Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Second Day Sweetness

I am the mom who doesn't have any pictures of the first day of school. Let's take a look back to understand why.

In 2012--Kindergarten--I had to nearly drag Big Sister into her school, where I left her in tears and scared to death. I may have also left in tears and exhausted from the whole ordeal. There were not any great photo opps, so we chose to wait for a "second day" pic that year, when I got plenty of smiles.

In 2013--First Grade--She was much more excited about the school year, but still very timid and clingy. She looked at me with tears welling in her eyes and said, "Mama, can you stay a little while?"  Again, no first day photo. But I did get a mid-day message from her dear kindergarten teacher letting me know that she had personally checked on my baby and found her smiley, happy and doing A-OK.

In 2014--Second Grade--This year, she was only a tiny bit nervous, which she told me as we walked up the sidewalk to school. I begged for a first day picture, and Miss Can't Be Bothered sighed a big sigh and said, "ugggghhhh."  As I walked away from her classroom (with absolutely no tears--hers or mine), I made her promise me one picture of second day. And I got it!  I also got a sweet text from her first grade teacher (who now lives out of state) letting me know that she had checked on Big Sis the night before and got an excellent report from her new teacher after the first day.

How lucky we are to have such amazing teachers in her life that love her like we do! I know you both read the blog, and I am serious about the lasting impact you've made in her life. Thank you for that.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Back To School Blues

Today was the first day of school for us. Back to early bedtimes and nightly routines, yay! But this morning, none of us were very chipper to greet the day. In fact, here was my first Facebook post of the morning.

After a rough night, I decided to count my blessings to feel better.
1--We got to school on time.
2--No tears at school, and she wanted me to walk her in.
3--I can get photos of the second day because she wouldn't let me today.
4--She wasn't too mad at me because I, her terrible mom, forgot that she was on TV this morning...hence, we didn't even turn the TV on and missed her big debut. Ugh.
5--So very thankful for dear, old sorority friends like Heather Judd who offer to babysit my little ones when we are in a bind.
6--The twins didn't flinch over being left with someone they'd never met before this morning. In fact, I don't think they would have noticed if Freddy Krueger came to babysit, as long as he didn't try to take their Kindles.
7--Thankful I have a job to come to, so I don't have to sit home and look at my messy house today.

*                *                     *                          *           

So, you wanna know why our night was so crummy? It went a little something like this.

11:15pm  Mom & Dad in bed

12:00am  Big Sis woke me up because (oh my!) it was thundering. I sent her away to the couch to sleep. That leaves one empty bed in our house.

1:00-ish  Big Sis again was at my bedside nudging to get in my bed.

1:01-ish  OH! There's Girl Twin, too! It's a party!

I put Big Sis in my bed with Dad. I took Girl Twin to the couch, where I slept on one end and she on the other.  That leaves two empty beds in our house.

3:15am  I hear giggling and loud talking coming from my bedroom, where it seems now that Big Sis and Boy Twin are having a party and Dad is not very happy about it.  There are now three empty beds in our house.

3:30am  ALL FIVE OF US ARE WIDE AWAKE.  And yes, remember that the first day of school starts in approximately 4.5 hours.  Sigh.

3:45am  Everyone seems to have settled down. Boy Twin has been deposited in his bed again. Big Sis is again in my spot in my bed. I'm back on the couch with Girl Twin. Why? There are still two empty beds in our house.

5:00am  Dad has slept through his alarm and is late for work! I happened to wake up on the couch and notice the time. I went into the bedroom to find him frantically getting ready for work. He called to let his supervisor know he'd be late. But, guess what? The supervisor was apparently on vacation today and was greeted with a wake-up call from the hubby. Surprise!

5:05am  I push Big Sis out of my spot in the bed and crawl in beside her. I quickly realize that the 5:45am alarm I'd set is not happening. I reset the alarm for a much later time and decide that I can skip washing my hair in order to sleep longer. After I thought of a few other things I could skip, I was back asleep.

7:00am  Big Sis excitedly awakes to turn on the local morning news to see her big TV debut.  "Is this the right channel?," she asks.  Uh oh.  The segment aired in the 6:00am hour.  Oops.

7:30am  Rushing around the house getting the kids' teeth and hair brushed, begging Big Sis to eat breakfast and yelling at everyone to PUT ON SHOES....all Big Sis could say is, "Why are you rushing me?!?!" in a very impatient tone. 

7:50am  I got that child to her classroom with the little ones in tow. Hugs, kisses and definitely no pictures of her on the first day. That is NOT allowed. If someone is in a decent mood, maybe she will allow photos tomorrow. 

8:00am  Herd the other two back to the van after a little Frogger-style car dodging in the parking lot. It's humid, I'm sweating and I just want a gallon-size Dr. Pepper, for goodness sake!

How was your first day?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Our Summer Fun Place

This is a sponsored post. I am currently serving as a blog ambassador for The Jones Center, who has compensated me for such. The photos and opinions are real, and are my own. This is a reflection of my family's personal experience as members of the facility.
This summer my family has spent a lot of time at The Jones Center, in Springdale. It's close to home and offers so many fun things for the whole family to enjoy. While we have gone ice skating and played some basketball in the gym, the awesome indoor pool is hands down our favorite part of the whole facility. In fact, the kiddos beg us to go swimming on a weekly basis! 
If you aren't familiar with The Jones Center, let me tell you what you are missing. It's a community center that's available to anyone via memberships or a daily use fee, based on the activity you choose. They have a basketball gym, a workout facility, ice rink, indoor pool area with a kiddie pool and huge slide, along with an Olympic lap pool.  They host various community events and meetings throughout the year as well. On top of that, they offer swimming lessons and gymnastics, too. Right now, we are mostly using the pools but I am thinking of putting Big Sis in ice skating lessons this fall, as she really enjoyed getting out on the ice this summer.
Here is the slide that we all love--adults and little ones, too.  

Girl Twin has turned into quite the little fishy this summer. The Jones Center has implemented a new required swim test before the kids can get into the water. The swim test determines their swimming capability. We take our own floaties for the twins, but the Center does provide life jackets for the kids who aren't independent swimmers yet. 

This little boy is not scared at all. No sir!

Big Sis passed her swim test on the first try and I think she's told everyone she saw this summer about it! She is one proud little swimmer.

We have really enjoyed our summer of fun at The Jones Center. We have even taken all of our summer visitors there with us! We were able to go swimming on a rainy day when Grammy and TP visited us, and again when Aunt Dee and Jen visited last month.
If you haven't been to The Jones Center yet, or if it's been awhile, go check it out. It's a great place for some family time, with so many activity choices that everyone will be happy for sure.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Grand Lake Vacay

As per my current pattern of blogging, this post is long overdue. I suppose there is a silver lining to my tardiness; the fun of the summer will carry on long after it's over as we relive the memories here.

Over the Memorial Day weekend, we made a trip to Oklahoma to use our timeshare condo there for the first time. We were at Grand Lake, which is near the town of Grove. It reminded me a lot of the many trips I took to Heber when I was a kid--mostly a "lake town" with not much else to do.  It was heavenly! We visited the State Park nearby, where we walked a trail, played on the playground and hung out in the nature center. It was nothing fancy and kept us entertained for half a day or so.  Most of the weekend was spent in the swimming pool, because that's really all my kids are interested in. We also took them down to the lake, where they "went fishing" for about five minutes.

At the State Park, where we picked up rocks and introduced the kids to honeysuckle.

Love this sweet daddy-daughter moment!

In his happy place.

Checking out the toad that we found on our balcony.

And finally, to cap off our weekend...we took a little side trip to DISNEY! The kids were obviously less than thrilled when they found out it wasn't that Disney.  Yes, it was a mean trick but it was hilarious and a memory that this family will never forget.  I had no idea that we live only about 1.5 hours from the real Disney! Maybe we can go back next year, too.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Great Outdoors, Part 2

I'm not real sure why it has taken me a month to finish the posts about our camping trip. This summer has been particularly tough for me to keep up with my normal blogging routine, and I'm not sure why. I suppose just having the kiddos off of our normal routine is part of it, and partly because we've been on the go most weekends (which leads to more fun stuff to blog about/get behind on). 

Anyway, back in June we took the kids on their first camping trip. We loaded up most of everything we own and headed to Lake Fort Smith State Park, where we swam in the awesome pool, rode paddle boats, slept in tents, cooked outside and saw lots and lots of deer. We even took Fergie along with us, which was nice, since we usually have to leave her behind on most trips.

Overall we had a good experience for the first time. I learned a few things about a few things, as well. Let me just tell you what I learned about camping with kids.

1) Camping with kids = walking to the bathroom a lot. Seriously, more than a lot.
2) Camping with kids = taking a lot of toys with you. Kinda feels like moving...

3) Camping with kids = finding creative entertainment to keep them busy.

4) Camping with kids = using a whole box of Band-Aids.
5) Camping with kids = being noisy after the posted "quiet hours."

6) Camping with kids = answering a lot of questions.
7) Camping with kids = setting off the car alarm before 8:00am, which woke the whole campground.
8) Camping with kids = eating a lot. (But that part was kinda fun)
9) Camping with kids = making a lot of great memories and seeing the joy in their eyes!

I took the kids on a morning walk and we saw four deer! This was a baby who, seconds later, crossed the street to get to his mom.

Making their own fun at camp.

Curious about the butterfly.

Cruising the lake on a paddle boat. Or do you say "peddle boat?" I have great childhood memories of my parents renting them for us at Village Creek. Of course my kiddos loved it, but the big people did all the work.

Never a dull moment with Boy Twin around.

We had our first watermelon of the season!

I think someone loved camping. They left a note for the next occupants of our campsite to prove it.

Here's another photo of the fantastic pool area at the park. It got so hot on Saturday that it was the perfect relief for us, even if we had to pay to swim! FYI, at Lake Fort Smith there is no swimming allowed in the lake...so the pool was our only option! But nobody complained.

On Sunday, we barely had our things packed and loaded before a serious rain storm moved in. Whew. We made it back home in no time, where I was oh so happy to take a shower. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

That one time when I had a relaxing lunch...

#sponsored post

This post is sponsored by Downtown Bentonville, Inc. I was compensated for my review of the event that follows. All opinions are my own and are not affected by fact that I was compensated.

It's no secret that I rarely escape from home and the demands that come with it. So, when I got invited to attend the Farm To Table: Backyard BBQ luncheon, and give a review, I jumped at the chance. As luck would have it, my sister-in-law Dee was visiting from out of state, so I was able to take her along with me for a nice, relaxing lunch. As every mom knows, sometimes just getting away for a few hours can make a huge difference in how you feel.

On our way to lunch, I was able to show Dee the downtown Bentonville square area. We also decided to walk the 5 blocks to the Bentonville Bungalow, where the event was being held. It was a beautiful, sunny and warm July day, and we soaked up every minute of it.

The Bentonville Bungalow is tucked away on a quiet, unassuming residential street just minutes from downtown. Upon our arrival, we were able to tour the inside of the quaint home and see where many couples and families have been able to stay when they've visited the Bentonville area. The home has two bedrooms and two baths, and it's fully furnished with anything one could need for a weekend stay (or longer). We found out the home can be rented nightly, weekly and beyond...which is perfect for a couple's getaway, a wedding reception or even a Razorback weekend.  If you are interested, rental info can be found here.

We were ushered out into the backyard and greeted by a lovely, shaded yard with rows of tables set up for the luncheon. I understand that it's a regular event throughout the summer, and it's open to the public. It's a family-friendly event that's fine for taking the kiddos along, or for enjoying on a date or just with girlfriends. Ticket info can be found here.

We filled our plates with a delicious lunch that was prepared by the guys from Tusk & Trotter with fresh ingredients found mostly from the Farmers' Market. The white beans with ham was delicious, and we enjoyed all of the fresh fruit, salad and sausages.  I will say that Dee and I both agreed that our favorite part was the signature cocktail we had called the Bees Knees. It was so refreshing on the warm day! Everyone was casually visiting in the backyard, while listening to the songbird voice of Dana Louise.  The food was great, the company was excellent and the setting was perfect for a mid-summer outing in our beautiful Northwest Arkansas corner of heaven.

After lunch, Dee and I walked back downtown where I went with her through the Walmart Museum and the Walton 5 & 10.  Since we were already in Bentonville, we met up with the rest of our crew and ended our day at the splash park at Lawrence Plaza for some cooling off!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Great Outdoors & A Giveaway!

#Sponsored post. See information below.

Well, the Party of Five is fresh off our first family camping trip. We spent last weekend camping at Lake Fort Smith State Park, which is about 30 miles from home. It was our first trip to the park, and we were in awe of the beauty and all the fun things to do there. We even got to take Fergie with us!

We camped, we walked and we played. But, more than anything, we ATE! I guess that's just part of the scene. Keep reading to see some of the yummies we cooked and how you can WIN something delicious from me.

Our campsite, which was the farthest one away from the bathroom (of course).

The fantastic swimming pool, complete with water slides and splash pad. We spent some of the hot afternoon there.

Breakfast in the great outdoors, courtesy of Dad and Petit Jean Smoked Bacon! What? Doesn't everyone need a slingshot at breakfast?

Here we are roasting our Petit Jean Grillers over the campfire, some of us more fashionably than others. Now, let me tell you a secret. I am not a hot dog person; in fact, I usually pass on the dogs.  However, I will throw down some PJ Grillers! They are the best (and only) hot dogs that I will eat.

Do you want to try some for FREE? Leave me a comment in this post and tell me about your favorite place to go camping. Are you a tent or RV kind of person? I'll give one person four packages of PJ Grillers FREE to try out. Edit: Please leave me your email address with your comment, so I can reach you if you win. 

Deadline to enter giveaway is Tuesday, July 1st at 5pm Central. And, by the way, July is National Hot Dog Month....so you can celebrate, courtesy of Petit Jean Meats and ME!

Disclaimer: I am a member of the Petit Jean Meats Blue Diamond Club. Through this affiliation, I get to try out products, and give my opinions on new products and branding for the company. My opinions are my own and honest reflections of how I feel. I was given some PJ Grillers for this giveaway, in exchange for promotion on this blog.