Starting with the girls’ fifth birthdays we exchanged the idea of gifts for an “experience.” (We also do this for Christmas) They get to choose what they want to do – this year they chose to celebrate together with a fancy supper and a movie, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.

While we don’t have parties anymore, Grandma Shari always likes to have a day with them. The celebrations began two days before Mae’s eighth birthday by way of a sleepover with Grandma!

The following day was filled with our tradition of a new outfit for each of them, a new American Girl (Our Generation Girls) from Grandma and lunch at the new pizza place in town.

(Mae renamed her doll, formerly Peggy, Penny. Rae renamed her’s, formerly Holiday Haven, Holly)

The girls each received a card filled with cash monies in the mail from their Grandma Penny!

With a bit of her money, Mae bought herself her first robot! Daddy helped build it. It’s powered by salt water and boy does that thing fly!

Mae received a phone call on her birthday from Grandpa. Rae got a call from Grandma Penny, who was treated to some caroling!

Rae bought Mae a genuine wooden boomerang and Mae bought Rae a Harry Potter and Hedwig Lego set.

(If we actually called our girls “Mae” and “Rae,” things would get confusing quick around here!!)

For the main event, we brought along Grandma Shari and our cousins – who we just cannot get enough of! All of them are quick to go along with whatever plans we think up and always have just as much fun as we do. It’s so nice to have that kind of friend (mother-in-law included!)

The Nutcracker was delightful! The dance number during the credits had us laughing so so hard! (Rae’s laugh was the best part of the day for me!) It wasn’t intended to be funny, so maybe it won’t be so funny the second time around? I hope it is…

The girls dressed their best – of course. Rae also brought along her American Girl doll but left her in the car. However, Holly was also dressed her best.

For the meal portion of the date, we went to the Fountain on Locust downtown. It is such a charming place! Everyone, aside from myself, got ice cream. I don’t like sweets, but man oh man their ice cream is the greatest. I ordered white chicken chili and it was equally as delicious (according to the non-sweet eater…). It came with homemade cornbread – the greatest cornbread I’ve ever had. I’m hoping we make it back there soon.

On Rae’s actual birthday, the girls baked a cake and cut out some circle slices for individual cakes. We set aside some un-frosted slices for G to enjoy. Mae made some shrinky-dink toppers as a surprise to Rae and by the time they were ready to eat them, they looked pretty good!

I am so thankful for the girls that made me a mom and another beautiful year with both of them!


My sweet Rae,

I spent the better part of my afternoons this week reading past letters I’ve written to you. What joy you bring to our days. It’s been great to see which traits have stuck with you (your infectious head-thrown-back belly laugh) and which traits you’ve sadly grown out of (back pats).

I am in awe of the beautiful qualities that make you our Amelia.

Now! Let us see what your sixth trip around the sun entailed!

You are still shy yet very outspoken when the occasion calls for it.

You, like me, want to be completely surrounded by people who are leaving you well enough alone. Thanks for exempting me from such boundaries and allowing me to share your bubble for snuggles anytime I want.

I love the way you speak. My favorite “Raeism” has to be how you refer to today as, “This day.” and tomorrow as, “The next day after this day.”

Penelope is still your favorite human.

You love the idea of going to Daddy’s classroom but do not actually like being in Daddy’s classroom.

You are entering your seventh year with a consistent love of naps and you still fall asleep during most car rides. It’s the cutest.

You’ve finally caved and decided to move on from your coveted pixie cut and are now aiming for “Mommy’s hair.” I miss the pixie.

You drew me a picture, possibly, every day this past year. Often, several a day. You fold them up and put them in an envelope with a sticker across the seal, and place it / them on my pillow.

I may require that this tradition continues well into your adulthood.

I kid…

But, please, don’t grow out of this phase too fast okay?

You used to be fanatical about things, such as Star Wars and our beloved, Sarah and Duck. Nowadays, you like many things a decent amount – such as! – dinosaurs, comic books, dancing, painting (You would paint all day if I’d let you. Someday, I hope I let you.).

In your sixth year, I do believe your affection for accessories grew to new heights. Maybe it’s the new hair? You adore headbands, clips, braids, earrings (clip-ons), bracelets and of course, watches.

You lost three teeth this year! You were so worried well before you even felt the ‘tweensiest’ wiggle and by the time the third tooth was loose enough, you pulled it yourself. whatagirl.

Happiest of birthdays, Rae. We love you immensely.


October is my favorite month. It may have started because it is the month I was born, but as I have aged, the reason has shifted and I now I love it for all of the celebrations it holds and, now that I live up north where fall exists, I am allowed to feel cool air and view the changing leaves making October, officially my favorite.

This month it seemed to go by so fast I couldn’t soak it all in and enjoy all it had to offer. I know I will enjoy looking back on our days as I scroll through this blog in ten years or so, but right now I thoroughly appreciate that it is helping me notice just how full our days, months, and years are.

Every month goes by faster than the next and I am usually left feeling as though we didn’t accomplish anything of worth. Slowly building each post and finding I have more and more to add shows me a different story.

So, let’s get on with the final bit of this month’s story…

We began our month celebrating both of the girls’ birthdays with Zack’s mom  (Rae’s birthday is in November – We will celebrate even more!) – a post all about our many celebrations will be posted at some point in November.

Orange and red and yellow are creeping up here and there. Not cold full-time yet though, so we have yet to start up the fireplace or furnace. Please be cold, November…

Bailey has a new favorite nap spot. In the window box right smack dab in the path of the sun. My kind of lady.

Rae hiding in the bathroom to get away from G. ^ He loves her so much.

^ Those toes! ^

I wrote about our month with the boys back here.

We spent a day in the city as a family – which used to be a common occurrence but sadly isn’t anymore. Autumn is our favorite time and we’re trying to make the most of it. We went to the London Tea Room, the Saint Louis Art Museum, and Ikea – Three of our favorites!

We’ve got a new member of the family. She’s incredible.

Lady lost her third tooth! She wrote the tiniest note to the tooth fairy and set it on my pillow, not hers. She wanted to pretend the tooth fairy was real, but then nixed that idea when she realized she would only get a little bit of money versus a treat (her own pint of dairy-free ice cream). I still kept the note. I love it so much.

Side spiel : The girls decided they would like to pretend Santa is real for the second year in a row. We’ll see how that goes. Their letters to Santa seem to be in a hieroglyphic code which Momma may not be able to decipher…

So much time ( so. much. time. ) was spent in the car. This seems to be our new normal. It’s okay, though. I like our car and it has heat!

Mae started therapy for her feet (she’s fine), so we have spent a couple days a week at the doctor. We still have four or five weeks left to go. Thankfully the kids are all so patient while we wait for her!

For school this month we have been using the fly by the seat of our pants method.

We began a large-scale project on the food chain – producers & consumers. The girls have designed their own food web, complete with labels and a map key. (and not featured on the web – scavengers and decomposers)

We received our second Little Passports country. JAPAN!

Brazil and Japan are the first two?? Those are the countries my parents were born and raised in. It is a smidge creepy that those are the two the folks at Little Passports chose, but also great for us. We have pulled out quite a bit of the Japanese items we own to help us along in our research.

In the first week, they practiced origami, wrote their own haikus (and used fancy ink pens to do so), studied maps and books on their own time, and begun memorizing certain Japanese words and 1-10 (Mae already knew those). Oh, and of course eating Ramen (with ham and boiled eggs) with chopsticks…okay, eating everything with chopsticks…

We plan on making sushi – or at the very least, we will take them somewhere to try it – and watching all of Miyazaki’s movies for the hundredth time. As if we need an excuse.

Now, next month we may not know the country so well, but I think that may make it a bit more interesting (for me). We have studied several countries over the years, but Little Passports has a good way of helping us along and makes it interesting and helps us get creative.

Rae and her animals. Bailey has been really generous with her snuggles on the cold days. On the warm days, Rae hunts frogs.

I turned 31. This is all the proof I have of that day. Mae on day three of wearing that sweater, Rae holding a frog. Mae being a stinker, me paying her back with classic rib-tickles. I’m so glad I get to be their mom and hang out with them full time.

We visited with a turtle for a bit.

A love of tire swings bloomed in Miss Mae. I still don’t trust our trees enough to put one up in our own yard…

More cute notes. The one on the left I received at 10 P.M. one night from a girl who couldn’t sleep. The other one, I found while cleaning out my Bible. (I put it back in my Bible.)

Cute girl being cute.

Here are some more photos of Mae in her favorite sweater – just in case you hadn’t seen enough of it yet…

Mae had costume day at Dance the week before Halloween and we followed it up with a Halloween party at our cousin, Anna’s house!

For their final performance, they went as a normal witch and an eagle (she couldn’t find part of her Dorothy costume.).


…the second attack was not so well received… That is one proud eagle, though.

It was cold and rainy and just how Halloween should be. We went door to door with G and his family as well as up to the school. Zack had a booth at the school’s Trunk or Treat. The Art Club trunk was incredible (not surprised!). He’s brilliant.

NOW! on to more color, colder days by the fire, more birthday celebrations, and a long holiday weekend spent with our favorite man!

We’re ready for you, November!




For our October field trip, we went to Grant’s Farm. G’s mom went with us (and Zack, since teachers had a day off), as well as her sister and my friend, Ven! It was a full house.

The day was, for me, broken up quite a bit – with a doctor appointment for Mae at an early 7 A.M. followed by a two hour drive to the farm and some of our group getting there a bit later than us, some leaving early, and an unexpected lunch outside of the park – all on top of every school in the area being out for the day (busy roads and restaurants). It was quite a day. It was so nice to see everyone there together (even Zack!)

I loved the drizzly, cold weather and the German-style buildings!

The Clydesdales were gorgeous. A couple of them even let us pet them and give ’em a good scratching behind the ears.

They were studying at the map and looked like the cutest little tourists. A sight which quickly dissipated once they saw the camera. Still cute though.

Always collecting. We came home with quite the collection of wet (but colorful!) leaves.

I normally cringe at the thought of making my girls pose, but I couldn’t pass up this gigantic green door without a cheesy mannequin pose.

Thanks, everyone who tagged along and spent their day with us!!

Next month’s field trip will involve only Zack and the girls. They’re going to see a play and go out to lunch!


I’m a dog-mom again! Meet Miss Maybe.

…only about a year sooner than we planned, but she sure is sweet. She couldn’t stay with her previous family and Lord knows we’ve got the space (and love) to spare for people-less animals.

Zack and I are self-proclaimed cat people. The kind of cat people that will always own a dog and Maybe sure is a great dog to have around.

She seems to be a mix of our past three dogs – Maple, Rosie, and Buckey. While she is a pointer mix and not a hound or healer, she definitely looks like a Maple / Rosie mix. Her personality reminds me most of Buckey. She would’ve made such a great friend to him.

She likes to lie around. Usually, within the room I happen to be in (as Buckey would have done). She really wants to be outside all of the time. She whines to go out most of the day, so we are going to get a fence situation going on soon enough. For now, we will just take her into town for walks and tie her up for some lounging in the sun every now and again.

She is the most talkative dog we have ever had. She makes many different sounds. Whines, low barks, and yelps. She really wants us to know what she is thinking – as opposed to our other, much less talkative, dogs.

Most importantly, Maybe is so great with the kids! At first, she didn’t give any attention to the baby, ‘A’. After a couple of days, she began to lie next to him and follow me around as I held him (and join him for tummy time). G follows her around and lies next to her to chat and pet her paws. Mae likes to give her belly rubs and imitate her various sleeping positions. Rae? Eh. She likes her just as much as the rest of us but acts as though she has lived with us forever (she’s a cat person).

It only took a few hours for her and the cats to get used to each other. Halleluiah.

As for me, I love that she always lays her head on my belly when I sit down and sleeps through the night and is so so sweet and does tricks and doesn’t pull on her leash and lets me use her as a pillow and answers to the name we gave her and…

Thanks for our little lady, Sarah! She will be loved and snuggled and appreciated!


Again with the Ikea? I know. I get it if many you have heard enough Ikea chatter from me, but we like it. So much so, that after a full day of walking we still wanted to fill our afternoon with more walking around that gigantic place.

Really, we went there that day so I could buy myself a comfy chair for my birthday. I sit at our table for the majority of each day so I need a decent chair – but everyone else was just as enthusiastic about the visit! (We may be going back to get Mae one of these chairs. She keeps stealing mine…)

^ ^ Zack moving the warm lamp away from the faux fur. Whataguy. ^ ^

We couldn’t help but pop into a couple displays along the way, but overall, we have gotten pretty good at shortcutting our way through if we want to.

These girls are such troopers, always going along with us for great distances and long days without complaint. It totally looks as though Rae is bored out of her gourd, but she’s mega thrilled to be at her favorite store. Just content and calm. Soaking it all in.

I think Ikea is to them what Sam’s was to me as a kid (and what Costco and Sam’s are to most Americans today) It’s pretty great and I’m sure we’ll be back again soon. Maybe next time I’ll spare you the post about it…


The girls and I took my niece to the St. Louis Art Museum not too long ago, but Zack was stuck walking Buckey around Forest Park. Not a bad gig, but he missed the museum. So! On our family day, he got to stroll at his leisure around the exhibits.

There was plenty of parking available close to the museum (rare!), so we were able to enjoy a stroll through this lovely path. Perfect day for it.

Boy, it sure is great having him around!

Mae and I noticed that Zack and Rae walk just alike. Left us wondering if we walk alike as well.

First stop? The ladies room to compare sidewalk loot.

Notice Zack’s hand by Mae’s face? And again up there by Rae? He likes to play with our hair. I couldn’t help but giggle at the number of times I spotted his hands in someone’s hair as I went through the photos I took. But, I took far too many photos (very unlike me, I know), so I’ll leave you with these two.

This ^ exhibit was a series of engraved images. Just behind that wall by Rae, they had a 3D stop-motion movie playing (Sun Xun: Time Spy) which was made using the displayed images (I’m sure it was the intention behind their creation). It was cool to come out from viewing the film and recognize images we saw.

Rae was incredibly enthusiastic about this fork and knife set. She thought it was both awesome and silly that people used utensils like that a long time ago.

These two. Oi. My heart can hardly take it.

Those images also suggest that I had my own little twin-shadow, which makes my heart just as happy.

The girls took many a photo as we walked along. Mae took this one. She guessed its story correctly and really liked it. She has always dreamed of helping a bird in need.

This large incased platter was trimmed with lions and had a crest in the center. When my girls saw it, they shouted, “Gryffindor!” Hopefully, everyone in our vicinity found this as amusing as I did…

One of the three stops we had to make was the Native American exhibit. Zack dubbed these mocassins, “the first Vans.”

These were my favorite. They look like soccer kleets and have a simple design.

Another required stop was the “knights exhibit.” Rae so graciously took our photo as we studied a headstone. Ain’t we cute?

The final spot we couldn’t pass up was the Egyptian exhibit. They had new mummies, carved porcelain urns with organs in them (might sound unappealing, but they were gorgeous), and an interactive program (Mae is staring at it) that let you observe the mummy in the photo above. It was pretty cool.

The incredibly gorgeous boy and his twerps.

We’ve got one more stop on the blog tour of our family day out. We definitely need more full days together. It seemed much easier when the girls were younger. I’m sure many a song has been written about such things…


This past weekend, I had my monthly book club in St. Peters. I decided to bring the girls along and take them out the following day for a day in the city. Our plans snowballed into a fully packed three day weekend (more on that later) and Zack tagged along – which meant my day with my girls turned into a family day. It was so great to have him around to enjoy a day of (what we consider) fun!

Our first stop was breakfast at the London Tea Room. It was cloudy and freezing and a bit damp from rain the night before. Perfect.

We veered away from our usual Irish Breakfast Tea (basic black tea) with cream and got a large pot of Mango Pear White (I could drink this every day) and a small Maple Walnut Sencha (Liquid Christmas).

The food is fresh, warm, and incredible!

Rae and I got Spinach Ricotta Croissants, Rae got her own Jammie Dodger, while Zack and Mae each enjoyed a Coconut Macaroon, and we all split a scone with jam and butter.

Next time I’m thinking we’ll go for lunch and get some of those hearty pastries.

While Zack and I talked and finished off the teas, the girls walked around the very small, adorable shop. I took that photo from where I sat, and it includes most of the shop.

The best part?? We were able to enjoy one of our favorite spots with our favorite human.


While taking Mae’s birthday portraits a couple weeks ago, Rae found a turtle. So, I did what you’re not supposed to do, and took it home. We kept it for four hours and set her free by our neighbor’s pond while the cats were not watching.

Below are some photos of the girls holding her shell. Very entertaining stuff…


Marvelous Mae, you turn EIGHT today!

What an incredible honor it is to be your mom. You are this kindest, most patient, curious, loving human being I will ever know. I was given another year with you (a completely healthy you!), that alone makes my heart burst and my eyes brim with tears – alright, let’s get away from this mushy stuff… Hopefully, as you’re reading this I am still around bothering you with these words in person, daily.

Let’s move along to see what you are like at this very moment in time!

You are, still, always good for a joke, sincere encouragement, or an adventure.

You have grown two inches in the past year!

You care about your clothes and find a way to bring about your own style. You work with what you’ve got and thankfully, your hand-me-downs are just what you prefer to wear!

You are so proud of your progress in dance and have been striving to devote more time to your stretches, your knowledge of what you’re taught as well as building up your technique. You are always floating and dancing your way from one place to the next.

You still do not like meat. Your father wants to know, “Why?” Along those lines, your favorite meal has to be dessert – even if that means designating a non-sweet item on your plate as the “dessert.” You like soup, salads, and the greatest of all foods would have to be pancakes. All types of pancakes.

You are adaptable and pleasant in every situation. You never complain about anything – and I truly mean that ‘anything’. Well okay, if there is meat on your plate by accident, say on pizza or in a meal at someone’s house, you wince a little.

You hold your sister’s hand all. the. time. and it is the greatest.

You always have paper and a pencil with you. You copy words from books, write stories, write letters and write random words whose spelling you want to commit to memory.

And, Oh!, that memory of yours. I’ve never seen anything like it. The other day, you brought up a seemingly insignificant five-minute conversation you and I had two years ago! because it related to a current conversation we were having. You can tell me how to get to Vovo’s old house in Dothan, Alabama. You know certain recipes by heart, and you hear very sophisticated words and will bring them up in the natural flow of a sentence. Words we didn’t even know you knew but had heard somewhere along the way.

You are definitely an older sister. I don’t want to say bossy so before I do, let’s jump on over to the next sentence!

Your favorite subject is probably still science – biology and robotics are where it’s at. You, like your daddy, have to figure out how things work and why they work. But, you are like your momma in the way that you always want to go somewhere, anywhere at all times.

Paris and horses and baking and reading are a few of your favorite things. You can read so well now and are understandably proud of yourself!

I feel as though saying, “We love you so much!” falls short of what we truly mean. Those words are said so frequently that they may lose their meaning if they haven’t already – but I’m not too great at or fond of metaphors. So, I will tell you we feel more deeply for you than we ever thought we could feel. When you came into this world we discovered a new kind of love that is beyond understanding and beyond measure. You share our love with your sister, yet somehow you each have more than our whole hearts in your possession. You are imperfect, yet perfect. I cannot possibly love you more but I can try, more than I do, this year to show you how much I adore you.

My beautiful, Mae. Happy Birthday sweet girl.