Find Good In Every Day

One mom's attempt at finding good in every day of this chaotic world.

An “Amazing” Birthday Party October 19, 2014

Filed under: Daily Blog — Robin @ findgoodineveryday @ 9:54 pm

For about a year before her birthday, Mason was insistent that she wanted an “Amazing Race” birthday party.  She has been a fan of the show ever since we started watching it as a family.  Jeremy and I have watched it for many seasons, but the kids got into it a couple of seasons ago.  They liked it so much that we started watching it from Season 1 on Hulu Plus.

Over the year, we had many ideas for how we would do this party, but it wasn’t until the last week before that we really figured it all out.  We purchased templates for clues from an Etsy shop, which was a great timesaver!  What was not a timesaver was the fact that we didn’t have a laminator, so we used packing tape to keep the clues strong and waterproof.

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And while we knew many (if not all) of the girls invited would have never seen “The Amazing Race,” we still wanted the party to be as authentic as we could get without going too crazy.  So here is how it all went down…

Once all the girls had arrived, Jeremy took them on a tour of our house so that they would be familiar with where some things might be that could show up on clues.  He even pointed out and stressed the location of things they wouldn’t need to know just to throw them off.  And since Mason didn’t even know what the challenges were, she was in the dark as well.

Unfortunately it was raining, so we had to do some last minute changes to the course and clues, but it didn’t stop us from getting the race off to a good start.

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When the race started, the girls ran to the other end of the driveway and looked for their name pin on a knapsack to figure out their team.  In each knapsack was a different clue to start each team on a different part of the race.  After that, the race was a circle of clues – just with each team starting at a different part of the circle.

There was basic “Route Info” directing the girls to somewhere in the house or yard to find their next clue.  These did not involve any real challenge, but were still fun.  Clues were in the mailbox, underneath the grill on the patio, in the fridge in the basement and finally in a suitcase in the hallway filled with suitcases.  From these clues, they would find out where their next challenge would take place.

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Photo Finish was one challenge where the girls had to look at a picture on the iPad of a scene created the day before with stuffed animals and Barbies and then re-create the scene exactly as seen.  Nana was in charge of this challenge, and she would help or be more lenient if it was taking a team too long.  Or on the other hand, she would be pretty strict with exactness if the team was getting it easily.  It was a favorite among many of the party-goers.

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Another basic challenge was Snack Attack. Each girl was given a cup filled with goldfish crackers and a place mat.  They had to spell their three-letter initials using the goldfish and then eat them all before getting their next clue.  Not a super hard challenge, but it was meant to offer a snack to everyone during the party (before pizza and cake) and just have a breather.  And it gave me a chance to talk to the girls and find out how everything was going.  I could also hold a team longer if other teams were having a hard time at another challenge.

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Our Road Block (a challenge where only one member of the team can do it) was one of the last-minute challenges we had come up with just the night before.  Going through many children’s books, we created a sentence and a key to find each word in the sentence.  There was a sheet with a clue for each word in the sentence telling where to find that word in one of the books.  For instance, the clue would read “Where The Sidewalk Ends, Page 36, Line 13, Word 2.”  When the one girl doing the challenge had completed the sentence, she would get her clue from Meema who was managing that station.  This challenge ended up taking more time than we expected.  And Meema had to bring the other team members into the challenge to help and move it along.  A hard challenge, but the girls still seemed to like the “scavenger hunt” aspect of it.

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The biggest hit, by far, was another last minute change.  We had originally had the Detour set up to be “Croquet or Obstacle Course,” but with the rain, we had to move the physical challenge into the garage.  It then became “Slow and Steady or Fast and Furious.”  Jeremy drew a track in the garage using sidewalk chalk – basically weaving back and forth across the garage floor.  The team had to choose if they would do the Slow and Steady challenge of balancing a ping pong ball on a spoon while also balancing a cone on their head and walking around the track or the Fast and Furious challenge of driving a remote control car through the track.  It was really interesting to see which teams picked which challenge.  And everyone loved this so much that when the race was over, they went back to keep doing it.  Kristin did a great job managing this challenge and keeping everyone on pace.

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Each team ended the race at one of the challenges.  After completing the last one, we would give them a Congratulations clue telling them they had completed the race and to go cheer on their friends.  We didn’t want to have a winning team because…  well, they are 8- and 9-year-old girls and competition is strong; and it’s a birthday party and things are supposed to be light and fun.

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After the race, it was time for pizza!  Always a hit.  And then instead of receiving gifts, Mason chose to do a book swap.  Each girl brought a wrapped book from home that they had read and enjoyed and wanted to pass on to someone else.  Then we did it “White Elephant” style where each girl picks a number out of a hat.  The girl who had number 1 got to choose a book and unwrap it.  The girl with number 2 could either steal the book already opened or choose a new book and so on.  They really got into it, and there were quite a few steals including one stare down between best friends over “Land of Stories” by Chris Colfer.  After it was all over, we allowed the girls to mutually agree to other trades if they wanted.  Each girl then got to put their book in their own knapsack to take home.

Finally cake time!  Just to give you a little background, Mason has always chosen cupcakes or a cookie cake for her birthday. And I’ve always wanted to “do it up” for her.  I mean the girl loves looking at cake books and pictures!  We knew cupcakes or a cookie cake wouldn’t work for The Amazing Race party.  So after looking up cakes on Pinterest, I found what I thought would be the easiest cake to do – a basic sheet cake iced to look like one of the clue envelopes.  Easy enough, right?  Wrong!  Getting perfectly straight lines with buttercream frosting is impossible.  It was not pretty while I was doing it (both the cake and my attitude!)  But I finally resigned that it was good enough.  As long as it tasted good, right?  Mason was awesome about encouraging me and telling me that it looked great.  Love that girl!

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After we had finished everything, there was still time before parents would pick up their daughters, so what else is there to do with 9 third-grade girls?  Four Square of course!  We drew up a big court in the garage over the race track and let the girls have at it.  Everyone had a blast – even with all the rule clarification.  These girls know their rules and are very quick to adjust as needed when their spot is on the line.  Too funny!

We were so proud of this birthday party.  It was a lot of work, and we certainly couldn’t have done it without the help of Meema, Nana and Kristin.  Great memories were made, and Mason was happy, which is all that matters!  Definitely a birthday party to be remembered for a long time.  An “Amazing” birthday for an amazing girl!

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One Year Older October 14, 2014

Filed under: Daily Blog — Robin @ findgoodineveryday @ 6:36 am

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This girl turns 9 today.  Nine!? I can’t believe it.  But I won’t even go there – I’ll save all the sappy stuff for next year when we reach double digits.  For now, I’ll just focus on how awesome she is and how much we love her.

Jeremy said it best in a poem that he wrote last week as part of her “Star Of The Week” assignments. I think it is so true to who Mason is and how much she has matured over the past 9 years.

Her name is Mason, that much we all know,

But what makes her special, she’s just starting to show.

She’s thoughtful and kind, and quite smart to boot,

But did you know at soccer, she really can shoot?

She once was quite shy, but has recently shown,

That her confidence and bravery have considerably grown.

She used to be nervous about trying new things,

She’s now taken up guitar and is strumming new strings.

No more faithful a friend can you hope to find,

She’ll always be there to help out in a bind.

The foods that she likes are a limited list,

Unless it’s a treat, then none can be missed.

Her vast collection of Barbies are her favorite toys,

And cranking Katy Perry is her favorite noise.

She hopes one day to be a Teacher or Doctor, we’ll see,

Either way, the best one she’ll most certainly be.

So here’s to our Mason, a most charming young miss,

We love you, Mom and Dad, big hug and big kiss.

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Happy Birthday, Mason!  You rock!

 

So This Is What It’s Like… September 27, 2014

Filed under: Daily Blog — Robin @ findgoodineveryday @ 4:48 pm

We have managed to put off lots of extracurricular activities for the kids over the years.  If they did take a tennis or swimming lesson or go to a soccer clinic, we would either get them in the same class or schedule them to be one right after the other.  The over under would be one afternoon or a weekend morning a week.  Easy to handle, right?  We would hear other parents talking about just being chauffeurs for their kids, taking them from activity to activity.  Not only did we not want to overload our kids, but we didn’t want to overload ourselves.

But now we get it.  Do we ever get it!  What’s sad is that Cooper is only doing one activity – soccer, and Mason is doing two – soccer and guitar.  (Oh! And did I mention I’m coaching Mason’s team?!  Ack!) But between those three activities, we have something every night of the workweek except for Friday.  I’m sure some of you are thinking, “Ok, that sounds totally normal.”  But for us, this is a lot.  Coming from almost nothing (especially over the last couple of years) to now something 4 nights a week…  Whew!

Guitar is right after school two afternoons a week.  And then soccer practices are from 6-pm two nights a week.  That’s prime dinner cooking time for me!  That’s prime slow down time for the kids.  But now – not so much.  So I’ve been struggling to still manage healthy family dinners (rather than feeding the kids before soccer), getting homework done in a reasonable time, keeping the house in order and getting the kids to bed before 9pm.  Once 9pm hits now, Jeremy and I plop on the couch, turn on the TV and basically zone out.   I especially have no energy left for conversation, laundry, house cleaning, or even dirty dishes!  (And those that know me know that I hate leaving dishes in the sink!)

So is this what it will be like until they go to college?  I’m guessing this is just the beginning, and that this is tame compared to what it will be in a few years.  Therefore I’ll enjoy this time while I can – just like I enjoyed the quiet of pre-extracurricular activities.  And if you don’t hear from me again for a little while – you’ll understand.

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Final Summer Days September 10, 2014

Filed under: Daily Blog — Robin @ findgoodineveryday @ 9:37 pm

As the summer winded down, we still managed to get our fun in before school started (or really got under way at least!)  We all had a family trip down to the Mid-Atlantic to visit friends, family and attend a wedding.  It was great to take a whole week off and spend quality time together.  Not only did we get to see Nana and Papa for a few days, but we also visited old friends in the Baltimore/DC area.

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Always good to see the Hucks. We sure miss living close to them!

And more fun with the Kolegos!

And more fun with the Kolegos!

While we love going back to Maryland and Virginia, it’s always hard to figure out who we’re going to try to see.  There is never enough time to see everyone, and there are a few families we wish we could see more.  So for anyone reading this thinking, “Why didn’t they come see us?” I apologize.  Hopefully on the next trip!

After the Maryland leg of the trip, we headed down to Charlottesville to get in some fun Pease time.  Between the pool, hiking, playing with Smudge, and watching American Ninja Warrior, there were plenty of memories made.

Our little fish!

Our little fish!

Mason and Cooper were showing us how good they would be with a dog.  The debate continues...

Mason and Cooper were showing us how good they would be with a dog. The debate continues…

Rhys loves playing "dog" just like Smudge!

Rhys loves playing “dog” just like Smudge!

The end of the week didn’t mean the end of family time, though.  It meant time for McKenzie and Scott’s wedding!  So up to Shepherdstown we went.  It was wonderful to be with our extended family, and we were so excited to welcome McKenzie into the family.

These boys had enough Shirley Temples to last awhile.

These boys had enough Shirley Temples to last awhile.

Looking good for the ceremony - all smiles!

Looking good for the ceremony – all smiles!

Such fun to dress up and go out as a family!  And it was a beautiful wedding on a beautiful night!

Such fun to dress up and go out as a family! And it was a beautiful wedding on a beautiful night!

Some had fun (Mason danced the night away) and some got a bit bored...

Some had fun (Mason danced the night away) and some got a bit bored…

Besides the wedding, we celebrated Meema’s birthday, picked yummy peaches and just hung out together.  I was so grateful for the extended time together, no matter how exhausted we were after a week of travel.  Jeremy and I headed home to Rhode Island that Sunday and left the kids there for Camp Meema, which was followed by Camp Pease, which was followed by Camp PapaNana.  They were gone for 2 weeks!  You already saw what Jeremy and I accomplished while they were gone.  We also managed to eat out at a few of our favorite restaurants and try out new ones with other couples.  By the end of the two weeks, though, we were ready to be reunited with Mason and Cooper and to finish up the final days of summer.

 

 

 

 

Big Blue And A New Living Room August 25, 2014

Filed under: Daily Blog — Robin @ findgoodineveryday @ 11:26 am

The one thing on my checklist for the summer was to redo the living room. (Ok, I had way more on my checklist, but this was the biggest one.)  We’re narrowing down to the final rooms of wallpaper, and with the kids gone for two weeks, I knew we could keep the house a mess while we finished the big task.  It was the perfect time for a makeover.  My arms had finally recovered from the bathroom, our paint brushes were dry, and my steamer was itching to get back to work.

So let me remind you of what the living room looked like before…

The living room on closing day...

The living room on closing day…

Also from closing day...

Also from closing day…

The living room right before we started the redo...

The living room right before we started the redo…

The perfect corner (before made even more perfect!)

The perfect corner (before made even more perfect!)

We started with a great space.  We absolutely love the corner windows!  A great perk of this 60′s style ranch.  It’s a big room with the fireplace on one end and built-in bookshelves on the other.  The current furniture layout in the above pictures seemed to be the best arrangement to take advantage of the view and wall space.   We certainly tried other arrangements including having the couch right in front of the windows (leaving the big wall open for a large screen TV?), but ended up back where we began.  The other great feature of the living room is the brick fireplace.  Before Christmas, we had put up the reclaimed wood mantel, but knew that wasn’t enough to make it pop.  I had wanted to go white, and while Jeremy was a little nervous about it, he finally agreed.  So the only thing left to decide on was the wall color.  Oh!  What a process!  From a dark blue to gray to white to light blue…  Just too many choices.  In the end, we chose a blue-gray called Nantucket Fog from Benjamin Moore.  Seems appropriate considering we live in Rhode Island and love Nantucket.

And so it began…

Wallpaper removal - my "favorite" part.

Wallpaper removal – my “favorite” part.

And living among a mess for almost two weeks.

And living among a mess for almost two weeks.

My back and shoulders were definitely feeling the pain after all the wallpaper removal, but I forged on.  Nantucket Fog finally went on the walls, and then it was time for decorating.  The wall behind the sofa is the biggest wall in the room and therefore needed a big piece of art.  We struggled so much with what to put there.  A triptych?  A large canvas? Multiple pieces?  But then, as if the heavens opened up and light shone down, we found a big whale bookcase.  We were shopping in Towson at one of my fave stores, Su Casa, when the whale spoke to us.  In the store, he was more distressed teal, and we decided he could go in our basement if the color didn’t work in the living room.  But we loved it so much, we just decided to spray paint him to match.  He is now a nice navy blue, and looks perfect against the Nantucket Fog.

Big Blue!

Big Blue!

With Big Blue and some other new items (mostly found in our basement among other home decor that has been “on the bench”), it was time to put the room together.  Finally, what you’ve been waiting for…

AFTER!

AFTER!

Love, love, love the fireplace with the beech wood mantel!

Love, love, love the fireplace with the beech wood mantel!

The green of nature still pops in the big windows.

The green of nature still pops in the big windows.

There you have it!  Another room checked off.  Next up will be the hallways, but we’ll wait until winter when there is nothing to do outside anymore.  For now, it’s back to the yard for a little outdoor TLC.  Summer is just about over and life starts getting much busier.  But I’ll still try to keep everyone up to date on the fam’ and our fall fun.  Next on the blog will be some posts on how we ended the summer.  My how time flies!

 

 

The Six-Letter Word July 31, 2014

Filed under: Daily Blog — Robin @ findgoodineveryday @ 7:26 am

Yes, that’s right… we’re already talking about the dreaded six-letter word around here.  SCHOOL!  It doesn’t start here for another 4 weeks, but it seems like the end of summer for me as the kids prepare to travel and visit Meema and Cousin Camp and then Camp NanaPapa.  We did our school supply shopping over the weekend, and I’m finally starting to focus on the summer reading requirements. (Mason has been reading all summer, but before she is out of my daily care for a bit, I need to make sure it’s officially done.)

The kids have been at camp all summer here in our town.  They’ve been enjoying “Playground Camp” in the afternoons with their friends.  And during the mornings, they’ve been learning about everything from tennis to magic to baking to woodworking to Lego engineering to yoga to science.  And then our evenings and weekends have been filled with pool time with friends or beach time or yard work or visitors.  It’s been a full summer!

I thought it would be fun to highlight some of my favorite summer moments so far through pictures.

We've been trying out new beaches this summer.  Water was chilly, but the kids had fun at Second Beach.

We’ve been trying out new beaches this summer. Water was chilly, but the kids had fun at Second Beach.

My favorite part of Second Beach was the scenery, though.  I just love the Rhode Island coastline! (and my beach babe!)

My favorite part of Second Beach was the scenery, though. I just love the Rhode Island coastline! (and my beach babe!)

We got out for our first (and so far only) canoe ride.  Looking forward to more...

We got out for our first (and so far only) canoe ride. Looking forward to more…

Nana and Papa came to visit for Fourth of July.  A very rainy holiday, but we still partied it up in Hingham.  Kids swam in the rain, Cooper played some whiffle ball with the big guys, and Jeremy and I enjoyed a couple of Jello shots.

Nana and Papa came to visit for Fourth of July. A very rainy holiday, but we still partied it up in Hingham. Kids swam in the rain, Cooper played some whiffle ball with the big guys, and Jeremy and I enjoyed a couple of Jello shots.

We've spent a lot of time in our front yard.  Playing badminton, resting in our new Adirondack chairs, and rousing games of Uno on the blanket.

We’ve spent a lot of time in our front yard. Playing badminton, resting in our new Adirondack chairs, and rousing games of Uno on the blanket.

Like I said, lots of activity in the front yard...  or lack thereof...

Like I said, lots of activity in the front yard… or lack thereof…

There has been a lot of car time this summer (and more to come).  At least it gives the kids a chance to nap after all the excitement.

There has been a lot of car time this summer (and more to come). At least it gives the kids a chance to nap after all the excitement.

My little butterflies!  Kids and I got to the zoo one afternoon and did an alphabet scavenger hunt - looking for something that started with each letter.  This was our "B."

My little butterflies! Kids and I got to the zoo one afternoon and did an alphabet scavenger hunt – looking for something that started with each letter. This was our “B.”

We took a day-trip up to Portsmouth, NH.  I loved it!  We walked all over, and the kids did great.  The promise of ice cream can really help with their stamina.

We took a day-trip up to Portsmouth, NH. I loved it! We walked all over, and the kids did great. The promise of ice cream can really help with their stamina.

During Meema's visit, us girls went to a kids' theater production of High School Musical that a friend was in.  It was so fun!  A girls night wouldn't be complete without a stop at Sweet Indulgence.

During Meema’s visit, us girls went to a kids’ theater production of High School Musical that a friend was in. It was so fun! A girls night wouldn’t be complete without a stop at Sweet Indulgence.

Another new beach - East Matunuck.  The boys got settled in the shade pretty quickly.

Another new beach – East Matunuck. The boys got settled in the shade pretty quickly.

Mason, on the other hand, was ready to hit the waves.  Papa had gotten the kids new boogie boards when he was here.  This beach had nice waves for the kids to try them out.  Cooper asked if we could go back every day.  I'd say that was a hit!

Mason, on the other hand, was ready to hit the waves. Papa had gotten the kids new boogie boards when he was here. This beach had nice waves to try them out. Cooper asked if we could go back every day. I’d say it was a hit!

We took Meema to her very first WaterFire!  It was a beautiful night, and Meema loved it. (Can't say the same for the kids who have grown bored with the event. Oh well!)

We took Meema to her very first WaterFire! It was a beautiful night, and Meema loved it. (Can’t say the same for the kids who have grown bored with the event. Oh well!)

I know tomorrow is just the start of August, and there is another month left of summer before SCHOOL starts, but it’s been a pretty good summer so far.  More adventure is to come, including some Robin and Jeremy time which will definitely include removing wallpaper and painting the living room.  Maybe we’ll take some time for fun as well.  If me, as the task master, allows it!

 

 

Summer’s First Visitors July 9, 2014

Filed under: Daily Blog — Robin @ findgoodineveryday @ 7:50 pm

I love Rhode Island summers.  And I love showing them off to visitors.  Summer is a great time to visit the biggest little state, so I was more than excited to have Jen, Scott and the boys visit us in June.  With so much to do, we had to narrow the itinerary down to just a few things that would still allow naps, down time and family hang out time.  

It was a crazy weekend, but fun to create new memories together.  Some of my favorites:

  • Rhys walking all over the house and loving the old school light switches.
  • Hayes being a big guy with Cooper playing Legos and picking him up from the bus stop.
  • Mason teaching Jen how to make a rainbow loom bracelet.
  • Walking around Cambridge with everyone.
  • Hearing the kids “quietly” play together each morning before the grownups fully woke.

Since our times together are few and far between with my sister’s family, I struggle with enjoying the time but also documenting the memories.  Here are some of my fave pics…

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IMG_5322A super fun visit!  And as soon as they left, we started counting the weeks/days until we get to visit them in Charlottesville.  Just under a month away at this point.  We can’t wait for more cool memories!

 

 
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