Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Labor Day Weekend

We spent Labor Day weekend at Ryan's family lake house in Indiana, as we do most years.  The weather was cool, starting to feel like fall, but warm enough that there was still plenty of people in the water soaking up some of those final days of summer.

Ellyn and Dan both grabbed my camera one afternoon while we were out on the pier and they got some great candid pictures of some of my favorite people.  There isn't a ton to say about them...just a random assortment of pictures.

So - sit back and enjoy a quick post with a ton of pictures and very few words.

Since I'm usually the one behind the camera, I've noticed there are so few pictures with me actually in them.  I need to work on getting Ryan to pick up the camera for a few minutes so I can have more sweet pictures like these!

One of the Peso cousins (extended family on Ellyn's side) has triplets that are 12 now (I think).  They came out to spend the day with us at the lake and Abby could not have been more thrilled to have some kids that would play with her.  She normally gravitates toward Greg, Ryan and Dan when we are at the lake, but when the kids were there, she only had eyes for them.  It was GREAT!

And that meant that these two idiots could spend some time just being normal (yeah right).  They actually went to a concert in Joliet on Saturday night.  They stayed up too late (think 3 am) but Ryan said that the concert was awesome.

These water squirters were definitely the hit of the weekend.  Fun for kids and adults apparently.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Cousin's Camping 2016

Well, we've officially logged another cousin's camping trip into the books.  I am going to have to go back and try to figure out how many we've done now.  I'm thinking this was the fourth?  Anyways, we did a repeat trip to Turkey Run, this time with a few less people (13 vs the 19 we had last year), slightly better weather (though it still rained) and much more hiking.

Yep, now we're both sherpa-ing children around on our backs in an attempt to still do all the hiking we used to but with the little people in tow.  It wasn't bad on our first hike, roughly 4 miles with a ton of climbing, but by the second hike, just a few hours later, I was getting tired.  I hiked about 1.5 additional miles with Hazel but didn't think twice when sweet Greggy offered to take her for the last .5 mile or so.  Not bad, but I'm hoping Abby is ready to start using her own two legs pretty soon so I can trade out Hazel to Ryan.  HA!

I swore this year I was going to get a group picture of us all, but somehow I managed to mess it up again.  I forgot my camera and I think Chris has one with almost all of us in it, but I officially failed yet again this year.  Maybe next year?

If you enjoy hiking you really should try to visit Turkey Run at some point. I was very impressed at the topography and the hikes really are beautiful.  There is one hike called the Ladders, that is listed as extremely rugged.  You can see from the picture above the ladders that are used along the trail.  There are three of them, and the trail ultimately leads you to this very cool gully seen below.  It's easy to see how quickly this area could flash flood though with just a little it of rain.

These Murphy cousins are one awesome group of people.  We always make great memories whenever we're with them and I can't wait to start planning our next big adventure together.  Here's to many more camping trips filled with late nights, too many beers and some amazing fireside (and grill side) meals!  

All you cousins really need to get on the kid train.  Tanner is two now and she and Abby play so well together.  I can't wait until Hazel gets to this age when she's a little less dangerous, has a few more words, and can play on her own or with the older kids for awhile.  I hate wishing away the days, but it will be SO nice to not have a "baby" camping.  

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Abby's First Day of Preschool

As if having her turn four wasn't enough for me to feel like her little life is moving in fast forward.  Abby started her first day of preschool this morning and this little peanut was VERY excited to be going to school on a bus like a big kid.  

Abby is attending Little Blessing Preschool that is run out of a Lutheran church very close to our house.  The best part (for me) is that the preschool runs a little van for about 6 kids and she's able to be bussed from daycare and back again.  Originally we weren't planning on sending her to preschool, mostly because the logistics of getting her to and from would make it nearly impossible for me to work during the mornings.  Once we found out there was a bus option we knew this would be the perfect fit for us.

We first started socializing the idea of her going to school just a few days after we moved in and I think it may have been a bit too much change for her to handle at the time. So, we've slowly been talking about it more and more over the past few weeks.  I think, between that, and her getting to pick her backpack she was finally convinced that she'd enjoy it.  She'll always be my little baby, but she's ready for school.  She's so smart and ready to learn so much more.  

This morning she was VERY excited to go to school.  She's been talking about it all weekend and she was so ready to go.  The first words out of her mouth this morning were "Is today school day?" so I knew she'd been thinking about it a lot.  I dropped her off and stuck around for about 20 minutes to get her settled.  As we walked through the church to her classroom I saw her excitement shift to nervousness and she was very quite, staying very close to me for the first little bit.  But, I was able to leave without tears (from her or from me) and I can't wait to hear all about her first day when she gets home tonight.

My daughter seems far too little to be carrying that backpack.  She's a tiny 5 pound baby in my eyes but she's ready!  I can't wait to see what this little person is going to do in life.  Today is just the beginning.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Abby Turns 4!

Abby must believe that all holidays and celebrations last for anywhere between 3 days and 2 weeks.  If there is one thing that the McGrath family is good at, it's celebrating.  We started off Abby's birthday weekend with our family birthday cake and a few presents from us and Grandma/Papa.

I've blogged this birthday cake before, but it's our families tradition to have this amazing chocolate chip sponge cake with custard filling and frosting for birthdays.  It's a huge pain the butt to make and has about 10 million calories in it but I knew we'd have enough people around this weekend to help eat it so I spent a few hours on Friday making this (it's SO good!).

Saturday morning Joey and Andy came out with my niece and nephew (Kayden and Lincoln) and we got to spend the day swimming, chatting, hanging out and enjoying the great weather.  It was really fun to get to show them around the new house and property.

Since we just moved and we're in a fairly rural area now we decided that maybe we should make some driveway signs to help people find the place.  It doesn't help that some GPS's send people into town, so we heard from quite a few people that the signs were a big help.  Good thing Grandma was here to help paint them.  She has WAY better handwriting and way more patience than I do, and these signs turned out awesome.  In hindsight we wish we'd have just written "party" so they'd be more multipurpose, but you'll see these again, I'm sure.

Some of my favorite pictures are of just me with one or both of the girls.  Since I'm often the one behind the camera, they seem few and far between, but I'm getting better at it.

One thing I'm terrible at is them parties.  I don't know, they are just so much work but this year I knew Abby would enjoy the process of going to pick out decorations and getting to pick a real theme for her party.  Before going to pick them out I knew that Dory and Ninja Turtles would be the big decision.  I was secretly hoping for Dory.  Luckily the Dory decor was located front and center in the store and we didn't even make it down the aisle to look at anything else.

The #1 thing Abby was most excited about was this pinata.  Someone, I can't remember who, told her about pinatas a few months back and she's been obsessed.  When we found the Dory pinata all thoughts of those Ninja Turtles were gone.  Abby did a great job helping me fill it and watching the kids whack at it was a ton of fun.

After about 10 minutes of standing around watching the kids tap at it with the slightly dangerous stick Ryan provided we decided to let Daddy take a whack at it and while he missed on the first one (he's going to kill me for that), the second hit worked like a charm and the kids piled into the candy like it was the best thing that ever happened.  It was quite a hit!

Ellyn decided way back when Abby turned 1 that she'd get a little cupcake for the girls on their birthdays.  This years cupcake was a Dory fish, to match the theme.  Isn't it adorable.  I'm sure it tasted amazing.  It feels like a waste to let this little frosting only eater have it all to herself, but that's what birthdays are all about.

This smile.  Man, I swear as she looked around to see everyone signing to her it's like she knew how lucky she was to have all these people there, for her, on her special day.  She's one lucky little girl, and I think she knows it.

Yes, even Hazel got to have some cupcakes (thanks Uncle Mike).  Hazel spent a good part of the party sleeping soundly in her room upstairs which was totally fine by me.  But, she woke up just in time for the excitement of the frosting.

While the cupcakes and pinata were fun, I think Abby's favorite part of the entire party was having all her little friends over.  We were originally going to make her party a kids party (and much smaller scale) but with moving into the new house so close to her birthday we figured we'd do one more huge family bash and combine it with a sort of housewarming/welcome to our new place sort of thing, which worked out perfectly.

So, so many presents.  This little lady is one lucky girl.  She got a ton of coloring/craft supplies, lots of play-do and some fun games (thanks for those guys!  I'm tired of Hungry Hungry Hippos on repeat), and some clothes that will be perfect for her this fall/winter.

In the evening after most everyone cleared out we had a small group left and we decided it was pool time!  What better way to end a great weekend than a dip in the pool with friends and family.  I'm disappointed the picture came out a little blurry but it just goes to show how much fun we were having.

We're so thankful for each and every one of you that came out to help us celebrate our new home and our little four year old.  We are so lucky to have such an amazing support structure and family.  We love you all to pieces!