Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Summer 2015

This summer has literally FLOWN by.  Once again, I had great intentions of trying to keep up and to document life this summer but it just went by too fast, we were too busy, and I was just too tired.  And now here we are less than a week from school starting (which I just can't believe)!  Here's a little look back at our summer.


Sara Kate and I traveled to Savannah, GA, to visit my best friend Laura over Memorial weekend.  Sometime back in the spring she saw an airplane and told me she wanted to go on one.  I told her we would have to do that sometime.  The morning of the trip I surprised her with the news and she was SO excited.  It was just she and I that went because Chris was on a school trip to Washington, D.C.  I had so much anxiety about taking this trip alone, but at the same time I was excited to experience it with her.  We flew out of Tulsa, made a stop in Atlanta to change planes, then flew the rest of the way to Savannah.  I've seen Laura briefly for short little meet ups in Tulsa over the past year when she was there for work, but I hadn't seen their son Liam since he was almost 1 and he just turned 4.  I was thrilled to have almost a week with them, and we had the best time.  We went to the beach, took the kids to the children's museum, went and had a picnic and played at Forsyth Park in downtown Savannah, drove around a refuge and saw alligators, Laura and Leslie had a great Memorial weekend party which included a huge blow up slip n slide and I got to meet a lot of their friends, and the kids played and played and played.  Thankfully they got along great!  In fact, they're so much alike it's like they should be related.  I'm so glad Sara Kate and Liam got to spend time together and I'm glad I got some much needed time with my best friend. 
First time on an airplane!
 The beach in Hilton Head, South Carolina
Savannah Children's Museum
 Forsyth Park
 See that gator there in the middle by the waters edge??
Memorial Day fun on the slip n slide!
 Lots of fun play time

 Memories made with my best friend

Sara Kate had pre-k graduation the beginning of June, even though she continued to go to school through the beginning of July.  It was adorable and I cried.  I have just loved her school and they have prepared her so well for kindergarten.
This was her graduation picture from school.  Love it.
 Their ceremony was on a Sunday afternoon at the Jones Center chapel.
 Sara Kate's class
Her wonderful teacher, Ms. Laura
Her best friend Ramona even came since she was in their class from the time she was a baby until a year ago.  It was sweet she came to see all her friends graduate!
The other big thing that happened in June was Chris and I celebrated our 10th anniversary (June 25)!
Back in 2007 we took a vacation out to Lake Tahoe, California, and during that trip we drove up to Napa Valley for a day.  We always knew we wanted to go back and we decided for our 10th anniversary we would take a vacation out to wine country.  So that's what we did!  We hopped on a plane and flew to California!  We stayed in a town called Fairfield, about 20 minutes from Napa Valley. It was located in the Suisun Valley, and we found so many small little vineyards in that area and we tasted (and drank) some amazing wine.  We did go to Napa Valley for a day and we went to Sonoma, but we loved what we found in the valley.  We also went to several breweries and even went olive oil tasting (and came home with an AMAZING bottle of rosemary garlic olive oil...yum!)!  Chris has a very good friend who lives in Oakland and since we weren't far from there we were able to spend some time with her.  The Saturday we were out west we drove to Oakland and met up with Tamera and we took the train into San Francisco.  We walked up and down the pier and saw 2 things I really wanted to see, the Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge.  Even though the Golden Gate Bridge was seen from a distance it was still an awesome sight and I'm glad we saw it!  We even did the San Francisco thing and rode a trolley. Tamera took us to some really cool wine tasting rooms and breweries in Oakland, too.  I'm glad we were able to connect with her and spend time with her.  We had a great time in California and I would recommend to anyone who likes wine to take a trip out there to experience wine country!
We went and toured the Jelly Belly factory.  Afterwards they had a tasting room of wine paired with different chocolates made at Jelly Belly.  It was pretty neat.  And be jealous of our awesome hats! :-)
 Beautiful scenery like this was everywhere.  Rolling hills of grape vines and perfect sunny days...just gorgeous.
The Bay Bridge in San Francisco
 The Golden Gate Bridge


July brought lots of activity!  We had a very small scale 4th of July celebration with Chris' parents, just a nice dinner then we headed home.  The week leading up to the 4th had been very busy so Sara Kate was exhausted.  We didn't even go to any firework shows and she was asleep before dark each night of the weekend so she missed all the huge fireworks going off in our neighborhood (and it's a miracle she slept through it all!).
The following week brought a day I was dreading, Sara Kate's last day at her school.  I had so much emotion leading up to that day.  I cried writing thank you notes to her teachers to put in their gifts, I cried dropping her off, and I really cried picking her up for the last time.  I mentioned it already but I can't say enough about how great her school has been.  She started going there when she was 4 months old.  The teachers there nurtured her and helped her grow and prepared her SO well for kindergarten.  I was so sad the first day I ever dropped her off because I had to leave my baby with someone else.  The day I picked her up for the last time I was so sad because it was time for us to say goodbye to them.  I went back and found the picture from her first day and put it in a collage with her last day, just to have a comparison of the 2 side by side.  I treasure this picture.
My mom was here the 2nd week of July to stay with Sara Kate while Chris was at choir camp.  
They had a great time and I'm so glad Sara Kate was able to spend the time with my mom.  She went to swim lessons that week and after just a few days of lessons, she took off.  She can now swim all over the pool all by herself, with no floaties.  She goes off diving boards, slides, jumps off the sides...she is literally a little fish and I am so proud of her progress this summer.  
This was her 3rd day of lessons.
The 3rd week of July brought lots of activity and lots of cousin time!!  Chris has cousins that live in the Houston area and they were here for a week.  Along with Zachary and Brandon being here, Hannah and Hayden were here for most of the week.  The kids had the best time together.  Even though Zachary and Brandon are older (16 and 13), they all had so much fun together.  I took off on Tuesday and we all went to Branson to go to Silver Dollar City.  It was Sara Kate's first time to go and she was so excited.  It was also her first time to ride a ride...EVER!  She was a little nervous at first but she LOVED it and had the best time.  My brother-in-law and I took Sara Kate and Hayden around on the smaller kid rides while everyone else went on the bigger rides.  It was such a fun day.  
Hannah spent the night with us the night before we these girls!!
 First time at Silver Dollar City!
 Very first ride ever!
 So much fun!
Later that week the kids went to the trampoline park, the water park in Rogers, and we even went to a Naturals baseball game to watch Grandpa's choir sing the national anthem.  The kids were interested for a little bit but eventually they just wanted to go to the playground area!  Needless to say, everyone slept good that week.  
We were sad to see everyone go their separate ways, but it was great for all the kids to have that time together.  Sara Kate is still talking about it!

July also brought Chris' 35th birthday!  A week or so before his birthday I asked Sara Kate what kind of cake daddy needed for his birthday and she said a Spider-Man cake.  A couple days before his birthday I asked her again and she emphatically said a superhero cake!  I asked her which one and she said Spider-Man.  So Spider-Man it was!  I even found a Spider-Man card from Sara Kate and found him a Spider-Man coffee tumbler for school.  I thought was adorable, but it turns out Chris was embarrassed.  Maybe if we had a family dinner at home he wouldn't of be embarrassed but we had dinner with all the family out at a restaurant and he was a 35 year old man with a Spider-Man cake...that's what embarrassed him.  But it's a good memory (for me, ha!) and it's super sweet Sara Kate thinks her daddy needed a superhero birthday.  We love him and just wanted him to have a good day!  And I have to say, Rick's made quite the awesome Spider-Man cake!! :-) 

So there's a little glimpse back at our summer.  One more pretty big thing happened this summer that's kept us super busy but I'll write about that soon.  For now I just wanted to do a little recap since summer is drawing to a close.  Hope everyone has had a great summer!  Enjoy the last few days!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Sara Kate turns 5 - A Frozen party

My baby turned 5 a month ago and we've been so busy I haven't had time to document the occasion!  But better late than never because I don't want to forget these memories!  And warning, picture overload! :-)  

Sara Kate's birthday is April 8, but we had her party on April 4, which turned out to be kind of hectic because it was Easter weekend but we're so thankful to friends and family for coming.  I had all kinds of ideas for her 5th birthday but in the end when I asked her what kind of party she wanted, she said a 'Frozen' party.  Of course.  She also told me she wanted to 'meet Elsa.'  That gave me a little more to work with.  There is a company in our area called 'Once Upon a Party NWA' and I looked into having Elsa and Anna come to her party.  I also tried to 'think outside of the box' as far as a party was concerned, and I decided that we would have her 'Frozen' celebration at a frozen yogurt place!  I kind of had to pat myself on the back for that one, ha!!  There is a place not too far from where we live called 3 Crazy Berries and I contacted them to see if they had parties.  They did host parties, the whole place was available to rent out very reasonably, and they said another mom was also having a 'Frozen' party there.  Maybe I wasn't so clever after all...HA!! :-)  I booked the location and contacted the Princess party girls and I got Elsa booked.  In the end I decided on just having Elsa come since that's who Sara Kate is obsessed with, and I decided to have her come for an hour.  I bought the invitation from a seller on Etsy.  I love Etsy...I found what I wanted, it was very inexpensive, I sent in all the information, I had the file in my email by the end of the day, and I printed them at Sam's Club.  Perfect!!
The morning of her party we got dressed and headed over to 3 Crazy Berries.  Sara Kate was so excited!!
The great thing about this location was I didn't have to do anything.  The only thing I brought was little bottles of water (which they ended up providing water) and a 'pin the nose on Olaf' game I found at Party City.  I didn't even decorate (which I even surprised myself with!).  But because my half marathon was the weekend before, I really didn't have alot of time to think about that sort of thing since my mind was somewhat preoccupied by the run.  Also, we had to have the party in the morning because the place was available to rent out when they weren't open for regular business owners.  Honestly, I wasn't crazy about the idea of an 11 am ice cream party but it worked out pretty well.
As the kids showed up, they got an ice cream cup and they could fix it however they wanted.  Another great thing was all I did was pay for a certain number of cups, I didn't have to pay by ounce, even though they weighed everyone's cup so they could keep track for their records.
They even gave me enough cups for parents to get ice cream if they wanted.  I can't remember if I went over my allotment but I only got charged for the number we talked about.  They were really great to work with.  I highly recommend them.
The main event was a visit Elsa, or the 'Ice Queen' (since I'm sure Elsa is copyrighted!). She texted me when she got there and I went out to meet her and bring her in.  Ya'll, the look on Sara Kate's face (and all the girls) was something I will NEVER forget.  She couldn't believe it.  The girls kept asking her, 'Are you the real Elsa?'  And her response was very clever, 'Are you the real Sara Kate?  Are you the real Ramona?  Are you the real Landry?'  There were a couple boys there and they didn't really care and were somewhat disinterested but the girls, they were in awe!
They barely let her get into the door, but the first thing they did was sing 'Let It Go' together.  My dad has a video recording of it, and I'm so glad he does.  It was adorable. 
Then we went to the back and Elsa directed the 'pin the nose on Olaf' game.  She took over and directed pretty much the whole party from there.
After the game, Elsa had a special birthday surprise for Sara Kate. It was a 'magic snowflake' that she sprinkled with 'magic wishing dust.'  
 She was still in shock about everything.
They counted to 3, Sara Kate made her wish, and they blew off the magic wishing dust...she wished for magic powers like Elsa.  So cute! 
One at at time, Elsa took each girl and gave them magic wishing dust in their hands and they made wishes.  It was really cute.  One wished for a unicorn, one wished for a magic unicorn, one wished for a was cute and pretty funny!!  
Elsa played some more games with everyone, we took pictures, and then it was time for her to go.  
 Trying to perfect the hand motion.  Apparently it's difficult for 4-5 year olds, haha.  I especially like the peace sign!  :-)
 I need to put this in a frame in Sara Kate's room.  She had the best time EVER!!
Like I said, I had booked her for 1 hour and it was 1 hour well spent!!  They were all so sad to see her go and asked how she got there and where she was going...she got there on her sleigh and she was going back to her ice castle.  Not to be corny, but it was magical to see these girls in such awe.  
I had these Olaf cookies made by an adorable girl in Bentonville.  They turned out perfect and I just put them inside a Frozen cup for party favors.  I recommend Sugar Pop Wishes in Bentonville if anyone is looking for cookies or cake pops for any occasion!
Sara Kate said goodbye to her friends and everyone went their separate ways.  As soon as we left Sara Kate was still talking nonstop and couldn't believe Elsa came to her party.  That right there told me it was a success!  

Since my parents don't live here and are always here for her party, it's become a tradition to have a cook out at the house and have both sets of grandparents, her great Poppa, and her aunt, uncle, and cousins over for lunch.  At this time we had a birthday cake because Sara Kate also had been talking for weeks about wanting an Elsa cake.  So I had our favorite bakery, Rick's, make a Frozen cake, and of course it turned out great.
A certain someone *might* have stuck their finger in it while she was supposed to be waiting patiently, ha!
Funny story about the cake, when we went to pick it up they had the exact same cake in the refrigerated area that said 'Happy Birthday Kate.'  Chris started to freak out because I sent him to Rick's a week before to order the cake and he thought he messed up.  Turned out just to be a popular cake and popular name that particular day. :-)

After everyone left we let her open her presents from her party.  We are blessed with such wonderful friends and family (I'm still working on thank you notes and hope to get them out this week...sorry I'm so late everyone!!  But THANK YOU!!).  In the end, I would say she had an amazing day.  In fact, a month later she still tells people that Elsa came to her birthday party and gave her a magic snowflake.  And she still carries it around in her Elsa purse her sweet friend Remy gave her.  Melts me every time to see the pride in her eyes and the smile on her face when she talks about it!  I know I don't have many years left with big parties so I want her to enjoy and cherish what we're able to give her.

Just a couple days later on April 8, my baby turned 5!!
For her birthday, we woke up and took her to special breakfast at the donut shop.  I took her to school and on the way we stopped at Sam's Club and picked up cupcakes for her class.  Of course she wanted Elsa cupcakes but mommy dropped the ball and didn't order them in time so she had to pick out some pre-made ones with sprinkles.  Since I work in Bentonville I wasn't able to go to her birthday celebration at her school that afternoon, but her daddy was able to get free and go see her at school.  I'm so glad, especially since he had to work late that day.  I did leave work a little early and picked her up and took her to her favorite place, Boingo Bounce, which is a local place filled with bounce houses.  That day I thought to text her best friend's mom to see if they were free to meet us and they were!  So Sara Kate was able to spend her birthday afternoon at her favorite place with her best friend, Ramona.  She was in heaven!!
They played for probably 2 hours (and pretty much had the place to themselves since it was a random Wednesday afternoon) and they played so hard they were soaked with sweat!  It was 2 hours well spent! We said goodbye and they didn't want to, but it was dinner time.  Sara Kate wanted pizza for dinner (her favorite food) so we picked up a pizza and came home.  Chris got home and we spent a few minutes together before it was bath time and bed time.  Overall I would say she had a GREAT birthday.  And a month later, I still can't believe she's 5!!!!  Age 5 seems so old to me!  There are times I want to push ahead because I can't wait to see what the future holds for her, but more often than not I want time to slow down because it's going SO fast.  Every day she's a day older, and I'll never get that day back.  And every day she's a day closer to another milestone.  I try very hard to live in each moment and cherish it. 

One last thing, for the last 3 years she has worn the same dress for her birthday.  Words cannot express how much I LOVE having this comparison.  I love smocked dresses because they are always big enough to get many years of use out of them!!!
Happy (belated) 5th birthday to my sweet girl!!