Thankful Thursday


* I will be reunited with these two beauties in just a few short days!
FA Cup final- Manchester City at the Reynolds' home in Turkey
4003. road trips
4004. less than one sleep until I see Thing 2
4005. a day in Franklin
4006. reminiscing
4007. discussions around the book club table
4008. cooking with book club
4009. sacred rhythms
4010. a clean desk
4011. watching Thing 1 study scripture
4012. texts from Thing 2 about a new book she is reading

Stitch Fix

Well hello there pretties.  I have some fashion news to share.  Yes, I realize the absurdity in that statement, trust me.  Fashion news, from me, the one who regularly wears running shorts and t-shirts.  Yes and yes.  I went out on a limb recently.  Mostly because I was somewhat bored with what was in my closet and then because the notion of this Stitch Fix site intrigued me. I had read about it on another blog and was instantly fascinated.  Let me break it down for y'all.
The box, wrapped all pretty
First, you go to this site.  Then you should create an account and tell the stylist behind the screen important details about yourself, what you like to wear, what fits you prefer, do you like to accessorize, yada, yada, yada!  It was revealing for me as I answered each question to see that my taste apparently does not match the way I view my own style.  Hmmm.  Anyhow, then you simply, "Schedule a fix".  And just like that a box full of fashion wonders is sent to your doorstep.  It does cost $20 to have it sent but you can then apply that towards any purchase you make from your "fix". Added bonus is that shipping is covered should you choose not to keep any of your items or only a few of them.  Either way.  Only bummer is that the $20 is non refundable, but the upside to that is it can also be applied to whatever items you do decide to keep from your "fix". 
Ladies this little venture did not disappoint.  I loved each and every item that was sent to me.  In the end I am keeping only one blouse, but I was able to provide reasons why I wasn't keeping anything else for the stylist should I choose to have a "fix" sent again.  Another option is to have a "fix" sent every month automatically.  Choices, choices and more choices.  You can edit your style, leave notes specific for each "fix" once it is scheduled, I really could go on and on.  I won't though.  I'll simply leave you with this.  For fashion's sake, or for fun, visit Stitch Fix's website and give it a go.  And if you do make sure you let them know that I referred you.  Each time you refer a friend for a "fix" you the referrer receives a $25 credit.  How awesome is that?  Completely awesome, I agree.  So, if you find yourself perusing the site and click the "schedule a fix" tab let me know, send me pictures, I want to know how you're being styled! 

My oh my, I forgot one of my very favorite perks of this website.  NO SHOPPING!  Cue the hallelujah chorus my friends.  Really, my disdain for shopping malls and scouring the racks for clothes and deals and the like has grown to monstrous proportions these days.  I may not score the $4.98 shirt or $6 dress on Target's clearance racks this way but I might just own a few quality pieces that will last longer than the season I am currently in.  I'll let you know how that works out for me. 
My favorite piece from my "fix"

Reflecting, or Something Like That

I hesitate to write about the footie matches from the past week and the one still ahead for fear I might jinx the boys.  Yet you and I know all that hocus pocus superstitious stuff is for the birds, right? 
Sure we do. 
The last two weeks around here have been full to the brim with footie for Thing 4.  While we have loved every minute of it, well almost, it is coming to a close this week.  Today marks the possible last game of the season.  That is unless his team wins...Again.  Then it will be on to the state championship Wednesday night.  This team has won over our hearts.  Truly.  It has been an experience like no other.  And while perspective is valued within this six we are quite biased when it comes to Thing 4's teammates.  There have been ups and downs.  Yelling parents.  Horrible referees.  Yellow cards.  Losses.  Wins.  Draws.  Kicks from the spot.  Missed kicks from the spot.  Brutal tackles, spectacular goals and fantastic footie overall.  Lessons learned and obstacles overcome.  Some regression, 8 v. 8 and 11 v. 11.  Playing against boys an entire head taller than them and a whole lot stronger.  Catch my drift? 
I have a few photos to illustrate.  Last week's tournament was the USA Cup in which our team, 10 and 11 year olds played in the U13 Silver division.  Losing in the quarterfinals to a team from Puerto Rico that had blown the competition out of the water.  This was by far the very best game I have ever seen these boys play as a collective.  The game went into extra time and then penalties.  Thing 4 has never played with so much heart, not giving up.  This Mama was proud. 
Taking a throw in
Winning the ball
Before the match
Now we're off to our last game of pool play for the state tournament.  Results to be shared at a later date.  Don't worry I'll keep you posted but for now the photos above will have to do. 

Thankful Thursday

* nothing like painting a canvas at Auntie Leanna's house
3093. Things 1 and 3  home safely from their travels
3094. falling asleep on the couch at 8:30pm
3095. laying next to Thing 4 and him asking me not to leave
3096. stories from the pitch
3097. footie matches against foreign countries
3098. hearing fireworks boom
3099. afternoons at the pool
4000. texts from Thing 2
4001. coffee, enough said
4002. one week until our road trip

Leaving Day

Again with the goodbyes.  And this time I was not only saying goodbye to the Horel family but one of my very own Things.  As I mentioned before she up and left us for three weeks.  Three weeks!!  I know, I'm aghast myself.  There really isn't much to tell.  We woke early and took our house guests to the Original Pancake House, a must eat place around these parts.  There we watched the littles color and place stickers all over Uncle Jared and Auntie Leanna.  I only wish I had taken a picture.  You know for posterity's sake and all.  Pancakes all around and goodbyes to Uncle Jared in the parking lot.  Neck squeezes and slobbery kisses and all that.  It was sweet.  Then he was off to work, someone had to and we all headed home for packing and packing and packing.  Thing 2 needed help and I sat on her bed and lamented over the fact that I wasn't going to see her sweet face for three weeks.  This Mama has never been separated from one of her babies for that long.  I held back the tears, only because everyone was watching.  Once I was sure that the Horels were all secure in the family van and had left the "building" I ran inside and again tried to hold it all together.  Only I couldn't and the other Things quickly came to the rescue with some hugs.  That was close.  It was bittersweet.  I knew Thing 2 would be having fun and making memories.  Spending time with one of her friends from the old hood, seeing our neighbor friends, helping the Horels and even spending some quality time with Grandpa and Mema.  Good stuff.  The tears might have also been due to the Horel family leaving our home. I just loved having those two littles here and their parents.  Thankfully we will be seeing them soon as we make our way through Franklin and onto Florida once again.  Aunt Natalie is a champ and taking pictures and capturing the moments so I was delighted to see photos every step of the way.  Their stop for a dinner picnic and swimming, the overnight stay in St. Louis, the farm and even all the tired girlies, the biggest one included, watching the Aristocats in the family van.  Felt like I was there.  So that was the last day and then some. 

A Week or so Without Sisters

This past week we have been parents of an only child.  Let me explain.  Thing 2 was able to finagle a ride down South with the Horel family when they left after the Fourth.  Securing a seat in the back of their family van for the two day drive to Franklin.  She was nothing short of thrilled and I was nothing short of sad.  Three weeks without my second born.  Whatever would I do?  I still don't have the answer to that question.  We are only a little over a week in and I'm missing her terribly. add insult to injury Things 1 and 3 left for their California trip just a few days after.  It was Thing 1's turn for her week with Poppi and Nani and Thing 3 had coordinated a week long stay with the Stuck family to help with Olivia's arrival and her big sister.  Thus leaving Thing 4 all on his own.  No sisters to contend with and Dad and Mama all to himself.  He was giddy!  
Quite honestly  I think he and I were both a tad excited at the possibilities the week held for us.  He had big plans for us.  Lots of outdoor activities his sisters are never interested in, high action movies and TV shows that his sisters don't want to watch, most of all both parents all to himself.  It's not too often that we have undivided attention for only one Thing.  This was a gift and held the promise of some sweet memories for us.  We have most certainly made the most of our time together.  There were pool dates.  Thing 4 taught me how to frolf.  And then he won, sinking a shot on the 9th hole from rather far out.  Impressive!  Time at the park running around, a trip to the skate park, playing basketball, lake trips, lunch at Lions Tap, friend time playing the Wii, golf with one of Thing 1's friends and even some catapult building for an ultimate show down between red and blue dragons.
Frolf at Staring Lake

Thing 4 and his best buddy
Thing 4 giving Polo a belated 8th birthday ice cream treat

Thing 4 and his buddies, waiting to go swim
Building the catapult

Will's back swing
While we have had a full week with many of Thing 4's favorites, not to mention some footie matches thrown in for good measure, I do believe that we are all missing the six of us being together.  Snuggles on the couch late into the night with Thing 4 are sweet and I have cherished those.  Him all curled up under the blanket and pretending to be asleep so Husband Jared has to carry him up the stairs are moments I hope not to ever forget.  There is something to be said though for the dynamics of the four when they're together.  Without those girlies here a piece of the puzzle is missing.  Enough said.  I am grateful for the opportunity that those girls have had.  The independence they display when they venture away from the comfort of home and me.  See how I just brought that right back to me?  Hmm.  I might be the only one having the issue here. 
So, here we are only days away from two of the three returning and it all seems to have passed in the blink of an eye.  I've been hearing tales of their adventures and seeing pictures that have been sent via text and otherwise and I just love that.  Them sharing pieces of their days with me in a different way.  I still can't wait to hug their necks and see their faces...In person.  
Yet for now I will love on Thing 4 some more and enjoy spending the next few days with our only child.   

Fourth of July

Our day began slow and easy, just how I like them.  Breakfast for all, laughter, crafts at the craft table and then we loaded up the family vans for some lake side fun and ice cream in Excelsior of course.  Well, actually, Lake Ann had been first on the list but when we arrived seems there was much ado about nothing.  We trudged along to Excelsior and were not disappointed.  Food trucks, fishing contest, people everywhere, flags waving and happy kiddos.  What more could you ask for?  There was exploring and  people watching and some decisions to be made.  One that was easy though was a stop for Licks ice cream.  It was our family's first trip there and as you can see in the photo below we were satisfied customers. 
 Licks ice cream, yum!

Walking around the lake,
Thing 1 has a picture with this girls big sister in the very same outfit.

All my peeps

With a melt down not far away for the two littles we headed to the vans for a "car picnic".  We lunched and laughed and then the Horels sped away before chaos ensued.  Once back at the house Husband Jared and his girls headed off for an adventure to the Verizon store where a certain teenager (Thing 2) joined the ranks of cell phone user!  Thing 4 rode his bike and while the Horel family had nap time I readied the kitchen for the next meal.

Celebrating Uncle Jeff's birthday with strawberry shortcake cake, it's all about him!

 Once back at the house Husband Jared and his girls headed off for an adventure to the Verizon store where a certain teenager (Thing 2) joined the ranks of cell phone user!  Thing 4 rode his bike and while the Horel family had nap time I readied the kitchen for the next meal.  Once the families were rested and ready to face the afternoon we set up  the holey board and the grill and had some more fun.  There were kiddos all around and happy squeals from everyone.  With Uncle Jeff's birthday being so close to their visit we decided to surprise him with a cake and some singing after dinner.  After that it was wait and wait some more until fireworks time.  Oh, and Thing 1 had been invited to a friend's house so she spent her fourth of July away from the family for the first time.  Things are changing around here I tell ya! 

The Four Things and Polo, this makes my heart happy
A group decision was made to view fireworks from the bluffs near our home.  Littles were bathed and dressed in jammies and trying ever so diligently not to fall asleep before the festivities.  Our Things were ready for some sparkler fun.  I was placed in charge of photographer in order to capture some "artsy" photos according to Thing 2.  I tried.  Although when it was time for sparklers the ones I had purchased were nowhere to be found.  Seems I had placed them in a special spot so I wouldn't forget where they were when the time came.  And beings I had bought them over a week ago my brain could not remember where that was.  Oh well.  Our sweet friends came to the rescue and even joined us for some sparkly fun! 
Horel family with some sleepy girls
Creating with our sparklers, I think that is supposed to be a "W"

Thing 2, being all artsy, as she says

Autumn's sparkler
The view from the bluffs did not disappoint.  We had about ten firework shows to choose from and the one at Valley Fair seemed to go on and on.  It was beautiful and watching it with the Horels and our Things, well at least three of them, was the perfect ending to an already fantastic day. 
Not the best quality but one of the only ones I have from the actual fireworks display!

Another Lake, Another Surprise

Another lake was on the docket today and that lake was Riley.  Close to home.  Big playground.  Easy beach access for the littles.  The forecast was sun and fun! 
Where's Autumn?  Oh, she was digging and
couldn't be bothered with stopping for a picture.
Thing 1 and me watching from the shore
Gemma girl braving the bridge

We splashed and played and dug and climbed and swung and then our tummies were rumbling and it was time for lunch.  Tonight was kid swap night and we needed to have some downtime before the festivities began so we headed to Punch for lunch and home for rest.  The day was off to a great start.  Watching the girls splash and play in the water and the cousins follow behind was so fun.  There were the usual competitive swim races and handstands and look  at me and watch this from the Things.  And I wouldn't expect anything else. 
There is a tradition that the Uncle Jeff and Aunt Natalie started long ago with our Things.  Once a year, usually around Christmas time when we were living close by, they would take the kiddos for a surprise night.  It began with hints to the locale in the car and they would all try and guess as to where they were going.  One year it was a Cheetah girls concert, a hockey game for Thing 4, a trip to go tubing and an overnight stay in a pirate ship hotel, there have been many.  To hear the Things remember the clues they were given and each outing is just plain neat.  Special memories.  This time was no different.  Uncle Jared and Auntie Leanna or Anna as Gemma calls me, were excited to have the little girlies to ourselves for a couple of hours and the Things were ready for some fun time too.  They didn't know where they were going.  Although we did catch Thing 4 in the act.  He must have overheard some adult conversation regarding the plans and Aunt Natalie found him in the kitchen with the measuring tape checking his height.  I think he was concerned he wouldn't make the cut for the rollercoasters.  What a stinker!  Apparently they all figured it out on the way there.  Do you know where they went?

Surprise, we're at Valley Fair!

The first ride of the night, aggh. 
I know I would never make it through that one!  While we were at the park with the littles we received a text from Aunt Natalie that said, Cheese (Thing 1's  nickname): "I don't think I like this", in reference to the ride above.  Me neither sister.

After braving the ride, Thing 1 needed to relax.  She was not a fan.
And that's how the night went.  Texts and pictures from Uncle Jeff and Aunt Natalie on their outing and vice versa.  Uncle Jared and I were quickly reminded of earlier years with the four Things.  Those two little girlies kept us on our toes.  Our surprise nights don't involve rollercoasters or tubing or any of those things, yet.  Instead we visited a park with a big tunnel slide, walked around looking for ducks to feed, ate dinner al fresco, went for ice cream of course and even threw in a trip to Target for good measure.  By the time we were home, baths given, stories read and milk drank, we sat on the couch and sighed.  Such a great night. 
Pretty sure I love that face!

And this face too!

Looking for the ducks, they were nowhere to be found so we threw bread for the fish,
which we couldn't see either, it sounded good though!
Uncle Jared helping the girlies

Messy dinner at Chipotle, Gemma loves the beans, Autumn loved the rice,
even the cilantro she told me!

Here's me at the ice cream place, "Autumn you can have whatever flavor you want, chocolate, peanut butter cup",on and on.  And her response, "I'll have vanilla with blueberries please".  Um yes.  Alright then.  Blueberries it was!


Uncle Jared pushing the cart, we have never made it through Target so fast!  Lightening speed I tell you.  The girls were helping us "hunt" for our grocery items we needed and then we were out of there.  Can't even tell you how much money they saved us that night. 
That about covers another lake and another surprise.  The pictures tell the story better than I could. 


MN Zoo

The Minnesota zoo.  It was on the Things' summer bucket list last year and we never made it and then again this year so we thought with the Horels being here it was a perfect time to venture out to Apple Valley and wander around.  Thing 4 had a game in Lakeville that evening so we made a day of it.  Packed up after nap time and began the adventure.  We walked through Africa and Russia, where Uncle Jeff tried to convince us he spoke the native tongue.  Ha!  Then we saw strange deer like animals with white cotton looking bums.  There were giraffe and bears and even bubbling geysers, native to the area?  At least that's what the sign said.  An interesting fact or creature awaiting us at every turn.  In fact, we took pictures of some interesting creatures below...
The four grown ups

The Things and Cousins

Uncle Jared telling Autumn all about the tigers. 
The way she's holding his face just melts my heart.

Thing 3, or Pudding, as she's referred to by this Uncle, always
smiles and shenanigans with these two!

This mighty bear put on quite the show for us, went from laying down, to sitting on his behind to standing tall and then walking around his habitat.  Impressive.
The end of the zoo brought us to the Things' favorite exhibit, sea creatures.  There were tide pools and sea horses and even sharks you could touch.  By far the highlight of the day for the kiddos, young and old.  Our trip to the zoo was over and it was on to the next venue, Thing 4's footie match.  We had packed dinner, homemade pretzel dogs made by the two hugging in the kitchen; Which were delicious, by the way. 
Uncle Jeff and Will"I"Am...Gone Country (another nickname)
The tent was pitched to help block the sun, dinner was shared and all of us cheered for Thing 4.  His team walked away with a win which was the cherry on top for an already sweet day.

Thankful Thursday

Thing 3 and Autumn, flying high!
3082. house guests
3083. book club late into the night
3084. new recipes to try
3085. learning
3086. laughing so hard my cheeks hurt
3087. brave girls
3088. silly text messages from said girls
3089. stormy mornings 
3090. pages being turned in new books
3091. steam rising from my coffee cup

The Tale of A Horel Family Visit

To say we were anxious would be a drastic understatement.  Come Sunday morning we were all asking, "when?".  The Horels were in Wisconsin and before during and after Thing 4's footie games we were all asking the same question.  Maybe for dinner?  Possibly after?  Would the girls be awake?  Yes and yes.  When we finally received the call that they'd be here right around dinner time the squeals of excitement could not be contained.  House guests.  Cousins.  Siblings.  Woo hoo! 
The week started off just like so many of our nights together in TN had, all ten of us now, crowded around the dinner table.  A place I love to be.  There was the passing of dishes, homemade salad dressing by Thing 1, stories of water parks and friends from the littlest visitors and there were smiles.  Lots and lots of smiles.  Myself included. 
Then came the planning for the week ahead.  Day one.  Lake Calhoun, Wild Rumpus book store, Auntie's favorite, and some lake beach time.  Husband Jared would be at work and we were all left to our own vices.  Which meant I had to navigate our visitors and find parking and remember directions.  Not my cup of tea.  No, I'm more the ride in front, stare at the surroundings and not pay any attention to North, South, East or West.  I put my big girl panties on and made a go of  it.  Providing a tour of stunning neighborhoods for our guests and even finding a decent parking spot for both the family vans. 
Wild Rumpus book store is independently owned and just so quaint I can hardly stand it.  The smell of books mixed with the live animals that call this place home intrigues me.  From the smallish purple door to the murals covering the walls I love it all.  The day we visited happened to be story time and there was no shortage of Moms and strollers.  We did our best to scooch around them while introducing Autumn and Gemma to the lizard and rooster, ferrets and chinchillas.  Autumn was not a fan of the rooster.  Fair to say I don't think he was a fan of us either.  Oh well.  The kiddos all unearthed some book treasures and we left happily to find the bakery I adore, in the same neighborhood. 
One Ms. Autumn leaving Wild Rumpus,
cousins following close behind.
Since it was such a lovely day out the lake beach was a logical choice for six kiddos to unleash some energy.  Lake Calhoun was our next destination.  Hold the phone right here.  The parking can be a bit challenging at times here. I was giving myself a pep talk the entire mile and a half drive there.  Anyone who knows me is well aware of my parking abilities, or lack thereof.  Let me divulge a little secret here.  My sixteen year old Thing taught me, yes me, how to parallel park this very day.  It was so easy.  And every time I cringed because I didn't think I had enough room, she rolled her eyes and said, "Mama, you're fine", "just keep going".  Yes, yes she did.  I was so proud of the both of us.  There was no yelling, gnashing of teeth or otherwise unsuitable quality.  When we were finished and the car was most beautifully situated into the space she proceeded to text Husband Jared and share her accomplishment. 
When we had all gotten over the parking incident we dined at the Tin Fish.  The line was not at all intimidating and once we ordered the cousins explored the area.  Finding ducks and seagulls and boats and more boats.  The fish tacos were divine.  Our faces were stuffed and we walked to the sandy area, affectionately referred to as, the lake beach.  We splashed and swam and laughed and watched and soaked up the sunshine.
Lunch time
Cousins at the lake
Those were the highlights of our first day together.  Of course when we were at the homestead there was playing and dog walking and craft time and even some mo-mos, (movies).  And we all went to bed tired and happy.  Like we had worked a good long day, only we hadn't really worked, we had fun!

The Last Week and More

This past week brought house guests to our quaint little town home.  The Horel family arrived the very last Sunday in June and graced us with a week long stay here at the Hanson B&B.  Well not quite on the B&B part but we do our best!  We were all beyond thrilled to have Autumn and Gemma here, and their parents too of course.  There were lake trips planned and fireworks and the zoo and surprise kiddo dates and so much more.  So much in fact that it just seemed to whiz by us without even asking.  Why does that happen?  I tried to be in the moment and soaking up each and every slobbery kiss or knuckle punch and even the whines that sometimes accompany three year olds.  It was a super-dee-duper visit and made us all miss the Horel family that much more.  I'll have posts about all of our activities and outings coming soon. 
For now though, there are a few summer pictures to post.  Namely, our family bucket list is done and hanging on the wall once again.  We have done this for quite a few years now and every summer I look forward to hearing the Things requests and ideas.  They brainstorm and bicker and get creative and wistful.  I love it.  Here's this year's list.  It does bare some similarities to last year's but hey, if it works and it's fun I say go for it.  In regards to the bucket list of course.  The repeats were some that didn't get crossed off last summer so because we are nothing if not diligent we thought we'd give it a go again!

We had one week from when I got home from Cali until the Horel's arrival and with one away at Jam camp we made an effort to begin our summer shenanigans.  There was bike riding, juicing, a movie date, splash pad for two big Things, fishing and even a footie tournament.  All in the span of a week.  Not to mention the two eldest Things celebrated a friend's birthday in style at Cheesecake factory.  They even got all dressed up fancy like.  Sweetness.
Things 1 & 2 being silly of course!
Thumbs up Thing 4

The two biggest kiddos at the splash pad, after a bike ride and fishing

Bike ride to Caribou, which ended with broken handlebars and an
emergency ride home from Mama, she's still smiling though!

Two beauties, inside and out
This Thing returned home from a week at Jam Camp and
this Mama was so very happy to love on her

U13 Tournament Champions, these boys, most of whom are 10 and 11 year olds,
played U13 for the first time and won the tournament!

So there's a snippet of the latest and greatest around here.  Or at least that of the  week prior to our houseguests.  More to come.