Thursday, June 30, 2011

our summer go-bags

Last year, you may remember me writing about the restaurant bag I keep packed for our occasional trips out to eat. It's really been useful in getting us out of the house quickly, especially since I hate packing in a rush. Let me rephrase that: I hate packing. Ask Mark, he'll tell you.
While reading Getting Organized for an Intentional Summer a couple weeks ago, Mandi suggested keeping a go-bag to help get you out of the house for summer activities in no time. What a great idea! Other than keeping the diaper bag stocked, I don't actually have these bags completely packed + ready to go. Instead, I made a list for the three general places we could go on a whim. Like tonight, while we were eating dinner, we were invited to go to the park + splash pad with some friends. After cleaning up the kitchen, we got Morgan and Parker in their swimsuits, packed a couple things and left. It was very stress-free and the kids loved the impromptu visit to one of their favorite summer hangouts. These are my lists :

backyard / park / zoo :
my market basket
sippy cups / juice boxes
wet wipes

picnics :
everything from the backyard / park / zoo list, plus :
beach / picnic blanket
mini cooler tote
portable high chair for Parker

splash pad / beach :
everything from the backyard / park / zoo list, plus :
beach / picnic blanket
beach towels
swim vests (beach only)
bug repellant
extra dry clothes
extra shoes
swim diapers
cooler for food + snacks
winged shelter (we actually have the Vista Wing, which is no longer available - this one I linked is very similar - it is perfect for getting out of the sun if we are in a place that doesn't have much shade.)

Right now, I taped the list to the back of our mudroom door that goes out to the garage. The counter in the mudroom is almost always being used to unpack or repack bags and here I can glance at it to make sure I'm not forgetting anything (which still happens sometimes!).

For me, having a list and a system make even the shortest, simplest outing more enjoyable. And that's what I want this summer to be all about.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

my plan for a slow + present summer

Now that summer is officially here, I've been reviewing our calendar and we have quite a bit planned over the next two months. For the most part, we will be staying close to home, but even then things can get busy and before you know it, it will be Labor Day. So, I took a lot of the advice in Mandi's post over at Simple Mom about Getting Organized for an Intentional Summer and started to plan. (If you want to have an intentional summer with your children, I highly recommend this blog post!)

First, I made a list of things we want to do. Everything from picnics in the park, to visiting our local farmer's market, to making popsicles and lounging in the sun. Here is my list from simple + general, to specific:

Things to do at home :
outdoors : play golf, soccer, t-ball, blowing bubbles, ride on the swings, play in the pool and water table. Go for walks around the neighborhood. Go for bike rides - alone, with Mark, and as a family. Eat meals outside as much as possible. Storytime in the grass.

crafts and activities : make homemade play-doh, make lots of Zoku popsicles and smoothies, make spray chalk, create texture books, paint rocks and continue to find and pin more ideas throughout the summer on my kids learning + activities board.

me : consolidate and minimize daytime errands, have fewer personal projects and be more efficient with household chores. Plan easy-to-make, simple ingredient meals and be prepared to grill a lot. Ask yourself "is this important?"

Around town + beyond :
go on picnics, visit our local parks - Shiawassee Park and Heritage Park - feed the ducks, go on a nature walk, play at the playground and splash pad. Visit the Detroit Zoo, Potter Park Zoo in Lansing and Binder Park Zoo in Battle Creek. Visit our farmer's market on Saturdays. Go to the beach and play in the sand at Lakeshore Park, Island Lake and Pontiac Lake. Cheer on Mark at his softball games. Visit the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum.

July :
Thursdays : Library Storytime at the Pavillion in Downtown Farmington at 11am if I can push Parker to take just one nap.
July 15 - 17 : Farmington Founder's Festival - Parade Downtown on Saturday at 10am.
July 20 - 23 : Ann Arbor Art Fair
July 23 : Memberfest at the Detroit Zoo
July 25 - 31 : participating in Ali Edwards' Week in the Life

August :
17 : Foofa (from Yo Gabba Gabba) appearance at The Oakland Mall (Morgan doesn't know about this - she is going to pee her pants).
24 : Marshmellow Fly + Fry at Heritage Park
29 : Splash Bash at Heritage Park
plus a long weekend with friends, camping at Port Crescent - our first family camping trip!

Another tip Mandi had was to keep a 'go bag' packed and ready to go. The idea is very similar to the restaurant bag I keep packed for that I-don't-feel-like-cooking feeling or last minute dinner invite. I'll post the contents of ours next time.

So, share with me. What are your plans this summer? Do you have more ideas I can add to my list?

Monday, June 27, 2011

first summer weekend review

We had a fantastic weekend - complete with sun, sand, water, lots of music, lots of waiting and a couple of incredibly well behaved kids.

On Saturday, Mark and I took the kids to Ann Arbor for their Summer Festival. Our first stop was to see Amococo - an amazing luminarium (or puffy tent as we described to Morgan). You can read more about it here and here. When we got to the site, the line was long but I didn't realize how slow it would move. Our marking at the end of the line was a 2-hour wait. Phew! We really wanted to go in and see it, and it was a beautiful day. The best we could do was wait in line and see if we (and especially Morgan and Parker) could tolerate the wait. If worse came to worse, we'd just get out of line and find another attraction. They exceeded my expectations and were incredibly patient. Luckily, there was a lot of space to run around and play, and then come back in line for drinks and snacks. Just over two hours later, we were taking off our shoes and listening to the rules of being inside Amococo.

Morgan and Parker loved it. Lots of oohs and aahs while we wandered through the domes, talked about all the colors and light, and gazed up into the oculus. It was so fun to watch their faces and so worth the wait.

Afterwards we got some dinner and went back to the Top of the Park to walk around. We stopped at the Rackham stage to watch Funktion perform - and they were awesome! We ended up staying there the rest of the night and let the kids run around and dance until they were completely worn out.

On Sunday, after sleeping in until 8:30 (which is unheard of in this house), we spent much of our day around the house. Mark did a ton of work inside and out, and after Parker's nap we went to Lakeshore Park in Novi. It's nice and close to home (and easy to get to if we just want to make a quick trip to play in the water) so we decided to get a pass for the year. This is also the same park that Mark mountain bikes at quite often, so it was a no-brainer.

The lake was still a bit chilly but we did spend some time in the water. We played a lot in the sand and Morgan was not happy about leaving to go home for dinner. After grilling and eating dinner outside, we ate popsicles in the grass, threw the kids in the bathtub and got them ready for bed. And then we crashed ourselves!

We had such a fun weekend and I imagine much of our summer is going to be just as exciting! More on that coming up...

Saturday, June 25, 2011

One Little Word : June

Our assignment this month for the One Little Word class was to reflect on our word while playing and getting messy. First we needed to pick a color and make mini canvases to fit in the 9 pocket page protectors - the same we used in February

Since I've been using a lot of green in my previous prompts, I chose a yellow-ish green for my color. Before I cut the canvases, which are truly mini at just 2 1/8" wide by 3 1/8" high, I printed a page from Leo Babauta's free e-book Focus. I found a page which was about focus, happiness and distraction. Perfect! I printed the page on kraft cardstock and cut out my 9 cards.

Now, getting messy. Deep breath. Unless I'm painting a chipboard embellishment, an album cover or the like, I don't pull out my scrapbooking paint very often. I love the artsy look on layouts I've seen with a little paint on it but I just haven't done it much. Here's my chance.

First, I put a watered down coat of white on most of the cards. You can kind of see the text peeking through the paint a little bit. After it dried, I pulled out some stamps - circles, dots, text - and a few rub-ons and other little embellishments to add to each card. Here is my final layout and a simple review, starting at the top left corner, of what is on each card:
1. I actually didn't use the text printed side on this card. I just flipped it over and started with a plain kraft background. I stamped a large dot stamp in Versamark, added UTEE and embossed. I painted a chipboard bracket black and glued it on, then painted green on the left side, over the embossed dots.

2. This card has many, many layers of things that I just didn't like. Paint, rub-ons and my handwriting were not coming together like I wanted. In the end, I added a thin layer of green over the whole card (and again, you can faintly see what it underneath it) and after it dried, I added a white Fontwerks circle rubon over the whole thing. As it turns out, I really like this little card now!

3. The only thing I added to this card after the white paint was part of a white tag that I painted green. I removed the white string and added a piece of blue/green baker's twine and stapled the tag to the card.

4. I painted the same stamp I used on card 1 with green paint and pressed it on the page. The paint was thin, so it ran and smudged quite a little bit. I was bummed at first, but just went with it and now I like the messiness of it.

5. For the middle card, I cut an old plastic American Crafts flower in half and used mini glue dots to adhere each half to the card. I used a black pen to make a thin outline on the remaining border.

6. This was another card I flipped over for the plain kraft background because I didn't like what was going on. I stamped this Limited Edition Danielle Johnson stamp on in black. I also stapled on the bottom portion of the leftover green tag from the above card and handwrote 'focus' on it.

7. I added a smidge of green paint on this card over the word 'focus' in the book page text. Then I added a mini kraft colored raffle ticket type tag from Jenni Bowlin (I think??). I circled Jun(e) and wrote in 2011 on the edge.

8. I painted a green border on this card and then added an old plastic clock embellishment from Heidi Swapp. I added two little tags that look like clock hands and a black brad to hold it together. Below I wrote 'my priorities, my time, my focus.'

9. I added a layer of green paint over the white and then stapled on a piece of Hambly transparency over the whole card. To finish it off, I glued on a little paper bird (which I don't have a source for?).

Phew, I'm glad we get a whole month to do these prompts. I loved the creative process involved with this one, but I did have a hard time getting started. Ali suggested adding a layer and little bits here and there, and then walk away for a while and come back with fresh eyes and that really worked for me. Like I mentioned above, there were a couple cards that I didn't like at all, but it was easy to flip the card and start over on the back. Or just add another layer of paint to the top and try again. My first run was far from perfect, and I moved many of the cards around after I was done, but I think the added layers are what made it fun and interesting. Plus it gave me more time to think about my word. My focus.

Thanks for looking, and reading!

Today: I have errands to run this morning - groceries, a return and dropping off a box of goodies to Once Upon a Child. I sold a few baby items this week on Craigslist and, slowly, I'm making my way through our guest bedroom that has become a bit of a catch-all after moving Parker into his new bedroom. Mark thinks I get a high from purging unwanted/unneeded stuff. I think he's right. The extra spending money is nice too. This afternoon, we plan on going to the Ann Arbor Summer Festival. I am very much looking forward to some sun and family time, that's for sure.

Next week: I plan on sharing our summer fun idea list and a post about what I've done to help us get out of the house fast for last-minute fun-in-the-sun. 

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

welcome summer catchup

Where, oh where, has this month gone? At least this is only the second day of summer and boy, have we been enjoying it. This little blog break has been good for me. It's been good for Morgan and Parker. And Mark. My time behind the computer has been replaced with more quality time with my family. More time finishing little projects. More time focusing. And now I'm starting to get that itch back to write about how we've been spending our days. First, I need to briefly catch you up:
I got a new tankini from Lime Ricki - the Auburn top and classic yellow bottoms - and I love it! It's cute and stylish and modest in just the right places. If you are in the market for a new bathing suit, their deal of the week is free shipping! They have maternity, girls and men's suits too.

I've been trying to work my way out of a dinnertime rut and am looking for new summer-ish recipes. I made Rachael Ray's Penne with Grilled Summer Squash and Sweet Corn - delish! Next time I won't half the recipe.
Morgan and Parker had their 3-year and 1-year doctor's appointments last week. All checked out well. It was hectic getting two kids together and occupying them in the doctor's office. Then comforting them after vaccinations (bad idea to do dual shots - mama paid for that later with dual crankiness). Their stats, if you are interested: Morgan is 33 pounds and 38 1/2 inches tall. Parker is 22 pounds and 30 1/2 inches tall. Both 50% percentile in weight, 75% percentile in height.

I've been pinning almost daily. Still loving it!

We've been playing a lot at home outside - in the swimming pool, at the water table, walks to visit the ducks, on the swings, riding our bikes, kicking the soccer balls, blowing bubbles, playing golf and even a little t-ball. Morgan has also been a big helper with keeping the flowers watered. :)
We have also been spending quite a bit of time out and about too. At our local parks, at the splash pad, and at the Detroit Zoo a couple times, including once with Kristin, Troy, Logan and Ellis. We've had our first breakfast out at Scrambler Marie's and made our first visit to the Farmington Farmer's Market too.

I've seen more old co-workers this past week than ever since I left work a year ago! I loved catching up with Jeanette, and Vickey and Lynn this past week. So much to say and I can already think of a couple conversations that we never finished because one thing lead to another. :)

Morgan and I got matching pedicures in Essie Meet Me at Sunset. Perfect summer shade. Even for a three-year-old.

I'm having huge chocolate cravings (who's surprised?) after seeing this Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie n' Oreo Fudge Brownie Bar. I need to make it! I am going to need about 10 chocolate lovers to come over and help me eat this. I cannot have leftovers left in my house. Any takers?

I'm starting to make a dent in Parker's first year scrapbook but I can't say that I have one complete layout finished yet. It will be about half digital but I have over 40 photos on their way. Slow but sure, I'm making progress. Half the fun has been learning how to use digital layered templates. And chatting with my mom and Kristin. ;)
Parker is officially walking up a storm. He really started movin' just before his birthday and I didn't say much because I wanted everyone at the party to be surprised. He is doing a lot of other cute stuff too, which warrants its own post.

Morgan is now the proud carrier of her own Farmington Community Library card and she's very excited about it. Thanks for the idea, sis! We are going back tomorrow to use it.

I worked on and completed my June One Little Word prompt this week. It involved less writing and thinking and more getting messy, which is not always easy for me - craft-wise. I do like how it turned out though and will post it soon.

Ok, I think that's long enough for now. I did say brief, remember? This is what happens when I decide I need a blog break. I'm out, again. I won't be gone so long this time.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Parker : twelve months

Really Parker? One year old already? I know everyone says this, but seriously, how did this happen so quickly? Here is the latest and greatest on Parker:
understands no - sometimes he listens, sometimes he just smiles or laughs.

is enjoying books more again. Parker loves the texture of 'touch and feel' type books.

This one is for you Aunt Kristin ;) - Parker is sleeping great! 10-11 hours at night and 4 hours of naps during the day. We've had a few one nap days but I think he is going to be a two-naps-a-day kid for a while.
can easily reach the kitchen table top and stands on his tiptoes to reach higher/further. I'm always pushing things inward these days.

'talks' a lot and started making L sounds - lalalalalalalala! He also started pointing and grunting. No real words really - other than mama and dada. We have heard a few uh-oh's though.

pushes our hand away if we linger too long while putting food in front of him. :)
and speaking of eating, Parker eats and eats and eats. And he's eating what we eat. Baby food is long gone now. He is often the last person at the table. Not because he is slow, but because he is still eating, and looking for more. Morgan is a pretty good eater but he always eats at least as much as her. And then some. Is this a boy thing?

still has 5 teeth, but by the looks of his gums, and the constant drool, he is working on 4 more top teeth.

is playing a ton! Parker has started stacking blocks and cups and is starting to follow directions, like push the button, put the ball here, can I have a kiss? This month he started pushing/driving his toy cars around and buzzing his lips, making motor sounds. He also thinks it's funny to lay on the floor and play 'night, night'. Parker got a lot of great interactive toys for his birthday that he loves to play with.
likes to head butt.

can climb onto the couch. And the coffee table.
has become much more cranky and whiny, which is very noticeable considering he was never a cranky, whiny baby. Welcome to toddlerhood.

LOVES to dance and play peek-a-boo. He covers his eyes with his hands or small blanket, or sometimes hides behind furniture until he hears 'where's Parker?'

gives wet, open mouthed kisses.

likes to toss things down from the highchair / stroller / cart. Just for fun.
loved his first trip to the splash pad at Heritage Park in Farmington Hills. I think we are going to be there a ton this summer.

still uses his left hand most of the time.

can stand from a squatting position and is walking a ton! Not full time, but at least half of the time.
Happy First Birthday Parker! What an incredible year we have had. I am beyond happy you are my son. I think you have truly completed our little family. You are an amazing little boy and it has been so exciting to see you and your personality develop. I am very lucky to have you in my life and we all love you so so much. Hope you have a super fun day, cutie pie!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Morgan : 3 years : 20 questions

20 questions* : answered by Morgan

1. What is your favorite color? yellow
2. What is your favorite toy? my dolls + my bike + my kitchen. Except I don't like when Parker makes a mess and takes the sink out.
3. What is your favorite fruit? pineapple
4. What is your favorite tv show? Yo Gabba Gabba
5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? chickie wickies (chicken nuggets)
6. What is your favorite outfit? my polka dot dress + my butterfly shoes
7. What is your favorite game? soccer
8. What is your favorite snack? fruit snacks
9. What is your favorite animal? peacocks at the zoo
10. What is your favorite song? Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes
11. What is your favorite book? Old MacDonald Drives a Tractor
12. Who is your best friend? Parker
13. What is your favorite cereal? marshmellow cereal (Mom's Best Naturals Mallow Oats)
14. What is your favorite thing to do outside? play + go to the park
15. What is your favorite drink? milk
16. What is your favorite holiday? Easter
17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night? my noo-noo
18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? Daddy's waffles
19. What do you want for dinner on your birthday? spaghetti
20. What do you want to be when you grow up? a mommy 

*Starting at age 3, I will be asking Morgan and Parker these 20 questions every year around their birthday. I am going to assemble a small album for each of them, which will hold about 10 years worth, depending on how I lay it out. I will share the final design as soon as I complete this first page. You can see the albums I made here. The scrapbook style albums I was selling in my Etsy shop have been reformatted + replaced with a new softcover bound book!

Happy Birthday Morgan! I am still in disbelief that you turn three years old today. I hope your birthday is as awesome as you are. Mommy, Daddy and Parker love you so much!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

flashback video : that smile

Are you sick of all the videos yet? Yes? Ok, this is the last one for a while. Sorry, but this is my best attempt at a blog post this week.

The best way to capture that goofy, squinty-eyed smile that Parker has is in a video. This one is from April. Warning: he also lets out a few ear-piercing squeals at the end. Watch your volume :)

Today: our crazy busy week is continuing with gusto. We had a fantastic Memorial weekend. The highlights included a super fun bbq, a parade, a bike ride, ice cream and our first trip to the splash pad. Parker is moved into his new, but not completely decorated, bedroom. The patio furniture is out and we've started laying landscape fabric and mulch. The weeds are crispy and the ants are ticked. It looks like Christmas in our guest room - just as it should when you've been collecting gifts for two birthday kids. Morgan got a mani and a pedi and she is pretty obsessed about it not chipping off. The weather has been just about perfect, so my goal for the week has been to find a happy balance between keeping Morgan and Parker occupied and happy, and getting their party stuff ready. We are doing pretty well with that. The pinwheel cupcake toppers are made, the napkins and silverware are wrapped, and the streamers are cut (thank you for your help Mark). The grocery list is made and tonight, we have gifts to wrap. I'm really excited to see how this all comes together.