Thursday, July 23, 2015

a crowded camper is better than an empty castle

I am still scratching my bug bites from this weekend's camping trip. 
We spent 6 days in the camper enjoying 3 days in Michigan and 3 days in Indiana. 
Although there was an infestation of mosquitos everywhere, we enjoyed every minute.
We met all of the Hubby's family in Michigan on Marble Lake. 
The kids had lots of cousins and friends to play with and spent every ounce of 
energy out on the water. 
The Hubs actually posed in a pic for me. 
We appreciate all the time getting to know our future Aunt Ashley #2 better. 
(Me between the 2 Ashleys)
We haven't quite figured out how we are going to tell the two apart yet, except for saying #1 or #2. 
But we are working on nicknames.
Gigi is pretty much love struck when her Uncle Neil is around.
The ice cream sandwiches at after every meal helps.  
AND these two.... don't let their smiles fool you.... they are trouble! 
To extend our vacation a little bit longer this year, we spent the early part of this week camping with my in-laws in the beautiful Pokagon State Park in Indiana.  
The park was loaded with trails, bike paths, playgrounds, Nature Center, and a public beach.  
It is one of the nicest campgrounds we have stayed in. 

{Lightning Bug catching}

Grandma and Grandpa and a slew of the grandkids. 
 As hard as it is to grow up as an Aunt and Uncle who live farther away the 
nieces and nephews don't know us as well... time together means so much more.  
By day 5, Nate finally had Miley warmed up to him. 
 When we drove into Pokagon we saw that they had horse stables.  Hubby knows 
my love for horseback riding (which I do as often as I can which is like once every 10 years, LOL) 
So he splurged and let the kids and I go on a trail ride.  
Lil Miss got to enjoy a small pony ride and she was smitten with Roxy the Horse.  
We are now drawing pictures for Roxy everyday and putting them in envelopes in hopes to send to her.  Let's hope the horse likes getting mail.
The kids and I rode 45 minutes on Roxy, Fred, Chauncy, and Whiskey. 
Mommy was on Whiskey, the slow horse, who liked to go off path and eat the tall grass. 
The kids found this all too funny.  

I keep telling Hubby we should sell the house and move into the camper. 
Because we could do it. 
Yes, I would desperately miss my long hot showers and my washer and dryer, 
but camping suits us. 
When I get home and have to sweep our house and clean all 4 bathrooms, I think 
the camper is soooo much easier to clean. 
But he sadly informs me of Iowa winters (Brrrrrr) and we will save the camping for 
extended weekends from Spring til Fall.   
He also informs me that if we were to move all 6 of us and 2 dogs and "our stuff" into the camper, 
I would not find it fun anymore.  Agreed. 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Dads in my life

It's Father's Day. 
A shout out to the best daddy in the world. 
The kids are so lucky to have you as their Dad. 
You are such a good teacher, confidant, boo-boo fixer, 
teddy bear, and role model.
You came into this daddy role so effortlessly. 
You picked the kids up in your arms and never let them go. 
You are such the coolest dad and they love you to pieces.
To my Father-In-Law, thank you for being such a wonderful example to your sons. 
You are one of the most selfless people I know and is always there to lend a helping hand. 
You have taught your son what it is to help others and work hard.
June is a hard month.  
Yes it is the start of summer and we fill the days with camps, summer fun, and sleepovers... but 
it is also a month filled with reminders of my Dad. 
June 1st was the day 4 years ago that we lost him.
June 10th was his birthday. 
And today is Father's Day.
It's left a hole in my heart. 
As much as I want to make Father's Day a special extraordinary day for my Hubby, it is reminder 
that my Dad isn't here to call, or visit, or give a hug to. 
So to all of you with a Dad close by give him an extra squeeze today.  
Spend 5 extra minutes with him on the phone asking him how his day is. 
You never know when you won't have him there beside you. 

"A good father is one of the most unsung, upraised,
unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society."
Billy Graham

Monday, June 1, 2015

Cute in a Tutu

 This past Saturday, Lil Miss was in her first ever dance recital. 
She has been up and down about dance all year.  
Some days she is super excited about it, and other days you couldn't drag her 
off my lap to participate in class. 
But give her a cute sparkly sequined tutu and lipstick... and we have a dancing DIVA.
  As soon as she got her outfit on for dress rehearsal, she asked if she could wear this forever. 
She turned into a prima donna. 
I successfully got all that thick hair in a ballerina bun and she couldn't wait to dance.

She danced her little heart out on stage.  
She blew kisses to mommy and daddy, and followed the teacher in all the steps. 
I couldn't be prouder. 
Her biggest fan was there watching and she couldn't wait for him to see her. 
He surprised her with flowers and then she poked them into everyone's face 
to smell them.  Brother, sisters, and random strangers.  
We tried this year in dance to get our feet wet and see if she would like it. 
With her older sisters,  one didn't like it at all and the other had massive stage fright. 
I think we are going to have to sign this one up for another year. 
Happy Feet! 

Sunday, May 31, 2015

School is Out! Scream and Shout!

We are officially in Summer mode. 
School let out on Thursday and we celebrated another year completed.
{First and Last Day of 4th Grade} 
{First and Last Day of 3rd Grade} 
 {First and Last Day of 2nd Grade} 
 {First and Last Day of 3 Day Preschool} 
In true mommy fashion, I had a little pile of new things for waiting for them in the morning.
The downfall of having surprises for the kids is the excitement. 
On the last day of school Bubba, came down for a glass of water at 5 am 
and saw the gifts on the table and then woke up his little sisters.
When Nate went downstairs to go to work 3 of the kids were up and 
ready to start the day.... WAY to early. 
Let's home they learn to sleep in the rest of the summer. 
It is always fun to see the kid's delight in getting new books, notebooks, 
pencils, bookmarks, and reading logs for the summer. 
In fact that morning they were all ready delving into the books and Bubba 
was penning his first entry in his new journal. 
Let's hope this excitement lasts all summer long. 
Mommy is way to excited to start The Babysitter's Club books with Gigi. 
Next year will be Rosie's last year in elementary school. 
It is crazy to think about. 
I remember dropping her off on the first day of preschool when she was 5.
It is amazing how much the kids can learn in a year.  
Rosie continued her love for science and fell in love with geography this year. 
Bubba has found an eagerness to read.  He has ventured into more advanced chapter books and his vocabulary in one year has really broadened.  We are currently reading the first book of Harry Potter!
Gigi loves school and is my little writer.  She is always journaling and writing mini books. 
Last but not least, Lil Miss has grown up before my very eyes in 3 day pre-k. 
 We love our school. 
They really have great school pride and school spirit. 
A great tradition is the last day of school, all the students congregate outside with the parents around the flag pole to take the flag down.  In brings everyone together.  
I great way to say good-bye to another year.  
Once again we celebrated with our "Welcome to Summer" party.
The kids each had some friends over and we celebrated with music, water balloons, 
slip-n-slide shenanigans, and lots of laughs. 
Celebrating the ordinary days is what I do best. 
I love having parties.  I like the planning and the fine details (even when my hubby is 
telling me I'm nuts for decorating the chalk board at 11pm at night).
I found this quote a long time ago and I have made it my philosophy. 
Turn ordinary into extraordinary!

 Don't Wait for extraordinary opportunities, 
sieze common occasions and make them great. 
Orison Sweet Marden

  I had spent an hour and a half the night before filling up 100 water balloons. 
I have a nasty blister to prove it.  Those balloons in all the craziness lasted all of 7 minutes
when the balloons started splashing Boys vs. Girls.
We can honestly say we have jumped wholeheartedly into summer and 
can't wait to make more memories.  
More fun to come....

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

just a kid at heart

I like to doodle.  
I have grocery lists that have become more trees and flowers than 
grocery list.  
I have people's phone numbers on post-its that are indistinguishable from all the chicken scratches I couldn't help draw. 
So I put my skills to good use when I pack my kid's lunch. 
Hopefully this will be something my kid's remember about their mom when they grow up. 
Nothing fancy, but a little something from their momma. 
 Our brown bag art... just call me a kid at heart.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

and so the adventure begins

It's that time of year.  
We get ready to live weekends in our second home. 
The camper. 
The first camping weekend of the year is always the most work. 
Finding all the things that we took out of the camper always requires a little digging and 
a whole lot of memory power. 
A few things are usually forgotten.  Such as: salt and pepper, butter, 
my daughter's socks, and enough blankets for the cold nights.  Ooops
  By camping trip number 2, I've usually remedied the situation and we are more prepared.
 The kids are always excited to camp. 
They see camping as playing outside, hiking, and eating smores.
 Mom sees camping as living outside (as close to my dream treehouse as I'm going to get),
hiking and exploring, and nights around the campfire with the hubby.
Sounds like a dream vacation to me. 

 Of course when we return from a camping trip we are a little dirty.
Some of us more than others...
And no camping trip is complete without smores. 
New Trick: Marshmallows between fudge stripe cookies.... mmmmm
Thanks for the tip Aunt Dini. 

So be warned the camping post will start because that is where we spend the weekends. 
In the Great Outdoors.