Great-Grandparents: Grandma J

March 17, 2012


Hazel was born in Missouri. At a young age her father deserted his family damaging something in Hazel that she would always struggle with. Her mother worked as a milliner to take care of the family. Hazel’s grandmother was Swedish and never spoke English. There were times that Hazel would have to play quietly at her mother’s workplace because there was no other place for her to go. With the hard times, Hazel’s mother had Hazel go and live with some family members out-of-state. The stay was not long, but Hazel feared she would never be reunited with her mother. When she did return, her life was considerably better because her mother had remarried. Her step-father was a kind man who always treated her well.

Hazel grew and after finishing high school she got a job and earned enough money to travel to the Word’s Fair in Chicago, IL with a girlfriend. She met her husband Harry at work. Because they married during the Great Depression she had to leave the workforce to allow for an additional job in the community. Several years later her life changed again, she became a farm wife. There was always something to do and she was a master at keeping her hands busy and getting as much done as possible with the limited time. There are stories that while she would do mending and sewing she would rock the baby cradle with her foot. Also, with washing clothes being so much work and their life filled with a lot of routine she potty trained her second daughter at one-year-old to reduce the volume of laundry to do. Hazel had her first child at a hospital before they moved to the farm and there no issues, so when it was time to have the second daughter, they were to have her at home with help. The second delivery was difficult and she almost didn’t make it through the delivery.

Her life was a lot simpler when Harry moved to town and took up a working wage job. She was still the hard worker, but not having the additional labor required by the farm was a welcome relief. Her young years in the depression and her personal family struggles seemed to give her an attitude of making do with whatever she had. Hazel enjoyed her time in Albuquerque and made lifelong friends. In Oak Ridge, she enjoyed her church and having family close by again. Always staying busy, she served her husband in retirement. She outlived him by over ten years. She missed him tremendously in those years, but also had the support of family, neighbors, and her church family. Hazel knew all of her grandchildren, saw all of them marry but one, and met many of the great-grandchildren.

This is the grandparent that Mama was the closest to. That closeness came from just spending time and the opportunity of being nearby. Those last 10 years of her life alone were also the years that Mama could do the most for her. We spent time going to the grocery store together and doing yard work for her. What a blessing to have known her as a child and as an adult. Grandma, as she was known to Mama, was always sewing. For most of her life she made the clothes that she and her girls wore and repaired the clothes that Harry wore. Later in life when ready-made clothes were simpler to buy she changed what she sewed and took up quilting. She had a beautiful small stitch and made many quilts. She made embroidery work for others, including pieces for Mama which now hangs on the walls of her girls’ room. Mama remembers spending hours in the kitchen with Grandma cooking. Her best treat foods were the cinnamon rolls and chocolate meringue pie. We spent summers on the back porch snapping green beans for her to freeze for the winter. She always seemed to have time to get everything done and had an order to her life that kept life simple and uncluttered. She was quite a letter writer. She had kept friends from the different places she had lived and kept in contact with those letters. When Mama was away from home she could count on having a letter in her mailbox every week from her grandmother.

There seem to be many things that Mama has from Hazel. Quilts, dollhouse furniture and accessories, embroidery, furniture, family keepsakes, but mostly Mama has wonderful memories.

Mom’s favorite memory of her mother is: sitting creek-side in Colorado and playing with her Ginny doll while her mother sewed dresses for her doll.

Hazel’s legacy is her hardworking spirit, hand-working skills, and her fantastic roll recipe.

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Three generations: Grandma, Rachelle, and Joyce.


Grandma with all but one of her grandchildren. From the left: Carrie, Philip, Rachelle, and Chip.


Hanging out with Grandma in her domain.


Rolling out dough with a little Rachelle helper.

Great-Grandparents: Granddaddy J

March 16, 2012


Granddaddy feeding Rachelle, who was just pulling up on furniture, little tastes of Lemon Meringue Pie.

Harry was born in Missouri where he grew up learning about farming. He finished high school, a Business School, and then started working at American Electric. It was at American Electric that he met his wife Hazel. They were married and had their first daughter. After several years they moved to the family farm. There on the farm they raised a variety of livestock and crops. They also had their second daughter while they lived on the farm. When the second daughter came the older daughter spent many hours out with her father working in the fields and riding on the tractor. Working the farm was hard and it was laboring work. Being the practical man he was, Harry knew that he would need to leave the farm before he had worn his body out and was still young enough to do something else.

The young family moved from the farm to Kansas City. He got a job at Ford Bendix making airplane parts. After several years, the company closed and Harry had to find new work to support his family. There were no jobs available locally, but he heard there were jobs out west so the family packed their car and moved west looking for work as they went. They went as far as Albuquerque where he found a job with ACF. Harry was bright and intelligent and seemed to excel at any job he put his mind to. Their time in Albuquerque was good. The family traveled a lot in the west seeing the Rose Bowl parade in Pasadena, camping in Colorado, driving through the pacific Northwest, seeing Yellowstone, and many places in between. Their oldest daughter married and started her family and their younger daughter was in college when once again the company Harry worked for closed. Some of his supervisors recommended him for a job in Oak Ridge and once again Harry and his wife were moving. In Oak Ridge, Harry finished out his working career. With time their younger daughter settled close by and their older daughter within a five hour drive. Harry spent his retirement enjoying gardening, taking up hobbies, being an elder in his church, and teaching a Sunday school class. He seemed to always be busy and served his wife faithfully. He was fortunate to know all of his grandchildren and see two of them marry before his passing.

Of Mama’s grandparents Granddaddy, as he was known to Mama, was the around for many years of her life. It would have been great to have known him as an adult, but her life was very blessed to have known him through most of her childhood. Some of the amazing memories Mama has of him are the great magic tricks like making a coin appear from behind your ear, he would put funny cups on his eyes and pretend he was different characters, he learned to make fun sugar popcorn that he would treat us kids when we would come to play, we were fascinated to watch him master whatever new hobby he set his mind to, we enjoyed rides in his boat, and loved his “special” pizzas. Looking back something that was always wonderful was that Harry and his wife worked together doing most things. They assisted each other in cooking, putting up garden veggies, and other projects.

Granddaddy was such a tinkerer. Probably the best thing he ever made for Mama was her doll house and many of the dollhouse pieces. Mama spent hours playing with the house that was such a labor of love he and Grandma made together.

Mom’s favorite memory of her father is: the yearly hunt for the perfect Christmas tree in the mountains outside of Albuquerque.

His legacy was his devotion to God, church, and his wife along with the hardworking spirit that drove him. His hardworking spirit can be seen in his girls, his cleverness in his grandkids, and his green thumb in his older daughter.


Two kitchen helpers


Granddaddy entertaining Philip with the silly cones on his eyes.

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Granddaddy with all but one of his grandkids. From left: Carrie, Rachelle, Granddaddy, Philip, and Chip.


The photo was taken of his backyard in Oak Ridge. Running along the side of the yard is his beloved garden that kept him busy all summer long. Dad must have been on the roof taking the photo and in the photo are: baby Rachelle, Joyce, Granddaddy, Grandma, Philip, Dalmatian mother Prissy, and Dalmatian pup Sparky.


Granddaddy “Lincoln Logging” with Philip and Rachelle at the kitchen table.

Spring Has Sprung

March 15, 2012

Today was a beautiful day. It was a warm and sunny morning to play at the Botanical Garden with our friends. We shared our last picnic and playtime for a while as Elena and Maeve will be doing some traveling. Emily is praying for her friends every night that God would take care of them on their trip and bring them home safely. Very genuine and sweet! One funny activity of the day was with the Pringles we shared. The girls all enjoyed making their duck faces with the chips.


The big girls being very sweet together.


They were being a bit silly, but having fun playing in their special castle.


How very typical of Julia these days to have her fingers in her mouth. She is cutting some molars right now and they must be bothering her a lot, because she puts everything in her mouth to chew on it. Sweet smile – she enjoyed her time playing with her friends.


Mirror, mirror on the wall – who’s the silliest of them all? Today it was the little girls for sure.


Maeve is always ready for a moment with the camera, at least with Ms. Rachelle.

Great-Grandparents: Grandma T


Grandma T with baby Rachelle

Thelma was born in Missouri. She married Charles while she was in college. After moving several times, they had their children in Cincinnati. While her children were in upper-level classes, she returned to Missouri Teachers College to complete her elementary education degree. She then taught in a Cincinnati elementary school until retirement. While the children were in school she was a substitute teacher in the school system her children attended. In Cincinnati she was an active artist, painting most of her life. All of her children’s homes are filled with art from her hand. The inspiration of most of her art was the places she knew or visited including a trip to Europe following her husband’s death. Her life did extend beyond her husband’s and she enjoyed the privilege of knowing all of her grandchildren.

A college education for a woman in her era was not common. Her daughter followed in her footsteps and received her degree in teaching which she used until retirement. This legacy of education is a strong one in our family where all the women have continued on to complete their college degrees along with the men.

Mama does have of memories of time with Grandma T. She passed away while Mama was still in elementary school, so while her memories are limited they are clear. Mama remembers the twin beds we would sleep in when we would visit. The apartment building she lived in was unique to Mama as a child because she knew no one else who lived in an apartment. The apartment was very close to an ice cream shop which she remembers visiting. One New Years Eve, Grandma T watched Philip and Mama while we all watched the Wizard of Oz on TV. Mama remembers being very scared during the movie and hiding among the blankets we were camping in on the floor. Mama remembers the apartment as being very full. All of the walls were covered with art. We would be allowed to play, if we were quiet, in a basement area, back drive, and in the apartment. On a visit to Grandma T’s one summer Philip and Mama were introduced to our first non-parent tennis lesson. Forgive the random remembrances, because these are about all Mama has of her time with her Grandma T.

Mama is pleased to have her own selection of Grandma T’s art to hang in her house. Mama’s has been told that Grandma T never thought a painting to be completed. She was known to get a paint brush and paints out to make changes to works on her wall. What a fun perspective on life!

Dad’s favorite memory of his mother is: that she often took him to art school with her.

Her legacy to her family was her art skill and the inspiration of art. Mama has seen first hand examples of this legacy in both her aunts art interests and in the help her own father has given her in art projects where he showed his own skill in perspective and drawing.


Three generations – Grandma T, Philip, and Rachelle. Photo taken outside of Grandma T’s Cincinnati apartment.


A family visit – Grandma T and two of her children’s families, Ann and Philip. Ann was taking the photo. From the left Uncle Don, Lynn, Laura, Grandma T, Joyce, Philip, Phil, and Rachelle.


One of Phil’s favorite pastimes was baseball. This photo was taken outside of the Cincinnati Reds ballpark.

Great-Grandparents: Grandpa R

March 14, 2012


The grandparent that Mama never knew. Charles was born in Missouri, received his education degree at Central Missouri Teachers College and met his wife Thelma there through his best friend who was also Thelma’s brother. He worked for a time in Kansas City, got additional education in Minnesota, and a masters degree from Ohio State. After getting his masters he was hired by a high school in Cincinnati where he taught industrial arts including wood working and drafting. They remained in Cincinnati the rest of their lives raising their three children. He saw all of his children marry and met many of his grand-children.

He raised his children during and after WWII in which the kids kept victory gardens and used the extra veggies to sell in the neighborhood. Charles placed a high value on education and all of his children completed their college educations. None of the children settled in the area and both of their sons served in the armed forces.

Charles was very handy at building with wood. Some of the things that he built that have remained in the family are picture frames and a children’s table.

His legacy to the family was his love of education.

Dad’s favorite memory of his father is: doing projects for boy scouts with his dad. Dad would make the designs and then they would build the projects together at the high school wood working shop.

While Mama never met her Grandfather she has been taken past places he lived in Missouri and Cincinnati. One of our family favorite stops was a neighborhood bakery where he would get his favorite weekly baked good. Mama has several frames that he built for his wife’s art and the child sized table.


Charles, Thelma, Phil, and Joyce on Phil and Joyce’s Wedding Day

Thoughts on Great-Grandparents

Following will be several different posts about some of the girls great grandparents. In no way is this a biography of their lives or even guaranteed of being completely accurate. It is just an attempt to represent a bit of heritage and relationship we had with or to each other. The inclusion and exclusion of some of the great grandparents also does not limit their significant impact upon our family, only represents the available information.

We want to honor those who have gone before us and their contributions to our individual lives and to the corporate entity of our families. We also want to thank those who have told us stories of family members we were unable to meet and pass on our own version of stories. Through these stories we have met the people who have shaped our family.

One Beautiful Day

February 24, 2012

We are having one beautiful day here in Tennessee. The temperatures are getting up toward 70 degrees, the sun came out around noon, and there is a pleasant breeze. To celebrate this wonderful weather (which is only lasting one day), we met our friends after school at a nearby park. We also needed to break the trend of not taking the camera out much. These cold months are hard ones to remember to take photos of our resident smiles.

The park play highlights include: lots of running around, giggles, trying new equipment out, one wet slide that slowed down Emily’s fun, post-lunch snacks, and lots of busyness. Despite being wet, Emily had no interest in coming home. The warm weather makes us all long a little more for spring to officially come.


Wow, they both looked at the camera and smiled together! We are so fortunate that Emily has such a great friend.


Emily will be getting a haircut tomorrow so this is the before photo, but what a great smile from her too. Not always what she is willing to give the camera.


The only way they would both look at the camera (or in the direction of) was to ask about the bug on my head. They were skeptical – does it show? Emily needs more gray shirts, her eyes sure look gray in this photo.


Our sweet girl. Having a great day of not acting too independent. She is wanting to show so much individually these days. She wanted to butter her bagel just like Emily did. She too will be getting a haircut tomorrow, but not expecting any huge style changes.


Our resident pixie friend. Without the awesome pigtails she would still be a pixie, but they sure do make the look complete.

Valentine’s Day Playdate

February 23, 2012

We met up with our friends on Valentine’s Day for a playdate. It was a cool and rainy day so we chose a warm and active option instead. Our friend Lincoln introduced us to Gym Bugs and the girls fell in love (with Gym Bugs, not Lincoln – hee hee). They asked to go back immediately. It is a great place to work off our extra energy. Basically they have a room filled with interactive toys and gym equipment pieces for the kids to play with. The girls loved playing and then when we were done we got lunch at Chick-fil-a together. It was a great way to spend the day – with other little people we love.


I think the big kids were pretending to be chickens while they bounced. The little one was just loving bouncing and playing.


Emily found these fruit bins and fruit to sort. She played with them the whole time sorting them, resorting them, moving them, and finally cleaning them up. She did do other things, but always came back to them. Such a serious girl.


The less serious side of Emily. She seemed to love being in flight.


You have to love the serious face on Kenzie. What a silly girl! She had a blast.


They have this rollercoaster for the kids to ride. I would have thought it gimmicky in a catalog, but in person it is pretty cool and the kids love it. They were so good to share and put the car back for the next kids. Julia’s turn was next – can you see her excitement?


Julia’s turn!!!!! That is one happy kid.


What could anyone want more for Valentine’s day than a hug from Maeve.

Back to the Aquarium

February 22, 2012

We went back to visit the Aquarium this time with Daddy. We had to show him all of our favorite spots. Emily was excited to see the Garden Eel. We had learned about them just that week and the idea of getting to see one was cool. It is such a different visit with two parents. The kids get more freedom to pick the thing they want to look out without having to stick with the other kid. They seemed to enjoy their freedom and in the interactive section they were rarely together.


A serious Emily in the fish tank. She did look at the camera though.


Julia had so much fun looking at the fish in the tank she couldn’t stand still for a photo.



Julia giving her "cheesy" smile.



Mama has not crawled down the observation tube before and it was fun. We visited in the later afternoon and again the penguins were settled in for the night. We read all the arm bands we could see. It was fun to have a name for the different penguins.

Emily’s Birthday Party

January 26, 2012

Emily picked to swim for her birthday party. She also picked her party theme to be a Snow Princess party. To be a Snow Princess she got a special blue dress with pom-poms sewn on to make it ‘princess-y’.

We went to a local heated pool to have her party. We started off with some running around a gym, followed by decorating princess shoes with gems (Aiden got a frog to decorate), then lunch of pizza and cupcakes, and lastly all the swimming the little ones could handle. Emily had a lot of fun at her party. She is already planning her next one.


The birthday girl – she was having a good time despite the serious face.


A little pre-party game of tag. They do not understand the game and just had fun running away from Ms. Rachelle.


Craft time


Emily was serious about her shoe decorating. She had been planning for days which shoe she wanted to decorate.


Julia took her gluing seriously. She spread it all over her shoe like she was icing a cake.


The frog turned out pretty cute!


Our table of goodies


Emily enjoyed a lot of freedom in the pool because she was willing to kick herself around on the kickboard. She seemed to have the hang of the kickboard more this day than she has before.


Julia was pretty busy in the pool. Every time the camera came out she seemed to be turning her back to it. She had a great time just playing.


Aiden and his Mama – what a great photo. They both have great grins.


Elena floating on her own


Maeve’s eyes seem to always have such a sparkle


The little girls floating and having a great time together. It is nice to have friends.

Emily’s Birthday

January 19, 2012


Emily’s birthday fell on a Sunday this year which made one of the activities for the day going to church. Afterwards we went to lunch with Grammy, Granddaddy, and Mr. Joseph. Emily picked Chinese to eat so we went to PF Chang’s for dinner. She was a bit excited and had trouble focusing much on her dinner. Not to worry, we took home the leftovers which she demolished the next day for lunch. After dinner we went home and ate cake and opened gifts. The rest of the day was spent playing with the different new toys.

On Thursday when we went to Thursday school, Ashley brought cupcakes for both girls to share with their class. Everyone seemed to enjoy their little cupcakes. I love Emily’s cheesy grin!

And Emily is 5

January 15, 2012

birthday girl

Emily has been looking forward to this birthday a lot! She asked for a Snow Princess themed party and has a blue snow princess dress for the occasion. She asked to go swimming for her party too, but as long as she gets to play with her friends she will be happy with any activity.

Emily is our fun loving, active, princess-crazed, prone to emotional outbursts daughter. She is starting to make wonderfully fun comments about the world around her and it is enjoyable to interact with those comments. She also doesn’t miss much of what is going on and secrets are tough, but still possible.

Julia is her favorite playmate in the world. They will play Rapunzel and take turns playing different characters. The new bunk beds make for a wonderful tower in this play. The girls also still love to run the circle of our house; although, Emily is quite certain she wants to win and makes them into races. They also pretend to play that one is the Mama and the other the baby and then take care of each other. Emily loves her sister and enjoys introducing her and finishing her sentences.

Emily is pretty content to play by herself too. Emily loves to take the doll dress-up clothes and dress all of her favorite stuffed animals in the different clothes whether or not the size is quite right. She will drag all of her bedding around the house setting up new places for house. She has taken to building campfires from the building blocks and inviting her stuffed friends to come for camp-outs.

Some of the fun or funny things she is often found to talk about are: her surprise (not-so surprise) birthday party that we are going to throw for her, her future plans for running a hotel and all the detail that are going into its design and management, fascination with different ballet stories and the different variations of the stories.

Some of her other favorites are:

  • favorite color – blue
  • favorite princess – Cinderella
  • favorite food – peanut butter sandwich & sweet and sour chicken (not together)
  • favorite place to go out to eat – Chinese
  • favorite activity – dressing up like a princess
  • favorite clothes to wear – dresses
  • favorite blanket – her "baby mouse" blanket that she has had since birth. Thank goodness Mama’s aunt made it big and she can still fit under it although it is starting to get thin now.
  • favorite thing to draw – princess’s dresses
  • favorite craft activities – coloring and scissor practice
  • favorite playmate – Julia (although she would tell you it was Elena)
  • favorite person to pester – Julia
  • favorite music to sleep to – Baby Einstein – Lullaby Classics
  • favorite music to dance around the house to – the Nutcracker
  • favorite new discovery – that there is a place called Disney World near Aunt Jolie’s house where Cinderella’s castle is. She is advocating starting a savings fund, so we can go and visit the park.


January 11, 2012


We planned a family trip to visit the Aquarium in Gatlinburg while Daddy had some time off. As life does not always go to plan, he was sick and unable to join us girls on the trip. We went on and made the most of our day without Daddy. The girls took naps in the car on the way. After they woke up, we ventured inside to see all the fish.

Emily was very intent on getting down to an interactive area and hardly looked at the fish exhibits on the way. Julia seemed interested in looking at most things for a few minutes each. Once we got to the lower level, the girls chose to ride through the sea tunnel and watch the fish. The moving floor was a huge hit with the girls. Both girls seemed to really watch the different fish and sharks around us.

Then the girls played in the interactive area for quite a while. They were very busy and just turned knobs, flipped switches, slid windows, and ducked in and out of a dark room to their hearts content. In the past we have visited and attended a preschool program, and Emily was curious why we weren’t seeing Jessica and doing a craft.

When we were finally done in the play area, we ventured into a new part of the exhibit about sharks. And then caught a ray feeding while we had a snack. After the excitement of the play area, the girls were most looking forward to seeing the penguin habitat. They have several tunnels to crawl thru and observe the penguins. The girls were a bit disappointed to find the penguins not active and hanging out in the warmer room of the habitat. The idea that it was near the penguin’s bedtime was too hard for them to grasp.

The last treat of the aquarium was Mama allowing the girls stay in the gift shop for a long time checking out all the fun trinkets and books. Normally the stay in the shop is brief, but for a treat we stayed a bit longer.

We went out for dinner on the way home and enjoyed warm bread with dipping oil and pasta. The only thing that could have made the day more perfect was to have Daddy with us. We decided that in about a month we might try the day visit again taking him with us.


Chris the scuba-diver and fish feeder. When he ran out of food to feed the fish he did a few tricks to entertain us. We caught two of his feedings, one with the Rays and the other in the Reef tank.


Emily checking out the penguin habitat. They loved climbing thru the tunnel.


The girls checking out a shark overhead. They found a lot of sharks to watch in this tank.


Julia peeking up at the penguin habitat. I think she was as excited to be able to look back and see Mama as to see the penguins.

Julia and the Helicopter

January 9, 2012


Julia is our transportation girl. If there is a train or plane near us, she is pointing it out to us. On our last day at Dollywood, she found a helicopter in the sky over the park. After pointing it out to Mama, Mama thought it would be a good idea to let her practice saying the word. I said it slowly, in my own southern accent, and broken into syllables “say He-lo-cop-ter”. Did she repeat the word? No, she turned and looked back up at it and waved. She had heard me tell her to “say hello (to the) copter”.

Last Dollywood Trip of the Year

January 7, 2012

We made our final trip of the year to Dollywood the week after Christmas. We arrived an hour after they opened for the morning and they were already filling up parking lot F. Wow, it was busy. Luckily for us the lines were for things the kids aren’t ready for. Maybe we would have caught a show, but we didn’t even try. The day was cool, but comfortable. When the evening cool came we had plenty of warm clothes and blankets to bundle up in to stay warm. We did the girls favorite rides and activities: car driving, carousel, pig, duck, bumble bee, playgrounds, and rope course. We got our funnel cake to share too.

Emily took her nap on the way to the park, but Julia was stubborn and stayed awake. Well, she only made it so long and then fell asleep in the stroller. When we said goodbye to the sun she got wrapped up in a blanket.

We stayed until after dark so that Emily could see all of the lights and see the lights show. She loved it! I’m so glad we got to go so many times this year and enjoyed being together.


We didn’t get many photos of them awake together, but once one goes to sleep it get a bit easier. We are bundled up to stay warm!


Julia got so excited while driving! She was thrilled to get a pink car to drive.


One sacrifice of the park being so busy is that the girls had to share a seat with each other and sharing the rides with other kids. Sometimes they loved it and sometimes it was a bit frustrating for them. They seemed to connect with these girls and they loved the ride.

Christmas 2011

January 2, 2012


The girls loved putting up the tree with Mama and Daddy. They noticed little things that changed about the tree as the season progressed. They were very specific about how their stockings were hung and which one each person should have. We don’t have specific stockings at this point.


They have jammies that they call their “Christmas jammies”. They have been waiting for a whole year to wear them and they were so excited to wear them Christmas Eve. They were good to get Mama and Daddy before they peaked in their stockings.


Our Christmas Dinner – we waited for the girls to have a nap first. Dinner was great and left us with a weeks worth of leftovers.


Julia got a diaper bag full of baby things. She was delighted to stop opening gifts and feed her babies for a while.


Emily was VERY pleased with the Cinderella nightgown that Santa brought her. She asked all day if she could put her nightgown on.


Julia received a cash register toy and her reaction was awesome. She would play with it and discover something and get excited. Then she would play more and then discover something new and get excited again. Christmas is so much fun to watch.


Julia got a Rapunzel nightgown from Santa. She was pleased.

Bunk Beds

January 1, 2012



The pictures are a little busy, but this is the girls’ new bunk bed. It is their big Christmas gift from their parents. They got it a few days early because it wasn’t going to be possible for us to get it put together and remain a surprise for Christmas. They were thrilled with it.

Emily is sleeping on the top of the bunk bed. She has graduated to a twin bed. We got her the canopy for the top to help her feel comfortable sleeping so high. Blue is her favorite color so she thinks it is perfect. She has been sleeping really well in it. The first night was a long one because of the excitement of the new bed. But every other night she has slept the whole night with no fear or incidents. She had been in the habit of coming out to the couch to sleep part way through the night and that has stopped. Nap time has gone well too.

Julia is sleeping in the floor space below the bed. We opted to keep her on her toddler mattress. The smaller mattress give her extra space to have some storage cubbies and play space. When she grows longer we will get her a bigger mattress, but until then she can play in her own special area. Julia has been thrilled with her new space too. She struggles with the ladder to climb up to the top, but we are going to get some handles to give her some help. Since the new bed has come she has requested to nap in her own bed instead of the pack ‘n play. The girls have successfully taken naps together since then. They are highly motivated to go to sleep so that no one has to move to the pack ‘n play.

We chose this bunk bed because it was lower to the ground making it’s presence in the room less overwhelming. Because the girls are younger it makes the transition easier too. The new bed has allowed the play table to be put in their room which they have really liked. Sometime in the near future they will both get new bedspreads that their Mama is making for them.

Christmas Nativity

December 31, 2011


This year the girls participated for the first time in our church nativity program. They got to pick what supporting part they were going to play. They seemed indecisive about their choice until Mama told them what their best friends would be. That clinched it – ANGELS! The girls only went to the practice on the day of the nativity because all they needed to do was stand there and look angelic. Grammy gave each girl their “angel hair”. The curls seemed to make them extra angelic. We had been practicing the songs at home and neither girl was interested in singing them. Emily at one point told us she wasn’t going to sing at the program. When the time came though they were both singing with the songs. I guess they picked up more than they were letting on.

The program was sweet, and we’re glad the girls got to participate and did well. There was no jumping off the stage, crying, or impromptu talking. For part of the time they sweetly held hands with each other and their friends.


Little Angelic one!


Our Sweet Angels!


December 30, 2011


We went to see Santa as a surprise activity after church one Sunday. It was a sunny and warm day. We had to stand in line for about 30 minutes to see Santa at a local nursery. They had reindeer to see and the girls enjoyed wandering among the trees too. Santa was visiting in his sleigh. We asked Julia if she wanted to sit with Santa and she said “no”. She was willing to sit next to him if she sat with Mama though. Both girls took turns talking to Santa. Emily went first and was willing to talk his hear off. Julia told Santa several things she was interested in too.

They enjoyed themselves a lot. We do need to make a repeat visit to see him because Emily wanted to refine what she wants.


December 29, 2011


The Tappan family and Edwards family have a holiday tradition of watching the Nutcracker ballet together during the holiday season. This year we went to the daytime school presentation of the Nutcracker. It turned out that the presentation fell on Maeve’s birthday so it was part of her celebration. Ashley picked back row seats so our active kids wouldn’t disturb any others.

Both of our girls made it through the performance watching with interest. During the intermission the Sugar Plum Fairy came out to tell the kids about the story. She, also with the help of the the Nutcracker prince, demonstrated a pantomime. The pantomime told the story of the Nutcracker’s fight with the King Rat and Clara’s assistance. The girls enjoyed doing it with them. We have repeatedly acted out the pantomime (with words too). The favorite part is the “rat face”. When we decorated the Christmas tree and the girls found our nutcracker character set of nutcracker ornaments. The girls were so excited. We have heard Julia say “King Rat” a lot lately.

It is so much fun to have great memories from holiday activities!


This is our version of the rat face.

By The Christmas Tree

December 28, 2011


Where is the best place to take a nap? How about right next to the Christmas tree. Emily decided to finish out her nap by the tree.

Silly Lunches and Silly Grins

December 8, 2011

silly lunches

Mama tries to make creative lunches for the girls, but Emily took it to an new level with her own lunch. She decided to make the pretzels and grapes into trees and plant them in the peanut butter sandwich. I guess a grape is better when eaten off of a pretzel stick.

Disney On Ice

December 3, 2011


Our friend Laurel bought our family tickets to see Disney On Ice. What a treat to see it together as a family. The girls dressed up for the show, Julia as Sleeping Beauty and Emily as Cinderella. Julia spent the whole show sitting on Mama’s lap. Each time a new character came out Julia would shake with joy. Emily had a million questions about the characters and stories she didn’t know. If she knew the story she would tell us about what we were seeing. They both loved the show. Thanks Daddy for getting some photos!


Emily shared the evening with Daddy.


Julia was just transfixed with the show.


She couldn’t hide her emotions about what was happening. When Julia saw a character she recognized she would announced their entry.


Mickey and Minnie showed up between all of the parts to the delight of the girls.


Our girls favorite part was every part that has a princess in it.

Pumpkin Patch

December 1, 2011


Our annual fall trip to the pumpkin patch had to be moved once so that we could have a beautiful warm fall day. We enjoyed the sunshine, friends, maze, tractor ride, pumpkin picking, goat feeding, and a picnic. We love this playdate!


There were no photos of all of the kids looking at the camera so I picked one with no one looking at it. Why fight kid-nature.


Aiden enjoying the gravel.


Maeve and Lincoln being sweet together.


Elena having fun among the cornstalks.


Emily bringing in her pumpkin. I wonder if she gets that tongue thing from her Mama?


Emily collected flowers from everywhere we went at the pumpkin patch and made herself a flower bouquet. I think she was pretending that she was a bride and that was her wedding bouquet.


An excited Julia!


Julia kept picking flowers and smelling them and then offering it to Mama to smell too.


Julia was proud of her pumpkin.


Kenzie and Heather picking out a pumpkin together.


Maeve feeding the goat.


Natalie found a rock in the pumpkin patch. She was headed over to meet the goats.


Baby Rose hanging out in the sunshine.

Julia’s Hello Kitty Birthday Party

November 30, 2011


Julia picked her birthday party this year. When given her choices she excitedly started jumping up and down saying ‘Jum Ouse”. Every time we asked her for the next week she said the same thing with the same level of excitement. After a week of that it was pretty certain she wasn’t going to change her mind.


Our friends joined us for our play date party. We first went to the bounce house and then to Chick-fil-a for lunch. The kids all had a great time bouncing all of their energy out. Julia was brave to try everything over and over again. A few things gave her trouble with the climb, but she didn’t give up.


We enjoyed our lunch together and for dessert we had bowls of icing with different toppings. Who doesn’t want to pick fun toppings to eat with icing. The mama’s got cookies, but the icing looked pretty good.


Julia had a blast at her party which is the most important thing for ones birthday party. The only bummer for the day was that Mama’s camera battery ran out so the photos of moving kids in a low lit room from her phone isn’t ideal, but still a great way to remember the day.



Emily finds Santa

October 24, 2011


We were checking out a new local market in town, it is October, and Emily finds Santa. There wasn’t a sleigh, there wasn’t a red suit, or a reindeer in sight. Forgive the backlit photo, but I didn’t want to miss the moment in an effort to pose a photo. This gentleman was sitting in a booth talking with a woman and Emily announced that he was Santa. I asked her how she knew he was Santa and she couldn’t really tell me, but she knew it was Santa. He got up and came out to talk to her. Sure enough it was Santa. I guess Santa sports a Santa apron when not in the red suit. They talked for a while and Emily put in her request for her stocking this year. She was so excited about seeing him that she visited him several times while we were there; fascinated with talking to him. Fun memories to remember!

Harvest Party

October 14, 2011


A Cowgirl and her trusty Cow.

Our friend, Sarah, invited us to join her neighborhood & church Harvest Party they have every fall. She has two children just a couple of months younger than both of Emily and Julia. We dressed up in our Halloween costumes for the party. Some years we have had costume issues when we went to put them on, but not this year. They loved them and loved being in them.


At the party there was a scavenger hunt, pumpkin decorating, yummy food, a story, and a pumpkin seed spitting contest. The girls enjoyed running around with the other kids finding the baskets of treats. Emily stuck pretty close to Grace the whole time and Julia wanted to be with Mama. Therefore, Mama saw a lot of Julia and not much of Emily.


Emily had a very serious face and wind blown hair.


We got to practice the word “lollypop” a lot, because it seemed to be Julia’s favorite candy in her basket.

When it was time to decorate the pumpkins they were very serious and content to stick their stickers on the pumpkin. It was fun to watch the serious work. There is so much to learn about kids and how they approach tasks.


The lollypop stick kind of reminded Mama of the toothpick or strand to hay a cowboy might chew on while on the range.


It was surprising that so many kids would sit for a story and be quiet, but they did.


The pumpkin seed spitting contest was funny. Julia didn’t want to try until the third spit. Emily gave it her best try, but she had some bad bounces that brought her seed back to her.



The only sad faces I saw were at the end when it was time to go home with our tummies full of lunch and sweets. We had so much fun in the warm sunshine playing with others. Mama even met some new mamas. Fall is so much fun with nice weather and fun activities.


Julia “moo-ed” for Mama. If you asked her what her costume was she would tell you, “Moo-Cow”. She was very happy to moo anytime you asked her what a cow says. She didn’t keep the cow hat on much, but loved the costume so much she didn’t even take it off for nap when she got home.

Homecoming at Museum of Appalachia

October 10, 2011

We visited the Museum of Appalachia for their annual homecoming. It has been years since Mama has visited the Museum and it was a great day to visit. The weather was another wonderful fall day here in East Tennessee.

We met our friends and explored. We enjoyed the tractor corner, visiting the knitting machine, listening to some of the music, eating curled potato fries, checking out vendor booths, finding old cabins to explore, and enjoying the sunshine. The girls enjoyed playing with Elena, Maeve, and Lincoln. The girls started to wind down as we got close to naptime and we headed home.


Emily helped “Fancy Nancy” run her knitting machine. They were making hats, but it looked like a really long sock. Both girls enjoyed turning the machine crank.


Our normally shy Julia would have stood there all day turning the crank if we hadn’t moved on.


Emily liked the tiny pumpkin.



One really happy Lincoln enjoying his ride.



She looks pretty comfortable up there.


Friends just hanging out and taking in the sights.

How We Celebrate Fall

October 9, 2011

A beautiful Fall morning took us to the Knoxville Botanical Gardens for a playdate. It was perfect. The kids had fun exploring and running around with each other. It is tough to get great photos of moving kids, but I got a few. We are looking forward to the next fun Fall playdate.


Hey, look we got all seven kids to look the same direction at the same time . . . kinda.


As a reward we asked them to make silly faces. It seemed to be a hit for the over-two crowd.


A great and hard-to-photograph genuine Emily smile.


Sweet Elena


Grins from the sun-kissed Julia.


An almost smile from McKenzie.


A pixie smile from the pixie Maeve.

Great Sand Dunes

October 8, 2011


This was the first trip to the Great Sand Dunes for Mama and the girls and Daddy’s second visit. The visitor center was fantastic and had kid friendly exhibits about sand dunes, magnetic sands, lightning, and frogs. They had a video that explained why the huge sand dunes exist in the middle of Colorado. The dunes are deceptively large as you hike out to them; they just grow bigger before your eyes.


We hiked out to the first dune and played on the back steep side for an hour. We would have liked to hike further, but the girls had all the fun they needed on that one dune. The girls practiced their rolling downhill technique. Mama ran down and rolled down too. We could only talk Daddy into running down the dune once. When we left we had sand everywhere. The girls loved seeing all the sand we poured out of their shoes.



Travel Food

October 7, 2011

I love food. This is a fact. In the years of travel with my family as I grew up, we would enjoy food from all over America. There is a problem that comes with travel cuisine. When you go home you can’t get the different foods you find that you love. Therefore, when we travel we have to include food as an activity. This is never more true than with a trip to the Southwest where we get our favorite Mexican food. When we travel to New Mexico and Colorado we hunt down sopapillas.

The trick to finding good sopapillas is to ask locals for the best locations. This trip we found out that restaurants are now stuffing them with taco toppings, but the best way to eat them is to fill them with honey. We found two places that served great sopapillas in the areas we were visiting. Restaurants used to serve them in baskets before meals like some do with tortilla chips. The best we could find were that some restaurants served them as dessert and you could buy more individual sopapillas. The ones we ate made our fingers sticky, cut the spicy kick from our mouths, and made our stomachs full. The biggest disappointment was that Julia didn’t fall in love with them. She tried one bite both times, but passed on the sweet dessert. Emily could manage one each time.

Robby’s family traveled to northern New Mexico when he was a child and their family discovered a favorite restaurant in Taos. We had to stop and try it out. After hearing the stories repeated over and over we were sure that it would struggle to measure up to the hype. We are pleased to say that both their Mexican food was fantastic but so were their sopapillas. The girls tried the Mexican French Toast which was Uncle Doug’s favorite thing to eat there at age three.



Emily eating her Mexican French Toast, which was cinnamon nut bread made into French Toast. Sounded pretty good.

Mesa Verde National Park

October 6, 2011



The drive into Mesa Verde was beautiful. The skies were clear and we could see long distances from the overlooks. One of the places we stopped on the drive was at the fire tower. We took the short hike and enjoyed the views while the girls loved the flag pole. We love how exciting “ordinary” things are to the girls.


The swearing in ceremony. Emily talked about the things the Ranger had told her at her ceremony for days.

At the visitor center, Emily got her first Jr. Ranger booklet to complete. She enjoyed doing the activities with us and absolutely loved being sworn in as a Jr. Ranger later. She was so proud of her badge. We tried to avoid this program on this trip, because it was a little too involved for Julia. She was a bit disappointed to get left out. It won’t be long until she can keep up with the questions and activities.



Julia doing all the climbing hard work all by herself.



Our Jr. Ranger checking out the area for things her Bingo card was missing.


Happy Hikers!

After watching a short video about the people of Mesa Verde we took the Spruce Tree House self guided tour. We only took the kid backpack for the half mile hike into a canyon to the ancient dwellings. Emily played a Bingo game out of her Jr. Ranger guide as we did the hike. At the ruins we were able to climb into a kiva on a ladder and explore. I was so proud of the girls. They didn’t need any help on the ladder and were brave to climb into a dark hole without seeing the bottom. Amazingly, Emily did the whole hike by herself. At the bottom we wondered if we shouldn’t have brought the stroller, but we didn’t need it. She hiked out faster than the rest of us. What a big girl!


After the hike we enjoyed a sunny picnic and then drove other area roads while the girls napped. We have mastered the overlook-kid swap so that we can go on with sightseeing despite naps. The number of dwellings at the park are pretty unbelievable. I appreciate not having to live on the side of a cliff and having to use hand holds to climb down for basic needs like food and water.


Four Places at One Time

October 5, 2011



How can one person be in four different places at the same time? You go to the only place in the United States that has four states touch in one spot. And we did!

We are not sure if the girls really got the significant of the location, but the loved running around the huge concrete pad. There were ramps, flags, vendor booths, and fun lines and words to trace. They were sad to have to move on to the next thing.

Mama had been trying to explain how Native American women hand weave rugs. We found out that a local trading post had someone weaving in the store. Emily and Mama spent 20 minutes sitting on the floor beside a nice lady who was weaving. She was very kind to explain how she picked her designs and colors, how she does the weaving, and how each rug is commissioned. Emily was very shy and wouldn’t talk, but was very curious. This will be a sweet memory.  

Grand Canyon South Rim

September 27, 2011


We visited the south rim for four days, so we had plenty of time to wander around and see the views. We were fortunate enough that we didn’t have to change rooms and could keep our nap schedules on each of the days. This trip was different because while the girls were more mobile they were less willing to cover as many hiking trails as we wanted. Also, Julia in the backpack is getting heavy and harder for us big people to cover as many miles. We did some hiking everyday while we were there, just not all 11 miles of the rim trail.


The girls enjoyed visiting the visitor center closest to our room. There were some interactive displays and books to read in the store. We seemed to make it there everyday at some point. We also rode the buses on the whole bus route to the delight of the girls. They enjoyed finding cool rocks and tried to have a rock collection at every location we stopped. We saw a lot of wildlife, some without having to go very far from our room. The girls played in quite a bit of dirt and climbed on rocks. Mama’s favorite thing that occurred was the girls missing views of the Grand Canyon and when regaining the view, they would exclaim with a lot of excitement, Julia especially, that they saw the Grand Canyon.


Julia learning the process for turning wool into yarn. Every time she had an opportunity to card the wool she would be over giving it a try.


Wildlife viewing is expected at the Grand Canyon. There isn’t much lush vegetation around the Grand Canyon, but they faithfully keep the grass around the hotels watered making for excellent grazing locations. We saw elk almost every night, deer one night, and one mountain goat. The only night we didn’t see any large game was the night Pat was with us. It was disappointing because we had told him all about the animals. Other animals we saw were the pests of the park: squirrels, chipmunks, and ravens. They told us that on the trails the squirrels have been known to chew holes in backpacks to get to food. The animal we went out for nightly hunts for were bats. The canyon walls are home to millions of holes perfect for bats. We walked along the rim looking for the bats and found them every night. The first time we saw them it was Julia who saw them first and kept repeating “bat, bat, bat” until we looked.


Maybe not the best photo of Julia, but the best photo of Julia signing her version of “I love you” in front of the Grand Canyon. This stroller got a lot of mileage on this trip offering relief to tired little girls.


Getting photos of the girls together is pretty hard. I thought this one was awesome, it captured a face we saw quite often from Julia when not happy with us. She is definitely a two year old.


A much sweeter face on Julia.


Catching Robby doing what he loves to do most at the Grand Canyon.


The girls were running around the two levels to the studio. They played in the dirt, inspected the rocks, and jumped off anytime a parent wasn’t looking.

It was such a treat for us to share part of our trip with our friend, Pat. It was a joy to see the excitement the girls had for him too. They have continued to talk and pray for Mr. Pat even once we got home. We feel fortunate to have been a part of his experiences of the canyon and enjoyed hearing his stories. We are thankful for his hiking experience and friendship with Robby especially on this hike. We had wanted to be cheering for him at the trailhead when he completed his hike out, but he was too fast and we didn’t make it in time.


Watching the sunset with Mr. Pat

We don’t think we will be back to the Grand Canyon for a while. We have visited three times in 10 years and want to explore and introduce other places to our girls. It is an amazing place to visit and marvel at. While we know the girls will not maintain long term memories from these trips, we hope the experiences of both the travel and destinations help inspire them to seek new experiences and to learn about the world, who is in it, and how beautiful it is.


Grand Canyon North Rim

September 17, 2011

Our first Grand Canyon stop was the North Rim. This is our first trip to this out of the way destination. It was quite out of the way too. Our first day there was filled with hiking preparations. Sandwich making, pack filling, quick rim visits, and getting settled for the night was our evening. The two different cabins that we stayed in at the North Rim were really nice. I was expecting them to be small and compact, but they were pretty spacious. The first one had a front porch with rocking chairs and the second one had two rooms with lots of sleeping options. The discovery was wonderful.


The guys started their hike early in the morning and the girls and Mama continued to sleep. We spent some time that morning repacking our bags so that the next 6 nights would only require one bag for the three of us. Then we ventured out for our day’s exploration. We hiked out to Bright Angel Point and checked out the canyon from the exposed point. It was amazing to see the canyon from this side. It felt like you were set into the canyon in a way the South Rim doesn’t offer. The hike was fun with the girls and while the morning was warm we did fine. Julia walked about half of it herself and was carried the other half. Emily kept going and never slowed us down. This hike paralleled the trail the guys hiked down in the morning. We wondered a lot about where they were and looked for them.



We walked back and had lunch at the lodge and did some additional exploring around the rim until naptime. After naps, we heard from another hiker who had seen Robby and Pat and informed us that they were hiking back out instead of continuing on their hike. They had assisted by carrying out the news and 10+ pounds of Robby’s pack contents. We met up with them and found out more information and got his belongings. Robby had started the hike with a headache and it had gotten worse combined with the heat coming earlier in the hike than they had planned and influenced their decision to hike back out.


We needed to fill some time before the guys hiked back out so we went to the Cookout Experience for dinner. This involved a train ride to a fun tent theater. There was a buffet to eat and singing entertainment. The girls had a blast. First there was a train ride and then after dinner they found two families worth of kids to run around and play with as dusk came in. The girls also loved having camp cups to drink their water from.



We we got back to the lodge we found out that the guys had beaten our hiking estimate and were already back at our cabin. We were very thankful that despite all the trouble that they were out safe and sound.

The next morning, Julia and Mama dropped Pat off at the trailhead where he was going to hike down to the next reserved campsite of their trip. The pre-dawn trip to the trailhead was beautiful. The sky was clear and it was our first opportunity to see a million stars and the milky way. Julia was a sweet companion and was a good girl including that she crawled back in bed when we got back and went to sleep.

Later that morning we checked out and drove out to Cape Royal and took in several of the canyon views. The girls took their naps in the car while we took in the views and then joined us for the last one which involved a hike. We watched storms across and in the canyon. It was fun to show the girls storms from a distance. We wondered if Pat was getting any relief from a rain storm, which we found out later he didn’t get enough to have it as a temperature relief. The rest of our day was spent driving the long drive to the South Rim through storms and dusk. We got settled in at the South Rim.


I love how Julia wouldn’t look at the camera earlier, but when given the chance to not to have to look she peeks back at Daddy. What a grin!

All the Long Hours

September 13, 2011


Are all the long hours in the car worth it? For us it is. The ride does get long, make our backs hurt, and it is boring for the driver when everyone else has something to do. But, it is also family time. It is time to see different parts of America. We get to talk to the girls about a million different things. We talked about how big the sky is. We talk about how many stars there are in the sky while we are seeing the Milky Way. We get to count rainbows. We were disappointed with only three, but one was a double rainbow. We talked about the wind turbines as we passed miles of them. At night the turbines have flashing red lights which are fun to watch when you are 4. We tried to spot at many trains as we could. The first person to see one would point it out as we continued to play games of counting engines and talking about what each one was hauling. The girls enjoyed hours of book reading, coloring, playing with toys, the occasional nap, cheering with each state we crossed, counting the mosquitoes that traveled with us in our car after stopping at a rest stop, playing running games at rest stops, and asking lots of questions.

We were delighted with an amazing drive in and out of the valley Albuquerque is found in. We did the drive at night and the lights of the the city were beautiful. It was by chance that we turned around and looked as we drove out. If the night lights would have photographed well we would have tried. This memory will have to be one that stays in our head. Another unexpected driving surprise was the bear that ran across the highway as we drove out of Colorado. We didn’t expect to see a bear and this one was moving fast. He was gone before the girls even looked up. What a treat.


The wind turbines are really cool to see, but we settled with a moving photo of them.

Walnut Canyon National Monument

September 10, 2011


We thought we had timing our arrival to Arizona well. We had to pick up Pat from the Flagstaff airport. Only, we forgot that Arizona goes by a different time than most of their time zone so we were in the state an hour earlier than we had planned. We also heard from Pat that his last fight was running late. Based on this information and our location we decided to detour over to visit Walnut Canyon National Monument.

The canyon is one of many ancient cliff dwelling communities found in the west. There is a hike down into the canyon (lots of steps) to place view the dwellings. We didn’t take the hike with our little people and just viewed the dwellings from the visitor center. It was good that we didn’t try the hike and steps. The girls ran out of energy quickly and thunder started up while we were hiking along the rim. The outing was perfect for the time we had and it was wonderful to get out of the car and stretch our legs after spending so many hours in the car.


The Big Texan


The wonders of traveling America and the things you can find. This classy joint will cook you up a great steak dinner in the ambiance of saloon meets . . . not really sure what. There really isn’t any way to explain the Big Texan, but to stop by and see for yourself. Maybe it is the Texan version of Wall Drug. It may be corny, but for the girls it was amazing. They loved the color and all the visual entertainment found inside. They loved looking at the sample meal placed to demonstrate how much food was in the 72 oz. of steak dinner. They mostly loved their new cowgirl hats they got with their dinner.

When we sat down to eat all Emily would talk about was they new hat she would be getting. She decided that she wanted her hat to be blue. Lucky girl, when dinner came they brought her a blue one. Only two disappointments about our visit: one was that no one was attempting the 72 oz. challenge while we were there, the second was that the cowboy band was not playing. We were eating a late lunch/early dinner and there were not many people there to eat. Bonus was that we got in and out quickly and could drive several more hours after stopping to eat.


Emily and her own special cowboy band.

Thursday School

September 9, 2011


As promised to Emily, when we returned from our trip it was time to go back to Thursday School. When we discussed Thursday School the girls were so excited. Then Wednesday night came and they were wide awake at bedtime due to excitement. They were excited to see their friends at school and we talked about several of them.


Thursday morning came and Julia got up for her therapy session and Emily was sound asleep. When it was time to wake up to get ready for school Emily didn’t want to. She was tired and wanted to stay asleep. I knew this would happen in her life, but I was hoping for something closer to Middle School, not a preschool mother’s day out class. When she did get up she just moved to the living room and laid back down saying that she was stretching. Ha! All normal morning drama aside we did get to school right on time.


Emily’s class is the oldest class in the program. Most of the kids in the class are familiar to her from last year, but the teacher changed as did the classroom. She is a little uncertain about the changes. A day later, she is still talking about wanting the things that were familiar to her from last year. When we went into the class our usual outgoing kid held back and took it slow. Even the presence of her best friend in the class didn’t warm her quickly to the new situation. I’m sure in a couple of weeks we will be back to the usual bubbly excitement of running to class faster than Mama can keep up, talking non-stop with her friends in class, and the bounce of familiarity with everything. Until then we will just have to be encouraging of trying new things and of change. This is such a great life lesson for Mama as much as for Emily. Change is essential, but in changing we learn about ourselves.


Julia is still in the youngest class in the program. They seem to have fewer teachers this year in the program and have capped the enrollment. Julia too had a deer-in-the-headlights reaction to her class. Her teachers are different and unfamiliar to her, but the classroom location is the same. When Mama dropped Julia off she got clingy and didn’t want to join the other kids. Mama left her in the arms of a teacher and didn’t look back. I didn’t get a phone call so I guess the call of the paint and play-dough won her over. She was SO excited to see Mama at the end of the class. That was identical to last year. In last years class she was one of two girls and it appears that this year the boy/girls mix is much more even. She too has her best friend in her class so hopefully when the Mama’s were not looking they played together and enjoyed their day.

Go West Little Family

September 7, 2011


West we did go. When we were planning this trip we referred to it as our trip “Out West”. Emily might not understand that west is a direction, but she does know that it is a place to go and see. If you asked her where we were going she would tell you “west”. The other thing we discussed about driving west is that going west is like chasing the sun. She commented on that a lot and every evening of driving we would see the sun going down and ending that day’s chase.

Enough about the direction, where did we go? We drove from our home to Arizona to visit the Grand Canyon for several days. To get there and back we stopped, visited, and enjoyed sights along the way.


  • Family time (never overrated)
  • Traveling with a friend for a while. Watching the girls relate with Mr. Pat was amazing.
  • Having a daily view of the Grand Canyon for a week.
  • Having all of our hikers return no-worse-for-wear out of the canyon.
  • Seeing quite a variety of wild animals.
  • Fun dinner at the Big Texan.
  • Sitting in four states at the same time.
  • Walking where ancient peoples once lived.
  • Watching little people explore nature.
  • Eating Mexican food and lovely sopapillas
  • Playing among huge sand dunes
  • Walking down the memory lane of childhood vacations for both Robby and Rachelle

A Morning Hike

September 4, 2011

We met our friends on a cool August morning for a little hike and picnic. We took two different paths for a while and then turned back before we were too tired of it. After some fun exploring we had a picnic lunch in the back of our car. The girls fit in well and loved sharing their lunch together there.


Amazing! All four girls looked the same direction at the same time. This is quite unheard of. There are two decent photos, but this one is the less serious one.


The big girls exploring the bridge over a stream.


Hand in hand they go


Our little ones walk with such personality. Julia prances and Maeve has a march-tude to her step. This mama loves how personal they walk


Our picnic bounty


Maeve’s sweet expression was so worth saving! What a sweet girl.

Dollywood with Friends

September 2, 2011

The girls and Mama joined our friends for a trip to Dollywood. We did some of our usual rides, but we also rode the train together. Julia rode the train on my lap and put her hands over her ears every time they blew the whistle. We all took turns riding the flying elephant because all the girls wanted to ride, but they can’t ride by themselves yet.

Elena wanted to ride the Veggie Tale kids roller coaster. We asked Emily if she wanted to ride too and she said no. Julia piped up and wanted to go. It was her first roller coaster ride. Julia and Elena rode together. So cute!

We made a full day of the park while Ashley and the girls left just before naptime. Julia fit her nap in between activities. She woke up just as we were getting a snack. We enjoyed our day together.


The big girls enjoying their duck ride


Emily on her favorite ride. She plans on doing this ride in the car every time we get to Dollywood.


Emily driving the yellow beauty.


Julia driving the blue car with Mama.


Julia on her unusual horse. Do you see Maeve in the background on the bench? She wasn’t interested in riding a horse this particular day.


The little girls enjoying their duck ride. I love their faces.



Julia sacked out mid-Dollywood trip

Green Bean Picking

August 31, 2011

We went green bean picking at Ms. Tracy’s parents house. They were generous and shared with us. Tracy is a fast picker and out picked Mama 4 to 1. The girls enjoyed themselves and a bit of freedom. They played with the tire swing, ran around the yard, played with the cat, and enjoyed the front porch swing. Emily even tried to apply sunscreen to herself so that she wouldn’t get burned (something Mama hopes that she doesn’t do again for a while). The girls picked about three green beans each and Emily did try eating one straight from the field.

After we finished our work, Ms. Tracy got their horse Jack for the girls to ride. Julia was scared from the start. She would not pet him at all, although we talked to him a lot. Emily was skittish, but did pet him a little. When it came to time to ride we rode bareback. Emily rode first with Mama. Emily was very brave and enjoyed her ride. Before we put the horse back to the barn, we swapped the girls out and had Julia try riding for a few minutes. She was uncomfortable and wanted down at the first chance, but she rode bravely with Mama. Mama is really proud of both of for giving it a chance. Too bad we didn’t get a photo of us riding, but we needed to focus on other things at the time.

After the ride, we went back to Tracy’s to put up the green beans. Now we have a row of lovely green bean jars and fun memories. Thanks Tracy (and Tracy’s Mama)!



Painting Day

August 29, 2011

We played at Grammy’s house one day so that Mama could help paint Grammy’s side porch. The girls got to participate in their own painting party. They enjoyed themselves on the front porch making all kinds of artwork. They would come to tell us when they had run out of water and paper.




Picnic in the Mountains

August 28, 2011

The girls and Mama rode up to the mountains with Grammy and Granddaddy for a picnic by the river. The girls enjoyed coloring at the table while we cooked and playing in the stream. We floated bark like boats down the side pool we were playing in, we threw rocks, we jumped in the water from the top of the rocks, we caught minnows in a bucket so we could inspect them close up, and we rearranged the river rocks. The girls were fascinated by the people floating down the river by us. We had a blast. Then we drove into town and enjoyed pizza for dinner followed with driving home. The girls minds were filled with ideas of other things we should go back and do another day.


Sisters loving on each other while enjoying their picnic.


How Julia looked when we got to the picnic area. She had the best nap of any of us that day.


Emily taking her coloring seriously.


Julia enjoyed a little pre-picnic rock throwing. She was excited!


Mama loves this photo. It was of just genuine happiness, no cheesy grins.


Granddaddy just enjoying watching the river. He also enjoyed watching the girls play and reading his book riverside. Looks comfy!


The girls were busy in the water walking on the rocks and searching for the next best rock to throw.


Julia got a little cold in the water and decided laying on the rock in the sun was a good solution to the problem.

Homemade Ice Cream

August 26, 2011

What do you do with 11 peaches? You make peach ice cream!


Grammy made homemade peach ice cream while we were over to play. The girls supervised and helped with the various steps, but loved the sampling step most.

How to Stay Cool in the Summer

August 24, 2011


This is definitely one way to say cool in the summer. After our swimming lessons the girls are more likely to get all of themselves into water. Moments after this photo they were flipped over putting their faces into the pool. There is so much fun that can be found in six inches of water.

Berry Picking

August 22, 2011

Just some more photos from our July blackberry picking. On a hot day the thought of sweet memories and sweet fingers is so nice.


Some of our blackberry bounty that became jam.



Emily picking her share. Of course her bucket stayed empty. All that she picked she ate. She had plenty of stains on her fingers, face, and dress.


Emily wanted to see the goat that had ventured on to our row. I was hoping that she would not get between the goat and his snack. We weren’t sure how he would react. All was ok though.


Julia too was covered with juice. She does seem a little serious here. I think it was getting a little warm by this point and she had walked and picked quite a bit.

We are looking forward to going again next year!

General Travel route

August 21, 2011

When we drive to Miami we usually take the route through Georgia. It is the shortest of our options. This time I just couldn’t get excited about drive and decided to take the longer and more scenic route through North & South Carolina. We typically just drive and only stop for gas and food. This time we took it slow and made several stops including an extra hotel stay both going and coming.


On our way south we stopped in North Carolina at Mama’s favorite gift store, Day in a Country. The girls were thrilled to wander the store with all the pretty things. They got their own umbrella which we needed when we left the store. That was not planned, it just worked out to their delight.


Emily loves to stay at hotels. If you ask her she will tell you all about the hotel she is going to own when she grows up. She decided the name of the hotel will have the number 4 in it because that is her favorite number. Both girls were delighted to stop a little early and get some swim time in the pool at the hotel.


*A bit fuzzy, but Emily was proud of her bed all made up at the hotel

Our second day of driving was very long because of rain storms. We had wanted to stop and see something that day too, but outside of the Florida Welcome Center’s orange juice it was just a driving day.

On the way home the original plan was to drive home thru Georgia, but again the usual plan was uninspiring. Mama asked the girls if they wanted to drive straight home and see Daddy or go a different way and stay at a hotel. They jumped in the air and yelled “hotel”, poor Daddy.

The stops on the way home were a trip thru IKEA in Orlando, a drive down memory lane for Mama as we toured downtown Jacksonville, and a stop in St. Mary’s, Georgia. We had hoped to tour a old home in St. Mary’s, but it was closed by the time we got there. Instead we went to the river front and had dinner, played at a playground, and watched some boys fish for crabs off the pier. The boys were very kind to tell us all about what they were doing.



The other highlights were one more hotel stay, a scenic drive over highways of North Carolina while the girls napped, and a trip to a Farmer’s Market in Ashville. Overall our new route was a more interesting one, but took longer. We will see next time which route our mood leads us to.


Swimming Time

August 20, 2011

One of our trip goals was to have the girls swim a lot. We succeeded! The girls were a lot of fun to be with in the water.

Emily has a good deal of fear still, but would find a comfort level in the pool and play her heart out. Sometimes she would swim with an innertube, a noodle, or a kickboard. She found her freedom in swimming in the pool by herself and jumping in with the innertube. When we were at Jolie’s she used a noodle to keep up with Natalie. We challenged Emily to jump into the pool where she could stand. Once she figured out it would be ok, she loved bouncing around the shallow section after jumping in herself. She will be a great swimmer when she figures out how to master her fear.

Julia has very little fear in the water. She has two favorite games to play at the pool. One is an elevator game. I will hold her out of the water and say “second floor”, then lower her into the water and say “first floor”, then let go and give her control. When I say “basement” she bobs herself into the water. Emily plays this game too. She plays it from the side of the pool and does it all by herself. Watching Emily play this game is what got Julia to enjoy bobbing her face into the water. 

Julia’s other favorite game is to jump into the pool. She will jump in holding my hands. While at Grandma and Grandpa’s we started pushing her toward the stairs to come out and she enjoyed putting her face into the water. By the time we left Jolie’s we would give her a push toward the stairs and she would float face down all the way to the steps. She could go three body lengths with gentle kicks.

Faces and Faces and Faces

August 8, 2011

A vacation can be measured many ways. This trip was about little people and fun play times. It will be measured by the messages found in faces. Our trip via silly faces, sticking tongues out, messy hair, being wet, laughter, thinking, sleeping, being together, wind blown, sun baked, toy chewing and sandy.


Miami Beach Day

August 6, 2011



We visited the beach for some fun in the sun. It is amazing how entertaining sand and water can be. The weather was beautiful and we had a great breeze. The girls had a blast. Julia knew she was tired and almost took a nap under the palm trees. We tried to build a sand castle, but filling a hole with water was much more interesting. Another favorite of the girls was pretending we were on a pirate ship.

Sunny Days

August 5, 2011


We are home adjusting back to life after another trip. The girls seemed a bit disappointed to have returned home from traveling. They were thrilled to see their Daddy and Grandparents, but other than that they miss their friends, swimming, and the easy schedules.

Mama and the girls traveled to Miami and then stopped in Orlando on our way back home. We did some shopping, eating, swimming, playing with babies, playing with family, visiting the beach, more swimming in the pool, and lastly . . . more swimming and jumping in to the pool.

Thank you family for sharing the week with us!

Julia Two and Half Year Checkup and Swimmers Ear


Julia had her 2-1/2 year check up. We didn’t make it until she was 2 years and 9 months, but oh well. She seems to be great. The doctor listened for her heart murmur and couldn’t hear it. He wants us to go back to the specialist for her 3 year checkup as the the specialist requested. We discussed briefly her speech. For weight and height she is also doing well. Her weight is slowing increasing in percentile and is right around the 25 percentile and her height places her at the 50 percentile. She weighed in at 27 lb 6 oz (an increase of 3 lb 7 oz in 9 months) and measured 36-1/2 inches (an increase of 2-3/4 inches in 9 months). Julia will go back for her checkup at her third birthday.

The morning of Julia’s check-up Emily complained of an earache. The doctor checked it out for us and determined that she has swimmers ear. Not a huge shock given how much swimming we did in the last two weeks. She was also measured for the visit. She weighted in at 37 lb 10 oz (an increase of 2 lbs 10 oz in 7 months) and measured 43-1/4 inches (an increase of 1-3/4 inches in 7 months)

Photo-less Fun Day

July 20, 2011

We went to the waterpark again today and again there was no camera to document our memories. That doesn’t mean I can’t write them down. We do need to buy a waterproof one-time-use camera to take with us sometime. We tried going after naptime and it seemed to work for us.

Both kids had fun and Julia kept doing funny and impressive things. For one thing, she walked most of the time. My back has been hurting lately, so taking a break from kid-lugging was important. We had to go pretty slow and make up games for staying inspired, but we made it and she did great. Julia must have grown or I haven’t been watching. She suddenly passed the 36” height marker. Because of this we tried one of the big rides with her. The three of us came through a tunnel float ride with excited girls. Julia was a bit overwhelmed, but when I asked, she said she liked it.

The funniest thing of the day was how excited she got when she saw Emily come down the slide. She was excited and wanted to give Emily a big hug and then she floated around hugging and kissing her. Who knows what is going on in her head? It was so sweet and Emily loved it. For all the impressive things, she did she would not go down one slide despite really wanting to. We tried three times and each time she balked. The lifeguard was great to encourage and try to help the mom with two little girls. We even saw him in the parking lot at the end of the day and he checked with us to see if she ever made it. I wasn’t allowed to go down with her and she just couldn’t do it by herself.

Emily likes the waterpark a lot. She is a fun age for doing these things. She notices interesting things and is able to do a lot more on her own. Her comfort level in the pool has grown too. She asked to go to a deeper section to “swim” and is still enjoying putting her face in the water. When we rode the “big” ride she used the tower we climbed to scout out the park. She was really sweet with her sister. About the only thing she wasn’t interested in was the big kid safety discussions we had to have.

Mama was sad that Julia fell asleep in the car on the way home and missed out of telling her Daddy about her day. She was exhausted though and needed to get her sleep. Emily got keyed up just in time to see her father. She seemed to go to sleep quickly when it was time. Playing is hard work!

Travel Truths

July 11, 2011

Just a few thoughts following our latest trip. We traveled to Connecticut to visit with Uncle Philip, Aunt Jennifer, and cousins Caleb and Nathaniel.

– The slowest moving kid gets most of the photos taken of them.

The number of photos we have of Julia outnumbers the photos of the other three kids combined.


– The camera welding Mama has the least photos taken of her.

Daddy did get the camera a few times and snapped a few shots. Maybe Aunt Jennifer got some too.


– When in doubt, add water.

Hose, pool, or ocean it didn’t matter they got excited with all options.


– Do boys and girls mix like oil and water? No

They all loved to run and chase each other. The boys favorite game was to make Aunt Rachelle into the “Tickle Monster” and run from her. Everyone wanted to sit next to a cousin when we sat to eat. Need a chair? Sit on a kid.


– Are Star Wars Legos only for boys? No

The girls played with Caleb’s Legos and he was so patient to let them even though they majorly rearranged his setup. The Princess Storm-troopers can sure move fast when evading photographic capture.


– If you are bored with your own toys, go on a trip and when you get home they are fresh and new again.

– Is grocery shopping hard work? Not when there is free samples and singing displays around every new corner.

We had our first experience with Stew Leonards. The kids and parents ate free samples – cookies, popped rice snacks, fresh donuts, sparkling drinks, chicken salad, fruit, and juice. It felt like a meal, but we also got lunch at the end. Everything was good and it was lots of fun to see all of the displays and be entertained by dancing veggies, fruit, butter, trains, lighthouses, talking cows, and much more.


– Did you pack an extra outfit? If yes, then all messes will be controlled. If no, a tumble into the ocean will occur and a child will have to be wet for the evening.

Yes, Julia took a tumble into the ocean while we attempted to get a 4-kid shot taken. No, her Mama had not brought her a change of clothes. Thank goodness her Mama did have a beach towel. It wasn’t long before the damp and still sandy girl was running around playing with the other kids again.


– When given the choice between a real animal to watch or an animated one which will a kid choose? Depends on the kid, but if the animated one has a button to make it talk the real animal might lose out.

Outside of Stew Leonards they have some live animals for viewing. The day we were there it was two older calves, sheep, and turkeys. We looked at the animals and read the information about them. What kept the kids most interested were interactive exhibits of pretend animals making noises. I guess they liked pushing the buttons.

– Do all hotels have free breakfast waffles and heated indoor pools? No, but when we stay at one we will have very sad kids.

While we drive down the road now, Emily is reading all the billboards and hotel signs for ones she recognizes. She loves staying at hotels and we have been careful to stay at ones with pools and breakfasts. She is now considering the name of the hotel that she wants to run when she grows up.

– Who gets most excited at a Toy Museum? The parents remembering their childhood toys.

We stumbled into a Toy Museum while we waited out a rain storm at Natural Bridge in Virginia. It was interesting to see the displays of toys that we played with in our youth. The girls loved looking for things that were familiar to them. It was tough to keep the girls’ hands off of the fun looking toys.

– Kids rarely take nap in the car at the same time. Their naps almost always happen right before arriving at a location.

The point of this trip was to visit with family, not a bunch of stops along the way. But, we had planned on a few stops. One of our “planned” stops was hampered by Julia falling asleep two exits before the destination. If we had woken her up she would have been grumpy and not fallen back asleep. Instead we stopped for gas and food and kept on going.


– First-Aid kits are necessary for two-year-old’s knees.

Goodness, it seemed every time we turned around Julia was coming to us with a skinned knee. The poor think kept skinning the same spot too. Good thing she doesn’t mind the band-aid process.


– Top bunks are cool!

The top bunk was a favorite indoor play place. They would drag all kinds of toys up on it and play pretend games. Julia did a great job of obeying the rules of the top bunk. She would wait until an adult came into the room and then she would bolt up the ladder to the top. Emily was privileged to spend her naps on the top bunk. How we didn’t get a photo of the top-bunk play is a mystery.


– If you are taking a tour of a cave, take a flashlight with you. It will be the envy of everyone who forgot theirs.

We took some kids flashlights in the car for when we were traveling after dark. They enjoyed playing with them and for the most part obeyed the rules. When we went into the caverns at Natural Bridge, we noticed that they were selling (very expensive) kid flashlights. Robby fetched ours from the car and the girls got to take them on the cave tour. They were really handy for all of us to see better where we were walking.

– Check the hours for the dining line before you make plans to eat there. Addendum to rule, ice cream is always a great substitute for missed meal.

Perhaps the opportunity for most fun on a trip is willing to be flexible and do things out of the norm. Would we not normally have ice cream for lunch, but what a fun thing for us to do. It gave us a fun rainy day activity and we ate and laughed.

natural bridge

– Getting a “staged” photograph of a bunch of kids is never easy.




Love This Smile . . .

July 9, 2011

There is just something about a smile. This one is just saying so much. It reflects the sun, offers joy, and infects it’s neighbors.

Summertime Picking

July 2, 2011

We joined our friends for some fun blueberry and blackberry picking. It was a sunny fun way to spend the afternoon with picking and a picnic. We picked blueberries first. The kids were fun to watch together. Some picked and filled their buckets, some picked and ate, some picked rocks and filled buckets, some watched after the babies, some ran and played games in the field, and some ventured around the bushes like a maze. Poor Julia had a rought time with a busted lip, the second of the week.

Then we went up to the blackberry rows to pick. I love to see how the kids gravitate to play with each other and which Mama they end up with. Ms. Sara was the hit with my girls, then Ms. Ashley, and only last did they come to the row with their own Mama. The girls did a pretty good job of picking the darkest of the blackberries. Emily pointed out a red & black one and told me that it was not sweet. I think she learned this by experience.

We have a little goat story to go with our blackberry picking. We picked next to a pen of goats. When we were almost done we noticed that one of the goats had gotten out of the pen and was grazing on the blackberries. As we finished up and started to walk out he moved over two rows to share our row. Emily was very curious about him. When we weren’t watching our buckets closely enough he ventured over and ate out of Ms. Ariaun’s bucket. She fought him for it and won. It reminded me of the little black bear eatting out of Little Sal’s mother’s blueberry bucket in “Blueberries for Sal” by Robert McCloskey.

Summer Swim Class

July 1, 2011

We just finished our two week swim class for the summer. Emily was in the Level 1 swimming class with Lauren and Julia was in the Mommy and Me class with Kate and Mommy. Both girls loved their class and teachers.

Wow, what a class – somewhere in the middle Julia decided that she wanted to be just like Emily. All she had to do was see Emily do some swimming activity and immediately she wanted to do the same thing. She was willing to do bobs, elevator rides, swim with a noodle, swim with boards, and “jump” into the pool. She loved it once she found some independence.

Emily was in her own heaven in her class. She found a new friend. When they weren’t doing something the girls hung on the edge of the pool and just chit-chatted. Emily is very proud of her kicking and swimming to the other end of the pool (with a board). She also enjoys the elevator game (a bobbing game). She was very brave to try whatever was asked of her.

Yesterday was the last day and Daddy got to come and watch the girls swim. Both girls were thrilled to have him there. They also seemed to “show off” their best tricks for him. What a sweet day.

The girls have graduated to the next classes for next time. Julia will join the pre-school classes (the only change from what we were learning now is no Mama) and Emily will move to the Level 2 class. The teacher said that Emily needs the kids from the next group to challenge her to new skills. We are so proud of our swimmers!


Happy Swimming Emily!


Our sparkling eyed, about-to-go-under Julia


Emily with Lauren


Julia with Kate


Floating with Mommy, she didn’t really like to do this and relax.


Emily with her new poolside buddy.


Kicking to the other end of the pool and happy to show Daddy her trick.



And she did it ALL by herself!

Julia’s First “Real” Haircut

June 23, 2011

We went to visit Ms. Mary for Julia’s first “real” haircut today. What makes this one a “real” one versus the other cuts? First, we made this trip especially for Julia’s haircut. And secondly, the only other times she had her hair trimmed it was just a few snips to keep her from feeling left out during her sister’s haircuts.

Emily was very insistent that she would be getting her hair cut and it would be short. Given that she wanted to go first and Julia became very shy when we entered the hair salon, Emily got her haircut first. She got a trim and it is shorter, but not by too much. She loved all of the curls that Ms. Mary put in her hair for her. Mama thought she looked a little Shirley Temple-like.

Julia warmed up after being in the shop for a while. A little boy in the salon befriended both girls and played with them as long as he was there. Between the new friend and just seeing how things worked in the room, Julia lost her wariness. She sat very still (at least for a two year old) for Ms. Mary to both cut and style her hair. When we asked Julia if she wanted short or long hair she decided long. So Mary cut some hair off and then gave her a style too. With all the curls it is hard to tell what the cut looks like, but she too was proud of her curls.

Both girls played with a model head while Mama got a haircut and then they helped Ms. Mary sweep up all the cut hair from the floor. They were good helpers and didn’t stop helping until it was done. Mary is so sweet with the girls and lets them play with her combs and clips. We were sad that she couldn’t have lunch with us, but maybe next time.


Julia’s before photo. She was unusually willing to look at the camera and say, “cheese”. Mama marvels at how big her baby is getting!


A during haircut & styling shot. She did a good job of holding still. She enjoyed looking in the mirror and watching herself move her tongue.


An after-styled shot. Something in this photo makes she seem so angelic. Again, she willingly looked at the camera and said, “cheese”.


Julia and Ms. Mary


Emily’s before shot. Mama couldn’t pass up an opportunity to take a picture of her big girl.


Emily showing off her cute curly style with Ms. Mary.

Grandparents Go Home

June 20, 2011


The grandparents had to go home. We let them go, but not without a little guilt. The day they left Julia didn’t have much to do with them. It wasn’t from not liking them, it was because they were leaving. It was a moody pout. Emily enjoyed the “one last” game – one last kiss, one last hug . . . We will be seeing them in a month or so.

Every time we are together the Mama attempts a photo of the girls with their Grandparents. It is always quite a bit of work to get a shot. All the traditional posed photos either had someone not looking at the camera or very serious faces. We don’t live in the early part of the century when that was cool, so we are opting for the absolute silly photo instead. Enjoy the fun of the moment!

A Trip to the Park

The day after the rain was a beautiful, temperate low-humidity day. After dinner we made a trip down to the park. We were hoping the girls would tire themselves out for bed. Julia spent the whole time swinging. Every time you asked her if she wanted to get down she would answer “No”. Only at the end when we told her that we would leave soon and it was her last chance, did she decided to play on the other equipment. Emily played on everything. She enjoyed swinging, sliding, playing hide-and-seek with Mama and another boy, being helped across the monkey bars, climbing into a make-shift pirate ship, and a million other things. In the end it all worked out. Emily was tired and rode home in the wagon and Julia used her extra energy walking home with Mama and Grandma.




The Bookstore Trip

June 19, 2011

One day of our Grandparent visit was a stormy day. After naps, we ventured out to the local used bookstore to wait for Robby to get off of work. The girls like going and finding all kinds of books on the shelves they want and might get to buy. This visit Grandma bought each of the girls one book. They looked through lots of books to find the right ones. They did a really good job of sticking with us and enjoying their books. I’m not a fortune teller, but I suspect we will make repeat trips to this store each time the Grandparents are in town.



Back Porch Play

There is something about out of town guests that gets you to pick up your camera and photograph things you find in your daily life that you don’t photograph often. We went outside to play in our back-porch playhouse. The roof is only half installed to give the girls more light in their house. Also, it makes it easier for parents to check on the girls. The fact the roof is missing annoys Emily a lot. This day it was not so annoying. She figured out that she could climb up and look out of the top of the house. That was her fun new game. The big people pretended to be giants and visit the house with the normal sized little girls. We also read “The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs” by Jon Scieszka. This story gives the wolf’s defense of the house-blowing-down events. After reading this story the playhouse became the pig’s house built of brick. You have to love the world through a child’s eyes. Both girls love to open and close the windows and doors. They both took turns knocking on the door and having the other answer.




June 18, 2011

Just a fun one. Grandpa was willing to play a little dress-up with Emily.


Old McDonald Miniature Golf

When we asked Emily what she wanted to do with her Grandparents she said she wanted to play putt-putt. Julia loved the idea too (she loves to say the word too). We had time after dinner to stop and try our hands at a little miniature golf. We played pretty fast. We worked to keep the game moving and the girls interested. I hope one day in the future we will be able to go slow and enjoy the competition, but for the time being this is best. The girls hung in for all of the holes and over the time Emily showed more interest in playing consistently and with a little technique.

Just a few fun highlights from the game:

  • Both girls enjoyed getting their ball in the holes.
  • Emily would move the ball to where she wanted to hit it from.
  • Julia had a special high-five she shared with her Daddy when each hole was completed.
  • Daddy’s feet made great bunkers to help guide little balls.
  • On occasion we would have a ball leave the putting area, but none of the times was it the girl’s fault.
  • If we had really kept score Grandpa would have won. He played the most consistent game.
  • We had a great time together!


Emily was talking Grandma to the hole. She wasn’t giving instructions she was just being her usual magpie-self.


A great Pa-Pa grin.


Sweet Daddy giving his little girl some assistance. Julia insisted in holding her putter backwards like this the whole time.


Mama giving a little putting lesson to Emily. By this point in the game she was listening to instructions a little better.


The classic well earned high-five exchange!


A little post-golf ride at the barnyard.

Our Piece of Heaven

June 17, 2011

We took a day trip up to the mountains together. It was a treat to all be together as we traveled. We are so privileged to have such a beautiful place to visit in our backyard. The weather was cool compared to the weather we have been having and even cooler in the mountains. We visited the visitor center, drove through the park, and drove the Roaring Fork loop. The girls loved playing in the cabins. While we had to duck our heads to enter each door, they found the two room home to be a perfect place to play. Julia was a little skittish to touch the water in the stream, but once she did she didn’t want to get out.



Backyard Pool with Grandma and Grandpa

June 14, 2011

Grandma and Grandpa came for a visit. We spent a while out with our kids and the kiddie pool. They enjoyed pouring water out of the pool, pouring water on themselves, watering our feet, writing on the sidewalk with water, and jumping into the water. Emily figured out that she could jump into the pool and splash the water. Sure enough she did fall, but loved doing it. Everything is more fun with grandparents around!



Emily is fascinated with watching videos. She insists that Grandma video everything she does and then wants to watch it immediately. Too funny!



Julia was not interested in looking at the camera. She wasn’t feeling well this day and wanted to cuddle more than usual. Mama doesn’t like for her little girl to be sick, but the mama enjoyed the extra holding time and nap with her little girl.


Emily jumping into the pool and loved it. She did it over and over.


Granddaddy’s Day

June 8, 2011

Granddaddy has a standing Father’s Day gift of being taken to the Smokies’ ballpark. We sit in the family section down low where he can feel the game as much as watch it. We all enjoy our hotdogs, popcorn, ice cream, and soda (all a dollar on buck night) and cheer for our favorite team. This is pretty close to heaven for him and it is a delight to be able to spend the evening with him doing it.

This year we went on the perfect evening. The day had been hot, but not humid. The evening brought warm and comfortable weather. A light breeze made it perfect. School was still in session so there were not many people out at the park. The girls enjoyed sitting and eating their snacks. They bounced between different laps, especially when someone still had a treat. We spent the later innings over at the playground with the girls. They enjoyed walking around the outfield, watching for the mascots, listening to the different music, actually watched the game some, learned some baseball terms, sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”, and said cute things.

To our surprise Julia was not terrified of the mascots this year. She willingly had a photo taken near them. Maybe next year, she will want to give them hugs. We look forward to our next trip out the the ball game.


Don’t let the lack of grin fool you, Grandaddy was a happy man. We know you are grinning on the inside.


Emily wanted to join the team


Our hug with the mascot. He flirted with Julia and she was happy, but not going to touch him. Emily was so happy to be picked up!



Julia wanted to join the team even though she couldn’t hold still enough for a photo. She had to be just like her big sister.

Pool Girls


Hot days make for fun backyard pool days. The girls were being sweet with each other. The thing they seemed to enjoy most this day in the pool was the freedom to splash and pour water outside of the pool. In the bathtub they get in trouble for making a big water mess, but it was actually encouraged this day. They loved it!

Splash Country

June 7, 2011


I know this is not your typical photo from a day at a water park, but it is the only photo I have. We spent most of a day last week at the local waterpark called Splash Country. We went last year and this year we got season tickets again. The day we went it was over 90 degrees and sunny. It was the perfect way to enjoy the hot day. We went with our friends Elena and Maeve.

It was fun to see the difference in the girls between the two years. Both are much more confident in themselves. Last year Julia wouldn’t go off by herself much at all and had to be held a lot of the time. This year she wore her lifevest without a complaint and didn’t need to be held unless she was tired or walked slower than Mama wanted. She still needs to work on the idea of standing in line for a slide. Emily loved being there with her friends. She loved sliding by herself and I found that I had to watch her more closely because she would just take off to go and slide. She didn’t have any trouble with standing in line and taking her turn at the slides. That was quite a relief for the Mama. Emily’s favorite play area is the same as it was last year, but she played a lot more at the firetower area than last year. Having water splash her in the face wasn’t her favorite thing, but the slides were enticing enough to get her up in it. They enjoyed the lazy river more this year. We are all looking forward to our next trip. We found that there are several rides the big girls can ride with an adult. It will be fun to explore these rides with them.

We stayed at the park until Julia had absolutely given out. Emily never slowed down with her playing and did very well playing by herself (with supervision, of course) while Julia rested in a chair. Julia fell asleep in Mama’s arms as we walked out of the park. Emily took a while to fall asleep in the car, but when she went out she was gone. After getting home Mama put them on the couch so they would be easier to wake up. They didn’t wake up until forced and when Emily did get up she wasn’t much fun. Maybe next time, I will put her in bed for the night when we get home.

Big Girl Chairs

June 6, 2011


We got some new chairs for our big girls. The are designed to look like dinning room chairs, but have the seat heights adjusted so that a child can sit at the table like the adults. Emily is so fidgety in her chair at the table. Some of that stems from sitting on a chair that is bigger than she is. Emily has loved her new chair. She gets to sit up high at the table without having to sit in a booster seat. Julia was very pleased with her new chair, but she struggled with getting in and out of it. Even with the stepstool she didn’t want to get down safely. After she slid off it it twice trying to get off, we let her choose if she wanted to keep practicing with it or if she wanted to go back to the booster seat. She chose the booster seat. We will try it again later. 

Hi, My Name Is Emily and I am Four Years Old

June 1, 2011


Some things just seem so ordinary in life, but too quickly the ordinary changes to something different and what is ordinary is forgotten. These are just a few things and thoughts about our current age of 4 years and 5 months.

Emily is my social kid. She is shy in new situations, but also very likely to pick up a new friend and talk his or her ear off. She learned introductions a while ago and most of the time she introduces herself as “my name is Emily and I am four years old”. She gets a variety of responses from people. Most of the time it breaks the ice and the kids play with her or the adult talks to her.

Emily likes to hear stories. She will ask us to tell her about when she was born, about when we were married, when we lost our power, or when Mommy lost her keys down a storm drain. Remembering events through story telling is fun, at least the first few times we tell the story. She is more reluctant to tell us stories in return, but with coaxing she will sometimes tell us about Cinderella.

The funniest thing she has said lately was at a baseball game we attended with her grandparents. Grammy told Emily that the Tennessee Smokeys were playing the Mississippi Braves. She replied with “why is Miss Sippy playing with the boys”. It took a few seconds for us to figure that one out and then we had a good chuckle as we explained about the state of Mississippi.

Emily is planning her next birthday party. Mama’s favorite part of the party so far is that she wants it to be a surprise party at the bounce house with her friends. I guess she doesn’t grasp the concept of a “surprise party” yet. If you talk with her for a while and she relates her age, she will then tell you of her party, and most likely invite you to it. If she does this, please don’t be offended when you don’t actually get an invitation. She is not keeping a good record of the people she invites to her party.

Emily is learning to plan things out. She informed me this week that she wants Julia to have surgery again. When I asked her why, she informed me of her plan. She wants to go to Elena’s house by herself and play with Ashley, Chris, Elena, and Maeve. I told Emily that if she wants to play with her friends, I would prefer working it out without her sister needing surgery.

Emily’s artistry is improving a lot these days. Whether she turns into an artist or not isn’t important to me. I just love being able to look at the picture and know what it is that she has drawn. She is intentional with the colors she chooses when drawing or coloring. Her favorite canvases right now are greeting cards. Maybe you will get an original piece of art in the mail one day.

Most important to her father and I is the person she is becoming. Lately, she has been talking about Jesus and his life. Yesterday, she told me she wanted her “heart to be good”. While our conversation was brief concerning this topic, what a joy it was to share with her that her heart could be good with Jesus’s help.

Our Little Sea Squirts

May 19, 2011

Our local aquarium has a preschooler program once a month. We try to go once a year to one with our friends. We just got back from one of these programs. This year the class we attended had only our kids in it. The girls didn’t seem to mind the specialized attention. The class was about coral and the animals found in it. They got to color a seahorse craft, hear a story about a clown fish, have a snack, and touch a live starfish. It was fun. After the class we spent time exploring the aquarium. We caught two dive shows and while it was fun to watch the feeding it was really hard to understand the commentary that went with it. I asked the three of the four girls what their favorite thing to do in the aquarium was. Elena said touching the starfish and Emily and Julia both loved the penguin tunnel.

Some other fun things from the day –

  • I had told Julia the night before what we were going to do, but told her it was a secret and not to tell Emily. In the morning I asked her if she had told Emily, she put her finger to her lips and said “shhhhh”. She had kept the secret.
  • The girls loved loving on McKenzie and Kenzie seemed to like the attention.
  • The glass floor in the penguin area and tunnel took some getting used to for Julia. She didn’t want to walk on it at first. Then she had to master crawling on it. She loved standing above a swimming area and watching them swim by.
  • Watching the little girls watch the Nemo fish tank. They tried to grab the very recognizable Nemo and Dory fish.
  • Going shopping after the aquarium with a bunch of little girls.


Emily touching the starfish. A lot of times she chickens out of things like this when she actually has to do it, but this time she even asked to do it a second (brief) time.


Julia touching the starfish. She was so excited to get to do this like the other girls.


Ms. Jessica teaching the Sea Squirt class.


Little girls discovering the “Nemo” fish tank. I love Maeve’s face of delight.


Big girl friends hanging out in the fish tank.


Julia watching the penguins swimming with McKenzie and Ms. Heather.

Thursday School Graduation

May 13, 2011

We attended the Thursday School Graduation celebration Thursday night. While our girls didn’t graduate, they did get to preform in the celebration, got a year-in-review scrapbook, and walk across the stage by themselves. Both girls did very well with their evening activities and we were so proud. We shared the evening with Grammy and Granddaddy.

Julia was in the two-year-old class this year. Her teacher was out of town and the kids were unwilling to learn any songs to preform for the concert. I am not surprised given how non-verbal/shy the class is in general. Julia definitely wasn’t going to sing a song. So, to simplify the evening for this class they presented them at the beginning and they spent the rest of the performance with their families. Julia bravely walked across the stage and gave a big smile to her family. She didn’t stand long for her photo op, but was pleased with herself.

Emily was in the older three-year-old class this year. They participated in a song with all the other classes. It was a silly Hippo song where everyone sang the song progressively faster and faster. They all seemed to enjoy themselves. Then her class preformed three songs with only their class. For part of the performance Emily alternated spinning and jumping with one of the Zoe’s in her class. It was pretty funny. My favorite action associated with a song was a knee slap. Something about this action just made me realize that we were raising a “country” girl.


Julia being presented her roll of paper from Ms. Kelly. She seemed to like being on the stage.


Emily being presented her roll of paper. She is sporting her new-to-her shoes. When I had given them to her this week, I had explained that they were only to be warn to church for a while because they still looked nice. When we were getting dressed for the performance she explained to me that the school was a “church” school so she should be allowed to wear them. I just chuckled at her argument and agreed.


Emily at her onstage photo-op. I think I can see a much older Emily in this photo. Time will tell, but we are starting to see the school girl Emily coming out.


Emily’s whole class preforming on stage. From the left the kids are: Zoe, Olive, Emily, Elena, Zoe, Danielle, Maggie, and Patrick. The photo taking Mama in the photo is Maggie’s mama. Interestingly, this mom and her kids also went to BSF with us. She had kids paired with mine every Wednesday and Thursday. She and I also share the same small group. This is one small world.


Emily and Elena singing “Be Careful, Little Eyes”

Last Day of Thursday School

The girls had their last day of Thursday School for the year. Both will be returning next year. The day went well for them. Julia had a substitute in her class and she adjusted amazingly well. One funny thing that she did at pickup time, she accompanied the Mamas to get the big girls from class. They place the lunch boxes and any take home papers on the floor outside of the door. Julia fetched both Emily’s lunchbox and artwork, but also took Elena’s lunch bag to Ashley. I guess, I underestimated her memory and recognition again. Emily was her usual happy-and-hyper self in class.

After school we took our girls out for celebration ice cream. Emily proudly picked Smurf ice cream (it turns your mouth blue as you eat it) and Julia picked strawberry. Everyone finished their ice cream before Emily. Emily was too busy playing and not eating. She offered to let the other little girls share her ice cream to finish it. As they did, I never heard any fussing over it. I thought that amazing for four little girls to sample blue ice cream and not get in each other’s way.


Emily and Julia ready to go into school on their last day before summer break. It was a hot day!


Just a perspective photo from their first day of school last September. It is hard to see how much taller they are, but they both look bigger.


Emily with Ms. Kathy, her teacher.


Emily with Ms. Louise, the class helper (and fun toy provider)


A little after-school celebration ice cream

Our First Trip to Dollywood for the Year

May 11, 2011

To my girls delight, we took our first trip to Dollywood for the year. There were so many delightful things to enjoy.

1. Going with your best friends. This year Ashley, Elena, and Maeve got tickets too and we made the day trip together. The first thing the girls asked when I told them we were going to Dollywood was if their friends were going too. I didn’t deny or confirm, but surprised them when we met their friends to drive over.

2. Emily got her own ticket. I’m not so excited about this as she was. She is proud of her pass and photo, proud to put the ticket in the machine, proud to walk through the turnstile by herself, and proud to show off her pass to her Daddy. I wish my photo was as good as hers was. She should be proud.

3. Emily has grown since last year. This year Emily is tall enough to drive a car all by herself. She thinks that it is awesome!

4. Peer pressure is not always bad. Emily was willing to try a bunch of things this year that she was afraid of last year. She was still hesitant, but not willing to let Elena do something without her. Thank you, Elena.

5. When we run out of steam, we run out of steam. While we waited to drive the cars one last time, Julia asked for me to hold her. Then she started to give me hugs. Next she laid her head on my shoulder. Lastly, Emily drove her car while Julia slept in my arms.

6. Having season tickets means we can go back.


Sharing a ride around the carousel.


The big girl driving all by herself!


The little one doing her share of driving. She loved driving until she realized there was a horn on Mommy’s side. Then there was conflict over what to do next.


I love the smile on Emily. The carousel is her favorite ride in the park.


Julia still seems little on the big horse. She waved at all the people as we went around like she was a princess in a parade. She even blew kisses out to people who waved back.


Emily was delighted to ride with Maeve on the duck ride. See our pink cheeks – the day was pretty warm for early May.


Happy Julia and her famous wave.


Julia flying around with her friend Maeve. Maeve was missing her Mama who was with the big kids on a roller coaster.


One really tired girl! She slept through a snack and the walk to the car and then played all the way home. Emily fell asleep shortly after we left the and slept all the way home.

Ms Melanie and Thursday School

May 10, 2011

The Edwards girls and Tappan girls have been attending Thursday school together these past two years. All four girls were privileged to have Ms. Melanie as their teacher. While there is one more week of school, this past week was Ms. Melanie’s last week with the little girls. She has been such a sweet spirit with the girls showing them so much love. We thought it was good to get a parting photo together. I’m afraid that we made her a bit sad with our parting good-byes. Thank you, Ms. Melanie!



The big girls enjoyed playing together and trying to climb a tree.  


Strawberry picking

May 7, 2011

We went strawberry picking with our friends. The morning started out looking stormy, but when we got there it turned out to be a beautiful, sunny day. We joined Ashley, Elena, Maeve, Ariaun, Aiden, Tracy, and Brown for our hunt for red fruity gems. We all left with plenty of great strawberries!




The field was very easy to pick because the plants were elevated and the mounds tarped, but it had a bit of mud along the rows that we had to get around. By the time we were done, the kids were covered in mud and strawberry juice. They seems pretty happy about it.


The big girls picked with Tracy. I’m not sure how much they actually picked, but they seemed to have fun. They also enjoyed hanging out with Brown. He was awesome with the girls! Tracy was very sweet to carry each of the girls over one large mud hole.





The other kids moved between the rows with the other mamas. When they were ready to switch places we picked them up and passed them over the plants. Aiden made himself comfortable with any of the girls or mamas.



Julia started eating strawberries as soon as we got to the strawberry plants. It was like strawberry heaven for her. I wasn’t sure if she was capable of picking a strawberry and putting it in the basket without it going into her mouth. After a while, Julia discovered the dirt path and that she could just play in the dirt. She was one happy girl.



Royal Wedding Party

April 29, 2011


Today is the day Prince William married his princess. So, what does a family of girls do – we have a party with other little girls and watch the wedding. Our friends Elena, Maeve, Ashley, and neighbor Laurel came over to watch the wedding with us. The kids dressed up in their favorite princess dresses for the occasion. We had lovely scones and snacks while we watched the ceremony. I think to our good fortune, the girls were not too over-the-top into the wedding. If they had been we would be living this for weeks. We had some coloring pages and a variation on the bingo game with cards to match to the event.

It was a fun time for the big people to watch and the girls enjoyed each other. It will be a while until we have another royal wedding and glad we didn’t miss celebrating this event.

Beautiful Girls

April 28, 2011

Just some photos of our sweet girls







It was a Happy Easter

April 27, 2011

We had a wonderful Easter day. The girls looked beautiful in their dresses and loved twirling in them. Emily’s Sunday School class marched into the church service playing percussion instruments and she loved it. After church, we took some photos and then went to Grammy and Granddaddy’s house for lunch and an egg hunt.

The girls helped Grammy and Granddaddy hide the eggs for the big kid hunt. To qualify for the big kid hunt you can’t be a grandparent nor under 10.  The next hunt was for the girls. Emily asked Grammy to hide the eggs in the grass where it would be easier to find. They did well looking and finding the eggs. After finding a few, Julia was very happy pulling the eggs out of her basket and eating what she found inside.

Lots of fun photos! Enjoy!


The morning Easter Basket – The girls came running in to tell their parents about their basket. We got them to spend about 10 minutes running back and forth to look at the basket and then come back to report on what they found.


Every year the little ones just get bigger and bigger.


When we arrived at Grammy and Granddaddy’s house, the girls had woken up from a nap in the car and there were people there the girls didn’t know. Julia was her usual shy self around new people and I gave her a choice of places to go while we carried things in from the car. She happily chose Granddaddy’s lap for a place of safety.


I think this is a photo of our future. Emily found the funny pages from the paper and was fascinated by them. She also had been looking at Robby’s phone and was fond of holding on to it. I can remember spending a lot of Sunday’s at my Grandparent’s house reading the funny pages to fill the afternoon.


The girls at the beginning of their egg hunt.


Emily on the hunt!


Little Girl on the loose, watch out candy!


Mama with her girls

Easter Egg Hunting

April 25, 2011

Easter Egg Hunting from Robby Edwards on Vimeo.

Our girls show off their Easter dresses and Emily rescues an Easter egg.

Julia Finds an Easter Treat from Robby Edwards on Vimeo.

Julia opens an Easter egg and finds a special treat.

Church Easter Egg Hunt

April 23, 2011

We had our second Annual Easter Egg Hunt today. The day was beautiful and it was so nice to be out in it. The girls loved their new BIG baskets. They are so big we should have used them as props and taken photos of babies in them. Julia was a little unsure of the new location and the large group of people, but as she hung with her Daddy she got into the fun of picking up eggs. Emily was very selective of the eggs she chose. We are not sure why though. Maybe it was the discussion about being the biggest kid in the little kid hunt. We didn’t want Emily to run over the babies in her quest for eggs. Not a problem, she didn’t even collect her quota of eggs. After the hunt both girls enjoyed hanging with their friends and eating their picnic lunch. Just a smattering of photos from the day and some of the little people who we spent it with.


Julia had to get used to the idea of the egg hunt before she could get down and hunt her own eggs. Daddy is a great place to get a towering view over the area and feel safe.


Rose was the mascot Easter Bunny for the day. So sweet!


Emily was checking out her basket and the small collection of eggs she had gathered.


Aiden checking out his spoils. He had just informed us that one of the eggs had sparkles.


Where to go next?


Elena loves McKenzie. She was making sure that McKenzie was getting all of her eggs opened and inspected.



What is in there?


Julia found another one to gather


Maeve in her adorable Bunny dress. She decided to share a smile with me after all.


Julia had to decide which one to open next.


Natalie and her Easter pail



Spring at the UT Gardens

April 18, 2011

We enjoyed a beautiful spring morning at the UT gardens with friends this morning. We were joined by the usual suspects of Ashley, Elena, Maeve, Heather, and Kenzie. Also joining us was Deborah, Sarah, and Andrew who were in town for a visit and brought Grandma Darrie. The big girls love Ms. Darrie from church. We could not have asked for a more delightful morning. The kids enjoyed being with each other and at times were willing to pose for photos too. I think my favorite game the girls played was pretending to be ants and crawling around a set of benches.



My best photo at our attempt to get one of all of the girls. They are busy and loved being with each other, just not all looking at the camera at the same moment.


Sweet Elena


Emily was so excited to give McKenzie a hug. It was really sweet. She kept hugging and kissing her.


Emily was pretty reluctant to give the camera a smile. She loved checking out the flowers, sticks, garden art, benches, paths, and just everything else in the garden.


Awesome Julia smile!


Kenzie in the Heart


One of my favorite photos from the day. Maeve was really playing in the dirt surrounded by all of the beautiful flowers. Happy as any bug found in the garden.


Sarah and Andrew taking their turn posing in the heart.

Things I Love

April 15, 2011


Some days things happen that are unplanned and wonderful. Yesterday was a beautiful day and we were drawn to the front porch with a few crackers and coloring books. The girls just stretched out on the porch and colored to their hearts content. Julia found her arms and legs to be a great canvas too. At one point Julia was laying on her tummy with her feet up in the air and ankles crossed, but that sweet pose was gone by the time I got the camera and came back. They spent almost two hours on one activity because it was so satisfying in the sunshine. These are some of the things I love!

Our sleeping Nomad

April 8, 2011

(4 yrs) Emily is the sleeping nomad at our house. At night she wakes up and moves herself, pillow, stuffed friend, and favorite blanket out to the couch to sleep. The time varies, but it is usually around 3-4 am. She will come to her bedroom door and if she sees light on in the living room she goes back to bed. If it is dark she comes on out and finishes out the night on the couch. Lately, she figured out that she can turn her sleeping music on in her room and hear it through the monitor on the couch. If there is a noise that is bothering her sleep on the couch, she will get her Daddy to fix it for her.

Why she moves is still a mystery to us. We have changed her pillows on her bed to be more like the couch and that didn’t seem to make any difference. There is a chance that she does it just to see her Daddy in the morning as he leaves for work. For whatever reason she does it, it does offer her the ability to see him on his way out the door. Usually, she gets her morning milk and the TV turned on for her by Daddy as he leaves. I can’t imagine that her night sleep is of great quality if she is waking up every night and moving. This might explain why her naps can still be very long when she gets to take them at home.

The Girls Vacation-Atlanta cousins

April 7, 2011

Our last stop was a “rest” stop on the way home. We stopped and visited with Aunt Janet and Uncle Art for one night. The day we arrived they had just had their annual Easter egg hunt with extended family and friends. Our bonus was that all of Rachelle’s Atlanta cousins were there and stayed for an evening of visiting. It has been years since we have all been together and it was a joy. The girls took a while to warm up, but they were in an unfamiliar place with loads of people. Emily warmed up first and loved playing with the new to her toys. Lily was great to play with Emily too. Eventually even Julia was running around and playing in the cubby under the stairs. The next morning we visited until after lunch and then headed on home to see Daddy. Thanks for the hospitality and the invite for future visits!


Julia was having fun running around playing and acting like her pixie self. At this moment she was supposed to come for a group photo, but had other things in mind.


Emily getting a special front porch hug!


Uncle Art and Aunt Janet with the girls. I wish the girls would pose better for photos, but it was cold and they were just ready to go home and see Daddy!

The Girls Vacation–Camping

April 4, 2011

The majority of our trip away was spent camping at Florida Caverns in Marianna, Florida. Emily and Julia knew who we were going to visit with and they were very excited. Julia had been nursing a cold so she was shy when we got there, but it did not take her long to feel her freedom and play with the other kids. Our campsite was pretty full, but thankfully we had one of the larger sites. We were able to fit three cars, one camper, two tents, a picnic table shelter, and still have plenty of room for the fire, chairs and play area. Jolie had planned it all out very well.

In total, we had four adults and five kids including one infant. Natalie did a great job of playing with the younger kids and Julia tried to keep up as much as she could with the older kids. It was fun to watch Dylan play with his superhero characters right along side of the camper and tent toys. His superhero toys even had their own sleeping bags just like the dolls for the girls. They all loved coloring in books at the table.

For our activities, we spent time in a field kicking a ball around, some short hikes, and a cave tour. Everyone seemed to do really well in the cave and the darkness didn’t seem to bother the kids. We got to see two bats along with puddles, cool formations, and a few seconds of absolute darkness. Our evening entertainment were owls calling to one another. They were some of the most unusual calls I have heard. They were not distracting enough to keep us awake, but fascinating to listen to. I would call camping a success. Despite some rain, it all worked out and we staying dry and warm. The girls seem ready to try it again.


A scene of Florida


Julia playing with the tent, camper, and family of dolls. All the kids enjoyed these toys a lot. I noticed that Julia would gravitate to it when the other girls were busy doing bigger girl things. She enjoys her solitary play a lot. I was explaining to Emily about how Aunt Jolie’s camper closed up, and she described to me how she would do it. She then told me she knew all about it because of the camper toy. I was impressed, but didn’t let Emily actually help take the camper down.


Happy Baby Mikayla! She got her “floor” time in the pack-n-play so that she wouldn’t eat dirt. She was moving around the play yard pretty well and got the idea about crawling as soon as she got home. Maybe she wanted to be able to move around like those big kids.


Mama time for the little one.


Maybe one of my favorite times and definitely my favorite photo. The girls were bouncing along the trail as much as their hair was. Emily was trying to be a big girl just like Natalie and having a blast. They just look lost in conversation as they spend time together.


After kicking the ball around at the field for a while they decided that the hill needed to be conquered. They decided that they would play Jack and Jill (renamed to Jackie and Jill). They would recite the rhyme at the top of the hill and then roll down. It took Emily a few tries to figure out how to roll down the hill.


They must teach rolling down hills at school, because Natalie was an expert at it. She even perfected a dramatic ending to her roll.


Dylan and Natalie had been getting Superhero tattoos and were showing them off to Jolie.


Coloring was another of the activities that got pulled out a lot to do. Here again, Julia took advantage of a quiet moment when she didn’t have to share the crayons with anyone.


Three strong Nobles women! Thanks for inviting us to join you and hope to do this again in the future.

The Girls Vacation–Callaway Gardens

April 1, 2011

The Edwards girls took a Spring Break vacation to visit and camp with Aunt Jolie and the kids. On our way, we stopped and enjoyed a morning at Callaway Gardens. The morning was a little cool, but the sun was shining. Our first stop was at the Butterfly House which is in a greenhouse so the temperature outside wasn’t really an issue. Julia was pretty clingy and sad for the morning so separating her from Mama was a little hard. Despite that, she became interested enough in the butterflies that she ventured away a few times.

The butterflies were everywhere! They put out a few feeding plates with sliced fruit for the butterflies. These made great places to see them up close. There was also a waterfall and fish pond to see. The girls seemed to enjoy looking around and exploring the path.

After walking around inside of the Butterfly House we made a loop around it. They had lots of tulips blooming around the building and a nice walk. Then we drove over to the Azalea Bowl. This is a garden filled with different varieties of azalea bushes. We took a hike around the different trails and found a waterfall and bridge to explore. The blooms were just starting. The garden must be breathtaking when all the bushes are in bloom. Emily walked and Julia snuggled with Mama in the backpack. It was a wonderful way to spend the morning!









Gem Play

March 17, 2011

The girls had an activity that had them add sticker gems to a tiara. After playing with the tiara for a while they discovered they could pull the sticker gems back off the tiara and decorate other things. After having decorated a mailbox and bowls they discovered themselves. I found the girls working together to decorate Julia. Emily had a gentle hold of Julia’s hand as she placed a gem bracelet on her. They had already made a line up on of Julia’s arms and a ring on her ring finger. They were playing so quietly and sweetly. I was amazed at how still Julia sat for Emily to decorate her.




Dancing Like A Butterfly

March 16, 2011

The girls invited me to a concert and this was the performance. The little one was excellent as a drummer and the large one had lots of confidence. The original song is from an episode of Angelia Ballerina that Emily likes, but hasn’t watched in a while. I think her word memory is a lot better than mine. I loved the impromptu concert!

Cool Afternoon Play

March 14, 2011



It is spring break for Grammy so we went over for a little playtime and lunch. It was a bit cooler outside than I was expecting so the girls were underdressed for playing outside. So we found a shrug for Julia and Emily got a sweatshirt that looked like a dress on her. They played outside for a long time both on the swing set and picking up leaves and putting them in a pot with water in it. It always amazes me at what keeps kids entertained.

Julia is looking older now days in her photos. I guess she is getting older. I’m not sure she asked permission to grow up.

Favorite Games – Emily

February 22, 2011

(4 yrs) Emily loves to dance around the room, especially when she is supposed to be listening or doing something else. She just zones out and off she goes. I love that she enjoys it so much that she puts that much effort into it. I have asked her where she learned different dances and she tells me that one of her Thursday School teachers teaches her. Every day she spends some time twirling around or making leaps and bounds somewhere.

Another game Emily is interested in right now is to play pretend “Goldilocks”. She will get out three bowls, three chairs, and make up three beds. Then she will assign play acting roles for other family members to act out the story with her. Emily likes to play different roles in this story, so you are never sure who you will get to be. If someone tries to be adventurous and like a different porridge or sleep in the wrong bed she will correct you, although she will not make you “do it right”. After playing once or twice, she is satisfied and willing to continue to play by herself eating porridge, sitting in chairs, and laying in beds.

Valentines Day 2011

February 14, 2011

Our Valentine’s Day was a beautiful, sunny and breezy day. It was still cool enough that you wanted to be in the sun, but warm enough you wanted to be outside! For all the snow and cold we had this winter, an early spring was really wonderful to enjoy. We spent the morning at the Knoxville Botanical Garden in our special “Secret Garden”. The kids drank up the sun and loved moving around.

Emily’s 4 Year Checkup

February 11, 2011

Emily was excited to go for her 4-year checkup. I’m not quite sure why, but she was. She was great about her exam. She enjoyed the eye chart and took a couple of takes at the hearing test. She was just having trouble with reacting, not hearing. Emily is now old enough to get to wear a gown for her exam. She loved it and danced around in it like it was a beautiful dress. Funny stuff!

Her weight was 35 lbs. and height was 41-1/2 inches. Like usual her percentages are low for weight, but high for height. I was pleased that she averaged out to the 50 percentile. This Mama can handle average.

No shots, but we were told that she had a year and half to work the 4 required shots for beginning school. I thought a shot-free day was in order and we put them off until next fall when we would be getting our flu shot anyway. We will not discuss my sadness at just being a year and half away from starting school.

Both girls were thrilled for some stickers at the end. Given that Emily can stay well, we will not go back for a visit until her 5th birthday.

Happy Birthday, Emily!

January 17, 2011

Wow! We now have a four-year old. There were some days in that first month of her life that I couldn’t imagine how we were going to make it to one month old, and here we are at four years already. Emily has loved this birthday. We have counted down to the day, and if you asked her what she was going to do on Saturday, she would show her sheepish grin and say “it’s my birthday”. When I asked her what she wanted for a cake, she told me she wanted blue icing. The cake flavor didn’t seem to matter as long as icing was blue. While she watched me ice her cupcakes blue, she thanked me and told me how wonderful it was.

Some of our four-year old uniquenesses are:
-Tons of pretend play! Her favorites are doctor requiring lots of measuring, take a trip requiring lots of packing, and of course Cinderella.
– Is pretty interested these days in counting and reciting her ABC’s on her own.
– Loves her sister. She hugs and kisses her more than Julia would like. Emily doesn’t stop when Julia squeals for her to.
– Still has her favorite blanket that she calls “baby mouse”.
– Uses the words Mom, Mother, Dad, and Father instead of Mommy and Daddy.
– Tells her mother “yeah, yeah, yeah” as an answer to questions that she doesn’t want to answer.
– Prefers anything that has a princess on it.
– When singing songs if she doesn’t know the words she just makes them up.
– Favorite move – Cinderella
– Favorite drink – Chocolate Milk
– Favorite thing to wear are dresses.
– Favorite shoes are a simple dress shoe that she calls her “dancing shoes”. We have one in white and one in black.

Growing Big

January 11, 2011

Emily has been asking me to measure how big she is lately, so we hung a growth chart. The girls were very curious about what I was doing as I filled in past heights from checkups. Emily proudly held the yard stick to help me get the chart on the wall right. Both loved standing against the chart and having me show them how tall they were. Julia was also pleased with her pigtails.

How Did We Enjoy the Snow Today

January 10, 2011

We had a beautiful snowfall today. We did a little playing in the snow and these are some of our best memories.

We made angels.

We rode our sled and played with our neighbor Laurel.

We played with Daddy.

We got cold noses.

We made snowballs.

We made funny faces.

And lastly, we built a sled that Mommy, Emily, and Laurel enjoyed.


January 9, 2011

We have had several snow events already this winter which is rather unusual for us. One even gave us a white Christmas. We had a fun morning playing in the most recent snow. The girls kept trying to throw baby snowballs at Robby, but they just couldn’t hit him without his help. They also enjoyed riding around the driveway in their new wagon. We played outside until we got cold. The new rain boots were a hit and kept our feet dry!

“Big” Christmas Gifts

December 31, 2010

The girls got a dollhouse and kitchen this year as their “big” gifts. The dollhouse is a remodeled version of my childhood dollhouse that my Grandparents built and decorated for me. Both girls love their gifts. When they saw the dollhouse for the first time, Julia went running for it and Emily just stopped and stared at it taking it all in. I have loved listening to all of the conversations that have occurred in the dollhouse between it’s inhabitants. There isn’t a piece that hasn’t been inspected, used, and sometimes even repurposed. It has also been an opportunity to learn about sharing.

While we have had kitchen toys and appliances, this new kitchen has been quite a hit. The sink and oven have been a great fascination. It is perfectly sized for Julia and it shows as she has become the master chef. She has been baking lots of cupcakes – she puts on her oven mit, places the tray in the oven, adjusts the temperature, opens the oven, removes the tray (still wearing the oven mit), places candles, and delivers the yummy treats.

I see hours of play hidden in each dollhouse room and in the kitchen appliances. What joy!

Dollywood at Christmas

December 30, 2010

The girls and Mama visited Dollywood just before Christmas. It was a cold day, but we were bundled up and seemed to always have one more layer we could put on. Like usual the girls wanted to ride the carousel first. You have to hold tight when you are wearing mittens.

We then continued on to ride the young kid rides. Emily loves to make friends with other kids when we are at parks, and this trip to Dollywood was no different. She and a six-year old became best friends on the first ride. Emily cried when we got to the second ride because her new friend wasn’t riding in the same pig. She moved to join us. But it didn’t matter how good friends they were, nothing could get Emily to ride the bumblebee ride. On the other hand, Julia was thrilled to ride the bumblebee ride. They said good-bye to their new friend as she went on to ride the bigger rides. While Emily was unwilling to ride the flying bumblebee, she requested to try the Ferris wheel. I’m not sure that she would really be able to handle it, it will have to wait for a day with Daddy.

The girls discovered a mural wall that they could color. It was a blast and will be inspiring our own at-home version. Mama isn’t going nuts, but I’m going to give it a try and hope all the walls in our house don’t turn into murals.

We have been visiting Dollywood for months now and have never gone to a show. Between the cold weather, more kid-interesting shows, and a desire to take off some of our layers encouraged us that direction. We saw “Babies in Toyland” and found it to hold the girls interest. An hour was a long time for them, but it was fun.

We hope to go back one more time with Daddy before the year ends for more fun!

Family Christmas

December 26, 2010

We celebrated Christmas with extended family who visited for the holiday. We attempted a family photo and ended up with this awesome photo. I think the fact we got all the adults to look at the camera at the same time and not blink was a success and then adding Caleb’s expressive face to the mix made it over the top. Maybe one day the younger ones will want to look at the camera.

In the photo: Don Lieder, Ann Lieder, Jennifer Reichle, Philip Reichle, Joyce Reichle, Robby Edwards, Rachelle Edwards, Phil Reichle, Caleb, Nataniel, Emily, and Julia.

The Santa Story 2010

Scene 1 – The Visit:

The girls visited with Santa in Miami this year. Santa was visiting in an ice and snow palace and after talking with him there was a snow room that had snow for kids to play in. Emily was very excited to see and speak with Santa. She showed no shyness with him. There was no line behind us so she had plenty of time to talk. Santa asked Emily what she wanted for Christmas and she told him she wanted toys and a star for the top of the tree. Santa was very kind and sweet with the girls. Julia had a different response to Santa. She cried at the idea of sitting with him. In the end, Mommy had to sit next to Santa and Julia on her lap. The girls were not sure of what to make of the faux snow, but liked to watch Mommy play in the snow and throw it into the air.

Scene 2 – The Message:
Some sweet friends of ours arranged for the girls to receive their own individual messages from Santa. We recorded the girls watching their videos. The messages were quite a hit! Emily continued to talk about what Santa told her through Christmas.

Emily’s Video Message

Julia’s Video Message

Scene 3 – Christmas Morning:

Christmas morning we found that Santa had visited the house and left lovely things in our stockings. Among what he left there was a Christmas star, princess coloring book, Backyardigans characters, Ernie doll (a Julia favorite), ponies, musical instruments, and toy kitchen utensils. The girls loved finding their stockings and were excited to empty them out. There were lots of excited proclaimations of discovery and joyful facial expressions.

Reading a Book

December 13, 2010

This morning the girls were playing their usual games. One of them is to lay out beds for themselves and then lay down for pretend naps. Today a new variation was added that involved Emily reading books to Julia. Emily was describing the action associated with each page remembering the words that have been read to her. It warmed my heart to see Emily being so sweet to Julia. Also, my excitement at the beginning interest in reading. While I have encouraged Emily to read to Julia, she has never tried it before now. I guess she wanted it to be her idea instead of mine.

Daddy’s Lap

This was a sweet cuddle time with Daddy. Julia was enjoying her morning milk and blanket with Robby. So, when Emily came and saw the scene, she decided to join in. When Emily saw me she asked for a photo. Because she asked she was willing to look at the camera.

Sweet girls!

Snow Day

December 12, 2010

“My foot fits in Daddy’s footprints” – implied comment from Julia

We were delighted today to a winter wonderland. Normally when the weather experts predict snow it doesn’t happen, but today they got it right. Off and on all day we have seen the flying white stuff. Late this afternoon the accumulation started to pick up so the girls got to run out to play just before dark. Robby joined the girl snow expedition.

Emily made snow angels, cleared snow off of things, and analyzed different foot prints. Julia warmed up slowly to the snow and didn’t really want to walk in it. She got braver the longer she was out and ended up helping with the footprint search and clearing some snow. They came back in when they cold and it got too dark. From our window we were delighted to see a resident deer walk through our yard. She couldn’t hide well with her dark fur against the white snow.

We will see if there is any snow tomorrow to play in. At the girls bed time the driveway, roads, tree branches, and the ground were completely covered. It was is a beautiful winter wonderland scene.

Christmas Tree

December 8, 2010

It took several days to get our Christmas tree decorated this year. I attempted to decorate when the girls were asleep. My hope was that if Julia didn’t see me touching every ornament, branch, and light she might not try to do the same. Emily did help me place ornaments at the end.

I have loved watching both girls discover the different ornaments on the tree. Emily has found all the photo ornaments and the ones with her name on it. Julia’s favorite ornaments so far are the Veggie Tale and Pooh ornaments. I hung all the Pooh ornaments in one spot on the tree and called it ‘Pooh’s Corner’. They have done a great job of leaving the ornaments on the tree and only touching them gently.

Swimming in the Dark

December 3, 2010

Some concepts are almost impossible to explain to a kid, you just have to let them learn on their own. Unfortunately, when it comes to swimming in their grandparents pool in late November it requires Mommy to participate too. A few days prior we had been visiting Aunt Cindy and Uncle Ken and enjoyed an afternoon swim in their heated pool. It was fun and while you stayed in the water quite enjoyable.

When we got to Miami, the girls asked to swim in their Grandparents’ pool. We explained that it was not a heated pool and it was a little cold to swim in, but the girls kept asking. I decided that they only way to end the requests was to grant it. By the time we got in the pool it was completely dark and cool. When it was time to put toes in the water Julia was all for it and Emily was a bit skittish. We all went out to get wet and wet we were going to get, so I picked Emily up and took her into the water. We played a bunch of games and when it was all over both girls were jumping into the pool from the side over and over again. I did get used to the water eventually. When we got out I checked out the water temperature and found out it had been a toasty 69 degrees.

Maybe next year when they ask they will be able to swim on their own and we can just watch. Somehow, I bet they won’t let me get away with that. I guess it will be Daddy’s turn.

Lucky Parenting Break 1,247

December 1, 2010

While I love mashed potatoes I think we will not be having them at our household for a while. Emily turned tonight’s dinner into artwork instead of being eaten. I didn’t pick a battle over it and just let her not eat. As Robby and I watched the mashed potato “castle” being built it seemed to become JR Tolkien’s dragon Smaug from The Hobbit. It was adorned with peas and dressing. The additions really looked like scales and a little aging. We convinced Emily to call it Castle Smaug and joked that it was the throne under the mountain.

When it appeared that she was done decorating I took this photo. I told her that it was safe to eat now that we had a photo. She asked to see the photo and I promised that after she ate Smaug I would let her. She promptly picked up her fork and took a bite. I walked away in wonder at my good luck. I wish I could claim credit for my plan, but I can’t. But maybe I will be able to use it again at some point.

From Our Table To Yours

November 29, 2010

We hope everyone’s Thanksgiving celebration was wonderful. We spent ours with extended family and great food!

Developmental Changes

November 14, 2010

Sometimes when my girls are doing things I wonder if their behavior is just random or a sign of a developmental change. God has granted me my own scientific experiment on this in Emily’s friend Elena. Often, Ashley and I will be sharing stories of our kids’ current antics and find out that the other one is exhibiting the same behavior.

One recent sweet thing they are both doing, independent of each other, is pretending to be babies after their baths. After we give Emily her towel from her bath, she stands wrapped up in it and asks if she can be carried back to the bedroom like a baby. She delights in the baby-like behavior and acting it out. I guess it is hard to grow up and she sometimes wants to be treated like a baby. Sometimes, I miss my Emily baby and am glad to pretend every once in a while to have her back.

Good-bye Locks

November 8, 2010

Today was the day for Emily’s hair to be cut. We made an outing of the event and even took a favorite doll with us for the haircut. The new look is really cute, but quite different than the long wavy hair. Time will tell if the wavy hair will remain, but the ends still had some wave to them before they were straightened. It was fun for her to get her hair styled and straightened like a big girl. Actually, Emily’s favorite part was dancing around the big open floor the the salon. Julia got a little trim to keep her included in the event.

The Before

The After

Botanical Garden

November 3, 2010

There is nothing better than going out to play in unexpected places on beautiful days. Fall is a perfect time to find hidden corners of gardens to play in. The girls played with their friends Elena and Maeve at the Knoxville Botanical Garden for a morning play date. There were trails to follow, stone buildings to discover, bushes to hide between, and sweet faces to be photographed. I think Ashley and my favorite thing about the gardens were the stone walls that gave our girls a safe and fun place to run around in. The garden volunteers were planting bulbs for the spring flower beds and they offered for the girls to help them with the planting. Emily and Elena both volunteered to help. Next spring we will have to go back and see the Narcissa that they helped plant. We will return for more play dates on warm days. There are so many more places I want to go and see in the garden.

This is a classic pose for Julia these days. While she doesn’t have many words she choose to share with us, she does say our names. She loves to put her hands to the side of her mouth and yell a persons name to have them come and play. This time she was yelling for “Eeeeee” to come her way.

Happy Halloween

October 31, 2010

Greetings from the Edwards Trick-or-Treating Evening

Emily the Cowgirl

If Julia was a knight her name would have been “Julia the Sad”. She woke up from a late nap and was pretty disagreeable. We tried to talk her into a bumble bee costume and it was a no-go. Then we tried her Pumpkin Fairy costume and again it was a no. So we packed up her costume in case she changed her mind on the go. She did become a whole lot more agreeable as the trick or treating went on.

The never-worn costume.

Mommy decided she would be a Fairy Godmother if Julia wouldn’t be the fairy.

We made a loop around our street starting with a selection of neighbors including our babysitter and Grandparents. Then we visited a church Trunk ‘n Treat for dinner and more candy. And then finished by working our way back to our house visiting more neighbors. At home the girls got to eat a few pieces of candy and examine the contents of their buckets. They had so much fun getting all the candy out and sorting it. Julia picked raisins as one of her prizes to eat. She was so excited to sit by Robby and eat it.

Emily refused to smile, but this is just a selection from her candy bucket. She was happy with her loot! Despite our sad start we all had lots of fun and enjoyed visiting with neighbors and collecting candy.

Escaping our House

We had been locked up in our house for several days this week because of sickness. We were ready to escape the house mid-week. It proved to be the perfect medicine for us.

The girls were so excited to go out. Julia was up first and ready to go before I started to get Emily ready. Emily was dragging her feet and Julia jumped in to help me motivate her. While I was contemplating turning off the TV to help the process along, I watched Julia go and get the remote to do just that. After the TV was off Julia pushed Emily to get dressed. It was so entertaining to watch their interaction. I think I learned a lot about Julia and her future role with her sister.

I had promised the girls a trip to Dollywood, but when we got there that it was the day for them to be closed that week. The girls were sad and we saw several tears from each. Luckily for us, we found an endless supply of other distractions. We filled our day with putt-putt, ice cream, shopping, and sunshine. Sunshine, laughter, and fun is the best medicine!

Pumpkin Fairy Birthday Playdate

October 20, 2010

For Julia’s 2nd birthday we celebrated with a playdate at the pumpkin patch. Every year we go to the pumpkin patch for a playdate and it made for a fun place to celebrate a party too. All the kids dressed as pumpking fairies while we looked for pumpkins, fed sheep (and a llama), walked through a corn maze, and ate snacks and lunch. Julia had a blast! Her grin was huge and adorable as she knew we were singing Happy Birthday to her. The weather was warm and sunny and added a lot to our fun day.

All the little fairies were sweet and seemed to enjoy the day! Thanks fairies for sharing the day with us!

Fall Camping

October 19, 2010

We were able to fit a camping weekend into our busy fall. We spent a beautiful weekend among falling temperatures and leaves. Our days were warm, but evenings cool. This spring we got a new tent and this was our first chance to use it. The old one was a little small for us since we added a fourth member of our family. This one is tall enough for Robby to stand in.

We all finished the weekend with rosy cheeks from the sunshine.

We were joined on the weekend with friends. The little people loved having friends just one campsite away. Our site was next to a playground and sunny field which made for fun play times. Elena enjoyed mothering Julia. Julia also seemed to like the attention from the big girl. The girls enjoyed a hike, throwing rocks in the river, playing at the playground, afternoon naps, getting dirty, and visiting horses. Our girls didn’t eat real well and were not interested in trying different foods. Fire roasted marshmallow were turned down by our girls, but the hot chocolate was a hit with Emily.

Our nights were near freezing, so I spent the night waking up to re-cover or pull the girls back into their sleeping bags. At some point each night both girls ended up in our sleeping bags with us because of the cold. Julia was the funniest, she woke me up, just as the sun was coming up, with the box with her extra pacifier in it. I gave her the pacifier and then she proceeded to move all of her precious sleeping things from her sleeping bag to our bag. When she was done she was slipped into a warm comfy spot to continue her slumber. When I woke up later, her sweet little face was just resting next to mine at complete peace. So sweet. No more camping this fall for us, but hopefully in the spring we can make another trip.


October 10, 2010

Just a few individual things that are happening around here or what we are hearing these days –

  • Emily told me that her gas was “singing a little song”
  • Emily’s current favorite game to play is Librarian. She brings us a small stack of books that we have checked out. She also spends a lot of time “organizing” her books into piles.
  • Emily has taken to caring for Robby. She will have him lay on the couch, tells him to take a nap, and then rubs on his head. He thinks this is the best game ever.
  • Emily absolutely loves to play dress up and would live in her Cinderella dress if we let her.
  • Emily’s other accessory of choice is a toy crown that she got out of a kids meal. It is even worn to bed if we let her.
  • Emily favors her father. She will call out to him in the middle of the night for comfort. She likes Mommy, but Daddy is best.
  • Emily is learning how to tell time on a clock face. She knows when it is 8 pm and that it is bedtime. She has also started adopting time-lingo into her description of time. She will tell us that it is “15 till” or “12:30”. She occasionally gets it right, but at this point it is just blind luck. My favorite is when she tells her doll that it is 17:30.
  • Emily hasn’t mastered the terms and concepts for yesterday, tomorrow, last week, next week, last month, next month, last year, and next year. Everything is described in years. She will tell us that next year we are going someplace meaning tomorrow. She has told Robby what she did the day before and described it as last year.
  • Emily has a placemat map that we use to show her places she has gone and where other people live. To help her find Tennessee quickly we taught her to find the drawing of Elvis, who is placed over Memphis, and then we are on the other side of the state. She now describes where we live as being “at Elvis”
  • Emily asks us everyday what we are doing that day or the next day. She is used to going and doing things.
  • Emily knows the Tennessee and US flags and when she finds them she likes to point them out.
  • Julia is having a few more words pop out of her mouth. She will repeat a lot of things for us, but they don’t sound quite right. She has made these clear enough to understand: no, movie, E (Emily), more, please, cheese, cak-er (cracker), and lunch.
  • Julia favorite toy right now is a new slide that we have in the living room. She will sit on top of it and watch TV. She also slides all of the time.
  • Julia is interested in helping us do things now. She helped pack Robby’s lunch, has gone to fetch things for Robby that she perceives that he needs, and loves to go and fetch Mommy’s shoes when we are leaving.
  • Julia has a pink tutu she loves and wears anytime she can. Mommy made her a new one and so far she has been unwilling to even try it on because of how much she loves the pink one.
  • Julia will not leave anything in her hair. She asks for bows to be put in her hair and then removes them while we are out. Unfortunately, this leads to a lot of lost bows.
  • Julia is still highly attached to Mommy. For her Mommy is best.
  • Julia doesn’t mind taking her afternoon nap and sometimes asks for it. Most of the time when she is asked if she is ready and answers yes (with a nod) and then collects her things and meets us at the pack n play where she sleeps at nap time.
  • The girls have play picnics. This involves putting toy kitchen food it in baskets or bags and then carrying it around the house. After they have picked a spot they will spread a blanket, sit down, and get the food out for the picnic. A variation of this is when Emily fills a small metal lunchbox and takes it to pretend school. I’m pretty impressed with the lunch she packs for herself.

How we spent our morning

October 7, 2010

Emily had gone to bed with a cough and I wondered if she would be able to go to Thursday school the next morning. Sure enough she was up in the night with a fever. So, this morning, I asked Julia if she wanted to go to school by herself or stay with Mommy. Using her usual method of communicating–head nodding–she choose to go to school alone. The theme of the day was Teddy bears and they were to bring one in with them. Julia selected Minnie Mouse. There was no changing her mind either. Minnie went with her to school. I thought it would be fun to remember her day of independence with a photo of herself with Minnie. She was very brave about going alone up to the point when we went down the hall to her class. I left her in tears to find out later that she quit them quickly.

Emily and I had a fun couple of hours of just hanging out together alone. While it wasn’t the most fun list of activities, we enjoyed just being with each other. Emily visited the doctor to have her cough checked on. She asked to take her doll with her to the doctor’s office, so that she could be like her sister and take a stuffed friend with her. Emily was a big brave girl at the appointment. She had a breathing treatment administered while we were there and I thought she would like to see what she looked like with the fish mask on. She didn’t like the noise of the machine, but didn’t seem to mind the mask. Hopefully with a little rest she will be feeling back to normal very soon.

Emily measured at this appointment 41-1/2 inches tall and 32.8 lbs weight

Playing Cinderella

September 20, 2010

Emily has been very captivated with the idea that she is a princess. Lately, she has taken to being Cinderella. The other night, while playing dress up with her princess dress and her ‘glass’ slippers, she asked me to dance. After we danced in a circle for a bit, she informed me that it was midnight. Then, she ran off removed one of her shoes, and told me, “Prince, you have to find my glass slipper and put it on me.” She was delighted when I picked up her shoe and first tried putting it on Mommy’s foot and then on Julia’s foot, while declaring that it was too small for Mommy and too big for her sister. Then, I asked her if I could try it on her foot. Her joy was complete when I put her slipper on her foot, and announced it a perfect fit. Needless to say, we played this game several times that evening.

Mary Poppins

September 19, 2010

By far, “Mary Poppins” is the girls favorite movie right now. Emily asks for it by name and they both get excited when they hear the music. The movie is pretty long, but the amount of the movie that holds their attention is amazing.

Several things from the movie have been big influences on the girls. Emily has added “cheeky” to her vocabulary. I asked her where she heard that word and she informed me that, “Mary Poppins said it”. Emily likes to dance like a penguin and has been known to try to ‘adjust’ her pants so that she looks like Dick Van Dyke when he dances like a penguin. Julia runs to get shoes on so that she can dance properly with the chimney sweeps. Both girls dance during the movie, but mostly with the chimney sweeps and trying to imitate the kicks. Today, Emily’s favorite song was “Spoonful of Sugar”. Julia managed the whole word “movie” tonight. For Julia, that is a big deal.

Edwards Family

September 15, 2010

We had a double baby shower in Orlando for Sabah & Doug and Jennifer & Gary over the Labor Day holiday. It was a short visit, but a good time just to catch up. We don’t all get together that often, so it is great when it does happen. The new parents got lots of fun and useful things. So, for the next two months this is the official photo of the Edward’s family. After the new baby comes we will have to find another excuse to get together for an updated one.

Princess Cupcake Party

September 11, 2010

The girls enjoyed a princess cupcake party. We celebrated the joy of eating cupcakes and dressing up as princesses. The girls were really excited to play and eat their cupcakes. What could be better than cupcakes with pink icing. Our current lesson is that playing princess is fun, but what makes a princess is someone who is kind and good.

Thanks Ashley for the idea!

Thursday School

September 9, 2010

Today is the first day of Thursday School. Emily woke up talking about it. She was quite excited. Julia looks a little apprehensive about the idea. It will be her first day going. Don’t let her face fool you she was excited too. She cried when she didn’t get to wear her backpack out the door to the car.

Drop-off went well. Emily is in a class of all girls. She will be making all new friends because none of the girls were in her class last year. After hanging her backpack she sat right down and started playing with a barn set. Julia is in a class with all boys, at least at this point. She helped me hang her backpack and then sat down to play with play-dough. She didn’t have any tears as I said goodbye, so I have high hopes that she will adjust to her new class well.

Pick-up came a little too soon for the mama. I had decided to get Emily first and then take her to get Julia. This way Emily could see her old teacher Ms. Melanie. When I got to Emily’s room, Julia was there. During lunch time Julia spotted Emily and was sad that she couldn’t be with her. So, they allowed Julia to hang in the room with Emily after lunch. Too sweet! Emily had a blast and was quietly playing with puzzles when I came to get her. We did our visiting on the way out and Emily enjoyed telling me of her day. Julia did great in her class and participated with the other kids. We will see what she thinks of it next week.

As a side note, Mama loved her three hours too.

Mama’s Helpers

September 1, 2010

When it is time for Mommy to vacuum, we have to clean up the floor of toys and other things. Both girls are interested these days in helping. They use their kid sized vacuum to make some noise and imitate me. They also are good sports about helping with the clean up. Lately, they have discovered that they can sit like princesses in their chairs on the couch. It is cute and keeps them out of the way.

Dollywood with Daddy

August 26, 2010

Every trip the girls and I make to Dollywood is fun, and Emily asks if Daddy is coming with us next time. When we told her that we all were going to Dollywood together, she was so excited! As we entered, she got her map and then started to tell us where to go. We had been hoping for cooler weather on the day we went, but it was very humid and pretty miserable to be walking around in. We were good sports and covered more activities than we have ever done in one visit. Despite the humidity and the threat of rain later in the day, everything worked out just fine. Robby got to try the rope course and gave it rave reviews. We were so proud that Emily ventured onto new rides for her and that Julia was willing to try anything that we encouraged her to do.

We decided to try the car ride off the bat and beat the lines. Emily wasn’t sure that it was her choice for first ride, but was willing to change the plan. Julia drove the car while I was the passenger. She became pretty disinterested in driving pretty quickly and wanted to look around. It isn’t so easy to drive a car from the passenger seat, take pictures, and point out the scenery.

Emily had the priveledge to drive with Daddy. She was disapointed that her car wasn’t more fun of a color. I was just glad that Daddy fit in the car.

Emily is so hard to get a photo of these days. We were lucky that she looked at the camera long enough to get one. She has such a pretty smile, but sitting still and focusing on any one thing is hard when we are in our independent stage of life.

Emily is such a Daddy’s girl and Julia is a Mama’s girl, it just made sense to split ourselves up that way. Emily’s prince was informed of which horse he had to ride, even if it was the smallest on the carousel.

For some reason Emily was expressing fear at riding rides this trip to Dollywood. It was odd that she did it for rides she has ridden before and liked. When it came time to ride the bumble bee ride, she didn’t want to ride. We asked Julia if she wanted to ride by herself and she said yes. She seemed a little lost in the bee by herself, but occasionally waved at us. I was proud that she would do it alone.

We found this awesome union to join. It was next to a deck filled with rocking chairs. We took a break to cool off and do some rocking. The sign was too funny and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to enjoy the laugh forever.

The girls and I have watched the River Battle ride before, but never ridden it. It was great that Emily was willing to try it with Robby. We didn’t mention to her how wet she would get, knowing that she would decline to ride if she knew. She tried to hide from the shooting water by curling up next to Robby, but still got soaked. The side effect was that Robby got to shoot twice the water. She didn’t know how to walk with wet pants and was hilarious to watch after the ride was over.

Our little wet girl was willing to hang out in the owl nest for a photo. She liked the idea a lot.

They have a fun educational boat floating game for the kids to play. Emily loved watching the float she started at the top work it’s way down the sluice. It had to work around objects and get help along the way. This area had the coolest playground that Emily loved playing in. Of course she found a house that she could be the princess of. She played house with Robby until the weather turned and we had to make our way out.

Sweet Julia played hard and just couldn’t make it the whole day with out a nap. She fell asleep after a snack and stayed that way until we worked our way out to another snack. Clearly, she has her priorities in order and is a child after my own heart.

Splashing at Splash Country

August 25, 2010

The girls and I have been able to go to Splash County for the summer, but I have been a little apprehensive to go alone with them and not know what to expect. I was so pleased when Robby was able to go with us. We learned a lot about our girls and water parks.

  • Everyone loved it!
  • I can take them by myself now and will.
  • Emily loves wearing her life preserver and Julia does not. I think Emily learned that she felt safe in the pool with it on and was able to do a lot. She was given a couple of opportunities to take it off and she always chose to leave it on. Julia hated being restricted by it and fussed non-stop when in it. With Emily safe in one it wasn’t as big of a deal to leave Julia out.
  • The girls think sliding is fun. There was one slide Julia could do by herself and one she could do with a parent. For Emily her options were seemingly endless. Sometimes the slide required being spattered with a lot of water to get to it and those she wasn’t as excited about.
  • Julia could take a nap on a lawn chair if she is tired enough. Emily on the other hand was not able to sleep, maybe she wasn’t tired enough.
  • You can apply enough sunscreen to a kid all day long to allow you to stay at a water park all day. The only spot that got too much sun on Emily was her nose and it wasn’t even that red. Julia didn’t get any red spots. Now the parents on the other hand both missed spots and didn’t reapply enough.
  • Julia can sit still long enough on a lap to ride around a lazy river.
  • The wave pool was a little too wavy for our little ones.
  • Emily was brave enough to ride the one “big” ride with her Daddy. When she was done she informed us that it was a little scary. (Daddy says: She also informed us that she said, “ahhhhhhh” all the way down the ride.) Since that day she has asked to ride it again though.


August 24, 2010

We spent one morning of our vacation at the aquarium in Gatlinburg. The girls were interested in looking at the fish in the tanks for a few minutes each tank. The tunnel was fun to move us along and also give us the vantage point of seeing the bottom of animals. Emily wasn’t sure she liked seeing the teeth on the sharks, but the sea turtle was pretty cool. Neither of the girls were brave enough to touch the hermit crab, but both seemed to enjoy crawling into the small fish tank cubbies. Julia loved being able to move around and explore. They even looked at the camera a few times and gave us smiles, cheesy ones sometimes. When we left the aquarium the girls were tired, but they got to bounce in an inflatable bounce room. I don’t think they would have ever come out except for being thirsty.

Summer Baseball

August 19, 2010

We took Granddaddy to his annual baseball game. The attendance was light that evening and it made for a very enjoyable evening. It was a hot day that spilled over into the evening, but for part of the game we had a breeze that made it bearable. The girls were great for the whole game. They enjoyed eating, swapping laps, walking around the outfield, listening to the fun songs, and watching the between inning entertainment. Emily sitting in Grammy’s lap was so sweet. They were discussing things going on around us. The day we went had cheap food so we were able to feed the girls popcorn, hot dogs, and ice cream in different innings to keep them occupied. In the bottom of the 5th inning Robby, Grammy, and the girls went for a walk around the field. They found the playground to play in for a little while. The evening ended just right with a win for the Smokies and us staying in a hotel close by.


August 18, 2010

The girls and I had a playdate playing in a fountain and eating snacks on a HOT day. We took advantage of some coupons to get fun free snacks. The girls enjoyed eating Italian ice and a cupcake. Emily fed Julia some of the Italian ice which was funny to watch. She was good to take a spoonful herself and then share the next one with Julia. The fountain was very refreshing. We met Elena, Maeve, and baby Lincoln to play. The big girls did funny things like trying to ‘sit’ on the water. Emily enjoyed having me swing her feet through the water. Julia liked running the length of the fountain. They played so hard that Julia was asleep in her carseat before we even left the parking garage. Emily gave in to sleep not long after.

Bouncing Fun

August 17, 2010

We had a play date with our friends at a bounce play house. I loved playing with the kids in the bouncy equiptment. Emily and Elena were busy playing on everything. Julia liked playing, but needed a lot of help. Her favorite was sliding. Aiden went through with Julia and I on one adventure and wasn’t sure if he wanted to continue or go back when we reached the mid-point. He finished it out, honestly I wasn’t sure that I could get out going backwards. All the kids enjoyed checking on baby Natalie.

Low Stress Day

August 4, 2010

We spent a low stress day at home today with the girls playing with their castle. It involved a lot of water, sand, and hard playing. I think the water went a long way to make the warm day bearable. They were soaked from head to toe by the time they came in. For the most part they played quietly in their own worlds. Any noise between them was generally a complaint that the other one took something they were playing with. It was a sweet way to spend the morning.

Stealing Blueberries

August 2, 2010

Julia decided she didn’t want to eat blueberries when they were placed in front of her at the table. So one day, I had washed some and put them out to dry. I also put the girls’ step stool in front of the tray. Amazingly, Julia stood on that step stool and ate and ate and ate blueberries. Since that day, she will eat the blueberries put on her plate again. I guess it just took her trying them again on her terms to decide they are good.

Emily was a huge fan of the step-stool-blueberry-stealing game. She ate a meal’s worth of blueberries. I wonder why food is so much more desirable when it eaten on your own terms.

Blueberry Girls

July 30, 2010

We seem to have started the month out with blueberries and we have now finished out the month with it too. Late morning, we made another trip to a blueberry farm to collect some sweet treats along with a fun playtime. The month of heat and rain has been good to the bushes and there were a lot to pick. Emily was selective of which blueberries she picked. They had to be a good blue, and generally, she wanted to find them exactly where I was picking them. Julia was also very selective to the ones she picked. They had to be small and almost white. I couldn’t get her to pick any other type. She was very intent on pulling the stem off and then putting them in her bucket. Luckily, she was slow about it. I’m presuming that she ate them too. Somehow when it was time to leave, both girls had empty buckets and mine was mostly full.

After about a half an hour into picking we were all dripping sweat and wearing the dew off the bushes. To our delight we were visited by some friends. What a treat! The girls all ran around the rows of berries yelling with the delight that comes with carefree play.

Building a House

July 28, 2010

Emily expressed an interest in building a house in the living room with books. We tried a few different things and this is what we ended up with. We planned a door and window. Julia wanted to walk through the window and Emily closed the window and the door when they entered the house. They invited their stuffed animals for a picnic and consented to stop playing for a photo. The house remained up so that Daddy could see their creation. Emily’s only disappointment was that we couldn’t put a roof on the house.

Splash Playdate

July 26, 2010

We celebrated a little summer at a local splash pad and playground. Despite the heat, Emily and Julia seemed more interested in playing at the playground than getting wet. Emily did figure out how to make her pinwheel spin fast by putting it a stream of water. Julia liked climbing the stairs and sliding. The kids served a lot of food out of their little deli. During snack time Elena gave me an awesome smile.

New Things at Dollywood

July 25, 2010

Each visit to Dollywood we find new things to try out. We still did all the old favorites and then squeezed a few more in. It was interesting to watch Emily with the rides. She has been pretty courageous, but this visit she was more apprehensive to try rides. The rides that raised her into the air seemed to leave her unsettled. Julia on the other hand was willing to try all sorts of things without fear. The only thing that really scared Julia for the day was the bear mascot. She watched Emily from a distance interact with the big guy.

Emily backed out of the flying elephant ride, but was willing to ride the Veggie Tales roller coaster with me. She consented to ride in the flying bumble bee ride with Julia, but could not be convinced to try the River Rampage with Granddaddy and Mommy. I don’t think she liked the idea of getting wet.

The new things we rode were the flying elephant (Mommy and Julia rode), a bug themed playground, and the 60’s car ride. For the car ride, Emily rode with Grammy and Julia rode with Mommy. Both girls got to be the drivers of their cars. Emily gave Grammy a smooth ride, but Julia’s ride was a little bumpy. Every time we bumped into the guide bar Julia would let go of the handle bar and quit steering generally making us bump a little more. In the photo of Julia driving the car in the background is Emily’s car.

Emily loved the rope course and didn’t want to move on from it. She was responsive to try different techiques to cross each element. It was a lot of fun to watch her learn and love it.

We look forward to our next trip. Emily kept announcing that “next time she was going to go by herself. I will go with Mommy, Daddy, and sister.” I like how that is by herself.

Grandparents at Dollywood

July 24, 2010

Grammy and Granddaddy joined us this week when we visited Dollywood. The girls were so excited to go with them and show them the things they like. As usual they requested the carousel first. Emily asked Grammy to ride in an elephant ride together, but backed out when it came time to get on. The two of them rode in the old 60’s car ride together. Grandaddy, Grammy, and Julia rode in the lemon twist/teacup ride together. Grammy took Julia through the kids’ rope course several times and enjoyed watching her increasing courage to try the different elements. It was a nice treat to have additional adults so we could ride things that required the girls to be split up.

Funny Stuff

July 23, 2010

How does play and naptime mix? Well on this day, it was a princess nap. After she fell asleep in the carseat her crown fell over her eyes. I couldn’t let this one pass me up.

Beautiful Smile

July 15, 2010

I loved this smile and the simple joy on Emily’s face. It is not easy most days to get smiles for the camera, but this particular day, we were eating snacks and reading books, and I guess willing to smile. She is glowing with happiness. I love you, sweetheart!

Morning Playtime Sweetness

July 9, 2010

Emily met me this morning and informed me that she wanted Julia to be in her bed with her and that it would be safe for her. I told her that I could put Julia in her bed, but Julia might not stay. Emily had a little pillow set up in her bed so that she could share the space. It was all very sweet and I was hoping that Julia would want to stay with Emily for a few minutes. I gave them their morning milk together in the bed and both were very content to lay very still.

After the milk was finished they stayed for a few minutes more, each with a book. Actually, Emily’s was a toy catalog that she has been holding on to for over a week. Julia’s book was “Blue Hat, Green Hat” by Sandra Boynton. Emily kept telling Julia that she should read the book and say “Oops”. Too cute! Julia will giggle when I read the “Oops” pages, but hasn’t mastered that word yet.

All good things come to and end and Julia climbed down and went off to play. Emily followed so that she wouldn’t be left out of any fun. What a sweet moment to remember.


July 7, 2010

We all enjoyed the waterslide at the pool. Emily started off sliding with a parent. Then one trip down, Robby came alone, and Emily then followed. She loved sliding! She would head right out of the pool to do it again. The other people and kids were really good to wait for her to take her time. She preferred a parent to “catch” her at the bottom, but it was just to pull her out of the way before the next person came down the slide. She wanted to hit the water on her own.

Julia watched the people coming off the slide and decided that she wanted to try. She ran off to the slide and started to climb the stairs. I took her to the top and let her look down and she would just point at the slide. I had her ride down on my lap and when we got to the bottom she got plenty wet. Her response to the ride was to point at the slide to do it again. When given the opportunity, she would walk over to the slide and go up the stairs. She loved the ride.

We tried to swim early or late in the afternoon when both the sun was less harsh and when there were less people in the pool. This worked pretty well for us. Ultimately, we would leave the pool when they got too tired or cold. I think the only thing we wished for on our little trip was one more day at the pool.

Pint-sized Golf

We played a little putt-putt golf on our vacation. It was completely non-competitive for the big people. The theme of the golf course was Old McDonald and the girls loved to look at the display decorations and listen to what the different animals were saying. We let a lot of other people play through while the girls were mesmerized by the fun cows, pigs, ducks, guard dogs, and fishermen.

Emily didn’t have much strength behind her putts and it caused her to have a lot of trouble on the holes with uphills. She did much better with the downhill holes. She didn’t want much help, and she didn’t want to follow any normal way to stand and hold the putter. Despite the perspective on the game, she had a fun time. She wanted to get her ball in the hole each time.

Julia loved to carry her putter and ball. She had no desire to touch the putter to the ball. Instead she would walk up to the hole and drop her ball in by herself. She would then pick her ball back up and carry it on the next hole. She seemed to understand that we took turns and waited for her turn or a time no one was playing to take her turn. At one point we couldn’t locate her ball and had to fetch a spare for her to keep up with. Who knows where she put it. She seemed to be happy with her game too. The only times she wouldn’t drop the ball in a hole was when it didn’t have a bottom.

I worried that the girls wouldn’t want to loose their balls at the end, but they had a cool ride for the balls to take them back inside. We watched our balls make the trip from the last hole to the building and then maybe a dozen other peoples balls also make that trip. We finished with a ride on a little carousel and then headed off for ice cream.


July 6, 2010

We spent the long weekend away on a mini-vacation. We joked that we ran away to play as a family. Robby has been putting in a lot of hours at work and he hasn’t gotten much of a chance to play with the girls lately. He has also missed out on all of the swimming the girls have done so far this year. So, we found a hotel with a fun pool and stayed the weekend.

I thought the photo of Emily was pretty cute with her next to the depth marker of 3. She is more than happy to inform people that she is three years old when asked.

Julia loved floating around in the pool on her own with her floaties. She still isn’t using words, so she invented a sign for swimming. It consists of bending her arm away from her body and pointing at the spot where her floaties go. She has been so fearless in the pool, we felt that she would have more fun, and we would worry less about her with them on. She still loves to put her face in the water and floating on her belly. She discovered that she could lay her head back into the water. After she got used to it, she would float on her back in the pool and just relax.

Blueberry Picking

July 3, 2010

Joy, joy, joy – Blueberries!

Blueberries are little round blue wonders of so much joy. These four girls just ate and ate blueberries. They ate them from their buckets, from the bushes, and probably from the ground. They also picked a few blackberries. Emily had blackberry juice stains on her chin, shirt, fingers, and legs. The pig-tailed girls all enjoyed being out in the sun on a pleasant sunny afternoon and being together.


July 2, 2010

The girls and I visited Dollywood again. This time we tried to drive up during naptime and then visit the park in the afternoon and evening. The schedule worked great and we had a great time. The only problem with this schedule is that the park closes at the girls bedtime and by the time we get home it is rather late.

Again I set low expectations for what we would try to do, so that we could just be free to have a good time. This time the new things we did were ride the steam locomotive train, eat dinner, play in the splash pad, and explore the children’s rope course. We also did the things we did last time. If I was to guess, I would think Julia’s favorite thing was riding the carousel twice. She spotted it from the train car and pointed it out for our next activity. Emily started to learn this visit that she could ask to do things and to ask what a ride was. All rides fall into one of two categories, an Emily ride or a Mommy ride. She informed me that we needed to bring Daddy back with us so that I could ride some of the Mommy rides.

Both girls enjoyed playing at the splash pad. Julia was very unsure of the water that sometimes came out and then stopped. She watched for a while, but after she was willing to venture close and try to grab the water she had a blast. Emily was willing to run in right away, but got a little chilly as she got wet.

Emily loved reading the map as we would go around the park. I would show her where we were and where we were going. She followed our trip around the park and enjoyed looking at all of the symbols. She can recognize the restroom symbol and enjoyed looking to see where they were. I guess instead of ‘Where’s Waldo’ she was playing ‘Where’s the Potty’. I love to see this trait in her because both of her parents love looking at maps too.


June 25, 2010

I would have loved a photo with the girls looking at camera, but that never is a guarantee these days. They were very facinated with all the little clover flowers hidden in the grass. It was sweet to watch their discovery of the blooming treasures.

This is a classic and wonderful story, enjoy! On our way home from Cades Cove, we stopped at Cracker Barrel for dinner. Our first stop inside was the restroom. On the way I gave Emily some verbal directions to the bathroom. I told her to find the flashing stoplight on the back wall and the bathroom door would be below it. Half way back to the bathroom, Emily stopped walking and I asked her why, after all, we were staring right at the entrance and she knew where she was going. She told me the stoplight was red and that meant we had to stop. Everyone standing around up had huge smiles! Because the light was never going to change to green, I gave her permission to continue on. I’m glad our first lesson on the rules of the road have taken so well.

Little Gym’s Big Show

June 24, 2010

The last day of Little Gym is a performance to show what each child has learned. This display is called the “Big Show”. For this class’s show Mommy, Daddy, and Julia came to watch. Daddy had brought Emily to most of the classes and it was a good opportunity for me to measure where Emily was at the beginning of the class to now. When she first started the class it was the first time she was on her own in a group setting with having to listen to instruction. Emily has grown a lot in this class. She has tried a lot of new moves, been on new equipment, and practiced the art of taking turns and listening to instruction from the teachers. I appreciate that this is a lot of new things to be introduced in just a couple month class. Despite all the changes in the class Emily loved it and was very pleased to be able to show off her new stuff for us all.

The kids did their warm-up and listening activities and then broke down into two groups to demonstrated on their skills at the different stations. Emily loves running in a circle at the warm-up activities. For the floor exercises she did her own variation on the moves and freely edited out the moves she didn’t want to do. I think her favorite move is the “Ta-Da” that completes each routine. Next her group went to the balance beam. On the beam she continued to exercise her freedom to edit the routine, but thoroughly enjoyed the beam. She was able to do her favorite move which is the Arabesque. At home she will arabesque on any elevated surface and announce herself. Lastly they performed their routine on the uneven bars. As usual she preformed her own version and really didn’t try much of this apparatus.

The biggest hit of the evening was the award presentation where each child got to take center stage and receive their medal. All the children seemed to love the applause and showing off. It was such a joy to watch Emily engage in an activity that was her own and receive such pleasure from it.

What Makes a Father

June 20, 2010

Two sweet girls sharing wild flowers and enjoying a sunny day! Happy Father’s Day!

Pool Party in Orlando

June 19, 2010

Grandma rode with us to Orlando. It was nice to have a little extra company in the car as we traveled. The stay at Jolie’s was very short, but lots of fun. All of the family came by and enjoyed a dinner together. And before dinner we enjoyed some time out at the pool.

The girls got to play in their new bathing suits (thanks, Nichole) and enjoy the cool water on a warm afternoon. Emily had been looking forward to her visit with Natalie for quite a while and was so excited. The girls had a blast swimming together. They poured water, swam around, and jumped into the water a million times.

Dylan wasn’t left out and enjoyed running around the house with Emily, watching TV together, and driving push cars in the house. He enjoyed the pool, but couldn’t compete with Natalie in the pool.

Julia did her own thing for the day. She hung out in the pool until she got too cold then cuddled with a variety of people. Then shortly after dinner she was rocked to sleep by Grandma.


June 18, 2010

The city of Miami has made an old tropical destination into a fun park and splat pad. Pinecrest Gardens are free to visit and the splat pad is inexpensive to play at. As we walked the gardens we found colorful fish to watch and a lot of turtles including one who was taking a walk on the path. The splat pad had a lot of fun water features to play in. Julia was a little tired so she was slower to want to play, but after she got her bearing she was off enjoying herself. Emily loved walking in and out of the sprays, under towers, and even made some friends with the other kids.

It was a great way to wear off some energy and cool off on a hot day. When it was time to go neither of the girls were ready to leave. I think this place is on a short list of places we will visit when we are in town. Lots of fun!

The Miami Zoo

Uncle Doug and Aunt Sabah took us all to the Miami Zoo for a couple of hours of fun play. We rented a bicycle to ride around the park and I decided that it was the best way to see it. The girls were up high so they could see the animals over fences and bushes without having to get out at each stop. The bicycle also offered wonderful shade for us all.

We rode to the ‘kids’ section and Emily got to ride a Camel with Uncle Doug. She was so excited and loved it. The girls rode the carousel and Julia demanded that both Grandma and I ride our own animals next to hers. Emily got to press her first penny into a souvenir coin. We saw tigers, crocodiles, otters, elephants, rhinos, a bear, flamingos, and a few more unusual animals that I don’t remember the names of.  By the time we needed to return our bike rental we were all hot and ready to go. It will be fun to go back and explore some sections that we didn’t get to see this trip. Both girls had a blast!

A Beach Day

June 17, 2010

We spent a few hours at the beach. The girls loved playing in the sand. They liked covering their bodies with sand and Julia enjoyed throwing clumps of sand around. She was coated with it because each throw splattered a little back on her. It was pretty funny. Emily, Julia, and Sabah built castles. The girls enjoyed destroying them in search of hidden animals. Emily tried to fill a pool in the castle, but learned about the sand absorbing the water.

The water was so warm and nice to be in. Emily discovered that the water had salt in it. The only problem she had was when she got salt water in her eye, but we taught her to wipe her eyes and they were better. She enjoyed bouncing around in the surf. We took a walk out to a sandbar. The time went by quickly and soon it was time to get out of the sun and have some naps. Looking forward to our next trip.

Emily and Swimming

Emily loves to be in the water. She swam with floaties, an intertube, a noodle, on her own, and with family members. When we arrived she was very tentative about jumping in the pool. Her jump resembled a step more than a jump, but after playing with Grandma she was doing so well at jumping in and away from the pool edge. Her building confidence was so amazing and I was so proud of her. She prefers to swim with her floaties to swimming on her own, but when she is ready to give them up she is going to do fine.

Emily enjoyed throwing diving toys for everyone else to fetch for her, she liked jumping from step to step, and enjoyed passing a ball to other people. Our swim times were fun active times. She was happy to swim with anyone, but her favorites were Grandma and Natalie. I credit Grandma with helping Emily learn technically how to jump safely into the pool and Natalie with teaching Emily how to jump with complete confidence. Emily had fun jumping to Grandma, but what happened in less than a hour of play with Natalie was amazing.

Emily has continued to ask to swim since we got home. I look forward to our next opportunity to play in the water.


June 16, 2010

This is what the Mommy found when she went in to check on the child who was supposed to be napping. She informed me that it was a road for her cars to drive down. We are trying the nap again, but with the conversations and songs that I hear through the monitor I don’t think we will be having a nap today.

Beach Girls

June 12, 2010

Sun, Sand, Water, and lots of Fun!

Building Daddy a Train

June 5, 2010

Emily told me that she wanted to build a train for her Daddy. So while Julia napped, Emily laid out wacky track, round-about, and three bridges. She then left the rest for me to connect. She played with the track for over an hour after I had it built. My favorite was when she had all the trains take a nap and laid them on their sides. The track didn’t survive for Robby to see because Julia did eventually wake up from her nap. Julia loves to play with the track, instead of the trains, and destroys any layout we build.


May 30, 2010

The girls decided to sit next to each other and play with puzzles. I wish scenes like these happened more often, but I sure do appreciate them when they occur.

Daddy and His Big Girl

May 28, 2010


May 27, 2010

Julia made her first trip to Dollywood and Emily made her first trip that can make a lasting impression. We took it as a learning experience to see how much we could do, where things were, what rides could the girls ride, and what would hold their interest. Given that I have been to Dollywood a lot over my life, I loved being able to see it new through their eyes. The girls were a little overwhelmed, but loved it.

We rode the carousel, a pig ride, a duck ride, a bee ride, and a simple roller coaster. Julia wasn’t big enough to ride the roller coaster, but was able to ride all the others. All of them were huge hits. The girls loved being together on the rides. Emily rode the roller coaster by herself and just seemed lost in the car. She described her ride by saying that she was scared. I think she should try it again with a person with her and then judge the ride.

The girls tried their first funnel cake. I was secretly hoping they wouldn’t like it and then I would never have to share, but who doesn’t like funnel cake. Emily kept calling it ‘Fun’ cake. With a name like that we will have to have it often.

Moose Hat

May 26, 2010

Despite the hat being for a smaller person, Emily decided that she loved this Moose hat. She had to wear it to bed the other night. She was quite proud as seen in the sparkle of her eye.

Playing Beauty Salon

May 24, 2010

The girls and I had fun playing one morning with curlers. We didn’t have to be anywhere, and Emily asked to have her hair curled, so we curled hair. There was no way that Julia was going to be left out of the fun. She was willing to sit still and let me put in a few rollers. It was good that her hair was long enough to hold them. She couldn’t leave them alone and pulled them all out on her own. Emily thought she was big stuff and didn’t complain when I put them in or took them out. Usually, she complains anytime I run a brush through her hair.

Zoo Day

May 22, 2010

Who doesn’t love the zoo? We were kindly invited by our good friends to play at the zoo and we took them up on the invite. The girls just enjoy each other so much and the mama’s enjoy each other company too. It is a win-win.

We converted our double stroller to a sit-and-stand stroller and this was our first outing with it. Emily loved the new sitting arrangement. She could get out easily and she loved being able to face me. We had a lot more conversations because of the sitting arrangement.

We wandered the zoo checking out a bear, feeding camels, watching zebras eat, trying to climb a fence to see the elephant better, watching the chimps get their room cleaned, eating lunch, playing in the sand, riding a carousel, and generally having a lot of fun. Emily tripped and got her first bloody nose which was a non-event. It stopped quickly and she was distracted from it after a short crying spell. Both of my girls were unimpressed with dip-n-dots which I thought odd, but happily ate theirs. The only girl who was interested in looking at the camera to have her photo taken was Maeve, so I don’t have any great posed shots. That is just going to be the case for a while longer I guess.

We discuss monkeys a lot at our house. There is a book the girls like with monkeys and Emily picks out which is Mommy, Daddy, Emily and Julia. The girls like to immitate monkeys with sound and motions. And Emily has dubbed our family as a “monkey family” with a “monkey mommy”, “monkey daddy”, “monkey girl”, and “monkey baby”. So when we got to the monkey area at the zoo, I was excited for the girls to see some monkeys. To my disappointment, while we were able to see them, we did so only through a gated wall where they were waiting for the monkey house to be cleaned. Then I noticed the special sign the zoo keeper had put out and Julia’s interest in hanging out by the sign. If you take the word “in” out of the statement you can truly appreciate the “monkey baby” outside the exhibit.

The End of Things

May 19, 2010

With summer come the end of all our normal weekly activities. Last week was the end of three of these activities. Our swim class, Thursday school, and Bible Study Fellowship. We have a few more weeks of Little Gym before the spring classes end.

The swim class was only eight weeks long, but it was a fun eight weeks. We splashed, swam, and bobbed our way through them. I was so proud of Emily and her interest in swimming. She enjoyed her teacher, liked to preform for her, and was getting a sense of being in the water under her own steam. Julia still wasn’t “fearful” of the water so it was fun to do things without her clinging to me. She didn’t like to float on her back, but enjoyed most of the other activities. She would “swim” between the teacher and her Mama, practice her crab walk along the pool edge, swim to a ball she would throw out in the water, and sing motion songs with the class. We are planning on both girls to take the fall version of the class again.

Thursday School was both for Emily and Julia. The class gave Emily the opportunity to learn to play with others along with learning life lessons. It also gave Julia some special Mama time. We would go to Mother Goose together, shop, eat breakfast, play, and see our friend Maeve.

Bible Study Fellowship was an opportunity for all of us to have some constructive time of learning. Mama enjoyed her study of scripture, Emily loved spending the morning with her class and striving to be the class leader, and Julia played her morning away with other toddlers and snacks. Out of all our activities this one was the most regimented. I could see such growth in Emily with her group participation and living up to high expectations. What a joy! After class we would walk a special sidewalk out to our car. Emily kept wanting to walk further on the sidewalk, so I started parking at the end of the sidewalk so that she could enjoy walking the whole way.

There are so many fun activities to fill our summer with, but this week will feel a little empty without the activities that have come to define our week. Emily typically asks each day where we are going or what we are doing. We will just have to enjoy each day and what fun activity comes with each one.

Playing in the Pool

May 18, 2010

We had a lovely afternoon Saturday and went out to play in the backyard pool. Julia was a little unsure of sitting in the water, which was cool. Emily was all business in playing in the water. She hadn’t seen these toys in a while and they had a lot of play in them. My favorite thing they did was to pour water into a toy basket that had more holes than not. They also enjoyed ‘drinking’ the water out of a bucket. Both girls loved their playtime and were sad to get out, but the rumbles of a coming storm ended our playtime for us.

Thursday School

May 16, 2010

Emily finished her year of Thursday School. She loved going to class each week and if we missed one she talked about going the next week. She loved that Elena was in her class and she could spend time with her friend. She loved taking her shoes off when she was at school. She was sad during the cold months when she couldn’t play outside. She enjoyed being a part of deciding what to wear to school and picking shoes each week. She never came home with a clean shirt, dress, or hands – always a bit of her art work came home on her. She loved having her special lunchbag and backpack.

It sounds like the first few weeks of school were a little rough for her. She would shutdown if she didn’t get her way, which happened each week. When she figured out how class worked and about the rules she then took off in the class. She was active and participated a lot. She also wasn’t shy about offering suggestions to the class about things. She liked her teachers and the activities especially the ones that involved dressing up. It was a joy to drop her off at an activity she enjoyed so much!

For the closing of school they had a special presentation. Each of the classes went up on the stage and sang three songs. There were such cute antics in each of the grades and I could only imagine what Emily was going to do. When it was time for her class to preform she had plenty of funny things to share. Emily proceeded to talk during the presentation to the teacher, announce that she wanted to sing by herself, she found her parents and grandparents in the audience and stood and waved, she announced that the group was singing too quietly and that they should start again, and she did some of the hand motions of the songs. I was glad to see that she had her own individual spirit among the group and enjoyed that she was able to share it with everyone else.

Mr. John, one of her teachers, wrote about the class and each child in the class. The following is an excerpt from his essay pertaining to Emily and Elena.

“This year’s class of 2-year-olds at the New York Avenue Church of Christ Thursday School was a surprisingly congenial group. Perhaps it was the absence of redheads and identical twins, or the fact that 5/8’s of the group had names starting with the letter E, but for some reason, this class was altogether easier, more peaceful, less physically contentious, and (dare I say it) more mature. If last year’s class was like a think tank, this year’s was like a weekly group therapy session.

Emily is one of the most fascinating people I’ve ever met, a complexly cerebral child whose intellectual cup runneth over. Comfortable all alone in the topsy-turvy playroom, sitting at a little table with an inert toy computer, she would appear to be video conferencing with 2 or 3 colleagues in distant locations, playing all the parts herself, a la Gilda Radner. Occasionally cantankerous and often goofy in a way that she personally found very entertaining, she was also quite inseparable from her sorority sister, Elena.

Elena seemed always to be bathed in the soft, diffused natural sunlight that illuminates faces in Vermeer paintings, such was her blending of reflective, diminutive, classical beauty, quiet happiness, and good manners. The word “cute” fits Elena like the word “agile” fits a hummingbird – not as adjective but as essence.

Elena and Emily liked to go down the playground slide side by side, holding hands.”


May 12, 2010

How do you entertain two girls while you vaccum out the car at the carwash – you let them play in the trunk! This was amazing and I’m a little unsure of why this idea hasn’t occured to me before now. They had toys and pillows back there and with the window to boot they were in heaven. I did watch for any interest in climbing out, but they were very happy just to play away. At one point they played ‘night-night’ and shared the one blanket they had. These are the good moments to remember!

Happy Mother’s Day!

May 9, 2010

Here is to a great day with my girls!

Milestone Photos

May 7, 2010

(3 years) A day doesn’t go by that I notice Emily doing something new. She has started to communicate at a different level and loves to pretend in play and conversation. I thought the changes at age 2 were significant, but age 3 has brought even more. She loves to notice things and points them out. She has been pointing out all signs that have symbols like Robby’s car does. She will say, that is like Daddy’s car. She just started doing the same for my car and last night pointed out the symbol from her Grandpa’s car and said “that’s like Pa-Pa’s car”. I thought this was astounding because we haven’t see Pa-Pa’s car since fall. We also discussed the shapes of clouds and she told me that the cloud she was looking at looked like a sidewalk.

(18 months) Julia is starting to assert herself. She tells Emily with screams and squeals when she doesn’t want to be touched (which is just about all the time). When Emily is not with us, she is quick to request to ride in Emily’s carseat with a please and impassioned pointing. She expresses a lot of displeasure yesterday at having to wait for her bath while Emily had a turn to take hers first. She put a puzzle together matching all the pieces to the spots; even though, we don’t spend much time working on that. The pieces didn’t fit up, but I was pleased she took the interest to put it together. I loved watching Julia try to sit in Emily’s lap the other day. She kept backing up and plopping down in Emily’s lap and then while Julia would get situated Emily would move and Julia would do it again.

I can only imagine what they will do tomorrow that will astound me.

A Snack Picnic

May 5, 2010

We had a real picnic of goldfish. The girls were so good to share and take turns. They loved the idea of a snack picnic. I’m surprised they haven’t asked to have another one. There was a little dress-up play before our snack – the jewels and tutu were just leftovers. Fun, fun, fun!!

Playing Picnic

May 4, 2010

Emily’s favorite new game is to play picnic. She packs a ‘cooler’ with items and then carrries it to a blanket she has put out. She then opens up the cooler and starts to put out her lunch. Sometimes she invites others to join her. She decides what people are going to eat and assists them with condiments. It has been fun to watch. Julia loves going to the picnics too and helping to unpack the cooler when her sister lets her.

Mommy’s Shoes

May 2, 2010

I can remember playing in my mother’s closet and my favorite shoes to pull out and try on were her high heels. Emily discovered mine in the closet and couldn’t decide if I should wear them that day or if she should. As it turned out neither of us did. I think we both had a good time with her discovery of my shoes.

Emily is also showing off the stickers that she had stuck to herself the previous day. I think it was her way of having bandaids like her sister had. Julia’s bandaids were easier to take off than Emily’s stickers. She enjoyed looking at them and showing them off until we removed them.

Sleeping Beauty

April 29, 2010

As an independent, toddler bed sleeping, three-year-old we have found naps to not be a certainty. Somehow, when you mix the carseat and mid-afternoon, we get our naps in.

Swim Lessons

April 27, 2010

The girls have been taking swim lessons. Emily is in her own level I class and Julia and I are taking a “Mommy and Tot” class together. I was fortunate and they are teaching the two classes at the same time so we all can participate.

Emily has been doing really well. Previous to this class she would swim with water wings, so this class has been a lot of getting used to how her body feels in the water without a flotation device. She has been very willing to try new things. With the help of her teacher and a buoy she swam the length of the pool and back, she has swum under the lane divider, she will bob her face in and out of the water, and she is having a lot of fun. I asked Emily what her favorite thing to do in the pool is and she said to hold the side of the pool with her hands and feet.

Once Julia gets used to the temperature of the water she is having a good time with Mommy. We sing songs, bob in and out of the water, practice holding to the edge of the pool, throw and swim to balls, put our face into the water, and get dunked once each lesson. She hasn’t gotten fearful of the water yet and is enjoying all the water. One of her favorite things to do is to look for Emily in the next lane. This past week she actually saw Emily kicking her feet while swimming and Julia imitated the kick motion. Her other favorite thing to do in the pool is to throw and fetch a ball.

We are hoping to have a lot of opportunities to practice what we are learning this summer in the pool!


April 26, 2010

Emily is fascinated by the game of hopscotch, even though she is not quite coordinated enough to play it herself. We have been practicing hopping on one foot. It is kind of tricky. The other morning she had me draw the hopscotch squares out on her board and we had her barn friends play at it for a while.

Emily is modeling the correct way to wear a headband in this photo. Ashley made her a personalized headband, and to Emily’s delight, she proceeded to wear it as a crown on her head. Then later she was wearing it as a belt on her waist. I’m not sure how a headband could be a toy, but it is a favorite at the house for now.


April 25, 2010

A run in a garden is perfect . . . what freedom. The fun of the a carefree spirit.

Getting Bigger Each Day

April 23, 2010

Emily is just growing bigger with every passing day.

Girls in Blue

April 20, 2010

We took advantage of a photography class needing models to get some free photos of the girls taken. Time will tell if the mix of busy kids and photographers in training can produce some good photos. The quality of the photos will not dampen what was a really fun evening of just spending time together.

Amazingly, we got there early, so the girls and I walked down to the excursion train to check it out. On the way down the sidewalk, we found lots of things to look at and discuss. Emily kept telling me how much she was enjoying our nature walk and thanking me for taking her on the nature walk. It was cute. We found etched stone with river names that Emily loved pointing out all the individual letters she knew.

Julia loved the swing by the fountains. She would walk back to them every time I got her out of it. Emily on the other hand figured out that she could take her shoes off and run around getting her toes wet in the fountains. There was a lot of happy giggles! We were just silly, let off steam from the days frustrations, and enjoyed each other’s company.

The humble photos that I have are just snapshots that I took while we were at play.

Sweet Sisters

April 19, 2010

Emily was pushing Julia’s swing from the front. It is more fun when you can see the face of the one you are pushing.

She Didn’t take a Nap

April 17, 2010

Emily has not been interested in taking naps lately. Today there was a lot of noise coming from her room. When I went in to check on what it was, this is what I found. I took her creation as a sign that she was unwilling to take a nap. At least I got a good laugh out of it.

Who’s the baby?

April 15, 2010

I’m not sure who the baby is in our house, but I know who the silly girl is! Before I went for my camera, Julia was attempting to push the pram.

Current Antics

April 13, 2010

Emily has been pretty creative lately in what she thinks she has permission to do on her own. One of the things she has been quite liberal with is helping herself to food on the counter. By food, I mean candy and marshmallows. This morning our little hobbit decided she needed her ‘First Breakfast’ and got a variety of candy down to eat. As soon as I came out to check on her, she started rationalizing why it was OK that she got it down. She was “So Hungry!” and was sure that her going potty would have earned herself the candy. On the couch she had a bag of Hershey Kisses, package of gummy worms, and a mostly eaten Kit-Kat bar. I did give a good laugh at the sight. I started to get things cleaned up and then I found the pile of Kiss wrappers. I wonder if she will have any room left in her tummy for her ‘Second Breakfast’?


April 12, 2010

We shared a fun morning of play among the tulips at Crescent Bend with our play-friends. The gardens are so much fun to enjoy with fountains and pretty flowers. Julia was pretty shy about leaving her mother’s arms, so we enjoyed a lot of watching Emily and the others play. The longer we were there the more Julia was willing to go on her own, but never far from her Mommy.

Emily enjoyed all of her freedom. There were scrapped legs that required a little attention and a photograph to heal. Also there were fountains to stick hands into. At one point Elena and Emily were carrying small amounts of water in their hands to water the tulips. Everyone chased bubbles, walked on flower bed edges pretending they are balance beams, smelled tulips, played under an umbrella, and had a lot of fun. Aiden did get his foot into the fountain at one point soaking his shoe and sock.

We ate a picnic lunch before we left the grounds and as usual the other kid’s food looked more interesting than what their own mama brought. This is such a funny, but consistent practice between the kids. After lunch the bigger kids ran, played with small rocks, rolled down a hill in the grass, and jumped off of one big rock. They were sad to go home and the weather and temperature had just been perfect. I hope we can have more days like that!


April 11, 2010

How does a parent entice or motivate a child to do something . . . anything. We are having to try some creative parenting sometimes to get the results we want, but tonight we lucked into one.

Our day was lovely and we postponed dinner to play at the park and take a walk together. Everyone was hungry and dinner seemed to be lingering. Julia was munching on goldfish after downing her pasta and Emily was eating her applesauce slowly. I suggested that Robby should go and start the bath water running for the girls.

Emily asked with much exuberance if she could take her bath first. Her animation was hilarious. I told her that she couldn’t get a bath until her applesauce was finished. She put her spoon to work and finished it right off. Julia was also listening. She had been signing ‘please’ after each goldfish so that she could get another. After the bath announcement she started, also with great exuberance, signing ‘all done’ followed with the sign for ‘bath’. Who knew dinner could be finished so quickly?

Now, two little sweet smelling girls are tucked in their beds sleeping soundly.

Spring Playdate at the Park

April 7, 2010

Sunny days are great for playdates. We had a picnic lunch and play time at a park with our friends. The kids are doing such sweet things with each other. Emily is making friends at the park with kids and doing things together on the equipment, they have cute moments of holding hands, Julia is wanting to follow Emily around, they all want to give each other a push on the swing, and they are happy together. This makes for some happy mommies.

I had to include a photo of the little one to join us soon. In just about a month, baby Loveday will join the fun playdates. It will be no time until a new one is toddling around the play equipment!

What’s Inside

April 5, 2010

Emily was teaching Julia how best to inspect an egg. Some of the eggs had cereal that was perfect for Julia’s tastes. Emily ate every marshmallow that she could sneak into her mouth. The fact that Emily wouldn’t take a nap shouldn’t be a surprise given how much sugar she consumed on our hunt.

Easter Fun

April 4, 2010

Easter this year was a wonderful time with friends and family. It is good to take time and reserve it for renewing of spirit. This year we enjoyed our renewal in worship this morning and then enjoyed an afternoon and evening of play and visiting.

Our egg hunt was slow and fun. Julia was tentative to walk around the yard to get to the eggs and then when she got the eggs she didn’t want to put them down and go to find a new one. Emily’s focus was on what was inside the eggs. It was like a treasure chest that she had to open and inspect. The hunt will be different in future years as they learn a competitive spirit, but it was fun just to watch their different personalities blossom.

Shopping Helpers

March 24, 2010

Who wouldn’t want these two as your shopping helpers? To borrow my friend’s phrase – they were super cute! At one point they turned away from each other and were pushing against each other with their backs. Another time I looked down to see both heads popping out of the side window checking on what I was buying. There was plenty of “honk, honk” heard in our vicinity. The shoppers were happy and I got my shopping done which involved a decent amount of thinking and counting. As always they were rewarded with free cookies from the bakery when we were done shopping.

The Trouble with Girls

March 22, 2010

Emily is a girl and thus likes to shop – at least she likes to shop the local toy catalog. Her eagle eyes found the sales flyer on the counter and spent at least an hour pouring over it. I should save them when they come in the mail for car trips and times when I need her to be occupied. At the moment it is the best of the both worlds. She likes to look at the sales flyer, but doesn’t beg for the toys found inside. Actually the only requests I had from her about the flyer was to put it back together after Julia tore it apart.

Playground Season

March 21, 2010

It appears we are starting our playground season. Our Saturday was simply lovely and we enjoyed some play at the neighborhood playground. I think my favorite part of the day was just watching the girls as they worked out solutions and explored.

While Emily is our cautious one, she was off on her own exploring and enjoying the equipment on her own. She enjoyed having us nearby, but was happy playing on her own or finding other kids to play with. Julia hung with her Mommy, but also escaped when she could. I was able to appreciate how much Emily has gained in ability and interest as she played on the equipment. She didn’t have to be coaxed down the big slides, she didn’t need warning at high points, she didn’t need suggestions on what to do next, and she knew how to play and interact with all the equipment.

Julia enjoyed swinging, but freedom the most. I let her walk and choose her own direction. I had to have Emily physically restrain her at the top of the slides or she would have gone without me to catch her at the bottom. After she had been down a slide once I was able to just wait for her by the slide. Julia loves to slide. There just were a lot of slides to choose from. She will go down on her bottom if I help her and if she could get away with it she will take the slide on her tummy. She mastered the stairs up onto the equipment and moving along the bridges and paths. On one arched walkway she figured out that she could crawl across it because the incline and decline was a little uneasy for her.

Julia’s confidence is so much stronger then Emily’s. But then this comparison is not fair. Julia has watched Emily do everything and figures that if Emily can do it that she can too. This makes me want to sing the line from a song, “Anything you can do, I can do better.” I wonder if I won’t be singing this song for a long time.

Billiard Sisters

March 7, 2010

We let the girls experience the billiard table from a different angle. They enjoyed rolling the balls into the holes and checking out the cool colors and stripes found on the balls.

New Stuff

March 1, 2010

I picked up a few new storage boxes for toys and got them out to fill them. Instead the girls filled them with fun play. I think these boxes were worth an hour of play alone. It was cute to watch the girls play together in their own boxes.

Good Days

February 26, 2010

No day is ever perfect, but we have been stringing a few good ones together this week. It is nice to see that the little ones can express their individual spirit and still follow rules and advance in their play and skills. This is just a highlight list of some positives from this week:

  • Julia had quit eating veggies and meat about a month ago and started eating baby food again- one dinner this week she was disinterested in her baby food and kept pointing excitedly at Mommy’s plate. I gave her a green bean from my plate and she ate it and asked for more. She finished off all of my green beans and some of Emily’s. This hasn’t been repeated again, but reminded me that we will not eat baby food forever.
  • Emily has been willing to go to the potty, but never took the initiave. Today when I picked her up at mother’s day out, she went potty and wouldn’t let me in the bathroom stall – she did it all by herself. Later in the day she took herself to the potty at home without a reminder from Mommy. This is a big deal for our house!
  • Intereactive play with the girls has been so sweet. This evening the girls were cooking with their kitchen stuff and Emily was taking them to the store to buy more food. The two girls ran up and down the hall with the stroller doing the shopping together. Sometimes Emily follows Julia and other times Julia follows Emily around playing together.
  • Emily has been struggling to go to bed and fall asleep without the aid of her pacifier. She has been getting up a lot, sleeping on the floor, sleeping on the couch in the middle of the night, and skipping naps. We have tried several different routine changes to see if we could find something to help her without much success. This is just one of the hard things in life you have to figure out on your own. Today she laid down for her nap and then again tonight for bed and went on to sleep without games and struggle. I think it helped that she has been pretty tired, but I will take what we can get.

Indoor Playgrounds

February 24, 2010

Our winter has been pretty cold this year and our lives have been a little busier than usual so the opportunity to get out and play has been hampered. We have made several trips to local restaurant playgrounds to take advantage of the double benefit of food and play. In general, Emily is shy and slow to try new things that require effort and risk. Once inside a playground area Emily wants to play with all the kids and boss them around. She still is slow to try new things and doesn’t always play in the equipment, but she enjoys being loud and interacting with others. Julia is also shy, but pretty daring when given an idea of the possibilities.

Today, we stopped at a playground and got some energy out. Emily loved playing with two older girls (ages 6 and 8). They were only able to coax her once to the high portions of the playground, but she was very good at getting them to play on a lower slide with her. The girls were really taken with Julia. We got Julia to crawl up the three platforms to the lower slide. Once she had experienced it once I couldn’t keep her off of the equipment. It was really funny to watch this toddler crawl up the platforms and peer into the slide tunnel with such joy. I would grab her at the top (good thing I’m tall and could stretch the whole tunnel) to help her sit down to slide. She didn’t care what direction she came down the slide as long as she was coming. If I can guess what the future holds I’m willing to guess that Julia is going to be coaxing Emily into doing risky things in just a little while.


February 12, 2010

There are no photos for this one, but it is a good story.

Emily has been pacifier-less since her birthday almost a month ago. She has really struggled with going to sleep and we have tried a lot of things, but haven’t found the right combination of things to help her. Tonight was no different. She was up a few times, but mostly I could hear her moving around in her room. We let her work it out on her own and finally it was quiet. Just before I went to bed I heard a few noises at the door. I thought Emily must have woken up and was looking for us just to put her back down. I like these because I can cuddle and rock her for a few minutes, only when I tried to open the door carefully it was stuck. It was stuck on a sleeping Emily! She had gone to sleep laying just behind the door. I admit I walked away and chuckled about this for a few minutes. I returned and worked for a few more minutes moving her legs just far enough that I could squeeze into the room. Sure enough she had moved her pillow, blanket, and stuffed animal to the floor just inside the door and finally found sleep. I took pitty on my sleeping beauty and moved her back to bed to sleep. Sweet dreams, little girl!

Snow Play

February 6, 2010

Somehow Emily learned about snowballs on her own. She played out with Robby as he shoveled the driveway. Her play included taking a soda to Daddy carefully (only dropped it once), throwing snowballs at Daddy, and exploring in the snow for tracks. The next day when she, Julia, and Mommy were outside together she continued the snowball game by placing snowballs on Julia and throwing them at Mommy. Her placement of the snowballs was not to Julia’s liking so we had to make a rule to only share them with Mommy. We did give a snowball to Julia to play with.

Snow Helper


The girls enjoyed sitting together in the sled taking rides around the yard and up and down the street. Julia would sit stiffly and look around while Emily giggled and held Julia steady (most of the time). The best ride was on the road, but required a lot of parent effort to make it happen. Emily was also very interested in taking Julia for a ride in the sled. Luckily the sled never took off with Julia.


February 5, 2010

We built a snowgirl together with starter pieces from the snow left from the plow. The snow packed really well for snowmen. We asked Emily if the snowman was a girl or boy and she decided girl. Then we asked what the snowgirl should be named and she decided Frosty. Emily helped place the heart, nose, and mouth. Emily has enjoyed checking on her from the windows and visiting her when we have been outside.

Snow Days

We had a wonderful snow storm come and leave us approximately six inches of snow this past weekend. The snow arrived mid-day Friday and snowed through the night and then off and on Saturday. Because it came on the weekend and it was a forecasted snow we were prepared and didn’t need to go anywhere. We had several opportunities to play outside together in the snow and enjoy the wonderful white.
Emily knows a lot about snow from books, TV shows, and movies but hasn’t had much opportunity to experience it first hand. She told us that she wanted to throw snowballs at Daddy before we even went out to play. Neither girl was impressed with the number of layers that Mommy put on them to go out and play. Over the consecutive trips back out the number of layers was moderated to maximize warmth, but allow for more movement in play. I think Julia was most appreciative.

Emily never tired of playing in the snow, but did get pretty wet every trip out. Julia was frustrated with not being able to move well. She couldn’t figure out how to get up once she had fallen down because she didn’t like putting her hands in the snow. She did enjoy the sled and it’s freedom.

Snow Maiden

February 4, 2010

Beautiful snowy days!

Birthday Party Playdate

January 28, 2010

A Silly Pool Face!

Emily celebrated her birthday with her friends at a pool playdate. We had to move the playdate twice because of sickness, but finally everyone was well and we got to go. Julia, Elena, Maeve, Aiden, and New Fish all came for the play time. The pool water seemed a little colder this week, but Emily had a good time anyway. She played a funny game – she will swim to the middle of the pool with her floaties on and cry, “help, help me Mommy”. I would walk out to her and pull her back to the shallow section. She never was in trouble and in need of help, she just wanted her Mommy to play with her and figured this way would work.

After swimming, we all went to Chick-fil-a for lunch and a cookie cake. Emily loves her chicken and fries (with catsup of course). The kids all had a good time. To cap off the good playtime, Emily played in the playarea and successfully climbed up to the top of the playground toy by herself.

Little Gym – Big Girl

January 27, 2010

Emily just finished her first semester of class at Little Gym. We all joined her for her last ‘showcase’ class. She was pretty shy to preform her skills in front of everyone and was very excited for us to be with her. From the beginning to the end of the semester, we saw Emily grow in confidence to try new things and just enjoy spending time with the parent that took her. Emily loved her teacher – Ms Asha. Her favorite station was the rings and seemed to enjoy the low balance beam a lot when accompanied by a parent.

We have enrolled Emily in another sememster of class and because she just had a birthday she is moving up to a new and more independant class. This new class does not have direct parent involment. It will be a lot of fun to watch her interact with older children and in a circumstance where she is required to listen and respond to instruction from the instructor.

Funny and slightly related to gym story – We tried to eat dinner together after class each week and one week we ate at the restaurant next to the gym. We ordered her a kids meal of mac & cheese and mandarin oranges. After that visit she decided that she loved to eat there and requested it every week going into class and leaving class. She is definitely her Mommy’s daughter.

Emily 3-Year Checkup

January 22, 2010

Emily made her annual visit to the doctor for her well checkup. It is amazing to think about how old she is now!

At this visit she had her first eye chart test. The nurse quizzed her about the shapes so that they could eliminate the confusion over shapes from the ability to see. When she saw the cup shape she announced that it was a ‘coffee cup’. The nurse almost lost it laughing – I guess Daddy’s drink choices have influenced Emily a little. The eye test went really well along with all the other tests. She didn’t quite have the communication skills for the hearing test at this visit, but it is pretty unusual for three year olds to get that one. I’m pretty sure her hearing is fine though – she has me turn the volume down on her TV shows because they are too loud.

Her weight at this visit was 28-1/4 lbs (an increase of 2-1/4 lbs) and height of 37-3/4 (an increase of 3-1/4 inches). She has remained around the 50th percentile for height. The doctor was pleased to hear that Emily had recently given up her pacifier and was working on potty training. Big steps for a big girl. She is off the hook for another visit for a year and no more shots until it is time for school.

Hanging out with Daddy

January 19, 2010

It is so sweet to see the girls just hanging out with their Daddy. I remembered this time to grab the camera and take a photo. Julia is very aware of what Emily is doing, and if it looks fun she is trying to join in her own way.

Other than celebrating a birthday, we have had a very quiet three weeks with sickness moving through the house. I thought that we were getting out from under the sick gloom and Emily got sick again. The girls and I are ready to get out and mix with other people and maybe tomorrow . . . but that is a thought I have had many times in the last three weeks. When we are officially well, we will have Emily’s birthday party with her friends at a local pool. It is good that she is only three and doesn’t realize that we have moved her party twice already. Being homebound has given us a lot of time to play with our new Christmas and birthday toys. This mommy is very grateful for the new things to hold our interest!

Emily Helps with the Plumbing

January 16, 2010

A couple of weeks ago, Daddy had to perform some light plumbing to one of our toilets. I asked Emily if she wanted to help/watch me fix the toilet. Being the ever so curious girl she is, she said yes.

She was very helpful at fetching paper towels and a cup for Daddy when I needed them. She watched as I flushed and drained the toilet and emptied the remaining water into a bucket with the cup. And she was curious as I changed the leaky pipe to the toilet and put everything back together.

Flash forward to tonight. Sometime between this recent plumbing fix and the present, our toilet started continuing to run because the rubber flapper inside the toilet would remain open, until we took the lid off the toilet and pushed it closed.

So this evening I decided to tackle this latest development–with Emily trailing close behind. I opened the top of the toilet, then flushed the toilet and began working on adjusting the length of the chain that lifts the rubber flapper when the toilet handle is pressed. As I was doing this Emily left very excitedly. She returned a few moments later with a roll of paper towels, saying “Here are your paper towels, Daddy.” She then left very quickly, so I followed her out wondering why it occurred to her to bring me the paper towels.

It’s then that I see Mommy getting the cup and bucket out from last time. Emily had remembered that I needed these things the last time I fixed the toilet, and she went to Mommy to be helpful and get them for me. What a wonderful helper for Daddy to remember these things and then to fetch them with her own initiative.

School Party

Emily and Elena are in a Mother’s Day Out program together, so we couldn’t pass the opportunity to share a little birthday party. Ashley made the cupcakes and I brought pinwheels and candles. Emily seemed pleased to eat her cake with her class and was happy in a quiet shy way. It was sweet for her Mommy to share this party with her.

Happy 3rd Birthday Big Girl

Our days change daily as Emily grows and develops. Today is just a reminder of that fact. Three wonderful years ago we welcomed our little bundle into this world and today we enjoy watching her engage the world with her opinion and observations.

We had a fairly quiet day and didn’t get to go out to anything special during the day because of a cold Julia is struggling with. Emily enjoyed a movie and helped make her birthday cupcakes. After helping with the cupcake she preceded to make cupcakes in her play kitchen with interesting ingredients like mustard. For her birthday cupcakes she picked chocolate cupcakes in flower liners. We had to test them to be sure they were OK and enjoy a snack.

For her party we met Grammy and Granddaddy for dinner at a local ‘cowboy’ restaurant. Emily dressed the part with her cowgirl boots. They put us at a special table with an over-sized special chair that Emily got to sit in. She was big stuff in that chair! She enjoyed opening her gifts (all by herself), eating peanuts, snacking at dinner, and eating her cupcake. It was a good day. Tomorrow will be a fun day filled with playing with all of her new toys.

Gingerbread Man

January 13, 2010

Emily’s version of the Gingerbread Man – She was quite proud to sing it for me. She will correct herself soon enough, but I want to remember it forever.

A Letter Lunch

January 4, 2010


Emily and I had some fun with lunch today and used her sandwich to reinforce the letter we are learning this week. The rod pretzels were broken so that she could also make the letter A, but it was much more fascinating to eat than to play with. She thought it was pretty cool. In addition to our fun lunch we read books and looked for the letter A and attempted to trace the letter with our finger.

Tomorrow’s fun food is going to be pancake shaped letter A’s for breakfast. I have a variety of things to do with her to reinforce the letter of the week and we will see how it goes over the next 26 weeks. If every day could be as fun as today was we will be doing well.


January 3, 2010



Mommy is a train person, Grandpa is a train person, Daddy sure likes to build track, and we are starting early to create little train girls. This year the girls started their Thomas the Train collection. There has been a layed out track everyday since Christmas with engines running around it.

Robby was chomping at the bit to build track layouts with all of the track, but we thought it would be best to wait for Emily to get used to the toy with just the starter set. Emily has enjoyed talking to the engines and quickly wanted to name the engines that didn’t come with names. She hasn’t mastered all of the rules of trains, like she thinks they can make turns and double back at switches. It is really cute.

After a few days of the simple layout Robby has started building larger track layouts that take up almost the whole floor. Amazingly the girls play with it for a while before destroying it and when it is destroyed it is always Julia’s work. Julia has been imitating the rest of us by running the engines around the track some too. This is going to be one fun toy for a while!

Christmas Scenes

December 29, 2009


christmas art

Christmas is always a fun, busy day, and it is so easy to put the camera down and forget to pick it back up. I’m sorry to say that I didn’t get family photos on Christmas and I never got a photo of Emily looking at my camera. This Christmas I guess Emily was the photographer. These are just two photos of the girls from Christmas day and the joy that they shared that day. It was a good and fun day. May all of our Christmases be so merry!

Emily’s Perspective

December 28, 2009

Emily received a kid’s digital camera for Christmas from Uncle Doug and Aunt Saba, and it has been a hit. Somehow she knew immediately what to do with it. She only needed one half lesson on what the buttons were for, and she ran around taking photo after photo. When Robby downloaded them, the total was over 300 that she took the day of Christmas and the day following. It has been interesting to see the photos and reflect upon the fact that this is the world from her eyes. She took photos of people, people taking photos of her, toys, things that were important to her, random things, ceilings, carpets, and many more. Here is a sample of her photos – They aren’t going to win awards, but they are expressions of her perspective and interests.

Christmas tree

opening gifts





Christmas Dinner


Self photo



Grammy taking my photo

Julia Playing


December 25, 2009


We are continuing a tradition from Robby’s childhood of hanging an ornament on the advent wreath each of the days of December. Robby has really enjoyed watching Emily pick out the ornaments remembering back to he and his brothers doing the same thing. It was a lot of fun to do with her and Julia enjoyed looking and touching them. We saved a Santa ornament for Christmas Eve and baby Jesus for Christmas day.

Gift Wrap Helper

December 21, 2009


It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at our house! The other day Emily helped me finish up wrapping a gift for Robby. She picked out three bows to place on the gift and stuck them down. We then hunted for the perfect hiding spot under the tree among the other gifts. When Robby got home, she promptly told him that he had a gift under the tree and tried to take him to the tree to find it. Thank goodness I had the gift in the box before she started helping me or else she would have told him what was in the box too. Emily hasn’t mastered the art of keeping secrets yet!

Winter Swimming

December 15, 2009






We had some fun swimming today. The photos aren’t the best, but they were taken with a camera phone at an indoor pool. There is only so much that can be done to help that. The water was so warm it was like bath water. Everyone had a blast and enjoyed the water at their own pace. I dunked Julia once and gave her the opportunity to bob her face into the water which she only did twice. She enjoyed the pool/Mommy time a lot! Emily was a fish in the water. She is confident in her floaties and would kick and swim herself around the pool. We need to work on jumping into the pool and getting her face into the water more, but I couldn’t be more pleased with how well she did today. If we could go back tomorrow, I would – maybe soon!

Too Short

December 12, 2009



I just thought these were funny. The diving gear was staged for a kid to pose behind and look like they were in the gear. Even with the step behind the gear it just wasn’t enough for either girl.

Fish and Little Girls

December 11, 2009



What a fun time little girls can have at an aquarium. We went with our friends Elena and Maeve to check out a preschool program and explore the aquarium together. The girls wore themselves out playing and checking out the exhibits and fish. Emily touched a Horseshoe Crab, saw the teeth on live sharks, found out that there can be catfish longer than she is, and pushed a million buttons and knobs. Emily’s favorite thing to do was to look for Nemo and Dory, which she succeeded at.

Julia hung out a lot in the stroller and her highlight was getting to steal french fries from her mama’s tray. I always tear everything small so she can gum it well, but she wanted to try at a whole fry and kept stealing them. Then she was making the action motions to try to dip them in catsup like mama was. It was really cute and she did just fine with the french fries. Hopefully for her sake she will get more teeth soon and have some help chewing her food.

First Friends

December 10, 2009



God was good to give our girls friends who are almost identical in age that they can spend a lot of time with. Elena and Maeve will not always live close to us so we thought it would be fun to get their photos taken together. Everything was pretty distracting so it was a little hard to get them interested in looking at the camera. That’s kids for you! Emily and Elena spent a lot of time dancing together. Thankfully they paused and looked at the camera for this amazing photo.

Snow Memories

December 7, 2009


The snow may be gone, but we have our memories of it.


December 5, 2009



We woke up to a white world of snow. How exciting! We looked out all of the windows so that we could see as much snow as we could. After breakfast Emily, went out to explore in the quickly melting snow. She couldn’t decided if she wanted to wear her gloves or not. First she touched the snow on the ground and tried to eat it and then discovered that it could be eaten right off the bushes. Julia went out a little later for her snow-time. There wasn’t much snow left. I couldn’t get her to be parted from me so the best I could do was to have her touch the snow from my lap. The experts were calling for snow last night, but they are usually wrong so we were surprised to find it this morning. It is definitely early for us to have a dusting and gave us all a bit of excitement that Christmas is approaching.

Wrapping Paper Shapes

November 23, 2009


I got some new wrapping paper this year so that we could have a kid wrapping paper theme for our gifts. I will make them grownup again later, but for now I’m embracing the candy colored kid look. Emily helped me pick the paper out, so we now have one roll of Mickey Mouse paper. Emily enjoyed playing with the paper at the store and again at home. Her favorite game is to make the four rolls into different shapes on the floor. We have had square, rectangles, and diamonds.

More Leaves

November 21, 2009






Just some more photos of our fun playdate!

Leaf Pile Fun!

November 20, 2009






Fall leaves make good piles – good piles make for good fun! We had a morning playdate with the leaves this morning. There was a lot of jumping, wading, dumping, and pushing. The kids enjoyed picking up leaves and dumping them on each other. Kids sure are fun to watch! Thanks Aiden, Elena, and Maeve for coming to play today.

Laundry Help

November 19, 2009


I think one benefit of kids is that they can help share the housework. We definitely are not there yet, and the jury is still out on whether they balance out the work they create with the work they provide. We will see.

The other day, I was folding the girls laundry and Emily came to help me. She first pulled out her socks, folded them, and piled them up. It was so sweet. She then proceeded to pile the remaining laundry on the couch beside me and then climbed in the basket with her pillow and toys to play. She had a blast!

Morning Fun

November 16, 2009


We played this morning in our pj’s. The girls sure like to play together and both were uninterested in looking at the camera. Julia is interested in anything that Emily has or wants. Julia will chase Emily around the room trying to play with her. Emily knows that she can get up on the chair or the couches to escape Julia’s hands. Emily was trying to give Julia a hat for the photo by placing a toy on her head.

Playing Doctor

November 7, 2009



I was lucky to watch Emily play Doctor with Julia as they played together. It was mesmerizing and I was lucky to get any photos of it because I didn’t want to disturb their play. As I watched them play, Emily measured Julia’s head size, took her temperature under her arm, gave her a shot on her arm, looked in her ear, and then listened to her heart. When she held the stethoscope to her chest she said ‘thump, thump’. For the most part Julia stood and allowed Emily to perform the various doctor tasks. At one point Emily told Julia not to cry, I wondered if the shot was coming next.

The only problem in the play was that Julia wanted to help herself to the doctor kit and Emily wasn’t in a sharing mood. We temporarily solved the problem by giving Julia a phone so that she could call the doctor to entertain her hands. I guess Emily has been to the doctor a few times.

The Cowgirls!

November 2, 2009


Mommy with her girls! Emily thought that I should wear her hat. I guess she wanted me to look a little western.

Halloween 2009

November 1, 2009



Happy Halloween from a Cowgirl and her favorite Cow.

Emily was a little under the weather and took a late nap so her costume had a few practical alterations which still turned out pretty cute. Julia was her usual self and didn’t slow down when suited up. They enjoyed a fun play time at Grammy and Granddaddy’s house where we did our first trick-or-treating. After visiting a few houses around the Grandparents we headed home in the rain for a little more house visiting. Emily made it to the sidewalk in front of our house and decided that she wanted to go home. That was the end of the trick-or-treating.

We had an enjoyable evening despite the rain. We read books, watched a Halloween show, played with toys and shared lots of cow jokes.

Princess Pumpkin

October 31, 2009


We have a pretty princess pumpkin to decorate our house for Halloween. Emily picked the placement of the pieces and Julia played keep-away and pushed the pieces around the room. Thanks to Daddy who was strong enough to push the pieces in!

Fall Leaves

October 30, 2009




We took advantage of a beautiful warm Autumn day and the girls and I took a mini-hike. I got some fun photos before the sun went to play behind some clouds. Emily loved the activity of collecting huge leaves. We found a large variety of different leaves and a few sticks. We hiked at Emily’s pace and in the directions of her choice, so we crossed one bridge six times. Both girls were ready for naps when we got back to the car, but sad to be leaving the nice hike.

Learning a New Trick

October 29, 2009


Emily was learning how to use chopsticks to eat her dinner. Grammy was helping me out, so that I could offer attention to Julia. Emily was very enthusiastic about wanting to use chopsticks, but couldn’t hold it tight all the way to her mouth without help. She ate shrimp and squash with the chopsticks and the broth soup and rice with the soup spoon. She seemed to really enjoy the dinner as long as the cook didn’t make any fireballs.

Corn Maze Fun

October 26, 2009




We celebrated Julia’s birthday with a visit to a corn maze and pumpkin patch. The day was overcast and cool with a steady breeze. We dressed Julia in her Halloween cow hat for a fun look and to keep her head warm. She enjoyed her ride in the front pack around the maze and patch. Grammy and Granddaddy joined us for our fun farm day.

Emily enjoyed hiking the maze trails, walking through muddy puddles, and flying over big ones. She wanted to punch her card at each of the posts. And for some odd reason she wanted to walk in the back of the group. She loved riding the tractor wagon to the pumpkin patch and looking at the different pumpkins in the patch. Emily also tried her first corndog as she shared her mother’s one.

Pumpkin Fun

October 24, 2009



Playtime among the pumpkins and corn stalks. Four little girls have lots of fun in the fall sun.

Sun and Pumpkins

October 23, 2009




Emily asked for a play date with Elena, so we made quick plans for a sunny day at the pumpkin patch for the girls to play together. We couldn’t have asked for a prettier day. The weather was sunny, cool, and not breezy. We shared the pumpkin patch with three bus loads of kids so we took a low key tour of the farm and corn maze and didn’t get any pumpkins. It was a lot of fun for the girls and the mamas.

Visiting Family

October 22, 2009






Just some photos of the hugs and play that we shared while we visited Florida. The girls really enjoyed themselves. Emily was absolutely in love with Natalie. She called her ‘my Natalie’. They just played and played together. It was a good time just to spend with family although it seemed to be really short.

Beach Time

October 20, 2009




We attended a family wedding on the beach this past weekend. After the ceremony the girls had some playtime in the sand and water. They loved it! Emily did lose her footing while a wave was passing and got a little wet. I think it added to the play! Julia enjoyed the sand and water. Her Mother even let her put a little of it in her mouth.


October 18, 2009


The girls were just playing together on the couch having fun and watching some TV together. Emily was doing a little cooking on the side and eating pretend food from a stacking cup. Sweet times!


October 16, 2009



Our daily life changes as often as Julia does, but we enjoy it. Our morning routine when we are spending it at home is pretty relaxed and full of play, cartoons, jammies, and breakfast. Emily will ask for breakfast when she is ready and Julia wants to eat just about an hour after her morning milk.

Emily’s breakfast options are generally waffles, eggs, cereal, toast, bagels (if we have them), or oatmeal. She goes through periods of favoring each of these options. She has only recently started to eat cereal with milk. It is a trick to learn to use a spoon for cereal and milk. She hasn’t mastered it, but she enjoys the food even though it is messy and requires help sometimes. We got Chinese soup spoons to help her hold the milk and food a little bit safer for the trip from her bowl to her mouth. She likes her special spoons and likes having a little more success.

Julia’s breakfast options are yogurt, oatmeal, baby food with baby cereal, or bits of Mommy’s breakfast. Julia has started to eat a lot of finger foods, but breakfast doesn’t have much self feeding. She likes to pull chunky bites back out of her mouth to redeposit it back in. It is like she wonders what she is feeling in her mouth so she wants to touch it with her fingers. When we eat the yogurt she makes the funniest faces. I wonder if the taste of the yogurt encourages it or if she is just having fun playing. She also figured out how to sip/slurp yogurt from the spoon. It’s funny, but she hasn’t repeated it with anyone around other than Emily and I. She also snacks on Cheerios, baby food puffs, and rice cereal when I’m finishing my breakfast.

Some Favorite Photos from Trip

October 15, 2009



These are some of my favorite photos from Bryce National Park. So many good memories!

The Cowgirl, The Range, and the Big Texan

October 13, 2009


This is one of the moments that I wish we had been able to photograph, but life has to happen at its own pace and we were without camera at this one. Twenty-one years ago when my family took a similar trip to the one we were taking we made a stop at this crazy restaurant in Amarillo called the Big Texan. It was very memorable and entertaining. I wanted Robby to experience this phenomenon of a restaurant that I had told him stories of. No joke, if you are capable of eating 72 oz of steak in one hour you get the meal free. If you fail you have to pay for your dinner. They now even have a webcam to broadcast the people who are attempting the feat.

For our visit, we were seated up in the balcony which gave us a great view of the restaurant. There was one gentleman attempting the 72 oz challenge, but he was unsuccessful. Emily enjoyed watching a cowboy band work their way around the dinner floor entertaining everyone table by table. She informed the waiter that she wanted ‘mac-cheese’ for dinner immediately at his approach. She received a cowgirl hat with her meal which she thought was awesome! The hat was so distracting that she really didn’t eat much of her dinner. She thought she was big stuff.

Part way through our meal the cowboy band, which did have one cowgirl musician, visited our table. I sat racking my brain for a few minutes trying to think of a song for them to play for us. Then I remembered ‘Home on the Range’! I made the request and Emily’s eyes lit up. She was so pleased as they played and sang the song to her. When they were finished she thanked them for singing ‘her’ song. It was really sweet.

That evening was perfect – I got to relive a fond memory, I was entertained with a great dinner, I was able to introduce this odd restaurant to my family, and Emily had such a great time. Since we have visited The Big Texan, we officially have a cowgirl in our house.

Making Friends at Bandelier

October 12, 2009


How cool is it when your Dad climbs up a ladder and lets you look back out. This storage room was a little bigger than the other ones we were able to enter and allowed for a little exploration. While we visited at Bandelier, Emily had the freedom of hiking and riding in the backpack. She got quite a kick out of getting to go up with Robby and taking a peek back out.

You always meet interesting people when you are out hiking. We hiked up to a family of five on the trail with their two-year old son lagging behind. He didn’t seem very motivated to keep up with his family . . . but when he saw Emily hiking on the trail he found motivation to keep up with our family. I figured that his family would be grateful that he was catching up, and then when we passed them and he kept up with us talking with Emily and I. I don’t think he was going to give his own family a second consideration so we slowed down and let them catch back up with us. His mom convinced him to hang with them again. It was really cute to see how kids relate and are so comfortable with other little people like themselves.

Home On the Range

October 10, 2009


Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam
And the deer and the antelope play
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word
And the skies are not cloudy all day

One of our overarching themes of our trip was the song “Home on the Range”. One of the library books I had picked up for the trip was the song put to pictures of a little boy chasing his cowboy hat through a dream. Emily loved reading the book every night at bedtime and then we would sing the song to her. We also had a copy of the song that we listened to everyday. Emily started calling it her song. And in our travels, we even had one day that we saw a herd of bison and a few deer and antelope grazing.

The song was definitely sinking in because one day Emily was talking with a couple of women at the Grand Canyon about the rainbow we could see. After she had pointed it out, she continued with the proclamation that ‘the skies are not cloudy all day’. Maybe one day she will understand that rainbows require a few clouds, but the exchange was very funny!

Hiking in a Cave

October 9, 2009


Another of our trip highlights was hiking in Carlsbad Caverns. The cave is quite impressive from the huge open rooms, number of bat residents, and unusual rock formations. We were able to hike two trails in the cave. We hiked into the cave through the natural entrance which is a hike descending 800 feet and then the second hike was a loop around the ‘Big Room’. In total we went three miles carrying both girls.

We weren’t sure how the girls would respond to being in the cave. They were bundled up because the cool temp would feel really cold to a kid with very little body fat and who is not exerting any energy hiking. The adults were a little over dressed and kept peeling off layers as we walked. Despite the constant cool temperature, hiking and carrying the girls built up quite bit of body heat. Emily commented on how dark it was and the funny smell. She thought the sun had gone down. Like usual for the trip, Julia greeted the park rangers who crossed our path with waving arms and kicking feet.

While we were on the second hike each of the girls dozed off and took a great nap. Not hard to imagine them doing it – it was dark, they were warm and bundled next to their parents, and it was naptime. Overall they were happy to be out and about and didn’t mind the dark cool cave. Thankfully, the hike ended at an elevator. We admired the visitors that visited the cave before the elevator was installed and were glad that we had the modern convenience.

What Mommy thinks is cool . . .

October 7, 2009


For the trip, I purchased Emily a few new books to enjoy in the car. My favorite was a Handy Manny book that had movable parts. For anyone who doesn’t know, Handy Manny is a Disney cartoon for preschoolers about a man and his tools who fix about anything that is broken in his town. So, in the book the saw moved in a sawing motion, the hammer could hammer a nail, etc. The only problem was that Emily’s interaction with the moving tools, which she thought were awesome, was in a motion that worked the cardboard pieces off of the rivits. I was disappointed, but she started calling her tools her friends and continuted to play with them away from the book.

Fast forward to our general play at home after returning from our trip. She has taken to finding thinks that are “broken” and carting her tools to the broken item and fixing it. Her favorite to fix is Julia’s high chair. She will stand behind the high chair sawing, hammering, and screwing. She is turning into a Handy Emily! I would be happy if Emily learned to fix everything in the house. We will have to wait and see.

Short Daddy

October 6, 2009


Not many things can make Robby look short, but the Saguaro cactus can. This one is around 14 feet tall and around 75 years old. It hasn’t sprouted its arms yet, but is old enough to start some. We didn’t see any wildlife while we were out in the afternoon for the hike and drive other than bugs eating from old cactus flowers. By dusk, we saw in increase in animal life and saw several bats and a Gila monster on the road. The Saguaros bloom all summer and had stopped by the time we visited, but we did catch a few blooms still out. It would be an amazing thing to see them all in their evening blooms.


October 5, 2009


We spent several days in the desert landscape visiting different places. One of our stops was Saguaro National Park to see the often depicted Saguaro cactus up close and personal. They are amazing plants which surprised me when we looked over the landscape. I’m not sure what I expected, but I liked how the plants covered the hills and valleys like a pine forest would in a mountain region. It was a forest of the prickly trees.

We talked a lot about the cactus with Emily. I was a little concerned that she would try to touch one. They look so cool – I wanted to touch them even though I knew better. We successfully kept Emily from touching just about everything while we were there. I think she even left the dirt alone. While it was quite warm there was a breeze that kept us a little cooler for our nature hike. Emily loved the play area in the visitor center and was quite interested in going back inside to play.

Sun Going Up or Sun Going Down

October 4, 2009


We had an ongoing conversation with Emily about the sun and whether it is going up or down. I don’t think she has quite grasped the concept yet, but she will proclaim whether she thinks the sun is currently going up or down at any time in the day. We traveled a lot after dark and Robby photographed many sunrises and sunsets which seemed to also encourage the discussion. I think that Emily is heavily influenced in the thought that sun is going down from her need for a nap or bed. She would proclaim that the sun was going down around 1pm when it was time for her afternoon nap. It makes for a really funny conversation to have with her.

Dora goes to the Grand Canyon

October 2, 2009


We stopped at Watchtower to take in our first views of the Grand Canyon. I guess Emily thought that Dora needed to see it too because she brought her along. Emily enjoyed playing on the roof of the Watchtower store while we took in the views. She also walked up and down all the stairs to the top of the tower to look out the window. I hope all of the other people didn’t mind walking at a 2 year old pace up and down the stair.

Grand Canyon Visit

October 1, 2009


We were privileged to spend four days visiting the Grand Canyon. We stayed on the rim for two nights at the Thunderbird Lodge and also two nights at Yavapai Lodge. We hiked at least five miles of the rim trail with the girls and Robby covered many more while he was photographing the rim. We were glad that we had the extra time to spend at the park. Traveling with kids definitely slowed us down, but we allowed ourselves enough time to see and do what we wanted even at our slower pace. Emily loved riding the shutle bus around the park. Nature visited us every evening as the elk came in to graze on the grass, the bats ate the bugs drawn to the porch lights, and the stars shown like artwork in the sky.

Grand Canyon Dirt

September 30, 2009


One of Emily’s favorite things to play with at every place we went was dirt. She would check out the views, climb on any available rocks, push sister around in the stroller, and then play in the dirt. It was a good thing we took her to such cool dirt! It definitely kept her busy while we enjoyed the sights.

Riding in the Car

September 29, 2009


For the trip we rented a minivan; so that, we could take extra stuff and have some spare room. We filled the van pretty well despite the desire to have a little extra room. We encountered a variety of temperatures and situations and used almost everything we brought at one time or another.

This was the first time that the girls rode in a car together with space between them. Normally they are able to reach out and touch each other or for Emily to steal Julia’s toys. They adjusted pretty well, but I think they missed their general interaction. I was most happy that when Julia was asleep that Emily couldn’t wake her up by poking her.

Hiking Bryce Amphitheater – Emily

September 28, 2009