Friday, September 25, 2015

MOMcon 2015!

Months and months ago in my MOPS Leadership Team started talking about possibly going to convention. I was super excited! The last time our group had gone to convention was the year before I went into a leadership role. The only snag was in my family had already planned my dream vacation and the two events overlapped a teeny bit. So after rescheduling and waiting for months to find out if we were actually going to go to convention or not we finally got all the bugs worked out! So on my 35th birthday I boarded a plane with 3 lovely ladies headed for Indianapolis!

We left SeaTac on Wednesday at 11:59pm and arrived in Indy on Thursday at around 9am there time....after a plane switch in Chicago. Of course barely any sleep was had on the plane, but we were riding the excitement high at this point. It did start to wear off a bit and after a cab ride from the airport to our hotel...praise God they had a room available at 9:30 in the morning so we were able to crash for about an hour and a half before the festivities began! 

First was registration and figuring out what workshop we were going to attend. I wanted to attend this one about anger, but so did every other mom so it was sold out. Instead I attended the workshop titled Making Time For Making Love. It was delightfully entertaining and when I texted Michael my choice of workshop he was pleased as well! 

We ate dinner at a sports bar in the lobby of the hotel and then went to our first Session of MOMcon. 

Elaina, Alicia and Laci were my buddies for the trip. It was so much fun getting to know each of them a little better. We laughed until we cried and of course like all trips like this we now have our own inside jokes....#werock!

The Sessions....all 5 of them and the after party concert were all held in the Grand Ballroom of the JW Marriott. All in all there were around 3000 women that attended MOMcon. It was crazy fun! 

Here's what the hotel looked like. Super fancy and wonderful and not the least bit stuck up!

Friday was filled with more workshops...Discipline That Connects and Wild Things: The Art of Nuturing Boys. There was also 2 more Sessions in the Grand Ballroom and then us Moms got a night out on the town. Earlier that day we went to the buffet at the bar in the hotel lobby for lunch and we met a super nice lady...Peggy. She was supposed to come to MOMcon with a friend, but that didn't end up working we invited her to come hang out with us. Before leaving for MOMcon we had talked about possibly doing a progressive dinner so we could try out all sorts of different food and that was our plan for the night. 

We took a cab to the first place....The Saffron was a Moroccan restaurant.   

Not the best lighting, but such fun memories with friends. 

We ordered three different appetizers - the mozzarella plate above, a pita plate and saffron mussels. The mussels were seriously the most amazing thing I've ever tasted in my life. I already love mussels, but the saffron cream sauce was pure heaven. I even told the server that if I was at home I would have licked the plate! 

After appetizers we walked over to a restaurant the bartender at the hotel recommended....Bakersfield. It was packed....good sign! We put our name on the list....because we could!!! No kids = long waits for good food are ok! To pass the time we did head over to a bar across the street and each got a drink. When they called us to let us know our table was ready we paid our tab and then headed over. This place was super cool....we got seated in an alley next to the restaurant. Since we were sharing and weren't super hungry we just ordered 4 different tacos and each took a bite and passed it along. Yes...germ freaks we did! We had planned to go out to dessert at a place called The Flying Cupcake, but they were already closed by the time we were finished with dinner. So we took a cab back to the hotel, got dessert from the restaurant there and went to the room to play Mad Libs. So. Much. Fun!

Saturday was the last day of workshops...our first Session wasn't until 9am so we didn't have to rush. I attended two more workshops that day....Happily Back in Ever After & Raising Girls. The first workshop was not all that good....I really didn't get much from it and the second workshop was so popular they actually asked that 1 person from each group choose to go and take notes. It was like Black Friday at Walmart crazy! I was so happy that I got to go, but then while I was in there I got super emotional. The first night it was Alicia's turn for a meltdown because of lack of sleep and this was my turn. The topic, plus the sleep deprivation really got to me. After the workshop I found Laci and she hugged me and I sat in a hallway crying for a bit. Seriously while I was in the Raising Girls workshop I wanted to call my Mom and simultaneously apologize for what I put her through growing up and then also pat her on the back and say thank you for being such an awesome mom! Love you mom!!! I have a lot of fear in regards to raising Ella. Most days I feel like I'm messing up and the future scares the crap out of me because I know what a crazy teenage I was with all these emotions. I did learn that I need to take all that baggage and just put it on the cross. Let Jesus carry my burdens...after all 'today has enough trouble of it's own'! 

After the last Session we went to have dinner. MOPS had arranged for food trucks to be out back and that sounded like loads of fun. We course decided to each get something different and share everything so we'd get the best experience possible. I got two different sliders, Laci got plantains, curry stuff, jerk nachos and conk frittatas, Elaina got a yummy grilled cheese sandwich with fried zucchini fries and Alicia got french fries covered in some yummy green sauce and then a chicken wrap of some sort. By this time I was so hungry I don't think I was paying attention to the names of things. The only downside to the food trucks was the wait! They only had 6 trucks for 3000 women. Bad news! A lot of people just gave up and went out for food at other places. 
To finish up MOMcon 2015 we had a concert in the Grand Ballroom with JJ her you'll love her...and yes she really is that sweet in person. Followed by Matthew West. I haven't been to a concert in years and it was a blast. So awesome getting to rock out with all these other awesome moms.

We were still super hyped after the concert so we decided to hang out in the hotel bar and have a little food and some drinks. We were also creating our own game for us to play at an upcoming MOPS meeting. 

Yummy meat and cheese plate that we enjoyed. 

By the time we were finished at the bar it was 1:30am...yes Sunday morning. We had to be at the airport by 4:30am so I figured what was the point in going to sleep. I'm one of those people that taking a little nap will just make me feel worse. So I took a shower and got all ready, packed up my stuff and read my People magazines. The other 3 ladies each got a little nap in and then it was time to go. We took a cab to the airport and were on our journey home. This time we had a layover in Denver and of course we got looks since Alicia was wearing her Hawks jersey. There were plenty of Hawks fans there though so that was nice. I did sleep a little bit on the flight, but not much. 

We landed in SeaTac around 9:40am! Having been gone 4 nights and only sleeping 2 of those I'd say I look pretty chipper! Michael picked me up and we packed up for our next adventure....literally we were on the rode for the ocean 2 hours after I got home. Blog posts to follow! 

Alicia thanks for being my bedmate and not hogging the bed. Also thanks for introducing me to the Jimmy Fallon hashtag video. #whatarefriendsfor. Laci thank you for planning this trip, coordinate airline tickets, hotel reservations and all the other stuff. Also thanks for letting me cry on your shoulder. Elaina thank you for encouraging me to reach outside my comfort zone and try new things and best of all making me laugh! 

Also huge shout out to all the people that made this possible for me to wonderful husband who took care of the kids, my neighbor Rachael for feeding the boys breakfast and getting them on the bus, my neighbor Rose for feeding them dinner, helping them with their homework and keeping an eye on them until Michael got home from work and of course Ga-Ga & Pa for keeping the younger two for the two weekday days. Love all of you! 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Bon Voyage...AKA Ella's First Day Of Kindergarten!

September 8th 2015...the day my baby girl went off to school! I wasn't necessarily sad about Ella going to school....she was completely ready for it. I just knew I would miss her and it's crazy to me that we've even gotten to this point already. 

Of course it was Ella's turn with the sign! 

Crazy face girl! 

Of course even though it was a bit chilly there was no getting this girl to wear a coat. I've already talked with her teacher about the fact that she runs hot and barely ever wears coats. 

I bought Ella's outfit especially for her first day of school. I found it at Costco for only $15 and I thought it was quite fitting since we are sending her off on a big, new adventure! 

Ella did really well when it came to our morning routine....we've been practicing with the boys. She ate breakfast, helped pack her lunch....the lunch station is working splendidly...brushed her teeth, let me do her hair...she asked for the ponytail...the we packed her backpack and we were ready to go...early I might add!!!  

Which of course it was good that she was ready early so I would have time to take all of her first day at school pictures. 

She finally gets to debut her graduating class shirt. I made all 3 of the older kids there shirts at the same time so this has been waiting for her to wear it for a long time. Now I just need to make one for Zeke. 

Cute siblings...poor Owen was not feeling good. He has a cold...of course all those germs from school or the changing weather...who knows! He wanted to stay home, but I just gave him cough syrup and told him he'd be fine. I wasn't sure if I'd get him to smile...

But I did!!! I don't even know what I said here that made him grin! 

Jack and Ella will get to see each other at recess so they have become buddy buddy lately. I think Jack is excited to show Ella all the rules...he feels like the big man on campus. 

Owen doesn't go to recess at the same time the younger kids do so he doesn't get to see Jack and Ella until they all get on the bus at the end of the day. 

All ready!!! 

Walking up to meet friends! 

Kendra and Ella started kindergarten together. They aren't in the same class, but will get to play together at recess twice a day and ride on the bus together. Of course Lily had to be with the big girls! 

One of the other moms took a picture of me and the 3 younger ones...we had already said goodbye to Owen so he could stand at his door. 

Waiting for the bell to ring! She did so great...she didn't need me to stand next to her or hold her hand. She's already a pro! 

The bell never actually rang, but Miss Asselin came out and explained to the kids what they needed to do....hang up their backpacks, find their desk and play with play doh. I love how Ella was the first kid to jump she was so ready! 

I wasn't planning on going in...I thought they discouraged that, but all the other parents were so I figured I would sneak a peak. I love how all the kids had little buckets with their names. 

I went over to help Ella Grace find her seat, but she had already found it. She looks so happy! 

I didn't stick around very long at all. I didn't want to linger. I wanted her to be a big girl and get used to me not being there. I didn't cry at all at school...then when I got in the van I got a bit teary eyed, but no tears fell from my eyes. 

Now it's just me and this big guy! 

So far he's doing great...I know it's going to be an adjustment not having any other kiddos to play with, but I'm sure he'll be just fine. Two more years and all four of my kiddos will be in school. Crazy! 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Day Before!!!

For Labor Day we wanted to do something fun with the kids for two reasons....Daddy was home and it was the last day before Ella started school. The weather ended up being really nice so we took the kids to Steel Lake Park. It was crazy busy, but there are so many different play structures it doesn't matter at all. The only unfortunate part of the trip was poor Zeke man was in a mood. He was not happy at all. He was crying about everything...even swinging!!! If you know him you know he could be pushed on the swings for hours!!! It got to be so bad Michael just took him to the van. I stayed with the bigger kids and we had a blast! 

Can you find Owen? 

Jackson is always asking me to, "come over here and take my picture!" 

"Take a picture of me climbing up this mama!" 

Fireman pole! 

I even went down the fireman pole with the kids. They can't be the only ones having fun after all! 

In fact...I had so much fun chasing this guy around the play area. He kept trying to get away and he'd think he did and then I'd find him. Of course the fact that his shirt is practically glow in the dark really didn't help his cause much! I could see that kid from everywhere! 

This picture was before Michael took Zeke to the van. He helped Jack get on the monkey bars and then he did them all by himself...these ones were tricky too! 

The play area is a castle theme and this slide is supposed to be the dragons mouth so I told Ella and Jack to climb in there and act scared! 

I was thinking it would be fun to take the kids out to frozen yogurt since that's what we did the day before Jack started Kindergarten.  Then I got to thinking how it was probably going to cost us around $20 for all of us and that seemed silly when I could buy ice cream with all the fixing and we could have it at home and there'd be leftovers! So on our way home we stopped at The Dollar Tree to get some Nerds and Whoppers to add to our ice cream and then we stopped at Fred Meyer's to get two different kinds of ice cream. That only ended up costing us $12! Much better! 

We also had earned a free pizza from Papa John's so we had pizza for dinner and ice cream for dessert all while introducing the kids to Back To The Future! Love that movie!!!

The kids also got to choose from stuff we already had at home such as...chocolate sauce or caramel sauce, chocolate chips, mini marshmallows and sprinkles! 

Owen of course kept hounding me for seconds of his ice cream! 

It was a nice fun day spent as a family before this big girl started school! 

Sunday, September 6, 2015

What Do You Do When Your Neighbor Gives You Two Giant Bags Of Plums???

So last week during the wind storm our neighbor brought over a big bag of plums. He said it was raining plums. My friend Kim and I already had plans to can our tomatoes a couple days later so after that I just borrowed her canning pot so I could make some plum jam. 

Lots and lots of fingers hurt! 

I ended up being able to make 3 batches of jam....I could have made a fourth, but I ran out of jars even though I had just bought a brand new 12 pack the night before. 

Processing! You know what's music to a canner's ears....the pop of the lid sealing! 

Here are the jars of jam and you can see my diced tomatoes. There ended up being 13 1/2 jars of jam! 

Then I thought I should take some of this lovely jam over to my I did. And...I came home with another giant bag of plums. Not really my intention, but he insisted! 

So I searched Pinterest for other ideas using plums since I honestly don't think a person needs THAT much plum jam and I found a few I wanted to try out. 

The first was a plum crisp and my oh my this is so good!!! Of course the children thought it was gross....seriously the crust has brown sugar and 2 yes 2 sticks of butter in it. What's not to love!!! 

The next thing I tried was making a plum bbq sauce. This made almost 2 full jars and it smelled good. The fun part was I was able to use tomatoes and onions from my garden and the plums from the neighbor. I love it when I get to use all homegrown stuff! 

The next day I drove to Kim's house and gave her a jar of plum bbq sauce and I borrowed her dehydrator. 

I've never dehydrated anything before and this was the only thing I could think of to use up a lot of plums. I was able to fill all 5 racks of the dehydrator and I still had plums left! 

Well one things for sure....our digestive track is going to be right as rain!