Sunday, October 15, 2017

STATE FAIR FUN

October usually is just crammed full of activity.  In my perfect world, the fair would not arrive in October when so many other things are in full swing, but we decided to hit it up to celebrate Bella's birthday since we weren't able to go to a special birthday dinner due to work stuff.  The weather was fall perfection, and we enjoyed our time as a family!

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We hit up all the usual favorites - the petting zoo, the cattle barn and the bunny barn.

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(watching someone do a massive drop all swearing we would never do it! 😳)
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We did let the kiddos play ONE game.  We need more stuffed animals like we need holes in our heads, but they were SO excited to pluck rubber duckies out of the water only to set them right back in.

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The real excitement came with the rides portion of our day.

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We didn't partake of much fair food. #foodallergiessuck
But, everyone thoroughly enjoyed cotton candy.

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This was not the most restful way to spend a Sunday afternoon, but our children were mostly delighted, and I'm so thankful for the sweet moments together.

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The fair will be in town for another week, and it really is a lot of fun!

Friday, October 13, 2017

BOOKS FEATURING COORESPONDANCE

It's been a long while since I did a book post, but I read almost constantly, so I'm due to tell y'all about it.  At the beginning of this week, I was feeling pretty overwhelmed and sad(ish).  So, instead of reading the book about a father kidnapping a child 😱 that was up next in my library holds queue, I decided to go a little lighter and selected This Is What Happy Looks Like.  It sounded like a nice antidote to my slight doldrums, and guess what? It turned out to be just that. 👊🏻

It also featured a relationship started by correspondence, which I realized is a common theme in some of the books I've read and liked in the last year, so I thought I'd group those together for anyone else who might be interested.

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Did you see the movie "You've Got Mail"?  I know that is sort of a stupid questions, because OF COURSE YOU DID.  I love it for so many reasons and still find it endlessly relatable and quotable to this day.  You can imagine that this is a book list for those of you who also love You've Got Mail.  (bonus points to any of you who actually used AOL mail back in the day, like me, and logged in excited about the possibility of hearing those three words, like I did 😜)

First up is the book that kicked off this blog post in my mind, This Is What Happy Looks Like, by Jennifer E. Smith.

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For the record, I mostly listen to audiobooks.  I got these books from the library to be able to take pictures and since I was already going on a "holding" binge for my kids.  I did listen to this one and thoroughly enjoyed the two different narrators that switch between the perspectives.  It's a Young Adult book, so if you are looking for super realistic and/or hard-hitting, you need to keep moving.  But, if you like a fun story featuring a teen heart-throb and a small town girl from Maine, then this might be for you!  They accidentally strike up an email relationship, and things get interesting when he manages to get his next movie shot on location in her small town.

Another YA book that I enjoyed was Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum.

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Tell Me Three Things also features teenagers who start emailing each other, but in this one, the identity of the guy is in question until the end.  It explores grief and identity as the girl has just moved to a new city with a new life.  It is a quick, fun read with likable characters.

Taking us out of YA territory and into adult fiction, since I am a card-carrying 36 year old is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.  The title threw me for a loop, but it all becomes clear in the story, though it is still a mouth-full.

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A friend told me this was one of her all time favorite books, and I found it to be charming and touching and endearing on many levels: I loved it!  It's set just after World War II and explores the stories of people that lived on the island of Guernsey, off the coast of England.  The story is told through letters and telegrams, which are mostly easy to follow, and the characters are precious, even when clearly put in challenging circumstances.

Next up is Attachments, by Rainbow Rowell.

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In this book, the guy who is supposed to monitor the emails at work ends up reading far too many conversations between two friends.  He should have sent them a warning, but instead, he becomes invested in their world and begins to really like one of them.  I read this on vacation over a year ago, but if I remember correctly, it has some bad language.  However, I loved rooting for these characters and keeping my fingers crossed for the best!

In a complete departure from everything except letters, I'm adding The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis to this list.

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I reread this in January and was freshly amazed at Lewis's brilliance and his accurate grasp on humanity.  The book is a series of letters from one "tempter" demon to his apprentice as they seek to disrupt a Christian's life, and they give such insight into the ways that we humans are easily distracted from the great God that we serve.  I highly recommend anyone giving this a first, second or third read.

My bonus pick for you is The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson.

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Another YA book, it is a breezy read that I finished on some trip this year.  It does not feature letter writing, but the main guy in the book is a novelist, unexpectedly.  This book stars a girl who finds herself in very unexpected circumstances (working as a dog walker, among other things) while trying to make the best of where she's at.  I enjoy reading YA books, because they are often light-hearted and not bogged down with as many issues as my real life.  Yet, I still remember what it felt like to be sixteen and think that you understand so much while still understanding so little.

In other bookish news, I've been working on reading out loud to my children more, and so I began following along with Read Aloud Revival.  She has curated picture book lists for each month, and I picked up the October haul from our library.  (Click here to see the list for yourself!)  It is so fun to read about pumpkins when we are actually doing pumpkin related things, instead of in February when my kids would inevitably pick one of these books.

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Well, I hope this adds some books to your list!  Let me know if you end up reading them OR if you can recommend another charming book featuring correspondence.  Apparently, I just can't get enough. 😜

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

BELLA IS SEVEN!

My extremely lovable second child turned seven today!  As always, it bears mentioning that time goes by really quickly.  I vividly remember so much about her birth, and many moments of her life are etched into my mind - how is she seven?  😭

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As a seven year old, Bella is whip-smart and is devouring books.  She loves all things about school - the learning, and the social component, and I am continually amazed at how many people she is able to greet by name with a smile.  She is enjoying another year of dance class and is asking to be able to play soccer again - we shall see.

Yesterday, she spent some time doing math for fun because she had learned a new addition trick.  Oh the wonders of first grade!

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Though we still see quite a bit of strong will in Bella, we also see a growing understanding of who God is and how he works in her life.  I am so thankful that she often chooses to read her Bible and makes sure to take it to church with her every week, unprompted.  She loves traveling and experiencing fun of any kind, especially with friends.  She is our best swimmer and loves to tell jokes.  Basically, Bella brings the party with her everywhere she goes.

In other Bella news, this week, we discovered that Bella needs glasses.  The school vision screening sent us to our eye doctor, and sure enough, Bella is near-sighted - no real surprise, seeing as John and I are both incredibly near-sighted.  🤓 We have glasses ordered, and Bella is really excited about being able to see! (And is super adorable! 😍)

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Today, John kicked off her day with a donut date.

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I brought her lunch at school.

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And, she did ice cream after school with grandparents before us all meeting up at CFA for dinner, because there was an event that John needed to be there for.  We had cookie cake, since her actual party isn't for another week and a half.

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Happiest of birthdays to our Bella!  We love you forever and are so thankful God made us your parents!

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And, since I've been blogging almost her whole life, here are her past birthday posts!

Bella Turns Six
Bella Turns Five
Bella Turns Four
Bella Turns Three
Bella Turns Two
Bella Turns One

Friday, October 06, 2017

FALL FUN SO FAR: HIGHS & LOWS

It's been ages since a real high/low post over here.  But, the highs and lows have certainly not stopped coming, so I'm gonna run through some from our fall so far.

High: Birthday parties with our whole adoptive family present - such a gift! (did you see what i did there?)

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Low: William's feelings about hair cuts.  He is still not a huge fan, as you might be able to see from his face, though Duplo superheroes helped him power through.

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High: Sweet family moments. Napping is so peaceful. 🤣

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High: Crazy sock day in Lily's class.

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Low: The twins had their allergy retesting, and IT. WAS. AWFUL.  It lasted a long time, but worse than that was the attitudes of the people getting tested.  At various times, they both lost their minds, and it required a lot of wrestling to get the testing done.  And, we found out that William is no longer allergic to milk and eggs - yay! But, Violet is still allergic to those things and peanuts as she has been, but she also added shellfish, grass, cats, mold and tree nuts.  Major bummer.  I left the office in emotional tatters from the entire ordeal.

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High: John and the girls have developed a routine where they read for a while on the couch after the twins go to bed.  It's the sweetest thing.

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High: A new CFA in Central AR (Maumelle), means we get to see lots of our CFA friends!

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High: With very little assistance from me, the girls made bacon wrapped dates stuffed with goat cheese.  I was so impressed!

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Low: Even with cutting back on commitments and activities, there is still a level of exhaustion present.  We are navigating what it looks like to rest regularly and not always having success.  Also - it feels as if we have created just enough margin in our lives for other, deeper issues to surface.  It's all things that need to be faced head on, which is challenging - though ultimately, it will be good.  In the midst of some hard days, I get thankful for things like a "Good Lash Day."

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High: Family cook out with s'mores and grandparents willing to feed them to us.

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Low: Sometimes walking into dance can be hard.  Better to just lay in the doorway.  Once she is in, she loves it and does great. 

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High: Fun date nights that include a preview to the Lion King coming in April to Little Rock!

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Low: Our kids finding an injured squirrel that they named "Ninja," and the subsequent worry that Ninja's fate caused our concerned children.

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