Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sam, the Bear

Sam, waiting for the ceremony

Listening to his leader explain what awards he was receiving

Sam gets ready to give me my second mother pin.

That's a lot of awards! 
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Sam was all smiles when we left. We walk out the door, and he smiles and says, "Guess you've got a lot of sewing to do!"

Monday, September 27, 2010

Sad to See You Go

I love you weekend. I'm sorry you had to go so quickly. You were very silly and fun. Come visit again... soon!

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Friday, September 17, 2010

We Haven't Even Been In School A Month?!? And My Night Fright

This will sound completely random, but when Katarina was 10 she used Christmas money to buy a robotic kitty cat.  That's all I'm saying for now....

So, I admit, along with the children, that it seems unbelievable that it hasn't even been a month since school started. I wager it's because getting back into new routines and new schedules is, quite frankly, exhausting.

Anabelle came home today so excited. "Mom! Guess what?!? My teacher says today is a holiday!"

I smiled brightly back.  The kids have been so excited about my new special project that they're eager to share new things with me as well.  Yet, if I wasn't in 'the know' I would've had no idea whatsoever what she was talking about as she exclaimed, "It's CRINKLY BROWN PAPER DAY!"

Mike burst out laughing, and he truly didn't have any idea what she was talking about. "Is that what your teacher said?" he asked.

She smiled and nodded.

"You mean Constitution Day?" I asked.

"Yes!" she beamed.

Mike laughed some more.  I laughed a lot once she looked away.  She mumbled, "We had to watch a video called 'We Kids.'  'We the People' would've been a better title."
I can't help but agree with her.  And all the Constitution Day talk made me really want to watch National Treasure, even though I know that's about the Declaration of Independence, which prompted a surprisingly intellectual discussion from my children.  It made my heart so glad.

Then they got into an argument on who got the most guacamole and I was back to my normal self.

Katarina is loving--no adoring--band again this year.  Her band teacher is so cool that he made it happen for seventh graders to play pep band for football games complete with tailgating.  She came home happily filled with hot dogs and cheese curls and bursting with that victory energy that comes after a great performance.  In addition, she completed her goal in cross country and finished, yet again, with a better ranking. 

Sam started orchestra, and kiwanis kids, and he's still doing cub scouts.  All his choice.
I had, however, never seen a boy scout play the violin before, and found it very picture worthy.

And, after all that, I'm exhausted.  Thankfully, everyone is in their beds; everyone is actually asleep.  I tiptoe, bleary-eyed, down the dark stairs to refill my water, and look towards the kitchen, and almost wet my pants. 

Imagine this scene with creepy lighting, and the cat wasn't there before. Now insert a robotic 'meoooowww..."

My short scream from the sheer shock alerted Mike.  The next morning when our alarm went off at 430 a.m. guess which mischievous husband moved the cat to the foot of the stairs?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Our Dog

Our dog, wow.  What can I say?

She's unbelievably patient for Kat.

It's no wonder she acts like she needs a vacation.

And also no wonder she sometimes feels like hiding.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Cross Country

Look at Kat! Mike remarked it looked as if she wasn't even breathing hard and all those runners are sprinting after her at the end of a mile and a half run. Kat's already passed the finish line and is slowing down. We're so proud of her. She runs against hundreds of girls and two other schools during this race. Her goal is to get a higher rank with each race and thus far she's completed her goal. Her one complaint-- how red her face gets while she runs. Sadly, she gets that from both parents. Poor thing.

Please note:  Katarina insisted that I not take any pictures of her in 'this horrible yellow uniform.'  I sadly put away my camera, and then Mike showed up, as Katarina had just taken off running.  He said he can't abide with no pics for sports, and took this picture.  So thank him for this shot.
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Friday, September 10, 2010

Outlive Your Life

15 years ago, shortly after Mike & I got married, we learned of Mike's father's love for Max Lucado books.  We'd get one and, feeling silly, replace the picture of Max on the back sleeve of the jacket with a picture of Mike, or the dog; after children, they all wanted a turn to replace their picture with Max.  It made us giggle wondering when or if Grandpa would discover that Max Lucado surprisingly carried many family characteristics.

Then Mike started reading the books and got hooked. I, having never read one, went to a Women of Faith conference, heard that Max was speaking on David and Goliath and yawned.  Seriously?  What else could I learn from that? A lot, I found out.

Yet, book purchases slowed as I realized that a lot of the 'new' books were actually snippets of prior books put together. The best of the best.  Not a bad idea really when you put together that the man has been writing for 25 years.

Then Thomas Nelson offered me an advanced copy of Max's newest book, Out Live Your Life, to review.  Suh-weet! Gift for Grandpa! Then I began reading and my delight turned into full engagement.  It's rare for me to say, "Read this book." or even "Get this book."  but I'm saying it.  In Max's unique writing voice, his illustrations take you down a path that you think is familiar until suddenly your vulnerable heart becomes aware of a new side.  "Ohhhh..."  New thoughts lead to new feelings and suddenly you've got a bit of mind renewing...and heart transformation.

The author begins by sharing a heart changing moment when in a short time frame he'd heard questions about what he would've done had he... been a German in WWII, or lived in the South during the civil rights.  All hypothetical questions that, just like me, could only been answered with "I hope I would've...."  But then someone asked him this: "When your grandchildren discover you lived during a day in which 1.75 billion people were poor and 1 billion were hungry, how will they judge your response?"

Don't be afraid; this book won't make you feel guilty.  What it will do is stir your heart, your mind, and hopefully your feet to what God is specifically calling for you.  It'll help you walk through the book of Acts with new eyes and perhaps walk through your own day to day life with new perspective.

I shouldn't have been surprised, but was, when I closed the book and saw in small font on the bottom of the back, the publisher's words: "One hundred percent of the author's royalties from Outlive Your Life products will benefit children and families through World Vision and other ministries of faith-based compassion."

So there you go. Oh, and the book is being released today.(ebook version won't be released until the 14th though.) I've provided links on the side of the website. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Blog Worthy

One of the consequences of having a blog where you write the most memorable moments of day to day living is that family and friends will frequently ask, "Is this blog worthy?" "Is this blog fodder?"

Today we had such a moment after we'd been hunting for a car for Mike as the nights and early mornings progressed to chilly temperatures, and he's been riding his motorcycle. This weekend, we settled the hunt. Although we had been trying to find a small car like a Dodge Neon or Geo Metro, we found an old Suzuki Sidekick kept by an original owner and maintained by a professional mechanic. I've never seen a car this old kept so well. So for 1500, we added a member to the family. The kids loved it.  And Mike promptly took them out for 50 cent ice cream cones leaving me in a blissfully quiet home -- which means that now I love the car too.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Still Smiling

Sam was sick the second day of school with the worst hay fever allergy attack I've ever seen. It started the night of the first day and lasted over 24 hours. But finally, once he was able to fall asleep the second night, it went away. I attribute the sudden clear up to him FINALLY getting a full night of sleep and the awesome hot steam humidifier we got recently, despite the fact it brings up memories.

Anyway, on the third day he brought home papers from school. The first, he explained, was from when they played a game. You've heard of two truths and a lie, no doubt. Well it's the same except two lies and a truth. Mike and I eagerly wanted to know what he picked.

1. My favorite thing to do is video games.

2. Obama is a good president, in my opinion.

3. I have a sideways lightning bolt shaped wrinkle.

We started laughing, Mike and I both sure which one was the truth.

"Everybody got it wrong," Sam said.


"Yeah, no one guessed the wrinkle."

Mike and I looked at each other, both confused. "What?"

Then Sam proceeded to make the funniest face we'd ever seen, contorting his eyebrows funny ways until Anabelle said nonchalantly, "There."

Sam relaxed. Apparently these two had spent time discussing his SIDEWAYS lightning bolt shaped wrinkle on his forehead.

We couldn't help but burst out laughing. "Well I learned something new about you too," I said.

"But Sam, if video games aren't your favorite thing to do, what is?" Mike asked, later.

Sam pursed his lips. "I don't know... maybe Chuck E. Cheese?"

"Where," Katarina said, authoritatively, "you use tokens to play video games."

"Nah," Sam replied. "You get tickets and have to stop after a couple minutes. Doesn't count as video games."

I'd take a picture of the sideways lightning bolt wrinkle if I could, but I never could see what they were talking about. That probably means I'm a muggle.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Home Association Letter, Mostly True Story

To: Subdivision Mgmt.

Subject: Apologies

CC: My Blog

Dear Home Association Management,

It was me. The guilt is overwhelming, and I must fess up. I know I acted like it wasn’t me and just sniffed along with everyone else in the neighborhood when they were all sniff sniff “Do you smell that? It smells like vinegar! I wonder what’s going on?” I realize it was wrong to just nod and say, “Yeah. Weird.” and grab my mail and hustle inside, but in my defense, do you realize just how hard the water is here?

See, I was in the bathroom, leaning over the tub and attempting to decalcify our humidifier since my dear, poor young son was suffering from the worst case of sniffles I've seen. If you’d have seen his poor miserable face, you’d understand that I had to do something – I had to make the humidifier work at its best!

But when I opened up the humidifier casing it was the worst case of calcification I had ever seen; it was as if I was breeding chalk. Unbelievable considering it’s a new humidifier and had only been used for a month! So, I took up the brand new bulk size jug of vinegar into my bathroom, leaned over to pour a bit, and… well, my hands were wet so it slipped out of my hands... Yes, most of the gargantuan jug spilled into my bathtub.

I quickly went into crisis mode and flung up the bathroom window, cranked the ventilation fan, and slammed the bathroom door so the smell wouldn’t progress into my house. And thankfully it didn’t. But I had no idea the wind would carry the smell so powerfully, as if the vinegar spill was actually a tanker in the street.

Although, now that I think about it, the wind/ventilation fan effect does explain the uncanny timing all the school children have of ringing my doorbell when I’m baking cookies or pizza.

And, while I'm apologizing anyway, I know that I have not been keeping the ordinance to weed my flower bed every single day, but, again, in my defense, who really does besides the lone retired man who hates people down the street? Does the lady with the clipboard really have to evaluate all our flower beds? Honestly, do we really need that rule? Couldn’t we make it weed weekly or monthly, but not daily?

If you want a good rule, how about you address the school children who ring my door constantly? I’ll admit that at first I thought it was cute when they were trying to sell their services of watering my yard when it was raining. And again when they were trying to sell me curled up dandelions for a quarter. But the thing is, even after we reach the double digits of me saying no to them, they still come… last time they tried to sell me DumDum lollipops for a dollar… EACH. If this keeps up, I’m going to stop answering my door and do you really want that when your lady with the clipboard comes by to tell me my edging isn’t up to snuff?

I’m sorry, I was really writing to apologize for the vinegar scare and not to give my opinion. Please do not take away my pool key deposit. But, speaking of pools, I’d be remiss not to express my concern in how you’re handling the pool situation.

I’m very glad that the teenage vandals didn’t start in on the pool until the season was almost over, but the way you handled it… I just don't get. Granted, the man on the Home Association Pool Board was very kind to volunteer his time to dissuade the teenagers from their ways, but… frankly, I’m not sure his motorized wheelchair is fast enough to actually scare the teenagers. It did, however, scare the adults when he slammed his wheelchair into the pool gate... repeatedly. So much so, in fact, that I ran up to him the second time he did it to see if he needed help only for him to tell me he was just making sure the lock on the gate was working. “It’s usually open when it shouldn’t be,” he explained. “That’s how they keep getting in.”

I looked around. A few feet from the widely spaced bars surrounding the pool there is a big red button labeled “EXIT” that when pushed, opens the gate. I’m no genius but… I don’t think the pool gate lock is the problem. And I don’ think volunteers need to bang up their legs to find that out.

In conclusion, I’m sorry about the vinegar and your rule on Christmas lights being down by July is really a good one. The planes were flying a little too close for my comfort.


A resident who was surprised to find out the “Over the Hedge” lady must have been based on truth.

Monday, August 30, 2010

First Day

Whenever I see "First Day" I can't help but think of the Chris Rice song with the same title. First day in the first grade.... first day in the fourth grade... first day in the seventh grade... you could buy a zoo with all the doctor bills we paid. Okay, you gotta know the song to get that.

All three came home with great reports and all pleased with their teachers, and when we had "mad, glad, sad" time to report at dinner no one had any mad or sads... unless you count the kids' objections to the vegetable dished at dinner.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Annual Backwards Day

Each year before sending the kids back to school, I've wanted to do something really fun for them to remember. Yet, by this point in the summer it's not feasible to go somewhere and we've got to keep to the budget. One similar year I was in the same predicament and decided something bizarre could accomplish my goals, and now it is an annual tradition that the kids ask for: Backwards Day.

So, I found out that today is National Dream Day. I didn't know what it meant, but that didn't matter, it sounded like a good holiday to have our annual event on, as Backwards Day could be interpreted as a bizarre dream the next day when you woke up.

And bizarre it has been. Even Mike got into the spirit of the day and came downstairs with his clothes on backwards, causing me to start the day laughing. The kids recalled that our names are the same even spelled backwards, but that we were to call them: Aniratak, Ellebana, and Leumas. They insisted we even call the dog, Ragus, which sounds very amusing, but gains strange looks when the neighbors dropped by unexpectedly and the kids were trying frantically to get the dogs attention by the name that still gave them giggles.
"Ragus! Ragus! Here, Ragus!"

Schedule went as follows:

8 a.m. Bedtime snack a.k.a yogurt/fruit smoothie

10 a.m. Dessert (Popcorn & mms) along with a movie. This year we picked Monsters Inc. I thought it was a good choice on Backwards Day and Dream Day when I thought about the plot, until I found out that Dream Day actually refers to the day that Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his "I have a dream speech" years ago and is one of three emancipation holidays to honor his work. In fact, to truly celebrate the day you are supposed to wear white and black in honor of the speech. I looked at the kids dressed in their typical summer garb, backwards. Yep, I had to stop telling them we were celebrating Dream Day too.

Noon. Dinner Time! (Chicken Tacos)

2 p.m. A trip to Chuck E. Cheese --- no food or drink orders, just playing games. Instead of the kids actually screaming and running away from Chuck E. yelling, "It's a big fat rat running a crooked casino for children!!!!" (thanks, Tim Hawkins.) they had the chance to win tickets from Chuck E. if they danced with them. I convinced Sam that would definitely follow Backwards Day philosophies so he joined in -- dancing when Chuck said to dance and when Chuck said to clap... well, I was glad I didn't see that he actually put his hand under his armpit, and well... made noises. Mike told me later. At the time, I had wondered why Mike was laughing so much....
Anyway, Chuck E. threw out loads of tickets pinata style and Sam didn't even try to collect them. Instead, he sat down... on a pile that landed in front of him, and waited until the kids left, then collected them. He explained this works like a charm so kids aren't trying to grab your tickets or, in the case of pinatas, candy from you.

4 p.m. Lunch Time (Light snack of fresh guacamole and some veggies/dip/chicken salad.)

7 p.m. Breakfast (Eggs, bacon, fruit, and a pop-tart for those that were still hungry.)

8 p.m. Watch Shaun the Sheep episode backwards

8:30 Get in bed in time to 'wake up'

9 p.m. It's dawn and everyone is asleep. And, in my opinion, ready to start school after an awesome summer.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Weird, Fascinating, and Unusual

Today is International Strange Music Day
I'll reveal why I know this in the very near future, but nevertheless, I felt the need to post some strange music in honor of the day. My kids, incidentally, don't find this strange--they find it hilarious. So I watched it again.

I still don't get it.
But hey, maybe you will. And, if you're feeling cantankerous, then maybe today is your day, as tomorrow is Kiss and Make-Up Day. If you're lucky you can take advantage of some of the free cards and great flower deals going on that day. Frankly, I find it a bit disturbing that everyone in my family has picked a fight today not knowing about Kiss and Make-Up Day tomorrow. I won't go into conspiracy theories, I'm just saying....
And speaking of weird, enjoy the Strange Music.

Catch All

Ever since the wedding, the girls have been keen on trying new things with their hair.

Translation: Mom, will you....?

I'm having fun with it. Admittedly, I'm no hairstylist but I'm gradually getting better. Last night, Kat wanted two tight braids before she went to bed (for super wavy hair this morning). When I was done, I leaned back, admiring my work and said, "From behind you look like an American Girl doll!"

Then I proceeded to experiment wrapping her waist-long braids up and around her forehead to which she responded, "Except unlike a doll, I have a nervous system!"
Hmm... apparently I pulled a little much.

Sam has grown a new appreciation for Legos, especially anticipating our turn at the new Lego Harry Potter Wii games (which look hilarious) that we've requested from the library. Yes, you know times have changed when you can check out DS and Wii games from your local library!

Anyway, our living room became Lego-topia for a few days.

Given Mom's ability to only cope with one night of outdoor camping, I promised the kids they could camp in the backyard. Except we found out that not even two airbeds fit in our big tent. Anabelle didn't mind deflating them.
So since the kids couldn't have airbeds, they decided to grab a smaller tent and sleep in style (thanks, Uncle Greg!)

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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Past 20 Hours

We had a lovely surprise visit from friends this weekend. The kids had a blast, and the adults got to reconnect. Rather than explain each photograph, check out this slideshow:

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Sunday, August 15, 2010


So I've been wanting to go this Rose Garden that's in the heart of the city for quite some time, but mention to the gang, "Hey, wanna go stare at some roses for like an hour?" and blank stares are accompanied by drool and often, fainting, so this time I packed up a picnic and instructed everyone to bring a camera and Didn't Tell Them Where We Were Going.

Cameras-- on a total tangent-- Remember when we had only 24 shots to work with and had to pay money for the film and the developing and had to wait for days until it was done and there was no editing unless you had a scanner... I'm still in awe. And going on a tangent like this makes me feel old. Anyhoo, I got home and asked the kids to hand over their SD cards. I imported a whopping 329 photos. Sheesh. And, found out that during my peaceful rose garden walk that the kids were quite busy. I deleted a third of the photos, but was surprised that two-thirds were really quite good... and/or entertaining.

Here, for mostly my personal enjoyment, is a video slideshow of all the photos my little photographers took in the course of 45 minutes. The video itself is about six minutes -- I'm trying to become bi-lingual so this is my first Windows movie (I speak Mac) and the captions didn't go where they were supposed to and the processor had problems with the music - in the big pause just imagine a rockin' sax solo - so... just enjoy the pics, and it looks better if you keep it orginal size -- full screen is available at a whopping 75 mb. (:

Friday, August 13, 2010

New Law

We've reached that point in summer where we've spent so much time together that in spite of enjoying the time together, we (as in me), are ready for a little time apart. But I also know that just as soon as school starts, we (as in me), will also be immediately ready for some quality family time together. As such, I am purposely not focusing on the frustrations of summer such as the constant stream of dirty dishes into my sink, the constant movement of toys and books around the house, and the absence of quiet at all times. Instead I'm focusing on the best moment of the day.

Today's best moment was a trip to the pool and watching the kids pretend to be penguins dancing in the ocean, then seeing them pretend to be synchronized swimmers in a dramatic fashion. (It was very funny.)

Then I got home and after cleaning the kitchen for what must have been the tenth time that day, the children walked in the kitchen and got out a most messy snack. I had a "THAT'S IT!" moment followed by a nice little reminder lesson on cleaning up after themselves and what that looked like.

Katarina smiled. "Great. It's the No Crumb Left Behind Act."

Sam burst out laughing. She's too funny for her own good. But I'll admit it, it's my new favorite moment of the day.

Morning Mystery Solved

I pull out the brand new cereal box from the pantry this morning. It clearly wasn't opened yet. I walk to the kitchen counter only to have bits of cereal pouring out from a large rectangle on the back.

Very confused, it takes me minutes before I realize that someone has cut a 'collector's card' out from the back, expertly, as there are no other cuts anywhere on the box.

I look around the kitchen to see our youngest with wide eyes. I purse my lips and raise an eyebrow. "What?" Anabelle exclaims with a shrug. "I used safety scissors."

Explaining that you're supposed to wait until AFTER the cereal is gone, I open the box to transfer the cereal to a container only to find a gaping hole in the bag, leaking cereal at an alarmingly fast rate. "YOU CUT THE PLASTIC TOO?!"

She scrunched her face tightly, as if really embarrassed. "It got cut at the same time as the box!"

I tried really hard not to laugh. I failed. She looked relieved. Cuteness truly must be a child's greatest defense.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Biggest Blog Post of the Summer... Maybe

Summer has not been boring. From the moment Anabelle got this lovely graduation certificate and flew home on her scooter, the days have been full. We loved that the kickoff to summer started with a visit from Mike's dad and brother. Mike's brother chose wisely and joined us in the amazing Northwest ... you should take a lesson from him and join us too-unless of course you are reading this blog and I don't know you. Then, in that case, I'm sure you're happy right where you are.
Always first on my summer to-do list is a trip to the library. The library program here is very different from previous summer programs but the kids got some tickets to go ice skating. Suh-weet!
In addition, some trips to see baseball games!

Many trips to the zoo and the science center, combined with hiking, geo-caching, a trip to the water park, more visits from friends and seeing the beautiful sand dunes, chatting in deck chairs, watching the fireworks...
Trips to the dentists, losing teeth...
A Harry Potter Movie marathon complete with butterbeer and a stop by the trolley cart right at the same time as the movie (Sam asks to repeat this event many times, and requests that next time it be followed by a great feast like in the books). Thanks to my birthday and father's day being on the same day, we treated ourselves to a chinese restaurant lunch and a Toy Story 3 matinee-- this made the summer highlight list.

Next, the BIG event of the summer-- a trip to North Carolina to see family and celebrate my brother getting married! The kids did fabulously on the trip -- all managing to carry their own carry on luggage and backpack each. I brought those Pop Top things that make soda cans turn into bottles and the flight attendants happily cooperated by giving the children their own can each to avoid possible spills. Sam said one of the highlights was getting to eat a Quizno's sandwich on the trip. My son loves a good cheesesteak.

Sam made an excellent usher, although he balked when he found out that ladies would actually be TOUCHING him when he led them to their seats.

Anabelle took her job as flower girl very seriously in the chapel that honestly looked like a castle.

Katarina enjoyed being a reader and getting the best seat in the house for the wedding and getting to see her uncle and then soon-to-be aunt's facial expressions during the ceremony.

Following the wedding was an awesome dance, and before we knew it, we had one exhausted family.

The day following the wedding we were able to spend more time with family and just enjoy each other.

Anabelle engaged fellow travelers in conversation on the plane on the way home. Of course, she ignored them the entire flight until we landed then whispered to me, "Is it okay to talk to them?"

The next thing I know I hear a voice that sounds remarkably like mine say, "So are you from here?"
Passenger answers then Anabelle continues. "Oh, then what was your trip for?"
Passenger gives a little more lengthy answer, now smiling.
"Well, I went to my uncle's wedding and got to be flower girl and saw Despicable Me at a movie theater and got a mood ring from my Grandma and... "
Passenger is now grinning ear to ear as they learn which color means excited and which color means flirty-- at which point Anabelle explains that this means you smile at boys you like.

We also managed to escape for a small camping trip. Sleeping in tents. No running water. No electricity. No real bathrooms close by.

I barely lasted one night. Of course, in my defense, it partly had to do with cows making noises that seriously made me wonder what they did at night, a flock of geese holding a party, dogs trying to out bark each other, our car battery dying at 3 a.m. and thus shutting off Mike's sleep machine, and a deranged rooster that someone trained to doodle-doo in a snooze-alarm style... as in every fifteen minutes until everyone is awake in the tri-state area.

Yet, with sleep-filled eyes, I cuddled with the kids in the early morning hours in their sleeping bags (it's cold in the mountains at night!) and listened to their account of their interpretation of the 'adventures' they heard going on in the middle of the night.

Here Sam is catching a fish... I mean flipflop with his bare hands. The creek/river was ice cold from snow melt, but so fun to wade in!

We also were able to see friends on this camping trip, which really was the highlight and our families enjoyed each other during the day exploring the wilderness until Mike and I reached full zombie status and drove quickly back to our nice comfy beds.
Anabelle found a beautiful heart shaped rock.

Anabelle summed it up nicely when she said, "I don't like sleeping outside, but I like being outside... in the wild." Yep. She's my daughter.

And... we walked in the door and passed out.
And if you're wondering, even the dog has had a busy summer full with playdates, running, and more. She's worn out too.

Yes, definitely not a boring summer.