Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Family trip to Chicago (within budget!!!)

We decided that this was the year for a quick family trip.
Just the 5 of us for a short period of time.
Away from home
(because if we had a staycation, the Mister would have spent it working...)
But we had a small budget.
So, I went to work-
looking for the best deal
within a reasonable driving distance
that would have something for everyone to enjoy.
I landed on
It was about 4 hours from home
(short enough of a drive that Baby L wouldn't freak)
But far enough away that we felt like we had gone somewhere.
We made it a quick trip.
(By quick, I mean ONE night).
We left early Monday morning
and got into Schaumburg just in time for LEGOLAND to open.
(Budget note:  The Lego Magazine has a BOGO admission coupon in it.  The subscription is free)
Kid friendly note:  Pay the extra $5 for the scavenger hunt lanyard. 
We got one for the boys to share and that worked out just fine.

 There's a little something for everyone at LEGOLAND.

Cute photo ops.  :)

Play time for little minds and hands.
(Note:  my creation is at the bottom; with the horns.)

The boys were given extra jobs around the house over the past few weeks as an opportunity  to save some money for souvenirs.  Combined with a gift from grandma (thanks, grandma!), they each purchased a Lego set and keychains in the gift shop. 

Earlier this spring, I found a groupon for a suite for $99.
The boys were geeked to stay at a hotel!
(Yeah...we don't get out much...this was C's first hotel.  oops.)

We spent about an hour here at the hotel on Monday afternoon
hoping Baby L. would chill enough to take a nap.
(ha!!....yeah, no)
Later that night, when D took the boys swimming,
I pulled the sofa out to a bed and set up the pack-and-play for Baby L.
It was lovely.
Although very little sleep was had.

Monday evening, we headed over to IKEA for some shopping and dinner.
For $25, our family of 5 enjoyed some food and Loganberry pop.
We looked at furniture and accessories.
The kids got a little crazy in the bedding department.
But we figured out the kind of bed I want Dave to build for A's new room...
so there's that.  :)
And also...this is about the time that Baby L. decided to not be constipated anymore.
That was lovely.
Our total bill at IKEA totaled $52.17.
This includes a birthday present for Baby L (children's table and chairs),
under cabinet lighting for my friend Abbie (see you Thursday!),
a side lamp for C's new room (Go Tigers!),
and a few packets of picture frames for a project I wanted to do.
Not too bad, I think.
We got back to the hotel just in time for a storm to roll in.
And a delivery from somewhere close to home. (truck)
Tuesday morning, we got up early,
enjoyed our "hot continental breakfast"
(read: powdered eggs, dehydrated sausages, and make-your-own waffles).
This gf girl had yogurt and fruit.
But was free, right?
We went back upstairs and packed everything (and everyone) up...
And headed into the city.

We spent $15 for parking below Millenium Park.
Had some fun at the Bean:

Took a family selfie,
(nice smile, A)

Stood directly under the bean and shot straight up,

And enjoyed watching my kiddos strike cute poses.  :)

Hello Chicago!

 We walked over to the Crown Fountain-
Where I got to watch the full spectrum of my kids' personalities on display.

Without a second thought, C pulled his shoes and socks off and jumped in full steam ahead.
Baby L stayed on the side.  Went in tentatively at first and then really seemed to enjoy herself.
A. was content to sit and watch.

After walking around a few streets and more of the park, we headed over to Shedd's Aquarium.
Paid $19 for parking and walked around a bit.
It was here at this park that I truly realized that I am most at home when I am near water.
We stopped for lunch (read: hangry kiddos) at a stand just outside the aquarium.
Sandwiches and drinks for $40.
This was our most expensive meal throughout the entire trip.

Since we only had a short time at the Aquarium,
(read: we weren't sure about our children's attention spans)
we asked if there was a condensed admission
(read: cheaper than $40 per person)
the girl told us that if we just wanted to walk around the top floor, it would only be $8 per person.
We figured that if we wanted to do more, we could go back and upgrade.
This turtle from the Amazon was my favorite.  :)

Just a few minutes before this picture was taken, there was a diver in there.
And again...nice smile, A.

The seahorses were another one of my favorites.
Can you see him?
(A. wants me to tell you that "it was actually pretty cool.")

Tuesday was also the FIFA game.
Go USA!!!
(although, we all know the outcome of the game by now...booooooo)
Since Dave is a big Bears fan, we walked over to Soldier Field.
The FIFA viewing event was going on here, and the doors opened 30 minutes later.
Admission was FREE.
Dave and the boys were pretty darn excited.
Once in line, we were told "no strollers." 
So, I sent Dave and the boys in while Baby L and I waited outside.
(people watching in Chicago right outside an event is HILARIOUS)
Dave took a few shots inside
(but you only get one)

After heading back to the car, we were trying to figure out where to go next,
and Dave just started driving.
I was talking to the boys brain-storming ideas
when I realized that Dave had started heading home.
Well, I guess that settles it!
We stopped in Michigan City for dinner on the way home
And then at TCBY when we were within a few minutes of home: $15.11
(Dave promised them ice cream sometime on our trip.  He kept his promise)
And also, Thank you TCBY for having non-dairy frozen yogurt!!! Baby L was happy.
We pulled into our driveway by 9pm Tuesday night: just in time for the kiddos to head to bed.
36 hours.
One tank of gas.
One groupon
2 BOGO coupons
$364.11 total spent
Priceless memories for our kids to remember for years to come.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Crap I've made: Patriotic Dress

I'm a pretty crafty person, by nature.
Most of the time, it comes out of necessity:
the desire for specific things within a tight budget.
Other times, it's just for funzies.
Either way, I wanted a fun way to share them with you on this here blog.
Hence, a new series is born.
Let me introduce you to:
Special thanks to Michelle at ememby designs for the logo.  :)
Go check out her blog...I'll wait here.  I'm sure you'll love her as much as I do!!!
Anyway, I was inspired by a pin on Pintrest
(which I was totally ready to embed here and share with you...but apparently we can't do that anymore?????)
And I thought,
There's no way I'm paying that much for a one-three day dress!
Then, I decided to make it.
I started with this:
A tank top found in the toddler/boys dept. for $2.88 at Walmart
Clearance fabric $3/yard (I got 1/2 yard of it)
Red Rick Rack$1.29
Semi-transparent blue ribbon (I had this in my craft bin)
Total of less than $6
I found a round object that was the same diameter as the t-shirt
(It just happened to be our Folgers bulk canister)
Then measured out 9 inches from the center of the circle.
Here's the shape of the skirt!

(Forgot this picture...sorry)
Pin the skirt and the shirt inside out.
Sew together.
(sorry...forgot this picture too)
I folded the hem under at the same time pinning the red rick rack to the bottom hem.
I wanted the red on more than just the chest of the dress.
I pinned 4 rows of rick rack to the front of the dress.
The top two rows are shorter than the bottom two.
The edges of the rickrack will fray a bit...I'm totally ok with that.

I made a bow out of the blue ribbon and sewed it on.

Place on cute baby and watch her accessorize it with her brother's fedora.
And dance, dance, dance the afternoon away!


After watching her, I decided I wanted to add some rick rack to the arm holes as well...
So, here's a pic of the during, but not the after
Because I just didn't think about that.  :)

Happy Crap Making!!!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

A few things I've learned this week

- Our family - my children, more specifically, do NOT thrive on a jam-packed schedule.  They need down time, play time, alone time, and quiet time.  Not to mention a good night of sleep.   This mamas no different from her kiddos.

- Sometimes the worst monsters hide in the most public of places.  And in a related note:  it's interesting (read: sad) how people will lump one statistical outlying monster in with the whole of a group of wonderful people.  Not all Christians are bad. I promise.

- Hitting a ball with a bat is harder than it looks.

-  Things are more fun (for the adult) when a tired toddler is not in tow.  But not nearly as cute.

- A crazy toddler who accidentally falls and  hurts her arm will allow for 3 1/2 innings of quality cuddle/cheering time.

-  Sometimes its better to aim for a base hit rather than a grand slam.

-  A longer-than-usual and tighter-than-usual hug is sometimes less "awkward" and more "goodbye"

-  Sometimes the word "etc." can include hundreds of different things

-  I still love the smell of baby heads- without the desire to add to my own brood

-  The more I learn about Common Core curriculum, the more I'm desperately grateful that we don't entrust our children's education to the government.

-  My middle child has an amazing mind, thinks about "the big picture" and is pretty darn good at reading people

-  Flat feet hurt more than just feet:  they burn ankles, knees and hips too.  Sigh.

-  Sugar detox is not for wimps.

-  Friends, if you are sad, lonely, overwhelmed... feeling like there is no way out, please PLEASE remember this:  you are loved.  You are a cherished person.  Please reach out to someone before you take drastic measures that cannot be undone.  There is always hope.  Even in the darkest of places.

-  When there are no answers to questions, there is still God.  Sometimes (all times) that's all the answer we need.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Counting Mine {320- 330}

320.  Sleeping in during a thunderstorm.

321.  Timing the errand running down perfectly so we don't get drenched.

322.  Miracle Foot Repair lotion.

323.  Having the perfect amount of cash in the envelope to cover the bill.

324. The perfect summer day:  not too hot, not too cold, and no bickering kids!

325.  The excitement on the boys' faces when they get mail in the mailbox.

326.  Having people compliment me on my children's behavior while shopping.  (at 2 stores in a row!!!)

327.  All the new pregnancy announcements.

328.  And I'm not the one who's announcing! :)

329.  A productive nap time.

330.  Friends who remember the insanity of having a toddler.

Friday, June 20, 2014

A few tidbits about me you may (or may not) know

For one reason or another, I've been in a reflective mood lately.  Working on my own ambitions, goals, hopes, desires, etc.  But also working on who I am.  What kind of friend am I?  What kind of wife am I?  What kind of mom am I?  What kind of servant am I?  Where can I improve?  What fits with my basic personality type?  WHAT IS MY BASIC PERSONALITY TYPE?!?!?

1.  I'm not a "closer."  To quote my friend, Gina, "I can rock the first 90% like no one's business!  That last 10% just sucks the life out of me." too.  The last bits of a project- when I'm SO close to being done- are the bits that move like molasses.

2.  I am not a morning person.  Like at all.  I'm not grumpy...I'm just.....not there.  Mindless.  In ept.

3.  I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up.  You heard me.  I know what I'm capable of...and I know I can work.  I can learn just about anything and do it for an extended period of time.  But, I want to find something that I look forward to doing.  Something that doesn't have me DREADING getting out of bed in the morning.  It's a ways off before I need to worry about reentering the work force, but I have a feeling it will be here before I know it- time to start getting my ducks in a row.

4.  I have a travel-bug, but haven't travelled much in the last 10 years.

5.  It's been more than 2 years since we put Molly down, and I still find myself missing that crazy dog every darn day.  Every time I see a friend who has to put a pet down, my heart hurts for them.  The only way to describe it is truly "heart breaking."

6.  I hold grudges.  This is something I'm desperately working on.  It affects me negatively.  It affects my friendships.  It's horrible!  (And it's usually about the small stuff too- not the big stuff.  Why can I forgive the big stuff but hoard grudges against the small stuff???  I'm working on it!!!)

7.  I don't like sexist people....of either gender. 

8.  I wish I could quote Scripture like I quote movies.  One time watching a movie, and I'm quoting it in daily life.  I could read Scripture over and over and over again....and my mind is like Teflon.

9. Don't get me wrong- I LOVE quoting movie lines!!!  If I find someone who can quote like me- we are instant friends. 

10.  I loathe cleaning.  Really, I do.  I do not find it rewarding.  I take care of my home because that's what we're supposed to do, and my husband is busy winning bread....but I do not enjoy it one little bit.  And with that, I'm off to clean some toilets!!!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Counting Mine {305-320}

305.  This blog post.  Read it.  Really.  It pulled me out of a pit of self-loathing.

306.  The Laid Back Book Club.  Reading books outside my normal genre, and loving them!

307.  The warm fuzzy inside of a sweatshirt after coming in from a cold water balloon fight.

308.  Friend's visits.  And Friend's kid's visits. 

309.  Meetings of the middle-child society.  (Taco)

310.  Smart Pop Popcorn:   the new white cheddar flavor.  Mmmmmm

311.  Laughing at Pintrest fails.

312.  Grandparents who hang onto their RV just because their grandkids LOVE camping with them.

313.  Fun new fonts.

314.  Having a talk you needed to have with a friend who knows you better than you know yourself.

315.  Ruth 1:16

316.  Accidentally purchasing fat free cream cheese; and the recipe turns out ok anyway.

317.  Hope.

318.  People who are willing to stick it out during the hard parts. Running is easy.  Hanging tough takes courage.

319.  Fiesta- ware (in superb condition) found at a garage sale for $2!!!

320.  A baby who sings "I am Jesus' little lamb" with me every nap and bedtime. Melt my heart!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

To my dear husband,

While I don't know if you ever read this blog, I know you have stumbled upon it from time to time.

So, today... on Father's Day, I'll write.

Just to you.

(But since I know this is a public forum, feel free to continue reading friends and family... I'll keep it G rated.  You're welcome)

When we first started dating, I knew you were going to be a great dad.

Every time we were around babies and children, they had your attention.  You were sweet to them, you were considerate of them.  It turned my head toward you.

But it was more than the way you treated other people's children; it was the way you treated others in general.  You're a kind man.  You have an amazing heart.  You're not selfish, instead you're giving and a servant.

You have a fantastic work ethic, and take the breadwinner role seriously.

You humbly take the spiritual cornerstone role of our family; investigating, studying, sharing, discussing.

You believe in Christian Education.  You know and understand the difference.

You don't feel entitled to anything, but continuously are grateful for grace and mercy.

You have an amazing belly laugh, and a simple smile.

You gladly eat anything I put on the table.

You treat me with love and respect.  We are a team.  Not only with words, but with actions.

Your introvert is a balance to my extrovert.

You appreciate simple living, and don't get marred down with the things of this world.

You are constantly growing in your walk with Christ.

You have the amazing ability to self-differentiate.  I appreciate that.

You also stand up for things you believe in.  You do so honorably and humbly.  That is rare.

I am honored to be your wife, and the mother of your children.

I'm grateful I get a front-row seat to the amazing person you are.

I'm grateful I get to dance the mine fields with you.

I'm grateful for your hugs, back rubs, endless paperwork nights, early work mornings, and service at church. 

You talk the talk.... and you walk the walk.

I'm your biggest fan, babe.

Love you tons,