Wednesday, August 31, 2011

1st Grade Open House

Last night we had Evan's open house at school for 1st grade. It's really hard to believe the summer is quickly coming to an end. I thought July flew by, but then August seemed to go by even faster. I could use like another month of summer. But reality is, my little guy is starting first grade in less than a week! It's crazy and exciting all at the same time. We got his teacher assignment in the mail a little over a week ago. I've been anxiously awaiting it all summer. I knew we wouldn't find out until the end of August, but I was hoping he'd get the one first grade teacher that I knew at his school. He did, and both he and I were pretty excited. His teacher is Mrs. Park, and I actually went to grad school with her at MSU, and she used to live in our neighborhood when we moved here. She has the "sports" room which Evan thinks is really cool. If you remember last year he was in the "bee" room.

So last night we got to go to school and check out his classroom, meet the teacher, and meet other students in his class. I was a little surprised to find out that there weren't many classmates from his kindergarten class in his first grade class. There are three kids from kindergarten in his class. They really split up the students from his class between the seven first grade classes. We got to look around the classroom, and Evan had a sheet that he had to complete before we left. It was sort of like a scavenger hunt where he had to go around and find his locker, mailbox, meet a new friend, etc. We then walked around the school a little to get him reacquainted with where things were, which he remembered everything. Then there were popsicles on the playground, and all the kids got to play. Evan got to see some of his friends from last year which was really nice. He had a great time at school last night and he can't wait to start first grade! Here's a few pictures from our night at open house.

Evan found his seat, and is working on his sheet.
Checking out the room... he found the chore chart. He loves that there's a lunch tub helper!
Evan and his teacher, Mrs. Park!
Some fun on the school playground after wards!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Lake Weekend!

The kids and I had somewhat of an extended weekend. Greg had to work all weekend so we decided to head down to my sisters. It was pretty much our last weekend of the summer to have some lake time before school starts. Since Greg couldn't go with us we left earlier on Friday than we normally do to head down there. We got to get in a boat ride at my dad's Friday night since we got there at a decent time. The kids love being on the boat, and even more, they love driving the boat with Grandpa. It was a perfect evening on the lake. It was slightly chilly, but with a sweatshirt on it was just right!

Saturday was another day on the lake. We spent all afternoon out on the boat. The weather was perfect! My Dad had gotten a new tube for all the kids to go in. It's got three seats so Evan, Emmaline, and Kaite could all go at the same time. When I asked Emme if she was going to go on it she said yes! I was a little surprised, but then again I shouldn't have been since my little girl loved going on the huge Ferris Wheel in Chicago! Evan didn't want to have anything to do with it. He said he would go if daddy was there, but I think that was his excuse. For some reasons from time to time he gets scared of the water. I definitely think it's time for some swim lessons this fall/winter. So Kaite and Emme got on the tube and were ready to go! Em was pretty excited, I think the pictures tells you she's more than ready!

Kaite was yelling to us that Em kept saying, "Faster Grandpa!" Then when we finally started going faster she said, "Now that's what I'm talking about!" What a kid! She had no fear at all. She loved every minute of it. Look how much fun she's having here.
Sunday we spent another good chunk of the day on the lake. Evan said he was going to try out the tube. He got in, and I was really excited that he was going to do it. Then when it was time to head out he changed his mind and decided he didn't want to. At least I got a picture of him in it for a second.
So it was another girls day on the lake tubing for Emme and Kaite. There was no going slow on day two. Emme wanted to go fast right away, so we did. Look at that face on my little girl... having the time of her life! She's my little princess, explorer, daredevil all in one. She loved it just as much if not more on day two as she did on day one!

Since Greg didn't come with us, we didn't have to rush to get back on Sunday for him to have to go to work on Monday. So the kids and I went home Monday morning so we could enjoy some extra time on the water. We got in three boat rides on Sunday which was really nice! A great way to end the summer with some lake time and great weather. I'm so proud of my Emme for trying out the tube. She did awesome. I'll admit I was a little nervous since she hasn't had swimming lessons and is on this big lake, but the tube doesn't tip over and I knew Kaite would take good care of her. It was a fun weekend, but it was nice to get home and see Greg.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Family Trip To Chicago

I told you we had plans to go to Chicago after I had won the LEGOLAND tickets. Well we finally went last Thursday and Friday. It's somewhere the kids have been waiting to go since a couple years ago when Greg was there for work. We went with Greg's mom and left Thursday morning. We debated whether to drive or take the train and ended up with driving. The train was a little expensive I thought, and we wanted to go out to Schaumburg to LEGOLAND so we thought it was better to have a car. We got on the road about 8am, stopped for breakfast in Kalamazoo, made one other pit stop on the way there and got to LEGOLAND around 1pm our time. I picked up my free tickets I had won, and we began our way through LEGOLAND. It was everything the kids wanted it to be and more. They loved everything about LEGOLAND from the Lego miniland to the 4-D shows to the Dragon Ride to the Lego Factory and more! Lots of cool Lego sculptures throughout! The mini version of downtown Chicago Michigan Ave. area was one of my favorite parts! Take a look for yourself!

John Hancock Building, Water Tower, Omni Hotel and more!
Navy Pier- love the Lego Ferris Wheel!

Absolutely amazing how they make all this stuff out of Legos down to every little detail! Very cool! We ended up spending just a little more time than we thought there. LEGOLAND suggested planning 2 1/2 hours and we were there for three. After wards we headed over to The Cheesecake Factory at Woodfield Mall for late lunch/early dinner. It's one of my favorite places, and when I'm around one I try to go! I had the Thai chicken pasta which was delicious. Unfortunately I was too full for cheesecake!

We then made our way into the city so we could get checked into our hotel. We got to our hotel about 5pm local time. After many hours on the computer earlier in the week, I finally found us a hotel Tuesday afternoon. I was trying to find a place that was in the middle of everything we wanted to do. We ended up at the Hyatt Place which was right on the river. I found a really good deal there that included parking. When we got to the hotel, it turned out that it was even more than I expected. The valet guy directed me to go in and up the escalator to check in. I went through the doors and was a little in awe of how nice the hotel was. The lobby was amazing, and once I got to the top of the escalator and turned around there was this bar along the front windows that was amazing! Very very cool! I got checked in and the guy told me my request for a river/lake view was granted. (When I printed out the confirmation the night before I ran across a link that you could request upgrades. It was only $11 more for the upgrade so I figured what the heck.) He informed me we were getting a really really nice room! When we got to our room and walked in, I couldn't believe how great our view was! It was super awesome. Evan was really happy too because he kept asking if we were going to have a view of the river and I told him probably not. Here's our view.

We made a plan of what to do first and decided on Millennium Park. The kids couldn't wait to see the big jelly bean. They totally remembered seeing pics of it when Greg went to Chicago a few years ago. The park was absolutely beautiful and the jelly bean was very cool! Here's my Ev in front of the jelly bean!

After the park we walked down Michigan Ave. a little and then headed down to Navy Pier. The kids were real troopers with all the walking. We got to Navy Pier just before it was getting dark so we got to see it before all the lights came on and then later with it all lit up. We walked around, went in shops, and rode the Ferris Wheel and Carousel. Evan didn't want to go up on the Ferris Wheel, but Emme did. She couldn't wait to get on it. Greg's mom stayed with Ev, and Emme, Greg, and I went on it. I was a little nervous, but wanted to experience it with my little girl. I got on and we started to move up and up and up, and I couldn't believe I was riding all the way around. No turning back! I did get a little nauseous, and was a little freaked out at the top, but not my little girl. She was having a blast! She loved every minute of it. Here she is with her daddy enjoying her ride! What a kid!

After the Ferris Wheel I went on the Carousel with the kids. We did some more walking around and then went back to the Carousel one more time before we walked back to the hotel. It was definitely a fun-filled day!

We got up early Friday and got going so we could get to the Shedd Aquarium when it opened. We decided to take a taxi so we wouldn't have to worry about parking. The kids thought that was awesome! It was their first taxi ride, and they wondered why there were no car seats. Lol. Everyone had told us there are long lines to get into the Aquarium, and we should buy our tickets ahead of time. We did and got right in. The line wasn't too bad when we got there, but it was super long when we left. It's been years since I was at the Aquarium and there's been some additions. The kids really had a great time there, as did we. It was a great way to spend the morning. We got a late check out and had to be out by 2pm. We came back to the hotel after the Aquarium and got packed up. The hotel said we could leave our car parked until 6pm so that was great! We loaded the car up and had them park it again so we could do some more things.

We headed to lunch at Giordano's for Chicago pizza. Then we decided to do a boat tour. We had thought about going to the John Hancock Building or Willis Tower (a.k.a. Sears Tower), but it was $17 for adults to go up and $11 for kids. We decided we'd get more of our monies worth on the Wendella boat tour which was $26 for adults and $14 for kids. It was a 90 minute tour up and down the river and along the shore on Lake Michigan. It seemed like a better way to spend our time and it was a beautiful day in Chicago so it was perfect for the boat. It was a great tour that we all enjoyed! Lots of sights to see and the kids had fun on the river and going out on Lake Michigan. Plus we had to go through the Chicago Harbor Lock which was a neat experience for the kids (and us as well). The boat tour took a little longer than the 90 minutes because we had to wait in the Lock for all the boats so by the time we got off the boat we only had about an hour before we needed to get the car out. We made a quick trip down Michigan Ave. so the kids could see some things and then headed back to the hotel. We got the car just before 6pm (7pm our time), and then it was time to leave Chicago and head home. I figured we'd hit all the work traffic, as well as the weekend traffic, but we really didn't. We got out of the city in good time and made our way home. We got home about 11:30pm.

We had a fantastic time. I knew the kids would have fun, but they enjoyed themselves much more than I ever thought! We got a lot done in two days, and a big thanks to Greg's mom for everything- Hotel, meals, Navy Pier, Shedd Aquarium, Boat Tour, gas, and souvenirs for the kids. We really appreciated the great trip. It was tons of fun and we can't wait to go back! Lots of great memories for the kids and their first time to Chicago! I'm sure you've seen all my pics on Facebook, but if you haven't I posted tons so check them out!

Before I leave you tonight, I'd like to wish my dear friend Jess a very happy birthday! Hope you had a fabulous day Jess, and we'll have to have that birthday drink soon! Cheers to a great year ahead and fun times!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Meet The Spartans 2011

I've got a few things to share from this past week, especially our wonderful trip to Chicago! First though I want to share our evening with "Meet the Spartans" last Tuesday. The week flew by so fast that I didn't get the chance to tell you about it yet. You might remember last year we went downtown to "Meet the Spartans" and got all the football players and Coach Dantonio's autographs. Well, when I heard it was happening again on August 16th, I knew we had to be there. Once Evan found out about it, there was no way he was going to miss it. We planned ahead this time and got downtown E.L. a little early because it got busy fast last year. It started at 5pm and we got there about 4pm. We went into a couple of the bookstores and by the time we came out at 4:20pm it was crazy. I thought we had planned ahead, but I guess we shouldn't have gone into the bookstores. There are two huge tents set up, one for the offense and one for the defense. Then a smaller tent for Coach D. The lines for the offense and defense were already long at 4:20pm so I told the kids we should get in Coach D's line. I really really wanted Evan's picture with Coach D for his Spartan room that will be in the works this fall (it's his 7th birthday present). I knew if we weren't at the front of the line there wouldn't be any chance for a picture. So we were fifth in line, and we waited and waited. It ended up getting pretty hot on Tuesday, and then the team was late coming from practice so it didn't start until 5:30pm. We got Coach D's autograph and then Evan asked him for a picture. He was like, "Hurry up and sneak behind the table. We'll have to be quick." I don't think he was supposed to be doing pictures so the line would keep moving, but he graciously accepted not only once, but twice so Emme could get one too. Here's the picture I was determined to get!

It turned out pretty good I think! I can't wait to frame it for Ev's room. Here's Emme's picture with Coach Dantonio too. It came out nice as well. Coach even told Emme how much he liked her Hello Kitty sunglasses. :)

After we got Coach D's autograph and pics, we went and got in the defense line. It looked a little shorter than the offense, but not by much. As we were in line they kept announcing that autographs would end at 7pm and the seniors and Coach D would speak to the crowd. (Last year they did it at the beginning, but since they were late this year and so many people in line they just started with autographs.) As the line slowly moved, we finally spotted Sparty. Em had been asking where he was. There was a short line forming for Sparty pics so while Greg stayed in the one line, the kids and I went over to see Sparty. Em told me she wasn't afraid of Sparty anymore and she wanted her pic by herself. Sure enough she went up to him and I finally got her picture alone with Sparty. Here she is with the greatest college mascot!

As 7pm approached, we decided to get out of line because we knew we weren't going to make the cut-off. So unfortunately we didn't get any football players autographs this year, but at least we got the pics with Dantonio that I really wanted. Last year the team stayed until everyone was finished. I'm not sure why they didn't do that this year. I think the players would have if they could, but their "people" made them leave the tables right at 7pm and get back on the bus. A little bit of a bummer. It was a much larger turn out this year after coming of a Big Ten championship year so the lines moved slower. I wished they would have realized that the crowd would be bigger after having a great season, but it seemed to be a little disorganized this year. I thought they could have stayed to at least 7:30pm to make up for the half hour delay. Oh well! The seniors did speak at the end, and while they were doing that at least Coach D finished his line of autographs. He didn't turn anyone away! We're still looking forward to a great football season this year, and have high hopes for the Spartans. Here's wishing them good things when football season starts in two weeks! GO STATE!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Kid Rock In The D!

What a fabulous weekend we had! Saturday was one of those days I've been waiting for, for a long time! We went to see Kid Rock at Comerica Park in Detroit. I got tickets back in June. This was after missing out on getting tickets for his shows at Ford Field and Van Andel in January. When I got these tickets back in June I ran across something for Kid Rock's fan club and saw that if you joined the fan club you could pre-purchase tickets on the Friday before the Saturday they went on sale to the public. For the $10 I spent to join the fan club so I could pre-purchase the tickets, it was $10 well spent. I didn't have to worry about trying to get tickets early on Saturday morning when everyone else did. Not to mention the pre-purchase tickets for fan club members were pretty good seats from what I could tell online. I had never been to Comerica Park before so I didn't know anything about the stadium.

Greg and I had tickets with our friends Brenda and Jess. Then my sister and Kaite got tickets together, and my dad and step-mom had tickets. My dad & step-mom got us all rooms at the Marriott at the Renaissance Center so nobody would have to drive home after the concert. The hotel was awesome and we really appreciated them getting us the room. Thanks so much! It worked out perfectly! We left late Saturday morning in the pouring rain which was not good. Remember the concert is at Comerica Park OUTSIDE! Ugh! As we got closer to Detroit the rain lightened up, and by the time we got into he city the sun was coming out. Fingers and toes crossed, I was hoping it would stay that way. We ended up getting to the hotel at the same time as my Dad, step-mom, sister, and Kaite. It was great timing since they had to drive further than us.

We all got checked in and settled in our rooms and then we walked down to Comerica Park to pick up the tickets. Since I had bought them through the fan club it was will call pick up only. It ended up warming up nicely and by the time we got to Comerica Park it was pretty hot out. After we got the tickets we walked back to the Hard Rock Cafe and had lunch. It was a late lunch so then we headed back to the hotel for a couple drinks and to get changed for the concert. There was a Kid Rock Block Party going on before the concert so we wanted to get back down to Comerica for that a little early. We decided to take the people mover to Comerica the second time so we weren't all hot and sweaty before the concert. We hit up the Block Party for a little bit, and I finally got to try the Kid Rock Badass Beer. Yes, I'm a beer girl so it was a must on my list to try on Saturday. It got the approval on my list of likes for beer and am hoping to find it sometime soon. It's not sold around here, only in the Detroit area, Jackson, and Battle Creek.

We headed into the stadium during the opening acts. Ty Stone and Sammy Hagar opened for Kid Rock. We weren't too into them so it didn't matter if we missed some of it. By the time we grabbed some drinks and got to our seats it was in the middle of Sammy Hagar. It turned out that all of our seats were pretty good. I was happy with my purchase and we had a great view of the stage. Almost towards the end of Sammy, it started to get really dark & we saw some lightning. We decided to head up to the concourse and go in one of the restaurants we had seen on the way in. We got in there and sat down at a table pretty much just in time because it started to pour. We sat in there for about a half hour and then the rain stopped and it cleared up and was a perfect evening. We headed back to our seats and about 15 minutes later Kid Rock came on stage. The concert was everything I hoped it would be and more. A fantastic show and I definitely felt like I got my monies worth! Kid Rock really knows how to put on a great show. He played for about 2hrs. 20min and it was awesome! I loved every minute of it! Kid Rock really isn't my "type," but honestly he looked pretty good when his shirt came off. Brenda and Jess agreed... WOW! A little eye candy for the ladies! :)

It was an awesome day spent with my hubby, great friends, and family! I didn't want the concert to end. A great time was had by all, and it's a night I'll never forget! I can cross it off my bucket list, but believe me I'll be back to see him again! Fun times, fun times! Here's a few pics from Saturday. I've already posted them on Facebook so you've probably seen them!

The view of the venue, Comerica Park, from the Marriott.
The Kid Rock Block Party

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I'm A Winner x2

My luck has changed over the last week. It's been a little crazy. I'm really not a lucky person, but it seems the last two Tuesdays I have been. Last week Tuesday I was on the LEGOLAND Discovery Center Chicago Facebook page (I'm a fan of the page), and saw they were having their Tuesday contest. I "liked" the page about a month ago, but have always forgotten about the Tuesday contest. LEGOLAND posted some pics of different Legos and all you had to do was comment which one you would choose and why. So I asked my little Lego guy to pick one. Evan looked through them all and chose one and said he liked it because it looked like something that could go to outer space and he'd like to ride on it. Works for me so I commented on the one he picked. I figured, why not and then really didn't think too much more of it. Then when I went to my Facebook on Wednesday I saw a post on my home page from LEGOLAND with the three winners name. Mine was first on the list. I couldn't believe it. I won four tickets to LEGOLAND in Chicago! Evan was beyond thrilled and wanted to know when we were leaving. We had actually been talking about going to Chicago this month. Greg's mom said she'd take the kids and us before they went back to school. So we're going to be going next week! The kids are so excited!

This week on Tuesday I was on Facebook and saw a post from Eastwood Towne Center (the mall by us). It was to enter for a $100 gift card to the mall that they would be giving away at the summer concert series they hold every Tuesday night. There was only like an hour left to enter, and I wasn't doing anything so I figured why not! I entered and then pretty much forgot all about it. I wasn't going to the summer concert at the mall, but the winner didn't have to be present so that was good. Tuesday was Greg's mom's birthday so we had gone out to dinner and then when we got home we took the kids to the park. I happened to be checking my email on my phone and saw an email from Eastwood Towne Center. I instantly new what it was, but yet I couldn't believe it. I knew the only reason I'd be getting an email would be because I won. Sure enough I did. Seriously though, I couldn't believe it after just winning the LEGOLAND tickets the week before! The gift card is good for anywhere at the mall so that's nice!

So two winnings in two weeks! I'm wondering what next week will bring... hmmmm, maybe I should play the lotto!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Em's Hello Kitty Birthday Party!

I had a busy week getting ready for Emmaline's birthday party on Saturday. There was running errands, cleaning, cooking, and all the other stuff that goes along with all the party prep. The week flew by, kind of like this whole summer has been! Emmaline wanted a Hello Kitty birthday party this year. I kind of had a feeling she would since she's been so into Hello Kitty this past year. I was glad she picked something decent for her party, but I was dreading what I would do for a cake/ cupcakes. I felt like I needed to make her a cake this year since I went the easy route last year and got her princess cake at Sam's. So after searching the internet, pondering cake options, and talking with friends about Hello Kitty cakes, I decided to buy the Hello Kitty cake pan and make a cake shaped like Hello Kitty. My friend Jessica said I should pipe the frosting on the cake, but I had never done that. She said she'd help me with it so I figured let's give it a try.

I spent the afternoon Friday in the kitchen pretty much prepping all the party food, making cupcakes and a cake. My sister and Kaite came for the weekend on Friday evening, and then Jess came over Friday night to help me decorate the cake. I made the frosting and then we started piping away! It was a little time consuming, but it was a lot easier than I thought! It just takes a little patience. We got through it, and although it was a late night, it was lots of fun! Thank you so much Jess for coming over and teaching me how to pipe! Great times and some fun conversation with the piping! LOL. I think for my first time the cake came out pretty good. I was pleased with it and I got lots of compliments so I guess it looked like Hello Kitty. Haha! Plus it tasted great so that's all that really matters right? I didn't make my own cake this time, I opted for the funfetti box mix because I just didn't have time. It was still very good though. I can't really complain with Pillsbury cake mix. Love that cake mix, it always turns out very moist! So here's some pics of the Hello Kitty cake and you can tell me what you think!

The start of the cake piping!
Making progress...
Time for some facial features- eyes and nose, which I used black jelly beans and a yellow spree!
The final product! Not bad huh?
And here's the cupcakes I made to go along with the cake!

The party was a lot of fun, and everyone had a great time! The Hello Kitty party was fun to plan from the cake to the decorations and goody bags! I decided to go with munchies for the party. We had veggies & dip, fruit & fruit dip, lil' smokies (smokies wrapped in crescents), pizza dip, and guacamole! It was all very tasty! Here's a few more pics from the party. The rest I'll post on Facebook.

My birthday girl all ready for her party in her Hello Kitty attire!
The centerpiece I made! I found the idea on Pinterest!
The party decor!
The kids enjoying some cake and ice cream!The family photo Jess made me do! I'm posting this for you Jess! Haha!

After the party Jess, Kaite, and I all went for manicures and pedicures! My sister and Em came along to and hung out while we were getting pampered. My sister had planned to get a pedi too, but then ended up getting one the weekend before. I had painted Em's nails before her party, but the gal that did mine put a couple flowers on her nails which she thought was really cool! We ended the day with Jess' kids and Jess coming back to the house for movie/game night and we all had a sleepover! Fun times! It was a great day, and we even hit up TB for late night munchies! Lol. A great weekend overall to celebrate my little girls birthday!

The kids getting ready for the movie and sleepover. Grace didn't get in the picture unfortunately!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Happy 4th Birthday My Sweet Emmaline

Today is my baby girls birthday! My little Emmaline Grace is four years old today. How can that be? It seems like yesterday we were bringing her home from the hospital. She'll always be my baby though. She's been full of cuddles over the last week and I've just been loving it! Em was up bright and early this morning, and oh yes she knew it was her birthday! She was so excited it was her special day. I just loved seeing the excitement on her face all day long. It turned out to be a spectacular day.

The kids played all morning while Greg was at work. He had the afternoon off so that was nice. We had birthday lunch at Smokey Bones, Em's choice. We told her she could go wherever she wanted and that's what she picked. Then we let her choose what to do in the afternoon. She wanted to go to the MSU 4-H Children's Gardens. It was hot, but we haven't been there yet this summer (I know, right! Summer is going by too fast!) so off to the gardens it was. I asked her in the morning if she would like to invite her friend Chloe along, and then after wards Chloe could come back to the house and have some birthday cake with us. She loved that idea! Chloe isn't able to come to her party this weekend so I thought this would be fun for Em. I had made a practice run on her birthday cake last night so we had cake that needed to be eaten! The girls had a blast at the gardens and of course loved having some birthday cake! Here's a couple pics from our afternoon!

I just love this pic of the girls! Best friends walking through the gardens!
The birthday girl and Chloe at the MSU Gardens!

Our celebration continued after Chloe went home with present time! Emmaline of course loved opening presents! Then it was time to head to dinner. Greg's mom told Em she'd take her to dinner wherever she wanted. All last week she had said Culver's, and while I like Culver's I was hoping for something a little better for birthday dinner. A couple of days ago we figured out that it was just ice cream that Emme wanted there, she didn't want to eat there. So we told her we could always just go for ice cream after dinner if she wanted to go somewhere else. She ended up deciding on Olive Garden for dinner, and Culver's for dessert. Yay! I love Olive Garden salad! We had a nice dinner and Emme got more presents. She was loving every minute of it! Especially the yummy frozen custard at Culver's after.

We ended the night with her opening one present she saved for after dinner and the kids playing with her new dollhouse pieces. Followed by my little girl snuggling in the chair with me for a story before bed! A perfect day with the birthday girl at the Shearwater Nest! My dear Emmaline we all love you bunches and wish you a very happy birthday. Mommy loves you as high as the sky, as deep as the ocean, and to the moon and back! You make me smile everyday, and I'm proud to be your Mom!

Here's my 4 year old! (I love how she rocks the side ponytail!)