Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Fourth Of July Weekend

You guys. I've finally figured it out. And I've been doing it wrong all these years.

I'm a planner by nature. I like order. Structure in my life is a must. In fact, there was a time in my life when I once labeled myself as a control freak-- & actually took pride in that self proclaimed title {insert shudder}. But something's happened to me over the last several years & continues to happen to me as I grow older & sink deeper into my role as a mom & wife... I'm becoming more relaxed. The reigns of life I held onto so tightly at one time, I am learning to loosen that grip & simply go with it. And the outcome? Well, it has been tremendous in my life. 

Take this weekend, for instance. It was so, so good.

I'll be honest. I was a tad apprehensive about going into a three day weekend at the lake without a working boat. We had originally planned this Fourth Of July trip around the excitement that my in-laws had purchased a new boat at the tail end of summer last year & we were chomping at the bit to get it out on the water & give it a go. But as lake life goes {or life in general}, it's unpredictable & the boat we were so looking forward to putting around the lake in, is sitting in a shop waiting to be diagnosed by a mechanic. With no boating opportunity at hand, we were left to fend for ourselves in the fun department. But what would we do?

Come. Take a look. I'll show you what we did.

This kid & fireworks. Lordy, Lordy.

This was the victory dance that ensued after a firework buzzed high into the sky & after several long seconds, the sky finally spit it out & it came down with a BAM...right onto the roof of the house.

Me & my girl. We served as the audience to the boys & their shenanigans...at a safe distance away, of course.

Lake Time.

The weather & water were the just the right temperature this weekend & we spent several hours swimming & jumping & cannon-balling of the dock. And for some added entertainment, we watched as Jett & Coach tried luring real fish into kid-sized buckets using goldfish crackers as bait. 

Cutie cousins.

 Jett & Lulla are head over heels in love with their baby cousin, Raegan. I mean, look at her...can you blame them? For real cuteness, right here, folks. This was Raegan's first overnight trip & she was a little champ! She was such a good baby the entire time & she shared her toys & puffs & squishy little cheeks for kissing. I love this girl & love that our kids are growing up together.

I made a decision before stepping foot into our weekend get away, to go with the flow. No plans. Easy does it. If we want to go swimming, we throw on our suits & go swimming. If the kids need a mid afternoon nap, we hit the pause button to chill in the living room for a half hour to take the edge off. Make a sandwich when we get hungry. Get some fresh air when feeling cramped. The plan I usually stick to, even if it's just the made up one in my head, I crumpled it up into a ball & tossed it into the trash. Best. decision. ever. Because inside that crumpled up ball was the intertwining of unnecessary stress & expectation that almost always sets me up for failure & misery.

Now, that's not to say that every moment of every day was smooth sailing. No siree. You do remember we were traveling with children, right? On Friday night, while sitting around the bonfire, Lulla spun into orbit over the combination of the loud fireworks the guys were shooting off & the melted marshmallow from a s'more being stuck to her fingers. She must have spazzed for a good half hour or more--all through bath time, all through jammie time & not a second of relief during that entire saga. I got frazzled & ruffled & tense like I do when I can't calm my own child. But once my over tired girl was smelling good from her bath, feeling fresh & cozy in clean pajamas & snuggled up in my arms with her Lambie & binky, she was good to go. We both felt the steam of stress release from our bodies...& we moved on.

Grill Masters.

My brother in law so graciously cooked the most delicious grilled steak dinner one evening. Nothing beats a summertime steak, baked potatoe & corn on the cobb dinner. Yum.

Fireworks display over the lake.

The wait for dark was long for two anxious little ones & the chiggers were fierce, but a treat from the local gas station & a quilt on the lawn served as a perfect set up for watching the fireworks displayed over the lake. Jett quieted once the starbursts boomed in the night sky & Lulla nestled into the crook of my arm & hid her face under her chubby hands, exclaiming, "too bright" & "all done" after each loud boom. 

I must say that our Fourth of July weekend left me feeling incredibly refreshed & relaxed. I walked away with a renewed vision & focus on the things that are important in my life. It wasn't that I got an overwhelming amount of sleep {let's face it, a pull out couch is no substitute for my Tempurpedic that I left at home}. It was because I made a conscious effort to look at what I have--a campout in the living room with the three people in my life I love so much I cannot even put into words. The delight on my children's faces as they run their legs off exploring the field & trees & property. A place to gather with grandparents & aunts, uncles & cousins to share good food & even sweeter memories. It's all pretty special. And I would be a fool to overlook what I've got because my "plan" didn't go accordingly.

My secret to a successful getaway is to do just that--get away--to leave my everyday normal behind. Like I said before, I truly enjoy the process of planning & organizing. It's a part of me that I think can be useful & beneficial & I don't want that to be stifled, completely. But when it comes to get aways? I'm checking the check list at the door. Allowing myself to break free from me, it feels good sometimes.

And all those years I had it all wrong? Well, I've got plenty of making up to do. Luckily, we've got one more lake trip penciled in on the calendar & I'm ready to do more of getting it right.

I hope you had a fabulous Fourth, as well!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Good Cheap {Summer} Fun

Summertime ranks right up there with Christmastime for me. I love it. Every ounce of it. Hold up... let me backtrack. I could certainly do without waddling around in 90 & 100 degree heat. But aside from the sweat & stink of a hot summer day, you'd better believe I'm plunging for every last dive stick summertime tosses my way. 

I especially love the experience of summertime as a momma. To see the sheer joy a frozen popsicle brings. To hear the high shrieks of a tot whose been doused by the water sprinkler. To lug sunblock scented babies home from the pool & up to their beds for a late afternoon nap. It's my thing. I'm in my element when I'm spending time with my kids, filling up their memory banks with moments they will carry with them forever. 

I hope my children can look back & have some great memories of the summers they had as kids. Because as a momma, whether it's planning a big beach vacation, or taking a roadtrip to the mountains, or just lining up a bunch of simple activities that will keep their little hearts happy, it's not the easiest of tasks to keep our kiddos entertained & active & having a chocked full of fun, summer.

Am I right, moms? Can I get an amen up this blog space? 

For various reasons, namely me being pregnant, Jared & I decided to keep this summer a low key one, where we'd stick close to home & be resourceful with what we've got--like the local pool, our backyard, our place at the lake & some of the specialties that our very own city has to offer. Sure, there have been moments where a trip to Seaside calls my name & makes me regret ever agreeing to this low key 2014 summer plan of ours. But it's also nice to show our kids, to show ourselves, that the magic of summer? It's what you make it. I am beyond thrilled that my children know the feeling of sand between their toes, that they'll one day experience the majesty of standing before a Colorado mountain & that eventually, down the road, they will catch a Cubs game at Wrigley Field & walk along the Navy Pier in the busy, buzzing city of Chicago. I feel blessed that they will have summers--not all summers--where they will get to travel & jive to the hum of a different pace of life. They will breathe in the the beauty there is to behold in places far from our own home. 

But I also want them to grasp the beauty in the simple, the low key. Catching fireflies at dusk. Diving off the side of the pool edge umpteen times, until that dive is completely mastered. Drippy sprinkle covered ice cream cones as an after dinner treat.

It doesn't have to be over the top & extravagant to be fun. And we've got proof...

An outdoor movie in the park. 

This night may very well go down as one of my favorite memories of the summer. Not because it was easy. Or because our kids sat still & quiet & watched the movie like little angels {why no, we never once for a second thought that our children's behavior may get us kicked out of the arena...ahem}. It was awesome because we were surrounded by friends, passing babies & bags of candy & Capri Sun drink pouches & laughing until we were literally sick. For a dollar admission, I'd say we got more than our money's worth.

So...whose bright idea was it to pack a bunch of glow sticks for this little outing? I'm sure the guy three rows up who got nailed in the head by a glow bracelet turned lasso is still cussing us to this day. Whoops!

A fun afternoon snack

I'm always on the lookout for something fun to do with the kids at home during the afternoons. Afternoons are tricky. I feel like they drag on a bit, but then really there's only a couple of hours between the time the kids wake from their naps until Jared gets home from work. I hate to get everyone loaded & out the door to go somewhere, just to have to turn around & get home in time to start dinner. So, our afternoons are usually spent at home. And I'm usually perusing Pinterest for something fun to keep them occupied when baby dolls & tractors aren't cutting it. 

This summer sand pudding was a huge hit with the kids. You can find the recipe HERE

I like to include the kids in cooking. More mess? Oh, you'd better believe it. Get this. The sand in this recipe, which is simply made up of Nilla wafers & Oreos crushed & blended, actually feels like real sand when it is spilled onto the floor & you walk across it. But I suppose I'll take the {sticky} sand between my toes considering it is so much fun for the kids. It kept their minds & hands busy at work & gave them such a sense of accomplishment. A snack & an afternoon activity... I dig it.

Water slide rides

You've probably already seen this idea a time or two. It has come across my Pinterest & Facebook feed numerous times so I pinned it & saved it for a quiet afternoon at home. The kids got a huge kick out of sending marbles sailing down pool noodle slides. They raced them & launched them & lined them up in rows like a train. And then when they were all finished, they splashed in the blue colored pool of water at the bottom. Cheap, easy, fun AND educational {those fine motor skills were being put to use & the teacher in me couldn't help but smile about that}!

See? Summer...it's what ya make it.

And with only one full month of summer left, we've got a nice little line up of simple, low key summertime fun waiting to be had.

How are you keeping those kiddos busy this summer? Extravagant or simple, I would love to hear.

Happy Summer!