Thursday, August 28, 2014

First day of preschool x 2

Today marked the first day of the school year - well, for preschoolers at least.

Which means it was Avery's first day of school ever

We bought school supplies a couple of weeks back and visited the girls' classrooms last week, but it was all very real this morning as Avery slid her Hello Kitty backpack over her shoulders and sashayed around with the importance of a 3 year-old about to do really impressive things. {Like painting with actual paint and sitting properly on alphabet-themed carpet.}

It was raining pretty heavily out all morning, so we didn't get the traditional on-the-stoop and in-front-of-the-school photos. We did a pretty rushed and overly unamazing in-front-of-the-lockers photo though.

Along with these other gems.

 And one of Avery giving the steal sign for the Yankees...?

Bailey was excited for school. She has been counting down the days all week. She bounced into her classroom and got into the swing of things in no time.
Doesn't she look so grown up standing there?!
(Please allow me this one where did my baby go?! moment.)

Avery is usually our slow-to-warm-up child. {She didn't let her own grandfather hold her without screaming until she was 11 months old.} We weren't entirely sure how it was all going to go down. Thankfully for all of us she took a seat next to my friend Holly's daughter and just started coloring. 
That easy.

She wasn't timid at all and seemed already at ease in the classroom. 
We said our goodbyes and drug her brother out of the room. He had already taken a seat at the table and helped himself to some markers and a picture of a school bus.

Speaking of Graham, he didn't mind his sisters' absence one bit. 
It's amazing how much quieter it is with only one child - especially one child that doesn't say more than one or two words at a time. 
Not surprisingly he put one of his favorite words to use: cookie.
And since it was just Mama and Graham, I obliged.


We spent almost 3 exciting hours by ourselves, playing cars, doing dishes, running errands. Okay, so I lied - not exciting in the least, but there was no yelling or pinching or fighting over a jump rope, so it was a morning of luxury. 

Graham and I went to pick up the girls when school was over, and while he didn't miss them at home, he ran to greet them down the hallway like an airport scene straight out of a cheesy romantic comedy. Both Bailey and Avery ran to greet us and were excitedly telling us all sorts of preschool-ish details.
Avery's teacher even approached me to say, "I just LOVE her. She was singing and dancing and entertaining everyone." 

Which is great, because Avery is not Bailey's twin when it comes to rule-following and showing self-restraint. To put it mildly, Avery is our spitfire. Apparently Avery's teacher wanted to reassure me that our sometimes little hellion was in fact a sweet, entertaining little girl today. **Fingers crossed that it wasn't a one-time fluke**

And after an early start to a morning full of exciting new things, everyone was in bed (and actually asleep) early tonight. 
Hooray for peace and quiet!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Unrevealed until its season

For me the best part of church is the music. Music speaks to me. The flowing notes and the familiar words. All the voices joining together as one. It's comforting. 

In middle school during particularly boring {at least to me} sermons I would browse through the hymnal, locating my favorites. I would hum the tunes in my head, memorizing the page numbers in preparation for the next time the pastor would ask for hymn requests.  

The Hymn of Promise has always been my all-time favorite. 
So much so that my own family could probably tell you its page number (707, just FYI) and if it is not sung at my funeral some day, my spirit self is gonna be irate.
There are lots of oldies that everyone knows, and I love them too, but this particular one always speaks to me. 
It's a song of promise as the title indicates. 
God's promises. 
Promises that spring will come again, 
that a dawn follows every darkness, 
that our suffering has an end. 

In the bulb there is a flower; in the seed, an apple tree;
In cocoons, a hidden promise: butterflies will soon be free!
In the cold and snow of winter there's a spring that waits to be,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

There's a song in every silence, seeking word and melody;
There's a damn in every darkness, bringing hope to you and me.
From the past will come the future; what it holds a mystery,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

In our end is our beginning; in our time, infinity;
In our doubt there is believing; in our life, eternity,
In our death, a resurrection; at the last, a victory,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.


I'm not a big lullaby singer. 
Rock-a-bye Baby has always seemed a bit bizarre.
("...And down will come baby, cradle and all." Seriously? Why do we sing this song to babies again?)
When at a loss of a song to sing to an upset infant Bailey in need of comforting, I chose at random "Edelweiss" from the Sound of Music. And I still sing it. It's part of the bedtime routine. I think we all just think it's a lullaby at this point.

One night a few weeks ago the girls requested a new song. I racked my brain for songs I know by heart. And Hymn of Promise came to mind. Apparently the girls love it just like their mama because a few days later Avery was adamant that I sing her the "hippopotamus song" before her nap. It took a full five minutes before I realized that "hippopotamus" equaled Hymn of Promise in toddler-speak.


I love church music and lyrics so much that I fell in love when I saw this sign on Etsy. 

Isn't it pretty? 
If I could justify the money, I would be ordering one of these suckers for my wall tomorrow. Customized with my favorite hymn of course. :)
(*hint hint* Birthday gift, Jared!)
After all, we do have a new vintage dining room buffet to decorate around. {Hopefully more coming soon on that in a future post!}

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Okoboji

Every year growing up, my parents loaded all four of us girls into the Dust Bucket (ie: the family station wagon) and made the drive to Okoboji. My dad's parents owned a small house there so every summer we went and stayed for a few days. Every summer we posed - from youngest to oldest, naturally - on the front steps and indulged my mom her yearly picture. Basically every year is a slightly different version of embarrassing.

summer of 1995
Side note: Yes, we are all girls. 
Felicia just preferred a boy's haircut while wearing a t-shirt featuring Pocahontas and John Smith. Thanks Disney. 
Meanwhile I am rocking a one-piece number with a built in belt and skirt. 

We spent our days swimming, fishing, playing in our usual parks, mini-golfing, and eating Godfather's Pizza and DQ ice cream. At night we hauled the extra mattresses out of the closet and arranged them in the over-sized living room. All four of us slept on them together, after about an hour's worth of jumping back and forth.

We went every year, all the way up through high school. 
One year we wanted to take friends. My mom was not signing on for a "vacation" with at least four extra kids. My dad was just crazy enough to agree. 
And that is how our dad ended up spending a night by himself with nine girls.

What I remember most from the trip was that we made him drive us around while we listened to the Backstreet Boys. And he learned some words and sang along. 
My dad's always been cool like that.

Fast forward a good decade or more.
My grandparents still own the same small one-bedroom house, although minus that green carpet. 
And now I am the one with small children. And I would love for them to experience and enjoy the same wonderful things I did when I visited Okoboji as a kid. 

Yesterday we decided to make a little of that happen. 
We loaded our kids in our packed Honda Pilot (can't wait to see what our kids name it someday) and hit the same road my parents used to.

We picnicked at the same park we used to play at when I was a kid.
We swam and played in the sand at the same beach that we used to when I was a kid.
We drove around and noted what had changed - and what had stayed the same - since I was a kid.



The result was a day of smiles and laughs. 
Lots of cookie bars and lemonade.
Plenty of sun and definitely a lot of sand.

Our three came home exhausted, already asking when they can go back again. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Iowa State Fair

Corn dogs.
The big boar.
The butter cow.
Real cows.
Pigging out.
Basically a lot of animal-related stuff going on.

On Monday we packed up for the day and headed to Des Moines.
Jared had only been once, and despite being born and raised in Iowa, I have only been a couple of times. And since Jared's dad and step-mom were in town visiting from Kansas, we thought they might enjoy seeing the fair too.

You could spend hours just walking through all the animal barns. 
All the kids liked the horses, but the highlight for Avery was the goat that sneezed and "sounded like a kid." 
She's three so the pun was not intended.

This photo is very fitting since Bailey's favorite part of the fair was seeing pigs, especially the day-old piglets.

A personal favorite of ours from our last visit is this little beauty.
It's peppermint stick ice cream covered in a layer of fudge and finished a layer of cookie crumbles.
To die for.

Avery enjoyed this mode of transportation the best.

Graham finally gave up on it all around 2 pm, which meant more caramel apple funnel cake for me and Grandma Ann.
Hey, snooze ya lose, Brother!

It was a fun day that flew by. Sometimes taking the kids anywhere is like pulling teeth, but with so much to do and look at, they were constantly entertained and therefore really well behaved. 
And did I mention they were exhausted and fell right asleep as soon as we got home? 
Yeah, because that part rocked. 


Thursday, August 7, 2014

At Long Last! Premiering in two days...

Those of you who know me personally have had to put up with my pushy book recommendations for years. One of my favorites is the "Outlander" series by Diana Gabaldon. I got completely hooked when I was pregnant with Graham and devoured all seven books within a couple months. (And they are mammoth books. We are talking like 800, 900 pages each.) 
I talked both my mom and sister Catrina into reading the first one, but they didn't read any more and therefore did not become as obsessed as me. 
Obsession seemed to take over at book 3 I believe...

I am not going to even attempt to summarize the books because summaries just end up sounding cheesy and cheesy they are not.

Last year it was announced that filming had begun for an Outlander TV series.
Total excitement on my end.

And it premieres tomorrow night on Starz.


Now, we don't even get Starz. 
In truth we don't even get more than the most basic of basic cable.
BUT, we do utilize this amazing little site called Couch Tuner and it is AWESOME. Every current television show is on there. 
And did I mention it is free? 
Yep, 100% free with zero sign-up crap. Just click on it and watch. 
Amazing.

So yeah, I will be checking this out. Pronto.
I admit I have high hopes. The sneak peaks look great, and it is getting good buzz from multiple places. 

I am hoping it is on par with Game of Thrones (I know, I know, but I did say my hopes are high). It isn't main stream network TV, so they can actually do justice to the more racy parts (read: smut for ladies and brutal killing for the guys) of the books. Plus the author is overseeing everything about the series, so it is true to the books. 

I am hoping Jared might even give it a chance and watch the first few episodes at least. Buzzfeed even claims that men will like it (article here) and we all know they're always right, right? Okay, well at least I hope so in this instance.

At any rate, I am hopefully optimistic. 
Bring on the Scottish accents and the kilts, Starz! 
It's about time I learned how to pronounce sassenach properly.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Seven thoughts

{ONE}
Fe, Beaner, and I walked in our town's annual parade to support our youngest sister Justy's massage business. We handed out magnets and worked up quite a sweat. The girls got in on the action by donning their matching t-shirts and helping throw candy.

{TWO}
As I have mentioned before, I got serious about losing weight and getting into shape back in April. 
I am happy to report that I am currently down 17+ pounds in almost 4 months. 
It's no huge jaw-dropping number, but I am happy with it. I'm also happy that I am accomplishing it without totally giving up foods I love (milk, carbs, cake) or forking out money for memberships. It's just been simple exercising and not taking in more food than I burn every day. 
And it works. 
I have lost about a pound a week. And since my goal is to achieve a weight I can actually maintain, I am fine with a slow but steady decrease on the scale. 

{THREE}
I recently posted some photos of projects Jared had completed for his Etsy site. He is apparently on a real kick because he has been churning out all kind of new things lately. I think the newest one is pretty cute.


{FOUR}
This past week my parents were in Washington D.C. for a vacation and I was garden-sitting for them. We went out to pick green beans and cucumbers and sweet corn every two or three days. I was in bean snapping mode for hours and hours this week. Fresh garden produce is at the top of my list of favorite things about summer. Jared doesn't seem to truly appreciate the wonderfulness that is fresh green beans straight from the field - more for me!

{FIVE}
Some days it is just too hot to pretend I want to sit in the backyard watching the kids run around. Even if there is shade - don't care. Inside in the air conditioning is where it's at, folks. There is plenty of fun to be had reading books and playing in tents.



{SIX}
Speaking of books, I am back in reading mode. I have been wanting to read "The Fault in Our Stars" for months, especially since I knew the movie was coming out. Now if I want to go see it with my sister and her friend, I need to be finished in the next 10 days or so. So I should probably actually start it...

To any commenters: What is a great book you finished recently?
I love a good book recommendation, and my GoodReads "to read" list can always use a few new additions.

{SEVEN}
Check out my car wash cuties hard at work. The kids have fun and the car gets clean. Win- win situation.
And don't pretend like you weren't wearing your pink tutu the last time you washed your car.

And can we talk about Crocs for a moment? I don't love them. I have never owned a pair, don't plan on it. But Crocs (or a knock-off brand found basically anywhere) for kids? Amazing. 

They require zero assistance from me. And as many times in a day that the kids go out in the backyard and come inside again five minutes later, I figure I am saving myself at least a good half hour of work per day. 

Plus they are water proof. This is a big perk seeing as Avery abandons her shoes within one minute of going outside. I can't tell you how many pairs of soaked shoes I have rescued from the backyard after a rain storm. You throw in all the dirt they acquire at Papa's farm? Yep, Crocs, I have officially given in to your charms. 


Alright, I think that is enough random for now. 
Happy Monday!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

a little Etsy love

Most of you know that my husband has his own Etsy shop named Brand New To Me. He is always trolling the internet to find new ideas and inspiration and regularly raids a family member's old barn for wood. It gives him a chance to escape the house and be creative, plus he has a built-in excuse to wander around Menard's for a "deal" or two.

So with little to no shame I am going to showcase a couple of his new creations.

rustic pallet and barn wood shelf


wooden serving tray


shabby chic beach crate shelves


He is mid-project on creating at least one or two other new items. After months of pretty slow business, July proved to be busy with many custom orders and more currently in the works. Soon he will start building up a supply of Christmas items, because if this holiday season is anything like last year, he will need a surplus of stocking holders. (He literally took our own personal one of the wall and sold it to someone else while he made another because he was taken by surprise with how many sold.)

And as always his shop button is on the right-hand side of my page. 
And any local Iowa peeps can hit him up for a deal; without Etsy's cut and shipping costs, he has a little more wiggle room in the price. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Wait... I want July back!

Summer is going by way too fast. And I know it can't be just me looking at the calendar and the approaching month of August and wanting to press pause on the life DVR button. 

We spent all last week at the lake cabin like we do every year.
This year the weather left a little to be desired. I know that typically adults (yep, not including myself in the adult category right now) like it cooler out, but come on, it's a week at the lake! I wanted some swimming and boating and tiny shovels in the sand along the water. I was hoping for the desire to escape the heat by hopping into the lake at midnight after a few drinks with the cousins.
It was in the 60s some days. There were times when we needed sweatshirts and pants on to sit outside in the shade in the afternoon! 
Redic. 

And because of that I have very few pictures. We did a lot of eating - no surprise there - and we took quite a few bike rides. The weather was phenomenal for that. We did some boating but I never felt the urge to even put on a swimsuit. It was never hot enough. 

We did however play some badminton - us adult kids are all slowly improving - and the little kids enjoyed the nearby playground as often as possible. 

We had our annual cousins' night too which coincided with Justy's birthday. Some beer darts and other games were played and copious amounts of cheese balls and chicken strips were consumed, but since no one went down a Christian Bible Camp water slide at 1 AM, I think we classed it up a bit this year.


Back at home we have been taking it easy. This past week the kids slept in more than they ever have before in their lives and I was right there with them.

There isn't too much on the agenda for the rest of the week. 
But we do have sweet corn. And to my kids it is like the Holy Grail of food.

Graham had his first ever taste of corn on the cob tonight.
Hey, it's an Iowa rite of passage.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

White Trash Golfing & Mud Volleyball 2014

In our family we do this weird thing we call White Trash golfing. It evolved three years ago when my sisters and cousin had nothing to do on a Saturday morning. Someone suggested golf, but everybody looked borderline trashy - cutoff t-shirts, old shoes, hair all a mess. It was suggested they should go anyway and just embrace the white trashy-ness. So they did. 
And White Trash Golfing was born. 

And then there is this couple - newcomers to the event. 
But from the looks of them you would never know.
They just do White Trash so right!
I can only hope they look just as ravishing at their upcoming wedding here in a few months. 

The next day was mud volleyball.
If you recall our team last year was the Bumpin' Amish.

This year we went as team Nerds 'N' Nets.
And I think we were just as stylish as that sounds.
Are you seeing my sexy husband?? Back off ladies, that geek is all mine!

I like big books and I cannot lie.

Talk nerdy to me.

Another engaged couple. 
With a picture this perfect, I really hope it makes the wedding slide show!

Nerd Love.

Truth be told, we aren't the best at mud volleyball. We won our first game and lost the two after that.
But we don't take it too seriously - it's all for the fun of playing. (And maybe the drinking?)
However, we did win for Best Team Uniform, so those trips to Goodwill really paid off.

The After look:


It was a fun time and worth the ten million mosquito bites and the 20 minute shower afterward.