Saturday, June 30, 2018

Jack's 10 Year Old Pictures!

Jack and I went to JCPenney's to get his 10 year old pictures taken on Sunday, June 3rd. We'd never gone on a Sunday before and we'd never been scheduled for that late in the day. We did have to wait around for a bit because there was a little backlog from previous customers. 

How can this be...double digits!!! 

Such a handsome guy! Jack's face has completely changed since having braces on. He actually might be getting them off prior to starting school in September. 

And just like Zeke he wanted to go camping. Such a fun props!

Friday, June 29, 2018

First Official Camping Trip!

I can't believe I'm just now getting around to blogging about our first official camping trip that was in April!

We really wanted to take the trailer out pretty quickly after we got it so we could figure out some of the ins and outs of camping. :) Our first trip was the weekend of April 20th - 22nd. We left on Friday afternoon once the kids got home from school. We stopped at the MCD's in Covington to have dinner. I really wanted to go to the new Chick-fl-A, but it was crazy busy and there wasn't really a place to park a van hauling a trailer. 

When planning this first trip we almost reserved a spot at Dash Point State Park which isn't far from our home, but then I talked with a gal from church that had just recently bought a tent trailer as well. She said their favorite place to camp was at Kanaskat-Palmer State Park out past Maple Valley. It sounded like a nice park...brand new bathrooms / shower rooms, a river to walk down to and tons of trails. Perfect for our kids. Plus I liked the idea of being a bit further away from home. Close enough it didn't take us hours to drive there, but far enough away that if something went wrong we couldn't just give up and drive home. 

Of course we learned a few lessons right out of the gate.

Lesson one: Leave the children in the van so they can watch a DVD while we set up the trailer. 

It was an all out crazy mess trying to set up the trailer and they were running around so excited about everything saying....look at this! me jump off this log! Mom....there's a trail over here! When my kids get excited their voices ramp up to almost screaming level...even if you are stand right next to them. So imagine this super peaceful, relaxing place in nature and it had just been overrun by my children AND we were trying to get things done. Not a good combination! 

Of course I did oblige them and took their pictures around our campsite. The campsite we had really was beautiful, private and full of fun things to explore. 

Speaking of campsite...that's where we learned our next lesson. 

Lesson two: Make sure you know exactly what type of campsite you are reserving. 

While Michael was getting the trailer level, I was walking around looking for the box to plug the trailer into and couldn't find it. Then I was looking for the water spicket to screw the hose into and couldn't find that either. So I did what most people do...I asked my camping neighbors. That's when reality hit me square in the face. NO HOOK UPS! 

See I am new to this whole state park camping thing. When I was looking into camping at this park this is how the campsite information looked.

Campsite: Standard - No
Type: Hook ups

I thought the No stood for Normal. 

So that led me to believe that we had hook-ups. But NOOOOOO!!! It shouldn't have been on two lines like that it should have shown...

Campsite: Standard No hook ups. 

Rookies mistake for sure! 

After the initial panic subsided I started to feel okay about it. I mean this is what camping is all about. Getting out into nature and away from modern conveniences. This was going to be fine!!! 

Like I said before we did have a really nice campsite. Another plus was it wasn't raining while we were setting up. 

The kids did have fun exploring the campsite and the woods right next to us. 

Owen thought it wold be fun to make his own fire-pit area.

Side Note:A mini lesson learned...bring your own wood! State Park wood is expensive! 

Next up lesson three! 

Lesson three: Do not open the awning until the trainer is fully level and ready to raise. 

When we were talking to the guy we bought the trailer from he mentioned that it's easy to forget about unzipping the awning and then you get the trailer all the way up only to have to bring it back down a bit so you can reach the awning to unzip it. For some reason I was bit paranoid about this. I guess I figured it would probably rain at least once and I wanted to make sure we had a dry spot to put thing under, but no matter what I was bit paranoid about it. 

So I did exactly the opposite of what my husband said and I unzipped the awning before he was finished leveling the trailer making it that much harder for him to do his job. 

Oops!!! ;) 

Lesson patient!!! 

As for the inside this was something I was actually super looking forward to tackling. If you know me you know I LOVE and I do mean all uppercase LOVE...organization. It's my favorite thing to take a space that isn't functioning and fix it so it works for you thus fulfilling its purpose. I had done a ton of prep work with searching on Pinterest and we bought quite a bit of stuff before and I honestly feel like it all came together really well. I made the boys stay outside because I was a little frazzled at this point. The sun was going down and nothing was done inside. Plus I was having to use flashlights since the no hookups situation and I didn't bring extra batteries since I didn't think we'd be using them all that much. The last thing I needed was the boys running in and out and making a bigger mess of the all ready crowded and unorganized space. I did have Ella help me though and she was amazing! 

This is the right side of the trailer when you walk in. This is the bed that Michael and I slept on. I had two Sterlite drawer storage containers that I put on the counter over on the right side. Michael had loaded those into the trailer without me packing them so we had to pack our clothes in bags, but next time I will pack those ahead of time. Since we were only staying for two nights I was able to get all our clothes in the bigger drawer storage. Michael and I put our clothes in one drawer and then we had buddies share the other two...Owen and Ella & Jack and Zeke. The smaller drawers had some of our toiletries...toothbrushes and toothpaste. I think we had some smaller flashlights in there. Honestly I think a bunch of it was stuff we didn't end up using, but was good to have just in case. The garbage can we ended up putting outside, but I do need to also have one inside.

As for the kitchen I had one really thin sterilite container that fit nicely between the sink and the stove. I stored our canned goods and snacks in there. I also did put away all the pots and pans, paper towels and board games but I just didn't take pictures of the inside of the cabinets. 

I had bought two pool noodles for the boys bed. I put them under the top sheet to serve as a little barrier to separate their sleeping space. We also had them sleep with their feet facing inside the trailer so no one would have to step over anyone to get out of bed. Zeke was on the far right and what you can't see is the pop up hamper that was at the foot of his side of the bed. It actually hides behind the bathroom wall so you don't see it and it won't fall over since it can lean up against the wall. 

That's where the pictures of the actually trip ended because that was right around the time we learned the biggest lesson of all. 

Lesson four: Make sure your battery is fully charged! 

So the night before we left Michael hooked the trailers battery up to the trickle charger thinking that would be plenty of time to fully charge it. After all it's just been sitting in our driveway for about a month. Well....come to find out the previous owner installed a radio after market and it hooks up to the power prior to the breaker so it's ALWAYS on. So the whole time the trailer was sitting in our driveway it had been sucking the battery dry. 

After I had gotten the trailer all organized it wasn't long and it was time for bed. Michael had gotten the heat turned on once, but then I turned it off since it was getting hot and I knew that we were going to need the heat both nights and I didn't want to use up battery power when we didn't really need it. Michael turned the heat back on, but all that would happen was the fan would turn on, blow out cold air for about a minute and then turn off. The kids were all tucked into bed and I was freezing so I was in bed too. Michael got out the manual and started trying to troubleshoot the problem. He tried and tried and it was so frustrating for him when it wasn't working. He finally gave up and we all just had to snuggle into our covers and go to bed in the cold. 

When we woke up the next morning we could see our breathe inside the trailer. It was SO cold. Thankfully I was able to use our stove so we had sausage, eggs and toast. Toast that I had to pan fry because the battery was totally dead so the toaster wouldn't work. It was so nice to have warm food though and using the stove to cook actually heated up the trailer while I was using it. Of course I wouldn't never use that as a main source of heat though! 

Michael and Ella headed into to town to take the battery to the auto parts store. He was thinking it might be bad and not able to hold a charge. They told Michael that they would plug it in and see if it could charge and he could come back in a few hours. While Michael and Ella were gone the boys and I played a game inside the trailer. It was fun being unplugged. By this time my phone was totally dead with no way to charge it. 

The rest of the day we....walked down to the river, walked along the trails, played more games, ate lunch and sat around the fire. Normal camping stuff. Later on Michael went to pick up the battery. He found out it wasn't bad it was just completely dead. That's when Michael figured out that our pilot light has to ignites every single time. It doesn't stay lite. The ignitor needs 12 volts of power to be able to light the pilot light. Our battery was so dead it was only able to light the ignitor that one time the night before. Michael hooked up the battery and lo and behold we had power and heat!!! It was amazing. We did turn the heat off to make sure we saved the battery power for the evening. 

The previous night was cold, but the nice thing was it rained and I love the sound of rain on the roof. The noise helped me go to sleep since I'm used to sleeping with the sound of rain from our noisemaker. But I didn't want to plug in our noisemaker that first night and have it draining the battery even more. The second night we didn't have any rain and I still didn't want to drain the battery anymore than we needed so I didn't plug in the noisemaker in again. The worst thing about that night was the new people that came and set up camp next to us. Alcohol was definitely involved! There was this one lady that would laugh and laugh at EVERYTHING. I'm pretty sure the funniest comedian in the world doesn't make people laugh that much. To top it off her laugh wasn't a laugh it was a cackle. The worst cackle you've ever heard. I seriously almost walked over there and told her that she was never going to get herself a man if she kept that up. I actually restored to praying that God would make it rain so they would be forced to go in their tent and sleep it off. I have no idea when I actually did fall asleep, but I do know that I was woke up in the middle of the night some time by the loudest squeal of an alarm that scared me to death. It was the low voltage alarm from our carbon monoxide detector. The auto parts store did charge the battery, but it was so dead they didn't fully charge it and it went dead in the night and now if Michael didn't go out and disconnected the battery altogether the alarm would eventually start squealing nonstop. Oh my word! Craziest night EVER! 

Michael and I both woke up on Sunday morning and we were DONE! Michael told me in an almost military voice....get the kids and a box of cereal and put them in the van. It was with such urgency it was like there was poison gas in the air. We were on a mission. I got the kids up and in the van quickly. I started the van to warm it up and so they could watch a movie. I also checked the time. It was 6am! 

Something Michael and I are extremely good at is working as a team. I love to work with that man. He set about getting the outside of the trailer taken down while I worked on the inside. We were super efficient. We also knew that we would be opening the trailer back up once we got home to unpack everything and clean it so I wasn't too concerned about everything being perfect...we just needed to get it in the right place so we could get the trailer collapsed. By the time we were finished and on the road it was only 7:15am. 

Once we got home we got the trailer put up again, cleaned it out and then put it down again. After all that we decided that we were going to put the trailer in the garage. Michael had measured before so we knew it would fit, but it would be a tight squeeze.

I was helping direct Michel and I learned another valuable lesson. 

Lesson five. Don't pay attention to the trailer when giving directions pay attention to the wheels.

Now the trailer is out of the elements and not taking up space in the driveway. 

It was definitely a crazy, crazy first camping trip, but it was fun to learn a lot and get it under our belt. I'm super excited to take it out again 3 more times this summer so stayed tuned for our next adventure. ;) 

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Zeke's Actual Birthday!

Zeke's actual birthday, May 22nd fell on the actual day of the week he was born 6 years ago.

He's a cool dude! 

For the kids birthdays I always bring cupcakes, donuts or cookies to their class at lunch time to share. While I was waiting outside his classroom before recess was over I saw this on display in the hallway. I'm pretty sure it was from when the kids were celebrating Dr. Seuss. It says...Would you like a crazy cat to come to your house? By Zeke.. No, because I think he would make big mess. We had just recently read the Cat In The Hat Comes Back and he sure does know how to make a big mess. 

Cute boy! 

I was took a video while they were singing to him and he just sat there smiling the whole time. He thought I was just taking pictures. :) He wanted me to get mini chocolate donuts instead of cupcakes. 

Me and my boy! 

I always save the kids birthday present from us for their actual birthday. I took this picture of Zeke and then I looked at it and looks like all you have on is socks and shoes! 

He was actually wearing clothes though...shorts at least! 

Zeke got the game Rat A Tat's super easy and loads of fun! The best part is the kids can actually play it by themselves. 

I also got him this Force Awakens magnet kit. It has all these background scenes and then magnets you can use to make the scenes complete. 

I actually got that by cashing in my Disney Movie Reward points. It's fun little kit that will be great for taking in the van on road trips. 

Friday, June 8, 2018

Zeke's Board Game Party!

Zeke's board game party was on Sunday, May 20th. At first I had no idea what his birthday theme was going to be. One afternoon I sat down with Zeke to update his Amazon wish list in preparation for his birthday and I realized that he just wanted a bunch of games. The few months leading up to his birthday we had been having Family Games Night at our house with families from our church. One of our friends, Scott is a major game player. He has over 150 board games and he's introduced us to quite a few fun games. 

I think I've said this before, but with me working now party planning has definitely taken a backseat. It's all about making it easy on myself. I found this fun birthday invitation with a game theme on Pinterest and I recreated it. 

I think it turned out cute! 

The birthday boy with his birthday banner! 

This banner is something I bought years ago from the clearance section on Stampin' Up. The best part was the last time I used it was for Ella's 6th birthday. The only thing I had to change was Ella's name to Zeke's. Easy peasy! 

The party started at 3pm on Sunday afternoon. I did not want to serve a full lunch or dinner. Snacks are always easier. For the food table I used my Mom's old Twister mat for the table cloth. I also put 3 glass vases/containers in the middle and filled them with dominoes and dice.  

Too add a little game fun I ask Michael and Pa to use scrabble tiles to spell out the food names. 

The gift bag that Ga-Ga & Pa put Zeke's present in had the 'A' in birthday on its side so Pa thought the 'A' in MEAT should mimic that. 

We didn't have enough letters for somethings so we just had to go with the basic names. 

The kids were so excited about the Cheeto Puffs!!! 

Like always I made my yummy pineapple coconut punch! 

The only other decorations I put out were the actual games the kids could play if they wanted too. I knew that I wasn't going to try to organize all the kids into playing games. For the most part kids just want to play with each other so that's what I let them do. Later on towards the end of the party Micah did play the Suspend game with a few of the kids. It was so nice being so laid back about the whole thing! 

Present time!!! 

Zeke loves his kite! We need to actually go down to the beach so he can fly it! I think we'll do that on the last day of school since we always go to Seahurst and it's always windy there. 

Money money all Zeke got $22!!! 

Ga-Ga and Pa got Zeke one of the games that Scott introduced us to. King of Tokyo....the kids love this game! See the sideways 'A'! 

Micah and Kim got Zeke the game Exploding Kittens. We had played it at there house before and the kids thought it was so funny. 

Zeke's friend Paulo from his class that lives across the street got him The Game of LIFE. We already had electronic version of this game, but the credit card thing that dealt with the money stopped working so we had just thrown it away. 

When it came to Zeke's cake I guessed it...EASY! I used a bunch of ice cream sandwiches and stacked them on top of each other in the form of a cube, covered it in Cool Whip and then used Oreos to make it look like a giant dice. Super easy and super yummy! 

The biggest cheese ever! 

I thought it was fun that I was able to put 6 Oreos on top! 

In between the layers of ice cream sandwiches I did put Hershey syrup. Yummy! 

Jaymes did not need a fork to enjoy his ice cream cake! 

Party people!!! 

Me and Camryn! 

Rachael and Jaymes! 

Micah and Kim! 

Jon and Becky! 

Michael and Ga-Ga! 

Samantha and Ella! 

Pa, Lilyann & Paulo. 

Clockwise starting with Jack in the Red...Andrew, Zeke, Reagan & Josiah. 

Owen and Caitlynn! 

The goodie bags for the party were filled with 3 dice so the kids could play Bunco at home, a mini deck of cards to play War with and then some Jelly Beans....which later I realized fit the theme because of the game Don't Spill The Beans! 

It was an easy, laid back party and the best of all the birthday boy enjoyed himself!