Monthly Archives: July 2015

(story)time: Ice Cream Summer by Peter Sis

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I thought I’d do a few posts on our beach reads, starting with this one of F’s. I picked it up at the bookstore right before we left town, and slid it into the suitcase to give it to her once we got there. The title, Ice Cream Summer, seemed like a great vacation read, but it was really the author, Peter Sis, that sold me on it. We love Peter Sis’ books, and have read all the Madlenka books until they are dogeared. I love his illustration style, and all the details to explore on each page. Sis covering ice cream – we’re in.


The story begins with a letter exchange between a grandfather and his grandson on the topic of summer vacation. The grandfather has asked how summer is going, and his grandson details all of his adventures in a letter back to him – that letter is the book. It doesn’t take long to see that everything he’s up to relates somehow to ice cream. Sis moves beyond the basics of new vocabulary and ice cream scoop math and dives into the history of ice cream (including the stories and debate about the invention of the ice cream cone – St. Louis and the 1904 World’s Fair gets a mention here). The book is playful and fun, and F loves finding all of the ice cream references in the illustrations as well. She’s a whiz at the math too.ICE CREAM SUMMERThis book would be a great gift for a summer birthday – I think the perfect age might be between 4-7. Gorgeous illustrations, and a lot of colorful fun. We especially love our ice cream in this family, so the theme is familiar and feels like summer. And the beach. Even little kids need a good beach read in their suitcase.

Find this title at your favorite local independent bookstore. Happy reading!

wednesday morning in the garden

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We’ve reached the hot, muggy mornings of summer, but there was a nice breeze as we walked. It was good to be back in this place without the crowds. Gorgeous pinks in abundance today.

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F was pretty worn down after the weekend, and was home sick for a few days. She’s much better now – a little tired – but up for the walk. On the way back to camp, we pulled into the new Starbucks near our house since I skipped the hot coffee on our garden walk. When we got up to the window we found out that our order had been paid for by the car in front of us. The girls were so excited by this idea that they yelled “Buy the coffee behind us!” So we did. Then they watched in the mirrors as the woman behind us extended her card and then took it back again. Everyone was smiling the rest of the drive.

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Happy Wednesday – we’re on the downward slide to the weekend!

P.S. At one point, while photographing some flowers, F pleaded with me “C’mon Mom, stop being so interested in things.”

scenes from a party: six and twelve

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We did it! We pulled off a party for both girls at the same time, and last night they both said they had so much fun, so I’m calling it a success.


The week before the party was pretty busy – I mapped out a plan for the evenings and that plan included a lot of party prep.

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I made F’s last birthday hat (I’ve made them for both girls’ birthdays up to six), and even though they rarely actually wear them at their parties, they like having them on display on a shelf outside of their rooms. Other than the whole six / twelve thing, our theme was pretty loose. We stuck to gold / metallics and dots, and we found these colorful sixlets for decoration and eating, and gold plastic coins (not chocolate for a July melty mess) for game tokens. The girls requested dark chocolate cupcakes with dark chocolate icing – I took these photos of them because the outdoor ones were just a little melted by the end of the party. Or as F called them – perfect.

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I had planned to have the girls’ names spelled out in cookie pops in these cupcakes, but we failed to remember that we had used a styrofoam base for the flower pops we did ten years ago – the cupcakes just weren’t strong enough to hold them. So we let that idea go, and it was fine. We had more than enough sweets to go around.

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As the kids arrived, they filled out prize bags with their names, and then filled them with treats and blowers and rock candy pops.

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Then the games began. M organized the games by age at the beginning.

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And he even made this yard sized version of “Kerplunk” for the little ones. This was definitely their favorite. They were really into figuring out how not to drop the balls into the bucket. This will be fun to set up on our Thursday Night Blues hangouts.

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After the kids earned some gold coins they got to cash in for some prizes. F is demonstrating that you can wear all of your prizes at once. Her friend D is demonstrating being a six year old boy next to a girl in a photo.

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We served four different kinds of sandwiches that M’s mom and I assembled the night before. My dad sliced up a ton of watermelon that we served on ice in our big white bin. We had big bowls with the girls’ favorite chips, red grapes, and water and lemonade to drink.

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We did our best to assemble all the kids behind the birthday girls at candle time, and we succeeded in getting most of them.

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E had twelve golden candles and F had six. E’s went out in one big breath, while F’s took just a little more effort. I love this series of photos – especially the first one. After the first blow, F’s checking out E’s status.

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The older kids took over the tables, and the younger kids…

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…well, they seemed just fine on the ground next to the trash can! The grandparents dished up a lot of ice cream too. You know, to cut the chocolate a bit.

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Then it was time for the final challenge – this one pitted the twelve year old’s against the six year old’s. E and F were ready – they had already planned this water challenge out, and came prepared with beach towels and swim goggles. Each girl balanced an empty water bottle on their forehead and each had a funnel inside of it – big for F, little for E.

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The kids lined up in age groups and had to run, relay style, with a filled cup to each girl. With arms outstretched, they had to pour the water into the funnel and then tag the next player. The first team to fill the bottle would win.

I know the pictures below are a little blurry, but I loved seeing how excited the kids were, and I also loved how my girls were such good sports about it. I kind of thought F would bail, but she was all business.

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The six year old’s pulled off the win! And then Dad celebrated by dousing E with the rest of the water, much to the amusement of everyone. A few people questioned his sanity, but he pointed out that E’s a good sport and they do this sort of stuff to each other all the time. He also pointed out that he did NOT dunk the little one. Different kid, different ballgame for sure!

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After the party was over and we took four carloads of stuff home, we opened family gifts together. There might have been some confetti in one of them.

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There might have been Taylor Swift tickets in another!

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It was a big day, but we weren’t done yet. We all braved the crowds and the mugginess to see the lanterns at the garden.

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The lanterns are really beautiful all lit up, and the china sculptures are incredible too. I’m glad we went, but the kids were pretty wiped out by the end – and the grownups too. I’m ready to get back to quiet mornings there later this week!

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On Sunday morning everyone started to say their goodbyes. The girls’ cousins stayed for a quick trip to the zoo, and a send off lunch in the CWE. We headed home to a quiet house, just a little bit of laundry, and a lot of leftover cupcakes. No complaints about any of those things.


To SIX! To TWELVE! Hurrah!