Summertime Adventures {June}

We’ve had such a busy summer. Every year I say it…It’s my favorite season of all. I love the bright sunshine warming my body, the worry-free days, and getting just a little more free time to slow down and enjoy time with the family and friends. Whether it’s out in nature, or a playful afternoon at home, Summer has got us by it’s playful grip, and we are enjoying the ride.
This includes lots of playdates, family days, girls nights, and unscheduled spontaneous adventures. They are my favorite sunny summer days of all.  I’m so thankful for my sweet (mostly) kiddos, and my amazing family and friends that I get to do life with! Here’s recap of our happenings in June.

{Last Day Of School Ice Cream Social and Pool Party}

{Summer Reading with Coal}{Summer Reading with Coal}

 

{Memorial Weekend hike and Lake fun}

 

{Kick-off to Summer Reading Library Event}

{First Summer Playdate Series at Settles Bridge Park}

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{Pool playdate with the Jewett kiddos}

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{Hawaiian Themed Neighborhood Girls Bunco Night}

{Hammock swings with my Sienna}

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{Ellie Goulding Concert with Sarah, Jen and Gracile}

{Splash Pad Summer Playdate Series}

{Mason vs. Sienna Dress-up and Light saber battles}

{Summertime Mani-Pedis}

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{Family Kayaking on Lake Lanier}

{Fun at Gary Pirkle Park}

{Yoga Storytime at the Library}

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{Tennis Court after dinner runs}

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{Glazed and Fired painting Playdate}

{Impromptu picnic in Mommy and Daddy’s room}

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{Summertime haircut for Sienna}

{Finding Dory Movie with Mason’s PreK Teacher+friends}

 

{Gold Mine Tour for Father’s Day weekend}

{Amicalola Falls- Parker climbed steps with me}

{Daddy and the kids cracking open Geodes}

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{Super Hero Fathers Day at Stonecreek Church}

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{Father’s Day fun at Hembree Park}

{Cumming Aquatic Center Playdate}

{Buford Dam-Lower Pool Park Playdate}

{Boat Ride on Lake Lanier with Nana, Poppy & Grace}

{Visiting Nana & Poppy’s Campsite, Lunch at Pelican Pete’s}

{Jumping with their cousin Grace at Get Air}

{Dinner with Nana, Poppy and Grace+Baking Nana’s Special Cake}

{Sienna pretends to be a mermaid in our neighborhood pool}

{Hammock swings in the back yard}

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{Parker and Mason discover their love for Piggie and Gerald Books}

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{First Lemonade Stand to raise money for VBS cause}

{First Redeemer VBS-Submerge!}


Amanda Graduates High School

It seems like it wasn’t so long ago that I was graduating High School, and now I’m congratulating my little sister who has earned the same title of Graduate. She has overcome many odds, and I am so incredibly proud of her determination and her perseverance she’s continued to show throughout her years at Providence Christian Academy. I’m sure she’ll do the same as she continues her education at Augusta University, where she’ll study medicine.

She is not only extremely smart and beautiful, but she is her own person who doesn’t follow the norms of her peers. She listens to the beat of her own drum, and I love that about her. She has grown into such an amazing person, and I can’t wait to see what God will continue to do in her life. Congrats, Sis!

 

Sienna’s First Ballet Recital

This past Spring, Sienna had her very first ballet recital. She was such a doll and had a wonderful time. Creative Movement doesn’t make a huge production out of the recital, which I love because Sienna is just three, and I think that would be too much for her. It was a small, more intimate performance which made it really sweet. She got flowers from me and her Daddy, and new ear rings from her Nanie. We had a great time watching all the she’s been learning in ballet each week!

Parker’s Field Day and Last Days of school

{OVERDUE POST}

Parker had a fantastic last week of school. He had an absolute blast at field day, and he had a super cute performance with his classmates that included singing songs about each month of the school year, and a bit of what they learned that month. It was simply adorable! Parker’s part was the in the month of May, and he and his friend was dressed as “surfer dudes”. So incredibly cute! It was a wonderful way to end a successful first school year Daves Creek!


Mother’s Day-Our First Family Camping Trip

We did our first family camping trip over Mother’s day weekend. We were very last minute with the planning, but it turned out just fine even without being 100% prepared. I got the idea because I originally just wanted to do a trail hike for Mother’s Day weekend. The weather was looking great, so I thought maybe it would be more fun to try to tent camp while we were at it.

I contacted a friend who has gone camping in the area before and asked for her recommendation. We wanted to camp by Lake Lanier because it’s close, but there are several campgrounds on Lake Lanier, and I wasn’t sure which one was more suitable with kids.  She said Shady Grove Campground is their favorite, so I decided to check out the website.

The website is very promising, boasting lake views, bathroom and shower facilities, two playground areas, wooded hiking trails, and a lake “beach” area close to the campsites. This all sounded wonderful to us, so we decided to go for it!

We absolutely loved the campground. The walking paths in the woods were great, the playground for the kids and the beach was wonderful. The bathroom facilities were close to the campsite and clean and exactly what we needed with three little ones and our first camping experience. We got a six person tent, and we arrived around noon after lunch and began unpacking the car and getting acquainted with our campsite. There were campsites closer to Lake Lanier with views, but this one was perfect because of how close it was to the beach, bathrooms, and playground.  It was also very shady and flat, which was great. The car was filled to the brim with camping supplies. I forgot how many things you actually need when you camp. Pretty much everything!

We cheated a little bit and did simple meals on paper plates, disposable plasticware and juice boxes. Next time we will be more eco-friendly and just use reusable cups. The typical camping staple- hot dog over an open flame of course, and we made simple mac and cheese, smores, sandwiches, etc. We brought the Cusinart Griddler with us and made pancakes for the morning (yum) but forgot syrup, so Dan ran out that morning and grabbed some. One great thing about camping at this location is that t’s not too far from civilization!

Parker got his first pocket swiss army knife and he had a great time using it to practice sharpening sticks and cutting the bark off of them. Mason and Sienna loved helping with the fire and gathering sticks. They were all great helpers on the campsite. They were just excited about the whole experience! One of their favorite things was going on the wooded walking trail to the playground. The playground there was amazing. They spared no expense. It had rock walls, several slides, cool wobbly platforms they could toddle between. They had so much fun, and will be able to play on it for many years, as it’s spans several age groups.

Before bedtime, Dan and I took turns taking the boys out on night time nature walks with their head lamps. Those headlamps are worth every penny. We had so much fun with them! The boys just loved being out past dark, and enjoyed just being in nature, wondering what creatures they would find and listening to the night birds, frogs, and creatures make noise.

The evening was a bit more challenging as the night went on. Sienna went to bed around eight without an issue. She’s a great sleeper and can sleep pretty much anywhere. However, once it was time for the rest of us to go to sleep, we realized that our fellow camping neighbors were playing a serious game of corn hole. Finally after about 15 minutes into the quite time (Campsite guidelines say after 10pm is quite time) we had to go and give a gentle reminder about the park rules, and that we were having a hard time getting the kids to sleep. They were apologetic and immediately stopped their game and cheering, but I felt like such a kill-joy having to do that.  It’s just very frustrating when you’re left with little kids who can’t sleep, and are over tired. Other than that, no issues with neighbor noise, but Mason was a little weary of sleeping with all the evening nature noises, but eventually crashed. The next day he said he loved camping, so I don’t think he was scarred too much from all the unfamiliar sounds.

We also found out quickly that the tent (slated to hold six people) wasn’t really a great fit for us. It indeed could probably fit six, but with two queen air mattresses, it’s pretty much one adult one kid on one, and one adult two kids on another (I’ll let you guess who had the privilege of the ladder, Ha!) but we really needed an extra twin bed for one of the kids. It’s just too cramped on the queen bed with the sleeping bags for more than that. So, we returned it. Lesson learned. It wasn’t terrible but could’ve been better.

There was also a fun beach area that we explored the first day. The water felt like it had ice cubes in it. Super cold, but the kids still liked it for a short time. We’ll have to hit up the beach for longer once again when it’s warmer.

It was such a fun experience, a wonderful Mother’s Day, and we can’t wait to do it again!


Mason Can Ride a Bike!

It happened so fast! Dan and I had tried to get Mason pumped up about taking off his training wheels ever since his fifth birthday in March. We finally took the plunge, but then he resisted practicing and just wanted the training wheels put back on.

One day, Mason came home and said that they were having bike day at school and you can bring your bike in to ride around with your classmates. I said to Mason “Wouldn’t it be so neat if you could ride your bike without training wheels before bike day at school?” He shrugged, and then decided he wanted to give it a try. We tried in the driveway a few times, but nothing much came of it.
I knew if he could just practice balancing then he would be a little more confident. So, that evening I searched on youtube how to teach a kid to ride a bike. I came across a video that suggested removing the pedals. So, I thought I’d give it a try. Dan took them off one weekend and he practiced just taking big long steps on his bike downhill… just to practice balancing. Then Dan left for a business trip, and I asked if he was comfortable putting the pedals back on, and he said he was, and so we did. I wasn’t prepared at all for what happened next, and neither was he. We went down to the cul-de-sac and he almost immediately started pedaling! He surprised himself after three revolutions, and stopped and just turned to look at me shocked. I told him not to move a muscle and I ran back home and grabbed my phone to video it! He did it! I was so proud!!


Pre-K Graduation, and Fun in the Sun Field Day

What a fun busy school year it has been! This was the first time that we’ve had all three kids in school at the same time and it has had its challenges for sure.  Just keeping all of their schedules and events in order has taken some organzational trial and error, but fortunately I haven’t dropped the ball on anything major this year, which is good!

Mason…. my sweet Mason graduated Pre-K, and is ready for Kindergarten in the fall. Well, I don’t know that I’d say he was fully ready. On the way to school on the last day I said, “Mason, it’s your last day of PRESCHOOL, can you believe it?”  and then he responds and says “Mom, will you be able to come with me to school, because I’m a little nervous about Kindergarten”. For realz… cue tears!  I went on to tell him that I would join him for an orientation, but then he was lucky because he has a big brother that can show him around the school.  I think that made him feel a bit better, but we’ll see once August creeps around the corner.  He’s done such a great job in PreK, and the teacher has had nothing but wonderful things to say about him during his parent-teacher conference.  He also became the Star Student last month, and we were super proud of him!IMG_0619

mason graduation

He had a really sweet graduation ceremony and end of year program. Of course, I was super emotional. My last sweet boy is leaving preschool!  I’m going to certainly be a mess when Sienna leaves since we’ll be leaving the school for good. Aaaah!  Graduation night Mason and Sienna both had sweet little singing performances with their class, and of course, Mason walked for his graduation. We enjoyed watching them and enjoying ice cream as a celebration after!

 

Mason and Sienna had their last day of school this week, and they were a lot of fun! They had a great time playing, loving on animals, celebrating with their classmates, and saying their goodbyes.

We closed out the 2015/16 Preschool school year with a bang! We’ve loved all the teachers and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience for Seinna’s first time in preschool! Mason has really enjoyed his teachers and has thrived this  year, and that makes me so proud. Another great Preschool year at Parkway!

Disney On Ice Presents- Frozen

Sienna and I had a fun girls night with some neighbor friends. We went to see Disney on ice at the Infinite Energy Center in Duluth.

What a fantastic show! Disney never disappoints and this show was no different. Our seats were decent being only a few from the first row, and pretty close to the center.  Sienna was in her element with all of the singing and ice skating. A few times she sang along and got out of her seat to dance. It really was a great performance. I was also impressed with all the ice skating tricks. There were also a few short characters in costumes that were on stage that I had to wonder how they were skating so low to the ground. The ice skaters were very talented!

I asked some of the girls in the neighborhood if they wanted to join us. I’m trying to get Sienna around other little girls in our neighborhood in hopes that she can make some little friends. She had a sweet little friend of hers move away recently, and she now doesn’t have many buddies to play with. It was also nice to enjoy time with the girls Moms. Us Mamas of girls need to stick together. We’ll need each other once those teen years hit!

We had the same sparkly aqua dress that Sienna got for Christmas along with the an Anna costume, but Sienna wanted the sparkly dress that looks similar to Elsa’s dress. She is obsessed with it!

She wanted to do her hair in an Elsa braid, and add glitter to it. So, that’s what she got! She looks super cute, I must say!

I feel blessed to be able to do these fun little outings with my sweet girl.  Sienna and I really connect well and I hope our relationship continues to flourish as the years go on!

 

Legoland and Ft. Lauderdale Beach

This is the first time in as long as I can remember that we’ve gone out of town over spring break. We typically avoid traveling on this common week like the plague, but since Parker is elementary school this year, we have to abide by the dreaded school schedule.

It actually didn’t turn out to be bad at all in the way of crowds and traffic. We wanted to go somewhere nice and warm, but we didn’t want to drive an entire day to get there either. So, we decided to make an overnight stop in Orlando, stay two nights, and drive on to Ft. Lauderdale where it was nice and warm for the beach, and then stop again in Orlando on the return home.  We love Destin, but this time of year can be hit or miss on the weather, and if we’re doing all that driving and spending money, we want to make sure that we’ll at least have a few warm days.

Since we decided to make a pit stop in Orlando, we thought it would be nice to do Legoland for one day. Dan and the boys went to Legoland last fall break and loved it while Sienna and I went to Disney for the day. So, we thought it would be nice to go as a family and also meet Dan’s Parents down there during our visit.  It is only a short drive from their Florida home, and the kids loved getting to see and visit with them, as did they. The kids all had a great time and I loved that they had short lines and lots of rides for the little kids. There were lots of fun roller coasters that all three kids could ride!

 

I failed to mention at the start of this post that we invited my sister Amanda to join us on the trip. She. Is. Wonderful. She was not only a big help, but it was so nice to have her along and connect with her that week since we rarely get to see each other. She is a senior this year, and will be off to college in the fall and we will probably see even less of her. So, she braved the craziness that is our family, and agreed to join us for a week of family (mostly) fun.

We headed down to an amazing house near Ft. Lauderdale after our stay in Orlando. Dan found an amazing place on VRBO again called Waterfront Tropical Oasis. Yes, it is as amazing as it sounds, and I gave it a glowing review after our trip. It was absolutely perfect! This was the first time we didn’t stay on or very close to the beach, but it was still just perfect. Only a few miles from the beach, and so much to do right at the house!  They had kayaks for the waterway right in the back yard, a pool for the kids, floats, grill, tons of seating. They even had bikes if we all wanted to ride, but we didn’t get around to doing that.

This was the first time we had been to Ft. Lauderdale as a family, so there was a bit of a learning curve as to where things are, what is great to do, etc.  We went the first day into town to do a duck tour. We thought it would be a great way to get acquainted with the area. Although their website says nothing of the fact, turns out they closed their Ft. Lauderdale office months ago. So, we wandered the beach instead even though it was super windy and overcast. Then we decided we’d just stay a bit afterall and enjoy the beach and sunshine.

One thing that we didn’t know about Ft. Lauderdale, is how close it is to the florida everglades.  Supposedly, it is a major attraction for the area to go on the air boats in search for alligators. Since we had never done this before, the adventure sounded intriguing. When in Rome, right? So, we found a tour that takes you down there, and organizes the trip on the boat. We had a great time! I can’t lie though, I was a bit scared once we were out there and realized there was only about a foot of metal edge between me and the water where the alligators are. It turned out to be fine, but I was a little on edge in the beginning. Then, before I knew it, the tour was over, and I almost left feeling like it wasn’t long enough. Maybe it was because I was too much in worry-mode to actually enjoy it. Nevertheless, it was a fun experience and one we’ll always remember!

We were so thankful that Amanda graciously watched the kids so that we could have a date night, too.  The last time we did a date night on vacation, it was an absolute disaster. We’re so glad that the kids had someone they knew and loved watch them so that Dan and I could escape our loud super sweet kids and enjoy some time alone.  We went to a fun place called Coconuts, and it was a big hit. I definitely recommend this place if you’re going to the Ft. Lauderdale area. Make sure to order the Scoobies!! They’re known for them. So delish!img_1500

We also just enjoyed time at the house. One night we all at boxed ice cream from the freezer while we warmed our feet in the outside hot tub.  One morning, the kids woke up and immediately got their suits on and swam all morning, and we headed to the beach after that.  I tell you what, it’s been so much easier this trip knowing that we have two boys that can swim rather well. They’re also tall enough to reach the shallow end too, so if they get tired, they don’t need to swim the entire time.  We made lots of great memories just hanging out there, enjoying the pool!

Our last day in Ft. Lauderdale, we discovered Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. After we got there, we were kicking ourselves for not discovering it earlier in our trip. We had just set our directions to take us to Ft. Lauderdale, so it took us further south. This particular area was closer to where we were, and super quaint with stores, lots of seating, very dog friendly, live music, areas for kids to play games, a fishing pier to walk on and soak in the amazing views. It was just an overall fantastic place. We also discovered an amazing ice-cream place called Sloans. Super eclectic and it was fantastic. Exactly what we needed to put the ‘cherry on top’ of our vacation in Ft. Lauderdale!

On our way back to Orlando, we visited with a new addition to the family, Summer Grace Hopkins. My cousin Alisun and a sweet baby girl that we were able to hold and visit with.  We also got a chance to enjoy a nice lunch with Norris and Liane. It was so nice to get to see everyone! What a blessing sweet Summer is!

 

I also snap chatted through our trip. Here are a few snaps that I saved. If you’d like to follow some of my silly-nonsignificant snaps, look me up at schristiansen1

  

Overall, it was a great vacation. There was lots of time to connect with family, and just take it easy and forget the hustle of life. I hope the kids look back on the trip and remember good memories of a fun time together as a family.

Easter 2016

Easter seemed so early this year! It really snuck up on us right after Mason’s birthday. I took the kids down the road by our house a few days before Easter to get pictures of them in their Easter clothes since rain was forecasted. It is amazing how much easier they are to photograph now as opposed to just a year ago. They listen so much better! I think they’re probably a bit used to the drill since I take so many photos of them! I’m really happy with how they turned out.

The boys were wearing outfits grabbed last minute from Target. They didn’t have a lot to choose from, and I like their Easter outfits to be casual enough to wear to church on other days as well. Sienna got her dress at the Spring consignment sale that I go to every year. I love getting her dresses there since they’re always very cheap, and she typically only wears the dress once.  This is the one time a year that I try to do a photo shoot of my kids and practice my photography skills. I’m happy with the results!

The kids also enjoyed fun egg hunts and parties at school as well. They had a great Easter party. I was especially impressed with Mason who had memorized the entire Easter story with the resurrection eggs!

The kids had a lot of fun this year at Easter. We didn’t let the light rain ruin our egg hunt and spending time with the family.  We had a great time at Aunt Vicki’s house in Decatur. We visited with Angie, Robby, Hannah, Jake and his wife Sarah, Patrick, Drew, Anna, and their two kids Jackson and Davis, and Mark and Jessica with their three kids Carson, Cooper and Presley.  Of course, the gathering was hosted by Vicki and her husband Phil.

Parker, Mason and Sienna really enjoyed the egg hunt, and visiting with all the cousins! This year Davis and Copper got the golden eggs! Parker got a yellow egg, and he was convinced that it was THE golden egg, so he stopped looking for the two hidden eggs.