Monday, June 17, 2024

Lifetime Playset

I have wanted a playset for our backyard sinced we moved in two years ago, but they're expensive and a huge project to build.  We had a wooden playset at our last house and I was hoping this metal one would be easier to assemble.  

I was WRONG.  The online reviews said it would take 2 people around 8 hours to build.  That was also WRONG.  It took Kevin and my Dad and a little help from me and my mom an entire week of working on it for good chunks of time.  It probably took us 24 solid hours with a team to build.  They may never let me live this project down, BUT the kids love it and I think we're all happy to get to enjoy it now that the assembly part is out of the way.

We started on a chilly Saturday in May and finished the following Saturday.

Some serious eye rolls and WHITNEY comments were made when they saw the table full of hardware that needed to be organized.


There is a city map on floorboard of the tower and Leo loves driving his cars up there.  Then he sends his cars down the slide for some extra fun.

Sweet memories.

100% worth all the hard work.  The kids play on the playset every single day.

We found this set on sale at Sams in April.  It's a beast to assemble, but we've been really happy with it so far.  And Kevin says I was right - the kids love it - but it was a tough project even for guys who are familiar with building and assembling.

Friday, June 14, 2024

June Coffee Chat

Happy Friday, Friends!  I've got a coffee chat post for you today instead of my usual favorites.  Grab your favorite breakfast and et's chat about all the things!  Pearl will be joining us today :)

1. What's your go to mosquito repellent?  For people and patios?  Two of my kids are delicious to mosquitos and I hate that for them.  I picked up some bracelets for them to try at Home Depot.  I've always wondered about those stickers you can put on their clothes.

2. I need a few new Summer dresses.  Where is your go to spot to find something pretty, colorful, floral, fun and light weight.  Also, not super short.  The last few dresses I've tried were SHORT or super low cut.

3. I have been loving reading Emily Henry's books this Summer.  First I read Happy Place.  Then I read Book Lovers and now I'm moving onto The People We Meet on Vacation.  The characters are all so interesting and each story feels familiar yet different.  You will come to expect happy endings (which I love!), but there are a lot of twists and turns along the way.  With a little bit of spice.

4. What is everyone grilling this Summer?  I love grilling season (Kevin does all the grilling) and am looking for some new protein options.

5. What shows are you watching?  Kevin and I started Into the Night - it's about a group of people who are on a plane together who are racing around the world to avoid being burned up by the sunlight.  It's been interesting and dramatic so far.  I'm watching The Parisian Agency's new seasons.  I listen to it in french and read the subtitles.  It's so interesting to see their exlusive properties all over the world plus I love their family business dynamics.

6. What are some things that are on your family's summer to do list?

7. I'm currently trying to schedule all the appointments for us.  I'm trying to get my new contact prescription just right which is annoying.  Hopefully I'll end up with new glasses and new contacts that I love.  Then it's onto pediatrician appointments, dentist appointments, etc.

8. I've got a great money saving tip for you - learn to do haircuts at home!!  Obviously, this won't work for everyone, but if you've got little boys or girls with long hair, there are tons of youtube videos out there to teach you.  Just buy a great set of clippers on Amazon and get started.  I've been cutting everyone's hair starting with Olive in 2013 and it's saved us so much money.  Boy hair grows so fast that it's awesome to be able to confidently take care of it at home.  Kevin's hair is the hardest, but I've figured it out.  And if someone gets a bad Summer haircut, your schedules are probably lighter and won't see all that many people.  Fun fact, Kevin has been trimming my hair since college so for probably 20 years.   

9. I'm doing a Jen Wilkin Bible study - Sermon on the Mount - with my small group this Summer.  Have you ever done one of her studies??  It's a combination of videos and homework throughout the week.  The kids come with the moms and they play while we do the Bible study.  I'm hoping to learn a lot.

10. Talk to me about your favorite screen free games to play as a family or for you kids to play.  My big kids love when I play Yahtzee with them and then we have a handful of other games.  We like doing puzzles together, but Leo is at a hard age for big puzzles to be fun.  The kids call him the enemy of all puzzles.

Thanks for chatting!

Happy Summer!

I'll be blogging as consistently as I can with my whole crew home this Summer!

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Tween Slumber Party of Her Dreams

Olive requested her first slumber party with friends for her 11th birthday.

I was hesitant.  Tried to suggest a late over instead, but she was sure she was ready so I got on board.  We invited friends that we knew well and knew their families well.  Plus one new friend.  The friends we knew well spent the night and the new friend left around 10pm.  It worked out great and I'm glad I said yes to her request.

My best teen advice is to ask your kids what they want to do for their birthdays, listen and come up with a plan you both agree on.

We brain stormed a list of activities for the slumber party and then promptly hid the list before her friends arrived.  It was good for us to talk through activity options ahead of time.

She made another Canva invitation and we texted them out to her friends.

We made candy salad.  Stay tuned for a post on this because it was so much fun!

Did the cutest craft.  I've got to get a post together with links and details.

I made a pasta bar for dinner.  The girls loved it and it was much cheaper than eating out.  The boys went out to dinner so that it was just us girls at home.

Kevin had some leftover Memorial Day fireworks to do for the girls.

We gave them flashlights and let them go on a neighborhood walk together.

We did popcorn and a movie, made late night blizzards, played ping pong and lots of talking.  I took their breakfast orders and told them breakfast was at 9:00am.  I went to bed at midnight and suggested they do the same.  They stayed up too late so everyone was tired the next morning.  They loved the breakfast and then their moms came to get them at 9:30am.

It was Olive's real birthday so she got busy opening gifts after her friends left.

She loved her gifts this year.  Can you tell??  It always feels good to pull off a good round of gifts.

We took it easy all day and then she requested carrot cake for dessert.

I was nervous about a sleepover, but it was so much fun!

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Fancy Sheet Cake

I tried something new for Olive's birthday cake and it was so much fun!  

I made her favorite cake - homemade carrot cake - and did homemade buttercream frosting.  Instead of icing the whole cake with a knife, I used a piping bag to ice each individual piece of cake.  I added pecans to some and left most of the cake without nuts.  It turned out so pretty and was so much fun to cut and serve.

Carrot cake

Butttercream Icing

Swirl it on in a pattern of 4x7 swirls on a 9x13 pan.  I added a row of pecans for those of us who wanted pecans.  The cake was pretty, delicious and so much cheaper than buying a store bought birthday cake.  Everyone loved this fancy sheet cake and it was so easy. 


Monday, June 10, 2024

5th Grade, 2nd Grade & Year 4 in Review

The kids wrapped up another great school year!

5th grade, 2nd grade and year 4 were good to us.

Olive was devastated to see 5th grade come to an end.  She had an amazing teacher that will forever be one of her favorites.  And some of her best friends were in her class.  She learned a ton.  Learned to advocate for herself and become more confident doing presentations.  She's so self motivated, organized and a Canva master.  She had 7 different jobs around the school.  And her proudest accomplishment was working so hard in math that she earned a spot in honors math for 6th grade.

Fletcher was thrilled to see 2nd grade end and say hello to Summer break!  He had a great year, but this guy loves to be home.  He learned a lot about fossils, started a fossil collection of his own, learned about pollinators, dinosaurs and more.  Math comes so easy for him.  He'd prefer to keep all of his school work short and sweet unless it's math or science time.  He made lots of good friends and is hoping Summer lasts forever.

Leo is loving being 4.  He stays up late.  Sleeps in late and snoozed through before school pictures.  He loves being my sidekick.  Making plans with his buddies and playing the days away.  He's a happy side kick as long as I keep the snacks flowing and do what he says.  Just kidding.  Kind of.  He knows exactly what he wants and usually can't be budged.  Cars, swinging, bike rides and playgrounds are his favorite.  He loves being the baby of the family and tells everyone that he's going to school soon.  He's headed for Pre-K this Fall.

Hooray for Summer break!

Friday, June 7, 2024

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday, Friends!  I hope it's been a good week.  We've been busy trying to find our Summer groove.

Did you catch my blog posts this week?

Free Greenery Tip

Easy Roasted Asparagus

Celebrating Olive

Now onto the highlights of the week:

1. Bring on all the red, white and blue, parties and Summer fun!  The kids and I worked on a Summer Family Fun List together.  We included everything.  Free and excursions.  In town and out of town.  I know we won't get to everything, but it's fun to have a list posts on our garage door.  

We also had cook outs, friend birthday parties and lots of fun this past week.

With a side of fireworks because Kevin can't resist them.

2. Olive got a snow cone maker for her birthday.  We have had lots of fun learning how to use it and stirring up the flavors.  After we've used it for a few weeks, I'll give it a proper review.  Our inital reaction is that we all love it!

3. Leo's favorite food is french fries.  He could eat them 24/7.  Kevin took the boys to dinner at Freddy's and Leo hopped right up to get his picture taken in a box of french fries.  I think he'd say that he loves mom the most and french fries second.

4. Book Lovers was SO GOOD!  I'm ready to read my 3rd Emily Henry book of the Summer ASAP.

5. Lots of time outside.  Leo loves to take his cars for a spin.

6. A friend came over to help us get our garden ready for the season.  The boys tilled the dirt.  And we headed to buy plants the next day.

Here's to hoping we can keep the cute bunnies away from our vegetables.

Leo also loves trimming anything he can reach.  That'll be handy as he gets older.

7. "Close your eyes.  I have a surprise for you.  I picked you a bouquet of flowers!"  I loved this moment when I was reading a book and looked up to see this.  What a guy!

8. Lots of bike rides!  Olive outgrew her bike and has stolen my minty cruiser.  I switched over to Kevin's not nearly as cute red cruiser.  And we make our way around the neighborhood.  Leo loves to say hello to everyone and comment on their cute dogs.

9. Tall towers.  Fletcher is going for record breaking towers.  With Olive's help, was able to reach our 9ft ceilings.  And Leo's greatest joy has been knocking down said towers.

10. Dusting off the art supplies.  I'm determined to make sure that the kids do a variety of things this Summer so we reorganized all of our art supplies, got everything ready to use and Fletcher worked on mixing my favorite shade of mustard yellow.  Half his fun of painting is mixing colors.

11. Overnight oats.  I noticed it being hard to fix breakfast for myself with my whole crew home so I made a batch of overnight oats.  The recipe is so easy and delicious.
3/4 c quick cook oats
sprinkle of chia seeds
enough milk to cover oats
a splash of vanilla
a scoop over peanut butter
and chocolate chips

Put all of that in a jar with a lid and refrigerate it over night.  Stir well and eat old or reheat.  I love to eat mine cold.

12. Road trip to Notre Dame!  We had the best time at Notre Dame this past week.  I'll do a recap soon, but our first road trip of the summer was so much fun!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend!  See you back here on Monday!

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