Friday, June 15, 2018

The End of the School Year

The end of the school year is always packed full of events.  We love transitioning to warmer weather and summer break, though!  Here are some highlights from the months of May and June.

We got to attend several birthday parties. Emma's school friend, Lalie, invited Emma to her 5th birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese's.

And Hallie's friend, Matthew (in the center, surrounded by the ladies), had his 3rd birthday party at the park. It was hot and no one was happy about taking this picture. LOL!

Matthew is our church friend, Cessia's, son. Cessia has been babysitting Hallie two days a week since our last babysitter, Jessica, got pregnant and began feeling sick all day, the poor thing. Cessia offered to help with Hallie temporarily since she was in between jobs, and she's been a blessing to us.  Hallie will start at an in-home daycare next week, just as Cessia begins her new job. God's timing is perfect!

We also attended our nephew, Micah's, 1st birthday party!  He loved the cake his mom made!

We recently attended a talent show that Micah's older brothers entered their art in. Our nephew, Nathan (on the right), also performed a drum duet and did a fantastic job!

We've had some fun playdates, too. Hallie's former babysitter, Jessica's family was moving to a new house, so we babysat her boys on moving day.

Emma's school friend, Elisha, and his mom, Jenna, invited us to join them for a scavenger hunt around downtown Norfolk.

Then we ended our outing by riding the ferry around the harbor. 

Dan and I celebrated our 15th anniversary in May, and Dan's parents were nice enough to babysit the girls all day so we could enjoy a date at Busch Gardens!

We rode so many rollercoasters!

By the evening, I couldn't stomach any more. Ugh!

 But Dan was undeterred - he rode three more on his own before we headed home.

We had a lovely Mother's Day with my mom.

The girls looking beautiful. I'm so very grateful to God for making me their mother!

We are now proud owners of a Honda Odyssey minivan!  We searched for about a month before we purchased exactly what we were looking for. It's a 2005 with less than 90,000 miles on it, and we're hoping it lasts our family for many years. 

 It has a DVD player, which the girls will love on our longer road trips. As soon as we had the van in our driveway, they wanted to climb all through it and sit and watch a movie in it. Heh!

I ran the Corporate 5k in Norfolk with my coworkers one evening after work.

And a few days later, Dan and I ran the Chick-Fil-A 5k with Dan's brother, Tim, sister-in-law, Dawn, and their sons, Benjamin and Nathan.  Chick-Fil-A provided lots of fun entertainment for the younger kids while we were running. Dan's parents stayed with them so they could pet the farm animals, jump in the bounce houses, and play the other games.

We took a family photo after the race.

Our family friend, Christina, was married during Memorial Day weekend. I love this picture of her, her groom, Matt, and Dan's parents, who have been adoptive grandparents to Christina.

 All the Jester adults at Christina's reception

And finally, it was the end of the school year at StoneBridge School. Emma's class had a spring performance, and she danced and jumped through the entire thing. That girl is not shy on stage!

Emma's wonderful K-4 teacher, Mrs. Baines, gave Emma a classroom award for "dependability."

Dan and I attended Chrysalis, which is the formal dance for StoneBridge's Juniors and Seniors.

And we all attended the high school graduation ceremony. Except Hallie wanted to talk at the top of her lungs through the service, so I took the girls outside to play during most of it and we joined everyone at the reception afterwards. 

Now that school is finished, we're looking forward to lots of family fun this summer!

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Birthday Month

April is a big birthday month in our family, so we've had lots of celebrations recently.

Dan's mom and dad both have birthdays in April. We got to take Mom Jester out for dinner in early April and attend Dad Jester's birthday party with all the family later in the month.

My dad's birthday was in mid-April, and we took him out to dinner that night to celebrate, also.

We celebrated our niece, Miriam's, 3rd birthday at the end of April. She's on the right, peeking at her cupcakes with her sister, Naomi. 

And right in the middle of the big birthday month was Emma's 5th birthday!!

The day before her birthday, she got a #4 pancake since it was her very last day to be 4 years old. Sniff, sniff.

We also surprised her with a couple of big girl gifts.

She got her first real bike, and we took a family walk so she could practice on it.  I did buy a helmet to go with it, but it was too big for her head and it flopped around so much that she was better off without it.

She also got a booster seat! 

Hallie benefitted from Emma's gifts, too, since she inherited Emma's old tricycle and car seat. 

 On her birthday morning, Emma got to open a few gifts from us and an awesome science experiment kit from Uncle Steve, Aunt Sheila, and her cousin, Meera.  She loves doing science experiments at school and often asks us to help her do them at home, so it was perfect!

Then we headed to Dan's parents' house for her birthday party with the family.  She makes the birthday cake easy on me since her very favorite dessert is brownies!

She had a great birthday celebrating with her cousins, and we spent the next day playing with all her new toys at home.

This awesome 5 year old is such a gift to us!

She's sweet and nurturing and loves taking care of people and her stuffed animal "pets."  She got a Hatchimal for her birthday, which is a mechanical stuffed animal that hatches out of its own egg and develops new skills as you play and interact with it. She absolutely loved it! She also got an awesome doctor kit for her birthday and she takes good care of our imaginary injuries.

She's so smart and loves learning new things. She's already reading simple words and books and she enjoys everything about science, nature, and history.  She's a good artist and singer, too! We're excited to see where her talents and interests lie.

She's generally obedient and considerate (with some reminders), and a few times recently when she's been quiet for a while and we check to see what she's up to, she has been cleaning up and organizing all the toys in the play room and her bedroom! Best. surprise. ever.

She's such a good big sister, and Hallie is determined to follow in her footsteps!

The top of the fridge was dirty, so we sent them up there with rags to clean it off. heh!

Trying on Dan's hats - as if they didn't already look just like Daddy

Building a Lego castle for their characters

Silly sister faces!

We are so thankful for this girl and the joy, laughter, and fun she adds to our family!

Easter Celebration and Dan's Homecoming!

While Dan was traveling through France on his school's Senior Trip, we celebrated Easter in Virginia! One of our local parks has a fantastic Easter event and egg hunt, so I took the girls there the Saturday before Easter.

We got there a few minutes before the event started, and there was already a crowd of families

They had several bounce houses, and one inflatable obstacle course where two kids could race at a time, and Emma beat the older boy she was racing!  This is her victory pose. Heh!

There was a toddler area with toys, small slides, and tunnels, which Hallie loved.

The girls had a blast at the Easter egg "hunt".  The event coordinators just dumped eggs all over the grass in a fenced off area of the park, so the kids didn't have to find the eggs at all.  Hallie picked up two and was completely satisfied with having one in each hand, but Emma grabbed as many as she could carry in her bag before all the eggs were claimed.  

Then they played a giant game of Connect Four

Until Emma realized that the game pieces made terrific bracelets!

We watched Emma play in the bounce house, then headed home for Hallie's nap time

On Easter morning, we had bunny and egg-shaped pancakes for breakfast

And the girls put on their fancy dresses for church

Hallie kept asking for a bow in her hair, and then she'd rip it out as soon as I put one in. Oh well.

Emma insisted on a glamorous pose to match her dress. Ha!

Easter picture at church

After church, we headed to Dan's parents' house to spend time with the family and have Easter dinner.

It was a full, fun house!

After dinner, we hid eggs all over the backyard, and let the younger kids find their eggs first. Each kid  was allowed to find a certain number of eggs, and then they left the rest behind for the other kids to find. Mom Jester is talking to the kids about Jesus' death and resurrection which paid the price for our sins - the source of our hope and salvation as Christians!

After the younger kids found their eggs, the older kids hunted for the harder-to-find eggs.  

A group shot of all the cousins on Easter. We had the best time together!
Top row L to R: Benjamin, Nathan, Dylan, Tucker, and Aaron
Bottom row L to R: Miriam, Naomi, Micah, Josiah, Emma, Chloe, and Hallie

 And then ... Dan came home!!!!!
His flight was delayed by a couple of hours that night, but despite his bedtime arrival, we were SO happy to have him home!

Emma celebrated Dan's homecoming by asking for a baguette, just like they eat in France.

 Hallie celebrated Dan's homecoming by falling face-first on the sidewalk.

Dan and I are taking turns giving each other a break here and there, and we're just appreciating being together as a family again. Those two weeks apart felt like forever!