Five Favorites – Grandma and Grandpa’s House

Life is always good when I’m at my parents’ house. My girls are happy to be with Grandma and Grandpa. My husband is happy because he’s fishing. My parents are happy because they get to spend time with my girls. And I’m just happy about all of it. Everyone wins.

Today, I’ve got five of my favorite things at my parents’ house:

1. This stove.

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My husband and I are building a new house, and we’ve looked at a lot of stoves over the past year or two. I have never in my life seen anything like this one anywhere else. This stove is older than I am, but check it out. It has double ovens. It has a little shelf at the back, and the stove top slides forward if you need to use more than the front two burners. It’s yellow, for pete’s sake. I have many happy memories associated with this stove. I love it.

2. And along with the stove, my Dad’s cooking.

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Don’t be fooled by that look. He likes cooking (though perhaps not having his photo taken). He was a firefighter and cooked at the firehouse for many years and got good at it. He spoils us by cooking for us all week when we’re here.

3. This bed:

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My Dad made it for me when I was little. This trip is the first time any of my girls has used it. Both of the bigger girls sleep in double beds in the same room, and this one was the last bed available for little Sis. She’s almost too big for it, but I’m savoring her in it for now.

I’m also (mostly) loving that my girls are all sleeping in the same room, which is a big treat for them. As I’m typing this, I can hear them laughing and talking and playing in their room, though they’re supposed to be winding down for sleep. They’re all exhausted, but it makes me happy that they’re having so much fun together.

4. The weather.

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Unless it’s the middle of summer, the weather here is always better than it is at our house.

5. The time.

Time together as a family. Time with Grandma and Grandpa.

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Time for me and my husband to go on an overnight date in Nashville. Time for me to be with my Mom.

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^ Her first ever selfie when we went antiquing this afternoon ^

 Being here makes my heart feel so full.

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Head over to Call Her Happy to see what things other folks are favoriting right now.

Easter-y, Mommy-ish Randomness

We are visiting my parents this week, and I don’t want to interrupt our family time to do a long, or even thoughtful post (you’re welcome?). But I do have a few cute Easter pics and some good ones of my girls having fun at Grandma and Grandpa’s house, so I’m going to get rambly and probably a bit photo crazy for a minute.

If you’re not my mom or my mother-in-law or my Auntie, you may want to just stop here. I won’t mind.

Here goes –

Last week, I had lots of fun Holy Week activities planned. Then Miss got strep throat and we ended up skipping a few of them, like the search for 30 pieces of “silver” (or quarters) on Wednesday and Holy Thursday Mass as a family (Miss was still contagious). Most of the things we did do I didn’t get photos of, like our “Last Supper” dinner (which Miss didn’t feel well enough to eat anyway) or the foot washing on Thursday night after my husband and I got home from Mass.

We did get to the Good Friday service at our church, and the girls did surprisingly well for it being such a long and late event.

Holy Saturday started with an RCIA retreat for me from 9:00 until about 1:00. Then I came home, boiled eggs for dying, put out Easter decorations with the two older girls, gave the dogs baths, and packed our stuff. After Sis got up from her nap, we dyed eggs and my husband and I got ready for the Easter Vigil Mass.

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She said the made ^^ that egg for Jesus.

The Vigil was beautiful, but I didn’t get a single photo from it this year. It was nice to experience it with a little less nervousness and adrenaline than I had last year. I realized that I hadn’t remembered much of the service from last year because of being so excited and anxious about being baptized and confirmed and receiving Communion for the first time (plus being interviewed in front of everyone). It was less exciting and emotional this time, but I probably was able to appreciate it more in some ways.

Sunday morning, we had our Easter egg hunt, I made resurrection rolls, we threw our things and our dogs and our kids in the car and hit the road for the drive to my parents’.

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I was determined to be on the road by 8:00 so we could get here by dinner time and have my family’s traditional Easter and Christmas breakfast of creamed eggs for dinner. We got going at about 8:20, and we made it.

My kids have been enjoying Grandma and Grandpa and the lovely weather and flowers and greenness here since.

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We have many lovely bouquets for Grandma of dandelions, or “Lellow Light-ups” as Sis calls them.

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IMG_4557Someone, who gave up coloring for Lent, is very happy to be able to do one of her favorite activities again.

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As a new Catholic, it amazes me how much Lent creates so much more appreciation of the Easter season and the celebration of spring, and life, and the Resurrection.

It’s Wednesday, but it’s still Easter. What joy. Happy Easter!

Grandparents (again), Field Trips (again), and Walls (finally)

Quick Takes Friday!

1.

We had a lot of fun with my parents when they were here. We got to celebrate my Mom’s birthday in my very favorite way. With gifts from the Dollar Tree, of course! I let the girls each pick two things as gifts for my Mom. The two older girls really tried to choose things they thought their Grandma would like. I just love watching how proud they are to see their gifts opened and appreciated.

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Miss chose a fall-themed oven mitt and a water bottle (similar to the one my Mom uses for her coffee). Lass selected a six-pack of plastic hangers and a statue of a mother holding a baby, which she immediately thought to be Mary and Baby Jesus and decided my non-Catholic mother must have it.

Sis chose a snow globe with puppies in it and what she thought was a small “bouncy ball” that turned out to be a soccer-themed washcloth.

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I never get tired of the dollar store presents.

2.

The only time our little dolls and castle ever look like this:

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With every. single. one. posed at “The Ball,” is when my Mom is here.

3.

Grandparents are the best.

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4.

Two weeks ago, we read the book A Pair of Red Clogs (set in Japan). The Godmother brought me some real Japanese clogs and kimonos and an obi and other things from Japan, that her father had brought back after WWII. She told me to let my girls touch and feel and try on and play with these wonderful items!

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Somehow I only got really crummy photos, but the girls had such fun trying on the shoes and clothes and twirling and clomping around. I have such a thoughtful and generous Godmother.

5.

I had wanted to take the girls to a hibachi restaurant for a meal/field trip, but didn’t get around to it during the week that we read the Red Clogs book. So we went with my parents on Wednesday night. The older girls loved it.

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Sis didn’t want anything to do with it.

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6.

Speaking of field trips, this week we’re reading “A Glorious Flight” about how Louis Bleriot built an airplane and was the first person to fly a plane over the English Channel. We have an amazing aviation museum nearby, which was the perfect field trip this week.

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In case you’re wondering, that’s at least seven field trips for us already this year!

7.

Finally, I am very excited to show you this last photo:

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Walls! We have walls finally going up. We have such a long, long way to go, I know. But this, seeing something coming up from the ground for real, has just made my weekend.

For more Quick Takes, check out the link up at Conversion Diary.

 

7 Quick Takes, Damma and Tuppa Version

We are visiting my parents this week. Otherwise known as “Damma and Tuppa” by Sis.

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 ^^Every day, “Where my Tuppa?,” she says.

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Here’s what we’re up to:

1. My Mom recently hosted a big Lego event at her library. As a result, she has a gazillion Legos these days. I have a love-hate relationship with Legos. I love them because I think they must be a great toy for imagination and stuff. I hate them because, well, they’re Legos.

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My girls have had a blast with my Mom’s Legos. Which is great, because I won’t need to get any since they can play with them here. Or maybe it’s not great, because now they know they like them, and they’ll ask for them at all the birthdays.

2. My Mom is teaching Miss to sew. This brings back many memories:

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Makes me think of my Grandma teaching me stuff. And when my Mom taught me to sew. Oh the nostalgia.

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3. Happiness is playing outside without heavy coats. Or snow pants. Or mittens (otherwise known as my nemesis).

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Put on jacket. Slip on shoes. Go outside. Freeeeedom!!!

And my kids like it too.

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4. Sis is obsessed with flying things. Birds, planes, “coppers” (helicopters).

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Which is quite fun, since my parents live near an Army base where they have lots of “coppers.” “Where copper gooo?” and “Copper slow dooown!” were her favorite phrases yesterday.

5. My girls went to story time at my Mom’s library where she gave them these obnoxiously loud lovely flute things.

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These will be a great toy to keep at Grandma and Grandpa’s. Forever.

6. About once a year, when we come to visit my parents, my husband and I leave the girls with my Mom and Dad,

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and go to Nashville for an overnight date.

I really enjoy going out to dinner at a nice restaurant, but we have date nights at home fairly frequently, so that’s not the best part.

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^^ Miss asked me for a picture of me and her Daddy on date night for a frame she is painting. Soooo, camera timer ^^

The best part of the overnight date?

Date breakfast.

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And date morning lounging:

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I slept in until 7:15 this morning and still got to linger over my coffee and reading. Pure luxury.

For more Quick takes click HERE!

Untangling

Just like when I was a little girl, visiting my Gram still makes me happy. She is a one-of-a-kind special lady. And even better now, I get to see my girls love her too.

DSC_0602Visits to my Grandma’s house always involve good food, some sort of craftiness, making music, and playing with unconventional toys. My Gram doesn’t throw anything away. Ever. So she has tons of fun stuff for my girls, much of it things they wouldn’t otherwise think to play with (or more accurately, things I wouldn’t normally think to give them to play with). Plastic easter eggs, golf balls, styrofoam egg cartons, a bucket of random lids. And of course her piano. They had a blast.

DSC_0578 DSC_0586In her box of goodies for them, I found a God’s eye. I used to make them all the time with my Gram when I was a kid. Turns out the one in her box was one I had made as a girl. 30-ish years ago. Told you she saves everything.

DSC_0589Of course, my Gram got out her yarn and had me saw the pointed end off of some wooden skewers she dug up in her kitchen so she could make God’s eyes for my girls. I helped Miss make her own.

DSC_0598 DSC_0593My heart nearly burst from the nostalgia.

As always, I learned a thing or two (or ten) from my Gram during our visit.

See I have a tendency to get somewhat stressed out when we are traveling. Especially when we’re staying at someone else’s home. This comes from a combination of worry about inconveniencing or messing up something for our host, not having the ease of our own super-toddler-proofed space at home, and everyone being extra tired and cranky from travel (I really try to just chill out about this, but it still gets me sometimes).

So. I was getting all freaked because my girls were going nuts with my Gram’s yarn supply, trying to make God’s eyes and then unravelling and playing with it and tangling it all up. I crabbed at them a little bit about messing up Gram’s yarn.

After I got them set up for their naps, I went out to help my Gram get the yarn untangled. I was all set with multiple apologies and offers to untangle the yarn for her by myself. I felt awful that it was such a mess.

But my Gram was already sitting in her chair, peacefully untangling and re-winding up her yarn. The yellow was all over the room. The orange was in knots. The purple and green were hopelessly tangled together. She didn’t even care. Before I even started in with my prepared apologies, she began chatting about how she likes to have things to do with her hands to keep her busy.

I stopped in my tracks and stared at her, all sweet and calm and happily untangling, and I thought, “What the heck was I so stressed out about?? This is how I need to be about tangled yarn and other relatively minor stuff that isn’t worth getting upset over.”

I sat down and gathered up a pile of the yellow yarn and started to untangle and wind it. And I proceeded to have one of the most enjoyable hours I’ve had on this trip. I sat with my Gram and we untangled together and talked.

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She talked about her mother. She talked about my Papa. She talked about my Dad, her sister, other people she’s known, the church we went to when I was a little girl, and all sorts of other things. I was honestly sad when the yarn was all neatly wound up and ready to be put away.

I got a beautiful lesson in perspective from my Gram during that hour. I always leave a visit with her feeling amazed. She’s 91 years old and she usually gets more done in a day than I do in a week. But that hour of talking with her was extra special to me. We untangled her yarn, and she untangled me a little bit.

Thanks Gram.

Kentucky Family Fun

It’s that time of year again where I bring you the we’re-at-my-parents’-house-here-are-a-ton-of-photos post. This post will include all of the same elements that always make an appearance in those about Christmas with my family.

1. Silliness with Grandma (and playing with my old toys):

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^^The girls decided that Barney, my huge old teddy bear, was sick, and they were doctoring him in Grandma’s bed.

2. Watching our favorite Christmas movie, Heidi:

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^^Baby Sis was even enthralled by this, the best holiday movie ever.

3. Story time at the library with Grandma:

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^^She could not understand why she couldn’t just go get in Grandma’s lap for a story.

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4. And of course, a big holiday free-for-all with my brother’s family yesterday.

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We haven’t seen my brother and his family in a long time, and it made me so happy to see my kids and his kids jump right into cousin-ly camaraderie.

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It was awesome to have my whole family together. Six adults + Seven kids (two of which are toddlers) = Crazy and wonderful.

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The present opening was just as chaotic as ever, and just as fun.

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Everyone got pretty tired out by the festivities.
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More silliness with Grandma:

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After my brother and his clan left the girls got dressed in their new princess PJs, which Lass had been begging to put on from the moment she opened them.

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They danced around in their new finery, with Lass breathlessly proclaiming, “I’m Snow White! I am really and truly Snow White! All my dreams have come true!”

At the end of the evening last night, we put on a movie for tired girls (and tired parents).

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We have one more day at Grandma and Grandpa’s before hitting the road to go home on Saturday. We’re packing in as much quality time as we can.

7 Reasons I Love My Mother-In-Law

I don’t know much about raising a son. I know lots of people who have done or are doing an amazing job of it. My Mom did a pretty great job with my brother. My Auntie with my cousin. My sisters-in-law are raising terrific young men. I have many friends who are bringing up delightful little boys (you know who you are).

I think behind every good man there is, to some degree, a great mother.

So today, I want to talk about the woman who raised the most incredible, wonderful man I know. My Mother-in-law.

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Here are 7 reasons I adore my Mother-in-law (because I know the following things about my husband came, at least in part, from her):

1. My husband knows how to do stuff around the house. When I lived by myself I thought I was pretty handy. No. He is handy.

2. He is honorable. I never worry that he will lie to me or do anything lacking integrity.

3. He is freaking smart.

4. He is no pushover. I can rest assured that he will (figuratively) beat down anyone who tries to mess with me or him or our children.

Actually, come to think of it, he’d literally beat someone down too if necessary. When we lived in Durham I was cleaning an old junky hoosier cabinet I had just purchased. I didn’t realize the top wasn’t connected to the bottom and it started to fall over. A vase feel off the top and shattered and I yelled his name for him to come help me so the top of the cabinet wouldn’t crash to the floor. With the glass shattering and my scream, he thought someone was breaking into the house. He pretty much jumped down our stairs, breaking his toe in the process, and was all set to throw down with a would-be intruder.

5. He knows the importance of family. We come first, no doubt.

6. He works hard. He can and will do anything he puts his mind to.

And last but certainly not least:

7. He never, ever pees on the toilet rim/seat.

I am a lucky, lucky girl.

There’s lots of stuff out there depicting mothers-in-law as meddling, judgmental, conniving, whatever. Movies and books always seem to portray the mother-in-law as a witch or an idiot or both.

But I think mothers-in-law often get a raw deal. I have a wonderful relationship with mine. Of course there are many reasons I love her, besides the way my husband turned out. She is extremely accepting and supportive of me. She is a terrific grandmother, always taking time to do special things with my girls (Lass sobs every time we leave the Farm… Every. Time.) She is generous and loving and thoughtful. And she loves my kids to the moon and back. What’s not to love?

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So, thanks Baba. You are a treasure.

I Wonder if They’ll Remember This?

We are at the Farm this week. We’re wearing ourselves out, and having fun, and doing All The Things.

The other day I went for a ride on Great Big Mable with my older girls.

That’s this thing, if you’re not familiar:

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For some reason, as we were riding along, having a good old time, I got all nostalgic and started thinking, “I wonder if my girls are going to remember these times when they get older…”

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I was thinking about all the trips we take so they can spend time with their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins and all the fun things we do.

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It got me thinking of my own childhood and my own memories of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins.

I had a major walk down memory lane while riding old Mable.

I got to thinking about when I was a kid, playing with cousins, pool parties at my aunt and uncle’s house, family gatherings at my other aunt and uncles house, watching Dukes of Hazard with my cousins at my other aunt and uncle’s house. I remember singing a lot with my Grandma B., rocking in the old chairs on my Grandma and Papa’s front porch, going up north with them. I remember playing in my Grandma C.’s jewelry box, sitting on my Grandpa’s lap naming all my aunts and uncles as I touched each of their birthstones on his tie clip, climbing the tree in their backyard.

I thought about all these things on the Big Mable. And I’ve been thinking about them since. I’ve gone on an extended search of my childhood memories accompanied by lots of thoughts about my own kids.

“Will my girls remember when we did this?”

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“Or this?”

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“Or this?”

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“Will Lass remember finding that cool caterpillar?”

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Some of my own memories are vague. Some are crystal clear.

Sometimes it’s just a sense memory. I remember smells, like my Grandma C.’s chicken cacciatore cooking. Sounds, like my Papa’s laughter. Tastes, like the sharp bitterness of martini (was this vodka? vermouth? I don’t know) on an olive out of my Grandpa’s drink, pancakes made more tasty because Grandma C. poured them in animal shapes, and the extra delicious grilled cheese my Grandma B. made. I can distinctly remember the feeling of rocking in those old rocking chairs on her porch.

I don’t know if I have many memories from when I was four or younger, as my kids are. Maybe a few around 4 or 5 years old. Being a flower girl in a wedding. Getting (accidentally) hit in the face with a baseball bat and needing stitches. Riding a carousel with my Dad.

My girls probably won’t remember much of what we’ve done this trip. They probably won’t remember today clearly. But maybe they’ll remember the smell of the fish they caught with their Dad. The sound of rocks plopping when tossed in the pond. The feel of the water and the sun.

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Who knows? Maybe Miss will remember a sense of some of the things we’ve done this week or this summer. Lass probably won’t and Sis certainly won’t.

It doesn’t really matter I guess, because we’ll keep doing all these things, spending time with family, going to cool places, doing fun activities together, as they grow. And eventually they will be old enough to remember.

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And happily, even if they don’t remember, they’ll know. Because it’s all documented here.

The Rest of the Week

I’m linking up with Conversion Diary again today.

My seven quick takes are pretty much all about what we’ve been doing this week with Grandma and Grandpa, in addition to the horseback riding and scavenger hunt that I’ve already posted about this week. That’s because I’m in the middle of nowhere and I have nothing else to talk about. But I do have a fabulous recipe for you that I’ve been meaning to share. So I’ll start with that.

1. Cauliflower crust pizza. Dee. Lish. Us. It is a great way to eat pizza if you don’t eat gluten or grains. You start by making cauli-rice (which itself is a good substitute for rice):

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Then add a few ingredients to make it into a crust (recipe here).

Before baking the crust:

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After:

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It’s surprisingly easy, and my kids LOVE it. Get the recipe here. It really is good. You can even pick up a slice and eat it like regular pizza.

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One tip – Don’t skimp on the step that stresses that you must get as much water out of the cauli-rice as possible before mixing in the other ingredients. I wrap it in a towel and squeeze the heck out of that stuff and still end up pressing a paper towel on it after shaping it into a crust (but before baking) to get out as much moisture as possible.

Try it. You’ll like it.

2. Okay, here’s where I’ll get into telling you all about what else we’ve been doing with G&G.

Swimming:

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This pool sits on a hill in my parents’ yard. One corner of it has no water. The opposite one, the “deep end,” has only about 8 inches. Still, you’d think it was the best thing ever.

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3. Another visit to the local nature center. This time we got to see all the animals.

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The snakes were still the favorite though.

IMG_2306My big girls both chose $2 rubber snakes as their souvenirs. They have been sleeping with them. Are my kids the only ones who like to sleep with fake rubbery snake toys?

Lass has even named a new snake species for hers – “Jumping, Flying, Camouflage Snake.”

4. The beach:

IMG_2335 IMG_2354 IMG_2359Chasing butterflies:

IMG_2367 IMG_2371 IMG_2383The beach was awesome until a work crew of half a dozen adolescent boys showed up on their lunch break and decided to go for a swim. In their underwear.

We got out of the water at that point, but we had already had a great morning.

5. I was just informing my husband that we are going out to dinner tonight with my parents and the girls. The conversation went like this:

Me: “We’re going out to dinner again tonight”

Him: “Okay.”

Me: “We’re going to try to get there at about 5, because it’s a sit down place where they bring food.”

Him: “You mean a restaurant?”

Ah motherhood, where every conversation is affected by thoughts of your kids and you feel the need to clarify that the eating establishment you will be attending has wait staff who will bring the food to you instead of a buffet or order-at-the-counter arrangement.

6. Because you know you were dying to see pics of our parade yesterday:

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7. And the grand finale:

My parents have some friends who were kind enough to invite us to watch the fireworks at their great lakefront house, which just happens to be right across the bay from the spot where they launch the show.

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No battling traffic. No porta potties. No crowds. Nice.

They even had some pre-show home fireworks in the yard.

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We tried to catch some fireflies, but it was too windy. We could only see them in the woods, and it was too freaking dark for me to go very far into the woods, even for fireflies for my kids. Plus Lass heard a boom from some fireworks and she turned around and took off running willy nilly into the dark and toward the water, so we had to abandon Operation Firefly promptly.

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But the girls forgot all about the fireflies when the big fireworks started.

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Singing In the Rain, Part 2

Many years ago, my Grandma embellished these umbrellas.

DSC_0511 She was in a performing group. They did all sorts of musical shows, and she made all her costumes for their acts. When the group stopped doing performances, she gave me many of her costumes and props. I’ve been holding on to them for years, just waiting for the time to pull them out.

These umbrellas were just right for us this week.

We used one for this little counting and number identification game:

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Cut off the “raindrop,” count the dots on it, find the right number, and stick it up.

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Even better, was how perfect they were to dance with while “Singing in the Rain” again.

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I mentioned in this post how Miss was asking me to sing rain songs while we played outside in the actual rain with their regular umbrellas, and all I could come up with was “Blame It On the Rain.”

This time, it was raining outside again, but it was cold and windy, so we opted to dance with our special umbrellas inside.

I pulled up some Gene Kelly on You Tube and we danced and sang.

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It makes me smile to see them dancing with my Grandma’s fancy umbrellas.

I think they have some of her musical talent too.

Thanks Gram.