Family Photos 2017…

In Utah, there is a photo studio called FotoFly. They are awesome. Not only do they do a fantastic job producing great shots, but they also don’t charge your a fortune for it. Plus, you get rights to all of your photos, at no extra cost. I miss FotoFly.

Photographers/Studios out here are outrageously expensive. It’s laughable. I’m not willing to spend a thousand plus for a photo session (doesn’t include prints). So we took matters into our own hands, set up the tripod, and snapped away.

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Abigail’s Surprise Party…

I wasn’t originally planning on throwing Abigail a birthday party,ย  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 wereย 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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