I realize the World Cup is over, but before the last match that Germany played, Mike decided to take Sabrina and Sophie to a nearby Buffalo Wild Wings to have lunch and watch the game. So the crazies put on their jerseys (that Sabrina brought them from Germany) and Mike thought it would be a good idea for me to take pictures before they left…

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Mike gets bored when the camera is pointed at other people for too long, so I humored him a bit…

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Then I turned the camera back to the other members of the team…

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…although Mike (and Sophie) still thought I was focusing on him.

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"Over here! Over here!" Mike called…

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"Oh, that's cute, honey. Good job," I said.

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"Maybe this will get her attention," Mike thought…

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"You're so funny, sweety!" I cheered.

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"Oh, that's nice too, honey," I said. "Look at Sabrina!"

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"But I'm not done yet!" Mike cried…

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"I can see that," I mumbled. "Way to go, Sophie!"

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Meanwhile, the kids are wondering if they'll ever actually make it to Buffalo Wild Wings…

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Thankfully, they did…

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…And I was left at home to go recharge my camera batteries.

A Day with Neenee

I realize I just posted photos of my niece yesterday, but I had some more from our day at the pool that I wanted to share with you. She is just so stinking cute, I could eat her up! (And Sophie, if you're reading this, I could eat you up too – you know you're my sweet pea!)

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Neenee loved Sophie's goggles, so Sophie dug around in her bottomless swim bag and pulled out a pair for her…

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Suddenly, a whole new world opened up for Natalie, and she was no longer afraid to put her face in the water. She loved the idea of goggles so much, she dug around in Sophie's bag for yet another pair. These weren't such a good fit…

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So she dug and donned another pair…

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…And was very pleased with herself.  But soon it turned into an obsession, and she started scrounging in other children's swim bags for them. Eventually, Mike distracted her long enough to teach her the Hook 'em Horns sign (which will come in handy when she's older, since she is a Texan, after all)…

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Soon it was time to switch goggles again and head back out to the outdoor pool, where she showed Uncle Mike how she could put her face under water. Uncle Mike was very proud of her, and gave her a high-five…

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Meanwhile, my Sophie was swimming by herself, quite content with the one pair of goggles Neenee wasn't allowed to try on. πŸ˜‰

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After all, she had to share her Best Buddy for 2 days…a girl's gotta keep something for herself!

Uncle Mike

There’s something about her Uncle Mike that my niece Natalie just adores. He’s always been very soft-spoken with her, and has a very gentle way about him when it comes to little people.

At the pool, Mike worries what parents think when their children flock to him like he’s some sort of Pied Piper. After all, their children seemingly fall in love with this adult stranger who has no problem behaving as if he’s one of them. They’ll splash him and he’ll splash back, they’ll show him their water toys and he’ll pretend they’re the coolest things he’s ever seen, and eventually they all start to climb onto him, begging for dolphin rides or pretend monster battles… and at that point, the fun must calm down. Unfortunately, it’s the kind of world we live in.

Natalie is no different in her fascination with Mike, except for the fact that this man, who is adored by every child he meets, isn’t just a stranger to her. He’s her uncle. And Sophie was gracious enough to share him with her, just for a moment (but with some possessive apprehension, of course) at my parents’ house during our 4th of July visit…


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She’s back home in Texas now, no doubt charming her Uncle Paul, who is completely besotted with her. Natalie is like that: she’s adored by every grown-up she meets.

Except for when she wants to have real monster battles. πŸ˜‰


This year we spent our 4th of July at my parents' house, and my sister, brother in-law, and niece drove up from Dallas to visit as well. We had a fantastic cookout, and after many moons spent in adulthood, I finally made my very first potato salad.

It was a success! (Thanks, Mom, for all the compliments!) However, I'll have to wait and share the recipe the NEXT time I make it, bc I didn't take a photo of it. πŸ™‚

We also had some ribschickencoleslawyadayadayada, but the potato salad… to die for.(teehee)

Okay, if I'm being honest, the ribs and chicken were smoked, and absolutely mouthwatering. Mom makes the best cole slaw in the west, the baked beans were amazing (who knows what she put in those things), the toasted garlic bread was outstanding, and we had the usual array of desserts as well.

And this was the only picture I got with any food in it:

4th tp 1 

Presented by Sophie and her Amazing Press-On Nails. I do believe I've spent more money on the  "Oh Please Mommy I'll Pay You Back I Promise" brand of fake nails than on anything else. "I'm sorry, Breanna and Sabrina, we have no milk bc Sophie needed a box of press-on nails."

After dinner, we went outside for all kinds of fun. πŸ™‚

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(Breanna taught Sophie how to write with smoke bombs, so she wrote her own nickname for Sabrina…)

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(Mike was preparing for a monkey ball match…)

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(And my adorable brother in-law Shaun watched with obvious zeal…)

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(This is what my dad looks like just before he's about to light a bunch of Black Cat firecrackers and throw them at my mother's feet…)

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(I believe my sister Audrey ended up being the victim instead…)

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(Sabrina is taking a break to text her non-boyfriend, Matt, while Sophie explains something to Natalie…)

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(Dad got clean-up duty as punishment for his Black Cat shenanigans…)

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(Some of Breanna's old friends dropped by…)

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(And eventually, it grew dark outside…)

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(Brea switched from bubbles to sparklers…)

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(I think this one was Sabrina…)

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I hope you all had good potato salad a fun 4th like we did! Until next year!

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Happy Independence Day!

I woke up to pouring rain this morning, which must explain why people were shooting off fireworks (which sounded more like bombs) until 1 am… they all knew the rain was coming. I didn't.

My oldest daughter, Breanna (who hasn't updated her blog in a century), tried her hand at designing a freebie for anyone who would like to download it. πŸ™‚ I'm very proud of her efforts, and would love to stitch this myself into a pin pillow or little ornament. And if you're not one who cares for stitching letters, you could always just stitch the flag, and it would be darling!

Here's the link (please don't try to download from the image, bc you won't get what you were expecting):
Download July 4th Free Chart

July 4th by Breanna 

Thank you so much, Breanna! (Btw, she insisted I say that her company name is Blueberry Lane Samplers, which I find quite cute – and strikingly similar to my own company name, btw. ;)  But then she realized she already owns the domain name HodgepodgeHead… so I'm just saying it's designed by Breanna Stewart!)

Have a safe and happy 4th!

Backyard Cup

When Sabrina was in Germany, she became quite the FIFA fan, donning the glorious Deutschland colors and cheering the team on with her German family. Since Mike is also an avid "football" fan, she brought him an official jersey as a souvenir, and included her sisters in the World Cup action as well.

As soon as the jerseys were on their new owners, a transformation took place, and suddenly our back yard became Federation of Fußball's best kept secret…

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When Brea was little and was on a soccer team, she used to spend the entire game doing cartwheels. Therefore, I marvel at her athletic prowess.

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And if this doesn't give you heebie-jeebies goosebumps, you need to pay the doctor a visit…

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(One of Mike's dreams has always been to design the World Cup uniforms.)

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(And Sophie thinks all athletes should make sure their press-on nails are in place before every game.)

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And the crowd goes wild, as the ball is passed to the player-with-no-number, Mike Stewart!

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By the way, when Bean was shopping for an official jersey for her dad, she couldn't seem to find any with the player numbers or names on them, which is what she was searching for. After all, isn't that what we Americans do when we choose our favorite athlete's name and number? Turns out the Europeans find it tacky to wear a professional athlete's team member information on their clothing, which came as quite a surprise to Sabrina – and the rest of us! I can imagine the look on her German sister Julia's face when Sabrina announced that all the jerseys were oddly blank!

Sabrina, you're a sweet girl for bringing back such cool souvenirs for your family. (I got some amazing ones myself – including a set of cookie cutters in the shapes of ampelmann, which I found to be the most unique, fun gift I've ever received!)

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Maybe next time you could bring your dad back some cleats or something.

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Welcome home, sweet girl!