Monday, May 26, 2014

Gala Days 2014

parade time

Riding around with their friend Gwen in the backseat.
Who knows - this might be happening about 12 years from now, only I doubt Bailey will be driving a convertible. (Sorry girls.)

Kiddie games

 Three & Four year-old egg toss champions

Carnival rides

 Street dance with my favorite drinking pals

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

my new favorite picture

I think this technically qualifies for a WTF Wednesday post since all three kids are looking at the camera and no one is crying - that is a definite WTF. 

But it's too sweet to label that way. 

These kids love their Papa.
And Grandma Sherri too.

We rode a few rounds in the tractor with her. I'm sure that tractor cab has never seen such action.

A five-person selfie - now that is talent!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

weekend construction

Three small children have been anxiously awaiting the arrival and eventual building of a playset for their very own backyard, so Jared and I set out to tackle the project around 10 AM on Saturday morning. 

Unpacking the box and eyeing all the wood pieces - plus about 30-some odd bags of nuts, bolts, screws, and washers -was a little overwhelming.

Before my coffee I was thinking,
 All this is supposed to become this??

Apparently so.
After refueling on coffee, we were officially ready to enter construction mode.

We took a wrong turn on Phase 1 (of 7,394 20) and didn't find out until a while later. Whoops. Some improvising worked, as it would throughout the rest of the day. 
The main rule of constructing something that came in a compact box bought from Wal-Mart: ingenuity is your friend.

We spent a total of 8 hours on this bad boy. 

I am proud to say that Jared and I did it ourselves with zero help from others - unless you count the "help" the girls were more than happy to offer up in the form of mixing up bolts and swinging a big mallet.
I can't be 100% sure, but I don't think either of us even offered up a swear word. 
Can you believe it?
And it was a good thing we were both working on it, too. Not only did it make the process go even faster, but with vague directions and less-than-optimal diagrams, a second set of eyes definitely came in handy.

About every 5 minutes for the whole 8 hours, one of the girls came to inquire if the slide was ready yet. 
If only it could be ready in 5 minutes. 
Or even an hour. 
Or even 6 hours!

But the important thing is that we got it together. And it's a big bonus that Jared and I were still speaking to each other as the last screw was drilled in. The kids wasted no time and were climbing all over it the second we finished building it.

 The excitement on Avery's face sums up just how pumped they all were.

And believe me, after only one day the fights over who gets what swing and who gets to slide first have already begun. 
Oh well, bring on the outdoor fun!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mama's Day 2014

Those of you who know me know that I am a pretty simple person when it comes to holidays like Valentine's Day or Mother's Day.
I am a big believer in doing something thoughtful and personal.
Personally, I would much rather have a handwritten letter or an hour of someone's time as opposed to a gift. Don't get me wrong, gifts can be nice, but I appreciate the thought and emotion that can go into homemade gifts or time spent with a friend or loved one.

Every year for my birthday - starting at the age of 7 - my grandma Joyce took me (as well as all my sisters and cousins) shopping. Just me and her. She gave me some birthday money, as did my other grandparents and my parents. We went to stores together and picked out things for me to buy with my birthday money. She made sure I got practical items like clothes, but she also helped me pick out fun things too. And I got to pick where I wanted to eat for lunch. That was huge as a kid! I remember always looking forward to those trips so much. 
That one-on-one time with my grandma was so special to me. 
It still is.
It didn't cost her anything but lunch (and trust me, a 7 year-old's tastes are not expensive) and her time. 

Someone's time is such a luxury today. 
An hour (or three) with a friend over margaritas.
A card in the mail just because she saw it, laughed, and thought of you.
A phone call to catch up just because.
They don't cost much, but they mean a lot.

To this day my favorite presents from Jared haven't even been presents. 
They are notes written in funny cards, referencing one of our various inside jokes. 
They are letters written on big days in our lives - like the day of our engagement or the birth of a child. 
They are breakfasts in bed after I've been able to sleep in a little bit later than normal. 
They are a clean house with supper in the oven. 

I have gotten a bit off topic...
I think the point I am trying to make is that I think we sometimes take the meaning out of holidays. Just like Christmas, we focus on the purchasing of a gift and less on why we are celebrating to begin with. Tell your mom you love her. Spend some time with her. Or at least call her. I guarantee that means more than flowers do. 

And speaking of flowers... Here are the little-somethings the kids made for both grandmas.  

I wasn't sure how the hand print portion would go, but they turned out surprisingly well.
The girls weren't overly creative with the reasons why they love each grandmas - most involved mention of the particular toys they have at their houses. But they sure were excited to hand them over to Grandma Sherri and pack them up in the mail for Grandma Cathy. 

I hope all you moms out there had a fabulous day spent with your loved ones!

Friday, May 9, 2014

our week in pictures

The past week has gone by in a flash. Jared's mom was here visiting which usually guarantees we are out and about doing things, plus the weather was gorgeous. It was prime time to be outside. 
Enjoy some of our pictures of planting, playing, and popsicles. 
Oh, and Avery dressed like she's expecting a blizzard any minute.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Avy Jo turns 3

Avery turned 3 years old today.

We celebrated her on Sunday with a Hello Kitty themed party at our house.
And here most people are probably thinking, Hello Kitty? Really?
Yeah, I kinda agree - not my fave - but Avery was insistent upon a Hello Kitty cake so I went with it.
She was one happy girl.
Party dress? Check
Bow in hair? Check.
Pile of presents? Check.
Long-awaited cake ready? With candles? Check. and check.

I can't even begin to guess how many random people Avery had told about her Hello Kitty cake in the weeks proceeding her birthday party. 
But it was a lot. 
It was the main topic of discussion. 
So when the cake was finally placed in front of her and she knew she would get to eat it soon - it was almost too much. She was clenching her little fists and shaking with the excitement. 
Sister loves her cake. 

She was smiles and giggles all day, with the exception of when Bailey overstepped her bounds and instead of helping Avery open her presents, she tried to open them on her own.
"It's not your birthday, Sister! It's MY BIRTHDAY!"

(And of course the one time we weren't recording the usual boring birthday present opening, something funny actually happens.)
It was a little diva-ish even for Avery, but we let it slide since it was her birthday after all. Plus she had heard us telling Graham the same phrase to coax him away from the presents earlier.
All was better as soon as Bailey realized she got a pair of sunglasses to match the ones Avery received.
Avery knows how to play it cool.

We had a fun day spent with family. Avery - well, all of us actually - is blessed to have so many people that make the effort to be here for the days that are important in the life of a 3 year-old. And the really important days almost always include cake.

Avery's 1st birthday
Avery's 2nd birthday

Friday, May 2, 2014

summer bucket list 2014

Summer is quickly approaching and I don't know about you, but we have had warm weather thoughts on the brain for weeks. We have lots of things we want to do this summer. Some we have done before or do every year (spend week at the cabins with family, boating) and some are things we want to do for the first time (visit Okoboji, host a 4th of July get-together). 

Two years ago I saw the idea to create a seasonal family bucket list so I made one of my own. I have done a couple others, but it always seems like summer and fall are the times when I have more items on our fun to-do list.

Yesterday I did a short brainstorming session and came up with a few ideas for our Summer Bucket List board. I wanted to pick things that we wouldn't be doing by default like we do every year - like watching a parade or swimming at the lake. I am hoping some fun ideas of things to do will help us not waste a free day or even just an afternoon; instead we can go about checking an item off our list.

Most of them are easily do-able, even if a little planning is involved. 
The "spend a night in a camper" one is the one I am feeling a little doubtful about. 
I can't imagine a night in a camper with three young children will be very restful. 
Or even fun. 
Probably memorable... just maybe not in a good way!
But I am willing to try since Jared is all for it.

The girls are already excited for a few of the activities. They have already started asking when we can go have a picnic at a park. And Avery will be receiving a kite for her birthday, so I know that kite-flying will be a frequent feature in the upcoming weeks. Now that our kids are another year older and we aren't slaves to nap times and routine quite as much, I hope that we can do even more fun things together. 

I have two blank spots. 
Any fun activities I didn't think of?
Please feel free to share any ideas in the comments. :)