I have not learned the art of a short recap

I didn’t mean for so much time to pass between posts but that’s how it goes every time I go home for a visit. I think I’ll have time to read and blog but in reality I do very little of either.

It was so stupidly hot most of our visit. The day we arrived was 66* but every day after was sweltering. I am not the best version of myself in the heat. I get very annoyed with life in general and have very little patience. I thought a great idea for our last day of Aunt Camp would be to visit the splash pad. Contrary to the website, it wasn’t open so we tried another park Daniel knew of. It was closed for an old car show. We tried a third park but it didn’t open for an hour and a half. All it had was a fire hydrant stuck in the middle of a cement enclosure so it wasn’t what we were looking for anyway. Morale in our car was dropping rapidly so I called a fourth park with a wading pool to find out the hours. I wasn’t about to make the girls sit through a drive to another failed park. The woman on the phone said it was open until 5:45. I found an open park! The day was saved! I was the Aunt Camp MVA (most valuable aunt). We picked up Chickfila and I got the girls enthusiasm back up. THE NEXT PARK WAS LOCKED. The sign said it didn’t open for 45 minutes. I was so close to breaking in. I didn’t travel for two hours to be defeated. Two lifeguards showed up and we thought they’d let us in early but no such luck. They sat on their chairs for half an hour while 17 children waited in the grass. They said no one could swim, or stick toes in, until noon because of insurance. Insurance shimnsurance. It was 98* with high humidity. Children were falling apart. A certain mother might have been on the brink of organizing a revolt against the wading pool. Like I said, I’m not my best self in the heat. Once we all got a chance to cool off and have some fun we all decided it was a good trip after all.


Halfway through Aunt Camp, Ivy started sitting on her potty every time AB sat on hers. She’d announce that she peed, Annabelle would get off her toilet to check, then tell Ivy to sit back down and try again. They looked like Jacks in the box, hopping up and down. At one point she was laying on the ground in front of Ivy’s potty out by the pool encouraging her to keep trying. “Just keep trying, Baby Ivy! Keep trying and you’ll get better!” This pattern repeated for several visits to the bathroom and by the end of our visit Ivy was saying when she needed the potty and using it almost full time. Erika did nothing but buy the potty and monitor handwashing.
It took 10 months to potty train Annabelle. She didn’t get it until four months ago. Apparently she’s now enough of an expert to train Ivy. I’m thinking of making this lucrative and starting AB’s Potty Encouragement, LLC.

Tuesday night we went to fireworks and Wednesday we went to the parade. We almost didn’t go to the parade because of the heat but I’m so glad we did. There’s so much change going on so it was nice to do something I did as a child. Annabelle loved it. She danced and clapped and collected candy. She was so ladylike about picking the candy. She’d run over to the pile, inspect every piece, then pick one and bring it back to. She never took more than one because she wanted to share with the others.

Baby Ivy is my favorite.
The photographer for the local paper was fascinated with her. I can’t say I blame him. She did have the cutest outfit.

It was with great sadness that we left yesterday. The visits always go by so fast! When we got to the airport the man behind the counter said, “You know the flight is delayed? You got the email?” If I got the email and knew it was delayed I would not have shown up five hours early. Mom and Elizabeth hadn’t left the airport so we reconvened and came up with a plan that didn’t involve me entertaining Sesame in an airport for half the day. Suddenly the handle on the collapsible wagon we travel with broke. It was at this point that Annabelle bit my arm. She NEVER bites. I know she was overtired but it was not acceptable. I was already over the day and it wasn’t even noon. Elizabeth said she’d find a way to fix the wagon and she did. We drove to a mechanic, she took the broken wagon in and reappeared with it completely fixed. I told her I wish I had the courage to waltz in there for help. I’ve been known to leave the grocery store without an ingredient instead of asking for help. She said she did it so she’d make it to the blog. LET’S ALL RECOGNIZE ELIZABETH.
We finally got on the plane at the time it was originally scheduled to land in Georgia. We had our tray tables up and seatbelts securely fastened when the captain announced that Air Force One was in the area and all other air travel in the area was prohibited. We sat on the runway for an hour. 
The pilot tried to lighten the mood by telling us it was 6* cooler in Atlanta. What a blessing. While we sat, I realized my fitbit was counting steps even though I wasn’t walking. Donald may have delayed my flight but I did earn 347 steps while sitting still. Last time we flew we couldn’t land because DT was in the area and we hit turbulence which made AB throw up. I’ll take free steps anyday.

family affair

Our favorite little girl came to visit over the weekend.

Ivy Rose is in the house.
She came with her parents but they didn’t come running to hug us at the airport. 

They were only here for two and a half days but we tried to fit everything in. I gave them an award-winning tour of our new town. It takes less than three minutes to drive through the center of town (even if you get a red light) so it was a very short tour. We visited a new coffee shop and were flabbergasted that the people making the coffee didn’t know how to make ice coffee. We had to tell them that regular ice coffee is not the same as a latte. “You want us to pour coffee from the refrigerator over ice?” Yes. That’s literally all there is to it. We went back the next day and ordered one drink with whipped cream and one without. The lady at the drive-through window made sure she pointed out which had whipped cream and which didn’t. HOW WOULD WE HAVE KNOWN WITHOUT HER.

I expect this is what it will look like when I have another child.
Neither child is looking at the camera and I look exhausted.
Except I’m already exhausted so only half of it will be new.

We visited two playgrounds and the zoo. It was so hot on Friday that I got sunburned after an hour at the playground. I love sunshine but I’m VERY concerned about what temperature it will be in by April when it’s already over 80* in February.

Erika helped me hang up outdoor lights on my front deck. I have visions of a Pinterest worthy deck with a rug, flower pots and maybe a fountain. Currently, it has a kids trampoline, pink Frozen pool, and black and white teepee. It’s not exactly an outdoor oasis but the lights were supposed to kick it up a notch. We came home from a pizza dinner at Mellow Mushroom to my lights twinkling in the darkness. The sky was clear and we looked at the constellations. The girls ran around playing and giggling. It was lovely. I had carefully inspected the area for frogs and having seen only a small one that hopped away I thought we were in the clear. I sat on the swing and enjoyed chatting with my family. For whatever reason, I decided to check the wall behind me. THERE WERE MORE THAN  TWENTY FROGS. They were everywhere. I’m not embarrassed to say I screamed and yelled and jumped. I swear I could feel them crawling on my skin. I have no choice but to burn the place down. So much for my outdoor oasis. 

Aside from the frogs we had the best visit. We live 7 million miles from home and I’ve missed everyone so much. Daniel and Erika came right at the knick of time to boost morale. 


Today is Grandma’s 90th birthday.
She is one of my absolute favorite people. She’s hilarious and every time we’re together we laugh until we cry. Being 90 doesn’t stop her from always wearing her pretty jewelry and reapplying her favorite lipstick. She loves to shop at the drugstore, specifically RiteAid, and has gone several times a week for as long as I can remember. She can get her milk, sugar, butter and coffee syrup all in one place so she really doesn’t need to shop anywhere else. She taught me to play rummy and make a five-course Italian Christmas dinner. Other than Donald Trump I don’t think I’ve heard her say a mean word about anyone. She’s taught all her children and grandchildren how to play rummy and she and I will play for hours.
We had her party yesterday. She wasn’t supposed to know how much of the family would be there but when we pulled up (I was the official chauffer) she knew something was up because there were 10 cars in front of Carol’s house. We went inside and Carol said the cars were there because the neighbors were having a party and Grandma bought it. She was helping herself to some appetizers when Carol told her there was a book in the living room she wanted her to see. The “book” was the family in hiding. Everyone lives nearby but it’s hard to get us all in the same place at the same time. Grandma was delighted to have almost all her children/grandchild/great grandchildren there. She couldn’t stop smiling.
I labored for many hours over this photo decoration in chronological order. Multiple people said the 9 looked like a P. Fine art should be admired, not criticiz.
Every birthday we do a horrible rendition of Happy Birthday. People sign off key and at different tempos on purpose. It is truly awful but it’s what we do so we do it badly with all our hearts. We sang it once but Grandma said it was too normal so she insisted we sing it again. It might have been our worst one yet. As always, Annabelle was in the thick of the birthday action.

We each told Carol four things we love about Grandma and she had it made into a print from Etsy. It was so sweet to hear what stands out to everyone about the birthday girl. 

I hope I can be half the person (and rummy player) Grandma is.

the maine event

We just returned from a week in Maine. Erika and I decided Aunt Camp has been so successful we should take the show on the road. Our husbands/the uncles came along to experience the fun of Aunt Camp and be our built in babysitters. I enjoy when the adult/child ratio is so high.

We rented an Airbnb house and it was beautiful. We all had our own rooms and a nice living room and yard with a hammock to share. We could see the beach from the front patio. We all get along so well and had so much fun. The girls favorite part of the house was the washing machine and dryer. They were new and had bright lights and played little songs at the end of the cycle. More than once they both sat on my lap in front of the washing machine and watched it spin through the window in the door. We could have stayed home and watched our own washing machine for free.

Our first night there we went to Erika’s friends for supper. Their home is in the middle of the woods and it looks like the trees will take over the house any day now. They’re very environmentally conscious and the husband works at a wildlife refuge. Their last name is Feurt but Annabelle misunderstood and kept calling him “Mr. Spork.” It makes me laugh every time. This picture cracks me up because they have almost identical hair. 

It’s so fun to see AB and Ivy begin to play together. At Aunt Camp last year Ivy couldn’t even roll over. This year she was trying to help Annabelle build her ”play area for the people with a beach and a house and a turtle and a castle.” Ivy didn’t understand AB’s vision but it’s the thought that counts.    
Erika and I spent two afternoons exploring the little shops in Kennebunkport. She and I always laugh so much when we’re together. I never wanted an older sister because I was THE older sister, but now that she’s in my life I have to say I enjoy it. We’re good shopping companions because we can help the other justify almost any purchase.
We’re not biologically related but we’ve been cursed blessed with the same square chin.  
We played in the sand and collected too many rocks and shells. Annabelle LOVES them both and we brought home a large box of rocks for her rock garden out back.

Too bad Annabelle and Ivy weren’t more relaxed. It’s a tough life, being pulled in a wagon while you eat goldfish.

On our first full day we went for a walk at Mr. Spork’s wildlife refuge. It POURED the entire time but we walked the whole trail anyway. We were soaked by end. In such muddy and wet conditions we decided it would be a good time to swing by the Bush family summer home. It was nearly lunchtime and I assumed they’d know a fan when they saw one and have us in to eat. Sadly they must have missed the fact that I was standing outside their door because I wasn’t invited in. There are multiple homes on their compound so I don’t think my plans for a sleepover should cause any trouble. 

One morning we put a sequinned pillow in the window to catch the sun, turned on some tunes and had a disco party. Erika didn’t join us but Daniel and Ivy did. Ivy dances much like her father. There’s very little movement in her moves.  

This is what it will look like if I ever have another girl. Matching outfits for everyone!
The original Aunt Camp crew.
We were so so sad to leave. I could have stayed there another week or the rest of my life. I was hoping our maid our be home to help unpack our bags and wash the clothes but she was nowhere to be seen. Good help is so hard to keep! Annabelle helped out by “washing” the windows with the broom while I unpacked. I file that squarely in the “making more work for me” category but she thought she was helping.  
I’m already counting down the weeks until next years vacation Aunt Camp vacation.

aunt camp 2017

Aunt Camp 2016 was such a success we immediately knew it would be an annual event. We arrived at Ivy’s house last Wednesday to start the festivities. Annabelle likes to play a new car game of counting the house/buildings/trees/cars we drive by. She doesn’t enjoy playing alone, will only count to 19 before starting at 1 again and likes to change the rules so it’s not my favorite game. It was a long hour drive from Grammy’s to Ivy’s house.
Look at Ivy’s adorable little face. If you don’t think she’s cute we can’t be friends.
Each day of Aunt Camp started off with a trip to the playground. Our goal was to tire the girls out and make them take good naps. I think it tired out Erika and I more than the girls. One afternoon we went to a science and nature museum called the Ecotarium. Annabelle insisted it was called “da EcoAquarium.” They had a huge outdoor play area that was perfect for kids Annabelle’s age. There was dirt, sand, rocks, water and musical instruments which is all Annabelle needs to be happy. Thankfully she can’t read so she missed the sign saying it was mud activity day.
“Can you take my pit-chur?” 
At night the camp counselors sat on the couch to recover from the days activities. We watched shows and talked for hours. We all get along so well and enjoy spending time together. It’s exactly what I pictured life with a sister in law and niece would be.
We saw adorable patriotic dresses at Walmart so we bought them for the girls. Erika asked if she thought Ivy needed a bow. AS IF I WOULD SAY NO. We had big plans of a cousins photo shoot but didn’t plan the timing well. Ivy was awake past naptime and Annabelle was acting like a typical three year old. It did not go smoothly.
Multiple adults were needed.

We finally got these winning pictures. 

I told AB that when Ivy is older they can be best friends. She said, “She’s already my best friend.” 


Monday we went to the zoo with Mom, Grandma and Joanna. I liked that the adult/child ration was so high. Every so often when we’re out with other adults I forget I’m the one who’s supposed to know where Annabelle is at all times. (Don’t act like you’ve never momentarily lost your child. I know I’m not the only one.) One of these days I’ll remember I’m the parent in our relationship.

Two years ago we visit this zoo and fed the goats. Annabelle and her superb memory have never forgotten. She LOVES goats and seeing her with them is like watching long lost loved ones be reunited.
Everyone’s first thought upon seeing the goats was “look how pregnant they are! It must be twins.” They had huge stomachs and waddled around like a 10 month pregnant woman. There was a sign across from the pen that said “NO, the goats are NOT pregnant.” They can hold between 3-6 gallons of food in the stomachs which leads to their bloated look. For the one millionth time I’m glad I’m not a goat.

This sign made me roll my eyes. “Don’t climb on the zoo fence. If you fall, animals could eat you and that would make them sick.” I’m more concerned about not being eaten FOR MY SAKE not the animals, but that’s just me.

 Four generations of meerkats.

Long arms and round ears run in the family.