Wednesday, September 30, 2015

September recap

It has been a beautiful month!  I love fall with its cool mornings and warm afternoons.  It makes everything feel right. 
The month began with a trip to Yaya orchards.  Unfortunately, most of the orchard was wiped out this spring from all the rain.  But we still got to go on a tractor ride, pick flowers, feed the horses and enjoy some delicious homemade apple cider and apple cider donuts. 
2015-09-05 13.32.21-1
2015-09-05 12.58.412015-09-05 12.58.362015-09-05 13.20.39 HDR2015-09-05 13.22.58 HDR
Next up was Elich Gardens with cousins on Labor Day.  The kids earned free passes from their summer reading program, and then Amber Martinez gave me a bunch of passes she wasn’t going to be able to use, which made our day even better!  All the kids were brave trying the big rides for the first time.  It POURED rain in the middle of the day, but that helped really clear out the water park and the kids had a great time going down the slides for the last hour of our day. 
2015-09-07 11.01.012015-09-07 11.51.282015-09-07 11.53.112015-09-07 12.22.002015-09-07 13.34.56 HDR2015-09-07 13.47.322015-09-07 14.52.38 HDR-12015-09-07 15.11.40 HDR-12015-09-07 17.45.12
Blake “played” soccer and his team was named the Minions.  Play is a very loose term that mostly means standing around, laying down, or complaining that his legs were too tired to run. 
2015-09-12 12.29.40
We had an awesome date night riding surries around Wash park in Denver and then eating Tacos after.  And for the record, these things are hard to pedal!
2015-09-12 18.13.302015-09-12 18.22.342015-09-12 18.40.34
Halle won the pie baking contest at our Stake BBQ.  Her Peaches and Cream pie blew the competition out of the water.  YUM!
2015-09-19 18.48.06
I heart Rusty. 
2015-09-20 13.13.58
The kids got to help repair some mountain biking trails near our house.  Later that day Rusty took the boys up to ride the trails.  It did not go well.
2015-09-26 09.55.59
2015-09-26 18.06.31
The kids made me the GREATEST cards for my birthday.  Kid cards have to be one of the greatest things on the earth.  I love them.
2015-09-28 19.34.582015-09-28 19.35.14
Blake was very upset that Halle used my favorite animal, the Panda.  So he decided to make me a dog on yellow paper because I love yellow. 
2015-09-28 19.35.342015-09-28 19.35.50
Josh made me a coupon book full of very thoughtful coupons.  My favorite says, “This coupon is valid for 3 times of helping with dinner even during screen time.”
There was also one that was good for 30 times of helping Blake with his morning jobs. So sweet.
2015-09-28 19.36.04
Tapinfluence rebranded itself once again:
2015-09-26 16.51.252015-09-26 12.30.472015-09-26 16.51.34
We have enjoyed many beautiful evenings on our bikes, at the park, and at the tennis court.  On this particular night we got to see a hawk up close and personal!
2015-09-27 18.38.17

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Days for Girls

It’s no secret at the Banks house that the kids’ birthday time usually means giving back in some way.  We’ve done Toys for Tots, local toy drives, Samaritan’s Purse and most recently, Kids Against Hunger.  They are so blessed and so lucky and it is really important to me that they get a tiny glimpse into what it might be like if they had been born to a different life.  It is also important to me that they develop empathy and hearts geared toward service. So, a few years ago, it finally dawned on me that I should be doing the same!  Instead of lamenting the fact that I was another year older, I started doing just little secret acts of service.  And it made my birthday so fun.  This year I felt ready to take it up a notch. Enter Days for Girls.  Days for Girls is an organization that provides reusable sanitary products to girls so that they can stay in school.  I am very passionate about the rights of girls and women around the globe and this struck a cord in my heart.  A very natural biological function of womanhood is keeping girls from getting the education they deserve.  Educating women is fundamental in breaking poverty and abuse cycles and in creating and sustaining strong families. And there is an easy fix!  Access to sanitary products means DAYS back at school for these girls. 
Days for Girls provides all the patterns, instructions and videos needed so volunteers can sew kits from their homes.  Enter my amazing friends.  So many of my good friends gave up a few hours to a few days of their time to come and help me sew.  My goal was to create 34 kits, one for every year of my life.  We didn’t quite make it—I made it to 28 before I ran out of time and fabric. (the learning curve was a little steeper than anticipated). But we had so much fun laughing, eating, sewing and coming together for a common cause. 
Days for Girls 1
So many hands touched this project. I had friends who washed and ironed fabric, friends who cut, friends who sewed, friends who donated other components of the kits like panties, soap and ziplock bags.  Even the kids got in on the action.  We had an afternoon where we taught the kids to sew the drawstring bags.  They did so great.  Even Josh and Blake sat down with me and each of them sewed a drawstring bag as well.  Even after the girls sewed their hearts out we were still short on bags, so the YW changed their activity plans and came over and helped.  I am just left in awe and the kindness and goodness that exists all around me.
Days for girls 2
After a few more days of sewing, the kits were ready to be packed.  My kids were so excited to help and they did a great job following all the instructions and packing up the kits so well.  Each kit included 2 shields, 8 liners, 2 pairs of panties, a washcloth, a bar of soap, and an extra Ziploc bag.  Now these kits are all ready to go to girls who need them!
2015-10-02 16.36.562015-10-02 16.57.162015-10-02 16.57.18
days for girls 3
After we were all done and I sat back and looked at my 28 kits and I got a little bit sad.  I had literally sewed for 7 days straight, had the help of probably 30 people and we only made 28 kits.  It just didn’t seem like that could make any sort of real difference.  Then two things happened.  I remembered one of my favorite quotes that I had shared with my friend Jen recently (more on that in a minute).  Mother Teresa once said, “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.” I love that!  All of our little drops matter and can add up to big things.  The second thing that happened was a text from my friend Jill. She had washed and ironed fabric for me beforehand because she had a friend coming into town and so she couldn’t help on my birthday.  Sadie was going to spend the night with us so the adults could get away to Winter Park for a night.  She and her friend dropped by to drop off Sadie’s things and her friend, Nicole, was so inspired by what she saw, that by the time she was headed back to her ward in Maryland her Relief Society had already begun to gather fabric so their ward could do a Days for Girls service project. THAT is why service matters.  If she was inspired by my project, and someone else is inspired by her project, THEN we are really affecting change!  All those drops add up into something meaningful and powerful.  So, that was a really long story to say: IT MATTERS.  Do something, no matter how small, because the ripples in the ocean can be greater than you know. 
Leading me to one more thing.  In referencing the Mother Teresa quote above, Jen and I were taking about the Syrian refugee crisis on morning on a run and how heartbreaking it was to watch these people suffer such extreme circumstances.  We each said we wanted to help, but didn’t know how, or again, feel like our little monetary donation would make a a difference.  But, we decided even though we couldn’t do much, we could do something.  So we sold dinners to our friends for $35 each and then donated all the money to the International Refugee Committee.  We made White Chicken Chili, homemade rolls, and homemade cookie dough.  I think it all turned out pretty awesome.  We sold 18 dinners and made almost $700 to donate.  I wish I had some pictures of ALL the soup when it was together, but this was just my portion to deliver.  It was such a great project and I was happy to be a part of it. 
2015-10-08 14.02.46
2015-10-07 12.12.392015-10-08 14.02.142015-10-08 14.02.182015-10-03 15.45.48
(It was hard to keep our hands off this cookie dough!)

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Lifestyle Family Pictures

We hadn’t done family pictures in awhile, but I wanted something a little less traditional and a little more unique to our family style.  So, we planned some really fun lifestyle photos.  I wish the lighting was a little better, but I think they capture our personality pretty well.  This one is my favorite:
The Banks Family (23 of 81)
And this one we styled to be hilariously indicative of our everyday life. Halle being all sweet and cute with Princess, Josh glued to his iPod, Blake sliding down the banister in his true mischievous fashion, Rusty in his TapInfluence shirt hurrying to work, and only because I didn’t want to carry a laundry basket or spatula, me stretching after a run. 
The Banks Family (6 of 81)The Banks Family (7 of 81)The Banks Family (11 of 81)The Banks Family (13 of 81)The Banks Family (16 of 81)The Banks Family (17 of 81)The Banks Family (36 of 81)The Banks Family (48 of 81)The Banks Family (57 of 81)
The Banks Family (58 of 81)
The Banks Family (68 of 81)The Banks Family (74 of 81)
The Banks Family (71 of 81)
The Banks Family (77 of 81)