28 August 2014

Find One Good Thing

I have blogged a little bit every day, my friends, and here we are. Yes, it took me four days to write this post! But that doesn't mean it's four days good, unfortunately. Abigail is sick and Eleanor has just been uber-clingy lately, and just when I sit down at the computer, one of them demands my attention. So I get to write in 5-minute chunks. My free time has been practically nil. We've been taking 100 minute/5.5 mile long walks most days a week in order to get Eleanor to sleep and tame Abigail's grouchy stir-craziness. Pushing 100 lbs for 5.5 miles takes a lot out of a girl! I'm happy to report I'm within 10 lbs of my pre-pregnancy weight though.

It was that time of the day between lunch and nap. When Abigail is getting tired and a bit clingy, and I want to avoid any activities that get her worked up. Eleanor is very awake, wanting to grab things and kick her chubby legs and coo at her big sister. So the three of us sit down in a cozy little circle in one corner of our small living room and I'm reminded that no matter how big of a space we had, we'd still only take up this one little corner. The sun is behind some clouds today, which keeps the heat out of our south-facing apartment. So we're keeping the lights off and playing near the windows, enjoying the flood of diffused lighting. Everything feels safe and snug and perfect; for a few minutes, I like our tiny apartment.

Eleanor is on her back on her tummy time mat, grabbing plastic butterflies and studying them with her suspicious stare. She looks over at us every few minutes, mostly at Abigail, and smiles before turning back to the giant smiling lady bug threatening her foot space. I love watching her from this angle - the angle of not on her side in my arms nursing. Her cute way of interacting with the world fills up my heart and makes me forget about the last time she refused to sleep and screamed in my ear about it. She first gives everything a most suspicious stare, then blinks and gives it a big flirty smile. And then she does my favorite thing. She lifts up her legs and hurls them to the right, swinging her whole chubby little body onto her side. Everyday she looks more and more like Matt - his gray eyes, the creases under his eyes, the dip between his nose and lips. Sometimes the way she looks at me is exactly the way Matt looks when he's happy and excited. She has my grandma's cheeks though; the other day I caught a profile shot of her and I swore I was looking at my grandma.

When I slid off the rocking chair and deposited Eleanor on her toy, Abigail practically sprinted to my now-open arms. She brought with her the magnadoodle - the current favorite toy. She commands me to draw one of four things. Fshies, choo-choos, flies (butterflies), or (signed) hot air balloons. And with all the particular-ness of a three-year-old, I must draw whatever she commands in exactly the right way. If I dare start to draw Fshies with seaweed in the bottom left corner, she'll hurriedly erase my drawing, re-command, "Fshies!" and hand me the pen. Most of the time it's actually really cute. But I'm commanded to draw "Fshies!" about a dozen times a day, which gets a big boring, so I've slowly but surely been coaxing her into letting me add more to the fishy-scape. She's grown to accept a turtle, crab, and little shrimp in the tank. After I draw something, I hand the magnadoodle back to her and sometimes she'll color in the drawing, sometimes she'll instantly erase it and hand it back to me with a new command.

She handles the pen with such a sophisticated grip. When she colors in the fish, you can see each of her little fingers doing it's bit independently - controlling the pen just like an adult. We've worked so hard and we've come so far. Lately she's hit a peak in the peaks and valleys metaphor, busting out new skills left and right. I've been doing the exercises the therapists left me with when Abigail aged out of the program in May. And after a summer without any professionals to help me guide Abigail, I realize how much she truly does need preschool. I'm not equipped to handle her unique challenges - I'd need something more than blogs and library books to teach me how to teach her. I understand why for so very long people with Down syndrome were believed to be unable to walk and talk.

As much as I know we need preschool, I'm dreading the day I have to send her off. Abigail's so content and focused and peaceful right now, and the thought of her missing from my life for three hours a day seems unbearable. I'm soaking up as much as I can.

With Eleanor happily playing and Abigail happily coloring in my fish, my mind is free to wander. I think about how terrible of a parent I am letting my children play on carpet that hasn't been vacuumed in days. I think about how the house we're going to build when Matt has a forever-job is going to have hardwood floors. I wonder if I can sneak a shower in before Eleanor will want to eat, as I haven't even freshened up since our hour and a half long walk that morning.

I snap back to reality when Abigail decides to pay Eleanor a brief visit. Baybee is greeted, patted gently, informed of the location of her head and toes, possibly sung to, patted a bit more, and then finally left alone when Abigail returns to the magnadoodle. But Eleanor kind of likes it, actually. So long as she is not poked and her hair is left alone, she enjoys her sister's visits.

It is my favorite time of each day. When peace and harmony and happy babies rule the moment. When I use this time to join them instead of finding a chore. When chubby baby thighs are on display in onesies, tiny hands grip pencils in the most sophisticated way, my body feels strong from a good workout, and the overcast day gives the apartment a cozy glow.

21 August 2014

PPD and a little talk therapy

Oh, my friends, it has been a week. One of those kinds of weeks where you try to forget all the bad things and just focus on the good things because preschool is starting in exactly 12 days and you don't want to spend the very last 12 days mulling over all the times you lost your temper or got pizza because you yet again failed to make dinner in the midst of chaos that is toddler + newborn drama.

So even though I'm not going to delve into the depths of the bad parts of my week, I do feel like talking about the culprit: PPD. I like writing about post-partum depression because I always feel better after I do, although I'm not sure how much you enjoy reading about it. I apologize. I'll throw in some pictures as a consolation.

I have it. Just as bad as I did with Abigail. I have a less stressful, more stable life free of serious medical interventions and I still managed to squeeze in some good ol' depression. I didn't like the side effects of the antidepressants I tried after Abigail, and I'm kind of paranoid about the long-term effects of taking a medication every single day, so I wasn't even willing to try them out this time around.

It creeps up almost every day. Either around 10am or around 3:30pm. I get the "I'm worthless, life is pointless, I suck at everything, there is no reason to do anything" blues. But because I'm determined to get through this (again), I do a bunch of other healthy things. Different things work best on different days. Sometimes just taking a shower and putting on a little makeup helps. Sometimes I benefit most from exercise. Sometimes getting out of the house does me good. I almost always make getting to bed on time a priority.

Last month showering was the most beneficial, but lately it's been exercise. I go for 5-5.5 mile walks a few days a week and do Jillian Michaels DVDs on the other days. When I sink onto the couch for another nursing sesh, my body is so physically drained, I don't have enough energy to be depressed! And when I go for runs (in the evenings after Matt gets home), I get a burst of endorphins that feels like I just took a happy pill. Abigail has been loving our daily walks too, she gets so excited when I ask her if she wants to go for a walk. She'll bring me my shoes if I take too long getting Eleanor ready and she even sits still and doesn't lick the sun screen off her arms. (Yeah. Pretty sure she does it because I told her not to. We buy organic sunscreen now.)

Today I managed to get out of the house and do some fun shopping. The girls needed a few things and I had some coupons for a nearby outlet mall (Tanger in Howell for those of you I know in real life), so off we went. I absolutely insist on getting two articles of clothing in every size: OshKosh overalls and Gap hoodies. They are so rugged and adorable and actually really affordable when you score them for 50% off, so each wardrobe Abigail grows into has a pair of overalls and a pink hoodie in it.

And I got to shop for Eleanor. I haven't bought any clothes for Eleanor yet (for obvious reasons), but this girl is in the 100th percentile for her length and I almost only have Carter's brand clothing. If you know baby clothes, you know that Carter's sizes tend to run very small - they're absolutely perfect for Abigail - but Eleanor is cruising through them and, at 3 months, is already too long for my 6-month sleepers. (Baby clothes run in 3-month increments: newborn, 3, 6, 9, and 12 months for those of you for whom it's been awhile). But a friend got us a Children's Place brand sleeper as a gift when Eleanor was born (Thanks, Cammie!) in a 3-month size and it fit wwwaaayyy longer than my Carter's brand 3-month-ers. So I decided to hit up the Children's Place store in the outlet mall and see how much extra leg room I could score my tall girl. And we definitely made out! Four $6 sleepers in 6-month size with a few inches to spare!

It's been a lllooonnnggg time since I've been out shopping and when you shop at 10am on a weekday, you get the store to yourself. I really enjoyed browsing all the cute styles, colors, and prints. Plus fall is my favorite season and I enjoyed all the denim jackets, striped sweaters, and vintage-print dresses that are "in" this year. The shopping boost kept me going all day long, even through the pre-witching hour blues.

Thank you for listening to me blah-blah-blah about long walks and shopping. I feel like I got the rest of the kinks out of this week : )

Now for your consolation prize:


18 August 2014


I think one of the most unsung blessings of being a parent is watching your babies interact. Matt and I always knew we wanted to have more than one kid, but back when Abigail was an only child, part of me would wonder if she should stay that way. It was all worry; I worried about how I could devote time to therapy, how I would manage her all-day hospital appointments when a newborn in tow, what would happen if Abigail developed Leukemia and I had other children. And while we haven't had to deal with the last scenario, with the others, we deal. We do therapy when Eleanor is content to spend a few minutes propped up on the boppy pillow next to us. We over-stuff the diaper bag and ignore the occasional dirty look from strangers during a crying sesh in a waiting room. It's not the big deal I thought it was.

When I was still pregnant, I attended a weekly Bible study that offered free childcare, and every day when I picked Abigail up, one of the caretakers would tell me about how much Abigail loved babies. One afternoon, she told me they had a new little baby who spent the two hours napping in her carseat while Abigail sat beside her. For almost the entire time. She didn't touch her, she just watched her and talked to her. "She's going to be a great big sister!" they told me. And they were spot on. I'm pretty sure Abigail thinks Baybee is the greatest thing that ever happened to her.

Every time Eleanor cries - and I mean every. single. time. - Abigail drops what she is doing and runs over. She "shuushes," gives her blankets, pats her gently, tries to pick her up. And if Eleanor is taking the rare alone-in-our-bedroom nap and she wakes up crying, Abigail throws what she is doing, runs to the bedroom door, and as soon as I open it, she streaks in, rips the blanket off Eleanor, and tries to pick her up. She shouts commands at me: "Diaper!" (said) "Eat!" (signed). When Matt leaves for work, Abigail commands him to kiss Eleanor goodbye. She constantly wants to hug, hold, kiss, and share things with Eleanor. It's draining, but so adorable. She cries when we don't let her "help" us carry Eleanor's car seat to the car, and Abigail is always the first to try to unbuckle her when we get home.

And Eleanor loves Abigail. She looks around when she hears her voice, she smiles at Abigail to get her attention, and usually she'll pause crying for a moment when Abigail arrives to soothe her. And the cutest part? The girls get into this little giggle session. Eleanor smiles at Abigail, making Abigail giggle. Then Eleanor will start cooing, Abigail will try to imitate her and dissolve giggling. The giggles make Eleanor try to laugh, which makes Abigail giggle even more. It's so adorable.

When we found out we were pregnant, I really, really wanted to have a girl so that Abigail could have this relationship that they've already started. I want to do everything I can to nurture their love for one another. They will always have one another; when Matt and I are long gone, they will still have each other.

14 August 2014

Down Syndrome - Walks and Books

Three years ago the first thing that opened the door to healing was a Googled Buddy Walk. Through the Google search for Down Syndrome in Naples, I found info about an old Buddy Walk that led me to Kelle Hampton's blog, which gave me a lot of emotional strength for the support group I would eventually find, the other blogs I would read, the books I would read. But do you want to know the funny thing? I never did attend that year's Buddy Walk. I was too afraid of what I might see, so I found an excuse not to go. I kept finding excuses, and I was all set to find some more for this year's walk in Michigan, but people kept asking me, "Are you going? I'd love to go with you!" And so finally I said yes. And I created a fundraiser page.

Please visit my page and consider making a donation!

The money goes to Michigan's local Down syndrome organization - CADSA (Capital Area Ds Association) - and I've heard really marvelous things about them since moving here. All Abigail's therapists and a few random strangers: "Are you on CADSA's mailing list? Have you been to any CADSA events yet?" I haven't. Yet again, this year's Ds walk will be the first event in my new city. One that I hope brings me an amazing connection with other moms.

The walk will take place on September 7th. Please consider making a donation! You can make it anonymously or in honor of a loved one. If you do make a donation, I'd be happy to provide you with some free advertising space on my blog. Either a widget on the side or a dedicated post for your own blog, shop (or Etsy shop), or any other (G-rated) product or service!

* * * * *

I heard back from the publisher. The one I mailed my manuscript to. AND ... they didn't out-right reject me!!! So the original submission packet included two excerpts from my book (as per their guidelines), and I heard back from them yesterday and they would like more! They asked for the section where we learn about Abigail's Ds, among a few other things. And they gave me a specific person to send my new packet to. I'm super excited because even if they do still reject me, I wrote something good enough that interested a publishing company! I'm also super nervous because this is really outside of my comfort zone; each step takes a lot of guts.

11 August 2014

Answer me this - hot air balloons, mostly

*Note: This is the second time this post has been published. I snuck out of bed this morning when both girls were still sleeping and Matt was in the shower and sat down to enjoy the luxury of a hot cup of coffee and a few minutes on the computer. But then some construction guys started busting up concrete right outside my apartment. The girls woke up, the post was only half written, Eleanor started crying which triggered a hot flash, I cranked something out, hit "publish," and ran away. But there were random pictures that I was saving for later this week, there were typos, everything was a mess, so I reverted the post back to a draft and this is take 2.

Find the questions here, but don't expect to see my name on the list!

1. What do you still want to do this summer?
-Make Abigail's backpack, get her school supplies, find her the best first day of school outfit ever.
-Hit my pre-pregnancy weight
-Continue our weekend "hikes"

We've already done a lot of the things we wanted to do this summer, including the county fair, the church festival (which was this past weekend), learn to bbq on the community grills, spend lots of time "hiking."

The aforementioned church festival is a pretty awesome experience - they have a hot air balloon launch and you can sit right on the field.


I think the photo above to the right would be a great ad for both Ford and Re/Max. Give me a call, guys.

2. What's your favorite kind of pie?
I'm actually not a big pie eater. It's one of the (few) desserts that doesn't tempt me when I'm watching my calories. But if I really needed to eat a slice because, say, my grandma is present and she is insisting, I would opt for either apple or whichever had chocolate in it.

3. How much sleep do you need each day? How much do you get?
I need a good, solid 8 hours. I hate napping and I hate sleeping in (that's actually a really fun post for another day), so the 8 hours all has to occur at night. But how much do I get right now? I go to bed at 10pm, then Eleanor, who usually goes down for the night around 9am, gets up at 2:00am, 4:00am, and 6:00am. She's slept 6 hours straight twice since we got home from the hospital. Fun times are had by none, but in all honesty, I do feel like being tired during the day is the most manageable part of the intensity that is parenting a newborn and a toddler.

4. Do you prefer to swim in a pool, lake, river, or ocean?
Pools. I hate swimming in fish, slime, mud, seaweed, and everything else that occurs naturally in the water. Bleh.

5. Do you know any poems by heart?
Nope. But I know a few dozen children's books by heart. I'm not a big poetry person, although a poetry class in college taught me how to analyze and interpret members of the genre, but when given a choice, I prefer books.

6. Do you use the public library?
Not often. I hate the smell of books that have come from the library. I hate finding random stains on pages. I hate trying to finish a book when pages have been torn out. I hate having to wait until the book I want is sent over from a sister-library. I usually only use the library when I want to read a book I don't want to own. Either because the book is pretty low-brow (Game of Thrones) or I want to read the book the movie was based off of (Silence of the Lambs, Life of Pi), or it's a reference book I want to see if I want to buy (Fine Motor Skills in Children with Down Syndrome).

Well, today is truly proving to be a Monday. Oh, Monday.

08 August 2014

National Breastfeeding Week

This is National Breastfeeding Week! I just found out, so I thought share some thoughts about my experience before the week is out.

When it comes to feeding babies, I've done it all. In order of preference, I've:

-store-bought formula fed
-home-made formula fed
-pumped and given breast milk

Once I got past the first four weeks, I think it's pretty much the easiest part of caring for a newborn! I know I've only been doing it for almost three months, but so far, it's so convenient! No matter where I am, I can very easily feed Eleanor. No running out of bottles, formula, or water. No heating up (or cooling an overheated) bottle while a newborn screams. It keeps her quiet at church, restaurants, when we're hiding in a garage at a surprise party. I personally do not feel chained to my baby when I'm nursing. Maybe it's because we keep moving to states where we don't know anyone and don't have babysitters, but I am very use to strapping on my little ones and wearing them to law school events or Chicago museums or taking them along to my doctors appointments. Even now that we're surrounded by friends and family, it's no burden to take Eleanor with me grocery shopping or out to dinner with the girls. And no one has ever berated me for nursing in public (I do use a nursing cover, although it's my goal to one day be so awesome at breastfeeding that I can go without and not expose anything). And once Eleanor got a bit older/bigger/more head control, I figured out how to nurse at night and now it's no big deal.

Breastfeeding at home gives me two free hands, and once I master nursing in a sling, I won't even have to be sitting.

Store-bought Formula
If I couldn't breastfeed Eleanor, she'd be on Enfamil or Similac - whoever would give me the best coupons. I have found that this non-breastfeeding method is the most conducive to my sanity. When I'd go out with Abigail, I'd bring a few bottles pre-filled with water (or one bottle and a water bottle to serve as a canteen) and a few small tupperware with pre-measured formula in them. At home, I had enough bottles to get through a day and a half, so if I didn't get to the dishes one day, it wasn't a big deal, and I did have all the handy bottle accessories - bottle brush, drying rack, dishwasher caddy - they made the cleaning process much faster. And I tried to buy formula in large quantities so that I would have ample warning before running out. But it has it's downsides. Like how expensive formula, bottles, and new nipples are. And sometimes I'd think Abigail was fussy, so I'd make her a bottle, but she'd only take a sip or two before rejecting it. Once a baby starts sucking, they need to finish the bottle in a hour or you have to toss it. It's like dumping money down the drain. The other major negative is running out of formula when you're not at home. When Abigail was about six or so months old, I had an appointment that wasn't suppose to take more than 20 minutes, so I only brought one bottle with me. But we were stuck in the waiting room for over TWO HOURS. And it was not the kind of appointment I could reschedule. After the bottle, Abigail was sobbing and refused plain water. By the time we finally got called back, we were a disaster. And all the woman we came to see could say was, "I think your baby is hungry. I think she needs some milk." There is no need to record my response.

The only positive I found with formula feeding was getting the hubby to do night feedings. Even though walking up and latching Eleanor on isn't a big deal, nothing beats a night of uninterrupted sleep.

Home-made Formula
I did try home-making my own formula. I found all the same negatives as store-bought formula (expensive, has to be dumped if not finished, you can run out), PLUS it was more difficult to take bottles with me to the store, and it's crazy complicated to get all the ingredients. I never did the math to see if it was more expensive that store-bought formula because Abigail did not like it, but merely the research to try to find unpasturized goats milk in southwest Florida was enough to turn me off from making it a permanent thing.

Pumping and giving a baby the breast milk in a bottle is, in my opinion, the worst of all worlds. All the expense and cleaning hassle of bottles, the difficulty of transporting bottles, plus feedings take twice as long. Feed baby, rinse bottle, pump, clean pumping gear. At night? It's awful. By the time everything was done, I'd get about 20 minutes of sleep before Abigail would get up and I'd have to start all over. I can only imagine how much more difficult that would be if I'd had a toddler running around while I tried to get everything done.

* * * * *

There are lots of things I'm way too judgmental about, but I can honestly say how people feed their babies is not one of them. Studies say that breastfeeding lowers PPD, helps baby's brain, and keeps baby protected from viruses, but I honestly view those impacts as being very minimal. It's not like you can look around, "Oh, that man was breastfed. That woman was given formula." It's not like your child's kindergarden teacher is going to sit you down at conferences: "Did you formula feed Susie? I can tell, she's just not as smart as her classmates." And I'm personally struggling with PPD and breastfeeding. Seriously, if you formula feed because your baby is allergic to too many foods and you don't want to cut them from your diet, if you've got twins, if you do feel chained to a baby when breastfeeding, if breastfeeding just plain grosses you out, don't feel guilty about switching to formula! Extra props to the woman who works and pumps the same way extra props belong to the woman who keeps her cool when her three year old throws a temper tantrum in a grocery store, but we shouldn't beat ourselves up over it.

There is a fine line between educating the public (Breast is best!) and berating them (You should be breastfeeding!) just like there is a hugely wide gap between judgement (What a terrible mother!) and complete tolerance (We shouldn't talk about breastfeeding for fear of offending the women who can't breastfeed). I think the best way to get everyone to get along is for everyone to hear where everyone is coming from. Only by actually hearing one another can we grow in wisdom, make friends, and convert people to our point of view. And only by hearing our neighbor out is how we can learn to love one another. And that, God said, is one of the top commandments.

And that, my friends, is how I turned a discussion about breastfeeding into one about religion ; )

07 August 2014

Fitness Stroller

Two more promises delivered today, my friends. And if you look closely, you can even see Abigail's "no" face as a bonus.

Open stroller from the side! It's pretty compact as far as double strollers go, but plenty roomy enough for a toddler and a carseat. Plus right now I can use Eleanor's foot space as additional storage.

There is a nice (ie, wide and paved) trail near our apartment and the city keeps the edges nicely trimmed (ie, minimizing potential tick transfers) and I took this here 100lbs of stroller out on it yesterday for a nice 3.17 mile jaunt in just under and hour.

Thankfully I brought my mountain biking gloves up with me to the apartment after our last ride in Chicago, so they were safe the night of the robbery. Good thing too because 100lbs of stroller (50lbs of stroller + 25lbs of Abigail + 13 lbs of Eleanor + the car seat + water + necessary diaper bag components = about 100 lbs) uphill while sweating can be a challenge.

So why am I going for broke with all the exercise lately? Well, at first it was a combination of exercise keeping the PPD at bay/wanting my body back/needing my non-maternity clothes to fit again. But now, now it's because I need to look auh-maz-ing in a bridesmaid's dress by next May! My mother-in-law threw a surprise party for Matt's sister's golden birthday last week and when we all shouted "Surprise!" her left ring finger was like, "PUNK'D YA!" So we all screaming and oogled her ring and demanded details on any wedding plans that had been determined in the 36 hours since the proposal. We're all very excited - it was one of those things where we were all just waiting for the when.

So anyway, my goal is to loose the rest of the pregnancy weight (I'm 58.5% down now) plus the additional 25lbs my small-boned frame didn't enjoy carrying around in the next nine months. And I'm determined to loose it the healthy way and continue breastfeeding the entire time.

One final thing before I sign off. Yesterday when I was out for my own personal power hour? It was also snail power hour. I was slaloming the stroller around to avoid running the poor guys over. I've never seen so many slime trails in one place.

04 August 2014

Midwestern Summers

A photo-intense post from an awesome weekend, I promised. And I'm delivering. The Good Stuff tells its side of the story of this Friday - Sunday.

My party started on Friday for two reasons. The first? Yarn.

On Friday, I took the car and took both girls with me to a craft store to peruse a few crafty items for Christmas presents. Now, I rarely travel to stores with both girls because a toddler who scores abnormally high in the oppositional behaviors category and a 12-week-old are not ideal shopping companions. Especially at a craft store when I tend to take longer and stop walking to browse, which is a capital offense in 12-week-old land. BUT, I was going to make the best of it. I planned to pop a squat at the pattern viewing table and do a little breastfeeding to keep Squawker happy. It went well! No one sobbed! I found pretty yarn! It was a good confidence booster to get out of the house and not return home with a car full of sobbing girls.

The other reason Friday marked the start of awesome? MY DOUBLE STROLLER ARRIVED!

I have been searching and researching for a while now, trying to find the best features for my money. I could have borrowed a double stroller for free indefinitely, but it was a particularly wide one, so wide that it couldn't fit on the sidewalks in my neighborhood, so I had to return it. So while I traipsed around wearing one and pushing one, I continued to research. Until I found one in my price range with all the features I wanted. And it arrived on Friday!

On Saturday, we gave it it's first real test at the fair.

And I just realized that the only pictures I have of a side view of the stroller has me in it, and it's one of those Wow-I-guess-I-haven't-lost-all-the-baby-weight-yet pictures. You know what I mean. Sorry, you'll have to wait for me to take a new photo from the side of the stroller.

So back to the fair. I felt like a tourist in the country, my friends. I'm all, "Oh my gosh, look at that truck! I need a pictures of that truck!" While we're standing in the parking lot. My husband is all, "Why are you a nut job? My friends all drove trucks like this; hurry up, I don't want anyone to see us!"

You see, I did live in the country for two years of high school and one year in between graduating college and getting married. But I guess it's easy to forget because I walk into a BARN to see a table full of veggies on PAPER PLATES with RIBBONS and I'm all, "Haha! Award-winning veggies! Matt, that is a freakin' squash!"

I mean, I thought that kind of stuff only happened in the old black-and-whites with men in overalls standing next to people-sized pumpkins.

Oh goodness. We walked through the horse barns because even city girls like horses.

And we met up with my sister-in-law (the same one from last year), whose girls were looking for rabbits again, to visit the small animal auction for more auctioned bunnies.

And then it was time for the rides.

Since we had more warning this time, Matt and I budgeted out a few dollars for the big event. We each selected one iconic food from our childhood (Matt got elephant ears, I got cotton candy), we each rode one ride with Abigail,

Abigail got to play one carnival game. And she won a prize.

And in between eating, Eleanor slept.

And when we were almost done, we had two tickets left. And a ride on the kiddie train was two tickets. But adults couldn't fit on the ride and I wasn't sure how Abigail would do next to a complete stranger, so I begged asked my sister-in-law if one of her kids would ride it with Abigail. Now they were on a budget too and each kid only got to do two things, but they agreed to send one of their youngest on the ride with Abigail. I thought it would work out perfectly.

But it turns out that Abigail handled things like a champ and her little girl sobbed hysterically. I still feel a bit guilty over that one.

Sunday following Mass, Matt and I packed up the stroller and headed out to a "trail" we've been "hiking" on the weekends. We're trying to make a certain distance in a certain time by the end of summer. Yesterday we pushed a 100lbs of stroller 3.1 miles in just under an hour.

And afterward, we always cool off in the toddler splash pad.

And yesterday, Abigail did better than she's ever done. Spent more time in the water and less time circling the park. Yeah, just running in circles around the water. Over and over. This time she went in.

Oh goodness, by Sunday evening, we were exhausted. In a good way.

It isn't to say that nothing went wrong. That Abigail didn't break down in tears randomly at one point during the fair. That Matt and I didn't have a disagreement in the car on the way to the park. That I didn't twerk something in my shoulder trying to lug too much to the car in one fell swoop. That this weekend didn't take a lot of work. But it is to say that it was all worth it. Family summer weekend fun.