Friday, August 29, 2014

Thoughts on Summer

Well, we made it!

Summer is over, and I have mixed emotions.  

I think I have the tendency to look back over a season and notice all of the things we didn't do.  

I wanted to do a better job keeping math fresh in Leah's mind, but I didn't do well with that at all. 

I wanted us to do some crafts, because they love to craft.  I think we did 1...maybe 2.  

Oh, and the fairy houses...whompity whomp whomp whomp.

I had really high hopes for sticking with a chore chart...oops!

So, I thought it would be good for me to make a list of what we did do and where we did go.

I don't mean to be bossy, but you should make a list, too.  Let's embrace the reality of the memories that we did make!  So, go get a pen!

  • The girls did swimming lessons.
  • Gracie started swimming, but not at swimming lessons.
  • Leah was in a play.
  • We did VBS with our church.
  • Walked on the river walk in D******
  • Played on the beach at Y********* 
  • Picked strawberries
  • Had a fun vacation in Wisconsin Dells, which I fully intend to blog about at some point!
  • Adventure hiked in the park by our house.
  • Endured the endless road construction
  • Splash pad in M******
  • Went to G***** with friends
  • Went to G***** with cousins
  • Introduced our family to my favorite restaurant
  • Went bowling a few times
  • Visited nature center with grandparents
  • Adventure hiked with cousins
  • Visited arboretum with friends
  • Lots of adventure hikes with friends
  • Breakfast in bed for each of us!
  • Made s'mores over a campfire a couple of times
  • Made skirts
  • Visited Jenny and Bri (an hour and a half each way...Hannah and baby Emma came, too.  I was really proud of Hannah and myself for doing this!)
  • Played at a McDonald's play land a few times
  • All of us got haircuts 
  • Had a lot of picnics
  • Even a breakfast picnic!
  • Took quite possibly the most ridiculous bike ride ever
  • Went to the D****** farmers market with friends
  • Visited my parents a couple times
  • The girls went to a backyard Bible club at our friends' house for the week, and Aaron and I went on dates :)
  • Played at my favorite park a few times
  • We never had to leave one of Aaron's softball games early due to misbehavior

OK, that's A LOT of stuff!  But, hardly any of those were big deals that required planning.  A vast, vast majority of it was free.  And, I'm proud of myself for getting out there with the girls when it wasn't always easy.

Because it wasn't easy a lot of the time.  I've found that when I'm having a hard time, I kind of want to hunker down which is one of the least helpful things I can do.

The hard times?  These girls of mine, while they often play nicely and are charming and sweet to each, they are also really good at pressing each others buttons.  One might even say they are experts at times.  

And the crying as a result of the button pushing.  I can't even...

I think it's easy for me to feel guilty that we are ready for school to a "truly good mom" wants summer to last forever.  But, Aaron pointed out that seasonal change is something that I genuinely enjoy, and I don't need to feel bad that I'm ready for it.

It's good to be ready for change that is inevitable.

I'm going to miss Leah and Maggie, but they are ready for the structure of school.  Gracie can definitely use some one on one time.  

The lazy mornings have been awesome, but so will a schedule.

Summer was really good, and school will be really good, too!

Not better or worse, just a change that we are ready for.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.
Ecclesiastes 3:1

What was your favorite memory of the summer?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Frog Repellent

We have family movie night on Sunday evenings which is kind of reminiscent of when I was little and The Wonderful World of Disney was on TV at that same time.  Let me tell you, ABC really knew what they were doing when they put together that schedule!  Because, as the parent, I'm spent at the end of the weekend, and we can all use the downtime before the beginning of a new week!

I also psychotically check out the movies we watch, because we're kind of picky about what the girls watch.  I check Plugged In movie reviews before we rent them, to make sure that movies are appropriate for our sweet and sensitive girls.  

I was happy when I checked and saw that Muppets Most Wanted received a green light for people of all ages!

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The basis of the plot is that Kermit, the ultimate good guy...

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is abducted and replaced with Constantine, the really bad guy frog.

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And, from what I saw, Plugged In was right!  There was slapstick "violence," like the way that every building/phone booth Constantine left blew up.  It was obviously over the top and funny.

But, not to my little girls.

They insisted that it was too scary (I think it was maybe too suspenseful or uncomfortable for them), so we played computer games on the bed while Aaron and Leah finished watching the movie.

The only problem with them not finishing the movie was that they didn't get to see the resolution of the happy ending. 

They were pretty freaked out going to bed, but we managed to get them down without much of an incident and explained the happy ending. 

Until the next night.

Have mercy.

The girls were going to a Backyard Bible Club for the week, so they were up until later than 8:00 every night which is a big deal in their little worlds.

And, I don't care how old you are, being tired heightens your emotions...all the emotions.  In this case, their fears were highly, highly heightened.

Maggie was freaking.out...crying to the point of sheets of snot flowing down her face.  I didn't have tissues within reach, so I took one for the team, and used my shirt as a tissue.

You know you've done it before, too :)

I said all the good mom things.  We read a Bible verse about God being with us and not needing to be afraid.  We held hands and prayed.  We sang "My God is so BIG, so strong and so mighty..."   


I even pulled out my successful hostage negotiator voice (soft, low, and soothing), which is normally a sure fire hit, but to no avail.

I mean, none of it worked.  None of it!

Aaron even tried rocketing Maggie up to her top bunk, which she normally loves, but she was wildly thrashing around so he couldn't.

Did I mention she was overtired?  Because, she was overtired.  

I was desperately trying to come up with something helpful.

As Aaron was singing our nighttime songs over their sobs, BING!  The idea light bulb lit over my head.

I ran out to the garage and grabbed a bottle of Buggins.


"Girls!" I exclaimed with great confidence and happiness.  "I have just the thing!  What do frogs eat?  Bugs, right?"

"Yeah," they managed to choke out between sobs.

"I grabbed some Buggins!  We can spray it in your room so that bugs won't come in.  If bugs aren't in here, frogs won't want to come in here either, because there won't be anything for them to eat.  I'll spray Buggins, and you won't need to worry about the bad Kermit any more!"


My bizarre-o "logic" worked!  I sprayed it around their room and on them, and they went right to sleep!  

Now, if I'm still spraying Buggins in their room at Christmastime, I'll be concerned.  But for now, I'll chalk this up as a mommy win :)

Have you had any happy mommy wins lately?

Oh, I suppose this qualifies as...

In case you missed the other one, here it is :)

Now, don't forget!  Tell me about your latest mommy win...

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

For Gracie on Her Birthday (4 Happy Pictures)

Happiest of Birthdays to you, sweet Gracie Kate!

What would our family be like without you?  Daddy and I say all the time how you complete our family so perfectly!

We love how silly you are and how your answer to answer to so many questions is, "Shawshee!"

We're not exactly sure what Shawshee is, but it's usually a noun :)

You have the happiest, smiley-est eyes, and you have the most expressive facial expressions of any kid I've ever seen!

You make people feel welcome in our home and lives when you engage them in your silly stories and antics!  

You do like to bug your sisters, because you're the youngest, after all, and that's pretty much required.  But, there are times when Maggie is sad or scared that you encourage her and tell her kind things.

I'm looking forward to our time together this school year!  I can't wait to go on adventures with you, read books together, eat soup for lunch, and play at the park.  It's good for me to see who you are on your own, and I love who you are in all contexts and environments.

Your personality is an awesome marriage of free spirit and commitment to organization.  

I mean, 1 minute you're crawling around with a giraffe costume on and pretending to be a cat, and the next minute you have to have your bed set up just so!  

And let me not forget to mention that you are my little foodie buddy!  At long last, a child of mine who isn't a picky eater :)  I love that you'll try anything I eat, and I sometimes forget that you'll eat leftovers for lunch and not just a sandwich!

Even though there are times that your energy just wears me out, I wouldn't change you one bit!  

My hope and prayer for you this year is that God would give you a heart that loves and seeks Him.

I hope that as your grow older, you never lose your fun-loving personality, but that you let it be refined as a tool that points people to Jesus.  

You have a sparkle about you that makes people want to be around you, and I know that's something that God can use to further His kingdom.

You, my sweet girl, are going to be and are the most amazing force to be reckoned passionate and enthusiastic and magnetic and brave and silly and sometimes so sincere.

I love love double love being your mommy.  I could never have imagined a more perfect-for-me youngest daughter than you are.

Thanks for always lightening the mood, doing silly dances, and being the first one to laugh.

God knew just what we needed when He designed you.  I'll always be thankful for you, my sweet Gracie Kate (aka GKat, aka Kitty Cat, aka Meow have the most nicknames!)

I love you!!!!


Love always, 

And a bonus one, just because it looks like you're flashing gang signs :)

In case you're interested in a walk down memory lane, here's her letter from last year which includes baby pictures.  Gulp!  She's practically an adult :)

Monday, August 25, 2014

Project 365: #32 and #33

Tap, tap!!  Is this thing on?

Sheesh, it's been a long time since I've been on here!  We've been busy, and to be honest, I've been overwhelmed at times, hence it's been quiet on here!  Oh, I also read a new John Grisham book which takes a lot of free time, too :)

Here are some of the reasons my days have been so beautifully full...

Day 220:

My brother, sister-in-law, and their kids came for an overnight visit.  We had such an awesome time!  All of the girls enjoyed their slumber party :)  You can find the travel bed that Charity is using here.  That thing is awesome!

Day 221:

Yay for cousins!!!  I like how Gracie decided to make a silly face.  Also, Charity and Maggie look like they could be sisters :)

Day 222:

A celebratory treat from DQ for my last time working in the church nursery.  Wheeeeee!!!

Day 223:

Leah had lots of fun making her snapdragon flower talk :)

Day 224:

Showing off all of their car washing hard work :)  Tip:  having your kids "wash" the car is a great way to spend the afternoon...remember this from last summer?  The girls are so big now!

Day 225:

Hannah and Emma joined us when we went to visit Bri, Jenny, and baby Evan.  We had an awesome time!

Day 226:

This was the best moment of the day.  We painted rocks that we may have picked up from the landscaping of the doctor's office.  Much of the rest of the day was spent with life sucking over dramatic crying over routine shots and me awkwardly joking with a nurse about needing a drink after holding down my sobbing daughter.  Did I mention that I was also fasting for a blood draw?  Because I was.

Day 227:

Getting ready to throw some rocks!

Day 228:

Leah made this decorative area for Aaron and me...proclaiming that we are the "Best Mom And Dad In The World!" complete with a blown up Walmart bag balloon :)

Day 229:

Playing school before church! 

Day 230:

Maggie is explaining to Greg all about the carnival she and her sisters prepared for us grown ups :)  Leah's a little excited!

Day 231:

Ahhhh, getting ready to spend some time with an old friend :)  Is it weird that I paused for a moment to study the title page in anticipation of reading the book?  Because I did...

Day 232:

Leah is reading Maggie her "welcome to Kindergarten" letter that she got in the mail from her awesome teacher!

Day 233:

I was driving by myself (even a check up at the doctor can feel like a little vacation) when I saw my wrist.  I realized that if Sherlock was real, he would automatically be able to tell that I'm a mom of young children :)  In other news, we are all caught up with watching Sherlock now...

I hope your week gets off to an awesome start!  Gracie's 4th birthday is on Tuesday, so we are gearing up for that!

What have you been up to lately?

Monday, August 11, 2014

A Happy Little Thing

When we were at my parents' house last week, I just had to go to Target.

Really, I had to.  They were literally out of the pencils that the girls need for school in our town.  I needed to pick some up, and I also needed to go because, well, it's Target.

I wanted to leave and be back before Aaron left the house to meet up with a friend.  I literally threw on clothes and left without doing my hair, brushing my teeth, etc.

Once again, I'm always finding new ways to keep it classy :)

I walked into the store and saw Rachel, one of my sweet friends since I was a little girl and one of my closest friends in high school!

This might not be a big deal, seeing as I was in my home town, but Rachel and her family live in Dubai.

As in the United Arab Emirates.

We caught up a bit by the cash registers before Rachel had to leave to take her son to a summer pre-school.  Come to find out, she was planning on meeting up with one of our other friends, Andrea, later that day!  Andrea was back visiting her parents, too.

For the record, I've known Andrea since she moved into the house behind me in Kindergarten.  I thought she had 2 broken legs because she was wearing white boots :)  I could go on and on about our childhood shenanigans, but I won't, because I'd like her to still be my friend.

Additionally, I could pull out some real winning photos of us, but I don't know exactly where they are, and the whole I-want-them-to-still-be-my-friend bit!

We were going to meet up with our kids at a park, but it was rainy, so we went to the McDonald's Play Land instead.

Aaron came with me and the girls.  I may have told the girls that they should direct all of their inquiries, stories, tears, and any other talking to their dad.

Yeah, there's no "may" about it, I totally did, and they actually did it!  

It was so great to talk without being interrupted.  Plus, Aaron got the chance to meet them for longer than just a quick, distracted meal at a wedding or a picnic with a ton of other people and things going on.

We talked about our lives, our kids, how freaking hot it is in Dubai, funny retirement ideas, and then some.  

The whole thing was just so good for my heart.  I don't believe that I just "happened" to bump into Rachel at Target.  I know that God designed and orchestrated this happy little thing because He loves me.  I really felt that in a personal way.  

Did I mention that the kids played together like hyper little rock stars and did awesome?  Because they did!

Plus, between Rachel and Andrea, each of my daughters had a playmate who was totally their age.  You'd be surprised how rarely that happens.

So, yeah, the moral of the story:  good things happen when you leave the house without being ready for the day :)

Any happy little surprises in your life lately?

Friday, August 8, 2014

Project 365: #31

It was a great week around these parts!  Check it out :)

Day 213:

Sitting sweet with Daddy while we were all out to eat!  The highlight for the girls was that they each got 2 FORKS!!!

Day 214:

We had leftovers for supper, but I got all fancy and called them "nibble platters."  Maggie declared it her favorite meal ever.  It's all in the presentation, my friends, it's all in the presentation :)

Day 215:

We went to my parents house to celebrate my dad's birthday!  

Day 216:

Yep, that's Gracie swimming!!!  She's one brave girl!  

Day 217:

And that's what happens when I garden.  Whomp whomp whomp.

Day 218:

We made our own skirts with old t-shirts.  It was super easy!  I used this tutorial.  Plus, that's just a really cute picture of the girls :)

Day 219:

That's just the girls pretending to be, I love them!

I hope you have a great weekend ahead of you!  My brother, sister-in-law, and their kids are coming for today and tomorrow!  Needless to say, things are getting excited over here, because...cousins!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

New 'Dos

It was time.

Maggie and Gracie have never had their hair cut, and Leah hasn't had her hair cut in about a million years...give or take a few.

The thought of taking all of the girls to a salon to get haircuts was incredibly daunting, so it finally occurred to me to ask a friend to cut their hair at her house.

Here's their hair before...

and the after!

Maggie got the most off.  

Gracie's hair is mostly evened out.  

Leah's is a lot healthier!  She can brush it on her own now, too.  It's a lot more manageable for her.

They are still so pretty!

And I got my hair cut, too!  I straightened it in this picture, but it curls really nicely when I just add a little mousse!

Photo Credit:  Maggie :)

Oh, and if you look closely on the right side of my forehead (as you look at the picture), you can see that I burned myself with the straightener!

Always keeping it classy :)

Monday, August 4, 2014

August Menu

Happy Monday!  

I hope your week gets off to a great start!  

As always, I hope this menu gives you some new meal ideas.  I'm especially looking forward to trying the pancetta wrapped pork tenderloin!  I'm also on the look out for a great carnitas recipe, so I'm hoping to make headway on that ever important foodie quest by making the Cuban Street Tacos.  I made some great carnitas earlier this year, but I can't find the recipe I used!  Oh well, it's a tasty process :)

Enjoy the...

Friday, August 1  Out
Saturday, August 2  Leftovers
Sunday, August 3 Gone

Monday, August 4  Gone
Tuesday, August 5  Shrimp Scampi
Wednesday, August 6  Out
Thursday, August 7  Pizza Bites
Friday, August 8  PW Fajitas from a cookbook
Saturday, August 9  Out  Egg Sandwiches
Sunday, August 10  Leftovers  Silly Cereal Supper

Monday, August 11  The Sandwich
Tuesday, August 12  Pancetta Wrapped Pork Tenderloin with salsa
Wednesday, August 13  Hawaiian Sloppy Joes
Thursday, August 14  Chicken Caesar Salad Wraps
Friday, August 15  Pizza
Saturday, August 16  Gone for lunch  Skillet Mac and Cheese
Sunday, August 17  Leftovers  Silly Cereal Supper

Monday, August 18  Chimichurri Steak Kabobs
Tuesday, August 19  Cuban Street Tacos (or carnitas)
Wednesday, August 20  Salsa Verde Chicken
Thursday, August 21  Frontega Chicken Panini
Friday, August 22  Pizza
Saturday, August 23  Gracie's Birthday Party
Sunday, August 24  Leftovers  Silly Cereal Supper

Monday, August 25  Balsamic Glazed Pot Roast
Tuesday, August 26  Root Beer Can Chicken
Wednesday, August 27  California Club Grilled Cheese
Thursday, August 28  Island Spice Pork Tenderloin with salsa
Friday, August 29  Pizza
Saturday, August 30  Gone
Sunday, August 31  Leftovers  Silly Cereal Supper

Friday, August 1, 2014

Project 365: #30

It was a great week and by "week" I mean the last 7 days since I posted a Project 365 :)  It started with a Girls 24 Hours get away and ended with a bedtime melt down...sounds about par for the course!

Day 206:

I met up with some of my favorite people for a 24 hour long girls getaway.  So much fun!  We ate at an awesome Mexican restaurant.  Literally the best chips of my life.  It was like they cut the tortillas into triangles, fried them, and immediately brought them to our table!

Day 207:

Mangoes on a stick at the farmers' market.  Awesome and refreshing, especially because it felt like it was one million degrees outside!

Day 208:

I was so tired on Sunday, that I just kind of laid on the couch watching a marathon of Love It or List It while Gracie plugged my nose, gave me kisses, and examined my teeth.

Day 209:

Greg was giving Aaron and the girls some insider fire making tips.  The girls practiced their log cabins :)

Day 210:

I grilled a chicken.  Best whole chicken of my life.  Plus, he looks kind of hilarious there :)

Day 211:

Leah declared that this week was the week of breakfast in bed.  We each have a day.  Here she is enjoying her cereal, dried mango, and apple juice!  She comes up with the cutest ideas!

Day 212:

Fun with friends at some storybook gardens!

I hope you are looking forward to a great weekend!  We are having donuts for breakfast (Maggie requested them for her breakfast in bed) and might buy some school supplies.  

I know...insane fun :)