Daughter-In-Law Day

This might make some of you jealous, but I’m gonna brag on my wonderful mother-in-law. A few years ago, she made up a holiday to celebrate her daughters-in-law. She planned a day to make us feel special, and chose August 23. Allow me to explain why she chose this day.

The word “daughter” has 8 letters.

The word “in” has 2 letters.

The word “law” has 3 letters.

Are you with me?

8-2-3

August 23!

It might not surprise you that she happens to be a math teacher 😀

Every year on August 23rd, she sends me a very beautifully written letter about how much she appreciates me, how she feels about me being wed to her son, what makes me a great mom, basically everything a gal needs to hear in the midst of a long day filled with laundry, dishes, fixing meals, sibling rivalry, bills, etc.

Its one of the nicest things anyone has done for me, and it comes every year! Lucky me!

If that wasn’t great enough, she also includes a gift card to one of my favorite stores. Yes, she IS the best!

So this isn’t about spoiling someone. It is about finding a unique way to celebrate someone you love in your own way. A way that’s different from the typical birthday, anniversary, Christmas, etc.

Thank you Rhonda for giving the world the most wonderful son so that he could be mine. And for being a great “Neena” to my girls. And for being an awesome mom-in-law! Love you!

Happy 8th Birthday Emma!

So far, this has been a big week for Emma!

Turning 8 and starting 3rd Grade!

Emma, lets see…you are a mini-me.

You have a huge heart for everyone.

You love music, sports, games, movies, swimming.

You are not a girly girl and I wonder if you’ll ever wear a dress voluntarily. 🙂

You love to watch Jessie, Good Luck Charlie, A.N.T. farm, Austin & Ally.

But you will also watch Peppa Pig, Team Umizoomi, Bubble Guppies, Doc McStuffins, and Oswald to please your sister.

You have a passion for arts and crafts, and you LOVE watching Craft Wars with me. Our new adventure is learning to SEW together!

In just 10 years you will be turning 18 and embarking on your own adventures. I can’t wait to see where God leads you. But for now, I will soak up everything about you because I know 10 years will fly by.

For your first few birthdays, you became overwhelmed with attention and you sobbed every time we sang “Happy Birthday” to you. I think you grew out of that stage around age 4-5, but your birthday pics will always remind us of your sweet shyness during those years.

…On to the birthday news…

Here are a few of my favorite photos over the years:

This year’s birthday cake was a new one for us.  I made a Number 8 cake and topped it with M & Ms. I’m working on a blog post on how I made it, so you will see the details soon. And instead of choosing a theme for her party, we simplified things and just had a “RED” party, since red is her favorite color these days. Plates, cups, napkins, silverware, tablecloth, balloons, were all red and white.

This year, we had close family (grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins) over one day where we ate and visited. It was wonderful having all 5 cousins (including new baby cousin Grant)together for a new photo shot! We all snapped like crazy and this is the best one I captured:

For her actual birthday, we planned a fun outing for her, and let her bring 2 friends along! We went to Gateway Fun Park where we played mini-golf, bumper cars, go-karts, practiced at the batting cages, and spent a bunch of money in the arcade. We all had a great time!

This year, she asked for new games for her Nintendo DS and a kids video camera. We also got her a stuffed animal that she saw on vacation but couldn’t get because she had spent all her money at the Disney store. She loved him because he had “big cute eyes”. I instantly knew I would be ordering him from Amazon as soon as we got home.

My birthday wish for you, sweetie, is that you stay true to the person God has designed you to be. That you continue to love and and live for him every day. That you grow up to be as wonderful a mother as you are a daughter. Ok, that’s more than one wish, but hey, I have lots of dreams for you. 🙂

Happy Birthday Emma!

Vacation 2012

We just returned from our 4th family vacation to Branson, MO. Ok, it’s been a few days, but it has taken me awhile to narrow down the 100 pictures we took. We get a lot of funny looks from some people when we tell them that this is where we like to vacation. Many people associate it with the older crowd, which is only partly fair. Yes, there is lots to do for the older crowds, but there is just as much to do for the younger crowd too! It has changed a lot in the past decade. We found a fantastic resort called Stillwaters Resort which is family-friendly in every way.  It is only 1 mile down the road from Silver Dollar City. It has 3 great pools, with slides and a waterfall. And access to the lake. So your front door is poolside and your back door is lakefront!

This is our vacation spot:

We like to go over the Fourth of July because Silver Dollar City has Kidsfest during this time which is always great for the kids.

During our time at Silver Dollar City we had breakfast with the Backyardigans! Both girls have grown up with them so they both love them.

For the 6 hour drive, I did a little more planning than I have in the past. I found lots of free printables to keep the kids busy in the car (in between DVDs of course).

Here are the games we played:

Alphabet Game

I Spy With My Little Eye

Slug Bug

Scavenger Hunt

Car Games

The Scavenger Hunts were from Mom’s Minivan. I printed one for my 7 year old, and there is a simpler, preschool one for my 3 yr old.

The Slug Bug Game, I Spy Game, and Alphabet game were all from Prepared Not Scared.

I also surprised my kids with 2 disposable Kodak cameras; one for underwater and one for everything else.

We spent a lot of time on the lake with my cousins. They have a boat and graciously invited us out with them. My husband and oldest daughter even took turns driving the boat! It was fun getting a taste of “life on the lake.”

and THIS is why I’m glad I blog…these two holding hands was the cutest thing ever!

This year we finally did something we’ve been wanting to do for awhile now…we visited the Titanic Museum. Emma learned a lot  in school since this year was the 100th anniversary. It was really neat! We were not allowed to take cameras in, so these are our pictures from outside. When you enter, you get a boarding pass with a real passenger’s name on it with a description about them. At the end of the tour, you enter the memorial room and find out if you survived…we all survived! John’s person was a first officer. Mine was a second class passenger from Kentucky. Emma’s was a first Class passenger from Paris. And Laila’s was a third class passenger from London who was on her way to New York ( with her wedding dress that she made!) to get married! It was humbling to read the stories, see the artifacts, and experience everything from how cold the water was on that night, to how steep the ship tipped, to walking up the million dollar recreated grand staircase!

After the Titanic, we hit the Tanger outlets and the girls spent their vacation money at the Disney store. I also got Emma a bunch of back to school clothes at Justice. Everything was 40% off…my kind of store!

Just a few souvenirs:

Before heading home, we spent some time at our Aunt June’s in Rockaway Beach. Cousin Summer was there so the girls played.

Now it is back to home sweet home. Hope you are having a wonderful summer!

Family Reunion

My mother-in-law organized a family reunion which turned out to be a fantastic event. It was originally going to be held at her brother’s home in the country pond-side. But with the triple digit heatwave, it was moved to the nice a/c church fellowship hall. We had tons of delicious food, some fun games, and of course, lots of catching up going on since it was the first one in about 9 years. I had mentioned to her that we should have some minute-to-win-it type games and, BAM, she put me in charge of games! Fun! So I planned 3 games that were appropriate for all ages.

Minute-to-win-it game supplies

Game #1: Face the Cookie

Place a cookie on your forehead. Using your facial muscles, work the cookie down your face into your mouth without dropping it.

Game #2: Balance the Fruit Loop

Place a popsicle stick in your mouth. Balance as many fruit loops on the end of the stick as you can without dropping them. I think the record was 7.

Game #3: Suck it Up (yes, I named it, ha!)

Place a straw in your mouth. Place the other end of the straw on a bean. Suck in to move the beans around the paper plate to form a face. This is NOT easy!

Various pictures:

The FOOD

The Kids table with arts/crafts

Youngest relative

Group Picture Time!

(You can click on the pictures to see them better.)

We left for vacation the morning after this reunion and just got home late last night. So guess what I’ll be working on next!

Welcome baby Grant!

I am a very proud aunt…introducing our newest nephew…GRANT.

We got to meet him over the weekend and love on him and breathe in that wonderful sweet baby smell. Don’t you just wish you could bottle that smell? ahhhh…

Emma really surprised us by how much she loved holding him. He snuggled into her and slept so good she said “mommy this is easy!” And later that day she said “this is the best day ever!” I think she was in love as much as the rest of us!

Laila on the other hand held him for about a minute, giggled, and was on to something else. She did ask LOTS of questions about him though.

It fills my heart to see my brother-in-law and sister-in-law as new parents!

The day after he was born, I was sidewalk chalking outside with the kids and decided to take this picture. I printed and framed it for his room, which is Candyland themed.

You might have seen my post awhile back on the Candyland baby shower. Well, I couldn’t help but contribute some of the decor to the room. Thank you Erin for letting me do this!

Candyland fabric is pretty rare to come by, but the new mommy was able to find some on eBay. She ordered 2 pieces of coordinating fabric which I made wall decor out of. I used the same method I used when I made the fabric memo boards so you can read the steps to that here. Basically, I just laid a piece of quilt batting over a 16 x 20 canvas, laid the fabric over the batting, and stapled to the back.

So welcome to this crazy world sweet baby!

May your world be filled with frogs and snails and puppy dog tails!

Girls Day Out

What a fabulous day!

My mom came down to visit for a few days and we planned a very special girls day out. St Louis opened a new American Girl store a couple months ago so we just had to make a trip there. Laila has a bitty baby that was her older sister’s, and Emma (older sister) got a “Just Like Me” doll for Christmas. We had lunch in the bistro and the girls ordered mac n cheese. The girls’ dolls had their own adorable booster seats, and mini cups and saucers. We all had their signature pink lemonade…yum!

Emma picked out the skater outfit set, a pair of reading glasses, and a hairbrush for her doll. Laila, who loves anything miniature, picked out a breakfast in bed set and a bitty blender set. As soon as she got home, she immediately set up her new play food for her Backyardigans and Lalaloopsies! Silly girl. And Emma was excited to see the “Addy” display because her class read the book during the school year.

After that, we made our first ever visit to Trader Joes. I had been wanting to check it out for a long time. I just wanted to see what they had and try some new foods. We loved the little kid shopping carts. My new foods to try: eggplant cutlets, almond butter, and pineapple salsa. Boy, those sound gross when you put them altogether, don’t they?

Thankfully we were home in time to rest up before older sister’s baseball game. Perfect ending to a fabulous day! Thanks to Grandma for spoiling us today, but more important, for just coming down and spending some quality time with us! Need to do it again soon…

I wanted some new creative layouts for my pictures, so I decided to give pic monkey a go. Check it out!

Memorial Weekend

Now that it is officially summer vacation, so far we have slept in, broken in the pool, had a couple lazy days and started talking about what this summer holds for us.

This weekend we started off with a little baseball. Both my daughter and my husband had games on Thursday night.

Friday…A little family fun at the StL zoo. All the usual attractions… stingray exhibit, children’s zoo, train ride, and of course, the carousel (their favorite!) We are very excited for the opening of the new area coming soon, the sea lion arena!

Stingray exhibit

Carousel ride

My little animals

This is how we do lunch at the zoo: we pack our own, park near the shade and have ourselves a little picnic!

Lunchtime!

Very excited for the new exhibit coming this summer:

Saturday…a haircut for me…woohoo! It had been 3 months since my last one…yes my hair grows painfully slow. Just a quick trim…I’m a simple gal. Oh, and a graduation party for a friend later that evening.

My ‘do!

Sunday…A longer family trip to a graduation party for our cousin. Every time we travel to this area of the state, we pass by the “world’s largest cross”. It is outside Effingham, Il and stands 198 feet tall. It is at the crossroads of I70 and I57 and can be seen for miles. It is a beautiful reminder that our faith can stand so tall. Here is my pic as we drove by:

World’s largest cross…Effingham, IL

Here are the girls in the car on our trip…we splurged on these headrest DVD players one year ago and they have been wonderful! Keeps them entertained pretty well. We still have interruptions, emergency pit stops, arguing and all that fun stuff goin on, but these at least allow us to go a few hours without pulling our hair out!

Also on Sunday was my father-in-law’s birthday. Happy Birthday Mike! We love you!!

Monday…sometimes we go to the parade in town, but after a long day on Sunday, this time we stayed home and enjoyed a little pool time, grill time, kickin back family time! But we have not forgotten our veterans who fought and for the service men and women who fight today for our freedom! Thank you to all of you who have served and are serving our country; including the families who sacrifice their loved ones!

Happy Memorial Day!

On another note, we are now on baby watch! Our little niece or nephew will be born any day!!!

We are very excited to meet her/him!

C’mon baby, everyone is ready for you!

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