DEAR MAE : : HAPPY 7TH BIRTHDAY EDITION

Welp. Here we are, and here it is. The starting line of your eighth trot around the sun.

You’re officially SEVEN. Honestly, that feels about right.

I won’t say I wish you were still wittle bitty. While that was a hoot, I am beyond grateful that you’re here with us now.

As I sat writing this, you’ve given me not one, not two, but three!! goodnight kisses. Right there on my mouth. Seven and still kissin’ yer ma on the lips. I’m going to milk your generosity for all its worth.

I’ve noticed, in the past two weeks or so, a shift in your relationship with your sister. You’re outgrowing her a bit. She’ll catch up, and you’ll never be apart for too long, but for the first time you don’t have the patience you once had.

That being said, you have more patience than any human I know. I’ll do my best to help you hold on to that.

You are intuitive and compassionate.

Your most prominent interests are what they have always been, exploring the outdoors, art, science, dancing, and learning about the history of different cultures.

OH! Fashion. how could I forget fashion? Definitely, the interest that has been brought to the forefront this past year. I could wear the same plain gray t-shirt every day, but you adore all things sparkly and new. The fancier the better.

You are wise beyond your years.

You have a flair for drama. The good kind. Your quick wit and charm fill my heart with such delight. Right up there with them th’r kisses you dull out so freely.

Your heart is fair. You know good, and don’t see why someone would choose another path.

You light up a room simply by being in it (your smile and genuine interest in people helps too!) and leave each person feeling like the most loved person on earth with those bear hugs you’ve mastered in your seven short years.

You have become interested in writing stories, poems, and notes. (Now that you can write) The words and phrases you use on the daily stop us where we stand. You’re brilliant.

Above all, you know you are a child of God. You make the most beautiful observations about life and Heaven and your Savior and ask the deepest and most thoughtful questions.

You see the world and those in it, as the Lord does. Faith of a child I suppose, but I’ll do my part in following your lead, and not stray you from the pure heart you now possess.

Happiest of Birthdays, Twerp. We love you so much it literally hurts.

ANNUAL ROGERS WEEKEND

Zack’s brother, Seth, and his family came down for the weekend.

Our third year playing, laughing, camping, makin’ jokes around a bonfire, cooking, and blowing shtuff up. Just our families. Definitely something we all look forward to each year.

(The photos in this post are solely of firework preparation and the blowing up of said fireworks.)

There were bow hunters in woods this time around, so no guns were brought out, but there was some bow practice.

The fireworks were a good supplement for the lack of tannerite explosions that are usually on the agenda. The kids thoroughly enjoyed them. I’m sure that will be one of the best memories they’ll keep with them of the weekend.

She’s got a goooood face.

Seth brought sparklers – and Rae held them!

Check out Mae and Sadie up there. So calm. Whataboss.

This photo didn’t turn out, but its still a good’n.

This lady! She stays so calm while juggling three kids, and everything that entails. Love a girl that can go along with anything and manages to be hilarious in all situations.

More sparklers!!

There were lawn games played by the girls, hours of Would You Rather? (That game stresses me out. I take the questions too literal. Lame, I know, just answer the question already, Jade!!!). We ate lots of large, sticktoyourribs meals.

The girls held chickens every chance they got, and Lauren, who is three, spent the majority of the time swinging in the living room watching movies and playing with Moana toys. She’s so sweet.

LATELY : : SEPTEMBER

I’m not sure why, but every month this year has been packed with work and travel and friends and a new seasons obligations. Sadly, not much lounging in our underwear Sunday best watching cartoons went on in the past nine months. It’s been great. Just different.

Every single day in October is equally as packed, if not more so.

I’ve decided to do a monthly round-up of goings on. Over-looked photos and photographs from early posts will be used. I want to remember it all. In this month’s case, half are blurry phone photos, as I didn’t use the Nikon much and the camera on my phone is busted (didn’t stop me from using it, as you’ll see).

* THIS IS A  L O N G  POST, YA’LL!

We hungout with Nutmeg for the first time. She actually fell asleep on Rae’s shoulder for a bit.

Rae checkin’ her specks before heading down the road to “Cousin’s Day” at Aunt Teresa’s.

Random photos taken to brighten Aunt Sarah’s day.

We’ve been floating around town on Tuesdays and Thursdays during our two hours without Rae. I’ve enjoyed being home more (which I did not expect!), but maybe because it was so hot for most of this month.

We started learning about kings (of all places, backgrounds, and timelines) – but have taken a break for a bit, since Mae requested a new topic. She was loving this, so we’ll come back to it.

Mae wrote a poem on the fly. Not unusual for her, but check out that rhyming!

We’ve begun learning about Abraham Lincoln (per Mae’s request), and boy is she enjoying it!

She wants to learn about the man who “cancelled slavery.” (as she puts it)

This project will get its own post once we’re done and have visited the Lincoln Museum in IL. Fieldtrip!!

Zack and I went on trip with the youth into the city. My mom watched the girls for us, and our wonderful cousin Marsha watched Buckey boy for us.

Zack and I got to take a few rides on the motorcycle, together. We also went to his class so I could learn how to throw on the wheel. My first project (above) turned out perfectly. I still can’t believe it.

We actually had more time on the porch in August, but we did have a few chilly mornings and tried to take advantage of it.

We filled that precious, fleeting time just reading books. Short stories and chapter books.

^ Worse than normal phone-bad quality, due to my cracked lens but still worth posting.

On our last visit to my mother-in-law’s house, the girls traded skills and taught each other dance specifics and gymnastic stretches.

The girls walked across the street in their beloved leotards so they could ‘perform’ for Pawpaw and Deedee (Zack’s grandparents). They were impressed, I’m sure.

Buckey had a check-up at the vet. Never far from his BFF or the open box of treats set down on his level.

We got a new bunbun. We’re still completely smitten with her. I hope she lives forever and ever and ever and…

We went apple picking with my sister-in-law, Jenny.

Mae started her second year of dance! None of those are of her in dance class, but check out the fresh pre-class, no frizz hair! -and my girls always sitting soclose to one another.

Reading chapter books on the top bunk became a thing. On this night, we read Spiderwick Chronicles (book one), in one sitting…and then took [too many] photos of silly faces. (The front lens works on my camera. Who doesn’t love selfies, right?? Ugh.)

Rae fell asleep on the way home (one of our many trips to St. Louis this month), and Mae took advantage of Momma’s 42 percent battery life and her sister’s phenomenal deep sleep abilities.

Rae managed to get cuter. I thought she reached the highest level a human can reach. That last photo did me in.

Mae also managed to get more hip, and here I am, covered in her dust. (Not that I’ve ever been hip. Obvious, since I’ve used the word hip three times now.) I stand just like she’s standing, but I look like a dweeb with scoliosis and she looks like a tween model.

SCHOOL, LATELY

I started schooling Mae when she was three. Rae was a year old, and took a lot of naps, so Mae and I had quite a bit of one on one time for school and play.

Fast forward four years and we’ve made it back to that glorious time together.

This time around, however, she can read and write. What a difference that makes.

She asks questions that stop me in my tracks. She’s always been an “old soul,” but now I am seeing a new version of what that means for her. She absorbs information, ideas, and theories so brilliantly. Constantly in awe of her. – Maybe this is normal for a nearly seven year old, but I don’t remember being seven, so I’ma ganna gush on m’lady like its a new thing. Thanks for indulging.

She is very interested in science. All things science. Anatomy (of humans, animals, and bugs), Astronomy, experiments (baking soda + vinegar type biz), studying nature, and weather. If she gets interested in time travel, Daddy will be tackling that nonsense.

On Rae’s school days, we pick a spot outside – a park, a river, a cemetery or a lake. We get formal school work done, and then fill the rest of our time by exploring.

If we’re at a park, we’ll hike, follow squirrels as quickly and as far as we can, or simply collect nuts, bugs, and leaves.

If we’re at a cemetery, we’ll spend our time reading the oldest headstones and making up an interesting life story or researching origins of surnames.

If we’re at a lake or river we’ll fish, and observe spider webs and tadpoles.

Climbing a tree is an option everywhere we go. We love ourselves a good, low branch.

We also hit up the library at least once a week. We usually read a chapter book a day (3 days a week), and it’s quickly become one of our favorite ways to spend time together. Ya’ll know I can’t pass up a chance to snuggle – especially if it’s with a fellow snuggle enthusiast.

This past week, we read Kylie Jean – Cooking Queen (The Kylie Jean books are her favorite right now), Spiderwick Chronicles – Book 1, and Princess Poesy and the Crazy Lazy Vacation. We finished that last one is 15 minutes, and I take my sweet time reading books! I need to find more of those Princess Posey books! Even Rae can sit through that.

 

MRS. MCGREGOR

So. If you’re keeping track this makes, two cats, one puppy, zero sheep, six hens, one outdoor NZ hare, and one giant indoor bunny.

We’ve had her only two days, and already she’s tied with my beloved, George, and our Rosie for my favorite animals of all time.

Its like watching a stuffed animal hop around!! Agh!

She’s trained to go back to her cage to do her business and snuggles. (Snuggling and not peeing on my floor are the reasons George and Rosie made the list too)

Bailey (George’s sister) is cool too, but she only snuggles with Mae. She’s at the top of her list right along side this beauty.

She has her favorite spots, but lies at our feet when we’re in the room with her.

She adores nose pets and neck rubs as much as we adore giving them.

She has free reign over the front of the house, and Buckey gets the back two rooms (which is all he had before Mrs. McGregor showed up).

She has one ear that flops and one ear that stands at attention.

As soon as we named her Mrs. McGregor, Penelope said, “She needs glasses and a nice hat!” Haha. I don’t like the idea of clothes on animals, but Mae is all about that life.

-and, yes, I noticed the cobwebs before I took the photos.

-and, no, I didn’t remove them after I took the photos.

APPLE PICKING 2017

My sister-in-law and I (and our moms) took our kids apple picking in Illinois over the weekend.

It’s probably best that I went with other folks. My girls and I could’ve easily spent an hour crawling around on the ground, looking for apple worms. Studying them. Studying the bumpiness / smoothness of various apples. Are the leaves different depending on the color apple the tree produces? Which type of apple attracts the most worms?

Don’t get me started on studying that camel and soaking up her existence!

That being said, my girls got so much out of their short time at the orchard, and got so much quality time with their cousins, and I had a great time with my sister-in-law, Jenny (The coolest lady, and best momma!).

Rae runs full-force towards animals. Never expected baby-Rae to go near animals, much less adore them the way she does.

^  The famous Gwandma Shari & Mae ^

Next time my girls will share a bag!! They each filled theirs up halfway, and we still came home with 50+ apples. They’re way better than the waxy grocery store apples. Bigger and so much sweeter.

Mae got so discouraged when she’d pull one off and more would fall to the ground, destined for a bruised, devastating future of neglect. Abandoned with no hope of serving a joyful purpose. Hopefully they will all decompose and become great trees. That’s what I told her, so its going to happen! Well-intentioned mommas only speak truth, right?

She loves carrying food in her dresses (and her aprons at home). Belle goals becoming fulfilled.

Reckless. The sweetest camel. Sadie was smitten.

Mae’s ultimate dream for the past four years has been to ride a horse (or pony). This was an unexpected experience, and one she is still talking about. Loved seeing her wear a smile that she couldn’t force away.

(This pony’s name was Shorty)

^ ^ ^ A dream she didn’t know she had. ^ ^ ^

The girls did a couple other activities, and snagged some fresh cider before we headed home and got ready for Sadie’s [NINETH!] birthday party.

RAE’S FIRST DAY OF PRESCHOOL

Rae started preschool yesterday! She didn’t go last year, because I didn’t think she was ready and quite frankly last school year was a hard year for me. I didn’t want to add one more thing to my life.

This year, however, she is giddy about time away from me and the idea of making friends (the only reason she even goes) is finally something she’s interested in.

She has had her bag packed for weeks now – with only the essentials, as you can see.

Mae and I had school on the bleachers by the baseball fields. We laughed SO MUCH! It was our best school day yet!

We enjoyed some cake she had made the night before. I don’t like cake, or icing, or strawberries – but I took one for her esteem.

^ So happy!! ^

Her turned up foot kills me!

She was so happy when I picked her up. I hope she grows out of her shell so much this year!

2017 ECLIPSE

We thought about laying out on our deck and watching it all go down, but opted for a fun day at the park.

(Someone was kind enough to give us glasses – thanks, Bob!)

Although we were “in the path,” We had the place pretty well to ourselves.

Zack’s entire school laid out on the football field. Such a cool experience for them!

Mae was very excited about the entire thing!

We brought Buckey along. He just napped the first two hours. Sweet boy.

It was SO humid. Rae wasn’t havin’ it. We hauled lunch and plenty of snacks, so she hung in there.

We also brought some travel-size workbooks along, did some phonics, addition, and cursive.

The girls made a friend at the playground when we arrived. A boy named Coby. He tagged along like he’d known them forever.

It was so cool watching it get dark (and the humidity went away!!!). The crickets got louder as the birds went silent.

^Taken just after the eclipse was over.

Rae said, “aaaand, cut!”

She’s so cool.

Pinhole shadows. So cool! (And, hand-holding!!!)

We walked Buckey around the spring and fed the trout. This part of the park has an anti-humidity bubble around it. We could’ve stayed all day.

I thought watching how the environment changed around us was the best part.

I’m sure we’ll drive over to Illinois to see the next one in 7 years!

NEBRASKA CORNFIELD

We couldn’t leave town without committing their first misdemeanor exploring a cornfield, now could we?

I discovered that corn fields smell divine, my girls are truly up for anything (makes for the best travel companions!), and I should always go with my gut when a photo opportunity strikes.

We went back to investigate the silos. Penelope thought they were too big as she got close to them, so we wandered through the corn again. Still cool the second time.

NEBRASKA : REUNION AFTER PARTY

Uncle Bill and Aunt Chloe. Two of the best!

Aunt Gwen has the three greatest dogs. Unbothered by the large crowd, or abundance of children wanting their attention.

Rae and her tea.

1 cup cold black tea
14 spoonfuls of sugar
1 hearty helping of cream

*Drink by the spoonful, not by the swig.

She made SO many cups, and continued to leave them places (everyone else’s cup holders…) half full and go make another.

Rae and her BFF, Uncle Larry.

Just look at her, slurping her tea, hanging on every word. Adorable.

My boy and his Momma were there!!!

That look!! “Mooooooom. Not in front of the cool kid. . .you can go now.”

Zack has the greatest cousins. Four teenagers, not one complaint or cell phone, and they devoted every moment to my children.

And, the cherry on top of the reunion sundae, H A M M O C K S !!!

Bambino.

I don’t know how they’re going to eat this guy. He’s so affectionate!

He’ll take all the head scratches you can muster, and lick your hand with the enthusiasm of a puppy on the brink of adoption.

‘My boy” was smitten. I must’ve spent close to an hour in this very spot with him. A record attention span for a one year old, I believe.

Thanks for hosting the reunion, Aunt Gwen! (and for driving all the way from Washington, Hewitt family!!) Hopefully we’ll see you all again real soon!