South Dakota

My sister and I decided kind of on a whim, during the week of the 4th, that we should take her oldest and my two on a road trip to Mount Rushmore. After over a week of trying to get a place to stay in Custer State Park (it was solidly booked), I gave up hope. A few days later, my sister, who is more determined than me, called and found that they just had a two bedroom, two bathroom cabin with a kitchenette open up. We were going to South Dakota. Basically, July has been a whirlwind.

Lest the beautiful pictures fool you (and it was beautiful country), my sister was probably ready to hit me over the head with a frying pan our first full day in South Dakota. I broke out in hives the week before we left and they would NOT go away so I was on prednisone for a portion of the trip; I wasn’t that fond of myself to be honest. Thankfully, the remainder of the trip was much better despite still having some weird allergy stuff. We hiked, paddle boarded, canoed, swam. The wildlife was amazing. We saw buffalo, elk, burros, pronghorns, and so many deer. We heard at least one rattlesnake but thankfully never spotted one. Our last night in the park, we went on a chuck wagon dinner that I cannot recommend enough if you ever get the chance to go. We drove Needles Highway and Iron Mountain Road (actually, my sister drove those and I can’t tell you how grateful I was for that). We tried the Jefferson vanilla ice cream at Mount Rushmore which was pretty delicious. And then, despite having plans to stay overnight in Sioux Falls, we power drove home. Our children were the world’s best road trippers.

P.S. Buffalo sound like they are growling and elk have high-pitched almost bird call like vocalizations. I found that kind of surprising.

P.P.S. My sister and I had a half-joking conversation on the ridiculously flat first 3/4 of South Dakota regarding the sheer amount of content in the world and how every day more and more and more is being pumped out. The sheer quantity of instagrams, Facebooks, twitters, news articles, youTubes, blogs, etc., etc. is overwhelming. And everyday we make choices about whether we add to the noise, ignore the noise, consume the noise. Basically, tech is really great, but it’s also creating content at a rate that is overwhelming and every day it grows exponentially. We didn’t come to any solutions, but it has had me thinking lately about our need to CREATE and our need to CONSUME and how creation can lead to consumerism and how I think taking breaks from consuming – whether that’s a NoSpend November or logging of social media for a couple months – is something we should probably be incorporating more of in our life. (Speaking of no spending: this not buying sock yarn thing is KILLING me.)

P.P.P.S. We did decide that we need to walk outdoors more often – like the real outdoors not the sidewalked outdoors – though that works fine in a pinch – because it makes you feel good.

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We Went to Michigan

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We swam. We ate. We rode the dunes. We climbed a lighthouse. We built sandcastles for the two and half year old to destroy. We jumped waves and when the rip current got to be too strong, we climbed back up to the house for more food and for (some of us) karaoke.

I don’t have many pictures this year and I don’t have a whole lot of words. It was exactly what I needed it to be.

This Last Week, Part Two


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I finished both the socks and the book from the last post. I was happy with how both turned out. Though finishing two socks in two weeks was a bit of a haul. Two pairs of socks this month have me feeling a little less than joyful at the thought of finishing another pair for July, but I will. I quit things easily and often, but something about this challenge has me locked in and stubbornly working away at socks.

Oh, and in my last post…that turtle was laying eggs. I used the super awesome rental lens (70mm-200mm 2.8G) to zoom in but stayed at quite a distance so not to disturb her. I was hoping to get a picture of her laying, but mostly just got her digging. We were all fascinated.

And Violet is off at camp. She was fine at drop off. She was more than fine. She was shooing me out the door once I finished making her bed, and being the smart mom that I am, I gave her a hug, told her to listen to her counselors, and proceeded to walk myself to the car where I had a few minute sniffle at how stupidly grown up she seems and how I’m going to be sending her off to college in nine years and how the last almost nine years have gone too fast and yes, this is the run on sentence of a mother who just realized that all those times they were talking about time flying…look an awful lot like this. I realize that mothers actually sending their babies to college probably find me a little overly dramatic (it’s four nights, Kate, seriously) but the cleaving of motherhood is a never ending process – from the moment they cut that cord, to leaving her with a sitter while still nursing, to the first four overnights without phone calls or texts. I guess, all this to say, I’m going to miss her. I miss her already.

This Last Week

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I’m the absolute best kind of exhausted. If you happen to follow me on instagram, you’ll see that since June 26th we’ve been swimming and tubing and playing games and staying up late and eating lots of good food and just soaking up every single minute of cousins and aunts and grandmas and a grandpa. (The grandpas on my side couldn’t be there for work or travel reasons.)  These pictures are from our first few days with my family.  I’ll share some more with Jesse’s family tomorrow. (I had over 230 to choose from and while the ones I’m sharing aren’t all technically “right”, they are my favorites.)

I completely destroyed our boat’s prop and it’s being hung up as cabin decor. I’ve since replaced it and have backed up the boat trailer twice. I’m a far cry from proficient, but I’ll get there before the summer is out, I hope.

Currently I am doing lots and lots and lots of laundry and packing up a storm so that V will have clothes for her first sleep away camp adventure. She leaves today and I know she’ll have a blast, but I’m going to miss her like CRAZY.

Hope you all had a lovely Independence Day (if you celebrate it) and a lovely start to your July if you don’t!

Bits

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We are dealing with a bit of upheaval in these parts and I’m bone weary.

But I got some pretty yarn. And I’m still finding time to write lists and dream and take pictures.

And we’re all currently sharing a room and a closet (though thankfully not a bed) while the new carpeting is put down. It’s warm and cozy but I can promise you any romantic Laura Ingalls Wilder notion that I may have once maintained, it is gone.

Spring Break


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It snowed. The big beautiful snow I’ve been wanting all winter. Earlier this week we played at the park without coats. Spring in Wisconsin.

And the kids were home because they’ve been home all week for spring break. (I forget how much NOISE kids make all day long. It’s lovely having them home but it is NEVER quiet.)

I need to make more of an effort to pick up my camera. I’m so often saying, “Eh, I don’t feel like going and getting my camera.” and then I miss the pictures. Earlier this week, Abram was at one end of the table with the fuse beads and Violet was at the other with her fuse bead project and along the table they had built a circular train track. Abram would load the box cars with the color Violet was using and turn on the battery operated engine. The train would travel to Violet who would turn it off, work her project and then turn the engine back on so that it could be refilled. They did this for close to 30 minutes and it was so adorable. But I was busy folding laundry and putting away dishes and I just didn’t have time to get the camera. By the time I had time, they were done and had (miraculously) picked up after themselves and the moment was lost. Which is why I’m writing it here, because I know I won’t remember it otherwise and it was so DEAR.

Now the snow is melting and dripping (spring in Wisconsin – it won’t stick for long) and soon it will be the weekend. And then the kids will be back in school. I will be both grateful and sad for the quiet.

The Little Things

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I finished my February socks with days to spare and I meant to pick up another project but didn’t.

Reread Anne of Green Gables it was wonderful to revisit with an old favorite. I can’t decide what to read next. One of my friends recommended “The Nightingale” but told me to have tissues ready, and I just don’t feel as if I want the kind of book where I need to have tissues ready. It’s been sunny and warm but it’s still February. Rainbows and happiness, please.

Violet and Abram finished their basketball season and my parents came to watch their last game. Sitting on the porch (it was 50° on Saturday) while my dad and Abram played whatever ball related sport Abram wanted at the moment and Violet rollerbladed was awesome.

I made sweet potato and black bean quesadillas and (pat myself on the back) they were delicious.

Pictures

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This summer feels like a continuous loop of sun soaked days of pool and t-ball and bikes and sidewalk chalk.  After the kids are in bed, I usually curl up with my knitting or a good book and think about all the things I need to accomplish the next day (a trip the grocery store this month wouldn’t be a terrible idea) and then we have another day where my list goes right out the window and we spend more time playing than doing anything productive.

Lest I present too idyllic of a picture, I do have two children at home who are siblings and prone to all the squabbles and bickering  of an 8 and 6 year old who spend almost all day every day together.  My children are swarthy-level tan and eat most of their meals either at the pool or the baseball fields.  Basically, I will not be winning any awards for diet or sunscreen application and there are times when I want to bop their heads together repeatedly, but it’s not -40° and summer doesn’t last forever.

Almost Summer

I can’t even tell you how ready I am to enjoy some summer vacation.  Bike rides, walks in the woods, weekly library visits and craft time (we’ll be enjoying a weekly visit with our cousin on Thursdays so craft Thursday will have to be craft another day each week…), and the POOL.

12/52

It’s spring break here.
Spent a few days visiting my parents.  I love their house.  I mean, I love them too, obviously, but no matter where they live (they move a lot),  I always feel at homey and cozy and wonderful when I stay.
I also love beating my mom at Scrabble.  It doesn’t happen very often, so when I do, I feel the need to document it on the blog.
While I was there, my mom and I took the kids to see the new Cinderella.  It was NOT spring break where we were so it was just the four of us and two others.
And now we are home.  And I need a nap.

11/52 (late)

I love that picture of the cardinal.   We have a pair that I often see together.  The Mrs. was on the other side of the yard when I took this shot and right before he flew away they seemed to be chatting at each other quite loudly.  I wonder if bird couples fight?  I’m probably anthropomorphizing.  Trying to find an answer I fell down the rabbit hole and found this article.

Speaking of birds, the red-winged blackbirds are back.  They’re my favorite.

With spring, comes spring cleaning and I have quite the list of things I want to organize, purge, and clean.  So I tend to sit on the couch and knit because I’m overwhelmed with the list.  It’s extremely productive.

10/52

Weather in the 60’s.  Hopscotch with dance party spots.  Muddy paws.  It’s still March so I’m scared to say that spring has sprung, but I’m definitely grateful for the reprieve.  And Girl Scout cookies.  It’s like a conspiracy to be the best week ever.

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I had some friends send me a lovely bouquet of flowers on Friday last week.  Fresh flowers are such a treat.  I should purchase them for myself from time to time – particularly in the winter.  It’s just cheery to come downstairs on a gray morning and see them.

I finished Violet’s socks, started and finished a cowl for my sister’s birthday, and am working on a “thank you” present for a friend who basically planned last fall’s Disney trip for us.  I’m adding this project to my list of things to try as well.

It’s still cold.  We had one day in the 20’s this week before the temps dropped again but that’s February and February is almost over.  While we wait for spring, we are playing lots and lots of trains and Uno and Blokus.

I’m looking forward to a good long visit with my sissy and her kids this weekend.  Friday evening can’t come fast enough.

Wishing you a happy end of week/weekend as well!

6/52

On Monday night the kids and I were putting together valentines, I could feel it coming on.  About ten minutes before Jesse walked in the door, I handed them each an iPad and decided to lie on the couch.  He came home, they ate dinner, we put them to bed, and then I looked at him and said, “I’m getting sick.  I can feel it.”   And then I was sick.
I’m a baby about being sick.  I know people say mom’s don’t get sick days and we always power through and I know a lot of women who are like that.  I am not.  If I’m even the tiniest bit sick, I want to curl up in bed and pull the covers over my head.  And this wasn’t the tiniest bit sick.  This was oh-my-God-I-just-want-to-die-sick.  Fever, nausea, body aches, headache.  The whole enchilada.
So I spent most of Tuesday in bed.  And all of yesterday.  And today I finally started to join the land of the living.  Which is good because tomorrow is our annual party and I’ve been looking forward to seeing my friends and sharing some cheer for weeks.
These are some snapshots I took last week Thursday and Friday and today.  One of these weeks I’ll really get one a day.
Also:  I friend of mine posted this on Facebook and I loved it so much I posted it on both my site and personal FB pages, but in case you missed it I thought I’d post it here as well.  I found it super inspirational (and I love me some Missy Elliott).

5/52

I sat down yesterday to edit, upload, and order my pictures for the month of January.  I even did the layouts for the family yearbook.  Since I’ve been terrible about keeping up with it, I did January of 2014 as well.  This should come as no surprise, but it’s easier when I bite it off in chunks.  (I have to thank my friend Dani for the month by month suggestion.  She’s kind of a genius.)
I have four projects on the needles right now.  I frogged & restarted the Follow Your Arrow 2 shawl a couple of times with a couple of different yarns until I realized that metal needles just weren’t working.  So I purchased Knit Picks interchangeable needles.  Whoever said the right tools make all the difference wasn’t lying.  The wooden needle has made it much easier and I’m almost finished with Clue 1.  I wish I would have bought a set of interchangeable earlier.  I have so many circulars, this would have been a more economical option by far (learn from my mistakes). I’m also working on a shawl in the Henslowe pattern.  Originally it was going to be for Violet’s First Eucharist but the yarn is a little too creamy.  The pattern is gorgeous and the shawl is turning out beautifully so I’ll have to find something to wear with it.  I’ve also got a striped cowl and some socks.  I always used to be a serial monogamist when it came to knitting, but I’m liking the variation in projects.
I’m looking through these daily pictures and chuckling – they are by no means great photographs, largely unedited, and a complete hodge podge but they are definitely what life looks like here – unmade beds and all.
My new planner arrived about a half hour before I was to leave for a First Eucharist parent’s meeting yesterday.  Because I knew I wouldn’t tear myself away, I left it on the table for when I got back and  then spent the meeting trying really hard to focus on what Father was saying and not how I was going to organize it all.  But I was so excited when I could finally get home and start sticker-ing.  
My nerdy-ness knows no bounds.

4/52

And then I got sick.
I decided the devil can take the month of January but starting February, we are going to be healthy and routine-full.  Then I bought myself a new planner despite only using mine for six months because new planner = fresh start.  I’m ready.
Did you know they make planner stickers?  Basically anything you could ever imagine needing to plan – they have a sticker for it!  I tried to be reasonable and just buy them for a few things (little puppy paws as a reminder for Molly’s monthly medicines, a teeny camera to remind me to do my weekly upload and purge of pictures, and garbage cans because anything to make that job more enjoyable) but I’m already thinking of ways that I can squirrel away more money for planner stickers.  Yes, I’m seven.
Also, Gilmore Girls.  How did I never watch this show?  I know it was on when I didn’t have a television but I somehow managed to watch Party of Five when I didn’t have a television and Gilmore  Girls > Party of Five (by soooo much).  Netflix = awesome.  (My middle school math teacher, Ms. Dittenber, would be so proud to see me using my math knowledge in a real world setting.)
Happy Thursday!

3/52

I missed a few days this week but wanted to get my seven shot quota – so doubled up a few days.  It’s my challenge so I gave myself permission.  It’s nice being your own boss.

We’ve had sick kids.  And just when we congratulate ourselves on clearing a hurtle, we bang our knees on the next one.  Stomach stuff, respiratory stuff, feverish stuff and me quietly trying to hold on to my sanity as I launder, and snuggle, and read chapters, and dish out soup and hand out tissue.  (And wash my hands so much I’m actually slathering my hands with hand creme and putting gloves on them before bed.)

I’m working on a shawl for Violet’s First Eucharist and because I thought it would be a great idea to jump into the lace bandwagon with not one but two projects, I signed up for the Follow Your Arrow 2 KAL.  I’m behind on both of them.  I have almost completed the first section of Violet’s (I was hoping to be done with that two days ago, but sick kids) and I picked and wound the yarn for the FYA2.  I also have piles of sock yarn begging to become socks and the supplies for a poncho/sweater thing I bought before Christmas.  About two months ago I was telling someone I have no stash.  That is now a lie.  It wasn’t at the time.  But Christmas money mixed with a new fascination for sock yarn and hand dyes has created a bit of a problem for me.

In other news, I had a bit of an epiphany the other day.  When I was high school, my mom met up with some of her girlfriends for their high school’s 20th class reunion.  I remember her talking about it and how excited she was to see them and I remember thinking how old you had to be to celebrate your 20th class reunion.  It seemed really, really old at the time.


I celebrate mine next year.  

1/52

A week gone already.  Mexico is just a memory and home is steal your breath cold.  The kids were home from school for a day because of it.
Violet got braces.  I got a little misty because HOW?!? is she old enough to get braces.  I comforted myself with the fact that when WE were kids, we were much older before getting braces, right? RIGHT?!?
After quite a few months of not having any facial edema or allergy issues my lip decided to puff up again.  I think I need to get better about taking the medication my allergist recommended, because, obviously.
And I’m knitting socks.  I have a cowl for a friend that is almost completely finished and I really should just buckle down and get it off the needles and to her but I’m sock crazed.

Hello 2015!

The last two weeks of December, beginning of January have been a whirlwind of family Christmases, packing, and travel.  I’m not going to lie, I’ve been craving my corner of the couch, some knitting, and a good long Netflix binge.  In fact, I don’t think I enjoyed this trip to Mexico NEARLY as much as I should have considering home is freezing while Mexico was a balmy 80° but if I’ve learned anything in 2014, it’s that I am a hermit.  Too many people, too much bustle, and I either shut down or blow up.  Neither is pretty.
Now I’m home and it’s positively arctic so I’m bundled up on the couch finalizing goals and plans for 2015.  I wanted to have a much more organized plan in place when I returned home but the aforementioned hustle and bustle simply didn’t allow for that so I’m starting my 2015 ambitions a little late.
Instead of making a resolution for the year, I sat down and made a list of things I’d like to accomplish and habits I’d like to adopt (or squash).  I started working on a system to help me do that and I’m sure I’ll share that before too long, but right now I’m still finalizing and puttering with things.

Small Houses, Tight Families.

Last weekend we went to my parents’ for a family celebration of Christmas.  Twelve people, three dogs,  and a merry time later, I’m home catching up on laundry and last minute details for our own “big day”.

Some favorite memories:

The look on Violet’s face when she opened her “fur” coat.  And then again when my mom told her there was more in the box.  “Um, but it’s not something I think I’d want” she said (trying so hard to be polite) of the dirty old rock (a geode).

All of us wearing the ribbons from our gifts around our head for some reason.

My nephew’s kiss face.

The best “sofa pillows” dessert.

Molly (our blonde cheerleader of a dog) being followed around endlessly by my little brother’s dog – a little, grumpy old man if there ever was and my parents dog looking like he just wanted us all to go away so he could have his quiet house back.

Three sick and snuggly kids and a Packer (play-off clinching) victory.

A Little Christmas Cheer

I’m not sure why but I’ve just had a really hard time getting into the Christmas spirit this year.  It could be that we traded our Thanksgiving weekend tradition of tree hunting, carol blasting, me grumbling Jesse needs to put more lights on the tree for a family vacation and a pre-lit artificial tree.  It could be that we have no snow and green grass.  It could be that I’m just feeling a little grinch-y this year.
Whatever the reason, our tree has been sitting in our front room undecorated for about three weeks.  I’d flip the lights on every morning and flip them off at night before bed, but other than that and the garlands we hung the week before Thanksgiving – our house has been pretty devoid of decorations and I haven’t felt any pressing need to change that.
Until my children came to me this morning with their hearts set on decorating and being I’m not the grinch-iest of grinches or the scrooge-iest of scrooges, I cranked the carols and agreed.  We put out our nativities.  We hung ornaments and stockings.  I put out the ceramic tree (like this one) my mom gifted me when I was feeling nostalgic for the one she had made (and lost in one of their plethora of moves) and started to feel the smallest twinge of anticipation.

I’m looking forward to the happy chaos of my family (and three dogs) descending on my parents’ little house followed by Jesse’s family annual Christmas Eve bash. I’m excited to dress up and attend a Christmas Mass with my children and husband and remember what it is exactly we are celebrating.  I’m still not brimming with Christmas cheer, but I am feeling a lot less humbug. 

 

I guess it’s really hard to feel blah about Christmas when your kids are decidedly un-blah about Christmas.  Particularly when you ask them what they want and you get answers like “a robot that does all my chores” (Abram) or “a magic wand that helps me memorize my spelling words” (Violet).  I’m so grateful for their creativity.  

And their contagious joy.  I just finished their shopping and there will not be spelling word memorizing magic wands or robots that pick up toys and put away laundry under the tree, but I’m pretty sure they’ll be happy.  And that makes me happy.  And a lot more happy about this Christmas season than I was at the beginning of the day.

Just a Few More Pictures (and Words)

Main Street, USA all decked out for Christmas?  A little boy (and not just any but my favorite little boy) and his balloon on dad’s shoulders? Yeah…I’ll cherish this picture for always.
One of the things I was looking forward to most on this trip was taking Violet to Cinderella’s Royal Table for dinner.  Jesse’s mom bought her a crown (which wouldn’t stay in place so Jesse ended up wearing it), and we surprised her with her very own Elsa dress (one of her classmate’s mothers is an AMAZING seamstress and we had it made) and when she saw Aurora (her favorite princess) come out…I think she summed it up perfectly when she looked at her grandpa and said, “I will remember this night forever.”  

I heard a few grumbles about Elsa lighting the castle instead of Tinkerbell and I get it (The Pirates of the Caribbean ride was my FAVORITE as a kid and it’s all wonky now) but I never saw Tinkerbell light the castle and this was breathtaking. 
Can’t wait to get Jesse’s dad’s pictures from Animal Kingdom.  While we were there a gorilla charged towards a man (who was beating his chest and acting like an idiot) standing next to us (we were separated by a huge ravine, but my heart stopped), Tom captured the gorilla’s face as he was staring down the man (who was also getting a talking to from the park official).  It’s absolutely terrifying.  I’ll share it if I get it from him.  I won’t forget it soon.

Disney Lessons from an Amateur

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed that we were at Disney World last week.  When we first started planning this trip (about a year ago) my friends were split into three camps – those who looked at me in horror, those who talked about “getting through” a Disney vacation, and those who were overjoyed at the idea of us visiting the most magical place on earth.  My husband was decidedly in the horrified camp but was sick of me nagging about how much the kids would love it when he agreed to going.  He’s now a HUGE Disney fan is already talking about when we can visit next.
Here are a few lessons I’m taking with me for our next trip:
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1)  Charge your camera battery & bring your charger.  My battery was more than half dead when we got to Orlando and to my dismay I ended up with no camera for a few days while I was waiting for a charger to be shipped from Amazon.  I was fortunate in that Jesse’s parents met us for a few days so I’ll be able to get pictures from Jesse’s dad, but I still missed some great shots not having a camera.
2) Go with the flow.  Part 1.  The resort that we were staying at was undergoing pool renovations that were scheduled to be done by the time we arrived.  I called two days before to confirm that the pool would in fact be open and was told that it was ready to go.  When we arrived, the pool renovations were not complete and when the pool did finally open later that week, we still had closings due to water quality concerns.  Violet and I jumped in line for Space Mountain because we were told wait times were about 10 minutes and found that everyone else had jumped in line for the same reason (and waited a little over an hour).  A perfectly clear forecast turned into a mid-day deluge at Animal Kingdom. Being flexible is not my strong suit, but it’s simply a necessity and knowing that going in helps. 
3) Go with the flow.  Part 2.  That mid-day deluge at Animal Kingdom had us running for cover, listening to a pretty amazing band. I enjoyed a beer while kids had a blast dancing.  That long wait at Space Mountain forced us to miss a fast pass but catch a parade/dance party on the square instead.  The pool renovation issue resulted in us getting a one night’s credit on our stay which I happily put toward a badly needed massage and some souvenirs.  Things don’t always go as planned, but it’s Disney.  If something falls through, there is always something else to enjoy.  Enjoy it.
4) Expect crowds.  We visited during one of the slower times of year and visited Magic Kingdom on a day that was expected to be less crowded.  There were still more than enough people for this claustrophobic girl.  To avoid lines (to the best of your ability), use an app.  We used a combination of the Disney World app (which is free) and WDW Lines app (which requires a membership).  I found the WDW Lines app to be very helpful – especially for planning which park we wanted to visit on which day.
5) Bring a water bottle & snacks.  I spent so much money on stupid bottled water because I didn’t think ahead.  We did okay bringing breakfast bars, goldfish, yogurt pretzels, and a few sweets but I think I’d still add a few things for our next trip.
6) Make your dinner reservations.  Early.  Dining at Disney is no joke. In general, I’d say our meal planning adventures worked for us (we did not do the dining plan so I can’t say anything one way or another about that) but there wasn’t one night where we didn’t see a family getting turned away when they thought they could just “pop in” to resort restaurants.  What worked for us was a few structured dinner nights (our first night & the 4 evenings with Jesse’s parents) and a few nights where we just picked up something at the park or the sandwich stand in our resort.  We had a couple of breakfast reservations (I got lucky one night and made them the night before and one night I didn’t get lucky and we bought fruit plates from said sandwich stand) but mostly had grab and go breakfast bars that we had brought along. 

7.  Use your hand sanitizer. I missed Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas party and our last day at the parks because I was sick with 102° fever.  I blame it on the adorable little baby with the big ugly cough who was one seat in front of me on the plane down.  All the same, do everything you can to avoid being sick.  And if you do get sick see tips 2 & 3.  

8. Get a dole whip.  The soft serve kind and not the float.  I can’t say anything about how the float tastes but I can tell you the soft serve version is UN-REAL.  

9.  Accept that you can not do everything (or even everything you think you can).  Looking back at each day, I’m a little underwhelmed at what we checked of the itinerary considering how exhausted we were by the time we crawled into bed.  We certainly could have crammed in more rides or more character visits or more shopping or MORE but no matter how much MORE we packed in we’d still be missing something.   By picking a few “must do” items each day (as in, no more than 3) and letting the day unfold, we kept the meltdowns and tantrums at bay (mostly, mom did have a minor one after our first day in the park).  
10.  Have fun.  I know I made my friend laugh when I sent her a text and said, “This place is crazy.  Even the bathrooms are themed.” but I was just blown away.  Disney World really truly is a magical place.  If you aren’t having fun, I say sit on a bench and people watch for awhile (with a dole whip, of course) and then visit the bathrooms by Rupenzel’s tower.  They’re freaking gorgeous.  AND THEY’RE BATHROOMS!
I’m not an expert.  I’ve only visited Disney twice and only once as an adult.  There are websites a plenty that can tell you when to go and what to do and where to eat and where a good place to relax might be (we took a ride on the Liberty Belle, it was perfect) but these are the very basic things I think everyone should know to have a good trip.

A Good Weekend

About a month ago, my sisters, mom and I decided to see Gone Girl together. My mom and I both read and enjoyed the book so we were looking forward to it. Then about a week ago, I got a text saying she thought it might be a little too risqué to see with her daughters (you know, Ben Affleck full frontal and everything else) so we went back and forth trying to figure out if we were all going to try and get together.

I headed over to my parents’ on Friday night and enjoyed fish fry, knitting, and the gubernatorial debate (that actually wasn’t enjoyable, but I think it’s important to know these things). On Saturday, my mom agreed to visit two local yarn shops with me which (I should have called first) happened to be closed (like chain the doors kind, which makes me sad) so we had a late lunch, visited Target, and a couple of consignment stores.

On Sunday, we met my sisters at an amazing shop, had lunch, and headed to the mall. I got to see my dolly of a nephew, catch up with the sissies I missies (I am a dork, but I had to throw that rhyme in there), and finish almost all of my Christmas shopping which puts me a little ahead of schedule (I like to be done BEFORE Black Friday, because people go crazy-town after that). When I say ahead of schedule, I just mean with shopping – many of my knitting presents are going to be New Year presents.

 And then I decided to try and get a shot of myself using one of the many mirrors in the shop because I’m going to make an attempt to embrace the camera, if only to say “shut up, voice in my head, I’m doing it anyway.” Of eleven shots, these are the two I’m keeping.

Yup, that headless camera woman, that’s me. But I’m including it because that yellow desk? I loved that desk. If I had Jesse’s truck with me, I would have purchased it in a nanosecond.

It was a much needed breather. Now we are back to the hustle and bustle. Flu shots, parent/teacher conferences, laundry.

Monday, Monday

Yesterday was a beautiful day. Upwards to 80, sun shining. Jesse had a work function so the kids and I thought we’d take a walk in a local wooded area. The mosquitos were terrible; we lasted less than a half an hour before we turned around. When we got back home, the swimsuits came out and they played with a Rubbermaid container, the hose, and their snorkel gear for over two hours. It was heavenly.

With no school today, we were hoping to go to the zoo. But the forecast is chilly and calls for rain and we don’t have any rain gear. I looked to see if I could find rain coats at the local sporting goods stores and Target but no luck.

So we went for a “hilly ride” and then came home. I have some cleaning I’d like to get done.

It’s not nearly as fun as the zoo, but it’s the way it goes.

Fall has definitely returned today and the rainy skies and cool temperatures scream for down comforters and nap times.

I think I’ll have to crank some tunes, poor myself a hot cuppa, and get moving. Happy Monday! What are you up to today?

Happy Anniversary

I’ve been married to the most wonderful man for 12 years. To celebrate we spent the first night at the family cabin and the following morning headed into Minneapolis for amazing food, a great show, and more amazing food. Then we came home and loved on our babies a little.

Friday night fish-fry in the Northwoods. And a Shirley Temple (because I’m still a ten year old).

We ended up with a free room upgrade because of an overbooking.

We were WAY up in the tower and below a rooftop wedding ceremony was being set up. We didn’t actually get to see the wedding but I loved watching people arrive.

Our favorite restaurant is not the place for a vegetarian but their steaks are divine and their lobster cakes unbelievable.

I laughed so hard. And was ashamed of myself for laughing so hard. I was certain we would all be smote for attending such an irreverent show, but it really was just too funny.

The next morning we had brunch at a place recommended by one of my favorites (this girl needs to have a lifestyle blog or something – she’s way better than Gwyneth) and it was AMAZING. I had bourbon glazed french toast with pecans. To. DIE.

We came home to these pretty flowers and happy children. Dumped water on our heads and made a donation for the ALS challenge and are now back to life as normal.

Feeling very, very blessed.

The Muppet

Molly is the third dog that has come in to our life since Jesse and I were married. After the first two, I didn’t know if we’d ever get another. Lucy (Jesse’s first dog EVER and the dog love of his life) was amazing but at her six month vet appointment we found out that she had a genetic kidney disease that would progress rapidly. While we adored every single second with her, she didn’t even make it to her second birthday before it was time to let her go.

We picked up Sunny on a whim. It was completely my mistake. I’d been without a dog for three years, I wanted one, and I didn’t bother to think that a three year old, a just-over-one-year-old, and a puppy might be a little more than this momma could handle (which of course it was). When we had some food guarding episodes that resulted in Jesse (and then Violet) being bit, we gave her back to the breeder.

A few years later, I started looking around again. Occasionally I’d email the Mister a puppy picture and get nothing but “NO” in response. After a few months, he started talking about maybe getting a dog and how maybe this time we shouldn’t get a golden retriever because Lucy was just too precious and we’d never love another golden like her.

So I started looking at golden doodles. And about fell out of my chair. Spending a ton of money on a dog that was essentially a mutt had absolutely no appeal. But we kept coming back to this one breeder. The prices were high (they were everywhere) but not as high as some and they looked to really love their dogs, and their puppies were ADORABLE. (The health guarantee that allowed us to keep the dog even if something was wrong was a huge decider.) So I called her and we talked. And we talked some more.

And then Jesse and I talked. And talked some more. We spent over a month teetering back and forth before deciding to put down a deposit on a future litter. After our last two experiences, we really wanted to do the right thing. We both felt that having a dog would be a wonderful addition if it was the right dog but we didn’t want to repeat the mistakes of the past. And then we put down the deposit and teetered back and forth about whether it was the right time. I don’t think the two of us have ever been so undecided.

When we finally went to pick up Molly, the kids and Jesse played with her while I talked to the breeder about training, food, and adjusting the puppy to her new home. She was an adorable and goofy and looked like a Muppet with her long eyelashes and floppy, curly-furred ears. When it was time to go, she curled up in my lap and rode the whole way home without fuss.

She’s still goofy – she loves Abram’s socks (and only his) and will walk around with one in her mouth whenever she can. She’s been known to go and search one out of the laundry basket which just makes me laugh. She’s unbelievably soft after a grooming and I could just sit and pet her all day. She loves attention and will sit at your feet and just vibrate until you lean down to pat her (she used to jump and nudge your hand like crazy, but we’ve been working with a trainer on that).

She’s been a good decision and I’m grateful. A family just feels “more right” with a dog. And having her curled up on my feet during the winter while I knit? Heaven.

Hi, Monday.

Hey there, Monday.

Yeah, that’s about how I feel…giving you the stink-eye.

Nawww…just kidding. Though I do wish it was still the weekend so I could be hanging out with some of my favorite people.

On Friday, we met my sissy and her kiddos at the cabin and proceeded to eat, sleep, and Scrabble our way through the days while the kids swam. And tubed. And swam. And tubed. And swam.

Jesse was the grill master.  And the fry-master. Well, the pretty-much-everything-master. AND he brought up these Guinness battered shrimp that he got from work.  Oh. My. Word.  They were sooooo good.  We had them with steak and asparagus. My sister also introduced me to these fruit beers which sound like an absolute no, but are very, very yummy. Perfect for summer. I really want to try Serendipity.

Violet stuck her tongue out at me any time she noticed me trying to get a picture.  Her cousin was a LOT more cooperative.  (I love both those girls.)

Actually, I love my sister and her crew so much I could eat their faces off but I think her son is beating me to it!!

I miss them already.

But now it’s Monday, and I’m going to the allergist and getting ready for a friend who is visiting this week. Are you looking forward to anything this week? And could you say a little prayer for me…I’m nervous about this whole allergy panel.

A Few More

The third day we were there the waves were high (undertow warnings) and the air was cool but the water was warm and wave jumping is fun – so we spent quite awhile playing in the water. There is a video of us all running in together – but between the undertow and my bum foot, I spent more time falling than running, so I’ll just share this picture to give a taste.

I wish I could say I took these pictures (they are some of my favorite from the trip) but on our last night there my foot was really bothering me (way too much walking the few days before) and I didn’t want to traipse the stairs. My sister captured a great sunset and LOTS of great pictures of Violet and my niece.

  

Michigan – Part Two

Because you can’t ever have too many pictures of a Michigan vacation…

This isn’t the greatest picture – but see that big black scoop? Jess picked it up last year in the hardware section of Meijer because my sister decided put her back into it while making a sandcastle and broke the regular every day shovel.

Doesn’t my Dad make a pretty princess?

This is what vacation means in our family. We love Scrabble.

I went upstairs to grab something and found all three of them snuggled up together.

She turned seven. I’m still kind of in awe at that.