Christmas Day


Jameson and I made cookies for Santa when we arrived home Christmas Eve. He insisted that Santa should use a real glass cup for milk, but that he might be too messy, so we wrote a note. Jameson then said the note would get too messy next to the cookies and milk, so he posted it on a wall for Santa to see when he came in.


He was so excited to see if Santa came the next morning! Coraline had to have some yogurt first though so we made him wait. He wondered how Santa knew he wanted a shark (he didn’t, that was from mom and dad)! There is still some mix up about which gifts are from Santa and which are from everyone else, but that’s okay.

After some time, he declared that he was too tired to open more Christmas gifts (and Coraline gave up after just three), but we made them do it anyway. They’re not pros yet, obviously. Coraline is a little over one and a half and Jameson is 4 years old.





As usual from Santa, Jameson and Coraline got something to read, something to wear and something to play with. Jameson got Pixar Bedtime Stories, and Coraline got a classic Madeline board book. Jameson also got his one wish, a new lawn mower for Christmas like Jonathan and Lily’s. Coraline got a play dough molding and cutting set which also came with new play dough. She immediately wanted to play with it.

To wear, Jameson received new fuzzy socks and a Superman hat that fits much better than the little caps he had been wearing. Coraline got a new sweater with a little fox on it.





 Kids Opening Christmas Gifts Video

Jameson and Brian went out and picked out a gift for Coraline from Jameson. He picked a little pound puppy which she carried around with her everywhere for a while. The kids together got a lot of new playfood, since I was very interested in replacing some of the less-than-healthy plastic food they had. I didn’t throw all the food out that they had, but supplemented and replaced what I could for now. Coraline really loved her tea set, which we actually bought for her the year prior and saved.



Jameson got a new spider man sleeping bag, which he brings out to sleep or lay in every chance he gets (literally every weekend). He got to use it at Jonathan’s house when we slept over for New Years Eve. It’s very loved. Coraline got a little remote control vehicle and Hape stringing/lacing beads as well.


In their stockings, Santa brought special holiday goldfish, lots more socks, tooth brushes and toothpaste, and Coraline got a new necklace that’s actually for teething and made of food-safe silicone beads since she’s still a chewer. Jameson got a paint-your-own-snowman, too.


One of Jameson’s favorite gifts was the truck he got, a log hauler I picked up from TJ Maxx. It’s by a great company making better plastic toys, Bruder trucks. He also got Legos, which we’ve made together. He loves the little swords the little men carry.


It was a fun-filled morning, after which we brought out the new play dough, had some breakfast sweet rolls, a nap (Coraline did anyway) and headed over to Grandma and Poppa’s for our Christmas dinner.


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Teddy Bear Christmas

20131224-Christmas-2498We arrived home on Christmas Eve, and after taking a bath and getting ready for bed, Jameson was ready for Santa Claus to arrive. For the first time, he was old enough to leave cookies for Santa, and carrots for the reindeer. Jameson then insisted on leaving an apple as well.

Santa arrived late that night and I snuck a photo. When Jameson got up in the morning though he was fixated on (and a little concerned about) the crumbs that Santa had left behind. In fact, he didn’t notice the presents under the tree until he had his full breakfast of two special yogurts (yogurts in a tube).


20131224-Christmas-2504Then, he approached the tree and seemed a little confused actually about the big teddy bear waiting for him. I think because Coraline had just gotten a large pig at Meemaw and Grandpa’s house, he thought it was for her! After correcting him, he got pretty into it, and for the rest of our holiday break, he insisted on bringing the big teddy up and down the stairs to wherever he was. Since returning to work though we’ve managed to keep Big Corduroy as he’s called up stairs.

He’s called Big Corduroy because Little Corduroy was another gift from Santa. Santa typically brings something read, something to wear and something to play with at our house. Santa this year thought it appropriate for Jameson to get not one, but two teddy bears from his simple request.

Jameson also got two pairs of new pajamas, and A Pocket for Corduroy from Santa. Mom and dad got him a camera, a new truck hauler that carries motorcycles, and a cool extra long book about dinosaurs among a few other things.

We did have some drama in the midst of opening presents; Jameson appeared to be getting a little upset or jealous about Coraline’s gifts (perhaps because one of the boxes was big? or the book she got was really cool and one he also liked?) and he refused to open any more gifts until I told him the he got a cool book too and he opened his dinosaur book.



Coraline got a new sweatshirt from Santa, the Chick-a-Chick-a-Boom-Boom alphabet book, and a shopping cart from Santa.

We got her a book of all her favorite faces which I purchased from Pint Size Productions which makes custom board books. I was really happy with that book, and the pages are almost pearlescent and very high quality. We also purchased a Noah’s Ark for her and musical crawl ball. Of course, she isn’t much interested in that and wants to chew on all of Jameson’s toys instead!


Jameson was a big helper of course opening Coraline’s gifts for her.



Coraline then took a nap, so the last of her gifts waited until after she woke up. Sasha had some gifts too, of course, and opened two of them on Christmas (this particular one she got to open from Grandma and Poppa!)




Coraline woke up from her nap, and we did some Face Time with Meemaw and Grandpa and opened her last gift, the Noah’s Ark. She really likes taking things out of other things now (we have a little container looking like a milk jug with big coins in it) and now she’s just starting to put things back in it, so the Noah’s Ark is fun.



Jameson was really excited about Coraline’s shopping cart, which we insisted on waiting to put together after she woke from her nap. Little Corduroy (and all the other teddies eventually) went shopping.



After that Jameson was completely wiped out. We hadn’t even done the stockings yet, but he needed a break after a few more almost-melt-downs.

A little while later and after a snack, we opened some stockings! Coraline got a lot of socks! As well as some more puffs. Jameson got a new caboose for his trains, some musical toys, playdoh and more.


Later on, Aunt Melissa and her boyfriend Vince, and Grandma and Poppa came over to celebrate Christmas and have dinner! Coraline was in a fine mood in her lovely Christmas dress!



Brian decided on a fried turkey for the menu, and insisted that this new-to-him jacket from Goodwill was going to be his turkey frying and beer brewing jacket. The flannel underneath really completes the look, don’t you think?


After our wonderful meal of fried turkey, fried vegetable, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and wine we got to open more gifts!


Aunt Melissa got some tools this Christmas to go with her new house. We all got some wonderful, thoughtful gifts, and Jameson and Coraline were so excited to have everyone over!



And then Christmas was over! The anticipation always just seems to build up and then feels so anticlimactic when it’s over. But this year, the fun seemed to continue for Jameson into the following days as he continued to talk about Santa, or his gifts, or sang Frosty the Snowman (or Jingle Bells).

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Easter Weekend

For Easter this year, my mom and sister came up to visit, and we enjoyed family all together on Sunday for Easter supper. This was Aunt Holly’s first opportunity to meet Coraline!

The weather was looking up a bit, so we spent some time outside on Saturday with Coraline all bundled up.

Jameson loved playing basketball with Aunt Holly (it was mostly just throwing and playing catch, but Jameson has taken to calling that basketball).

Meemaw brought the extra large bouncy ball! It quickly blew through the yard on the windy day, and I’m pretty sure Jameson encouraged some of that blowing away so they could run down the street chasing after it.

On Easter morning, Jameson very quickly saw an egg and understood the name of the game. He took a quick break to eat some breakfast midway through (thankfully, since he enjoyed eating a jelly bean or two from each of his eggs).


After finding all the eggs (18 eggs, filled with jelly beans, chocolate which he insisted he didn’t like, and 3 little cars), then it was time for the Easter baskets.

Both Jameson and Coraline have Easter baskets; Coraline’s basket is gray and pink, and Jameson’s is green and white, made from loopy chenille which is now a discontinued product and hard to find. The yellow basket you see in the photos above is my basket from my childhood.

Coraline got a giraffe hooded towel (kid-sized, so I expect Jameson will use it before it fits her!), a baby toy with mirror, small stuffed bunny, bunny rattle, puffs and yogurt drops for when she is introduced to food, a bunny rubber duck bath toy.

Jameson’s basket had pez and animal crackers, a shark hooded towel, coloring book, 3 mini reading books, flashlight, puzzle, and Finding Nemo. Finding Nemo did not overtake his love of the Lion King, but he did sit through most of it.

Meanwhile, Brian made a breakfast casserole for us. After all that activity, we didn’t make it in to church, but I did have everyone dress up for our first family photo post Coraline’s birth.

Contrary to this lovely photo’s appearance, it was much much harder to get everyone looking at the camera and smiling.

And by everyone, I mean Jameson and Sasha (I didn’t expect Coraline to be looking at the photo, though by some miracle, we captured a photo of her looking at the camera and not screaming). This was actually the only photo we got of Sasha in the frame as well, since she kept insisting on laying down.

Jameson was concerned about Coraline crying and the rush of the photo, and kept sticking his hand in dad’s pocket until we let him take a few of the photos himself.

I think everyone (including my belly, which was stuffed into those pants temporarily) was relieved when we managed to capture a couple good photos, and we were finished. These family portraits are important though, and I am happy we managed to take them at least twice a year.

Brian’s parents and sister came over then for supper. They brought over more Easter goodies for Jameson and Coraline, including clothes and toys and candy for Jameson.

Jameson’s fascination with spinning things made these tops a hit.

For supper, we had ham and turkey, salad, potatoes and green bean casserole, and fruit pizza for dessert. Coraline was sleeping off her own supper time in the bouncer.

After taking a couple photos of Jameson’s stash of blankets and toys on top of Coraline, I came back just moments later to find her head actually covered up under two layers of blankets. Ooops! We had to tell Jameson he can’t cover her head.

It is so nice of him to share his toys though, so we encourage that particular behavior and I love the way he wants to keep her warm and seems to believe it will help her sleep, just like they do for him.

After our nice family dinner, Meemaw and Aunt Holly had to leave and we relaxed for the evening. Everyone was exhausted!

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Gifts for a 2 Year Old

It’s that time of year again! This year I got an early start on making up a list of toys and games I thought would be appropriate for him.

To be clear though, he’s not really playing with many toys. Our evenings are made up of “wrestling”, running around, playing with his stool, watching tv and looking at books which he likes to read “mysef”


Kid Laptop | Kid Camera | Music Player

In the tech toys, staples are the kid size versions of laptops and cameras, or even the kid-proof case for your own ipad. If you’re strapped for cash, Jameson also has a recycled mouse (cord cut) and keyboard that he enjoys pounding on and standing on.

There are cheaper kid cameras than the one here, but I like this one since you can swivel the lens so you can take pictures of yourself. I take a lot of photos, and Jameson frequently takes my iphone to say “cheese” (and also “hello”; glad he recognizes it’s a phone too). I figured this is a little beyond his  abilities right now, but it will be fun for him to grow with over the next year.

I liked this music player because you can add real songs to it and it will hold up to abuse. I would consider getting some kind of headphones too. This kind of gift will work well for next year too!


Magazine Subscription | Books | Matching Game

Does your child like to get the mail? I started a subscription with Jameson’s name on it, that I was really hoping he’d get into. So far, no dice, but I still think he’ll enjoy getting mail just for him this year.

Specifically, I’m talking about books that relate to daily activities like brushing teeth, switching to a new bed, going potty, and eating vegetables. Jameson has really enjoyed reading about these types of life activities that he can really relate to right now.

The matching game is a really relevant gift for his age, and a step up from the regular blocky puzzles they probably already have. You can just do a couple cards at a time to not overwhelm them.


Mr. Potato Head | Magnadoodle | Backpack

Body parts? Yes.

Of course, a magnadoodle is at your discretion. If you pick one, I would definitely make sure it doesn’t have loose magnets. Jameson is great about not putting things in his mouth yet, but I wouldn’t trust him that far. I like the fact that he can doodle and draw with this without much supervision at any time. Art doesn’t have to happen at the kitchen table. Since he’s not great about sitting still, I am hoping this will encourage him.

And let them start carrying their own stuff! They’ll enjoy the novelty of it, I swear.


Latch Board | Alphabet or Numbers Puzzles | Build-It Yourself Vehicles

In the puzzle realm, improve dexterity with a latch board type puzzle, or their letter and number recognition with the alphabet puzzles.

I spent a long time searching for a vehicle that I thought would act for both regular play and puzzle/thinking skills. A lot of build-it sets are for older children, and I thought this one settled right where I wanted it to. I can’t wait to see how he interacts with this toy.


Doctor or Vet Set | Wooden Train Set | Play Food

For pretend play, there is always doctor or vet sets (the vet sets frequently come with an animal, which is a bonus).

We also got Jameson a wooden train set. I wouldn’t spend a lot of money on it yet unless you know your child adores trains, because eventually you’ll just upgrade to the electric ones anyway. But it allows kids to build it and play with it, so it’s another win in my book!

If the child already has a workshop or kitchen, then this will just enhance it. If not, play food works well on it’s own or with a little kid-size shopping cart. We’ve had fun teaching Jameson what “pretend” means.


Bilibo | Kid-Size Versions of Adult Stuff | Kid-Size Versions of Adult Stuff

As I said, Jameson doesn’t play with a lot of his toys regularly, so this not-toy is right up his alley. It can be whatever he wants it to be! Which will probably be a hat, since he has been putting most things on his head recently.

Jameson is into dice, which are obviously too small for him to play with without close supervision, so I bought him these hard foam dice just over choking size instead.

The vacuum! You don’t have to spend a lot on the Dyson version; this cheap one Jameson has had for a long time already and loves. We are getting him his own little broom this year, and I am willing to bet it will be a top toy as well. Not to mention, it will continue to encourage him as my little helper!

*I have not used or experienced all these products, but I think they’re great ideas. As always, consider your purchases carefully and note any age specific warnings and details.

P.S. Looking for gift ideas for a 1 year old? Check out some of my suggestions.

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Play Kitchen

Sunday we put together Jameson’s play kitchen! Brian was cleaning out the basement and got tired of staring at the extra large box which we purchased a long time ago. We did anticipate giving it to him before his birthday, when it got cooler out, so this was the right time!

Since Brian does the cooking in our house, we thought Jameson might naturally want to imitate him this way. He will undoubtedly get tools and other traditional “boy” toys, but this item was insisted on by me, who enjoys the fruits of Brian’s labor in the kitchen.

Also, I really wanted to encourage some imaginary play, since a lot of Jameson’s play is rough housing and activities like standing on stools, pillows, boxes and containers.

Jameson insisted on being a helper while we built it. He would take pieces to Brian whenever asked, and wanted to use the screw driver to help put things together.

He also knows the word “batteries” now and whenever something doesn’t work, he’ll say “battwies” and follows that with a “daddy” because I frequently tell him that daddy will fix things. So this time, I put in the batteries for the kitchen.

Once it was all finished, we had Jameson make us some broccoli, apple and bananas. The set came with food, and we went through each of them and Jameson repeated after me.

The following day, we had the cutest conversation about his kitchen:

Me: Are you putting Mr. Bear in the microwave?
J: yeah
Me: oh is Mr. Bear all done? Are you going to eat Mr. Bear now?
J: yeah
(Mr.s Bear and Blanket then made their rounds in the fridge and stove shortly after)

Before Trick or Treat, Aunt Melissa came over and they played with his new kitchen too. It’s fun to ask him for a fork, and he’ll run back to get it.

Surprisingly, he doesn’t use the burners which light up and make noise as much as the microwave, which doesn’t make any noise at all but he will press the fake buttons anyway. Pretty cute!

We moved his toy box into the dining room for now since he’s not playing with much in there. So far, the kitchen’s getting a decent amount of use, even if he does like putting unrelated toys into the cubbies!

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Vivienne Turns The Big One

Saturday was Miss Vivienne’s 1st birthday party! It was unseasonably cool (in the 60’s) and neither Brian nor I knew that it was going to be held outside. So, when we arrived and discovered how chilly it was outside, Brian headed home for some jackets for Jameson and I.

In the meantime, food arrived, and I imagined my terror toddler squirming out of my grasp and/or grabbing at the food to dump it all over me. I was grateful that JP & Lisa were there with Jonathan so that if necessary I could have an adult helper!

However, Jameson was in rare form, and sat still in my left arm while I also held the plate of food right next to him and which I ladled onto with my free hand. I was impressed with myself, for sure.

He then sat like a little angel on my lap on the picnic table, eating off the plate politely with me. Pizza, blueberries, a little pasta. I also enjoyed the meatballs and chips and cheese dip, which Jameson tried at our second helping and enjoyed as well despite a little spice.

Finally, Brian returned with our jackets, and while he ate, we took the kids off to play with the toys they had around!

It was breezy, so it was easy for Jameson to “blow bubbles” by simply holding up the wand at the right angle. He was so excited. He loved playing with the bubbles.

The breeze didn’t stop him from trying to blow the bubbles out himself though:

He didn’t try to dump out the bubble solution either. We were pretty impressed with his maturity; we’ve considering picking a big bubble wand up from the dollar store. It was a long time of entertainment, and would’ve been longer, except that we had to share.

Before Vivienne opened her gifts, we took a break and went down to the nearby playground, which Jameson also loved. It was a perfect location for a birthday party!

After break time, we headed back up for a diaper change and gift opening. I went with my practical-but-still-seems-frivously-awesome StrideRite gift card for shoes for the soon-to-be-walker, and then I also found this gem: Wooden Shape Sorting Clock. It says 3 and up, but the pieces didn’t seem too small for a 1 year old as long as that one year old isn’t insistent about stuffing their face with wood.

Anyway, it seemed like a great grow-with-me toy, and our lucky day, this lucky lady likes to sort shapes like crazy so I’m sure she’ll enjoy it.

Jameson was a champ, but since he had an interrupted nap in order to arrive in time for the party, he was starting to get a little antsy. He said goodbye to Vivienne’s mom Lisa, and gave high fives all around. He’s always adorably shy around Vivienne which makes me laugh.

It was a great time, despite the cool weather (which I argue is better than 100 degree weather any day!). The location was ideal, and makes me wish Jameson’s birthday was in warmer weather. Oh well… we’ll just have to find other excuses to party in the summer!

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August Miscellany

It’s hard to believe it’s really August. Sorry I’ve been MIA. Here are my obligatory excuses:

  1. Olympics
  2. Converting from DISH to Uverse this weekend (hence, watching all my recorded shows)

Sorry, I couldn’t think of any others. Is it sad that my excuses are all television??!

I have photos in back log: This past weekend was full of fun with friends and family, but I haven’t gotten around to editing them, hence no posts about them, because I’ve been enjoying a ridiculous amount of TV time after Jameson goes to bed.

I think that August will be a great month for us, and for Jameson too: He will be starting in the next room at daycare on the 20th this month. We are blessed that he has a teacher who wants to follow him (she is his favorite, and he is hers), so I think that the transition will be easier for him than it would otherwise. His friend Nathan, who has been out of daycare for the summer, will return soon too!

Every night when we come home now, Jameson wants to either play outside or watch Elmo. I’m happy to oblige: He will sit on my lap to watch Sesame Street for nearly 10 minutes before squirming his way out. It’s adorable, and I’m staying guilt-free since it’s Sesame Street, he’s spending time just resting with me, and he never watches TV at daycare. WIN WIN WIN.

(for the GOLD: I have already requested to borrow an Elmo costume for Halloween from a friend who’s daughter wore it last year. And, I’ve bought some Christmas or birthday presents, you are now in awe of everything I can get done when I’m not blogging now aren’t you?)

We got him new shoes for daycare which are sandals with covered toes that can get wet, and he loves them. Doesn’t want to take them off in the evening. It’s adorable.

The neighbors had their new baby yesterday, and their mystery baby was a BOY! Peyton. In a year, I can see them all running around the backyard (which maybe by then will have grass, seriously).

So much to be thankful for.

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The Main Event

I left you at the end of rehearsal on Saturday, going back to the hotel room with Emma for the night. Brian was a good sport (well, he had a fancy executive suite with his points, so no hardship for him). Sunday we woke up with plenty of time, and we had a hearty New Jersey bagel!

I went all out and got an everything bagel with cheese, egg and PASTRAMI. So very excited; so very good.

After breakfast, it’s finally safe to tell Emma: “It’s your wedding day!!!” We headed over to her friends house where we were getting ready for the day. It’s Sunday, so the hair and make up ladies come to us instead of the other way round.

We had quite a spread for lunch, and a great bridesmaid bartend-ress Shannon keeping us stocked up on Poinsettia Champagne Cocktails. Emma’s sister even played classical piano for a while while we waited.

Emma was last to go to get her hair done, but the bride is never late, the wedding waits for the bride, right?

We actually weren’t late though; we had plenty of time to get ready.

Emma gifted the bridesmaids with dark teal earrings and beautiful simple circle necklaces, as well as a clutch for which we chose our own fabrics!

Here are a few highlights of the wedding; visit Amanda Joy’s photography blog for more photos! (Used with permission)

Emma got married and danced the night away at the Olde Mill Inn in Basking Ridge, New Jersey. The hotel was classic; the appetizers were amazing, and the drinks were flowing.

Emma’s table settings were lovely: Long rows of tables with a natural centerpiece and candles. It was very romantic. Emma and Joe had a sweet heart table, but I am not sure that they were able to eat much anyway!

Did you know that they do things differently in New Jersey? They dance before, during, and after eating! But before all that, we had the toast.

Here was my short, but sweet, toast to Emma and Joe (the very end, I confess, was inspired by the end of the tv series In Plain Sight; but the rest was completely original)

I’ve known Emma a long time. We’ve been there for each other in the worst times and the good times, no matter the distance or time between us. And then she found her other half in Joe to share those important moments with. I have seen him become her friend and partner, in life and in love. I am so happy to be standing here today, celebrating with them in the very best time of their life. To old friends and new beginnings, congratulations!

I did tear up, for sure.

I was so excited to see friends from high school, Tara and Tracy there to celebrate as well!

And then dessert: cake, cookies, or chocolate fountain. Which do you choose?

All three, absolutely. And another drink while you’re at it.

Congratulations Emma and Joe! I hope you had a wonderful time on your honeymoon in the British Virgin Islands!

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Last week, I had to explain to one of Jameson’s teachers why he was saying “baby” all the time in class…

…Not that kind of baby!

Jameson’s new favorite book is “Baby Beluga” from his Grandma; it’s a sing-along book based on the music by Raffi.

I have asked most everyone I know now if they have heard of Raffi, and it’s about 1 in 20 who have. But I grew up on his music, so I didn’t even need the CD to be able to sing Baby Beluga to Jameson.

It wasn’t too long before it became his favorite book, and one of the first books that has no soft fur to touch or pop ups to grab that captures his attention. One day, I sang it to him 7 times in a row.

I’m so good now that Jameson can spend all his time looking at his favorite page with all Baby Beluga’s friends on it. You can see it in this video:


(I love Jameson looking through the book, saying “baby”. Not too much of my singing, thank goodness!)

Yesterday, he was going through his book basket and he kept saying “baby” and swaying back and forth like we do when we sing. It was upstairs, so we had to go get it. Story time is my favorite time (as long as we’re not reading 10 Tractor and Truck books in a row. Let’s stick with the animal books, okay Mr. Jameson?).

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Baby in a Backpack

Let’s pretend for a minute that Jameson is still a baby.

Brian and I used to go hiking (not real hard-core hiking; much more low key with some hills). We didn’t go much at all last year, except we did go back to the falls where we were engaged. So for Christmas, I Jameson got Brian a baby-toting-backpack. We got ours in black, on a super sale from Zulily (invitation link).

We used it for the first time on Saturday, and it turned out rather well. We went on a relatively short hike (little over half a mile) to a new trail we hadn’t been to yet.

I love how this photo is just out of focus. It feels very soft. I don’t often keep out of focus photos, but this one spoke to me.

Jameson did really well. He drank his water the whole time, without complaint. He was a little concerned when we first put him in it, signing “all done” over and over, but once he was in it and moving and looking around, all was well.

As for Brian, he was happy with the backpack but said he needs to get used to the weight. We are excited to move on to longer trails soon!

Saturday evening, we hung out with the neighbors and met another couple and their 7 month old son from elsewhere in the neighborhood.

They were very nice, and it was great meeting someone else from our development. Since we are just three houses on a hill, we don’t often interact with many others.

We had a great cookout, and Jameson insisted on trying corn on the cob since Lily had some. Monkey see, monkey do. And likewise, when Jameson wasn’t sure how to eat it and tried stabbing it with his fork, Lily did the same with her fork.

Jameson even had his first real popsicle on a stick! He loved it and ate the whole thing.

We played cornhole later that evening, and Brian and I lost 3 times to Kelly and Curtis. I guess we’ll I’ll need to practice more this summer!

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