North Carolina!

I realize its been over a month since I’ve blogged. And July was a very busy and fun month for us. But as I looked through the photos to start choosing which ones to upload, I got overwhelmed with the sheer amount of things we did! There was the 4th of July! Baking at cousin camp! The zoo! The children’s museum! The pool! It was overwhelming.

So I’ve decided to just write one blog about our favorite event of July: our beach vacation in North Carolina.

We saved for this vacation for a year. And we dieted and lost weight for this vacation for over a year! And it was TOTALLY WORTH IT.

Sunset Beach / NC / Long Bay / United States - 7/15/18

My least favorite part was the traveling bit. Getting through the airport with 3 kids and 3 carseats and our luggage and important papers and blah blah blah was not pleasant. And then we had bought tickets on Southwest, so there were no assigned seats once we got on the plan. Strangely enough, nobody wanted to take the seat next to me while I was holding a screaming baby Jace. That worked out well, as we had an empty seat next to us once he finally fell asleep. Overall, the kids did ok on the flight. But I wouldn’t recommend it. Nor Southwest’s in-plane wifi.

 

Once we landed, we picked up our rental van. It had a cool DVD player so the kids could watch movies we rented at Redbox – so we turned baby Jace’s seat forward facing so he could participate too. (He actually didn’t really give us the choice, he was going to crane his neck to see that show anyway, so it seemed safer to just put him forward facing for the trip – we’ve since but him rear facing again).

 

And then the last bummer part of the trip was that its really hard to have 5 people all sleeping in the same room (with various other adults and children sleeping in other nearby rooms behind thin walls). Baby Jace needs to cry/talk/scream/babble himself to sleep, especially around 2am. But he can’t really do that in a room with 4 other people. So there were definitely some rough nights. Both Jordan and I each had to spend a whole night up with him while everyone else slept. It was rough. He was so tired one morning that he fell asleep on the outside deck.

 

But that pretty much covers the negatives of the trip. There were SO MANY HIGH POINTS. We seriously had so much fun. During the day, we’d go to the beach and play in the ocean.

 

 

My favorite ocean swimming day was one time when it was low-tide, and we found a tide pool full of fish. Much squealing and strategy ensued as the children (and adults!) all worked together to catch the fish and put them into a bucket. I think Jax and his cousin Jay loved one fish to death, but the rest were returned to the ocean mostly unharmed. We even caught this one really awesome fish that would bury itself in the sand to hide from us. It was a total blast.

And if we were tired of the sand, we’d swim in my aunt’s swimming pool (her house backs right to the ocean).

 

Every evening, we’d all gather together for a big family dinner. Each family took turns cooking dinner on one of the nights. It was really nice to only have to buy food and worry about cooking one time that week, but get to eat delicious meals every night. Plus, big family dinner times are always fun.

Ocean Isle Beach / NC / United States - 7/20/18

Ocean Isle Beach / NC / United States - 7/19/18

At one point, my parents took all the grandkids for the lunch/nap shift so that we could all go out to lunch together as siblings.

Ocean Isle Beach / NC / United States - 7/20/18

During the middle of the days, when the babies would need to be napping, we’d go back to the rental house and hang out. The cousins all played with toys while the adults played video games or read books or took naps.

We spent one day fishing on the pier. We took the traditional selfie-ception photo like we did 4 years earlier.

NC / Long Bay / United States - 7/19/18

And everybody cast out a line and caught a fish or two. Fishing with kids is hard, but we managed it.

Jordan and Austin liked it so much that they went out again the Friday before we left – just the two of them. And on the last cast, Jordan managed to catch a LEGIT SHARK.

Four years ago, we were all catching baby sharks on this same pier. Nobody caught a shark this year except Jordan – and it was no baby thing. He sent the photo in to the pier owners, and they said they’d put it up on their photo wall of fame. We looked it up later, and its a sharp nose shark. Jordan had a blast, which made me really happy.

Most evenings after dinner, we went back out on the beach to just walk. Of course, “just walking” to 4 year old boys means definitely getting wet.

Sunset Beach / NC / Long Bay / United States - 7/18/18

They got nice and messy pretty much every night.

And we learned that baby Jace HATES having this clothes wet. And since none of the kids wore swimsuits…. they pretty much ended up walking back to the house in their underwear every night.

Ocean Isle Beach / NC / United States - 7/17/18

And baby Jace just went completely naked.

Ocean Isle Beach / NC / United States - 7/19/18

I think the evenings were my favorite time of day. Once the beach fun was had, we’d all trek back over to the house and give the kids their baths and bedtime routines.

Ocean Isle Beach / NC / United States - 7/19/18

And then as each family finished up putting their kids to bed, we’d all end up out on the big deck sitting in rocking chairs and talking as we waited for everyone to finish. We attempted to cause a couple typhoons on the other side of the world with our synchronized rocking. And we were always competing for the best deck chair.

Once most of the kids were in bed, it was time to play games!

By the end of the week, we even had the “grown ups” coming over and joining in the games. We’d warm up a bottle of cheese sauce and go through two bags of chips every night while playing games together (mostly a big group game called “Secret Hitler”).

It was a really fun way to end the evening.

This vacation was a total blast – it was the right mix of activities with family time with beach time with doing-nothing-at-the-house time. Our fridge was loaded with a ridiculous amount of alcohol and “-beritas”, and everyone chipped in to do mundane things like take out the trash and unload the dishwasher. We almost never get to be together as a big huge family, even during the holidays. So this week was just a little slice of heaven on earth.

Except that heaven will definitely include a separate bedroom for baby Jace and no airplanes.

Jordan and I discussed on the way home that we need to make these kinds of trips a priority for our little family. And so we have a separate budget line item to make sure we can do something like this (though maybe not on this scale) every summer while our children are growing up.

It really was a wonderful week.

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That time we went to the reservoir… twice..

Its been another fun week around here!

For cousin camp, we had medival/princess day. The kids made swords and shields and then did various tasks on their quest to save the princess. Some of those tasks included eating snacks, fighting the “bad knights”, jumping over the “moat”, and bouncing on the trampoline of doom.

And then they had to attack the castle and knock it down to save the princess.

Of course, Jaina and Jaylee wanted to be princesses. So we had some princess warriors working to save the princess too. Aurora / CO / United States - 6/19/18

For the second day of cousin camp, we took a field trip downtown. We loaded up some snacks and a change of clothes, and headed over to the light rail station. We always drive by the light rail train when we’re on the freeway, and Jax is always super excited about it. So I thought it would be fun to go on a ride! And it was.

Except for Baby Jace. For some reason, the light rail really scared him. He wanted to be held the whole time, and he didn’t want the person holding him to be sitting. He also spent most of the ride plugging his ears.

Denver / CO / United States - 6/22/18

Once we got downtown, we walked into Union Station and had a picnic lunch.

Denver / CO / United States - 6/22/18

It was so funny because it was this swanky place where business workers and train travelers were gathered inside this turn-of-the-century building that had been outfitted with nice furniture and fancy coffee stores. And then there was our crazy troop spreading out on a marble table and eating graham crackers and blueberries.

It was nice to have multiple adults to take all the various children to the bathroom at their various (uncoordinated) times. And we also took turns getting fancy coffees. Then we headed outside to see if we could find the splash pad I’d seen other people post pictures of. It was windy and cloudy, kinda cold. So I didn’t think the kids would really want to get wet.

I was wrong.

Denver / CO / United States - 6/22/18

It turned out much better than anticipated, considering the weather. Woody had brought some beach balls, and the kids ran back and forth in the water for quite some time. Jaxton spent most of the time pretending to be a train (the polar express, in particular). He’d run back and forth with is little finger up as his whistle.

Baby Jace wasn’t into water, but he did distribute shoes.

Denver / CO / United States - 6/22/18

And then we all changed into dry clothes and hopped back on the train to go home. It was a fun excursion.

Denver / CO / United States - 6/22/18

Let’s see – what else have we been up to? We took the kids to the children’s museum and spent a couple hours having fun there. Jaylee and I painted some pottery that’s going to be fired in the next two weeks – I’m looking forward to drinking out of my ridiculous shark mug. The big kids also climbed all the way to the top of the climbing tower all by themselves! I was so proud when I heard about it – Baby Jace and I played in the baby area while they climbed.

But I’d say the highlight of this particular trip was the flash flood river area. Jordan and the kids spent probably close to 45 minutes building dams to try to trap the water, and then getting excited to see them fail.

We LOVE Jordan’s new schedule. Its so nice that he gets to come along on all our fun excursions. Its much easier to me to have him along, and he doesn’t have to feel like he’s working away and missing out on all the fun. Its been such a positive change for our family.

The kids and I went to see Boss Baby at the early-morning kids theater. Then we stopped and they made the tie crafts on the way out. The crafts were free, but the lady doing them told us about their “date night” area where you can pay $6 and have them watch your kids while you see a movie. Later at home that day, Jaylee told me she wanted us to go on a date night so they could play in the play area. Haha!

Jordan’s work had their annual BBQ at the local reservoir. So we went and hung out for a bit. It was fun to meet some of his coworkers and eat some food at the “beach”. But I was overall unprepared for how much the kids wanted to play in the sand and water. Fortunately, we had already made plans to go to the reservoir the following Monday morning with my mom’s group.

Aurora / CO / United States - 6/25/18

And let me tell you, the reservoir was MUCH LESS CROWDED on a Monday morning than on that Saturday afternoon. It makes sense, of course. But I’m glad we’re already planned to come back. It made leaving early on Saturday easier, and we had a lot more fun when it wasn’t so crowded.

Jordan took turns take Jaylee and Jax out onto the water with the rental canoes/paddle boards.

And Baby Jace was in his true form – wearing his good southern-lady bonnet and plugging his ears anytime any sort of loud sound was nearby (like the sound of a single goose squawking).

We stayed for about 3 hours – which is a long time for our family to stay on a beach with kids. But it made me excited for our beach vacation to North Carolina here in a couple weeks. Its going to be so nice!

Tell you what though, that sun wiped all of us out! And it wasn’t even that hot compared to what it usually is! I will definitely sleep well tonight – the kids are all already passed out.

Till next time!

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Dinosaurs and Rockets

Its been a fun week so far!

This week in cousin camp, we had dinosaur day and space camp day. Dinosaur day was super fun.

Aurora / CO / United States - 6/12/18

We made these dinosaur dice where there was a different action on each side of the dice – stomp like a stegosaurus and the like. Then we had the kids stamp dinosaur footprints into sugar cookies and we baked them to make fossil cookies (which was a total Pinterest fail – they came out as just regular sugar cookies. ha! Still delicious). And we did some other dinosaur related activities – dancing and such. I’m really bad at taking photos on these days. I need to be better, but I’m usually too wrapped up in making sure everyone is having fun.

Jaylee is REALLY enjoying summer cousin camp – which was pretty much the main goal from the get-go. She was the one we were looking for summer camps for, so I’m glad she’s enjoying our homemade version. And we’re super enjoying getting to play with the kids and cousins (and adults!). It makes a whole morning of fun. So everybody wins!

By far, my favorite so far was our space camp day.

The kids wrapped up some barbies and doggies in tinfoil to turn them into astronauts. Then they decorated some rockets (35mm film canisters that I ordered off of amazon). A couple people were a little bit whiny – looking at you Jax – so we made our “rocket” snacks (fruit and marshmallow kabobs), then went outside to launch our rockets. We had two experiments lined up: the Diet Coke and mentos and the film canister rockets. The Diet Coke was a little underwhelming – much cooler on the internet.

The film canister rockets, though, were a total hit.

6/16/18

We put an alka seltzer tablet and a little bit of water in the film canisters, then popped the cap on and set them down. After a couple seconds, they did a nice little pop and went up into the sky! As long as you could find the cap and the rocket, we could do them over and over again – though there are several still up in the tree. And it was safe enough to hold and launch from your hand. Super fun! Each family took a couple canisters and alka seltzer tablets home to show spouses. 🙂 The adults had almost more fun than the kids!

Of course, after that, we were outside and there was a whole new world of outside toys to play with. So we didn’t get to our last couple “space” activities. Which is fine – we’ll use them during another day of space camp. Fun was had by all (especially the adults). So I’m calling it a success.

Besides cousin camp, we took our kids to see a summer movie. One of the local theaters is doing a kids-series of morning movies: we paid $5 for each person to see 10 weeks of kids movies. This week we saw LEGO: Ninjago. It was cute. Baby Jace had to be escorted out during the last 20 minutes of the movie, but he did pretty good for the most part! The older two did really well.

And we’ve done a good share of playing outside, of course. Which means messes for the boys. Unintentionally give them a sandbox and a garden hose, and you’ve got a solid hour of messy entertainment.

Good thing they’re cute.

Aurora / CO / United States - 6/15/18

Jordan and I also got a little bit of date time! We went to the wedding of an old friend, and got to hang out with adults and celebrate love! It was a great time! And I’m really really bad at selfies.

Golden / CO / United States - 6/16/18

I love summer. This relaxed pace is so wonderful. Its nice to get to be go-with-the-flow for a couple months. And I’ve REALLY been enjoying my children. Jordan’s new work schedule definitely helps with that. 🙂

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So many birthdays! Much celebrating! Many fun!

Phew! Its been quite the week of celebrating around here.

Colorado Springs / CO / United States - 6/5/18

Both of these kiddos had birthdays! And for the second year, we decided to spend their birthdays at Great Wolf Lodge. What was extra cool this year is that Jordan’s whole side of the family was also able to come! It was 3 days and 2 nights of cousins, fun, and water slides.

Colorado Springs / CO / United States - 6/5/18

Our vacation was so much more fun because we had so much family around. Jordan and I were able to go on some of the bigger slides with my nephews, which was a total blast. I love water slides! But we didn’t really get to do them last year since Jordan and I would have to trade off watching babies in order to do it. With so many more adults around, I actually got to enjoy more of the water park! And the kids got to enjoy time playing with their cousins as well.

Aurora / CO / United States - 6/4/18

It was really nice because Jaylee was tall enough to get a yellow wristband this year, which meant she could go on some of the tube and mat rides with Jordan and I. Jax wasn’t quite tall enough, but he was enjoying going down the little kid slides over and over again. At some point, a lifeguard took pity on him and cut off his red wristband to give him a yellow one when Jordan and I were not around. So then he ALSO got to go on the tube and mat rides – which he LOVED. The water park wasn’t crowded because the hotel was half booked with athletes for the Warrior Games, so we never really had to wait in line for slides or any attractions!

Water park grouch face

Beyond the water park, we did just about everything else.

Jaxton REALLY enjoyed playing the Jurassic Park arcade game. After he was out of tokens, he was telling EVERYONE about the spinosaurus that he captured and the T-Rex that jumped out at him and the indomintus rex that he ran away from. He was super cute.

Baby Jace did ok in the hotel room, though he did get up super early. One morning he was up at 4:30, and he and I went down to the hotel lobby to walk around for a couple hours until the rest of the family was up. At least the sunrise was beautiful.

Colorado Springs / CO / United States - 6/6/18

He also got to practice his grouch face. He would give it to any “stranger” who dared to look at him. And by stranger, I mean cousin/aunt who was on the approved list 6 hours early, but was suddenly given the grouch face again. My sister-in-law Chelsea totally rocked capturing this cute little quirk for me – I’ve never been able to get a photo of it because he doesn’t do it to me.

It was a really wonderful vacation – we had so much fun. On the drive home, the kids kept saying they wanted to turn around and go back to Great Wolf Lodge. I think they were pretty pleased with their birthday present trip.

Originally, we didn’t know that the rest of Jordan’s family would be joining us for this trip. So we still scheduled the kids a birthday party at this new play-play in town called Lava Island.

Aurora / CO / United States - 6/9/18

I didn’t get many photos of the party, but I’m super glad that we went ahead and did this in addition to the family trip. The kids got to invite their friends (lots of cousins, neighbors, Bella and Jaxon, and a school friend), and they ran around and burned off lots of energy. Then we went upstairs and had pizza and cupcakes before opening presents. It was a super fun way to do a birthday party – lots of entertainment for the kids and no cleaning the house for me!

Aurora / CO / United States - 6/9/18

Aurora / CO / United States - 6/9/18

Jaylee and her traditional birthday rocks from Jessie and Bucky – I had to explain the memory to her.

Phew! What a week!

And we’ve got a lot on deck for this week too. I LOVE summer!

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Endings and Beginnings

What a week its been! It was the end of my 32nd trip around the sun, and beginning of my 33rd! It was the end of kindergarten for Jaylee.

I’m so proud of her. She can officially read books to herself (and her brothers!). And the night after her continuation ceremony, she was crying really hard in her room because she didn’t want to leave kindergarten. It occurred to me that we all look forward to (and dread) change in that way. But time moves on! So its the end of kindergarten…

and the beginning of cousin summer camp!

Aurora / CO / United States - 6/1/18

The first one was pirate day. There was a treasure map with different things for the kids to do, and they had to follow the clues to solve the riddle and find the hidden treasure chest! Jaylee LOVED it – she was flying through the clues. Jax was into it. The rest of the cousins were kinda-sorta into it. As it to be expected with the under-5 lot. We made pirate hats, found our pirate names, bowled for coconuts, pinned an eye-patch on a pirate, read some books, ate some snacks, and opened endless chocolate coins once the booty was found. Then we played toys!

Jordan and I cleaned up the backyard in preparation for the kids’ birthday present: a trampoline. But before we had room, we needed to pick up all the winter trash and move the planter boxes and plant the gardens, etc etc.

Aurora / CO / United States - 5/30/18

But the kids have really been enjoying the new space. And the new trampoline. We’ve already had the neighbors over once to bounce out some energy.

Aurora / CO / United States - 6/2/18

The trampoline was actually a find at the youth garage sale. It was supposed to have a swing on it, but it didn’t come with all the pieces. So Jordan and I improvised and cannibalized some pieces to make it safe and functional – just without the swing. Which I’m actually not sad about – the swing made me nervous.

And since its spring/summer, that meant it was time for our bi-annual family photos with our friends, the Irons. Ever wonder what having three kids is like at a family photo shoot?

Aurora / CO / United States - 6/2/18

So think twice, friends.

Just kidding, they’re pretty awesome.

Even when throwing fits at sister’s kindergarten continuation ceremony.

Aurora / CO / United States - 5/31/18

Next week, we get to go to Great Wolf Lodge for the kids’ actual birthdays. And this year, the Ingram side of the family is coming along. Its going to be such a blast. I can’t wait!

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Its summer break!!!

Well, for me anyway. Jaylee has her last day of kindergarten this week.

The end of this school year was a bittersweet one for me. My favorite principal/boss ever is leaving. He is a fantastic person to work for and a great leader, so I’m really sad to see him go. My math team at work celebrated him on his last day by having a student create his face out of equations, which we then 3D printed and tattooed on our arms/neck. We also had “Dave’s Original Gang” necklaces and googled “how to wear a gang bandana” (haha!).

5/25/18

At the last staff meeting, we tried to downplay this so we could do our “Gang Activity” presentation without spoiling it beforehand, but the rest of the staff knows us and knew we were up to something. It was a lot of fun anyway.

I also won an award! I really love my job, and I like being good at my job. And its fun to get recognized for that sometimes. I was surprised by how much it actually meant to me.

Aurora / CO / United States - 5/25/18

My mom, sister, sister’s boyfriend, and I ran our first road race of the season – the Bolder Boulder.

5/29/18

3 years ago, finishing this race was my New Years resolution! Now, its just a fun super-crowded training run for our half-marathons later this summer. Its fun to see when a resolution turns into a lifestyle change. (I’ve also lost around 40 pounds, so there’s that).

Boulder / CO / United States - 5/28/18

But now we’re in FULL ON SUMMER BREAK MODE.

Aurora / CO / United States - 5/22/18Aurora / CO / United States - 5/21/18

Naturally, we have a plan for most days. We’ll head to the library, movie theater, and museums once a week, and have at-home cousin summer camp the other two days.

And of course, lots of pool time with the family. My parents’ neighborhood has the BEST pool for kids. We love hanging out there.

Aurora / CO / United States - 5/27/18

Its going to be an awesome summer!

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So…. its been a while…

Yea, about that whole “I’ll blog more frequently” thing…

The long and short of it is that I have more hobbies than I have time. My hobbies (as of today) include: video games (specifically HOTS), running, reading, learning to be a better math teacher, quilting, gardening, home improving, book clubbing, fish tank reefing, playing with my children, and cleaning the house. And the amount of free time that I have to pursue these hobbies just isn’t quite enough. So the blog has fallen by the wayside. Which honestly makes me sad. I only have this little bit of time with my kiddos home, and I want to remember the best parts of it. Without the blog, I’m afraid I’ll forget the little things.

But the other thing that has kept me from updating this blog is the sense of feeling overwhelmed by the amount of awesome family events that have happened since my last post.

Like Jace’s first birthday party (Mr. One-derful), Christmas, traveling to Houston to see family, another year of teaching math, Jaylee learning to read in kindergarten, building a retaining wall, updating my doors and living room wall, Easter, getting a new reef tank, building bunk beds for Jax and Jaylee, etc etc etc. There’s just so much that’s happened since October that its overwhelming to even consider trying to write it all down.

So I’m not going to.

I’m just going to start fresh today.

And it really stinks that those beautiful moments won’t be preserved here. But it is what it is. I don’t want to miss out on blogging about even more moments because I’m convinced I HAVE to write about all those events. So we’re just going to start fresh.

I have one more week of teaching 7th grade math left for this school year. My schedule next year will be changing – I will have 3 different preps for my 3 different classes. Jordan is also changing to a new schedule on Monday: he gets to permanently work from home from 3pm to midnight. This is AWESOME because it means he’ll be home during the day for the summer – so he gets to come on our fun family outings. And during the school year, we won’t have to juggle childcare in the mornings.

I’m excited for the summer – Jordan and I are going to run a “cousins DIY summer camp” in our house with different themed days and activities. It should all be super fun (and super cheap), and will make lots of fun memories for our kiddos. I have an entire google doc of snack/game/activity ideas. It’ll be a blast.

We’re also doing a fair amount of traveling this summer – to Great Wolf Lodge for our kids’ birthdays (with their cousins), and to North Carolina to visit my aunt’s awesome beach house (with our family). Its going to be spectacular.

Since no “whoops, I’ve been gone too long” post is complete without photos, here are a couple of our day to day recent life. I look forward to carving out more time to update this online journal. And I look forward EVEN MORE to reading these posts in years to come.

Aurora / CO / United States - 4/21/18Aurora / CO / United States - 4/21/18Aurora / CO / United States - 4/30/18Aurora / CO / United States - 5/2/18Aurora / CO / United States - 5/8/18Aurora / CO / United States - 5/12/18

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