Family Staycation: The Milner’s Take A Break

Family Staycation: The Milner’s Take A Break

We finally did it. We finally took a break from our whirlwind of craziness over here and took a vacation! A family staycation to be more exact. It was glorious you guys. Glorious!

Joe called me a few weeks ago when he found out there was an army conference at the Arizona Grand Resort he could attend complete with a military ball. He turned it into a big surprise when he revealed he had booked us for the event PLUS a few days after. A chance to get away, get really dressed up, attend a ball, AND have a blast with our kiddos?! Yes please!

We arrived Friday evening after running around Target for an hour trying to upgrade my swimsuit (I know y’all feel me on this one). The first thing to ignite some serious excitement? The elevator! Honestly, the biggest joys in life come from the simplest of things, and the elevator was definitely one of them. Giggles erupted every time we moved a level not to mention the anticipation of pushing the buttons! Needless to say we tried the take the elevator every time.

The children laughing in the closet

Our hotel room was fabulous, however, the best part was the water park! Arizona Grande has a small water park complete with wave pool and lazy river, which we went around approximately 97 times. What makes me laugh is they loved the hot tub the most. Probably because they could take their puddle jumpers off and practice swimming without Joe and I panicking the entire time. We’d have to drag them out after a while to cool down in the other pools.  Between events we’d break and eat a few snacks we literally smuggled  in through the gate like drug lords….or snack lords ($8.50 for a plate of French fries?! I don’t think so).

Ethan swimming in the wave pool during family staycationJoe and the children sitting on hot tub ledge laughing during family staycation

The children and I goofing off on hot tub ledge during family staycationAlisynne sitting in the wave pool at family staycation

Emma swimming in the hot tub at family staycation

Another big bonus the children enjoyed was eating out for breakfast. They almost never get to do that so going to the “pancake store” (IHOP) was a real treat, twice!

Joe and I were able to have an entire evening and morning together during this trip too. We asked our niece Marina to take the children for the night of the banquet and return them in the morning so we could have a little time just the two of us (bonus of a family staycation!). It was amazing. We both dressed up in some of our best stuff and hit the military ball like a couple of pros. It was a fabulous evening full of other military couples having a great time, eating fantastic food, and a lot of goofing off after the ceremony. In the morning we lounged around and went to breakfast when we felt like it. Time off from the crazy was soooooo needed and thoroughly enjoyed by both of us.

Joe and I getting ready for the military ball during family staycation

Marina brought the kids back that afternoon and we continued our water park adventures for the rest of the day. A few extended family members joined us in our debauchery and even managed to smuggle in an entire Jimmy Johns sandwich. Score! Afterwards we hit the town for a little dinner at a great Mexican place just down the road a ways and headed back for our last night.

The evening was full of giggles as the children played a rousing game of I Spy until exhaustion overtook them.

After checking out early the next morning we continued our vacation a little while longer. We filled up at the “pancake store” then hit the mall for a little fun. Joe bought some new sunglasses (Oakley’s) that are fabulous and I pointed out a few Mother’s Day options, you know, just in case. With ideas in our heads and new shades in our bag we surprised the kids with a stop at the movie theatre to see The Power Rangers movie. Ethan was about as happy as he’d been in the hot tub! The girls enjoyed it too, but Ethan was excited the entire time. Emma was done about half way through. Luckily for us there was one other person in the entire theatre so Emma wandered up and down the stairs.

Our little family staycation was just what we needed. We’ve been going a million miles an hour lately and our family needed a little rejuvenation. The Arizona Grand Resort was the perfect place for us. I highly recommend it to anyone who needs a family friendly vacation spot. Heck, I highly recommend a little get away all together!

Beautiful Nursery Decor

Beautiful Nursery Decor

A look into the beautiful nursery decor my sister and I designed

beautiful nursery decor pin

Whenever I hear news of a new baby in the works I instantly get excited. So when my younger sister called to tell me she was expecting her first baby I was over the moon excited not only for her but for me! This meant baby snuggles and cuddles and adorable funny faces to delight in. Honestly who doesn’t love brand new babies?

Another bonus to be had – a brand new nursery to design with beautiful nursery decor! I was never able to design nurseries for my own babies (too little space) so when Emilee asked me to help design her nursery I jumped at the chance. I may have lived vicariously through Emilee and her nursery a little. It was so fun! I never get tired of watching all the planning and decision making come to life. Especially with this beautiful nursery.

Emilee decided on a color pallet of coral, gray, white, and teal. She scoured the internet for fabric choices, wall decals and every other thing imaginable. Once she gathered her ideas we narrowed down her options and planned the layout of the decor and furniture. All this was done over the phone or via skype since we live a state apart.

I made a special trip out to New Mexico to help put together this adorable nursery.

Time for a tour!

Lets start with the wall decals. Can you say adorable? I love this decal because it’s not vinyl. It’s fabric and reusable! We also love the fact that you can design your color scheme on the etsy shop Nursery Decals NMore  to your heart’s content. It’s a wonderful, easy and beautiful way to add some color to your walls. Putting this up was a cinch.

nursery decor tree wall decal

Dresser

Our next step was to tackle an old dresser that we found on craigslist. This dresser took some blood, sweat, tears, and the occasional curse word, but in the end it turned out awesome. We agonized over the colors, knobs, fabric, and details. As soon as the decisions were final we spent a few nights jamming to pandora in the garage and finished this beauty.What do you think?  Oh and P.S. if you like the knobs you can find them at Lynns Hardware on Etsy.

dresser nursery decor and details

Collage Wall

Once the dresser was in place it was time to tackle the collage wall. We spent many hours traveling to little shops and scouring the internet to find just what we needed. Of course we found the majority of our items at Hobby Lobby or Target.   Once we had our decor Emilee and I put our minds together and designed the layout. I think we did a bang up job.

nursery decor collage wall

One particular love I have of this wall are the prints. They are bright, simple, and perfect for the theme we put together. You can find them at a darling little etsy shop called  Printable Beauty Art  . We downloaded the design, printed them out at Costco, and popped them in frames we bought at Hobby Lobby. Easy Peasy.

The Chair

If any of you have tried to put together any room, let alone a nursery, furniture choices are a key element to making it. We had the dresser and the crib was donated by a sweet gal Emilee worked for. Now we needed the chair. You know what I’m talking about. The chair that you’ll be exhaustedly draped over at 2:15 in the morning while you attempt to feed and rock your little one back to sleep so you can shuffle half conscious back to your dreamy bed to await the next round. That chair. This was the one element we were willing to spend a little bit more on. A comfy, supportive, adorable rocking chair. You know what? We finally found what we were looking for and we found it at Target. It’s a simple wing back design by Eddie Bauer accented with white edging and it is comfortable! We love this chair.

Changing Station

Not to be outshone by the chair, the changing station is also a key piece. This is where most of the dirty work happens. So obviously we had to make it adorable. I gave this old changing station to Emilee a while back.  She fixed a broken spindle and spray painted it a stone gray.  We hit several stores in search of the right baskets to fill the bottom slots when we finally stopped into At Home. We found several we liked, however, they didn’t have all we needed. The numbers never added up. We finally settled on the two beautiful white baskets and went in search of the rest. Which we happened to find in Target, again! I found the teal and white baskets at the bottom of a shelf and snatched them up. How great did this turn out? Not to mention the storage!

Details

As with any project, the beauty lies in the details. There are so many detailed elements in this room, it’s hard to picture them all! Needless to say, if it was in the realm of sweet or adorable, teal, coral. or white, we grabbed it. A splash of coral with a few flowers, an adorable little sign, a mobile above the changing station, or a sweet jar filled with hair ribbons. It all adds up to one absolutely darling and functional baby nursery.

nursery decor details

So what do you think?

 

 

 

 

 

Another Year in the Books 2016

Another Year in the Books 2016

Another year done. What can I say about 2016?

With yet another year under our belts it’s time to reminisce. This year brought on more challenges and blessings than I can probably remember, but I’ll give it a shot.

Joe and I

One of the bigger challenges for us this year was the fact that we spent a big portion of the year apart. Joe was sent on several missions and training opportunities for the army spanning from two weeks to eight weeks at a time. This gave us ample opportunity to practice our long distance relationship skills which we are pretty darn amazing at now. This also presented me with the humbling task of asking for help from family and friends on a regular basis. I have to admit, I no longer put up a fight anymore when it comes to my pride. My new motto is, “HELP!” It even comes with a theme song from the Beatles, and it seems to get the job done.

One particular instance that comes to mind is the time Joe was sent to train for a six week stint. The second day of his departure our internet went on strike and the router was throwing an epic tantrum. After 3 hours on skype with Joe trying to fix the issue ( if you’ve ever tried to fix electronics via skype with your spouse you’d know it’s grounds for marriage counseling afterwards) I finally gave in and called my good friends Scott and Stephanie. Within a few hours I had a certified internet genius at my disposal and a new working router. Hallelujah! I’m telling you, give up the pride and embrace your inner humble hot mess of a self. It feels good.

Financial troubles haven’t passed us by this year either. Joe was let go from a great job we both loved earlier in the year. Usually this would send us into a panic, but honestly (and this is where we’ve seen blessings galore) we have been ok! Joe always has plans A thru M in the works, and if those fall through God seems to find us. Opportunity after opportunity have come along that has pushed us through the year. Whether it’s finding a free bed for Ethan (which is awesome and he LOVES it) to being given spouts of work that come right when we need it. Looking back it’s been amazing. We aren’t out of the woods yet, but somehow I think we’ll be just fine.

Alisynne

This amazing daughter of mine has flourished this year. She is a jewel in our family. Her kindness has grown, her talent for learning is unbelievable, and she continues to make friends wherever she goes. She graduated kindergarten and began first grade. Every term she has brought home a certificate of excellence and earns a principal’s prize (ice cream sandwiches!).

Another year down has given us a six year old who learned how to read and now we can’t keep the book case stocked. We are constantly back and forth to the library finding great books for her to indulge in. She’s also become the new bedtime story reader. It’s basically the most adorable thing on the planet to watch your six year old read to two enraptured four year olds.

Her talent for music has really come forward this year. Joe is constantly plunking out notes on the piano and Alisynne is right beside him mimicking his motions. Same with singing. Joe will hit a note and Alisynne will match it. We’ve gotta get her in lessons this next year.

Emma

Emma is a fantastic little girl. She is hilarious! This daughter of mine is always looking for the next funny joke to tell. She is the ring leader when it comes to turning a somber or calm moment into uproarious laughter. She is a powerhouse of personality. I will admit I am a stubborn soul. I have a feeling Emma will eventually beat me. When she gets an idea of how something should be (like the idea that pants are truly of the devil) she sticks with it. This year has brought me a four year old whose love for gluing everything onto anything has multiplied. If it’s even remotely craft oriented she is all over it. She has colored and drawn countless pictures, glued collages of popsicle sticks, wood stars, and colorful paper, and helped me in every craft project I endeavor. It’s so fun.

Ethan

My son is kind of amazing. This year, along with Emma, Ethan began preschool. He adores preschool and his teacher Miss Jenny. We have come to realize that if Ethan enjoys something he can pick up facts and ideas quicker than anyone I know. But if he doesn’t have an interest, it goes straight out the window. When Ethan loves something, he really LOVES it. His newest love is airplanes. If it has a propeller or rocket boosters he’s all over it. He has to be the happiest child on the planet. He constantly shows love to all of us with great big hugs and sneak attack kisses. His mind is continually occupied with thoughts of flight, funny movie quotes (“Really? Blow dart in my butt cheek…”), or feats of daring do.

I wanted to write this down this year, not to remember the bad (like the time Joe was sick for a month straight or when I got the worst color job ever) but to remember that my life is incredibly rich. My van keeps trying to blow up and we’re still not sure where our next job might be, but I have a family who I cannot get enough of, friends who are truly worthwhile, and a home that is a refuge from the crazy…most of the time.  We have enjoyed trips to see grandparents, summer outdoors, and the preparation of a new little niece who’s supposed to be here any day now.  2016 brought personal change and growth, strengthened my need for Christ, and brought this crazy little family joy, laughter, and the occasional dance party. Time to ring in the new year!

 

 

Another Renaissance Fair to Remember

Another Renaissance Fair to Remember

The Renaissance Fair. That glorious conglomeration of old world charm, antique costumes, and antiquated speech patterns intermingled with modern day cameras, clothing styles, and people made yet another year of fantastic moments and memories for our crazy little family.

This year’s trip was met with great anticipation. The day of the fair arrived and we dove into this crazy, brilliant, and chaotic world with zeal, and it did not disappoint.  All the classic characters were there: the town crier, the cardinal in scarlet robes awaiting your confession, the jester, the roaming gypsies with their brightly hued musical coin skirts dancing, and a myriad of mythical creatures adorned in glitter greeted us as we meandered through the dusty streets and perused the shops housed in castles and taverns.

faun lady

We had only made our way through the gates a few steps when we chanced an encounter with a pair of highly skilled hammered dulcimer players setting up shop on a small stage. We had met them the year before and sat down to enjoy another rendition of their beautiful melodies. This year, along with their enchanting tunes, they supplied the children with a small wooden puppet who danced a jig to the beat while the children giggled from their seats. Their years of practice together were evident as they expertly executed their individual parts with skilled timing. They were wonderful, and it was the perfect beginning to our day.

After the small concert we made our way through the crowds toward the food. If there is one thing about my family you should know it is that we all love food. My love of food comes in a close second to my love for people watching (no storm troopers this year, dang it). That’s probably why I adore the renaissance fair. It is the best of both worlds.

The food at the fair so darn delicious. Perhaps it’s the atmosphere, the constant aromas wafting through the streets, or the vast displays of people thoroughly enjoying their goodies that provokes us to dash to the nearest establishment and dig in. Whatever the reason, that’s exactly what we did.

Turkey legs as big as your arm, giant crisp pickles, gooey caramel apples, home made nut bars with a creamy center, frozen lemonade, bread bowls brimming with creamy broccoli and cheddar soup, the list goes on and on my dear friends.  Needless to say, we were a group of well/overly fed  people by the day’s end. We basically rolled out the castle doors when the time to go home arrived.

me eating caramel appleEthan and his turkey leg

After our first batch of goodies (trust me when I say we ate the ENTIRE time) we heard the call for the beginning of a fire whip show. Did we want to witness someone crack ridiculously long whips that were set on fire? Absolutley yes we did!

The show itself was brilliant. Our resident whip master was funny, engaging, and quite impressive with his ability to manipulate his whips into a frenzy of cracks that whirled about his head at dizzying rates. He cracked soda bottles in half, cracked rhythms to songs (ok one song, but still impressive), whipped a small cap off the top of his own head, and popped a balloon between a volunteers legs (which was met with bouts of laughter from the crowd as our whip master teased the poor enlisted man about a free vasectomy). The finale of his show had us all wide eyed as he doused a whip in lighter fluid, lit it on fire, and began thrashing the whip around causing intense orange flames to shoot off the whip each time a crack sounded.  This was my favorite performance of the day, hands down.

fire whip and me

After a quick snack (caramel apples this time) a face painting station caught my eye. I hustled the girls over to the little booth and had them choose a pattern.  We waited in line for 15 minutes or so until it was our turn. The artist was quick and skilled and in minutes the girls were covered in bright paint and glitter. They looked adorable and loved their new accessories.

Emma mirror face artAlisynne face artEmma face art

As we stepped down from the face painting platform Joe (my husband) emerged with our son who was now donning a brand new wooden sword and bright red tunic with a golden lion emblem emblazoned on the front. Ethan stood in the middle of the a shaded area, unsheathed his sword from his belt, held it high, and stood 10 feet tall beaming with pride as we all exclaimed our joy over his new outfit. He was the happiest little boy at the entire fair! His confidence and joy only grew as renaissance patrons addressed him as “young sir knight” whenever he crossed their paths. Honestly, it was the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.

Knight Ethan

Not to be left out of the festivities myself, I made my way over to the Henna Tattoo tent. The last few times we’ve come I missed getting a design and was determined to get one this year. I perused the design book, chose my favorite and waited for an artist to free up. When my name was called I met with my artist, showed her my design pick, then gave her free reign to embellish however she’d like. I loved the end result. Beautiful swirls, cascading dots, and an elegant flower adorned my hand, fingers, and wrist for about a week. I only wish it had lasted longer, but that’s my fault for putting a beautiful temporary piece on a place that is constantly in water and soap. If you’ve never gotten a henna tattoo,  I completely recommend you try one.

henna artist and mefinished henna

We wandered the dusty streets of the renaissance fair perusing the local wares, admiring jewelry and hand crafted mugs, musing about the uses the “fairy dust”, applaud a few intricate costumes, and simply savored our time together. The children thoroughly enjoyed the chance to go on a few rides (all are mechanized with man power), eat more treats (of course), and openly play. The end of the day was nearing. A few last rides, a quick to stop to purchase my daughters a coin skirt like mine, and one last treat had us tuckered out. By the way, if you ever want to witness the most adorable thing ever simply wrap a brightly colored coin skirt around a 5 and 3 year old and watch them wiggle their hips in an attempt to make their skirts jingle. You will be met with cascades of giggles and little faces beaming with amusement. Exhausted but thoroughly entertained we exited our time portal to the past and trudged our way to our mini van with arms full of renaissance wares,  ready for a bath and a warm bed.

2015 We Came, We Saw, We Conquered!

2015 We Came, We Saw, We Conquered!

One Crazy Year

Joe and I were skimming through old photos the other day reminiscing about our past year. No deployments, no major health issues, a happy marriage, and three happy (generally speaking) healthy children. What more could you want from a year?!

Joe and I

This was the year Joe and I really came together as a couple. We fought, listened, cried, and laughed our way through the trials marriage and young children offer. Our greatest accomplishment?! Installing our water filter system by ourselves! We employed drills, faucets, swearing, and google. We only called our brother who’s a plumber 9 times! Seriously though, we’re super proud of that one.

Heather and joe

Alisynne

This little girl of mine has turned into one of my best helpers. We’ve turned a corner this year. She has taken on small responsibilities (like making her bed and helping the twins) and flourished with them. She graduated preschool and began kindergarten this year (which gave me a minor stroke), turned 5, started dance lessons, and continues to make friends with every person she comes in contact with.

Alisynne

Ethan

This little boy has grown this year! And not just in size. His vocabulary is fantastic (and full of great one liners), he’s very smart with shapes, letters, and numbers, and he is hilarious. This year I have seen his personality really shine through. He’s a sweetheart with a giggle that’s infectious and a knack for finding, acquiring, and devouring any treat I have in the house! He also started dance with his sisters, but I’m thinking he’s less enthusiastic about it than I originally thought. Just watch the video. You’ll see.

ethan

Emma

My most independent child. This little girls athleticism has skyrocketed through the year. She can scale most anything nowadays.  Emma is independent, smart, and just plain adorable. Her love of gluing random craft items to paper has also greatly increased. Seriously I can’t keep the googly eyes, pom poms, or posicle sticks stocked!

emma

Milestones

  1. You guys we’ve come so far! The twins are officially potty trained!! Do you realize what this means?! More laundry detergent!! Seriously though this is awesome especially considering we found out our local movie theater provides childcare while you watch a movie as long as they’re potty trained. BOOM! Game changer!
  2. My braces came off. Enough said.
  3. Joe began a new job, with another offer possibly coming in. Crazy times are ahead for us.
  4. I began this very blog!
  5. We ripped out our old carpet downstairs and put in hardwood (which we’ve since scuffed and scraped up pretty terribly)!

Adventures

We’ve had our fair share of adventures this year. We’ve taken several trips including Bear Lake Idaho, Albuquerque New Mexico, and Utah. We cannot forget the Renaissance Fair or the Balloon Festival.  I survived 6 weeks without Joe while he was receiving training in Fort Rucker, and somehow we all survived.

adventures 2015

2015 wasn’t necessarily easy. There were moments of strife, fatigue, stress, and unhappiness. There were also great triumphs, milestones, and lessons learned (like never wake Emma unless absolutely necessary, or always remember to put away the birthday cake unless you want a certain little boy testing things out on his own…before the birthday). Overall this year was a whopping success. We came, we saw, and we conquered 2015!  Let’s see what 2016 has in store for us!

Heaven Did You Know?

Heaven Did You Know?

He was 91 years old when the calmness of death came in the dark crispness of an early October morning. His name was John and he was my grandpa.

I guess you already know that though, heaven, seeing as you were the one who called him home. I’m not mad. Quite the opposite in fact. I’m so happy for him and for you. I can only imagine the joy he feels being free from a body of constant pain. Even better? Getting to embrace his parents again! Or reuniting with the grandson you called home early in this life. In my head I can see my grandpa being clapped on the shoulder and shaking hands with past war buddies who were waiting, ready and eager to see him again. I hope you made his homecoming quite fantastic, because you see, he was an extraordinary man and deserves nothing less.

young grandpa grandpa 1

I’m sure you are keenly aware of who John was, considering it’s your job to know everything about everybody, but I’d like to shed some light on a few things you may not know. For instance, heaven did you know that when you were hugged by my grandpa it was never an ordinary hug? Oh no. When you were embraced by him you were enveloped in big strong arms that wrapped tightly around you until all you felt was safety and love. And following your bear hug you were always met with a joke (a rather silly joke) or silly face. He gave us love and laughter the instant you saw him. Just wait heaven, you’ll see.

silly grandpagranpa in hat

I’d like to turn your attention for a moment to his family. I’m sure you know the facts like he has 6 daughters and 1 son, and over 100 grandchildren and great grandchildren. Did you know, heaven, that his wife Amy loved him and he loved her in a way that we all down here strive for? Those two built a life together full of service, kindness, grace, and love. I am told, however, that one should not interrupt grandpa when it was time for bed. Snickers of laughter and not so quiet conversations, say from his twin daughters across the hall, would be met with constant shushing and a stern, “Girls, go to sleep.” from my grandpa. He had to work early you see. So, if you have need of my grandpa let him get his rest! Just thought you ought to know.

ross family

As my grandpa began to decline my grandmother stepped up like a beautiful, small, elegant heroine. She embraced the changes, took charge, and worked tirelessly to ensure my grandfather was comfortable, fed, and loved. Not to be outdone by his wife, John did his best to make her laugh, always. I’m sure he’s elated to be with you again, but I’ll bet he misses her a great deal.

grandma grandpa wedding

grandma and grandpa 2 grandma and grandpa 1

Speaking of work, heaven did you know my grandpa was brilliant? He had a nack for numbers that I personally am jealous of. He worked on lenses mostly. Designing coatings, understanding refraction, reflection, etc. was something he excelled at. He understood light and how our eyes use it, how to condense it, bend it, manipulate it. Brilliant I tell you. You may want to talk to your people over in the sunset/rainbow division. I guarantee he could give us something amazing to witness.

You want to know something even more stunning? On top of being incredibly knowledgeable in the sciences he was also very perceptive to people and what their needs were. He never shied away from someone in need, ever. I’m sure you’ve witnessed his handy work in the hearts of those who were troubled. Do you remember how I told you he exuded love the moment you met him? That wasn’t just for us you see. Neighbors felt it. Strangers felt it. Love. Kindness. Hope. You never left my grandfather feeling worse about who you are or what you may have done. His advice was flawless. His compassion immeasurable. I’m assuming you already knew this about him. I just wanted to brag for a moment.

I’ll try not to take up too much of your time, but I thought I should say thank you for watching over him during World War II. I know you had a hand (or several) in caring for him and keeping him safe during those intense years. He was a bombardier and spent countless hours on insanely dangerous missions calculating the constant shifting conditions in range, wind, and altitude using the Norden bombsite to dispense bombs (told you he was brilliant). He returned a bona fide hero given the purple heart and silver star for saving a fellow soldier by landing a plane that was shot down by his enemy. I’m pretty sure you were standing next to him, shielding him, and probably guiding him during that terrible day. So, thank you for him!

navy pic 2 navy grandpa

Well heaven there simply aren’t enough words to adequately convey my marvelous grandfather. Compassionate, heroic, brilliant, kindly, father, grandfather, soldier, leader. I could keep going! Just know that we love him a great deal and he meant a great deal to everyone he met. Tell him we all say hi. And while you’re at it, please let him know that when we finally get to see him again we all will require a big grandpa-hug, a joke or two, and oodles of laughter.

Balloon Festival Frivolity

Balloon Festival Frivolity

Have you ever wondered what it might be like to attend one of the biggest hot air balloon festivals in the United States? Well, my crazy little crew and I did just that!

This particular festival of brightly hued giant balloons takes place every year in Albuquerque New Mexico. I must first start off by saying how impressed we were with the parking. I know that sounds a little lame, but one of the worst things about going to huge events like this is trying to manipulate the parking issues, both in and out.  They were flawless. It’s as if the city actually prepared for the mass arrival and departures of thousands of people. Imagine that! So to that I give kudos to the city of Albuquerque.

The festival itself is comprised of 2 parts. The early morning mass launch and the afternoon/evening festivities. We took part in the latter seeing as I had no desire to wake two three year olds and a five year old up at 4:00 am. However, I hear the mass launch of hundreds of balloons is quite the sight and one which I’d love to witness (maybe in a few more years).

We arrived for the afternoon session and were immediately greeted at the gate by three large bouncy houses, a water walking station where you are zipped into giant plastic bubbles and rolled onto a small pool to flounder about for a while, and a small zip line. We, of course, simply had to enjoy the bouncy houses for a good 20 minutes.

Balloon Festival kids

After our excursion we decided to treat ourselves to some good old fashioned carnival food. This place had tons of different stations to peruse and partake of. My husband caught sight of the turkey legs (just like the Renaissance Fair) and headed straight for it, procuring one for us all to share. If you have yet to try this particular favorite out you simply must!  The goodies didn’t stop there. We also had our fill of crispy and sweet funnel cakes, tart yet sweet lemonade, an over loaded Navajo taco, and classic gooey cheesy nachos. I must caution you though. Too much of this fantastic food will cause stomach aches (ask me how I know…).

Balloon Festival grass

One thing I really enjoyed about the balloon festival was the fact that we were all allowed to meander through the giant field where the balloons usually reside, and would eventually be blown up again later in the day.  We found a spot on the grass and sat down to enjoy our spoils. As my crew was happily munching away five or six sky racers zipped past above our heads entreating us to an aerial show. They were strapped to engines with brightly colored parachutes and dashed around in circles above us. The kids were completely amused at this odd spectacle.

After the sky racers finished their feats of wonder five Albuquerque police officers presented the crowd with beautiful trained horses. My children adore animals and horses in particular are a huge treat. Each child happily petted and talked to these beautiful equestrian specimens. They were incredibly well trained and my children were thrilled. They erupted in laughter when one of these enthralling creatures had to relieve herself right then and there.

Balloon Festival horses

All of this was great fun, but we were there to see the balloons and the time finally arrived for them to start blowing up.  It was an event called Twilight Twinkle Glow. The goal is to blow up as many balloons as possible at twilight and have them all lit up by their massive burners. The balloon owners would then make their balloons “twinkle” to the beat of varying songs that were pumped through large speakers. Twilight came and almost went before the first balloon popped up. There were wind issues you see. A hot air balloon does not have much control and if the wind kicks up it can become quite the problem.

The wind finally died down enough to allow the balloons to be inflated. The coolest part of all this is the fact that you are literally in the field with the balloons, given a first row seat to the whole process. We gathered around the closest balloon and watched as the owners unfurled their massive structure and set to work. The big fans came out to fluff it up, then came the hot air. The massive yellow fabric swirled and fluttered as it expanded, forcing us all to step back. The enormity of this particular balloon left us all a little awe struck and Ethan a little apprehensive, but enthralled none the less. It slowly began to rise which gave Emma the awesome idea of dashing under it in fits of giggles. I raced to grab her  before the balloon descended back down onto her. Emma completely enjoyed that adventure.

Balloon Festival yellow

After the yellow balloon was fully inflated another balloon to the left of us began its transformation. We gathered around that one as well and enjoyed the whole process once more, but this time was slightly different. You see, the wind had gained momentum again and as this new balloon inflated it was pushed from side to side by the new force. It’s quite thrilling to watch a giant balloon start toppling toward you ready to engulf your entire party then change directions as the crew tries to control the swaying structure. The children were giggling with delight and fear. At one point we were swallowed and wrapped in the white fabric for a moment. Oddly enough the balloons are quite warm and snuggly! The first balloon we had witnessed was also swaying from side to side and on several occasions the wind tried to lift the balloons off the ground, crew and all.

white balloon

Sadly only a few balloons made it up entirely before the wind forced them back down. I still consider it a win though. The children were thrilled to watch the two balloons inflate as was I. We may not have been able to witness the full spectrum of balloons this festival usually offers, but we were treated to an awesome laser show and even better fireworks directly after the deflations.

The funniest part of the whole event happened during the fireworks show. Emma was done with the whole thing at this point, but the fireworks were so great they kept her attention, much to her dismay. In between bursting fireworks we’d hear, “Mom, I want to go home.”, “I’m tired.”, or “Let’s gooooooo!” All in that distinctive toddler whine. Then as another cannon boomed and bright displays of color burst forth we’d hear, “Wow!”, “Look look!”, or “Its a flower, planet, circle. Etc.”. All in great excitement.

Overall the whole day was a great success despite the few balloons that made it up. I’d love to go again next year to witness the great variety of colors, shapes, and sizes the balloon festival usually offers. So,what do you think? Do you want to give the festival a go?

A Letter to the Parents of the Spitter at Chick Fil A

A Letter to the Parents of the Spitter at Chick Fil A

To the Parents of the Spittle Hellion,

You may not know this, but your son has taught me a valuable lesson. He was atrocious and you were nowhere to be found. In the aftermath of your little instigator’s spittle fueled rampage, a light bulb clicked.

It was my daughter’s 5th birthday and to celebrate this most wondrous of days she decided she’d like to have dinner at her favorite restaurant, Chick Fil A. I loaded my minivan with my two three year olds and now 5 year old and headed to our local watering hole. We made the usual orders, chicken nuggets, french fries and lemonade, and made our way to the back where the much anticipated play place loomed.  I released my little brood and settled into our table awaiting our order. As I was reaching for my phone to check my messages I heard a screech that only my son, in all his 3 year old glory, could make. I walked into the play place to find my son sobbing and grabbing his back, complaining that it hurt. I searched the area finding nothing unusual and figured he must have scraped it while standing up too fast in those plastic bubbles he’s so fond of hiding in. As I was consoling my son I noticed a spot on the back of his head was wet.  “That’s weird”, I thought. Little did I know, at the time, that your son was also lurking in those plastic bubbles.

Our food arrived moments later and I took the opportunity to move him to our table and calm him down. He settled right into his chicken nuggets without a hint of trauma, so I called the girls over to eat too. Everyone was happily munching away when another little boy bolted out of the play place yelling for his dad. “Dad! There’s a kid in there spitting at everyone!” As quickly as this boy could explain the situation, your son magically appeared at a bubble right in front of our table’s view and spat directly into it. Disgusting.

Many of us parents sitting around the play place looked up from our tables expecting to see an angry mother or father stomp their way into the area and remove said hellion from the vicinity, but you were nowhere to be found. My three year old daughter looked up and watched the spectacle too. She pointed directly at your son and said, “He hit Ethan”. Now my interest was fully peaked. I did not witness exactly what happened to my son, so I cannot in good conscience accuse your son of doing it, however, the evidence was starting to pile up. So, I decided to keep my eye on your son and see what exactly it was he was doing.

It didn’t take long for your son to escape the confines of the play place. He soon poked his head out and began walking up and down our aisle sticking his tongue out, poking, and trying to spit on a select few, though his salivary glands seemed to resist for the moment. One child seemed to be his favorite target, a little boy with downs syndrome. His mother kept telling her child to ignore yours. Don’t pay any attention. He’s just being rude. I heard these same sentiments murmured to the children sitting across from us and down the aisle. I found myself uttering them as well. These are the excuses we adults were doling out for your son. In my head I was daring your son to come over to my table and try that, just once. See how fast I could snatch him up by his collar and try to figure out who you are and where the hell you were. He made no attempt to broach our table so I let him pass.

Here’s the deal. Most children have outbursts, I completely understand that, but your child was appalling. What mortifies me the most, however, were my own actions, or lack thereof. I let him pass. There I was, a grown woman, witnessing a small child bully others and I did nothing. I simply watched from my table. At the same moment I was telling my own children to ignore what they were witnessing. Ignore the bully. Your son cannot be more than 4 or 5, as were most of our children in the play place. Learning to stand up for yourself is an  important lesson. Standing up for others is an entirely different lecture. One which I denied my children by my own inaction and words. I should have intervened. I should have warned. I should have found you and made you deal with the situation yourself. I consider myself a responsible mother and yet I let your son bully a small child with special needs. I let him, allegedly, bully my three year old. I saw him spit in the play place and I just sat there.

I’ve watched those youtube videos of people performing acts of bullying and terror just to see if anyone intervenes, and rarely someone does. I always thought, well hell, if I’d been there I’m sure I would’ve put a stop to that.  I couldn’t even do it with a 4 year old. None of us did. We all sat there, the parents, and watched your son poking and spitting. Each of us secretly daring him, but none of us actually did anything. We all looked at each other wondering what we should do, fearing to do something deemed inappropriate. When no one voiced a thought we all let it go.

I have learned a valuable lesson from your little hellion. No more. I will no longer stand idly by when I feel it is appropriate and necessary that I step in. I will not fear the social protocol of addressing another person’s child, or the person themselves. I will make it a point to instill the values of helping those in need to my children.  I will always remember your son and my lack of actions. So, from this moment onward, when I see a wrong that needs to be addressed by me, I will no longer sit back and secretly dare the culprit to do something to me in order to justify my stepping in. Whether it be 4 year old spittle hellion, or 50 year old cursing drunk, I will intervene.

Sincerely,

Grossed out mom from Chick Fil A.

Twinkly Tuesday

A Letter To My Three Year Old At 1:00 AM

A Letter To My Three Year Old At 1:00 AM

Dear daughter,

It is 1:30 am right now and I am exhausted. You are exhausted. We are exhausted together and you refuse to sleep.

I hear your complaints of itchy legs, tummy troubles, and concern over not being able to see my face in the dark. Right now I don’t have the energy or will power to show the proper amount of concern for these complaints. If it were a reasonable hour I’d be happy to assist you in these most dire of circumstances. As it stands, I am too tired.

Why won’t you fall back to sleep?  I’ve even resigned my spot in the bed and found a place on the floor so you can have the entire thing to yourself since you can’t seem to find just the right position, and yet you persist in this dance of the overly tired tango.

I just want to sleep. I know it’s my fault you’re  we’re too tired to reason anything out. I kept you up with the lure of making smores by the fire after an already busy day at the beach. You bounced around all day playing your little heart out. I disrupted your schedule and now we’re paying the price.

Even now as I write this you’ve snuck out of bed and are trying to cuddle next to me on my spot on the floor by the now empty bed. Oddly enough you’re starting to settle and you’ve stopped complaining.

I’m sorry I snapped at you earlier. We’ve been doing this tango for about an hour now and all I want to do is help you get to sleep and flop onto my pillow and drift into oblivion. I’ve rubbed your back, retrieved your water, found a night light, attempted to snuggle you on the little twin mattress we are sharing, but none of it is working.

I’ll tell you what. You go back to sleep and I promise you can have cookies for breakfast, or control every tv program all day tomorrow. How about a trip to the ice cream parlor?  Zoo? Water park? Honestly I’ll give you anything to want, just please please please go to sleep!

I guess while we wait for the sandman to make an appearance we’ll just sit here on the floor and think of the most random things.

Why do all the best ideas happen in the shower, or at 4:00 am?

Will I ever be able to hit that insane yoga pose? Probably not.  Who can do that anyway?!

I’m totally out of dryer sheets. Ugh laundry is the worst. I wonder if there’s any way to convince my husband we need to hire out all laundry duties.

What if I had a whole staff of people who cooked and cleaned? What would I do with myself?

I could totally eat something right now, but I’m too tired to move. I wonder if my sister has made anything good lately. She’s so good in the kitchen.

I need a backsplash. Ok want, not need.

My butt is falling asleep.

Are you asleep yet? Yes, you are! We are, however, in a rather odd position here on the floor and I’m afraid if I move you’re going to wake. I’d better chance it. My legs are starting to tingle too.

 

 

The Twinkle Diaries

Summer Retreats and Sparklers.

Summer Retreats and Sparklers.

I am back! I must first apologize for my absence lately. We (alright alright.  Just I..) got wrapped up in all the chaos that summer brings and decided to sit down and enjoy it all for a while. It was totally worth it too.  Let me catch you up on what’s gone down recently-ish. I left you all at my birthday, which was fantastic you guys! My husband surprised me by actually having a party with people and everything. I had friends show up to my house! Most of you are probably thinking, “Um, yeah Heather. That’s what usually happens on your birthday. Friends and family show up to celebrate. What’s the big deal?” The big deal is that I haven’t had friends come to my birthday party since I was 16. Seriously! My birthdays, and I’m not bashing them at all, were usually family focused. Meaning it was my parents, my brothers and sisters, and myself. Even after Joe and I were married it was usually just us and our family if we were in town, which we generally were not. Imagine my surprise upon opening my door to find my friends smiling back. It was awesome. The party didn’t last too long because as most of you know I have three small children as do my friends. We had a rowdy house of pizza and sugar fueled kiddos which always makes for an interesting evening. It was low key, easy, and just plain fun. I don’t need a crazy night on the town. I love when people come to my house to hang out, eat pizza, drink soda, and laugh about the anarchy of raising children.

Shortly after my fantastic birthday we loaded the van with our kiddos, some bathing suits, pj’s and pillows and headed 20 minutes north for Joe’s 4 day company retreat. This was the first company retreat I’d ever been to and it was rather enjoyable. Joe had to be in meetings until noon and the rest of the day was up to us to figure out.  We were housed in these great rooms that had the biggest bath tub I’ve ever seen. It took 20 minutes just to fill this bad boy. The kids loved that gigantic porcelain pool. There was also a huge double shower with ceiling to floor glass doors, two plush queen beds, and a walkout porch complete with comfy chairs.

resort collagehammock

The resort itself was beautiful with fountains, palm trees, hammocks, and a grand pool. Guess where we spent our time. The pool. Our little corporate adventure happened to coincide with a massive heat wave that was brutal. We were drenched in sweat just walking 3 minutes to get to the blue oasis.  We immersed ourselves in the pool and never came out. The best part of our aquatic adventuring was the poolside service. You guys, poolside anything is fantastic, but when they’re willing to bring you cold drinks and food directly to your little shaded corner of yellow umbrellas life is wonderful. Expensive, but wonderful. We spent 3 days lounging around the pool, relaxing in our room, and enjoying the company of Joe’s fellow representatives. The final night was a night of celebration for those who had accomplished milestones in their businesses throughout the year. It was an excuse to get dressed up, have a fancy meal, laugh, and celebrate. The kids went to their own special pizza party while the adults had some much sought after adult time. It was lively, pleasant, and a grand time.

resort swimming pool

Five days after we came home from the corporate retreat I burdened my light blue minivan once more with a 7 hour jaunt to visit my sister Emilee in New Mexico. I was hesitant to try this given the fact that it was just the children and myself. Joe had to stay behind for work. 7 hours in the car with two 3 year olds and a 4 year old seems insane to me. I had to give it a try though, so I would at least know whether it was possible or not.  Each of my children have their own kindles which was a life saver you guys! I had packed them each a small backpack with snacks, toys, and their kindles. I had a movie going as well. You want to know the craziest thing? It was completely FINE! We stopped about every 2 1/2 hours to go potty, stretch, and switch movies. There wasn’t a single fit to be had. The only problem that arose was once they dropped their kindles on the floor, that was the end of that until we stopped. Luckily the movie kept their attention when the inevitable happened. I also had a book on audible that I was excited to get into (The Potato Factory), but my sweet little Alisynne wouldn’t let me. She asked me questions and made comments about what she was seeing the entire time we were on the road! Even while she was playing games on her kindle she would ask me a question about whatever happened to be on her mind. She’s quite the inquisitive one lately.

New Mexico 4th of July

We arrived safely and I was ecstatic to see my younger sister. She’s been up to my house several times, but I had yet to visit her in her new house. We spent 5 days together just hanging out, shopping, taking the children to the city, and simply goofing off. It happened to be the 4th of July when we were visiting so we had a fabulous time taking the children to the local parade, barbecuing in the backyard, and exposing my trio to sparklers. The sparklers were a gigantic hit. Forget the small fountains and whirling firecrackers. They were content with a few poppers and an armful of sparklers. The time passed too quickly and we made our trek back home.

sparklers

As if that weren’t enough we’re gearing up for yet another big family trip to visit all the grandparents and aunts and uncles up north. Not to mention school is starting down here very shortly and we’ve been preparing for that too! I’ll fill you all in on that stuff later. This summer has been an awesome one so far, and the fun hasn’t ceased. I’ll do my best to keep you all in the loop. Wish me luck as our next adventure has us loading up in an airplane!