Sunday, August 5, 2018

Summertime Fun

Dan had a surprise beginning to his summer.  About a month before the year ended, his headmaster asked him if he would consider changing jobs and becoming the Director of Operations for the school. The former DO had left mid-year, and they were planning a large building project this summer. She needed a strong manager to take over and knew Dan would do a great job. It's been a good fit for him and he's enjoyed all that he's learned about maintaining and repairing the buildings and grounds, overseeing lunch and extended care programs and working with the business office. It's quite a change from being the Upper School Principal, but he was feeling burned out last year and ready for a change. God provided exactly the change he needed at just the right time! The school building is old and has lots of issues to address, and the building project has kept Dan working plenty of overtime this summer. His schedule should calm down once the school year begins, and we're hoping he loves his new job this school year.

After the school year ended, we kicked off our summer with a trip to Massanutten, VA in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley.  Dan's parent's rented two timeshare condos and generously shared them with all the Jester family. We were joined by Dan's sister, Robin and her family, and our girls had the best time playing together from morning until night!
Our vacation in Massanutten was during Father's Day weekend, and it was special to have extra time with Dan's dad. I am incredibly thankful for both of these godly men!

It was blazing hot, but the Massanutten resort had a couple of swimming pools for us to enjoy during the heat of the day.

There was a playground next to the main pool, which we took the kids to first thing in the morning before it got too hot. Emma, Naomi, and Miriam pretended to serve ice cream through the window. Customers paid with rock money, and they had every flavor and topping imaginable. 

 Hallie and Miriam could've stayed in the swings all day long.

A week after our vacation, I flew to San Diego on business travel.  It's only the second time I've ever had to travel for work, which I'm grateful for. One of my coworkers in San Diego left on a pre-planned international vacation the same week that a large proposal was due, and my boss needed me to be her backup while she was away. I had a busy four days, working from 7 am until 7 pm, but since my body was on Eastern Time, I woke up by 5:00 am and was able to go running along my favorite beach in the nice, cool weather before work.  (I REALLY miss running in San Diego.) I didn't have much energy after work since it felt three hours later to me. But it was very nice to see my old coworkers and a couple of friends while I was there. 

Visiting our old neighborhood in Pacific Beach

I had dinner with our good friends, Paul and Ann, and their kids, Eli and Eva

 Eva offered to take a picture with me and her parents. Heh!

I also met my former coworker, Kat, and her youngest son for a walk during lunchtime one day.

Before I flew home, I stopped by Cotixan to pick up Dan's beloved California burrito to take home to him. I think he misses these burritos more than San Diego itself. 

We were SO happy when I arrived home! I missed my sweet family!

And yet, three days after I came home, Dan and I left for our anniversary getaway trip to Orlando.  I think Dan needed a getaway after four days on his own with the girls!  Each set of parents offered to watch the girls for two days, and Dan and I had the most wonderful four days of quality time together! 
At the top of my to-do list was visiting Universal Studios and seeing the new Harry Potter section there.

Diagon Alley in Universal Studios park

Universal Studios did an amazing job recreating the streets, shops, characters, and scenes from the Harry Potter movies.  We felt like we were in the film!  We had to buy park hopper passes to see everything, since Diagon Alley was built inside Universal Studios park, and Hogsmeade was built inside Islands of Adventure park. They had an awesome 3-D adventure ride in each Harry Potter section, as well as shows, shops, and restaurants to check out. They built a Hogwarts Express train that you could ride from one park to the other. The windows in the train compartments were TV screens that played a short movie during your ride.

Standing in Hogsmeade with Hogwarts castle in the background in the Islands of Adventure park

We also spent a day at Epcot in Disney World, since it's a park we enjoy but probably won't take our kids to until they're older.  


In the meantime, our girls had a blast with their grandparents! They got to see the Jester cousins on 4th of July at Dan's parents' house

Left to right: Cousins and best friends, Miriam (in front), Naomi, Emma, and Josiah

They also visited a community festival, the library, and other fun places while we were away.

Emma and Josiah with painted faces at the festival

Firefighter Hallie playing at the library 

Once we were back in town for the rest of the summer, we made the most of our opportunities to see friends and enjoy our time off.

Our friends, Mike and Kate, and their kids, Charlotte and Cameron, visited from Colorado in July, and we had a great time catching up with them! We also got to see our mutual friend, Courtney, who lives in Virginia Beach.
(Left to right: Charlotte, Dan, Emma, me, Hallie, Cameron, Mike, Courtney, and Kate)

Emma and Hallie's friend, Kailey (bottom right) invited us to her 7th birthday pool party. 

I went to lunch with some sweet coworkers to catch up with our former coworker, Lori. 
(Left to right: Mona, Lori, me, and Denise)

I brought Hallie to work with me one afternoon to say hi to my coworkers, too. They hadn't seen her since she was a newborn. She got right to business and sat in my chair, took over my computer and phone, and made notes with my pen and paper. They were ready to hire her on the spot.

Our nephew, Josiah, suffered a terrible cut to his index finger when it got pinched in a folding lawn chair. We visited him and his parents in the hospital when he had surgery.

Emma knows all about surgeries, and Hallie is an old pro at hospital visits. Josiah's surgery went well, but he was upset that he couldn't get up and play with the girls as soon as he saw them. He's got to keep activity to a minimum until he gets his cast off, which is tough for an active little boy!

Emma had her first dentist appointment this summer, too. I chose a pediatric dentist office since I knew there was a risk that Emma would panic in the hospital-like setting and I wanted it to be as much fun as possible. She did fantastic, though! I was so proud of her! The hygienist who cleaned her teeth was amazing, and knew exactly how to ease Emma's mind about the experience. They said that Emma was one of the best first-time patients they had seen! 

We intended to go more often, but so far, we've only made it to Virginia Beach once this summer. Mainly because the weather was awful on the weekends we weren't busy. We've had a lot of heavy rainfall, wind, and extremely hot weather in Virginia this summer. We waited for a pleasant summer day before we went, and the girls had a blast! They both loved the ocean, which surprised us a little. They'd shriek with delight every time a wave hit them, even when they got a face full of saltwater. Hopefully we'll make it back soon.

Dan and Hallie buried Emma in the sand and gave her a mermaid tail.

 After an hour of playing, Hallie was done with the sand and water and just wanted a clean place to eat snacks. 

I signed both the girls up for the Summer Reading Program at our local library. They read for at least 20 minutes a day, and we go to the library for them to choose a prize each week. Emma is reading really well now! Once she mastered the basics of sounding out words in her K4 class last year, she took off on her own and continually amazes us with the words she can read!

We've had a very fun summer with these two princesses!

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!