Mikey’s Birthday

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Mikey turned 3 in October, and in the past, he hasn’t been a big fan of parties.  So we decided to give him an outing of something he loves with a friend or two.  We found a place about an hour from our house in Walkersville, MD that is an old steam train depot!



Mikey and his buddies Hayden and Morgan joined us, and our friends the Deschanes drove down from Pennsylvania to celebrate too!


The small building had a little museum inside that made us adults look sideways at each other because it wasn’t much of a museum–but it thrilled all the kids!



We then boarded the train–but before we could, the conductor noticed that we were carrying birthday cupcakes.  He asked if we had reserved the caboose (no), and then offered to let us use it for free!  We hopped on up to find the birthday caboose was decorated and even had a second story to it so the kids could look out over the train as we took our ride up and back down the track.


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We celebrated with Angry Bird and Cars cupcakes, opened gifts, and enjoyed the hour long train ride!



It was a perfect kind of party for our Mister Mike! He is becoming such a little man and learning lots these days! He continues to make our days bright and is still our best snuggler.


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At the start of the school year, I found myself with about 1-2 hours of free time!  Mikey and Briana’s school days overlapped on Tuesdays and Thursdays; and while they were gone, Evie napped for much of that time.  Those first few weeks of school I really just sat on the couch and enjoyed a little adult television, cleared the DVR of unwatched shows, caught up on reading, and dishes.

But I soon found myself itching to do something productive.  I had just finished sewing together a tree skirt for our Christmas tree, and really enjoyed it.  I also found myself walking through a small store in our town called WebFabric.   I didn’t realize it was a quilting store, but I found the ladies who worked and owned the shop to be extremely helpful and encouraging.  So I picked up a pattern that was recommended for a beginner, and the necessary fabric.  That was my gateway to a love of quilting!


Since September I have created a couple of quilts, table runners, and gifts for friends and family!


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I recently just sold my first table runner to an Air Force wife stationed overseas!  She had seen a picture of one of my projects and asked if I could complete a specific runner for her–I felt very accomplished that I was able to do so based off only the picture she gave me!


Some gifts for my siblings:

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I even made Steve a Chisel roll for his birthday:

There’s definitely more quilts on the cutting table still!


School Days!

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School doesn’t start in Virginia until after Labor Day, so that next day, both Briana and Mikey started their first days of preschool!  Briana is still attending Purcellville Baptist’s preschool, and Mikey is attending Kenneth Culbert Elementary School for their special education preschool.  Both kids were really excited to get to school, but also sad that the summer was ending.

Mikey on his first day, in front of the school’s mascot, the Crocodile!

Miss Briana and her love of dresses and very practical shoes.  I am loving her hair these days too–it’s gone from wild and curly to long and curly.  In just the first few weeks of school, she has become a phonics master and loves to pick out words from our conversations and figure out the letters in the words!

Once the first week of school was done, the county finally got their butts in gear, and our bus service started (you’d think they’d have a whole summer to figure these things out!).  Mikey loves to ride the bus (most days)!  He has super sweet driver and aide that ride with him and a few other kids.  In the morning, I can usually hear the bus rounding the corner from two stop signs away, so I’ll count to 10 and the bus then appears and I tell Mikey it’s magic! He loves it!  The aide loves to ask Mikey every day if she can just squeeze him she thinks he’s so cute! He always answers her, “No tanks!”

So what does Miss Evie do while her siblings are at school at the same time on Tuesdays and Thursdays? She hangs out with mommy and has free reign of the toys! I think she likes it!

We are just so grateful for a great school system in our area, and tons of resources to help our kids learn so much so early!



August 2013

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As August came, we got to celebrate Evelyn’s 1st Birthday right away!  We are lucky to have a super talented friend who has taken all the pictures of our kids at some point in their life–Becky Gardner Photography captured some fun moments at a park near our house that is a state run farm.  Our littlest one has quite the spunk–she’s very vocal with her siblings, loves to give hugs and snuggle, makes funny faces, already has a favorite cartoon (thanks Bubble Guppies), she’s also a little biter and pincher, but we’re pretty sure it’s a survival tactic!  Overall, her first year flew by so fast, but she’s definitely meshed herself into the threads of our family!

Grandma and Grandpa Tufano came to visit and celebrate Evie’s birthday too!  So we took them to a local vineyard to enjoy the views and the wine.  The kids love this place because the farm has a dog, chickens and roosters.

We also showed G&G Tufano around Purcellville and visited the library with them for some books and playtime.

In the middle of August, we were elated to have our friends, the Deschanes, move back to a driveable distance when they moved from Wisconsin to Pennsylvania!  We can literally take the road that butts up against the back of our neighborhood all the way up to the light near their house–now that’s meant to be!!  So the weekend they were all settled in their new house, we headed up to help them break in their new yard, basement and celebrate Chris’s birthday!  Briana and Natalie are birthday pals (born 5 days apart) and picked up right where they left off when we last saw each other in 2011!

Erin and I got a chance to have a girls night out when she came down to visit us with the girls–we hit up the new restaurant in our town that highlights the local wineries–rightfully called The Wine Kitchen! It’s a winner!  We are so happy to have each other around again!

We rounded out the end of August with a last trip to our local fire department for their Sundaes on Saturdays.  My kids won’t say no to any icecream!

We didn’t realize how busy our August was going to be, but we loved every busy moment of it!

July 2013

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We bombarded the Bartell family for the 4th of July this year–and they were great hosts!  We hung out and relaxed:

We spent time with Great Grandma Bartell in her place:

And the Bartells took us to their town’s summer festivities, which included a carousel, planes the kids could ride on, and a Ferris wheel ride!  It was also really nice to spend time with Marisa who was heading off to college at the end of the summer.  Both girls are super helpful and playful with the kids which makes traveling with the kids that much easier :)

The kids and I also spent a lot of time at our friend’s pools this summer, though because the older two refused to put on floaties, they rarely spent time in the actual water.  They were perfectly content with sitting on the steps of the pool.  Evie loved the water, but not in a playful way, she just loved to lay back and relax.  I was happy to accompany her and just float!

We really had great weather for a July in the South–so we did a lot of park playdates with friends and the kids started playing really well with each other too around mid summer!

At the very end of July, there is always the Loudoun County fair.  We missed last year because I was two days away from giving birth and I wasn’t going to walk around in July heat that pregnant!  But I was happy to fully partake in it this year!

We were joined by friends from church–funny how it’s easier to manage six kids to two adults than a one to three ratio!  That and the promise of icecream helps!

My friend and I have high hopes for future 4H members in our girls who loved the livestock!


The Spoils of our Garden

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You could say that we are totally hooked on gardening!  The kids loved being out to help me plant seeds, picking up bugs, and even Briana has learned by the end of July what was a weed and what was a sprout!  We loved certain vegetables, and certain ones we learned were not worth the work and time to wait (like the okra below–only having one plant survive, we’d only get one okra a week).

We really loved growing parsnips–they were bug free plants, and were so delicious!  We’ve even re-planted at the end of summer to get a winter crop for soups and roasts.

Briana was my little garden helper and loved finding the new squash growths.

I learned a lot about bugs (blegh) too this summer.  Those pretty white moths?  Those are cabbage moths and will DESTROY your broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts.

Thankfully, we were able to get two big heads of broccoli before the cabbage worms totally took over our plants.

Onions, shallots and sweet potatoes were also really easy to grow.  However, we found that a resident groundhog prevented a bountiful sweet potato crop by eating them from underneath!

We are spending this winter researching better ways to grow vine squashes.  We didn’t get a huge crop of zucchini, though, the ones we did get were enormous!

We were really pleased with our crops of spaghetti squash, and happily shared with our neighbors.  This will be another vegetable we’ll double up on next year it was so good!

This is a picture of our garden at the end of the season–the top right greens are the beginning of the Brussels sprouts and we can’t wait to pick them around Christmas!  We’re really excited to take what we’ve learned this year, and have a more productive and fruitful garden next year!


June 2013

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June was the month of the Taylors!  We had Grandma Jo Jo visit and we also had Uncle Mike and Joe come for a visit too!!

We got lots of playtime out of the two Uncles–lots of great weather helped with that too!!  But they kids also loved the down time–and they got hooked on playing Candy Crush on their phones, so when they left, I had to pick up the slack. ;-)

We also celebrated Father’s Day at Bluemont Vineyards up on the side of a mountain near our house! We enjoyed a nice sunny day, great wine, and some fun sibling time!

But I couldn’t leave Grandma Jo Jo out when she came to visit that next week, so she and I hit up Hillsboro Vineyard and enjoyed a lunch date out while Steve hung out with the kids.

We had a great time with Grandma in June!!

We also hit the peak of sprouting veggies in June.  It took a lot of my time (naptime, right after bed time, and also with the kids), but all of us really enjoyed it!

Though, we learned a great lesson on labeling your garden!!  We keep track via an online program, but while planting seeds, I swapped spots.  So for most of the summer, we ate (see the picture below) what we thought was spinach, but it turned out to be the tops of our turnips! Oops–got lots of good vitamins but thought our spinach was really bitter!  We have planted a fall crop so hopefully it’ll be a better taste!


We also put in a flagstone patio outside our basement in June.  While I was gone with the kids one Sunday, Steve and his mom built this wall length planter box!  Grandma Jo Jo and I went out and picked out some gorgeous perennials that I can’t wait to see in full bloom this next spring!



May 2013

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My oldest baby turned 4 in May.


WP_20130516_005We again had her birthday party at the local park which is her favorite place to play.  Her one request was a princess cake!

She is such a goofball these days!!  She loves clothes, her PollyPocket, but most of all, she loves My Little Pony.  She can update you on all the characters, who does what, has what talents, and more!  She needs to know “why” for a lot more these days, but also just loves to just play make believe.  She has such a kind heart for her siblings, and her friends.  But she is stubborn like her parents were (are!)!  It is incredible to see how much she’s grown!  We love her so much and I enjoy spending lots of time with her!


Catching Up

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I feel so horrible that it has been six months since I’ve updated this blog! Life got crazy busy, babies got  moving, and summer happened!  So I hope to update this blog up to date this weekend!  We haven’t forgotten those of you who read this!

Love, Michelle

Spring is Here!

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We keep very busy around here, which leaves me very tired at night (hence why my posts seem down to one a month, at best!).  We hit temperatures in the 90s last week, and thankfully, come this past weekend, we were back into true spring weather with 60s and 70s.  Winter is but a faint memory now!

This year, we started a very big vegetable garden:


We have plans (or have already planted) for: spinach, onions, parsnips, turnips, okra, cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus, brussel sprouts, leeks, shallots, tomatillos, cucumbers, zucs, spaghetti squash, sweet peppers, and are always thinking of more!

 Now that the kids are a little bigger, we’re playing outside more!

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(testing out mommy’s new camera on my phone)


Evie and her friend Charlotte (they’re 5 months apart)


Briana and Mikey playing very nicely together

(this was taken soon after hearing about the bombings in Boston, made it that much sweeter)

The kids love their little bikes, scooters and the family wagon–even more now that they are big enough to  pull each other around!


Chalk never gets old!!


We are happy to say farewell to winter in exchange for nicer weather, shorts, and outdoor time!