Friday, April 14, 2017

Parks, Easter, Socks, Naps & Taxes

  • We have had some nicer weather this week. Still some rain and some chilly days but we've gotten up into the 60's most days. As of right now it looks like all next week will be rainy again so we have been taking advantage of the weather this week. We have spent so much time outside and gone to so many parks! For sure we went to parks Monday evening, Wednesday morning, Wednesday night, Thursday night and this morning. I can't remember if we did a park at all Tuesday. I feel like we have to take advantage of this kind of weather before we get up into scorching temps where you can't even stand to be outside! It has been so fun and so nice to not be so cooped up in the house all week! 
{blurry, but she looks so happy!} 

  • I completely let Easter slip by this year. I bought an egg dying kit the other day...maybe we will still get around to doing it this weekend. I have a favorite egg wreath I love putting out every year that I never put out this year. I was going to blog about what my kids are getting for Easter and never got around to it. I haven't read the kids any of the Easter books I got out to read. And here it is, Good Friday. Speaking of what my kids are getting. I was reading an interesting "debate" about Easter gifts. I guess debate isn't maybe the right word. Parents were discussing what their families do and it was really interesting to read what people consider acceptable Easter gifts, if any. That's why I was going to blog about what my kids are getting and ask what yours are getting. Usually I try to do something practical like swimsuits or shoes for summer, summer toys, etc. This year they all already have several swimsuits so that was out. So I ended up getting them these super cute camping chairs (that are in my husband's trunk hiding, and he's at work so I can't take a picture...) that were about $6 at Walmart. I got them each a bunny bubble wand from the dollar spot and a "workout" outfit. They love wearing "exercise" clothes in the summer. I don't blame them-with the heat and humidity that's about all I want to wear most days, too. I don't think I'm going to fill any eggs with candy or anything this year. What do you do for Easter gifts, if anything? 
  • My oldest daughter decided a few weeks ago that she loves "mix-matching" (as she says) socks. She has started wearing mismatched socks every day and it just tickles her so much. I have no idea why she loves it so much but now my other daughter does it too, and she has recently decided to start wearing 2 pairs of on top of the other. Where do they come up with this stuff?! And now both of the girls mismatch the little ones socks as well. So random, but they just think it's the best thing ever. 
  • My girls stopped napping a couple months ago, but the other day my little girl wasn't feeling too well and wanted to "rest" on the couch. I thought for sure she wouldn't fall asleep but she eventually did. I was sitting next to her reading my Bible and I could not stop staring. She is so beautiful. 

  • My husband works for a tax company and I am SO READY for tax season to be over! Just a few more days! Out of curiosity-do you file your taxes early on in the season, or wait until the last minute? I can't believe how much of their business comes in within the last few days of the season! We usually try to get ours done in February. We are excited to have him back to normal hours next week! 
Hope you all have a great Easter weekend! 
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Friday, April 7, 2017

Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipe

As my family has moved toward more natural living and chemical free products, I have looked into so many products. We have used at least unscented/free and clear type laundry detergents since my oldest was a baby because she had such sensitive skin, but even those have stuff I don't want on my family's clothes now that I've gained more knowledge about chemical exposure. I toyed with the idea of making my own, but some of the recipes I found were so complicated, and a lot of them still had ingredients I didn't really like!  I finally decided to just go for it. I had seen this recipe on Bren Did, but thought I would simplify it a little here for those who are interested in making their own! I first made this recipe in December of 2015 and JUST used up the last of my batch this week! How crazy is that?! For a family of 6 who does around 5-7 loads of laundry per week and used cloth diapers for part of that time, I cannot believe it lasted us so long!
On the flip side I was nervous I wouldn't like it and be stuck with a huge batch. No worries though. This detergent is awesome! It packs tons of power in a small scoop and is so gentle on our clothes and skin! Here is the recipe if you are interested in making a batch for your family! 

1 box super washing soda (3 lbs. 7 oz.)
4 lbs. baking soda
4 bars fragrance free castile soap
3 lbs oxiclean FREE or BABY (regular oxiclean does not rate well on the EWG scale!) 

To make: 
Grab a large container and start mixing everything together. I like to put a little of each ingredient in, then stir it up, then repeat until I've used it all up. For the castile soap bars, I use a hand cheese grater and grate into small shreds, then mix in with the rest of the ingredients! Overall, it takes less than an hour to make-a small price to pay for laundry detergent that will last for over a year! 
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Thursday, March 30, 2017

What I've Been Reading: Vol. 2

Almost a year ago, I wrote a post about all the books I had recently read. I had intended to write one of these posts every so often, but I never did again. Until now! I'm not sure how many people find book posts interesting, but I always love getting recommendations for books. So, here is what I've been reading since about January! 

(Also, FYI, I go more with just telling about the books I've read and not really doing a synopsis. I figure you can read those anywhere.) 

  • The Connected Child was gifted to us by someone in our foster care circle based on some of the things we were going through and it was helpful to read! A lot of it was based on children who were adopted overseas and had lived in orphanages previously, but much of it was applicable to us being foster parents as well. I would recommend for foster/adoptive families who are going through certain struggles with their children. We learned a lot of things we can change to hopefully improve some things for our littles. 
  • Smitten is a collection of novellas written by 4 Christian authors. I LOVED this book. Such a light hearted, sweet, easy read. Each author writes the story line of one character so each of the short stories focuses on a different friend and you get bits and pieces of their stories through the other girls' stories, too. My only complaint about this book is that I wanted more! I loved all the characters and the short stories didn't give me enough time with each of them! 
  • The Goodbye Bride was the second story in a series that I started last year (that I didn't realize was a series when I started it!) This book was really good! I am falling in love with Denise Hunter's writing style. I can't put her books down. I could not figure out what was going to happen in so much of this book and it just kept me on edge the whole time. I will let you hop over to the link to read the synopsis. I would personally start with the first book in the series, but I think this also has enough information that it could easily be a stand alone if you didn't want the whole series. I just got the 3rd book in the series from the library last night and can't wait to read it! 
  • Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full  is a short little encouragement book about focusing on the gospel as a mother. I don't think there was anything hugely life changing in it for me, but I really enjoyed it. It has so many good little tidbits that had me thinking and encouraged me to focus more on the Cross on an hourly basis. 
  • Secretly Smitten is another collection of novellas by the same authors as Smitten. It takes place in the same town, but has different characters. The characters from Smitten show up in a few places, but not as part of the main story lines. Again, a cute, easy read. 
  • A Lineage of Grace by Francine Rivers. The only other book by Rivers I have read is Redeeming Love, which was amazing. So I had high hopes for this one. I don't read a lot of historical fiction but I absolutely loved this book. She tells the stories of 5 women in the lineage of Christ-Tamar, Rahab, Bathsheba, Ruth and Mary. Each story brought these women to life for me so much. She did such a great job of making a picture of what each of their lives and struggles were like! 
  • My sister in law gave me Me Before You when she had finished it. I hadn't even read the back cover when I started reading so I had literally NO idea what it was about. Whew. I just finished it a few days ago so I feel like I am still processing it because wow. So many feelings.  Apparently I am living under a rock because it's been a very popular book and now movie so odds are you may have heard of it so I won't get into the details but it is a heart wrencher FOR SURE. (And don't watch the movie after you've read the book-my husband and I watched it last night and both thought it totally botched the book!) I have a lot of thoughts-good and bad-about this book, but like I said, I'm still kind of processing it right now. This is a really intense story, so if you aren't prepared for a lot of feelings, don't read this one. 
I am about half way through with 2 nonfiction books right now that I should finish in the next week or so and I have a few new novels from the library I'm looking forward to digging into next! What have you read lately? 
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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Sickies/Summer/Dentist/Kids Clothes/Outings

I just set a timer for 15 minutes to write about whatever random things pop into my head. I was having a serious case of writer's block. I have several posts in my drafts that need pictures, but I'm too lazy to take them on this gloomy day (I'll justify that by saying it would be bad lighting anyway...), so I'll write random. 

  • The funny thing about random writing/brain spew/old fashioned blogging type posts is that these are always my most viewed posts. I guess people like reading the random thoughts that are going through my brain! Should I do more of these? Less of these? What else do you want me to write about? 
  • Sick kids are the worst/best. It is so heart wrenching to see them feeling so miserable, but snuggles... So many snuggles. 

  • I feel like our summer is already filling up quickly. So many fun things to look forward to...vacation with my family in Branson, first year of VBS, camping trip with friends, more possible family visits, church family retreat. I'm sure lots more things will fill up our schedule. Summer always gets so busy, but there are so many fun things going on, too! 
  • I took my girls to the dentist this morning. My oldest fell a couple years ago and has a gray tooth in the front, which the dentist has already checked out and it's fine. But the last month or so she's been complaining that her front teeth hurt. So I told them about it at the cleaning and they did an x ray just to be sure it wasn't becoming infected. It was fine, but all this to say that he did say those don't look like they'll be coming loose soon, but her bottom ones could sometime in the near-ish future. Which is so crazy to me because SHE JUST GOT THOSE TEETH. I am not ready for my kids to be this old. 
  • I was just purging some kids clothes recently, and opened up a bin that I was pretty sure was much bigger clothes for the boys, and found some stuff in their current size that they should have been wearing the last few months. WHOOPS. This is what happens when I am buying things ahead for 4 kids. At least it was only a few outfits and not an entire season's worth! Maybe everything will still fit them in the fall. 
  • Speaking of kid's clothes. The girls have always pretty much switched up to a new size at the beginning of a season. But the boys have been switching mid season. In the fall when it started to get cold I tried to buy them one size, tried a few things on which were literally falling off of them, so I returned it for a smaller size, and a couple months later everything is way too small. My husband put some pants on one of the boys for church last Sunday that were legitimately capris. You couldn't even call them high waters, they were offically at capri level. I was embarrassed for him. Which led to me purging their clothes this week! So, does anyone else have kids who switch sizes mid season? Am I going to have to buy 2 wardrobes of clothes every season for them?! With the girls I always go with the size they're going to be in next and even if it's a little big, it's just a little big. But like I said, it went from actually falling off the boys to being capris in a few months. I can't have them wear clothes that literally fall to the ground when I put them on! *sigh* I know this is such a first world problem. 
  • I am so ready for spring to actually be spring. It has been so up and down. We had 70 degree days in February, and got snow in March (which we don't usually). Even though most of this winter was pretty mild in comparison, it has seemed SO gloomy this winter. Just overcast all the time. I am ready for sunshine! Even 50 and sunny is fine! 
  • I feel like my kids are starting to get in a sweet spot with outings again. Depending what the outing is. When we first got the boys it was so hard to go anywhere. Then it was really hard but I did it. Then it was only hard to go to certain places (like restaurants). Now it is getting to be more freedom. They don't need to be in a stroller, and will mostly come when I tell them to. We still have a ways to go, but I am glad we will be able to get out a little more this summer than last! They can all officially do park playgrounds by themselves which is a GAME CHANGER because I can't help everyone at once. (And by do parks themselves I mean won't jump off the edges....they still need help with swings and certain climbing things). 

Ok, 49 seconds to spare! Those are the random thoughts swirling my brain this afternoon! What's on your mind? 
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Sunday, March 19, 2017

A Happy List

Sometimes you just need to sit down and make a list of some things that make you happy. This is a random compilation of whatever happy things popped into my head when I sat down to write. The little, in between things that bring a little smile to my face throughout the day :) 

  • Long bike rides
  • A fresh haircut 
  • Clean sheets
  • Finding a new product I love
  • Lazy weekends

  • The slightly sore but strong feeling after a good workout
  • Photo books
  • A book you just can't put down
  • When my husband comes home early from work
  • Weekend getaways
  • Late night brussels sprouts
  • Grilling out 
  • Freshly bathed kids in footie pajamas
  • "A-ha" sermons
  • Sunshine after multiple cloudy days
  • Birthdays

  • A clean house
  • Finding that perfect diffuser combo
  • Online grocery ordering
  • Fresh Off The Boat 
  • New office supplies
  • Adoption/birth stories
  • Adoption/pregnancy/birth announcements 
  • Chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream in a waffle cone
  • Hilarious snap chat filters
  • Late night heart to hearts
  • Capturing that perfect photo
  • Looking back at what God has done in certain situations
  • Ice cold water
  • Cuddles
  • Listening to my kids play
  • The Trolls soundtrack 
  • New makeup
  • Spontaneous kisses and "I-love-yous" from my kids
  • Date nights with my love 
  • Group chat with my siblings
  • Running into an old friend 
  • Counting down to an anticipated event
  • Finding the perfect gift for someone
Tell me some things that make you happy :) 

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Thursday, March 9, 2017

Day In The Life

I've been meaning to do a day in the life for a few months now! I love doing these once or twice a year and I LOVE looking back on them to remember what life was like during certain seasons! This is Wednesday, March 8, 2017. 
*This ended up not being a super typical morning, because I slept in a little, and so did my littles...usually morning/breakfast time is a lot more hectic*
7:00- My alarm goes off so I can get up to work out. I snooze it (like usual). My husband's schedule has been a little off the last few days which has affected my sleep a little so I am pretty tired this morning. I end up turning off my alarm the next time it goes off and falling back asleep. My husband had gotten up for work and the girls got up so he put on a show for them. 
8:00- I finally force myself to get up , get dressed (into workout clothes so I make sure I workout) and mentally note to push my workout to nap time because I don't have time to work out and shower now. The girls are finishing up a show, and miraculously, my little ones are still asleep, so I start on the morning routine that I normally am fitting in in between feeding all my people and putting out fires in the morning. So I: pick up a few things, make our bed, tidy up our room, unload the dishwasher and put a few dishes in, start a load of laundry. 
8:20ish-The girls are done with their show and are still hungry (my husband had been out of town near a Krispy Kreme last night, so he brought donuts), so I get them some fruit and go wake up the little ones. 
8:30- Get my little ones up, dress them and come out for breakfast. 
9:00- The kids are playing and I'm doing breakfast dishes and cleaning up from breakfast. 
9:15-I sit down with the girls to read some library books we got last night. I tell them to each pick 2, but somehow between what they chose and the little ones keep bringing more over, we end up reading 7 or 8. 
10:00-I start on cleaning the kitchen. Wednesdays are the only day of the week we don't have any commitments, so I fully intend on having a lazy day at home and getting some things done today. The kiddos are playing in the living room and they go downstairs to play for a little bit while I am cleaning, vacuuming, and picking up. 
10:45-The kids are begging to read more library books, so I finish up cleaning and we read a couple more. 
11:00-I am blanking what we did during this hour. Must have just been playing and house stuff. 
11:45 or so I start getting lunch ready. 
12:00-lunch! The kids are having what they like to call "snacky" lunch, where I just throw a mish mash of things on their plates. Today it's lunch meat, cheese, pistachos, "packing peanuts" as they call them which are these little gluten free white cheddar puff things from Aldi, bell peppers, clementines...I think that's it. I have tuna with peppers and pickles. 
12:30-I am cleaning up from lunch and the kids are kind of playing/kind of losing their minds. It has been a long morning for the little ones and I am wondering if there's a full moon or something-they are awfully crabby today. 
12:45-I take the littles to bed because they are just done. They go right to sleep, which doesn't usually happen at nap! 
I read a couple books to the girls and they head into their room for "quiet time". They recently stopped napping, so now they play quietly in their room for 90 minutes. 
1-2:15-I have my quiet time, then I jump straight into my workout, otherwise I know I won't do it once I sit down. I do arms and shoulders today, and abs. I fold the laundry quick and then hop in the shower. 
2:15-I sit down to start on this blog post. 
2:30-I get this far in the post and am going to go dry my hair now and read for a little while. 
3:00-I ended up getting sucked into reading my old day in the life posts, so I didn't read my book, but did dry my hair. 
3:20-3:45-Practice piano with the girls

3:45- Get the littles up from nap and fold the load of towels I put in sometime morning.
4:00-Read more library books. We do read a lot, but usually not this much! We did manage to read all the books we got, though! My voice is tired from all the reading. 

4:30- Daddy is home! 
4:45-Start on dinner. Husband is grilling steaks and I'm making couscous and honey carrots. 
5:30-Start cleaning up dinner. 
5:45-One of my littles needs a hair cut (I have to cut it about every 2 weeks, so he is overdue) so I throw him in the tub to cut his hair and then we start a bath with both of them. 
6:20-I head downstairs to work on editing a newborn session. The girls are playing with my husband and the boys are still playing in the bath. 
6:40-Some of the kids come down to play while I work on editing. They are kind of up and down playing all over the house for awhile. 
7:30-My husband gets the kids a bedtime snack.
7:45-The boys get to bed and I finish up with editing for the night. 
8:00-I pick up around the house with the girls and tell them goodnight. My husband puts them to bed and I start wrapping my daughter's birthday gifts. 
8:30- I am on the couch finishing this post up and I think I'm going to read for awhile, maybe watch a show, and then go to bed a little early tonight since I've been a little short on sleep. We'll probably head to bed between 10-10:30. 
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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

13 Year Travel Goals

My husband and I have been going over a lot of our financial goals, and hopes and dreams lately. We have really been thinking about what kinds of things we value and want to put time and money in to. One of those things is travel! We travel semi-frequently, but we almost always go to the same places because we have out of state family. Which is fun! Lately, as we've been thinking more and more about some of these dreams and goals for the future, travel has been coming up more and more. We talk often about how we want our kids to have those experiences, and how we would so much rather invest in giving them something with lasting memories, life experiences, and time together, than fleeting things that they won't care about in a month. Traveling is so beneficial in so many ways and we really enjoy it (and our kids really seem to, far!) . 
Though I have traveled quite a bit in my life, and been to a few other countries as well, there is so much of our country I haven't seen! I've never been anywhere on the East side of the country (do you count Florida as East, or South? Because I've been there, but I think of it more as South I guess). There are so many other places we've never been to and that we really don't know a whole lot about. So we decided to try to take our kids to every state by the time they leave our nest! That gives us about 13 years before our oldest graduates from high school. Some places we will probably visit more than once (like Colorado and Texas, where we have family and go every year or two), and some places we might only visit for a couple hours. But we want to see it all! 

We decided that to make it "count" as a visit to that state we have to DO something there. We can't just pass through on our way to another state and never stop. We have to, at the very least, stop and eat a meal there, or see some kind of sight or do an activity. Some states we will vacation to for an entire week or more. Some places we may only stop at for lunch and to get a post card. I would really like to at least spend one night in all of the states, but I know it might not be do-able with some.  We plan to do a big East Coast trip when our kids are tween-teen age and can appreciate a lot more of the landmarks and historical sites. I'm guessing we will probably hit 10-12 states on that one trip. Since we live in the middle of the country, we have so many states within just a few hours from us. We'll have to hit about 4 states per year on average, to make it work. But like I said, since some years we will probably tour around whole regions, we will also probably have years where we only do one or two states close by. I am not yet sure if we will realistically be able to do Hawaii and Alaska, so we haven't decided for sure if we are going to make this the 48 contiguous United States, or all 50. I would love to do like a big Alaskan cruise or Hawaii vacation to end the whole thing with a bang, or something. We will see! 

We would also like to mix up how we travel and stay a lot of the time. Some times we may rent an RV and hit a bunch of states. Other times we may get a cabin in the mountains for a week. Maybe we will do a few weekend camping trips in other states close by. 
We are also starting our count from 2016. So even though we have been to a lot of states before, our kids haven't been to a lot of them, or don't remember seeing them. 

If you have any awesome places or landmarks that we should be sure to hit over the next 13 years, let me know! I am excited to see a lot of the places I have heard about and learned about! And so excited to give my kids these experiences, learning opportunities, and to get more opportunities to focus on time together as a family. 

Now I need to figure out a way to document/display the states we've visited as we mark them off! 
I thought this map was kind of neat. You can put a photo in each state which would be a fun way to document what we saw/did in each state and also be able to display in our home. If you have any other cool/unique ideas of how to document where we go, let me know! 

Do you have any travel goals? How many states have you visited? 
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Saturday, February 25, 2017

Saturday night ramblings--photography, sleep, night out, weird weather, and more!

Some random late Saturday night (Ok, like 8 p.m.) ramblings....

  • I did a newborn session this morning. How do I always forget how teeny tiny newborns are?! This was only the 3rd newborn I've ever done, but it was for sure the smoothest one yet! He slept some, was awake some, and we got some great shots of both! I can't wait to start editing the images! 
  • I have been SO tired lately. We have been going to bed a little earlier and getting plenty of sleep at night, but I have fallen asleep mid-afternoon on the couch twice this week. I never do that! And speaking of that, naps always make me feel terrible. Does that happen to anyone else?! I really do try to rarely fall asleep during the day because they just make me feel awful, which completely defeats the purpose of napping! I have always been like that, and it's just the weirdest thing. I wake up feeling a little nauseous, super groggy, my body feels heavy and my brain just very foggy. 
  • Yesterday was my husband's birthday, so we went out. I was trying to think of something that we don't always do, and decided to get tickets to our local comedy club. We went to dinner first and then to the comedian, who apparently is kind of famous (Jeff Dye), but I'd never heard of him. It was nice to get out and do something different than our norm! We didn't get to bed until about 1 a.m. which basically never happens anymore....the latest we usually stay out these days is about 9:00 or so ;) 

  • The weather here was so bizarre this week. It kind of sounds like most of America had the same weird weather. Earlier this week, we surpassed 70 degrees and it was 60+ for several days in a row! In the midwest in February, this is unheard of. And then last night it snowed. Boo! I actually really like the snow, but after you got used to sunny and 65, back to 25, windy and snowy just feels cruel! 

  • I started reading the book Lineage of Grace by Francine Rivers this week. I don't typically read much historical fiction, but this has me captivated. It is about women from the Bible who are in the lineage of Christ and more background into what their lives were probably like. It is very interesting and the stories are so engaging so far! 
  • I can't believe it is almost March! This year is flying on by. My younger daughter has a birthday coming up in a couple of weeks, my mom is coming soon, we are coming up on a big shift in our little one's foster care case soon, and we are already planning our summer trips with family....I don't see time slowing down anytime soon! 
How was your week?? How is the weather where you are, and what was the best thing that happened to you this week? 

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Friday, February 17, 2017


Last week we boarded an airplane and headed to sunny California for a week! We travel pretty frequently, but always to visit family, since my entire family is out of state. We had never taken the girls on a vacation just the 4 of us! This last year with foster care has been really hard. Emotionally, physically, spiritually, mentally draining. The girls have been such troopers through their little lives being turned upside down...something they never asked for. We really wanted to give them a week that was totally focused on them. And that's just what we did! We loved on them, had tons of fun adventures and made amazing memories together! The girls were at the perfect ages (almost 4, and 5) for a trip like this. I am already wishing we could be back in the warmth and sunshine. We purposely planned this trip for when we knew we would be getting really sick of winter. It was a genius idea except that when we came back it was hard to adjust back to the freezing cold! Here are some pictures (and a little commentary...) about our vacation! 

We had to get up about 4:30 a.m. to get to the airport and it was a long day of travel. 

 We got to see the beautiful sunrise! It was this little lady's first time flying that she can remember (last time she was a baby), so she was extra excited to go on an airplane!

 We got to California about noon (we gained 2 hours going that way) and headed straight for lunch in the sunshine!

We explored around the water for a little while after lunch (with Ben & Jerry's, of course!) and then headed for the zoo for a couple hours until we could check into our hotel! 

We got checked into our hotel, everyone showered and we decided to just order room service and call it a night! We were all asleep between 6-7 p.m. since we had been up since about 2:30 a.m. Cali time! 

The next morning, my oldest was up by 5 a.m., suck on Central was rough! Since nothing opened for hours yet and my little one really needed to sleep, I took her out to explore our little resort area. It was still dark and we were in our pajamas, but it was so quiet and peaceful out. 

 The fish in the ponds were HUGE...she thought they were so cool!
 We were right next to the Marina...I've never seen so many boats in my life.

She and I made an early morning grocery run for some breakfast and snack stuff, and once everyone was up and at 'em we headed for Sea World for the day! 

Saturday, we hit a local farmer's market for breakfast. It was rainy (well, it's what we would call drizzly because we are used to downpours), so there was not a lot of foot traffic. We had so much delicious food and it was really fun to check out the local scene! 

After breakfast, we decided to go back to the zoo for a little while. It rained on and off and was chilly but it wasn't too bad. We did about 1/3 of the zoo at that time maybe and were there for maybe 2 hours until we decided we wanted to be warm and dry!
 This gorilla kept putting his fist up against the window, but would not make eye contact!

 If you look behind us you can see the hippo sleeping with just its nose above the cute. Then look behind that and you can see another hippo snuggled up on its back :)
 Of all the animals we saw, the snail was her favorite. Crazy girl.
As we were leaving the sun peeked out so we decided to grab some lunch. We thought we might go to the Children's museum after, but it had already been a long morning (they were still stuck on central time), so we decided to go back to the hotel to try for naps, and then went swimming for a bit after! (Well, I stayed in the hot tub mostly...60 degrees is not really pool weather!) 
The next day we had plans to meet up with a blogging friend of mine, Jordan, and her family! Some of you may remember her from her blog, The Smelly Life. She and I connected probably close to 7 years ago, when we had first started blogging! We really connected when we were both struggling to get pregnant with our firsts, and then our first daughters were born just a couple months apart. But, we had never met in person, so it was so fun to be out in their area! We grabbed donuts, had a quick breakfast at their place, and then went to the Safari Park! 

 It was so fun to see our kids make friends. It was like we had all known each other forever! 

The girls fell asleep on the way home, and were in so much need of a nap! So we drove to La Jolla and did a spontaneous beach trip. We never ended up making it to where the seals are because they were too obsessed with the ocean to do anything else, so we just went for it. We had no change of clothes or towels, or anything. They did end up regretting their time in the ocean afterwards when the sun was setting and they were freezing, but I think now they would say it was worth it ;) 

The next morning we went back to the zoo one last time in hopes of hitting the animals we hadn't seen yet (even though we had been twice already, we really had only spent a few hours there), but the girls got sucked into the reptile areas and we pretty much did that for an hour and then left! We headed to their children's museum to check that out. It was pretty neat! We spent a couple hours there, then left for lunch and pool time since the sun was finally all the way out! 

That evening, we met up with Jordan's family again to do a sunset beach hike and dinner. It was SO beautiful! 

Tuesday was our last full day there, so we made it Disney day! It was a very long, full, but magical day! We left pretty early in the morning to get down there by the time it opened. 

The next morning was our last day :( We had really wanted to make it to Coronado Island, but hadn't had a chance, so we went over that morning for a couple hours to walk the beach. It was really foggy and overcast when we first got there, but eventually the sun came out for us one last time! The sand was so soft and we just enjoyed walking the beach, playing, and listening to the waves. 

We had a long day of travel ahead (about 12 hours from the time we checked out of the hotel, to the time we got home), but we scheduled a long layover in Denver so that my family could come have dinner with us. We hadn't told the girls, just in case we had a delay or something and it didn't work out, so they were very surprised and excited to see their Grammie, cousins, aunt and uncle! 

We had a quick dinner, then let the girls run around and play! It is always so fun to see them with their only cousins, but also makes me so sad that we all live so far apart :( They were all so sad to say goodbye after a couple short hours. 
We had quite the time getting through security! Because of our oldest's peanut allergy, we have to carry benadryl and an epipen. In San Diego, it took us about an hour to take care of it was a little crazy. My husband ended up having to get a full pat down, and they went through and tested everything in his bag. The benadryl was completely sealed and had never even been opened. We have never had a problem taking it through before! Then in Denver, they flagged us for it again and did the little strip thing and apparently it tested for something. So they had to call over the explosives specialist, go through another pat down, and search and test the bag again. While that was going on, another woman came over and started talking with me and the girls. Turns out we used to live in the same down so we were talking about that and I thought she was just keeping us company until the explosives specialist pointed to me and she gave him a thumbs up behind her! Apparently I was being questioned without realizing it (looking back after that it was pretty obvious by some of the questions she had asked that were seemingly friendly at the time, like asking the kids "oh! is that your medicine?!" Totally thought she was just making conversation, but I'm sure she had things she was looking for.) They finally let us go once they determined we were not terrorists. My travel buddy fell asleep on the plane, but her little sister was wide awake and completely juiced when we got home past midnight! 

My big girl stayed asleep through landing, through me carrying her through the entire airport, getting her into the car and the whole drive home. She was spent!
When we got home and pulled into the garage, we could hear our fire alarms going off. We had gotten a message from the fire department earlier in the week that a neighbor had called and they went over to check it out but didn't see anything wrong from the outside. So we had someone go over and shut it off and that was the last we heard of it. So at this point, we had no idea if it had been going off for several days at this point. I feel so bad if the neighbors could hear that for almost the entire week! We had a 2 in 1 smoke and carbon monoxide detector, and since obviously there wasn't a fire or smoke, we called the fire dept. to come and see if it was carbon monoxide. At this point, I was MORE than ready for bed and just wanted to go inside, but we waited in the car while they checked it all out (the girls slept through the whole thing, luckily). They cleared us to go in and said we probably have a faulty detector. 
We have spent the last couple days doing laundry and getting back on track! It was one of the best vacations I've ever been on! Being able to give our girls our full attention for a whole week was one of the best gifts ever. 
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