Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Garden Explosion!!

Our garden loot. It is actually double this now! Ahhh!
Cannot keep up! Zucchini is both my friend and my foe :)
Grateful for all this bounty but goodness, I'll be ready to relax at night instead of cooking and baking to use up things from my garden :)

Monday, August 10, 2015

30 days

Usually the span of 30 days doesn't hold much. There are normal days at home, maybe a fun activity here or there but usually not THAT much happens in the span of just one month.

My last 30 days have been intense and anything but normal. SO much happened in the span of a month it's hard to put it into words. Everything from the celebration of my son turning 1 to the sad news that my grandpa had passed away. Throw in a mission trip, our anniversary, and our house guests moving out and you have the last 30 days of my life. I'll start with the most recent and then skip around after that:

Last Tuesday, my grandpa passed away peacefully while reading his Bible. It was a sweet way to meet Jesus but it was still very hard since we were all close to him. I had the great honor to know both of my grandpas well and have a close relationship with them. My other grandpa died before this blog but maybe someday I will write about him as well but really, I had 2 fantastic grandpas. They loved to play with us and both loved to read and study the Bible. They left incredible legacies.
2 months ago, my aunts, uncles, and cousins decided to meet at their house for a reunion. Right before I left, I snapped this quick picture of my Grandpa. So glad to have this memory of him and that weekend will always hold a special place in my heart.
The Bible that he studied from and the flag that was handed to my grandma thanking him for serving our country during WWII.

All 13 of the grandchildren! We haven't ALL been together since 1999 so a picture to document this was just mandatory :) We lined up in birth order!

 A picture of our entire family (minus my grandparents) in front of the house that my grandpa fixed up over the years. He loved to garden and woodwork and always had a project that he was working on.
So, that was just last weekend. Before that, we had:
July 18th: My dad's 60th birthday party!! Thankful for him and my mom! We went to the Zoo and then enjoyed time together at my brother's house.

July 19th: Connor's First Birthday Party. We had family and friends over and enjoyed a fun afternoon with them.

July 20th: My dear friend, Kelly, moved to Kansas. :( Our husbands were gone to work/school a lot when we first had kids so we had SO many adventures while we were solo parenting. I will miss her spontaneity and fun!
Our house guests also moved out this day since they found a home! We moved everything back over to the mother-in-law suite this week and I have no excuse now to not work on projects since my craft area is up and running again :)
July 22: Our 9th anniversary!!

We went to our favorite Mediterranean restaurant and then walked downtown Mankato. They have a fun art sculpture walking tour that is new every year and we haven't had the time to check it out so we took a walk and saw all the cool art!

July 24th: Connor's First Birthday!

 We went to a new Children's Museum and had SO much fun playing for the afternoon! This kid is so very close to walking but he's following in his siblings' footsteps by teasing us into thinking he'll walk before a year and then waiting until at least 13 months :) He just stands and plays and has taken 1-2 steps :)
The next day, I was packing all day long because on Sunday, July 26th, I went on a mission trip to Pine Ridge Indian Reservation with our youth group. It was a great trip and I was so proud of all the students who went and served.
A special little boy that started the week bouncing off the walls and half way through the week, he asked a question about heaven and I was able to share Christ with him. Seeds planted.
2 of my small group girls that are just so great!!

Our group!

38 foot cross...we watched the sunset and had a service out here. It was just beautiful.

One of our work projects cleaning out a trailer and moving brush.
*whew* That is what my last 30 days have looked like. I'm pretty drained and hope to have a little break before starting school in 2 short weeks. I'll be doing home preschool with Tristen and Aubrey this next year...we're taking it one year at a time deciding where they will go to school but for the time being, homeschooling seems to fit for this year. I'm excited to get a little school area in order soon! Maybe after a nap this afternoon :)
Thanks for reading this LONG post!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Fun Days

So our area hosts a big weekend every year with rides, parades, special events, sometimes fireworks (does every place with under 60,000 people do this? Maybe it's a Midwest thing?) Anyway, it's called Fun Days and we look forward to it every year.

People reserve spots for the parade 1-2 days in advance, the events are well attended, and the community just really gets into it.

Last night we met some friends at the Carnival and the kids loved it! And a fun moment for me? Feeling like this place, this town of 55,000 people is my community. It takes a while to feel like that but I realized it when my kids ran into friends, we stopped to talk with acquaintances and friends....this is our community and we have a place in it. 

Just like with anywhere you live, it has its imperfections but it still is HOME for this season of our life. 
Riding the train with their :)

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Birthday Girl

There are perks to having a husband who works in healthcare. One perk? His schedule is very different than others and he often has days off during the week (the bad thing is when it comes to holidays and weekends and it seems like he has to work every holiday weekend but that's another post entirely!) Aubrey's birthday was on Thursday and Aaron had the day off so we had a very fun family day together.

I remember getting to pick a fun activity on my birthday every year so it's a little tradition we've started doing with our kids. We gave Aubrey some options and she initially wanted to do a waterpark but it was actually a bit cold (!?!?! July 2nd and it was cold! Crazy!) so her second choice was the Zoo! So very fun :) We are big Zoo lovers around here and with a membership, we can never go too often.

The Birthday Girl!

 We opened presents in the morning so the kids would have a little time to play with them before we headed off to the Zoo. Aubrey is all about princesses now....can you tell? :)

 Zoo + Cotton Candy=A good birthday!

 We got back a little late but eating cake was a must! The kids basically fell asleep eating cake because they were SO tired from their day!

 Happy 3rd Birthday, Aubrey. We love you and are excited for this next year!

Friday, July 3, 2015

When You Get to Do That Thing You've Always Wanted To....

I have always had this weird bucket list item: To dress up very differently than I usually dress and walk around a mall-seeing if people treat me different than usual.

On Wednesday night, our youth group held a massive game of hide and seek in the mall and we leaders got to dress up in disguise and walk around the mall. I went as this: 
It was SO much fun. I don't feel like I got treated much different (actually a little nicer?) but it was so fun....some of the kids looked right at me and kept walking because they didn't recognize me :)

Maybe next time I do this, I'll be more daring and see if I'm treated differently and I'll let ya'll know :)

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Connor's Dedication

We dedicated Connor formally in front of our church on Sunday. We take our responsibility as parents seriously and use this opportunity to publicly announce that we will teach our children about the Lord.
Looking all dapper in his Sunday best

 Our pastor challenging and encouraging us

Connor grabbed the microphone during Pastor Greg's prayer and Aubrey ran onstage :) And somehow they did it so quietly that no one even noticed :)

My family

Us with the children God has entrusted to us. May we raise them right and not take the easy way out. May we have the courage to stand up for what is right even when it is not the popular view. May they see us loving God and serving Him. That was my prayer on Sunday.

Aaron's parents were able to make it as well

Connor with his great-grandma Julaine

Opening up sweet presents from family

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Princess Party on a Commoner's Budget

In 2 days, our sweet daughter will turn 3. She has such a unique personality because she loves princesses and all things girly...but then she catches a worm or attempts to catch a wasp with her bare hands! She is a spunky, fun, tomboy who loves to be girly. :) She's so fun to have as a daughter.
Some of our family were able to make a birthday celebration on Sunday.
As I was planning, I spent WAY too many hours on Pinterest, "looking" at princess parties (or more so comparing and wanting what others had). They were the most extravagant parties and the more and more I looked at them, the more discouraged I got.

You see, we've had some financial setbacks this month. A huge car repair, an air conditioner that needed repair to our guest's side of the house, food costs, and other unexpected things that came up. I didn't want to spend a penny on a party but wanted to do something fun for this little girl.

And thus, the princess party on a commoner's budget.

The absolute best part? My daughter had the most genuine, sweetest smile on her face the entire time. She LOVED every detail and didn't need that over the top princess party with a chandelier hanging from the ceiling. All she needed was to feel loved and cherished....and that, my friends, is free and a gift I can give to her over and over.

She loves princesses so instead of focusing on one, I put them all in the party.
Using my Cricut cutter, I cut out a "Once Upon a Time" decal and put it on the mirror. Aubrey noticed it and said, "Oh!!! Pretty!" :) And the cost? Absolutely nothing

And then, the food. The only thing I paid for with the party but we kept it simple:

And that was Aubrey's princess party on a next to nothing budget.
Some observations about this party compared to others I've planned:
1) I, as the mother, actually enjoyed it. I didn't have activities planned, I didn't have a set schedule to do. The kids played, the adults talked, we brought out dress up clothes, and we just lived in the moment, improvising as we went. I LOVED it and it reminded me of my own birthday parties. I remember playing with cousins or friends and just having a special day.
2) It was so much more about my daughter than about me and impressing others. Her needs came before my wants....and it showed in how the day went. She was so happy :)
3) There doesn't need to be a specific order to birthday parties. All of a sudden, it looked like a good time to open presents so we said, "Hey! Let's have her open presents!" It was so freeing to just go with the flow. 

Birthday Parties don't have to look Pinterest worthy and they absolutely don't have to cost a fortune. A little scrapbooking paper and food go a long way to make a little girl feel like a princess for a day. 
She took Sleeping Beauty to a whole new level on her birthday! The day was so fun that she fell asleep mid-playing on her chair. SO funny :) Oh, Aubrey girl, you are such a joy to have in our family!