Summer Bucket List

I don’t know about you, but I have a list of things that are quintessentially summer that just need to happen in order for my summer to feel complete. I like to roll with it, for the most part. But I do have a running list of things we need to accomplish in just two(ish) short months!

  • Sleep late.
  • Stay at the pool until our toes are wrinkly.
  • See a baseball game.
  • Eat ice cream for lunch.
  • Catch fireflies.
  • Ride with the windows down.
  • Sleep in a tent.
  • Spend a day at the zoo.
  • Go on a road trip.
  • Have a picnic.
  • Chase down the ice cream truck.
  • Make milkshakes.
  • Watch fireworks.
  • Roast marshmallows over an open fire – bonus if we makes s’mores with them!
  • Have a water balloon fight.
  • Take a turn on the slip ‘n’ slide.
  • Grow something.
  • Go to the fair.
  • Eat a snow cone (or shave ice).
  • Blow bubbles.
  • Make sun tea.
  • Fly a kite.
  • Play mini golf.
  • Eat from a food truck.
  • Have a movie marathon on a rainy day.
  • Make ice cream floats.
  • Go on a bike ride.
  • Listen to an outdoor concert.
  • Visit an amusement park.
  • Send a postcard.
  • Shop at the Farmer’s Market.
  • Host a BBQ.
  • Paint something.
  • Find a rainbow.

What have I forgotten? What are your must-do summer bucket list items?

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The Last Day of School

It’s the last day of school. When I see my kids again, they’ll no longer be a 3rd and 6th grader. And don’t they look really excited to be just a day away from summer break? (ha!)

This transition is giving me lots of feelings. Next year, for the first time since they began school, my two kiddos will be attending different schools. Aidan will move on to middle school and leave Neely behind in elementary. The next time they attend school together will be Aidan’s senior year of high school. 

I don’t know why that feels like such a big deal to me. Maybe it’s because my brother and I only went to the same school for one year. He was in kindergarten, and I was in the sixth grade. I probably wasn’t nearly as nice to him as I should have been. But I’ve seen my kids get excited to pass one another in the hallways at school, give each other high-fives and hugs. It’s sweet, and I’m fairly certain the dynamic will have changed greatly in six years. She’ll always be the pesky little sister, but will senior Aidan want to give freshman Neely an encouraging high-five in the hallway of their high school? I hope so. And yes, I know I’m borrowing trouble from years in the future.

Staying Ahead of the Calendar

The month of May. It’s insane. We’re in the throes of the last few weeks of school. We’ve got band concerts and soccer practices and middle school open houses and soccer games and doctors’ appointments and finding the perfect Mother’s Day gifts and field day and trips to the dentist…and, oh, by the way, all the other regular stuff like work, laundry, grocery shopping, and house cleaning have to happen at some point as well.

Photo by Arnel Hasanovic on Unsplash

I have a long, crazy list that I’m using to try and keep my life together. And a paper planner. And the calendar in my phone. And about a billion and one reminders and Post-It notes. Despite all of that, I know that at some point, I’m going to forget something. I just hope it’s not something earth-shattering, like the snacks for the soccer game, or to leave my makeup on for my Zoom conference meeting this evening, or to mail those Mother’s Day gifts on time! My mental load is through the roof, and that’s with all my handy helpers like ClickList and Eat Fit Go.

Hit me with your best tips, tricks, and time savers for when life gets a little crazy!

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Halloween Cookie Extravaganza!

I went on a bit of a baking binge this week. It was partially driven by the fact that I’d volunteered to donate treats to the school for Spooky Story Night, and also by the fact that I went 10 days without an oven.

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If you want to make something quick and easy this Halloween, try out these Gooey Monster Eye Cookies. I found the small candy eyes in the baking section of my grocery store, and the larger candy eyes came from Hobby Lobby.

Gooey Monster Cookies

1 Box Yellow Cake Mix

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

1 egg

green gel food coloring

powdered sugar

candy eyeballs

  1. In a stand mixer, combine butter, vanilla, egg, and cream cheese. Beat until fluffy.
  2. Add cake mix and stir until combined.
  3. Add food coloring. Once the mixture reaches the desired color, chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  5. Roll dough into 1 and 1/2-inch balls, then roll in powdered sugar. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes, and push candy eyes into cookies while warm.

The original recipe comes from Lil’ Luna’s blog.

These cookies are really gooey and delicious. The next time I make them, I’ll probably try using white cake mix instead of yellow. I wanted more of a Mike Wazowski green, and what I ended up with was a bit more Oscar the Grouch.

My second cookie project of the week was a bit more involved. OK, it was a lot more involved.

I have a good friend who is a cookie master. I tried decorating sugar cookies myself years ago for Neely’s Hello Kitty birthday party, and the results were horrible. Helene saved the day! Since then, she’s shared her cookie-making secrets with me and taught me a thing or two about royal icing.

img_2586This was my first attempt all on my own. I definitely have room for improvement, but all things considered, I’m really happy with how these turned out. I may not have been able to cook dinner for my family for two days with cookie accoutrements spread all over the kitchen, but I have desserts for days!

Moving Day (is tomorrow)

On the surface, a move looks like fun. Especially when you’re moving from a cold, small-ish place to a warmer, larger place. The reality, though, is that we’re leaving a lot of friends behind who have come to feel like family to us. We spend holidays together. We celebrate birthdays together. We get together for a drink at the end of a long, horrible week. We get together, because we’re bored. While I am SO thankful that we do already have friends where we’re headed, it’s going to be really sad to leave people behind.

I have loved our time here in Minot, North Dakota. That might sound crazy, especially since there are a whole lot of folks who avoid this place like the plague, but I have. It’s sad to leave home. Again.

I’ll leave you with a fun collage of our 3+ years here…and go cry myself to sleep. I hope our paths cross again, friends!

Seven.

DSC_0152This cute little thing celebrated her seventh birthday today. Seven! I am officially a big kid mom.

We had her birthday party last weekend at the indoor pool. The kids had a lot of fun.

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Neely’s party theme was “Teen Beach Movie” this year. I cannot take any credit for the cake this time around. I took a photo to Cookies For You and handed over my credit card. I wanted a low-stress party without spending days working on a cake. I didn’t realize that driving the darn thing home was going to give me an anxiety attack.

For today, of course, we had to make cupcakes for Neely’s class. I think you get kicked out of first grade and shunned by all the other children if you don’t bring treats on your birthday. I baked, and Neely decorated. She’s a great helper.

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See? A cupcake masterpiece.

After school, there were two last birthday requests to fulfill. 1) A trip to the zoo. 2) Dinner at McDonald’s. (no photographs needed)

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We brought half the kids from our street along with us. The zoo was pretty empty, so they had a blast running around like they owned the place. I think every animal has a name now.

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Aren’t they a good-looking bunch?

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We’ll probably keep them.

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One more for the road – me and my girl. It’s nice to have a friend to man the camera every once in a while.

Happy seventh, Neely Bug!

Back to School: 2015 Edition

After what may have been the shortest summer ever, my kids started school again this week. It’s always a bittersweet day. Combine the excitement of a new year, new teacher, and new friends with the sadness of losing the ability to wake on your own every morning, ride bikes, and eat popsicles all day with the glorious anticipation of finally having five consecutive minutes without a child asking me for something (usually the aforementioned popsicles) and you get the first day of school.

Neely climbed into bed with me sometime the night before, so when 7:00am came and her alarm started playing…well, it wasn’t very helpful. At 7:15am, I threw back the blackout curtains, opened the blinds, and watched the vampire burn. (I’ve discovered Buffy the Vampire Slayer reruns on Pivot. Sue me.) Anyway, she grumpily clomped down the stairs in search of a darker spot and decided the kitchen floor was good enough. That’s when I decided to take the first of the first day of school pictures.

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 8.35.04 PMThe worst part of the school year is getting this little darling out of bed each morning. Last year, I kept hoping it would get easier. It didn’t. She’s just not a morning person. Ah, well.

Everyone did manage to get dressed, eat breakfast, have lunch packed, and do their chores on time. They even left me enough time to take MORE pictures. (bwoah-ha-ha-ha…)

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My first grader. She perked up pretty well.

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My fourth grader. He’s my early riser. This little man has been up at 7:00am every day, all summer long. He gets himself dressed and makes his bed without being asked. Thank goodness one of them makes mornings easier.

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Of course, I had to take a sweet pic of the two kiddos together. And then this happened…

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I literally laughed out loud when I found those in the camera. I remember telling them to act silly and snapping a few pictures really quickly, but I was so intent on putting the camera away and getting everyone to school on time that I didn’t realize what I’d gotten.

In case you were wondering, they both have had a great first week so far. They like their teachers. They have friends in their classes. The love riding bikes and scooters to school and home with all their Rockridge friends. I have high hopes for this year. I’m glad it’s all beginning well.