Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Moving Madness (A Long and Untold Story)

I've started and stopped this post so many times in the past week it's ridiculous. Suffice it to say, we moved yesterday.

Kind of.

We moved all of our stuff into the garage of our new house and then promptly went to a hotel to sleep for the night. And we'll be back there again tonight, and the night after, and the night after that.
It's where I sit right now, listening to Brandon in the shower and the little girls watching Umi Zoomi. (Kate and Will have their own pad next door--they of course think that's pretty cool.)

Today we'll go back to our old house and wrap up a *little* more packing that the local moving guys couldn't fit in their medium size truck after two trips. (Honestly, I'm starting to wonder if I'm not a hoarder! Where did all that stuff come from???) Tomorrow my parents, sister, and her son fly into town and Brandon goes back to work. (We were supposed to be in our house yesterday, so he took Monday-Wednesday off.) So on Friday I have to figure out how to move all that stuff in the garage into the actual house now that all the moving companies are booked for the weekend. (We need some serious muscle for things like the washer and dryer.) Then on Friday evening Brandon's mom flies into town, and on Saturday? Elizabeth gets baptized. Sa-WEET!!

How often do moves go smoothly, as planned? To protect the innocent (and the not so innocent) I will refrain from sharing the details that explain why we are in this predicament in the first place because as the saying goes: It is what it is.

Did I mention I hate moving?

I'm trying so hard to keep my eye on the prize. I've decided that moving is like having a baby. First there's the idea of getting a new house (a baby), then you finally find one (conceive), then all the paperwork and planning begins (gestation period), and finally you start packing up (hard labor). Moving day is delivery day, and some people have to work much harder than others for the coveted end result. Unfortunately, I think this last baby of ours is going to take more than a few pushes. It's looking like some sort of convoluted c-section actually. (I'll stop the analogy right about there.) 

In any case, once we're all settled down with our new baby, I plan to promptly forget about all this painful labor:

(Ours is the house on the right. The people currently renting it are building the one on the left. It's not finished yet, which is only one of a variety of totally unexpected reasons why we are residents of the Holiday Inn this week when our family is flying in town for our daughter's baptism. Original move in date was the 1st of June, then the 15th, then the 30th, then the 26th, now the ??? But those back windows look at the mountains and those trees are our backyard. I can do this!!)
When Rachael woke up around 4am with growing pains and we realized we had no pain relief in the hotel and Brandon headed out for the nearest 24 hour place (so many lovely little details of these past few weeks I should have recorded, like Rachael drawing with permanent marker on the walls we've kept pristine for the last 2 years and other special things like that . . .), Elizabeth was already asking about going to the breakfast room in the morning. She fully expected there to be belgian waffles, pancakes, bacon--the works. I told her some hotels only have a cold breakfast--we didn't know--and encouraged her to just expect and look forward to Froot Loops or some other forbidden cereal. I explained the concept of low expectations = pleasant surprises and how this applies to everything in life to which Brandon responded in a sweet, sing songy voice, "Which is why we should expect that our new house is going to burn down today!"

That would be about the only thing left to go wrong. Again, must protect the innocent (and the not so innocent).  

In the end, there can be no complaints about moving into a beautiful new home in this lovely location. Maybe we'll even start celebrating our home's "delivery day" every year with a house birthday party. 

Yes. I think we'll do that. I'll let you know when she's born. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Kennecott Copper Mine

Despite the fact that my house is a raging pig sty of half packed boxes and family debris (hopefully moving next Tuesday--more on that later), I am trying to keep this month as "fun" and "summery" as possible since I need the diversion as much as anyone. We've biked to Snoasis several times after a full day of de-junking and packing, we've gone swimming a couple of times after a morning of the same, the kids have had several play dates with friends (the older two abhor that term of course--they just get together with friends), Kate spent a week at Girl's Camp with our church, Will has been on a couple of weekend campouts with the scouts already, Elizabeth did a day camp where she was thrilled to be able to do archery and canoeing, we took our little trip to the candy factory a few weeks back, and yesterday we met up with the Loosli's again to tour the Kennecott Copper Mine about 40 minutes away. (And then spent the evening . . . packing. WHY DO WE HAVE SO MUCH STUFF??? And what do you get rid of? Toys? Camping gear? Holiday decorations? Small kitchen appliances? Books? Clothes? Childhood memorabilia? Yes, a little bit of all the above has gone to a galaxy far, far away called Deseret Industries. Then there's the trash: I unearthed and threw away a 10-year-old bottle of Debrox among other things.)

The mine was pretty amazing, actually. All you really need to know is that it's the largest man made hole in the world, can be seen from space, and produces about 25% of the U.S. copper supplies. But the most interesting? Saren's great-great-grandfather discovered it! I didn't know this juicy little factoid until we were there together looking at a plaque that recognized him, but she told me she grew up hearing about her ancestor, Erastus Bingham (the mine is otherwise known as Bingham Canyon Mine) by the story her father titled, "The Reason We Aren't Billionaires." 

The story goes that Brigham Young asked Erastus to settle and farm the area, during which time he discovered the area was full of ore. He showed it to Brigham who told him to put it back into the ground--what they needed was food, not copper. Ack! As it turns out, the ore is only about 1% copper to begin with, and the time and effort to turn it into 100% copper would have been cost and time prohibitive in those days. I seriously couldn't believe the technology they use to turn that stuff into slabs of 100% copper. My little pea brain can't even begin to imagine how people figured out all those steps to begin with. 

So if you're in the area, you might want to drive over there and check it out. Especially if you have little boys who are into trucks. Holy cowzer. I really think they need to retire one of them and put it in front of the visitors center for kids to explore rather than just the big wheel that's out there. (The trucks can hold up to 325 tons of ore. They are MASSIVE!)

So without further ado, here are the few pics I took, and without my wide angle lens. (What was I THINKING not bringing my wide angle lens to photograph the largest man made hole in the WORLD??)

 See the dinky little regular sized car in between all those behemoths?
Yes, Wachael?


Three thumbs up!
There were quite a few cool exhibits in the visitors center along with an 18 minute movie about the mine (that didn't even mention poor Saren's great-great-grandpa!), but one of the only pictures I took inside was of this arial photograph of the mine to give a better scope of it's size:
Back outside:
Here's that wheel I was talking about:




Just because we're moving doesn't mean I'm not going to keep checking things off my summer bucket list!!

Friday, June 15, 2012

A Love Story: Part 4a (A Series of Fortunate But Uncomfortable Events)

Since I started writing this about a millenia ago, you might want to refresh your memory with Parts 1, 2, and 3.

Once I started seeing Reynolds Choro as a human being, things changed between us. 

While I don’t think I consciously recognized it until many months later (maybe not even until after we were married--these things were hard for me to admit to myself), our experiences together in the mission field provided a series of fortunate though uncomfortable events that probably set the stage for me to consider a romantic relationship with Reynolds Choro once we got back home. (Heaven FORBID I date someone from my mission! It was my worst nightmare. Not to mention he was REALLY not my type. At the time of our meeting, my serious--and I mean serious--ex’s were 1) at the Naval Academy and 2) getting a doctorate in Theology to later serve as a military chaplain. Yeah.)
Because it would be really, really easy to drag these stories on forever and ever in great and painful detail, I'm going to force myself to shorten them up into cute little vignettes, narratives, or whatever you want to call them. 

1) The day Reynolds Choro rescued me from a  stalker. 

You have to understand something about Japan. It’s extremely homogenous. Especially where we lived north of Tokyo. Sure, there were a few towns here and there with an American military presence, but not Sendai. It was pretty unusual to see another Anglo-Saxon gaijin, or foreigner, living in town, so being a Japanese speaking American girl could garner some attention, and not always the right kind. Such was the case when a really goobery Japanese guy started calling the sister missionary apartment and leaving strange messages, eventually becoming emboldened enough to speed by our apartment on his moped several times a day. 
Enter Reynolds Choro. 

He was the Zone Leader as you know, so he was the man to whom we should report any criminal activity such as being stalked by a love struck Nihonjin. (We were pretty irresistible in our jumpers and bike helmets.) As soon as he got the call, Reynolds Choro and his companion came over to our apartment. I think it was literally the first time I had seen an American male presence in my doorway in over a year and I remember that it felt kind of weird. Like he was some college guy coming over to hang out with me. (Shiver.) 


Just as we were debriefing them on the situation, the dude sped past on his nerdy little moped at that very moment. Reynolds and Morgan Chorotachi immediately jumped on their 10 speeds (I don't really know how many speeds they had, but it sounds equally nerdy, right?) and bolted after him, somehow getting his attention and pulling him over. They then told this guy they had some American female friends that lived in the area who were complaining about a man calling them and driving by their apartment all the time and did he know who it could be? Had he seen anyone in the area whose behavior fit that description? They wanted to know since they were REALLY unhappy about it and wanted to take care of it if you know what I mean . . . we were never bothered again.
Uncomfortable and confusing feeling #1 (along with the shiver inducing thought already mentioned above): I was a damsel in distress being rescued from a yucky stalker by my knight in white shirt and shiny name tag. 

2) The day I sweat more than humanly possible in front of Reynolds Choro and almost died of embarrassment. 
As mentioned before, we taught free weekly English classes as a service in our mission. Mostly we taught out of the church, but frequently we would start up classes in another location where there was a lot of interest. Moniwadai was a mountain top town where several of us taught a bunch of children once a week at a community center. This location was so unbelievably steep to get to that the sisters always took a bus to get there. Why just the sisters? Because for some utterly unfathomable reason, the sister missionaries had GEAR-LESS Wicked Witch of the West bikes with big baskets on the front of them even though we biked to all the same places as the elders who zipped around on their multi-gear mountain bikes. (Lucky for my last companion, Brimley Shimai, that all changed as I was on my way out and the incoming sisters got new and improved gear laden bikes. I was one of the last witches of the Sendai Mission.) 

Unfortunately, one extremely hot and humid August day (and if you have not lived in extreme humidity, it is really something special), my propensity for lateness caused us to miss the bus for Moniwadai. Not wanting to be outdone by the elders, or more accurately, wanting to show them how tough I was to be able to summit that darn mountain even without the advantage of GEARS, we headed up to Moniwadai on our bikes. Even more unfortunately (this is the unfortunate part of the fortunate events), by the time I got to the top I had a river of sweat soaking my dark denim dress from the very top of my neck ALL THE WAY TO THE BOTTOM! It seriously looked like someone had put a hose down the back of my dress and I. Was. MORTIFIED! (No female should ever sweat that much. It's just nasty.) I remember there being a big, industrial strength fan in the back of the room (since no one in ultra high tech Japan has yet discovered AIR CONDITIONING!) and trying--unsuccessfully I might add--to utilize it's strength to dry out my sopping wet dress. 


And I remember Reynolds Choro noticed. And he said something. (Whatever he said has been permanently erased from my memory due to extreme mortification.) 


And I remember that I cared

Uncomfortable and confusing feeling #2: I cared that Reynolds Choro would discover I wasn't really that irresistible girl the stalker saw, but just a stinky, sweaty undesirable. 

Out of time. Must sleep. Part 4b will include these two equally entertaining vignettes, or narratives, or whatever you want to call them:

3) The day Reynolds Choro and I sang a lame duet together. 

4) The day the Culture Festival turned into our engagement party. 
 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Thanks for the Ride


Other than the CRAZY wind storms, the morning I got a flat tire on my bike when I was 15 minutes away from home making my kids late for their piano lessons after I had to walk the 45 minutes back, the night Brandon was gone and I let the little girls sleep with me, and Rachael tried to be horizontal all night long while thrashing about and talking in her sleep which caused me to be really tired the next day, a series of disappearing acts by Rachael who for some reason suddenly thinks it's okay to just walk out the door by herself and wander around the neighborhood while I'm sweating bullets looking for her, the house being a HOT MESS because of the combined effects of kids home/packing/lazy mom, getting all the kids excited to go to Seven Peaks waterpark in Salt Lake City only to drive away from the park after seeing the amount of cars and people crawling all over that place, and getting so totally car sick on our date last night while driving through the mountains on an empty stomach as I tried to find the restaurant on google maps that I almost threw up once we got to what I'm sure was a yummy restaurant . . . it's been a really awesome week!


Highlights included lots of beautiful early morning bike rides (sometimes with Kate, sometimes with Elizabeth), one afternoon spent with a couple friends in tow at Thanksgiving Point's dinosaur museum, Kate starting work at Brandon's office again (just filing), Kate and I learning how to do a fishtail braid (SO easy! why I didn't figure this out sooner I'll never know, because there are so many great websites with video tutorials for cute hair--NOT my specialty), Elizabeth and Rachael starting gymnastics lessons and Rachael LOVING it (her first official class of any kind), finally taking a tour of Sweet's Candy Company in Salt Lake that I've been wanting to visit for over a year now (bonus: Saren and her kids met us up there), swimming at a great community pool after the Seven Peaks fiasco and googling "best public pools in Salt Lake County" (I love having the internet in the palm of my hand . . .), the fun "Girls Night" with Elizabeth and Rachael playing Wii Sports Resort, watching Enchanted, and eating homemade sugar and cinamon popcorn like my mom used to make (Kate was babysitting and Will and Brandon were at a Fathers and Sons campout for church--that was the night Rachael stabbed me in the back with her feet and elbows all night long), getting tons of packing done yesterday (the ugly stuff: kitchen office and master bath and bedroom) but recognizing that there is still SO MUCH LEFT I want to hide in a corner and not come out until June 27th (WHO bought all this stuff???), the fun date Brandon and I had last night touring the Utah Valley Parade of Homes, and THE BEST THING EVER: an announcement that Trader Joe's is coming to Salt Lake City! (I just love describing my entire week in one long run on sentence.)

Oh. Yeah. Trader Joe's freezer section here I come!

Here are the pics from Sweet's Candy Factory. Tours are free and last about 40 minutes. There are free samples to boot, but you know you're not getting out of there without spending at least 10 bucks in their candy store anyway. (And why wouldn't you?)

Rachael had a birthday party, so it was just me and three oldest (and Kate's fishtail braid, and Will's closed eyes, and the shirt Elizabeth wears like every day):

They had some pretty rigorous rules about taking off ALL jewelry, and wearing closed toed shoes and hair nets. Isaac even opted for the beard net:
We couldn't take pictures in the factory, but here are the kids against the taffy wall in the candy store afterward. They make some seriously yummy flavors (similar to gourmet jelly bean flavors) like buttered popcorn:

Will loved the tour, he's just at that stage where he wants to look cool or serious or mysterious (or something) in pictures:
Visiting while eating way too much candy:
The supermoms behind the field trip:
We just HAD to sport the hair nets:

Last but not least, I have two posts up from the last couple of weeks that you might enjoy. (Maybe I already linked to one?)

So as I start a new week, I'm going to keep in mind that more often than not my days will be filled with a combination of wonderful, frustrating, delightful, and maybe even downright awful stuff. (Almost throwing up in the restaurant last night was pretty awful, but not as awful as actually doing it.) Such is life, and the sooner we get okay with that the better. It makes me think of one of my all time favorite quotes by Jenkin Lloyd Jones:

“Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he has been robbed. The fact is that most putts don’t drop, most beef is tough, most children grow up to be just like people, most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration, and most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. Life is just like an old time rail journey ... delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders, and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.” 


Also, I've started responding to comments since I really do love to get them. Will someone tell me if they get notified about a reply? I don't even know how my own blog works . . .

And someone please shoot me if I don't post "A Love Story: Part 4" tomorrow, okay?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Extreme Randomness

Are you just LOVING summer? I am. Especially the mornings. Everyone has until 9am to do whatever they want. They can sleep, watch TV, do macrame--I don't care! As long as I don't have to get up and fix lunches and drive around town. I use that time to get myself ready for the day, and this morning that meant going for the BEST bike ride up into Alpine. (SO pretty.)

And despite what I said in my whiny Deseret News post, my kids have been really great about using the hours of 9-12 for instrument practice/workbook pages/household jobs, giving us the rest of the day to go somewhere fun, invite friends over, or whatever we feel like! (Say it like Napolean . . .) Today the three younger kids had friends over in the afternoon while Kate holed up in her bedroom with the second book in a historical fiction series (set during the Civil War) that she originally started for a school assignment. She is so crazy about it she actually spent her own money for the second book, even after we had just had a little discussion about budgeting. That's fine! She can spend her money how she likes! (Check out this website for teens.)

It was kind of a wild day between the house full of kids (I like that kind of crazy), the wind storm (I thought the Santa Ana winds in L.A. were bad--I think they are even WORSE here!) and all our lessons being smooshed into the morning. I deliberately confined all our lessons to one day so we could leave the other days of the week totally open. (Unfortunately, piano is going to be on Thursday mornings, but they are early enough we'll still have the majority of the day to do whatever we feel like! Gosh!) On top of Will's cello lesson, Kate's harp lesson, and gymnastics in the late afternoon for both little girls, Elizabeth had a 9am dental appt. So, ya, it was kind of a crazy day. Especially because we did some packing too. (Moving day is three weeks from today!!)

I've already spent about ten hours on the kitchen area and craft cupboard, and tonight everyone did two boxes before they watched a movie. (I think I'm hearing Harry Potter downstairs . . .) I like packing things slowly so I can cull, trash, and reorganize in the process. I really don't want to keep moving the same stuff around. Case in point, yesterday (this is embarrassing, but I know people like embarrassing) I threw out a package of soy flour with an expiration date of 2006 that had never even been opened! Yucka. Could have thrown that one out in our move from California, but Brandon's job here PAID for that move, so a bunch of "professionals" just showed up one day and did all the work. Not exactly helpful for the cleansing process of culling, trashing, and reorganizing like I'm trying to do this time around. (Like how I'm seeing the bright side of doing all my own packing?)

Now that I've bored you to tears with the mundane details of my every day life, here are four fun links I must share as well as a random cleansing of iphoto. (Since I'm in a cull, trash, and reorganize kind of mood.)

First, two food links. This soup that we've been eating for the last three days. Only you have to make my mom's variations because it really is way better. (The Olive Garden version is already pretty yummy, so that's saying something!) Add more potatoes (I used red), 2 or 3 cans of white cannellini beans, and baked italian meatballs instead of ground sausage.

Next food link is for THE BEST peanut butter banana smoothie ever. Secret ingredient? Oatmeal!

Then we have the latest and greatest from Steven Sharp Nelson and ThePianoGuys. (Thanks for telling me there were some new ones, Mom!)





Last but not least, this hysterical parody of The Hunger Games. (Oh, do I feel her pain . . . why do you think a made a 20 gallon vat of soup to eat all week?)



Lastly last but not least, the pics.

What Kate does with a balloon:


And a carton of eggs. Can you imagine waking up to this? Freaked. Me. Out.
Pony rides at bedtime:
Here we are on the side of the road trying to view the solar eclipse we had in the west a few weeks back with our pathetic, homemade eclipse viewer (pinhole box). How did I not hear about it soon enough to get these glasses???? The next complete solar eclipse (this last one had the "ring of fire"-- or crescent from where we were) to be seen from the western U.S. is now safely scheduled on my iphone. August 21, 2017. (Don't mess with me!) First, we drove north to try to be part of a big eclipse viewing party at an outdoor park, but then we realized the sun was going behind the clouds the more we drove north, so just as we approached the party we turned around and starting racing south again. Finally we just pulled off the side of the freeway and did our best to view it through our little homemade thingy at the right moment. (Or moments. The peak lasted about 5 minutes.) Unfortunately, like I said, our "view" was small and sad and very unsatisfying. Here we are trying. (And really, it was cool to at least try. And even to make our little viewer. And to observe how weird the light looked everywhere during the eclipse . . .) 

Am I the last person on the planet to discover the Instagram app? I used it to edit this picture of the Provo Tabernacle-turning-temple when I was in the area for a haircut:
Right after I took this picture, I noticed my old haunt, Gandolfo's, in the basement of the building where I used to work when I was prego with Kate and Brandon was still a measly undergrad. I couldn't resist ordering a "Gandy" just like I used to:
I took a whole bunch of pictures this day and sent them all to my mom via email just because I figured out how to do it. Here is yet another one. I look kind of psychotic in this picture, don't I? Part of it was my bad hair, but those lovely girls took care of that:
Taste testing Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana soup before trying my mom's version. Like I said, hers is better:
Free ice cream cones from Arctic Circle. Did you know they walk around offering free cones to kids? Do they do that everywhere or just here in Happy Valley? 
Every Sunday after church, Will comes into the womens class while we're all just standing around talking and starts playing some tunes. I think it's a portent of things to come. I can see him in the future trying to woo women with his musical abilities: 
Sunday was one of those rare, perfect days that ended with a game of Blokus on the back porch. (After my mom's version of Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana soup. Have you tried it yet?) 


This is actually a very loaded picture because I am just ADORING Rachael these days as I sense her itty bitty years of childhood (my last time around) slipping away. I'm trying to soak up every little moment, the sound of her voice--everything--as much as I can. I can't get enough of little girls playing dress up! This day they were playing "wedding". Rachael is obsessed with the idea of being a mommy, and every once in awhile she actually attaches the idea of marriage to the idea of being a mom. (Whew!) 
Is this the cutest thing you've ever seen in your LIFE?

video

I am HIGHLY motivated to do "A Love Story: Part 4" tomorrow after finding my notes about that time while dejunking my bedroom. Can I do it??? Maybe if I go to sleep right now . . .

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Last Shall Be First And The First Shall Be Last

Well, the 2011-2012 school year has come to and end and the summer of 2012 has begun!

I always feel a little nostalgic and bittersweet at these transitionary times. As the school year winds down and everyone moves from one grade to another, it becomes more apparent than ever that these kids of mine are continuing to grow up, darn it! Here's a look at some of the last events of the school year and the first days of summer.

Will's final orchestra concert. Look at little Hermione casting a spell on William with her bow!
(Incidentally, I worked as a receptionist in her grandpa's office back when I was pregnant with Kate. Can you believe Brandon and I were already cooking up our first child before he had even graduated from college? What were we thinking? She was born 3 weeks in to med school . . .) Is it just me, or is she trying to get Will's attention?



End of season soccer game:




The play Elizabeth was working on the entire school year with a little community group. Can you see her right up in front in the pink dress? There are advantages to being short:

She's quite the little actress, to be honest. (Funny how our kids can be total opposites. There is no amount of money that could get Kate on a stage for something like this.) She delivered her few lines (just to the left of the microphone) with more gusto than just about everybody. 
Again, the cute little short one on the left of the mic:
"Duh! We're vikings!" That was her favorite line:


She delivered her lines as the "Dairy Godmother" at the end-of-the-year class play with just as much enthusiasm:
One of the last early morning breakfasts before school ended:
(Elizabeth got those keychain markers she's wearing on her shorts from a friend for her birthday and wore them to school every day like they were THE BOMB!) 

Is this the cutest thing EVER? Elizabeth insisted on getting her Elizabeth some breakfast this morning:
This is from Kate. Again, SO fourteen, right? 

Okay, I get a little choked up over this, because these two have become such good buddies this last year. They even play together at recess sometimes, but Will is going to a different school next year for the gifted program, and because middle school is 3 years and high school is 3 years, these two will never go to school together again! (Seriously crying right now . . . ) Here they are riding their bikes to school together one of the last days of school:
The end of school year dance festival. It's quite the deal at my kids' school. This is Elizabeth's teacher:
 The principal is the one in the middle with the flower pants. Isn't that awesome?

Will, however, was MORTIFIED and wanted no part in the dance festival. He thought the song from the Lorax was "dumb" and didn't like the "lame" t-shirt he had to wear. (Tell us how you really feel . . .) You can just SEE the annoyance oozing from his face:

Elizabeth on the other hand . . .

We can't leave Rachael out. Here she is with her cute teacher on the last day of her first year of pre-school:
(I know, no pictures of Kate. What can I say? She pretty much skipped the entire last week of school--after getting her 3.9--and avoids anything that involves being in the spotlight. But I know I have pictures of her harp recital somewhere!)

ON TO SUMMER! 

The last day of school was only an hour and a half, so a ton of moms and their kids went to a nearby park and splash pad with picnic lunches. It was PERFECT weather and an all around great kick off for the summer: 


You know we had to get a frozen yummy something afterward, and we chose Hawaiian Ice:

You can't tell it from this picture, but Kate was beside herself with giddiness the entire day. I think she actually even squealed a few times. School really stresses her out, so she was a happy girl this day:
We brought Rachael's little buddy along with us for the day:
Always the ham:
Today was even more of a quintessential American summer day. Everyone had a friend over, and everyone was running around the neighborhood like everyone else, playing in the blow up pool in the neighbor's backyard . . .


 . . . and on the slip-n-slide across the street. They also rode their bikes, had a big water balloon fight, and ate Otter Pops. It just doesn't get much better than that when you're a kid:
This is what I did. Started packing up the kitchen and the craft closet. Not quite as fun:
Thank goodness Brandon took care of dinner:
(More quintessential Americana summer, but we ended the day Japanese by watching Kiki's Delivery Service for the first time. A new favorite!)

Happy Summer!!!

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