Friday, October 20, 2017

A Letter to the Bride, Myself, 10 Years Ago

Dear Kristin Pavona (2007 addition),

Today is your wedding day!  You are about to become Kristin Hundt.  This is a day that you have been planning in your mind for as long as you can remember.  It's here! 

Today, you choose a man, Josh Hundt, to walk along side you as your partner, your equal, your biggest cheerleader, supporter, your knight in shining armor.

As you patiently wait for Grandma Ort to arrive in the post-tornado/curfew traffic that is the thriving metropolis of Williamston, Michigan, you are certainly thinking about your husband, how much you love him today, and all the reasons WHY you feel in love with him.

Now that I've been married to Josh for ten years, which I think gives me the ability to be pretty legit on the subject, let me drop some knowledge...

First of all, you will love Josh more in the years to come than you do right now... like a lot more.

I hope that gives you some peace.

Second, I know that you fell in love with Josh because of how different he was from you.  He was everything you were not.  Ever since you met him, his care-free attitude, sense of humor, radiant positivity, and his laid-back personality and zest for life made him quite appealing to you. 

Josh        is         not         that         person. 


 He is not the ying to your yang, but instead the yang to your yang.  He is an anxious worrier JUST.LIKE.YOU.

BAM. Mic drop.

 Now before you lose it and question the decision you have made to spend your life with him- don't worry!  You will find this out very quickly and it will be quite alright.  Different than you thought, yes, but completely okay.  The deep and profound way that you will understand each other will be incredibly helpful through crisis, through stress, and through joy as well.  Opposites don't have the be the only ones that attract :)  You will also be pleasantly surprised at the way one of you always steps up to be the calm, collected, rational thinker when the other one can't.  It works, fear not. 

As a seasoned married person to Josh Hundt, I want to give you, the almost bride, some extreme reassurance of what you are about to do by asking you to remember what makes Josh and you so special and so unique...

You can admit to yourself that you loved this man, in some form, since you were fourteen years old.  For those ten years up until now, your wedding day, Josh has been a huge part of your life- the person you kept going back to again and again and again.  When you were in your early teenage years, you chose him.  When you were in the weeds of teenage angst, you chose him.  When you were deciding what to do with the rest of your life, leaving high school to go on to college, you chose him.  When you graduated college, starting adulthood, you chose him.

A lot of changing and growing went on during those stages of your life and both you and him kept coming back to each other.  This is the key to what makes Josh and Kristin so special.

That will continue to be one of the best parts of your relationship- as you grow and change, you will still come back to each other, you will still choose each other. 

You don't know this yet, but from your wedding day until your ten year anniversary, life is going to get legit real quick and you and him will both grow and change... like a lot.  You will endure deaths in the family, cancer in the family, drug addiction in the family.  You both will never be the same after that and you will still choose each other.

You will change a tremendous amount again as you maneuver the world of infertility, bad news, countless doctors appointments, countless tests, countless medications, countless pokes and prodding.  Romance will die during this time- schedules and timing will be all that matter.  Shuffling appointments will run your life.  You both will never be the same after that and you will still choose each other.

Josh and you will love two babies, make plans for two babies, dream of two babies, and never hold those two babies.  Your grief will be immense and crippling.  It will forever change the way you look at pregnancy and add extreme worry and extreme stress and extreme fear to the beautiful baby-carrying experience.  You will both never be the same after that and you will still choose each other.

When you hold your babies after full term pregnancies for the first time, you will both sob in gratitude, overcome with a new deep love for other human beings.  First smiles and laughs will make you want to explode.  Going from crawling to walking will make you smile and cry all at the same time.  When you accomplish something you'd waited for, hoped for, prayed for, worked damn hard for, and didn't know would ever happen, your both will never be the same after that and you will still choose each other.

The reality of work, grading papers, catching up on emails, balancing schedules, sleepless nights, potty training, preschool, shuffling people around from one activity to the next, and ALL that comes with parenting and adulting will sometimes make you feel like you are a completely different human.  You will barely recognize yourself some days.  You will have very little time or energy left to do much of anything else including pumping time into your relationship.  You will both never be the same after that and you will still choose each other.

Time will fly.  There will be more joy than you imagined and more sorrow than you imagined, but never EVER forget how often you've chosen each other.  It is what makes you special, strong, unique and one of the reasons I know you are so sure about what you are about to do.

Your wedding day will be fabulous- soak it all in and take time to enjoy it.  And every time that you look at that groom's face throughout the ceremony, the picture taking, the reception, know with all of you heart, you made the absolute right decision.

With so much love,
The ten-year older, hopefully ten-year wiser, Kristin Hundt (2017 addition) 



Wednesday, October 18, 2017

COLORADO VACAY Part 2: Breckenridge & Mountain Adventures

After four days in Denver and waving a sad goodbye to my mom and Aunt Doreen, we were headed west to Breckenridge.  

Neither Josh or I have actually seen mountains bigger than the brown ones you see driving between Las Vegas and Los Angeles and we couldn't WAIT to get actually IN to the rocky mountains.  Although the drive contained a lot of winding roads, steep hills and a few areas where the wrong move would've sent you flying down thousands of feet, it was GORGEOUS.  Breathtaking actually.  Thankfully, we were in no rush to get to Breckenridge so we stopped several times along the way so I could do what I do- take pictures.  

Here are some nuggets from our time in Breckenridge and mountains majesty: 

1.) Georgetown Lake- FINALLY, a lake with mountains in the background! That's the dream!  We stopped here, literally on the side of the road, ate our lunch and basked in the beauty.  


Boys taking in Lake Georgetown 
2.) Georgetown Loop Railroad: We saw billboards for this gem in Denver and had to learn more about.  Taking a train would be something the boys would love, doing it with mountains and babbling brooks, and bridges would be something I would love.  I also learned that Josh had always wanted to take an old fashioned train ride like this since he was a little kid.  It was a win, win, win for the whole Hundt clan.  The train ride was stunningly beautiful and breathing in such crisp, fresh air was quite something.  The ride was about 75 minutes, which was probably about 30 minutes too long for the little people I was with, but overall, we are SO glad we did that!  The little town of Georgetown is ADORABLE too. 



3.) Lake Dillion: Enter the place I would move to if living in Colorado.  The town of Dillon is cute with shops and restaurants while also having a Target and Office Max and THE LAKE! Oh my goodness.  I made Josh pull over in at least three different places so I could take photos (boys were sleeping after the railroad trip in the back).  I am obsessed. 



4.) Views, views, views: I'm certain you must be sick of hearing me talk about how obsessed I am with taking photos and how important pretty nature is to me, but let me just go on and on a tiny bit more.  When we were researching and trying to figure out where in Colorado we actually wanted to stay, we decided we totally wanted to have a city experience and also wanted something IN the mountains.  I was very hard to please with this second one.  I didn't want to be too far away and only see them in the distance and I didn't want to be at the bottom of a mountain making my view compromised because of other structures.  We looked at a LOT of cities and a LOT of places to stay and then found this condo in Breckenridge that was about 11,000 feet in the air.  SCORE. This was our view.  I can't get enough of pretty nature to stare it.  
Family pic from our balcony
5.) Altitude is legit- Because of my need to have this type of view, we were up, way up in the air a lot, which was nothing we had ever done.  I know people warn you about altitude and what it can do to you and I don't think we took that very seriously.  From being extra winded while dancing at Amy's wedding, to having to rest after climbing a bunch of stairs at Red Rocks, to Josh completely succumbing to altitude sickness (dizziness, nausea, headache, throwing up... like a lot), being high up is nothing to mess with.  We loved all these high up cities, don't get me wrong, but as we got back into the Midwest and sea level, we were grateful.     

6.) Swimming Fun: While in Breckenridge, we were able to have access to hot tub and rec center where we could fill some of our days having fun swimming.  We love to swim so it was awesome to do it on vacation, awesome to have the mountains out your window while you did it, and awesome to have a super warm kiddie pool to enjoy.  Swimming also helped Josh feel a little better during his altitude sickness.  My little guppies rock out pools.   



My boys in the hot tub 
7.)  Halloween Party: Nolan decided, on our second day in Breckenridge, that he wanted to throw a Halloween Party.  I'm not sure where that came from, but we were game.  They made a little sign, set up the family room how they wanted it, and we rocked out to some Halloween jams.  Halfway in, we decided to dress up too and used the only costumes we has with us: Josh and my clothes.  So Nolan and Judah dressed up as us and then decided to talk and act like us too, which was hilarious.  We ended the party, not with candy, but with ice cream ;) 


Sign so people knew where the party was and who was throwing it
Judah dressed as Josh, Nolan dressed as me- this is how they think we take pictures together ;) 
8.) Playgrounds: We can't go anywhere without seeking out all kinds of playground-going excursions.  These three boys could "playground" all day, every day.  Thankfully, Breckenridge has a couple of small play areas right in their main downtown area.  There was also an awesome train museum place with a playground at the bottom of the roads we took from our condo to get down to the actual town of Breckenridge.  There was also a park named Carter Park.  We HAD to check that out ;) 
Carter at Carter Park

9.) Sawmill Reservoir: As we were looking for some fun things to do in Breckenridge, this place came up and was not too far away so we decided to check it out.  It offered beautiful water, beautiful mountain views, and very, very easy hiking, which was a huge bonus.  You have to hike while in Colorado, right?!  We had a great time exploring and were able to get one family picture before my camera's battery died (WHEW).



10.) A week altogether as a family: That is incredible no matter where we are.

Yes, driving there wasn't all super.  Yes, it was often hard to entertain three very busy humans when we weren't familiar with our surroundings.  Yes, it is difficult to feed people or go out to dinner as a whole clan.  Yes, packing and unpacking to go to different locations was tiring.  And yes, not adjusting to the time change made mornings VERY long (what in the world does anyone do at 4:30 or 5:00am?! 

But giving these boys experiences of mountains, seeing foxes walking around a parking lot, hiking with walking sticks, going to a new children's museum, seeing a fantastic zoo, driving THROUGH a mountain tunnel, and being together for an extended period of time with no other commitments is so worth it.  I am grateful to have had a fall break this year so we could really make Amy's wedding turn into a trip!  What a trip it was!  Colorado, we will see you again for sure!!

















Monday, October 16, 2017

COLORADO VACAY Part 1: Denver

After 18+ hours in the car with three adults, three kids, and two seasons worth of clothes, we finally arrived in Denver! Here are some of our favorite nuggets in our four days there...

1.) Denver is very gluten free: There are a lot of good gluten-free options for Judah in the Lansing area and at grocery stores, but they all get boring after a while.  We see the same food, the same snacks, the same mixes, and sample the same pizza crust (no matter what restaurant we buy from- thin crust, small, flat).  Denver opened up a new window for us because restaurants, in particular, had SO many more options.  Muffins, cookies, DETROIT-STYLE pizza, cheesy breadsticks, etc.  At one coffee shop, Josh asked where the gluten-free choices were thinking the barista would point to a small window or a few choices on a shelf.  Instead, he said, "Everything in here is gluten free except that small little area right there."  We had arrived at gluten free heaven. 

2.) The Denver Zoo was amazing: We've only done a couple of zoos in our life and sorry, Potter Park, but this zoo kicked your butt.  We saw mountain sheep actually climbing on a huge mountainish habitat.  We saw giraffes, multiple giraffes right up close!  There were also elephants and an incredible underwater display to compliment the "normal" things you might see at a zoo like tigers, otters, camels, etc.  Plus, for whatever reason, we went on a day that was completely deserted so we essentially had this ENORMOUS zoo all to ourselves.

3.) Red Rocks rocked: Even though the actual amphitheater was closed for a race, the paths around it were stunning.  It was also easy walking with little people and they loved how red their butts got when they inevitably took a spill. 

4.) Food was great: Did I mention the Detroit-style gluten free pizza already?! Denver Biscuit Company did not disappoint, and we had a great Italian meal at Tratoria .

This is a cinnamon roll.  It was everything.
Awesome pasta, awesome bread, awesome Italian beer
5.) Amy's wedding was worth the drive: There would never have been a Colorado vacation without Amy Sparling getting married! The bride was gorgeous, wedding was intimate, personal, and at a beautiful location over 7,000 feet in the air.  The food was even wonderful!  Also, I have become a semi-professional wedding reader so please inquire about your future wedding reader needs ;)

 
6.) Seeing my aunt and uncle was a special added bonus: We've always wanted to travel to Denver to see my Aunt Doreen, Uncle Paul, and cousin Kaity and finally got to see their stomping grounds.  It was wonderful spending time with them. 

7.) Weather was crazy and we dug it: Saturday and Sunday it was beautifully sunny and in the 70s only to be followed by a winter storm warning on Monday bring several inches of snow.  While the packing for the trip was ridiculous to accommodate all that, experiencing lots of kinds of weather brought a new adventure each day!

8.) Apparently my boys do not adjust to time change:  Yes, friends, that meant my children were sometimes awake in the 4s.  There's not much to do at 4:30 in the morning to keep people occupied.  Josh and I made sure to be in bed by 9pm to have any chance to keep up with them without being zombies. 

9.) Traveling with my mom: I've decided that when traveling with small children, there needs to be AS MANY HELPFUL ADULTS AS POSSIBLE ;)  From making up a game to play in the car, to insisting Josh and I have a dinner out alone to babysitting the boys so we could go to Amy's wedding, she did NOT disappoint.  I have no idea why she agreed to be in the car with us for 18 hours, and hang out with us while we were there, but we are SO grateful she traveled with our circus.  We were ALL hurting when we dropped her off at my aunt's to fly home. THANK YOU THANK YOU!

10.) Denver was a great city for kids:  There are many things to do and explore.  People are nice. The city is walkable, safe, and clean.  I've already mentioned how great the zoo was, but they also had an awesome children's museum we went to the day it snowed, several parks, playgrounds, cute neighborhoods, and other activities we did not partake in like the botanical gardens, an aquarium, and amusement park right in the city. 

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Power of "Thoughts and Prayers."

Yesterday morning, I woke up to the same news as most of you- hearing about the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas.  As the news kept pouring in, so did people's opinions of it on social media.  I scrolled through seeing a lot of similar statuses and postings.  A couple, however caught my attention and have stuck with me.  I saw two different statuses on Facebook and a couple on Instagram putting down the use of people saying their "thoughts and prayers" were with Las Vegas.  

These people were presumably well intentioned- calling for more action than that and I understand- I sincerely do.  They must certainly be as frustrated and disheartened with the bad news that keeps coming and the lack of empathy and compassion we have in our leadership right now as I am.  They were certainly not coming from a bad place and, I'm hoping, not wanting to make anyone feel worse.

However, I was disappointed to see people use their social media platforms to put down or degrade ANY way people cope with a tragedy and as I scrolled through the comments on those posts there were lots of 'Amens,' (which I found a very interesting response), and many harsh insults talking about how "thoughts and prayers" were useless, a waste of time, and made no difference.  

Is that REALLY what we need right now? More insulting? More harsh judgments?  More division?  

Whether you are a praying person or not, it's important to note that pray is a verb.  AN ACTION.  It's also important you know that I am a do-er.

Is praying the only thing we as global citizens should be doing to make a positive impact on our world?! Certainly not.  But is it something? Oh yes in deed. YES.IN.DEED. 

When I've been pregnant, I've done all kinds of things, action things, to take care of myself.  I don't drink, I don't smoke, I eat the right foods, listen to my body, and read an immense amount of literature and research on how to grow nice healthy big babies....

I also prayed, every single night, over my belly.  Thanking God for the opportunity to carry this unborn child.  Trying to give all my worries and fears over to God.  Letting Him know how grateful I was and promising to be loving parent who would reflect His love.  

Each of these are actions.  Each of these are important.

In raising my children, I am doing all kinds of things, action things, to support them in becoming compassionate, kind, intelligent, contributing global citizens of our world.  I read with them, talk nicely to them, help them label feelings, condemn all acts of violence, insults, or rough housing, expose them to art, music, and support them in helping others.

I also pray over them, every single night.  Thanking God for their presence in our family, their importance on this Earth.  I ask Him to help my children know Him, talk to Him, love Him, follow Him.  I also pray for all the future people who will become their friends and loved ones- that each of them cherish my sons and bring out the best in them.  

Each of these are actions.  Each of these are important.  

Josh's cousin is fighting cancer.  He's been doing all sorts of things to rid his body of this-treatments, seen all kinds of doctors, and has been taking care of himself as his body fights and heals.

In addition, in just a few hours, Josh's extended family will gather together at his grandma's house to pray the rosary, together, in honor of his cousin and his fight.  I am honored to know these people and grateful to be a part of a family who knows that praying is doing something.

Again, each of these things are actions.  Each of these things are important.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
When you look at recent events-

Should I praying AND giving blood to the Red Cross helping victims recovering in the hospitals in Nevada? Absolutely!

Should I be praying AND having difficult conversations with people who may not agree with me on the need in our country for tighter gun control? Certainly!

Should I be praying AND writing my senators BEGGING them to focus their time, talent, and money on mental health issues? Without a doubt!

Should I be praying AND donating to charities I support?  You betcha!

But I will never EVER doubt the power of prayer and what a powerful action that actually is.    

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Summer 2017- Highlights

"Summertime is always the best of what might be." 
-Charles Bowden

Today is the Tuesday after Labor Day, which often symbolizes the end of summer.  Although I am still in denial about this and although the actual end of summer isn't until Friday September 22nd, (also known as my BIRTHDAY), summer as I know it is over. 

The air has been cooler, my dad is in the midst of closing the pool, and people are spending more time talking about football, pumpkin-flavored things, and tailgates than they are talking about trips the beach, BBQs, and running through sprinklers.  

When I wrote about last summer, I called it the best one yet!  I meant it; I really did.  This summer, 2017, upped the ante.  WOW, was it good! 

My Hundt boys and I had SO.MUCH.FUN. 

Here are some highlights...


  •  SWIMMING: We swam a lot in my parent's pool and a TON in Lake Huron.  All three boys can swim independently with swimmies on now.  Even Carter, which I can't believe.  Nolan has been recently experimenting with holding his breath underwater and swimming while doing that.  Carter was the most expertise at jumping off the side, especially when we went and visited Josh's parents on School Section Lake.  Judah wins the prize for usually being the first one in. 

Lake Huron Swimming

    Grammy and Papa's Pool Swimming
  • INDEPENDENT PLAY: One of my favorite things I witnessed this summer was when Nolan, Judah, and Carter played independently together.  The imagination was flowing this summer!
  • COTTAGING IN CANADA: We spent two different weeks and some long weekends at my parent's cottage this year.  Boys played and played and played and played.  They couldn't get enough and we couldn't get enough watching them.  Building sandcastles, playing with trucks, feeding fish, swimming, going down to the public beach to swim in the "river," playing board games, taking walks, going to the library and playgrounds.  Pure magic.   

Inner-tubing 

Trucks, trucks, more trucks

<3

Feeding fish
  • READING: This year we joined the summer reading program as a family.  We always read a lot, but we were intentional at adding some additional reading time into our day.  We went to the library constantly to check out new books.  In fact, I think I had at least twenty books checked out at any given moment during the summer.  Also, Josh read Nolan and Judah their first chapter book.  We went to a couple of kid events at the library too, which were great. I finished about fifteen books this summer and was trying to read an eclectic mix.  Finally read some adult fiction, was still reading parenting books and teaching books with some mystery, historical and fantasy books thrown in too (all young adult ;) )   
  • PRACTICE MAKES PROGRESS: The boys went to a soccer camp in the spring, had some tennis lessons, and did an art camp in the summer.  Watching them try new things and get better has been fun to watch.  Seeing their joy is even better.  
  • BIKE RIDING: Our favorite activity as a family has always been to take stroller rides.  I am sorry to say those days are a bit over because my guys want to be moving on their balance bikes now!  Those have been such a great purchase- I can't believe how fast they go! 
  • OUR YARD: A blog for another time, but our main focus, as far as house work, was our yard.  We dug up a TON of things, laid some new mulch, and fenced the place in.  Whew! A lot of work, but it's shaping up to be pretty great.
  • HUMAN TIME: Spending time with people is also a huge highlight.  The boys spending time with our cousins, playing with neighbors, seeing old friends and new friends, going out to dinners, watching parades, seeing extended family, having all my family up at the cottage, trips to the zoo or the District 5 trampoline park, or Impression 5, celebrating birthdays, holidays, and bachelorettes.  Those are all the absolute best. 

4th of July Parade

Papa, Grammy, and boys

Grandpa, Grandma, and boys
Playing at a playground 

Thank you, to all we love, who helped make this summer so fun and so special.  Thank you, especially, to my four boys. There is nowhere I'd rather be and no one I'd rather be with than all of you.  


Sunday, August 20, 2017

Greet More Than Just Your "Brothers"

I am knee deep in my most important job of parenting.  My children are little, but I am working diligently around the clock laying the foundation to help raise compassionate, kind, persevering, hard working, faith-filled, intelligent, moral global citizens of this world.

We currently live in a world where those adjectives above aren't always modeled by adults- even our country's leaders.  There are opposite examples of those words everywhere I turn and it feels like that makes parenting challenging at this time in our history.

I've been trying to wade through all the news, all the voices filled with hatred getting airtime lately, all the wrong examples my boys have in our world right now and I can't help but keep thinking and asking myself What Would Jesus Do?  In the 90s, those bracelets were everywhere!  I had a green and white one.  It was a visual reminder to me, throughout my day, to remember Him when I was making decisions, and sharing my voice.  I was not without making mistakes, but that bracelet did actually help me.  
I got a resurgence of that message while we were at church today...

The deacon was speaking the homily.  He talked about the definition of 'foreigner' and then asked anyone who wasn't born in the United States to please stand up.  A few people did.  Then, he asked for anyone who is a foreigner of Michigan to stand and the group got bigger.  Finally, he asked for those not born in the Lansing area to stand up.  Now our church was about 75% standing.  After everyone sat down he asked us to reflect on how it felt to be a foreigner- were people kind?  did people pass judgments? Did you feel welcomed? Loved? 

He then went on to discuss all the ways that people can be different from one another- their race, gender, religion, moral beliefs, political affiliations and how much war, despair, fear, and violence passing judgment on those differences causes us.  

He brought up Charlottesville and how much his heart was aching.

Then, he went back to scripture and went back to Jesus.

He asked us to go look, particularly, at Matthew Chapter 5 in the Bible.  That is the chapter where Jesus says the beatitudes blessing those who are meek or hungry or persecuted and how God will take care of them.  My mind was wandering to Syria, the millions of people in places like South Sudan suffering famine, or to Heather Heyer, the young woman killed in Charlottesville as she protested the disgusting white supremacy groups.  God shouldn't be the only one taking care- we ALL need to be taking care.  That is, after all, what Jesus would do.   

When I looked more at Matthew Chapter 5, another part of it stuck out to me-verse 47- "And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that?"

As the deacon spoke,  he talked about every single human life being important.  That we should never feel like we have to look up to people because we are beneath them or look down on people because we think we are above them.


If I am only taking care of my own, if I am only sticking up for, supporting, complimenting, and encouraging people who look like me, live near me, act like me, believe what I believe- how does that actually make me a good person?  That is not unusual, not special, not extraordinary.

I heard the voice in my head- What Would Jesus Do? 

Regardless of your own individual beliefs, I'm not sure anyone can argue against the fact that Jesus made some pretty good decisions :) 

I walked out of church today feeling empowered and motivated once again to do much more like what Jesus would do.  To say much more of what Jesus would say.  To serve much more how Jesus would serve. And, most importantly, to love much more like how Jesus loves. 

This message is constantly with me, but not always at the front.  What a beautiful message to keep in mind, not only as I parent three little boys, but as a new school year starts up and I am helping to mold and educate a new group of sixth graders.  

We have an obligation, now more than ever, to do better for our current world and the world our children and grandchildren will inherit. 

I'm tired of the many "role models" and "examples" we see in our media that are anything but.
I'm tired of the hatred being spewed-by so many groups.
I'm tired of people hiding behind their religion making it seem like that gives them permission to judge, persecute, harm. IT.DOES.NOT.

I don't know if those bracelets need to make a comeback to help remind us or what, but stuff has GOT to change.

I will continue to ask myself what Jesus would do and teach my boys to do the same.

It is necessary my boys take care of each other, but it is equally necessary that they take care of others.

Here's hoping I can show, through my actions and words, what a compassionate, kind, persevering, hard working, faith-filled, intelligent, moral global citizen of this world looks like and here's hoping my boys will grow to be better people than I am, better people than they see on TV.  

Please, greet more than just your "brothers."  Please, take care of all in our world.  Please, use your voice for good, for love, for peace.

Monday, July 31, 2017

The Hundts Go Canadian

Canada turned 150 this year!  Pretty sweet, eh?

I've been going to Canada for the last fifteen years to my parents' cottage on Lake Huron in Port Franks, Ontario and have grown an incredible deep love for the country and its people.  Canada has, after all, produced the only place on earth where I can fully relax.  For that, I will always be grateful.

We were not going to be at the cottage this year to celebrate Canada Day (July 1st), so we decided to celebrate it here at home and go as big as we could to show our respect and love.

It started with a joke that we were going to eat Tim Horton's, wear red and white, and say 'eh' a lot, but once I got on Pinterest looking up Canadian food recipes and reading articles about how Canadian's celebrate Canada Day, I went a little nuts ;)

I decorated, bought Canadian picture books, invited our families over, and served a few authentic Canadian dishes.




Here are a couple of things we ate...

All-Dressed Up Potato Chips:
If you have not sampled these... do.  Like now.  They are hard to find in the United States, but the ones pictured below, Ruffles brand, are sometimes at Meijer.  If you see them, buy every bag they have.  These potato chips are the best and they're even better IN Canada at Canadian grocery stores.  At our Canadian shindig, these were the first food to run out.  




Nanaimo Bars:
A Canadian dessert! Named for the town, Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, these bars did not disappoint.  I would describe them as an almond joy mixed with a custard or cream-filled chocolate doughnut.  I would've passed this recipe by if I wasn't trying to go Canadian and now I will definitely make them again.
Read about the history of the Nanaimo Bar here.
Get the recipe here.



Fresh Strawberry Cookies With White Chocolate Chunks:
While not an actual Canadian food, I had freshly picked strawberries at my house (thanks, Mom) and these delicious cookies were red and white so why not?!
Get the recipe here.




Among our other dishes were recipes that paid homage to maple syrup.  We had maple baked beans and a salad complete with a maple syrup balsamic dressing, which was one of the best dressings I've ever had.
Get the salad dressing recipe here.

That very next week, I would be chowing down on maple cheddar cheese in Canada, which was OUT.OF.THIS.WORLD.  The cheese was so good, in fact, that it was almost worth paying $12.50 Canadian (we never looked at the price tag...oops).

Celebrating Canada Day, or "Leaf Day" as my boys were calling it, will certainly be a tradition in the Hundt House.  Canada has been too good to us not to celebrate.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Boys' Birthday Bash

Carter's birthday is May 3rd...

Nolan and Judah's birthday is May 7th...

While it appears I am really good at timing things (especially being a teacher and being able to have the rest of the summer for maternity leave), you probably know from reading my blog that I can't POSSIBLY have planned any of that considering all the trouble we had with getting and staying pregnant.    

Anyway, having all your kids birthdays so close together is both a blessing and a curse.  There has never been anything going on in May for either of our families- no birthdays, no anniversaries so having these in May has given us a great reason to celebrate.  You can have shopping on your brain for everyone at the same time and then be done so that's pretty great!

Our kids are little and we are certain plans and traditions will morph and change, but so far, we have given Nolan and Judah and Carter their own first birthday party.  Nolan and Judah got that because, well, there was no Carter so we thought we better let Carter celebrate his first birthday and make that all about him too ;)  From then on, we've had a bash to honor all three birthdays at once.  

The difficult balance is trying to celebrate your children, individually, when everything happens together.  We've made sure to celebrate the actual day of birth separate in hopes that will help each boy feel special and honored on their own.  We've also decided that any presents Josh and I get them, we will have them open on their actual day of birth. 

You don't need to hear all my baggage and thoughts in reference to trying to make sure no one will have significant issues that follow them into adulthood based on how we decided to celebrate birthdays so I'll leave you with what you've already read so far ;) Making people feel individually special is SO very important- to honor each child for their own genius, their own significance in this world is imperative.

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We have chosen a birthday party theme based on a book that everyone loves at the time.  

Nolan and Judah's 1st birthday- Goodnight Moon
Nolan and Judah's 2nd birthday- Goodnight Gorilla
Carter's 1st birthday- Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See?
Nolan and Judah's 3rd birthday- The Perfectly Messed up Story

This year, we decided on Little Pea by Amy Krouse Rosenthal.  She is one of our whole family's favorite authors and had just died of ovarian cancer about six weeks beforehand.  It was a beautiful way to honor her and her wonderful work after she has made such a positive impact on my boys, our family, and our love for reading... 

Read a blog I wrote about her here
Take a look at her books and then go buy them at an indie bookstore ;) here THEY ARE AWESOME!

It seemed like all our family was going to be able to come except my sister, Colleen and her husband, Nick who live in Illinois.  She called the night before to ask about the party and make sure she was staying "in the know" about everything so she could feel a part of things even if she was absent.  We were discussing food when there was honking outside.  My boys ran to look, as they always would, and started yelling that Aunt Colleen was here.  






Sure enough, her and Nick surprised all of us and came... best.surprise.ever. 

The next afternoon, we ate all kinds of spinach, peas, and candy (buy the book and read it!) and had a blast celebrating these boys.  We are so so grateful our families- having our boys get to spend time with all their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins is special and we are lucky.  

Little Pea- about a small Pea who hates candy, which he has to eat every night for dinner.

Hap-pea Birthday! 

"And they all lived hap-pea-ly ever after." 
<3 Hundt Cousins: Judah, Carter, Nolan, Harvie, and Silesia <3 

Pavona Family: Mom, Dad, four sisters, and all their dudes.