Last year when we got together with Dustin's side of the family, I realized the kids had not seen their Tennessee cousins in almost 4 years. I never grew up having cousins my age and I was kind of ashamed that I taken such a blessing for my kids for granted. So a few months ago I invited Wyatt and Alex Anne out for a week of cousin camp.

It has been the highlight of our summer so far! Alex Anne and Ellie are about 2 weeks apart in age and Nate and Wyatt are 2 months apart. My house has been full of energy and laughter. As I see the kids together, I can't help but be a little jealous. I'm so grateful for the time we've had with the kids and the memories we made.

We pulled into the garage at 9:30 pm. Luke had been asleep for a few hours but everyone was so excited that they woke him up.
I think I got the kids into bed around 11 and that was the last time that the kids went to bed before I did.

Sunday we wrote up a list of everything the kids wanted to with each other over the week. Dustin took one look at the list and told us that we would probably have to cut some things out. Not only did we do our entire list, we even ADDED things to it.

Sunday we played Clue (and every single day following)
The girls wrote a show with parts for everyone titled: Sweet Revenge. Complete with hair, make up and costumes! It was about young dancers and involved a lot of accents.
There was also an EPIC ball fight that required me to remove all pictures from my walls. 
Uncle Doug and cousin Cody came over for dinner (and the show).
There was sno-cone making and slip-n-sliding.
And once I put the little kids to bed, the girls stayed up doing each others hair and watching movies.

Monday morning I came home from the gym to find all the younger kids cuddled up in Nate's bed watching a movie on Wyatt's iPad.
We headed up for a day at Big Surf. Dustin and his brothers would go here when they were kids and they came out to visit their Grandma, so it seemed fitting to take them there.

 On our way home we decided we needed some frozen yogurt for a snack so we would have our taste off. I personally think Menchies frozen yogurt is kind of disgusting and much prefer Swirl-It but we had to put it to a test.
Winner: SWIRL-IT. Full disclosure: I took half the kids to Swirl-It and let them load up their yogurt with candy and Dustin did the Menchies run and just got plain yogurt.

While I got ready for our date night, the kids all played Mario Kart on the wii, which was another reoccurring game of the week.

We had made plans months ago with friends to get together for dinner out while the kids got to have their own unsupervised kid party at the Simpson's.
12 kids, pizza, easy cheese, fruit, a trampoline and Murder in the Dark. I think they had a great time.

Tuesday morning started off early. The kids moved their morning cuddle session to the couch for more Mario Kart.
We drove over to Waffle Love for breakfast. Everyone agreed it was delicious.
Later that morning we went to burn off some energy at X-treme Air. Which I learned is building an American Ninja Warrior type obstacle course.  I don't know why I am so excited about this information.

Because our list still had a million things on it, we had to knock out a few more on Tuesday. I took the girls to get pedicures and we all got our eyebrows waxed.

After that we headed over to the store to buy all the ingredients for the "World's Largest Ice Cream Sundae."

I cannot even recall everything that was in this sundae. It was a giant party tub of ice cream, marshmallows, mini twix, mini rolos, m&ms, nuts, whipped cream, cherries, marshmallow fluff, caramel and chocolate syrup. . . I think everyone got sick after just a few bites.

This was how much was left of our $25 sundae once the kids were done eating.
That night we grabbed In n Out for dinner, played some Clue and cuddled up to watch movies for the night.

Wednesday was our last full day together so we had to really crank out the rest of the list. Unfortunately we were really tired and moving even slower than any other day.

The first thing we could manage was getting out of the house to go to Costco. We had to drive a whole extra 5 minutes to make it to one that happen to have an open foot court since ours is getting remodeled. They were making smoothies, which was perfect for our list.
 The guy assured me that he did not hate me for taking 6 samples.
 For the cheapest meal of the week, I fed 6 kids an assortment of pizza, smoothies, ice cream and churros for $17.

When we got home the kids put together the cutest movie ever, which I wish I could share, but I cannot figure out how. After that, we went swimming.

And then came straight home to change into clothes for BOWLING!!

 I don't think anyone loves bowling as much as Luke does, but all the kids did great and we even got some strikes!!

That night my living room was turned into a giant fort that all of the children slept in.
Before we headed out for a Midnight Run to Dairy Queen.
 And with that our list was complete!!!

Today we are packing them up to take them to the airport and all so very sad.

We have had the best time with our cousins and I have just loved seeing all of them together.  I'm so grateful for the amazing cousins my kids have.  ALL of them!


More Summer

For Father's Day weekend we spent the day on the lake boating with friends.

Kristin and Darcy are the best boat hosts and always make sure everyone gets as much time out on the board as they want. We spent about 8 hours out on the lake and I loved every minute of it.
With Darcy as driver and Jared as coach, every single one of us got up and surfing. It took me a few tries to get up, but once I did, I got a nice long run in.

We had probably the lowest key Father's Day ever and I realized we didn't even get a picture of Dustin and the kids until we were headed up to take him to the airport.
We are so lucky to have Dustin!!

While he was out of town on a business trip, I sent Ellie off to her first week of Girl's Camp.
I wish I had more details to share, but she didn't say too much other than that she loved it.
Dustin got to go up early and see her on Bishop's night which is a special treat we won't get to have much longer. She came home dirty, sleepy and happy.

Meanwhile back at home we did our usual routine: movies, Big Surf, swimming. . . but we added in doctor's appointments and puzzles!
After well checks, I wanted to run over to Trader Joe's and the kids saw the dollar store. They begged me for a quick trip since they had been so great at the Pediatrician's. Nate picked out a 500 piece puzzle -- NOT pictured above. If I can give you one word of advice, it would be, never buy a dollar store puzzle. The pieces are paper thin and barely fit together. Out of the 500 pieces, about 200 were the exact same color of blue sky. After much frustration, I just went out and bought Nate a real puzzle. 750 pieces later, I have learned my lesson: puzzles are not something you skimp on.


Luke at Five

 Favorite Number: 5

Favorite Drink: blue juice

Favorite Food: hot dogs or McDonald's

Favorite Color: red

Favorite Dessert: homemade cookies

Favorite Game: murder in the dark

Favorite Animal: tiger

Favorite TV Show: paw patrol

I feel sad when: people they be mean to your friends

I feel mad when: Lukey fights with his friends

I like it when my friends: be nice

I like it when I: be nice

I wish I could: build a Ninja Warrior park

Who is your best friend? All my friends. Tyler, Asa, Kai, Briggs, Levi

Why? Because we were lost and we made friends

What makes you laugh? Funny faces

What is your favorite movie? Lego Movie

What are you most afraid of? sharks

What is your favorite song? Everything is Awesome

What is your favorite activity? play games like zombies

What do you want to be when you grow up? policeman

What three things are you are good at? climbing nerf walls, going on the rock wall, steps

What is the best thing about being five? fun-ness

What makes you special? being nice


New York, New York

When one of Dustin's very closest friends announced he was getting married in June, I knew that we had to go. He comes from a very proud (and traditional) Russian Jewish family and promised us the wedding would be one to remember.

My girlfriends all helped out by taking the kids for us for our quick four day trip. Dustin didn't splurge for first class tickets, but he did use his status to get us exit row, which was nice for the long flight. With the time change and flight time, we didn't get into JFK until after 5 and then adding in the commute into the city, we didn't get to our hotel until 6:30 pm. Our hotel was right on the river with a gorgeous view.
For dinner, Dustin took me to a Jean-Georges restaurant right at Central Park. The food was delicious and it was so nice to sit and have a conversation while being in the same room at the same time without any other distractions.

We didn't get back to our hotel room until late and I am a notoriously bad vacation sleeper, so I took two sleeping pills. This was probably the worst idea I had in NYC. Poor Dustin woke me up when he accidentally turned on a light in our room when trying to leave to go work out at 10 am. I dragged my butt out of bed so we could run along the river and then a little after noon we headed out for brunch at The Kitchenette

After brunch/lunch we headed over to the Met. I am a huge art fan and Dustin is always so sweet to let me spend hours roaming museums. We didn't even make a dent in the collections, but we did manage to see the impressionists and modern art wings before we had to head out for dinner.  We took a stroll through Central Park and grabbed dinner at an Italian place on 7th ave.
 We decided on A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder for our show after we saw a snippet on Jimmy Fallon. It did not disappoint. It was hilarious and entertaining and I highly recommend it. The very next day, it won Best Musical at the Tony awards.

 Sunday we started our day off with burgers, fries and a shake from the Shake Shack. We also made it to the 9/11 memorial which was quite powerful and humbling. The next few hours were spent in line getting to and from the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. The statue itself was magnificent, the waiting in the hot sun and amount of lines were not. Ellie had done a report on it last semester so I was really excited to see it up close and personal.
 We had to rush back to the hotel and change really quickly in order to get to the wedding in time.

The wedding was gorgeous and definitely a must-not-miss event. I cannot even begin to describe the event.

 The tables were decked out in caviar and bottles of top shelf alcohol. There was a sushi bar and a raw bar along with the appetizers on our table and the 15 hot appetizers. Throughout the night we were served 15 entrees ranging from herring to lamb chops and tongue to three different meat kabobs. Plus the 4 desserts. While talking to the bride, we learned that they wanted to make sure there was enough food so they had the restaurant serve all three of their buffets.
 We sat at a table with Dustin's co-workers, which was perfect because we were the only people in the place that didn't speak Russian (most of the night was all in Russian except for the ceremony which was in Hebrew).

 It was cute to see our husbands in yamakas. All the women looked like Russian supermodels in their ten inch heels and their long legs and gorgeous hair and dresses. We were so grateful Alex and his beautiful bride, Irina, invited us to attend.
After the wedding, which was a traditional Jewish ceremony, the place turned into a night club. There were wedding singers complete with costume stages and strobe lights. Even the bride had two dresses. Most of the music was Russian pop music, but we danced the night away anyway.  Seven hours later, we headed back to the hotel, completely exhausted.

Monday morning we headed back home, anxious to see our children who had been having the time of their lives. Nate had stayed at 3 different friends' houses and went to Cub Scout day camp. Sadie stayed with her friend Brynley, swam, went to Big Surf and sucked up to Molly all weekend. Luke got to stay with his best friend Asa, celebrate his birthday and go to Dino Camp!

Ellie stayed with Meredith and I didn't even get to speak to her once the entire trip because she was having so much fun.
I don't have any idea what they did the whole time, but I did find this little gem on her phone! It was a quick trip but so nice to have some quiet time without anyone demanding anything of me or Dustin. So grateful to all my friends who helped out with the kids to make this possible.