Love, Laughter, and Bloopers

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Last week I took the girls outside for a brief photo shoot before posting Abby’s latest update. Lydia wanted to be in on the fun, so I took pictures while the girls played together. It was sweet. Afterward I realized that I had taken some pretty funny pictures, and some cute ones too.

Mind if I share?

Few things make my heart happier than watching these two talk to each other, play together, and just love on each other.

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Sometimes I’m not sure they’re BOTH enjoying themselves.

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And sometimes I KNOW they’re not both enjoying themselves.

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Sometimes they just need some alone time.

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Sometimes bad things happen when I’m not around.

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But these two forgive quickly. Then they’re back to sharing secrets.

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Maybe I was just in a wedding mood, but this one reminds me of bridal party shots where all the girls are talking and laughing. Don’t grow up too fast girls!

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Maybe we can duplicate this one at the a wedding too. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Abby has a tendency to bite fingers, eat faces, and poke people in the eye.

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And sometimes she just won’t smile.

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I love my girls. And all our squishy selfies too.

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Happy Things

There are some days when I struggle to think of a good, picture-worthy blessing to be thankful for. Lately, that has not been the case.

After writing Wednesday’s blog (on Tuesday afternoon), Dan emailed me with news about another house. On Wednesday evening we went to look at it, already almost certain this would be ours. By Friday we had filled out the paperwork to put in our offer, it was accepted, and suddenly we’re on our way to having a home of our own. As things fall into place, I plan to share more about how God brought everything together for us.

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Also on Wednesday, Lydia started to figure out potty training. It’s a work in progress, but now it really is a work in progress. This is making all three of us so happy. (Abby doesn’t know what all the fuss is about).

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On Sunday, we packed up a picnic and met up with my parents and brother on their way back home from vacation. After lunch, my mom took Lydia over to the playground while Dan and I chatted with my dad about their vacation.

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It was good to see them again, especially after such exciting times with the housing (and potty training).

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And I’m only days away from finishing the front of Abby’s quilt and moving on to the actual quilting step. I thought this day might never come.

Today is a drizzly day outside but here in this home we are overflowing with blessings. I just wanted to share a little of that overflow this afternoon.

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This is a Fun Time!

We’re back from our up-North Traverse City vacation, and, while it was far from relaxing, we certainly enjoyed our time. We drove up late Wednesday night and took off again late Thursday morning to spend our first day in downtown Traverse.

After searching hopelessly for a (free) parking space, we settled in at the library and enjoyed a packed lunch on the Boardman River. Abby watched us eat for a while, then got down to roll around in the grass.

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Then we loaded the girls into their strollers and began the long trek down town.

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Dan and I had forgotten about the relatively new water playground put in along our walk. When we got there we schemed together for a while before asking Lydia, “Would you like to play?” She was hesitant at first, but once she got a little wet she started running around squealing and laughing and having a great time.

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What happened next was rather epic. Lydia stood under the “waterfall” with water pouring down all around her. She held out her arms and yelled to no one in particular, “THIS IS A FUN TIME!”.

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By now she was dripping and shivering, so we brought an end to the water playground fun and continued our walk out to the pier to enjoy the beautiful blue water and to watch some boats.

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Then we walked a little more and came to a small stretch of beach. All of us, including Abby, felt the sand between out toes. Only Lydia ventured into the water, but we had to hold her back so she could continue to dry off. Silly parents that we were, we didn’t think to bring her a swimsuit, towel, or change of clothes.

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We spent the rest of the afternoon walking through stores downtown, then headed back to Dan’s parents’ house for some dinner and some much needed rest.

Friday we packed into the car once more and drove all the way out to the peninsula after a somewhat spontaneous decision to pick cherries. (Some of you remember our cherry-picking adventure last year. This was far less adventurous but equally fun).

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We spent a little more time downtown and visited some of my family with an adorable new baby. Then we met up with my family for dinner on the beach. This time I brought extra clothes for Lydia and assured her I would come in the water with her and swim as deep as she wanted to go. The water was cold, so no one joined us, and afterward both girls had to be bundled up to fight the shivers.

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We spent the rest of the evening at my parents’ house chatting, while Lydia and Nana colored and played. We stayed out far too late, but everyone enjoyed their time and even slept through the night that night. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Saturday was our Dexter family reunion, but that deserves its own post.

Playgrounds and Fountains

Last week, as the Fourth of July approached, we had no plans at all for how we would spend the holiday. When we woke up on Friday, we still had no plans (to my knowledge). So, after Lydia got up, Dan read to her and Abby and then told me his idea for how we would spend the day. As it turned out, the day ended up being full and fun, a perfect holiday and a wonderful start to Dan’s three day weekend.

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After breakfast we packed up the diaper bag and headed out. First stop was just a drive-by of a house we though we might want to take a look at. It turned out to be no good, so we were glad not to waste our time scheduling a real viewing. We stopped at a nearby park where Lydia burned off some energy and practiced hanging from the rings. Abby chilled in the grass and looked super cute while she was at it.

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When we started to get hungry we loaded back into the car and drove by another house and decided not to schedule a viewing for that one either (it was right on the highway and the traffic was just way too loud). Then we pit-stopped for lunch outside. We happened to be right next to a Meijer, and, as watermelons were on sale this week, decided to add watermelon to our dinner menu for later that night. Dan picked out the best melon in the store and Lydia had an exciting ride on Sandy.

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I think it was about this time when Dan changed our plans a little and we spontaneously decided to visit downtown Plymouth. We spent some time there last Labor Day, before Abby was born, and had a good time so we decided to repeat the adventure.

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Something you may or may not know about me is that I’m pretty good at taking selfies of Dan and myself…except when you can see the reflection in the window behind us. ๐Ÿ™‚

One of the places you must visit if you’re ever in Plymouth is the fountain. So we did. Lydia loved it and probably couldn’t remember that she had visited the same fountain less than a year ago.

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Maybe we’ll go back every year and take a picture of the kiddos at the fountain.

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After the fountain, we made our way over to a quiet grassy area of downtown Plymouth set aside to celebrate our freedom and remember those who have sacrificed for it. We reviewed our nation’s wars, danced in the grass, made some friends, and showed Lydia the cannon. Abby just smiled and watched with those clear blue eyes of hers.

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The last time we were here I lost and found my camera. This visit someone stole my purse.

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I got it back though.

We wrapped up our outing by another visit to an old favorite playground. Even though we went to this playground almost every day last summer, Lydia didn’t remember it at all. It’s where we took the much beloved “tunnel picture” of Lydia.

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It was almost dinner time and I had to go for a run (to keep up with my 5K training), so we called it a day and headed home. After a successful 20 minute run we had another picnic outside followed up, of course, with Meijer’s best watermelon. It was a full, fun, and wonderful day. As the sun set, Dan and I picked out old patriotic favorites to play on the computer for Lydia, then we really called it a day. No fireworks for this family! Maybe next year.

In Case You Need to Smile

This morning I was outside having a tea party with Lydia. She was being cute so I pulled out my camera and before I knew it we were clicking through the past month in pictures. Some of these were just so cute and happy, I just couldn’t keep them to myself.

Some things worth smiling about:

Homemade headbands, big eyes, and cute toddler expressions.

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Poorly lit candid group photos with one non-smiler.

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Party hats.

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Wide-eyes baby smiles.

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Sleeping sideways.

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Clear blue eyes and a thumb.

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Froggy sun hats.

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Sleeping munchkins.

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Tongue-y smiles.

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Happy couples.

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Blurry sweet smiles.

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Adorable sisterly love.

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Laughter.

Guess that Taylor Answers

And the winner is…

Girlie! For getting five correct answers (ok so four correct and two partially correct). You get a half million points. Dad T and Gramma Dexter each get 10,000 points for being good sports and actually trying. Maybe next time we’ll offer a real prize.

Here are the answers:

1. โ€œLetโ€™s go outside.โ€ – D

Around out home, this is no surprise. Dan says this daily. And we all agree happily! Except for Abby, maybe. She loves the shade.

2. โ€œI want to go inside.โ€ – L

Spoken not once, but twice during the day (if you don’t count that she says it about fifteen times to make sure we heard her). Once to go inside our friends house and sit in a particular “little chair” and once because there were dogs inside.

3. โ€œThis is messy. Clean it up.โ€ – L

During breakfast Lydia spilled her oatmeal. She can’t stand messes.

4. โ€œI donโ€™t need a nap today.โ€ – J

Yes, that was me, not the two-year-old. I normally need a nap every day. But when a day like this is so perfectly warm and sunny and full of friends, and Dan is home, I’ll give up my precious nap.

5. โ€œIโ€™m not tired.โ€ – L

Yeah, that was Lydia. She never thinks she’s tired.

6. โ€œAh-buh-gah.โ€ – A

Abby. Surprised?

7. โ€œHold me!โ€ – L, J, D, and A

I gave partial credit on this one. Lydia asked first. Abby “asked” in her baby language and cries. And Mommy didn’t want to be left out. Dan just said it as he copied the rest of us, but it still counts. This one ended in a family group hug.

8. โ€œIt doesnโ€™t get any better than this!โ€ – D

Dan, enjoying the beautiful day.

9. โ€œIโ€™m scary!โ€ – L

Lydia got bit by some mosquitoes and another bug. As everyone examined her bite to determine if it was dangerous, she got pretty scared. And when she’s scared she says, “I’m scary!” For the record, the bite did not appear to be dangerous and it’s healing just fine.

10. โ€œIโ€™m stinky.โ€ – J

You don’t have to spend too many days with our family to hear Lydia say this. Actually, she’ll shout it if your not paying attention and she wants a diaper change. But this time it was me, and no, I didn’t have any accidents. We were walking in the hot, sunny weather and I was starting to sweat.

Guess that Taylor

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Yesterday was the perfect holiday. The sun was shining and it was wonderfully warm outside. We had a great day visiting friends, house-hunting, walking in the sunshine, taking naps in the cool basement, and getting some necessary chores accomplished. During our visit with friends, Lydia stayed busy watching ants, playing in a sandbox, and helping move some bricks (but not really). Like I said, it was a perfect holiday.

During breakfast before our busy day began, someone said something unexpected. And somehow that launched Dan and I into a discussion of the things we each say. That turned into this game, which has now been dubbed Guess that Taylor. I thought I would invite you all to join in the fun.

Below I’ll list ten quotes, spoken by someone in the family, at some point during Memorial Day. The first person to answer all ten correctly gets a million points. Or, if no one gets them all right, the first person who gets the most correct answers gets a half million points. I’ll try to post the answers tomorrow afternoon. All submissions are valid until the answers are posted. Your choices for answers are:

D – Dan
J – Justine
L – Lydia
A – Abigail

There is only one correct answer for each quote, except for one of them, which may have up to four correct answers.

1. “Let’s go outside.”
2. “I want to go inside.”
3. “This is messy. Clean it up.”
4. “I don’t need a nap today.”
5. “I’m not tired.”
6. “Ah-buh-gah.”
7. “Hold me!”
8. “It doesn’t get any better than this!”
9. “I’m scary.”
10. “I’m stinky.”

Ready? Go! Leave a comment with your guesses.

Easter According to Lydia

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We had a wonderful Easter spending time together as a family and with friends, celebrating the resurrection of our Savior. There were new and pretty dresses. There was a potluck breakfast. There was a joyous Easter service. There were lots and lots of pictures. It was, indeed, a celebration. And on Monday, when all the festivities were over, Lydia agreed to share with you all what she has learned about Easter.

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We’re Going to the Mountains

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A couple of weeks ago we took a trip to the mountains. It was inspired by a book of Lydia’s and by her incessant chanting of “We’re going to the mountains!”. We don’t always do everything our almost-three-year-old tells us to do, but in this case, we did.

We packed our bags. They included: a toy camera, sunflower seeds and raisins (trail-mix, of course), hats, scarves, and a baseball glove and ball. We loaded up the car and headed out.

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Little brother and Abigail had a few arguments during the drive and there were a few “Are we there yet?”s, but it wasn’t too bad in all. We listened to music, read a picture book, took turns driving, and avoided taking a single bathroom break. Abby slept almost the whole time and we managed to make it all the way to the Grand Himalayan Alps in what really felt like just a few minutes.

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Since Abby was still sleeping, we decided to just leave her in the car. Please don’t judge our parenting decisions. The parking lot was practically empty anyway.

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Then we headed out to climb the biggest mountain we could find. We took a break about halfway up on a nice grassy plateou, where Lydia took a short nap. Then we resumed our climbing.

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Near the top we had a close encounter with a bear. By ringing a bell and shouting at it, we managed to scare him away. Then we ascended the very highest peak. We stopped to munch on trail mix and enjoy the view.

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No one felt like playing ball just then, so I guess it was good that we had left our bag in the car with Abigail. Lydia didn’t take any pictures either, but I brought my camera along so that turned out ok too. After soaking in all the beauty surrounding us from that height, we made our way back down the mountain and back to the car. Abby was safe and sound and still sleeping. The drive home felt longer but was actually shorter. lydia made good time.

It was a great trip. I know not everyone has the time and resources to drop everything and drive to the Alps, but, for those who do, I highly recommend it.

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Apple Pie for Breakfast

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We had apple pie for breakfast last week and I don’t even feel bad about it.

You see, we have been trying to help Lydia memorize Bible verses for a while now. She has a great memory, especially when things are put to music. I’m not great at making up my own tunes (I can never remember the tune once I’ve made it up), but I’m not too shabby at taking old tunes and giving them new words.

So our first Bible memory song was Acts 16:31 set to the tune of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”. It went like so:

Acts sixteen thirty one
They replied, “Believe
in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved,
you and your household.

The “you and your household” didn’t fit so we just sort of chant it quickly at the end and Lydia thought that was great.

Well, as awesome as that was, I couldn’t get Lydia to prove to me that she had learned it. I was sure she had because we had sung it so many times I found myself humming it frequently when no one else was even around. But, how to get her to recite for me?

Enter apple pie. I had the bright idea of offering Lydia dessert if she could sing her song for Daddy. Throughout the day, Lydia would ask me and I would remind her that I would make her an apple pie if she could sing the song all by herself in front of Daddy. No sooner did he walk in the door that afternoon and she burst into song.

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That night happened to be terribly busy and I eventually had to apologize to Lydia and tell her the pie wouldn’t be done baking until too late. Instead, we would be having apple pie for breakfast. And the reason I could do so is that this pie wasn’t laden with sugary, buttery goodness. In fact, if you could see the recipe, you might realize that it wasn’t a whole lot different from sliced apples and toast as far as ingredients go.

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And because I think everybody should get to have apple pie for breakfast, here is the recipe for you all to enjoy.

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Breakfast Apple Pie
Ingredients:
2 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup coconut oil
6 to 7 tablespoons cold water
6 granny smith apples, peeled and sliced
10 dates
cinnamon

1. In a small bowl, combine flour and salt; mix in coconut oil until mixture is crumbly. Gradually stir in water until a ball forms.
2. Divide dough in half so that one ball is slightly larger than the other. Roll out larger ball on a lightly floured surface to fit your pie plate. Transfer to plate.
3. Grind up dates in a food processor. You’ll end up with small sticky chunks of date mush.
4. Layer pie with half of your apples. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon. Evenly distribute date mush balls. Cover with the other half of your apples and sprinkle generously with more cinnamon.
5. Roll out second dough ball to fit top of pie. Place over filling. Cut slits in top, and shape extra dough into a pretty heart to put in the center.
6. Bake at 450 for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 and bake for another 55-60 minutes or until apples are tender. Cool on a wire rack. Store in the refrigerator.

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The date mush balls are yummier than they sound. After enjoying pie for breakfast and more for dessert after dinner, Lydia was given a new Bible verse. She wasn’t too enthused about this one (1 Thessalonians 5:16) until we offered her chocolate banana “ice cream” as a reward. Then she learned it in about two days.

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