Summer Lovin’

Dear loyal blog readers, of which I know there are many of you – well, at least 2…ūüėČ – you might remember my dislike for winter. I may have even mentioned it once, twice, possibly¬†three or four times on here before. As much as I hate winter, I am coming to love summer just as much.

My favorite part of summer, this summer specifically, surprises even me. I love going to the pool.

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My view.

I don’t remember being a huge fan of the pool as a kid, so taking my own kids wasn’t always my first choice. Additionally, the first couple years we took the kids it seemed like more of a chore than anything. But this year. Oh, this year. The kids can swim! They’re not afraid to get their heads wet, and C has come so far, she can even go off on her own with friends for a bit to enjoy the slides, lazy river or “deep” pool. It’s 4 whole feet deepūüėČ

Speaking of friends – we often get to see them! Occasionally, we make plans to meet someone there, but more often it’s just a lucky coincidence! My already happy kids are ecstatic when they find friends, and along with friends, come friends’ moms, which means I get adult interaction. Score! It might sound corny, but the pool has created a sense of community for us this summer. For someone who never imagined herself being a stay-at-home mom, let alone one who homeschools and therefore rarely gets time away from the kids, this is very important!

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Watching the ISU Football team dive with a friend.

As summer draws to a close (at least as far as the pool is concerned) I’m already trying to come up with ways we can recreate this community once the dreary Iowa winter sets in. I’m not sure how this will be done, but I know that it’s important. And I’m also pretty sure it will involve hot chocolate.

And in case you’re missing the Olympics already, here’s my kids’ version of a swimming relay.

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Make Lists…Check!

When you have a lot to get done, or even a little, is there a more satisfying feeling than crossing¬†an item off of a checklist? I’m a big fan. It’s possible that I’ve even started a list with, “Make a list” so that I can cross an item off pretty quickly.

Given my love for lists, I’m not sure why I didn’t think of making lists for the kids sooner. So many days, especially this summer when we’re not doing much schoolwork, it seems like a never-ending battle to get the kids to complete even the smallest task. On a recent day, when I had several things I wanted to accomplish, I decided to make lists for the kids too.

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The kids happily and efficiently completed everything on their lists – and even added something in D’s case. I’ve made lists several times since, with the same result. And I asked myself,¬†why didn’t I think of this sooner?

Tonight, I came up with a quick list for the kids to accomplish while I was getting dinner ready. And they did. Without complaining. It’s seriously amazing. I’m not sure how long it will last, but I will happily make them daily lists as long as it works!

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Swingset, Take 2

Four years ago, we bought a swingset kit and within a weekend or so, we had a swingset put together that worked great for our toddler and baby. However, four years later, it was clear that our kiddos had outgrown it. They hadn’t outgrown the idea of a swingset, just the actual swingset we had. That’s when we decided to build our own this time around. And thanks to my handy husband, he was able to take my general ideas and make them a reality, even when it became more than just a swingset!

This time, we were not able to complete the project¬†in a weekend. However,¬†Aaron, in all his awesomeness, was able to complete it in stages, so the kids weren’t without backyard fun for long. First was the basic frame and the swings.

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When I feared for his life…

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Ready for swinging!

Then the playhouse was closed in, so the kids had a roof over their heads to play in.¬†Another weekend brought the completion of the loft, and then finally the deck this weekend. We still plan on putting a door in, but I’m still calling it done:-)

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C is totally impressed by our craftsmanship of the loft.

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D prefers to slide his way out of the playhouse.

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It’s done!

We found some battery powered lights for $3 a strand at Target – score! – to decorate the loft and added back in some accessories from the old swingset – like the periscope, steering wheel and chalkboard. I selflessly gave the kids the area rug from the living room to use in the playhouse (it will be stressful for me to pick out a new one, but after almost a decade with this rug, I’ll make the sacrifice for them!) We even picked up a couple adirondack chairs for the deck. Our “Tiny Tiny House” is good to go!

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It was a lot of hard work, mostly by Aaron, although I’d like to think I was helpful. The kids also loved to help out whenever they could¬†–¬†hold boards, help measure and be tool gophers. It was a family effort, and hopefully, a family project we’ll all get joy out of for many years to come.

Seriously, this playhouse rocks!

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The rock collection keeps getting bigger. And more colorful.

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We Heart Muffins

My kiddos love having muffins for breakfast. I usually¬†make muffins once a week, or at the very least, am able to pull some leftover, frozen muffins out of the freezer. I often utilize my Grammie’s recipe for “Waterloo Muffins.” It’s a very simple recipe that I can make from memory, they¬†bake quickly¬†and they come with a side of “the feels” because they remind me of my childhood.

Sometimes, however, we need to change it up. So when I recently saw this recipe on Pinterest for the Best Ever Banana Muffins, and I had a few bananas that were perfect for baking, I decided to give it a try. We ended up with a dozen standard sized muffins, plus a few mini muffins and they were gone by the end of the day. There was no adding to my freezer stockpile! When we had some more brown bananas a few days later, I decided to make them again, and was met with literal cheers from the children. Obviously, this recipe was a keeper!

Fast forward to this morning and I made this:

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That’s 3 dozen standard muffins and a dozen mini-muffins, just in case you’re keeping track.

We had a plethora of brown bananas again (What is up with the bananas lately?!? They go straight from green to brown!) plus I have a stock pile of mushy bananas in the freezer, so I decided to make a triple batch. Ha – take that kiddos! You can’t eat all of these in one day! ¬†Ok, wait, I shouldn’t say that out loud. They probably could if I let them…:-)

Well, I won’t be letting them. And I’m planning on sharing some. But finally, I might have some leftover muffins to throw in the freezer for another day!

If you have muffin loving kiddos, and a few brown bananas, I strongly suggest you give these a try! My kids eat them plain, and so do I (usually) but if you want an extra treat, put some butter on one of these straight out of the oven. Seriously. So good. If you weren’t sold before, you should be nowūüėČ

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The Rule of Love

I will be the first to admit that I generally ignore the news. Since quitting my job a couple years ago, I don’t have anyone to discuss current events with on a daily basis, and frankly, choose to ignore the negativity. But there are some events you just can’t ignore – like the mass shooting at an Orlando nightclub. And like so many of the news stories I just can’t ignore, my first thought is that we need more love in the world, and less hate.

I recently saw a post on Facebook regarding Christianity and love that resonated with me. Author Anne Lamott shared a letter that was written to her Sunday School class by Mark Yaconelli, about how he views the Bible and Christianity in relation to homosexuality. A portion of the post is below:

“Jesus said the teachings of the Bible are only useful if they help us love God (the Creator, The Maker, The Compassionate Presence), love other people, and love ourselves. Jesus says this is the Rule of Love‚ÄĒloving others as we love ourselves. This is the most important message of the Bible.

Anything that leaves you more fearful, more isolated, more disconnected from other people, more full of judgement or self-hatred is not of God, it does not follow the Rule of Love–and you should stop doing it.”

Now, I don’t know if the shooter in Orlando was acting due to an affiliation with Islamic extremists, as an attack on homosexuals or just as an independent madman. But I do know that he was acting on hate. I also know that reacting with more hate will not improve anything.

So, please, even if you’ve heard this (or read this as the case may be…) a million times, please hear it again. Do not add to the negativity in this world by placing blame and judging others. Go into the world and show others love. Show love in little ways every day, to your friends, family and strangers alike. Show love in big ways, by accepting others and not jumping to conclusions.

Just show love.

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I Didn’t Forget…

I didn’t forget that my first born turned 7, I was just trying to live in denial a little longer. Her near constant independence, and the eye-rolls that go along with it, have made it impossible to ignore though:-) Oh yeah, and there’s the gorgeous smile that’s been without all of her teeth for a couple years now and her general giant-ness. Seriously, kid, just stop growing for a while!

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In the last year, C Monster has thrived. She loves to spend her days reading, coloring, building with Legos and playing outside. Along with her brother, she will spend days on the same “game of pretend” although she’d prefer not to do any of the cleaning that goes along with her playing. Pretty typical, I’m sure!

C’s favorite part of almost any meal is the meat. Or possibly cooked broccoli. She chose breakfast for all 3 meals on her birthday, so that’s obviously another favorite. She loves, I mean LOVES, to help in the kitchen and daddy is teaching her everything he knows. Making buttermilk biscuits and gnocchi are two of her favorites, although she rarely turns down a job in the kitchen – other than the clean-up. Can you sense a theme here?

She continues to wear what she likes, regardless of what anyone else thinks. She often wears outfits with a theme – for example, different colors and sizes of polka dots go together perfectly! Or the striped shirt and floral skirt that both contain super bright colors – a great match! She likes to do her own hair these days, so I hope the disheveled look is in among young girls, because she hasn’t quite mastered her brushing technique on her still very fine, easily tangled hair.

We celebrated C’s birthday at the park with her friends on her birthday. She was happy to have a giant playdate that didn’t exclude anyone’s siblings – the more, the merrier! The following weekend, some family met us at Perfect Games (or Awesome Games as my kiddos call it) for some bowling, pizza and arcade games. Her score of 70 and her amazing technique offer proof that this was a special event for her!

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I almost forgot, but managed to squeeze in her birthday questions before bed on her birthday. Below, you’ll see some of her favorites during year 7.

  • What is your favorite color?¬†Purple.
  • What is your favorite toy? ¬†Barbies.
  • What is your favorite fruit? ¬†Bananas.
  • What is your favorite TV show? ¬†Scooby Doo.
  • What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? ¬†Macaroni and cheese and hot dogs. Or brats, cottage cheese and peaches.
  • What is your favorite outfit? ¬†LuLa Roe Dress with pink sweater.
  • What is your favorite game? ¬†Kings in the Corner.
  • What is your favorite snack? ¬†Lightly salted potato chips.
  • What is your favorite animal? ¬†Monkey.
  • ¬†What is your favorite song?¬†It’s Raining Tacos. (We can thank Daddy for sending us this video, of this random song song on a 10hr repeat…)
  • What is your favorite book? Magic Tree House. And Boxcar Children.
  • Who is your best friend?¬†Nya and Reese.
  • What is your favorite movie? ¬†Inside Out
  • What is your favorite thing to do outside? ¬†Play ball.
  • What is your favorite drink? Raspberry¬†lemonade.
  • What is your favorite holiday? ¬†Christmas.
  • What do you like to take to bed with you at night? ¬†George, Monkey and Tangled blankie.
  • What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? ¬†Doughnut muffins and bacon.
  • What do you want for dinner on your birthday? ¬†Biscuits and Gravy.
  • What do you want to be when you grow up?¬†An artist.

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Why I Really Hate Winter!

We have had some gorgeous weather this week. I am talking, if-there-was-somewhere-that-had-this-weather-year-round-I’d-move-tomorrow kind of weather. And I am LOVING it. With all the nice weather, it got me thinking about what it is I really hate about winter. 

There’s the obvious answer: it’s cold. And I do hate that. There are days I feel like I just can’t warm up. When I’m cold, I want to spend the day under the covers. And more often than not, I do. Things don’t get done around the house and my step-count is abysmal most days. I am, quite literally, miserably cold for what feels like weeks on end. But I realized today that being cold is not the only reason I hate winter. 

It’s the isolation. Sure, we can plan play dates with friends every now and then, but there aren’t any spur of the moment trips to the park where we just happen to run into friends. We can plan trips to the library, the mall or even Target for a change of scenery and to get rid of some energy, but it’s not the same as just running out into the backyard or taking a walk around the neighborhood. There aren’t nearly enough opportunities for chance run-ins with old friends or casual conversations with neighbors when it’s cold and everyone is holed up inside. 

Barefoot at the park with friends.

I wouldn’t classify myself as a social butterfly by any means. I’d prefer if the majority of nights were spent watching Netflix with my hubby after the kids are in bed. But when my chance to interact with other adults on a regular basis gets taken away from me because of the crummy, cold weather – I hate it. So now I just need to figure out how to remedy that for next winter. Easy, right? ūüėČ

Luckily, I should have plenty of nice weather before I really have to start worrying about winter again!

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