Getting Artsy

From July 15-20….

One night we decided to relax and have a family movie night.  We don’t watch much TV, and especially in the summer, but we thought it would be fun. Until I chose Turner and Hooch, and old 90s movie that I remembered as just being a funny movie about a cop and his huge dog who drooled a lot – and it did end up being that – but in the end the dog also got shot and died.  This led to a lot of crying – and even though we tried to convince Abbi the dog is just an actor and was fine – she didn’t believe us.  We even showed her videos online of the dog alive – but nothing worked.  Except Benadryl a few hours later.


A game of Headbandz is a much better idea…..


That week the girls went to an art camp at Vanderbilt.  It was our first time to do that camp and they both loved it.  During drop off they were able to go in together and play, then split off to their age groups.  It was so easy – I’d drop them off in the morning and they were brought back out to my car in the afternoon.  They also got to eat lunch together and have some outdoor playtime together.


He’s pretty comfortable around us.


They were covering up the last of the Lifeway building for implosion that week.  This was one where I’d worked for five of my ten years there.


One night we packed a picnic and headed to the park to eat and play.


Little sis is getting really good on the monkey bars!


We got a new game where you can bounce the balls into the tubs – which is much more difficult when a sister is in a tub.


We only got one peach off our tree this year, but we definitely enjoyed the one we got.


Their last day of art camp.  Lilli wanted to wear her Vandy shirt and decided that week she loved campus there and wants to go to Vandy.  We’ll see!


That afternoon they brought home a ton of work they’d made.  Their theme that week was Africa – so they’d made all sorts of African themed crafts.  Lilli did larger projects that took more time, while Abbi made a ton of smaller crafts.


From drawing to pottery and crafts – they did a little bit of everything.  They’re excited to go back this summer with several of their friends.


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Zoos and Farms

From July 13 – 14….

On our last morning drop off for Zoo Camp I wanted to take a few last pictures of the kiddos.  Lilli really wasn’t having it – she was wanting to get inside and play some of the games they have out for kids in before care.  They have all sort of animal themed games that you just don’t see anywhere else for before and after care.


Still not thrilled about picture taking time…


We got lucky and once ago Member Appreciation night was the same day they were at camp.  We all met up at the zoo after work. Of course Brent beat me by a long shot and had already picked up the girls.  Traffic from downtown to the zoo (and really anywhere) is awful.


For Member appreciation night the zoo stays open a couple of hours later and has extra animal talks, jumpy stations and all kinds of fun stuff for members.  Right as we got there we ran into Brent’s old roommate and his family.  We’ve run into them there before, but even though the kids don’t remember each other they took up instantly and played together.


We ended up eating dinner together and walking through part of the zoo together before splitting off.  We did get to pet one of the elusive kangaroos!


Then I got a text that Amelia, one of Lilli’s old preschool buddies, and her family were there.  They were their very first sleepover buddies, but used to live on an opposite side of town so it wasn’t easy to keep up their friendship.  Last summer they moved pretty close to us – we’ve seen them a little more frequently but with our busy schedules it hasn’t picked up as much as the girls would have liked.


Amelia has a little brother that the kids loved mother hen-ing.


Many, many laps on the hanging bridge.


One last pose before we left.  Abbi really doesn’t remember Amelia from preschool days, but she probably remembers her more from meeting up with her family every year for Greek festival, one of our family traditions each fall.


After the zoo closed we didn’t want our party to end so we took the girls to Krispy Kreme nearby for a late night donut treat to celebrate their fun week at Zoo Camp.  And the first summer camp Abbi actually enjoyed!


And when we got home we saw this guy lurking around! Luckily we just saw him and never smelled him.


The next day we went to the annual Farm Days at Ellington Agriculture Center near our house.  We’d been able to make it every summer for several years.  And like always – this year was HOT.  We kicked off our visit with some snowcones.


We ran into one of Abbi’s best preschool buddies, Piper, and her family.  Abbi was so glad to see her.  So we went to a police horse show with her family.  It was literally one of the dustiest things I have ever been to.  And so hot.  No ventilation.  Once we got near heat stroke we slipped out.


It was much cooler to just pet some of the police horses in their stalls.


They had all kinds of booths and demonstrations (weaving, blacksmith, leatherworker, honey/bees, and more).  They had a really great face painter and Abbi really wanted to get her face painted.  She has NEVER wanted to do that before so we stood in the really hot, really long line and let her get her face painted.


Of course she and Piper (and Piper’s sister) all got the same unicorns.


Lilli got a peace sign – very Lilli! She also didn’t want her picture with the little girls.


Piper’s family left so her sister could take a nap, and we continued on looking in the old house exhibits and the other crafts they had.  It was another fun (and hot!!!) day at the Farm Festival.


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Zoo Camp +New Windows

From July 8 – 12…..

There are few things this girl loves more than an open window and a good breeze.


I took the girls to the pool on Sunday afternoon and they were having one of their big summer pool parties.  Fresh watermelon, healthy snacks and a DJ lead to a fun afternoon at the pool.


While us ladies were at the pool Brent was at Home Depot getting more supplies for the new fence.  And while he was there he saw Trace Adkins (a famous country singer) doing the same.  When in Nashville – you never know who you’re going to see!


That week was Zoo Camp for the girls.  It’s always an absolute favorite for them both.  I was hopeful this might be the first week Abbi didn’t freak out about camps – and luckily I was right! Whew! At the morning drop off they both get to play games in the open room together, so that helped.  And the class size is really small and the overall camp is small – so that was a huge help, too.  And it’s the zoo – what’s not to love? They get to do all kinds of fun things and really get hands on with animals, so it ended up being a huge hit.  For a week of her happily going in each morning I got over how bad the traffic is to get to the zoo every afternoon.


That week was also our big window install! One day all the windows, new sliding door and materials were delivered.  And they were delivered EVERYWHERE.  We had around 31 windows for this house – so it was not a small job to say the least.


A few before shots – our sunroom – the old windows were awful.  The door wouldn’t slide well and the windows had missing and torn screens, and were just awful to look at.  This is a room Brent and I use every night – it’s our 100% adult space with no toys and we were really looking forward to the windows looking as nice as we’d made the rest of the room.


A before picture of our bedroom – clunky old windows that just looked terrible.


And a before of the outside (with windows delivered all over the front).


Brent took off work the first day of install and worked on the fence all day long.  He got a ton completed on getting posts set and dug.  The window workers were so impressed with him they even told me about it on the second day of install (when I worked from home.) It was July – and HOT.


And after in our room – a huge difference from the same picture just a few pictures back!


All smiles and all sweaty after zoo camp one afternoon!


This NEVER happens when I pick them up from school or camps.  EVER.


An after of the house – so much sleeker and nicer.  Our windows were nearly 30 years old, and were in terrible shape.  So much rot and a few of them had window panes that were literally about to fall out.


On the second afternoon of install right as the guys were finishing up a massive rainstorm popped up out of nowhere – it looked like the rainbow was right in our front yard!


The sunroom afterwards (well, while they were installing.) SUCH a massive change, and by far my favorite of the new windows.  The new sliders really let us enjoy the yard and how nice and private it is behind us.  Such a huge difference without all the tons of grids.  For the entire house, we kept grids on the front of the house and no grids on the back to help enjoy the light while keeping the style of the house.


The sunroom from outside afterwards.  So streamlined and pretty! Now we just need to paint the siding and wood, and redo the deck.  And a million other projects.


On Thursday at Zoo Camp they always do class pictures.  It’s so cute to see the classes and the teacher and Zoo Teen helpers.  Lilli’s class:


I think these are the two classes in Lilli’s age group combined.


And Abbi’s little class.  7 kids – 2 teachers.  Great odds! She loved it and is excited to go back next year.


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Grandma Camp

From July 4 – 8….

This dog is so crazy – he can sleep in just about any spot at any time.  And now that we’ve replaced the carpet in the dining room with hardwood it’s so odd to see it with that nasty old carpet!


For the actual July 4th holiday we drove about an hour away to Henry Horton State Park to do some hiking.  We did about a 5 mile route and packed some lunch to eat along the way.  It was a really, really hot day but we did have pretty good shade for most of the hike.  Some of the hike ran next to a river where some boats and canoes would pass, but for the most part we really didn’t see many people on the longer path.


And it was WARM out! I’d take some of that heat on this cold January day though!


Some parts of the path were very primitive – not my favorite! It seemed like a path ripe for a snake or two.


We did see a deer and a few turtles, otherwise all the creepy crawly stuff stayed away from us.  Overall it wasn’t a particularly exciting path or a park we’d go back to.  But it did cross off another hike in our 60 Nashville area hikes book.


We definitely earned some fresh, homemade blackberry gluten free cobbler we made! And even better that the blackberries were fresh from my parents garden.


Most of the time when the kids are gone we enjoy cooking at home but you can’t deny a nice date night out for some fish tacos.


Gotta burn off all those chips and salsa walking around Harlinsdale Park.


When Brent started the fence project he had put up the orange fencing so Olli could still go in and out without us having to keep him on a leash or in his cage all day.  One day Brent saw we had a Ring notification and when he looked to see what it was – he was pretty surprised to see Olli.  Then we realized it wasn’t the first time he’d let himself out.  Apparently he’d found some ways to get out of the temporary fence, explore, and then let himself back in.  During the fence project he got out several times, and made it back in all but once before we got home from work.  One day he was sitting right beside the fence because he couldn’t find his way back in.  Apparently he just needed to explore but was more than happy to return.


At least he had the large algae filled pool to drink from.  Gross.  The little pool didn’t last long at all.


Casey had to go back to Ohio so the girls went and spent a night with Granny – so they had a combination of Grandma/Granny camp.  They were excited to spend time with all the cousins that week.


We met up for lunch on their return home.


That Abbi – always a character!


The old rickety fence coming down – just in time!


The girls were super excited about our new popcorn machine – we love how easy it is and without all the chemicals and gross stuff in regular popcorn.  It’s nice to be able to contain the amount of things going into the popcorn and add our own salt/butter to our taste.  And it’s fun to watch!


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Camp and Cousins

From June 29 – July 3….

The last day of theater camp the girls had a showcase.  Lilli had been working all week on a song/dance for her musical camp (she did a Broadway style camp).  Abbi’s class had an “open classroom” where we came in and saw some of the games and things they’d been doing all week, just for the parents of that class.  It was cute and she looked like she had a good time, despite all the tears and anxiety at drop off.


Lilli’s class did a song from the Wizard of Oz and the Wiz.  They learned dance moves and the song.  She really enjoyed it, but also wished she’d gotten to do some acting, too.  Her class and all the others got to perform on the actual stage of the Children’s Theater.


More singing and dancing… It was a cute song and a lot of fun to see her try something like this.


We stayed for as many of the classroom showcases as we could but it was a long performance.  We got a few pictures outside with the infamous dragon.


They did it! Theater Camp grads.


From there we packed up and headed West.  First stop – catfish and cousins.


The next day was the last day of the month so Lilli wanted to dress Amish.  She always has fun playing with her cousins.


Brent may have gotten a little too close to the heat on the grill.


Girl cousins!


Poor Cody gets a lot of attention…..


We left the girls and came back for a week of Grandma Camp.  Abbi had left plenty of reminders of herself behind – including using all the pens as parking spots on the desk.


We went out for a hike at a new (to us) park on the west side of town – Bowie Park.  We did about a 3 mile loop past several small lakes and through woods.


It was a nice, sunny day and we had fun exploring a new park.


It was really pretty and crossed off another hike from our 60 hikes in Nashville book.


And we were even treated to a pretty rainbow on our way home.


It was a really stormy week! Lots of summer pop up storms in our area – and I even got trapped in one while out at lunch and had to take cover for it to blow over.


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Theater Week

From June 23 – 28…..

Another letter showed up after she was home….


Her counselor only had great things to say about her – she was a really sweet college aged British girl.  (Asparagus is just her “camp” name.)


She helped me make some fresh lemonade – it takes a lot of squeezing to make some fresh, low sugar lemonade.


We had an old pool we had bought on clearance a few years ago and we decided to go ahead and get it out for the kids.  It pretty much took all afternoon for it to fill up.


Meanwhile Brent was starting to tear down the old fence to get ready for putting up a new one.  Our back fence was in terrible shape and was falling down in several spots.  It was long overdue for an update.  He got some of the orange fencing to put up to keep Olli in.  I’ll let you know how that went…..


After some hard work they all got in the little pool for a while.


That week the girls went to camp at Nashville Children’s Theater.  Abbi’s class was a fun class with games and just learning basic imagination type things.  Lilli wanted to do musical theater so hers was all singing and dancing.  Once again Abbi had a really hard time at drop off.  The teachers were great and very welcoming, but there was still a LOT of tears.  I emailed the Director later and he was so nice and sent me a couple of pictures of her having fun.


She had a rough time at drop off every day, but I know she had a good time from the way she’d talk about it later that night.  And it helped that she got to eat lunch with Lilli.  Lilli ended up having a friend from Adventure Science also be in her group! It’s a small world in the camp circuit.


I assure you this only happens when Brent picks them up.


Lilli was still so mad that they didn’t get to dissect at Science camp that when we saw a dead katydid on the deck we decided to dissect it.  They were really grossed out by everything in his intestines!


A little more time in the pool!


The toughest thing about the logistics of the girls being at Children’s Theater was getting through all these tourists to get them every afternoon! It was our first year to do this camp and it really was so well done, and something different than some of our usual camps.


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Home Sweet Home

From June 21-22…..

The week Lilli was gone to camp Abbi went back to “summer camp” at her old daycare.  They offered summer camp for the kids leaving for kindergarten – but basically it was a small, windowless room with just a few random toys and not a lot of structure.  So we had only signed her up for it the one week Lilli would be gone and planned the rest of their summer together for logistical ease for us and for her to have a more fun experience (hopefully).  Many of her friends had also moved on, too, so she really wasn’t missing out on too much by not staying for summer.  But during her very last week there she started feeling bad Wednesday night.  I really can’t remember what she said was hurting but the next day (on Thursday) she missed school and Brent took her to the doctor.


It couldn’t have been anything because they spent the rest of the day at the park and out playing, and she did go back for her very last day on Friday.  It really would have stank to miss her very last (ever!) day of daycare!


And she felt good enough for a Thursday night picnic at Cheekwood.  They had a really pretty summer exhibit with all these giant plastic animals everywhere.  It was really SO pretty, bright and colorful.


All summer Cheekwood had Thursday nights open for picnics and stayed open late – but when Lilli was in town on Thursdays she had piano at 7 pm, which pretty much blocked us from doing summer picnics there.  Piano was the only activity we kept in the summer since she had started not too long before summer break.


It was a great night to stretch out on our picnic blankets, enjoy the live music, and of course the art.


The exhibit was also inside the museum.  I think this is one of my favorites Cheekwood has had – I loved all the bright colors and just FUN designs!


And since it was plastic – it wasn’t totally off limits for touching.  There was one figure Abbi almost knocked over because she didn’t realize how very lightweight they were when she went to hug one!


The alligators were my favorite, along with the snails.


And then here it was – our very, very, very last day of daycare FOREVER!! We’d been paying daycare from May 2009 all the way until June 2018! A very, very long time and it was absolutely monumental to write that FINAL daycare check.  We were extremely lucky to have some wonderful teachers over those years that both girls loved – and many of them we are still in touch with over social media and text.  Many of them are still babysitters for us.  We had a few not so good teachers over the years – but the great ones far outweighed the bad ones.  It was a bittersweet day but one we were very ready for.  Abbi didn’t really understand she wouldn’t be going back, so she didn’t exactly understand the saying good-bye process, but that’s understandable.


And that same day it was time to pick up Lilli from her very first week away.  Their camp ended in early afternoon so I headed out to pick her up from camp.  Seeing her come bouncing down the hill was SUCH a huge relief.  I think she looked about five years older.  They loaded her luggage in and off we went.  She had had a great camp, but had started getting homesick and tired from just so much activity and cabin life.  Of course she was so happy to see Olli.


None of her letters arrived home to us before she did – three of them came the day she got home and a couple the day after.


It was cute to hear all her thoughts – the things she ate, activities she did.


And then you can see when she starts getting a little tired and missing home.  Ha!


I had made reservations for us all to have a celebration dinner at one of our favorite date night spots, Uncle Julio’s.  We’d never taken the girls so we thought it would be a fun treat.  It’s less than 3 miles from our house but when you’re tired….you’re tired.


But we had a great dinner and it was fun to hear all about her experiences at camp.


Afterwards we even treated them to some Jeni’s and we sat out on the plaza and let the girls run and play.


Abbi was mostly happy her sister was home, but kept that joy a little deep down in her heart.


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Science, Father’s Day and Camp

From June 16 – 20…..

Even though neither girl had all that great of a time at Adventure Science camp that week they both wanted to go back on Saturday and just play.  I don’t think they felt like they’d really gotten to play enough in all their favorite spots so they wanted the chance to just play.  They ran into several of their counselors running some special activities and they had a good time running around the Science Center.

Lilli really wanted someone to do the adventure “ride” with her so I agreed to do it.  We did the same roller coaster she’d done the day before and Goodness! That was a rough ride.


I definitely prefer a real roller coaster to this sort of experience where they just fling you around and around.  I’ve always wanted to try it and it’s included with our membership so it was fun to finally do.


Gotta keep up our picture tradition on the spineless body.


And then she talked Brent into doing the moonwalk  – she was finally tall enough and heavy enough to do that one (Abbi still isn’t quite big enough).


It was pretty hilarious to watch.  It did not look comfortable.  Abbi and I were just laughing and laughing.  I think this is one Brent has crossed off his bucket list.


I don’t think he was too sad when they called their time up.  But it’s another one we’d never gotten to try before! It’s nice when it’s not super crowded there and we can try a few things for the first time.  And possibly the last.


We ran out and did a little Father’s Day shopping.  We ran to Publix to get Brent a key lime pie to wrap and they found this card.


It was too hard to resist!


Then it was time to drop Lilli off for Girl Scout camp for the first time.  It’s on the NorthWest side of time about 45 minutes from here, so thankfully not too far.  She was going with her very best friend, Kelly, for a week of horses and fun.  Kelly had gotten there first and got them a couple of top bunks in the back.


Super excited for their first overnight camp away from home!


There were a ton of girls in the cabin and it definitely looked like it was going to be full of a lot of energy! Once we got her all tucked in and settled we could tell she was ready for us to go.


A big hug from little sis before we left.


We got several pictures that week but I don’t think we saved most of them off except this one.  She looks like quite the expert horse rider!


On our way back we stopped to hike at Beaman park.  That side of town is so pretty and we’re never over on that side of town.


We pretty much had the place to ourselves that afternoon.  It was such a pretty park and we’d love to go back over there sometime.


One night we took Abbi to the pool to go swimming.


And one night we let her help us mow the yard.   She was definitely missing Lilli but also excited to get to do her own special things, too.


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Home Sweet Home

From June 9 – 15……

We slept in, ate some breakfast and then had to figure out how to get all our tons of stuff back into our suitcases along with all the things we’d bought and picked up along the way! Lilli was feeling fine so Brent took the kids to the pool for one last swim so I could try and figure out the best way to reorganize our luggage.


The girls had a good time – even if the pool was pretty crowded! An indoor pool like that is really never empty.


Then it was time to head back to the airport to fly home.  We didn’t have to go back through Philly but we did get a nice view of the city as we headed to the airport.


We ate lunch at the airport and of course Abbi watched planes coming and going while we waited.


You must always, always touch the plane for luck.


Ready to fly! It wasn’t a full plane on our way home which was really, really nice.  I’m always a fan of some personal space.


Home Sweet Nashville.


For the next week of summer break Abbi was headed to her first camp.  We were excited for her and Lilli to be in the same place and on the same schedule – but we knew it would be tough for Abbi to be in a new environment and without her comfort zone of teachers and friends.

And it was a tough week for her.  She had a terrible time at drop off and the counselors were college kids who really didn’t know how to deal with anxious kids.  She’d cry every morning at drop off, have a hard time going in, and eventually she’d go in with Lilli.  At least they got to play for a few minutes before splitting up into their groups.


They’d post pictures of them throughout the day and she’d always look like she was having fun, and she did say she made a friend or two.  But every morning was worse than the day before and she’d work herself into a frenzy about it.  One day they called me because she said her stomach was hurting and they sent her home.  She wasn’t sick – on the way home she wanted Sonic and then also ate Chic Fil A.  She was just stressed and letting that affect her physically and they just weren’t capable to deal with it.



The next day wasn’t much better and once again they called me.  I told them it wasn’t anything physical and that this was being driven from her anxiety.  I gave them some tips, told them to let her see her sister, and they called me later and said she’d fallen asleep in the Director’s office.  They called me again later and said once she woke up she had lunch, visited with Lilli, and was doing fine later.  Needless to say it was a long, long week and not a great way to kick off her summer camp experience.


Meanwhile Lilli had a pretty ok time.  There was a girl she recognized from other camps in the past and they became fast friends.  She had picked this week because the camp brochure said they were going to dissect a grasshopper – and instead they dissected a flower.  Not the same at all.  She was pretty disappointed with the camp overall and the small amount of material they learned.  Needless to say neither girl wants to go back there this summer.


She was excited to ride the Space Coaster ride for the first time – I think that was her main highlight!


The best part of summer is all the daylight in the evenings and having more free time from homework and all the activities of regular life.  It’s hard to beat playing in the creek and enjoying a summer night.


Living his best life.


All dance all the time.


Fourth of July Walmart fashion!


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Philly Trip: Day 6

From June 8 –

We loaded up the car to hit the road for the Jersey Shore! Our car was nice but just a bit too small! The girls had to ride with the stroller in the backseat under their legs.  Definitely not ideal!


Our path took us South, back through Philly and down to the Jersey shore.  And unfortunately Philly traffic was slow.  But it was fun to see the city one last time.


Welcome to New Jersey!


New Jersey is a really interesting state – it has a lot of service areas off the interstate with food and gas that serve as rest stops.  We stopped for a bathroom break and when the girls and I went in the bathroom we saw a “family stall” within the women’s bathroom.  How awesome was this? This would have been so great when the girls were little.  Of course they still loved it.


This was really the only day we spent several hours in the car, the rest of the trip had been short rides so they had to spend a lot of time entertaining each other.


And then finally we were heading into the Jersey beach area.  We’d wanted to book a hotel around there that night but with it being a Friday night there was very little available and what they did have was really expensive.  So our plan was to visit for the afternoon and then head back to our hotel closer to the airport.


We grabbed a parking spot and then headed to the Boardwalk and the beach.  It was definitely not a hot beach day – it was only 69 which for us is chilly but for a lot of Jersians was beach weather!


The girls put on their swimsuits under their clothes in case they wanted to get wet.  The Jersey shore is what you think of when you think of older beach towns – boardwalk shops and food, lots of beach space and it’s not littered with houses and condos.


We were cracking up at all the people playing in the ocean and laying out – it was so chilly! We’re definitely wired differently in the South.  Ha!


We also got cracked up by all the rules.  I think we were supposed to get a beach pass somewhere but we had no clue where.  And also when the lifeguards leaves you’re supposed to get out of the water.


But these two didn’t feel the chill and they were more than happy to run and play on the beach.


Did I mention it was chilly??


We stuck our toes in the water but that was all we were willing to do! There were tons of people swimming in the ocean.  61 degree water just wasn’t enough for us!




They founds all kinds of shells and brought several of them home with us.


They ran and played until the lifeguards blew the whistle and started clearing people out of the water.


We spent some time on the boardwalk looking at the shops and grabbing a snack before we left.  Compared to Florida the beaches in New Jersey aren’t nearly as pretty or even in the same league, but the boardwalk is super fun.


The hotel I picked for our final night had a big indoor pool, so the girls were excited about that.


After dinner we headed down to the pool but Lilli was feeling under the weather and never got in.  I think she may have been tired from such a busy week.   We were all getting tired and ready to head home the next day.


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