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!