Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Our Completely Unplanned and Completely FABULOUS Family Photoshoot

If you've ever planned a family picture before, you know the stress that goes along with picking the perfect outfit, getting an opening with the perfect photographer, picking the perfect time of year for weather, the perfect time of day for's exhausting!

And no matter how hard you try to plan for never turns out that way. Someone always drips juice down their clean dress, someone always loses a shoe right before it's time to leave, the rain comes in just as you arrive at the know how it goes. Family picture day is HARD and someone always ends up crying by the end of it. In our case, it's almost always Eric :-)

So this year, instead of planning for the perfect family picture, I decided to just take the kids to Picture People in the mall to use up a Groupon. Last year they did a great job capturing a few cute shots of the kids in their Christmas outfits and frankly...that was good enough for me. We could wait one more year for our beautiful sunset pictures in the park.

But then on Sunday, just as I was getting the kids ready for their appointment, Eric made it home early from packing up the camper. We were both home and showered and dressed and I thought...what the hell! Let's get dressed up too and try to take a family picture! So we put together whatever we had clean in our closet (that didn't smell like campfire) and headed to the mall.

In the car, I promised Eric that I wouldn't get stressed or go crazy trying to set up the perfect pose. I would just go with the flow, let the photographer tell us what to do, and we would only take pictures while the kids cooperated. Once they started to melt down...we would leave with what we had. But then I secretly PRAYED we would get at least one cute family shot.

And I guess God was listening because in the 15 minutes we were in front of the camera, we got 25 of the most PRECIOUS shots I could have asked for. I won't overload you with every picture, but here are some of my absolute favorites.

Addie had to do a twirl at the end :-)

For a last minute, COMPLETELY unplanned family photoshoot...I would say these turned out pretty damn cute. I've already put together our Christmas card and I can't wait to mail them out this year!!

So has this every happened to anyone else? You stress over family pictures forever and then you pick a random day at a random place and you get of the best shots ever?!! I think my new strategy needs to be to STOP planning. And use more Groupons :-)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Monday Catch-up

When it was brought to my attention that I haven't blogged in almost 10 days, my first response was,

"It hasn't been 10 days. I just blogged on Friday!"

Technically, I am right. Friday was the last time I blogged...OVER A WEEK AGO!

I swear I don't know where the time is going! One minute it's Easter and the next minute we are celebrating 4th of July and now I am already over pumpkins and waiting to bust out my Christmas trees. It scares me how fast this year has gone by. I can still remember when my cousin Julie told us she was engaged (over a year ago) and now her beautiful wedding has already come and gone!

Photo: Cousin love! We just surprised the bride with a FLASH MOB!! So much fun!!!

Julie made a gorgeous bride and my cousins and I had the BEST TIME surprising her with a flash mob. I hear there is a video floating around I will try to share that sometime :-)

We've definitely been having a lot of fun around here lately. Weddings, concerts, birthdays, parties, Halloween activities, school...we haven't slowed down for a minute. So it really came as no surprise that one by one...we all started getting sick. Addie was first with her cold at Yogi Bear, and then she shared it with Eric and I. The cold was far from fun, but no one had it has bad as this guy.

Photo: This poor sweet peanut has the stomach flu so bad today. He lost his Count Chocula cereal all over my car in the preschool drop-off line. I hate that I can't make him feel better. Hoping this nap does the trick :(

That damn cold skipped right over him and made room for the stomach flu! Luckily, it was only a 12 hour bug but this poor peanut was beyond miserable! I hate flu season :-( And it's only just beginning!

But as much as I hate the cold for all those germy reasons, I do love me some snow :-)

I mean...except when we decide to camp one last time at our club!!! When snow made it's way into our forecast this week, I was ready to bail out of our last camping trip of the season. Sitting outside in 30 degree weather did NOT sound fun, especially since all of us were finally over the sickies. But luckily, that snow stayed away from us and we ended up enjoying a BEAUTIFUL weekend with our friends.

And man did I need that time away. It felt so good to just spend the weekend away from work, chores and paper-grading. 

But it is back to reality today and I have a to-do list a mile long. But I promise friends, blogging is actually on my agenda this week. I have so many fun things to share, like some holiday/organizing goodies, our NEW family pics (that turned out so adorable) and of course...all kinds of HALLOWEEN FUN!!!

Until then, Happy Monday!

Friday, October 18, 2013

My Birthday Recap and a Trip to Yogi Bear

When Eric asked me what I wanted for my birthday this year, I told him that I wanted to go back to Holland, Michigan. I wanted to go apple picking, stop at a winery or two, enjoy the beautiful fall foliage...

And as I am explaining this to him, I looked at Addie and Blake. They were looking at me with excited eyes because they thought they were coming on this trip. Addie even asked what a winery is and if she could wear her "maxi dress" to it. Before I could even answer she was already packing her stuff for the camper. 

Now really...HOW could I burst their little bubbles? I knew that a few of our camping buddies were heading to Yogi Bear that weekend for the Halloween/Hibernation celebration and I knew the kids would so much rather be there instead of picking apples and watching mommy drink at a winery.

So what did I decide?

I think this guy says it all...

Eric, the kids and the rest of our friends made my birthday night so special. We had cake...

And my girls bought me a winery-in-a-box...

And then we all sat by the cozy fire all night telling funny stories. The best part was that I was in bed by 9:30 and woke up feeling rested for the first time in SO LONG!!!

And the next day was filled with more fun. Even though it was a blustery, wet fall day...we still managed to take a hayrack ride with Yogi...

And listen to this cutie sing "Herman the Worm" over and over again. 

Addie and I squeezed in a little mommy time while the boys took a hike.

And then when the heavy rain FINALLY let was time for the Costume Parade and trick-or-treating!!

The weather didn't stop anyone from coming out and having a good time. But if you notice, almost every parent has a drink in their hand. haha!

And because of those drinks, we decided to dress up a bit too. Here I am with my "foxy" friend Jamie.

After tick-or-treating, the kids were pretty wiped and poor Addie was getting a nasty cold. She spent a good part of Sunday in the camper resting up and watching movies, but then made it out just in time for the Magic Pumpkin hayrack ride.

Every child got a magic pumpkin seed to plant in the "magic patch." Eric helped them dig their little holes, but they wanted to be the ones to drop in the seed.

Blake went first, of course :-)

And then Addie.

And then they both helped Eric cover up the holes and stick their markers into the ground.

They were SO PROUD.

So we left our little magic pumpkin seeds to grow.

And when we returned for the Halloween forest walk a few hours later, our seeds and grown into cute little pumpkins!!

The kids thought this was the coolest thing ever.

We really had the BEST TIME at Yogi and I think all 4 of us wanted to cry when the weekend was over. It was the best birthday weekend I could have ever imagined :-)

And really...the weekend at Yogi was only half of the celebrating I got to do this year!! The weekend before, my Mother-in-law Patti cooked me the most DELICIOUS birthday dinner ever (I always request her lasagna).

And I got some help blowing out ALL of my candles from these cuties.

The next morning, Aunt Di and I got to have a joint birthday celebration and enjoyed a DELICIOUS brunch.

Everyone spoiled me rotten with gifts that spoke to my heart. I had sweet cards, bottles of wine, Essie nail polish and Starbucks giftcards sent through the mail from Vermont, Georgia and good old Central Illinois (I miss you Peacock)!! My family got me office supplies (including a laminator I've been wanting #dork), a shopping spree to Target, new wine glasses and everything polkadot they could find. Like I said...SPOILED!!! And these three showered me with an endless supply of hugs and kisses.

Thanks so much to my wonderful family and amazing friends for all the birthday love the last two weeks. I was one lucky birthday girl :-)

Friday, October 11, 2013

33 Things about the 33-year-old Me

1. I'm a mommy to two of the cutest {and craziest} kids in the whole wide world.

2. I am exactly like my mother...and I'm okay with it :-)

3. After years of work on Eric's part, I now like country music.

4. I can never have just one job again. I love being a Mom/Teacher/ShopOwner.

5. I still miss being on a dance team, so I help organize alumni games just so I can still go to Pom practice.

6. I've become a total night owl.

7. I've become an excellent driver...sorta.

8. I live for coffee.

9. I take shitty selfies.

10. I still don't look right in aviator sunglasses but I wear them anyway.

11. I like high-waisted jeans.

12. I haven't bought a new pair of heels in 2.5 years.

13. I want to start wearing pajamas. Like real pajamas. 

14. I wear a bathrobe out to get the paper on Sundays...just like every other old lady in my neighborhood.

15. I will never give up running because I love the outfits and shoes too much.

16. I am a crappy doggy-mommy. Howard is okay with it though and loves me anyway.

17. I am still a planner whore...and apparently a planner-making whore.

18. I love wine. Always have, always will.

19. I want to buy a house in Holland, Michigan and vacation there every summer.

20. I love camping and can't wait to take this baby out every chance we get.

21. Some of my best friends live in my iPhone (thanks for that expression Sarah).

22. I miss my 20-year-old boobs.

23. I miss my 20-year-old bootie.

24. I do NOT miss my 20-year-old highlights. Yikes.

25. I am just plain smarter. Except when it comes to math.

26. I still miss Harry Potter.

27. I know how to shoot a gun and I own camo clothing.

28. I can cook raw meat without gagging. Sometimes.

29. I still don't know how to say "no"

30. I love being an aunt just as much as I love being a mom.

31. I have finally found a church that I feel comfortable in and I have a new outlook on faith.

32. I still think I am a comedian, but Eric tells me otherwise :-)

33. There isn't one thing left to wish for when I blow out my candles this year because God has given me everything I have ever wanted. And that makes me the luckiest birthday girl in the world :-)

Health & Fitness Friday: Movin' On Up

When I started Health & Fitness Friday last year, I was at a place in my fitness journey where I needed support and accountability. I was in the middle of training for my second half marathon and wanted to do everything I could to be ready for that race. I was cross training, eating right and making fitness a real priority for the first time in my life. 

And it felt SO GOOD to have a group of women to share the experience with. Those who were (and still are) a part of this link-up gave me so much encouragement and support when I needed it most. And I had such a passion for talking about fitness. I loved encouraging others to start running and exercising and I made so many great new friends in the process.

Health & Fitness is still incredibly important to me and as I embark on this huge gluten-free lifestyle change after my biopsy the end of this month, I am going to need more support than ever from my friends. 

But life is a little different this year and the time that I used to be able to invest in our weekly link-up has been replaced with an incredibly successful business. Obviously, I couldn't be more happy about this but it does make me sad that I can't find the time to do everything and be everything I want to be. If only there were a few more hours in the day :-)

It's no secret that my poor blog and this link-up has taken a backseat to other responsibilities in my life and even though I tried my HARDEST to makeover Health & Fitness Friday these last few's just not working. And I can tell by the lack of link-ups and comments that it's not working for anyone else either :-) 

But I know what you are all going to say and I hear one wants to say goodbye to Health & Fitness Friday completely and neither do I!!! I mean...where will I go to post when I do get back into my fitness groove? Who will I link up with after I run my next race in November? SOMEONE needs to host this link-up and if it can't be me...I know the perfect person to take over the show.

Hannah Hurley from Hurley Love
{a.k.a. Running Goddess}

Hannah and I became great friends and fitness buddies through this link-up and when I started thinking about who I could pass the H&FF torch too...she came to mind right away. She has been such an inspiration to me over the last year and I know she is an inspiration to so many others. She is a running, clean-eating, meal-planning, God-loving SUPER momma that has more energy than I can ever dream of having. She is dedicated and hard working and I know she is the PERFECT person to get this link-up back on it's feet and hotter than ever!! 

I do hope to contribute to the link-up when I can and be a part of the group as often as possible. But for right now, I can't dedicate the time that this link-up deserves. And that is why I am happily passing the reigns to Hannah. I am so excited to see what she will do with things and I can't wait to be a part of it all. 

So friends...welcome to the NEW Health & Fitness Friday. We're movin on up!

Hannah will be taking over next week so be sure to stop by her blog and follow along!! xoxo