Sunday, September 16, 2018

The End of Summer Adventures

StoneBridge School had a huge building project this summer, which Dan was partially responsible for as the new Director of Operations. He worked hard every day in the worst heat and humidity of the year, clearing out rooms and storage spaces, and overseeing contractors as they tore apart and rebuilt several areas of the school. He got more exercise over the past three months than he's had in several years!  He also learned new things about maintaining and repairing things like air conditioners and the school roof.  Despite his very busy schedule, he's really enjoyed his new job so far.

The school looked like this for most of the summer

Dan moved boxes like these over and over again as the contractors moved from one space to another.

And yet, he managed to save some energy to play at the end of his long days.

Because of the demolition and construction at school, they didn't host a summer camp this year. Instead, Emma had a babysitter two days a week named Judi who normally watches three sisters who attend Emma's school. Their family allows Judi to take on additional children to supplement her income. My parents were generous enough to watch Emma every Thursday, so we managed to scrape through without camp this summer.

Emma with Ms. Judi

Emma with the sisters she joined for the summer - from left to right, Sarah, Lily, Emma, and Mia, ready to work on an art project with Ms. Judi

Dan worked a lot of overtime this summer, and one Saturday in August, he helped manage a volunteer work day where StoneBridge parents, students, and other friends came to help prepare the building for the first day of school.

There were tons of volunteers and they accomplished a lot in one day!

While Dan was working hard, the girls and I joined Dan's brother and sister-in-law, Tim and Dawn, and their boys at the Williamsburg Christian Retreat Center for a family hike/fundraiser event.
Some of us eating lunch together

 Emma, Hallie, and their younger cousins, Aaron, Josiah, and Micah, hiked with the adults to the Learning Tree, a tree house that the kids loved climbing on. The older cousins, Benjamin and Nathan, took a longer hike with their friends.

 After our hike, it felt nice to swim in the retreat center's pool. Before we left, Emma got to sign Josiah's new cast.

We got an exciting new addition to our neighborhood this summer - Nothing Bundt Cakes opened a store near us!  They had a grand opening event where the first 50 customers got free cake every month for a year!

Mom and I sat outside the store for 2 hours that morning to win our free cakes. Time well spent, in my opinion!

We were #11 and #12 in line, and there were more than 50 people there by the time the store opened!

Speaking of Nothing Bundt Cakes, we got to enjoy one at our Jester summer birthday celebration. We celebrated Tim, Dawn, Rob, Benjamin, Nathan, my mom, Dawn's mom, and Hallie's birthday all at once. It was a little crazy, but fun.

Hallie got a kick out of us all singing "Happy Birthday to You" eight times in a row, once for each person! Ha!

She got some fun gifts that day, including an adorable Noah's Ark toy that Emma picked out for her.

Somehow Hallie's new toy was taken over by all the other cousins.

But she was busy playing harmonica with Grandma Jester

And swinging with Grandpa Jester

Our last trip of the summer was to my mom's family reunion at the Ranch House in Texas over Labor Day weekend. We haven't been able to go since Hallie was born, so this was her first visit to the Ranch House. We squeezed a lot of activity and fun, but not a lot of sleep (thanks to Hallie) into our 3 days there. It was wonderful to see all the family members who were able to come, too!

The Ranch House is on some of the prettiest land I've seen in Texas. They have so many fun things to do there. Emma and cousin Meera had fun driving the Jeep.

Hallie hitched a ride with cousin Sadie

We went fishing at the pond

The kids got their very own pool to enjoy during the heat of the day (the adults were a little bit jealous!)

Uncle Steve pushing Hallie on the baby swing. She spent half her weekend in that swing.

 They have an awesome horse-shaped tire swing for the older kids. Dan gave all the kids a turn.

Emma and Hallie were in heaven with unlimited outdoor time and so many cousins to play with! The girls gathered some large rocks and built a pretend campfire. They fished the toy fish out of the kiddie pool to cook for supper. So cute!

 This girl turned two years old the day after we arrived home from Texas. We barely made the cutoff to get one last free flight for her!

Now that school is back in session, Dan's schedule has calmed down a bit. No more overtime for him, since the contractors can't tear down any walls while the teachers and kids are in school. Hallie and I get to drop Emma off at school in the mornings. She isn't showing it here, but it's the highlight of Hallie's day to be a big girl and help Emma carry her lunchbox or water bottle into school. 

 Dan often picks the girls up after school and he took them to play at our neighborhood lake one hot evening. 
Obviously, their outing ended with the girls jumping into the lake fully-clothed. Haha! I was a little confused when they came into the house dripping wet. 

These girls keep our lives interesting and fun!

Saturday, September 8, 2018


Just like that, our sweet Hallie is TWO! 

This little girl is such a joy to us. She loves to talk, sing, make herself and others laugh, and do things independently.  She's a great sleeper and eater, and enjoys cuddling when she's sleepy.  She can be a stinker when she wants something she knows she shouldn't have. Discipline seems to roll right off her back and it sometimes takes getting in trouble two or three times before she decides to stop.  She still takes a solid nap during the day and sleeps through the night almost without fail. Her vocabulary has exploded in the past six months and we love hearing her thoughts.

The weekend before her birthday, we had a big family party to celebrate all the summer birthdays, including Hallie's. On her actual birthday, we went to an indoor bounce house and had a blast. She had the best time trying to keep up with Emma!

 They also had a toddler-specific area where she got to play with a kitchen, cars, and other baby toys.

Grandma and Grandpa Jester made the drive from Williamsburg to spend her birthday with us.

We celebrated with a brownie cake that night. Emma helped Hallie blow out the candles. And tried to "help" open and play with all Hallie's new presents, too. Heh!

In other milestone news, Emma started Kindergarten!
Meeting her awesome new teacher, Mrs. Boyce. 

 Emma was SO excited on her first day back at school! She really missed it over the summer!

It made me sad to realize that she'd be in school five days a week this year, so I took a day off from work and the two of us spent a special day together the day before Kindergarten began. 

We spent a fun morning at the beach

 Then I took her shopping for a "Scruff-a-Luv" toy that she'd been asking for. It was the perfect day.

Another huge milestone we're celebrating is Emma's recent post-operation check up!  A couple of weeks before school started, she had an ultrasound and a visit with her urologist who said that Emma's kidneys, bladder, and ureters look amazing since her emergency surgery last summer! She took Emma off her daily antibiotic and said that she doesn't think she'll need any more surgeries! We will visit the urologist again in two years as long as Emma remains healthy during that time.  We could not be more grateful for Emma's healing and such a wonderful report. It's still sinking in that her long medical journey may be over! Our God is gracious and powerful!