I just got back from going on a walk with the kids, and while there was a nice breeze, I am hot and Brooke’s cheeks are bright red.
Speaking of Brooke, she has blossomed so much in the last few weeks. Her language development is coming along nicely. She says hello, hi, out, shoe, hat, eat, and “mel” for milk (or any drink really). I think her first official word (aside from no) was milk, which is quite fitting since she has let us know from very, very early on when she is hungry. She is also a great walker. Once she learned to walk, she didn’t look back. Her demeanor has also changed over the last few weeks. She is consistently a bubbly and happy almost 17-month-old. At some point every day, John asks me, “Where did this happy girl come from?” Happy was not a word we often used to describe Brooke as a baby. But now we use it every day! Below is a (blurry) picture that captures her happy spirit.
David’s language skills are also expanding. I can understand most everything he says, and he’s starting to speak more in longer phrases/sentences. He loves to sing songs, count, and he has a great memory. He watches two TV shows every day – “Tigerhead” (Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood) and “Sunny Days” (Sesame Street).
Brooke and David like to make each other laugh (it’s adorable!), and they are starting to actually play together more and more. David also loves to tell Brooke what to do. He calls her “Brookie,” and I think the way he says it is so sweet.
I can’t believe it’s November! I meant to write a post about our trip to Myrtle Beach a while back, but I’m just now getting it up. We headed down south for Labor Day Weekend and visited my Aunt Diana and Uncle Kevin. My sister Melissa and brother Trevor also headed down to Myrtle for the weekend. We had such a fun time!
One of my favorite memories was swimming in the ocean with John and my siblings. It was so fun to swim in the waves and talk about life. I also loved playing card games with my aunt, uncle, siblings and John after our kids went to bed. Watching David explore the beach was so fun too. He is at a very cute and fun exploratory stage.
My aunt and uncle are such gracious hosts and live in a private beach community, which means the beach is never crowded. We had fun relaxing at the beach, eating delicious food (my aunt is a great cook), and playing games. We always have a fun time down in Myrtle!
During the drive down, the kiddos were pretty good. Although when we got there (at nearly midnight), David woke up and decided he didn’t want to go to sleep and stayed up until 3 a.m. On the drive back home, David and Brooke took turns whining haha. It was our first time road tripping with two kids, and we definitely learned some things.
Fall is almost officially here! Fall is my favorite season, so I am excited. Summer has been good to us. Last week, we returned from a trip to Myrtle Beach. I’m hoping to write a post on that this week. But before I do, I want to record some of the other moments of summer we experienced.
We attended the Jefferson County Fair and had fun watching mutton busting, greased pig racing, and the tractor pull, as well as looking at all the animals and eating fair food. My sister Melissa and friend Keri came with us. The weather was beautiful, which made it extra nice. I really enjoy going to the fair each year.
On a recent trip to Winchester, I was stopped at a stoplight, and when the light turned green, my car wouldn’t move forward when I pushed the accelerator. I turned the car off and back on, and then it worked just fine. Then a couple days later while driving, the power steering and accelerator stopped working. We took my car into the auto shop and learned the engine was failing. I bought this car (a 2009 Hyundai Sonata) a few months after I graduated from college. I bought it used and was so proud of the purchase. It was my first big adult purchase. I remember during the first few weeks of owning the car, I was so excited to get off the metro after work and drive my Sonata home.
Since the engine was failing, we decided it was time to upgrade to a minivan. We bought a 2019 Honda Odyssey. While cleaning the items out of my Sonata, I felt a little nostalgic. At first, I wasn’t excited to get a new car (my Sonata has been with me through so much – which I know is silly to say since it’s just a car ha!). I’ve ending up loving the van though.
I started a monthly service club in my neighborhood to meet my neighbors and do some good in the community. Recently, while studying Christ’s counsel in the New Testament to love our neighbors as ourselves, I realized I don’t really know my neighbors, and it’s hard to love people that I don’t know. (I realize Christ’s counsel doesn’t only apply to our literal neighbors, but I figured it’s a good place for me to start.) During our first service activity, we decorated cookies for the local fire stations.
John bought a bike and has begun cycling on Saturday mornings. He bought a trailer for David (and eventually Brooke) to ride in. At first, David wasn’t a fan of his helmet. So before their first long ride, I let David watch TV on our bed while wearing the helmet to help him get used to it.
John and I both celebrated birthdays this summer. Below is a picture of John’s presents on top of the birthday present he gave me. It’s an armoire he knew I’d been interested in purchasing for our bedroom for a while.
We had our main level painted. It’s something I’ve been interested in for while. After painting our bedroom myself, I decided that I wanted to pay to have someone do our main level. I saved up the money I earn from doing my consulting work. I only work a couple hours a week, so it’s taken me a while to save. But I’m so happy with how the results turned out. We had paint samples around the main level for a number of weeks. We knew we wanted a gray color. The color we ended up selecting was Fawn Brindle by Sherwin Williams.
David and Brooke continue to grow so quickly before our eyes. This summer David transitioned out of his high chair. He eats lunch at the kitchen island, and we all eat dinner together as a family at the table in the dining room. Below are some cute pictures John took of David while he was playing in our guest room
We’ve enjoyed exploring parks and going to the pool this summer. David’s confidence has grown so much over the last few months. The first time we went to the pool, he wouldn’t leave my side. The last time we went, he was constantly on the move. His favorite part of the pool we go to is the barnyard splash pad. Below is a picture of him going down the slide.
Near the end of August, John’s parents came to visit. While they were here, we headed into DC and visited the Newseum and the U.S. Botanic Garden and ate a delicious dinner at Carmines. We also visited Gettysburg. Unfortunately, David did not really tolerate the Gettysburg museum well (he’s normally super low key). So, he and I spent a lot of time trying to figure out ways to be happy, and bonus, I dropped my phone and cracked my screen haha.
Of course, the main attraction John’s parents wanted to see while they were here was their grandson 🙂 They were here for a week, and we enjoyed spending time with them. I especially appreciated them watching David for me while I went to a hair appointment that ended up being four hours (that’s a story for another day, but I loved how my hair turned out in the end, so it’s a win!).
At the end of June, John had a 10-day work trip to Hawaii. He asked me if I wanted to go with him for part of the trip. I jumped on the opportunity! My Daly grandparents met and were married in Hawaii, and I’d always wanted to go. My mom graciously agreed to watch David while we were away.
We spent the entire time on the island of Oahu. We stayed in Waikiki beach and were able to tour different parts of the island. Highlights of the trip include visiting the Polynesian Cultural Center, visiting Pearl Harbor, and taking in the beautiful scenery as we traversed the island.
One thing that fascinated me was how far we could go out in the ocean at Waikiki beach and still touch the bottom. One day we were about 100 yards out and the water was only waste deep. The waves are very calm this time of year, and we enjoyed floating on inner tubes.
Our hotel room overlooked the ocean. On Fridays in Oahu, they shoot off fireworks around 8 p.m. We were able to sit on our balcony and watch them. We also happened to be in Hawaii on July 4. Once again, we were able to sit our balcony and watch the fireworks.
Today is September 7. While fall doesn’t officially start until later this month, it seems like summer is gone. I love fall, so I am not complaining 🙂 Since I found out I was pregnant back in February, I knew our baby would be born in the fall. Fall seemed forever away then, and now it’s here. This means that soon our little boy will be here too. On Labor Day, we put together the crib. Even though we don’t have a crib mattress or bedding yet, seeing the crib makes the nursery actually feel like a nursery.
While John was in Europe recently, I also put together the stroller.
About a month ago, we had a little bit of a pregnancy scare which required an ultrasound. This allowed us the opportunity to see our baby’s face on a 3D ultrasound. We’ve seen his face once before, but at that time, he didn’t quite look like a baby. This time around, we were amazed at how much like a baby he looks! Thankfully the scare we had was a false alarm and everything is fine.
The summer has been good to us. My brother Trevor interned in DC this summer, and it was fun to have him close by. Before he returned back to BYU for his last semester of college, we headed to the Jefferson County Fair. I think we will make this a yearly tradition. We watched mutton busting, which was adorable and terrifying at the same time, and enjoyed seeing all the different animals. It was a true West Virginia experience.
Before I end this post, I want to give a shout out to Dollar Tree balloons. I got four balloons from the Dollar Tree as part of the decorations for John’s birthday. His birthday was over a month ago and this crazy balloon lasted until I finally decided to deflate it this past weekend. That was $1 well spent!
We make an effort to get back to Iowa (John’s home) twice each year to visit his family. One of those visits is either Thanksgiving or Christmas, and the other generally falls sometime near the summer. This year we decided to head to Iowa for the 4th of July and John’s cousin’s wedding on July 8.
On July 1, we packed up our new car and headed West. I haven’t mentioned the new car on the blog, but we did buy a new car back in May. John and I have always been a one car family (sort of). You see, right before we got married, John’s Taurus died. We decided not to put money towards fixing or replacing it. I took the metro to work each day, and so we didn’t really need two cars. Plus, John’s uncle who lives in Taiwan had asked us to keep his van at our home and drive it around every few weeks. If we ever needed to be in two separate places at the same time, one of us could drive the van. John’s uncle returns from Taiwan this summer, and with a baby on the way, we decided it was time to get a second car. Since the new car is the main car John will drive, he got to pick it out. We wanted something fuel efficient since our commute to work each day is 40 miles one way. We ended up with a Honda Civic. The gas mileage really has been phenomenal. Our roundtrip gas cost to and from Iowa was less than $100 total (we drove over 1600 miles).
The trip was a nice break from normal life. His mom and sister threw me a baby shower with family and friends in Iowa. Our little boy will be very loved once he arrives, and his impending October arrival is becoming more and more real as we begin to accumulate baby items. Sometimes John and I walk into our (currently empty) nursery and look at the few baby clothes we have hanging in the closet. It’s crazy to think that those clothes will soon be worn in just a few months.
To celebrate Independence Day, we attended “Red, White, and Boom,” the annual Quad Cities fireworks show on the Mississippi, which was very impressive. The fireworks show actually took place on the eve of the 4th. On the actual 4th of July, we watched the Quad Cities 4th of July parade and had a cookout with the extended Longenecker family.
The 4th of July also marks the anniversary of when John and I got engaged. It’s been two years since this next picture was taken on that very day right after we got engaged.
On Wednesday, we took a day trip to Chicago with John’s immediate family. I had never been to Chicago, so it was fun to cross another major U.S. city off the list of cities I’ve visited. We spent the majority of the day in the Museum of Science and Industry (John’s favorite). There we toured a real German U-boat and visited exhibits on space, weather, agriculture, and the human body. We were able to see what a baby looks like inside the womb at 25 weeks. Since I’m 25 weeks pregnant, it was really neat. It was amazing to see how a baby at 25 weeks looks like a real baby. Afterwards, we went to a park to see the Chicago skyline and then went and visited the iconic “Bean.”
On Thursday and Friday, we had a nice time bowling, shopping, eating Whitey’s ice cream (twice in two days!), playing games, reading, and relaxing. John found his old guitars at his parents house and starting playing them again. We ended up taking one of them home with us back to West Virginia.
On Saturday, we attended John’s cousin’s wedding. Sadly, I didn’t get a picture of the happy couple to post on my blog. The ceremony and reception were beautiful. This cousin is on John’s mom’s side of the family. It was nice to visit with the extended family for a happy occasion. Last year, we saw the extended Urmie family twice but both times it was for funerals.
We left bright and early Sunday morning and made the 13-hour drive back to West Virginia. It’s crazy to think the next time we go to Iowa we’ll have a baby with us.
On Saturday, we had the opportunity to go to the Philadelphia LDS Temple Open House. Before any LDS Temple is dedicated, there is an Open House. Any and all who want to see inside the Temple are invited to take a tour. John and I had the opportunity to attend the Open House. As we walked through the Temple, my heart was filled with peace. The Philadelphia LDS Temple is beautiful. You can see pictures of the inside here.
Temples are very sacred to members of the LDS faith because it is in Temples that we learn about our Savior Jesus Christ and how we can return and live with our Heavenly Father again. It is in Temples that families are “sealed” together, meaning that family relationships will last beyond death. As I walked through the Philadelphia Temple with John, I felt very grateful to know that I will be with him forever.
On the front of each LDS Temple is inscribed “Holiness to the Lord. House of the Lord.” We believe that the Temple is the Lord’s house and we can feel His presence there. When I go to the Temple, I truly feel “at home.” I feel a familiar peaceful feeling, and it reminds me that I feel “at home” because I am a child of God and His divinity is within me – it’s within all of us.
My last work trip for the U.S. Chamber was to Los Angeles, California. For the last four years, I’ve headed to California for work in July. The weather is beautiful and it’s a welcomed change from the humidity of the east. This trip was especially fun because John was able to meet up with me at the end and visit my great aunt Fannie. John was also in California for work the same week, which worked out very nicely.
We were also able to grab a bite to eat with John’s cousin Mike.
One of my favorite parts of this work trip each year is when we go out on a yacht to celebrate those graduating from the Institute program. This year the boat ride once again did not disappoint.
On the last night of the Institute program in L.A., our team traditionally holds a small, special event for the staff and a few others. This year we were at the Bel Air Bay Club. John was actually able to join us as well after he kindly drove up from San Diego during rush hour.
John and I took the red eye home from California on a Friday night, and the next Tuesday I started my new job. It was great to end my U.S. Chamber/Institute experience with this trip.
This is my 100th blog post! While I don’t have anything special to share, I’ve learned that simplicity and consistency are two of the greatest blessings of life. Life is calm and simple right now, and I appreciate that.
During the last few summers, my summer plans have revolved around my work travels. In fact, as I type this, I am on a plane heading to L.A. for work. I’ve enjoyed meeting different chamber of commerce and association professionals throughout my travels. In June, I headed to both Madison, Wisconsin and Athens, Georgia for work.
Over the last few months as my husband and I discussed our future goals, including buying a house, I felt it was time for a change in my professional life. My current commute is about an hour and a half each way, which means I am gone from 7 to 7 each day. I’ve been at the U.S. Chamber for almost five years and I’ve loved my time there. I wanted to take the next step in my career and find a job that wasn’t so far away from our current home and new home. Earlier this month, I accepted a job as the professional development manager for an association near where I live. My last day at my current job is July 18, and I start my new job the next day.
As I mentioned in my last post, another exciting change in my life is the new home John and I are building. We finished making all the selections for the home and signed all the necessary paperwork…there was a lot! We are so excited to watch our house be built 🙂
Near the end of this month, I celebrated my birthday. I was in Athens, Georgia for the actual day and was sick. My coworkers and I were supposed to have dinner with a group of board members that night, but I ended up eating Chick-Fil-A in my hotel room. That night one of the board members sent me a video of everyone at dinner singing me “Happy Birthday” with a big coconut birthday cake on the table. It was so sweet! When I returned home, John and I celebrated by going to Maggiano’s. We also had a family celebration with my family and John’s sister on the Sunday after I got home.