Sunday, November 20, 2016

best time of year

It may be the middle of Fall right now, but let's head back to the end of the summer for a minute. After a summer full of fun times at the pool it was time to say good-bye to pool season. These girls made some great memories together this year. The last day at the pool is always tough, because it is the official sign that summer is over. Counting down the days until pool season is here again!

During Labor Day weekend we decided to take a quick trip to Muskegon, Michigan to visit my Great Grandmother. She is living full time in a nursing home now and her dementia continues to get worse. It has been quite awhile since we have all gone for a visit, so it was nice to spend the holiday weekend with family. Nana Cleo was super excited to see the girls. It brought the biggest smile to her face which made the visit SO worth it!

It was a beautiful, warm weekend so we naturally spent lots of time at the lake. My grandma's house is minutes from Lake Michigan and the girls could not wait to stick their toes in the sand and the freezing cold water!

We had one full day in Muskegon so we decided to spend it at the "beach". It was super warm for September which made for a perfect day. The girls had a fabulous time digging in the sand and splashing in the waves. It is so beautiful there!

That evening we went out for a nice dinner and walked the boardwalk near the lake. It was so nice to get out of town with the girls for the weekend...not only to relax, but to spend time with family.

The girls have both settled into their new school year with ease. Cece is loving Kindergarten life. She was able to take a field trip with some of the other kindergarten students in September to a local farm. It may have been a pretty warm day, but Fall was definitely in the air.

Another Fall tradition we look forward to is September Fest, our church's annual fall festival. Our church puts on quite a party each year with so many fun activities for the kids. We never miss it! This year Olivia's friend Aleah even came along.

After an outdoor church service the girls spent the day getting their faces painted, enjoying ice cream and the petting zoo, playing bingo and riding ponies. We could not have asked for a more beautiful Fall day to enjoy another September Fest!

As Halloween approaches we try to do as much fun stuff with the girls to celebrate this fun time of year. This year we were told about a cute little pumpkin farm only minutes from our house. What a hidden gem, and the best Halloween decorations in town!

The highlight was the scavenger hunt for Halloween themed blow-ups. We ran through the corn field checking the blow-ups off of our list. Of course we had to stop and pose with our favorites too. There were so many to choose from!

After our scavenger hunt we walked through the pumpkin patch. Couldn't leave without picking out a few small pumpkins to take home. This was a fun fall activity and we will definitely add it to our list of things to do each year!

A few weeks before Halloween Cece and her class took a trip to a local pumpkin farm. It was a beautiful day and fun to spend time with Cece and her little friends. After learning everything there is to know about pumpkins we took a hayride out to the patch. The kids had time to walk around and pick out the perfect pumpkin. I was so happy to share this field trip with my girl!

Olivia also had a fun fall event at her school...the Fall Family Picnic. This was our first year attending the picnic since we are new to the school, and it was great! So many fun things to do, the girls didn't know where to start! The highlight was the cake walk. I think we left with 3 cakes that day, which shows you how much time they spent walking in a circle hoping to win some cakes. We have been so blessed this Fall with beautiful weather. This day was no exception!

I think my absolute favorite Fall activity every year is picking apples with the girls. We love visiting the apple orchard and picking as many apples as we can carry home. It was in the low 70's that day, which made for the perfect apple picking experience.

Best part of apple picking? Eating the apples along the way! I think the girls consumed 3 apples a piece as we walked through the orchard. We filled our bags until we could not hold any more. I love doing this as a family every year. Although the weather may not have felt very fall-like, walking through the orchard without jackets sure was nice!

After loading up on apples we hit the pumpkin patch. The girls helped us find a couple of perfectly round pumpkins to take home. There is nothing better than picking pumpkins straight from the patch. I think we did a pretty good job! We are so lucky to live so close to such a nice farm with apples and pumpkins to enjoy each year!

Such a fun time of year and we still have to trick-or-treat! Fall fun continues...

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

livin' it up - part 2

Our summer was more than half over, but we still had lots of plans before heading back to school in late August. We took a big family trip to Florida in July, and now it was time for trip #2. This time we were off to California to visit my Aunt. Each year the girls and I would visit her at her beautiful home near Santa Cruz. Well a few years ago she moved a city near Los Angles and we haven't been out to see where they live now. After building a new, spacious home they were ready for us to invade their lives for the week.

Within moments of arriving in sunny Cali the girls had their suits on and were diving into my Aunt's newly installed hot tub. It's like a personal swimming pool built for two! The girls were right at home and ready to enjoy the week.

During our first full day we out on their beautiful boat. The goal was to see some sea life, while enjoying the ocean. It was a beautiful day, but the water was pretty choppy. We did manage to see some sea lions and dolphins, so we considered it a success!

After a few hours on the boat we were starving so we had lunch at a restaurant we knew the girls would love...Pirates! Anyone that knows Cece knows how much she loves the word "pirates", for reasons I will not share at this time. But it was a fun little bar that we ended up eating at a few different times during our visit.

My Aunt's neighborhood had a beautiful pool, which was only a few houses down. I think we were at the pool each day for a swim. Most of the time we were the only ones there too. The girls loved having the pool to themselves and swimming with Aunt Sue Sue and Uncle Biggie (nicknames they came up with all on their own).

The next day we took the girls to a fun little local farm. There were goats and sheep to feed and berries to pick! The girls had fun feeding carrots to the animals, but were itching to get out into the berry patches.

This was our first time picking berries from the vine, and it was so much fun! The girls picked blackberries and raspberries until their containers were overflowing. We sneaked a few bites here and there, and boy...they were tasty! Picking berries is so much more fun than just buying them in the store. They seem to taste better too!

The next day Cece was feeling a little under the weather. She had a low fever and was just sluggish. We thought we would be spending the day at the house but she insisted we all go to the beach as we had planned. She may not have been feeling 100%, but how do you not perk up when the sun is shining on your face, and you have the sand between your toes?

We enjoyed a beautiful day at the beach. Cece rested a lot but still enjoyed the day. She woke up the next morning feeling back to normal and I think the sand and sun had a lot to do with that. My girls sure love being at the beach!

The next day we took the girls to the Reagan Museum. My Aunt lives only minutes from this beautiful landmark. We may have done this more for us, but we knew the girls would enjoy aspects of the museum as well.

There were so many interesting artifacts to see and it was a good educational experience for Olivia. Cece was a little too young to understand the purpose of the museum, but she still enjoyed it.

That evening we enjoyed some delicious appetizers and wine at a beautiful winery. One of my favorite parts of visiting California is visiting wineries and trying different wines. This winery was more of a restaurant, but it was beautiful. The scenery was breathtaking that evening and I caught my girls enjoying each other while walking through the vineyards.

Since Cecilia was not feeling 100% the first time we went to the beach we had to make time for another beach visit. This time she was pumped and ready to go! Some of our favorite memories from our visits to California involve our time on the beach. I think my girls are meant to be near the ocean. Someday!

Once Olivia realized that my Aunt moved to an area of California that was near Hollywood she was instantly pumped. For some reason she has developed an interest in the Hollywood sign and has been dying to see it in person. So of course we spent an afternoon touring Hollywood Blvd!

The girls were fascinated with everything! I will admit that I was a little underwhelmed. Hollywood was very touristy and a little rough, but it was definitely entertaining. We saw some stars on the walk of fame, Grauman's Chinese Theater and some famous characters. The girls were happy!

On our last weekend in Cali my cousins came for a visit. The girls were anxiously awaiting their arrival so the silliness could begin. We attempted another trip out on the boat, but the surf was much too rough and we had to turn around soon after hitting the open water. Since a day on the water wasn't an option we headed back for a swim and a fun evening in.

Our week in California was full of sun, fun and good times with family. The girls love their Aunt Sue Sue and look forward to visiting her each year. This was our first year visiting their new home and it was lovely. We look forward to going back again next year!

Once we returned home it was time to get into school mode. This year Olivia was starting at a new school so there was lots to do before her first day! She was beyond excited to begin this new adventure and we were equally as excited for her. Lots of changes come along with a new school. One of them...uniforms! At first I was not very excited about it, but she sure looked cute on her first day!

I was able to take her on the first day which made me happy. I was nervous for her, but if she was nervous she did not show it. As I walked her in and helped her get settled in her new classroom, I knew right away that this was going to going to be a great year for her! 4th did we get here? This girl makes me so proud!

Cece had an extra week before she started school so she got to spend some extra time with Nana. That involved a fun day at the zoo for just the two of them. As if the day was not fun enough, Cece managed to leave the zoo with a big stuffed elephant. Nana is a sucker!

This was also her last "full time" week at Holly's (her babysitter). Cece has been going to Holly's since she was only weeks old. I never thought the day would come where she would be going to school full day and not be spending each day with Holly. She is such an important part of Cece's life that I knew she would have to continue to spend time with her. There aren't enough words to express how much Holly means to us and how much Cecilia loves her. She may not be there full time anymore, but Holly will always be one of the most important people in Cece's life.

Next it was time to send my baby off to Kindergarten! She's a big girl now, and she knows it! She was super stoked to be heading back to Peace Montessori. This is the school where she spent her first two years, and the school that Olivia attended for 8 years. She was sporting her new backpack and her "Kindergarten Rocks!" shirt, so she was ready to roll!

She walked back into Peace like she had never left. It has taken awhile for my girl to love going to school, but I think this year is going to be different. Kindergarten is serious business and Cecilia is ready to take it on!

We really had an amazing summer! Two great vacations, lots of fun at the pool and lots of other fun activities tucked in between. We are looking forward to the Fall and all of our fun little traditions!