by Jessica on July 9, 2014

in Daughters,Humor,Kids and Art,Photography


On our second attempt, we still have not managed to make a good batch of BIG bubbles.  I bought the bubble wand at Michaels and it came with a recipe: 1 c. dish soap, 12 cups water, 1 c. corn starch, 2 tbsp. baking powder

We waited an hour to let the  mix sit and then gave it a try.  Bubbles in the bucket, but no bubbles from the big bubble wand.



So we added more dish soap.  Lots of bubbles in the bucket now.




And we added more dish soap.  The boys got bored with waiting for the bubbles and went off to do other stuff.  I wish they were going off to clean the garage but alas, they were not.  Whoa is me.



The girls didn’t give up though.  They finished off the entire bottle of dish soap.

And got a bubble that formed in the wand and actually flew away into the hot afternoon.


And then the girls got bored and wandered off to work on their scrapbooks . . .


Next time I’ll buy the bubble mix, :-)



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I was going through my photo library and came across these garden photos from early May.  We were out buying flowers for Mother’s day weekend and for a sort-of-big-pain-in-the-ass yard rehaul project designed by yours truly.  To be exact, I decided that we (that would be mostly Matt) would rip out wintergreen bushes that covered much of our front yard and side yard.  It took us about two solid Sundays with Matt digging, hacking away at roots and yanking the bushes out of the ground.  I was in charge of hauling the bushes away in a wheel barrow and cleaning up the mess.  It was a royal pain in the ass but it is arguably a bonding experience.  Our yard does look much better now though I think Matt’s still on the fence as to whether it was worth it to muscle through this yard project or hire a crew to do it.  That said, Matt being Matt, I think he’s quite pleased that our doing the project together saved quite a few dollars.  Go team Monte!

The fun part was picking out the flowers to replace the ugly bushes.   Here’s a few photos of the kids wandering around Meadows Farms gardens out on Route 50.  They were both pretty opinionated about what plants we ought to buy.  Matt had them select some veggies as he wanted to keep a vegetable garden with them this summer, which is something he used to do with his brother when he was a kid.









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Yesterday was my nephew Jackson’s birthday party.  He just turned 8.


This is the face he made when I first tried to take his picture.  Stinker.


Everyone enjoyed the pool.


Including Grandpa (aka Mr. Raudnebush) and the adorable baby Adam.


Katelyn was having fun in the pool too with her mama.


Levi was trying to ride a purple whale.  But um, I don’t think that was really working out so well for him.


Katelyn wandered around the pool and garden looking absolutely adorable.


My devilish daughter tried to shoot me with a water gun and got a real serious look from me that I’ve heard others refer to as “the mom look.”  I also

threatened a time out unless she drop her weapon while I was holding my other dear baby, my Nikon.


Matt was in a surprisingly good mood considering he’d just driven 3 1/2 hrs to visit with his in-laws and was going to turn around and do the same drive

when the party was over.  And no, I didn’t drug him for this picture.  I mean, for those of you who know him well, he’s usually really bright, sunny and smiley, right? Or maybe I just happen

to have that affect on him when I’ve made some horrible comment about someone or something because well, I do have a tendency to do that  . . .


Jackson was impressive, most impressive, in the pool.  His diving skills were top notch.  Yay Jackson!!!


Going to miss him and my family until next month when we all gather for the Annual Family reunion at my uncle’s house.  I know Matt is really looking forward to the drive . . .


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Phinn’s Birthday

by Jessica on June 29, 2014

in Family Lifestyle,Humor

This past Sunday was Phinn’s 1st birthday.   We know this because that is what Lucky Dog told us.  Of course we also know that Phinn is a Dachshund Pointer mix because that is what Lucky Dog told us.  Look at him.  Does he look like a Dachshund?  Or a Pointer?

What we can pretty closely guess at is that  Phinn is a mutt who was born around this time last year.  His breed was likely jazzed up so he’d be more marketable in the D.C. area.   Which to be honest I really don’t care what he is.  As far as I’m concerned, he’s a Phinn.

In the last nine months or so since Phinn became part of this crazy Monte family that I also belong to, he has taught us that dogs like to chew things, and that chew toys that cost $20 are about as long lasting and entertaining as a pair of $2 socks rolled into each other.  Phinn also likes to chew on brand new shoes that I have either bought for the kids or myself.  I’m not sure what Matt is doing, but Phinn leaves Matt’s shoes alone.  Well done Matt.

Phinn has taught us that he is a very fast dog.  Our apologies to all the neighbors who’ve been greeted at 5:30 by Phinn running through their legs as they get out of their cars.  Phinn is scared of balloons and cats.  We’ve learned this because he runs away whenever the kids come home from a birthday party with inflated balloons and he flinches every time he walks by our very large cat Toby, who hisses whenever Phinn looks his way.

We’ve learned that Phinn thinks he is being stealthy by peeing on the one remaining carpet in our home, which happens to be the room where we keep the piano.  It also happens to be the place where I sit to drink my Sunday morning coffee and read the hard news Style section of the Washington Post.   And I have a sense of smell, like well, a bear or well, a dog comes to mind too.  So Phinn, I know what you’re doing so please just bark when you need to be let out, is all I’m saying.

Phinn also likes to bark at everyone and everything that passes our house.  He has a very loud intimidating bark which is quite funny because once we open the door, he either hides behind my legs or judging that someone is not a threat tries to to jump up on them and lick their face.

Phinn likes to lick things.  I am not a fan.  I love Phinn but I am not a fan of Phinn licking my person.  I see where else he licks.  That is not for me.

Phinn likes to wrestle with Levi and take orders from Annabelle, who is at an age where she likes bossing anyone around, but mostly her brother and Phinn.  Toby responds to her the way he responds to all of us.  With indifference.  Which I so appreciate about Toby.  He is an equal opportunity ignorer.

Phinn also likes to cuddle and settle in our bed with us at night.  Matt is not a fan of where Phinn likes to settle because it is squarely between me and Matt.  After Matt rolls over and away from me, Phinn tries to be stealthy and sneaks into the small space between Matt and me where he reclaims his spot on the bed.  To be honest, I don’t mind at all because he keeps me very warm.  Thank you for that Phinn.

Phinn also likes to lead the way.  Which I find very annoying when we’re out for walks.  So I bought the gentle halti for his collar and leash.  Phinn hates the halti but he loves to go for walks and runs, so he puts up with it and stays beside me rather than dragging me all around Brambleton.  Well done Halti.

Phinn’s favorite food is any food.  He will eat anything.  We do our best to keep toxic foods away from him but we have been quite embarrassed at parties to turn around for a second and then hear one of our guests telling Phinn to get his paws off the counter.  And then of course, he hears “Crate” and understands that that isn’t what we want him to do.

Phinn can sit, shake your hand, lay down, get down (and boogie), roll over, wait, and stay.

I am now teaching Phinn to stay on the carpet in the room with the piano when someone comes to the door.  I make Matt run through the garage to the front door where he rings the doorbell.  Phinn does his regular barking thing.  I give him a treat and then say, “Stay,” and he does until I open the door, upon which time he runs to the door to jump up on Matt and lick his face.  It’s a process.

Phinn likes to chase birds and rabbits and anything smaller than him (except Toby) that moves.

So for his birthday, I took him to the dog park and let him do what he loves best: run.  He ran circles around the other dogs.  I mean circles.  He is probably the fastest dog at the dog park whenever we go.  Sometimes I worry that the other dogs dislike him for it, so I make sure I bring treats.  I ask the owners permission and then I give out treats to the dogs.  They associate Phinn with me and me with the treats and then it is all good for Phinn at the dog park.  Now he has friends who try to keep up with him and I notice he lingers a bit to socialize with them when they’ve tired of racing around the park with him.

Oh, one last thing about Phinn.

Phinn is always always always happy to see me.  And I love that about him because to be honest, I can’t even stand myself sometimes, so kudos to you Phinn.  And happy birthday!!  Looking forward to your next spin around the sun.  May it be filled with lots of chasing, games, runs, tricks, and food.  And of course cuddles.





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So far I am loving summer.  Not only am I getting to sleep a little bit later than normal (7:30 a.m. is a luxury!), but I’m also getting to catch up on much needed time with the kids.   We’re hitting the pool, the library, and sitting down to do projects together.  And we’ve discovered that they love to help in our home garden.  Yay!  Free labor!  My dad always said it was good to put us kids to work when I was growing up, and Matt and I are in agreement with him.  We love that the kids are reaching an age where they are able to pitch in and help out.  Not to mention, I’m a big believer in teaching work ethic, and I think chores are a good thing for that.


Earlier this month though, we celebrated the start to summer with a day at the Herndon Fair.  The kids shopped the craft shows and made the rounds on the carnival rides.  I followed just a few steps behind trying to take as many photos as I could.  They are growing up so fast, I want to catch as much as I can for our memories.


Here’s a few of my faves from the day:













And then it was time to go home . . .

Excited for more adventures this summer!!!!


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The Father Daughter Dance

by Jessica 29 May 2014 Annabelle

Earlier in May, Annabelle and Matt attended her Girl Scout’s Father-Daughter dance.   To be honest, I hadn’t really thought much of the occasion.  In my mind, it would be a chance for Annabelle to wear whatever dress she wanted to and for Matt to dance with his favorite little girl–not to mention that both [...]

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Vincent’s Art Show

by Jessica 24 May 2014 Days of You and Me

On Thursday we went downtown for Vincent’s art show.     And I brought my camera. I’m not sure whether it’s the age or if it’s because she sees me working with the “older” girls, but Annabelle jumps for the opportunity to be my model.   She eagerly ran over to the bench so I [...]

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Siesta Key 2014

by Jessica 30 April 2014 Annabelle

  We’re home from Siesta Key.  Darn.  It was fun, relaxing and I didn’t want to come home.  So many good memories made on this trip. We started the week out at Disney but I’m still waiting on those photos–thanks to my mom’s point and shoot, we captured so many great moments. Anyway, once we [...]

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Washington, D.C. with Levi

by Jessica 8 April 2014 Days of You and Me

Every now and again it’s good to play hooky.   For a couple of weeks now, Levi has been asking us when we were going to take him back to the Building Museum in Washington, D.C.   Ever since he discovered that his dad’s an engineer and gets to build things everyday, he’s made up [...]

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The Naked Truth: A Review

by Jessica 31 March 2014 Marriage

It’s been a little while since I’ve reviewed a book over here, but I just got in a book that I think is worthwhile for those who frequent this blog and lots of other people too (so send your friends over, would you?).  I usually cover books and blogs about parenting, yoga and exercise, photography, [...]

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