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!

NEBRASKA : ARRIVAL

This past weekend, the girls and I drove up to Nebraska with my mother-in-law for a Rogers / Hewitt family reunion. (Zack was busy and couldn’t go)

HOTEL!!!

As I’m sure you can imagine, the girls we’re thrilled.

Before calling it a night, we spent some time with Aunt Gwen on her farm (same house her mom grew up in!).

At this moment ( photo above ) the girls dubbed Nebraska as the most magical place on earth.

Sorry, D World, you’re a close second. Fair?

The rams.

They’re flirts, and I totally fell for it. Head over heels.

We should get a couple, Zack.

Pretty please???

We ate s’mores as the sun set … and fists full of red vines – because, vacation.

Everyone even humored Mae by adding in bits to her ghost story. She was so happy that everyone joined in. Thanks, guys.

The sugar hangover. Worth it, I’m sure.

FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL 2017

While we technically started back a couple weeks ago, we’re keeping with tradition and taking our back to school photos on the day Daddy’s classes start back.

We spent this particular day cooking eggs and toast, tidying up, practicing our Bible verse, saying prayers, reading Dolphins at Daybreak – start to finish snuggled up on the couch, practicing piano and handwriting, and are now settling down with popcorn and Dolphin Tale as we wait for Daddy to return home.

Before bed Mae will practice reading and money comprehension with Daddy, and Rae will try and sit still for a couple storybooks with Momma.

CAMPING AT THE SHUT-INS

We spent last Sunday-Monday camping and swimming at the shut-ins! It was our first weekend, just the four of us. No side-jobs, no obligations, and perfect not-to-hot-or-rainy weather this ENTIRE SUMMER!! We ended July brilliantly.

Penelope came up with a game called “Poker Face.”

The goal is not to keep a straight face, like you’d assume.

You have to guess what the person is feeling, based on their face. Really, Zack and I just tried making her laugh, by guessing things like gassy, itchy, or sleepy. She was actually “happy.” So simple. We should’ve known.

Go Fish on repeat. Well, Go Fish as explained by a six year old, played with a four year old.

They made their own puddles, and found plenty of excuses to wash their feet by the spigot.

Daddy treated everyone to ice cream at the campground. He’s what you’d call a “Cool dad.”

Penelope’s bedtime story was about a ghost that sneaks into tents and unravels your cloth belongings. Then, the next day, you have to find sticks and other items in nature to sew them back up. Very spooky.

The very next morning, Amelia had a thread pulled on her sock. Without skipping a beat, Penelope said, “See, I told you he always comes.”

Zack and I just about died from laughter. Kids are awesome.

We had a visitor during the night. A very disappointed visitor. Should’ve stayed for ham and eggs…

We went swimming at the shut-ins (pools of water, waterfalls, hot tubs, etc. formed by rocks overtime. Its incredibly fun.).

The girls did awesome. No one got tired or hurt. We all had a blast. So grateful we have kids we absolutely love hanging out with.

DEAR MAE

Dear Mae,

You lost your eighth tooth, Sunday at church. The dentist says this will be the last one for a while. You’re thrilled about this.

You are pretty well independent at this point. You have begun making plans for yourself throughout the day, and become upset when those plans get foiled for one reason or another, or bear results you didn’t foresee. (OR when Mom says, “Not right now.” That’s the w o r s t.)

You’re developing your own sense of style. The fashion sense of American Girl, Grace, seems to be your desired outcome. You get hand-me-downs, so Grace ain’t happenin’, but you never complain. You’re terrific.

You are intentional about what you choose at the store, and often spend what seems like hours, carefully browsing the isles for just the right thing. You are really diggin’ your spy kit and have been watchfully investigating what camera you want for your birthday.

You’re still hilarious, and fully aware of you’re hilarity. We needn’t think you’re funny, you’ll laugh enough for the rest of us.

Daddy told you you have a lovely singing voice. You responded, “Yeah, that’s why I want to be a Pop Star.” And then, Mom cried herself right into the fetal position.

I love you, Mae!

HIKING BEFORE BREAKFAST

Rain has become a regular visitor here. It wasn’t raining when we woke up Friday, so we ran out of the house with a bag of blueberry muffins we’d made the night before and went for a hike…really, just a stroll along a bike trail.

Mae brought her phone (She usually just listens to music on it at home while she does chores. It doesn’t do anything beyond the camera without Wi-Fi). She wanted to take photos, like Mama. She managed to get in a few before the battery died. I enjoyed observing what she found interesting.

As a rule, we only really take photos the first few minutes of any given outing, if that, and then put the phones away, although this was the first outing we’ve taken photos in a while.

The photo we sent to Zack on his break ^ Would’ve been more fun with him there!

Blurry, but, man does she look old. Ugh. Time really does fly on this side of childhood.

We saw a dung beetle on our way back to the car. Both Zack and I had no idea “we” had dung beetles. Mae painted this gem while watching the episode of Puffin Rock that features Dung Beetles.

ALABAMA 2017 PART THREE

Our initial plan was to meet up with my grandparents for supper one evening. In actuality, we spent one night -upon arrival into Dothan- had supper on the pre-planned night and stopped in to say goodbye one last time the morning we headed home.

The extra time with them was SO nice. Rae has officially dubbed Grandpa the silliest human. They can’t get enough of him.

We stopped at the coolest roadside joint just outside of Montgomery. A bounce-house/slide/maze, free roaming chickens, homegrown (and made) vegetables, meat, cheese, eggs, fruit, and peanuts (obviously?).

Such a cool place. It also had a bakery attached…or was it an ice cream shop? We didn’t eat there, so I don’t recall. Either way, it was cool. We’ll be going back on our next trip to Dothan, for sure!

ALABAMA 2017 PART TWO: FLORIDA

Our friends enjoy the ocean as much as we do, despite one of them also being a sunburn-prone ginger, so of course we had to drive down to the gulf while we were there!

We stopped at a beach shop an grabbed some floats for the kids to use. We even had a guy there fill them up for us, and managed to just barely fit them into the car.

Zack tried (and tried and tried) his hand at surfing. He enjoyed it! I think if we ever live by the ocean he’ll give it a real go.

We all felt this way the entire day! ^^^

We stopped in to check out the gators. We saw a small one napping. It was terrifying.

1, 2, 3- LOOK UP!!

We explored the area, climbed trees, observed gorgeous landscapes, and attempted to poach some stubborn palm leaves. No dice, but she gave it her all.

We also ate at a Greek restaurant before leaving town. Delicious!

Everyone came home with a sunburn. My lips, the girls’ under-eyes, Zack’s entire body, ha! Worth it.

ALABAMA 2017 PART ONE

Possibly Definitely the most fun trip we’ve taken in our 12 years together. Our children being old enough to take care of themselves contributed to this, but really it was the people. Our favorite people.

Endless hours of popcorn on the trampoline, water balloon fights, eating frozen yogurt in the heat, dirty feet and not a care in the world. The Stevens’ know how to make the middle of March feel like summer vacation.

We felt right at home the moment we arrived. Helped ourselves to the fridge, our girls shared with each other without hesitation, and there was *no fighting all week*!! Eight humans, happy as can be in each other’s company. We would make for terrible reality television.

Mae got sun sick one afternoon. Poor girl. I got snuggles out of it, so it wasn’t all bad!

Zack and I took a ride in Jonathan’s red VW bug. Very cool! I mean, look how close I got to be to Zack!!!! We may just need to invest in a punch buggy. Anything to get a little more shoulder contact with that man!

My dearest friend took me out for an entire day, just the two of us! Food, shopping, and plenty of catching up!

(KBC has incredible food, and Dothan Ice Cream has the best homemade ice cream and popsicles!)

They took us to family day at the art museum. We got to create faux stained glass pictures to take home, and did a scavenger hunt around the galleries. The whole experience gave Zack a lot of ideas for his classroom. (The art was all made by kids grades K-12. They even had a section of art made by blind children!)

I still have two posts to write about our time with them, but this image of Rae, the morning we left, sums up our general mood. Sad.