Welcome to today’s hell.

A gift to Katie from a well-meaning aunt. While Katie does love puzzles, of course she doesn’t have the attention span for this (hell, I barely do) but she really wants to color it. If it was up to me I’d just throw it in the trash (well I’m not an idiot, I’d give it away). But guess who will end up doing it all?? Her face just about sums it up for me too. 😂

#whowantstohelp
#idonthavetimeforthis
#puzzleparty
#ihavewineandmargaritas
#whendotheygobacktoschool
#thisauntisonmyshitlist

A friend is going to come help Friday.

Someone just spent some birthday money at Toys R Us.

We had promised the kids we’d take them shopping after Christmas to spend some of their birthday money/gift cards. (We’d postponed shopping due to the move and then we just forgot about it but when I took them Christmas shopping for each other they both obviously wanted to shop for themselves.)

I went with Katie and Tom went with Owen. They each had $35 to spend. Katie kept trading items out of the cart as she found stuff she liked better. It took her a bit to understand that she couldn’t just get everything she wanted. I had to guide her a little bit but she did well.

She loves being a mermaid. (This was a last-minute purchase that was her entire budget but she also had an expensive doll she really wanted. So to make my life easier, I let her get both and now she has used up all of her Target gift cards as well!)

I wasn’t thrilled about this huge animal but I was thrilled it wasn’t a 200-piece Shopkins set. She also got a huge 24″ Barbie-type doll so all of her gift cards are now gone (she had Target ones as well but since she went over budget, they’re now mine!).

Owen bought a bunch of random smaller stuff that I’m sure will be played with for a week and then lost. 😂 But he was happy today!

Santa found us in Grayling!

As is tradition, we set the kids’ phones outside their rooms so when they get up in the morning they have something to do until we get up and are ready (which is always by 7). This morning Katie was still sleeping at 7 and Owen had already had enough of his phone and was laying by the door just waiting… So Tom woke Katie up!

Katie got a note from Santa telling her he left a big present at home since he knew she was at Gramma’s—a Barbie power wheels!!

Then the kids opened their gifts from each other… Owen loved his sword, yoyo, and Lego Ninjago stuff and Katie was happy he was happy. Awwwww.

And then it was her turn to open and she LOVED what Owen got her (a Belle doll and matching Belle dress)!

And Gramma’s picture of the same scene from a different angle! So cute and so thrilled! :)

And then they put together their Lego figures they got each other.

Tom said Katie saw this wine key when they were out and about and she had to get it for me. So now whenever I want wine, I show her the key and she will bring me some. :)

And she also picked out this painted stone at a favorite store of mine in Grayling—Tip’n the Mitten!

The one thing she repeatedly asked for—a Sparty cheerleader outfit. She used to have a hand-me-down from the Besons but it is too small. This one should fit for a few years (Gramma had to take in the skirt because she’s so tiny).

Gramma Marsha had all these Barbies packed away so we held on to them until this Christmas. She loved them.

Land’s End might need to hear about this.

I had this coat when I was in high school—I think maybe my junior/senior years. Then I gave it to my Aunt Marge and she wore it forever. She just gave it back to us for Owen…and it’s a bit big but he doesn’t care. He LOVES it. I might need to write Land’s End about this one. (I also know I have one picture of me in it, but it’s black and white in a yearbook…and I have to find it. Stay tuned.)

I’ve always thought a train under the tree would be cool.

It only took 44 years, a kid who loves Legos, grandparents who were willing to buy the set and the electronics 💗 and a last-minute extra set of tracks to fit around the tree stand… It ended up needing some parental intervention [to get the power hooked up correctly and the tracks in an approximate circle] but Owen did the bulk of it.

  

I think he loves his ATV.

Remember me saying we wanted to try to give the kids experiences instead of stuff? Yeah, well, we also agreed that bigger things instead of lots of little junky stuff would be good, too…so we let Owen decide if he wanted to spend his birthday money to pay half of an ATV. (We had wanted to get them the power wheels but Owen is too big. A neighbor has an electric ATV that Owen loved so that’s how we got the idea.) He immediately agreed so he gave us all of his remaining birthday gift cards and still owes us about $100. 

He was ABSOLUTELY GIDDY. 

  

Unfortunately, it arrived like this so Tom had some work to do.

  
    

Len Summer Christmas 2017

Nick and Gracie making Christmas M&Ms (the rest went into Lisa’s monster cookies).

Just a few brats to cook…

All the kids like to fish but they say Aubrey is the one who loves it the most and is the best at it. She apparently gives lessons to other kids at their house!

Katie caught a fish!

Someone took an unplanned jump into the river (learning you can’t walk on lily pads):

Drying off…

I think this picture is a tradition.

And the mandatory annual family Christmas photo! Every year they give us grief about taking it… And this year with the craziness of the move I didn’t post it immediately and they were all asking about it!! So there. :p

And the annual kid comparison—Katie is getting closer to Aubrey but Aubrey is still ahead (which should be the case, as she’s almost 9). And as usual, Owen is definitely taller than Gracie…

But I think he beats Nick this year!!


Last year:

More fishing!

After a campfire and s’mores it was time for bed. The kids decided to all sleep in the living room… Poor Timmy. :)

 

Katie and Gramma Jean’s Big Birthday Adventure

I told Gramma that for Katie’s birthday, instead of giving her stuff, to take her on an adventure. So she did.

In Gramma’s words:

For Katie’s 5th birthday this year, we went on an adventure! (Yes, in Grayling.) We played at three parks, went wading in the river (along some of the racers practicing), went to the grocery store for picnic lunch supplies [where Katie could pick anything she wanted—she got a Lunchable, strawberry yogurt covered pretzels, strawberries, cashews, and chocolate milk], threw stones in the river for a half hour, went for a 3-mile bike ride (yes, I fell), and had an ice cream cone at Wimpy’s. We were gone 7 hours and mom and dad were starting to worry! What great fun we had! Happy birthday Katie Bug!

 

   
       
                        

Gramma says Katie could have pedaled for hours!

  

Gramma says: I am so glad Katie didn’t fall. We were too close to each other and her back wheel caught my front wheel. 

         
  

Happy 5th birthday, Katie!

The day started by opening a present from papa and Grannie (that has been in our closet for probably two years now)—doll bunk beds. She was over the moon!

  
Picture with the birthday girl!

Opening her birthday cards—the same card from two people and the zebras matched her outfit! What are the odds?!

The official picture.