Firehouse Fun

Our family was treated to a personal tour of a Mesa Fire Department Firehouse this weekend – and it was amazing! Mike, a friend and college of Peter’s, invited us over when he heard that Auggie was having a firefighter themed birthday. I think Auggie was equal parts excited and nervous.

Mike rolled out the red carpet showing us all around the firehouse, introducing us to the other firefighters and giving us the inside scoop on how it all functions. We then got to go check out the truck, including a quick ride around to the back of the station (headsets and all!) where the kids took turns with the fire hose.

Mike also showed us how much gear he has to put on – and in under 2 minutes. Holy moly, it’s a lot. I can’t imagine walking around with 45 pounds of hot, heavy gear on…let alone fight a fire!

Look at those smiles

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Here’s the thing, we were only one of two tours going on. If you think your kiddo would love to visit the fire house, give your local station a call. They will let you know the best days and times – they seem to really enjoy educating people – and kids- on how the fire station works and fire safety. In fact, when Mike was in his full gear, mask and all, he made a point of talking to each person in each of the tours. It was a good lesson for all the kids that that is what firefighters look like in an emergency and not to be afraid of them. It was a fun an educational way to spend a Sunday morning!

Organized Living: The Play Room

I was so excited when we moved to the new house and decided to keep our kiddos in the same room and use the second room as a play room. I liked that they would have a bedroom that was for sleeping, reading and resting – and a play room that could be a total disaster that I could shut the door on.

But alas, I can’t just shut the door. My hatred for all things cluttered, disorganized and messy, drives me to rally the kids into cleaning up the room daily. I can’t stand the clutter, the craziness! I think everyone in our house is all too familiar with my screeching demand for help to clean up.

I do have a rule that if I have to help clean up, I throw things away. The panic that arises when one of the kids sees me put something in my pocket as it’s destined for the trash, usually spurs them into working faster…but not better. So I added some details to the play room that will hopefully help them be able to keep their toys organized and make clean up easier.

I used these hanging storage racks from Target. They make cubes that fit in the drawers too that looked really nice, but I went with transparent bins with lids instead. I could only picture every bin being pulled out to discover what was inside…They work great because lots of different things fit in the spaces.

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Next I took a picture of what was in each bin. I printed them in 3×5 size and wrote the name of the items inside for Baylor. She is amazing at memorizing words when she sees the definition in pictures.

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I also used the labels inside of the fabric bins in the playroom.

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I think there are two ways you can organize the playroom – or any other kid space in your house: with or without your kids. Today’s project was done without them home. It allowed me to clean out some things and save my sanity by being able to quickly sort toys and have them actually stay where I put them. I take a trash bag and a “give away” bag in with me and as I clean, I sort. If you are worried about them noticing that something is missing, hide the bag in the closet for a few days. Or if you’re like me, you blame their disappearance on moving.

If you are feeling brave and want to clean up clean out with your kids, talk about what the goal of the process is before you start. When Baylor was little, we talked a lot about how not all kids have toys like she does. We talked about how it was important to care for those less fortunate and one of the ways we can do that is by donating some of our toys. We never ask them to give away anything they really love, but we do ask them to consider whether or not they think that toy could make a child who has no toys, happy. I’m always surprised by both kid’s willingness to part with dolls, toys and games in the name of helping someone else. I always let them deliver the bag to the donation site too to complete the process.

Good luck and happy organizing!

Spooktackular Crafts

While looking for ideas for Auggie’s birthday party on Pinterest, I randomly came across the cutest Halloween craft. I’m a sucker for hand and footprint art. But I tend to leave those to the kid’s schools because paint on feet and hands gives me anxiety.

Despite my apprehension,  I was feeling ambitious so I took the picture of the craft and the kids to Michael’s to get our supplies. The kids were surprisingly good and happy to help gather up what we needed. They (generally) cooperated when it came to putting their hands and feet in the right place and they (sort of) listened when I told them not to touch the wet canvases. Overall? A win! And the end product came out pretty cute!

When we were getting ready to paint their feet, I asked Baylor how they do it at school – did they dip their hands into the paint or did the teachers brush it on? She concluded that most of the teachers would brush it on. Auggie then chimed in with “Mommy? Mommy? At mine school, when we are painting….they no let me put my hands in the paint.” I couldn’t stop laughing. He wanted so badly to contribute to the conversation.

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So their high arches and “sleepy” toes made for some funny prints, but I think they’re pretty cute! Want to give it a go? Here’s what you’ll need:

1 8oz bottle of multi-surface acrylic paint in Black and Orange

1 2oz bottle of multi-surface acrylic paint in Green and White

1 Spool of festive ribbon

Paint pens in Black and Orange. (I couldn’t find orange so I just used paint. It’s doable, but it takes a lot longer)

3 8×10 canvases

Glitter paint for decorating

Sponge brushes

Small paint brushes

Paper plates and news paper

Towels and small tub of soapy water

Start by painting the background on the three canvases. This is a great place to let the kids help. Ours took two coats with about 20 minutes of drying in between. Let dry overnight.

When you’re ready to do the hand and foot prints, on clean feet / hands, use a sponge brush to coat the whole bottom of the foot. You will need to use more paint than you think – really coat it. Then standing, have your kiddo put their foot on the canvas and hold still while you push down on each toe and the edges of the foot. Be careful not to let the foot slide around. When each foot or hand is done, dunk it in the soapy water (Baylor told me this little detail of school crafting AFTER we were done…). Let all hand and foot prints dry over night.

Start decorating! Add in wording, spider webs, glitter – whatever you want!  Hot glue the ribbon to the back, tie it in a bow and voila! Instant holiday memories. Have fun!

October Babies

Just like June in our house, October is crazy! Not only is our social calendar packed, we get to celebrate Peter and Auggie’s birthdays. And because they are back to back (literally) it’s a little nutty trying to get it all in.

We celebrated Peter being older than me (we’re the same age for about 4 months a year) again with his favorite Funfetti cake and dinner out. We sat at Steak 44, studied the menu and strategized on who would order what so that we would get the full spectrum of the steak house’s offerings. Shrimp cocktail, ribeye steak, onion strings, creamed spinach, crab legs and chocolate chip bread pudding were all absolutely delicious! A birthday celebration to remember.

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We planned a Fireman themed party for Auggie the following day to celebrate this guy – the big 3!

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The kiddos got to cover their fire helmets with stickers. Then they raced outside to an emergency – chalk flames that they got to put out with squirt guns. It was a huge hit! The remnants of the chalk flames are going to require a little more elbow grease to get off though. Peter pointed out AFTER I had drawn all over the wall –  “maybe you should have tested it to make sure it will come off”. Yes, that would have been smart. Now we’ll just pick a paint color faster…IMG_8961

And what good party doesn’t have a fire truck pinata?? And when the little guys can’t get it open, you bring in the softball team.

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The struggle to blow out the candles is real, my friends.

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I love this picture. He was absolutely perfect for the party. Honestly, a parent couldn’t ask for more – he was happy, excited, friendly – he was having an amazing time! But hold him back from his ice cream cake? Sh*t gets real, real quick.

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Happy birthday my October men. I can’t wait to celebrate 100 more with each of you!

The Month of Firsts

think it’s safe to say that we are on the road to loving kindergarten.

I think.

I was a little surprised by all the stress and how long it has taken to start to feel a sense of settling in our new routine. Two kids at two different schools. New faces, new names. New wake up times, new bed times. New rules. New clothes. Drop offs and pick ups approximately every 3 hours. Hot lunch or cold lunch. It’s been a lot of new and change.

And while we’ve got all year to get used to this, I hate the surprise of it all. I hate not having a routine, a schedule to schedule by and a lack of efficiency. Which is one of my many pet peeves.

Sadly, I’m not the only one feeling the change. Ms. B has had some epic melt downs at drop off. And that coupled with strict visitor policies at her school, has made for some nightmare mornings. Picture her teacher literally hanging onto her as I pry my leg out of her hands while holding Auggie and then making a break for the door. Yeah.

This week, I had a little treat ready for her each afternoon if the morning drop off went well. It seemed to do the trick along with a car drive through drop off and pick ups. Oh and pizza Wednesdays are really doing the trick, too.

Crossing my fingers that the days ahead look more like the first day and not the second day. Or the third. Or the fifth….

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The Peacemaker

A few weeks ago, I saw a post on Facebook from one of our favorite bands, Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers. It was advertising a small show and tequila tasting at an awesome restaurant called Blanco Tacos and Tequila. I called Peter who quickly called and reserved our place for the pre fixe dinner, tequila tasting and show.

I wasn’t quite sure how it all was going to work, but it turned out awesome. We were sent to the downstairs private room where we were greeted with Snakeskin Boot margaritas. They had Roger’s Mexican Moonshine tequila and a chili liquor, garnished with a jalapeno. I’ve now decided I will only drink margs when they have some heat to them because it was fantastic. There were large tables only so we quickly had to make friends with a group of people who had space left at their table. Roger came out shortly after to greet everyone and began the story of why and how he branded his own tequila. With each part of the story, we were treated to the silver, reposado and anejo versions of Mexican Moonshine with a food paring. It was delicious! I am a big tequila fan so it was fun to drink the good stuff that is made for sipping, not shooting.

After that, dinner was served. And holy moly does Blanco know how to make good food. We started with shrimp ceviche and short rib street tacos that were to die for. That was quickly followed by chicken mole served over rice. And lastly, caramel and blackberry flan that was perfect. And aside from our table mates complaining about the texture, that there was corn in the mole and that they really “just can’t eat shrimp” before deciding not to eat at all, it was amazing. (side note – when we watched the two wives pick at their ceviche and shutter, we decided we couldn’t be friends and talked exclusively to each other. After the corn comment, we decided we made the right decision).

Then. Then! The show started. Roger came out with a guitar and a microphone to answer questions about his life, his music and his tequila. He then took requests and belted out some of his greatest songs. It was heavenly to be 10 feet from one of my favorite singers and get to just yell out “Tell Yer Mama!” and have him respond “that’s a great one!” and then sing it. I’m dying thinking about it.

And trying not to be super annoying, I didn’t snap any pictures (and the one I did get came out dark so I quit). BUT, after a lot of pleading with Peter, we hung out for 20 minutes after the hour long concert to try to get a picture with Roger. PW was pleasantly surprised when Roger strolled back out and happily chatted and snapped pictures with what was left of the crowd.

And then I did get a picture. And it was awesome.

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So many good times and sad times have been punctuated with Roger Clyne songs. Singing Banditos in the car with my sister, Ali, driving across town to high school in our sweet green Volvo sedan. Sadly sipping beer at 2am with Peter and our friends while Mekong played loudly, knowing that college graduation was imminent and our fun times were about to end as the real world lay before us. Singing to Americano on the last cross country drive home with Peter when we moved home from DC. Listening to every. single. RCPM song we owned when we remolded our old house as we painted the ceilings and walls. Trying to make it through the day after Mame died listening to Leave an Open Door. Watching my lovely friend, Stephanie, and her new husband dance their first dance to Green and Dumb. Just about every song holds a memory of a time in our lives, even the bitter memories are sweeter with time and put a smile on our faces.

So Roger, if you happen to read this – thank you! Thank you for the amazing music, for the fantastic story telling and for the delicious tequila. To many more years of great music and good drinks. Salud!

I got a chance to ask what his favorite song to play is – he said that it changes all the time, but his current favorite is Today Belongs to the Light. Watch and enjoy!

Breakfast Rush

Peter and I were so conflicted about weather to start Baylor in kindergarten last year or this year. We decided she would only benefit from being a year older in kindergarten so we decided to wait. And boy am I glad we did. Not only have I seen her school skills take off in the last year, I’m now so grateful for that we had one more year of 3 day a week preschool.

Because kindergarten? Is no joke. It’s 5 days a week of early mornings of a slow moving, slightly crabby kiddo.  And bedtime. Sheesh. Trying to convince a six year old that she is indeed tired and in need of an on time bedtime is a struggle in itself.

One of the things that makes our mornings go a lot smoother is prepping the night before. Lunches, uniforms, backpacks, water bottles, dog food, coffee…the list seems never ending. But if the morning starts with simply pushing START on the life line (I mean coffee maker), putting down a bowl of dog food and grabbing eggs from the fridge, it gives us a precious 10 minutes that can save our morning.

The other thing I’ve started to prep is breakfast. It’s a huge time saver for Peter and I, and it keeps us eating healthy too. Here is one of my new favorites:

Breakfast Creme Brulee

1/2 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk

1 tbs chia seeds

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1 packet Truvia sweetener

3 tbl greek yogurt

Berries, bananas, and or sliced almonds

Combine all ingredients except fruit and almonds. Let sit in the refrigerator over night and top with fruit and or nuts before serving. Make it in a disposable cup and it’s a quick car breakfast.

I also buy an extra dozen eggs and hard boil them (place all dozen in cold water. Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from water and place in the refrigerator. The shell will peel easily and they won’t be hot when you eat them). It’s a quick way to get everyone some protein and there’s no prep time. Lastly, I always keep my favorite green smoothies in disposable cups for easy grab and go.

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Fish Points

Our lovely friends, the D family, joined us for the first few days of Montana time. And just like last year, it was awesome! They are make your own fun kind of people, which are the perfect friends to vacation with.

We decided to do a parent fishing day and left poor Noni with all three animals for the whole day. She looked like she’d aged 10 years when we picked them up…but she swore they were angels. I think they may have threatened her…

Leading up to the big fishing day, we decided to make it a men v women contest. Details were discussed, handicaps given out in the form of “fish points” and wagers made. The end result was that trout were worth 3 points, white fish 1 point and the losers had to feed, bathe and put the kids to bed.

After a quick refresher and lesson, Stephanie and I were off with Red Beard, our guide. It was a cloudy and chilly day on the Yellowstone River, perfect for fishing.

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With in a few minutes, she had the first fish. A rainbow trout! 3 points on the board. IMG_8566

We listened and watched for activity from the men’s boat, trying to judge how they were doing. We were informed later that they didn’t “squeal” every time they caught a fish. Lame.

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After a few trout, we became reallly good at catching white fish and decided we would rack up points one little fish at a time.

IMG_8569At the end of day, about 6.5 hours of fishing total, the ladies were the winners with 53 points! Which is a lot of freaking whities!

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God Bless America

I’m behind, way behind on blogging. I don’t really have a good excuse…writers block? Too many kids with too little to do on hot days? Too many house projects? I don’t know. I do know that Stephanie D says that when you finish your house, you die. And judging by the looks of things around here, I’m going to live for evah. Might as well carve out some creative time to write in between bossing around contractors and fighting with the HOA. Mac Attach is sleeping on my foot, the air conditioning is blowing and the house is quiet. Time to get to work.

We are so lucky to get to spend part of July in Montana. It was a big goal for Peter and I to be able to do this, so heading up for our second extended vacation was amazing. Nothing feels as patriotic as a small town Fourth of July. The parades, the fireworks, a rodeo and lots of roast pig. What more could you ask for?

The view from our rental house did not disappoint. This was the perfect way to end a full day of 2 flights (complete with vomit bags…), an hour long grocery trip with the kids, then a two hour drive. Phew.

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The parade in Livingston is serious business. Every “float” throws candy. Nasty, leftover Halloween, been-on-the-street candy, and yet it’s like gold.

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Auggie’s sweet waves to all firetrucks, tractors and any other kind of service vehicle melted my heart!

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Baylor is always our designated wrangler for pictures. She takes her job very seriously.

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Rides in Noni’s Gater are legendary. She lets them all take turns driving. It’s terrifying.

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Wildfires are terrible…and yet make for some amazing sunsets

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This guy. He fears nothing. But he is absolutely convinced that he hates fireworks. We bribed him with a set of shooting “ears” to get him to stay out side for fireworks (the pink ones were half the price, sorry kiddo. buck up and then you won’t have to wear them!). And thankfully it worked! He loved the sparklers and he made it through the big fireworks show after a bit of protesting. Progress!

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Aaaannnddd We’re Back!

This has been the longest break in Goon Room history! But for good reason…we’ve been busy. A quick recap of the last twoish months:

Kindergarten, here she comes

It was surreal to watch B walk down the church aisle and receive her preschool diploma. It made me think of all the graduations to come. We decided to give preschool one more year and wait until she was six for kindergarten. I wasn’t sure this was the right decision until now. Her ability and desire to spell words, sound them out and memorize them is leaps and bounds better than it was a year ago. Kindergarten will be a snap!

IMG_3322It’s wild to see how much these two have grown since the first day of school! And yes, wearing jammies to school was intentional.IMG_3358

We bought a house!

And sold a house! I always said I wanted the ugliest house on the prettiest street and then we could redo it the way we wanted. I didn’t think we had quite achieved that until we walked into the totally empty house the day we closed…our good friend and realtor looked at me and said “are you ok??” It hit me just then; we bought a big, old, slightly funky, tired, house. Suddenly our plan of moving in asap and remodeling next summer seemed so overwhelming. And change isn’t really my gig so getting the house and our lives back into working order with a new routine and process was a tall order. But I can happily report that a month later, we are loving the new neighborhood, the house and dreaming of the big plans for next summer.

Also, moving? Just sucks. It’s so much work trying to fit one house into another. And in 110 degree heat. On a budget. With kids. First world problem, I know, but when the first world problem is burying you, it’s a problem. In the thick of it, buying, moving and selling was daunting. But now that it’s done, I realize how incredibly lucky we were that it went so smooth. Thank goodness God didn’t think I was tough enough for more because I could barely handle the best case scenario.

SIX.

How quickly they go from getting teeth….

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To losing them!IMG_3311 (1)

Baylor turned 6! SIX. Holy moly. We celebrated a little later in June with her friends at the new house in the pool. We scrambled to get the yard cleaned up and party ready and we succeeded. The combination of pool and mostly dirt back yard resulted in a mini Woodstock, which I did not see coming. I always judge a party by the time people leave, the manner in which they leave and what is left behind. The majority of our friends were carrying exhausted, crying children out the door at 9pm and the next morning we started a pile of goggles, swim suits, towels, mostly left shoes and a smattering of other random items left behind. Translation? Total success. Peter said his favorite part was walking out of the kitchen to a couch, a hearth and the floor full of friends laughing hysterically. It was a good night.

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Thirty Three.

I do the math every time I tell someone how old I am. I just can’t quite get my head around that number. I am once again so grateful for a healthy 33 years – for a body that can carry kids, dogs, and whatever else needs to be transported – and I wish for 99 more years just like this one.

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Ten. TEN!

PW and I celebrated our TENTH wedding anniversary. It feels like another lifetime that we said I do after moves, dogs, kids, jobs, promotions, deaths, births…it’s been a busy 10 years. And I wouldn’t change a thing. There have been some  sad situations we’ve watched (and tried to support) our friends through in the last year that have made us even more grateful for a working marriage. I couldn’t have asked for a better partner, more handsome husband, loving dad, or hard working spouse. I’m grateful every day for you, Peter Wand. Ok, so most days I’m grateful for you. No really, every day. And most of each day, too. See?? We laugh! That’s how I know we’re going to make it 100 more.

Someone asked me what the tenth year traditional gift is…I’m still not sure, but for us? It’s Pebble Sheen. As in the pool surface. Because for what that sh*t costs, we can’t afford gifts. But we’ll get to spend a lot of quality time in a real nice pool!

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Montana Time.

Before we found our new house, we booked our annual trip to Montana. And amazingly, the timing was pretty perfect. We moved, we settled, we threw some stuff in bags and headed north. Our friends the D Family joined us for the first five days for nonstop fun. White water rafting, rodeos, 4th of July festivities, hiking, laughter that makes your muscles ache, and memories for a life time. It’s the kind of trip that leaves you exhausted and rested all at the same time.

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And now we are home and anxiously awaiting the pool resurfacing (see tenth anniversary gifting) and the start of school. School uniforms, here we come!