Quote of the Day

“I’m not big yet, but I’m trying to get big!” –Emily


Long Weekend at Chippokes Plantation State Park


We celebrated Austin and the kids having the whole week of for Thanksgiving my spending a long weekend at a new (to us) state park near Williamsburg. It always seems to happen that each time we visit a new state park, we discover a new gem. This was certainly true at Chippokes.




We saw four bald eagles – including a mating pair defending their territory against an intruder by grappling mid-air and helicoptering almost to the ground.

We found fossilized shark’s teeth.


We enjoyed 2 miles of shoreline and lots of flat biking and hiking.



We saw the first cotton and peanut fields any of us have ever seen surrounding our cabin (and even got to glean the harvest leftovers as souvenirs).



We found three of the four geocaches that we attempted to find.



We went to the best display of farm machinery that Austin has ever seen where our kids fell in love with Peter the rabbit (nope, sorry kids, no rabbit for Christmas….). Another highlight of the farm museum was the goats eating out of our hands. Absolutely slimey in such an endearing way.


And we got to visit Colonial Williamsburg on the way, where the kids loved the ginger cookies, got locked up in the stocks, and Emily fell in love with horses. The horses were giving carriage rides, and each time they went past she was just frozen in wonder.






We visited Jamestown on the way home, where the big kids and I enjoyed a really neat archaeology tour.


Happy 7th Birthday, Molly!


20171013_162644(0)Molly turned 7 on Sunday, to much fan fare (after all, she had a whole month to dream and scheme about her birthday since Tucker’s birthday last month). This was the first time I had to miss a birthday dinner for any of my kids – Emily was in the ER getting a chest xray for possible pneumonia (nope, just a virus and asthma). The show went on, and Molly looked quite the birthday girl in her new pioneer costume! But really I only missed a small part of more than a week of festivities that started with a surprise joint birthday party at Helen’s, included a special birthday shopping trip with Helen, donuts for school, a tea party with the 4 other girls in her class after school, presents in the morning, and a brunch after church. She was well celebrated. Smile

One of the ways that I see Molly maturing these days is how generously she is sharing with Emily. Molly is particular about her things. Emily is particular in being fascinated with all of Molly things—and proceeding to mess them up. It’s been a source of frequent angst in 20171013_171437our house, because Molly has some toys that she hardly plays with that Emily salivates over, that Molly absolutely doesn’t want her to touch. I’ve been so thankful of late how Molly’s had some more perspective on what toys aren’t really quite so special that she can share, as well as the toys she’s grown out of that Emily can simply have. This is very mature for my orderly 7 year old who loves beautiful things.

Molly is a Mama’s girl. She loves nothing more than to do a craft with just me. When she’s happy, she positively chirps. She loves school. She loves reading. Her favorite books are non-fiction stories about the prairie like Little House on the Prairie – and now Harry Potter. She sews and hand stitched a purse all by herself this summer. She has an engineer’s mind and can put together legoes like nobody’s business.

20171005_120307Here’s what she said for her birthday interview:

Favorite subject in school: math

Favorite friend: Luke Shonka

Favorite color: orange and sky blue

Favorite thing to do after school: be outside

Future career: Botanist

Favorite gift: American girl doll from GoGo

If she could have anything in the world, she’d want: her own room and a horse

Love you, Molly!

Emily’s Ways of Saying “No”

Instead of saying “no” like a normal toddler, Emily has new ways to avoid doing what I ask. Here’s some sample dialogue:

Me: You need to brush your teeth.

Emily: I actually good.

Me: No, you really need to brush your teeth.

Emily: It’s okay.

Me: Please brush your teeth.

Emily: Tomorrow.

Her intonation is hilarious as she emphatically states that she has it under control and I don’t need to worry my little head about petty details.

Happy 10th Birthday, Tucker

20170924_112736Tucker has enjoyed almost a week of birthday festivities. Like so much in his young life, it revolved around food. It began by arranging a shopping trip to pick out his favorite foods – Duck Donuts for a birthday breakfast, Mexican popsicles for a class treat, and Wegmans for everything else. I made an orange marmalade cake for his birthday, but first he had to pour over recipes with me, and make me PROMISE to follow the recipe. He knows his mom – he is much better at recipe following than I am. (Thankfully, the cake passed his test.) His birthday dinner was BLTs with fruit salad and french fries.

20170923_151520His second birthday dinner for his birthday party with his two best friends was fried chicken and fried plantains and lemon meringue pie. Did I mention that he made his own lemon meringue pie? No joke – Austin was napping and I was out in the hammock and he did it all himself. Well, Pillsbury did the pie crust. But the meringue, the lemon filling. Just want to say that I’ve never even made a lemon meringue pie.


Tucker was hemming and hawing about what to do with his friends. Ideas in circulation included going to a batting cage nearby, going to a baseball card store, UVa sporting events… and in the end, what won out? A free afternoon/evening to play together at our house. Perfect. The boys took their fishing rods down to the river, bushwhacked across a field to escape swarming bees (allegedly… Austin saw three bees…). They all caught fish. Then came back to have a baseball card draft, eat, and be surprised that their time was already up.

One of Tucker’s favorite pastimes right now is whiffle ball. He has invented a game that is similar to golf, in that he hits balls to certain parts of the yard, in order, keeping score. The balls typically are named and compete against each other. Imagine his excitement to get a bat that travels farther than his old broken one AND three different kinds of balls to experiment with. Endless entertainment.

I also took him to the Harry Potter festival in Staunton this weekend. They converted the whole town to Diagon’s Alley – it was really neat, and the kids walked around, collecting unique Harry Potter trading cards at each merchant and actor. The sorting hat sorted Tucker and I into Gryffndor and Molly into Hufflepuff. Of course, Tucker and Molly’s favorite part was trying croissants and Butterbeer for the first time.