School Pictures

They are growing up so fast, these sweet girls! Violet's fall conference went really well - she is rocking kindergarten. Every day in the car she wants to practice spelling words or math facts or tell me something she has learned. Annie wants to be just like her big sister; just look at that sweet hint of a smile! Also, that blond hair!


Goblins in the Garden

Elsa didn't feel like wearing her costume, but she did get some rocking tattoos.

Score another awesome event at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens! We headed there after church to meet up with Matt's parents and celebrate his birthday. It coincided perfectly with the Goblins in the Garden event, which was basically just an excuse to let the kids dress up in their Halloween costumes and see the scarecrows and do fun fall activities. I love the way this place does such a great job transforming itself for every different season... We will definitely have to take the kids back during Christmas to see the lights.

A book staring Violet!
Some of the activities we did were pumpkin decorating, Halloween tattoos, food tasting (cupcakes with zucchini... frightening!!!), making masks, and every child was allowed to pick out one book to take home - they were really good books, too! There were also pony rides and a train ride for a small extra price. Much fun was had by all.

Showing off her mask.

Anna and her pumpkin.

Violet starts Daisies on Friday, so of course she had to pose with the Girl Scouts scarecrow!


It's Fall, Ya'll

A few things to know about Annie: she is obsessed with the purple hair bow she got for her birthday from her classmate. She sleeps in it. She wants to bathe with it. She has worn it every single day since she got it, regardless of whether it compliments her outfit or not.

She has not slept through the night in weeks. She is an absolutely terror to put to bed. Regardless of when we start the process, it's 8:45, 9 o'clock before we're safely out of her room with the lights out. She cries, she begs, she demands an entire litany of things: fruit loops, sleeping in Violet's bed, her boo-boo buddy, more water, the yellow blanket... and one wish fulfillment only leads her to make the next. I've finally accepted the fact that we are in a season of life where our two-year-old wakes up every night. For some reason it makes those 3 a.m. wake-up calls a little more palatable. It's just another phase, folks. I'm sure Violet went through it too (although I wasn't nearly as overwhelmed, tired or bitter about it when I only had one child).

The extent of my pumpkin-carving capabilities.
Thankfully, Violet is sleeping through the night. But the closer we get to Halloween, the more timid she gets. She compensates, insisting that the neighbors' Halloween decorations are not frightening, claiming she wants to watch scary movies, then balking when it comes to bedtime, pulling the covers over her head, admitting she's spooked. I'm the first to admit that Halloween just isn't my gig, so our decorations consist of a few pumpkin-related things and Stu the skeleton. But it will be interesting to see how she handles what will surely be some gruesome costume choices made by our neighborhood boys. The other day she told me she didn't even want to trick-or-treat this year (and this girl NEVER passes up free candy) so you know she's feeling some feelings. Trying to tread gently with this sweet girl's heart during this holiday.

Speaking of Stu the skeleton, he's a recent addition to our paltry Halloween decor collection. Annie  spent several hours walking by saying "me no like him" until she finally warmed up enough to give him a high-five. But mainly we've been focused on teaching her what to say if she wants candy on the big day. We've had a few dry runs at the neighbor's house and let me tell you, she's a quick study when there are sweets involved!


At the Pumpkin Patch

We have taken advantage of this absolutely perfect fall weather this weekend. Yes, I should be working on parent-teacher conference reports. Yes, I should be finalizing my grade book for report cards. But YES, I am hanging out with my sweet girls under a cloudless blue sky, enjoying this season!

The corn pit!

Corn angels? 
The always favorite bumpy slide!

We took the girls to Warbington Farm yesterday after Violet's early morning soccer game. It's my speed of pumpkin patch - inflatables for the kids, a "hey" ride with a tractor to see some cows, a pretty little pumpkin patch with overpriced pumpkins (that we managed to escape without having to buy this year!), some slides, a refreshment stand with 50 cent ice cream... maybe one day my children will want to tackle a full-blown corn maze, but until then, we're keeping it low-key and loving it.

I told her the cows were coming and this is what she did.

She warmed up to the idea of getting up close and personal with the bovines.

Baby goats!

Thinking her cute face can convince me to buy an overpriced pumpkin.

Sweet and silly girls.

Last year's trip... my how we've grown.

This girl loves the corn pit, no matter what age!


You Are Our Sunshine

On one of the gloomiest, wettest days this fall, we threw our Little Sunshine a birthday party, and it was as bright and beautiful as I had hoped for!

The decorations from my baby shower keep getting reused - first as nursery decor, now for a birthday party!
First, let me just say how much birthday parties stress me out. I have an irrational fear that no one will come. Of course, I know I can always count on our families and neighbors, but this year I took a leap and invited some of Annie's friends from school. Violet had two little school friends at her second birthday party, and those girls continue to be good friends today. But I haven't bonded with any of the moms from Annie's class the same way, so I honestly wasn't even sure who to give an invitation to. Then I only got one RSVP. Awkward! Fortunately, by the big day, I'd heard from a few more people and was actually relieved I had ordered 24 cupcakes... we ate them all!

No tears during the birthday song this time!
And speaking of cupcakes, my friend Shannon is dabbling in the "baker on the side" business. Her desserts are legendary in our teacher break room and at book club. So when I texted her to see if she had any ideas for a "you are my sunshine" theme, she had tons of great (and delicious) ideas. It's nice to delegate some things to the experts!

Annie was so excited to see her friends and so many people in the house for her party. She rocked it! There were no tears this time around when we sang to her, and she tore into her cupcake like she knew Shannon baked it for her! (Smart girl, this one.) All in all, it was a lovely, exhausting day. (Remind me not to schedule a party at two in the afternoon again... it's too hard to keep the house clean that long! Parties should begin as soon as your children are up and dressed - all the more time for naps when it's all over!)

Some friends from school came to play...


Light in the Garden

The Frog and the Handsome Prince

Fall Break wasn't just fun for the girls. We dropped them off at Grandma's house for a sleepover so Matt and I could have our own date night. We decided on the Atlanta Botanical Gardens and the Bruce Munro light exhibition - so fun! We got there right at 6 p.m. on an overcast evening. Fortunately, the rain held off for us, and the gloomy weather just added to the ambiance. 

An orchid of light.
The Gardens are beautiful anyway, but add in the colorful light exhibitions popping up randomly throughout the scenery and it made for an enchanting combination. We had enough daylight to tour the place, and then got to watch the effect of the gathering darkness on the mysterious lights as they strengthened in intensity.

Forest of Light
By far the most amazing part was the Forest of Light. 30,000 glass "flowers" were planted throughout the darkest part of the gardens, accessed only by the fairy-like sky bridge. As you walked above, a see of lights appeared below, like you were walking straight into Tolkien's Lothlorien. Indeed, had Galadriel herself appeared, I wouldn't have been surprised. The lights slowly flickered through a changing sea of colors, and in some places the "roots" had been left exposed, revealing the network of glowing wires that connected the flowers to each other. The darker it got, the more amazing the scene became. The artist called it a "symbol for the good things in life" and I have to agree, it was magical.


Made with 2,730 bottles.

The Water-Towers.
The Water-Towers was another amazing display of shifting light and sound, this one set to a soothing pulse of music and drew you in and lulled you into a hypnotic state of watching as the lights slowly ebbed and flowed into each other. Seeing the reflection in the water and glimpsing the Atlanta skyline in the distance just added to the effect. It was one of those moments that I kept taking pictures, knowing as I did so that they would never do justice to the act of standing in the moment. Still, you can't blame me for trying to capture it!

We ended our date night with dinner at Empire State South. May I recommend the Farm Egg and Seafood Stew? Seriously though, the Farm Egg... I've never put anything quite like it in my mouth... imagine deep fried rice, all crunchy and snappy, with a soft-boiled egg on top. At the table, you gently break the egg yolk and stir it into the rice... yeah, you'll just have to take my word for it. So. Good. We went to bed full and happy that night!

Fall Break

For the very first time, our county planned a Fall Break in our calendar. To say we were ready for a break is an understatement! Sure I'm heading back to the toughest three weeks (assessments! report cards! parent-teacher conferences!) and our first field trip, but having a week off has been nice.

So while the rest of the county opted to go to Disney World (seriously, I know so many people who went there), Annie is just too young to want to take on that challenge. Next year, definitely. But this year we opted to stick around town. Here are a few of the ways we spent our time.

On Wednesday we headed into Atlanta to visit Legoland. My children are probably not the target audience here, especially since Annie was too little to be allowed onto the rides or play structure. They were done after about an hour. Still, Annie got to hear a story and build some farm animals during the toddler hour, and they enjoyed the 4D movie. Annie especially got a kick out of the earthquake tables (build a lego structure, hit a button, see if the earthquake motion can knock it over). She cracked up whenever the pieces went tumbling. Plus it got us out of the house for the morning. But I think they enjoyed our stop at Ikea afterwards just as much if not more.


The weather has been pretty dreary all week. I think there has been a grand total of 7 hours of sunshine the entire break. So our proposed Thursday trip to the zoo was looking pretty dicey. On the way downtown, I decided to google the High Museum as an indoor back-up plan. It ended up being an awesome move.

They have a Mo Willems exhibit, of "Don't Let Pigeon Drive the Bus!" fame. The art was hung at kiddie eye level, and Violet got really into the scavenger hunt and drawing lessons. Her pigeon and Knuffle Bunny were pretty spot on!

Don't let Annie drive the bus!

After seeing the exhibit, we headed to toddle story time and then a DIY art class where the kids were invited to make stick art. Violet created a dog, Matt made a Christmas tree, I made a piece I affectionately named "Flower in Winter" and Annie made... well, a mess! I was surprised at how seriously Violet took it all. She's really gotten into drawing and following directions and answering questions... I credit kindergarten. This is a girl who really knows how to do school, and seems to be thriving!

Let's make some art!

The outdoor art installation - finally art the kids were allowed to touch!
Other fall break fun included a playdate with Mimi and a sleepover at Grandma's house. We offered to take the girls to the aquarium, but given the choice between that and staying at Grandma's house to play... well, they chose playtime!

The last big event of the break will be Annie's birthday party on Satursday! Girlfriend is finally getting her official celebration, complete with friends and family and of course, cupcakes! She is so excited. Every time I remind her that she's going to have a party, she responds with a Keanu Reeves worthy "whoa!" and then proceeds to sing "Happy Birthday" to herself. Little nut!
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