did P is for Pumpkin in school last week and are continuing it through this next week. So over the weekend, we did a few fun pumpkin activities. Of course to start, the girls helped carve their jack-o-lanterns.

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Naturally Daddy did most of the work, but they did help quite a bit, especially with creative direction.

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Miss helped me season some pumpkin seeds for roasting. I’m actually not a fan of pumpkin seeds, but I thought it would be a fun thing for the girls to do. We made some with just salt and some with salt and brown sugar and cinnamon. They turned out okay.

I know Miss enjoyed helping me make them. And she said she liked eating them, though she didn’t eat more than one of each flavor. Lass wouldn’t even try them.


I’m not sure that the result was worth the time I spent cleaning off the darn seeds to get them ready to roast (is there some trick to this that I’m completely missing?). I think next time I’ll just have the girls clean the seeds themselves.

But that’s not all the pumpkin-y goodness we’ve got going on around here.

I am sometimes a fan of a pumpkin spice latte, so I decided to use this recipe to make my own crock pot pumpkin spice syrup today. It’s yummy and will be good in coffee and smoothies. I also soaked some pepitas to make spiced pepita milk.

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A week or so ago, I did not know what a pepita is (a pumpkin seed without the shell, FYI). Then I saw the recipe and had to try it. I use almond milk in my coffee, and thought this would be a fun alternative for fall, so I made some tonight.

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It’s so yummy I can’t wait to try it in my coffee.

I’m also planning to make pumpkin spice smoothies and paleo pumpkin pancakes for breakfast tomorrow.

We’re reading pumpkin books and doing pumpkin crafts and singing pumpkin songs. I was going to make some pumpkin pies, but I decided to wait until Thanksgiving for those.

Like I said, pumpkin crazy over here.



Miss asked to make pumpkin cookies to eat after trick-or-treating, but I drew the line at that. I’m pretty sure we won’t be needing cookies to eat after tromping through the neighborhood gathering a bucket-full of sugary treats on Thursday night.

Our Week in Review

Linking up with Conversion Diary again.

1. When we went to Des Moines for the fair, we had a little pre-birthday party for Lass. She was so cute and so excited about the whole thing. Each time she opened a gift she said a sweet, breathless little “Fank you!!” accompanied by a tiny giggle. She melts me.

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2. Speaking of birthdays, my Dad turned 70 on Wednesday. We couldn’t be with him, but my girls drew him some pictures:

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Lass drew two caribou and one “caribou-snake” and Miss drew a dinosaur (“Grandpa loves dinosaurs, doesn’t he?”), and a “snake-eel.” Sis mostly just likes to hold the crayons.

3. After Labor Day Lass will be starting swimming lessons with Miss. She has been begging to do this for the past year. Each time I took her to the drop in care at the YMCA when taking Miss to her lesson, she asked to take swimming lessons too. I told her she had to wait until she was three. She is so excited to start in a few weeks.

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4. We have a swing set/play structure thing at our house. It’s sort of a cheap one, and we won’t take it with us when we move.

I have decided that when we build our new house, I’m not going to get a new “play system.” My girls’ favorite outdoor play spaces are old trees and big rocks and tall grasses. Those are much cheaper.

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5. I always forget to pack bathing suits when we travel. In July, when we went to my parents’ house, I packed the girls’ suits, but forgot my own, so I had to run to the only store they have in their town, Dollar General, to grab a suit when we took them to the beach.

This week I forgot everyone’s suits. When the girls played on the beach, I didn’t really care. They just got their clothes wet and sandy and it was no big deal. But when we went to my sister-in-law’s house, I knew the kids would be swimming in her pool. I figured we would all need suits, so I ran into Target on the way to her house to pick some up. The suits weren’t quite the right size since the selection was pitiful, but at least they were on sale. Happily, my husband was merciful and let me out of wearing my ill-fitting, mismatched suit, saying he could handle the two older girls since we didn’t go in the pool until after Sis was in bed. He’s the best. Plus he was the only one in a suit that fit…

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6. Cuteness:



7. Last weekend my husband’s whole family (almost) was here to help get things cleaned up. That’s because the annual Labor Day Party/Family reunion that used to be hosted here at the Farm is back this year.


Last year it was at a different venue, and it was amazing. But I’m excited for it to be at the Farm again. It’s a costume party and the theme is “Jobs.” I have no idea what my costume is going to be, let alone for my three little ones. Any suggestions?