Neely’s Frozen Birthday

My baby girl turned 6 this week. We had her Frozen birthday party last weekend, mainly because I thought it’d be a gigantic pain to make her wait until after her actual birthday to celebrate.

So you know, here I am, almost one week later, finally getting around to sharing the party pics.

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Me & my girl. She’s a kindergartener. She’s 6. I don’t know how much more of this growing up business I can take. This is my baby!

There were decorations. It was difficult, hanging fake snowflakes everywhere, knowing that I will soon be looking at real ones outside. The snowflakes and garland are from CSarber on Etsy. I’m sure if you have a Cricut or similar crafty device, you could make these on your own.

 

There was food. I found these adorable printable tent cards and water bottle on Etsy as well, by CE Marie Prints. We kept all the food Frozen themed, of course. The sandwiches and chips are pretty self-explanatory. The snow balls are just large marshmallows, dipped first in melted white chocolate, then in sugar sanding sprinkles. Frozen Waters punch? I found a lot of weird recipes for blue punch in my online searches. I ended up using one big jug of blue Hawaiian punch, one two-liter of Sprite, and I added scoops of vanilla ice cream to the top. I think it turned out well. The kids enjoyed it. :)

Do you want to see the birthday cake better?

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OK. I was having fits over this one initially. I’ve never tried to ice a square cake before. It isn’t easy. Thankfully, I had a lot of little extras to hide my lack of skill, and the critic that matters? Well, she’s six, and she really just cares that Anna & Elsa are on her cake. Olaf was an added bonus.

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This is the moment you know you’ve pulled it off. When you get a grin like this out of your kiddo. She had a great time celebrating with all her friends.

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We had almost every little one on the block, plus a few extras, crammed around our kitchen table. They’re not all in this picture. I think there were 16! It was one of the craziest things we’ve done in this house to date, but it was wonderful. At the end of the day, we had one happy little girl.

Happy birthday, Neely Bug! You are going to be one super six-year-old!

 

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Bomber Run Recap

I ran a half marathon yesterday. I know. What?!

My friend and I signed up to run ONE WEEK AGO. Because we are crazy people. The longest training run I’ve accomplished to this point was 6.5 miles, so you know, why not double it?

I’ll be honest. It took me all week to get my brains in check. Mentally, I did a lot of freaking out. What if I hurt myself? What if I die? What if I have to crawl across the finish line? On Thursday, I finally got myself in check. I have run this distance before. Yes, it’s been a while, but I’ve been running and cross training pretty consistently for the last few months. I should be in fair shape to pull this off. Especially since I’m not trying to win, and I’m not ashamed to walk a little.

I got all my gear ready that night, so all I had to do on Friday morning was get dressed, feed the little ones, and pack them off to school. Well, mostly that was all. We had a little incident where my boy scraped up his face pretty badly in a skateboard accident on Thursday night. Yesterday morning when he got out of bed, his eye was swollen shut. I got a little panicky, knowing I’d need a little extra time to go talk to his teacher about why he can’t see out of one eye before school and getting myself to the starting line. Regardless, everyone made it where they needed to be on time. Sometimes, I like to worry myself for no good reason.

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Here we are – before, during, and after the half marathon that neither of us trained for. The Bomber Run was a fairly small event. We were told there would be 300 runners, but I don’t think that many actually showed up. I’m used to being a middle-of-the-pack runner, but when you’re running a race on a military base, the game changes. We were squarely in the back from pretty much the very beginning. We maintained a steady pace the entire time (no walking!), and by the end, we started to pass people who’d burned out early.

Our finish time? 2:21:21. Without training. Y’all, I am ecstatic. As far as chip-timed races go, this is a PR for me. I finished the Princess Half at 2:26, and that was my best time to date. I fully expected Courtney to be dragging me across the finish line at 2:45. But we did awesome! Especially considering it was our first time running together. I really felt like we were evenly matched in pace, and I’m extra glad there was no judgment coming when I needed to dance or sing along to the iPod to make it through the next mile…because she was doing it, too. ;)

Here’s the catch, though. I just ran a half marathon without training, and not only did I live to tell the tale, but I BEAT MY OWN BEST TIME! I’m traveling for my next half marathon in two months. “The Plan” had me up to 9.5 next week. I’m really tempted to ditch “the plan.” I just ran 13.1. Maybe I should just do a long 10-ish mile run every other week until the race and call it good. My goal, as usual, is to finish in the upright position and to have fun, because, hey, it’s Disney World!

What would you do? Stick with the plan? Wing it with mostly maintenance runs and a few long runs thrown in for good measure?

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It’s runDisney costume time again!

The countdown is on! I’ll be runningDisney at the Wine & Dine Half Marathon in just 64 days, so you know what that means…it’s time to start creating my costume.

I have changed my mind eleven bazillion times for this one. First, I wanted to run as Anna from Frozen. 

Anna Running Costume

Then, I wanted to run as Olaf from Frozen.

And now? Well, I’ve decided that since by November, I will actually BE frozen, I want to dress up as something other than a snowman, or an ice queen’s little sister.

I’ve scoured the Internet for ideas, and I’m down to two favorites…

Cruella_De_Vil

Option #1

 

Option #2

Option #2

I am definitely leaning toward one over the other, but….what do you think? Cruella or Mary?

 

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Back to School 2014

I have really big kids now. I blinked my eyes, and suddenly I’m packing lunches and dropping everybody off at the elementary school in the morning. The first day of school was a little rocky for me, but otherwise, it’s been smooth sailing so far.

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Here we are, taking the obligatory first day pics in the front yard. I think they secretly love it. Why else would they have been ready for school 45 minutes early???

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My big kindergarten girl. I just… that’s my baby… I still can’t wrap my brain around it.

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And this guy? This guy is a third grader! What the…why the…I’m not old enough to have a third grader, am I? (Try not to judge me for only having one clean paint stick. That blue sure does look nice in the living room.)

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I just hope their teachers are prepared for some shenanigans. Goofballs, the both of ‘em.

 

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Last-Time Kindergarten Mom

It seems that much of the country goes “back to school” long before us. Weeks ago, my Facebook feed was inundated with first day pics, pretty Pinterest-inspired teacher gifts,  and this blog post was shared several times over.

It was lovely, very well-written, and I may have shed a tear or twenty. But…BUT…what about me?

This is not my first time at the rodeo. I dropped my first-born off at kindergarten three years ago, and it was terrible. He was so little. (Think I’m kidding? I had to buy size 3 pants for his school uniforms.) He was so scared – when we told him he’d be staying at school all day, he took that completely literally. The poor little guy thought he’d never get to play with his toys or sleep in his bed again. I’m so thankful we figured out the problem before he cried himself to sleep the night before school started. Even the dog stood staring out the front window all day long, trying to figure out where his boy had gone.

Even though I left a piece of my heart at the elementary school that day, I still got to bring another little piece back home with me. I still had a little companion to take care of, to take shopping, to feed, to pick up after, and to talk to.

School starts in just two days, and this time, I’m dropping my last baby off at kindergarten. And this, my friends, THIS is already harder.

I’ve put a brave face on it, talking about how great it will be to go grocery shopping alone, how wonderful it will be that I can clean the house without a tiny tornado destroying everything right behind me, how much I will be able to accomplish in those six blissful hours that I will be alone every day.

But if I’m honest, it’s me who is completely terrified this time. I’m closing the door on a big chapter in my life. Yes, life with babies, toddlers, and preschoolers is challenging, but it’s all I’ve known for the last eight years. And I have loved it. Preschoolers are just about my favorite thing in this whole world. Short of a big OOPS!, I will never hold a baby of my own again, and this is the last time I’ll walk one to their first day of kindergarten.

I’m not as worried about my little one this time around. Kindergarten teachers are special people, y’all. I am pretty sure God hand-picks them. I know my girl will be well cared for. And she’s ready. Boy, is she ready. I gave her a taste of freedom this summer – letting her run and play outside without hovering over her every move. She has loved every minute of it. It’s bittersweet, seeing that she doesn’t really need me all the time anymore.

I’m anxious and excited to see what this next chapter of motherhood is like and how having TWO elementary school kids looks at our house. But if you see me on Wednesday, it’s probably best to silently give me a hug or pass me a tissue. I can already tell you how I’ll be doing, and it won’t be pretty.

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North Dakota Sunflowers

A little something a didn’t know about before I moved to North Dakota? The sunflowers. There are fields and fields of them all around us in this part of the state. I can’t actually tell you about everywhere else, as I haven’t left Minot since June. But here, you can’t drive anywhere without seeing them right now. They are beautiful.

I mean, I knew sunflowers are beautiful. I’ve seen a few of them here and there in my lifetime, but I had no idea how incredible it is to see an entire field of them. The kids and I finally went out and find some to take photos of yesterday. When we started out, I was afraid we wouldn’t have much luck. The first few fields we visited, the flowers were already looking droopy and sad.

Not to worry. We found some good sunflowers before it all was said and done.

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Oh, look! There’s an adorable little girl out there, too!

Frolicking in sunflowers isn’t for you if you are afraid of bees. They’re everywhere!

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There are no pictures of the boy. He didn’t want to get out of the car.

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I’m glad I remembered to bring my LensBaby. This photo is my favorite. That isn’t a filter – the lens actually bends the light to make the image blurry. It’s so cool!

Now that we’ve seen the sunflowers up close and personal, my summer 2014 bucket list is complete. School, you may commence. In a week.

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Eleven Days of Summer

Ferris WheelSummer. It wasn’t that long ago that I sat in this very spot, wondering how on earth we’d fill such an expanse of time. Now, there are only eleven days left until school begins again.

We have had a good summer, filling our days by playing outside, riding bikes, making new friends, swimming (but not much, since we’ve had pretty mild weather), sharing picnics, eating LOTS of popsicles, traveling (a little), going to the fair, eating s’mores, enjoying fire pit evenings with friends, and many more “summer things” than I can list. Summer things are more special to us now, since so much of the year, we’re confined indoors doing winter things.

The beginning of school will soon usher in fall. Pumpkins and football will transition us into cold, snow, and wooly socks. Hot cocoa will replace our popsicles. Snow pants and sweaters will replace our shorts and swim suits. Sooner than I would like, if I’m honest.

For now, I have eleven days to cram full of wonderful summer things. We still need to find a field of sunflowers to frolic in. We may need to eat another box of popsicles, too.

And Ellen, just in case you’re reading…SPRINKLE!

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I fell off the wagon.

OK, so I didn’t completely fall off. I haven’t quit running altogether. But that training program I chose for November? It was pretty ambitious, especially for someone who practically took a running hiatus all winter. I am officially switching to the “finish in the upright position” plan. Time improvement. Ha! What was I thinking?

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I am not, however, ashamed of my mileage for July. Don’t make fun of me. Yes, I still use a paper calendar. I need visual reminders of what I’ve got going on, without having to get into my phone or computer. I started writing my mileage for the day in a bright yellow highlighter so I could see how well/horribly I’m doing. 42 miles, y’all. Not too shabby.

I haven’t done a long run over 6 miles yet. On the old plan, I should be running 9 for my long run this week. On the new plan, next week I should be at 6.5, so I’m right on track. I feel certain this will all be much easier to accomplish once the kids start school in a few weeks. I’ve just got to hang in there until then.

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Visit to South Dakota – Part 3

Remember how we took that trip to Rapid City, like, a month ago? Well, I just realized that I forgot to share pics from the last of our adventures!

On our last day, I took the kids to visit the Cosmos Mystery Area. It’s on the way to Mount Rushmore. I don’t know how this place works. It’s pretty mind-boggling. I had killer motion sickness the instant I walked into this crazy cabin. I could hardly wait to get out.

 

Our second adventure of the day was a trip to Bear Country USA. It was pretty wild driving through a park with bears surrounding the car. I’ve never seen anything quite like it…unless you count the drive-through zoo in San Antonio where an ostrich tried to get in the car with me. Thank the Lord that wasn’t a bear.

Also, aren’t baby bears the CUTEST? It’s a good thing we didn’t go into the gift shop. I probably would have bought everything after watching those adorable cubs for a while.

 

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It’s a busy week for this travel agent.

Wow, what a week! I know it’s not over yet, but I feel like I should write something now that I have a short moment to come up for air. After a relatively slow summer, Disney is kicking me in the behind this week with two new promotions – military salute 2014-2015 and a late fall room discount – released practically on top of each other.

I may or may not have been wandering the neighborhood in my pajamas at 2:00pm yesterday, retrieving my children from the playground, because I got on the phone to get discounts for my clients as soon as I rolled out of bed and hadn’t seen the light of day yet. Sorry, neighbors. It probably won’t be the last time, so I’ll go ahead and apologize for future pajama sightings, too.

Also, I’m pretty sure I’m starting to get crazy eyes…

Marty Feldman and Abby Normal

 

You know, from staring at the computer screen and listening to too much Disney hold music. I’m taking a short breather today to try and fix that. 2015 rates are out next week, so it ain’t over yet!

If you need anything, you know where to find me… audra@atimetotreasuretravel.com

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