Tuesday, August 27, 2013

beach day.

I have really been wanting to make it to Lake Michigan one more time before school starts, beaches close, and Fall descends. I didn't want to face Saturday crowds, so I traded Chris for a Wednesday off, and we trekked west. "Beach Day" was on.

[On the way there I jimmy-rigged the Kindle so all three kids could see it. I was pretty proud of myself.]

It was a windy day at the lake. It make for a sandy mess, but also some awesome waves. It felt and sounded like the ocean. John wasn't so sure at first. He loved the beach so much the first time, I was confused. He screamed for the first hour we were there. Finally we decided to have lunch and, what do you know, happy John. Apparently he needed to get his blood sugar up. Quinn took the opportunity to live Beach Day to the fullest and ate unlimited cookies.

We had lots of fun getting really really ridiculously sandy. Laying in the sand was all the rage (probably because it was warm!), and John kept putting his face right down in it. We also found a Carly head and half of a Quinny while playing on the beach.

The rest of the time was filled with jumping waves, playing chase with daddy, and getting pulled on the sled. A friend enlightened me to the sled on the beach idea. Only in Michigan, I suppose. When we were all worn out, we headed back to the car. It is always longer back to the car than it is out to the beach, it seems, and lugging a sled full of heavy beach gear across the hot sand reminded me 1) to never do cross fit, and 2) increase my gratitude that I was not a pioneer. But we managed to find a Qdoba and a Culver's on our way back east, and that was a beautiful ending to a beautiful day.

We just love Lake Michigan.
It is near the top of a long list of things we love about the Mitten.
I'm so very glad we squeezed in one last 2013 Beach Day.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

interviewed: Carly turns 4 years old.

We did Carly's birthday interview during nap time on her birthday. It was after her party, and maybe she was a little buzzed on sugar and excitement, because the answers she was offering were no where near reality. But after asking each question repeatedly, we got some pretty true statements out of her. Is that cheating? Oh, well.

What is your favorite color? "Purple and pink."

What is your favorite toy? "Unicorns." (I don't know what this means, My Little Ponies, maybe?).

What is your favorite fruit? "Oranges."

What is your favorite show? "Mulan II."

What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? "Macaroni and cheese."

Favorite outfit: "Ballerina shirt."

What is your favorite game? "Playing doctor."

What is your favorite snack/treat? "Circle crackers." (Ritz)

What is your favorite animal? "Monarch butterfly."

What is your favorite song? "I Love to See the Temple."

Who is your best friend? "Graham and Remi and Carlyn and Tennyson!"

What is your favorite book? "Fancy Nancy Bonjour, Butterfly."

What is your favorite cereal? "Cinnamon Chex."

What is your favorite thing to do outside? "Hula hoop."

What is your favorite drink? "Lemonade and water."

What is your favorite holiday? "Birthday holiday." (ha!)

What do you like to sleep with? "My towel."

What is your favorite breakfast? "Cinnamon Chex." Girl loves Cinnamon Chex!

What do you want to be when you grow up? "Daddy doesn't want me to grow up! . . . A teacher."

What is your favorite thing to do? "Play all day out in the spring."

What is your favorite time of year? "Winter because I can build a snowman."

Favorite part of the day: "Playing with friends."

If you could go anywhere in the world: "The zoo." (haha!)

If you had one wish: "To have balloons."

Favorite thing about being 3: "Going to the zoo with grandma."

Thing you are most looking forward to about being 4: Going to big kid school and riding the school bus. (Poor girl is SO excited about riding the school bus because she's going to "big kid school". Alas, she doesn't get to ride a bus. I've been trying to tell her, but she insists.)


She needs to work on her wishes and her travel plans, but other than that she is one fabulous kid.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

it's her party.

Our beautiful firstborn turned four on the tenth.
It was a day jam-packed with celebrations.

That morning Chris ran to the store with my direction to get a birthday balloon. Genius man came home with three. If you want some high-quality entertainment, give two 18-month-olds each a helium balloon. They were hilarious.

We hosted a little "rainbow butterfly" birthday party for Carly. We invited some of her little friends and held a treasure hunt, had a pinata, played some games outside, and had lunch and cupcakes. Carly had been wanting a pinata ever since our Cinco de Mayo party, but I wasn't about to fork out the $15 at Target for what is pretty much a piece of garbage. We happened to be at the Dollar Store and I saw a fold-out cardboard pinata. It was the most ghetto contraption you've ever seen, but it was pink and purple and it had butterflies on it. It was fate. And it worked like a charm. Uncle Brady was required to really get the candy flying, but the kids got some good whacks in. 

It was kind of an emotional party. Get 5 3-4 year olds together and that is expected, I suppose. At one point all the exhilaration caught up with Carly and she started throwing a tantrum of massive proportions. I felt bad for her, because I really just wanted her to have fun. Chris took her upstairs to calm down while her friends started lunch. She came down very calm and put together. Birthday princesses just have moments sometimes. It happens.

Speaking of moments, I had winning one of my own. Lets get a round of applause for my rainbow cupcakes, shall we? I used most of white batter on Carly's big cake, but had just enough left to make exactly 5 rainbow cupcakes. This meant I couldn't cut them open until the party, and I was pleasantly surprised with the result. The kids seemed to like them too, even if little R licked off the frosting without ever actually biting into it. But as far as sweeping goes, rainbow crumbs are rather fun.

After her party we were all exhausted, so we had a relaxing baby nap time. That evening we went out to dinner for pancakes, then returned home for more candles, cake, and presents.

Carly had been requesting "a chocolate rainbow butterfly cake with a rainbow number 4 and M&Ms inside!" That is what you get for letting a 4-year-old look at Pinterest with you. It was a messy endeavor, and I was literally packing extra broken cake pieces into the base of the cake to keep it standing, but it turned out. And it was definitely "a chocolate rainbow butterfly cake with a rainbow number 4 and M&Ms inside!"

We had a wonderful day celebrating our girl. It will never cease to amaze me how, as a mother, the days crawl and the years fly. We've already had 4 birthdays with her. It wasn't that long ago I was dreaming of what this first baby of ours would look/sound/be like, and now here she is, grown-up and so good. I am so very grateful I get to be her mom, so very grateful for the strong and brilliant spirit she is.

Happy 4th birthday, Car. 
We're glad you joined us.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

larger than life.

In late spring I noticed a deal on Groupon for Backstreet Boys concert tickets.
Backstreet Boys?!
It is their 20th anniversary, they have a new album, and they were going back on tour. And they were coming to [outside] Detroit. As a long-standing true Backstreet Boys fan (not a cheap N*SYNC sell-out), I could not have been more excited. I bought myself a ticket and planned to go with my sister-in-laws. As it turned out, one of my sister-in-laws couldn't come, and my mom was in town, so my mom joined me and Jenny at the concert.

I had a vision of what this concert was going to be. Our tickets were for "open grass seating", so I imagined a pleasant evening sitting on a blanket in the grass with a few hundred fellow late-twenties Backstreet Boys stalwarts eating Qdoba. Well, the Qdoba part happened. We picked it up on our way there. But, people . . . my vision was not reality. As we approached the venue, there was a long line of cars headed the same direction. Huge parking lots were full. And when we got inside, the place was packed - standing room only - with thousands of fans. Many were mid-to-late twenties girl/women, meaning they could now legally drink and smoke (why on earth would a person in their twenties smoke? didn't they go to 4th grade and learn it was bad for them?), so the party was ROCKIN' as DJ Pauly D (heaven help me) started the show. We ate our Qdoba in the ruckus and smoke and I wondered how this would all play out.

Next was Jesse McCartney, for those of you who remember his one hit song, and Jenny and I took the opportunity to find concert t-shirts. They were a little more pricey than I could see myself spending, so after standing in line for the bathroom for 20 minutes, we headed back to our blanket on the grass. It was an hour and a half after we arrived, and it was time for the Boys.

Friends, it was magical. My heart was racing and I got goosebumps (who gets goosebumps at a concert? . . . what a mom thing). It wasn't just the 14-year-old inside of me that was excited. It was the nearly 27-year-old too. Because the Backstreet Boys are so dang cool. And 20 years later they have an assortment of marriages and children and they are still up there in their matching white suits with their synchronized dance moves and they are rocking it. And if they can rock it, so can I. So I did. We sang along with every word and I broke out my totally hip club-ready dance moves and I jumped up and down to the dance songs and it was just totally way awesome. It occurred to me while I was standing for those hours on my aching mom-of-three feet that I'm there. I'm at the point in my life where no matter what other kinds of music emerge in the future, nothing will be as awesome as the soundtrack of my youth. Kind of like how my mom still loves the Partridge Family. And I came home and found all my BSB music and put it on my iPhone and lately I've been running and driving and doing dishes to their fabulous tunes (Carly is a fan of "The Call" and always requests "the one where they say "gotta go"!). Chris wants to know when this phase will end. And as I stand there in my basketball shorts and BSB concert t-shirt, I declare, "Never!"

Did you hear that? BSB concert t-shirt. And this is the best part of the whole story. As we were streaming out of the venue after the concert, surrounded by drunken people with homemade t-shirts reading "Am I original? Yeahh!", we saw a man selling "concert" shirts in the parking lot. My mom jokingly said "Oh, for five dollars?" as we walked by. "Twenty," they guy replied (inside they were going for $40). Still walking away and still joking, my mom said, "Oh, I've only got 11." The guy chased after us, I mean actually ran and grabbed my mom's shoulder, saying "Ok! Ok! I'll take 11." And in that spot my mom bought me a Backstreet Boys concert t-shirt. She sure drives a hard bargain. A minute later we ran into his partner, and I asked if I could trade sizes for something smaller. One shirt he grabbed didn't have a tag at all, and the next was a different brand from the first. Obviously these shirts were totally legit. But I got my small and we headed out to our car, where we waited for over an hour to get out of the parking lot and watched drunken people having shouting matches, singing loudly to all they passed by, and standing up out of their sunroofs to belt the BSB tune playing in their car. It was way past my bedtime by the time we hit the road, but thankfully we made it home in one piece. I was delirious but still still buzzing from excitement.

It was such a fun night, and I have to admit I'm quite sad it is over.
Thanks to my mom and Jenny for rocking out with me.
And thanks to the Backstreet Boys for reuniting and keeping me young.

(P.S. I was just joking about the N*SYNC sell-out thing. Bye, bye, bye.)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

some of our favorite visitors.

My parents and my little brother Brady came to visit over the last week. We don't exactly have the best accommodations, but we cleanup up our unfinished basement, blew up the air mattress, and washed our extra sheets in preparation for their arrival.

We had a fun week. We toured campus, eating lunch and hitting the bookstore. We went to the park and walked the trail. We went shopping. I went on a few runs with my dad. I wish we lived in the same neighborhood, so we could run together all the time (as long as he was willing to NOT go at 5 am). We played a lot. Carly would go down to the basement while my mom did her hair and play "rock star", which involved both of them sing loudly while the hair dryer was on. The day after they left I told her she could still be a rock star, but she hung her head and said, "I only like being a rock star with Mimi." It was especially fun to have uncle Brady make his first visit to Michigan, though I'm thinking the current uber-cranky John we've got going on might have convinced him to think twice before ever having kids. Luckily, Quinn makes a much better impression.

They were here on Carly's birthday, which was so much fun, and merits a post of its very own. And my mom and I went to the Backstreet Boys concert with my sister-in-law Jenny, which also deserves a post of its own, it was so freaking amazing. We went to the zoo on their final morning in the Mitten. We have had some cool, Fall-like weather lately and it has been so perfect. It was the most beautiful morning at the zoo. John pretty much only speaks in growls and roars, so he had fun seeing the tigers and lions up close. For months all summer long Carly has been asking to ride on the camel. Every time I told her she could after her birthday, when she was 4. As luck would have it, it was 3 days after her birthday and it was time for mom to follow through on her word. She was so cute up on that camel, with the twins watching intently. On the way out of the zoo, Mimi asked what Carly's favorite part was: "The part when I got to ride the camel!" Of course.

And then it was over, and we looked like this (don't mind the giant marker stain; we're artists around here):

Thank heavens we already have airplane tickets for our Oregon Coast rendezvous at Thanksgiving. It makes a goodbye just a little easier.

We are coming up on our 3 year anniversary here in the Mitten, 5 years away from "the west". In all this time we have been able to see my parents more than I could have expected. They have been incredibly generous, making it possibly for us to come to Idaho many times, and since the twins have been around, being willing to make the sacrifices required for them to come here. Even my mom has "overcome" her fear of flying with the help of a prescription drug or two, though stories of Mimi quite literally "flying high" are the best. At the same time, I'm so grateful for modern technology, text messages and smart phones and FaceTime, things that make the thousands of miles between us seem not quite so far.

We are so blessed to have such good families. I'm so grateful that all three of my kids know and love their grandparents, and are hopelessly and horribly spoiled with love. Loving people so much that we cry as we watch them drive away? That's a pretty good problem to have.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

life at the lake.

A couple of weeks ago we headed to a little lake house for vacations with Chris's side of the family. It was a beautiful, peaceful little lake, and our days were filled with fishing, splashing, playing, and eating. The babies even slept decently well, once they actually got to sleep. On the final night they figured out how to blend the blinds back to look out the windows, and Quinn was NOT happy when we saw us outside enjoying a campfire. It was the last night, so I gave in, and she was rather pleasant until WAY past her bedtime. All in all, it was a fabulous time.

Carly has been talking about going fishing for months. MONTHS. She has been so excited. A few nights before we left I went to a girls night out, and when my friend picked me up the first thing that came out of Carly's mouth was "I'm going fishing soon!" I began to be a little worried, as fishing isn't necessary the most exciting thing in the world. I underestimated how things seem to work out for Carly. Papa bought her a Tinkerbell fishing pole, and the thing was magic. She caught a fish after only a few casts, a tiny silver thing. A few minutes later she caught a relatively big sunshine fish. And so it went. Carly caught 14 fish over the course of a week. She has no idea that real fishing usually means hours of sitting with nothing happening and not catching any fish. Like how the men did it every morning out in the row boat.

[Carly's second catch. You can practically hear her squeal through the photograph.]

[Manly men fishing in the early morning fog.]

We also enjoyed playing in the lake on our few warm days. Favorite activities included collecting snail shells, "catching" minnows, and covering our legs with mud (I'll give you one guess who enjoyed doing that one). One evening brother-in-law Christian, a former BYU swimmer, decided to swim across the lake. We followed him out in the rowboat, and it was pretty impressive to see him go all the way across and all the way back. Its slightly odd, being in this swimming family, as I would probably drown if I fell out of a boat without a life jacket. 

[lake life suited John. pretty sure he belongs in the wild.]

[snail shell fingers are so funny.]

[lake life suited this girl, too.]

We had a few rainy spells too, including most of the day that Chris had to head back to Lansing for work. We went to a cute little lunch place with lots of GF options, colorful ice cream, and balloons. We snuggled, climbed in cupboards, and played on various electronic devices. Our rainy lake day did nothing to dampen our party.

Other parts of the week included 
scenic runs, 
yummy food, 
and general cuteness. 

There tends to be a lot of general cuteness wherever we go.

In the noise and chaos of our everyday life, Chris and I are finding that this kind of vacation is right up our alley. Going to a quiet beautiful place and enjoying people we love. We enjoyed Oregon with my family a few years ago, we loved the UP with just the two of us, and now we have this trip to store in our memory banks. We are so blessed to have good families and to be surrounded by beautiful places. A big shout out to Pat and Lisa for making this fabulous week possible.

We headed back to Lansing, and that night had the opportunity to go to Detroit and attend the temple (and get Five Guys. yum!) with Jenny and Christian. Good folks, those two. Wish we were neighbors 7 years ago when we were newlyweds, too.

The next morning was a little river trail/park fun, then the family was off and we had a few days to settle down, clean up, and prepare for our next party. Isn't that the way life should always be? 
I think so.

[teaching Carly the art of the "Indian run"]