Tuesday, September 9, 2014

First Day

It's school time again for a certain 4th grader, 2nd grader, and kindergartner (!!) in our house.  They are doing so well, love their teachers, are excited to see friends each day.  It truly makes it a lot easier knowing that they are excited each and every day. (and pains me to think of my poor mom who had to deal with me...although I loved school eventually, I cried almost every day of kindergarten, didn't want to ride the bus and ran after her car while a patient secretary would walk me to my classroom.)  Mornings are pretty wild around here.  And although I did catch a few moments of peaceful, and beautiful first day action, its not always so smooth.  Having a big and busy household means that I am constantly trying new things to help our routine.  And from my experience, we really start off strong with high hopes every August.  Signing every planner and reviewing the day, making delicious lunches, reading and recording minutes and book titles every night, homework packed, clothes set out, projects done, sports bags at the ready with everything they'll need plus a healthy snack, to just scratch the surface of responsibility.  But I have not found a way to outsmart the 2nd law of thermodynamics, and by May it's often school lunches, wrinkled clothes, running (!!) not walking to the bus, and gosh darn it how much longer do we have to sign these planners!  Ha!...so here's to our fresh start.  Here's to trying something new.  Here's to bigger and better, onward and upward.  Precisely the reasons I will always love the beginning of a new school year.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Mount Rushmore & The Badlands

The drive home was loooong, but scenic.  This far away from Kansas City, why not stop and see some of these iconic things.  We went downstairs to the small museum and watched the movie about the history of Mt. Rushmore (so interesting!) and took the scenic route through Badlands National Park.  On the drive home we listened to the Wizard of Oz Book on CD (who knew Dorothy's shoes were actually silver in the book! no ruby red slippers to mention :), the kids watched Annie (a few times!) and Poppy started calling me Ms. Hannigan and singing "it's a hard knock life" over and over.  We pulled in to our driveway a lot later than expected (ahem, 4am), and fell into bed.  Just today David and I were reminiscing and said we've both already forgotten the nightmarish parts of the drive, and are so glad Painter Roadtrip 2014 is in the books.


 We spotted a grizzly just 15 minutes outside of the gates to Yellowstone.  That definitely set the mood for what we would experience during our 2 days in Yellowstone. (and maybe renewed my fear of getting eaten while tent camping!)
 We drove to our campsite to get everything set up.
 And the kids were really intrigued with the bear box and insisted on being the ones to load it!
 The first day we explored all the geothermal areas, Old Faithful!

 Grand Prismatic Spring.
 We let the kids pick a souvenir.  The boys both wanted a personalized Yellowstone pocket knife, and the girls each picked a stuffed wolf.  Poppy brought her wolf with her to each sight and made sure "wolfy" had a spectacular view too.

 This little bee bee was a trooper.  She spent lots of time in a carseat/stroller/backpack.  But the tent is where she roamed free.  Actually, almost all night long haha.  All the other kids did great, fell asleep fast, and stayed warm with the 40 degree low.  I think David and I woke up a million times to cover them up though.
We were able to attend a Ranger Program (about grizzly bears) and the kids earned a Junior Ranger Patch.  We visited a few museums, and were able to spot almost every large game animal at some point in the park (except we didn't see a black bear) which was pretty sweet!  We made the large loop around the park and sometimes it felt other-worldly with boiling water and bubbling mud.  Only once did Poppy fall off a boardwalk, and roll towards the boiling water.  No joke.  So many interesting formations and geological history.   Honestly, we could have spent so many more days here.  And if we had more time before school started, I think we would have!  At the end of the 2nd day in Yellowstone, we said our good-byes and spent the night in Cody, WY.

Grand Teton National Park - Jenny Lake

Day 1 of our vacation consisted of a little bit of a late start (despite allll the planning haha), 14 hrs on the road, lots of electronics for the kids,  Hank the Cowdog book on CD,  fast food and medium fast Qdoba, rest stop races, about 10 magazines for me, and a roadside Lincoln Memorial before everyone fell asleep.  Whew.

Day 2 we woke up and the kids played at our hosts playground (we stayed 2 nights in the guest house of David's friend Brad.)  They were honestly just as thrilled with the trampoline as they were with the fact they were on vacation :)  We drove in to Jackson Hole and then on to Grand Teton.  It felt great to hike around Jenny Lake and play in the water after all that driving.  I also loved having a low key agenda.  And being in such a different landscape than what they are used to was super fun.  The kids oohed and ahhed over the mountains and all the details they were seeing. (AND 60 degree highs and NO humidity in August!)  They had binoculars and water bottles and maps full of information, they took it all so seriously.

I love to see these kids out in nature, they are in their element.  We decided kind of last minute to make this trip.  Spurred on by a few things, one of them being our day in the nature sanctuary.  They really enjoy being explorers, and the imagination and teamwork that happens in these kinds of places is amazing.  We knew we wanted to do it on a much larger scale.  Also, back in July we watched a documentary on Yellowstone.  David was like, we are going. (he had never been) And I'm more, uh, that requires an insane amount of planning for a family our size.  And him, what?  no. easy.  I'm gonna make it happen.  So I agreed. Ha!  If he would plan everything.  And he totally did, down to roadside attractions and restaurants.  Although, I'm sure those details were strictly to satisfy me.  Honestly, it was just what our family needed, after years of working straight through the summer, it felt so good to end this summer with time together.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

I'm just so glad these kids have a dad. One who turns 100ft of plastic and a bottle of soap into a freaking awesome summer afternoon.

4th of July

This year, my parents were going to be out of town, so for the first time in (ever), we needed to make our own Independence Day plans.  Very last minute we decided to have a little BBQ at our home.  With some friends.
 Mormon friends!  Ha! So that means lots of kids.  And sparklers lit by a blow torch.  You know.
 We thought, shoot, these kids are so cute.  We need a photograph.  Except, when us moms had them all seated, with our cameras ready, their dads had begun a pyrotechnic endeavor in the street...

Fireworks always win.  And all of the pictures look like this.  
Which in the end, was kind of perfect.  It was a happy 4th of July.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Birthday Babe

 Violet and I had our picture taken a little later that night!  Couldn't miss my opportunity with the birthday lady!

Oh my little Violet is 1!  We celebrated with family.  Grammie and Papa, the Reese family, Anna and LT, Kyle and Sarah, Grandma Sloan, and Sylvia all came to watch the baby eat her cake.  I decorated in a Farmer's Market theme, and we ate pasta salad,  caprese salad,  homemade breads and a peach and raspberry trifle alongside the traditional 1st birthday carrot cake.  Her sisters loved helping her open her gifts, and oohhhhed and aaaahhhed over her name plaque, new clothes and little mouse ride on toy.  First birthday's are always super sentimental, and this time just as much if not more so.  I kept thinking, have I really thrown five 1st birthday parties?  I remember the details and excitement of each one so vividly.  Violet is crawling like a speed demon, but I think it will be a bit longer before she ventures out on two legs! :)  She is still crazy for her mama, and trust me, the feeling is mutual!