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summer nights




Sea World is just the best place to be in the evening/nighttime during the summer.




There's always something fun to do and see, and even in the swealtering heat of summer it's usually cool and breezy and wonderful.




And if by chance it's still uncomfrotably warm at 8:00 at night, we can just hang out in the Wild Artic exhibit. Cause like the name implies, it's guaranteed to be cool in there....with all the ice and polar bears and whatnot. :)






In June we went for a short trip, because we wanted to see the fireworks that we can hear booming every night.


The weather was perfect (to me)....maybe a bit on the cold side for the girls:




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These girls liked the "silly mirrors" a lot:




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We watched the nighttime version of some of the shows. It's a whole different experience at night.




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And because Arissa had been begging for weeks, we went on Shipwreck Rapids.






Everytime we've gone to SeaWorld recently, she's asked to go but the line was too long. It hardly makes sense to wait 45 minutes in line for a 3 minute ride, when we have passes and can go back any time of the day or night when the line is shorter.






But this time it was very short....we walked right on.






And rode it again and again until we were soaked through and through.









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Well actually 4 of us did.



Mallory had been on it before and had fun, but it didn't seem as fun to her in the dark, when she was already chilly. And someone had to take the pictures & look after Mallory, so Jesse took one for the team and went on with the others.






Then we high-tailed it for the ending fo the Shamu show...




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...to see what we had come for in the first place:




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Fun night!

field trip!



The week before school let out for summer, the 4th grade classes at Arissa's school went on a field trip to the Natural History Museum.




Upside: I didn't have to work so I tagged along!




Downside: the reason I didn't have to work is that I called in sick because I felt like I was dying.




But that's beside the point. I tagged along with Arissa's group for half of the day, but then one of the chaperones had to leave so I took over his group for the second half. Which was fun because I had good kids in my group and they were cute and sweet.




The Museum was awesome and there was so much to look at. The kids had worksheets they had to fill out about the different things at the museum so we all learned a lot too, in the process.




Naturally, the dinosaurs were a big hit with all the kids.




I liked the prettier stuff:



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For lunch we ate outside by the fountain:

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I took a bunch of pictures:





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The kids did what kids do.




Acted silly, chased little boys:

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The whole, huge, happy group:




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1...2...3...GO!



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Fun day.



I had every intention of going home and climbing into bed and sleeping until I was well again.


But, it wasn't meant to be. It was a Monday, afterall, and that means dance classes and more dance classes and girl scouts and homework and more.



That's ok though, it was a fun day spent with sweet kids, so I was happy.

special day


MORE birthday fun!



On Arissa's actual birthday, we let her choose what we'd have for dinner:



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she chose Fuddruckers.


No, that is not her beer in the picture.
It's Mariah's.
Just kidding!



We came home and opened gifts!


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Arissa is wearing the headband I bought her to complete her Alice in Wonderland "costume" for her party. And then Mariah stuck a bow on her head.




All the discarded wrapping paper was our gift to Bellie...she likes to lay on it.


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It took Arissa a good 5 minutes to figure out what our "big" gift to her was:


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What she's holding is a printout of the email from SeaWorld, confirming her appointment for the Dolphin Interaction Program. She had a blast...more on that later.


She had a great birthday, and of course loved all the extra attention. Her sisters tried very hard to be mild and not fight with her and I do believe the night ended without any screaming or time-outs so mission accomplished. :o)

Introducing...


....our newest Kindergarten graduate:

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Mallory "graduated" from kindergarten on June 16.


She was so happy & excited.


She was ecstatic over the balloon bouquet I brought her:



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And happily posed while I took pictures of her with some of her friends:


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When it hit her that she wouldn't see them everyday for 3 months, she gave everyone a tearful goodbye hug:

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After those festivites, I ran over to Mariah's classroom. I had bought her and Arissa a balloon too (for a "happy last day of school!" gift, since I was buying some for Mallory), but Mariah's popped as I was getting out of the car. Luckily, I had also gotten her a new pack of sparkly headbands (she's into headbands at the moment) so I gave her those instead & she was happy.
I also wanted to take a few pictures since I was there. She obliged me, but really just wanted to get back to the party (and snacks) her class was having:


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I love this next kid. He's so sweet and happy and even though he hardly knows me, he'll run up to me and say hi and start telling me stories. His name is "Kirk" but Mariah doesn't pronounce her 'r's so it comes out sounding like "kuhk". :o) It always makes me smile when she says it.


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When she first told me his name, it took 20 minutes of back-and-forth before I understood what she was saying.
"Me and Kuhk were playing..."
"You and who?"
"Me and Kuhk."
"Cook?"
"KUHK."
"Cut?"
"KUHK!"
"Kurt?"
"KUHK!!"
"Ohhh.....Kirk! Got it."
:o)
I went over to Arissa's room too, to take pics and bring her the balloon I bought her. But while the rest of the school was partying, her class was reciting their oral reports and doing schoolwork. The classroom was so somber, I couldn't even go inside. I found a random kid lurking in the halls and he took the balloon in to her. :o)
And I promised her we'd have our own end-of-year party to celebrate.

weekend wonderland



We did our best to create a little "wonderland" in Nana's backyard for Arissa's birthday party.


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The table:

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The table looking even cuter once the seats were filled with sweet, smiley party guests:


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A special mini table for the wee ones:


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We played party games, of course.





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And had a delicious cupcake-cake.
Mmmmm cake!

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Arissa's friends warned her: if this is wonderland, and she's Alice, then eating the cake might make her grow super tall. Luckily, she stayed her right size. :o)


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She got some really really nice gifts.

It was so funny how pretty much all of the clothes she got were of the same color scheme (the same color as her dress). I don't know if that's just a popular color in stores right now, or if the people buying them were like me and chose it cause they thought it would bring out the pretty blue in her eyes. She has a lot of blue in her closet just for that reason! But you can't have too much blue when you have eyes like that!

She was smitten with this card, with a special birthday wish/song from Justin Bieber:


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It was a fun little tea party.

Even though we made lots of tea and no one drank tea.

Even though it got dark before we were able to play croquet.

Even though I put the wrong version of "boom boom pow" on my party playlist so in the midst of a sweet, lovely, proper tea party, a slew of explitives caught everyone offguard.

Even still. :o)

Music, food, un-touched tea, and family & friends = fabulous party.


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I took these pictures of my blooming lovelies the other day, and as I watched them on the computer screen as they uploaded, I was just in awe of how beautiful they are!


And for a moment I wondered if it'd be possible to take out our grass in the front yard and plant 35 hydrangea bushes instead.
Then I thought: that's ridiculous.
And it would would make it very hard to use our slip-n-slide this summer.




But looking at these, can't you tell why I'd want to??




note: the original plants that I bought in 2002 were pink (like the first picture). With no help from me, half of them have turned other beautiful colors.

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We {heart} our teachers


School's officially out!


I needed something real quick for the girls to give their fabulous teacher's as an end-of-year thank you gift.


I saw something on etsy that I really wanted, but it was $24 plus shipping.


That's a bunch when multipled x 3, not to mention there's no way it would arrive in time anyways.


So I did my best to re-create it, and luckily it was super simple, easy, and (most importantly) fast to finish:


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I did each one a little bit different, because I was trying stuff out to see how it worked.
In the end, I thought it was cute and I finished them in 2 days. And the awesome thing is, if the girls get all new teachers next year, I can re-use the same idea. Hopefully I'll remember to make them more than 2 days in advance though!

wrapping it up

Arissa's birthday party tomorrow marks the end of "Howard Family Birthday Season", as I've come to call it.



I made a little "happy birthday" post for Arissa, since today is her special day!


Then I felt bad that I hadn't done it for M&M. Although the reason why is that on both of their birthdays, I wasn't at work and didn't have access to a computer that works and doesn't frustrate me to the point of tears.



So I'm gonna wrap it all up and make this one post as a big happy birthday love-note to all 3 of my girls.



Here goes.



Arissa Ronell, the original.

First born and all-around wonderful.

With a cute sense of humor she got from her Daddy (and a little bit from Jerry Seinfeld).

My sweet girl who cries after she gets mad at me because she feels bad.

Who enjoys spending time with a bunch of elderly people (and Nana) at Sizzler once a month, and looks forward to it.

The only one of my 3 girls to have known my mom.

She is unique and so special and I just love her!


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Next up, Mariah Grace.

Mariah is my little softie.

She has a soft heart, she speaks softly, her laugh is contagious.


She loves her friends and gravitates toward those that are less popular, so she can be-friend them. She loves to read almost as much as I do. She cuddles with me and lets me snuggle her. She is easy-going and thoughtful and kind and loving and is a peacemaker, and the world could use more people like her for sure.


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And lastly, Mallory Mae Chanel Howard.

("Mallory Mae Chanel Hungry Howard", if you ask her.)

Mallory is my little stinker.


She is headstrong and opinionated, outgoing and fierce.


She wants to be as grown up as Arissa but sometimes she cries because she wants to stay a baby forever. She has a throaty laugh, which sounds exactly the same as it did when she was 3 months old. She has lots of freckles, which she doesn't like to show. I like to count them and make her laugh. I love her and all those freckles!



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Happy Birthday to all 3 of my sweet happy babes, who I love more than anything and make me happy every single day!




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