Friday, June 28, 2013

Bump It

We went out tonight for Brett's birthday--the whole family, all dressed up--to a restaurant other than Chili's.  Being that this hasn't happened in a while and it was my husband's birthday, I decided it was a special enough occasion to wear the Bump It.  Bump It as in that As-Seen-on-TV hair accessory that pushes your hair up all sexy-like.  You know, higher to heaven, closer to God.  Okay, so maybe close to God doesn't really go with sexy-like.  Whatever.  Anyway, I managed to position the plastic bridge underneath the top layer of my hair after four tries, clip it in place with a tight barrette and straighten it out enough in the mirror for some pretty good satisfaction.  I thought it looked awesome. That is until I walked out to tell Brett I was ready.

He was laughing before I even made eye contact.

"What?" I asked.  "It's the hair, isn't it?"

"Oh my God, you look like you have a speed bump on your head."

"It's not a speed bump.  It's a Bump It," I offendedly snapped back, as if he was supposed to know what a Bump It was. 

He smiled and said, "Cute."  And by "cute," I know he meant "not cute." 

But I wore it anyway.   I pretended my head didn't itch all night and totally played off both times my sky hair caught the door frame of the car as I was climbing in, shifting my Bump It off-center so that it looked like a hairy fascinator.  When I took Lainey to the bathroom mid-dinner, my reflection actually startled me. 

Will I wear the Bump It again?  Probably.  Because, out of fifteen weird speed bump angles, there's still this one straight-on one that looks so cool.  Plus, I'm a hair gimmick girl.  I mean, I still own a banana clip.

Sorry there aren't any pictures tonight.  I'm a picture girl--always will be.  But my camera battery went dead and the charger's still in my backpack--unpacked since Michigan.

We're a little behind.  But catching up this week.

*****

Okay, Popina swimsuit winners and their summer bucket lists:

Comment #1208, Lisa Marie:
Bucket list:
- climb a mountain here in Salt Lake City (I recently acquired a very fit and muscley boyfriend who has agreed to sling me across his shoulders and lug me up the steeper stretches. We call this love.)
- write at least one short story that I am not embarrassed by and could potentially send to friends for editing/input/revisions.
- finish a Sizeable Chunk of my PhD research.
- find a secluded hot spring and go skinny dipping at midnight.
- make crowns out of flowers for the kids I baby sit (a Swedish midsummer tradition- my country of origin!)
- write a few postcards to friends I haven't seen in a while.
- get a deep deep tan that lasts through August.
- attend a Shakespeare theatre summer festival.
- bake something I've never baked before.
- compose messages for strangers with rocks on the salt flats.
- go on a road trip with windows down and terrible wonderful music blaring.
- pray more, and more often, because summer is for divine habits and upward


Comment #634, Beth Bruce:
Bucket List:
1. Backyard Camping
2. Pick tomatoes fresh off the plants and pop directly into mouth.
3. Run through the sprinklers.
4. Roast marshmallows over the grill.
5. Drink beers on the patio with my husband after the babies are in bed.


and

Comment #195, The Book Sylph
Bucket List:
1.) strawberry picking
2.) baking strawberry crisps
3.) some cottage time
4.) backyard sprinkler fun for my 2 year old
5.) fireworks
6.) cuddling with a toddler who smells like sunscreen
7.) prepping for baby #2 who will greet us when the Fall arrives


Congratulations, winners!  To claim your suit, please e-mail kellehamptonblog@comcast.net your contact info with the subject line POPINA GIVEAWAY WINNER.  Thank you!

And for those of you who didn't win who still would love a Popina swimsuit, our friends at Popina were so kind to set up a discount code for you.  Receive a generous 20% off your Popina order using the code "summerbucketlist."

You know what Popina suits look good with?  Bump It hair.  Just sayin'. 

*****

Finally, if you haven't heard of the wonderful organization called Sevenly, please check them out this week.  They bring you cool products and donate a generous portion of their product proceeds ($7 of every purchase!) to different organizations each week.  This week, they are donating to Lettercase, an organization that distributes books and resources to expectant parents with a new Down syndrome diagnosis--books that provide accurate, up to date information and authentic photos of people with Down syndrome in ballet class, at school, at work, etc.  By shopping at Sevenly this week, you're helping provide a lifeline to moms and dads who need hope. 

Have a wonderful weekend, friends.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Summer Bucket List: Popina Swimwear Giveaway

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Hear ye, Hear ye! Hark!

Now that Summer Solstice has passed and we are officially in the groove of our summer thang, how appropriate that our friends at Popina have offered to give away THREE Jantzen vamp suits (red or black) to ETST readers. Popina Swimwear offers a fantastic selection of retro swimwear. I happen to love vintage swimwear for how it looks, but it does offer the bonus of actually covering your butt and holding everything in and up in a flattering way. Think Esther Williams.

New bathing suits must have fun summer events to accompany them though, so behold...the official summer bucket list.

We've made fresh flower crowns, kayaked under the moon, picked strawberries and hosted a lemonade stand at a corner in our neighborhood.

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What's left?
Lots.

Like:

* Walk the beach at sunrise
* Lay blankets outside late at night and look at stars
* Outdoor movie
* Sleepover with friends
* Third Street Farmer's Market
* Pool Party
* Hang tons of twinkly lights from lanai
* Take family to outdoor concert
* Go to St. Augustine
* Make a Beach Nature Journal
* Take a yoga class
* Decorate our bikes with streamers and spoke beads
* Water Balloon Toss
* Go fishing from the pier
* Sunset cruise
* Go bowling
* Family road trip where we don't know where we're going
* Cracker Barrel breakfast with friends
* Make a diarama with the kids
* Play with sparklers
* Buy a snowcone on Fort Myers Beach
* Make friendship bracelets with Lainey
* Make No-bake cookies
* Dress fancy tea party at Brambles
* Fly a kite
* Swim underwater in the ocean (I usually keep my head up)
* Put-put golfing
* Have a craft day
* Make sangria
* Get a good lightning picture
* Make a summer playlist
* Print photos and update frames
* Play grown-up hide-and-seek in Costco
* Host a barbecue
* Read three new books
* Finish Ramona Quimby series with Lainey
* Send fun care packages to unsuspecting friends
* Flashlight scavenger hunt in neighborhood
* Make a dream catcher (done!)

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There's so much more to do.  And making this list has me all excited.

Alright, to win some Jantzen swimwear from Popina (one Jantzen vamp suit in red or black per winner), please leave one comment with a few events from your summer bucket list.  Three winners will be selected (generated from random.org) and announced in Friday's post.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Michigan: Double Rainbow

It's a sort of summer rite of passage now--a quiet drive through hidden back roads of northern Michigan.  Last year, I drove it alone; this year, with three sleeping babies in the back seat.  I had forgotten the cord to connect my phone to the car radio, so instead I frustratingly dialed through too many stations of static to find one that finally came through--the strangest hodge podge of tunes appealing to a range of music tastes.  Willy Nelson.  Lionel Ritchie.  Celine Dion. 

I made three attempts to conquer the one measly bar of service on my phone, dialing Brett over and over until finally, the call went through. 

"The kids are all sleeping, I'm driving and it's gorgeous.  Blue skies, winding roads, tall trees and not a car in sight," I shared. Because sharing is what I do when good flows like river currents.  I want to take pictures of it, describe it, store it, scoop it up in community cups and pass them along to anyone else who might like a sip.

The sky is blue.  Blue, I tell you.  Beautiful freaking blue.  Drink it up. 

Here's what I'm learning:  If I offer a cup of Holy Beautiful Sky to someone and they smile and turn it down?  Be thou not shocked and offended.  It's okay.  You're good.  They're good. 

Oh Metaphor, how I love thee.

I will stop now before I spin uncontrollably down a rabbit hole of confusing metaphor.  For the record, it was going to involve color blindness, the beauty of gray walls and something about that big stack of paint chips Sherwin Williams sometimes lets you borrow.  But it was pushing Double Rainbow.  See, that's the danger for us color-loving sharin' folks.  Sometimes, we just sound crazy.  Or maybe we are.  If so, I'll take crazy for $500, Alex.

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If you're still reading, what's not crazy is planning a visit to the Great Lakes State whose true gems lie outside of the Motor City.  Go North.  Find a lake--you'll have no trouble.  Gather family. 

*****

The Last of our Michigan Summer Adventure:

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My brother helped Lainey find two large Petoskey stones hidden along the edge of the lake.  We had looked for them several times on last year's trip and resorted to buying a few polished ones from a Traverse City rock shop.  So this year, imagine my double rainbow excitement when we scoured two ourselves--a true Michigan treasure.

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Thus began the rock adventures, my brother and Lainey side by side, rifling through heaps of worthless pebbles in search of the rare Petoskey.  She told me Petoskeys were her favorite rock "in the whole wide world" and was determined to find more which never happened, making our two even more special.

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Apparently a heat wave has swept into Michigan this week, but while we were there, it was mild and cool and a nice change from our current humid swelter.  We wore everything from bathing suits and flip-flops during hot slivers of warm afternoons to thick sweatshirts and crocheted hats on chilly morning walks outside.

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I flipped my kayak one night getting in. Went neck deep in cold mosquito-covered water but chose to climb back in and paddle out, ignoring my shivers because the sky was so pretty, the moon just right and I didn't want to miss that perfect window of time when the sun and the moon changed shift.  Out on the water, it was still and magical.  Later I returned to a warm shower and our evening bonfire ritual.  Stories. Laughing. S'mores.

Another night, we took our bonfire stories to the middle of the dirt road where we laid all lined up, looking up at the sky, scanning for shooting stars.  Someone suggested we'd see them clearer out by the lake, so we walked down to the dock, lining up again along the skinny wood platform, holding hands for security and sshhh-ing each other lest we disturb the other cottages.  Lake, sky, stars, cousins.  It felt like summer camp right down to the ghost stories and the giggling and the worrying that we'd get in trouble.

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We gradually said good-bye to uncle and aunts, cousins and second cousins until it was just me and the kids and my dad ready to make the three hour drive from the cottage back to his home.  With plans to follow him, I packed up the suitcases, buckled the kids in the car and waited while he did the final run-through and locked things up. 

"You ready?" he finally asked.

"I guess."  I hesitated.  I hate when good things come to an end.

I could tell he was on the verge of tears--we are Crydermans after all--and so I hurried along the closure we were avoiding.  "Let's go.  Kids are happy.  Don't know how long that will last.  It's been real."

We pulled away with two honks, and I returned to the hodge podge music station to find Billy Joel.  Followed by Mariah Carey. 

At the halfway point, we had dinner at Cracker Barrel.  Because a vacation without Cracker Barrel just isn't right.

*****

Our last day Michigan adventures included Rochester and Romeo, Michigan--the Paint Creek Trail and downtown Main Street in Rochester (along with their public library--amazing!) and Blake Farms and antique shopping in Romeo.

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I knew I wanted the girls to do some sort of Michigan picking while we were there--peas, blueberries, strawberries, trash in the I-75 median. I kid.

The strawberry fields at Blake Farms had just opened for U-Pick a few days prior--perfect timing--and the girls loved the low easy access rows of plants, a bit different from the oranges that hang higher in our Florida groves.

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Nella maneuvered through plant rows like a professional, bending over and brushing broad leaves aside to find whatever berries revealed themselves. She wasted no time to transfer them to our cardboard flat but rather directed them straight to her mouth.

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Lainey found a ladybug which--if I recall--happened last time we were at this same farm four years ago.

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I loved the cool weather and didn't mind at all the fact that my thighs were aching from squatting to pluck berries or that the wood soles of my clogs were stained with red juice. I was sidetracked by a summer bucketlist being fulfilled.

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Fifteen quarts of strawberries later, we left the farm and ended the evening downtown Romeo where we found a complete gem of an antique mall in an old bank. Three stories high and so generously stocked with such an array of treasures, I could have spent days perusing the goods. All tucked away and displayed in various rooms and hidden hallways were linens, dishes, furniture, books, jewelry, records, postcards, clothes, hats--so many hats! Pillbox, cloche, fancy floppy hats with flowers and feathers and bows.  After searching several other shops for the perfect gift for her friend Aleena, Lainey decided she wanted to bring her home some dress-up gloves and a fancy hat. 

She settled on powder blue with a veil for herself and a pillbox hat with red silk roses for her friend. The sweet grandmas who rang up our purchase made big over the hats as we left. "Oh honey!" they excaimed to Lainey, "you're going to be the talk of the town!"

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On the last day of our trip, Lainey asked, "You mean you used to live here before you lived in Florida?"

"Yes," I answered. "Before you were born. Before I even met Daddy."

"Why did you move to Florida?" she continued.

Hmmm--an opportunity to instill adventure, fearlessness, determination, I thought, even though "because I was depressed and had no other options" was more likely the answer.  Instead, I came back with an impressive "because I wanted to be a teacher and I found a job in Florida. And I thought it would be a fun adventure living by the beach and meeting new people and learning new things."

Lainey took only a moment of processing that before she sweetly offered, "Mom, if you never moved to Florida, you could have just waited for us to come to you."

And that, my friends, is what I like to call a Double Rainbow.
Booyah.

Four days now back in Florida, it is hot, it is humid, and it is our home.  I am steadfast on searching out some more wonder this summer for fear that Michigan was so good, I might have used up some reserves for the rest of this season.

There is more fun to be had, more people to enjoy.  I am sure of it.  Sometimes, rainbows come in twos.

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****

...and a little Michigan phone dump favorites before I finally, reluctantly, move on.

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Monday. Clean Slate. Summer Bucketlist ready.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Pampered Paparazzi: ETST Sponsor

Welcoming back Pampered Paparazzi as a sponsor this month, creator of the camera "scuba suit" as I like to call mine.  Pampered Paparazzi camera and lens cases provide extra protection for valuable photography gear.  I use these in addition to my camera totes, slipping each of my lenses as well as my camera body into these tight cushioned cases that fit all my gear perfectly.  After traveling and photographing a lot of fun vacation stuff these past two weeks, I can say there were plenty of times I carried my camera slung across my chest while I pushed strollers and tended to kids.  Pampered Paparazzi's neoprene case adds no extra weight, easily secures with velcro around my camera body, and protects my camera from nicks and scratches from getting bumped.

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I feel better taking my photography gear to the beach when it's protected in these cases and love that everything still fits in my camera totes.  It's like bubble wrap for your camera except not as bulky and far cuter.

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For more about Pampered Paparazzi and the inspiration behind the product, check out the Behind the Business interview with creator and owner, Nicole, here.

Welcome Back, Pampered Paparazzi!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Summer Bucket (in the Mitten)

Summer Bucket
Also known as the post with a million pictures

There's a little bridge between the bliss of a memory-making vacation and the reality of returning home, and it's called the last day.  In my case, that means madly stashing more memories--the Midwest specialized kind--in the one day I have left and preparing to shift back into real life mode soon. 

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Getting away offers a great birds-eye perspective to life, and I'm inspired to "clean the shelves" in our home and make room for some of the things I've been thinking about the past two weeks--peace and simplicity and family and the joy that follows making decisions to create meaningful moments. 

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This past week was spent in a cottage in the woods in northern Michigan. It was as proverbial as it sounds.  Bonfires, s'mores, coffee on the dock, stargazing, kids that by the end of the night smell like dirt and firewood and fishing worms and mamas that wouldn't have it any other way.

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Oh, where to begin.

Okay, the setting.

So Michigan is like the old boyfriend I left and bumped into ten years later to realize Dude just got superhot over the years and is looking mighty good these days.

First of all,  he smells amazing.  All earthy and Oakish and manly. 

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And his eyes?  Dreamy. At night, they're glossy and black and full of stars. And during the day, they change from the reflective blue of summer sky to a million facets of green--from deep and dark evergreens to sunny warm ferns.

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He's suave, this Michigan--serenading with morning bird calls, soothing with afternoon summer breezes. His air is cool and crisp, his sun warm and inviting.  And his lakes?  Well, he's blessed in the lake department if you know what I mean.

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All this to say, that summer bucket list? 
So many things crossed off--things I didn't even know were on it. 

Like making a summer apple pie and eating it on a picnic table in the woods.

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Or sudsing up the baby under a canopy of Oaks and Maples for an outside bath.  He liked it.

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Morning kayaking with family.

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Or an afternoon game of Jai Lai, knee deep at the lake's pointe.

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We lived and breathed summer the past two weeks-- drank it in huge gulps and made note that it was really good.  I can't tell you how many times I said, smiling, "My kids.  My kids are going to remember this."  All those summer memories I have of riding in the car with my siblings,  blowing straw paper spit-wads on the rear view mirror from the backseat; searching Tawas rock shops for polished Petoskey stones; acting out the summer Olympics with my cousins; scouring the Great Lake shores for round pebbles and smooth green lake glass--it's my kids' turn now.  And I watched them, ridiculously happy, summer satisfied, and I couldn't have been happier knowing their childhood books are being written.

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Sparklers with Cousin Brooklyn

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Don't know where Nella is?  Check the marshmallows.

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Night sparks and Uncle Bubby

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The very best part?

Family.  Our people.

How we've allowed so many miles to separate us, I'll never know.
But my kids know their family.  They just know--you can tell.

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The first night my siblings and I all spent the night together last week, the huddle just sort of happened on its own.  It started with a discussion on politics and then led into a passionate conversation on religion and ethics and people and family--hours ticking away while we talked deep into the night--blankets spread across the floor, snacks sprawled across tables.  Until someone mentioned, "Is it light outside?" And, horrified, we realized kids would soon be waking up and our chance at sleep was gone.  So we made coffee and welcomed the sunrise together on the dock, promising to change shifts for sleep that day. The following six hours were hell.  Hell, I tell you. I've never been so tired in all my life.  But that conversation?  Those hours spent together?  Absolutely worth it, and I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

Besides, grown cousins are so awesome at helping keep kids entertained.

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That's the thing about this Michigan. It goes behind his good looks and his earthy cologne and his nightly serenades. He's got heart.  He's got my family.

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And now he has a nice stack of summer memories for my kids too.

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So happy to have the opportunity to come home.
And grateful to go home too. We miss the daddy.

Good night from the beloved home state--where summer is magic.

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