Monday, July 25, 2016

Wisconsin visit. . . and randoms.

Graydon relaxing in the hammock on a lazy summer afternoon.
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After the fair, the kids and I ventured up to Wisconsin for some Benetti family time. My parents are now both officially retired, which meant that they didn't have to leave for work and could spend the whole day with us. We did so many fun activities. One of them was a tour of the Jelly Belly factory.
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Cousins! (And a Graydon photo bomb). Bella loves all of her boy cousins, but did enjoy some girl time this past week with Ava. As the girls grow, their three-year age gap becomes less and less vast. They have a fun little friendship that includes texting and FaceTime.  
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We all went bowling one day. Aaron was the big winner, but my Dad came in a close second. Ava won both games in the kids' lane.
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Always a good time at Monkey Joe's!
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Jodi bought all of the kids matching pajamas and they had some fun sleepovers and Grandma and Grandpa's house!
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I think the kids slept in different spots each night. One night, Bella and Curtis both ended up in bed with me. They did leave me a little sliver of bed on the edge.
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Park time.
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And sprinkler time. I didn't take any pics of the kids, but Crosby probably enjoyed the sprinkler the most. Jodi was even able to give him a pretty easy bath since he loved playing in the water so much.
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I was officially asked to be one of Lori's bridesmaids!
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A better view of my new wine glass.
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Curtis received more birthday gifts this week. On our last night, my sister took him to Target and he picked out this Lego kit. I don't think he actually slept with it that night, but he went right to it in the morning. Whenever Curtis gets new legos, he likes to start building them right away (which is what he did with some other kits he received earlier in the week). But since he got this one on our last night and since it was so big, I told him to wait to build it until we got home.
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He held the box for most of the 4.5 hour drive home. Within minutes of arriving, he set out to work.
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A few hours later, he was still going strong.
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By the next evening, it was finished!
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"And now it is complete." he said after adding his cat 'Kit Kat'.
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Graydon's baseball coach stopped by with his trophies. His team came in first for the season, so he got a trophy for that. And then they came in second in the tournament, which is what the second trophy is for. He loves trophies, so he was happy.
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It's that time of year again: back-to-school shopping. School starts back on August 3rd.
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Graydon and Curtis made lunch one day: carrots, pretzel fish, nilla wafers, and cheez-its.
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An evening swim with the Meades. We're spending as much time with them as we can before they move back to Wisconsin.
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Bella and Andy are off to church camp for the week! The boys and I will have to come up with our own fun while they're gone.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The County Fair

Bella was a busy girl leading up to the county fair. She spent a lot of time at the farm working with her sheep, Sofie.

This isn't the greatest photo, but here is Sofie arriving at the fair!
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One of Bella's friends from school was showing some pigs, so they took a bit of time to see each other's animals.
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We drove back and forth from the fair for several days so that Bella could care for Sofie. (Thankfully, some friends from church brought their camper to the fair and they fed Sofie in the evening so that we only had to make one trip out each day).
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This is the pen where Sofie stayed while at the fair.
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On the morning of the sheep show, Sofie got the spa treatment: a hair wash and hair cut.
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It's time for the sheep show!

Before the actually showing began, they had Lil' Wranglers where kids who were too young to actually show an animal could take one for a walk around the pen. With some assistance, both Graydon and Curtis participated.
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Bella and Sofie right before she went out to show. Bella was a bundle of nerves and excitement.
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Here she goes!
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The sheep show lasted for several hours (Bella was probably in the pen for a total of 15 minutes). Since that would be too long for the boys to sit still, Andy took them on some rides when Bella wasn't showing. It worked out great that $15 wristband was on the same day as the sheep show.
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Bella did great, especially for this being her first time showing, and especially for not having grown up on a farm. We were so proud of her and are happy that she could have this experience. She came away with a blue ribbon and a red ribbon.

After the sheep show was finished and Bella fed Sofie, she was now free to have some fun at the fair. My parents were here (I meant to get a photo of them with Bella and, in the busyness of the day, I completely forgot). She got a wristband and went on lots of rides. Our evening was cut a little short as a storm came in, but definitely we got our money's worth for the wristbands.  We left the fair and got some pizza for a late dinner and were finally home around 10:30pm.

Everyone was pretty tired from the busy day. Bella and I were at the fair for about 13 hours that day! But Graydon is the only one who fell asleep on the car ride home.
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The next day, the kids and I went up to Wisconsin with my parents for some extended family time!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Jersey 2016

We set off for New Jersey on Monday, June 27th, intending to get a hotel along the way and finish up on Tuesday morning. Around 8pm that evening, we had about two hours left to go and the kids started asking if we could just skip a hotel and go straight to Mimi Jane's house. We did. . . and that was just the beginning of our wonderful week at the shore.

Tuesday
Since we got in on Monday night, we didn't have to do any traveling on Curtis's birthday. He woke up at the shore.
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The birthday boy!
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The sky was a little overcast, so we didn't go swimming at the beach, but we did look for shells.IMG_3835

And we found a lot of them.
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Bella also found some sea glass. Later on, she looked through Mimi's collection.
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Baseball season just ended out here and they were still in the mood to play a little ball.
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Later in the day, we played a little mini golf.
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I cracked up watching Curtis chase his ball around with the club. Since he was the birthday boy and since he turned six, we didn't give him a score higher than six for each round.
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Mimi and Andy ended up tying for first place.

Our big six-year-old back at the house.
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He's ready for just about anything!
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I know I have mentioned how much Curtis is into "kitties" these days. Mimi took him to the store to pick out a cake. . . and this was what he chose.
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He liked being sung to.
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Time to make a wish!
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Then we watched his birthday slideshow.
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He couldn't have asked for a better birthday!

Wednesday
We went to a waterpark on the island called "Thundering Surf".
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This was definitely one of the kids' highlights of the trip.
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I didn't get as many photos of that since phones and waterparks don't go too well together.

After a few hours at the waterpark, we ate a late lunch at "Holiday Snack Shop". This was one of the oldest eating spots on the island. Andy loved it and continued to talk about the place for days.

Later that same afternoon, we made it to the beach.
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There was a lot of hole digging on this trip.
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Every evening, we showered up and got into our pajamas.
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And watched the beautiful sunsets over the bay.
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Many people walk to the end of the street to catch the sunset. We got to enjoy it from the front porch.
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Perfect blanket placement by Curtis. Completely unintentional. IMG_3103

Thursday
This was our most perfect beach day. The temps were in the high 70s/low 80s. The sun was hot and the breeze was refreshing. We came out in the morning at low tide.

More shell collecting.
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More hole digging.
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More swimming.
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Bella really got out there and went swimming in the waves.
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Each summer, the kids get stronger and stronger in the water, which makes the whole experience so much more relaxing for us as we can watch them from our chairs.
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Later that evening, Jane kept the kids and sent Andy and I out for dinner. I don't tend to eat a lot of seafood, but when at the shore and you can get it fresh, you give it a try. I had an arugula salad topped with artichokes, onions, and quinoa.  And I really liked it!
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Andy tried swordfish. He liked it too! Of course, he'll eat about anything.
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The view from our table.
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Another lovely sunset. The camera never really captures how pretty sunsets are; but we still try.
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Friday
The sky was a little overcast again on this day, which actually worked out as it gave us kind of a rest day. Mimi and Andy took the kids to the Haymarket - a toy store on the island. The kids were given gift certificates to spend there. Bella bought a kite, Graydon got a ball, pokemon figures, and a water-squirting camera, Curtis bought a lego set. Everyone was very happy with their purchases. Thanks Conyers family!
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Later in the day, the boys rested and watched a movie in Mimi and Bud's room.
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Meanwhile, my friend Jen drove out and we spent the day together. We still keep in touch with phone dates, but it was so nice to see her in person.
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Saturday
Another beautiful day. Andy and Bella went to the beach in the morning to fly her kite.
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All of us came out after lunch to enjoy our last beach day.
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We ordered in seafood that night. Both Graydon and Bella tried clams.
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I'm getting more brave with food, but I wasn't interested in trying those. And neither was Curtis.

We went back to the beach one last time that evening.
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The sky was so gorgeous.
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Curtis found a hole.
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Sunday came and it was time to pack up. The kids were already getting sad as our trip got closer to the end. Graydon kept saying that each day was going too fast and that he wanted us to leave him at the shore with Mimi.
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Bella commented to me into the week that she hadn't worn many of the outfits she had packed. I realized the same was true for me. We were either in swimsuits or pajamas! I think that is the sign of a very good beach vacation! We feel so blessed for our time together with Mimi and for all of the memories that we made together on this trip.

We left the shore just after lunch and made our way to Cinnaminson for the day. We had plans to meet up with some friends there.

Brooke, the pretty blonde on the right, just graduated from high school. She had just finished third grade when we moved to New Jersey. Time. . . slow down please! The kids were so excited to see these two sisters again.
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And the whole family. We enjoyed a nice visit. I felt so torn between wanting to stay longer but having to get going because we had lined up a few visits for one day.
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Andy met up with a pastor friend and the kids and I went to visit some more friends. The kids played and picked right up where we left off. We ate dinner together. It was starting to get late and our plan was to drive a couple of hours that night and finish up the rest the next day. Just before packing up our things, the girls came very sweetly asking for a sleepover. This wasn't our plan, but after deliberating and talking with our friends, we decided to stay. The kids, especially the girls, were very happy. And we got to enjoy some bonus time with good friends.
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And another beautiful sunset - this time over the Delaware River instead of the bay. There were also some fireworks going off from multiple locations across the river.
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Monday: 4th of July
Although there were a ton of fun 4th festivities in town that day, we needed to get going. But first, some fun pics with friends.
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We made it home a little after 8pm that evening and were able to catch some fireworks that our neighbors across the street set off.  A great ending to a great week.