Zip It Up

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Of course that’s me.  See the awesome fanny pack?:-)  and this is the story of how I got here….

Our summer traditions just keep coming!

This is Cousin Week

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which is a good natured competition with my sister-in-law to pull out all the stops and create the Best Week Ever!  We get to spoil our kiddos and promote some good old extended family bonding all at the same time.

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This goes all the way back to at least preschool.  I think it started with my son staying with my nephew for vbs and then moved right along to all 4 kids here for 5ish days and then same thing there every summer.

It is so key for the kids to be able to spend time with family… otherwise, if they end up on Dateline, YOU, PARENTS, alone will be blamed for whatever lands them in the hot seat with Lester Holt.  You gotta cover those bases!

I digress,

so, Cousin Week

As their summers got busier it became a little harder to find the time.  We made it just one week alternating here one summer and there the next.

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they all have goggles on because the fire pit was smoky.

Currently, we split.  Last summer I got two 5th grade girls while my sister-in-law had two 6th grade boys.  This summer I get the boys and she gets the girls.

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Salina 2016

I feel like it was easier to wow them as preschoolers; Kaleidoscope, camp at The Nelson or Soccer Camp, a different pool every day, bike rides, etc…

These days it’s a little tougher, but coming up with things to do with the girls isn’t too bad.  Last year they hosted the grand parents for a multi-course dinner party.

They planned the menu, did the baking and cooking, made centerpieces and everything.  We went to the fabric store to get materials for travel toiletry bags, got pedicures, painted at Grapes and Paints.  I braided my nieces hair… which I rule at!  It was all Totes Adorbz!

This summer, with the last week in June set aside and my daughter (thrilled beyond all get out to be) headed out for Cousin Week in Salina, I was wracking my brain for ideas to fill the week with my son and nephew here in KC.

That place where trains bring your food, not going to cut it anymore.

I gotta kick it up a notch.  I took them to a bar.

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Desperate times

Did I say bar?  I’m sorry, barcade.  Classic games, all ages ’til 8pm, unlimited play for 5 bucks.  This is at Tapcade, you should go, plus the food is good and I read a book the whole time.

Other big hit of the week and definite crowd favorite:

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zipkc.com

 

This isn’t cheap, but compared to 60 seconds of ifly it’s a great deal.  If you’re between 70 and 300 pounds, I would highly recommend it.  We all loved it, and I am a huge chicken!

Let the kids go first, so that they don’t have to witness your prayer swear breakdown… I kid, it wasn’t as bad as canoeing into a tree.  Although I thought hitting another one might put my jaw back where it goes.  Not a scratch from this though, but that first step off the platform takes a second of bravery for sure.

Here’s their video of somebody doing the one we did.  Our pics aren’t great, it was tough to focus on.

I’m totally counting this toward my midlife crisis!

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We had the best time and all three of us would totally go again.

Oh yeah, and since it’s the 4th… Happy 4th of July!

 

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Just Around the River Bend

I spent last weekend on a boy scout canoe trip.  Hub got to stay home alone, kind of a late Father’s Day gift.

population 5 to 500, huh

I wasn’t worried about taking both kids rolling on the river, since I had previous canoe training that involved going around buoys, getting flipped and swimming in my clothes… when I was an 11 year old.

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Unfortunately, since then most of my canoe experience has come from the viewing of cartoons.  I was ready to sing my heart out and avoid picking up any sort of raccoon or cebu hop ons.

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My daughter and I were the 1st canoe that capsized,

-we’re probably going to need a few of these-                          Image result for capsize badge

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But we were far from the last, which was oddly comforting.

I got some tough looking bruises and scrapes out of it though and a new phrase, prayer swear, that describes a paradoxical combination of words that may fly from your mouth involuntarily in the face of imminent doom!:)

We were actually mugged by THIS harmless looking, evil tree:

It punched me in the jaw and took both our sunglasses, a paddle and the kid’s water bottle.  Thankfully the camera, advil, etc… where in a ziploc belted to the boat, so I was still able to get this after picture: 

Fortunately, we were rescued by Eagle Scouts.  I tell ya, nothing beats travelling with an entourage of Boy Scouts.

You know, because they’re just so trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, er… sneezy, happy, gassy… well, no one’s perfect

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The rest of the day went a little smoother… after I grabbed somebody who actually knew what they were doing to tell me everything they know about canoeing.

Still, if we got close to anything, my daughter would just yell, “help!  my mom doesn’t know what she’s doing!!”

I told her to stop attracting attention…

when you float trip, there are just some strange rangers out there

Pretty sure I saw a small child being towed behind a tube in an inflatable cooler.

Also, we had a group of young ladies/river sirens, whose conversation was very colorful, that got started right around the same time we did, (9a.m. / Happy Hour).

They sported an impressive array of patriotic bikinis, which was perfect since we were rolling with a bunch of 11 to 17 year old boys.

So, my son had opted out of co-canoeing with me and sis and went with other canoe buddies (that didn’t capsize immediately).

Probably a good thing in the end.  I think our kids, right now, sharing a canoe might have been a bad idea at best… at worst degenerated pretty quickly into a full on Dr. Seuss situation… kind of a paddle battle, puddle muddle.  Although, if I remember right, that one took place in a bottle.

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anyway,

here’s my girl in a pretty chilly spring

She’s so cute!  It wasn’t easy all day trying to line her up with all those low hanging trees.

The canoeing definitely wears them out though.  Most of the kids end up looking like this:

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So Tired… Zzzzzzz…

Of course, I ended up looking a little more like this:

 

This might need a better story   …  I cut off the Haskin’s Canoe provoking Nanette’s River Rage.  That and all the hot sun and moonshine of the day precipitated the yelling of some heavily accented challenges, “Kiss My Country …”  Things quickly escalated, gauntlets (I mean coozies) were thrown and  I blacked out after she hit me with a banjo.  Yeah, that’s why you should always  keep your life jacket on Image result for smile colon parenthesis

Vacation Part 2

The morning of Day 3 we were ready to pack up and head out for a scenic drive up the coast.  We passed beautiful beaches and headed on up to L.A. so that we could see what that was all about.

On our way, we started noticing some odd roadkill.

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toy plushies

Probably a story there.  As we drove along we noticed; Image result for ernie dollImage result for mickey dollImage result for minnie dollImage result for rainbow dash dolland a Image result for minion doll.  They were all, in that order, on the road or smashed up against the concrete barriers.  I wish i’d grabbed the camera, but I kept thinking that we wouldn’t see another one.

I guessed that maybe someone was moving and had them in an open truck bed, but Hub assumed that stressed out parents on a roadtrip were probably winging them out the car windows one at a time whenever someone in the back whined, “how much further?!” or “He’s touching me!”

Lunch Break

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The nice people at IN-N-OUT even let us use their bathroom.  “Show us the food you’ve purchased here and we’ll give up the code.”

Awesome!

It was actually pretty tough to get in or out of that place.  It seemed pretty popular, which makes sense because the food was excellent.

We continued to make our way to a Burbank Marriott by the most roundabout ways possible, seeing fancy Beverly Hills houses, Mulholland Drive, Rodeo, Wilshire, Santa Monica blvd. and all that business.

Here is a picture of the kids in front of the Hollywood sign:

If I had the ability to add a little arrow that would definitely help with locating the sign, but since I don’t have those capabilities finding it can be a fun game for you.

More Road Trip still to come:)

 

 

 

Vacation 2017

May 25th this family hit the road for yet another vacation adventure!  What is the ideal American Vacation for the family with an 11 and 12 year old?

SoCal Roadtrip

which looks a little like this:

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It was a fun one!

First Day we got going early.  We flew to San Diego and our first stop was the Midway.  We did a San Diego Vay Cay when the kids were babies, but they were on a vay cay to Grandma’s House, so everything was new to them.

 I don’t think they’re ready for the navy, but it’s a pretty cool stop if you’re headed that way.  After that we took the Hornblower Harbor Cruise and then drove around Coronado.

By then we were definitely ready for the hotel We called this the Shortbread mural, for the obvious reason…Image result for girl scout shortbread

We were right on the beach, so we had a lot of fun with that.  

The next day was Day 2 in San DiegoIMG_2263

We took the kids back to some more of our favorites

The Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

Old Point Loma Lighthouse, This close-up view of the light room at the top of the Old Point Loma tower reveals the sturdy construction that helped it withstand winter storms. See more lighthouse pictures.which is also

BEAUTIFUL

and has awesome tidepoolsThe Tide Pools,

Cabrillo statue and more sweet hiking

Our last stop in San Diego was a highlight for our whole family.  We got to visit my BFF Missy’s house.  I met her in kindergarten and we graduated from high school together (along with a few other fun kids), but I love catching up with her and her awesome family.  

So, I do have a beef with California, which is that nobody will ever let you use their bathroom.  It made me crazy!  Notice the water bottle that I’m carrying in every photo.  I love to hydrate which eventually leads to bathrooms, I like to go to them!  Every CVS, deli, burger joint, etc…

Image result for no public restroom signif you’re lucky, there’s like a security code  for the doorknob that they might consider giving you.

It’s craziness!  Seriously, I’m not looking to move in!

The noted exception being Missy’s house.  Her daughter took me by the hand to show me where their bathroom was.  She walked me right in, actually opened the toilet lid and showed it off proudly, like a tiny Vanna White.  Image result for vanna white turning letters wheel of fortune It was a crack up.  I think that they’re learning to clean it themselves and feeling pretty pumped about it!

Well that’s the 1st third of the SoCal Roadtrip!  I’ll see if I can’t get the rest up soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Schools Out For Summer

Last Day finally came.

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Many adorable wee children from the neighborhood are suddenly growing up and headed off to Middle School next year.  What has happened here?!  It seems like only yesterday they were cracking me up in the half day kindergarten carpool.  Wow!

So, now that summer is here…

it

is

on!

The Van Meter Summer Reading Challenge that is.  Here is the new poster:

 

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2017 Summer Family Reading Challenge

Yay!

I’ll try to report back, maybe their will be an upset this year and my daughter won’t mop the floor with the rest of us like last year🙂

img_0091 Daughter was the rainbow, poptart cat (yep, that’s totally a thing).

Hub was that nice inconspicuous A-Team van… you know,  say you’re a crack commando unit, framed for a crime you didn’t commit and you need lay low after escaping from a maximum security stockade… This van is ideal, especially if you’re averse to flying.  Who needs to fly when you’ve got this sweet ride?!

Alright, I digress, anyway, my son was the DeLorean and my mom (Pa Jane) was a little Harry Potter man, on his little broom.

Mine was the Little House on the Prairie, Schooner.  Quick sidetrack; This spring I dressed up in a Laura Ingalls era dress, (that I’d grabbed out of my mom’s closet) for my chat and chew group – 2nd graders, we were discussing Big Woods… Anyhoo, Ma Ingalls may never have experienced the joy and countless wonders of our modern activewear, but after a couple of hours in her dress, I was definitely ready for some yoga pants.

-and we’re back-

I love the summer reading challenge!  Hub isn’t a big fan, but definitely a good sport… that’s why he gets the short trail:)     Happy Reading Everybody!Image result for posters library books

 

 

 

Nobody Here but us Chickens

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Honestly, the highlight of my Halloween probably falls around 8:30 or 9:00 pm.  You know, that special time when you wave the kids back from the door, frantically shushing as you crawl in stealth mode towards your curtains and pull them closed from your position laying on the floor underneath the windowsill as your husband runs through the house making sure that every light is turned off and there are no visible signs of life.

That’s what we call closing time:)

Then we roll right into today… November 1st, the day when breakfast is coffee and Kit Kats and it’s time for some good…ish housekeeping;)

Preparing a Place

Sunday I slept through church… attended Bedside Baptist….

That’s a little joke I picked up from college friends,

Hhmmm…Image result for thinking starting to wonder if I wasn’t in the cool crowd…

Image result for you're so square baby i don't care memeIt’s hip, right?!
Usually, I make it.  I just remember the mind body connection:  If your mind can move your feet, just have faith that your bedraggled heart may yet wake up, literally smelling the coffee with any luck.

… I’ll save the rest of my profound thoughts on that for a different post, today I’m more wrapped up in,
Why I love cleaning, and how I balance that with choosing what is best.

I’m Martha, fo sho… as in Mary sat at Jesus’ feet, but her sister Martha glared at them while she finished melodramatically unloading the dishwasher.
Sometimes it’s just not easy to choose what is best. I try to be mindful of this as I embrace my gifting for service .

Part of the joy of cleaning for me is in the idea of preparing a place.
In fact , I almost think that Summer is finally catching it’s train, because I prepared a place for Fall.

After the Screened Porch Fall Clean out.  It's not exactly Better Homes and Gardens, but I'll take it.
After the Screened Porch Fall Clean out. It’s not exactly Better Homes and Gardens, but I’ll take it.

With girls heading here to s’more it up at the Van Meters, I kissed the Indian summer goodbye by dragging small plastic pools, squirt guns and the water wiggle hose back to their waiting spot in the storage room.

No more water wiggle hose b-ball or trampoline… no more kids hiding in the bushes with squirt guns and running barefoot to plastic pools to fill them amid shrieks and flying beach balls and no more flavor ice in the freezer, because even the freezer gets to make room… bags of pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and lunch ice packs are already moving in.

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I don’t know how many of these Halcyon summers we have left, and I should let that wash over… I guess… as I bustle by inhaling the coming season and letting go of each failed goal of summer.

Even though S’more night was still 90 degrees, I’m glad I did some clearing around the screened porch and patio.  I opened up a place to peck away with Windows 7, a place for Bedside Baptist to meet, for painting and reading… and counting spiders:)

Also, The s’more fire needed a bit of help and the girls needed a place on the dining room wall for post its with their ideas for service projects.

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Retiring our summer reading solved both problems.

Seasons change and we get to make room or let it pile on, but we don’t get to stop it.