Saturday, July 5, 2014

June (Warmth and Carolina)

We loved our week in South Carolina in June. The highlight of the trip was being at the temple with Grammy and Gramps on Saturday, but unfortunately my phone died while I was in the temple so I didn't get a single picture the whole day.

We enjoyed hanging out with all the grandparents in their homes:

(Chickens at Lala's)
(Wildflower walk at Lala's)
(Nora's swing set at Lala's)
(Aquarium fun with Grandpa and Grandma)

(Feeding stingrays)
(Celebrated my birthday at my Dad's, and Nora tried to steal my wish!)

On my actual birthday, my mom made a delicious breakfast complete with a crepe cake!

That night I had one of the best birthday parties I've ever had! My Mom and sister worked hard to fulfill my 13-year-old wish list, including a rainbow chip Barbie cake.

Also thanks to Betsey (Buck's sister) we were able to play an old classic board game, Dream Phone. The highlight of the party was a fabulous round of Truth or Dare. 
(Bekah licking a bar of soap)

(Some of my dear friends)
Amy, far right, brought some very old pictures of us from 4th great on. Here are a few gems:
(Yep, that's ME and Amy)
(Me and Amy again)
I'm so thankful to have great old friends that are loving, supportive, and good sports. What a blessing it is to have dear friends, even if you only see them every few years.

With the weather so nice this month, and few things scheduled I've really felt like taking the kids places. We spontaneously entered Millie in the Swedish Day's (Geneva's big festival) Children's Parade. She loved decorating her bike, but her favorite part was riding in the parade and ringing her little bell the whole time. It was adorable. Louis and I walked beside her.

Afterwards we enjoyed playing some little games in booths, eating yummy food and watching some dancers perform. Normally I would wait for Buck to do something like this, but I'm so glad I didn't. We tried to go back up on Saturday with Buck and got completely stranded at the Mall in a horrible rain storm.

I also braved a major crowd at a local restaurant for Millie and her little friend Paige to meet Elsa and Anna. When we showed up there was a 3 hour wait to eat, and no hope of seeing them unless you ate. After a while they came out to appease the (huge) crowd outside, and thanks to some aggressive Mommy tactics I was able to get the girls in a picture with Anna and Elsa. I don't think they'll ever know what it took for those pictures, but they were so happy. After the pictures we quickly got out of there and ate at Wendy's. Millie and Paige were a huge hit as they were obviously the only one dressed as princesses there. Paige's Mom made the girls matching Elsa capes for the event, and they were huge hits. Louis often bring it to me for him to wear. Did you know he like to sing "Let it go?"

We celebrated our 7th anniversary, and besides more lava cakes (hey, we like chocolate!) it was an average Sunday for us. It's been a wonderful 7 years. Did you know we share an anniversary with my Tutu and Rara?

May (School's Out and Thriftcation)

May seems like forever ago. It was a lovely, mostly warm month for us. We enjoyed starting to really play outside, sometimes even in the water. We went to our first primary activity! There was a primary day at the Chicago Temple. The temple is really unique looking, and has a very interesting water fountain in the front that both of our children couldn't get enough of. It was a lovely Saturday family outing.

(Millie took this of Buck and I)
Millie attended her last day of school. This is her with Miss Kathy, her bus driver. Miss Kathy is also a local artist and does some really neat work. You can find her site here if you want to see what I mean. She has been a fabulous, patient and loving bus driver. Millie fought going to school a few times, but she was able to calm her down and occupy her mind with made up stories about Miss Kathy's cat, Pumpkin. We really appreciate her.

Millie also finished a gymnastics class she had been taking. She didn't love it like she loved dance, so I think that's the end of her gymnastics road for now. I think it's right down Louis' alley though...until he can really get into sports. He jumps off of everything he can, and will throw his head down for a somersault so quickly to impress people. He also feels best having a ball in his hands and often takes one to bed with him.

I took a trip I had been dreaming about with my friends in May. We went to Madison, Wisconsin for a Thriftcation. It was such a beautiful, clean, delicious town full of well stocked thrift stores. We had an absolute blast shopping, eating, and even jumping on the hotel beds. We started planning this trip to help get us through the winter, but by the time it came around it ended up being a farewell for one of my good friends, too. So it was bittersweet, but wonderful.

(Delicious breakfast)

( you haven't truly thrifted until you've been to a dig-n-save)

Of course I need to brag about some of my finds!
(Vintage books)
(Lonely Kokeshi with umbrella)
(The grand old milk container for $6!)

I also collected lots of vintage linens and clothing. My heart skipped a beat paying a few cents for each piece at the dig-n-save.

Monday, April 28, 2014


April was the month we've been waiting for and lived up to all we hoped it would be. We officially feel all thawed out. After the winter we had we weren't sure that would ever happen.

For some reason I felt like going all out for April Fools this year. I think it's now Millie's new favorite holiday. We loved playing tricks on people (plastic bugs in shoes and on pillow cases) and eating tricky food. For dinner we had meatloaf cupcakes with mashed potato frosting, candy peas and carrots (Jelly Belly makes some), Jello "juice" and a chocolate cake decorated to look like a pot of chili for desert.

We co-hosted an adorable Preschool Easter egg hunt at our house the day before we left for Hawaii. We had a sack race, egg on a spoon race, hunt, lunch and decorated eggs. Everything went smooth and I'm so happy I agreed to do it. It's nice to stretch those entertaining muscles after a winter of keeping to ourselves.

We had a blast in Hawaii!

We're so thankful our Moms made the big drive to come watch our kids. Having many hands keeping an eye on them really put my mind at ease. We know young kids aren't easy to take care of, and really appreciate their willingness and enthusiasm to take care of our babies. For the record we thought about our children constantly. It was hard being away from them, but so lovely to have that adventure together.

A few hours after we got home Louis got very sick. That was Easter weekend, and since he was in good spirits we continued on with our plans on Saturday to get together with KC's family. Of course everyone wants to snuggle poor little Louis. See where this is going? Our handsome little man managed to spread his stomach bug to all but two people. By Sunday nigh this stomach bug had spread to four households! We had to pass on doing an egg hunt and just work on making sure everyone had an empty bucket beside them. Thankfully it passed pretty quickly and we're all back to normal now.

Now that we really feel thawed out we had a truly spring weekend. We did yard work! That's 1,000x better than shoveling snow, trust me. Buck cut the grass, we ripped out some rose bushes and bough peonies to go in their place. We also had Millie pick out some flowers to put in her fairy garden and planted those. We like this no-snow thing we've got going on.

Bagwell Family Hawaii Travel Guide

We had a wonderful first full-fledged vacation without kids! I feel like I've done a pretty good job of sharing what we did via facebook and instagram, but I want to write down a few more details and tips so I can remember them for next time. Sometimes I have the worst memory! Mommy brain? Plus I have two friends visiting Hawaii soon (and our tickets were so affordable I'm betting more will find themselves there) that were wanting some feedback of our trip.

General Hawaii Tips:

First off, being from the southeast I forget how cold the ocean can be. It's cold but clear blue and inviting. Totally worth going in, especially for snorkeling, but it wasn't very hot out so we didn't do a whole lot of just plain swimming. The weather was an absolutely perfect 70-80 degrees but it does rain every day (especially on Kauai) so a jacket is a must. I was freezing sometimes in my light sweater, especially if we got caught in rain at night. Don't worry, the rain doesn't last long and you're very comfortable the rest of the time. Also I've probably been a little spoiled by vacationing in Siesta Key most summers, but the sand on all the beaches we went to wasn't like walking on a cloud. The views are breathtaking and the atmosphere is wonderful, just the sand wasn't as great as I would have wished.

We really wanted to mail Millie a coconut, something I had done for Buck's sister back in college. They've changed the regulations a little bit, and we couldn't get it all worked out. With enough planning, you can though! You can find a dry coconut still in the husk anywhere (it's yard debris) or possibly one that is already painted at a store. You want to find a light one (so it's less expensive) without any bugs. After you find one you have to take it to the airport to have it inspected by the Department of Agriculture. They will check it and stamp it okay to mail. Then you can decorate it, take it to the post office, and mail it like you would any other package.

If you're planning on flying in to Honolulu then on to another island (like we did), you should know that the terminal for those little between-island flights is quite the haul from where we landed on Delta. I think it's out there compared to any carrier. You might want to consider that if you've got a tight connection. We had carry on bags only and ran, but just something to consider if you're checking bags, changing carriers and not into running.


This is known as the "Garden Island", and it lives up to its name. It is so lush and beautiful. I forgot just how many wild chickens run around here. You'll see them everywhere, and hear them all day and night. I think it adds to the charm.

We stayed with my Aunt and Uncle there but my grandparents have had a timeshare at the Marriott for years and it would definitely be my first choice of hotels. It's a beautiful property.

We borrowed kayaks from a friend and went up the Wailua River to the Fern Grotto (only accessible by boat). That took a few hours but was well worth it. It was so beautiful and reminded me of the Appalachian Mountains meets the Caribbean. We could have (and should have) kayaked and hiked over to Wailua Falls. Next time.

We also did one hike where we saw the most unique trees. We didn't end up doing the hike right (never said we were expert hikers), but still had a wonderful time. I'm not sure what the hike was even called, but there are tons to go on and I don't think you can go wrong. First on my list for next time is Waimea Canyon the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific." I seriously went from a very casual (or very rare) hiker to interested in hiking just from this trip. The views were completely what I was looking for.

Possibly one of my favorite things we did was visit Hanalei Bay. We hung out by the pier and in the little town for a few hours, then ventured up the coast for an incredible scenic drive. I do love the movie South Pacific, so finding Lumahai Beach was our original plan. Of course we passed it without noticing but stumbled instead across some really cool beaches and even Manini-holo Dry Cave. We backtracked and found it, no problem. Thank goodness for smartphones. I though Hanalei was cool, but found I got stir crazy sitting on the beach for too long so driving and trying new beaches every so often was perfect for me.

For food we relied on the generosity of my Aunt and Uncle, tried a few taco places, and fell in love with Duke's Hula Pie.

Next time we visit I will make a point to try and do some whale watching if possible. I feel like we got a great taste of Kauai and can't wait to go back for more.


Since we didn't have any family to take advantage of here, I think we got clever with a few money saving techniques to maximize our trip. The easiest place to stay at is Waikiki. It's not the most beautiful (still beautiful) but is very popular and offers lots of shopping, and has the largest clumping of hotels and the best prices. Plus it's close to the airport, so if you have to catch a taxi is not super expensive.

We went back and forth on a few different hotels and nearly went with Hawaii Prince Hotel based off a friend's recommendation (it's clean, updated and affordable). We caught ourselves drooling over the Moana-Surfrider Westin resort that was more pricey but grand and historic so we came up with a plan to stay there for one night (check in early in the morning, check out late, maximize resort time) since we were going to explore Waikiki anyway and stay at the Courtyard Mariott the other two nights since we'd be busy all around Oahu anyway. I think our plan worked out perfect and pretty affordable.

We were only planning on renting a car for 24 hours, so we needed to work out some transportation from the airport and to a few other places the other days. We ended up catching a taxi to our hotel ($30ish) versus paying the hotel shuttle (some might be included but ours wasn't). Originally we wanted to take the bus but they don't allow luggage. We did take the bus a few other places ($2.50/person each way) though. When we finally ended up grabbing a car and sorting through parking fees we figured out we would have probably spent the same just having a car the whole time. Learn from us. Rent a car at the airport, it's much cheaper per day than renting in Waikiki. Look around for cheaper overnight parking than what your hotel has if you don't mind walking. Our two hotels charged around $30/night for parking, so we saved a little money by parking at the Aston Banyan for $12 instead.

No matter where you stay, you have to go walk through all the other hotels. That's totally normal, I promise. We loved the Moana. We missed the official tour offered every other day,  but the front desk provides information for a walking tour. It's one of Waikiki's oldest (if not the oldest) hotels. The tour provides a lot of history of the city as well as Duke Kahanamoku. Its open to anyone, not just guests.

The entire Waikiki area caters majorly to Japanese tourists, which I loved. We even had a fancy Japanese toilet in our hotel room. Everything is written in both English and Japanese and finding non-Japanese affordable food in walking distance can be a little tricky. I say embrace it and try some new things.

We took the bus to Pearl Harbor one day. A friend tipped us off on needing to request tickets ahead of time if we wanted to actually go to the monument, but we didn't log on soon enough. They are booked several weeks in advance. They do give out 1,000 walk-in tickets a day, so it's still worth trying. We went late morning and got tickets for the 2:15 ferry. We ended up spending hours reading every single thing waiting on our ferry time only to find out there is a ferry every 15 minutes and they offer open seats to anyone standing there, so we could have tried stand-by much sooner. Live and learn. It's a great experience, but I had already been there so spending an entire day (when you're only on Oahu for 3) was a bit much for me.

We spent another whole day in Laie visiting the temple, BYU-Hawaii and the Polynesian Cultural Center. We passed some beautiful beaches (the whole drive was breathtaking) and I wished we could have explored the area around Laie a little more. The PCC is the best. Such a great way to learn lots of culture. We had a great time and even stayed for the night show. I was disappointed they didn't really do much with fire until the very end, but it was still a great show. They pack a lot of entertainment into a short day, so go when they first open and plan on spending the whole day. And if you need an idea for lunch or dinner Seven Brothers was a big hit with us.

On the day we flew out we squeezed in the last of our list (since we had a car). We woke up early and got in to Hanauma Bay right after they opened. Everyone needs to go here sometime in their life. The snorkeling here is what you'll compare all other snorkeling to for the rest of your life. They have limited space so going early is recommended. We were a little timid (and very cold) so we didn't venture out too much in the water but we still managed to see incredible coral, lots of fish, sea urchins, crabs, and about five sea turtles. I wish we could have stayed there for a full day. Just that morning the volunteers saw a momma whale and her calf!

The very last, but highly recommended stop was to Leonard's Bakery for fresh malasadas. It's like the Krispy Kreme of Hawaii to me. Stop by on your way out though, so you can still fit into your swimsuit for the rest of your trip.

After looking around we realized we were barely skimming the surface. There are so many more natural wonders I want to see on Oahu. The hiking looks incredible. The only food place we missed that was on our list was Matsumoto Shave Ice, and stop was to see the beach where the plane crashed in LOST. We're pretty big LOST fans so I'm really bummed we didn't get to that one.

Like I said, this is mostly for our records as we fully anticipate returning someday. Maybe two weeks instead of one next time?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

February: Love, Parties and a Glimpse of the Sun

What a lovely month we had. Pretty much the only way to beat the after-Christmas-winter-blues is Valentine's Day. The kids loved making and putting up decorations, admiring them all month long, and preparing for the big day.

February was a great month for parties.  We went to a preschool party where the kids decorated cookies, painted hearts with colored ice on toothpicks (very cool, not very messy and sorry no pictures) and exchanged Valentines. Millie's were a combination of a free printable found at Made to Be a Momma  and some dollar store wedding bubbles. 

Louis handed out ones that say "You make my heart glow" (from Delia Creates) with added glow sticks we had left over from Halloween. Both were big hits. My favorite part of doing the Valentines was that Millie was willing to sign the back of hers, and even did a couple of Louis'! I haven't seen her write any other words besides "Millie" so this was a pretty big deal.

I was invited to a "Ladies Valentine's Exchange" put on by one of my friends, Amy over at Sometimes Creative. It was fabulous. Each guest was to bring 12 "Valentines". They could be pretty, edible, homemade, really anything you wanted. I made microwaveable hand warmers as my Valentine and I think they turned out adorable (though hard to photograph). I made the tags using my silhouette. Easier than it looks, just how I like my crafts.

 I came home with a vintage tea cup candle, Anthropologie pinch bowl, pink popcorn, kitchen towel with pink yoyos, earings, garland, wooden spoon, lotion, cupcake in a jar, set of notecards and cute mason jar of m&ms.

Actual Valentine's Day was great as well. The kids woke up to a fun spread at the breakfast bar including one balloon each, several cards from us and relatives and of course a small box of chocolates each. As you may have seen in the video, the balloons were a huge hit. Had I known it only takes a balloon from the dollar store to get them to run laps around the house by themselves I probably would have been buying them all winter long!

Since my brother is in town (aka free babysitter) we decided to splurge a little on our Valentine's date night. We finally made our way to a highly recommended restaurant, The Turf Room. Even though we thought this out well in advance the dinner reservations we ended up with were for 9PM. Good thing we're still in our 20's haha! The place was really neat, sort of rustic with a huge fireplace in the middle and couches to lounge around at. The food was good, but there are so many places to still try around here it will probably be a while before go again.

The snow level hit new heights this month, and we learned to throw snow over our heads in shoveling the driveway since the mounds are just too high. Checking mail has been a challenge for most of the month though we did eventually get rain which took the snow level down quite a bit. Now we've got lots and lots of ice.

We had a good two or three days above freezing which meant we were finally able to stretch our legs, soak up some sun and take out our bikes (from Christmas) for the first time. It was so nice, but unfortunately now that Louis has had a taste of outside that all our sweet boy wants to do and the weather is not cooperating. Hopefully soon.

On a whim Buck got some tickets to the Bulls game this past weekend from a co-worker who wasn't able to go, and since we have Xan to help watch the kids we were able to make a date night of it. Yes, that's TWO date nights in one month! It was lots of fun, very high energy and entertaining. It helped that we had pretty good seats, a parking pass and it was free. It was my first professional basketball game and even I was impressed with how the teams worked together. It's not easy to understand the synergy watching on TV. The highlight was when the Bulls scored 100 points and the crowd went wild because it meant everyone there won a free Big Mac. So funny. Now that Jimmer is playing for the Bulls, I seeing more games in our future.

Hope y'all had a month full of love!

Thursday, February 20, 2014


I'm obviously pretty bad at blogging. I find instagram fills my need to connect and share pictures of what we're up to, what's the point in writing a long post about it all? Plus I'm horrible about reading any blogs anymore, and assume most of my readers are in the same boat. But it dawned on me at Christmas (thanks to a gift from Buck's Mom) that I could totally kill two birds with one stone here. You see, we contribute monthly to a newsletter his Mom puts together for their extended family. At Christmas she printed all of our articles and put them in a book for us to keep as our family history. Originally I had been writing our articles geared toward his family, but now I think I'll write it more like our family history of the month and share the same article and pictures here. I'll try at least :)

Our life lately has revolved around our weather, unfortunately. This is the most snow and coldest weather we've ever been in, and living here makes the winters "up north" or in Utah seem so much easier and more comfortable. Remember when we used to complain about those other places? It's not all bad, just cold. Truly I am hit with an overwhelming feeling of deep appreciation for this adventure in our lives. During naps on Saturdays Buck and I sometimes have a chance to shovel the driveway together and as silly as it sounds I can't help soaking those moments up, imprinting them in my mind knowing that some day we'll be living some place warmer and able to recall these vivid winters and the adventure it has been for us. While it is extremely cold outside, our home is nearly 70 degrees and very well insulated. We don't go outside for more than 1-2 minutes at a time as we walk from the car into wherever we are going. Even though it's extremely cold I promise anyone could handle it...with enough layers and good shoes :)

The amount of snow we have received has been above average, and we honestly have run out of places to throw it while shoveling our drive way! Our mailbox is hard to spot, if you can imagine. Some areas (especially the airport, but some places around our town too) don't have the space for piles of snow this big so big trucks haul it off much like we're used to seeing sand and dirt being hauled off. They take it somewhere to be melted down and drained. Our neighboring town, St Charles, had to cancel school a few days because their town had completely run out of ice melt and sand for the trucks to spread so it wasn't safe for the buses to get around. This has been quite a learning experience for us, and although we long for warm days and time playing in the sun we really are enjoying our time here.
Our swing in our back yard
Because we stay at home most of the time, we have gotten pretty creative a making our days special. Millie had a "beach day" at school and even wore her swim suit over her clothes! When she got home we decided to stretch out this easy theme through lunch. We pulled out beach towels, our beach umbrella, sun hats, and Louis' bathing suit and had a little picnic on the "beach" in our living room. We even enjoyed Betsey and Jocie's company via facetime. Sweet Jocie indulged us by putting on not one but two of her bathing suits. We hope they'll have a snow day and give us a call for some pointers.


We've made many forts (or castles), obstacle courses and crafts. We've enjoyed our basement a lot, and Millie has gotten really good at her new bike. We've spent too much time on TV, Movies, and the ipads, but we're thankful for that technology. Sometimes its our only option to keep me sane. Louis loves the PBS kids app and watches Super Why and World Girl whenever he can. Really he flips through all the shows, but has shown a special love for superheros. Maybe someday he'll learn all about them from Garrett. Millie is branching out and even watched Chitty Chitty Bang Bang with us.

Millie's annual review was at the end of January. She didn't get dropped from the program like we were half way expecting, but we are thankful. She is still ahead for academics (showing more 5 year old skills, instead of her peers at 3-4 years old) and we're so proud of her hard work and perfectionism. She's starting to write other letters besides just her name and even wrote "Louis" on one of Louis' valentines for him. They still set a few academic goals for her (trouble with cluster counting and sequencing), but the main area she needs help catching up in is social. She's behind at staying on task in a group setting and needs verbal reminders more than an average 3-4 year old. It sounded like wimpy goals/reasons to keep her in to me but they also expressed concern for next year as a reason. In the pre-k class it's more academic, less play oriented, with many directions being given in a group settings. I walked away from the review proud of her and thankful for such loving teachers. They genuinely appreciate our Millie. They took the time to tell me what a joy she is and what personality and imagination she has. Her speech teacher even wore a polka dot shirt that day because she had Millie that same day for speech and knew Millie would love it. That's love. I still can't believe Millie had them convinced Nora was her babysitter!


Louis is a daredevil. Bet ya'll find that surprising. Although he's been hurt more times than I'd like to admit, his favorite past time is jumping from our side table or ottoman on to the couch. Sometimes he's close enough to make it, sometimes he isn't. We've had to move out the side table all together just to avoid this. In the bath he is just short of climbing up the side and jumping in to the water. The other day, before I could catch him he climbed up the side because he wanted to get out and somehow did a belly flop on to our bathroom floor, sliding across like a wet baby seal! All while smiling of course. That smile. His smile is something else. He is just adorable. Oh and he's pretty crazy about his red cowboy boots. Melts my heart when he brings them to me saying "boo, boo" for "boots." He also says "more", "bye" (with a southern accent), "cracker", "Dada", "ball" and a few others. I think he's got about 10 words down, but understands so much. He takes simple directions, and often surprises me when I ask him to do something (like "go get a book to read" and he has to go to another room and everything). He's such a picky eater these days, but thankfully his molars have broken through so he's able to eat more difficult foods.

Buck and I are doing great. Nothing exciting to mention about us, just keeping the kids happy and healthy and doing our best to try and be good parents. Buck is working a whole lot right now but hasn't had to travel lately. My brother just came to live with us for a while, and our kids love having Uncle Xan around. He's enjoying the opportunity to pull ahead on "favorite uncle" status.