Wednesday, July 29, 2015

What's Up Wednesday

I decided that taking part in another "What's Up Wednesday" would be a great way to catch up on all the posting I've fallen behind on in the last month...I love a good shortcut! Here we go!

1.  What we're eating this week....
Nothing worth posting!  We'll have some of the usual...pasta/salad, baked chicken, tacos....last night we ventured out with some friends to Max & Erma's (turns out they have a kids eat free night every Tuesday!) which was delicious.  There were 3 adults and 7 kids, ranging from ages 4-7 and I have to say, the kids were all angels!  It was a nice night out for the 3 mamas.  The kids were so good, we splurged on some fresh baked chocolate chip cookies for everyone. This little tag speaks the truth:

2.  What I'm reminiscing about...
The beach!  As I've mentioned before, we are doing a vacation this year, but we're changing it up and going to a lakehouse in Montana, so no usual beach trip with the besties for us.  I've been thinking back to last year with these water-loving kiddos:


3. What I'm loving....
How much fun these kiddos have been having at their camps this summer!  Liam has stayed at his regular daycare/preschool, but they switch over to an informal summer camp format for June-August. He's been loving all of the sprinklers and weekly themes, and he's pretty much a hot, sweaty, tired mess when I pick him up everyday.

Jake goes to camp at our church, and it's an awesome program that has swimming twice per week and a field trip each week.  So far this summer, they've gone to the movies, a hiking trail, the science center, a Just Ducky tour, and the aviary!  He's there with a few of his friends from preschool days and his baseball team, so he's having a blast.  They do a "star camper" award each week for a kid who demonstrates the values they talk about at camp (mostly respecting the rules of camp and being kind to other campers and counselors)...Jake won the award earlier this month!

4.  What we've been up to...
The usual summer stuff, really! Riding bikes, the boys have been in the treehouse a lot, playing with neighbors, going that it's not raining 6 out of 7 days a week, we've been out a lot more! This past weekend was busy, I went to a baby shower for a family friend (where I got to hog my nephew, Luke, again!)


And on Sunday, the boys had been invited to a birthday party at a friend's house with a pool....these two didn't get out of the pool for a solid 3.5 hours.  I take that back, Liam got out to have a piece of cake (of course) but that's it!  They were WIPED that night.


5.  What I'm dreading....
Right in this exact moment, I'm dreading 11:30am today, when I have to go to the dermatologist for my yearly check up.  I know it's a necessary evil, and after having a number of suspicious spots removed in recent years,  I will preach to anyone who will listen that they should go get skin checks...but that doesn't mean it's a fun thing!  But, it will be over with by the end of the day, and hopefully I'll be off the hook for another year.

Consider this your friendly PSA that if you haven't had your skin checked this year, call now to make your appointment!! 

6.  What I'm working on....
Vacation 2016.  I haven't really been working on it as much as just contemplating options.  I know, we haven't even taken our vacation this year!  But of course, I'm already thinking of next year....we've been tossing some ideas around....back to the beach as we usually do?  Disney cruise?  Disney world again? There's so much we want to do and see, and we feel like the kids are only little once so we want to do the fun kid things with them while they're young enough to appreciate it...if only we had unlimited money and vacation time!  

7.  What I'm excited about....
Booties!!  No, no, get your mind out of the gutter.  Not that.  I'm talking these kind of booties:

BP. 'Trott" - Nordstrom 
Ivanka Trump "Taren" - Nordstrom
I've been eying up those two from Nordstrom (thanks, Pinterest Told Me To!), but I hope to be able to hit Marshalls before fully committing to buying the boots at full price.  Any other cute shoe suggestions?  Preference between the two I posted?  Leave them in the comments!

8. What I'm watching/reading...
I'm just finishing up What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty (love it!) and up next is Beautiful Day by Elin Hilderbrand.

We've been watching Big Brother, So You Think You Can Dance, and of course, I just finished watching The Bachelorette! (and definitely looking forward to the trainwreck that is Bachelor in Paradise)

9. What I'm listening to....
I've been throwing it back when I turn on Spotify and listening to Dave Matthews and Counting Crows a lot (or the 90's hip hop/rap station if the kids aren't around...shhh don't tell them!)

10. What I'm wearing....
Over the past week, anything that keeps me cool!  It has been HOT here, into the 90s nearly everyday.  The flip side to this horrendous outside temperature is that while the number on the thermometer continues to climb outside, the thermostat temp in my office continues to drop.  So, basically this....

11. What I'm looking forward to next month....
VACATION!!!! :)  I'm sure that I will find myself saying something along these lines when we get back, but we are really looking forward to going!

12. What else is new...
We made an effort this summer to continue going to church whenever we can, even though there's no Sunday School.  They do offer a children's church program during the regular service so we've been able to go a few times over the past 2 months or so.  We'll register the kids for Sunday School again in the fall....Liam loves going and gets excited every Sunday....Jake seems to dislike it slightly less at this point :)  I think his main complaint is that they all sing songs for the first 10 minutes or so, and he REALLY dislikes that portion of it. Oh, and the fact that I won't let him wear athletic shorts or sweatpants. Mean mommy!

sun in their eyes, but looking handsome (and coordinated) on our way to church last sunday!
 13.  What I'll miss most about summer...
Not going to lie here, I love a lot of stuff about summer and I'll miss it for sure, but what I'll miss most is the lack of nightly homework!!  There is something to be said for simply coming home from work and getting to hang out with the kids, instead of having to factor in homework time :(  But, we'll get into the groove eventually....

Wordless Wednesday: Sibling love

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Operation: Treehouse 2015 - COMPLETE!!

I've made a few mentions of the ongoing treehouse project at our house, and I'm so happy that I can finally reveal the finished product!!  After a LOT of hard work, long hours, and a ton of sweat, I am proud to present to you our family treehouse!!

We'll take a tour, then I'll give you some details about the project:

Front of treehouse
backside of house with cargo climbing net (purchased from Amazon)

Bunk beds (Smile banner from target)

bunk beds with view of front window

view from inside looking at front door, chalkboard saved from being thrown away at my office!

bunk bed with view of back window (Dream Big sign from Target)

Front porch sittin' space :)  (chairs from walmart, but purchased a few years ago, similar available on Amazon)

bunk bed testers, kids not for sale

Jake and his buddy Ben, testing out the top bunk :) 

Ok, let's break this project down:

The Plan

 There are a LOT of free treehouse plans out there (thank you, Pinterest) but we were looking for something very specific, as we did not want to build the house IN a tree, but rather, between 2 trees.  So when we came across this free plan on, it was perfect!  Link to full plans (with LOTS of pictures of their project) can be found here.

Time Commitment

Brian started this project back in May, and it was a much bigger undertaking than he had bargained for.  Essentially, it took him from mid-May through mid-July to finish it (and he still needs to add on a few finishing touches, like putting trim around the windows and installing the door) He was; however, working with limited time, considering he doesn't get home from work until 6:30pm and was often coaching baseball at night for much of May and June.  If you are hoping to do this project and could devote more time to working on it, you could complete it in less than 2 months.  He was working on it by himself for the most part, though we did have a lot of help from my father in law for 2 weekends and some random help from neighbors and friends a few times (thank you to everyone who was willing to lend us a helping hand and/or tools!)

He said that in hindsight, it would have been helpful to have (weather-permitting) scheduled a few vacation days all in a row to get a lot of the project done at once, rather than doing bits and pieces here and there at night and the weekends.  He still wouldn't have completed it in just those few days, but at least it would have been more efficient than having to drag out all of his tools and supplies for just an hour or two here and there in the evenings.


Most of the supplies were purchased at  Lowes.  We lucked out in that we hadn't cashed in any rewards from our credit card in years, so we had a lot of points saved up to be able to order gift cards to Lowes...score!

Brian also made a trip to Construction Junction, which is kind of a thrift store for hardware and wood (it was about 30 minutes from our house, but he said it was well worth the trip there, he was getting stuff for about 1/4 of what it would have cost him at Lowes)  Since it's like a thrift store, there's no set inventory, so it's hit or miss, but he was really happy to at least be able to get a bunch of his stuff from there.

I also posted on Craigslist and local Facebook yard sale pages that I was seeking free or low-cost supplies for a treehouse...I threw it out there figuring it couldn't hurt, and got a number of replies!  One person responded that they had an entire deck they had just replaced and that the wood was in pretty good shape....Brian picked it all up, sent the wood through a planer, and that is what you see as the siding of the house (and what he's building the door with)  Good as new!  I had the same response from someone with shingles from their roof they'd had replaced....gotta love upcyling! 

Links to additional supplies:

Cargo/Climbing Net: Amazon
Kids Adirondack Chairs: originally from walmart, similar found on Amazon
Dream Big sign: Target (dollar spot, not available to link to online)
Smile Banner: Target (dollar spot, not available to link to online)


The boys are so excited that it's done, and can't wait to have a sleepover up there! :)  We're looking forward to them making lots of fun memories! 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Luau 2015

I don't know what it was about this year's luau...but it was my favorite so far.  I think it was the most relaxed I've ever been there, and that happened for no other reason other than me making a vow at the start of the party to actually make it a point to relax.  I even had some drinks!  I ate a full plate of food!  I felt like I got to talk to nearly everyone at the party, even if it was just briefly!  I even told Brian at the end of the night to stop cleaning up and relax! (Ok, that might have been the mai tais talking, but whatever)


It's always great to see so many of our family and friends, and we were lucky this year that not only were both sets of grandparents able to join us, but our besties from Virginia and Brian's aunt and uncle from New Jersey were here, too!

So much handsome in one picture.


Our families have grown and changed so much over the years, but our friendship has remained the same...we are so lucky to have Melissa, Dennis, Ben and Parker in our lives!  And I mean, could the boys be any cuter??

And a big thank you as always to our families for all of their help with the luau, we could never pull it off without them!!!  (note to self: have the grandmas set the food out before serving them drinks... #TheSternosAreLitAndSoAreTheGrandmas)

There were kids EVERYWHERE and I was so impressed that I didn't hear any squabbling or fighting the entire they were either all playing angelically with each other, or they at least weren't fighting loudly enough to get my attention.  I'll take either one!

Gracie, on the other hand, was less than impressed with one thing at the luau....last year after Halloween, I found a little "luau dog" costume 90% off at Target.  90% off friends!  They were practically giving it away, how could I not??  She kept it on for about 10 minutes before looking so ashamed that I took it off.

"I can't believe this is my life right now"

Brian opened up the bar for happy hour per usual and the drinks were the best ever...

GG, Nana, Aunt Laureen, Uncle Phil
Dennis and PopPop

He wrapped up happy hour a bit earlier than usual so that they could start a game of Tiki Ball. What's tiki ball, you ask?  Well, I'm still not sure and I got talked into playing it!  All I know is there were old tiki torch sticks used as bats, a whole lot of yelling, and kids running everywhere.  Oh, and I managed to not break a leg running the bases, so WIN!


A great party, made even better by the fact that Melissa and family were spending the night at our house, and the kids were super excited for a sleepover and to play together again in the morning :)


Gracie spent much of the next day in recovery mode and is hoping that next year does not involve a grass skirt for her.

Thanks again to everyone who came!! 

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