Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Happy 6th Birthday, Ava!

I have already told you about Ava's party...but this was actually Ava's BIRTHDAY.  That's right, my baby is officially 6.  Ava spent the night with my mom the night before her birthday, which kind of altered some of my birthday plans.  I knew she had been dying to spend the night with her Mema, so we made the most of it.  

I had found an idea on pinterest to fill up the room with balloons the night before your child's birthday (while they are sleeping), so that when they wake up in the morning, they have a birthday surprise.  Well, since she was gone, it didn't go quite according to plan, but she did come back first thing in the morning and was greeted by her birthday balloons.  Ava's response:  "What the heck?!?"  That's my Ava.  She loved them.  It was actually even better than I thought it would be.  She played in her room with all of her balloons all morning.  We had to drag her away when it was time for church. We had told Ava that we had a surprise for her on her big day, and she thought it was the balloons.  Wrong.  There was even more!!

After church, we took Ava out for her FAVORITE lunch (Taco Bueno), and THEN to Build-a-Bear.  She really loves to put all of her little animal friends in clothes, so we thought it would be perfect to let her build another bear and pick out some clothes.  We must have picked a great day, because they were having a big sale.  Needless to say, we are suckers, (especially on birthdays) and we ended up coming out of the store with TWO bears and TWO outfits. (She was quite adamant that her bear needed a "morning outfit" and a "nighttime outfit".  Yeah, I know, it was overkill, but it made her really happy...and she only turns 6 once!!

We had a great day with our li'l princess.  It was a day of birthday surprises and I am very thankful for this day to spend with her. :)


Last Bit of Summer Fun

We went to the zoo a couple days before school started.  Call it one last attempt to make summer last just a little bit longer.  It's been a really great summer.  I have basked in this time with my kids.  Could we just have two more weeks?  Sigh.  

I feel bad that the zoo hasn't really been part of our summer routine this year.  I suppose over 50 days of over 100 degree heat dampens zoo plans.  This was a fairly nice day, though.  I'm glad we got to squeeze in one trip to the zoo before school.  We do have a zoo pass now, so hopefully, it will get to be part of our fall routine.  I'm waiting ever so (im)patiently for those 70 degree days!  Here are a couple of pictures from our trip to the zoo.

I know this is not an animal (or my children), but I thought this sunflower was beautiful.  I loved the way the sun was shining through the trees.  It looked like it was just there to highlight this little sunflower.  So pretty.
This, by far, was the highlight of the day!  The baby elephant!!!!!  I have been dying to see this little sweetie for a few months now.  I was secretly terrified that she would already be all grown up.  Luckily for me, it takes elephants a long time to grow.  I. Love. This. Elephant.  So much so, I'm contemplating a way to have a baby elephant in my own backyard.  Think that will work?  No?!?  Well, I love her.  I literally could have stayed right there and watched her all day.

I'm not entirely sure why this picture of the sea lion is four times bigger than all of my other pictures, but I am way too lazy to figure out what is wrong.  Just go with it.  This was the other highlight of the day.  We never go to the sea lion show, but we definitely should.  I don't think my kids have EVER been to the show, but they loved it.  This was a really slow zoo day and there were not too many people in the auditorium.  We got to sit on the very front row and she came right up to us.  We literally could have touched her.  The kids thought it was a blast to be so close.  
See Chance's face?  That is is "super happy" look.  I love that look.  I adore how much Chance loves animals.  The trainers warned us before the show began that the audience needed to be quiet when the sea lions were out so they would not break their concentration.  At one point, Chance thought the kids around us were being too loud, and he politely warned them that they needed to tone it down.  I love his protective nature.  No one ever has to worry about Chance hurting an animal.  Not ever.  :)


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

How is it Possible...

...that my kids are this old now?  I snapped these pics of them the other night at dinner.

Here is Ava, my little first grader.  I can't believe she is going to be gone from me ALL DAY for the first time EVER!

And Chance...UGH!  This one.  I don't even know if I can talk about the fact that he is going to be in the FOURTH GRADE!  Lots of changes this year: "big kid" hall, changing classes, etc.  This is making me emotional. Whatever am I going to do when he goes to junior high??

High school??


Stop! I can't even begin to think about it.  I will probably never survive if just the mere mention of fourth grade is tough on me.  I know it's crazy, but it's true. ;)

I'm so blessed to be their mom.  I just wanted to share these little snapshots from my little corner of the universe.  While you enjoy these, I'm going to try to find out a way to slow time down.  Way down.

~ Crystal

Canoin' on the River

Hello, blog world.  Sorry for my slacking.  To say I've been crazy busy lately is an understatement.  Nothing like a (well-deserved) video game night for the hubby (no tv for me!) to get me back on track.  

This will probably border on the most uninspiring post ever, but I had saved this as a draft some time ago and thought I might as well finish it.  I have to go in order.  Always.  It's a disease.

I had the wonderful opportunity to go on a float trip down the Illinois River with my hubby and some great people from the college.  (Work trip for for me!)  It's been years since I've been on such a trip and I must say, it was great!

If you use your imagination, you can see the river in the distance in the above pic.  Sorry for the pure lack of exciting photography.  On this particular trip, I was busy having fun and snapped a couple of pics on my way to get in the van on our way home.

Our cabin.  Home of the most uncomfortable beds known to man and a swarm of killer bees.  

In a nutshell... 

~ Getting to meet (and hang out with) an amazing group of college students.  I loved getting to know all of them better.  As I've said before, it's been a long time since I've gotten to bond with a group of people on in a trip setting and I've really missed this.
~ some R&R.  We had been REALLY busy with the responsibilities of the looming school year, Ava's birthday, and just the general day to day.  It was nice to get away for a bit.
~ Of course, hanging out with Brian is always a highlight.  We got to share a canoe for our 12 miles down the river.  It was great quality time.  Always a plus.  This should probably count as another entry, but we did not tip our canoe once.  Yeah, that's right...we have awesome teamwork.  (Perhaps we could compete in Amazing Race together after all!?!)
~The beautiful scenery.  This was when I most wanted my camera...however, that would have been a terrible idea because the only camera I have right now is my phone, and I assure you that my phone should NOT be floating down the river.  I forgot how breathtaking it all can be.  I really enjoyed those little moments when it was just Brian and I in the middle of the river and it was so quiet.  We would just quit paddling for a few minutes and sit in silence and take it all in.  We saw a TON of fish.  
~ I was also quite pleased that we didn't have to carry our canoe for miles at a time due to NO water.  This has been the case with every other canoe trip I have been on (one of which I was 4 months pregnant...LOTS of fun!)  There were only a couple of times we got stuck, and it was quite brief.  All in all...a success!

~ Did I mention those killer bees?  Yeah, well one of them stung me.  That's right.  I haven't been stung by anything for a good 25 years and I'm not in a big hurry to have that happen again.  In case you were wondering,  it hurts.  Super bad.  
~ The beds were terrible...And the air conditioning worked.  (I know the second seems like it should be in the "plus" column, but it was about 50 degrees in our room and I was on the top bunk (also interesting), so I was freezing and quite uncomfortable all night.  The bed also made a terrible sound every time I moved and I was certain that it was going to break and I was going to plummet on top of the poor soul sleeping beneath me.  Yeah.  Not a good night at all.
~ At one point, I completely lost my husband because he went to help a "drunk guy find his cabin".  There ended up being a lot more to this story and Brian ended up being very helpful to this man in need, but for awhile, I didn't know what was going on.  Where did he go?!?  

All in all, it was a great trip and I am so thankful that I was given the opportunity to tag along.  Thanks, guys!


Birthday Celebration #1

We decided to split up the family and friend birthday celebration for Ava this year. She desperately wants to have her school friends come (which I still don't know parents), so we have to wait for school to start for that one. We couldn't have her family celebration on her actual birthday because that is the start of move in time on campus and one of Brian's craziest weeks of the year.

We didn't think all this out when Ava was born, we should have really asked her to be born another

We decided to have her family party a week early. This works out great for Ava, anyway. It means she gets to have a family party one week, we will still do something for her actual birthday with just us the next week, and she has her friend party the following week. Not too shabby, actually.

Here are some of the shots I got from her family party. In attendance were:
~The Ryans: Aunt Keli, Uncle Chris, Haleigh and Fiona
~The Hix: Aunt Sessy and Parker
~Mema and Papa
~Grandma and Grandpa
~Bryan and Amanda
~of course: US!

She had cake batter rice krispie treats (recipe from pinterest), drinks, and lots of presents that included about a thousand squinkies, pandas, and more. Needless to say, she was a very happy girl. Here are a few of the pictures I took that day:

Happy birthday, Ava...with more celebrations to come...


...And the Crazy Day Got Worse

You have already heard about Ava's crazy hair story...

Well, when we got home and I was trying to find a way to make her look presentable, I got my flat iron out for reinforcement. In the process, Alice (resident wienie dog) started running everywhere like the crazy puppy she is... I didn't want her to get burned, so I asked Chance to put her outside for a minute.

In the process of all the commotion with Ava's hair and me running around getting ready for my hot date, I accidentally left her outside for thirty minutes. During this time, she did not have water (which I know sounds TERRIBLE...I would like to make a disclaimer that I do NOT leave my dog outside without food and water EVER. The reason she didn't have her food and water outside with her in the first place is because I have been keeping her inside because it's been so flippin' hot...I just wanted all of you animal lovers out there to know that I do not endorse that kind of behavior...not at all.)

In the midst of all the chaos, (Alice was already in by this time), the pound showed up at my door! What?!? I can assure everyone, THAT has never happened before. Alice shot out of the house when I opened the door forcing me to bolt out and catch her. In the process, I almost knocked the animal control man over...Whoops! He said that he had received a call saying that I had my dog outside with no food, water or shelter...(what?!? again) I explained that I had accidentally left her out for 30 minutes, but otherwise, she had been in the entire day and more often than not for the last two weeks. He laughed and said she looked perfectly healthy. He explained that they have to check the validity of all calls. That's great and all, but as someone who prides themselves on being a rule-abiding citizen, I was absolutely mortified.

Furthermore, am I the only one who finds it a little insane that animal control has a far better response time than DHS or anyone else who deals on the human side of things? Seriously, these people should take a cue from the animal lovers of the world. My dog can't even go out to the bathroom without a formal investigation.

Now, the people-pleasing side of me who doesn't feel like anyone should ever be unhappy enough with me to take any kind of formal action is completely obsessed with needing to know who the heck called the pound??? At first, I thought it may be the people behind me. They have a ton of dogs and are really the only ones who know where we keep Alice's water and that it was missing. There is one other option, a busy-body neighbor who walks her dog around our street everyday and is always stopping to make little comments every time we are outside. (sometimes nice, sometimes not so much).

I made her angry the other day when she came by to borrow a Walmart sack because HER dog pooped in MY yard and I didn't have one because I had accidentally thrown them all away. Vendetta, perhaps?!? I don't know, but I'm watching her. Lesson learned: I'm going to start keeping a GIANT bowl of water on my back porch at all times.

We made this little sign for Alice to commemorate our run in with the law:

We do love our dog and would never put her in harm's way on purpose. Thank you to all concerned neighbors.


Haircut Debacle

Well, it's been quite a busy week at the Marlett house, hence the silence lately.  Brian's parents have been in all week, we had an early birthday party for Ava, I went on a float trip with Brian and some people from the college (his work trip)...did I mention one last trip to the pool, school supply shopping, and haircuts?!?  Oh haircuts...right...the point of this post.  

Well, I took Chance to get his haircut a couple weeks ago, pretty uneventful.  (Besides the fact that you can now see his face, which is always super awesome!)  Let's just say that Ava's haircut did not follow the same pattern.


It all started when my normal hairdresser called to say that she had a last minute emergency and would not be able to cut Ava's hair.  She asked if someone else in her shop could take her place.  Well, of course!  I am by no means picky about who cuts Ava's hair.  They are all trained professionals, right?!?  WRONG!  This was her before picture.  (I was actually beginning to like her hair and had almost talked myself out of cutting it in the first place...all I wanted to do was to make her bangs that she was growing out be even with the rest of her hair....sigh).

Well, my friends, this is where the whole thing starts to get a little shady.  Her "new" hairdresser seemed very nice, but things started to go a little south when she started cutting.  I was struck by the fact that she didn't really brush her hair out (or even wet it?!?), there was no cutting in sections, or whatever everyone else usually does.  She simply took her scissors and started cutting it ALL AT ONCE.  What?!?  I tried not to freak out at the beginning, after all I mentioned that part about her being a TRAINED PROFESSIONAL.

 Well, it started becoming really uneven, so she started at the same side and began "making it even" which meant another inch came off Ava's hair.  I was really starting to worry at this point, but thought to myself that everyone has a different way of doing things, just be chill.  However, I began to panic when the hairdresser started to look flustered and told me I didn't have to pay.  Never really what you want to hear.

 It was the most jagged, crazy hair I have ever seen...and the real kicker?!?  By the time we left, the side with the bangs was still a good inch shorter than the rest of her hair.  (Did I mention that the ENTIRE reason we went in for a cut was to make it even?) She offered to keep trying to fix it, but Ava's hair was getting shorter by the second, so I figured we should cut our losses.

 I thought I could take her home and work some magic with the flat iron and all would be better...right??  Wrong again!  It just kept looking worse the more I tried to fix it.   UGH!  I wish this picture could actually show the atrocity of this haircut, but it really doesn't... (my personal favorite is the little chunk on the right that is completely longer than the rest of her hair.)  It's very probable that I could have done a better job if I would have had the scissors myself...EEK!

Well, we all know that the idea of me with a pair of scissors is a very bad idea, so I finally admitted defeat and called my hairdresser and asked for help.

Please let me emphasize, I did not want to get the other lady in any kind of trouble.  (Okay, there was a small part of me that wanted to shake her and ask her what the heck she was thinking...) But seriously, it was clear that she was a little flustered and having a bad day, I really wasn't trying to make it worse for her...I just wanted Ava to have presentable hair.  Did I mention that school and her birthday are both this week??  

Melissa (the normal hairdresser) came to the rescue.  She was quite apologetic and worked her magic and I am happy to say that it looks MUCH better.  Relief!  Lesson learned...when it comes to hair, stick to normal.  From now on, I will wait! :)


Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Hello all.  You're going to have to bear with me on this one, but today I would like to talk about one of my simple, happy things in life: cleaning supplies.  I love the days when I peer into my cabinet and realize that I am out of everything at about the same time...that means that I get to go shopping and try out some new products!  I'm always on the search for something that has a better smell than the one before.  For instance, I was so happy when windex came out with the rain scent instead of just boring, old windex...stuff like that.  

Even better, a BRAND NEW TARGET recently opened up by our house.  That's right, LESS THAN 5 MILES AWAY!!  *Side note:  this has the potential to be quite dangerous for me.  (Back to the story)... I was actually going to Target to pick up some new sheets for Ava today (when I was changing hers this morning, I realized that they had a giant hole in them), they were super on sale, by the way (**BONUS**).  While I was there, I remembered that I needed laundry and dish detergent.  While I was looking for that, I also remembered that I was out of most everything else as well.  Oh happy day to remember this while I was at Target instead of Walmart because I have always wanted to try their METHOD brand.  There is something about it:  I'm not sure if it is the sleek look or all of the fabulous smells, but it always makes me happy.  I actually can't believe that I haven't tried it until now.  Rest assured, if it works well, it is what I will be using from now on... with a Target this close to my house, there is no reason to not use it. 

So there you go,  I choose to be happy by the simple things in life, and today that is my brand new cleaning supplies.  

If you must know, there are also things I am not so happy trying to use my brand new cleaning supplies with a house full of kids (mine, plus two others) and a wienie dog (because it is hotter than the sun's very core today).  So, let's just say that the cleaning is not going quite as smoothly as usual, but I am quite enjoying all of my new scents.  :)  


Monday, August 1, 2011

Seriously Cute

This is what I found the other day when I walked by Ava's room.  She always has all of her little friends on her bed...this is nothing new...what I loved here was how she had them all grouped together.  All of her dolls and animals had a doll or animal of their own.  I have always appreciated her ability to make her own bed (and quite well, I might add) at a very young age, but she just gets more creative with it as she goes along.  

My other favorite thing Ava does is dress all of her animals.  You would think she would love build-a-bear with her affinity for animal clothes, but she really prefers to find random clothes from around her room that used to belong to dolls, etc.  She has recently added bows to her animal's ears (which I also think is adorable.)  She usually spends more time figuring what bows will look best for her bears than she does with her own hair.  They are very well-loved.

In case you were wondering, this is not only a morning routine, she has a strict night-time routine as well.  Even if it's just a matter of shuffling everyone's clothes around, (ie- one bear gets the elephant's shirt, etc.) all of her beloved animals must change clothes at LEAST twice a day.  (Sometimes more if there is a special occasion.)
I just wanted to share these pictures with you.  I thought they were too cute. :)

My Newest Addiction

I know I'm probably super late to the game. Let's face it, I'm rarely cutting edge. In case there is anyone out there that is like me, I wanted to introduce to you it, too. What is it, you ask?!? Pinterest.  Basically, it is a website where you can take any image you find on the web and "pin" the image to a peg board on your personal page.  It doesn't sound like much when you say it like that, but I assure you that it is completely addictive.  My own personal black hole.  Even worse, there is an app for my phone.  AAAHHH.  I should have never discovered this website!

For those such as myself who don't consider themselves to be proficient web surfers, every time someone "pins" something, it goes to a main page that you can scroll through and you can "repin" other's images.  Even better, it it's a do-it-yourself project or a recipe, it takes you directly to the website so you can see how to make it yourself.  Brilliant.  I can't even tell you how many great ideas I've gotten in the last few days.  (Which I suppose is a good thing considering that I haven't gotten much else done since I've discovered  

Things I've tried in the last week...a new hairstyle for Ava, glitter toenail polish, blue jello in a fishbowl with gummy fish (the kids LOVED this one)...I've also gotten lots of inspiration for my house.  Still aren't sold?  Look at this very cute lunch idea I plan on making for my kids very soon... 

I mean, come on, how cute is that?  Ava is very excited about eating this little friend for lunch... (and I'm excited about THAT because the girl only eats peanut butter and jelly)!  If you haven't given this a try yet, hop on over.  Just do it when you have some free time on your hands, because next thing you know, two hours of your life will have passed and your children may be buried under a pile of laundry somewhere.  (What?? No!  That has NOT happened to me!)   If you want to check out my boards, you can do that here

*Side note:  For those of you who discovered this months ago, please don't laugh at me. :)