Saturday, September 6, 2014

Charley's Birthday Party

I feel like I have had a bajillion posts here, on Instagram and on Facebook in the last three days regarding Charley's birthday and party preparations and all, so I promise this is the last thing. I just had to share a few things we did for her party and then that's it until September 4, 2015 - PROMISE!

So, for Charley's birthday this year I went back and forth with what I wanted to do. Charley's friends consist of children of friends of John and I and while a couple of them she is closer with (Ella, Aidan) and are her age, for the most part they are all older and it's hard to entertain a wide range of children at a birthday party. The older kids are bored with toddler activities and it just stresses me out. SO. I decided we were doing family only. The family that Charley is very familiar with and it wouldn't be stressful to have them over if my house wasn't spotless or the food wasn't ready on time (it wasn't). I just needed the stress factor removed this year.

When I was still considering a normal friends and family party I was going to do a umbrellas and rain boots themed party, because we all know that Charley lives in rain boots. But then once I took the party down a notch I decided that the thing that Charley would love the most was not a Pinterest inspired party chosen by me, but a party she designs and plans herself so to speak. One Friday night I took Charley to the party aisles at Wal-Mart and basically let her throw whatever she wanted in the cart with no input from me.


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Some of it was quite normal: pink balloons, streamer in different colors, cupcake plates for cake, but then the character stuff she chose got pretty random. We ended up with a Mike Wazowski pinata, Monsters University tablecloth, Minnie and Daisy plates and party blowouts, Disney Princesses cups and a pink leopard party hat that we forgot to wear. On top of that, Charley was very specific with her cake request of a Goofy cake with pink writing. To her, that was the "perfect party" so that's what we went with. Can you believe I let her do all that character stuff after my outright hatred of character stuff? Man, I'm getting soft.

Last night I set to work on Charley's cake. My problem with buying cakes from some of the amazing cake decorators around is that yes, the cakes look AWESOME when they are done, but a lot of the times the cakes are dry or not the tastiest cakes because they a) take so long to do that they have to make them ahead of time and b) they use fondant instead of sweet, sweet buttercream icing which I'm not a fan of. I like the sweet stuff, and nothing can compare to a plain ol' grocery store birthday cake. So yes, I did look through the book at our local grocery store Harris Teeter for the off chance that a Goofy cake was in there but as I thought, it was not. So I ordered a cake with nothing on it but a green border so I'd still get my grocery store cake, but I could add Goofy myself. Here was my starting point. (They accidentally gave me a 1/2 sheet cake instead of a 1/4 sheet like I ordered, which ended up being a good thing because I don't know that I could have scaled Goofy down enough to fit on a cake half this size. I tend to draw very large.)

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I printed a couple of images of Goofy's face and set them down next to the cake. I also watched this quick little video of how to draw Goofy which did actually give me a couple of pointers too. From that video I decided I should fold my drawing in fourths to find the center point to kind of keep things in scale. That seriously helped a lot when sketching it out with icing. I made a dot for my center, and went from there. This was after the first sketch and I wasn't terribly sure about him at this point.

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From there I just put a #16 tip on my icing bags and set to work filling in the colors. I also purchased the same buttercream icing that the grocery store uses. When I used to work at the Cookie Company we used that buttercream to decorate with and I've never been able to buy or make any icing that compares for decorating. Luckily my grocery store sells this icing in little tubs for only a few dollars, so again, one less step for me to screw up. I bought white and green and a little tube of black (not from the bakery) and used those to mix all of the other colors.

I filled in the colors, outlined with black and then wrote in pink just as Charley requested. I was so, so pleased with it when it was done. It has seriously been at least 8 or 9 years that I've decorated a cake like this so I thought my end result may be laughable, but instead it ended up paining me to cut it! Ha!

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Ok enough about the cake. I was obviously pretty proud of it which is why I can't shut up about it.

Anyways, so I squeezed in a party when everyone was free and for the first time in a while, all 17 of my immediate family were able to make it (and we didn't do a family picture - ahhhhh!). We grilled hot dogs and hamburgers, had some guacamole and chips and called it a meal.

The party was pretty casual and fun. We just chatted, the kiddos tossed balloons around and played, opened presents, played some pin the tail on the donkey and knocked open the pinata. Easy peasy.

The poor donkey though - the party was at 12:30 and at 12:22 I decided to sketch him out real quick. Listen - Goofy turned out good because he took 2 hours. Spending 2 minutes on a donkey didn't fare well AT ALL. Here was the image I used to copy...


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 and here is how mine turned out after I let Charley and my nephews color him in some...

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See, what happened was - I placed his one eye too far over to the right, so I added in the second eye to fill in some of that space and well, he's just horrible. Poor little donkey!
But you know what...who cares! That darn donkey game was a hit and tons of us ended up playing. Kids, adults, big kids and teenagers. We had some good laughs over that donkey too.


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We hit the pinata in the garage and then all of us scrambled to get some candy and fruit snacks. Adults get to play too when the kid count is low!

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So anyways, even as much as I enjoy putting together the more Pinteresty parties, you can't beat your toddler repeatedly telling you "this is the best party EVER" all day long. Granted, she's only had 3 years of party experience to compare to, it will still make ya feel good. And you'll feel good too when you aren't stressing to clean your baseboards at the last second. That's not to say I didn't run around at the last second, but it definitely wasn't a stressful run around. I liked it; I recommend.

Just a couple more pictures. Then that's it. Done with the birthday stuff. Promise...

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It was a good day!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Three.

Today my sweet Charley girl turned three years old!

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She had a fairly normal day today as both John and I had to work, but she did get to go to school this morning and take (mini) cupcakes to all of her little classmates and she was THRILLED about that. She spent some time at my sister's before and after school and then she was at my parent's this afternoon until we came to get her. Tonight we had my parents over for dinner and cupcakes and we gave Charley all of the gifts from John and I. It was a fun night for our little family and I can't wait for her low-key family birthday party on Saturday. You guys will be shocked when I share the details of it, promise.

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As sort of an overall Charley update, I'm stealing pieces from two different bloggy friend's birthday posts for their children. I'm sure they won't mind.  


GROWTH

We go for her 3 year old appointment in the next week or two, but based on our home growth chart and scale she's 38" tall and around 30-31 pounds I think. Can't wait to see her percentiles because I have a feeling she's moving up the charts.

SLEEP

Still great! Bed usually closer to 8:30 or 9, and up for the day by 7 or 7:30 unless it's a work day, when we get her up at 6:45. She naps really well for my sister still with 2-3 hour naps. For me, not so much, but that's okay.

MILESTONES

She started preschool last week and I was so proud of her for how cool and calm she was when I dropped her off that first day. She gave me a hug and a kiss and just walked off with her new teachers, not a tear to be shed. I was left to see myself out.

I can't really think of anything else that stands out right now as far as milestones. I mean, what more is there between now and getting her license at 16, right? Ha.

FAVORITES

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Charley still loves her lovey blankets named Owly very, very much. Must have them to sleep every night. She is also really into art, play-doh, Littlest Pet Shop or other toys that have little figurines, and still loves her kitchen. She LOVES to go places. "Mama, let's go somewhere" she says almost daily.

THINGS TO DO

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Charley loves a good playground (or even a crappy one will do!) and loves to go to the bounce house place too. Of course there is also the amusement park Carowinds that we frequent often that rates pretty high on her list too. And you know what else she asks to do pretty often? Yard sales. She's totally my kiddo.

FOOD

No major changes here. She loves chicken and dumplings and probably spaghetti the best, but is pretty good about eating whatever we give her. Green beans and broccoli are usually the easiest vegetables to get in her, although she does love some coleslaw too, especially her Gaga's. She still loves all fruit too.

 PLAYMATES, FRIENDS and FAMILY

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Her best friends remain Ella and Aidan and we try to see them as often as we can. You guys already know how big of a role my family is in her life, and also John's Aunt Sharon as well. She sends Charley notes and little surprises in the mail and Charley makes cards to send her back also.

And finally, as if this isn't long enough already, I asked Charley a few interview questions that I hope I'll remember to repeat each year.


1. What is your favorite color? Pink!

2. What is your favorite toy? Pink Bear

3. What is your favorite fruit? Grapes

4. What is your favorite TV show? Beauty and the Beast (she doesn't know the difference between TV shows and movies - they all play on the TV!)

5. What is your favorite outfit? Princess Dress

6. What is your favorite game? Hungry Hungry Hippos

7. What is your favorite animal? Kitty Cat (though I have to mention that a hippo rates pretty high up there too)

8. What is your favorite song? Monkey song from school

9. What is your favorite book? Hippo Goes Bananas (that was a library book and she still talks about it even though we took it back weeks ago)

10. Who is your best friend? Mama (oh melt my heart)

11. If you had $100 what would you buy? A pink hippo

12. What is your favorite thing to do outside? Bubbles

13. What is your favorite drink? Orange Juice

14. Where is your favorite place to go? Library

15. What do you like to take to bed with you at night? Barona Dolphin, Hannah Hippo and Owlys

16. What is your favorite snack? Goldfish

17. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? Cancakes

18. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? Bacon (ha! Don't know if she's ever had bacon for lunch but good answer I say! Bacon is good any time of day!)

19. What do you want for dinner on your birthday? Cupcakes

20. What do you want to be when you grow up? A princess

Monday, August 18, 2014

Foothills Family Campground

We went camping this past weekend in my parent's new camper. (Sidenote: We do have our own camper but when John can't go with us, we can't take our camper because me trying to back a camper into a campsite would be disastrous.) Way back in 2008 I mentioned that my parents had slowly upgraded campers as the years went on and they recently upgraded once again. The last one was getting older and the cost of upkeep was slowly ticking upwards while the value downwards and it was just time. They may or may not have purchased and then returned two different campers in the quest to land on the one they now have so it definitely wasn't an easy decision for them. We have a very large family so trying to balance the number of beds versus sheer size of the thing is a huge consideration.

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A consideration they took very seriously. Look how TINY this thing is. We were practically sleeping on top of one another. 
It's definitely a bonus when said huge consideration comes with a fireplace, because, well, of course it needs a fireplace. What would camping be without the flip of a switch fireplace to turn on and off anyways? (Just kidding - that was just a bonus of the model they chose. They by no means went out searching for a camper with a fireplace. We prefer the old fashioned campfire while camping. Plus, it's hard to squeeze your marshmallow into an enclosed gas fireplace.)

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Honestly though, it is really nice and if we have no problem squeezing five into a hotel room for one vacation, it certainly wasn't an issue getting 9 of us in here. Even if one of those 9 slept in a closet.

Speaking of camping (and here we go on a tangent) - you know what a pet peeve of mine is? When people say "that's not camping!" Well I disagree because there isn't an in-between word that exists in the English language that would suffice. Sure, it most definitely is not roughing it with a tent which really isn't our style, but it's also not checking in to a hotel and being stuck in a hotel room either. It's similar to cabinning (if that was a word), except with a CAMPER in a CAMPGROUND and therefore it is CAMPING. If you are the type that likes to be inside on a vacation with access to fancy beds and bathrooms, then hotelling is for you. If you are the type that likes spending your time outside on vacation then staying in a campground is for you. Whether you do that in a tent or camper, if you spend the majority of your time outside, getting dirty and having fun, to me that is camping even if for no other reason than the lack of a word to distinguish the two extremes. Case closed.

Anyways....

We tried out another new campground based on distance alone. We didn't want to go too far for just a weekend and we found this place, Foothills Family Campground, through Googling and that was that. It took us about an hour and a half to get there. I have a list of places people have suggested to me so this would have been a good time to pull that list out and pick something from it. But no - that would have been too easy.

The campground had a pool and a playground which we definitely took advantage of. The rest of the time, we sat around outside playing games and cooking outside and just enjoying each other's company.

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The owners of the campground live on site too and were so very nice. Both evenings they hosted a hayride (minus the hay - even better!) around the campground and would stop and pick up anyone along the way that wanted to hop on. And then Saturday night they came around themselves and invited everyone to Bingo that evening. 10 games at just $0.25 each was such a fun, inexpensive way to spend our Saturday night. I think I'm even going to have my own Bingo/game night with our friends it was so much fun.

So um, I originally intended this post to be a list of quick little short stories - none of which were long enough or interesting enough to be it's own post. Here I am 700 words later on the FIRST item. So let me change the title, throw a couple more pictures in here and call this a post.


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We came back home filthy, tired, and excited for the next trip. It's beginning to be the season that our camper gets the most use and I couldn't be more excited!

What do you prefer? Hotelling? Cabinning? Or camping? In all honesty, I think tenters should change the name of what they do to tenting and then we could drop the whole 'that's not camping' argument all together.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Things That Only Happen To Me



Scene: New Job; Orientation with 9 other new people and 2 people from HR.
Situation: It's one of those go around the table and state your name and your title deals (which I hate, btw) but at least it's an easy answer and not like "name one interesting thing about yourself, which undoubtedly came up at a later point in orientation. Argh.

Anyways, besides the 2 HR girls, I'm the only other female there. New job is in a primarily male dominated industry besides the accounting/administrative positions. So, it's my turn and I say "I'm Lacey MAIDENNAME, err, ahh, I mean MARRIEDNAME, as I blush. I've only been married 5 years so I'm still a rookie in using my married last name and it's totally understandable, right? Heh. ONLY ME.

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Scene: New Job, heading to lunch with my boss, walking out to the car
Situation: We've been working all day with minimal breaks and it's really a late lunch. We immediately start talking about our families or whatever else is NOT work related to give our minds a break. He is telling me about a long snake skin he found at his house and me, staying on the subject of snakes, tell him that even though our new house is in the woods we have yet to see even a single snake in the year we've lived there. I even follow up with "yeah, and now that I say that they are going to be falling out of the trees on me ::shiver:: this evening while we are outside.

We go to lunch and come back and on our walk back inside on the sidewalk leading up to the building, I nearly step on WHAT I THOUGHT WAS a very long dried up worm, but WHAT I QUICKLY REALIZED was a smaller (12" or so! which isn't all that small!) snake as it stuck it's terrifyingly disgusting tongue out at me. I screamed "I KNEW IT!" I knew I'd see one today since I said that earlier. New boss shuffled the snake along to the grass and just laughed. Ew ew ew. ONLY ME.

For obvious reasons, this story deserves NO PICTURES.

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Scene: Friday night on solo parenting duty. Around Charley's bedtime when I realize I'm tired too.
Situation: Charley and I are planning on going to yard sales in the morning so instead of being lax about the weekend bedtime like I usually am, I'm trying to stick with normal and get her to bed at a decent time. Suddenly I come up with a great idea to get her excited to go to bed on time! "Charley! How about you can sleep with Mama in my bed tonight since Daddy won't be home?" She seems excited about it and we get ready for bed right then. I'll be honest that I'm a little excited for some snuggles from my almost three year old too.

We get in bed and Charley does some really sweet things like holding my hand and asking me to keep my arm across her back. Eventually she gets wiggly and at one point starts pretending and politely whispering a story to her stuffed animals. Not too much later she starts thrashing her head back and forth on her pillow and it's clear that kiddo can't sleep. After a combined 30-45 minutes of all of that, Charley really sweetly asks "Mama, can I please sleep in my bed tonight?" What?! Was she just doing this to appease her ol' ma? I can't believe I was worried that I may create a bad habit and it's my kid that basically tells me this isn't a good idea. I take her to her bed and she's asleep within 15 minutes or so. Only my kid would be given permission to bed share and would politely decline it. 

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I swear I have these "only me" moments all of the time. If there's a way to embarrass yourself, be completely clumsy, or jinx myself, I will find a way to do it. It's kind of like my superpower so I guess I should go ahead and own it.

Monday, August 4, 2014

I'm A Gallery Wall Failure

I'm currently working on a gallery wall in my living room that is driving me insane. I actually owned a ton of extra frames and decided to do this on a whim which may have been my first problem. But there are a few dozen holes in my wall now so I'm not at the point yet where I want to scrap the whole thing. I DO like it, I just need some help in getting it justtttt right.

Okay so 2 weeks ago I asked for help on Instagram. I shared a current picture of my living room and asked for suggestions for what color I should paint the frames. I was already leaning towards navy and once I got a couple of extra nudges in that direction I was sold.

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Next I played with creating a nice configuration on the floor before putting holes in the wall. Once I had that decided, I hung up all 24 frames.

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I hated it. The spacing was too close together, I needed bigger frames in there and it didn't fill up enough of the wall for the look I was going for. I wanted more of a floor to ceiling gallery like these I had pinned on Pinterest.

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Anyways, I took almost all of them back down and just added a couple of larger frames on the nails already in the wall and I knew then I was headed in the right direction.

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Had to make quite a few new holes in the wall, but eventually I ended up with a configuration I really liked. (I'm happy with this part, so if your advice is that you don't like my configuration just lie to me.)

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So now paint. I had to go to THREE stores to find the right navy spray paint. Finally I found what I thought was just right, had John paint them all, and then put them back on the wall to see how I liked it before I added the white mats and artwork into the frames.

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Hate it. HATE. I feel like an old 80's blue couch just threw up on my wall. It's too much contrast for my taste and I know that I need to go lighter on the frame color.

But WHAT color?? I cannot decide.

I did some quick crappy Photoshopping to try and steer me in the right direction. I only selected a few frames to swap out the colors because lazy = me. I do like a few of these, but I've been way wrong so far in this so I'd feel better taking a poll before I go buy more paint and start over. So, do we like any of these or do you have any other color suggestions? I will say that the inside of my front door is minty colored along with those foyer tables I've shared which is located just to the left of this picture, if that helps in your decision at all. It may help tie the two areas together but I'm not really sure of anything at this point.

Teal:

  turquoise 

 Tan:

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 Tan, with a more yellow undertone: 

tan 

 Minty:

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 Light Grey:

  grey 

 Black:

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Please, someone put me out of my gallery wall misery.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

A Day In The Life: Lazy Weekend Day

You guys, it's a miracle. I'm actually going to participate in the quarterly Day In The Life posts AND meet the deadline. What has come over me?

Anyways, doing these quarterly is probably a tad too often in my book since the majority of our days look exactly the same. So I tend to try to do them when something major has changed. Like, I did one pre-baby, one during maternity leave, one when Charley was a little over one year old and then another this past January which looked an awful lot like the one year old one. And when I considered doing one this quarter I read back through January's and said yep, nothing much has changed except the length of my commute so it would be pretty redundant. Then I realized I've never done a weekend day and boom, this post was born.

Today is Saturday, August 2nd, 2014 and Charley is just about 2 years and 11 months old. We have no plans today since we had to cancel on meeting our friend's new baby tonight due to the dreaded summer cold so this may bore you to tears, but here goes.

The sound of footsteps coming across the house wakes us up and I reach over to look at my phone to see what time it is.

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8:06 a.m.! Yah!! I kept Charley out until 10:15 or so last night to see the fireworks at the theme park so I was hoping for a bit of sleeping in and she fulfilled my wish! Also when I glanced at my phone I saw my reminder that I was doing A Day In The Life today so I'd remember to take pictures from the get-go. So I pull Charley up into our bed for a few minutes and take the first picture.

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She almost immediately asks to watch a TV show and I get up to start a show for her.

8:50 a.m. Charley asks for breakfast. She usually eats yogurt during the week because it's quick and clean and easy, and we let her have pancakes and the like on the weekends because there is more time to clean up. But when I give her all of her options this morning I'm surprised to hear she wants her regular ol' yogurt for breakfast instead of pancakes. Okay kiddo!

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9:00 a.m. Meanwhile John has been making himself an omelet and I'm looking through the fridge and pantry trying to decide on my own breakfast. John eventually suggests I make myself an omelet too and I think that sounds good, only, I don't know how to make one. (I'm totally serious) He begrudgingly gives me a quick omelet making lesson.

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9:36 a.m. Charley begs me to hurry up and finish eating because a friend of ours gave her a big bag of Play Doh toys and she can't wait to try them out. I dump them on out the table and let her play. She spends an entire hour playing Play Doh mostly by herself, and I even let her mix the colors if she wants. Ahhh! I start picking up some of the mess around the house that accumulated during the week.

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10:30 a.m. I get Charley dressed for the day. John is outside with my dad building a retaining wall to try and help fix a septic issue. 

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11:50 a.m. Charley is watching some shows on the iPad and I have finished cleaning the living room anddddd not much else has been cleaned. I've since gotten distracted and started looking for some free art in magazines I can use to fill some frames on my new gallery wall.

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12:35 p.m. My play time is up. A couple of visitors join me and wish to help with my project. One of the visitors asks if she can hop on the pages I've ripped out so far. That wouldn't be very helpful at all so I suggest we go outside to use up some of that energy instead. She agrees. (And no, I haven't gotten dressed yet in case you thought you missed that part. I just managed to put on a bra and I'm good to go.) 

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12:49 p.m. We head straight to Charley's new playground set.

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12:53 p.m. Swinging only lasts a few minutes until we spot a couple of mushrooms in the woods behind the swings. It has rained SO MUCH here this summer so the mushrooms are everywhere. (I know you are thinking I'm going overboard with the minute details at this point...I promise, showing you this mushroom has a point.)

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Charley kicks over this mushroom and we decide to go on a mushroom hunt and kick over every mushroom we can find.

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1:03 p.m. Once we've kicked over every mushroom we can find at our house, we decided to run to my parent's house to a) find some more mushrooms, b) see if my mom wants to join us and c) get Charley's rain boots we left over here the day before.

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1:10 p.m. My mom wasn't feeling well thanks to Charley and I sharing our summer cold with her (sorry Mama- the good news is that it doesn't seem to last very long!) so Charley and I head back outside to splash in some puddles, find more mushrooms to kick over and play in the dirt. 

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1:45 p.m. John and my dad have worked up quite the appetite and ask if we want to go out to lunch with them. I tell them sure! I just needed go inside and change Charley out of her now dirty dress and actually put some real clothes on myself for the first time today.

2:10 p.m. We eat lunch at a newer place near us and my dad makes sure to bring my mom home a sandwich since she doesn't feel well. Charley eats almost every bite of her lunch and then gets to cash in a token for a dessert. She chose an ice cream sandwich.

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3:14 p.m. We are back home and Charley lays down on the couch to watch a movie (code for Mama wants her to take a nap). I come to the office to upload some pictures and to start typing this post up.

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4:20 p.m. Doesn't look like nap is gonna happen today. She's joined me in the office where she has decided she's making a card for John's Aunt Sharon.

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4:54 p.m. Card is complete with glue smeared all over it so it needs some time to dry. Ha. She now wants a snack. Our meal times are a bit off today but that's fine since I bet we'll eat a later dinner too. She decides she wants peanut butter and crackers which she likes to make herself so I get her set up with that.

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5:44 p.m. Charley wants to head back outside, so outside we go. My dad and John are STILL working on the retaining wall. Looks almost done though.

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5:56 p.m. We swing, climb and slide for a while.

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6:47 p.m. I finally get a picture of Charley looking into the camera after trying ALL day. And of course it was a happy accident because she refuses to comply!

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6:52 p.m. Charley is filthy & thirsty and my dad and John are finished with the retaining wall so it's time to head inside. 
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7:05 p.m. None of us are really hungry, so John forces Charley to take a bath, and ushers me off to Lowe's to pick up some spray paint for tomorrow's project.

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7:41 p.m. I'm back from Lowe's, Charley is out of the bath and watching a show or two. She also has some watermelon at some point. It looks like we are skipping dinner tonight.

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8:15 p.m. I pour myself a Blue Moon (in a Guinness glass). Guess I'm having some dinner after all. ;)

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8:48 p.m. Some Daddy/Daughter antics in the kitchen before bedtime...

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9:06 p.m. John reads Charley one last book (I go first and read her 3 books because I'm a sucker, then he comes in and reads one more) and it's nighty night for Charley.

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9:19 p.m. I'm on the computer typing this up while John waits for me to finish up so we can watch a couple episodes of The Killing. It's been a good day. Lazy and yet productive, which is pretty typical of one of our weekend days. Okay - I'm off to watch an episode full of mystery and ugly sweaters! Hope I didn't bore you to tears! Night!