Wednesday, October 11, 2017

7 (Final) Summer Quick Takes

This is my last summer post. I promise. After these seven random memories, I'm fully moving on to more recent things -- like Reid's first day of first grade and Nell's 5th birthday. Recent, ha!

1. Solar Eclipse
The whole nation was totally swept up in solar eclipse business. I was singing "Total eclipse of the heart" all day every day for a solid week! I swear. People (that we know) planned entire family vacations around the path of totality. It was a really big deal.

Maybe it's just my general "meh, to pop-culture" attitude, but I really wasn't swept up in it. I didn't want to bother buying special eye wear, and I definitely didn't want to make my own. I inquired at the library and was told they did have a viewing party with approved eye wear scheduled. But that was during the little girls' nap time, and I wasn't about to uproot our whole schedule for this.

On top of all that, it was cloudy and the forecast wasn't looking great. Come 1:00 (our best view was at 1:17) I decided to just turn on PBS kids and not really mention the whole thing. Well, Ready Jet Go (a show about space) was on and they were showing an Eclipse episode. "Perfec!" I thought, and I headed to my room to do the budget.

The moment that show ended at 1:15 Reid headed out the back door to find an eclipse. Ah! I panicked. If there was anything I knew about the eclipse it was that I should NOT let me kids look at it. What a parenting fail. I ran as fast as I could to stop him. When I greeted him on the deck he eagerly pointed "Look Mama! Look! It's an eclipse!" And I ... well I immediately looked. Ha! It was pretty amazing. Nell had followed me out, and she was gazing upward as well. "Stop!" I shouted as I threw my hands over their eyes. "You cannot look right at the sun!"

I seriously felt like the worst parent ever. Not only had I downplayed the whole thing, but now my kids were going to be blind for life because I hadn't stopped them from seeing it. I did call the Doctors' Office. The nurse on the other end told me he had actually ran out to see it real quick too. It was kind of comforting, to be honest. And of course, there's the now famous photo of our fabulous President Trump looking right up at it as well. Sigh. We messed up on the same level as Trump.

But here we are months later and none of us have blind spots, and we did get to see something pretty spectacular. Reid and Nell spent the rest of the afternoon drawing pictures of the eclipse and other space miracles. It was pretty cute to see how much spark that one little episode of "Ready Jet Go" gave them.


2. Rest of La Crosse
In my last post I mentioned we went to La Crosse Wisconsin with my parents on the First day of September. After we sent my parents off to Minnesota (and then Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming and Utah) we headed over to the Children's Museum for a couple hours. There was an awesome rock climbing wall both Reid and Nell tried out.


Before leaving the area we drove up to Grandad Bluff. This was the other "most see" tourist attraction all our local friends recommended. I really regret not taking my mom and dad there. It was absolutely fantastic and no picture could ever do it justice. I just can't believe how gorgeous the Mississippi Bluffs and Valleys really are. It is breathtaking for sure.

3. Favorite Outdoor Play
Back in June I mentioned the kids favorite outdoor play toy was a pile of random boards and lumber we cleaned out of the garage. Below is a photo Ben took of them playing with all of it. Reid also used it to make some art in our flower beds.

Near the end of the summer the boards started to lose their novelty, and instead the kids started playing regularly in the tiny stretch of gravel under the mailboxes. They seriously played here every day for several weeks. Silly kids. I'm so glad they are easily entertained.

4. Backyard Fires and Neighborhood Hikes
I don't think this section even needs any explanation. Be warned, Lou's joy might jump out of the screen and bite you.

We are so grateful for our big backyard and the town's open fire pit ordinance. We are also so grateful for the nature center behind the kid's school. We are blessed with so much outdoor living space to explore. 

5. Clowns and the Library Reading Program
The kids completed the library reading program and earned some awesome necklaces, new books, and free kid's meals. As well as the awesome incentives to track our reading, the library also sponsors a bunch a fun free programs. One evening our whole family went to a clown show. This was a big deal for Ben, since he isn't a fan of clowns. Luckily he said they were more like "Trams" and those didn't scare him. He he.

It was a great show, which is no surprise since Mike and Miler both worked on the Barnum and Bailey Brother's Circus route. It was a really awesome family night. We are grateful for all the amazing community programs we participate in here in Wisconsin.  

6. Evenings out with Adults
The night before we took off for our family vacation I was able to drive up to Green Bay and have dinner with my Aunt Syd and Uncle Howard. They were on a tour through the area and staying a couple nights in Green Bay. It was so lovely to have an hour with them. It felt so strange to have a little piece of "home" right here with me, thousands of miles away. It's funny, I am almost getting a little emotional just thinking about it.

The night my parents arrived in town Ben and I attended the wedding of one of my former Young Women. We were at a table with the new Stake President and his wife, the Munsons. The other guests at our table didn't show up, which made our time together much more intimate. It felt like a much overdo double date. We had such a great time chatting with them about parenthood and the gospel and so many other random things. It's nice to know there are so many other LDS couples, striving to raise young kids in the gospel, out here in Wisconsin with us.

7. 4th of July
That's right, I never even blogged about our Fourth of July. It was pretty simple and absolutely perfect. The ward had a little Picnic out in Ripon (a small town in our ward boundaries). The park we reserved was fabulous. Reid loved catching clams down on the river.

Coraline and Nell loved all the playground equipment.

Mara loved showing off her patriotism.

As we got in the car to head home I asked Ben if he'd gotten a picture of each of the kids. When we realized Nell hadn't been in a photo yet, I quickly remedied the problem.

Ha! It was quite the tiring afternoon. That evening Ben took Reid and Nell to another near by town (Omro, also in our ward) to view the fireworks. The moral of this story is that small towns do the 4th of July best. They really do. 

Monday, October 9, 2017

Grandma and Grandpa Bassett

Our last week of summer break may have been the best! Grandma and Grandpa Bassett made the long drive from Utah to come visit us before school started. They arrived on a chaotic Saturday evening and stayed with us until Thursday, at which point we all drove across the state to send them across the Mississippi. 

More than six weeks have passed since their visit, so this post won't have all the sweet memories I would have hoped to catch. But I have to at least highlight a few of our favorite moments together. 

Stories and Games

There were lots of story time snuggles on the couch with Grandma and Grandpa. I think Reid would have been content to spend the entire visit with his head in Grandma's lap as she tickled his back. We also spent a lot of time at the kitchen table playing card games and Qwirkle. Both Reid and Nell tried their hardest to sneak out at night and catch some extra time with Grandma and Grandpa while I was playing games with them. Unfortunately for them, Coraline was always following close behind so they never got to stay up quite as long as they would have liked. Next time my parents come I'm going to have to remember to schedule one late night for each kiddo. 

Day Trip to Sheboygan

When we went to Bookworm Gardens last year I remember thinking "My mom would love this place!"  And I also thought my dad might want to check "see the Great Lakes" off his (non-existent) bucket list. So we all piled into the minivan for the hour drive over to Sheboygan. 

We arrived just in time to enjoy lunch at Culver's before heading over to the Gardens. Thankfully I was right, and my mom and dad both loved it. How can you not, with all that gorgeous scenery and adorable kitsch?

After the gardens we headed down to Kohler Andrae state park for a quick dip in the Lake. The kids were in heaven. They just couldn't believe their luck. They played in magnificent Lake Michigan so many times this summer! I'm always amazed by the variety on each beach we visit. We had this little slice all to ourselves.

It was probably the murkiest water I've ever seen in the Lake, and (as usual) it wasn't super warm for swimming, but we still waded in a bit and had fun playing in the sand and rocks along the shore. Despite her absence in all these pictures, Mara was along for the journey. 

Over Night Stay in La Crosse

When my mom first gave me the dates for her visit she told me to get a hotel somewhere for a little overnight vacation together. I was already planning on taking them to Sheboygan, so Ben and I discussed that option. We also thought of Wisconsin's biggest tourist trap: The Dells. Ultimately we decided it would be the most fun (and convenient) to drive them over to the State's Western border before sending them off the next day. 

We have some friends that live in La Crosse so we asked them for recommendations on what to do. Everyone seemed to agree that the La Crosse Queen -- a boat ride up the Mississippi -- was a must. It has a pretty infrequent schedule and my original plan to do that when we arrived Thursday didn't work out with everyone's schedule. So instead we took that night pretty easy and just checked into our hotel and immediately took a swim. After that we walked up the street to eat dinner at a nice little dinner. Before bedtime my dad and I walked along the river to find the Queen headquarters so we'd know what to expect the next morning. 

Because we had adjoining rooms, Ben and I were able to tuck the kiddos in for the night and then take our own little walk along through the river park. It was so nice to have some individual time carved out for each of the special men in my life. 

It was also so nice to watch my little angels as they slept. Why are sleeping kiddos the sweetest?

The next morning I took just Reid and Nell for another swim (maybe Coraline too, can't quite remember). But even before that they all enjoyed cartoons in bed and the hotel breakfast. It's fun to see how those simple life pleasures can feel so magical to a child. 

We finally made it down to the Queen. Pictures cannot do the scenery justice. The bluffs on that river are just amazing. It was also really fun to listen to the guide give us a history of the area. I marvel at all the ways man harnesses nature. 

Miscellaneous Highlights

We were so grateful my parents were a part of Ben's new calling and his ordination to the High Priesthood. It also worked out that they got to come with us to Reid and Nell's Back to School Open House. Earlier that day Reid and Nell even put on a fashion show, showing off all their new outfits, shoes, and school supplies. I have my own fond memories of doing the same thing for my maternal grandparents. I honestly think it was one of the kids highlights. 

We had plenty of time to enjoy our backyard, as the weather was nice enough for several outdoor lunches and dinners. There was also a wonderful rain storm we all enjoyed from the garage. The kids showed Grandma and Grandpa how much fun they have running out on the driveway as the sheets of rain come pouring down before the lightning and thunder roll in. 

We sure had a great time showing them a slice of our life here in Wisconsin. It's hard to be so far away for most of the year, but that just makes the time we spend together that much richer. 

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Twenty Halloween Picture Books for ages 3 to 7

I've been meaning to write this post for years. Years! Every fall I come to this blog and search for my list of our favorite Halloween books. Every search ends in disappointment because I've never actually complied the list. Last year I even took a photo of Reid's October read-at-home list so I'd remember to finally write this post, but then I got distracted by things like having a baby and other life necessities. 

So here it is. Finally! Our (ever growing) list of favorite Halloween picture books. I honestly think I enjoy reading Halloween stories even more than Christmas stories (despite our beloved Christmas book advent). There's something so comfy cozy about curling up on the couch with a book that promises to be both spooky and silly. Some bend a little more toward spook and others lean on the silly, but I love snuggling my little monsters while they follow the adventures of other little monsters. I hope you enjoy them as well!

Little Goblins Ten -- This silly, spooky twist on the beloved nursery ryhme "Over in the Meadow," has been our (okay, maybe just my) Halloween favorite for years and years.  It's a must read, and a book that is sure to delight readers of all ages. The artwork is adorable and my kids (even the 7 year old) love to act out all the spooky characters actions.

Room on a Broom  --  My mother-in-law gave this to us a couple years ago and we just love it. It is such a beautiful and fun read aloud. The author has such a talent with language and rhyme (we love her other famous work, The Gruffalo, as well). Each year Netflix runs a captivating version of this story. Without varying from the original words, it manages to create a full length TV episode. Pretty impressive for a picture book!

Little Boo -- This book is absolutely adorable. I could have read it every night, ha! It doubles as a great life cycle primer (perfect for a pumpkin unit)! Readers meet little boo when he is just a baby pumpkin seed. We journey with him as he fulfills his dream of scaring those around him. 

The Bones of Fred McFee -- Reid brought this book home from the school library last year and we read it nearly every day the whole week we had it. I found myself haunting the kids with the story any chance I could. It is just the right amount of spooky and captivating. It will definitely be a favorite for older readers. 

Black and Bittern Was the Night -- I won't lie -- I did not enjoy this story the first time I read it. It is written in nonsense verse and I became frustrated by how frequently I messed up the (non)words. But I LOVED the artwork and the story and I thought, "have Ben read this and see how he reacts." He loved it. In fact, he woke up the next morning still talking about how fun it was to read aloud to the kids. I guess I'm just going to have to practice it a few more times, because it really is worth the frustrating nonsense.  

Creepy Carrots --  I don't strictly consider this a Halloween book, and I doubt the author intended it as such. It's a tale of Jasper rabbit and the creepy carrots that haunt him. My kids beg to read it over and over again. They'd probably love to read it all year round, but we keep this creepy tale on our Halloween list so I don't grow tired of it. It is a Caldecott Honor book and New York Times Besteller. There is now a follow up called Creepy Underwear. I'm not sure if we'll get to that one or not. My kids don't need any more potty humor in their life. 

Bone Soup -- This absolutely adorable spin of the traditional stonesoup story is perfect. Readers will fall in love with the little skeleton who collects ingredients from his monster neighbors. It's a party for all, and we're certainly okay with not being invited.  

Skeleton for Dinner  -- I think I really loved this one at first. But my kids requested it nearly every night last year and I do remember finally tiring of it. If they had their way, it'd be at the top of the list though. It's sure to be a favorite with this age group. 

Five Little Pumpkins -- Young readers will fall in love with this classic Halloween ryhme. But older kids won't tire of it. Instead, they practice memorizing and reciting it as they grow. I think there are many versions, as the author is unknown, but you can enjoy it as a board book, a felt story, or even a cute YouTube video. 

Goodnight Goon -- This quickly became one of Reid's favorite books ever. It's a parody of Goodnight Moon, filled with all the spooky Halloween monsters a kid could dream of. Like Creepy Carrots and Room on the Broom, this is a Halloween top seller. We snatched a like new copy at our local Goodwill (it's a great place to find gently used holiday books for any collection). 

Ghost in the House -- We loved the silly surprise ending for this spooky fun book. I enjoyed the pictures, and the story line was simple enough young readers can really enjoy it. There are a couple books by this title, so note that I am referring to the Ammi-Joan Paquette lift-the-flap book.

Only a Witch Can Fly -- My kids weren't hooked on this one, but the artwork is gorgeous! It's a fun tale of a young witch who learns how to fly despite her initial failures. It's a great way to teach kids about bravery and hard work. 

Vampire Boy's Good Night -- This story follows two best friends -- a vampire and a witch -- as they hunt for the mysterious and always hard to find children that live in the village nearby. I really enjoy the artwork in this book as well. 

Halloween Hustle -- One of my favorite read alouds, this book just begs for some bone bouncing fun. My littlest kids have especially enjoyed dancing to the beat. The older kids love staring at all the fun monsters who gather together for a Halloween party. 

It's Raining Bats and Frogs -- This book was just recently published, so we were excited to check it out and see if it was as fun as some of the more classic books on our list. I really liked the artwork and the kids were pretty captivated by the story. Reid loves books that have quote bubbles in the photos, so that was a nice little bonus. 

Ten Timid Ghosts -- This fun counting book takes readers on a haunted house adventure. But as the title warns, the ghosts aren't the ones doing the haunting. The artwork doesn't pull me in, but the rhyme and counting are enough to earn it a spot on our list each year. 

Alpha Oops: H is for Halloween -- I admit that I only remember this from years ago, but it's on my checkout list again this year because I know we loved it and any list for kids this age needs a good old fashioned alphabet book. Isn't it only fair that letters like Z and M get to go first every now and again? Alpha Oops is a comical series and the Halloween edition is our favorite yet. 

Annie Was Warned -- The first reading of this book is pure delight. My kids were on the edge of their seats with fear. But the ending is quite a fun surprise, no need to worry about nightmares. It was fun to see them get a little nervous for poor Annie as she wondered into a haunted adventure, but after that first reading the appeal kind of wears off, unfortunately. 

A Short History of Halloween (Pebbles Plus) -- We love the informative non-fiction Pebbles Plus books. They've taught us about everything from weather, to insects, to trucks, to careers and animals. I am not exaggerating when I say we've probably read nearly 50 of them. A short History of Halloween is a fabulous introduction to various Roman, Celtic, and Christian festivals that gave birth to America's Halloween.    

Halloween (The Child's World) -- This is a more in-depth history of Halloween. The book is broken up into small chapters that cover the same groups of people mentioned in the Pebbles Plus book, plus it explains where the idea of trick or treating came from and includes a chapter on the Day of the Dead. The last chapter includes three popular Halloween poems. Many pages have a one or two words highlighted in bold, and there are definitions and other fun fact boxes on the edge of the page. It's all very informative, even for me!

It's worth noting, yes there are at least 20 more books that didn't make the cut and there are more yet to be read! Halloween is such a great time to check out a huge stack of books from the local library. I hope this list helped others add a few new titles to their rotation. 

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Touching Heaven

We had a powerful moment during family prayers tonight and I want to make sure it is documented for the years to come.

Ben asked Reid to give our Family prayer right before bedtime. He agreed as he kneeled proudly in the center of the room. The rest of us had our usual head-buried-in-the-couch position. I noticed Reid was speaking slowly and choosing his words really deliberately. I had a thought enter my mind, and it was something simple like "How sweet that he is taking this so seriously." At that same moment, he kind of paused, it felt like he was searching for the right words. His next sentence wasn't anything profound or even that different from normal. Then he went ahead and closed and our usual tuck in chaos ensued. 

I told the kids I was going to stay on my knees and pray for kindness before I followed them to their room. Because seriously, sometimes it's that final minute of tucking them in bed that irritates me the most. Ah! I insisted Nell and Coraline head right to their room (they'd only go after I promised I'd soon follow). As I was herding them away, Reid looked at me and said "Wow, I was taking that really seriously."

I pulled him toward me and gave him a big hug (his sisters were gone by now). I told him I had noticed that as well. Then he started to tell me how he felt like he'd been hugged during his prayer. I knew right in that moment that he needed a serious talk about those feelings, but I also knew his sisters would start screaming for me. So I gave him one more tight squeeze and asked him if he knew where that feeling came from. "The Holy Spirit," he replied. Then I asked him to go talk to Daddy a little bit more about all of it. Ben was just a few feet away and had certainly heard the start of our conversation. 

I suppose I really should have Ben type up this story. But once they were all in bed I came out and asked Ben what Reid had to say. 

"It was really cool actually. He said he felt something really warm. 'It was like my blanket was being wrapped around me but my blanket wasn't really there.' He said he paused to think about what he should say but then he heard this voice say 'I'm really proud of you for taking this so seriously.' So we talked about the different ways Heavenly Father speaks to us. I said 'Buddy, that is proof Heavenly Father really does listen to our prayers. Prayers are a way for us to talk together."  

My children, like most, can be pretty robotic during their prayers. My children, like most, can act pretty goofy when their parents (or Church leaders) try and teach them gospel truths. But my children, like most, pick up on those precious laws of Heaven. And in return, Heaven speaks to them. 

It was truly such a powerful moment. And it's amazing to me that so many of us participated in that prayer without even knowing our Father in Heaven was speaking directly to one of us. Nell and Coraline went on their way as usual. Ben said he felt bad because he hadn't really noticed Reid was trying harder than usual. I picked up on his deep search for the right words, but then I kind of skipped past it because he didn't say anything profound afterword. 

Yet something deeply profound did happen. Reid reached up and touched heaven. He did this from the comfort of our living room, amidst all the chaos of our regular bedtime routine. He had an extraordinary moment in an ordinary minute. I'm so thankful he can build a strong testimony on something as simple as our family prayer. 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

A snippit from Instagram

When my blog writing lags I get a little more wordy on other social media sites. The below photo and words were posted to Instagram and Facebook on August 11th. 

"When I reflect back on my life, I group chunks of years by the experience that defined them. There's childhood, the college years, DC teacher years, etc. I have always loved living life and I remember each chunk, (yes, even the teens) with fondness.
I wonder what emotions and memories I'll recall years from now, as I look back at what can only be defined as the baby years. Will I mostly remember the loneliness? The messes? My tired yet sedentary body?
I decided to snap this picture as a reminder that this is what the baby years looked like. Two loves fighting for a spot on my lap. Kiddos who smile easily when I tenderly tickle their bellies.
It's hard to believe it now, but one day this phase (this one I've been stuck in for almost seven years now) will simply be a distant and fond memory - - an experience that was just a short chunk of years."

And then on August 26th I had another moment where I thought "Oh, you gotta get a picture of this. It also captures 'two loves fighting for a spot on my lap.' Only this time it was a little too literal. 

Seriously, they both carried on screaming and shoving for a ridiculously long period of time. I certainly can't remember what it was all about this many weeks later. But it's only fair to save both pictures as symbols of kids fighting for a spot on my lap.

In Coraline's defense, Reid should not be crying and carrying on like that at his age. But in Reid's defense, Coraline won't let anyone cuddle me when she is around. Just looking at this picture, I can practically hear her yelling, "My nuggles! My nuggles! No Reidy. Go. A. Way. My nuggles" Also, she's hitting him over the head as I envision this.



Thursday, September 14, 2017

Budding Friendship

Near the last half of summer (when Reid was suffering from his mouth sores), Nell and Coraline's friendship started to take off. It's been so fun to look through my old photos and see the whole process in action. 

But first, a funny comment from Nell. One day she was complaining that she didn't have anyone "That can talk like this," to play with. I looked at her -- puzzled, and so she elaborated. "Dougie and Reid both talk like me and I can understand them. I want someone who can talk like this." Writing it out loses all the humor. With Nell, tone and animation are everything (she is so animated!). It was a pretty funny complaint. But it also made perfect sense. I'd been wondering why these two hadn't become as close as Reid and Nell when Reid went off to full day Kindergarten last year. But in this moment where Nell complained about needing a friend who "could talk like this"; it all made so much sense. Nell is such a verbal child. She always has been. Lately Coraline has been speaking much clearer and communicating her ideas more efficiently, so now their friendship can bloom. And it's a beautiful thing to watch. 

Coraline admires Nell so much and it shows in the way they play. Coraline also terrorizes Nell so much, and that's a pretty hysterical thing to watch as well. It's amazing how much power such a little two-year-old can yield. It's also amazing to see her understand this power while also holding on to some fears about being the littlest of the three older kids. I don't know; I just find sibling behavior and relationship fascinating. 

But I digress. Let's see some of these cute pictures! 

Some selfies they took back in the beginning of August. So silly and then so serious. It was cute to stumble upon them cuddled up together on the couch. Who knew finding mom's unattended phone could feel so mischievous and be so fun?

These are some sidewalk drawings they did the day (or two) after the selfies. Nell's picture is of our family on a nature hike in the neighborhood nature preserve. I was so proud of all her hard work. Coraline's picture also had a story to go along with it, but I can't remember it at this point. Ooops. Also, it rained like 20 minutes after they finished. It was pretty funny and disappointing all at the same time. I knew the storm was coming, so that's why I snapped a photo real quick when they finished. They really did work so hard on that (and they didn't fight once the whole time)!

They were super playful together when we went to the bookworm gardens in Sheboygan with my parents (more on that later). I really just love watching them interact and be goofy together. 

Lately their favorite thing to play with Dougie is cars. So this lasst weekend I took all the kids to the grocery store so they could each buy a new $1 matchbox car. I was shocked when Coraline grabbed the dragon right away and didn't need to look any further. She's so cautious about "scary" things, but it was somehow love at first sight with that dragon car. 

And then there is this photo, taken this morning as Mara napped and Reid was away at school. Doesn't it just melt your heart? Nell was being such a little mommy and Coraline loved playing the part or doting daughter. I can't wait to see how this friendship continues to grow. 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017


Mara was a real pain in the butt last week. So I think I need to gush on her via post. You know, to rekindle the love (now that she's napping). Also, I haven't written a post for just her in months, MONTHS! And this is my last baby. My last chance to remember all the little details and all the glorious milestones. And I'm totally blowing it!

I've got my phone right here next to me and I'm scrolling through my camera roll, trying to figure out which pictures I've shared. As I look through my summer blog posts I notice Mara is pretty absent. Why? Because I kept telling myself I'd write a blog about just her soon! And now it's practically Fall.

Anyway, I better get to it before Winter rolls in (that's no joke here in Wisconsin).

June 23rd
 Here's some of her sweet rolling-around-the-front-room poses from way back in June. She started getting up on all fours and rocking back and forth around her 6 month mark. This seemed incredibly early compared to my other kiddos. All their shenanigans motivated her to get up and move. She was pretty great at just rolling all over the front room there for a while. But she had army crawling down in just a couple of weeks (somewhere just passed the 6 month mark).

July 5

July 5
That bottom photo is really blurry, but I don't care. Looking at it two months (and one week) later makes me realize just how fast she really is growing. She looks like such a baby there! I can't believe how quickly they change during this first year of life.

July 10
Apparently I was really into taking photos of her sleeping in her car seat back in July. That's probably because I thought she'd out grown this stage, and I was just so excited she was falling back into it. But also, what's not to love about those tiny little fingers curled up against those chubby thigh rolls? And that blueberry smudge under her bottom lip?!?!? How can you not want to just kiss that right off? Oh, I love you baby!

Hanging out with Daddy way back when we went to the Oshkosh Corp Parade. Mara has been such a chill, easy baby. I love that we can take her just about anywhere without much planning or fuss. She just fits right into our busy family and enriches it every day (and that's a true account of my feelings for most of July and August). Whenever people compliment what a good baby she is, I can honestly respond "She's our best one yet!" I often follow that with some sort of joke, "I think it's a trap."

July 19th
On July 19th, she tried cherries for the first time. She definitely enjoyed them!  Now, watch this for yourself. Her next solo picture was taken nearly four weeks later. She's in the same spot, but I swear ... she has grown so much!

August 10th
Seriously, is that not adorableness personified? Gawsh! I love her!

August 11th
Just playing with some Legos on the front room floor. By this point in the summer she was a master at pulling herself up into sitting position. We loved having Reid go and get her out of her crib each morning. He would then carry her into our room and all six of us would snuggle for a bit. It was just lovely.

She loved the water table at a friend's birthday party. I loved the view of her chubby little thighs (and rainbow bum). Seriously, so adorable! She wasn't quite pulling herself to a stand yet (she's still trying to master that), but she could hold herself up if she had a sturdy enough prop. 

Sept 11
And then here are the photos I took a few hours after I actually started drafting this blog post. I cannot get enough of her! The other day I (once again) asked her to stay a baby forever as I gave her a big squishy hug/kiss. "I worked so hard to make four little babies; it's only fair I get to keep one!" Man alive I really wish that was the deal we got to make. 

Mara truly has been such an enjoyable baby. As much as I hate to see her grow, I also delight in it. Life is such an amazing, fragile, beauty. I'm grateful we all get to be a part of Mara Joy's.

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