What I’m Into, July 2014

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It’s the end of July… what a busy month for me: we moved and my baby turned one!  (I’ll have a birthday party post soon, I promise.)  Just to lighten things up around here, I thought I’d join in on the What I’m Into fun.  To see other posts like this, check out Leigh Kramer’s What I’m Into link-up.

Wearing…my summer capsule wardrobe, inspired by the blogs Unfancy and Kapachino.  I created it almost exclusively out of clothes I already owned, and it is making it exceedingly clear to me that I need to go shopping!  But I’m trying to be good and hold out until fall.  (That’s part of the capsule wardrobe concept — you only shop 4 times a year.)  I really want to blog about it, because there isn’t a lot out there about capsule wardrobes for people who work in a business environment, but I haven’t quite figured out how to photograph everything.  I’ll work on it.

ListeningShazammed recently: Come Get It Bae, Pharrell Williams, I’m Ready, AJR. Favorite new podcast: Marriage Start-up.  Favorite radio show: Old School Lunch Hour…90′s rap and hip hop, need I say more?

Watching…When do people find time to watch TV?  Seriously… I’m not one of those no-TV snobs, I actually like TV!  I miss it.  Other than my beloved SYTYCD, I haven’t watched anything in weeks.  I never even finished Season 2 of Orange is the New Black!

Reading…Shotgun Lovesongs by Nikolas Butler and Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner.  Everyone raves about Crossing to Safety, but can I admit that I’m enjoying the other book more?  It just has a more compelling storyline.

Fitness-ing…I started Mutu recently to work on my diastasis recti (ab separation) problem.  It’s slow going, but I think it is helping.  I’ve also been taking advantage of the beautifully cool weather we’ve been having, and running a couple days a week on my lunch break.

Thankful for…my sister, who I can call or text about anything from figuring out what to make for dinner to major life-stress-freakouts.  She is awesome, and always calms me down with some practical and funny advice.

Planning…to move more of our stuff and get more permanently situated in our new home very soon, since my son will be starting preschool there in mid-August.

Cooking…lots of food on the grill, still loving my freezer meals, and these apple muffins!

Drinking…Mount Hagen Organic Cafe instant coffee.  Yes, I said instant.  Because of the two-house living situation that my husband and I are in right now, there are a lot of mornings when I’m the only coffee drinker in the house and it just seems like a waste to make a whole pot of coffee.  This stuff is amazingly good for instant coffee.  And it’s awesome for iced coffee, too.  I also started brewing kombucha again.  I need to get some juice to flavor it — it’s pretty strong straight up!

Looking forward to…working from home a couple of days a week starting very soon!  I think I’ll be super productive without so many interruptions at the office, and it will be awesome not to have to commute every single day.

What have you been into lately?

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Party planning

Photo Credit: Aih. via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Aih. via Compfight cc

So… my baby’s turning ONE next weekend. How in the heck did that happen? While I’m over here pondering the existential nature of time and my place in the universe, do you guys mind planning a birthday party for me? I seriously lack the party planning gene.  We’ve got both sets of grandparents coming in as well as 1-3 aunts/uncles and 2-5 cousins (all 7 and under).  Here’s what I think I need:

  • Cake (big brother says Sam wants a blueberry cake)
  • Decorations (I have a leftover “Happy birthday” banner from J’s party, some paper lanterns, and a fabric scrap garland – that’s festive, right?)
  • Lunch (preferably something easy to make for a crowd)
  • Birthday activity – I’m thinking I may just gather up all our outdoor toys and let the bigger kids loose outdoors… or maybe go to the pool?
  • Something else?  What am I forgetting?  (oh yeah… we’re also baptizing Sam this weekend.  He probably needs something to wear other than his standard Carter’s romper.  Argh.)

Have you hosted a party recently where you fed a crowd some delicious food?  Do you make a killer blueberry cake?  Hit me up with recipes, party planning ideas, etc.  (I refuse to look at Pinterest at this point — it will give me a panic attack.)

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Gettin’ crafty with DIY Mama #askawayfriday

Two blog posts in a single week?  Yes, it’s really true!  It’s Friday so that can only mean … it’s Ask Away Friday time!  This week I traded questions with Shelly from DIY Mama — she has a really cute blog where she chronicles life as a new mom and talk about all the DIY projects she tries… the good, the bad and the ugly.  I love it when people are honest about how DIY projects really go!  Check out her family command center (and learn that magnetic paint is no bueno).
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Here are Shelly’s questions for me:
1.  Loving that you do Project Life! Did your parents scrapbook or did you just want to have the memories for yourself and your kids on your own?
Confession time… I have majorly been slacking on my scrapbooking!  Ever since the great Snapfish debacle earlier this year, I haven’t printed a single picture, much less organized them in any way.  I will catch up though!!!
My parents were not scrapbookers, although I do remember them lugging around a huge VHS recorder to dance recitals and school programs, so the urge to record memories was definitely there.  (Let’s just hope those tapes never see the light of day!)
2. What is your favorite way to unwind after a crazy day (pretending your boys are already in bed.) ;)
Pretending indeed!  I swear, if I have both kids in bed before 9pm I consider it a MAJOR victory.  Usually it’s closer to 10.  Ugh.  But let’s just say some miracle happens and I actually get some free time in the evening… I’m pretty boring – I like to read, watch TV with my husband and have a glass of wine, or just go to sleep early!
3. We just drove through the Show Me State! We stayed a few days in St. Louis for the 4th to see the festival, fireworks and City Museum! What is your all time favorite thing to do in your state?
St. Louis is a really fun city, especially with kids.  I think my favorite thing to do in Missouri is to go hiking in our state parks — some of my favorites are Roaring River, Elephant Rocks, and Taum Sauk.
4. What is the wackiest belief you had as a child? (Borrowed from Tamara from Tamara Like Camera)
I had a bizarre fear that pirates were going to come into my bedroom at night and stab me in the ear… so clearly the best way to protect myself was to sleep with a lot of covers over my head.  (That way the knife would only go through the blankets and miss my head?!)
5. Where did your love of sewing and knitting come from? What is your favorite creation?
I learned to sew and knit from my mom.  I didn’t really love it as a kid, though.  I think the reason I like it now is because it’s such a contrast from my job as a lawyer – I get to work with my hands and a project actually has a finite beginning, middle and END.
My favorite creation(s) are the hats I’ve knit for my husband.  He shaves his head so when it’s cold outside he wears them ALL THE TIME.  There is nothing better for a knitter than seeing our work actually get used to keep someone warm.
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6. If there were 5 extra hours in the day, what would you spend them doing?
Oh, wouldn’t that be awesome?  I’d spend them doing the things I love that I feel like I hardly ever have time for anymore — reading, knitting, cooking, running, and sleeping.
7. What was the last book you read and last movie you saw in theaters? Do you recommend?
I *just* talked about the last book I read in my last post, but Hmm… the last movie?  I almost never go to the movies so this is a tough one.  Maybe Silver Linings Playbook?  It’s good!  I hear the book is good too, and pretty different from the movie, but I haven’t read it yet.
8. Choose ANY photo that you’ve not shared on your blog and tell the story behind it.
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This photo was taken in May 2010, and I just love it because three of my best friends and I had all just had babies within 3 months of each other.  All these little babies are 4 now, and they are just so much fun.  It has been so great to figure out this whole parenting thing right alongside such good friends.  (Three of us had a second round of babies about a year ago, too.  You’ve been warned — don’t drink the water!)
9. What is your favorite thing to do with your three boys (husband is included!)
Despite the hype, babies aren’t really all that exciting, so our family activities these days are pretty tame.  I’d say our favorite thing to do is take a walk around our neighborhood (we have a pond a few streets over, so my 4 yr old like to go check out the ducks) or go hiking at the nature center near our house.
10. What is something you’re proud of before your life as a wife and mom?
I am proud that I was brave enough to study abroad in Spain for a whole year.  I took college classes in Spanish (not Spanish classes — stuff like Econ and Marketing!), traveled a TON while I was there, learned so much about myself, and became a more independent person.

~~~

Thanks for the great questions, Shelly!  If you want to hear more about her, including why she has a photo of herself holding a Jimmy John’s sandwich while wearing a wedding dress, click over and check out her blog!

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Last but not Least

Trying to get into the habit of blogging again after taking a break is hard!  I’m taking the easy way out by stealing this meme from my blog friend Stacey.

The last…

book I read: The Lost Husband, a cute but forgettable novel about a widowed woman who moves out to rural Texas with her two kids to start over in life.  Before that, I read What Alice Forgot, which is really good – The main character hits her head at the gym and wakes up with complete amnesia about the past ten years of her life.  She doesn’t remember her kids, or why she’s getting divorced…it reads like chick lit but gets into some deep stuff about relationships, friendship, etc.

place I visited: not counting the new house, which still feels like visiting but I guess is home now, the last place I visited was my aunt and uncle’s house in Mt. Vernon, MO for a 4th of July party.  They live right on the edge of the country and it’s so peaceful out there — I just love it.  Plus I got to see my grandparents, and that’s always a good thing.

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TV show I watched: So You Think You can Dance.  I love that show so much, but the 2 hour episodes are killing me!  I have to break it up over several days just to watch a single episode.  Do you have any favorites yet?  I can’t remember names, but I love the tapper girl.

meal I prepared: dinner last night — broiled salmon, the last of the green beans from my tiny garden, and cous cous.

person I called: my husband.  I can’t remember exactly what we talked about, but I’d put money on it being something related to about moving

person on my camera: my son Josiah playing in the sprinker!  Wanna see?

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thing I Googled: how to make cous cous.

Now it’s your turn — what’s the last song you listened to?

 

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I’m not dead yet!

So… what’s up? I’ve been MIA around here and the blog world in general lately. I know everyone is busy these days, but seriously, this is crazy:

  • My husband started his new job two weeks ago (and the new church is awesome.)
  • Two weeks ago, I was asked to handle legal work for a different department at work, and the attorney who’s been doing it for 25 years would train me.  For two weeks.  Until she left to take another job.  Awesome, but argh so much to learn in a short amount of time!
  • My kids were sick all last week. (Unknown viral contagion, I hate you.) (Also, do you see how that overlaps with my two weeks of training on my new job? Yeah…)
  • We moved half our stuff to the parsonage this Monday, but it’s still not 100% ready for us to move in, so my husband’s been commuting 2 hours a day.
  • I think I got my first-ever migraine this week (or maybe it was just a *really* bad headache — either way, pretty miserable) from clenching/grinding my teeth. Could it be stress, you think?

So, that’s what’s up with me!  My parents are coming to visit this weekend, so I’m hoping to get babied a bit by my momma, and hopefully they’ll help us get unpacked and settled into the parsonage.

I hope you have a great weekend!  What’s your favorite Monty Python quote?

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Sam at 11 months

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At 11 months, Sam…

…is still not crawling. #lazybabylazybaby  He is starting to scoot backwards, although he’s really trying to go forward and it makes him pretty mad when he doesn’t end up where he wants to go.

…LOVES real food.  He chows down on tiny pieces of whatever we’re eating for meals.  No more baby food!  (PS – have you heard that all those rules about withholding certain foods due to allergy risks were wrong, and now babies can have everything except honey?  Woo hoo!  It’s so nice just to cook ONE MEAL for everyone.)

Gotta instagram those strawberries!

Gotta instagram those strawberries!  (or chew on Grandma’s phone…)

…(knock on wood) is actually starting to go to bed at the reasonable hour of 8:30-ish (instead of 10-11pm, which was killing me).  It’s great except I haven’t quite figured out how it works with bedtime stories for my older son at the exact same time.  Maybe let him stay up a bit later while I put the baby to bed?

…likes to play with board books (it’s so cute to watch him flip the pages like he’s reading) and disassemble things – we have a stacking toy that he just loves to destroy. He also loves the music table that I got out of the attic.

…is overly confident in his standing skills — if I help him stand up next to something, he just lets go as if he can stand, no problem.  Needless to say, I stay close by when he’s practicing his standing skills!

…is still just a sweet, easy going little guy. I got soooo lucky. #magicalunicornbaby

…is turning ONE next month… What?! I’m planning a little family birthday party and Josiah tells me Sam would like a blueberry cake, so I guess I’ll figure that out — it sounds tasty!

{Life update}
We’re headed to my family reunion this weekend (yay!) and this Sunday is our first Sunday at the new church. We move half our stuff to the parsonage in about a week. So many changes all at once!  I’m feeling pretty good about it right now, but a lot can happen in a short time, so I’d really apprecIate any prayers, good vibes, or happy thoughts you could send our way.  Thank you!  It means more than you know.

What’s going on with you these days?  What’s your birthday cake of choice?

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Picture books for picky eaters

picture books for picky eaters

My reading so far this summer has been a little disappointing, but thanks to our local library’s summer reading program, my 4-year-old son has been really excited to visit the library and pick out new books.  Normally he gravitates towards books that I don’t always enjoy reading (another early reader about Superman, really?) but he found some great ones recently — and several that were on the theme of food and picky eaters.  I know that’s a common issue for kids this age, and these books have a really fun take on the topic.

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Put it on the list! by Kristen Darbyshire.  A funny picture book about what happens when you run out of essentials like milk, cheese and syrup. #pancakeswithketchup

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How Martha Saved Her Parents from Green Beans by David LaRochelle. Would Martha still refuse to eat her green beans, even if it were the only way to save her parents from the Mean Green Bean kidnappers? I loved the silly concept and drawings in this book. #mustachioedgreenbeans

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A Few Bites by Cybèle Young.  In this elaborately illustrated book, an older sister spins fanciful tales of dinosaur rampages fueled by broccoli and aliens fueling up with orange power sticks (carrots) to convince her little brother to eat his meal. #evensistersgetfrustratedwithpickyeaters

If you’re looking for more great book recommendations for the 3-6 yr old crowd, check out The Deliberate Reader’s Early Readers category.  I regularly check out library books for my son based her her recommendations, and she hasn’t steered us wrong yet.

Isn’t the summer reading program the best? What are you (or your kids) reading this summer?
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Dodging tornadoes, eating brisket, and a visit from the magic babysitter fairy #askawayfriday

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It’s time for more gratuitous oversharing with Ask Away Friday.  This week the questions come from Beth of Structure in an Unstructured Life.  We met via the AAF facebook group, which is a great place to hang out if you’re looking for someone to trade questions with, or just to meet some really friendly bloggers.


Here are Beth’s questions for me!
1. Your boys are 1 and 4 – what are your favorite and least favorite things about these ages?

I love to hear all the funny things that come out of my 4 year old’s mouth! For example…Tonight he wanted to make sure I locked the car doors.  I told him I would close the garage door so I didn’t need to lock the doors, but he said “criminals — probably bears — would open the garage door and take the car, but the Hulk would make them dead.”  (Thank goodness for Hulk, right?)  My least favorite thing has to be the tantrums, irrational crying, and total power struggles over eating and using the toilet.

My 10 month old is really a sweetie – he’s about as near to a magical unicorn baby as I’ve ever known.  I love when he “plays” with his brother (they will be wrestling as soon as he’s a bit more mobile, I’m sure of it) and my least favorite would be those late night feedings!

2. I loved that you included in your post about your summer bucket list to plan for fun. I completely agree that is necessary to ensure the fun really happens! What item on your summer bucket list are you most excited to make happen and how are you planning for it?
For myself, I am excited to go kayaking (I’ve never been before, and my friend just bought two kayaks, so this is happening!) and for my family, I am excited about all the 4th of July activities — parade, fireworks, etc.  It’s one of my favorite holidays.  (I’ll probably get my cobbler and homemade ice cream fix in over the 4th of July holiday, too)
3. I noticed you are a monthly goal setter - me too! I find I am always really motivated at the beginning of the month, when I set my goals, but if I don’t have a way in place to keep them at the front of my mind, they slip by the wayside. How do you keep on track with your goals?
That’s a funny question, because I do the same thing.  Honestly, I usually work on them right around the time when I’m drafting my goals post at the beginning of the month, then forget about them until I start working on my goals recap at the beginning of the next month.  That usually gets me in gear to at least try to accomplish something before I have to report back on the blog!
(I’ve been working on getting all my to-do lists and projects into one place… it’s a work in progress.  But I should probably add my monthly goals to that list too!)
4. I’ve read you’re a runner. My son and I are in the middle of a couch to 5K program to prep for a local 5K run in August. We’ve hit the really tough 4-5 week mark. What advice can you give me to help me stick with it and stay motivated?
Oh, that IS a tough week.  I’ve actually coached new runner friends through that week of the program and I think the most important thing is to just keep moving forward.  If you have to take slightly more walk breaks, it really won’t hurt your progress much at all.  Also, if you feel like you’re not ready to move forward to the next week, drop back a couple of weeks and you will be so impressed with the progress you made since you went through that week the first time.  That should help with your motivation!  (Great idea training with your son!  Runnings buddies are the best.
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5. What’s your favorite summer meal?
Smoked brisket, cucumber salad, baked beans, potato salad (the kind with lots of mustard, pickles, and hard boiled eggs) and watermelon.
6. What’s on your summer reading list?
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I tend to read whatever comes off my hold list at the library first, but here are some books that I keep hearing about that I’d like to read soon:

  • The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
  • Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
  • Mastering the Art of French Eating by Ann Mah
  • What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty 
  • The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Flavia de Luce #1) by Alan Bradley

7. We are both Midwesterners. What’s you favorite thing about living between the coasts?

The tornados? Definitely not.  I think it’s the friendly people, the barbeque (Kansas City barbeque forever!!!), and the four seasons.  I complain when it gets really hot in the summer and really cold in the winter, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.  You can really savor the good parts about a season knowing that they won’t be around forever.

8. If you had to choose one cause you are most passionate about, what would it be?

Teaching people how to cook. Nothing fancy, just basic, healthy food. It’s becoming a lost art, and it’s something that I really enjoy.  (It’s about time for another Cooking School post, isn’t it?  What should I write about?  What stumps you when it comes to cooking, meal planning, etc.)

Photo Credit: shadowplay via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: shadowplay via Compfight cc

9. The magic babysitter fairy arrives at your house and you get a night out with your husband (with the magic fairy picking up the tab, of course!) How do you spend your evening?

Dinner out is kind of our standard date, but since the magic babysitter fairy doesn’t charge by the hour, I’d like to do something that goes later into the evening, like going to a concert or a play.  (I assume this magic babysitter fairy will make my kids sleep in the next day, too?!)

10. Pick one word to describe each member of your family (including you!).

Josiah – enthusiastic
Baby Sam – happy
Matt – geek (I mean that in the very best way, I promise!)
Me - curious

Thanks again to Beth for the great questions!  Visit her if you want to hear her answers to my questions, like what it’s like being a football coach’s wife, or what superhero she would be, check out her post today.

And now, dear readers, if you made it this far, kudos to you!  How would you describe yourself in one word? 

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Working Mom’s Guilt: Summer Edition (and a solution!)

Photo Credit: peasap via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: peasap via Compfight cc

School is out for the summer almost everywhere, and that modern rite of summer has begun: people on every social media channel posting pictures of all the fun summer activities they’re doing with their kids.  At 10am on a Tuesday, while I’m sitting behind a desk all day with my kids in daycare.  Cue the working mom guilt.

I know there’s a lot of time left in the evenings and on weekends for fun stuff, but — confession time — sometimes the logistics of it all just overwhelms me.  (“Yes, let’s go on a bike ride.  Oh wait, go potty first.  Then let me get the Ergo for the baby.  Oh wait, he needs changing.  Where’s your helmet?  Oh shoot, it’s bathtime already, I guess it’s too late to go after all.  Cue meltdown.)

Last summer I just did what was easy — mostly play in the backyard – and I ended up feeling like the summer was wasted.  I mean, what kind of slacker mom doesn’t take her kid swimming?  This year I have a new plan.  No, I’m not going to jam-pack our schedule with t-ball games, swimming lessons, and “mandatory fun,” but I do want to feel like we really got to enjoy our summer when we get to the end of it.  There are some activities that just scream “summer” to me, and I want to be sure to enjoy them with my family.  So, how am I going to make that happen?

1.  Make a list.  Yes, it’s yet another summer bucket list.  Annoying, I know, but I really am the kind of person who will completely forget that we can camp out in the backyard unless I plan it out ahead of time!  Is it better if we call it a “Summer Fun Inspiration List”?  I’m sure we won’t do everything on it, but at least it will remind me of all the fun things there are to do in the summer when I’m whining about the heat and humidity.

  • Camp out in the backyard
  • Roast marshmallows
  • Catch fireflies
  • Throw water balloons
  • Have a water gun fight
  • Go swimming
  • Go fishing
  • Go to a baseball game
  • Draw with sidewalk chalk
  • Make lemonade
  • Make homemade ice cream
  • Make a blackberry cobbler (my favorite dessert of all time)
  • Watch fireworks
  • Go canoeing or kayaking
  • Shoot fireworks
  • Watch a 4th of July parade

2.  Gather supplies for fun.  Am I the only one who passes on doing something to avoid a trip to Wal-Mart or Target on a Saturday afternoon?  Ugh… it’s one of my least favorite tasks.  Anyway, most of the items on our list are relatively inexpensive (by design) but they do require some stuff.  (It’s hard to have a water balloon fight without any water balloons!)  So I will suck it up and take a trip to Big Box Inc. to acquire the necessary supplies for all these activities (plus sunscreen and bug spray). It won’t be fun, but at least it will be done!

3. Plan for fun. It’s a little counter-intuitive, I know, but I’m a big believer in planning a few anchor events each weekend, then filling in the slack times with relaxing and spontaneous fun. If I don’t have something planned, I will spend the whole weekend doing things I need to do but nothing I want to do… And all (house)work and no play makes Sarah a dull girl!

Looking at our summer fun inspiration list, I’ll want to schedule that backyard camp out soon, before it gets too hot, and the water activities can wait until we are in the full heat of summer.

Do you suffer an acute case of working mom guilt in the summer? Do you prefer to plan your fun or just let things happen spontaneously?
Humpday Confessions :: linking up with Vodka & Soda

Linking up with Kathy for Humpday Confessions!

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One Community: June 2014

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One Community is a monthly photo project in which participants photograph their lives and communities with a theme in mind. The theme varies by month. The goal is to both showcase similarities and differences in our communities worldwide – and bring us all closer together in understanding through art.  Kara chose the inspiration words this month: road or trip, float, sprinkler, oasis.

Road trip.  A 14-hour (round trip) road trip over a four-day weekend with a 4 year old and a 10 month old may not sound like too much fun, but with enough snacks, some good music for the radio-challenged areas of Southern Illinois and Indiana, and an iPad loaded up with games and movies, it was totally worth it to get this picture.  (Congrats, honey!)

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Float.  I don’t know what you think about when you hear this word, but I haven’t been to Andy’s Custard for a while, and my mind went immediately to a root beer float!  Not the most photogenic thing, I realize in retrospect, but it makes up for its lack of looks with extra deliciousness.  #summerbucketlist (I realize it’s absurd to use a hashtag here, but I kind of love absurdity.  Expect to see this photo again when I post about our summer plans in a few days!)

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Sprinkler.  Oops, I accidentally had this one in my mind as “splash” when I planned to try to capture a shot of my sweet boys playing in the bathtub.  I’m pretty sure they’ll be wrestling as soon as Sam is mobile.

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Oasis.  Isn’t this pond pretty?  This has been the turn-around point for our evening walk/training wheels bike ride now that the weather has consistently been warm.  We don’t usually call it an oasis though, it’s usually, “Can we walk to the ducks, Mom?”  We stop in the shade and watch the ducks, geese, and swans fish for their dinner, before turning around and heading for home.

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Link-up!  Post one or more photos interpreting the words for the month, and add your blog post to the link-up at the bottom of this post.  Please include a link back to the link-up post on your One Community post, and take a look at some of the other links and comment on them.  After all, this is all about building community!

What’s your favorite way to enjoy the longer days of summer?

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