Random Fun Stuff…

Someone gave us a mix cd called “Random Fun Stuff” and thus introduced the phrase into our family vernacular.

This is another post into which I squeeze as many photos as possible — January’s through May’s, to be exact. Sorry about that. I had meant to give a glowing review about the new diet I tried during Lent and to write a few other small posts along the way, but the new diet turned out to be only so-so and the post(s) just didn’t happen. Apparently, it’s much less motivating to write about something that is kinda sorta helpful than about something that’s amazing. But I’m kind of sick of thinking about health problems right now, so looking at sweet photos of the kids is a nice change. I hope you enjoy it as well.

Random fun stuff we’ve done in the last five months:

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Way back in January, the girls got to wear the new hats & cloaks their grandmothers made them for Christmas.

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Grandma hats & cloaks.

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As soon as the weather got warm enough, we started playing outside again.

Just sittin'.

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Practicing arabesques.

Camilla wanted to make her own snowman, so she improvised.

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Didn’t you know that Florida snowmen are blue?

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Complete with hat.

The Florida snowman.

We’ve started to play a lot of Night-Night, every toddler’s favorite game.

Playing night-night.

Good morning!

Good morning!

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We visited Uncle Tim, Aunt Hilary, Cousins Annie, Inga & Isabel, and Grandma & Grandpa Marston in Panama City Beach. A good time was had by all.

Visiting cousin Annie.

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The Marston have not one but TWO triple strollers. Who else can say that? Our girls were spoiled.

The triple stroller.

We took a little walk to a nearby park.

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Poor Bea got squeezed into the back. Oh, the trials of being the littlest.

Poor Bea didn't get her own seat.

Camilla helped Grandma make cinnamon rolls.

Making cinnamon rolls with grandma.

Bea helped by being too short to get in the way.

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Eating the results.

Eating them. Yum!

I got to hold my two baby nieces. They are not very impressed by my fine auntly qualities thus far, but I trust that I can win them over in the future.

Twin nieces.

Back to the park after a bit of face-painting fun.

The other triple stroller.

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Husband had spring break, and we decided to relax and do fun stuff in our neck of the woods instead of travelling. We went strawberry picking, which was fun for all.

Picking strawberries.

Okay, maybe Beatrice had even more fun than the rest of us. What could be better than being plunked in the middle of a field of your favorite food?

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Somebody loves strawberries.

We also visited the model train museum in Foley, AL, and got a ride around the park on a tiny train. The girls loved it.

At the Foley train museum.

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The giant model train set.

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While the kids slept, Josh and I painted the living room a light shade of grey that is…very similar looking to the dingy white it was before. Oh well. You can kind of see it in the photos below.

Our friend Max still comes over to play on Fridays. When they’re not annoying each other, they get into this sort of get-up and start dancing around the living room.

Three little characters.

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Now for some dancing.

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Milla’s ballet recital turned out to be on Holy Saturday (bad planning, mama) but she was able to get dressed up for the rehearsal and we treated it like the real thing. There was a strict no-photo policy (hey!) so there are no pics of “The Flower Dance,” but I promised a photo shoot so we took these outside the theatre afterward. Yes, she is wearing makeup. Yes, her daddy hated it. And yes, she thought wearing makeup was The Best Thing Ever.

After her ballet rehearsal.

Beatrice was sporting a nice shiner that should serve as a lesson to us all about why children shouldn’t play with sticks.

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On Pascha morning, Milla and I found a baby bird that had fallen out of its nest. We brought him home and named him Jonah. We kept him for a few days but then learned about a local wildlife refuge and took him there since I was terribly afraid that we would accidentally kill him through an abundance of child-love. Beatrice still talks about Baby Jonah but she knows he has a “new nest!” and a “new home!” Ironically, we found another baby bird three days later but took him straight to the refuge afterward. I do wish that Nature would stop trying to give us birds, but at least we’re getting good at knowing what to do with them.

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I didn’t take any photos at the Pascha service, but these are from the picnic after Agape Vespers. My children look forward to the picnic ALL YEAR, thanks to the annual Easter Egg Hunt and the bouncy castle. My sweet friend Carrie organized the egg hunt this year and it was a tremendous success.

Carrie and Caroline.

Matching squinchy noses!

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Her first one.

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The perfect day.

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Peekaboo with Nouna Laura.

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Inside the bouncy castle.

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Joyous bouncing.

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Egg hunt spoils.

Lessons are over for the summer, but every day is ballet day at our house.

Every day is ballet day.

Dance partners.

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Milla and I got haircuts and I got some new (= Josh’s old) glasses. Recycling can be fun!

New haircuts for both of us.

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That’s all for now. If you made it to the end, give yourself a pat on the back.

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The best ones.

So, after posting all those photos I realized I forgot the best ones (i.e. the ones taken by someone with a genuinely nice camera & lens). These are by my friend Marty Hadding and are from (cough) November. Somehow she managed to find the only pretty orange trees in all of the Florida panhandle so we could pretend it was fall.

There are more by another professional photographer, but I think she cleverly copyrighted them because I couldn’t post them online. Fiddlesticks. I mean, good for her.

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What happened?

Greetings to the 10 people who still check this blog. Scrolling down just a bit will show you that my last post was on December 1. Whoops! It was not intentional, I assure you. So, what on earth happened since then that could have kept a woman from blogging?

In a nutshell,

…We finished Advent.
…We celebrated Christmas with my WHOLE family (parents, siblings, babies) for the first time in at least four years.
…We celebrated my sister’s birthday in Pensacola and I remembered yet again how much I love her and wish she lived nearer.
…I hurt my back.
…My back kept hurting.
…Lots of visits to the chiropractor didn’t help.
…Kind people from school volunteered to watch my kids so I wouldn’t be tempted to pick them up.
…One of them dropped a hint that I should take lots more Advil to get some anti-inflammatory effects.
…It worked, which was awesome, but other parts of my body filled in the pain void.
…I went to see a rheumatologist three times and had an obscene amount of blood drawn.
…After eliminating a lot of other possibilities, he diagnosed me with a herniated disc, fibromyalgia, joint hypermobility, and thoracic outlet syndrome. None of them are terribly severe in and of themselves, but together the effect has been a bit overwhelming.

So, I am hoping it is not a stretch of your imagination to see that getting through the day whilst providing reasonable childcare, meals, laundry service, etc. has left me with little time or energy for this poor little blog.

(I should add that I’m not trying to have a pity party because it has actually been sooooo helpful to find out all of this information about how and why my body works the way it does. I feel like I finally understand why I’ve felt badly in certain ways for years and that now I can actually try to work at the problem instead of just being confused. So, in a weird way, all the medical stuff has been good news. I will share some of the diet changes I am making in a future post, just in case anyone is interested.)

I haven’t been taking a ton of photos lately but I do have a huuuuuuuge backlog from Christmas, etc. I’m not going to bore you with all of them but I’ve picked out a few highlights. The rest are over on flickr.

I promise it won’t take me three months to come back again.

Camilla’s rather wiggly ballet class

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Her first Nativity Pageant (I painted the cave)

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Christmas morning at our condo in Panama City Beach, FL

Early morning stockings.

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Christmas day at my brother’s house

New tube-tus.

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Opening presents.

A little snack.

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Partners in crime.

Walking to the pier on a windy afternoon

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Cousins.

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Panama City Beach boardwalk.

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Riding the carousel.

Mollified by hot chocolate.

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Enjoying Marian and Jacob’s visit to Pensacola

Reading with Uncle Jacob.

My nephew.

Playing in the gazebo.

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Whacking with sticks.

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The daddies and the babies.

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Sharing with cousins.

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Cute as a button.

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A man and his car.

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Pushing turned out to be fun too.

Leave me alone, woman!

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Marian’s Birthday Dinner Feast

Marian's birthday dinner.

Bathtime babies.

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The Momofuku Milk Bar carrot cake.

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Then they left. And we cried.

I’ve taken a few more pics since then and I’ll try to put them up soon.

December 1.

Although our Advent season begins November 15, December 1st is still a special day for us: we put up the tree, sip cider, and listen to George Winston on repeat. Happily, it landed on a Saturday this year so we got to luxuriate in a full day of family festivities.

First up: bringing out the creche. I happen to have two (a tiny wood one and a larger plastic one) thanks to two bits of good luck at the thrift store. Both are beloved.

The creche comes out.

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Where’s mine??

Any for me?

Yay, new toys!

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Of course sister kept all the exciting ones for herself…

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The little santons.

Why not mix in a few nutcrackers?

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Now for the other set.

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Learning-To-Share Lesson #589.

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Playing together.

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Fit for Adventure.

Fit for adventure.

Now for a spot of dancing.

Now for a spot of dancing.

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Oh, and let’s not forget the Advent calendar.

The Advent calendar.

Milla and I made some new little ornaments out of Sculpey this year.

New Sculpey ornaments.

We finally managed to unwind Beatrice and put her down for her nap so we could assemble (ahem) the Christmas tree and bring out the ornaments.

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Camilla was looking forward to “waking up the ornaments” so badly.

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Up went the tree!

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Daddy was fun to clown around with.

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Or maybe it’s more like “elfing around.”

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Back to the tree again. She is old enough to put up so many ornaments now.

Her first Christmas ornament.

These photos remind me of last year.

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Daddy talked about the importance of having a star at the top of the tree.

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And then we all stepped back to admire our handiwork. And maybe bounce on the couch a little.

Admiring the results.

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When Beatrice woke up she was duly impressed.

Bea's first glimpse.

Out of everything on the tree, she most wanted to touch the new cupcake ornaments I had given Camilla.

Cupcake!

She can, alas, say “cupcake” now.

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So, that was our tree-decorating day. It was a good thing we did it on Saturday because Bea spent Sunday evening puking and Camilla repeated the performance tonight. Josh and I feel fine but it’s hard not to feel as though each meal might be my last. Sigh. I am hoping to be able to celebrate the feast of St. Nicholas beginning with Vespers tomorrow night (there’s a special treat for the kids!) and if Camilla gets well as quickly as Bea did then she just might make it. As long as the parents don’t get sick. You can join me in praying that it stays that way.

Fall.

I still need to mix up the blog a bit (it is practically impossible to search for anything right now) but I think I’m back in business for the time being. I was going to post pics of our December 1 festivities but realized that December implies winter and we actually had a bit of fall this year. And a lot of girly cuteness to go along with it.

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Two fall cuties.

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Her fun object turned out to be a cigarette.

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So, that fun thing that Bea found to play with turned out to be a cigarette butt. Awesome.

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Mom, this one’s for you. See how much she loves the boots?

Wearing sister's boots.

(Also of note: the never-ending river of drool. I finally made some little bandannas because she won’t keep a bib on and her shirts are always soaked.)

Peekaboo!

Funny faces.

Just clownin’ around.

Milla's drawings.

And drawing.

Also for the fam: here are some pics of our delightful Thanksgiving with friends. They have three fantastic kids who play so nicely with my girls and who even wrote and acted out a little Thanksgiving play with a special part for Milla. I think we all know that the parents can’t have a good time if the kids aren’t having fun, so a day of toddler and baby happiness meant much happiness for Josh and I as well. We had and have so much to be thankful for!

Thanksgiving.

Cece's play, pt. 1.

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Picking oranges.

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The chasing game.

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Going for a walk.

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Going for a ride.

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The Christmas list.

Husband made his and suggested that I do the same.

It’s dangerous to start looking around the internet for stuff you want. There are just so many want-able things in this world that I haven’t discovered yet and I kind of want to leave it that way. But, here are a few that would make me smile on Christmas morning.

…I could use some new shoes to replace my beloved & bedraggled yellow flats, but I have such bad luck shopping online. There’s a new Clarks store at the mall, though, and I’ve got my eyes on these.

…Perhaps someone also wants to fund an after-Christmas shopping trip to J.Crew & Marshall’s? (And watch my kids?) I need a new chambray shirt — the sleeves on mine keep unrolling and getting in the way — and maybe a new pair of pants.

This adorable backpack would be so handy for going out & about with the kiddos. I love their big bags, too — perfect to stash in your purse for a library or grocery store run.

…I love these little prints and postcards. There’s all sorts of good art out there, though, and I could use a new infusion into our apartment.

…Speaking of which: I really want a little chalkboard for my kitchen but I have no idea where one gets that sort of thing.  Perhaps you know?

…There are a few mornings a year when I would l would so love a pair of leather gloves. Any pair. It gets chilly even in Florida sometimes.

That’s all for now. I’ll add more stuff if/when I find it.

Oops.

 

I haven’t visited this blog in so long that WordPress went all simplified on me and now I can’t figure out how to do any of the things I used to do, like add lots of cute photos of my kids. So this will have to do for now. If you want to butter me up and get your Camilla & Beatrice fix, head over to my flickr account (I always stash photos in flickr since it, ahem, doubles as my file backup).

Sorry for the technical difficulties.

The Pumpkin Putch.

(She has since corrected her pronunciation, but for a while Camilla was all excited to go to the “putch” and pick some pumpkins.)

My sweet friend Carrie has a girl a year older than Camilla and a baby a little younger than Beatrice and suggested that we go to a pumpkin patch together. We were initially looking for one with pony rides, but it turned out that we had our hands full as it was. If you’re local, check out Holland Farms in Pace: there’s tons to do, the pumpkins are big, and if drive over a screw the owner will chase you down to tell you you have a flat and then fill it up with his air compressor so you can limp into town and get a patch.

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One of the biggest attractions for the kids had nothing to do with pumpkins. There was a giant corn pit that was so oddly comfortable that I could have sat in there all day myself.

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(That’s my friend Carrie. We accidentally had a sort of twinsies thing going with our glasses.)

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Beatrice figured out pretty quickly that the corn was fun but not edible. That made for a nicer morning.

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Need I say that I picked an awful lot of corn out of children’s pockets later that day?

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I think it’s supposed to be an extra charge, but the nice farmer gave us all a really long hayride for free.

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Bea squirmed and squirmed until I figured out that she didn’t want to be sitting on my lap. She wanted to be standing right behind the tractor. My little farm girl.

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There was a little petting zoo but the animals didn’t feel like being petted.

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Or maybe Camilla scared them off when she shouted “Here is grass for you to eat!” while pushing handfuls through the fence. That was pretty much the only disappointment, though.

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There were regular swings and crazy bouncy ones that looked like horses.

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Way out past the pumpkin patch there were also two giant slides made from drainage pipes.

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They were a little scary looking so I was impressed that the girls went down. I tried them myself and they were fun and not too fast.

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Then we went back to the corn pit for more playing while Carrie picked out some pumpkins.

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Next time I will have to remember to give Beatrice a ride in the wagon.

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Even with a punctured tire, it was a great day. I look forward to going again next fall.

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September, in a nutshell.

When you’re trying to catch up on over a month’s worth of photos, the condensed version seems preferable. Grandma Gibbs is coming tomorrow night and I know that if I don’t get these up now, I will end up with so many photos to upload that I just won’t bother.

So: what happened in September?

School started up again.

First day of school.

Then it stopped for Labor Day weekend, which was awesome and which meant that we got to take a little trip to the Navarre sprinkler park.

At the Navarre sprinkler park.

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Then we did some swinging.

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And some squirming.

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And had snow-cones.

Snow cones.

Which are delicious.

Bea's first taste.

Mmmm.

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Then we went home and ran around outside. Little Bea is such a good walker these days.

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Later in September, husband and I watched Jiro Dreams of Sushi. Then we made sushi (twice).

Sushi dinner!

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Camilla started ballet class. Saying that she was excited is sort of an understatement.

First day of ballet.

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Our friend Max has continued to come over once a week. One Friday we made carrot cupcakes together.

Making cupcakes with Max.

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The blazing hot weather continued so we played a lot in the sprinkler.

Sprinkler time.

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Grandma Gibbs continued to send us fun surprises like these balloons.

Balloons from grandma.

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Also, a certain baby’s bangs got long enough to make “the sprout.”

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Cousin Annie, very pregnant Aunt Hilary, and very game Uncle Tim came to play on our slip & slide.

Slip & slide with Annie.

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With all that fun going on, can you see why there was no time for blogging?

This is where the summer ends.

It seems like yet another of Florida’s cruel tricks that “summer” is over while the weather is still freakishly hot. Stores try to tempt you with back-to-school specials on boots and sweaters when you know in your heart that you won’t be able to wear them without sweating until November. Being on a teacher’s schedule is delightful, but the end of summer comes much too soon every time.

So, what did we do this summer? Not too much blogging, obviously. I recently discovered the joys of unproductivity. For so much of my life, I have felt duty-bound to have something to show for my time at the end of each day. But when you spend your days taking care of your favorite (albeit exhausting) little people and your bits of down time are absorbed by talking or reading or cooking or watching movies with your dear husband, the lure of productivity fades a bit. It also helps that the baby slept in the kitchen until a few weeks ago so anything requiring a table was out of the question. And do I even need to mention the Olympics? We had the best time ever bending our tv rules to take in some daytime events and letting Camilla stay up late every evening to sit on the couch with the grown ups. There’s been a lot of running and jumping and diving ever since. Oh, and a lot of pushups. I would be in such better shape if the Olympics were held, say, every 6 months.

I have quite a bit of catching up to do, so I’m going to get started. In June, we said good-bye to our friends Justin & Allie Hughes and Clifford Humphrey.

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The Hughes’s little boy Timothy was one of Camilla’s best friends (and Joseph was on track to play with Bea), so we miss them, like, every day.

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Sniff.

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We’ve also spent an awful lot of time watching the rain.

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And when we didn’t watch it, we played in it.

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Or made our own little swimming pools and played in those.

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Camilla lucked out and got to be the “petal girl” at her godmother Molly’s wedding.

At Molly's wedding.

(There are ton more cute photos out there but I need to get them from my friend & photographer Natalie Zepp Weber.)

Speaking of Camilla, she also started drawing faces again.

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This is a portrait of Camilla, Mommy, Daddy, and Beatrice (left to right). As you can tell, she’s going through something of a Kandinsky phase.

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As for Beatrice, she recently discovered that if you bring someone a book, they will read it to you. For the whole 15 seconds that you sit there before wiggling off to get a different book.

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Godmothers are (ahem) even more patient readers than birth mothers, it seems.

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Since Monsoon Season continues, we’ve done even more playing in the rain and recently progressed to puddle-jumping.

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The youngest member of the household found this particularly thrilling.

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It was oh-so-fun until the bits of dirt in the puddles started looking tasty. Then we had to move toward the bath.

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Another bit of summer fun has been the slip & slide which was kindly donated by our neighbor. We like to invite other children and make everyone as wet and tired as possible.

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And, in one last summer huzzah, we did one of the things that we had been procrastinating about: we took everyone to The Beach.

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As suspected, The Beach is a parenting marathon. You get all the people + stuff loaded into the car, try to keep everyone happy for 30 minutes of driving, try to find a nice place to play where the shells aren’t too prickly and the bank too steep, and then spend your time alternating between taking photos and contemplating water hazards. Then, when everyone is nice and tired and sandy, you pack them back up and listen to a lot of whining about how it feels to sit on sand. Then you get home and put tired kids in the tub, after which you perform all the usual bedtime rituals. The saga continues the next day when you do an extra load of laundry and discover (preferably while running late) that all the carseats are full of sand.

So, that’s why Bea had never gotten to play at the beach before. But she and Milla loved it so much that husband and I decided it was worth it.

Barely.

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(This one is my favorite shot.)

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So, how have you been? And how was your summer?