Christmas Cheer.

We have been prepping for Christmas this weekend- wrapping gifts and buying presents- making plans for our Christmas eve cookie delivery tradition. We are stepping up our game this year- going to more houses- making more types of cookies. It’s going to be fun. Enjoy some pictures from the last week or so!

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Holden loves setting up the nativity scene nanny and grandpa gave her. She still calls it “God’s Farm” which I love- and we very often sit and play with the characters. :-)


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Oh boy does she love that cat. And Davis does too. Really we all do. I even caught Bennett kissing him on the lips the other day. BUSTED!



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Some vintage christmas ornaments from nanny and the best smelling Rum candle my mom bought me over Thanksgiving. Makes for a very cozy sit by the fire.

Happy Holidays!

I Love New York.

My grandpa sent me an email yesterday that simply said “Is New York still there?” and the answer is “BARELY.” Oh my gosh we had such a good time. Seriously- one of the top 5 weekends or trips of my life. We ate great food, we stayed at the Soho Grand, we went to the Whitney to see Andy Warhol, we saw the Book of Mormon, we hung out at Marie’s Crisis singing show tunes with a gaggle of queens. It was the BEST trip ever and I am hugely thankful that Davis set it all up for my birthday!

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On the plane- kid free and feeling like a million bucks.

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Andy Warhol exhibit at The Whitney Museum.

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When in New York

You Eat Pizza

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We also might have made our way to Laduree…for macarons…once or maybe twice.

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Davis got us great reservations at a restaurant called “The Dutch” in Soho…and we also went to see The Book of Mormon. It was INCREDIBLE. I wanted to watch it again and again and again.

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And whenever I’m in New York I try to meet up with Mason.

What a great trip.

Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving has come and gone and we had a lot of fun with Honey being in town! We saw the “Wreck it Ralph” movie, we went to see Mary Poppins at Stages Theater, we crafted, we made cookies, we went to Gertens to get ornaments and most importantly, Honey planned a stellar dance competition: Dancing with the Bennetts. Good times were had by all.

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20/20

Lots of updates this week! As you could tell by my last post- we have had a lot going on. Salt Lake and New York were amazing- mainly seeing Jeanne in Salt Lake- and I’m so glad I went. Needed a new view and a little break from the routine.

Davis’ birthday was fun- we played hooky and it was a really cold day so we went for donuts, went to an indoor play place and then that night, we had a family XBox night and we all played the racing game Mario Kart and ordered pizza and ate ice cream cake. It was really fun.

Then Thursday the kids started their new school- and it’s been so great- I’m sort of waiting for the other shoe to drop. They come home happy every day. Holden has made more friends in four days than she did in two months at the previous school- and so far, D seems to be happy and settling in. He has observed that there is more structure and he also said “It’s just not so loud all the time” and for all of that, I am thankful. They have homework every night, we hear from the teachers regularly, and it just seems to be the right thing for now.

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I think these happy faces after the first day of school say it all!

And I got LASIK on Friday. Okay- good thing I didn’t really know that much about it going into it because I never would have done it if I had, say, watched a video or read about it online. Ignorance is bliss right? It was TORTURE!!! Sure, the actual procedure lasts less than five minutes- but it feels like a lifetime and I literally felt like I was a MIA POW laying on that table while they cranked my eye sockets open and poked my eyeballs with lasers, hooks and brushes. Plus- the pain after was just MISERABLE…until about 9:00 pm that night.

But, my vision is perfect now! It’s pretty amazing and I’m still getting used to not having to squint and being able to see so many things. It’s a whole new world! Kind of wish I had done it sooner.

Then Sunday we celebrated Ds birthday with the Ohmes at the Big Thrill Factory- an arcade, laser tag and bumper car place.


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And a random pic of Holden and Smidge- who hasn’t peed on Bennett in a good long while. Knock on wood.

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More later! Love you all.

Quick update!

Hi there- sorry it’s been so long…we’ve had a lot going on…here is a quick update!

NEW SCHOOL:
We are transferring Davis and Holden from their current school to another, more traditional, and buttoned up school in the district. I think they will really benefit from this- so I am pumped for them to start next week. I also managed through almost all of this transition without punching anyone at their current school- so that feels like a win to me. Let’s just say- their bedside manner leaves a lot to be desired.

WEEKEND FUN:
I’m headed to see Jeanne this weekend in Salt Lake- she is one of the two professional mentors I have had and I cannot wait to spend the weekend with her. She is very eccentric and loud so I can only imagine what we will be up to. Then Sunday, I fly to New York, and I am going to have dinner with Mason, and then I will attend some meetings in the city on Monday and Tuesday and fly home Tuesday night.

BIRTHDAY CHEER:
I fly home Tuesday night because little D’s birthday is Wednesday. And because their last day at their current school is Tuesday, we are going to play hooky on Wednesday and do fun birthday things and then start the new school Thursday.

HALLOWEEN:
And of course we went trick or treating on halloween. Holden had picked out a pineapple costume, which was adorable…too bad she decided not to wear it. Instead, her last minute costume choice was to wear her jiu jitsu gi. She talked Bennett into it too and then when Davis saw that, he abandoned the Black Panther costume he had picked out and put his gi on too…so I followed suit. We were a jiu jitsu family…and the kids got more candy than ever. Wish we would have gotten a family photo but we were too busy having fun.

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The Beans.

Just sharing some fun pictures of the beans. And Smidge!

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Fun at Can Can Wonderland with some coworkers and their kids last Friday…our kids are the oldest and they love helping the little ones. Okay- I get that Holden’s hair is in a really rough spot- but we are on the verge of her bangs blending in with her hair and I feel like we just need to push through.

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Davis dabbing at Can Can.


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Although you can’t tell by the look of his face (he’s annoyed I made him pause for a picture) Davis loves riding his bike and we had the most beautiful bike ride around the neighborhood the other day.

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Do not be alarmed. Holden would find the greenest, grassiest spot and then dramatically “fall” over on her bike. Tres dramatic.

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The two Davises- in unplanned matching outfits last week before church!

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And Smidgey-Boo (as we sometimes call him) in his new hiding spot. He waits till you pass by and then he attacks your legs!

Bring Your Kids to Work Day.

We survived “Bring Your Kids to Work Day” at Best Buy. Actually, we didn’t just survive, we thrived. The kids were great and we all had a great time.

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Also- I’m getting Lasik! I cannot wait. I went for my consultation on Friday and I am having the procedure (laser eye correction) on November 9th! I can’t wait to be able to see clearly without glasses and hopefully not get any headaches!

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Bennett has been gone quite a bit this month- so we have tried to make a lot of fun moments when he has been home. D is loving basketball right now- so he has taken him to play a few times at the gym…and Holden has really wanted to do all things Halloween so the two of them have been carving pumpkins this week too. And then last Friday, we left work early and went to see the new movie “Smallfoot” - it wasn’t a great movie, but we all had a good time.

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I’m looking forward to this weekend- I have made a few plans for myself since I haven’t been able to do much over the last few weeks…so Saturday I’m having dinner with two girlfriends and then Sunday night we are watching the recent royal wedding at Jackie’s house…but during the day, we are going to go to this new indoor market in St. Paul Saturday or Sunday- and then likely the other day we will go to the gym, play basketball, work out, swim, etc.

Oh and last weekend- Holden (and all of the first graders) received bibles at church Sunday morning. I’ll post some pictures of that this weekend too.


Inseparable.

These two are like peas and carrots.

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Smidge isn’t much of a snuggler…he usually likes to come and go at his leisure and struggles to get out of your arms to see what else is going on in the house. Except with Holden. She squeezes him and holds him any which way and no matter how uncomfortable it looks- he just lays there and purrs like an engine. It’s the sweetest thing. We love Smidge- he’s been a great bit of joy at our house. He’s super easy and I’m always amazed at how clean he is. White as the fresh snow, that cat.

Rain Rain Go Away.

It feels like it might never stop raining. It rained the whole time we were in Montreal and some of it leaked into the basement- so we have a mess to deal with- but at the same time, we don’t want to solve it until after the rain has stopped. I’m hopeful we can get the work going next week and that we only have to do grading instead of getting a sump pump or drain tile. Apparently- everyone who has a basement has had water in that basement. BLAH.

Davis is in LA, he has been working so much lately, even on the weekends that it feels like I am a single mom. It’s great to spend so much time with the beans- especially as they are both having some challenges adjusting to new classes or specific kids in their classes- but at the same time, it’s a bit lonely. Luckily I have Bebe’s help- and last night I got to meet a friend for dinner for her birthday. That lifted my spirits quite a bit.

Tonight we have a church event for Holden- 1st graders are being given bibles and then they will practice a verse and then recite it on Sunday at church. I don’t know that Holden will go on stage (she HATES that sort of thing) but I would like her to go tonight anyway.

Here are some pics from the last couple weeks- sorry it’s been a while since I posted.

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We went to our favorite apple orchard and pumpkin patch last weekend- had a good time- but not sure we will go there again. They’ve really commercialized it over the last year and instead of a beautiful hill to run across- there are a bunch of makeshift booths of vendors selling random crap. Plus, all along the orchard there were bright red signs that said “Stealing an apple is like stealing anything else- and it’s punishable by law.” WOW. Sort of took the charm out of things.

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Davis had his last basketball game of the season Tuesday- they’ve all improved so much and Davis really loved playing and wants to play again. Nate is an awesome coach- and I know D loves being on the same team as Brooks.

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Sarah, Nate, Davis and I went out to dinner last Friday to celebrate Davis and Sarah’s birthdays- they are within days of each other! It was really fun and the dessert was TASTY!

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Unbeknownst to me, Holden got into my makeup last weekend and did herself up. Not too bad for a six year old, am I right? She even did mascara!

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She also had a really fun play date with Elsa at our house while Davis went to a play date at his friend, Avesta’s house.

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And Smidge is just chilling! He is my little snuggle bug at night. I usually watch TV or fold laundry or something and he curls up right next to me and purrs like a little engine.




Quebec City.

Quebec City is so close to Minnesota- yet feels like it is a world away.

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It is just darling- makes you feel like you are walking around the set of Beauty and the Beast.

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I purchased a little sketch from an artist in this alley- I can’t wait to frame it and hang it on my wall.

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The boys- looking all FRENCH and stuff. :-) Take me back to Canada!!!

Oh Canada.

To say we had the time of our lives in Canada would be an understatement. We were there 7 days and we enjoyed every single minute. This is probably the first trip that I have actually felt depressed after- simply because we just laughed so much the whole time we were there. B and Courtney are awesome travel partners…everyone is game with whatever anyone wants to try. Plus, when we wanted to do different things- we’d just split up and meet back together later.

We spent the first four days in Montreal and had amazing food, and walked all over the city. Then on Wednesday we drove to Quebec City where we also had amazing food and walked all over the city. Oh I want to go back to Canada!

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Night one, after dinner at Cafe Cherrier.

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Later that night, at the Lobby Bar, before we went and danced the night away to 80s music at Le Tulipe. We finished the night with Poutine and Pizza around 4:00 am.

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We took a cooking class- learned to make Beef Tartare. It was the four of us, plus a cute Canadian couple that we became fast friends with…

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Views from our many walks around the city…

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We grazed on the best produce and snacks at the Jean Marche Talon farmers market- the largest open air farmers market in North America.

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More to come - next I’ll cover Quebec City!

Smidge Settles In.

We have had Smidge for about six weeks now, and he has really evolved in that time. The first couple weeks all he did was snuggle and get carried around from room to room. Perhaps part of that was because no one put him down, or perhaps he was nervous. In about week three, he got a lot more lively, quite a bit more confident, and he began to hide around corners just waiting to pounce when some poor victim rounded the doorway…he also stands down by the laundry room and meows loudly in the morning and in the evening when he wants his Fancy Feast. I suppose we spoiled him too early on- we leave him dry food- but he waits for the Fancy Feast. One day i tried to explain to Holden that he had food already- he would be fine- and she looked at me and said “But mommy. He wants his Fancy Feast.” So that’s that.

He is such a sweet cat and he means no harm, but he climbs all over the furniture, so poor Smidgey is going to lose his claws after we get back from Montreal. I feel bad about it, because I know it is painful, and also I feel it’s selfish, but I will be happy to let him roam the house during the day rather than coop him up in the laundry room once those claws are gone.

Anyway. I was in LA for work from Friday to Monday and man it felt good to be there. I used to go about once a month and I haven’t been since last October- almost a year! I miss the ocean breeze, the fashion/people watching and the amazing design. Plus- there are just a million great restaurants and bars and always things to do and people to see.

So then I got home Monday and Bennett had stayed home with Holden because she had a fever, so it was my turn to stay home Tuesday. So Holden and I took Smidge to the doctor for a round of shots before his claw reduction. She looks so big in these pictures, it almost kills me.

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She is growing out her bangs, as you can see, and it makes such a big difference. But she is so proud that she is growing out her bangs and wants her hair to be just like mine- which is the sweetest. She thinks I am so cool. And I know I have a limited time with that, so I’m soaking it in.


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She loves that cat.

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And he’s pretty cute. I like him too. It’s really amazing how clean he stays. He’s always got shiny, soft white hair. Or fur. No hair.

Anyway, I write this as I sit on a plane with Bennett to Montreal. Honey flew in last night and the kids were very excited to see her- as was I. I had so much to do last night, but I would say to her before each thing “Will you come talk to me while i pack?” or “Will you come talk to me while I put the sheets on?” It’s always so fun to catch up with her. She has been helping a lot with my grandparents and now she is helping with my kids, so I’m hopeful that at least she gets some good sleep at night and she laughs a lot. :-)

Courtney and B are meeting us in Montreal tomorrow, and we have a week of really fun activities planned. For example, one day we are taking a cooking class taught in french. B said “Well, I think it’s great. We’ll either cheat by watching the people around us- or we’ll just try to get everyone drunk.” So as you can see- they vacation, and perhaps LIVE, a lot like we do.

Work has been so good. I would say that I have done some of my best work, or the work I am most proud of in the last six months. I had a major presentation a couple weeks ago that just couldn’t have gone better- and positive momentum continues to build. So I’m happy at work and happy at life and though there are certainly things that make me sad- sometimes I just pinch myself and thank God for this life I am getting to live.

Really the only thing I haven’t been able to figure out is how to maintain my weight- at least maintain it at a level I like. HA. I can say it’s lack of time, or lack of energy, and while those things are challenges- the truth is that it’s really not as high on my priority list as it should be. Right? That’s hard to say- but it’s the truth. So you know, I’m not thriving on everything.

Anyway- I won’t stress about it this week, but when we get back, I really need to get my rear in gear. It’s just hard. I actually am very tired, and I really do have a lot to juggle, but so does Beyonce. “You have just as many hours in a day as Beyonce.” That’s what I remind myself.

When I get back from Montreal- I have a week or two before I am going to speak at my first big conference in Hilton Head, South Carolina. I was asked to do this a few months back and I have been super impressed and flattered by the other speakers on the list. So while I will hate the networking- I HATE NETWORKING- I am making myself do it and I know it will be a good experience.

And Bebe is working out great so far. Knock on wood. And I made her a deal- I already have to pay more so she can go with my kids to our gym, so I said I would pay for a whole membership for her if she picked up some additional responsibilities for me. She was so thrilled- and I hadn’t even gotten to the list yet when I came home the other day and she had packed the kids lunches, swiffered the floors, emptied and loaded the dishwasher. Man that helps me out so much. Plus, I feel like if I can help her out with something like that- I’m happy to. She still sends money home to her mother in Ghana. And she is working through her masters degree while living with a family from her church. So you know- I may be a little overweight but I got it easy.

Anyway- that’s a lot of thoughts for tonight. I’ll post picture during my trip- or when I get back. Love to you all!

1st Day of 1st and 3rd Grade!

I can’t believe that it’s already week two of the school year…the kids are doing well- D is in the older part of their CP family at school, so he is with 3rd, 4th and 5th graders, and Holden is in his old class, the younger part of the family with 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders. I still want to move her to a more traditional class- and she is first on the list- but she will do fine for now! They are both happy and enjoy going to school every day and that is the most important.

As you can see from these first day of school pictures- Holden was very nervous, while D was ecstatic to be back!

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Holden INSISTED on wearing her jeans AND her jacket- even though as you can tell by Davis’ clothes, it wasn’t that chilly. She was going for a certain look though, so I got behind her in this! She really was NOT interested in thinking about waiting to wear that outfit.


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He is so SWEET to her…I’m so glad they have each other.

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And this is a shot from day two! Again- insisting on wearing the jacket and pant sport suit Honey got her.

ATX Friends.

Hello again! We spent the last weekend of our trip in Austin with friends- two nights without kids and then one night with all the families. It was so fun. We went out for girls night Thursday to a place called Suerte- I love my girlfriends there with all my heart. And then Friday night, all the couples went out, and then Saturday, Carrie and Zach had a pool party at their new house and it was just so fun to see all the kids and watch everyone play together. Saturday was certainly my favorite part of the weekend in Austin.

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These two are like peas and carrots! They have so much fun together...

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And Holden and Mary have a great time together too. Holden finds her a bit bossy- but they work it out. HA!

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The Bennett and Barry boys! How cute are Rex and Weston? So sweet too.

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B and his little mini, Rex. They look SOOOOO much alike.

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The big Bennett and Barry boys- I think they both looks so handsome! 

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And the four that started it all. We are all going to Montreal and Quebec City next Friday- cannot wait! Honey is coming so the kids will have fun too.

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And we actually got a picture of the whole gang! I wish we had done one with all the gang and all the kids...next time!

Honey's House Part II.

We had so much fun at Honey's house- it gets two posts. 

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Their excitement when they saw all the fun floats was so great to see. I was joking with Bennett that basically there were 3 cool floats for every person. :-)

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We also introduced Davis and Holden to the local candy shop. They thought they had died and gone to heaven. And my mouth watered looking at all the treats.

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Honey also had flash tattoos and of course there was tons more swimming with Nikki- which was a highlight for sure.

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While we stayed at Honey's house- there were some guests in the guesthouse that wanted to use the pool one day...so of course Honey wasn't going to tell the kids they just couldn't swim...so instead we drove to San Antonio for the day and stayed at La Cantera. It was such a treat for all of us. Holden wanted to move in and I said I would join her. Honey also took them school shopping- and it was really the first time that we took them in, had them try on clothes, and it was so special. Holden had a grin from ear to ear. You could tell she felt like a million bucks and Davis did too. I told Holden we would make a No, a Yes, and a Maybe pile. The first few items went directly into the "Yes" pile and then she looked at me and grinned and said "I think it's all going to be a Yes, mom." It reminded me of the time my grandma took me shopping at the Gap- in probably the 2nd or 3rd grade. We picked out so many things and I remember glowing from inside out because I felt so special. 

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New light up tennis shoes and an armful of clothes. She was so proud...she loved that the bag was so big and heavy.

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Can't mess around with the sunscreen in Texas...

Oh and my mom found this picture of my dad and held it up next to Davis. They don't look as much alike as say Nikki and my dad, but it's really sweet to see some resemblance. Davis loved the comparison.

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Speaking of Davis, he is still head over heels about Claire. I picked them up from camp Monday and he was like "Can we please go watch Claire's gymnastics meet? It's happening right now!" They both wanted to go so badly- so sure enough, we stopped by and watched her and I felt like a real stalker. Ha. The things you do for your little lover boy.

Anyway- tomorrow is their last day at camp and he has been begging me all week to take him to find a ring to give her- and he wants to open it in front of her like Alfalfa does on Little Rascals. He kills me. So tonight- I guess we will be trekking out to Claire's at Mall of America to find something that meets his vision. 

Honeys House.

The kids literally swam for at least 6 hours every day. They were in the pool before 8:00 am and had to take a post dinner dip every night. And in between swimming, there was a lot of starburst and sausage eating. Plus- the kids started to realize that Honey has a ton of cool stuff hidden in a million places- so they started asking to look in every closet, on every shelf, etc and they found so much cool stuff. Also, they think she is rich because she has a tin full of change. RICH I TELL YOU!

And we got to spend a lot of time with my grandparents, which is always great.

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Texas 2018.

Well, we're back from Texas...and it's always a bit hard to transition back so I'll just spend a little more time reliving our adventures. I'll break this trip into three parts: San Antonio, Honey's House, and Austin.

We flew in on Saturday and drove straight to Kirsten's house. It was so fun to spend the day with Kirsten, Chad, Andy and Frances. The kids play so well together so Kirsten and I just get to hang out and catch up. We're planning on sending Andy and Davis to overnight camp together next summer. We also got to go see their new house- it's going to be beautiful. It's an old mission style San Antonio home and it has a beautiful pool, huge vaulted ceilings and so much space for entertaining. 

The Pearl was so fun- we went to the food hall and the kids played in the splash pad. It was perfect. On the way to the airport yesterday, Holden said "I just wish I got to see Frances one more time..." 

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It was a beautiful night. And that is saying a lot, considering it is Texas in August. 

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They caught several frogs- YUCK!

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So much fun- and that was only our first day! We cover a lot of ground while we're there...so many more pictures to come! 

Vacation Brain.

So we don't leave till Saturday- but I'll just be real honest...my brain has been shutting down little by little every day this week heading into vacation. The good news is- if nothing else, I am an extremely productive person, so I probably accomplished as much as most people in a normal week on Monday and Tuesday- but the bad news is...I'm just waffling around the office, chatting with people, looking at clothes online, seeing what home renovations people are doing on Pinterest...I just have vacation brain. And really there is nothing I can do to fight it.

In my previous job, I traveled 1-2 times a month...in my new job, travel for work is rare and random, so I am realizing that I get a little stir crazy and I am at the point now where I need to get out of here!! :-) I guess it's also a Midwest thing. Everyone takes time off in October, over spring break, and in August- to catch the last bit of summer before fall sets in...

Anyway- I'm excited and so are the kids. Holden's favorite thing to do is pack and she has asked me every day if she can start packing. I did a monster load of laundry last night so I said she could start putting a few things aside tonight. I also told her we could practice gymnastics again as she is newly obsessed with getting on the competitive gymnastics team. 

Bennett gets home tonight- he has been in Seattle all week- so that will be fun too. Last night we went to the pool after I picked them up from camp - tonight I'm hoping we all just hang out. 

ONE MORE DAY!