59 and a Half

I started thinking about this event right after my parents turned 59 last year. I debated what would be the best celebration for their 60th. With their two birthdays bracketing Christmas and New Years, I knew I would have to rent some place due to weather, and how would I get people to attend during the holidays?

Brian’s dad had a winning suggestion: Just don’t do it around the 60th birthday. The 59-1/2 dual surprise birthday party was born. Or rather, planned and fretted over, with labor and love.

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We really struggled with how to get them out of their house. Holly and I ended up doing all the decorating labor, table and tent set up and shopping. Brian and Tyler (who was also sick) had to visit the Air Force museum with them and the kids to keep them away until the scheduled time.

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Mom was super surprised and jumped right in. She told us that she didn’t think she had really had more than one other dedicated birthday party before. Both of them seemed to have a great time with as many friends and family as we could gather from their combined contact lists.

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We had catering from City Barbecue, iced tea and lots of drinks. It was a sweltering day, but we enjoyed the shade from the tents we rented and the deck awning.

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It was pretty windy. Mom’s candles went out before the song was over!

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Some good friends and family lingered for birthday present opening.

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All the invitees were provided with notecards to write good wishes and memories to our parents, and we included those with photos into a little book (mini project life style).

Since Mom’s siblings were all able to make the trek to their house, we couldn’t go without some reunion style photos.

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As for the kids: my cousin’s girls came to the party and they all got along famously. They had a great time.

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I don’t recall the kids asking why Meemaw and Grandpa were having a birthday party when it wasn’t their birthday but we’ll see what happens this winter when the big 6-0 actually approaches.

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Spring Soccer

Yes, it’s true. Fall soccer is almost over, and here I am talking about spring soccer. For the first time this year they gave kids long sleeves for spring soccer, which was nice except that we had a pretty warm season! And Jameson let those sleeves hang down almost every game. It drove me nuts.

Jameson scored his first goal during soccer practice. They did a scrimmage with the opposite team so I think it counts!

Here are a few more shots of that season. We had a good coach, Jameson’s friend Jimmy’s dad was our coach. Jameson has really come a long way this year in confidence and skill.

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New Ride

This summer, I said goodbye to this wonderful vehicle, the first I bought on my own almost 9 years ago. I even signed it away with my maiden name, for probably the last time. I loved my Kia Sportage, but it was lacking in so many of the nice safety features newer cars have. (And most of Jameson’s daycare payment going away was my incentive for timing).

Here’s my new car on a morning weekend run. It’s a 2017 Subaru Outback. It’s quite a change – push button start, back up camera, all kinds of safety alerts and fancy cruise control. I do love the new car, and the new color, but sometimes I find myself missing my distinctive green in the parking lot!

It’s taken Coraline a bit more time to get used to it. She said she didn’t like this car for a while (but I think that might also be because I was making her get in this car herself since it’s not too high for her). Jameson seemed indifferent after the initial enthusiasm for the new ride!

I, however, still love driving it with the same new enthusiasm a couple months later. Not tired of it yet!

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Garden Addition

This year, with prompting from our neighbor who wanted to expand and fence in their garden, Brian did the same for ours. We had to plant a lot of our sprouts before it was completely done, so I wasn’t able to rotate our “crops” much this year, but next year I’m so excited with the additional space we have to move some things around. I really need to give squash a lot more space, and the tomatoes need some new placement.

Coraline has been looking for treasure in all the holes for our new garden fence. In the very last hole we found pebbles!

Coraline was looking for treasure in all the post holes for our new garden fence. In the very last hole we found pebbles! It was pretty fun to find an actual “treasure.”

The best part, I think, is the stones between each raised bed. No more will I find snakes in tall grass between them!

Here’s Coraline enjoying the fruits of our labor. Snacking on raw green beans. Jameson also tried mint which lasted .2 minutes until he realized it was NOT like gum like we told him. Ha!

We lost most of our squash early again since we were dealing with some powdery mildew. This year we caught it early enough that it didn’t spread to the tomato plants, and we did still get more squash than in years past. We spiralized zucchini for the first time! Coraline loves anything shaped like pasta.

We also got a pumpkin this year! We had sprouts in our compost and I let a couple plants grow. Our first pumpkin rotted on the vine, but we have a second smaller one that I’m going to cut from the vine soon.

We thought we were growing brussel sprouts, but turns out it was broccoli! When they are sprouts they look very similar, and I misplaced the labels early on when we were transplanting things. We added it to our salad the other day, and it wasn’t bitter like the broccoli we have had in the past. We also are trying eggplant this year, and watermelon, but the watermelon isn’t doing much beyond spreading it’s vine everywhere. We lost the one fruit we had to Jameson, oops!

Overall, it’s been a fun year with the garden, and we’ve gotten and used a lot more herbs this year. We are drying them with the food dehydrator. It feels really good to be using a lot more of the food we’re growing this year, and not be stuck with a thousand pots drying out daily!

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Dog Days

The biggest news this year came in the form of this little (not so little anymore) pup. We picked her up literally the day after our Disney vacation at about 10 weeks old. The breeder generously kept her for a couple weeks extra until we returned from vacation.

She’s just so soft. But her mouth is full of sharp teeth. Ha! They are much less sharp now that she has her adult teeth in. We have really enjoyed discovering her personality as she grows. She’s about 6 months old now, and she always wants to play. She adores Jameson, and thinks that Coraline is easy pickings. Just kidding, she likes Coraline too, but she takes advantage of her more.

Her name is Luna.

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We picked her out when she was a couple weeks old. They aren’t super active then, so we picked her based on her little white patch, like her dad’s. The only one of the litter of black puppies that had it!

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Here she is the day we brought her home.

When she was wee little, she always had a crazy ear, though that’s disappeared somewhat.

Coraline, in fear for her toes. Sometimes Coraline just gives up and sits on the steps, behind the baby gate so Luna can’t reach her.

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Likes to sniff bird poop and watch cars til they’re out of sight.

Us after a rainy walk!

Normally I do not walk a dog in the rain but we pressed on our normal route because miss Luna needed some exercise urgently.

It’s definitely been a transition to have a puppy in the house. We were used to an older mellow dog, and Luna is young, playful and needs lots of exercise. From the getgo though she’s been really well behaved in her crate, generally doesn’t bark in it and has always slept through the night. She potty trained relatively fast (though we still have an occasional accident). It’s also wonderful to have a non-shedding pup, though we need to stay on top of getting her trimmed. She tends to get car sick, but is much better than she used to be, so I have high hopes of that resolving completely.

We’ve been through one round of puppy training, but she definitely needs more. We mostly have an issue with jumping and with gnawing on our arms or clothing. She does it for attention or request for play, and thankfully hasn’t torn up anything but a carpet edge. We will leave her out for half hour to an hour by herself, and of course whenever we’re home. During the work week, Brian often comes home at lunch to give her some TLC. She’s a wonderful dog that likes walks, play fetch and tug of war with the kiddos, and also likes to steal Coraline’s blankies. The other day she did eat 3 socks, so she’s definitely a troublemaker in her own mild way.

I do love having a “guard dog” again in the house, and I can’t wait for her to control that urge to soft bite and cuddle with me more. She does do so occasionally now, and I’m hoping I’ll have a runner companion too when I can start training her next spring. Welcome to the family, Luna!

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Bike Riding Summer

After demonstrating her proficiency with pedaling this spring (finally), we traded with the neighbors Jameson and Lily’s old bikes this summer. Coraline and Peyton now have a bike they feel appropriate for them.

Jameson also had a big year for biking, since he started riding sans training wheels. After being pushed down some hills many many times, and riding through the grass a lot with Daddy behind him, one day he finally felt confident enough to try it on the sidewalk.

From there, it was one very short day until he was a pro at riding. And, that’s what we’ve done most of this summer.

Practicing without training wheels!!

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Magic Kingdom, Disney Finale Day 5

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Champagne for breakfast on our last day!

As with our last trip when Coraline was a baby, we made sure our last day was at Magic Kingdom. There’s something about seeing Cinderella’s castle on the last day that’s so iconic for our Disney trips. Coraline loved seeing the castle.

But first, we had breakfast at Epcot for one more character meal. I had originally said I wasn’t going to do many character meals this trip… but, well, I booked them anyway. I really wanted to eat at the Garden Grill at Epcot, but we couldn’t get in for a dinner so breakfast was the next best thing. We were seated on the second tier though so we couldn’t really see the land below as it rotated, so that was a bit disappointing.

Kids were not disappointed.

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Adults needed a few photos with characters for our last time!

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More magic photos! The kids finally were getting the hang of this. Did I mention how excited I was on this trip that there wasn’t a huge crane up by the castle the whole time!?

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We also had to get a couple photos with Meemaw.

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We went back Fantasyland to do Dumbo and the Barnstormer. Jameson still loved that roller coaster. Both kids enjoyed Dumbo, and it was so clever that they had a kids play area in the center inside the “circus tent”. I wish all the rides were like that!

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It started to get hot, so it was time to cool off! Coraline got very into the splash pad. Jameson was a little less enthusiastic. Coraline required a change of clothes afterward, ha!

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While people started to gather for the parade, the boys waited in line for some ice cream for the kids and I found a spot with less people to get this wonderful photo of the two of them, my favorite of them together for the whole trip.

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It was pretty sweltering by this time, but we the photographers were excited with the reduced crowds to be able to give us this shot. We were pretending to be cold! I was a little miffed because this photographer’s lens was dirty, so these next shots I had to clean up a lot! We still captured some fun moments with less people surrounding, though.

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Then we settled down to wait for the parade to start.

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I love Coraline’s curls when it’s humid and hot and sweaty. It’s darling!

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This parade was better than the last one we saw during our previous trip. We saw almost all the princesses aboard the floats, even Anna and Elsa! Kids were tired of waiting, but perked right up when it finally started, and it started with all the princesses on a series of floats. Perfect!

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This dragon that followed Snow White was just awesome. Jameson got a kick out of the fire, which it breathed out a couple times as it passed. It was one of his favorite photos to look back on later.

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The finale, of course, is always Mickey and Minnie!

We took the jungle safari cruise, which had a pretty long wait even with our fast passes, and then most everyone headed back. We stayed for just one more ride!

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Last ride was the Magic Carpet ride!

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And, we couldn’t leave without one more photo (with ears)

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Okay, a couple photos.

And, the flight home! Ipads are miracle workers. I love their duffy bears sitting next to them.

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Disney is always a wonderful trip. Brian remembers a lot more stress during our first trip, which was with a 6 month old. I myself just remember some trouble with sleeping because Coraline was cutting a tooth, but otherwise I think I’ve blocked the stressful parts from my mind. But since I’ve been to Disney a few times since then for races, I was also a whole lot more relaxed too because I felt so familiar with everything. It was a wonderful trip, and I put together individual memory books for the kids again which occasionally get picked out as “bedtime stories”.

See you again soon, Disney!

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Hollywood Studios, Disney Day 4

Let’s get Disney vacation wrapped up so we can move on to other fun things from this year, shall we?

After a few days at Disney, it was time to explore our resort more! So we made sure to visit all the cars characters before we left for Hollywood Studios in the morning for breakfast. The theming at the Art of Animation Resort is just brilliant.

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We only planned to spend half a day at Hollywood Studios, break at the resort, and visit Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney that I just can’t get out of the habit of saying) in the evening. I really wanted Jameson to see the Lego store! Not to mention, I wanted to do some shopping.

We planned for breakfast at Hollywood and Vine inside the studios, because they have Disney Jr characters! We couldn’t get all of us in for breakfast, so this breakfast was the four of us, plus Uncle Tyler (who had to get us in!). He got a complementary breakfast from us for all his hard work on this trip again. And some additional meals. We treated our guide well 🙂 We got this photo of the four of us while waiting for Uncle Tyler who was caught in traffic!

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We were afraid we might not make our planned Frozen show that we had a fast pass for, so breakfast was a bit rushed but the kids saw all their favorites. Rather, Coraline did. Jameson acted too cool for school, but then told Handy Manny that he used to watch his show all the time #fanforlife.

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Frozen was a hit! The best part was, of course, the end when we finally see Elsa and it snows! Sorry, spoiler alert.

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Then, FINALLY, it was Jameson’s time. This is all he wanted to do. Star Wars! Even though he loves Kylo Ren, he didn’t want to meet him (too scared of the bad guys). Reality is still a little mixed for the little dude. But we did meet Chewbacca who was incredibly tall! And also a Jawa who was walking around.

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We saw Captain Phasma and lots of Storm Troopers which really kind of terrified Jameson. They are loud characters, and very realistic! The adults in the group were pretty entertained by them. Tyler told us they custom make their suits, and they cost a lot of money!

Jameson also didn’t want to watch the Star Wars show in the center because it was loud and scary for him. We didn’t feel like Jameson would be able to handle the rides because of the same, so we skipped right to making his own light saber, which was by far the best part of his day.

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We tried to do Tower of Terror, but the line was just too long, so we went ahead back to our hotel for lunch and a break. Coraline was thrilled to be back playing in the water.

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Face time

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We spent our evening in Disney Springs. We never did get to meet Duffy this time, but we found another just as big!

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This was really Jameson’s day! He got to pick out his own container of Legos. We built a few Lego characters too.

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And, to sum up the day: “I didn’t know they had real volcanos here!” Jameson, Disney Springs.

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Epcot, Disney Day 3

While we were running the inaugural Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon, Brian stayed with the kids. They were done with breakfast and just hitting the pool when we came back, so we were able to shower, sit for a moment and grab a bite before heading into Epcot for the day.

We really enjoyed staying at the budget resort. Having stayed at the Grand Floridian last time, going to a budget hotel this time really served its purpose. We got a lot more space and the super themed rooms and pools were perfect for young kids.

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YES! I did it. I made the entire family wear matching shirts. I saw these at a good discount at the Disney store online, and it took very little convincing to get all the ladies on board. Brian even wears his around the yard sometimes still! I will say it was the easiest day to keep track of everyone, and I’m pretty sold on the idea for future vacations (sorry in advance)

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While Jameson and most of our group did Test Track with our FastPasses, Coraline and I hung out in the cars on display when you finish the ride. She loved it, and sat happily for almost 20 minutes. We didn’t even realize it when everyone had finished the ride!

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We made sure to go do the Sea building and visited with Crush and I got another great photo next to the Nemo statues. Jameson wasn’t a huge fan of the aquarium but it was nice to sit down a bit during Turtle Talk with Crush for the adults.

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New for me (having been to Disney quite a bit for races myself with my side of the family in the past year), was the Garden Festival. They had a cool butterfly house and Meemaw got a kick out of taking a photo of all the shaped topiaries we passed.

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Yes, I think Epcot is more geared to adults, but the kids absolutely had fun. Meemaw and the kids were partial to Figment, with all the activies you can do at the end of the ride. They were also fascinated with Spaceship Earth, which we never miss.


Original Mouseketeers relaxing

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But the highlight, at least for Coraline, was the princess dinner at Akershus. I’ve eaten there before, and I’m not sure it’s worth the price in general, but to see Coraline’s face definitely was. It’s easiest to see all those princesses close up at a dinner, that’s for sure! (I think Jameson’s highlight was the Test Track)

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So ended our half day at Epcot, which really was the perfect amount of time there. The only thing we really lacked during this visit to Epcot was Duffy bear! Last time, Jameson got to meet his character, but this time he wasn’t on the schedule. Also, they don’t make the little keychain Duffy bears any more, so we ended up with a big one. Tyler found a little keychain Duffy in China though dressed in a cute little outfit! So now Jameson has 3 little and 1 big Duffy bears, the only stuffed animal he’s been attached to for the past couple years.

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Jameson loved the big ball. He did a lot of fussing for other photos (I admit I take a lot), but he definitely wanted this one!

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The Tooth Fairy Arrived!

Jameson lost his first official tooth at 5am this morning! (Knocked out ones do not count). He would like to know how the tooth fairy gets into the house. I let him work out that one for himself.

While joking with dad, he informed Brian that he had seen the tooth fairy, and that she looked like a camel with three heads.

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