End of Summer Fun….

From August 5 – 7……

This crazy dog.  He sleeps in the most uncomfortable looking positions!

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Lilli wrapped up her last full week of summer break and summer camps.  Her last day was even a fieldtrip to the Country Music Hall of Fame! We picked her up and then met Brent’s parents at Wendy’s for some dinner – where the girls got a real treat with Frosty’s of their own (we always split a small between the 4 of us!)

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From there they headed home with them for a few last days of Granny Camp before the school year started.  The best way to get them excited about an adventure is always to stop at the “real” Krispy Kreme where they can watch the donuts being made.

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On Saturday we decided to head to the east side of town and do some hiking at Long Hunter State park and just have a fun day around town.  It’s been years since we’ve been there, so after my morning run and some breakfast we headed over to hike a 3.5 mile loop around the lake.

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A lot of the lakefront trail was really pretty,  but it was a crowded trail full of people and their dogs.  You never really felt like you were just out in nature, and it wasn’t a very tough trail either.

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The lake views were really pretty though, and the weather was perfect.  We finally saw what “Party Cove” on Percy Priest was – a crowded cove full of boats and people hanging out.

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It was a really pretty trail, but probably not worth the drive for us since we have great parks closer.

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Afterwards we had lunch at Calypso and an article I read while we were there mentioned an exhibit that sounded really interesting at the Frist.  We hadn’t been there in years and had let our membership lapse, but decided to head over.  While we were there we went ahead and renewed it, they have a lot of fun programs and Lilli has asked about going to summer camp there again.

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Afterwards we took a walk around downtown and I showed Brent where my new office would be for the job I’d just accepted downtown.  Floor 24 in this building…… (of 28 floors).

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Saturday night is always lively downtown so we decided to walk around and enjoy all the sounds of Broadway and the tourists.  Then we decided to grab a bite at the Frothy Monkey and ran into some old artist friends from Brent’s art show days.  We ate dinner together and found out it was the first Saturday art crawl – so we hung around for that, too.

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When we left the house our only plan was to take a hike, and then we ended up having a full day.  As such – I was decked out in total athleisure – sports top and running skirt with hiking shoes – and felt so out of place at the art crawl!

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Even though I was a lot underdressed we had a lot of fun being spontaneous and just heading wherever we wanted on our day out.

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Sunday afternoon we took a hike at Radnor.  We did one of the longer loops and enjoyed a different side of the lake – and this deer let me get so close!

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Meanwhile I think the girls were having plenty of fun without us!

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Field Tripping

From July 31 – Aug 4……

Most nights during summer we’ll head to the greenway or the park or play outside.  On this night we headed to Smith Park to hike.  Abbi wanted to go to the playground.  If Abbi isn’t happy, no one is happy.

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“My legs are so busy………I can’t walk………….”

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So she ended up being a backpack on our walk.

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For the last week of summer break Lilli was at the Y for a camp on the arts (dance, art, music, etc) and her friends Kelly and Elizabeth, as well as some others, were there.  One night after camp we met up with their mom for some swim time.  Somehow it was the first time all summer we’d had a swim date! The Y shortened its hours an entire hour every night this year – and we really didn’t get to go the pool nearly as much as a result.  And it was chilly this night, so Abbi wanted nothing to do with the pool.

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Abbi was there, just not in the pool.  And it was so chilly we had the place to ourselves.

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A few weeks earlier Abbi had told us her class would be going on a field trip to the zoo.  They’d been studying about animals, but we didn’t really think they’d go on a field trip since it would involve a lot of parental help with car seats, driving, etc.  But, we were wrong.  The permission slip came home and she basically “told us so”.  I signed up to go because I didn’t want to miss her very first field trip.

They were all SO excited.  A lot of parents ended up going, so I was only assigned Abbi and Piper, and her teacher Miss Rachel rode with us so basically she and I just had those two! We were free to explore the zoo for the morning, and for a while several of us tried to stay together.

That’s Mr Colin, one of the teachers, Adelyn, Abbi, and Piper, with Stella and Nina in front.  The girls were arm in arm and absolutely on Cloud Nine.

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Abbi and Miss Rachel.  She loves Miss Rachel and Miss Rachel always makes drop off anxiety better in the mornings!

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All starting at some birds.  They were so cute.  Abbi’s class and the kids who had just finished Pre K and were about to leave for kindergarten went.

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I’ve never gotten to pet one of the kangaroos – there were two on the sidewalk for petting and both of them hopped off right as we got up to them.

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And then finally – success! This one wasn’t going anywhere!

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My first time petting a kangaroo!

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Success!

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We finally got back to the new spider monkey area.  We had no idea there was this fun new rope bridge!

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We packed picnic lunches and ate before heading back.  The kids were all so good and we had so much fun.  They were starting to get tired so it was just the right amount of time.  Piper was a great buddy to have in our car, she’s so sweet and a good kid.  She’ll also be going to our same elementary school, along with one little boy in Abbi’s class, so we’re excited she’ll already know some friends.

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Odd little dog.  Just staring at the wall……

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That night Lilli went home with Kelly from camp and had a sleep over, so we took Abbi out to dinner at Noodles.  She’d worked up an appetite on her field trip!

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And then we took her to Gigis for her very first giant Gigis cupcake!

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Skinks and Creeks

From July 30 – 31…..

We signed up for a free class on Saturday morning to learn the difference between Skinks, Salamanders, and Lizards.  Edwin Warner has a great nature center with all kinds of classes that we’ve never taken advantage of, and the girls love their reptiles so we figured it would be something fun and different to try!

When we got there you had to write your questions on the board – Abbi’s was if she could touch the skink – and then she wrote her name there!

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There were probably around 25 people in the class, and after teaching us some basic information and then playing a fun game we went out to the creek with thermometers and cards with various challenges.  We had to find soil at various temperatures for the skinks needs (sometimes warm, sometimes more chilly mud, etc.) There was one temperature we could never find – it was a lower one and the water was so shallow and even digging in the mud we could never get down to 65 degrees in July.

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Abbi enjoyed a lot of the digging and playing with the tools.

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After learning more facts and places skinks like to stay, we were armed with nets and went out to the compost and garden areas, and rocky areas to find them.  Anytime a skink was spotted…..there was a crowd.  The crowd of kids whacking at skinks made it more than difficult to actually capture one.  Brent found a few, and once a kid knew you had one in sight the crowd that gathered almost always chased them off in the confusion.

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It was pretty easy to find a lot of them – and several big ones like this one.  No one ever caught a big one – there’s so fast and always found places in the rock to hide.

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The group did catch several small ones, and only one died in the struggle.  Brent got one after quite a bit of chasing it around and telling kids to just stand back.  Lilli was really upset she didn’t get one.  We only had about 15-20 minutes to hunt, and there was such a crowd that it really was difficult to see or catch anything.  Overall I think the group ended up with one lizard and three skinks.

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We took them back to the classroom to look at under a microscope and then released them.  Lilli was still upset about not catching one so we went down to the creek to look for salamanders.

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Brent found several salamanders for them under the rocks and in the mud near the water.

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They’re fast little things, so they’d get picked up and dropped and picked up again.

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Abbi looking a little unsure about it……

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All that skink hunting will wear a girl out.

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Recharged and ready to take the dog for a run.

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She ran him until he literally couldn’t run anymore!

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Lilli with some of my sunflowers from this year.  Lots of tall ones, and then my smaller teddy bear ones.

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The next day we met the Godbys at the pool for some swim time.

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Just the girls.

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Afterwards we grabbed some sandwiches and had a picnic dinner at River Park before letting the kids play in the creek afterwards.IMG_4713

It’s a great creek for lots of safe exploring and really has very few spots much deeper than your ankle.  You have to watch for slippy rocks, but otherwise it’s a popular spot for kids and dogs to play, and runners to cool off after hitting the greenway.

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Lots of fun summer times in the water this year……

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A Lot of Abbi…..

From July 24 – 29……

We decided it had been ages since we’d been to Chuck E Cheese so we had a Chuck E night out.  The girls were super excited and Abbi wanted to wear her fanciest blue dress.

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We ate pizza, played games, and got some tickets.  The usual Chuck night out.  Abbi wouldn’t go anywhere near the mouse.

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I’m not a huge fan of the new cards that your “tokens” go on.  I think Abbi just scans all kinds of things and then walks off.  We ended up getting plenty of tickets though and they got a few stickers and Tootsie Rolls and were happy with their loot.

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Lilli did Beginner Cheer and Tumble last year and we took the summer off of gymnastics.  She spent all summer on the trampoline practicing her back flips and back handsprings, so before I got them signed up for this year I was thinking she might be ready to move up a level so I got in touch with her coach and she tried out for Intermediate Cheer – and made it! Practice pays off! She was even more excited to run into her very best friend there that night.  Lilli is doing great with her tumbling and can do a back handspring on the mats now with no assist.

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Lilli went out with her best friend one evening so we took Abbi out for some ice cream.

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One night we went for our greenway walk and Abbi wanted to ride her bike.  She did great on the way out – a 1.5 mile ride.  She wasn’t acting tired.

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And then she was just done.  So Lilli rode her tiny little bike back for some of that mile, and then when we were laughing she decided she didn’t want any of her friends to possibly see her – especially boys.  So then I had to drag the little bike back the rest of the way.  Lesson learned.

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Abbi’s first drawing of our family.  The 4 of us, plus her friend Pepper, plus Olli, plus Pepper the dog from up the street.

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And then Abbi came down with a random fever virus.  We think Lilli’s infection may have just become a random virus for Abbi.  She was running a fever, but otherwise was fine.  So Brent stayed home with her one day and they came and took me to Subway for lunch.

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They went to the park and played.

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This dog……Sun’s out, tongue’s out.

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I stayed home with her a different day – I worked and she drove.

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She still wasn’t herself though.

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That week Lilli went to Camp Whipporwill with her girlfriends for the first time.  She loved it and it ended up being her favorite camp of the summer.  You got to make choices of your activities each day – you’d sign up for things like newspaper, crafts, creek, fishing, canoeing, horses, farm activities, and so on.  It had a nice mix of outdoor things and also new things like digging potatoes.  Seriously, she dug some potatoes.  The theme of the week was Holiday – so Friday was Halloween and they got to come in costume.

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Friday afternoon – hair a mess but a big smile on her face because two of her articles made the weekly paper.  They also had a Build a Bear activity she had done that day.  This camp will definitely be on our list again next year!

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That night we went to the mall – it was tax free weekend and the girls needed sneakers.  But we had a lot of fun trying on glasses, too.

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And of course Abbi had a lot of fun pushing strollers and playing with the babies at American Girl.    Our store is so small that her mind is going to be blown in a few weeks in Chicago when we go for fall break!

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Girl Scouting

From July 21 – 23….

Sometimes those strong summer thunderstorms can create a bit of chaos –

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but mostly it ends up with people in their sleeping bags in our bedroom floor.  They’re just too big these days to get up in bed with us – especially if we want to get any sleep at all.

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Friday was water day for Abbi – she was bringing it in my favorite little swimsuit from Old Navy and her headband.

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Last day of zoo camp for this summer! She loved it and can’t wait to go again next year.

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Friday night at Krispy Kreme with these cutie pies!

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Everyone loves donut night!

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Lilli joined Girl Scouts this year.  Her troop started last year but we missed the cutoffs and towards the end of the school year a couple of girls were moving away so some of her friends asked us to join.  The troop doesn’t meet in the summer, but we did have a July outing for a little summer get together.  We met bright and early to go canoeing on the west side of town – we got a late start because one of the girls was running really late.  By the time we got to the canoe company the lines were insane.  It took us forever to get checked in, get a van ride to the launch point, and once we were there the line to get into the river took us another 45 minutes.  Oh, and it was 100-101 degrees that week.  Our driver left us while we were waiting to get unloaded and we literally were about to pass out from heat stroke and we all piled out of the van.

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I’ve never canoed before, except for once in college during freshman orientation.  Lilli has canoed at some of her camps, but that’s a little different than heading down a river.  Thanks to the heat and dry summer the river was incredibly shallow and not very frightening.  Lilli and I shared a canoe with Emerson and her mom, Carol.  They were in kindergarten together so we’ve been friends for years, and now they’re in third grade together.  Our leader, Stephanie, had planned a few stops along the way.  I think the girls had more fun getting out and splashing than they did canoeing.

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They used our seat cushions to float down the side and had the best time.

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We made two stops on the way, one for splashing and swimming and one for swinging into the river.  We also saw a snake along the way, and the girls lost their oars about a dozen times.   It was quite the workout.  For the moms.

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And our group at the end – we all survived! The moms in the back – me, Carol (Emerson’s mom), Jenn (Livvy’s mom), Keisha (Olivia’s mom) and Stephanie (Sofia’s mom).  The girls in the front – Emerson, Lilli, Sofia, Livvy and Olivia.  We had a great time and the girls had an even better time.  The troop is MUCH larger than this, but with it being summer and vacations most of the girls couldn’t make it.

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My little canoe expert!

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Afterwards we all went out for Mexican food and to get their Canoe badge! Her first badge of Girl Scouts.

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While we were out canoeing, Brent and Abbi were hitting the town.  First up – the park!

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Followed by Icees – when it’s 100 degrees outside you gotta hydrate!

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Then they went to Aquatic Critters and spent the morning holding snakes, lizards and all kinds of reptiles.  The girls really want a snake, and we’re told they make great pets.

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They had a blast getting to learn about the animals and hold quite a few of them.

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And of course – lunch out!

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Later that night, we took them to Let It Shine for Parents Night Out and we enjoyed some down time.  We had some Greek food and then explored Harlinsdale Farms.  Such a pretty park with a really neat horse arena.  It’s definitely a park we need to keep our eyes on for fun activities.

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People were fishing around the pond and the sunset was just beautiful!

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Our iced latte at Starbucks goes way too fast when it’s 100 outside.

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The cutest little Jeep driver out there!

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The girls were so tired and grouchy on Sunday afternoon that we told them they had to have some quiet time in their room.  A few minutes later it was quiet and they were taking a much, much needed nap.

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Summer Fun

From July 16 – 20…..

I just wanted a cute picture of them after church with my blooming sunflowers.  I didn’t manage to get two kids smiling or very many of my sunflowers in the picture!

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The only way she’d pose – inside, and with Olli.

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Since Lilli had the double swimmers ear, she wasn’t able to go to the pool for 7 days.  It was a hot weekend so we improvised with the little spray sprinkler.  It’s no pool, but they had fun with it!

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It’s not much of a sprinkler but it gave them lots of entertainment for jumping around it, splashing in it, and eventually filling up some cups and pouring it out.

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We only made it to one concert at Crockett Park this summer – a fun 80s band called Rubix Groove.  All the bandmates were in 80’s costumes, and of course my favorite was Johnny from Karate Kid! They were fantastic and played all our favorite 80’s tunes.

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Brentwood Academy was giving out popsicles and all kinds of goodies, and since we ate dinner before we came we got some other dessert treats from the tons of food trucks there.  I love that our city does this every week during June and part of July and maybe some year we can get out there more than once!

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We ran into some of Lilli’s best gal pals from school, and they spent the rest of the night roaming the park looking for boys from their school.  A preview of things to come…..

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At night the ampitheater is so pretty!

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Abbi at school with Cash the bunny right behind her.  That rabbit cracks me up.

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Sleepy heads.  Abbi has been sleeping in her floor in a sleeping bag for months now.  I’m not sure how Lilli ended up on the bottom – I think that morning when she woke up she said she’s been sleep walking and wasn’t sure herself! Summers are tiring……

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A delicious frittata we made from some tomatoes in our garden……

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This spider lived by our front door for several days – every night he’d build a huge web and then tear it down in the morning until dark again.  We had a lot of fun watching him work, until we decided there were about to be hundreds of babies on our front door.

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That week Lilli was at zoo camp.  She didn’t go with any of her friends, it didn’t work out for timing, so she made new friends at camp. The troop size is really small, and it’s such a great camp.  Always one of her favorites.  I’m not sure what their Zoo Teen is doing in this picture – Lilli said he was funny and silly – I can see that!

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They get all kinds of up close and personal experiences with the animals, learn all about them, and she always comes away even more determined to be a zoo keeper one day.  Even though it’s really not convenient, it’s a fantastic camp and everything about it is so well done for the kids.

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She can pretty much tell you every personal story of every animal in the entire zoo! And next year Abbi will be old enough to go so we might work that in as well.  It will be so nice for them to start having the same schedule!

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Farm Days

From July 15…..

Lilli got to work making slime on Saturday morning from her $5 spend at Toys R Us the night before.  She’d been dying to make slime for a few weeks after doing something with it at camp, so she was excited to find a slime kit on clearance within their budget.

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That Saturday was the annual Farm Days at Ellington Ag that we love going to.  (2014, 2015, 2011, and I know several other years but they aren’t popping up).  That morning we’d had a ton of thunder and lightning, but it seemed to mostly be staying on top of Nashville.  We waited out most of the rain and then went over to Summer Saturdays – they were only having it two Saturdays this year, and Lilli and I already had plans with Girl Scouts for the following weekend.   This is one of our favorite family activities, so we didn’t want to miss out.

The rain had really kept people away, but was clearing out when we got there.  As a result, the girls got tons of extra attention.  Lilli said she did’t want to ride the donkeys at first, but we were able to talk her into it.  After riding real horses at camp last summer she’s a little particular about tiny ponies and donkeys but we talked her into riding so that Abbi would also ride.

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Looking so cute on her little donkey.

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And looking giant on her donkey.

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Sisters! I just accidentally cut the donkeys off though. Ha!

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Since no other kids were around waiting to ride the girls got to lead the little donkeys around as long as they wanted to and also brush them.

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These mules are there every year and are so pretty.

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We did the arts and crafts and then looked in the old time houses, and stopped at the loom weaving lady.  She did a demo and then let Lilli weave – Lilli enjoyed it and the lady was really impressed with her skills.  She said she was the first kid all day who did exactly what she had told them to do without having to be reminded of the steps!

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Then they went to the leather station and made bracelets and key chains with their initials on them.

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Inside the museum they had a few birds of prey.  Since there was no crowd the handler was actually letting people hold them! Lilli held the hawk – and he started flapping while she was holding him.  She stayed still and the guy regained control – I would have thrown that bird across the room and kept on running!

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And with the owl! The birds were a little wild that day!

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Brent asked if he could hold the hawk and owl.  I did not.

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We also did the carriage ride around the park.

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And then we stopped to visit the horses in their stable.  All of the police horses for Metro Nashville live here when they’re not working.  They had done a show earlier in the morning but we missed it.

Somehow I think this is “the year of the horse” in our house.  This is generally how I prefer them – behind a gate, rubbing their head.

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I thought I’d try to get a little selfie with King.

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And then he moved and basically I thought he was going to bite my face off, so most of my time around horses I’m making this scared face.  Let’s just remember that before we get to Mother Daughter weekend where I pretty much had to spend the entire weekend actually RIDING these GIANTS.  I think I’m just a city girl.

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Much more calm here…..

Horses are very pretty.  And are meant to be petted.

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Later that night, just riding up and down the street.  Next spring both girls are going to need to upgrade to the next size of bike!

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I think Lilli will be ready for a ten speed and we can really hit the greenway, and Abbi should fit nicely on this bike.

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