Ah, June, you are a lovely month! The air is soft and gently warming, the jasmine is in full bloom and perfuming the walkways, the evenings are long and full of adventure, and the days are filled with festivity (birthdays of family and friends, Father’s Day, Midsummer’s Eve, and more). We delight in the blissful days of June.

Always in June in Temecula, we celebrate the opening of the Balloon and Wine Festival. For those who do not live here, Temecula is known for its wine country. Hot air balloons launch most mornings, though especially on the weekends, from wineries and open land leading out to the lake. It is tradition that on the first weekend of June, dozens and dozens of balloons launch on Saturday morning. Our house, which sits right on the edge of wine country, is a perfect vantage point for seeing hot air balloons; however, on the first Saturday of June, the kiddos and I pile into the car in our jammies and drive out to see the launches. Last year, we saw several launch, and then we spent an hour driving around and following all of the dozens of balloons in the air. All year, Katie has been talking about seeing them again this year. Today was the day!

Alas, the fog had rolled in thick and heavy into wine country—too heavy to launch. Several of the dedicated were out on the open field at 7 AM, but eventually we all dispersed. The kiddos and I came back home for a quick breakfast and went back out at 8 AM. By the time, the fog had mostly burned off, but the air had become too warm to launch. One balloon was still trying, but as we drove on, we could see way in the distance toward the south side of town that about half a dozen balloons had launched over there. We drove way out and around wine country, but we did end up seeing them up close, and we also saw a couple which had just landed. It wasn’t nearly like last year, but life comes down to what you make of it, right? So I really played up how neat it was that we had hunted until we found these balloons and how lucky we were to see them. It still felt like magic for the kiddos, and that’s the important part.

Some of the balloons we saw…

Then it was back home again, and time to get dressed. I left Eric with Bill, and I Katie and I headed to the sports park near 10 AM to sign her up for a recreational soccer team for this fall. Practices will start in late August. She will be playing on the same fields on which my brother and I played, which is pretty awesome to think about. I can’t wait to watch her games, to bundle up in the cold morning air, to smell that October grass wafting on the evening air during practice. Soccer is autumn to me. I love it. Some of my best memories of Temecula are centered around playing rec soccer. Katie seems eager, too. I hope she really likes playing soccer on a team.

After registering, we zipped back home, gathered the items we needed for our next event and headed to an 11 AM party for our friend Madeleine, who turned three years old today! I still remember the night Lauren was in labor with her. Lauren delivered at home, and I remember looking out our bedroom window toward her house and checking for her husband’s Facebook updates constantly. It seems not that long ago…

Katie and Eric walking to the party (from our car, I should say… We do actually live within walking distance to the Bergon house, but we drove today).

Lauren had everything set up beautifully. Especially as a mom, I completely noticed and appreciated her attention to detail. The theme was “cat party” and Lauren had two craft stations set up for young guests as they arrived. The kiddos got to decorate cat ears (which were made from felt and headbands) and then—this was really a great idea—they made cat collars from an office tag, a bell, and a ribbon. Oh my. This was a HIT. Katie loved hers, and wore it pretty much all day (with the exception of her rest time) when she got home. Very cute.

Also to fit the theme, Lauren had all the cold cuts and cheese cut into the shapes of cat and mice (from cookie cutters). The watermelon was also cut into cat shapes. Fun idea! (As I was busily taking notes!!!!!) It may be a function of spending waaaaaay too much personal time on Pinterest, but I found myself thinking, “Oh, I wish I could pin that on one of my boards!” I always walk away with great party ideas from Lauren. Last year, it was the bunting.

As party favors, Lauren had bubbles and Kit-Kat (get it?) bars.

Going home, Katie said, “I think I want a dog party like that.” I will need to pick Lauren’s brain for ideas!

Meow. And oh yes, cats do need to snack on fishies.

Playing in the sandbox

Meeting the other kidlets. I love being in the kiddo-party phase of my life. Let’s face it: kiddo parties are pretty much the most awesome thing! More fun for me than many adult parties!

A cat-themed game: hunting for mice (toys). Even we adults got involved in this one. Treasure hunt!

Getting ready for cake and presents.

Watching Miss Mads open her gifts.

Eric and I played “jungle” for a bit after the presents.

Katie and Mads, the big three year old!

Even though my last pictures are out of order, Lauren did a smart thing: she served the cake before the presents. I always have done it the other way, but I may change the order in the future. After being satiated with cake, all of the children seemed more patient with the present opening. The rhythm really worked.

Brother and Sister. I have to say, watching them attend parties together truly delights me. It is pretty special to witness them sitting together and keeping an eye out for each other, just of their own free will. It is when they are out and about together that I truly get a sense for how bonded they really are, because I can see them choosing each other. I love that.

Happy Birthday, Madeleine!!