He slept better as a baby

So, for about a month now James has developed an unfortunate habit. No, not as unfortunate as him peeing everywhere, but close. He has decided he is scared in his room and needs to be in ours. It started with him wanting to fall asleep in our room which was fine. The boys chat and fight when they are together, so we caved.

But then he started coming in in the middle of the night. Usually at 5:45 when my alarm is going off at 6:30. Sometimes he had a leg cramp (the Wall standard for I need my mom and some Advil) but other times he just wanted to sleep with us. In our queen bed.

We are already full. Alex is all elbows and knees and I have learned how to subconsciously block myself when an elbow comes towards my face while having a conversation about why I wanted to make that merger, all while he is fully asleep.

But we don’t have room for a three year old. And we don’t co-sleep, it is just not what we do. They never have. Both my boys have wanted to be in their beds and left alone. Until now….

And at first it was sweet. He is my last baby and such a cuddler. He throws his arm around my neck and grips me while he sleeps. And I loved it for a night or too, but it is becoming a habit.

Then Zach got up. I almost lost it. A scared three year old I can deal with, but a six year old with a phantom leg cramp (again, everyone needs me and Advil) almost put me over the edge. The next night I told the boys that if ANYONE got out of bed I was not going to be nice about it. They have both seen me when I am tired (ahem, every morning) and it is not pleasant. They both solemnly nodded their heads in agreement.

But you guys, how cute are these two when I came in to move James after he had fallen asleep. They both simultaneously rolled over after I took the first photo.

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PS As per our previously agreed upon contract, no one tell Alex I posted a photo of him sleeping. It will be a whole thing and I can’t even.

What I learned the last day of the Rodeo

First of all HI! I have missed you, have you missed me? I assume most of you are with me on Facebook or Instagram so know the gist of what I have been up to, but I am sad to have been silent here on the blog for so long. I have two words for you as the cause of my absence: Downtown Abbey. I recently realized I could stream all the past seasons on Amazon Prime and commenced to do just that. I swear I wiled away any productive hours watching that show. I mean I got the basics of my job done; my kids were fed and clothed, but otherwise I was on the couch 100% invested in the Crawleys. Thankfully that came to an end and I am back!

But clearly, I was still in a DA-daze because the end of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo snuck up on me and suddenly we had two days to go. Which was the last weekend of the entire thing. I can hear your collective gasp. Exactly.

I don’t even know what happened! It wasn’t like last year when I forgot to buy tickets and had to con Uncle Chris into selling me his, I had tickets well in advance. There was a lot of rain, baseball started and poof! it was the last weekend of the rodeo.

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So here is what I learned going the last day of the Rodeo:

5. Everyone who went days 1-19 is much smarter than me. Give yourself a #momwin on that one.

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4. Agventure smells MUCH better without all the cows. When you go the last day, they are 98% gone. Packed up on their trailers and back to their homes. Don’t try to show your city boys real cows, it is not happening.

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3. You need a little person to make some elbow room around the remaining hatching chicks. There will only be one small incubator left. Don’t think too hard about the ones that have earlier dates and have not hatched. Be grateful your kindergartener can’t really read dates.

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2. The carousel is not worth it. I repeat, not worth it. The line is forever long, as is the time it takes to fill the entire thing. Use a trip to the zoo as bribery to avoid this at all cost.

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Do not be fooled by our smiles and Alex’s high hat. Panic was setting in as I looked at all the people and lines around us.

1. I should have stayed home. Yes, the boys loved it for the first hour. Then the place filled up, got hot and sticky and I lost all patience. My hometown has a rodeo for the entire county, I should have just promised we would go to that one. Driving four hours with my children would be more preferable.

Though my baby brushing a baby goat almost made it worth it. Almost.

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Valentine Teacher Gifts

So I have been consulting with my very own teacher (my sister) on what teachers would like for the holidays. One thing she suggested is office supplies. Snooze to some of you, I know. But for elementary school teachers and up, that is what they really need. So I started searching for cute (naturally) school supply gifts.

I saw these cute ribbon topped paper clips and wanted to make them immediately.

I ran the saying by my sister and once she approved, I made it happen.

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Simple, sweet and not too cutesy. I like that it is something small and non-food. Even Zach approved! Which is good as his teacher will be getting these.IMG_6986-001

Can you even believe how toned down I am? This was only a three step process which is VERY unlike me.

Back in the saddle

I think we all remember last year when I was disappointed with myself with Zach’s valentines. They were really not up to my standards and I could not let that happen again.

So when I spotted these eye rings, I knew they were perfect and just what I was going to do.

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I used my Silhouette machine to create the sunglasses and cut them out. However, I am having trouble with the machine and had to cut most of them by hand. I can’t even talk about it. What will I do if that machine breaks?? Cry? Pass out? Don’t even talk to me about it.

I obviously didn’t even ask Zach if he liked it. That is such a benefit of raising a mini-Alex; I know he does not care. But he did really like the idea once I showed him these completed ones. He then asked if he could help me with the rest. Bless. I don’t think other children have to ask to help their mom with their valentines…I think it is the other way around.

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Don’t worry, I said of course he could help. We sorted them into colors for the boys and girls and he wanted to use black string for the boys and red for the girls. I am thinking it will be good bow tying practice since I need him to learn to tie his shoes like yesterday.

I included a pdf in case anyone would like to use the tags. Just click here to download it.

Why I love January

OK, so two weeks ago when the boys went back to school, I drafted this blog post in my head. Then I promptly forgot about it. It was Tuesday and the boys were finally back in school after 17 sleeps and I could exhale. I didn’t have to feed anyone, entertain anyone or pretend I think this is funny.

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You guys, I didn’t do a thing that entire day. I took full advantage of this stay at home mom gig and stayed at home. I might have napped. I might have watched Gilmore Girls on Netflix. I might have had a giant grin on my face for that entire five hours.

I mean, we did have a nice Christmas. I know you don’t know that since I have been MIA. Why did I have to go MIA?? I was not planning on it. I was thinking I would have all this time to blog and chat. Negative. Let me run down all what happened for you…you know I adore a summary post.

After I published that last December post, the school year ended and Zach’s birthday was three days away. He wanted to have his party at Chuck-e-Cheese’s and it was so easy. I reserved it all online and just showed up with some cupcakes. He didn’t want favors as “the things they win with their tickets will be there favors”. Having just come out of crafting overload, I did not argue.

Can you even believe I have a six year old. My fat baby is six. I can’t even take it.

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James got to invite one friend and he picked Harper, of course. These two are best buddies could not love each other more.

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Birthday = done, on to Christmas Eve! Everyone came to our house for Mexican (my family’s tradition) and church. I got out the tripod my dad got me for a Wall family photo. This was the best we could do. On the whole, it is pretty good.

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And Merry Christmas! Santa came, complete with photo documentation for a skeptical six year old and brought the boys all they wanted – except the bb gun Zach asked for. There is no need for a little boy living in the middle of Houston to have a bb gun. No way. I told him Santa could not get gifts that parents didn’t want their kids to have. It was in the contract.

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After breakfast we packed up and went out to the Walls to spend the night and open more presents.

Then it was my birthday – happy 37th to me. Gross. How am I so old?

My parents were in town so we threw handed  the boys off to them and had lunch at ZaZa. My sister, brother-in-law and nieces arrived and we went to Tokyohana to celebrate. My parents were highly, highly skeptical, but it turned out to be perfect. It is super kid friendly and aside from the fire scaring my niece Vivian, everyone had fun.

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How cute is she, even if she is so scared??

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Every child wanted to sit next to me. James started crying when Charlotte took his seat. Luckily Zach is the sweetest big brother and always moves for his cry-baby brother. I say that with love…IMG_5527

We had a fun weekend with my them all, I love to spend time with them and Vivi is thinking about acknowledging that she has an Uncle named Alex. She currently refuses to make eye contact or speak to him. It is hilarious. His voice is very loud and low for little girls.

Once they left I was still staring down a full week, plus a Monday, of quality family time. Luckily I had thought a bit ahead and signed the boys up for half day art camp on Monday and half day gymnastics camp on Friday. So we filled the time with a trip to the trampoline center, including my three year old playing dodgeball with 12 year olds. Normal.

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We went bowling.

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Then we spent a morning doing this:

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Video is here: http://instagram.com/p/xR0Ai-xwda/?modal=true

New Year’s Eve the Wall’s kept the boys, which has become a nice little tradition which I hope continues (pretty please?). We had the Rockets tickets that night and Alex was shocked when I agreed to go for my one game of the year. It was a 6pm game however, so we had some time to kill once the game ended. I don’t know who won. I barely paid attention.

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So we had about two hours to kill before our dinner reservations. We walked to some bars downtown and pretended like we were 22 again. And what did we do at those bars? Oh we drank water (to hydrate) and registered Zach for Little League (the deadline was the 1st). I would say sad, but really, it is about on par for 37 year old parents of two. We are tired and have stuff to do. We rang in the New year at a bar and then immediately Ubered home. I was in bed by 12:30. Awesome.

Finally the celebrating could come to an end. Are you not exhausted just thinking about it? I am. While it was fun to see everyone and so nice to not have to get up at school time, I started having flashbacks to the summer with 12 hours each day to entertain my children and might have gotten a bit panicky there at the end.

So I am glad for January. I like my routine. Even with the cold and rainy weather, it is a relief for me.

Done and done!

You guys, I am beat! I am so glad this last week of school is over. I mean, not really as I am staring down “17 sleeps”, as they say in Zach’s kindergarten class, with my children but glad that this hectic week is winding down.

Why so hectic, Kinsey? You are not trying to boss people around at work AND make teacher gifts for the end of the year AND figure out what to bring to the holiday party at their school AND oh, crap what to give to your co-workers. So, so true, my friends.

However, what I was doing was making those teacher gifts so that other mom’s didn’t have to. And I loved it! Check out what I have been doing.

For my #1 client, Ashley, I made these cups for her daughter’s class party. They are filled with “hot cocoa” chex mix and topped with a tag I created. I die at the cuteness. This might be my crowning achievement.IMG_5327

But then, I do love these hand-painted wooden spoons and a dish towel I did for my friend Ginny. She had two grandma teachers to deal with and we figured grandmas love a dishtowel. Or not. Either way I got to paint and cure wooden spoons! No matter that I had to open some windows as to not poison my children with the gas coming off them. Calm down, I sent them outside to play and turned on the vent fan too.

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Oh and the gift card wreathes! How cute did these turn out? Shout out to my friend Nadine for coming up with this idea for me while we waited in traffic getting to the Nutcracker market. I even sold one to a lady who was not my friend. Seriously, I picked her right up in the Kindergarten parking lot, thanks to my friend Lindsey who was showing off the wreath I did for her.IMG_6811

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I also made some additional sports bottles for Ashley. I am so proud of the whistle I can’t even tell you. Alex would like me to stop talking about it, but I know you don’t mind. I had to stare at that for a ridiculously long time to get it right….IMG_5299

I whipped up some insulated cups with a single letter for my friend Bethany. Whenever I see these at Target I buy them out. Again, Alex would like me see me change this too. Not happening. No one needs to walk by the side of the guest bed, mind your own business.IMG_5352

For Zach’s teacher and his teacher’s aide, I wanted to give them something their families could do together. I saw on Pinterest that you can purchase a Redbox gift certificate and I thought that would be perfect. There were some cute cards with the saying, “Just settle down for a long Movie Night”. But, since I like to make my life challenging I decided that was not good enough for me. I wanted to give some popcorn as well, and since microwave popcorn is apparently made by the devil, I choose these tiny kernels we have tried. They make really good popcorn and don’t get stuck in your teeth. I like how the gifts turned out, even if the kernels are a wee bit heavy for a five year old to carry.

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I also gave the Smoothly cards to my crossing guards. Ms. Bernice said she could cry. I guess Ms. Bernice loves Smoothie King as much as my boys do.

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I also gave the iTunes wrap to the mailman and James’s swim coach.

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And I was so glad I had some extra Nailed It gifts completed as James’s teachers and the support staff at his school got them. No stress for me!

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The biggest seller of the year though, was the Warm Wishes gift that is filled with cocoa mix, marshmallows and mints. We will not even discuss the number of times I had to drive to Ikea for more and more glass jars. Worth it, obviously, but Ikea and I are currently on a break.

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I would like to thank all my friends for supporting me this season!! It was so much fun to help everyone and I hope your teachers love it too. After the school break I will be gearing up for Valentine’s day. But for the next 17 sleeps I will be spending so much quality time with my children. I am clearly going to have to use some of my profits for more alcohol.

Another easy craft project

Well hello my friends! Are you getting ready for Thanksgiving? Pretending like you are working but thinking about all you have to do during that meeting you had this morning?

I know you will all want to run out and complete this yourself. Similar to my 10 Step Smore’s Cookie Bags, it was so, so simple and I have helpfully included the step-by-step instructions. Let’s begin.

1. Have a friend who wants teacher gifts and lets you create whatever you want – aka Ashley. Send her “suggestions” and then be fully supportive of the darling one she chooses.

2. Go to Randall’s, HEB and Target looking for the pumpkins. Claw through the candy corn (who needs that much?) to find the pumpkins hidden at the bottom. Buy them in bulk like there is a hurricane coming and candy pumpkins turn into water. Call them “groceries” to your husband.

3. Decide that simple, darling tags are way too pedestrian for you (no matter how much you like them), oh ruler of the Silhouette program and begin to envision a new one.

4. Realize you might think too highly of yourself and hang out with your children for 15 minutes to snap you back to reality.

5. Rush to Michael’s (they open at 9:00 am) to purchase the Mason jars. Realize the normal size ones are on sale (always) and that when you speedily recreate that tag it will be a perfect fit.

6. Drive across the street to Jo-Ann’s and purchase fabric with pumpkins on it. Check the link again and note she used cupcake liners and feel like a fool.

7. Push past your feelings, pretend you don’t have bills to pay and laundry to do and spend some time getting the tags just right. Print and cut.

8. Go back to the original blog and while actually reading her notes, see that she used stamps and want to cry. Make a note to pay more attention in the future.

9. Realize you don’t have the right color card stock; drive back to Michael’s.

10. Put it all together and notice that you hate it. All of it.

See? So simple!

Needless to say, I recreated the tags, went back to Jo-Ann’s, fought with my Silhouette machine and FINALLY my vision came to life.

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In case you are smarter than me and want to just print and cut, here are my tags for you.

I made an extra one for Zach’s teacher, but still have bags and bags of pumpkins…I am pretty sure some other teachers in H-town need this little gift, right? Email/Facebook Message/Contact on the blog me!

I really needed a drink

You guys, we went to Dallas in late September and it took us six hours to get there. SIX HOURS. When I told my friend, who recently moved to Doha, that I didn’t know how she made it 15 hours on a plane with her three children, she said the adults got alcohol and the kids got ice cream. Noted for next time.

We were there to celebrate my oldest niece’s birthday. I can’t believe she is now four.

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Here they are in order of appearance: Cousins 1, 2, 3, and 4. Though don’t tell 4 she is number four – she will cut you. She and James are two peas in a pod, for sure.

We took the opportunity to take some family photos. We just did it on the street in front of my sister’s house. Alex tried to give me all sorts of heat about taking a family photo. I am so sorry I would like to have a photo of our family- I don’t care if your eyes are squinty in the sun or your smile is weird. Your kids will want to see what you looked like when you are young.

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Plus, it is a well known fact the only photos I will pick  will have me looking good in them. So calm down and smile.

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I love this one so much. It is totally candid and such a perfect moment in time. This is our life. No one is looking perfectly right, but everyone is happy, loves each other and is doing the best they can.

This is a winner.

 

 

Monster Cookies and Deyhydration

The weekend before Halloween tried to kill me. I mean, I guess it I did it to myself, but you know I don’t like to take credit for negative things. Really it was just the Saturday of the weekend, when we had a soccer game, the UNT vs. Rice game and then the fall carnival at Zach’s school. Any one or two of those things would have been plenty, but all three spelled disaster for me.

All started fine at the soccer game at 8:30 a.m. My parents were in town for the football game, and as is their tradition, the boys went to spend the night with them at the hotel. Granny Marsh and Papa Wayne are so lucky they are loved so much and to get to share a bed with my wiggly boys. Sooooo lucky.

I had to swing by and get Zach at 7:50 for team photos while everyone else met us at the game. The Walls were there too and I insisted we take a photo of all grandparents. No grandparents were particularly excited, but I have one photo of both my grandmothers with me and one with both my grandfathers and I treasure those photos. To the grand-kids they are all their family and I wanted that photo for my boys.

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My mother noted that the entire neighborhood must be at the soccer game and she is basically right. Liv found someone from their neighborhood (of course) and I saw three of my friends who are not even on Zach’s team. The league Zach plays in is huge and people from all over the inner city play in it. Plus, the teams are small with only six kids on each team.

The boys insisted on going back to the hotel with my parents (again, so, so lucky) so Alex and I grabbed a quick breakfast with his parents then headed to the football game.

You all know my love of Rice football games. For real, I love them. My mom had brought the boys matching UNT shirts and small footballs they played with the entire game. We moved seats about four times and everyone is just so happy to be there and relaxed.

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James and my mom are saying “Go Eagles! Go UNT!” –  just getting ready in the parking lot.

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My parents were very pleased to learn about the Roost (where you can drink in the stadium) and even though UNT lost, we had a fun time.

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It is borderline insulting how my boys look just like their father. Rude.

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But that was not the end of our day. James, Alex and I came home early so James could take a nap and I could make cookies for the Sweet Shop at the school carnival. Why yes, I do stay at home and should have made them during the week, thank you for noting that.

I was determined to make these monster cookies I had pinned last year. They looked fairly straight forward and darling. And they were.

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So during the hour and a half before I had to leave to set up, I stood up and made dough, rolled it in powdered sugar, baked it then stuck in the eyes. Then I had to put them in individual bags, of course.

I changed (again) and raced up to the elementary school to help set up Zach’s class booth at the carnival. I sat down around four and waited for Alex, the boys and my parents to get there. The boys immediately went in different directions as there was so much to do!

Zach loved this giant inflatable slide and James went racing through the ones for little kids.

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Around five I was chatting with some of my friends and started feeling bad. Like I might throw up and my stomach was cramping like crazy, bad. They immediately thought I was pregnant (NO) because they had been discussing how hard having three kids is when I bolted off. I assured them there was no way, though I did appreciate their concern.

I tried to drink some water and sit down but it just got worse. Alex finally told me that I looked like I felt sick and should go home. You guys, I was concerned I was not going to make it home. But I did and started pounding water. I have not felt that bad since I had the flu. While I was laying shivering on the couch I counted how much I had to drink that day. The entire day I had: one coffee, two diet coke, one beer and one bottle of water. From 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Factor in a lot of standing and sweating it was no wonder my body wanted to shut down.

Luckily, I had Alex and my parents who didn’t even miss a beat. Alex and the boys stayed at the carnival for a while longer, getting to do all they wanted and my parents went and got food for the boys. They came and picked them up to head to the hotel (again, so, so, lucky) all while I laid on the couch drinking as much water as I could handle. By 7:00 I was feeling close to normal and starving. I took that as a good sign.

But I was so bummed to miss the rest of the carnival. I really was. I love those things. Apparently there was an obstacle course and the cake walk. Plus someone was dressed as Frankenstein in the principal’s office who would walk around once in a while.

Hopefully I have learned my lesson and will do better next year. But I am a slow learner, so it is anyone’s guess.

Why am I the only one who understands

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This past Friday the Dad’s club at Zach’s elementary hosted a Dad’s camp out on the school grounds. Now, let me ask you – what do you think that means? Well, apparently I am the only one who understood that it means the dads and kids camp out in a tent on the playground. My mother in law thought they would be “camping” inside. My friend Mary asked if they were staying all night – I gave her the crazy eye and said, “of course” and Alex combined them both and kept asking what they would be doing, where they would be sleeping AND if they would be staying all night.

I repeat, it is a CAMP OUT. How am I the only one who gets this?

Please keep in mind I don’t camp. At all. Aside from my long run at Camp Cho-Yeh summer camp I don’t like sleeping outside.

I asked Alex if he would be purchasing a tent and he said they could use the one that my mom bought for Zach at the River and sent home with us recently. While it is an actual tent, it is about 4 x4.  Alex is 6.1, just for your information.

Here is a model of what the row of tents looked like with our mini-one included.

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No joke. It was hilarious. Alex tried to sleep diagonally and ended up having to sleep with his feet out the door. Hilarious. He also promptly lost Zach’s sleeping bag, so they had to open up the cone shaped one I stole from my friend Kate back in 2011  and use a blanket on top. I am hoping to find Zach’s in the lost and found as technically it is Liv’s and she is not going to be pleased to hear about this.

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Apparently the entire night is one big free for all. The dads sit around and talk and the kids run wild. Alex said he went inside during the movie time to find Zach and the twins riding a chair down the ramp from the stage. Zach assured him it was totally safe and totally fine. I think they finally went to sleep around eleven.

Oh, it also rained a bit and Alex had some how put the cover for the tent under the tent so they had to use the sleeping bag cover as a rain shield. I am not making any of this up.

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As you can imagine, James was not pleased to be left out of these shenanigans. I had to bribe him with a trip to Chick-fil-a, the cupcake store AND with a viewing of Frozen. We scooped up Mary (she forgave me for the crazy eye) and her little girl and had a relaxing night, only being in charge of two children.

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James and I finished off our night with a trip to Randall’s for soft dog food for Norm. He got his teeth cleaned and apparently needed softer food. I let James ride the Ernie and Bert fire truck because I was feeling generous. And he looks so cute on it.

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Can you tell how tired he is? Drinking his “hot milk from his baby cup”? Don’t even start – I know he is waaaay too old for me to be heating up his milk AND for that cup. I don’t have the energy to care.

Anyway, everyone had fun. Alex and Zach were exhausted the next morning from the no sleeping in a little tent plus the 8:30 a.m. soccer game. But it was the most quiet afternoon ever in the Wall house. Both Alex and James took a nap and Zach and I laid on our respective couches and watch TV. Delightful.

I personally am looking forward to two years down the road when Alex will have both boys with him at the camp out. Hopefully in a bigger tent.