Pool essentials

The past two years the boys have done swim team, but with our schedule this summer we decided to pass on that and instead we got a pool membership and I signed the boys up for two weeks of refresher swim lessons at my work. Between our pool and my sister’s we’ve spent quite a few days at the pool:

Snacking…Floating…

Catching rings…

And taking a break from the big pool for the baby pool…

All of this pool time means I have a bag permanently packed for summer with essentials. Here are my favorites:

My s’well bottle is my favorite. It keeps water super cold and I typically bring it so the boys can drink out of it too.

Bumble and Bumble hairdresser’s oil for J’s blonde hair and my color treated hair. It seals in the cuticle so your hair doesn’t get brittle from the sun (or green in J’s case).

Coppertone Sport 70. This is not my everyday favorite (the boys either, they say it smells), but it’s thick and stays on, so it’s necessary for the pool.

Sugar lip balm. It has SPF, it now comes in all sorts of colors, and I wear it everyday in the summer when I don’t have to put on lipstick for work.

Supergoop setting powder with SPF. This is genius to use if I have put on make-up to touch up my SPF, especially on my nose which typically gets burnt if I don’t keep spf touched up.

Book to read while I watch the kids play.

Snacks. My kids require snacks.

Hat. I used to never wear hats, but I had several times where I burned my part, despite putting sunblock on, so I now almost always wear a hat.

Pool toys. But not an enormous raft. Those were banned after our pool after someone apparently brought one strapped to the top of their SUV. And it was bigger than the SUV. Ha!

Continue Reading

Current favorite views

The shine of new herbs, ready to plant:

A jar of drying paintbrushes ready for their next artistic adventure:

The view from our front porch right after it rains:

A circle of friends (who have know each other since they were babies) playing Uno:

J’s hair, unbrushed:

My favorite summer meal, simple and delicious:

A’s freckles, each one absolute perfection:

And a surprise treat from B:

Continue Reading

Garden refresh

After our initial Spring gardening, we re-started the whole thing because most of the plants had either died or gone to seed. We did a simplified set-up for mid-June with basil, parsley, rosemary, cilantro, and mint.

J and I also added inĀ arugula, chives, and lettuce seeds just to see how they would grow this time of the year. I also have plans to add in some flowers to provide some natural pest deterrents for the herbs. J also wants flowers to bring in some butterflies like this one we found at the pool:

J has a love/fear of butterflies. He is intensely fascinated by all animals, but he doesn’t like them flying at him. However, this was an incredibly patient butterfly, who sat steadily as J creeped in and peered at its wings. It even waited until he turned around and jumped back into the pool before it flew away. Definitely one we would like to visit our garden!

Continue Reading

Why we “vacation”

When you have kids you always use the term “vacation” in quotations because it means something very different than the typical image of someone lying on the beach, relaxing endlessly with their toes in the sand. However, as we have learned over the past eight years, “vacations” are necessary. They cost too much, the travel is too long, somebody is going to get sick, and you may have to bribe a kid with endless cookies, so they don’t melt down and get you kicked off an airplane…or out of a Barnes and Noble. But we do it anyway. Because vacation time for us means a chance to disconnect from endless emails, work requests, and the full time nature of our jobs. Instead you have ice cream a lot, try out the Mario Maker levels your eight year old has been working on, and “bear-row” your five year old in the sand over and over at his request. And when your kids declare it the best week ever and ask when we are going on vacation again, you know that despite the fact you may return home just as tired as when you left it’s a different tired. A good tired. And you sigh, turn your computer back on, and start back to the everyday. And you start planning the next “vacation”.

Continue Reading

Wedding festivities

Besides the terrific zoo and museum, the major reason we made the drive to Ohio was for B’s sister’s wedding.

The boys danced the night away:

And I got a few pictures with this guy:

And this guy:

And this kid wanted to eat all the cupcakes:

And we got a family picture too:

And then we were off to our next summer adventure!

Continue Reading

Star Wars Costume Exhibit

The Cincinnati Museum at Union Terminal is under construction, but they still have exhibits and their children’s museum open to the public. When we found out that our days in Cincinnati coincided with a traveling Star Wars exhibit we knew we had to put that on our list.

They had everything from a light saber battle:

To Hans Solo and Chewbacca:

There was Boba and Jango Fett:

And many more costumes from both sides of the force:



For Star Wars enthusiasts like my boys it was very cool to see the actual costumes and all their detail, especially Darth Vader:

And per our usual, the boys watched every single video on costume production from beginning to end:

The exhibit itself is not very long, however, the boys extended it by watching the videos, and there was a really cool set of allusion mirrors at the end where you could dance like a storm trooper, C-3PO, and Darth Vader. It wasn’t an exhibit that I would have driven a long distance just to see, but it was definitely worth going to since we were in the area. My favorite part was seeing the interweaving and details of the designs, and the boys liked the interactive (light saber controlling, short film) parts of the exhibit.

Continue Reading

Cincinnati Zoo

By far one of the largest zoos we’ve visited, the Cincinnati Zoo is one that you really need two days to see everything. However, we only had one day to spend, so we skipped a few of the exhibits (insects, specifically), but the boys were troopers and most of it we did see.

It was hot, but the zoo does a good job of providing lots of shaded areas and walkways.

There were also several areas in the zoo where you can interact with the animals:

And get very close to them:

If you can’t tell from that picture, J is sitting under Flash (the sloth):

And there’s just a stretch of (heavy) glass separating you and a Komodo dragon:

Who meandered over towards J as he was examining him:

And even animals lounging in the shade can eventually be spotted:

There’s also a large savannah area with okapi, ostrich, pelicans, and vultures:

This is reminiscent of the set-up at The Animal Kingdom Lodge in Disney World. You can also walk almost 360 degrees around the savannah, which gives you great views of all the animals.

We’ve wised up over the years with our boys and we always do three things. 1. Eat lunch early (we ate right at 11), which avoids crowds and stops them from saying they’re hungry over and over. 2. Plan a snack treat two hours after eating (obviously our boys function better with food):

3. Let them read all the signs and don’t rush them through stuff.

We managed to get a few pictures of all of us:

And treated the boys to matching red pandas (their pick) at the end of the day!

It was definitely worth the trip!

Continue Reading

Trails & trails

Before the weather gets too hot and we have to do any hiking really early in the day we headed out on two different hiking excursions this past week.

First up, the boys and I started venturing through our closest trail, The Goldsmith Schiffman Wildlife Sanctuary :

This particular trail is a flat elevation for the part we walked:

And once you get past the beginning of the trail it is shaded:

It also has a shaded bench area at the start to bird and animal watch:

It was a good thing the weather was nice and a little breezy because we were still hot and sweaty by the time we returned home:

Then the next day my Aunt and Uncle were in town, so our whole family headed out to hike one of our favorite trails at Hayes Nature Preserve:

I think we’ve only hiked this trail in the winter, so it was definitely different to see it all in the late Spring:

We found a cool little cave:

However, I think the kids’ favorite part were the rocks to climb at the end:

And a fuzzy caterpillar to inspect was also the talk of the morning:

We had a great time adventuring through the forest!

Continue Reading

Last day of second grade

In August of 2016, A entered second grade…

He learned about arrays, higher level addition and subtraction, creating graphs, measuring, and more. He worked on handwriting, story creating, comprehension, and formal vs. informal speaking. He gave presentations on a variety of topics including the giant panda and a chronology of his life. He wants to be an author when he grows up, andĀ math is still his favorite subject.

He is definitely ready for third grade. He loves everything about school, and I’m little worried of how I’m going to keep him from becoming thoroughly bored this summer (thankfully my Mom dropped off a whole stack of math games). However, I’m sure with his brother to create games with, math games, and a stack of new library books he should at least have things to do the first week. Ha!

A loves reading, hiking, and creating books about all kinds of topics. He is always ready to learn anything and everything and I just hope he always retains his love of learning. He is honest and silly and sincere. And we celebrated his stellar gold rally day by going out for frozen yogurt as well.

I loved getting to take each of the boys on their own outings to celebrate the end of school. A is looking forward to moving upstairs next year as he is officially transitioning to upper elementary school. I can’t believe it! We are so proud of our sweet boy!

Continue Reading