Abigail’s Surprise Party…

I wasn’t originally planning on throwing Abigail a birthday party,  but as we approached her it I decided I felt like the kid deserved one. Plus, it’s her last single digit, which she doesn’t care about, but I’m feeling melancholy about.

I decided to throw her a surprise party, and I was pretty excited about it. I figure this is the time to do a surprise party, because 1) she will remember it. 2) it’s still easier to do without getting caught, though I had a couple close calls.

We went with a Harry Potter theme. And thankfully, the schedules worked out perfectly with the other buds of hers I invited, even with it being somewhat short notice.

Something I am proud of is the fact that I didn’t overly stress. I just wanted it to be a special and fun experience for Abigail, and knew there was no need to go overboard, when in the end, she would be happy just to see her friends, and the kids are going to have fun just running around. So I’m giving myself a pat on the back for that.

Game day: Josh took Abigail out for some daddy-daughter time while Mailie and I finished setting up and waited for the guests to arrive. I didn’t tell Mailie about the surprise until Abigail had left that morning, just in case, so she was excited when she found out. I loved how happy she was for her.

Mailie and I waiting for guests to arrive.

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The surprise, which included some teary eyes from a pretty happy nine year old.DSC_0076

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I had fun doing decorations for this. It was all really easy and simple. Mostly printing and cutting out. Josh made cute owl balloons. And for favors we made jello-popcorn with Hogwarts colors, and each kid got to take home a wand.

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We played Quidditch. We didn’t use the official rules, and the kids just had to throw it through the hoop, but in the future I would actually really like to play the Muggle Quidditch. It sounds fun. A mix of basketball, flag-football, and dodge-ball. We also Pinned the Scar on Harry.

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This was my favorite cake I’ve done, to date. I had a lot of fun with the figures and I feel like it challenged me the most. I was really excited for her to see it.

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2017 School Photos…

We are year-round, so mostly our new year means new school photos, interviews, Father’s Blessings, and a “back to school” party. I enjoy seeing what their answers are, but looking at their year to year photos is somewhat depressing for me. I feel like they’ll be heading to college before I know it.

For the life of me I cannot find their Interviews. It’s in my paperwork somewhere, and I am sure I will find it just after I publish this post, because that’s how things work. When I do, I can update this post. Until then, here are their photos I took.

Abigail still dreams of being a Chemist. She says she wants to make medicines to help people.

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Mailie is still into Spider-Man, all things superheros, and determined to fight “bad guys/women” with all sorts of kicks, arm swinging, and “hi-ya’s”.

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Also, I want a jumpsuit like the girls. They seem incredibly comfortable, although a pain when one needs to go to the restroom.

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Philly and a video…

On our way back from NC we decided to stop and check out Philadelphia. Neither one of us had spent time there and we were tired of driving. Honestly, I expected Philly to look run down and kind of dirty. I have been told that there is plenty of that, however, work has been done to make downtown nice, and it’s paid off, in my opinion, because I thought it was awesome. There are monuments, statues, fountains, and beautiful architecture everywhere, and it’s easily walk-able.

We checked out the Franklin Museum, for free, by accident. Here’s the thing, you walk in and there are exhibits Before any kind of ticket booth. So we began to venture around. After walking through a few rooms, we finally came around a corner to where the tickets are sold. At first we thought that was for extra exhibits, since that is common in many museums. It was then that we realized this museum was, in fact, not free. Honest mistake, and after finding out we immediately left, but I don’t feel guilty about being able to see some cool things before our discovery. I’m chalking it up for some luck. Especially since the actual free Art Museum was closed, and we were bummed. We got to see a brain…and that was cool. Mailie especially loved it, though Abigail thought it was creepy.

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We also visited a beautiful library, which makes my heart flutter. I love libraries and could spend hours in them. Fun fact: Benjamin Franklin created the first Public Library. So I love him.
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Near the art museum (Rocky Steps), there was a wall of vines. The girls wanted to check behind it to see if there was another land, like in Rapunzel. No such luck.

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Some videos from NC.

North Carolina…

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When I first met Josh he had just moved back to school from the Carolina’s. He spent a few summers living in NC,SC,GA, and FL. And since then, he has always spoken about his dream to move back to NC. It was his favorite.

We’ve planned to visit many times but it was never in the cards. Until now! Moving to the east coast has opened up some doors in regards to places we can travel to and explore, so I am feeling pretty grateful for that.

I was excited to finally see this place he has raved about, and he was happy to be returning. There were a whole lot of giddy feelings from the four of us, especially to actually swim in the water. Up here, it is cold. I love hanging out at the beach and splashing around a bit, but submerging and feeling numb isn’t exactly my cup of tea. So we were forward to heading down to warmer waters and full on swimming in those waves.

This was our first day, and some of my favorite shots. We couldn’t wipe the smiles off our faces. It was pure joy to run out there and run free. The sand was the softest I’ve ever felt, and the water was perfect. We were swimming at eight in the morning, and it took no getting used to the temperature.

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We spent 95% of our time at North Topsail Beach, and out of the few beaches we visited, it was our favorite. It’s less crowded because it’s not commercialized…we aren’t the biggest fans of boardwalk beaches. So if you like boardwalks, this isn’t the place for you. But if you like a chilled out, peaceful beach, this place is awesome.

Although we never got to see a sea turtle in the wild, we did get to rescue a cute turtle from being run over in the middle of the road. We celebrated Father’s Day (a couple week’s late due to sickness) and I loved the cards the girls made. We also visited Wilmington and toured the USS NC Battleship. It was huge, hot, and stuffy, but it was still interesting and I loved the kitchen. Josh got a nice scrape on the skim board and we learned we have some practice to do with those things.

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We spent a couple of days in the Raleigh area. We wanted to check a couple suburbs out that we have had our eyes on in case we ever move there. Cary, specifically, is number one on the list, and it did not disappoint. Josh had been in the area while living there, as well. I love the feel of the town, I love that it’s close to the city, but not in the city, and I love that they have a french place I would go to every weekend, with delectable desserts. I miss Gourmandise in SLC so much, and Connecticut lacks in food, so we very much enjoyed our eating while in Carolina.
We spent some time in the city, itself, walked around the temple grounds, and went to an awesome sacrament meeting. All over NC there are these beautiful trees called Crape Myrtle I want them in my yard one day. We also discovered an awesome school store that would be a homeschoolers dream. Sadly, there is nothing like it in CT, so I guess we’ll just have to travel to NC every few months.
Josh got bitten or something on his foot. He had a little cut after a day at the beach, and a couple days later pulled something out of it, and then another day later it was swollen and had a rash, and it had traveled to his other leg. Some kind of infection. We spent a good part of that day at the doctors, and it ended with two shots, and some antibiotics. Sadly, he had to keep out of the sun due to one of the antibiotics, so that was a bummer. However, we were at the end of our trip, so he only had to miss out on one day in the water.

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Some more of my favorite photos, capturing happiness. The girls quickly got very comfortable with the waves, and loved the boogie boards. We also went to a sea turtle rescue, which was not only nice to see all the amazing things they’re doing for the sea turtles, but fun to see them in person. I hope one day to see little baby turtles venturing off to the waters.

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Sometimes, people talk up a place so much that you might feel a bit let down when you actually see it. That was not the case here. I loved it. I loved it with all of my brain.

If I could sum up this trip in two words: Pure Joy. And I can’t tell you how much that meant to all of us. This trip was therapeutic and exactly what we needed.

I’m ready to go back.

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May through June…

This is a random photos and thoughts post, as I try to catch up.

Spied the girls creating something out front. It turned out to be a house for fairies. I love just staring at them through the window as they play and imagine together.

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Josh planned a ride on the Essex Train and Ferry. It ended up being a pretty cold and dreary day, but we still had fun riding the train, seeing flocks of swans, and enjoying the scenery.

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We celebrated our eleventh anniversary/family birthday! The day starts off celebrating with the girls, and the evening is just for the two of us. We went canoeing down the Farmington River, and the weather was perfect. It was peaceful and easy going, and I loved the sound of the breeze rustling the leaves and smell of the water.

For our date night, we went to dinner, and while there, Josh received the call we had been anxiously awaiting; a job offer with a new bank, as manager. This is not the post to go into detail as to what this meant to us, but it was the best anniversary gift we could receive. We ended the evening playing mini-golf, and it felt like we were dating again. Dates are few and far between, so I get pretty giddy when they happen. It’s like a therapy session of stress relief.

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The girls love Pirates of the Caribbean, and Abigail has a thing for Jack Sparrow, which I find extremely comical. She also likes Legolas (LOTR), so I expected her to then like Will Turner (same actor), but something about Jack has caught her eye. Anyway, they were pretty excited for the fifth movie to come out.
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Just a few photos I love of my little humans.
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We joined the Y and I am so excited that we did. It’s been so much fun being able to take the girls to the gym and actually be allowed to take them into the weights section and teach them (very light) weightlifting. They’ve also been getting into rock climbing which has been enjoyable for all of us. It’s a great family activity and something we try to do as often as possible.

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This was our first day at the beach, with suits, and not just exploring. It felt so good. This is in Rhode Island.
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Abigail’s Baptism Day…

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This day will forever be one of my favorites ever lived. It was lovely, peaceful, joyous, and the spirit was felt through it all.

We woke up super excited for the big day. I loved seeing the continuous smile on her face, and she kept saying, “Can you believe I’m going to be baptized?” “I can’t believe it’s finally here!”.

She sang When I Am Baptized, and did such a wonderful job. In that moment I realized I was going to cry a lot through the next hour.

One thing I won’t ever forget is when Abigail came walking over to me after she was baptized and she began to cry as she said how happy she was and how good and clean she felt. I’m continually amazed with this girl and how strongly and sensitively she feels. It’s one of the things I love about her.

I was really taken aback by all of the support from the Ward members. We hadn’t been in the Ward very long, and honestly I expected it to pretty much just be our family members and a few others. But this was not the case, and many showed up for her special occasion, and I will never forget all the love that was given.

There was a strong feeling of the spirit throughout the whole event, and for me, it was a much-needed spiritual boost. Life had been pretty non-stop and chaotic and I really needed things to just slow down to feel peace. Abigail’s baptism did just that. It was rejuvenating, and created that wonderful spiritual high I so desired.

I’m proud of her desire to be like Jesus and her choice to be baptized. I’m simply proud of the human-being that she is; empathetic, deeply caring, a friend to everyone, unquestionable forgiving, and as sweet as they come. I love that she loves Jesus and includes Him in her portraits of our family.

This was Abigail’s invitation/announcement. She had asked me if she could make it and I didn’t even hesitate to accept that because it meant a) one less thing for me to think about. b) saves money. c) it was her baptism, not mine.

And it turned out wicked cute.

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This was the program.

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I loved having everyone in the family involved in some kind of way, including Mailie giving her sweet closing prayer. It felt like a very personal family experience, and just extra special, to me. Abigail had asked to sing, and I loved having her start things off with her sweet song.

We did a rainbow theme because Abigail loves rainbows, and they are mentioned in the song she sang. She had asked to have bread and butter afterward, and some fruit. Simple and easy! Also, perfect for “rainbow”. We just got all sorts of colored fruits and veggies, the requested bread with extra fancy Irish Butter…you know, in honor of her roots 😉 And then I made some cupcakes with a rainbow swirl.

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The handouts were little bags of Skittles with When I Am Baptized printed out. And we had cards for people to fill out a favorite scripture/testimony/memory of Abigail.

One of the things we did to help prepare Abigail was to have the Sister Missionaries visit often and give her the lessons. We love having the missionaries over, not only to teach our daughters, but to have such strong and good examples of mighty women involved in their lives. We love them.

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I love Abigail’s lacey blush colored baptism dress. I want one.

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This is how they would take a baptism photo in Peru; squatting down in front of the font.
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I tried my best to get some cute photos of Abigail at the Hartford Temple. I love the one of her and Mailie laughing. It warms my heart.

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Abigail spotted this journal two years ago at Barnes & Nobel and loved it. I purchased it without her knowing, planning to give it to her when it would be used as an actual journal, and not to sketch in. Her baptism seemed like the perfect time. She recognized it immediately and was thrilled.
She was also pretty excited to have her very own BofM with her name on the front, along with a case.
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And there we have it. My babe has been baptized. Next stop, the Temple.