Sister Graduates!

My youngest sister, Michelle, is a college graduate!!

Our little family flew out to California Memorial Day weekend so we could catch Michelle's San Jose State University graduation ceremony. Parker loves graduations - the robes, the calling out of the names, everything! He always points out the regalia and proclaims that he'll get the puffy hat one day when he's a Ph.D. :) 

We had the perfect seats to view our graduate, and she spotted us as she walked in, too! The ceremony was held at SJSU's outdoor stadium. True to the Bay Area weather, we were shivering when we arrived and sweaty and sunburned when we left (but really, Silicon Valley, I heart you forever).

There was a beach ball on the field at one point during the ceremony, and Parker (being the lover of all things sports and balls) had many questions about it. How did it get there? What were they doing with it? We tried to explain that the graduates are all very happy and excited, and they sneak in the deflated beach balls because they are small, then blow them up and toss them around to cause some shenanigans. Ten minutes later, he asked When we get back home, can you call my name like I'm graduating and I'm going to sneak in a beach ball to cause some shenanigans? He's already planning ahead ;) 

Sister graduated with a B.A. in Child and Adolescent Development, which is very fitting because she and her husband have a baby on the way! 

Michelle and her cheering section:

Mother of the Graduate:

Her Alabama fans:

We followed up the ceremony with a fun celebratory BBQ with family.

We just love our graduate!


Ten on Tuesday

Summer has officially started here in Alabama! Our neighborhood pool opened last week, and Parker had his last day of preschool!

Nine months ago, Parker had never been in any sort of program or activity without me. Here's our brave little then three-year-old last August:

And now, he's writing his name (and the rest of the alphabet), counting well into the several hundreds (and also by 2's, 5's and 10's), reading short books, speaking un poquito EspaƱol, and playing with others! Most importantly, he loved his outdoor school (especially the creek and garden, and feeding the goats). We are so proud of Parker's hard work this year. Look how much our four-year-old has grown!

With teacher's assistants, specials (Spanish, Art, etc.), and Piano, we had ten teacher gifts to hand out as end-of-year thank-yous. I wanted something thoughtful and special, but also cost-friendly since we had so many to do. I ended up purchasing cute wooden spoons from Hobby Lobby and having husby laser engrave names on the handles. Personalized and precious!

I just added boxed baking mixes, sweet tags, and gift cards in varying amounts. Parker loved handing them out!

He also completed an "All About My Teacher" form like this one for his main preschool teacher. Usually these are done for parents, but Parker's teacher got a kick out of it!

 These sandals have been my jam in this feels like summer weather. Colorful tassels for the win!

And I've been alternating with these slip-ons.

My library hold came up for this book and I raced there to check it out as soon as I found out! Is anyone else reading it? I enjoyed Girl on the Train, so I have high hopes for this recent release from Paula Hawkins.

Kevin Kwan's latest also just came out!! I reviewed his first book, Crazy Rich Asians, here. I said it was "US Weekly meets the Shopaholic books, meets Vogue magazine - all set in Singapore, with a touch of Silicon Valley thrown in (which of course makes my heart smile)." I'm way excited for Rich People Problems!

I'm still obsessed with this show:

And all sorts of stoked that it's returning in 2018 for Season 2!

Cheesecake Filled Banana Bread. I mean, do I have to say more? 

It's a Tasty brand recipe (found here). Parker loves watching the time-lapse videos that accompany the recipes :) If you're looking for something new and fun to make, give it a whirl! Parker and I are happy we did!

Peony season is ending. Insert all the frowns.

We enjoyed them while they lasted, though!

Happy Tuesday!

Life Lately

Life lately has been all about hanging on to spring just as long as we can!

We had a lovely Mother's Day, with phenomenal weather.

Dress | Bowtie 

Parker gave me the best present (sleeping in!) and then led me over to the flowers he picked out for me. He said over and over to take a photo of them - I think he sees me take way too many pictures on the daily, ha!

Parker's card to me is a crack up - he loves writing numbers, and when Max was helping him with the card, apparently he kept wanting to write :#9. Max told him that writing "#1" would be more appropriate, ha!

Sunnies | Sunnies

My boys took me to brunch at Bridge Street - always the prettiest place to be! And then we rounded out the day with a walk downtown for popsicles and tacos - for me, it just can't get any better than that!

These two have my heart. 

Last week, I had a special delivery from my Junior League mentor - Gerber Daisies on the front porch!

They are so happy, and one of my favorites! However, I'm partial to flowers you can eat, haha! I haven't made it out to these squash blossoms while they've been open (best for harvesting them), but fried stuffed squash blossoms from the garden are on my list of must-makes for summer. Yum.

Also on my must list? Another trip to Yoshi Sushi Fusion. We made it out to this new restaurant for the first time last week, and I was blown away.

Sushi is, of course, Parker's choice cuisine. Unfortunately, it's not so wallet-friendly.

But, holy cow it was worth it. If you're local, make it a point to head there. (Below clockwise from left, Seabream, Tuna, Salmon Belly, OMG roll. We also loved the Yellowtail and double ordered the fatty tuna, ah-maze.)

The end of spring in the south means the blooming of hydrangeas - we are super lucky to have white ones in the backyard, and blue, purple and pink in the front! So far, just the white ones are starting.

It's been perfect dining-on-the-deck weather :)

Life lately has included lots of iced teas and coffees for me, and cake pops and milks for Sweet P! 

We had a milk/coffee break at the Botanical Garden before heading on to see their latest exhibit - dinosaurs!

The triceratops were our favorite (and super realistic - Parker literally wouldn't pose by this loud, moving one without me!).

Over the weekend, we had an intense, sudden and quick storm roll in early evening. We lost power and had a candlelight dinner of cold leftovers before heading to bed early. Our Amazon Echo woke us up at 1:30am when the power turned back on. Note to self: in the event of another power outage, unplug the Echo unless wanting to be alarmingly woken up with loud, harsh robot voice, inducing understandable freakout. The next morning I headed out early to pick up almond and chocolate croissants from Whole Foods (freshly baked and warm, they are my weakness) and I was stunned to see our street looked like this:

I'd later find out that much of the neighborhood looked like this. In fact, there were places that were without power well into the following day. We were super lucky that we only had small and medium sized branches fall, and no real damage.

I'm still getting used to this crazy weather here in the south! I'm also expecting a scorching summer, after our winter was so very mild.

Summer will officially start for us next week. Parker has his last piano lesson and also his last day of preschool this week. Summer is going to be filled with tee-ball and walks to the community pool, but I also wanted to talk about the other special summery things we have to look forward to - so Parker and I started our Summer Bucket List! Some of these are special one-time things, and some are perfect for the random summer day when we need a little prompting to select something to do. 

1. Music in the Park
2. Make ice cream
3. Catch fireflies
4. California Beach Day
5. Blow bubbles
6. Movie & Popcorn
7. Popsicles at Frios
8. Make cereal necklaces
9. Tour the fire department
10. Scottsdale aquarium 
11. Dinner at the pool
12. Make play-doh
13. Watch fireworks
14. Pick blueberries
15. Sock puppets
16. Pick flowers
17. Bake a pie
18. Jumping at Shakalaka
19. Dessert at Pizelles
20. Farmer's Market
21. Bookstore
22. Bowling
23. Backyard Camping

What's on your bucket list for summer?


Parker's Spring Piano Recital!

Our sweet little man has been obsessed with symphonies and orchestras since before he could talk. It's an understatement when I say he's an old soul. At age two, he had his heart set on playing the violin, but alas, it's quite difficult (impossible) to find violin classes for a two-year-old. Last year when he turned three, we toured the music school downtown, which accepts three-year-olds on a limited basis. After his interview they suggested Sweet P begin with piano - and to our surprise, he was all for it! He began lessons at the start of their school year, September of 2016. 

Parker took lessons once a week with Mrs. Kish, every Wednesday at 4pm (and of course practiced almost every day at home, as per the conservatory requirement). He played a very simple Jingle Bells in a small, informal Christmas recital in December, and I just assumed that, because of his age, he would skip the bigger spring recital. But lo and behold, a few months back Mrs. Kish asked Parker to select music for the spring recital. I just about died when she played the different pieces for him - I had no idea how he was going to get there, having only been playing a few months and being just three-years-old at that point. 

Parker selected Quiet River, and over the next several lessons picked up chords and mastered the song. It was amazing to see the look of pride in his face each time he played, and most every time he practiced at home. Playing the piano really is something he has grown to adore.

The spring recital was held at The Cooper House, a gigantic historical house downtown. 

Parker was third to present, and watching him walk right up to the piano in front of the entire audience made me so proud! (I also may have let out an involuntary giggle because after the first two elementary-aged performers, Parker looked comically tiny. I forget that he's four.) His teacher helped him place his music on the stand and push the piano bench in because he literally couldn't reach! Ha! But really, the fact that his music school expected this participation from him - for him to play a piece by himself, in front of the crowd - was really remarkable. I feel it shows what happens when expectations are set high, and I really couldn't be happier. My Mama nerves were much calmer this presentation compared to December, and I actually let out a breath and was able to listen this time, once he was past the first few bars and I knew he had it down.

The best part, of course, was seeing the pride and sense of accomplishment on this excited face.

Also, a huge thank-you to Parker's teacher this year for her dedication, patience, and guidance - and also for believing in our little guy!

Proud parents!

Afterwards, Parker selected Baskin Robbins for celebratory ice cream.

I worked at the local B&R all through high school, and they somehow all smell the same. 

Yay for our littlest pianist! 

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