Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Our Fall Bucket List

I had such high hopes for our summer vacation this year. I dreamt of days at the park and lying on picnic blankets. Days of swimming and popsicles and suntan lines. It was going to be GREAT!

And then...I found out I was pregnant. And I got sick. And tired. Oh, so tired. And slowly I watched the days go by, when all I could do was sit on the couch and will my eye-lids to stay open so I could keep an eye on the kids and avoid the house burning down. The children were still able to get out and have some fun, but this mom...well, I was down for the count. Go on, have fun without me!

Now it's MY turn - time for some vindication. Fall is by far the most fun season for this family, if I do say so myself. And since I had to watch half of the things on my Summer Bucket List go unchecked, slipping like hot sand through my fingers, I decided to give myself a do-over for fall fun. No excuses for being "bored" for the next couple of months. There is plenty to do! So here is our family's bucket list for this wonderful season. Thirty things that make my heart flutter. What's on your list??



1. Go on a hayride
2. Pick a pumpkin from the patch!
3. Eat caramel apples
4. Make a pumpkin pie
5. Visit the zoo
6. Have a picnic
7. Jump in a leaf pile!
8. Fall crafts
9. Carve a pumpkin
10. Run through a corn maze
11. "Boo" some friends!
12. Campfire fun
13. Drink hot chocolate
14. Find Halloween costumes
15. Trick-or-Treat!
16. Football games
17. Wear cozy sweaters
18. Make apple butter (and biscuits!)
19. Celebrate our October birthdays!
20. Take family photos
21. Walk in the beautiful outdoors
22. Pizza and movie night
23. Make a fall wreath
24. Scavenger hunt with kids
25. Go to a fish fry - yum!
26. Peruse through a craft fair
27. Burn fall candles
28. Random Acts of Kindness
29. Make turkey handprints
30. Gather with family
31. Count our blessings!

Whoops, might have went one over the number I was intending, but that's pretty easy to do! I could have kept going, haha. Some of these things we have already done once, but you can bet your boots and skinny jeans that we'll be doing them again. I'm looking forward to making some more precious memories with our family. It's amazing what just feeling normal can do for a person, haha. 

Think we'll start on this list TODAY! Here's to a great fall season for one and all!






Monday, September 29, 2014

Weekend Wrap Up - Fun Fair!

Sorry for vanishing last week. :) The part I can tell you about is that I went in on a garage sale with my mom and our friend Joy, and if you've ever done one of those, well...you know how all-consuming of your free time that is! Eric and I will be having another sale of our own in the Spring, because I have a ton of spring/summer dresses and outfits to get rid of. We had a busy week last week, but it was all good! It included a great baby check up, and this child has been on the move ever since. I can't remember ever having such an active baby. I can feel the kicks on the outside already - crazy!

So...besides spending my time doing the garage sale thing this weekend, we had fun at another traditional Fall festivity. It was the elementary school's annual Fun Fair, and my children were losing their MINDS waiting for it. They couldn't wait for Eric to get home from work on Friday evening so we could go to the school for dinner and to run around.


The girls stood in line for this slide over and over and over...it was definitely a favorite! Kids zipped down this thing like a flash of lightening, haha. I'm surprised they didn't get whiplash. :)



All Gracie could talk about was getting some cotton candy, so we had to make a stop for some of that fluffy goodness.



Reagan never even took a single bite of his. Just held it up like a torch the entire night, haha. 

Just like in the good ole days, the fun fair wouldn't be complete without throwing someone in "jail." And I'm pretty sure there were kids putting themselves in jail for fun. :)


However, totally not as cool as when we were kids. ;) Jail used to be a giant CAGE, and the older kids would literally chase you around with a "warrant" for your arrest when someone paid to thrown you in. It was awesome, haha. There's a lot of things I miss about the old fun fair, but our kids don't know the difference. 

We played well into the evening....



And we ended the night playing games and with a stop at the cake walk. Both of the girls won their own slices of cake, almost one right after the other.


We left that night exhausted and satisfied. Another fun fair in the books!

Eric and I spent the rest of the weekend SHOPPING. We ran our usual errands, but thankfully there were some sales going on so this mama could get a few maternity things to help me survive the cold seasons coming up. I have never been super pregnant in the dead of winter before. The closest I have ever been was when I was pregnant with Evie. But she was born in June, so I was at my biggest in the spring and summer. Still trying to figure out what the heck to do for a winter coat! I've asked a few other friends, and the best I get is to invest in a really heavy cardigan and don't spend a ton of time outside, haha. I refuse to buy a brand new maternity coat (hello - $$) when this is my last pregnancy. I'll just have to rough it.

I can't believe that in just two days we'll be saying hello to October! Ahh!! So much coming up, by far our busiest month of the year. I love it! 


^^^
**By the way, I have had several people ask about the light buckets for Halloween this year. We have contacted the inventor once again, and he is OUT of buckets for now. I am so bummed. We'll check back with him again next year, but it doesn't look like we'll have any new buckets for this year. I was wanting to get some more, myself! We even looked into ordering some to be manufactured, but...that was like, super shady, haha. So sorry to those who asked. I will definitely let you know if something changes! **

Hope you all had a great first fall weekend!


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Boy or Girl?? Fun with Old Wives Tales!

There has been a lot going on lately, and I feel like I haven't had much time at all to talk about this pregnancy. (Other than complaining about it, haha!) I am finally...finally...starting to feel better, though my nausea has triggers and it hits me where it hurts. Sugar. I'm almost positive sugar is the culprit behind my queasy feelings. I really avoided it while we were on vacation, only having a dessert here or there, but no sugary drinks (which I think is the worst for me.) I felt pretty darn good while we were away. Yesterday I had some sweet tea and didn't feel absolutely terrible afterwards, so I'm sincerely hoping that after over 17 weeks of feeling like junk I am finally getting a reprieve. Of course, maybe I should lay off the sweets anyway. ;)

Last night I felt the first of the real baby kicks! Eep! Not just flutters but real kicks, way down low, and boy were there a lot of em! Baby must know that we have a doctor's appointment today. I'm depressed, because at 17 weeks they could peek in and likely see what the gender of the baby is. But they aren't going to. I have to wait another whole month to find out - putting me at about 21 weeks before knowing, and making this the absolute latest I have ever known. I'm DYING to start buying things and even to know if I can get rid of other things. I don't care what the baby is, I just want to know! :)

Here's a semi-creepy giant generic picture of a 17 week old baby in the womb. :) I really need to take a new baby bump pic!

So since I can't find out today what we're having...boooo...I thought it would be fun to see what a few old wives tales had to say! Doesn't matter how many babies I have, these are always fun, and I always have to look them up again. Here are 15 tales and what they say about our baby inside. Is it a BOY or a GIRL? ;)

~*~ 15 Old Wives Tales ~*~


#1 Leg Size - If your legs get really big, you are having a boy. If your legs stay lean, it's a girl.

Boy wins on this one hands down. I gained weight in my lower half FAST this time!

#2 Chinese Gender Chart - This chart claims to have 90% accuracy. (I think it was right for two of mine and wrong for one before.)

The Chinese chart says that we are having a girl!

#3 Mom's Beauty - It is said that a girl will steal mom's beauty but a boy will make you feel glowy and beautiful. 

Well, it's a girl! Haha. I look like CRAP and I'm breaking out like crazy (which has NEVER happened to me before - usually I have great skin when I'm pregnant.)

#4 Side you most rest on - If you prefer to rest on your left side, it's a boy. If the right side is preferred, it's a girl.

Girl, again!

#5 Hair on legs - If the hair on your legs is growing at record speeds, it must be a boy.

Then it MUST be a boy, because this has been ridiculous!

#6 Headaches - If you are having headaches this pregnancy, it might just be a boy!

Boy again! 

#7 Baby names - It is said if you can only think of names for one gender, it's because that is the gender you are likely having.

It's another win for team boy here. Our boy name was picked from the beginning. We still cannot agree on a girl's name.

#8 The Mayan Tale - The Mayan Tale adds the mothers age at conception and the year of conception. If it's an even number, it's a girl. If it's odd, it's a boy. 

28 + 14 = GIRL

#9 Cold feet? - No, this isn't about having second thoughts! If your feet are cold, you are having a boy.

No cold feet here - girl!

#10 Luscious Locks? - Has your hair become dull and thin or full and glossy? Thin and dull says you're having a girl. Great hair is for the boy mamas.

Well, I hate to say it, but at my last hair appointment I was told I was really thinning at the top (and likely due to hormones.) Since this has never been a problem before, I'm blaming this one on a baby girl!

#11 Sweet or Sour and Salty? - If you are craving sweets like fruit or chocolate, it's a girl. Sour and salty food cravings mean a boy is on the way.

Considering I've been binging on pickles (how stereotypical!) and that sweets make me nauseous, I'm calling this one for a boy!

#12 Severe morning sickness? - It is said that the worse the morning sickness, the more likely it is to be a girl.

This is a toughie! I would put this pregnancy in the middle of the road category compared to my other pregnancies. Since I would rank this one third worst for morning sickness, I'm saying boy! (Though this pregnancy did have the longest sickness of all!)

#13 Wedding ring test - If the ring swings over your belly in a circle, it's a girl. If it swings back and forth, it's a boy.

Boy!

#14 Pillow direction - This one says that if your pillow faces north, it's a boy and if it points south, then count on a girl.

Haha, this one is so strange, but BOY.

#15 Mood Swings - Super moody? Then it's likely a girl. Pretty normal? Think blue.

Maybe you should ask Eric about this one, but I'm honestly going to say I've been much worse in the past! I think I've held it together pretty well this time...considering. :) So I'm saying boy!


So it looks like my final total is 9 for the boys and 6 for the girls! Boys win! And now I get to wait an entire month to see if all of this stuff was lucky and predicted it right, haha. 50/50 chance after all!

This is my first pregnancy that I have no feelings whatsoever if it is a boy or girl. Considering my hunch was WRONG with all of my previous children, it's probably better that I just wait patiently to find out. :) Thanks for humoring me, and I can't wait to hear that heartbeat today! Healthy is ALL that matters, so we will always welcome prayers for a healthy pregnancy. 

Happy day!


Monday, September 22, 2014

Weekend Wrap Up - Fall is (Almost) Here!

Fall doesn't officially start until tomorrow, but you could've fooled the Midwest! The weather here has been just awesome, even if it was a bit of a shock when we came home from hot, sunny Florida. We were dressed in shorts and the girls had on little sundresses when we stopped in Nashville on our way home from vacation. Brrr!! And it stayed that way all the way home. Looked like Fall had come a little early to our neck of the woods. I wasn't complaining! If there was one thing to help beat the post-Disney blues it was the invigorating feeling of that crisp Fall air, bringing with it the promise of everything I love most!

Before we left on our trip I had confessed to Eric that I was looking forward to all of our annual Fall festivities just as much as our vacation. Haha. He just gave me the look...the look that said, "Are you kidding me? You could've saved me thousands of dollars." :) Well, it was true! I feel so lucky to get the best of both worlds back-to-back!


Our weekend was full of getting out and enjoying some of that beautiful weather. Taking walks, playing outside, and a trip to one of our favorite places in our little town. Eric and I had our usual date night on Saturday. It was great to get a little alone time after being with our kids all day long every single day. No interruptions, adult conversation - what was that??

The highlight of course was on Sunday when we made our first trip to the official opening weekend at Pumpkin Blossom Hill. I've blogged about this place plenty of times before. For those who aren't from around here, it's a little pumpkin patch on the edge of town with a play area that could keep my kids entertained for hours and hours....








I love it...no no, I adore it, for it's quaintness. Our town has 3500 people people give or take a few, so I'm just so thankful that something like this exists here for us to enjoy! The prices for pumpkins and other fall gourds are so reasonable compared to the more commercial places in our area. And as you might imagine, it is run by some of the nicest folks you'll ever meet.

This year we could hardly pull Gracie away from the submarine. She was obsessed with that thing.




I was so happy that the corn maze was back this year! It's one of my favorite parts. :)




Nothing screams Fall to me like running through some cornstalks. :)

Evelyn was most interested in picking out some gourds for us to decorate our porch with. She wanted me to take a picture of every single funny shaped gourd she could find, and the other kids got in on it, too.








In the end, we came away with a small assortment of our own. We'll be back! And of course, we'll have to take our special annual pumpkin picking excursion for the crowning glory of the bunch. Already looking forward to that!


It was such a great day. I always hesitate to use this word, but seriously...the weather was perfect. Perfect, I tell you! :)






I'm excited to have this one last Fall season as a family of five. I'm thankful to be feeling a little better so that I can actually enjoy it! And I'm ready for more. Hope you have a happy week!


Friday, September 19, 2014

Disney World Part 5

Thursday, September 11

Wow, I still can't type the date September 11 and not get chills thinking about that day. While we were in Disney World I kept seeing all of the flags at half mast around the property on this morning and wondering what it was for, and then it hit me. It was such a stark contrast to the surrounding scenery...a reminder that while we may have been in the "Disney bubble" there was still a real world out there and that we should all remember to share the pain and pray for those who lost loved ones on that day.

It was almost like a stepping stone back into the real world that we were about to enter. Only one more full day was left for us on our trip! Just one more day to soak in as much of the fun and magic and memories as we could.

We got up as early as possible in order to take advantage of the last of the time we had, but I still think we may have missed rope drop by a little bit this morning. Whew! We were trying, we really were. :)

We had a full agenda for this day, and we wanted to make sure we were able to hit a few of our favorites but also see and experience even more than we were able to on our first day. First up was the most requested ride of all from the girls - a mini-rollercoaster called Goofy's Barnstormer. They weren't going to let us do anything else this day until we marched them straight there!


Evelyn took her turn first with Eric, and she loved it! Next up was Gracie's turn. I was waiting with the other two kiddos to see their car go by when Eric and Grace came strolling up behind us. Apparently Gracie got all the way up to the loading area and got scared. I was shocked! Gracie LOVES watching videos of roller coasters and rode Test Track with no problems just a couple of days before. Guess she just wasn't feeling it on this day. :)

Right next to the Barnstormer is the Dumbo ride. The second most requested stop of the day was to let the kids play in the waiting area play place. In busier times you actually get a beeper for this ride so that you don't have to stand in line forever, and while you wait your kids can play in a special circus-themed area. We definitely didn't need to make this stop, but the girls wanted to check it out.





It was too cute, and a seriously genius idea on Disney's part. I think all rides should have beepers, haha.

Smile if you're at Disney!


We rode a ton of rides on this day, including a couple that I was convinced I wasn't going to get to ride at all on this trip. I had heard mixed reviews on whether or not Pirates of the Caribbean and The Haunted Mansion were too scary for little ones. Some people said their kids were terrified...others said that they were among their favorite rides. I looked at Eric and asked should we or shouldn't we?

The thing is, I really wanted to ride them myself, haha. They are iconic for goodness sake. But my mama bear instinct was telling me not to potentially ruin the magic by scaring the crap out of my children. :) In the end, Eric said we should go for it and I nervously agreed. Eeee...this could be really fun or really bad!

We tried the Haunted Mansion first. "It's not scary at all!" the waitress from the Crystal Palace had told us on our first day. It was Evelyn that I was worried about on this one. She's my tender-heart and is easily scared by anything remotely spooky. Wouldn't you know - she thought it was a hoot! Grace on the other hand, who is usually my brave child, thought it was the creepiest thing on the planet. Haha. As we were getting back into the strollers to move on to the next thing, Evelyn kept razzing her little sister, "Ooooh Gracie - it's soooo scaaaary!" Thankfully Grace took it all in stride, but it was such a complete switch from the norm. What was happening to my children on this trip??

The same exact scenario played out on the Pirates ride. There are cannons that shoot out in the very beginning and poor Gracie thought they were really firing at her. She seemed to be doing okay but then towards the end she turned to me and totally deadpan said, "I do not want to be on this ride, mom." :D She did great though, and didn't freak out or anything. Just not her thing! And that's okay. Now we know. 

We could have just kept riding things all day, but we had a very special reservation to get to for lunch! We were SO lucky to snag a fast pass reservation for the Be Our Guest restaurant. I had heard so many great things about how just walking into the building felt like you were stepping right into the Beauty and the Beast movie. People weren't lying....



There are three different rooms to dine in, all rooms depicted in the movie, and we were able to find a  spot in the ballroom - my favorite! Behind those windows a silent snowfall slowly drifts down while you eat. We were in the mountains, after all! 



Eric and I ordered sandwiches which were among some of the best quick-service food we had that week. The kids chose grilled cheese and tomato soup. For dessert, we tried the "grey stuff" cupcake...


It was delicious! (Don't believe me, ask the dishes!) 

Sorry, couldn't help myself.


Stunning details were everywhere we turned. They did such a great job replicating the movie here!

I planned it so that right after we had lunch at Beast's castle we could hop over and use a fast pass at Enchanted Tales With Belle. I thought we should get the full Beauty and the Beast experience. ;) This is a really cool attraction that is like a walk-through story which the children get to participate in.


Hello, Lumiere! 

Evelyn played the role of the wardrobe, and Gracie was given some silverware. 



Belle gave all of the children who participated bookmarks...how appropriate from her book-loving character!



Gracie thought this was fabulous. She went all the way to Disney and was totally impressed by her new bookmark. :)

It had already been a great day, but one thing the girls were looking forward to most was up next! It was finally time to meet Anna and Elsa. Reagan had fallen asleep at this point, which I was bummed about. He actually loves these princesses, too. Some of his first words were "Let it go," and I'm not even joking. He might have heard his sisters sing it over and over and over for a few months, haha.

I was just watching the videos from this meet, and both of the girls were bouncing on their heels in nervous excitement as they watched the kids before them. Grace looked like she was about to come out of her skin!



Notice that she's still holding on to that bookmark, haha. Elsa was super friendly to the girls, carrying on a complete conversation even though both Evelyn and Grace seemed to be totally tongue-tied. They just stared at her in awe. :)

Anna is much more bubbly and hyper, and they seemed to loosen up a bit with her. The first thing Anna said to them was, "Oh, I see you went to visit my friend Belle!" 



Sigh...what I wouldn't have given to meet my favorite characters when I was their age. I only wish that Reagan hadn't been asleep in my arms!

This was the perfect time for us to say goodbye to the Magic Kingdom for a little while and head back to our room for a rest. I knew that it was going to be a late night for us that evening, and I didn't want to have to deal with crabby kids later. Plus, it's not a bad idea to take a mid-day break to escape the hottest part of the day (and the busiest!) If you have small children, I actually recommend it.

It's amazing how fast time flies, though! It seemed like we were only in our room for a little while before it was time to load back into the car and head to the Contemporary Resort. We had a dinner reservation to get to before going back into the park that night! 


It wouldn't be a first trip without a visit to Chef Mickey's!

Eric liked this place because there was sushi on the buffet. And the kids liked it because...well...




What's not to love?

By this time we had done so many character meals that the kids were totally used to it...you know, this is just how we live life now! (How depressing when Mickey didn't show up at home during dinner time.) They were relaxed and into it...feeling the love....and getting goofy!





And speaking of Goofy....



Reagan made that fishy-face the entire trip. I think it's because he's getting some teeth, haha.


This was a fun meal! Sometimes Chef Mickey's gets a bad review online, but I can't imagine why. It was just peachy for us!

We were ready to get back to the Magic Kingdom to enjoy our very last night at Disney. Oh, how I was trying to soak it all in!

Our last picture with the castle, sniff sniff.

We made sure to walk slowly, enjoy the sights and sounds, and get in our very last rides of the trip. Per the girls' request that included going on It's a Small World and the carousel once again.



Nerd alert. :)

By now it was time to get ready for the event of the evening, the Main Street Electrical Parade. I had learned my lesson the hard way after the Halloween party...people take parades in this place very seriously. Haha. Like, they start sitting on the curb two hours before the dang thing starts. So I was so thankful that I had booked fast passes for us this time. This meant that we would get to sit in a roped off area with far less people and not have to waste our precious park time (and consequently, vacation dollars) sitting on our rears staking out a spot.


We were ready to see some lights!










What a fun night!

There was just one thing left for us to do. One thing that I had wanted to accomplish the entire trip that I hadn't already. And that one thing could be found in Adventureland. We ended up following the parade and swimming upstream in a sea of people...risking life and limb!...so that I could get my lips on a dole whip float. :)

It was sooo worth it. Mmm-mmm! And apparently Reagan thought so too, because he stole mine and wouldn't give it back, little stinker! We sat and enjoyed our treats right as the fireworks show Wishes was getting ready to begin. Instead of heading to Main Street and picking one spot to sit and watch the show, we decided to slowly make our way to the exit and watch them as we walked. Grace was really the only one who desperately wanted to see the fireworks, and I didn't want to disappoint her, so right as we entered the Town Square I turned the stroller around and let her watch the grand finale. I really can't think of a better way to have ended our trip. 

I took one more look at the castle and then we walked under the the "See ya real soon!" sign for the last time. Oh, how I hope it won't be too long before I get to visit this place again!


Friday, September 12

No one wanted to get out of bed this morning. We all laid around for as long as we possibly could before we had to get up and start gathering all of our things to leave. What an amazing trip we had! Soon we had our suitcases packed and we were wheeling them to the car. But first, I stood in the doorway of our room and just stared at it for a while. Haha. It was such a sad moment to leave our "home" for the week, knowing we'd probably never be in that same room again! The Caribbean Beach Resort had been good to us. We'd definitely stay there again sometime.

Thankfully, we had one final hurrah before hitting the road for a long day of driving. We had a table service meal credit left on our dining plan, which I had saved back so that we could have a special breakfast on the morning we left. We were headed to the Polynesian resort to dine with Lilo and Stitch at 'Ohana.



Although this was a character meal it was a nice change of pace, because the food was served family style and brought right to the table. No more buffets for us! There was bread and fruit, bacon, eggs, sausage, biscuits, potatoes, and even Mickey waffles. All we could possibly eat. Oh, and I can't forget about the yummy juice they serve up here. I believe it's called POG juice - pineapple, orange, and guava...so good!

Gracie's face in these pictures...haha...



"I'm over it." :)

Haha, just kidding....







The kids had one more chance to parade around and shake some maracas....


And then it was time to say goodbye to Disney World for real.

Gee, I think I'm getting more choked up about it now than I did then! Goodbyes are always a little harder after the magic has worn off. Having a week together with no worries or cares in the world...that was priceless. And we could do that anywhere, on any vacation. But I'm so glad that our first real family vacation all together was in the place I always dreamed of going myself. It took me 29 years to get there, and I'm so thankful that my kids had the chance to go when they still believe in the magic themselves. 

I'm especially thankful to this guy:


He's a good sport, and a great dad. :)

Many of you know we took this trip as a celebration of over five years of working towards becoming debt free. None of that would have happened without God blessing us with good health and giving Eric the ability to work and provide our family. There were a lot of sacrifices to get here. Was it worth it? Ohhh yes!

The very next day was our six year wedding anniversary. We spent it on the road, holding hands...listening to that biography of Walt Disney together. :) And feeling very content and blessed to be with our family. A van FULL of people, and one little person we haven't even met yet. Wow, what an eventful six years we have had. Has it all been worth it...? Yes, again! So very worth it. 

Let's just...not wait six more years to come back again - okay, dear? :)


Thanks for reading, friends! Have a magical day!

The End.


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