Do I really want to simplify this holiday season?

do-i-really-want-to-simplify-this-holiday-season-alaynascreations

Today we are hitting the tail end of what has been one of the most eventful weeks I have had in a very long time.  I’m not sure why things didn’t end up more spread out this month but events seemed to happen back to back to back this week.  We had birthday parties and band concerts and shopping to do and gifts to wrap and elves to supervise (tons of elf on the shelf inspiration here and here if you need it!) and I joined in on a couple of things I don’t normally do for the holidays.  Plus add in keeping up on the routine things like running kids to the orthodontist, checking homework, cleaning the house, volunteering in Tyler’s classroom, paying bills, running errands, and getting the husband to cook dinner as often as possible…

(I’ve been trying to take at least one photo a day for at least a partial attempt at December Daily so feel free to check out what I’ve been up to on my Instagram feed. )

Among all of this I keep seeing mentions of simplifying the holidays on social media and it has me wondering – do I really want to simplify my holidays this year?  Did I somehow take on too much or do it wrong this time around?

I hate feeling like I’m rushed or stressed and typically I’m pretty good at saying “no” to things that will bring too much of that into my life.  I almost always plan ahead and try to get the prep work done for big projects, parties, etc. days or weeks before they need to be done because I dislike doing anything last-minute.  My goal for Christmas is to have the majority of my gift shopping done by December 1st and here it is the 11th and I’m still missing things and in some cases I don’t even had decent gift ideas figured out.

When I pulled out my calendar Thanksgiving weekend and realized that we had committed to sooooooo many things that fell this second week of December I had a moment of panic wondering how we were going to handle it all.  I’ve been hoping daily that I won’t get sick because things would come to screeching halt if I did.  I have had to keep pretty close track of my time and priorities since then.  And there has been more than one night when my elf alarm (yes I set a nightly alarm on my phone for 30 minutes past bedtime to help me remember those elves) went off and I found myself wishing Tyler was ready to move on to being Santa’s helper along with his big sister (not that I ever want to wish my kids older or more experienced and jaded than they are – they grow up WAY too fast already).

But.

I haven’t regretted a single event or plan we made this week.  Not one.

My son had an awesome amazing birthday and a crazy chaotic joyful birthday party (birthday on Monday, party Friday night. blog post to be determined!).

My daughter shone in her band concert, more poised and confidant each time one of these comes around.

Our Bunco Christmas party was a pajama-clad, gift-stealing, fun tradition.

I got to know a lot of great people in the neighborhood and renew acquaintances with other fantastic people I haven’t seen in a long time while I spent hours helping decorating for the church party (a church I don’t actually attend).  It turned out beautifully and there is satisfaction in that along with the pleasure of watching the party itself happen.  I was busy most of the party as well, playing Santa’s helper and the interactions between Santa and the kids, teens, and even the adults were so fun to watch.  (Santa was really on his game yesterday – it was awesome).  PS – I’ll blog about the party details soon!

And for the first time since high school (I think we hit the 20 year reunion this year!) I took the opportunity to sing with a big choir at the community Christmas concert last night (a much bigger event than I knew it would be when I signed up).

So my take-away from this week?

Sometimes putting in the extra effort is totally worth it.

No matter what you are doing or what you may need to be doing in an hour, be fully in the moment and enjoy that one thing on its own.

and

Don’t be afraid to say yes.

Do I recommend filling every week to the brim?  Nope.  Do I want to take on every single thing someone asks me to do?  Nuh-uh.  Do I intend to take one day next week and spend it on the couch binge watching a show, drinking hot chocolate and forgetting everything else for an afternoon?  Absolutely.

Life isn’t about doing only the minimum or cutting out some of the hoopla simply because it’s what other people are doing.  I think we need to give ourselves things to look forward to.

You can’t do everything but you can do anything you choose.

So choose wisely but don’t be afraid to push yourself a bit.  I don’t think you’ll regret it either.

Happy December!
We are now off to the big gingerbread house decorating party with the husband’s family…

 

 

5 Summer Themed Gift Basket Ideas for Under $25

5 Summer Themed Gift Basket Ideas for Under $25

Happy 4th of July!  It’s ok if I jump the gun a little bit right?  I’m pretty sure the festivities (4 nights of rodeo) start tomorrow night here anyway.

The 4th of July is one of my favorite holidays.  I love the enthusiasm for it here in my hometown.  The flags all over the place.  So many events to pick and choose however we want to celebrate.  And the red, white and blue – one of my favorite color combinations.  So, when it worked out that it’s my mom’s turn to host our Bunco group right after the 4th of July we were really excited to put together the prizes.  And what better for a 4th of July/summer theme than food-related gift baskets?!

The prizes are supposed to range in cost from about $12 to $24 so all five of these gift basket ideas are under $25.  As a fun twist we not only stuck to a summer food/dinner theme but tried to incorporate as much of the red, white and blue patriotic theme as we could find.  With the 24th of July Pioneer Days celebration here in Utah, we keep the red, white and blue out the entire month of July 😉

Picnic Themed Summer Gift Basket Patriotic Red White and Blue for 4th of July

My favorite basket would have to be our picnic themed one.  We found this adorable insulated picnic basket to use as the base for the gift (from TJ Maxx).  I love that it’s red, white and blue colors but flower-patterned instead of stars and stripes so you can use it any time of year.  We filled the basket with  patriotic themed picnic supplies – paper plates, napkins, those adorable red mason jar drinking cups with straws, a vinyl tablecloth, and red, white and blue tortilla chips to finish it off.

Fourth of July Patriotic Themed Gift Basket Idea Summer Picnic Gift Basket Idea for Bunco Wedding or other events

Ice Cream Themed Summer Gift Basket Idea Patriotic Red White and Blue for 4th of July

What’s summer without ice cream, right?  We just had to do an ice cream themed basket but the kind of base to use for the theme was a bit of a sticking point.  In the end we went with a basket of sand toys – ice cream and the beach works great, right?  The little sand strainer was the perfect thing to lift the items up so you can seem them above the top of the basket.  The basket is filled with an ice cream scoop, ice cream cones and waffle bowls, and a selection of toppings like chocolate and caramel syrup, marshmallow cream, and of course, some red white and blue sprinkles.

Popcorn Themed Summer Gift Basket Idea

With all of the free concerts in the park, drive-ins, or those fun DIY back yard movie theaters that summer has to offer, we went with a popcorn theme for our third basket.  This one was also a good fit for our least expensive gift basket since it doesn’t take a lot to make this one cute.  We grabbed a blue popcorn bowl for the base and smaller individuals bowls in red, then added some microwave popcorn and a selection of popcorn seasonings.

Hot Dog Roast Themed Summer Gift Basket Idea

Our local grocery store always has these great hot dog roasting sticks in stock and we knew we wanted to use these for one of the gifts (I have a set and we use them ALL the time).  The tricky part was figuring out how to package up something so long and skinny.  In the end we went a similar route as the ice cream but instead of sand toys we tied everything to a children’s bat and ball set  (baseball and hotdogs – totally works).  We also added a set of hot dog baskets (red, white, and blue!) like you would get at the drive-in, condiment squirt bottles and a container of potato chips.

BBQ Themed Summer Gift Basket Patriotic for 4th of July

For our final gift basket we went with a back yard grilling/BBQ theme.  The container is a plastic water pitcher to which we added some grilling tools, kebab baskets, corn on the cob holders, a grill brush with some barbeque sauce and a marinade, and a lighter.

BBQ Themed Summer Gift Basket Idea

I can’t decide which one I would like to win – can you? 😉  I can’t wait for our Bunco party, but first I’m going to enjoy the fireworks this weekend.

Five Summer Themed Gift Basket Ideas for Bunco Wedding gift or other special occasion

 

Summer Bucket List 2016

 

Summer Bucket List 2016 Fun ideas for getting out and enjoying summer with the kids AlaynasCreations
Summer is in full swing!  With the Summer Solstice/First Day of Summer this past week I think we can declare it official – as if we hadn’t already.

The kids and I have spent the past couple of weeks getting into our daily summer routine, which includes spending the mornings at the pool for swim team and a lot of lazy afternoons.  It feels very easy to just drift along and let that be all we worry about and that’s been great so far but I’m afraid that too much down time leads to sibling arguments and mommy crankiness (and maybe a bit of jealousy when we see everyone else’s vacation photos).  So it has become our tradition to sit down as a family at the beginning of summer and make a list of all the things we each want to include in our summer – a Summer Bucket List.

Summer Fun with the Kids Make your own bucket list of ideas for summer fun

You know the tradition is a good one when the kids ask “Mom, when are we going to ____?” and that’s exactly what happened this year.  A week or so before school let out my little guy was asking when we were going to make our summer list and that weekend we sat down to compile ideas.  The husband even contributed a couple via chat (though mostly his big goal was to finish this deployment).  We try to come up with a combination of ideas – some easy, some that require more planning, a few goals (last year we wanted to hike to the top of Timpanogos), some that are fun and some that might require a little work.

This year’s list includes:
-lots of playdates/friend time
-family vacation
-snowcones
-paddleboarding
-family game of Monopoly (Tyler is obsessed)
-Kaitlyn:  babysitting, swim camp, get a state swim time, YW camp, be in the parade, build muscle
-Tyler:  new tricks on skateboard/scooter/bike, 4H Arts and Crafts Camp, Scout badges, change bedtime to 9 PM (his biggest request)
-sleep under the stars
-make a list of things to do on rainy summer days
-night games
-parties:  water fights, treasure/scavenger hunt, end of school party
-Do/see something new
-play baseball with Bambi (the dog)
-regular exercise for all, especially Bambi
-try out a new restaurant
-kids learn to cook a few things
-Sam home!

You can see last year’s list HERE.  And if you need even more ideas to get you started with your own list I have a great post full of Summer Fun Ideas Without Breaking the Bank.

Bucket List Summer Fun with the kids

Once our list is compiled I like to put it on display in a frame where we can easily refer to it and cross things off (dry erase markers work great on glass).  True to form, it took me a while after our family pow-wow to type it and get it up on display.  I suppose that works in my favor since this week I’ve felt like we needed to give ourselves a bit more direction and now all we have to do is pick something from the list and go do it.

Summer Fun Witouth Breaking the Bank Sprinklers

My biggest take-away from my chat with the kids was that they wanted to spend a lot more time with friends.  I get that.  During the school year we have very little time between school, homework, and activities and they were feeling socially deprived.  No one wants to be bored or lonely or to feel like our friends might be out having fun while we sit at home, especially during the summer.  But it does take some effort to turn that Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) into Getting Out More Often (GOMO), doesn’t it?  I’ve found, however, that the effort and planning is worth it.  And once I get past some of the roadblocks like trying to coordinate with friends with busy schedules and that whole Jungle-Book-esque mind-set of “What do you want to do?”  “I dunno, what do you want to do?” (don’t tell me I’m the only one that pictures those buzzards every time we have a hard time coming up with a plan?!), it’s really not that hard to get out and have fun.

Still need a bit more inspiration or ideas for things to do?  Check out websites like Eventbrite – it’s like TicketMaster but for smaller events, and can be used to coordinate your own events like a local 5K.  I hadn’t heard of this website until a few weeks ago, then coincidentally a few days later my son brought home a note from school about 4H opportunities this summer and wouldn’t you know it – online sign ups were available through Eventbrite.  Tyler was excited about the Arts and Crafts workshop so I had my first experience personally using the website and it was pretty easy and user-friendly.  I could see this being a great resource since you can search for events by area or even create your own events (oh how great would that have been when we were putting together our own version of Paint Night?!  Oh wait – I haven’t blogged about that one yet.  Remind me to do that soon – it was awesome! 😉  )

Other great resources include your local community events (4th of July plans, anyone?), summer workshops (Kaitlyn just had a blast at swim camp at a somewhat-nearby university), outdoor concerts and plays (we gave my mom tickets to Peter Pan for Mother’s Day and the play was on Tuesday.  It was so much fun – one of my favorite plays to date and I’ve seen quite a few), and so on.

No excuses, right?  I’m off to call a friend and make plans for a picnic at the park for next week.  Or research a nearby hiking trail the kids and I haven’t had a chance to explore yet.  So tell me, what’s on your Summer Bucket List?

 

Linking to:  Home Matters Party, BFF Open House,

Week in the Life 2016 – Sunday’s Words and Photos

20160515_085645

Sunday was the final day for my Week in the Life photo project – a full week of taking extra notice of all the routine things in life and documenting them (a fun project spearheaded by Ali Edwards.  More info on her blog).  It was a fun week and I snapped a lot of good photos I might not otherwise have taken, but it’s intense to put that much concentration into something every day all day so it’s been nice to take a step back and get back to my more natural photo taking practices (which still means plenty of photos).

I truly do want to finish up the entire project this year, which for me means pulling together the photos and the journaling here on the blog – getting it all down in black and white while the memories are still fresh – before putting it all together in an album.  I have done this photo project 3-4 times in the past and I do well with the photos and note taking during the week and pretty good putting most of it on the blog but I have yet to get an entire Week in the Life fully in an album yet.  This week is going to be the year I do that!  (Someone remind me of that a week from now when I am still procrastinating on ordering the photo prints!)  So to keep myself on track – here is the journaling and photos from my final day of Week In the Life – Sunday:

20160515_085804

Started this rainy Sunday out slowly getting inspiration for the last day documenting #weekinthelife #documentyourdays (caption from Instagram Post)

IMG_9602

Bambi was excited to go outside first thing until I opened the door and she realized it was raining.

IMG_9614A

20160515_091932

9:00 AM sorting through the kids’ summer clothes before we go shopping. Tyler has a lot that still fit from last year, Kaitlyn needs an entire new wardrobe
#theygrowtoofast

20160515_101108

10:15 AM  Kaitlyn and I are ready to head out the door for some shopping but there was no hurrying Tyler.  I guess I could have let him put off his weekend chores until later but I had already let him out of it on Saturday morning so this is Kaitlyn impatiently waiting for Tyler to finish vacuuming.

IMG_9615A

20160515_105537

Today’s plan: shopping for summer clothes for the kiddos. Easiest thing to find – tank tops for Kaitlyn. Hardest thing: finding Kate shorts…and keeping the little guy from complaining. (caption from Instagram post)

20160515_110755

First stop was Justice where we had lots of choices for Kaitlyn with Tshirts and tank tops but didn’t love any of the shorts.

20160515_111600

20160515_114248

11:30 AM  Old Navy resulted in a couple of pairs of shorts for Tyler, this Minecraft Tshirt, and flipflops for both kiddos.  Children’s Place yielded a pair of shorts for Tyler and I had to talk him out of a new tie and baseball cap.  Still on a quest for denim shorts for Kaitlyn, we struck out at Aeropostle before taking a break for lunch.

20160515_123323

12:30PM lunch at Panda Express.  Choosing a restaurant always a hard thing when eating out with Tyler (not so much with Kaitlyn anymore – yay) so we over-use Panda Express (and Taco Bell).  Oh well – everyone ends up satisfied so it works.  PS – his time in the high chair only lasted for a couple of minutes before he switched to a regular chair.  Sometimes being a little silly is ok.

20160515_141134

When we pulled into the driveway after shopping today Kaitlyn got out then immediately turned back to the car and grabbed my phone so she could get this shot of the robin. #weekinthelife may be teaching them more than how to pose for photos without complaining 😉
#noticetheworldaroundyou

20160515_141218

2:15 PM  Home with all our loot.  A stop at TJ Maxx yielded a couple of pairs of shorts for Kate from the Juniors section (not sure how I feel about her transitioning to adult sizes!  Right now it’s super hard to find things that fit her but it’s also another sign my little girl is growing up) and a trip to Wal-Mart gave us more cough medicine for Kaitlyn (thank goodness the cold never turned really horrible for her) and a gift for one of Tyler’s classmates for the party next weekend, and Kaitlyn and I treated ourselves to new pens.

20160515_171653

5:00 PM  Rainy, cold and overcast all day meant it was not a day for the dinner over the fire that Tyler had requested but we went with the hot dogs anyway.  The marshmallows will have to wait for another day.

IMG_9626A

Final sunset for this project.  Rainy days make the best sunsets.

20160515_213415

I thought it was nice to mirror the first photo from this morning.  This is the end table in the family room next to the chair where I usually hang out.  I managed to finish that book (one I’ve been reading all week) while drinking hot chocolate after the kids went to bed.  Good night.

The day in numbers:
-total photos taken:  26 with my phone and 41 with the DSLR
-5647 steps taken
-48 miles driven

If you’ve missed any of my earlier Week in the Life posts feel free to check them out or follow me on Instagram as I’ve been posting photos as I go along this week.

-2016 – Monday’s Words and Photos
-2016 – Tuesday’s Words and Photos
-2016 – Wednesday’s Words and Photos
-2016 – Thursday’s Words and Photos
-2016 – Friday’s Words and Photos
-2016 – Saturday’s Words and Photos
-2015 – Main Post with links to Words and Photos for each day

Week in the Life 2016 – Saturday’s Words and Photos

20160514_114632

I put aside the blogging the last two days of my Week in the Life photo project (and attempt to capture some of the everyday details we often overlook, a concept I ran across on Ali Edwards’ blog) and concentrated on just living life for a couple of days.  I think that’s the lesson I am constantly learning/making myself aware of – finding the balance between what I want to do, what I “should” do, and what my body, energy, motivation or emotions are telling me they want to deal with at any given time, when to push past it and when to step back.  I think once the intense energy and concentration of taking a lot of photos for an entire week was past I ended up wanting a little breathing room, a day or two to put my focus on other things.  So I took the time and let myself get back into a more normal mind-set and now I’m ready to put the journaling and photos together for the final two days of the project before I forget any of the smaller details.

Saturday’s Words and Photos:

IMG_9547“Are you taking a picture of my messy hair?”  Of course I was.

I was awake at my usual time (around 6), grabbed breakfast and read for a while.  Kaitlyn was up at 7:00 and said she slept great.  That must have been true because she easily and eagerly got dressed, fed Gma’s dogs, did her chores (dusting the basement this week) and took Bambi outside to play all before 8:00 AM.

IMG_9548AThis is how we found the kitchen table this morning.  Obviously Tyler had been wearing his cowboy hat while out with Grandpa the night before and had also picked the single tulip from the front berm (I had spotted it yesterday while taking out the garbage and do have a photo of its lonely self).  We have tulips in other parts of the yard, but not on that hill and I’m not sure how it got there in the first place.

IMG_9549

Dishes.  Again.  Not many, thank goodness.

20160514_070924

Kaitlyn wasn’t the only one with motivation.  I cleaned the bathroom then took a shower while Kaitlyn was doing her morning stuff.

20160514_072120

 

20160514_083939

She even practiced her piano!  (something I often have to remind her about)
This photo also demonstrates the state of her room.  She may have a lot of my own habits/leanings but her tolerance for “visual clutter” is all her.  She also has a tendency to just drop things thinking she will take care of them later (never does) or come back to use them in a while and doesn’t put them away.  Typical kid, I know.

20160514_084150

8:00 AM woke up Tyler.  I had a hard time getting him moving and had to keep nudging him, plus we had to have a talk about complaining vs having a good day.  He really wasn’t on board with my plan to take him with us when I took Kaitlyn to swimming practice.
I took this photo to compare/contrast to Kaitlyn’s room.  Sure, Tyler’s room was completely clean but it usually has a lot less clutter than hers and always has.  The clothes that were taken off but not put in the basket, the book on the floor, the unmade bed.  Tyler has taken to reading for a while after bedtime and I’m ok with that as most mornings he doesn’t seem like he needed more sleep and I don’t have to nag him to get his reading time in.

20160514_085133A

8:40 AM #carselfie Off and running on this bright #saturday morning (caption from Instagram post)

20160514_091328

This is one of my favorite views on the drive to Heber – as you come around that final bend at the top of the hill and the valley opens up before you.  Since I was on my 4th trip there this week I figured I may as well stop and get a photo this morning
#mountains

20160514_101118A

9:25 AM we dropped Kate off at swim practice then took Tyler to the park. That kid never has trouble making friends and b within about 5 seconds of our arrival he had a new buddy and they played happily the whole time we were there. I just sat there reading my book and enjoying the weather thinking “good choice mom” as my debate this morning had been whether or not to bring Ty or leave him home (to spend a couple of hours oh his tablet I’m sure)
#weekinthelife  (caption from Instagram post)

20160514_093127

20160514_101059A

 

20160514_103133

20160514_102647

20160514_104835

10:30 AM #weekinthelife#groceryshopping
This is the face I got when I told him we would not be getting jello at the store. Forget about the fact that I had already agreed to hot dogs and marshmallows for dinner and Transformers fruit snacks (caption from Instagram)

20160514_110811

It was after 11:00 when we picked up Kaitlyn so I had Tyler pick out something for lunch while we were at the grocery store.  Lunchables with nachos for him, Lunchables with turkey sandwich for her (not one she had tried before but she compliment Tyler on his selection for her), and sushi for me (this has become my standard when I want to grab a quick lunch from the grocery store.  I’ve very happy that a couple of my favorite grocery stores have a good selection made in-house).  Tyler and I ate our lunch while waiting for Kaitlyn in the parking lot of the pool and Kaitlyn ate hers on the drive home.  Kaitlyn was still in a good mood after having a good time at practice.

20160514_112929A

11:50 AM again taking advantage of the urge to just stop and take a photo we pulled over at the #jordanelleoverlook on the way home. I told the kids#pretendyouratourist and got this pose.#illtakeit

20160514_114632

11:55 AM spur of the moment decision to go wander the boardwalk at #rockcliff and see how high the river is. The kids couldn’t remember being there before though I know we did some exploring just last summer.#ministaycation
We wandered around for 30-40 minutes until I started worrying about sunburn and remembered we had groceries in the car. The kids thought it was great so this day definitely goes in the #momwin category

20160514_114723

20160514_114817

20160514_114903

20160514_115139

20160514_115309A

20160514_121402

20160514_122322A

20160514_122826

20160514_125526

On the way home we stopped at the Rec Center to sign the kids up for Pre-comp swim team then again at the Post Office where Kaitlyn ran inside to get the mail.  She likes to get the mail while Tyler prefers to let me do it.

IMG_9556

1:30PM  The kids helped me put the groceries away then headed out to the back yard to play baseball with Bambi’s help.

IMG_9560

IMG_9568

IMG_9569

IMG_9580

The kids played outside, then on screens, then outside, and so on the rest of the afternoon and evening.  At the end of the day I realized Kaitlyn was looking a little pink but it was too late at that point.  Dad and I insisted she put on some aloe but though the sunburn was obvious it didn’t hurt her at all that night or the next day – got lucky with that one.

IMG_9587

IMG_9592

IMG_9585

I would have to say this was the best day of the week – beautiful weather, happy kids, enough to keep us entertained but a slow enough pace to feel relaxed and easy.  This may have been the day I took the largest number of photos as well – so many things to document and enjoy.  I love Saturdays.

The day in numbers:
-total photos taken:  99 with my phone and 55 with the DSLR
-6782 steps taken
-53 miles driven

If you’ve missed any of my earlier Week in the Life posts feel free to check them out or follow me on Instagram as I’ve been posting photos as I go along this week.

-2016 – Monday’s Words and Photos
-2016 – Tuesday’s Words and Photos
-2016 – Wednesday’s Words and Photos
-2016 – Thursday’s Words and Photos
-2016 – Friday’s Words and Photos
-2015 – Main Post with links to Words and Photos for each day

Week in the Life 2016 – Friday’s Words and Photos

20160513_095252A

#hellofriday everything is all sunshine and blue skies today which is perfect for a Friday
#documentyourdays #lovewhereilive  (caption from Instagram)

Fridays are one of my favorite days of the week, always.  No matter what I have on the agenda my mood gets a little lift and I go through most of the day more optimistic than normal.  As I come to the last few days of my current Week in the Life photo project (documenting the little things in daily life, a concept I first ran across on Ali Edwards blog) I have found myself taking more photos than at the beginning of the week which is the opposite of what usually happens during this project.  The kids are also more willing to hop in front of the camera or just continue doing whatever they are doing when the camera comes out instead of complaining or trying to hide from it.  Love that.

This Friday was a long and busy one, as you will see:

20160513_062209A

This was probably the 3rd morning I attempted to take a “first thing in the morning” photo.  Still not great but it will work.  This photo documents all that space I have in that big bed while the husband is deployed and the computer on (his) nightstand because I’ve found I go to sleep a lot more quickly if I watch something (currently Project Runway on Hulu most nights) until my eyelids droop.

20160513_062756A

Caught by my own April Fool’s joke.  I thought we had switched all the boxes back but I guess I missed one.  Usually breakfast is oatmeal or yogurt but sometimes I go for one of the kids’ cereals.  I’m not a fan of Lucky Charms, especially when I was hoping for Crunch Berries so I put it back in the box and had some Instant Breakfast instead.  Kaitlyn was watching and thought it was funny.  Tyler got caught the same way Saturday morning.

20160513_065359

Quick selfie with my girl as she looked over my shoulder while I was playing a computer game and waiting for the clock to tick along until it was time to wake up the Tyler and send Kate off to school.

IMG_9540A

Just the past couple of days he has started stripping down to his boxers to sleep – our solution to the earlier problem this week of him being “too hot” and seeking places to sleep other than his own bed.  It has the added benefit of forcing him to get dressed as soon as he’s up for the morning.

I find that sitting there while Tyler gets himself breakfast and packs his own lunch frustrates me because he moves so slowly so usually I make a point of staying downstairs for at least 15 minutes before I go up to check on his progress.  This morning I found him wearing his sister’s shoes and eating a donut from my brother, who occasionally picks up a few for us from the Chevron (they make awesome donuts – always have) on his way home from the gym.  Of course being the health nut that he is, Wyatt never eats any himself, just tests my own will power (which lasted until after the kids were home from school then I gave in and had a donut myself)
20160513_082142

20160513_081608

Fridays are garbage pick up and if my Dad hasn’t already taken the cans out to the road, then I do it.  It was so nice out this morning I stayed outside with Tyler to wait for the bus.  He bounced rocks and chatted away to me, mostly about the solar oven they were going to make at school and how much safer that would be for kids than campfires and “then if your mom kicks you outside and you only have cheese you can melt it over a hamburger…”  (no, he still hasn’t actually tried hamburgers yet)
And there goes Wyatt off on a camping trip for the weekend – his first camping adventure since we were kids.  Mom also headed out of town for the weekend, to my cousin’s high school graduation in Colorado.  I am happy for them, and happy about being able to keep the kitchen cleaned up more easily while they’re gone.

20160513_082003

I took a few shots of the kitchen sink throughout the day and intend to put them into the album something like this.  7:30 AM – dishes done for the day, 11:00 AM – oh look still clean, 1:00 PM – dang that one is from me!

20160513_084239

8:30 AM

IMG_9542A

9:00AM Phone calls and bills, updating and checking the calendar.

20160513_093332

9:30AM  Dad asked if I would let the horses into the upper field for an hour.  They know this is the routine and spotted me coming.  I don’t know why the grass on this side of the fence is more exciting than the grass on the other side but they all rush to be the first through the gate.

20160513_093357A

20160513_093549A

20160513_094736

10:00AM since I was out and about I decided to run down to the shop to look for the box of the kids’ summer clothes and pull some barn wood out of the trash pile.  I have an idea for something for the wall in the bathroom so I found a few good pieces, hosed them down and left them in the driveway to dry.  (I will spray them for bugs later)  While I was down there I snapped a few photos.

20160513_094506

20160513_094332

20160513_095309

20160513_103847A

10:30AM time to put the horses back in the lower field.  They move much more slowly when headed in that direction but didn’t give me any trouble.

20160513_104041

20160513_104704

That’s Apollo – he’s my brother’s dog, but usually gets left here all day for “company.” He’s not supposed to be on the couch but if you’re not in the room…

20160513_110020

Curly hair today – not the crazy natural curls but toned them down with the curling iron

20160513_121747

Lunch was soup from a can.  These are my favorite mugs/soup bowls right now.  They have special lids so you can put them in the microwave or store in the fridge, etc.  Plus, this one has red polka dots – very “me.”  After Mom and I ran across a couple and brought them home we fell in love and went back the next week to buy out half their stock 😉  I now have 8 of them packed away in a box so I will have some at my house – whenever it is we get the new house built.

20160513_144656

1:15 PM Big event of the day – meeting with one of the planners at the County building.  It’s actually a really cool old building but I didn’t take the time to stage any shots other than this one quickly on the way out.  Dad and I had a fairly good meeting with the planner, though actual progress on getting our building lot separated from the rest of the farm is still nil.  Lots of rules and regulations to find out and hoops to jump through.  We also stopped by the Engineering office so Dad could see if they had followed through on a different concern.  Gave them another push there.
By the time all was said and done we had spent a good 90 minutes at the county building and both kids were home from school when we got back.  I always forget that Fridays are early out.  Kaitlyn had “interrupted” our meeting with a phone call to tell me she was home and find out where I was – our standard procedure if I’m not home when one of the kids gets off the bus.

And that’s where things starting hitting me one after the other.  I said hello to the kids and rushed to help Dad download and edit photos and get them emailed to the Engineering guy (someone tell me I’m not going to be as tech-challenged when I’m 60), happily accepted a last-minute invitation for Kaitlyn and myself to join friends at a play that night, made arrangements for Tyler to hang out with Dad for the rest of the night, and bundled Kaitlyn and myself into the car for her first swim practice with our “sister” team.  Kaitlyn’s swim team lost its coach and they don’t have a replacement yet and Kaitlyn really doesn’t want to quit swimming.  Plus we already signed her up for a couple of meets this summer.  Our solution is to practice with the team in Heber a couple of times a week for May then see how she does practicing with the PreComp team here for June and July then see where we stand (fingers crossed a new coach is found and things are back on track at that point).  Anyway, Kaitlyn was a bit reluctant to practice with the other team initially but so happy to be back in the pool.  She said “diving off the block again felt SO good.”
So, while she was at practice I stopped at Subway to grab our dinner, growled at traffic, spent a little time trying on clothes in a couple of stores (and didn’t buy anything), then decided I just wanted to sit in the parking lot and read but my friend called to finalize arrangements for the play.  We decided I would bring both girls from swim practice directly to the theater and she would get there earlier to grab seats.  I stopped by her house to grab a sandwich for her daughter but forgot to grab our tickets while I was there.  Did a quick stop for gas, then gobbled my own sandwich in the pool parking lot before going in to the locker room to prod the girls to get dressed more quickly.  The girls did eventually hustle out to the car without shoes on (we realized near the theater that the friend had left her shoes in a locker at the pool, luckily another friend we were meeting had an extra pair in the car) and ate their sandwiches on the drive to the theater.  Once the rush was over we were all able to happily enjoy the play, which was a fun little comedy.  It ran a little long and I was yawning all the way home, but we were glad we went.

20160514_084409

Why are there 4 ticket stubsin the photo?  Actually there were 10 of us at the play but I ended up with more than just the two tickets for myself and Kaitlyn when my friend’s 4-year-old handed me a couple saying, “you should put these in your purse.  I don’t trust myself.” 😉

All in all a very full, busy, happy Friday.

The day in numbers:
-total photos taken:  99 with my phone and 12 with the DSLR
-9653 steps taken (I realized I was so close to my 10000 goal when we got home at 11:00 but I was too tired to finish it off.  Oh well)
-_____ miles driven

If you’ve missed any of my earlier Week in the Life posts feel free to check them out or follow me on Instagram as I’ve been posting photos as I go along this week.

-2016 – Monday’s Words and Photos
-2016 – Tuesday’s Words and Photos
-2016 – Wednesday’s Words and Photos
-2016 – Thursday’s Words and Photos
-2015 – Main Post with links to Words and Photos for each day

Week in the Life 2016 – Thursday’s Words and Photos

IMG_9476A

Two more days left in my Week in the Life photo project! (I’m participating along with Ali Edwards and a lot of other great people documenting the small things in our daily lives this week.  More info HERE).  My week seems to have started out a little bumpy (I was tired and cranky and needed to “recover” from the weekend) and has gotten easier, which is great.  Friday was fun, but was also a very full and busy day so I’m playing catch up today posting journaling and photos for the past couple of days as I’ve found it’s so much easier to remember everything I want to include while it’s fresh.

My Thursday went something like this:

20160512_072332A

6:00 AM – 8:00 AM Usual routine with the kids waking up at their designated times.  I again showered while Tyler ate breakfast then found myself very much wanting to put things in order and straighten up around the house.  Clue #1 that I was 100% back to my normal energy levels and motivation (yay).  Tyler was in a pretty good mood too as I heard him singing while he fed the dog.

20160512_075837

Both of the kids have been wanting to play with this dollar store tape measure I’ve had sitting out (It’s for the care package I’ve been working on for our anniversary – more on that soon!) and when Tyler found himself all ready for school and with a few minutes left on his hands he of course started measuring things.  He’s 51″ tall.  Noted.

IMG_9481

#hellothursday I’ve got a good feeling about today 
#weekinthelife (caption from my first Instagram post of the day)

20160512_080703

The tiny wadded up piece of paper is actually the phone number to a boy Tyler has made friends’ with on the bus and wants to invite over to our house ASAP.  We will have to make that happen as soon as we get a chance.

20160512_080934A

This is what I see at least 3/4 of the time I want to go down the stairs – the pup squished herself on the top step trying to sleep just to get as close as she can to whatever we are doing upstairs – no matter how long or short I’m actually in the kitchen.  I could drop something off and head straight back down and find her there.  Usually I make her move, but sometimes I just step over her.  (We keep her separated from my mom’s dogs for multiple reasons)

20160512_095209

Did they let themselves into the field last night? We don’t know. But whatever it was must have been exhausting because half of them were napping by 10 AM (caption from Instagram)

20160512_100915

The latest care package is now on its way to my husband – an anniversary one too! Oh how quickly the years go by (caption from Instagram)

IMG_9506

I spent the morning returning emails, checking in with Dad, discussing horse options for Kaitlyn with my brother, and getting a few things ready to go out in the mail.

IMG_9489

IMG_9515A

20160512_132456A

Lunch was sushi with a friend I haven’t seen in a while. Hmm I wonder what my dearest wish is…
#fortunecookie #sushi  (caption from Instagram)

20160512_150322A

Kaitlyn was very on the ball after school and quickly finished homework, practiced her flute and piano (something she often has to be reminded to do), and even took the dog outside to play for a while.  I asked her to help me with the grocery list and handed her the store ad and she proceeded to tease me by listing every single snack food or sugary item she spotted.

20160512_162426

 

Quizzing him for tomorrow’s spelling test. Is it bad that I look at his lists now and think, “these are too hard, this is going to take forever” ???

20160512_175143

Thursdays mean karate night at the rec center.  Kaitlyn got in some lap time in the pool and I did an arm workout.  I often take a second to check on her and admire her form.

20160512_182323

Tyler teasing one of the karate teachers.  I suspect he does this often, though I don’t usually watch the class.

20160512_182813

IMG_9524A

I pretty much stopped taking photos after that point as our nights are pretty repetitious – until the sun set, that is and I had to snap a few of that.  I’m in love with sunsets – and sunrises.

IMG_9530A

And that, my dears, is Thursday in the books and blogged.  Tyler definitely gives me more photo ops than Kaitlyn throughout the day (not surprising – he can be a ham).  I’ll have to be more aware of that for the rest of the week.

The day in numbers:
-total photos taken:  59 with my phone and 66 with the DSLR
-8177 steps taken
-_____ miles driven

If you’ve missed any of my earlier Week in the Life posts feel free to check them out or follow me on Instagram as I’ve been posting a photos as I go along this week.

-2016 – Monday’s Words and Photos
-2016 – Tuesday’s Words and Photos
-2016 – Wednesday’s Words and Photos
-2015 – Main Post with links to Words and Photos for each day

Week in the Life 2016 – Wednesday’s Words and Photos

20160511_133456

Day 3 for my Week in the Life photo project (documenting the small things in the days along with Ali Edwards and many others this week.  More info HERE).  I noticed that I had significantly fewer photos from Wednesday vs the other two days and I’m not sure if that’s due to repetition from the days (how many photos do I need of the kids eating breakfast, etc?), fewer things on the agenda and less that felt interesting, or just not thinking about taking photos as much during that particular day.  I’m also noticing that Tyler is much more likely to be in front of the camera than Kaitlyn – he can be a ham so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.
On to the story of my Wednesday:

20160511_072154

7:20 AM  With Kaitlyn off to school I sent Tyler upstairs to eat breakfast while I showered.  When I went upstairs to check on him this is what I found.  Do you see what I saw?  He was just starting breakfast but had his lunch packed, which would normally be ok since he had a few minutes before his deadline of 7:30 for heading downstairs to get dressed.  Except!  I noticed that inside the box of KoolAid pouches Kaitlyn had emptied earlier and left on the table to be taken out to the recycling can was an empty carton of whipped topping.  Tyler had packed whipped topping and a single granola bar for his lunch.  *sigh*  I made him add an apple and swear to eat it and left it at that before shooing him downstairs to get dressed.

IMG_9457

I never know what state I’m going to find the kitchen in when I get up in the morning and the adults in the house (my parents and my brother who cooks all his meals here) seem to be worse than the kids when it comes to leaving messes.  I have made it my routine to do one clean up in the morning and leave it at that in order to save my own sanity from constantly trying to keep the kitchen sparkling.  The dishwasher stopped working a couple of weeks ago and we haven’t taken the time to find a replacement yet (with the kitchen remodel on the agenda it kind of seems appropriate to wait) and I’ve been surprised that instead of the dish mess being worse, everyone has actually been a bit bitter at taking care of their own dishes.  So I didn’t have many dishes to do, just put away the clean dishes from the drying towels and called it good.

20160511_073410A

7:45 AM  Looks like another tie and button-up shirt day for Ty.  So cute.  (and I’m patting myself on the back for going ahead and ordering that father/son tie set I spotted on Pick Your Plum yesterday)

IMG_9465A

One of my goals this year has been to take the time to take care of myself better/more often so I took the time this morning to do a pedicure, tweeze the eyebrows, etc etc.

20160511_110917A

She refused to come inside and spent most of the morning enjoying the spring sunshine. Ah to have a #dogslife  (caption from Instagram post)

20160511_132153

I grabbed a quick lunch while on the phone with the husband.  He usually calls on his day off and as I had been too busy to talk to him this past weekend during his last day off so we wanted to make sure we had the chance to touch base.  I had to cut it off after about 40 minutes so I would be on time to pick up Kaitlyn from school as we had an appointment for a consult with an orthodontist.

20160511_133530

1:30 PM  I asked Kate to capture my favorite view during the drive. She missed the view but look at that beautiful sky. #myphotographerneedsabitmorepractice

20160511_135736

We were told the adjustments she could get were minor and cosmetic but we decided we would regret it later if she didn’t get braces now so we scheduled an appointment to have them put on the end of June.

20160511_151002

A few quick errands while we were in town then I was in the mood for a vanilla shake so we grabbed a snack/early dinner for the drive home.  We almost never got McDonald’s but sometimes you just need the convenience of the drive through.  Yogurt parfait for both of us, vanilla shake for me, mango pineapple smoothie for her, and we split an order of fries.  We got home just as Tyler was getting off the bus.20160511_184933A

Kaitlyn decided to skip the Young Women’s activity (dodge ball) so with nothing else on the agenda we spent a relaxed evening at home.  That, of course, meant plenty of screen time.

20160503_192343

Bambi spent her evening chasing reflections cast by the sun going down (the last few days it is in a different position than it usually is and really makes a lot of those) or tracking my mom’s progress as she mowed the lawn and wishing she could be outside to “help.”

20160511_200440

7:30 PM These long evenings with the sun still up really make it feel like we are THIS close to summer.  We’ve really been enjoying it.

And I’ve been enjoying capturing some of the small things I wouldn’t normally bother to put on “film.”  I’ll be back tomorrow!  Happy Thursday! (what’s left of it)

The day in numbers:
-total photos taken:  37 with my phone and 11 with the DSLR
-3983 steps taken
-_____ miles driven

Past Week in the Life Posts:
-2016 – Monday’s Words and Photos
-2016 – Tuesday’s Words and Photos
-2015 – Main Post with links to Words and Photos for each day

*I am posting photos on Instagram as I go along – feel free to follow along or tell me about your own experiences with WITL.

Week in the Life 2016 – Tuesday’s Words and Photos

20160510_132857

I’m back with Tuesday’s words and photos for my Week In the Life Photo Project (an idea originated by Ali Edwards.  More info available HERE).  And oh what a beautiful day it was.

20160510_065715 6:50 AM  Can you find the #tylerbuddy in this photo? He wasn’t in his bed this morning or on the couch or anywhere else we could think of. Turns out he was asleep under his clothes in the closet though I really had checked that blanket on the floor (it was covering his karate bag)
#littleboys
*hopefully one morning this week can start with this kid in his own bed!

20160510_065923

7:00 AM  This girl is ready for school.  We’ve been experimenting with her hair the last week or so, going for the “beachy waves” look.  Haven’t quite mastered it.  She’s getting the wave, but the “purposeful” part of the look still needs some work (don’t tell her that!)

20160510_075835

#thiskid is such a character. Today he decided to dress up for school – even tied his tie himself. I had to insist the fedora stay home so it wouldn’t get ruined or lost at school in exchange for letting him wear it “somewhere nice” to dinner tonight.
He also requested a tuxedo for his birthday (7 months away)
#lovethisboy

20160510_085526A

9:00 AM  As I had already waited out getting the kids off to school and the load of laundry someone put in the washer to finish and was still feeling over-tired and cranky from the weekend (my poor body really really can’t handle late nights I guess) I decided to give in and give myself a good long soak in the tub with a book.  It has been way too long since the last time I did that.

20160510_130300

1:00 PM  Figured it was time to take the dog for a walk considering how pretty the day was and how long it had been since we’d seen so much sunshine.  She heard me pick up the leash from the other room (not say anything, not even shake it, just simply pick it up) and came at a run.  So excited.

20160510_132120

I promised the husband a selfie while I was out on the walk with Bambi, but she’s really really bad at selfies.

20160510_134606

Instead of going one of our usual routes I decided to hit one of the other back roads I haven’t been on for a while.  Great views.

20160510_133425

20160510_133548

20160510_141641

2:00 PM sat down for a bit as I’ve still been really tired today. After 4-5 interruptions I finally did finish a single episode – 2 hours later.  That includes phone calls re: Kaitlyn’s swim team arrangements (it’s taking some manipulating since they can’t find a coach for the summer and she is way too in love with swimming to give it up) which did need to be finalized and of course both kids getting home at different times.

20160510_151509

3:00 PM Homework time for Miss Kate.  She didn’t have much, thank goodness.

20160510_160818

4:00 PM Homework time for Tyler.  Just needed to write his spelling words three times.  Still loving that tie

20160510_162312

4:20 PM
“Ladies first!” He opened not only the house door but also the garage door and the car door for me on the way to scouts this afternoon. I have also been instructed to wait for him to open my door before I get out on the way home. If this is how we get him to be polite (and hustle instead of lagging behind) maybe he should wear a tie every day!
#littlegentleman  (from Instagram)

He did follow through and open doors for me when I picked him up for scouts and again for all of us when we went out to dinner.  Loving it.

20160510_185914

6:00 PM  Woke up Grandma from her nap so we could go to Ruby Tuesday’s for dinner.  Tyler (my super picky eater) had been talking about wanting to try a hamburger but when it came right down to it he ordered a corn dog.  Though he did switch it up and get apples on the side instead of fries.  Kaitlyn insisted she was hungry enough for a half rack of ribs all to herself and sure enough she almost completely finished them off along with her onion rings and mashed potatoes.  It was a very pleasant night out and while I don’t usually make the effort to go out to dinner during the week (and almost never go to Park City without adding in an errand or two to make the trip “worth it) I was very glad we did.

20160510_200907

8:00 PM  this was the last of the photos I snapped for the day and this one was only because I was sitting at the other end of the couch texting with Sam and we were talking about our “view” for the moment.  He was totally jealous of my walk as his current view only includes sand and dirt and the ugly buildings on the base.  Shortly after this the kids went to bed, only for Tyler to get up again complaining he had a stomach ache (too many cookies at scouts I suspect) so I gave him Pepto, and Kaitlyn complaining her throat hurt so she got the sore throat spray.  Hopefully that doesn’t make for a long night of sick kids (it didn’t) and fingers crossed I don’t get sick too (so far so good).
Goodnight Tuesday.

The day in numbers:
-total photos taken:  49 with my phone and 0 with the DSLR
-6837 steps taken
-_____ miles driven

Other Week In the Life Posts:
-2016 – Monday’s Words and Photos
-2015 – Main Post with links to Words and Photos for each day

*I am posting photos on Instagram as I go along – feel free to follow along or tell me about your own experiences with WITL.

Week in the Life 2016 – Monday’s Words and Photos

Week In the Life 2016 I'm In

Sometimes we all need a bit of a new perspective don’t we?  Lately I have felt like I’ve been wrapped up in all sorts of large projects, but my patience for dealing with the small things and my ability to recognize the small joys or to step away and give myself some fun seems to have fallen by the wayside.  In the spirit of recognizing the joy in the little things, once again I am participating along with Ali Edwards’ Week in the Life photo project documenting the little things that make up my everyday life this week – and maybe getting a little bit of photography practice in along the way.

The first step in the project is collecting the photos and documenting all the routine and not-so routine happenings of the day.  I’m going to collect my top photos and stories here on the blog and share them every day or so this week before pulling them all together in an album later (hopefully – I have yet to fully complete last year’s Week in the Life in the album urgh).  I will also be posting a few of the photos on Instagram as I take them each day if you want to follow along.  (AlaynasCreations on IG)  So without further ado:

Monday’s words and photos

IMG_20160509_072621

6:10 AM The best way to start the Monday in a nasty mood? Wake up from a bad dream then have to unclog a toilet before you can use it. #helloMonday #whereistheresetbutton  (caption as posted on Instagram)

20160509_063211

Also found the little guy sleeping on the couch, which isn’t unusual for him.  But after a weekend on the couch while we had visitors I was hoping he would get a good nights’ sleep in his own bed before school on Monday.

20160509_061802A

Kaitlyn has started showering before school every day and has no problem going through her entire morning routine without any help or reminders from me, though I do try to get up and eat breakfast with her.  I also noticed I was still very tired from the weekend and easily annoyed at things.  Seriously – I almost decided against taking photos this week because I was in such a bad mood.  Or at the very least creating a photo collage/list of my pet peeves for the day!  But who needs that kind of negativity?

20160509_071349A

7:30 AM sun broke through the clouds and I can feel my mood brightening and my more normal Monday Motivation kicking in

20160509_071542

This is also the time of the morning I let the dog out while Tyler is finishing up his breakfast and packing his lunch.  This morning I chose to step outside too and take a few photos.  Love that the tulips are finally coming out.

20160509_080020

Monday = laundry all day long

20160509_094029

I happened to catch the tail end of the show that takes place when the horses get let into the field below the house for a couple of hours of grazing.  For some reason they think this is a special treat and all run through the gate to be first to stake their claim in the new field.  It gets the dog all riled up too, as you can see.

The afternoon was spent paying bills, updating the calendar, making phone calls, editing photos, and working on putting together a care package for the husband.

20160509_171516

Monday afternoon run around includes piano lessons for Kaitlyn (3:00) and karate for Tyler (5:30).  With swim team coaches and practices up in the air right now Kaitlyn has been going to the Rec Center to swim and I work out while Tyler is in karate.

IMG_20160509_185913

5:15 and 6:30 PM the evening run around to and from the Rec center for karate while Kaitlyn got in some swim practice on her own (caption from IG)

20160509_201012IMG_20160509_202952

8:00 PM I was hearing lots of laughs out of these two tonight. Love when they play well together.

PicsArt_1462937153316A

I found myself taking photos of my feet during different activities today, so I put the all together in a fun little collage.  I may carry this through for each day, or even every few days to make it cohesive without being too repetitious.

IMG_9415A

And we end the day with a spectacular sunset.  Photos never quite capture the magnificence, but I keep trying.
IMG_9431A

And so ends the Monday.  Check back tomorrow for Tuesday’s words and photos.  And if you are doing your own Week in the Life I would love to hear about it!

The day in numbers:
-total photos taken:  114 with my phone and 58 with the DSLR
– 7 loads of laundry
-10446 steps taken
-_____ miles driven

IMG_9454

Other Week In the Life Posts:
-2016 – Tuesday’s Words and Photos
-2015 – Main Post with links to Words and Photos for each day