Girl’s Night Out & A Birthday Weekend

The past several days have been so fun! On Thursday, I had a “Girl’s Night” with my friend Anna. We had a delicious Italian dinner and then went to the comedy club! It was a blast…and long overdue. I LOVE the comedy club. It was really fun, although I’ve seen better comedians. He was funny, but a bit of a misogynist…I mean, I can enjoy a vagina joke here and there, but seriously, his entire routine was about vaginas. (Actually, I lie, there was one joke about an uncircumsized penis looking like a snuffaluffagus. Classy.) It was entertaining, but it’s just got old after like 10 minutes. But we still had fun (in part, thanks to the 2 drink minimum)! Ha.

Then, on Friday we made the 5 hour drive to Minneapolis to visit my sister (Jessica) & her family for my niece (Abbey’s) 4th birthday party! She and McKenzie are exactly 2 months apart. We went to the Mall of America for dinner and McKenzie and Abbey went on a carousel ride. Then on Saturday we went to Abbey’s Halloween-themed dance class…McKenzie dressed up like a princess, and Abbey was a fairy. They danced and frolicked. It was so much fun to watch. *Mental note: Get McKenzie into classes of some kind.*

On Saturday afternoon we went to Jessica’s in-laws for Abbey’s party. There was an obscene amount of presents. And an ice cream cake from Dairy Queen (yum!). McKenzie got some “un-birthday” gifts. That was always a tradition in our house when I was little…because once I cried when I didn’t get any presents on my sister’s birthday. It’s like the song from Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland,” get it?…”A very merry un-birthday to you!” Anyhow, McKenzie got a walking/barking puppy, dress-up clothes, a puzzle, and a painted glass project. Fun! She loves the puppy a lot. She named it Snowball, since it’s all white.

Then on Sunday we went to their cabin. It’s always so fun! They wanted a photo session there, to which I happily obliged…although, Dan was not a willing participant (*cough, cough*), so it’s not my best work. Haha. Buuuut, I love that my sister always poses for me! She’s such a good model, and helps me get my portrait practice! I told her that when she publishes her first book, I get to take the photo for the back cover. =) Other than that, McKenzie and Abbey played in the leaves, and our dog (Logan) followed us around on the ATV. Then we drove back to Madison. Long day, but a very fun trip! I always love to watch McKenzie and Abbey play together.

Find beauty in the ordinary.

All too often we forget to take the time to slow down and enjoy the simple things. “Busy” has become an accomplishment, rather than something to avoid. We’re working so feverishly toward our goals that time flies by, and a year passes in the blink of an eye. We get lost in the monotony of the day-to-day routine, and we forget to slow down and actually enjoy the present (myself included).

This is one of the many reasons why I love photography. One instant, frozen in time. I usually prefer portraits, but I think these photos are particularly beautiful (I took them January 2012 on a trip to California). I love the feel, the texture, and the color. These objects are so ordinary that the beauty lies in their simplicity.

Row boat in Dana Point, CA harbor.

A backyard orange tree.

A wet dock.

Moss in the backyard.

There’s no place like home…

Oh man, there’s nothing quite like sleeping in your own bed. McKenzie and I had a great trip to California…but there were definitely ups and downs, and I’m pretty relieved to be home. We had a lot of fun seeing seals and dolphins on Grandpa Jeff’s boat, and she had a wonderful birthday. Boy, did she get spoiled! New Barbies, a new toy phone, dolls, some new clothes, and even a Disney princess suitcase…traveling home would’ve been impossible without it!

So a little recap of the trip is in order: Since Grandpa Jeff was working on her birthday (and had no food in his house), we went to the Cheesecake Factory in Mission Viejo, CA for lunch. The servers came and sang “Happy Birthday” to her, and she got a mini birthday sundae…she thought it was pretty cool to be the center of attention! And she loved it…so of course I did too. ;)

On her birthday evening, some local Cali friends came over. McKenzie had a blast playing with Sadie and Sophia (4 and 9-years-old, respectively). They played Barbies and had tons of fun. And I  just didn’t have time to make my famous Dirt Cake…darn it! She loves it every year and it’s so much fun for kids. I figure I’ll make it for my birthday this Saturday and we can have a combined mini-celebration together so her Daddy can watch her blow out candles too. I was so sad he wasn’t with us on her birthday this year. =(

Anyhow, while we feasted on some Domino’s Brooklyn Style Pizzas, Grandpa Jeff was the hero and ran to pick up a last-minute cake. He got the most delicious Caravel ice cream cake, and it was perfect. She got her second chorus of “Happy Birthday” for the day, and shortly after, we called it a night.birthdaycakecollagecrop

Now, Grandpa Jeff always spoils us and takes us to yummy restaurants, and this trip was no exception. We had delicious dinners every night, and we walked to watch the sun set over Dana Point Harbor. It was stunning view from up on the cliffs. I didn’t happen to snap a picture, but while we were there McKenzie was being quite a little goofball, so I was certainly able to snap a few of that…look at that attitude!nightcutiecollagecrop

Anyhow, our flights home were uneventful, and I had 3 separate people tell me that McKenzie is a “great traveler.” So I suppose that’s good for me! Haha. But seriously, it was a really long day, and it was great to come home and see Jon. We missed him oodles. And I took a looooong nap in my own bed while McKenzie showed Daddy all the new goodies from her birthday.

And her amazing Daddy had one more birthday surprise for her, too…she walked into her bedroom to find this beautiful flower arrangement. She’s been asking for “fake flowers” for months, and I think Jon did a pretty darn good job making his first flower arrangement all by himself! It’s perfect on her bookshelf…and I’m so glad to be home. ♥

A tantrum for the books…

Oh. My. Goodness. Mad props to single parents everywhere. This “vacation” has definitely been stressful having McKenzie by myself. I didn’t realize how much I really need my “me time” to unwind after a long day…and how much of a hands-on daddy Jon is. If one of us is getting really stressed with her, we literally say “tag!” and switch. It’s great. And I definitely could’ve used it yesterday. She had a tantrum of epic proportions. But I don’t blame McKenzie at all…the Wisconsin/Cali time change was really dramatic (2 hours), so her sleep schedule is all f*%#ed up.  She only got 8 hours of sleep, which is like 30% less. But seriously you guys, it was terrible. Like, she was screaming and crying for 45 minutes and curled up in a closet type-terrible. When she was finally done with that she had a nice long nap, and I did too. It was glorious.

After our nap, we went down to the Embarcadero Marina at Dana Point Harbor and went out on Grandpa Jeff’s boat on the ocean. We got to see seals and dolphins, and it was pretty sweet! McKenzie thought it was pretty cool. She was very excited her new mermaid Barbie got to see them too. So that was our day yesterday. I’ll recap her b-day party in a later post when I can download the pics after we get home.

In the meantime, I took these pics before we left and this outfit was also around $10. Even though I bought the shirt new, it was still really reasonable at $5.99 on sale at Kohl’s. I always buy shirts based on the shoes I have for her. It takes any thinking out of the equation. Haha. And I have a theory I apply whenever I dress her: baggy on the top, tight on the bottom, or vice versa. And I currently love the trend of shoes without socks. ;)

  • Shirt: $5.99, Kohl’s
  • Leggings: $3.50, Carter’s Outlet
  • Shoes: $2.98, Target clearance

Airplanes & A Birthday

First of all: Happy Birthday to McKenzie, the most genuinely kind, smart, and fun little kid I know! As I mentioned in a previous post, we’re spending her birthday in California to visit Grandpa Jeff, who she hadn’t seen since Christmas. We’re having a little party for her tonight, (with her annual dirtcake!) so I’ll let everyone know how that goes later.

We got to Cali late last night (well for her it was like 9pm, an hour past her bedtime…but it was only 7pm here). Traveling with an almost-4-year-old is so much easier than even 3. She hadn’t been on a plane in a year, so she was pretty excited, and we lucked out and got the window seat on both flights. She was SO good and pretty much just watched movies on the iPad the whole time. She has TV restrictions at home, but definitely not when we’re traveling…I’m not trying to make my life miserable. Haha.

Anyhow, she wore this outfit for the plane ride (pictured above). Layering is perfect for travel because if if kids get too hot, just take off the jacket (which did actually happen this trip…the plane was like a sauna). Needless to say, I was very glad she wore this outfit. Oh, and I would never use those air vents that blow in your face to cool off…I hate those…not only do they dry out my contacts, but they make me paranoid I’m blowing other people’s germs in my face. And I’m no germaphobe. Recycled air just grosses me out, okay? Haha. ;)

  • Jacket: $4.99 (Children’s Place, thrifted from Children’s Orchard)
  • Dress:  $9.99 (Oshkosh, clearance at the Johnson’s Creek Outlet Mall)
  • Shoes:  $1.99 (Old Navy, thrifted from Goodwill)