The Countdown is ON!

In just over a week, Chris and I are going to pack up all of the kiddos and head to Canada to visit my family. The kids are very excited! Gabriel has never met his Grandpa and he is definitely looking forward to it. I'm a little worried about driving that distance with all of the kids but, between the cost of airline tickets and the TSA patting down infants and toddlers, I think we'll tough out the drive.

I went grocery shopping tonight and was excited to find out that it is $50 gas gift card for $40 week at Publix! That will definitely come in handy with the upcoming trip! I grabbed one today and hope to stock up on a few more before the sale ends on Tuesday.

If anyone is planning on spending $25 at Publix this week and NOT doing the gas gift card deal, please let me know. I will give you $40 for the $50 gift card!!

While at Publix, we also stocked up on snacks for the car ride. There were a lot of great deals on crackers and we even got some cheap hummus (our family LOVES hummus). Hopefully it is a smooth trip!

Day of Firsts

Today was a day of firsts for me. It was my first time shopping at the outlets in Commerce, GA and, more importantly, it was the first time that I met someone in person that I had initially met online. In March of last year, when I found out I was pregnant, I joined an online group for mommies also due in November of 2010. I "met" several other ladies and we became friends. We talked about our birth plans, hopes, fears and parenting styles. We posted about our embarrassing pregnancy moments. We argued. Prior to this experience, I didn't believe it was possible to make friends over the internet. I was wrong. I've learned that it is very possible to make friends (and enemies) online.

Chris, Liam and I met my friend, her husband and their son for lunch before we hit up the outlet stores. We picked the location because it was pretty much equidistant between our houses and, of course, because we could go shopping. ;) It was a great afternoon!

Trading babies

Fast friends

The hubbies and the babies

Matchy mamas with our matching Ergos

Father's Day Weekend

What makes someone a Dad? To me, being a father and a Dad are two very separate things. Chris has been to almost every soccer game in which Cadence has ever played. He has changed Gabriel's diapers. He's stayed home when the kids have been sick. He's cleaned up puke. He's put together toys until 1am on Christmas Eve. He has done all of the things an amazing Dad does and, often times, without much thanks. In my eyes, Chris has been a Dad since he asked me if he could become a part of my family. He didn't ask me to marry him. He asked to marry all three of us... and he did. He jumped right in and hit the ground running. Parenting came naturally to him and we are very lucky to have him in our family.

This year is special because he finally gets to experience being a Dad from the very beginning. He was there for Liam's birth and he now has those memories (the good and the bad) that the majority of other dads have. I wanted to celebrate this Father's Day in a big way.

For our anniversary, I bought Chris the equipment to begin brewing his own beer. He has really taken off with it and enjoys it so on Thursday evening I gave him an early Father's Day present - four glasses customized with "Chris Hall's Neighborhood Pub - Est. 2011" in the side.

Then on Friday after he got off of work, I surprised him again with an impromptu family trip to Charleston to watch the Charleston Battery soccer game.

It was the kids' first time going to a "grown-up" soccer game and they had a blast! They even posed for pictures with some of the players after the game was over.

We spent the night in North Charleston and headed to Isle of Palms on Saturday morning for a day at the beach. This was Liam's first beach trip and the first trip that Gabriel could remember (he was eleven months old when Chris and I last took them).

Today we went to Sushi Hanna for lunch with Chris's parents so we could see Big Jake for Father's Day as well. The kids and I also gave Chris the rest of his Father's Day present: Star Wars Cookbooks (Vol. I & II) and an iRig (thanks for the idea, Uncle Charlie).

Summer Reading

Cadence loves to read and, for that, we are very thankful. Below is the list of recommended summer reading material for rising second graders. She will be able to attend a "reading rock star" party in September if she reads at least ten of these books (although we'd like to see her read more than that). Since all of the kids in the school district are reading the same books, they are generally difficult to come by at the library and most are on a waiting list. If you have any of these books and would not mind letting Cadence borrow them, we would greatly appreciate it! Thanks so much!

-Amelia Bedelia Series --Parish
--Berenstein Bears Series --Berenstein
--Cam Jansen Series --Adler
--Charlie Needs a Cloak --DePaola
--Chrysanthemum --Henkes
--Curious George Series --Rey
--Don't Fidget a Feather --Silverman
--Flat Stanley --Brown
--Flossie and The Fox --McKissack
--Froggy (Series) --London
--Henry and Mudge Series --Rylant
--How I Became a Pirate --Long
--If You Give A Moose A Muffin --Numeroff
--If You Give a Moose a Muffin --Numeroff
--If You Give a Pig a Pancake --Numeroff
--Little Red Cowboy Hat --Lowell
--Love You Forever --Munsch
--Magic Tree House Series --Osborne
--My Teacher's Secret Life --Krensky
--Nate the Great --Sharmat
--Nate the Great Series --Sharmat
--No Jumping on the Bed --Arnold
--No, David --Shannon
--No, David --Shannon
--Officer Buckle and Gloria --Rathmann
--Owen --Henkes
--Pirates Don't Change Diapers --Long
--Poppleton (Series) --Rylant
--Stellaluna --Cannon
--Stephanie's Ponytail --Munsch
--Ten Apples Up On Top --LeSieg
--That's Good! That's Bad --Cuyler
--The Art Lesson --DePaola
--The Doorbell Rang --Hutchins
--The Hallo-Weiner --Pilkey
--The Little House --Burton
--The Napping House --Wood,
--The Paperboy --Pilkey
--The Rainbow Fish --Pfister
--Tomorrow's Alphabet --Shannon
--When I Was Little --Curtis

The Start of Summer Break

Summer break is off to a great start. Chris and I both took the day off on Friday to celebrate the beginning of summer break and end of first grade with Cadence. We had to make a quick detour on our path to celebration to take Gabriel to the hospital for a chest x-ray, but even that was fun. The x-ray techs at the hospital were great with Gabriel and, when I made
a half-joking comment about how I should take a picture of Gabriel and Chris in their matching purple paisley lead aprons, they totally agreed and even tuned lights on so I could get a better shot. After the x-ray, Gabriel and Cadence (for being a good waiter) each got to pick out three stickers.

After we finished at the hospital we stopped by "the place with the cherry" (aka Bruster's) and picked up some ice cream before heading to our neighborhood pool for our first swim of the season... and Liam's first swim EVER. The kids all had a great time and we swam for over three hours. Unfortunately, we did not reapply our SPF 100 sunblock. The kids are fine, but Chris and I (mostly Chris) are a bit toasty.

After swimming, we took the kids to the Runway Cafe at the Greenville Downtown Airport. I highly recommend it! The staff is friendly, the food is great and the kids get to watch the planes land and take off right from their table. Dinner and a show!

On Saturday, Renee, one of my friends from synchronized swimming came over with her family for dinner. Their kids are the same ages and genders as our kids. After they warmed up to each other they had a great time playing. We grilled hot dogs and hamburgers and the big kids played outside with the sprinkler. Liam and Caleb are only three days apart and they played together in the floor.

It has been nice having a three-day weekend where we don't have commitments planned every few hours. Today we have Cadence's end-of-the-season soccer party. Tomorrow Chris and I are back to work and the kids will be back at daycare. Cadence is really looking forward to it though because the daycare has field trips planned almost every day of summer vacation. Cadence LOVES field trips.

I think I'll give her at least a week before I drop the "summer reading list" bomb on her. ;)