Tuesday, January 29, 2013

U-Pick Fun

A couple of weeks ago I took the kids to the U-Pick farm in St. Augustine, FL. We had such a great time! I blogged about it over at the JaxMoms blog here. Go check it out for all of the details...and if you are a Jacksonville local, definitely follow the girls over at the Jacksonville Mom's Blog. They always have great tips and fun local finds. Now the fun part, finding delicious ways to turn all of these strawberries into desserts!

Last week on ProjectLife365:

1. STYLE- I was sick with a cold and never got out of bed but I got some good use out of my cute PJs
2. CURRENTLY READING- Our church is reading through the whole Bible and this book tells the story in a way that you can easily read
3. DREAM- I dream of traveling around the world with my family
4. MAKES ME SMILE- Bella's nose freckles...makes me smile every time I see them
5. TRANSPARENT- trying a photography technique I had seen on Pinterest
6. FAUX- fake Italian food at it's worst but I do have a thing for their soup and salad

Monday, January 21, 2013

calling in sick

I obviously didn't knock on wood when I was casually telling someone last week how I couldn't believe that my whole family made it through the holidays without catching the nasty flu bug or winter cold going around...cause it hit me hard this weekend! I can't even remember the last time I was that sick. I am grateful that my hubby was immune and didn't mind running to CVS every time I wanted to try a different medication because the one I was taking wasn't working fast enough! I even had to cancel a photo session, which I have only had to do one other time in 4 years! I am happy to say that I feel like I am on the mend, or at least able to move around without passing out. Just wanted to post last week's ProjectLife365 pics and let  you know that I have some fun posts coming up in the next few weeks...just have to finish wiping down the entire house with Lysol.

1. FORGOTTON- Sunday grocery shopping-closest thing to torture I can think of
2. TEMPTATION- trying to lose a few pounds before our trip...having this in the freezer isn't helping
3. CONFUSING- learning a new language is for the birds
4. SIGN OF WINTER- we don't have many here but my rose bushes haven't started blooming yet
5. THIS IS SO ME- I've been told my son looks just like me, poor thing
6. NEWS- a fun trip to the U-Pick farm being featured on a local blog this week...details coming soon

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Daydreaming of Paris

In a little over 9 weeks my family will be on a plan to the city of lights, Paris. For years my hubby and I have been trying to find a way to get back and this time we decided we had to take the kids. I finally think they are old enough to justify the expense...I hope that doesn't come out wrong. It's just that whenever we went to Europe in the past people would always gasp and talk about how expensive that must be. Really it isn't...when it's just 2 people. But when we were planning out the details for 4 people (they are considered adults as far as discounts go) the price was a little unnerving. I think they understand what a huge trip this is and really appreciate the opportunity.

They loved coming with me to apply for their passports and were just as excited as I was when they arrived in the mail. Bella has slowly been collecting books to read about Paris. My love of the city has been passed down to her. Since she was just a baby I started telling her that one day she and I would visit the Eiffel Tower together.

I definitely recommend getting the "Not for Parents" series of books if you are traveling to one of the bigger international cities. It is really interesting and Bella plans on being our tour guide at some of the sights, filling us in on secret facts. I bought my son the Not for Parents Rome book because that is where he wants us to visit next (we'll see how this trip goes first).

But of course the events over the past few weeks have started to put a little bit of a damper on things.Why must the French start a war with Jihadists right before we come??? I french blog I follow posted pictures he took yesterday of the Champs-Elysees, it is crawling with military soldiers. They are amping up security at all of the touristy attractions just in case they decide to bomb anything....comforting, no? I refuse to be swayed by a little terrorist activity, we have lived with that over here for 11 years. I just hope it doesn't take away from Bella and Preston's experience.

When it comes to my trips, I become completely OCD and plan every single little detail as an itinerary, including what outfits will go with what outing. It takes me weeks of research and multiple revisions to get it just how I like it. When we get there, it might all go out the window but I feel so much more stress-free knowing that I at least have a plan. I'll share our plan when I finish it up, still working out some last minute metro stops...in the mean time, I am off to brush up on what little french I know!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Sometimes you need a prompt

In Florida our kids have a yearly state exam called the FCAT. It is always up for debate how helpful/harmful this exam is (I can argue for hours) but the fact is that a lot is dependent on the scores your child gets on this exam. Both of my kids are taking it in a couple of months and we have never really prepped for it before, but we decided that this year we should. I emailed Preston's English teacher and asked him for any advice...he suggested that Preston write. Write about anything. I had just received an email a few days before from one of my favorite websites, Paper Coterie about a full year's worth of writing prompts that they had made and you could print at home. Perfect! I headed over to print them out and cut them into strips. I didn't go overboard decorating Preston's jar or notebook since he seems to think he is too old and too macho for that kind of thing now.

 The prompts are pretty easy, it's more of just getting the brain juices flowing and for him to work on his sentence & paragraph structure. And I get an interesting journal of how my son's brain works at 12-going on 20.

And since I can always use a little help in the prompt world too, here are this weeks photo prompts from ProjectLife365:

1. SIMPLICITY- morning coffee and reading the good book
2. FRONT DOOR- my cat waits for me while I'm gone, my hubby swears he is part dog
3. IN A DRAWER- my desk drawer, as clean as it is ever going to be
4. GAME- always been a favorite in our house, the matching game
5. SIGNATURE- my signature shot...the one most requested at photo shoots
6. MINI- my nephew Owen, although there is nothing mini about those cheeks

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Backyard Camping

This weekend we had some beautiful weather for January. Low of 50 degrees, high in the mid 60s. I really wanted to go somewhere and have fun with the family but I had a session on Saturday so we had to stay close to the house. Since the hoopla of Christmas is still so fresh we have been trying to do a few low-key things with the kids. Less money, more quality etc. One of my friends posted on her FB that she was going camping this weekend and instantly my wheels starting turning. Why not surprise the kids with a backyard camp-out. We haven't taken the kids camping in about 6 years so Bella really doesn't even have memories of camping. Preston was a cub scout so he can remember he and Mike going a few times together. I ran it by Mike to see if he would set up the tent while I ran to the grocery store for dinner & dessert. He was game for setting everything up and taking everything down but he was going to pass on sleeping in the tent since he had to get up early for his church volunteer duties the next morning. When we told the kids, they thought it was the most exciting news ever (which was a great reminder to me that kids don't need expensive trips...I guess that is more for me, lol). In my mind, having access to my own bathroom was a huge perk to backyard camping!

 Bella has starting writing her own music so she entertained us with her latest piece.

After dinner was over we headed to the tent (which was at 7:00!!!) and had lots of time before bedtime so we played a few games. Find it, spot it and pictionary were the ones they picked. 

 It got a little too dark to play...or at least for me to see to be able to play so they picked out a movie to watch. Preston and I watched the Rescuers Down Under and Bella choose SpongeBob.
Then it was finally time for bed...Preston tucked me in and Bella got a pic (blury, dark and one of my favorites).
 Yes, we all three made it outside all night. Mike left the party lights on above the tent to (hopefully) keep the stray animals away. I woke up a few times because the frogs were screaming to the TOP of their lungs...probably about us keeping the outside lights on :) We had a great time and I know it is a night the kids won't soon forget.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Project Life 365 Week 1

So I decided to bite the bullet and participate in Project Life 365. The most exciting thing about it is that my 12 year old son decided to do it along with me. He got an itouch for Christmas so he has fallen in love with instagram with the rest of the nation. I really encourage you to give it a try, the prompts are easy and it does make you take a look around and see things in a different light (perhaps). Here is week #1:

1. RESOLUTION (two of mine were drink more water and give more compliments)
2. YOU TODAY (I didn't get out of my PJs today)
3. OPTIMISTIC (grass growing in concrete crack-a nod to my favorite movie, Elizabethtown)
4. VIEW (on my way out of Walmart...the only thing beautiful in that place)
5. GRACEFUL (my beautiful Bella)
6. VIEW (on my desk and always disappearing)

If you are participating (and it's not too late!) let me know your instagram handle or however you are posting your daily images...I'd love to see them :) My instagram id is wendyupdegraff, fair warning...I post a lot of pics of my goofy family.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

Happy 2013! I love New Years! I am one of those dorks that still makes new year's resolutions every single year. Do I keep them? hahahahaha, of course not. But I love to make lists and I love to make goals so resolutions are right up my alley! I am very proud to say that I did keep two of my resolutions from last year, one was to learn how to use the video function on my camera and the other was to learn to make macarons. Check and check!

 I am not quite finished with this year's list. I am debating whether to start the ProjectLife365 by Design Aglow. Has anyone else ever attempted to take one picture everyday for a year? Seems like an incredibly hard assignment but I can imagine the payoff would be amazing. We will see how long I can keep up with it :) Let me know if you are going to do it too, I'd love to see your weekly photos!

Every year for new year's eve we always celebrate with my sister's family but this year they were all down with the flu so we had to celebrate on our own. We did our best to continue with all of the traditions that we do with them but Mike and I added a new tradition...a midnight balloon drop!

It was super easy to do, and really inexpensive. Just pick up a white plastic tablecloth and bag of latex balloons from your local craft store. Cut the tablecloth in half, you should have two squares now. Punch holes along one side of each tablecloth. Use string or yarn to loosly lace the two squares together. Make sure to leave the string long on both sides so it won't come un-sewn on it's own. You now have your original size tablecloth, just seamed in the middle. Tact or Tape each of the four corners to your ceiling, leaving some slack because you have to leave room for the balloons. Blow up the balloons and pile them in your tablecloth. At midnight, pull one end of the string and it will un-lace and the balloons will fall!

I wish you a very Happy New Year and best of luck keeping your new year's resolutions!