Monday, August 24, 2015

Thirty, Flirty, and Thriving ;)

Bahaha...I had to say it. Who doesn't love that movie? If you don't, we just cannot be friends anymore.

Well I am definitely thirty now. Not so flirty, unless you ask Eric! (He's a good looking dude, what can I say?) And feeling pretty good on the thriving part today. :) We had a great weekend ringing in a new decade for yours truly. My 30th birthday was on Sunday. I had mixed emotions over the whole thing. I'm not sure if anyone enjoys adding numbers to their age past, say...25 years old or so...but I have so much to look forward to in this decade that I almost welcome it like an old friend. Or, more like one that I have really wanted to meet!

Truth is, I have been preparing for this birthday for quite some time now.


This is Evelyn's attempt at taking a picture of me on my LAST day in my twenties! :)

And here we are on my LAST date night at 29. Yes, the lasts...you know this about me.


We are so awesome cruising the city in our minivan. Full of toys and kid junk. HOT.

I don't regret the way I lived my twenties one little bit, though there is a great portion of the population that likely thinks I'm absolutely nuts. I spent a lot my youthful days pregnant and covered in a variety of baby and toddler goobers. I didn't take a lot of time for myself. I didn't jet set around with my friends and take a lot of vacations. I was a wife and a mom, primarily. And contrary to what many people may believe, I'm not actually a little kid person. I'm not. This is not like my second nature or something. There's a reason why I spent 3/4 of my college career studying to be a Secondary English Education major...to teach high school aged students...not preschool ones. Most of my twenties were anything but glamourous.

I will never get the last decade back, and some people might look at what I "gave up" and feel sorry for all of that "lost time." But I can tell you I was extremely happy most of that time, and I don't feel that I lost a thing. I have gained a lot! But lost? Nope. My twenties were spent laying the groundwork for what could potentially be an amazing decade ahead. It was all, 100%, intentional.

I had my babies in my twenties, so I could ROCK OUT the school aged years in my thirties. I cannot WAIT until all of my babies are in school. It's not because I want them gone all day (okay, not all because of that - ha!) but because school-aged kids ARE my thing. That is where I am in my element. In our pre-marriage counseling I announced (rather boldly) that I wanted a big-ish family, but that I also wanted to be done having kids before I was thirty. Well, look at me. Mission accomplished. :D Yes, yes...I know I'm asking for another "surprise" just by typing that.

We sacrificed a lot early on so that we could travel more, buy a home, do more, give more...this is going to be a FUN few years, I do believe! Eric and I really want to learn things together...discover new places, take dance lessons (for real - we're excited about that one)...all the things that are a bit harder to do when we have a bunch of little ones. I'm excited for more TIME during my days. Will I publish a novel in my thirties? I genuinely hope so! A huge goal of mine. There is just so much to look forward to. NO regrets, whatsoever!

Yes...been preparing for this period of my life for a while now. :) And let's be honest...still a few years to go before I'm totally "there" haha.

I started out the decade doing my absolute favorite thing, spending time with my family.


The weather was gorgeous yesterday! The sun was warm, the breeze was cool, and it turned out to be just perfect for a planned trip to the zoo. It was Charlotte's first visit. 


She was riveted I tell you, just RIVETED!



We were looking a little scraggly after a few trips through the cool misters, haha. 


Charlotte was NOT a fan of the dark tunnels on the train ride. That...er...doesn't bode well for a few rides on an upcoming trip we are taking, haha. 




The girls were checking out their kind. ;) I tried to tell Evie that once I went to the zoo and saw some of the cutest zebras ever. One had brown hair and was wearing pink sneakers, and another had blonde hair and was wearing watermelon flip flops. "Really??" she said. She totally didn't get it. Haha.

Before we left the house yesterday we couldn't find Evelyn's sandals anywhere. We looked and looked and looked. When we got to the zoo it was discovered that was because they were on Grace's feet. Ha! See how big they are on her? :)

Here are some of those misters the kids love so much!


They really weren't even that needed, but they were still irresistible.


It was such a great day, and I am so thankful to Eric who put off some of his work a while to make it happen. He even made dinner when we got home. I was impressed. :) Can't think of how I would have changed a thing! And thank you so much for the birthday wishes yesterday - it is always fun to receive them! LOVE my friends and family!

Today it's another beautiful day in the neighborhood, and I'm enjoying our back to school routine so much. I'm feeling very content and blessed at the moment. It won't take long for this peace and serenity to be interrupted by flying cheerios or something, so please...excuse me while I revel in this!

Yep, I'll take 30. So far so good. ;)


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Birthdays and Back to School!

Whew! I hate it, but it's so easy to neglect the blog when our schedule gets topsy turvy!

Last week I left you with the passing of my grandpa. Eric was supposed to be in California last week, but because of the circumstances he was home with us instead. And he wasn't the only unexpected person in town! My little sister made the drive from North Carolina and spent the week at home for a very nice impromptu visit. It just so happens that Shannon and I share a birthday month, our birthdays are four days apart actually, so while she was home my mom decided to have a little party for the both of us to celebrate. :)

Last Thursday we all got together for a barbecue. It was a beautiful day. Uncle Roger helped Grace perfect her washers game, and all of the kids had fun running around in the fresh air. Good food, good people!


Shannon and I are both entering new decades of our lives. This year she turns 20 and I turn...dun dun dun...the big 3-0. The thought of turning 30 never bothered me before, but now that I am currently living in my LAST week of my 20's, I'm feeling a little nauseous about it. Mom, are you sure I wasn't born in 1986?


Over the weekend we celebrated another little cutie's birthday, too. Our adorable cousin Tessa is 3! The kids had so much fun playing at aunt Amy's. I'm glad we were able to get the kiddos together before the start of the school year. And that brings us to life right now....

We are in the throws of the first week back to school. Things are going great so far, and I am NOT sad about it, haha. The girls were asking for the start of school for quite a while...especially Gracie. She was so ready to go back!


On Monday night we took the girls to their open house to meet their teachers and drop off school supplies. Evelyn was very excited to get her teacher of choice for the school year, Mrs. Ratz. Mrs. Ratz was her uncle John's teacher last year. And it worked out so nicely that John's new classroom is literally right across the hall from Evie's, so they are able to easily meet up every day after school and walk to grandma's house where I am waiting.  (Grandma and grandpa live right next to the school... just a stones throw away.) I have high hopes for a great year!

Both girls were thrilled for their first day of school yesterday! Evelyn is a first grader - say what?




Eric always takes the day off of work so that he can take both of the girls for their first day. He led Evelyn to her classroom, a task he said he wasn't even needed for, but of course loved doing it anyway. Evie knows where she is going. :)


Later when we took to Grace to preschool, he scooped her up and told her that she wasn't allowed to go and that she had to stay home with him forever, haha.



"No no no!" As I've said, Grace was READY. There was no way she was coming home with us! Unfortunately, Reagan was also ready. Once again this year we had to tell him that it wasn't quite his turn. Boy, did that make him upset. That kid wants to go to school and cries all the way back to the car when he isn't allowed to stay. But there's nothing that a little pasta from a favorite local restaurant won't cure. :)


We parents always treat ourselves to a first day back lunch, haha.

I am happy to report that both girls had wonderful first days of school. Daddy decided we needed to make a special trip to Sonic afterwards for slushies to celebrate. (Seriously, why can't he be home with us every single day? That money thing....psh.)

But sadly we had to say goodbye this morning. Eric is flying back to New York for a couple of days after work this evening. Thankfully he'll be back late Friday night, just in time to start my 30th birthday weekend. I'm finishing out this first week of school flying solo. I hope and pray my alarm goes off every morning. :) The morning routine is not my thing. If school ran from 10:00-5:00 instead of 8:00-3:00 I'd be in Heaven! Trying not to remind myself that if I'd chosen to homeschool our day would have been from like 10:00-2:00. Haha. Darn it. Very thankful for grandma Joan who picks Evelyn up for school so that I don't have to load all of the other kids up in the morning!

I hope everyone is having a good week so far! Praying for those who need our prayers, and I know there are several of you. Still waiting for life to slow down here, but we're reluctantly getting better at juggling the chaos. Later, friends!


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Going Home

Hello, friends! Our week is all kinds of mixed up. Eric and I looked at each other last night and said, "Tomorrow is only Wednesday??"

My grandpa Linnertz (my mom's dad) passed away over the weekend. He had very recently been diagnosed with a stage 4 cancer, and only five days later he was gone. I know our family was praying for as quick and easy of a time as possible for him, and I do believe those prayers were answered. He said that he was ready to go...that he missed his parents and brothers and was just ready to go home. :) My grandpa was 81 years old. I will always remember him as someone who was super friendly to everyone and who always had a smile. That's how Eric remembers him, too.

Grandpa never could quite say my name just right. He called me "Adreen" my entire life, and even as a kid it never occurred to me to mind. That was just what grandpa called me! I hardly remember a time that I didn't see him with a John Deere hat on his head and blue jeans on. His nickname was "Shorty" and well, I think you can see why....


We are a petite people. :D

Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers. Yesterday ended up being a gorgeous day to say goodbye. Until we meet again!

So now...rewind the clock a bit. Last week the girls got to go on a peach picking adventure with their grandma at one of our very favorite places....




They brought home some delicious peaches, which we promptly turned to peach crisp - of course! I think I love fruit crisps even more than pies. I always DOUBLE the amount of crisp that any recipe calls for. You just can't have enough of that crunchy sweet goodness. :)

For some reason I have a picture of our baking station, so here ya go!


 We love making a right mess in the kitchen, obviously.

This was the first of two that we made over the weekend. Hey...aint no better way to eat a peach! ;)

Late on Friday night Eric came home to us from Boston....


You would think by now the traveling would get easier...something we're just used to. Nope. Hate it every time. Haha. Eric is homesick and we're Eric sick the entire time he is gone. So we were more than ready for a night out on Saturday. 


I mean, we were both pinching ourselves to stay awake the whole evening, but it was still so good to be back together again! Saturday is still the best.

The next few days were spent relaxing, walking, a little bit of work thrown in there...


Oh, and shh....



Magic Bands are here! Our family has officially outgrown one box of magic bands, haha. Thank goodness these things are delivered in an inconspicuous box! Last night on our walk, Evelyn said, "Oh, I just cannot stop thinking about going back to Disney World for some reason!"

I turned to Eric and we chuckled. "Couldn't possibly be because of all the Disney World shows I've been turning on." We leave in just over three weeks. There is so much we have to do before then!

It's just a few more days at home before we start our back-to-school schedule. I feel like everything is coming to a head so quickly, and I'm woefully unprepared for it. This life thing. It keeps happening, like it or not. Time keeps moving forward even though Eric and I wish it would stop already. We're looking forward to reclaiming some of our family life back this Fall. We'll never get the summer when Charlotte was a newborn and our kids were 6, 4, and 2 back again - a fact that weighs heavy on Eric's heart, I know. He misses home. We miss him. :) I think I may have said that already. There's no place like home.

So we're soaking up these last few days of summer break! I better get back to it. Hope you all are having a great day. :)


Friday, August 7, 2015

Back to Our Random Life!

I would just like to take a minute to introduce you to my alter-ego, Mr. Corn.


Hey, Mr. Corn.

Reagan has this new thing. He is very into the whole world of imagination these days, and literally every five minutes (all stinkin day long) my child approaches me asking, "You wanna play? You wanna play?" And then he shoves this corn guy in my hands. It is then my job to act out various scenarios with a two year old child who barely speaks himself, as he pretends to live in a world of talking cars and talking corn. It's great! It was so super cute the first...dozen or so times. 

But now. I am physically attached to Mr. Corn. I am not allowed to walk two steps into another room without speaking for Mr. Corn. I AM Mr. Corn. 

How can I say no to my only son's sweet requests and those big baby blues?? (Hint: I can't. That's why I'm stuck here.) My only hope is that he latches on to some new thing as soon as possible, haha. Someday Eric and I will look back on this precious time when our son so desperately wanted our attention. And we'll forget that giving him that attention meant we couldn't say, do, think, or accomplish anything else all day long. Nostalgia will conveniently erase all of that. :) For now I make an effort to appease my future self by trying my best to put down whatever I'm doing when that cutie asks, "You wanna play?" The look on his face when I answer, "Yes, I do!" is just too priceless.

When I'm not acting out stunt shows and soap operas with plush food, I am taunting my children with Disney World trips they don't know they are taking. Mwahaha....

Look what came in the mail this week:


That would be the best season of Full House ever, and you might be able to guess just why I think that is. The very last two episodes are called "The House Meets the Mouse" and they are the classic episodes that anyone who is anyone remembers from when the Tanner family went to Disney World. Gah, that's like the crux of my childhood, haha.

Michelle as princess for the day...Danny and Vickie eating at the Coral Reef restaurant...Joey and Jessie in the underwater ball...the piano scene at the Grand Floridian - COME ON, who doesn't remember the piano scene? This is good stuff. The Disney episodes are very hard to catch on regular television and are often skipped in the re-run lineup. So right away I popped that sucker in the dvd player and the kids and I sat down to watch. What came next brought me great joy.

As soon as the camera panned down on an aerial shot of Cinderella Castle I thought my son was going to jump.out.of.his.skin. "DISNEY WORLD!!" I am telling you this child has a vocabulary of like 10 words. He never talks. Well, at least not in English. I didn't know if he even remembered Disney World, so imagine my shock as I watch him hooting and hollering, jumping on the couch and actually saying "Disney World!" The boy was excited. He laughed and laughed any time there was a character on the screen.

Holy crap. Let's get this kid to Disney - stat! :)

The girls were equally glued to the TV. Halfway through, Gracie gave a sigh and said, "I want to go back there...so bad."

Whew, stay strong, Adrien. Stay strong. "Me too," I said. 

There was a little bit of motive behind showing them this, I'm not going to lie. I have been working my tail off trying to secure reservations and things, and it just so happens that we will be visiting some of the very same spots featured in those episodes. We'll be having lunch at the Coral Reef restaurant in Epcot...breakfast at the Grand Floridian hotel, where we'll walk right by that famous piano. Basically, I need to give my children a healthy appreciation for the places they are about to see. ;) Cause this mom is probably going to be fan-girling just a little bit over fish tanks and baby grands. Just a little bit.

In other news, Eric has been in Boston for the past few days. We can't WAIT to have him home tonight. And when daddy is gone all of my children usually end up piled in my bed. This is what I wake up to....


That would be three different sets of entangled feet. Haha. Made me laugh, so of course I took a picture of it. Just one big happy family pile. :D

Yes, this post is completely random, and I'm taking that as a sign that maybe things are normalizing a bit around here...or at least that my brain is. I'll take random any day! 

Next week is our kids' LAST week of summer vacation. Holy cow! I'm hoping for a good weekend, and praying that maybe, just maybe...Eric won't have to travel next week. That's a BIG maybe. But a girl can dream. :) For those of you local parents that still have some back-to-school shopping to do, don't forget that this is Missouri's tax-free weekend! We may just have to take the girlies clothes shopping one day. Oh darn. ;) Hope you have a great weekend yourself!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

I've Got a Secret Too Hard Not to Tell


Betcha can't guess what it is.

It was sometime toward the end of June when Eric and I realized the full consequence of what our lives had become. Life hadn't quite become the crazy storm that it would turn into in the month of July, but we knew that we were in for it good. Our summer was shot. And Eric was already feeling bad for the added stress and weight his job was putting on me. He didn't ask for it, and neither did I. 

So one day while on a plane ride home he started investigating an absolutely crazy idea I had...a trip we could take together to get away for a little while and make up for some lost time. I didn't think he would go for it...but he did. And when he came home and the topic casually came up again, he admitted, "I already priced the whole thing and have a package in my cart." That night, on a bit of a whim, we booked a Disney World vacation for the two of us.

We planned an adult trip, and it was a good one. :) Of course, we would have to bring nursing Charlotte along with us, but the entire trip was planned around things we couldn't or wouldn't see and do with kids as small as the ones we have. No character dining or meets, focused more on rides and shows for adults and really just taking a much more leisurely pace and enjoying some time together. This trip would also coincide with my 30th birthday and our wedding anniversary. It was the perfect gift! 

We told the kids about our plan right away. Yes, our children were well aware that we were planning to go to Disney World without them. They were surprisingly fine with it, especially since that meant that they would get some sleepovers at grandparent's houses! Our dining reservations were made, our fast passes booked, the trip for two was paid in full. Woohoo! 

And then the guilt. Haha.

We had looked into doing several different trips prior to booking this one, including a California adventure. We could do Disneyland for a day and visit some presidential libraries...a perfect little vacation for us. But would you believe, after pricing out every single vacation Disney was the LEAST expensive option every time. You can do Disney-for-two surprisingly inexpensively. Our room on Disney property was only $85 per night. We couldn't dream of getting that rate in California (or anywhere else we'd want to go for that matter!) Our food would be free the entire time we were there, thanks to the free dining promotion. When we added in the other expenses like rental cars (which you don't necessarily need at Disney) and everything else...well...Disney won, hands down. So that's why we picked it.

But still...that guilt. Even though the kids were cool...mom and dad were not. Especially dad. I was willing to do just about anything for a few (mostly) kid-free nights! Eric was worried he'd just miss the kiddos the whole time. (He was probably right.)

The final straw came on a walk, just this past weekend. We were casually talking about a Disney trip the extended Robert family is planning for 2016, when Evelyn turned the topic to the adult trip Eric and I were planning. Casually as can be she asked, "So what rides are you looking forward to doing, mom?"

I don't know what it was about her asking that question, but that did it. Eric and I looked at each other...that expression you give to a sad looking puppy dog. Stay strong...keep it together!

Well on Sunday as we were driving home from lunch we decided it was worth looking into what it would cost to add the kids onto our package. Before, we thought it was just too much money to spend right now, but that was before July happened! When we got home Eric spent the better part of the afternoon on the phone with Disney finagling a deal. He's a good finagler, that Eric Robert. I didn't think he could do it. We'd have to upgrade our room. We'd have to beg and plead to add the kids to our free dining plan. We'd be blown away by the extra cost. But after asking to be put through to the right person, and after I distinctly heard Eric say, "I'm trying to give you substantially more of my money here," he scored an AMAZING deal. 

Heeeere we go again!

So...we are heading back to the Caribbean Beach Resort the week of Labor Day with the entire family! It's going to be a much different trip than the one we took last year. Much more low-key, and let's just be honest, less planned! I will admit that it pained me to have to go back into our already-planned and paid for trip and CANCEL really good dining reservations. To change around our really good fast passes. We had the perfect trip planned! Now that we are a party of six, it's nearly impossible to find places to reserve meals this close to our dates. It won't be for lack of trying, but it's more of a last minute "take what you can get!" sort of deal. The fast passes are long gone. I haven't been able to get one single thing that I want so far, haha.

But...it is still Disney...and most importantly, there will be no guilt. ;)

Here's the thing! The kids have no idea we've added them to the reservation. They still think they are staying at grandparent's houses, and when I'm packing their bags I'm sure they'll just assume it's for that. Eric wants to wait until the day we leave to tell them. They are going to flip.out. Ahahaha, I can't wait.

Our entire trip will be longer than originally planned. Eric, Charlotte, and I were flying. With the whole crew, we are driving. Let's not talk about the mild panic attack I had when I realized we're taking this road trip with four little kids - one who will be 6 months old at the time. Gah! And taking a baby was no big deal before, but a baby AND three little kids? Eee-gads! 

But no guilt. Right? Haha.

Eric has perked up big time. I think he's the most excited! "I have a feeling it's going to be really good." :) I love his heart.

So that's our story! If you see our kiddos, don't say a word! Shhh....it's our little secret. ;)

Monday, August 3, 2015

The Weekend I Got My Husband Back

This weekend was JUST what the doctor ordered. I was able to spend so much time with Eric, which was totally his doing, and I'm so thankful to him for it. It's not as if he didn't have plenty of work to do...he just allowed it to hit the back burner a bit to prioritize his time for our family and...me. Haha. He may have been up until after midnight last night making up for it, but I don't think either of us regret the time we spent together. :)

THANK YOU so much for the encouragement last week, friends! I went to my doctor's appointment on Thursday and explained everything that had happened to me. And basically, there were no concerns on their end. My body is fluctuating and readjusting after baby. When I shared my symptoms, my OB did mention that it was possible I had a little cyst or something but did not seem worried about it. So...okay then! I do feel like I am in a much better place emotionally, and it feels great to feel great. We received messages and cards, and even some sweet gifts...seriously, we have the best friends. Every little gesture helped to perk me up!

Eric ended up having to spend an extra night in New York last week, and he took a morning flight home on Thursday and then worked from home. While he was on the phone and computer most of the morning, it still felt like we had an extra long weekend! He was able to take me to my appointment and to grab dinner afterwards...I haven't cooked since last Wednesday, haha. A luxury in itself, which any mom will tell you.

On Friday we planned to take the kids out for a family day. Our first stop was lunch. This picture was taken as we were leaving the house. That would be before we hit the Pizza Hut buffet for the kids and my baby pooped ALL OVER my shorts. I'm not talking about a little bit, I'm talking an obscene amount. An obscene amount of poop all over the front of me and many laughs from an adoring audience of restaurant patrons as I held my baby at arms length and waddled out the door. Never ever in all my baby days has such an explosive event occurred. But here we are before the drama....


We tried to get Reagan in the picture, too...but he hasn't quite grasped the concept of "leaning in." 

Oh wait, there he is...


Well, we tried. :D

We took the kids to see Inside Out...finally! They loved it. Baby Charlotte got to go to her very first movie, which is something we wouldn't have even dreamed of doing a baby or two ago. But you know what - when you've got four kiddos, the younger one just has to come along sometimes. Something tells me she will get to do a lot of things before the other kids did!

As you might expect, I got to see the first ten minutes and last twenty minutes of the movie, and I spent the rest of the time walking around popcorn machines and blinky lights with Charlotte. But that's alright, it was all about the kids after all. And Eric. Eric loved the movie. I guess my verdict will come when it comes out on dvd. Ha!

Saturday is always my favorite day. Of course Eric still works, but it's a different job and a different mindset all together. We can chat all day and make plans for our date night, which is precisely what we did. There were errands to run and meals I didn't have to cook. Yes, Saturday is my favorite day. Eric is a fine date. A fine date, indeed. 

And on Sunday there were more last minute errands to run, and as usual, it was the only day my husband didn't have to hurry off to a job. We did something awesome in the afternoon...like really, the kids are going freak out...and I'll tell you all about that tomorrow. That evening we loaded everyone up and took a long walk. It was my bright idea to pack a "dinner-to-go" so that the kids could have a picnic of sorts while we were walking. Eric and I had eaten a huge lunch earlier in the day while the kids hung out with grandparents and weren't even a little bit hungry for a big meal.


I'm not really sure why I thought this was a great idea. Sticky peanut butter and jelly. Lemonade was spilled before we ever left the driveway. Chocolatey striped shortbread cookies for "dessert" in nearly 90 degree heat. I mean, it was a good thing I remembered the paper towels!

But the kids did think it was neat. Haha.

I have pictures of the family pre-walk, but that's on Eric's phone which is not currently synching up with this computer. Boo! 

The moral of this story isn't that we did anything spectacular but that we just had TIME together. Oh my gosh, how much we can take that for granted. We are not super wealthy or anything so...don't get me wrong when I say this...but if there is one thing I have learned over the past couple of months it's that you could not pay me (or Eric more like, haha)  enough money EVER to equal what it means to be together and make memories. I just do not get my kicks from stuff. We have accepted our fate that while we keep thinking the end is near we don't actually know when the end of this crazy time will be. There really is no for sure end in sight. But having these little breaks does help.

Speaking of breaks...I can't wait to share something fun with you tomorrow. I've been sitting on this for almost two months! Stay tuned....

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