Saturday, September 19, 2015

Sweet Summertime (2015)

One of my biggest pet peeves is when people rush the seasons and holidays.  By the time the actual season/holiday arrives, you are already burnt out on it!  I wish society could just slow down and take the time to appreciate each special holiday and season while it's here.  My summer starts on Memorial Day and ends on Labor Day (maybe it's just the former teacher in me).  This summer I decided to just unplug and really enjoy my time with Stella.  We spent a lot of time hanging around the house and playing outside (I say "playing" lightly because there's only so much you can do with a toddler who won't walk and is afraid of the grass!)  We also worked a lot on her speech, gross motor and fine motor skills (with some good progress!)  I will be doing another blog post this weekend with more on that (her 21 Month update finally).  Anyway...unplugging was so nice.  Other than my blog and facebook, I don't do any social media.  I don't even have a smartphone.  I just don't want to become a victim of being glued to my phone.  That's not to say I'll never upgrade, anymore they are pretty much forcing everyone to, but for now I like my pay-as-you-go Wal Mart phone ;-)   So for the summer I decided to delete my facebook for a few months and just detach altogether.  not the kind of "hey facebook I'm deleting my account here's my number if you need me" kind of attention-grabbing delete, just a general mind detox and to dedicate all of myself to my family (not just say I am and then secretly keep logging on when I think people won't notice.  Can you tell I have friends who do this?)  And it was GREAT.  I think social media is nice and can serve a great purpose, but too many people rely on it to validate their looks, parenting, career, etc...  I think a little break benefits everyone now and then.

So off my soapbox and onto our summer...

We kicked summer off with a pretty low-key Memorial Day weekend.  We did a picnic at the park in Atkinson with Stella's cousins, and then a Sunday cook-out at my sisters complete with wagon rides courtesy of Grandma and Grandpa.

Relaxing after a fun day at the park with Beau and Mo

The first week of June was Mark's last week of work for Ag View.  We celebrated his last day with a fun cook-out at home.  He took a 4 day weekend in-between jobs, which fell over our hometown's annual Fun Days celebration.  Saturday we went to the local bar for Mark's 15-year class reunion.  We got together right after he graduated high school, so it also marked 15 years since we've been together.  Time flies when you're having fun!  We stayed in town at my mom's that night since we'd had a few drinks, and took Stella to the parade the next morning (which is really just a long line of firetrucks and tractors!).  She LOVED the parade and watched very intently.  Afterwards we got some carnival food and then headed home because we ALL needed naps!

Think we all feel like this after Fun Days!
Almost every Tuesday in June was spent in town at my sisters (her day off) so Stella could play with her cousins.  She enjoyed just sitting on a blanket all day playing with Ryder's toys while the boys swam and played with squirt guns! 

Can't wait to be big enough for the picnic table!
June 18th brought our 4th anniversary.  We celebrated the day with  a steak dinner at home on the patio and watching the sun set after Stella went to bed.  The next night we went out to One World Cafe in Peoria (great variety of delicious food, fun atmosphere and excellent drinks!) and then we picked up some wine and dessert at Hy Vee and enjoyed it at home while watching our wedding video (yearly tradition!)

Our wedding was on Father's Day weekend, so we always celebrate the two of them around the same time.  This year for Father's Day I cooked a brunch for us at home.  Mark chose to mess around outside all afternoon, and then we went to a cook-out at his parents that evening.

Stella even made a "hand-made" card for Daddy this year!

The end of June brought another round of sickness for us (surprised?)  This one hung on right into July and we were just recovering when the 4th of July hit.  I also woke up one morning with TMJ again.  I had to go to the clinic and they told me I grind my teeth too hard at night.  I wear my retainers (from all my previous dental work) almost every night, but both mornings I woke up with TMJ I hadn't worn them the night before.  Every night now it is!  TMJ is MISERABLE, and this time they wouldn't give me a shot or painkillers like last time (probably because that time I went to the ER).  So for the 4th we just stayed around home since we were all recovering.  We went to fireworks and a cook-out at a friends in Geneseo Friday night, and Saturday I took Stella to my grandpa's pool for a little family swim party and cookout while Mark did some landscaping.

Gotta have red, white and blue pancakes on the 4th!

At the end of July Mark had his seed kickoff meetings in Chicago.  They invited wives to attend, so we went up there for a couple of days.  Unfortunately I wasn't feeling the best so it really wasn't that great of a time.  This string of sickness I tell ya!  I just hung around the hotel room while Mark attended meetings all day, and then we went to a dinner/drinks banquet in the hotel that night.  The next day we did some shopping at Oakbrook before heading home to get our babies :-)

August was a great month.  The weather was beautiful and we made it through the ENTIRE month without being sick!!  We started the month with a White Sox game for Mark and a family pool party for Stella and I.  We played a lot at home and took several trips to Windmont park to enjoy the walking path and swings.

Trying her best to climb up to the slide!

On the 23rd we had Stella baptized.  We went with a low-key, family only ceremony after church in Mineral.  We asked the pastor who married us to baptize Stella.  It was a hot day, but she did very well and didn't even cry!  It was a nice little ceremony and I am so happy to (officially) bring her into God's family. 

After the ceremony we went to the Station House in Kewanee for lunch.  The service was awful, but the food was good and everyone had a nice time, especially Stella!  She loves going out to eat.  While trying to get a photo next to her cake (that a girl Mark used to work with made, and it was beautiful!) Stella grabbed a huge handful and took a bite!  Musta thought it was her 1st birthday again! 

The week after her baptism we had family pictures taken.  I just picked out our favorites and ordered some adorable framed collages so I will be sharing those soon.  The pictures are beautiful and the photographer is brilliant! 

To kind of wrap-up our summer we decided to take a weekend get-away.  I love taking trips, exploring, sight-seeing and flying, but you usually need a vacation after your trip because you are so exhausted so this time we opted for just a relaxing, nothing on our agenda vacation.  Much like our summer!

Mark just loves being outside and nature and Stella takes after daddy in that department.  Don't get me wrong I love nature, I just like enjoying it while in a comfortable, screened in porch ;-)  I hate being too hot or too cold!  But I'm trying to adapt and get better at it, so this vacation was centered around Mark's interests.  I booked us a little cabin outside of Shelbyville, IL for two nights.  Mark took Friday off.  I spent the morning packing (I had made a list the night before so it would go smoothly) and getting things in order around the house (I hate coming home to a messy house after vacation).  We left Kaiser in his outdoor kennel and Mark's aunt and uncle stopped over a few times a day to feed him.  The plan was to also let him out, but he was being very territorial and protective so he just stayed in his kennel (which was OK, plenty of indoor/outdoor space for bathroom breaks and sleeping).  We were surprised he acted like this, but I suppose it is a good thing that he protects the house while we're away.  Because otherwise he is the friendliest, most gentle dog you'll every meet! 

We left around 12:30 and stopped in Peoria at Panera for lunch.  Stella loved it of course and ate her entire PB&J meal!  We drove on through from there (it was about a 3 hour drive from our house), stopping at Casey's in Shelbyville for snacks and drinks.  After a little trouble finding the place, we finally got all checked in.  It is owned by a family and rented out.  The cabin sits on 40 acres and is surrounded by a state park on 3 sides.  There was a little private lake right next to the cabin and trails carved out throughout the woods around the house. 

After some exploring we headed back to town for some groceries.  By the time we got back to the cabin Stella was pretty tired so we put her right to bed.  Mark and I had hot dogs and s'mores and a few drinks by the fire before bed.  We turned in pretty early because we wanted to enjoy the early morning.

Saturday morning brought a little drizzle, but when that ended Mark walked the trails while I took a quick nap in the living room until Stella got up.  We spend the morning lounging and enjoying cinnamon rolls.  After that we headed outside to walk to trails, sit outside and just relax some more.  We had a light lunch inside and then put Stella down for a nap.  While she napped Mark took a nap in the boat on the lake and I enjoyed some coffee and reading from the front porch.  It was great!  After Stella's nap I was itching for a trip to town.  We got cleaned up and headed to Shelbyville.  We placed an order for pizza at Joe's Pizza and then walked the historical downtown until it was ready.  Back at the cabin we had pizza and wine, then treated Stella to her first s'more.  She loved it, naturally!  Mark and I sat by the fire after Stella went to bed.  There was a skunk that wouldn't leave us alone!  We also saw an opossum.  Very interesting night!

Sunday morning we slept in and then had some coffee and breakfast.  Mark took Stella and I for a quick boat ride.  She loved it!  We walked the trails a bit and sat outside, but then it was time to shower and pack up since check out was at noon.  We were gone by 12:30.

We stopped at IHOP for a late lunch on the way home.  Stella slept most of the ride home...a sure sign of a good vacation!  Kaiser was sure happy to see us when we returned!  It was a wonderful weekend getaway, one that we hope to take again soon!

September had been mostly very HOT so Indian summer!  Of course our AC broke not once but TWICE during the hottest week of the summer.  We ended the summer with a family pool party over Labor day weekend and Mark took Stella to the annual Labor Day parade in Bradford (I sat this year out :-) ) 

Loved the big pool by the end of summer!

Next summer I hope to actually do more things with Stella.  It was hard this summer with her mobile limitations, but I am happy to say she is starting to (slowly) walk and is no longer afraid of grass!  I just learned to make the best of it and enjoy the slow pace this summer allowed. 

Now I can officially close the page on summer and begin my FAVORITE season of all time...FALL!  Tomorrow morning we are doing a 5K by the canal in our hometown (we also had one last weekend!), and next week we are going to the pumpkin patch and doing some fall decorating and cleaning.  The weather is beautiful, the windows are open, the pumpkin candles are purchased, and I am excited :-)  Hope everyone else enjoyed their summer and have some fun plans for fall!

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