Category: Summer Of Fun

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Once a month here on the blog, we play a fun game called “Let’s Play Oprah” where we share our current top 3 “Favorite Things” with each other and then at the end of the month I give away one of those items to a lucky subscriber.

Because giveaways are fun! And we just so happen to be fun-havers!

Every once in a while I’ll pick a theme for my Favorite Things but this month I didn’t even choose one on purpose- I just looked at my list and realized they all had one thing in common: Coconut.

I prefer clean, light, earthy scents over heavier floral scents any day, and Coconut happens to be one of my favorite scents of all, so I guess it’s no surprise that it appears in so many of my beauty and household products. The smell reminds me of summer vacation and all things beachy, and who doesn’t want to be reminded of that?

Okay, are you ready?

? Lets Play Oprah! ?

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  1. The Copper Coconut 3 wick candle by White Barn. 

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I have a *bit* of an obsession with candles. I have no problem telling people about my book-buying obsession because it makes me sound quirky and brainy, but I’ll never publicly cop to the number of candles I own. It’s a lot. Enough to be ashamed about. My candle cabinet is in the last place in my house that anyone would look because no one needs to be knowing about my dirty little candle hoarding secret. Read More…

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By the time you read this, some of you have already enjoyed weeks of your littles being back in school.

It’s okay. It’s fine. I am not jealous of you.

It’s something I’ve learned to deal with, living in our time zone over here in the Pacific Northwest. The views are stunning, the air is crisp and clear, the rivers are wild and mysterious. But living life on some kind of delayed loop from the rest of the world really bites sometimes.

It seems that %80 of humans get to experience most of life a solid 2-3 hours ahead of us Oregonians. When it comes time for anything really important, like election coverage, the Bachelor finale, or one of the precious few new Game of Thrones episodes, I’ve learned the hard way to STAY OFF THE INTERNET. Otherwise it all gets spoiled.

Also, don’t judge me for putting the election in the same category as junk TV. This is where we are in 2016.

Adding insult to injury, everyone and their Aunt Fay also gets to be on a school schedule that is roughly an entire semester ahead of us. Every single May I see pictures of my internet friends’ kids doing cannonballs into pools with Hasthag-FirstPoolDay while I am counting down the 17 lunches I still have to pack with Hasthag-DoUncrustablesCountAsLunch?

Every single August, when we are finally finding our summer groove, everyone else is posting pictures of their littles holding tiny chalkboards with their new grade written on it, or pictures of their own feet on a charming brick path next to the one maple leaf that has managed to dislocate itself from it’s home and fall to the ground, indicating that Fall has indeed arrived.

What’s the deal with that anyways? Everyone needs to calm down already with all this “Fall in August” talk. August is not Fall! August is definitively a SUMMER month. Can we please sort this out, because it seriously messes with my head and gives me a severe case of FOMO.

Just when I think that I am truly enjoying the days at home with my littles, and patting myself on the back for ‘counting my blessings’ and ‘soaking up the moments’, I see a picture of some first grader with a backpack on and I start sweating and rethinking my whole angle. Read More…

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In our 14 years of marriage, Husband and I have belonged to 10 different addresses.

TEN.

We have owned, rented, bought, sold, lost, renovated, and built from the ground up. We’ve lived in apartments, condos, big houses, and small houses. With each move we’ve taken away a surer sense of what’s important to us as a family, a greater understanding of our needs, and an ability to create a sense of “home” no matter the house. We’ve also picked up quite a few new skills along the way: everything from how to lay tile, to how to electrically wire an entire house, to how to take a space that feels small and make it feel “cozy” or a large space and make it feel “warm.”

We also learned how NOT to do these things.

But that’s a story for another day.

One thing that’s become clear over the years is that both Husband and I genuinely love the process of making a home. He loves learning new aspects of carpentry (and all the subsequent new tools they require), and I love the design end of it all. While some find building and renovating to be stressful, we actually kind of love it. Some of our favorite dates have been spent strolling through tile stores, or pouring over floor samples, or commiserating over window trim and molding.

I know.

Try not be jealous of our wild and crazy dating life. Read More…

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Well the third annual Road-trip is officially on the books and I can honestly say it’s been the best one so far. Which is saying a lot, because we spent more time in the car than any other year.

32 accumulative hours, to be exact.

Not that I’m counting or anything.

As I told you guys last week, Amber and I decided to go big this year and brave the 12 hour drive to Disneyland. Which was really more like a 16 hour drive because CHILDREN. We spent 4 eight-hour days in the car (round-trip) and I’m happy to report that the kids handled it amazingly well. There was no melting down. There was no fighting. There weren’t even any complaints of hogging air-vents, or “she won’t stop looking at me!” like we’ve experienced in years past

And bonus: we listened to the entire Hamilton musical on the way, because what the heck else are you supposed to do in a car for 8 hours? Now, I should pause here to admit that I have been extremely resistant to all of the hype surrounding Hamilton. I had no intention of getting sucked in. I had no intention of caring at all. I certainly had no intention of becoming one of those people who are always blithering on about a musical and insisting other people listen to it.

But you guys.

It’s so good.

It really is incredible.

I had chills more than once listening to it.

It was kind of like that one time I thought I’d casually watch just the first episode of Scandal, and the next thing I knew it was 3am and I was in too deep to ever turn back. I’m afraid that Hamilton, much like Scandal, is a polarizing trend. You’re either in, or you’re out. There is no gray area. Read More…

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Today was the first day of the annual road-trip that Amber and I take with our kids. We got up early, loaded my car to the literal brim with kids, beach bags, snacks, and the like, and after MUCH anticipation we finally hit the road.

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In case you missed it, last week I shared all about this tradition that we’ve started, and a few things we’ve learned over the years (the hard way). You can read about our past triumphs and tribulations here.

This year is a little bit special though, because we’ve decided to pull out all the stops. We’re going big, partly because we just wanted to, and partly because we threw the idea out there only halfway seriously, but then failed to plan anything else before it was time to actually go.

So it’s really happening.

We are going to Disneyland, people.

That means a 12 hour drive across state lines.

In the same car as the children.

It is either the best or the worst idea that we’ve ever had.

We told them this morning, and the kids had no idea, which was nothing short of a miracle because I have a hard time keeping a lid on fun surprises because EXCITEMENT and FEELS! So we waited all the way until today, and we let Teya (Amber’s oldest, who is 12 now, and opted for middle school church camp instead of the road-trip this year) tell them so she still felt involved on some level.

There was an excessive amount of hooting, hollering, and cheering upon hearing the word “Disneyland” so Amber and I were sufficiently pleased with ourselves. Read More…

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Well I don’t want to jinx anything by saying it out loud, but I do believe things are finally quieting down around here. Our schedules have been so busy for the last two months that I’ve landed in July and I’m not even sure how I got here.

I’m entirely disoriented but I only have 5 days to get my bearings, because the most important week of summer (as far as the kids are concerned) is almost upon us.

It’s here, you guys.

It’s time for The Annual Ambers Road-trip. Read More…

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If you know me well at all, you know that there’s nothing I love more than sleeping in. Maybe that makes me sound like a lazy, slothful woman but I may as well own it because it’s the honest-to-God truth. If you ask Husband about how much I love my sleep and he’ll shake his head and mutter something about how he’ll “never understand.”

Husband could never possibly understand though, because he has the terrible misfortune of being physically incapable of sleeping in. On the rare occasion that he can manage to keep his body down for more than 7 hours, it punishes him by waking him up with a terrible headache that lasts for half the day. He may actually be allergic to sleeping in. It’s the saddest thing I’ve ever seen.

He’s not only up with the birds each day, but adding insult to injury, he also wakes up with the sun shining out of his butt. I mean, really. He’s relentlessly cheery in the mornings. Don’t ask me about it or I’ll just shake my head and mutter something about how “I’ll never understand.” Read More…

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You know how Oprah always had those lists of all her “favorite things” that she’d share with America, and then at the end of the show she’d surprise her audience members with all the things by telling them to look under their seats?

Well guys, I don’t want you to get too excited or anything, but I made you a list of my own “favorite things”.

At the end of this post, I would love to tell you all in a singsong voice to look under your seats because “everyone gets humpback whaaaaa-ales! YOU get a humpback whale! And YOU get a humpback whale!”

But let’s all be real here: this is problematic for a number of reasons. Namely, because I’m not Oprah. Secondly, because “humpback whale” is fun to say in a singsong voice, but ironically enough, is not actually on my list of favorite things.

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But I digress. Back to the list. I don’t know about you guys, but I fully plan on indulging myself this summer.

“In what,” you might ask?

Well, all the things.

All the television. All the books. All the food. All the music. All the podcasts.

It might be a little over-ambitious to cram so much delight into two and a half short months, but I can’t help it. I tend to subscribe to the Liz Lemon philosophy in life:

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So without further ado, here is my list of Favorite Things at the moment:

T.V. Shows

  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Because the one-liners are pure gold. They’re always saying things like, “Teeth are the boobs of the mouth!” Or “If I find a job in the classifieds, am I allowed to tell anyone?” They weave the jokes in so seamlessly, you have to pay close attention or you’ll miss at least a third of them.
  • Barely Famous: Because it’s like a new Curb Your Enthusiasm, but with sisters. One is a writer and one is an actress, but they’re both beautiful, funny, whip-smart women who have zero sense of self-preservation in their pursuit of sharp comedy. They poke fun at themselves and it’s brilliant, not just because they’re in on the joke, but because they’re telling the joke.
  • Scrubs re-runs: Because these characters stole my heart and I actually miss them. This is one of those shows that definitely started off wonky but got better and better with time. My all time favorite episodes were when JD dates a girl he really likes, but ultimately dumps her because he can’t stand that she always says “That’s funny” instead of actually just laughing, and when JD confesses he is a poo-fainter. As in, he faints every time he takes a #2.
  • 30 Rock re-runs: Because Liz Lemon is my spirit animal.
  • Outlander: Because I’ve adored the book series for years, and because Jaime and Claire are one of the realest made-up love stories of all time. Don’t even get me started. I could talk about Outlander for days.
  • Fixer Upper re-runs: Because Chip & Jo are everything. Also because Husband and I began flipping houses this year, and even though we’ve seen every episode, we still can’t seem to get enough shiplap inspiration.

Music

You should know that I used to be very cool and hip. (Operative word there, being “used” to, as evidenced by the fact that I just said “hip”, which everyone knows isn’t cool at all.) I used to go to shows at the Troubadour and other hidden little back-door venues in L.A. I used to pride myself on knowing about cool bands before they were cool.

That was a long time ago and while I do still care about music, now it’s more about how fun it is to car-dance to, than how edgy, age appropriate, or popular it is. So basically, yah- I’m a 34 year old woman who “bee-bops” in the carpool lane to that Amy Grant/ Tori Kelly remix of “Baby, Baby” and I don’t care who knows it. Apparently my inner 90’s-church-geek has a strong sense of nostalgia that won’t be denied.

Don’t get me wrong, my playlist is awesome, even though I just spent two whole paragraphs telling you how my taste is music is slipping. Just know that it’s random and fun and maybe even a bit surprising. If you’re looking for some kickass summer jams, I’ve got you covered, with everything from Ice Cube, to The Cure, to Death Cab for Cutie.

So if you’re curious, this is the soundtrack to my life right now. Whether I’m writing, driving, cleaning the house, or cooking dinner, I pretty much always have this playlist on shuffle.

 

Podcasts

  • Rose Buddies with Rachel and Griffin McElroy: Okay, these two are quickly becoming my new favorite humans. This podcast is a husband and wife duo, who not only watch all episodes of The Bachelor franchise TOGETHER (how cute is that?), but they break it down for us each week in a way that’s arguably more entertaining than watching the show itself. Laura has been telling me how funny it is for months, and I wish I would have listened sooner because now I am obsessed. I listen to it as a distraction when I do cardio at the gym and I always wind up cackling like a fool the whole time. People around me are beginning to wonder what’s so hilarious about the treadmill.
  • Hope*Writers with Emily Freeman, Myquillin Smith, Brian Dixon, and Gary Morland. It’s no secret that Hope*Writers has been a huge source of inspiration to me, and the podcasts are by far my favorite element. They’re informative and funny, and for some reason hearing their voices has a calming effect on my frazzled writer’s-nerves. I feel like the angsty kid-sister who’s cooler, wiser siblings are going, “Shh. There, there. It’s going to be okay. Here’s what you do…” Somehow just listening to them makes me feel a thousand times smarter and braver.
  • This Good Word with Steve Wiens: I love this podcast for the diversity. Each episode Steve chooses one word to discuss and it could be anything from Fear, to Sweat, to Creativity. He speaks with all different kinds of people about all different kinds of things, but I can always expect an interesting, thought provoking conversation. I was honored to be a guest on this podcast a few weeks ago. The word we discussed was “Courage”, but we also managed to include faith and fear, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, writing and dreaming, and how to correctly order Taco Bell. So yah, there’s not much we didn’t cover. I made a few confessions and over-shared as usual, but we laughed a whole lot. You can listen by clicking here: Episode 43: COURAGE, with Amber Salhus.

Books

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Okay, this is just embarrassing. My summer reading list needs to calm down already. For months I’ve been ordering and stashing books away for the perfect lazy summer day at the beach, but now it’s just gotten completely out of control. I didn’t realize exactly how many books I intended to read until I pulled them all out yesterday. I’m going to need to separate them into little piles around the house before Husband starts asking questions about how much money we’ve been spending on Amazon Prime.

A lot of these are classics and I’m ashamed to admit I haven’t finished a single one of them yet. But that’s all about to change! Because the whole point of the Summer of Fun is to fill up the tank and enjoy life. For me, one of the best ways to recharge and get inspired is by reading a good book.

Or 20.

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The Summer of Fun is already off to a strong start, if for no other reason than the fact that I’ve at least made lists.

I do love lists.

Almost as much as school supplies.

I’d love to hear what you’re listening to/ reading/ watching! Leave it in the comments!

Love you guys.

 

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As you guys know, Husband and I have deemed this our Summer Of Fun.

Sounds amazing, right?

Don’t we sound like such cool, carefree parents? (Don’t answer that. It was rhetorical.)

Well it’s officially our first day of Summer break over here, and if I’m being honest I should tell you that we’re already playing it fast and loose with our definition of “fun”. If you count getting woken up by an early-riser (why, God?), putting out a fight over who gets the last of the Frosted Mini Wheats, answering 47 questions about the plan for the day in a way that does not dash all hope but also can’t later be misconstrued as “you promised!”, and paying bills all before 9:30 am as “fun”, then YES, we are having so much fun already.

The thing is, we did deem this the Summer of Fun, but we don’t exactly have a mile-long list of riveting activities to keep the children entertained for the next 85 days. (I like to call them “the children” every now and then, because it makes me feel fancy.)

Other than a couple trips to the beach, a camping trip with friends (in a trailer, because air-conditioning and coffee pots), and the annual road trip that Amber and I take with our kids, we don’t have much on the calendar.

And you know what?

THAT is fun.

The lure of freedom and all the possibility it represents is the most thrilling thing in the world to me right now.

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For us, The Summer of Fun is mostly about choosing to consciously find and appreciate the fun in regular-life moments. There will be lots of swimming and Popsicles, outdoor movies and late bedtimes, family game-nights and spontaneous picnics in the park.

I guess what I mean is that we will not be standing on our heads and dancing like monkeys in an effort to keep the kids happy. Because everyone knows that ‘keeping the kids happy’ is the biggest booby-trap in the entire world. They would ride that wave until we are fully capsized on the Sea Of Parents-Who-Died-Trying. Read More…