You might be married to a Redneck

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Do you know that today is the first day of archery?  If you didn't, this post will sound like a load of goofy baloney.  If you do, might be married to a redneck.

We live in western PA - some call it Pennsyltucky because of our backwards, hick ways (no offense, Kentucky - it's actually a compliment!). Some of our men are the truck driving, deer hunting, Turtleman loving, and Jaeger guzzling type.  Despite their general ogre facade, they are also the hard working, ditch digging, hand holding, country song singing type too.  We call this kind of a man a redneck around these parts - and if you're wondering if maybe you're married to one - or dating one, see below for some hints that you might be married to a redneck.

You might be married to a Redneck if... know there is a difference between army camo and hunting camo.  And you know which hunting camo is your husband's favorite.  (my husband's favorite is Mossy Oak Break-up). have marked on your calendars and planners: the first day of archery, first day of rifle, first day of spring gobbler, and first day of trout...these are all days that you do not make plans. own camo bed sheets, and camo shower curtains, and camo crib accessories. never just pick up a plastic bottle and drink it; you always check first to see if its a spitter. don't throw away empty bottles; they are stashed away in the truck or a shelf in the kitchen to be used as future spitters have pinned recipes on pinterest that are for marinating wild game. are proud of your husband's (and father in laws) performances on the local news station when interviewed about hunting season.

photo credit:  Jet-TV 24 (Erie, PA) know your husband is not checking you out in the car when he repeatedly looks over in your direction;  he is just trying to spot deer and turkeys in the fields on the side of the highway

...your husband and groomsmen wore camo to your wedding.  (with turkey feather boutonnieres).

photo credit:  Michelle Misner Photography own and use Scent Away laundry detergent have subscriptions to PA Game & Fish on the backs of your toilets

...somewhere in your garage (or yard) are deer targets, turkey decoys, a hunting blind, and at least one treestand have a photo folder on your computer called "Game Camera" that includes 300 pictures of animals with a date and time stamp (and occasionally your husband's face). know what brand of bow your husband shoots and what kind of snuff he chews...and so do your kids. have stuffed animal heads and hides displayed in main parts of your home.'ve ever decorated the stuffed animal heads in your home to match the holiday. own a deep freezer because you need the space to hold deer meat, wild fish, turkey, and occasional bear meat.

...You own camo lingerie and a camo bathing suit - and your husband thinks they are the hottest things you own.

...The logos of Mossy Oak, Browning, and Remington are just as recognizable as McDonald's, Macy's, and Target.

...You have to shop at only four places for birthdays and Christmas:  Gander Mountain, Cabela's, Bass Pro Shop, or Legendary Whitetails. own Conner's Big Hunt by Shawn Meyer and the inscription in the inside from your husband to your son gets you choked up

Come on, ladies - who else went and got themselves married to a redneck?  Fess up - how do you know you're married to one? Feel free to add to this list in the comments!

happy hunting season!

August 2012 Superlatives

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Its that time again, and by 'that time again,' I mean when I randomly assign awards to various moments of our month by a way of encapsulating our lives that are seeming to move by entirely too quickly.  Is it just me and my mid-life crisis - or is time passing by quicker now than ever before?

August was a whirlwind - as most months are these days.  It was a great month - and my birthday month!  We completed big tasks, introduced two new members to our family, and made our backyard a water park.  Here's looking at you, August 2012:

Most appetizing pet:  (that was kind of inappropriate, but seriously..).  We introduced two new pets to our family this month - go ahead, please feel free to call Animal Planet's Animal Hoarders show immediately and nominate us - we've now got two shrimps!  With the purchase of a much needed bigger fish tank for our ever-growing (and never dying) fish, we decided to go ahead and toss in two shrimps too.  Greyson named them Mustard and Custard and they are big hits at our house.

Best pinterest project completion:  we created a children's art gallery in the playroom to display the kids' masterpieces.  It was super easy and we didn't pay a penny for it since we had everything we needed already (using two scrap pieces of wood, wood glue, and clothespins).  Thanks to this pinspiration - we wow'ed up our playroom and made it easy to rotate in new pieces.

Best Pinterest Recipe Success:  grilled pizza.  just so good.

Most obnoxious Daddy-is-a-big-kid proof:  Brandon couldn't help himself when this GIANT blow up waterslide got marked down at his store.  So we were able to have a mini-waterpark in our backyard for Grey and our cousins (Ariel and Gracie).  It was well received with screams, giggles, and enthusiasm.  And then Brandon went down it.  And this is why he is my best friend. (please forgive the awful quality of my video proof of Brandon's acrobatic skills).

Sweetest duo:  Gemma & Lila; baby BFFs.  We had a visit and dinner with the Stahls and the cuteness of our girls together was almost too much to bear.  Add in the fact that Lila and Gemmi were wearing matching outfits - it was just about as darling as it gets.  Grey tried to get in on the fun by making the girls laugh, but it was really just about adorable faces, hair envy, and babbling.

Most firm division of our house:  boys v. girls in the great backyard campout.  All the boys (Dadda, Grey, and Bullet) slept outside in the tent, while all the girls (Mumma, Gem, and Trixie) held down the fort in the house while they completed one of our summer to do tasks.  It was short lived though, as we all joined forces again in the morning when we had breakfast around the campfire.

Worst face plant:  Gemma toppled over while sitting on Grey's toddler bed and knocked the bridge of her nose off of the safety rail.  The bruise was visible almost immediately and lasted about five days.

Mr & Mrs Fancy Pants:  Brand and I while attending our friends', Jayann & Jim's, wedding in Pittsburgh.  We got dressed up in clothes that didn't have our children's bodily fluids on them - which is honestly quite a rarity.  (Congrats to Mr & Mrs Christiana!)

Best brunch:  hanging out with some of the w&j crew during brunch having a mini reunion.  We got to chat and catch up over eggs sandwiches and coffee - what's better?  We are always glad when we get a chance to introduce our kids to examples of what good friends are.

Best out-of-town visitor:  speaking of reunions!  Sara "Momma" Weaver was having a family reunion in Western PA and made a short trip over to our neck of the woods to visit with the kids and I.  We played volleyball together in college (co-captains!) and its been four years since we last saw each other.  We appropriately spent the morning laughing and drinking mimosas.  kind of the best morning ever.

Best workout gear:  Gemma's leg warmers while she does her frog hops in the jumperoo.

Sometimes good intentions just ain't enough moment:  When I found out I couldn't donate blood for another few months since we traveled to Thailand.  Luckily, Tash still went ahead and donated :)

Happiest pups:  our dogs after we took them for a long walk and swim with my dad.  

Best Efficiency Upgrade:  Being able to put both kids in the car driving seat in the grocery cart.  Gem is big enough to sit up now which leaves much more room in the cart without having to haul her baby car seat around in the basket.

Cutest little sweetheart honey face:  My sister's new kitty, Miles!  Kayla and Ryan adopted the sweet little guy from Fur Kid Rescue and he is just a little lump of sweetness.

The 'go on with ya bad self" award:  me!  when I ran, jogged ,jog-motion'ed the entire 5k Color Me Rad run the day before my 29th birthday.

Best feel-good ever:  My 29 acts of Kindness birthday day long celebration.

Best signature pose:  Gemma's one hand up to her head move.  I don't know why or exactly when she started doing this...but she's been doing it when she smiles and is feeling confident.  This girl is already up to no good.

The 'takin' care of business' award:  Greyson when he sets up his 'work desk' near mine on his day care day offs and does his own form of 'work.'  Like using kid scissors to cut pieces of paper into a million shreds.  Or using a glue stick as chapstick.  He's a really hardworking, productive toddler.

Best 'I love being a mom to these babies' moment:  When I spied Greyson making Gemma laugh in their little turtle tent that morning.  As far as I can remember, this was the first time Gem laughed about  something she thought was funny (versus being furiously tickled).  I love these kids sometimes.

Ah, another month zooms by.  I hope you enjoy my monthly recaps because its therapeutic for me to get down all the little random parts of our days that get jumbled up in the big moments.  It helps make me feel like I can take a quick snapshot of what our lives are like right now and maybe hold a piece of it forever:)

thank you Thursday: Someone who changed the course of your life

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Dear Franklin,

Maybe you don't remember me, or maybe you do - I hope you do, because I remember you.  When I was 16 years old and a junior in high school, I came to your village in Honduras for a few days with a group of doctors and dentists.  Since at 16, I was clearly not a doctor or dentist, my sole job was to administer oral parasite medicine to every single person that passed through our clinic for the 10 days we were in Honduras.  We were in your village, Las Lajas, for two days - and for whatever reason, you decided to spend those two days hanging out with me.

I had basic Spanish phrases well buckled down after two years of Spanish in high school - but that didn't mean the two of us could carry on any kind of a conversation.  I don't know how we even got started playing our little game - but before the afternoon of the first day, we were going back and forth translating random items around the school room we were in.  You pointed to a pencil, "lapiz" and then I said, "pencil."  I pointed to a ballon in one of the textbooks, "balloon" and you repeated me -saying balloon like it was a question.  "Bomba" you said and I told you, "me gustan bombas" and you enthusiastically answered, "yo tambien!" We spent the next day playing this game, getting more and more silly with each new vocabulary word.

Franklin, you'd never have known that our two afternoons goofing around and giggling at each other's pronunciations was the door that opened up and changed the course of my life.  After leaving Honduras, I landed in the US and firmly announced to my family and friends that I was going to learn language.  And then I went to Susquehanna and majored in Spanish where I met friends that I may not have been close with otherwise, and with whom I am still in touch with today (hi, Dehkonti and Alyson!)

And then I studied abroad in Costa Rica where I met Yemily, and Meg, and Allison (hi, girls!) and they helped me adjust to living in a new place so far away from home.  We spent our days truly living the pura vida.  Yemily showed me that praying can be whatever you need it to be, Meg made me laugh even when I felt like crying from being homesick, and Allison helped pull me out of my shell to meet new people after we first arrived.  And in Costa Rica, I met Maria; my host mother.  The kind of mom and friend that she was to me has a lasting impact on the kind of mom and friend I am to this day.  The only person who cried more than me when I was getting on the plane to come home was my mama tica.

And then I taught English as a Second Language with Teach for America where I met Elena, and Stephanie, and Kelly, and Alana, and Amy, and Stirling.  Friends that helped me adjust, again, to a new place so far away from home.  Elena who can read my facial expressions and know exactly what I'm thinking-even through the phone, and Stephanie who knows the song inside my heart, and Kelly & Alana who I made and shared a home with, and Amy who was a bright light of laughter more times than I can count, and Stir who is the kind of a friend you feel connected to even if its months that go by before seeing each other.

And while I taught ESL at PS27, I met Sabrina - my saving grace at school when I thought I would go mad or breakdown; she made me laugh even when we could have cried.  And my students, goodness, my kids.  Maria, and Elisa, and Mariano, and Anthony, and Tyquan, and Ines, and Ulysses, and Alejandro, and Daysiaha.  My students who have forever changed the way I think about education; who will forever be held in my heart as 'my kids.'

Because we met, and because you spent two afternoons playing a little game in Las Lajas, Honduras with a gringa - you have pushed my life into a different trajectory.  Before you, I was moving along on a fairly straight path, and then I met you and it notched a little to the left.  Because of our meeting, I have met many people and had many experiences that have significantly contributed to the person that I am today.  

I don't know where you are, Franklin - but I am sending you love and gratitude from my house in Pennsylvania.  I am sending you peace and hope for a full belly and your health and the health of your loved ones.  You are a shining example in my life that you can never truly know how far your influence can reach.  I hope you remember me, because I am grateful for meeting you.

forever indebted, 

Next thank you (third) Thursday:  Someone who is a breath of fresh air

digging deep

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

i'm here.

we'll here in a sense, not really here to all of you considering its been over a week since you've heard from me.  sorry about that.

we're just attempting to hang in there; through the normal everyday muck of life.  All the really non glamorous parts of a being a grown up with children and pets to be responsible for.  Ya know, the full time jobs, and the paying bills, and the cleaning up spit up, and throwing away another pair of shoes that the dog ate, and kissing black and blue marks, and carrying two babies at once, and the falling asleep in the middle of your sentence late at night in bed.

that last one actually happened last night.  i was telling B about picking Grey up from daycare and then I could hear myself move into complete nonsense as I was half telling reality and then also adding some strange combination of whatever my brain was attempting to start as a dream.  As in, "Grey cried when I dropped him off, but when I picked him up there was a man in an orange car and Miss Melissa said he did good but the man was looking for his dog.  bizarre.  B was just like, "go to bed, you sound insane."  hah, he loves me.

Its Wednesday, which means no daycare for Grey today.  Which means I'm working from home and taking care of both babies - which basically translates to very long days.  Things were quickly unraveling at breakfast this morning.  We had just created 'hugs to mail' for our family friend going through some medical stuff right now - which Grey had attempted to trace my hand for a 'high five to mail' and I realized that my view was a perfect snapshot of what my current life looks like.  There I was with a marker'ed hand, trying to eat breakfast, feed the baby, play cars with the toddler, and keep a handle on work.

In moments like this, literally, the only thought that keeps me from screaming on the top of my lungs - Gem was screaming for me to feed her faster, Grey was repeating over and over, 'Mumma, watch this,' while he slammed car after car into my breakfast plate, and my work phone buzzed incessantly with the notice of emails coming in...I just take a deep breath and send a kiss to my future self - the mum of grown up kids; the mum that thinks back on my current life and scolds me for letting it pass by; the mum that wishes her kids still needed and wanted all of her attention so much, she's me - maybe not tomorrow but in the near future.  Sometimes future me is the only thought that can remind current me to 'dig deep' and hang in there.

when I was playing volleyball in college, and we were ahead in points and getting to the end of an intense game or set - we would cheer to each other, "dig deep."  Which we meant as a way to say, "hold on - stay focused - you're almost there."  The phrase, "dig deep," automatically flashes a picture in my mind - not of someone digging with a shovel - but of a pair of boots with the heels pushed into mud, as though the owner of the feet is attempting to steady themselves as they pull on a rope - like in tug of war.

that is how i feel about us right now.  heels dug down into muddy ground, just hanging in there, and getting through - but ultimately still ahead in points - still winning in our charmed life.  We really have nothing to complain about - we both have jobs, our babies are healthy, we have good friends and food to eat.  Its just the muck of all of that right now that's slowing us down and making us sleepy.  So we need to remind ourselves to 'dig deep,' and stay focused for a little while until we get a little slack in our rope.

dear readers, thanks for hanging in there with me.

Grandparents day 2012

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Dear kids,
I just want to tell you how lucky you are.  You are lucky in a lot of ways actually, but one way especially- and that's because you are blessed with four grandparents and two great grandparents.

You can already tell how fun it is to have grandparents like Abba and Chum, and Gigi and Pappy Butch, and Mimi, and Pap Pap.  They buy you fun surprise toys, and send you mail to our mailbox, and teach you new things like how to use an electric drill and how to feed turkeys.  They feed you snacks and candy, and make your favorite foods when you visit, and give you all the chocolate milk you could ever want.  When you cry they want to hold you and kiss you and squeeze-squeeze-squeeze you.  When you see them, they are always smiling and laughing, because just seeing you makes them happy - even if you are being a little bit naughty or even if you're tired and crabby.

But its not just the fun that you makes you lucky.  The thing about grandparents, kids, is that just like daddy and I, their love for you is all encompassing and never-ending.  They try to tell you - Abba says, "I love you more."  And Mimi whispers in your ear so only you can hear, "I love you."    And Gigi says, "I love you all the way to the moon, all squished down." But words can't express a love like they have for you.

It is something special to know as a mumma, that daddy and I have six people that would protect our babies with the same tirelessness and fierceness as we would.  Their love for you is unselfish and unconditional.  That's a fancy way of saying that they would stand up to a fire-breathing dragon for you and not even be scared for one minute.

I have tears in my eyes thinking about the love that your grandparents have for you.  They are a part of you - they are your family.  And you are some lucky kids because of that.

love forever and ever, even when you're so big,

happy Grandparents' day to my kids' grandparents.

My gratitude
for all the things you have and will teach them
and for all the ways you are there for them
is as deep as the sea.

Abba, Chum, and Pap Pap

Gigi, Pappy, and Mimi

Summer to do list: making the memories

Friday, September 7, 2012

Back in April, I posted a list of 50 things we wanted to do over the summer.  Our list ranged from the super easy (side walk chalk) to the 'duh, dude. it's summer' (baseball games) to the more elaborate (visit the National aquarium).  The list was a combination of things we already planned to do that summer, things we didn't want to forget to do, and things that were reminders of why we love summer.  It was also a practical reminder for me - so that when the kids were bored and making me crazy, I just looked at the list and said, "okay, we still need to make mud pies - let's do that"

After three months of summer, we've accomplished 41/50 items on our summer to do list.  Towards the end of the wire there (we were calling end of summer Labor day), I was feeling the pressure to knock things off the list,' but overall, I have loved having a list to push us through the season.

It forced us to be aware of the time passing by and how valuable it is to spend time together doing things that make us happy.  Ready for some cheese?  But seriously, we were making the memories of what our lives right now, in this moment - at this age, all together feel like.  Someday when we look back while our kids are more grown and trying to get away from us, we'll be able to think - remember when they were so young and we spent the summer camping in our backyard?  And someday when our kids are more grown, maybe they won't try to get away from us so much, because they'll think - remember how much fun it is to spend time all together laughing and doing mum's silly season to do lists...Hey, a mumma can dream.

I did my best to document our 50 41 to do list items for the summer.  Here they are for your viewing pleasure.

1. Camp in the backyard:  Brandon, Greyson, and Bullet were the only ones to actually sleep in the tent (all the girls - me, Gem, and Trixie slept in the house), but the boys loved it.  And it created a spin-off list item:  cooking breakfast on the campfire in the morning!

2. Walk Staple Bend Trail (local walking trail):  This is a local trail near my parents' house that is a 4 mile walking trail.  2 miles to the historic Staple Bend tunnel and then 2 miles back.  We enjoyed the scenery, sword fighting with giant sticks, sneaking through the tunnel, and even climbing the cement blocks outside the tunnel.  We even caught a quick chat with my high school friend, Jackie (hi, Jackie!) as she was jogging the trail.

3. Sunday outdoor brunch:  we actually did a lot of outdoor meals, it kind of became are main dining table all summer.  which i kind of loved.

4. and 5. Picnic and Take Bully & Trixie swimming:  my dad joined us on this task while B stayed late at work.  No one loves swimming more than Bullet.  No.One.  Our picnic was quite an exciting spread of turkey&cheese sandwiches and cheese curls.  best.

6. Try 3 new playgrounds:  We stopped by the CT elementary playground (Grey got a black eye from flying down their super fast slide too fast), the Mineral Point playground (pic below), and the CV elementary playground (with Pappy Butch).

7. Make Smores:  we tried doing smores one night over candlelight while it was raining - although somewhat successful it really gave our marshmallows a candle-y smell.  So we headed to Brandon's parents' house for smores by the chiminea and a bonus summer task:  night swimming!

8. Visit the Pittsburgh Zoo:  Grey got to visit the Pittsburgh Zoo with his Pappy Butch and Gigi.  Greyson is very into animals and its hard to tell if he loves gorillas or elephants more.  Sometimes it hippos best.  While at the zoo, he got to touch a sting ray and came home to tell us that it feels 'rubbery.'

9. and 10. Living Treasures zoo and mini golf:  The kids and I went with Gigi out to Donegal to visit the Living Treasures zoo.  It is really a very cool zoo that is mostly opened so that kids get a closer look at the animals.  You can buy food to feed the farm animals (goats/pigs/horses/alpacas) and both kids loved seeing the  animals so close up.  After the zoo, we headed a few miles further to the Caddie Shack for ice cream and Grey's first go at mini golf.  He got a hole in one.  He's ridiculous.

11. Quemahoming dam:  we caught up with our friends; the Kegg family (hi, Alicia & Tom!) for a picnic on the 'Queen' early this summer.  About 2 minutes after our arrival we got slammed by a torrential downpour of a storm.  It was honestly the craziest thing I've ever seen.  After waiting out the first wave of storm, we hit the playground for awhile (hey! add that to list item#6) but the storm wasn't quite over.  We ended up having to pack up and get out there pretty quickly when the second storm push came through because of the lightening.

12 and 13.  Make a children's garden and grow herbs:  We turned one of the flower boxes behind the house into a children's garden.  We visited Stuver's Nursery for any kind of 'hearty' plant (I actually requested 'plants that are hard to kill') and Grey helped us plant and later pick the fruits of our labor.  Besides some flowering plants, we also planted a blueberry bush, a basil plant, a green pepper plant, and 2 tomato plants.  It's a children's garden because Grey helped us plant it and take care of it - he was in charge of watering the plants and pulling the weeds too.

14. Build a birdhouse:  Pappy Butch helped us build a birdhouse fit for bird hoping to hang around into the winter.  He even got a little perch set up for the new bird homeowner!

15. Build a bat house:  Chum helped us build a bat house since he has a bat house at his house (we love to watch the bats wake up at dusk and fly out).  You can find a bat house tutorial here.  Hopefully with a new bat house, some bats will want to move in and eat all the little bugs in our back yard!  Dear Stella Luna, come to our house! Love, the Studers

16. Catch lightening bugs:  We pulled into our house one night and the whole yard was lit up with lightening bugs.  We jumped out and chased them all over the yard - straight into the field.  I think lightening bugs have been evolving, because those little guys were a lot faster than I remember.  We caught a few - but we're the catch & release kind of people.  It was a good lesson for Grey that the dark doesn't have to be scary.

17. Visit the farmer's market:  We hit up the local farmer's market on saturday morning to catch some delicious cheese curd (but seriously, fry that up - its addictive), some fresh spinach and zucchini.  The kids love the farmer's market because they're cute faces always seem to score them freebie goodies.

18. Fly kites:  I attempted to do a kite flying session with just Grey and I and quickly realized that flying  a kite with a two year old is possibly the most frustrating activity on the planet.  But Uch came to the rescue and the three of us were able to fly the kite.  Grey is not interested in actually flying the kite, but prefers to chase it around the yard with his arms outstretched to the sky.  pure joy.

19. National aquarium in Baltimore:  you can read more about our adventures visiting Karpy & Matt and the National aquarium here.

20. Sparklers:  thanks to my favorite holiday, we got to play with sparklers while being safe.

21. Catalog our yard birds:  we used a very cool app on my phone to help us take stock of the birds we have in our own backyard.  It became very apparent that dicephering birds' calls is not a speciality of mine.  It is a fun (and difficult) game to try to listen to the birds in our yard and then match it to the call that the app offers for the different birds.  We can with 100% accuracy recognize by sound only the American Crow, wild turkey, and the mourning dove.  We're working on the others:)

22. Make a butterfly feeder:  we used this tutorial to help create our new butterfly feeder.

23. Mud pies:  very messy, but lots of fun and great picture opportunities.

24. Look at the stars from the trampoline:  this was one of my favorites.  For future years, we'll need to brush up on our constellations - but for now with a toddler, it suffices to point out, "look at that BIG star."

25. Swim.  we did quite a bit of swimming this summer.  Some swimming at Brandon's parents' house.  Some swimming at our neighbor's house (hi, Buncik's!), some swimming at my parent's and aunt's houses, and some swimming in our own yard.

26. Grill pizza:  I saw this pin and my mouth was immediately watering.  We love all things grilled and pizza is my favorite food.  Grilled pizza did not disappoint.  This needs to be a regular event around here.

27. Feed ducks:  Chum helped Grey be brave enough to feed the ducks at our family reunion.

28. Run through sheets on a clothesline:  Abba left her sheets up for us while we played soccer and volleyball on their deck so that we had to weave in and out of the drying blankets.  Eventually, we just dropped the organized sports and the game turned into a full out game of chase and hide.  

29. Roll down a hill:  yep.  about a million times. 

30. Blow bubbles:  notice the GIANT tub of bubbles (thanks Stalh's!), the amount of bubbles we go through in our house is unsettling.

31. Have a sleepover.  Grey and Gemmi got to have a sleepover with Uncle Jonny and Ninna while B and I went to a wedding in Pittsburgh.  The kids had a great time hanging with two of their favorite people - eating pizza, going for a million walks, and basically getting even more spoiled rotten.

32. Go fishing:  we went back and forth on this one as to whether or not we could cross it off.  B says we can because Grey, Pappy Butch, and he went fishing on the first day of trout in April and with his basketball friends and their kids (in April too)... but I say that for it to be a summer task - it needed to happen in the summer (June/July/August).  Alas, B wins this one since the first day of trout is in April and I originally posted our summer to do list in April.  So, we're counting it.

33. Have a treasure hunt:  Grey is 2, so there was no need for his treasure hunt to be this elaborate thing.  I made him three clues (picture only of where the clue would be) and his surprise was a little container of cheese curls.  As his first experience with finding clues to lead him to the next one - it was a pretty new idea, so it was important to keep it simple.  This might be something we just occasionally do after naptime for his afternoon snack.  It was really easy and fun.

34. Make mountain pies:  I think people call these all kinds of different things - but its basically a sandwich you cook over the fire in a metal sandwich press-type cooker with a long handle.  We like ours with pizza ingredients in the middle (sauce, cheese, toppings) and Brandon's favorite is with vanilla pudding.  It comes out almost like a panini.

35. Watch fireworks:  we are still watching fireworks - well as of last Friday night (Aug30) we saw some more behind our house.  We see fireworks most nights from our yard - way high up on the mountain...which is why we were certain we'd see them on the fourth of July; still a mystery as to how it was possible that we didn't.

36. Visit the library:  we read books, played with trains, visited their fish tank, played with stuffed animals and giant doll houses, and put together puzzles.

37. Baseball game:  we were able to attend two baseball games this summer.  Once with the Fiore's (hi, Kate!) at the Altoona Curve and again with Tash & Kevin at our local baseball tourney; AAABA.  Grey is a big supporter of whatever sport is in season - so this summer it was all baseball, all the time in our own backyard.

38. Ice block treasure:  Pinterest introduced me to this great idea of freezing toys in ice and letting my child 'bang-bang-bang' it out.  For a hot afternoon with a little boy that wants to copy his daddy - this was a real grand slam of an activity.  The dogs were so interested in Greyson's ice block treasure that it inspired me to create one for them with treats frozen in it (like this pin) for them during my birthday kindness day.

39. Side walk chalk:  we did this all summer long.  we made lots of snake bodies, outlined our bodies (and the dogs' bodies), we made curvy lines that we walked on like roads, and shapes to jump into when we called out their names.

40. Live music outside:  we listened to a band downtown in the park during Thunder in the Valley.  I went to a concert with my sisters for scf weekend and we also enjoyed live music from our cousin Lilee at the family reunion.

41. Pick yard flowers:  they are kind of the best kind.

It was truly a summer full of awesome memories and experiences.  Most of them were things we probably would have done without a list - but it was a good reminder to stop moving so quickly and not let other plans or worries get in the way of spending time together doing things that make us happy.  We will most definitely be making lists for each of the other seasons.  The Studer team gives our 50 things - Summer To Do list - two super big thumbs up!