You’re Not You When You’re Tired…

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Have you ever seen those Snickers commercials – the one where hungry people are grumpy and not themselves and are portrayed by various celebrities like Betty White or Joe Pesci?  Their attitude gets adjusted upon eating a Snickers and thus become themselves again.

Well, that’s life with the Little Professor, only instead of hunger it’s fatigue and instead of a Snickers it’s a nap.  When he gets really tired his whole personality changes and it’s not for the better – it’s definitely not Betty White!  He becomes very angry and emotional and every little thing becomes a “my life is ruined” issue and that’s how he was yesterday when he was trying to ride his bike.  Daddy was trying to help him and he was just not having it, especially since his sister was biking around effortlessly.  The thing is, he can ride his bike -he’s very new at it – but he can do it, he was just too grumpy to try.

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After a couple threats of going inside and getting ready for bed the Little Professor adjusted his attitude enough to have a little fun.

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The two of them rode up and down the streets enjoying their new found freedom…

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and the high of controlling their own set of wheels.

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The little Monkey tried to keep up with his big brother and sister but it wasn’t so easy on Mummy’s old tricycle – yes, I actually rode that tricycle through the streets of Quebec.  Well, maybe not the actual streets more like on the drive ways and side walks. Now the little Monkey is inching down the streets of Massachusetts with it 30(mumble mumble) years later!

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Eventually the little guy realized he’d get a lot farther, a lot faster on foot, so he ran and ran and ran.

By the time we went inside everyone was exhausted and ready for bed.  This morning when the kids woke up they wanted to go out and ride again!

I’m so thrilled to see my little ones finally enjoying their bikes!

Basic L Quilt Tutorial – You Can Sew This Quilt!

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It was a combination of the colours and design that first attracted me to quilting.  I’ve always had a love for fabric going as far back as I can remember.  My grandmother was a very accomplished seamstress and I remember her sewing everything from clothes, to pillow cases and even a custom tent to attach to the back of our minivan.  When I would visit her she would have piles of fabric and she and I would spend time going through them looking for small pieces for me to use to make Barbie clothes.  Those are some of my fondest memories and because of that love for fabric, quilting has always interested me.

Quilting is an artistic expression.  It’s the same as taking paint and brush to canvas but to me, the difference is that anyone can be taught to quilt because quilting has very basic rules. If you follow and practice those rules you will end up with your own piece of artwork.  I’ve had a lot of people express an interest in learning how to quilt and so I decided to do a very basic, step by step tutorial of an easy quilt.  The reason I chose this pattern of quilt, which is usually referred to as an L Quilt or an L7 Quilt, is because not only is it simple but it’s also a very good quilt to practice a lot of the basic quilting skills.  There’s a lot of straight easy sewing involved to perfect those 1/4″ seams and a lot of attention to pressed seam directions which is another important aspect to quilting.

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The tutorial below is for a lap quilt but I will explain how to measure fabric for a larger quilt if you would like to make yours bigger.  It’s such an easy and fun quilt to sew.  I’m sure you’ll enjoy it and that is really the most important part of all!!

Before you get started you’re going to need a few basic tools:

  1. Rotary cutter and cutting mat – the rotary cutter is a handy tool to make straight cuts quickly and easily and a mat is essential for protecting the work surface.
  2. Quilting Ruler(s) – At least one ruler that is approx. 6″ x 24″.  I also found a smaller 6.5″square ruler helpful but not necessary.
  3. Scissors
  4. Cushion Square and Blocker – Again, this one is not necessary but I’ve found it is really helpful.

For this quilt I kept it simple by only using two fabrics but it is possible to use more than two if you would like.  The great thing about quilting is you can take a simple pattern and make it your own with a few simple changes.

To make it bigger is simple  – each finished block is 8″ by 8″ so multiply 8 by how ever many blocks you want in the width and length.  So for example, a typical commercial size twin comforter is 65″ x 88″ so if you would like to make your quilt that size you would have to do 8 blocks in a row by 11 rows.  This might seem confusing when it comes to buying fabric, but it’s actually just a little basic math.

Each block takes two 2.5″ x 22″ strips of fabric, for this quilt I used one strip of blue and one of white.  Next take the amount of blocks you would like to make and times it by 2.5″.  My quilt is 5 blocks wide and 7 blocks long, 35 blocks total: 2.5″ x 35 = 87.5″ (88″).  Since fabric is usually 44″ wide from salvage to salvage, when you fold it over you get two 22″ strips out of it, so you need to divide 88″ by 2 and that will give you the amount you need per fabric to make your blocks – 1 1/3 yards.  You will also need fabric for the backing and because this quilt is only 40″ wide, we only need 1 2/3 yards for the back.  Plus you will also need another half yard for the binding.

If at any point in this tutorial you have questions send me an email and I will be more than happy to help.

To make it easy…this is what you need to replicate this quilt:

  • 1 and 2/3 yards of the main fabric – In my quilt it’s the blue, for blocks and binding.
  • 3 yards of the contrast fabric – In my quilt it’s the white, for blocks and backing.
  • Quilt batting approx. 44″ x 60″ – it’s always good to have your batting a little larger than your quilt size.  I like to use Warm & Natural, it has a nice weight to it and gives my quilts a good look and feel. It costs a little more than purely synthetic batting but I find it’s worth it especially when it holds up nicely wash after wash.
  • Thread – enough to sew your pieces together and to quilt it, a medium to large size spool should do nicely.

Now you’re ready for the fun to begin!

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  1. Start by pressing your fabric to remove any wrinkles or creases.  Some people like to wash their fabric first, I personally prefer not too.  I find it’s easier to handle when it hasn’t been washed, plus I like the wrinkly quilt look that comes from washing the quilt after it’s completely finished.
  2. Fold fabric from salvage edge to salvage edge (this is the way it comes from the store or finished edge to finished edge), it should measure 22″, then cut 2.5″ strips, 18 of each fabric (remember it’s folded in half, so that will actually give you 36 strips).  Set the rest of your fabric aside for later.

 

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  1. With right sides together, place strip A on strip B.  The right side of the fabric is the front side of the fabric or the bright side; it’s the side you want showing.
  2. Sew a 1/4 inch seam all the way down each strip.  I like to feed the strips through the machine constantly sewing, this is called “assembly piecing” or “chain piecing“, not only does this speed up the process but it also keeps the fabric moving through the feed dogs smoothly.
  3. I usually just let the sewn strips pile up behind my sewing machine…it’s fun to watch the pile grow.
  4. Snip the thread between the strips apart and bring them to the ironing board.

 

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  1. With the darker fabric on top, press the seam, this sets the stitches into the fabric.  I like to use my cushion square and blocker when I press because it keeps me aware of the blocks shape and helps avoid the fabric from stretching. When pressing the block try to avoid pushing and pulling the fabric around with your iron, you want your pieces to maintain their shapes in order to get all your seems to match when you assemble your quilt.
  2. Let the block rest while it cools down.  It only takes a moment and it also helps keep the block shape.
  3. Slowly press the the strip open, until the full strip is flat with the seam towards the darker fabric. Again, press it down gently, don’t push and pull the iron.
  4. Check to make sure the strip is square and not stretched out and that the seam is is fully pressed open to give the perfect measurement. If you take a ruler to it now, your strip should measure 4.5″ wide.  There should be 2.25″ of each fabric on either side of the seam.

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  1. Next, lay the ruler flat on the strip so that one of the lines on the ruler runs straight with the seam. There should be 2.25″ of each fabric on either side.  Take your rotary cutter and square off your strip by cutting a small piece of fabric to start.
  2. Now that your long strip has a nice straight edge, line up your ruler and cut your strip into 4.5″ pieces.
  3. You should be able to get four out of the same strip and still have a tiny piece extra.
  4. Get rid of the extra scrap pieces (If there is more than 2.5″ of left over strip I like to save it for another project).

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  1. Lay out your four squares, let’s call them A, B, C and D.  Place two on top (A and B) and two on bottom (C and D).
  2. Take square A and turn it clockwise once – easy, peasy!
  3. Now go ahead and take square B and turn it clockwise twice.
  4. Take square C and turn it counter clockwise once while leaving square D alone.  Now you can see your block design!

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  1. With your squares laid out correctly, simply flip square B on top of square A.
  2. Make sure right sides are together.
  3. Flip square  D on top of square C, right sides together.
  4. Sew a 1/4″ seam along the right side of both sets of squares.

If at any point you start to get frustrated – stop! – set it down, get up and take a deep breath.  Make yourself a tea and relax!  Remember quilting is fun!

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  1. Press your seems and let them rest, then lay them out.  You can see how the front looks by the top one and the bottom is how the back will look.
  2. Notice how all the seams are pressed towards the dark fabric where possible.  That is important!
  3. This is how they will look when they’re ready.
  4. You’ll probably realize that the two pieces are actually the same piece, one is just turned clockwise twice.  Since this is the case, it makes it easy to sew the remaining pieces quickly.

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  1. I like to set up my squares next to each other and place square B on top of the square A with right sides together, then sew them on the right side with a 1/4″ seam allowance.  This allows the process to go faster.
  2. Set the seams and press them all towards the darker fabric.  Then take your finished pieces and place them right sides together correctly so that they will form your block pattern.
  3. Place your middle seams together so that when sewn all the seams will meet perfectly.
  4. This is where pressing your seams in the right direction will help you!  You will notice that the pressed seams fold in opposite directions and “lock” or “nest” the seams together.  This is something you want on all your major seams because it will help all your pieces line up together nicely.  It’s a little secret that will help you quilt like a pro!

Take your time!  Remember – it’s not a race!

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9.3  9.4

9.5  9.6

  1. Once you have all four of the little squares sewn together to make a full block, you might notice the middle bit of seam is kind of bulky.  This will make it a little harder to quilt later and cause your quilt to have little bumps.  So you want to open up that bulky little section and iron it out.  Start by seam ripping the little seams in the middle.
  2. Gently pull those few little stitches out making sure not to go below the seam that is going perpendicular to it. There should only be two or three stitches.
  3. Now do the same to the little seam on the other side, again making sure not too go to low.
  4. Once you have those few stitches removed and you lay your block flat you’ll notice that the four main seams kind of fall in the clockwise direction on their own creating a little square in the very middle.  Use your finger to flatten the square out.
  5. Press the four main seams clockwise around the block so that they are all going in the same direction, making sure to keep previous seams pressed in their original directions.

 

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10.3  10.4

  1. Now you should have your full blocks, properly pressed will all your seams matching up in the middle.  Great job!!
  2. Place two blocks together, we’ll call them block A and block B.
  3. Next flip block B onto block A, with right sides together.  You’ll notice again, where the two seams meet up, they are going in opposite directions so that you can “lock” or “nest” them together.
  4. Sew the two blocks together using a 1/4″ seam, press the seam to set it and lay them out.  Don’t press the seam in either direction yet, that will come later. Sew 6 more sets of two blocks together.

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Next sew three blocks together, set the seams but again, do not press the seams in any direction yet.  Sew together 6 more sets of three blocks together.

Now sew all seven sets of two blocks to the seven sets of three blocks so that you have seven strips total comprising of 5 blocks in each strip.

This is where you’re going to press the seams.  Starting with the first strip press the seams to the left, then with the second strip press the seams to the right.  Alternate the direction of the seams with each strip until all seven have been pressed.

When you go to sew the strips of blocks together make sure the seams line up and “lock” or “nest” together.  This will help ensure your blocks line up perfectly.  When you’ve sewn all the strips together, you’re quilt top is finished!

Congratulations!!  Wasn’t that fun!

 

 

 

 

 

Fort Popham…

Last week while we were in Maine we decided to take a drive over to Fort Popham to check it out.  The kids weren’t sure what to expect and weren’t really excited to be heading anywhere on the hottest day of our vacation.  I knew once we arrived they would enjoy the Fort.

Sure enough, as we pulled up the kids were excited to get out an explore.  The salty breeze from the water mixed with the dampness of the Fort provided us a break from the oppressive heat.

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Fort Popham was amazing!

It was built from large blocks of granite in 1861 at the mouth of the Kennebec River.

The structure was beautiful!

The contrast of the granite with beautiful views of the river through the windows were breath taking.

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Even the kids were completely impressed throughout their running around, climbing and exploring.

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The Monkey discovered a secret room at one end of the Fort which he labeled the stinky room and couldn’t wait to take me there.

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Daddy couldn’t resist a little inappropriateness…one of the many reasons I adore him!

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While the kids and Daddy were enjoying themselves and having fun, I was busy taking lots of pictures!  I just couldn’t get over the views.

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I just wish the sun could have broken through the haze so I could have really captured the beauty in it’s true splendor.

I did however manage to capture the raw cuteness pretty well!

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I love that little one!

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The Professor and the Princess tried their hand at a little history – we didn’t get it right the first time, but we were pretty close.

Who knew baseball became so popular so early?

Not us, that’s for sure!

After a little manipulating of the answers to make them correct the kids wanted a picture taken.

By the time we got back to the campsite we were hot and tired….and the Monkey needed a serious drink of Mickey juice…aka water in a Mickey cup.

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Karaoke Fun…

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Last week while camping in Maine the campground had a night of Karaoke and the Professor really wanted to sing.  I didn’t get to go see him because the Monkey was already in bed asleep but Grandpa got the whole thing on video!  I have no idea how he chose the song, since he’s never even heard of it previous to his performance.  I think he was pretty cute for his first try of Karaoke!

Now he’s hooked…hopefully I won’t catch him sneaking out to the local Chinese restaurant for long nights of singing!

Daddy’s Smoking Something…

Today was a pretty lazy day which was good for me since I have somehow managed to get a cold during the middle of a heat wave.

I spent a lot of time inside the trailer thankful for the air conditioning while Daddy spent the day swimming with the kids and keeping an eye on his smoker.  His smoked ribs attracted the attention of a lot of the other campers.  In fact, Daddy brought a few ribs to one of our neighbours and they were very impressed.

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They weren’t the only ones…we all thoroughly enjoyed our dinner tonight!

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Along with the ribs we had corn and beans and lobster ceaser salad.  Lobster has been kind of the theme for this week.

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We had a bunch of messy eaters tonight…they ended up wearing almost as much as they ate.  They were so busy enjoying it, I don’t think they even noticed.

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And some ate so much they had to sleep it off!

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Even still, there was room for ice cream!

It was a very yummy day!!

Bath Maine and Mae’s Cafe…

We’re just finishing up day 5 of our Maine vacation and it’s been full of adventures so far – some good and some not so good – mostly good.

It’s been hot!  It’s been very, very hot!   So having access to a pool has been wonderful!  The kids are really enjoying all the swimming.

Thankfully mornings and evening are rather cool, so we are able to enjoy them without the oppressive heat beating down on us.

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A lot of mornings have been spent like this while I watch on, sipping my coffee and reading emails.  It’s very relaxing!

This morning, after the usual routine of coffee outside we decided to go out for breakfast.  We’ve been eyeing a little restaurant called Mae’s Cafe and Bakery ever since we arrived and today seemed like the perfect day to try it out.

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If you find yourself in Bath, Maine…do yourself a little favour and have breakfast there!   It’s in an old Victorian house and the atmosphere is so quaint.  We sat on the front porch for our meal and the cool breeze was a wonderful welcome!  It’s like going to your favourite Aunt’s house for breakfast…if your Aunt happens to be the best cook ever!

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I had the Long Reach Egg’s Benedict – Lobster, Gouda and Avacado!  I can’t even begin to explain the flavour harmony that took place in my mouth.  Thankfully there were two eggs involved otherwise I probably wouldn’t have had much left after I shared with Daddy and my three baby birds!

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The Princess had a Cinnamon Bun that was almost as big as her face!  Mae’s also sell something that is called a Mae’s Bar and after tasting one I quickly realized Mae has been to Canada – it was a delicious Nanaimo Bar!

All you Canadians know what that is!

After breakfast we took a walk downtown which is a small little street filled with lots of touristy stores.

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This one was my favourite and I ended up buying some gifts to take home to my loved ones.  It was beautiful inside…the colours and textures were gorgeous and my artsy side was enveloped with inspiration!

After some shopping we made our way down to the waterfront and loved the Adirondack chairs they had in lieu of benches.

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Seriously, how cute is that!?

By the time we had accomplished all of that we were tired, sweaty and full and unanimously wanted to head back for a swim.

I quickly ran into a little toy store we had visited earlier and bought the Monkey a snake stuffy he had fallen in love with.  He was so pleased as it slithered up onto his lap in his car seat.

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After wrapping it around his legs and arms he drifted off into a peaceful sleep.

Maine -ly Just Relaxing….

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We are on vacation in Maine!  We were suppose to leave yesterday morning to start our vacation but decided very last minute to head out Thursday night instead.  Since we had to go straight through Boston, Daddy decided it would probably be easier to do it in the evening rather than during morning rush hour.

I was really happy about that decision.  I spent the whole city portion of drive white knuckled while praying to God to get us through.  Meanwhile Daddy and the kids, were fully confident and reassuring me that it would be ok.

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Driving through the city of Boston is one thing, but driving through with a 35′ trailer behind you is a whole other experience – one I’m still getting use to, even after all the trips we’ve been on.  It’s especially stressful when the kids are all yelling because the puppy got loose and attacking everyone!

This morning was our first morning waking up in Maine and it was beautiful out.  We sat outside relaxing and watching the kids have fun.

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Breakfast was basically what ever someone wanted and coffee, and it ranged from Smartfood popcorn courtesy of Nana L, to Canadian cookies and homefries from the snack bar.  It was a lazy, lazy morning and it was wonderful!

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The Monkey was in his element with the freedom of vacation.  He was running around with his bike helmet on and his swimmie ready to take on any activity that may present itself.

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I kind of liked having him all shielded and protected in what he was wearing, especially since the day before he opened the trailer door and fell out, banging himself on the stairs pretty good on his way down.

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He wasn’t seriously hurt but it did leave his face bruised and swollen on the left side.  So for me, a helmet was a good thing and I fully encouraged him to wear it!  It allowed me to relax just that little bit more, knowing his head was ok!

Even Jack was in the vacation mood and enjoyed the morning sun light as he played right along side of the kids.  It was a good start to our much appreciated vacation!

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Dragon Box and Basket Full of Baby…

This weekend I came across a game app that I highly, highly recommend!  It’s called Dragon Box and my kids love, love, love it!  The Professor is completely addicted to it and I couldn’t be happier about it!

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Dragon Box is a game that introduces important math elements in a fun and exciting way that kids enjoy while gradually learning fundamental algebraic elements.  Since the game rules are simply basic math rules, the kids don’t even realize they’re learning math…until it’s too late!

Muahahahaha!

It starts off very easy and gets more challenging with every level, just like any other game only with this one they will be doing algebra by the end.  The app costs $5.99 and believe me, it’s worth every penny and more!  The colours are bright and beautiful and the little creatures are cute…it’s seriously brilliant.  If there was ever an app to purchase or a game you would want your child to get lost in, it’s this one!

While the older kids were checking out Dragon Box, the Monkey was busy, busy, busy today!

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If you saw a diapered baby walking around today in Mickey crocs while wielding a plastic knife, that was my Monkey.  He kept trying to “cut” things with his little knife without success.  It was very disappointing to him.

So instead he decided to set up a comfy spot to read…

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He’s a curious little guy.

He doesn’t like playing with toys very often.  He’s more interested in trying to find unusual things to play with.

Sometimes I’m not sure what to do with him other than love him and take lots of pictures.  It’ll be interesting to see what interests he develops as he gets older.  I’m sure whatever they are they will be unique and very interesting, and keep me on my toes.

On a totally unrelated note…check out how many clothes we are clearing out of  the kid’s closets!!

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I’m so happy about it!

Happy Fourth of July…

 Today almost turned out to be devastating for our children but instead ended up being a fun and exhausting day!

We were getting ready to go to some children’s races put on by the neighbourhood my husband grew up in when the Princess and the Professor got into a little power war.  It ended with the Princess throwing the front door open giving Jack the chance to zip past her and out into the street.  It probably wouldn’t have been such a traumatic event at that point except for the movie Frankenweenie, which we had just watched the day before.  Daddy and the Professor took off after Jack while I tried to console the Princess and get her to calm down enough so we could help.  The Princess, Monkey and I managed to make it outside in time to see Jack running at hyper speed right in front of a car!

Not the best timing, for sure!

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Thankfully, our neighbour who was driving the car had his window open and thankfully heard the Professor yell out to him to stop and thankfully Jack picked up his pace in his super, spastastic form and missed the wheels just in time.

Eventually, with Daddy, the Professor and the Princess diving for the puppy, a couple neighbours trying to corner him and the Monkey and I trying to lure him in with sweet, encouraging words, Jack ran up to a couple ladies who were doing their daily walk….and they nabbed him!

We brought him back home and loved him for a bit, then set off to the races.

Sadly, I managed to forget the good camera in all the excitement and had to rely on my phone to get pictures.  I apologize in advance for the blurry and unfocused pictures.

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The little Monkey was so cute running his races and ended up coming in third twice.  It helped that there were only 3 kids running in those two races!

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He was a natural at the potato sack race!

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He and the Professor were great partners for the wheelbarrow race…until the Monkey collapsed and his big brother dragged him by the feet to the finish line.

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The Princess was super fast but didn’t have anyone to race against since there weren’t any girls in her age group.  She didn’t let that stop her, she ran the races anyway and even gave it her best effort!

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The Princess was happy to get a trophy!

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The Monkey preferred to steal his…

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and the Professor was so proud of himself for winning his trophy.  He gave the potato sack his whole effort and won first place.

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After there was face painting, and hot dogs and hoodsie ice creams.  I was really impressed by the whole event!

Later we went down the street for a BBQ with family and the kids swam all day.

It was definitely a day for them to remember!