Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day Out

I am a mom. 24 hours a day. 7 days a week. 365 days a year. Out of all the roles I play, it is by far the most challenging but absolutely, without a doubt, the most rewarding too. I mean, these two get to call me mom---I get to hug them and snuggle them & love on them pretty much whenever I want to.

Do they test my patience? Absolutely. Do they get sent to bed early? Most definitely. Do I love them more and more each day? You bet I do. I'd give my life for them, without hesitation.

That doesn't mean I don't need a break from time to time though. To refuel, do me so that I can come home and be a better mom to both boys. So for Mother's Day, I did just that. I took my day into my own hands and planned a little movie double feature with my moving-lovin' best friend Jenn. Why you ask? Because if I would have stayed home, it would have been just like any other day and nothing would have seemed special, this was special. The boys were aware of the plans all along and were happy to let me go and spend some time with their dad--who was also totally on board with my idea.

Justin likes to say that I can't ever give gifts on the day they are meant to be given. For instance, I give him his birthday gifts early, his Christmas gifts early, even Father's Day gifts. I just can't wait and he is partly true but only because I know he is either going to want them before each of those dates or he needs them for something else. Well, he can't wait either. He and the boys gave me part of my gift on Friday night--the complete new Arbonne spa line--it's heavenly. I was so excited because this was something that I wasn't going to buy on my own, great gift.

Fast forward to Sunday morning, Kaden comes in at 5:50 in the morning--"Mom, Happy Mother's Day. I made a card for you."

"Sweetie, thank you so much, but can you go back to bed for just a little while, it is WAY too early."

Next thing I knew, it was time to get up and head to church. & the service was so meant for me and how I have been feeling lately. God knew what I needed. As soon as church was over we headed home, I changed into something a little more comfy & headed out to the movies. First one was starting at 11:20 and the second was beginning at 1:30 so we of course took Chipotle into the theater to eat. We started our double feature off with Gifted, (great, GREAT movie) and ended it with Snatched which was okay as it was vulgar and certainly nothing to write home about. Our afternoon at the movies wrapped up about 3:15 and we headed home to our families.

I spent the rest of the afternoon hearing "Mom" this or "Mom" that but I didn't get too worked up about it because I am lucky to have that titled. We played outside. We read--both boys actually did the reading and I was just amazed at what great readers they have become, especially Logan seeing how at the beginning of the year he didn't think he would EVER be able to read. We had dinner with Grammy and Craig, Justin grilled salmon--one of my favorites. & then we got ready for the school week. Mother's Day was a perfect mix of treating myself and spending time with my little loves who call me "Mom."

But the celebrating didn't end there, Kaden's first grade class was having a Mother's Day Read-in where all the mommies, grandmas, aunts, or friends enjoyed a picnic and an hours worth of reading with their son or daughter on the playground. Kaden and I found a great little shade tree and finished one of his Weird School books before starting another. I loved the extra one on one time we got with each other and hands down, the BEST. LUNCH. DATE. EVER.

I'm one lucky momma, only thing that was missing from my day--my mom. The one who showed me want unwavering love looks like. The one that I gain a greater respect for on a daily basis--she was and still is one of the most selfless people I know.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Family Day at The K

We had made plans to go to The K on Friday night, the night before Logan's birthday but I had a list a mile long that I needed to accomplish for the birthday parties, so we put the game on the back burner and instead had a Cinco De Mayo party...

But then some friends texted and said they were going to the game on Sunday for their little girl's 3rd birthday and asked if we wanted to go. I knew the boys and frankly Justin and I would be exhausted but I also knew how much the boys would want to go. So we said yes, we would push through. & I am so happy we did, we had such a great afternoon at The K, albeit hot.

We kicked off the afternoon with a little tailgating--hot dogs for the boys, turkey burgers for the adults.

Logan found a comfortable spot in the shade.

It was finally time to make our way into the game, after all one of our favorite parts of the game is the National Anthem. Kaden loves to sing along and on this particular day we had a special treat of the National Anthem being done by a famous trumpet player and although he couldn't sing along, Kaden kept up with him.

Our little Blue Crew...

And one little family pic before we said goodbye to our friends since we weren't seated together.

It was a hot day and we were completely in the sun. I was lathering sunscreen on with the boys like it was going out of style. We sat and watched the first few innings and around the top of the third the boys and I headed out to the Little K to find a little shade and to see Slugger. The boys still love Slugger & since today was throwback day, Slugger was wearing his Monarchs uniform just like the Boys in Blue were. 

We hung out for a few innings as the boys made their way around the Little K, with an emphasis on little apparantly Kaden is now TOO BIG to play on the Little K. He wasn't too upset, he fielded from the outfield and then hit the pitching gun before returning to the seats to sno-cones. It also happened to be Family Fun Run at the K too. So we hung out, in the heat, until the end of the day so the boys & girls could run the field. They've changed up things this year and you can no longer go all the way around the bases, you go from first to third. You can either run with your kids or meet them on the other baseline--I ran, Justin met us. But before I show the pics of us running, I have to share this one. Kaden loves helping out the littles and honestly, he shines most when he is able to do what he loves and that is helping others, especially littler kiddos. & this is why my ovaries hurt so much and I can't get a third kid out of my head, he gets me every time. 

And although we lost, any day is a great day to be a Royals fan.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

A Top Golf Celebration - kids style

Birthdays stress me out. There I said it. But it isn't for the reason that most would think. I get stressed out about who to invite. Do we do one GIANT party and I'm talking about schools friends, family friends, family or do we just have a party with school friends or just family friends. I'm always worried I will make the wrong decision and hurt someone's feelings or worst yet, my sons. So when Logan's birthday became the topic of conversations--the what, when, where--we quickly moved the conversation to the invite list since this would dictate where we could have it. 

(I should note, I had this very same problem with Kaden's last birthday, his 7th birthday. And in the end, I asked him what he wanted and he wanted a small party with a few a friends from school & that is what he got. A few people were disappointed they weren't able to come but it was what he wanted. Logan, well, he couldn't make up his mind and thus it was more stressful.)

He immediately named his three closest buddies in his kindergarten class and one of our friends that is in Kaden's class and then took a pause so I took that quick moment to throw out the Top Golf idea. I told him what it was and pulled it up on the internet for him to see and he was immediately sold on it. The location and invite list was done--we would have 4 friends, Cousin Colton and then our two boys. 

I called Top Golf to see if I could bring in a cake or cookies and they said that as long as it was store bought then they had no issues. So I quickly sent out the invitations before he changed his mind. I was a little worried that since the list was so small that not everyone would be able to make it but they all said they could and Logan was so stoked. So stoked that he even wore pants and a golf shirt for me! 

Since we were keeping the invite list small we decided that would also allow us to get some better party favors for his friends--I HATE birthday party crap, it always gets thrown into our toy room & never touched again but always there. Anyways, I had found some really cute golf club and golf ball key chains off of Etsy that I ordered and then I went on the search for golf hats for kids and ran across a great deal on these hats. Bonus points that they were Under Armour and black & white--two of my favorite things. I ordered them in two sizes (they were fitted) and luckily they fit pretty well & even better, the boys are still wearing them!

Is there anything cuter than little boys all geared up for golf? Nope. I don't think so.

We rented two bays--Saturday's before noon are only $20 an hour--we put the bigger boys on one bay and then Logan and his classmates on the other. The picked it up quickly--especially after Drake's dad gave them a quick lesson.

For the next two hours the boys took turns hitting golf balls & when it wasn't there turn they were sippin on some lemonade and Sprite & stuffing their faces with cupcakes, GiGi's cupcakes--yum!

We did take a small break to sing Happy Birthday to the birthday boy and to allow him to open his gifts but these boys were all about the golf.

Honestly, it was the perfect little celebration. I would have asked Logan but he and Little C (his name is Caden too and he suggested being called Little C--love him) but they both were a little wiped BUT I'd say that's the equivalent to two thumbs up! 

Sunday, April 30, 2017

A Rainy Weekend

Sometimes all you need is a good rainy weekend to force you to stay home and tackle a few projects & then spend the rest of the time curled up on the couch introducing some classic movies to the boys.

We started our weekend off with Justin bringing home a new car for us to test drive (it was finally time to say goodbye to the old Camry), dinner with Cousin Colton and then a trip to the batting cages.

The boys were begging to start a movie and since Justin and I both were pretty certain their games would be canceled the following morning we gave in and started The Sandlot. The boys had seen it once before but it had been awhile and now since they are both playing baseball we thought it would be a good time to reintroduce it. They loved it & hearing them laugh to something we grew up with was just the best.

We had decided after driving the car Justin brought home that we didn't want that exact one because there were some paint issues---it's what Justin does for a living, assesses damage on cars--but they had another one just like it on the lot so we went with that one. He left nice and early to start the buying process while the kids and I started another classic--Might Ducks Two. A little while later we loaded up and headed to meet Justin to finish the paperwork and say goodbye to the Camry. I wasn't all that sad to see it go but we've had it as long as we've been parents. Which then got me to thinking, if we keep this car as long as we did the Camry, Kaden will be driving and it might become his. Mind. Blown.

Thankfully the process wasn't too long and the boys were great so we treated them to a quick lunch at Chipotle before heading home and taking on another project, the birthday cake for Logan. They get a real kick out of me baking their cake each year and my mom always made my birthday cakes too which makes this even a little more important that I do it for them as well. This year since we were having two parties and one place wouldn't allow homemade treats it was decided for me on which theme we would be following--Smore's, camping, nature it was.

The cake was pretty basic and a lot easier than it looks--I mixed a chocolate cake and a white cake together and cooked 75% of the batter from both cake boxes in two 9 inch round pans and then stacked them. From there I iced the cake, cut down graham crackers and placed around the cake using the icing to secure it. Melted down chocolate, poured on top and then topped with marshmallows.

But the cake toppers still needed to be created so Logan and I went to work on them next. I purchased a few woodland animal plastic figurines and drilled a little hole into the top for a candle to be inserted.

I then spray painted them gold, after all it is his Golden Birthday, and now we had woodland animal cake toppers.

And just like the rain that didn't stop ALL weekend long, our projects didn't stop either. On Sunday after church Logan and I decided that we would head to IKEA for a couple of things. I needed to grab some frames to make a gallery wall in the toy room and while we were there, we picked up some mini orchids for our neighbors--it was May Day the following day.

The gallery wall was kind of a spur of the moment idea. We picked up a few Ribba white frames, mixed in a couple gold Ribba frames and within 30 minutes of being home we had it completed. Gallery walls always scared me, I was worried it wouldn't be balanced correctly or I wouldn't have enough frames or too many, but I have quickly learned, they can be a work in progress. Start with what you think and then live with it for awhile. If you don't like it or it needs something more, change it or add to it. & if you use 3M Command Strips, you don't have to worry about putting tons of holes in your wall to hang your frames--I seriously, never hang anything without thinking about using 3M Command Strips, they're stock at home.

I've saved every single piece of artwork the boys have brought home and I needed something for this wall so I thought why not put up a few of their favorite pieces they have brought home from school. I anchored their artwork with my brother's charcoal piece from when he was in high school. (I may or may not have stolen this from my mom).

Look how proud this kid is of his work.

And that was the weekend. Lots of movies. Lots of projects. Even more family time. Thankfully the sun came out on Monday when it was time to head back to school & the boys were able to deliver those flowers for May Day.

Monday, April 24, 2017


We all have them. That one or two drawers in the kitchen that are filled with some some-what-maybe-kinda important things but mostly just crap. & as clean and simple as these drawers always start out, it takes no time at all until they just get shoved full of anything and everything. Anything and everything you think you may need-maybe not today or tomorrow but one day, you will totally need that thingy majiggy and you will know exactly where it is.  Yup, we all have them.

At least twice I year I try to go through these drawers and take out all the crap. Reorganize the "stuff" we do need--or will probably need. And the cycle starts all over again. This time around, those some-what-maybe-kinda important things weren't going back in and these drawers would start serving a purpose.

Usually I take the challenge of cleaning out these drawers on a whim. I usually have an RBV (Red-Bull Vodka) beside me & the Royals are playing. It starts with "I can't find any pens" and ends with about 20 working pens found after cleaning it out.

I also feel lighter after having purged something & this night it started with two drawers and ended with the cabinet below that. & a LARGE bag of trash--seriously, I am not sure how that much crap fit in there after having looked at the size of the trash.

I am hopeful that this time things will be different, that those two drawers and one cabinet will stay clutter free for more than a few weeks. You see, I did things differently this time. Those kit lenses that I haven't touched in 5 years-gone. That box from my camera that I haven't touched in 5 years-gone. Note cards that weren't getting used-gone. Half completed projects-gone. Seriously, I can't tell you how much weight felt like it was being lifted off my shoulders at that moment. The feeling felt so good that I didn't want to stop there so the next night I took on the buffet in our dining room. & you know what, another bag full of crap. & more weight being lifted off my shoulders.

But let's back up--I started this purging project off with one thing in mind, ridding our house of toys. I read something the other day that a friend posted on Facebook about how getting rid of 'stuff' saved this woman's motherhood. The basis of the story is that she always felt like they were spending time picking up EVERYTHING in the house. So one evening she spent time getting rid for the toys, not all of them but a lot of them. She made three piles, Keep, Trash, Donate and if she felt the toy wasn't benefiting her children then she got rid of it.  The following morning when the kids came downstairs they hardly noticed what was gone--what they did notice was everything still there and played for hours in the toy room with their trains that they could now see. She immediately felt lighter. I wanted this.

So I printed off her little manual and went to work at home, first starting with a few smaller projects to get into the mood--you gotta be in the mood to purge and then finishing with a few of the larger projects in the house. And since I work full-time, I knew I needed a weekend where I could put the boys to bed and stay up till 1 or 2 getting it all completed and out of the house before they were up ready to play. So Friday night at 9:30, I put on my gloves and I took the toy room head on.

I started in the closet. At the bottom and worked my way up. If it wasn't a Lego, a Matchbox car, Nerf stuff, board games (with complete parts present) or books, it found it's way into either the donation pile or the trash. I was amazed by all the teeny tiny toys we had that didn't get played with any longer or may have never been played with. The boys had maybe 20+ superheroes and TMNTs. It was craziness, craziness that found it's way to the donate pile. Slowly but surely I made progress, I could finally see the floor, the games were organized, the books were sorted and stacked where you could find what you needed. Just having cleared the closet out made so much difference but I wasn't about to stop there. I tackled their baskets of superhero capes and costumes, their drawing table, the "junk" basket--if it was in the room it was gone through.

In the end, I decided to keep a few superhero capes (the ones with special meaning), the dino tails (which they haven't worn in ages but both have worn in the last few days since they can now see them), their remote control cars, books, Legos, Matchbox cars, board games and Nerf guns. I filled one large trash bag full of trash and two large boxes of toys to donate/sell at the garage sale. I wrapped up about 1 am but I knew that if I didn't get it done before going to bed and clear the room of the trash and the two large boxes that the boys would probably put up a fight when they saw the room half completed the following morning, so there was no choice but to get it done before I went to bed.

We woke up the next morning and I wasn't sure what they would do, although our morning was tight since we had to be out of there early, they both made it to the room and not even one complaint was muttered. Kaden instantly found his Fitbit & quickly declared "I've been looking for this for like a thousand years! Thanks Mom for finding it." & then gave me a giant hug & thanked me for cleaning up the toy room too. Logan was right behind him.

I kind of figured that after that large of a project that I would have had enough but nope, I went straight for Logan's room and then followed up with Kaden's room. I had been holding onto clothes that were Kaden's and that I figured Logan would grow into but truth be told, I end up buying Logan new clothes anyways. So unless they were special shirts and "sparked joy" I put them in the garage sale pile. I got rid of most all of the pants that Logan and I fight over, shirts too. He hates button downs so why would he need 8 of them in his closet--he won't wear them. EVER. So I kept 2 for those non-negotiable holidays and got rid of the other 6. Same with his sweatshirts, there are so many that I LOVE but he doesn't, he doesn't like how they fit around his head so why fight the fight, it isn't worth it. I dumped a WHOLE drawer of t-shirts, he wasn't using any of these shirts anymore. He had his favorites and that's where he pulls from. Socks. Same story.

Kaden. Different kid, same story. So much "stuff" that doesn't need to be there. Although I haven't made it into my closet I can only imagine it will go just about the same. & what makes this time different? In the past if I would have said, "well, maybe I will wear that again" I would have kept it but maybes this time around are an automatic garage sale item. The one area that I did manage to tackle were my purses and a few of these still "sparked joy" but I knew I wasn't going to use them any longer so why let them just take up space in our house. Why not let someone else get good use out of them? So, I'm saying goodbye to 7 purses and not going to feel guilty about it either.

At the end of the day, all this "stuff" was causing me frustration. I'd walk into Logan's room and see the drawer that I just spent so much time on organizing busting at the seams because he was digging for a specific shirt & in turn, created a mess. It would infuriate me, I wouldn't tell him that but inside, it just frustrated the hell out of me because I knew it was up to me to fix. And maybe that shouldn't be the case but he's 5 & he does what he can to help out and this is something I do for him. The "stuff" in the toy room, always had to be corralled, whether it was me or the kids, it was just everywhere & exhausting. Not anymore.

My only regret, not doing this sooner.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter Weekend

We typically don't have set Easter plans each year. A few years ago we hosted our families, last year it was pretty small and we went to a Royals game, one year when Kaden was little we went to my mom and dad's. The only constant, family. This year was no different.

We took off for my mom and dad's on Thursday evening after Kaden's 1st grade musical. We arrived just a little after 10 but mom and dad were still up which meant the boys got candy and Popsicle. As soon as they were done though it was off to bed as we would have visitors nice and early Friday morning, cute visitors too. Really, cute visitors that had grown so much since the last time we had seen them. I spent most of my day looking at this...

And when I wasn't holding and looking at him, he was laying and looking at me. And I love that Kaden plopped right back down by him & that they both had on their Chiefs shirts. Cousins are the best.

Friday was such a beautiful day and Grandma Sara wanted to introduce the boys to Food Truck Friday up at the Carthage Square--and boy were we glad she did. I had an awesome brick oven pizza & the boys had some yummy turkey sandwiches followed by cake pops. 

We didn't want to stay away too long as the Papa Tom was left with Trenton so we hurried back where the boys and Miss Madison headed outside for rides on the golf cart & I assumed my position holding Trenton again as Grandma Sara started working in the kitchen to get our Easter Dinner ready--Papa Richard was headed over and Jennifer and the kids were coming up too. Miss Leah just recently got her driver's permit so when it was time to head and pick up Papa Richard, I told her to grab the keys and she could drive. We made three stops--Sonic for ice, Braum's for milk and the third stop being Papa Richards. It was an eventful trip, while in line at Sonic, I mentioned that she would have to get a little closer to the window when she pulled up because we wouldn't be able to hand them the money. While we were waiting a car started honking at us. She started getting worried it was at her and I assured her she was doing nothing wrong and it couldn't be at her but in my mind I was worried. Then I saw someone get out of the car behind us and was walking towards my door. I was about to get out as well so that I could have a conversation without her hearing--no need to put unnecessary fear into a 15 year old--when I noticed it was my Uncle Scott. He thought I was driving and was trying to be funny--joke was on him.

On the way back to my mom and dad's I drove. Not because Leah couldn't do it but because Papa Richard needed to sit in front and I wasn't going to sit behind Leah to coach her so she sat in back and I drove. & we both listened. Papa was in one of his moods--my favorite moods--where he talks about the good ole' days. He told stories about growing up and about Grandma Hartley, who we were all missing a little more that day. I just love his stories and they're part of the reason I also volunteer to pick him up.

& this picture just brings the biggest smile to my face. I am so blessed with the fact that my boys not only met their Papa Richard but that they got to KNOW their Papa Richard and he got to know them. I can only imagine the conversations he will have with Grandma when they are reunited again, I'm sure would love to listen as they each share their perspective on the same events!

Before we left the next day--we had to make it a quick trip because it was Easter weekend and we missed Justin who was at home preparing for our Easter brunch the following day--the boys played a little more with the pup, who had also grown so much & helped plant the garden. Help is a probably a strong word, more like they played in the dirt while Papa, Blake and Grandma did the heavy lifting. Me, well Leah and I snapped a few pics of baby Trenton.

Seriously, could he not be cuter!?!

Our time came to an end about lunchtime & we headed back north towards the city where Justin was waiting with new flowers to be planted. It's one of my favorite things about spring. I love all the bright colors---flowers, grass, trees.

We pulled the house together as quickly as we could because the following day we would be hosting brunch for Justin's side of the family. This year we were missing Adam, Becky and Colton as they were enjoying Disney World but we gained Uncle Bob, Aunt Barbara & Jeff and Jenny too.

The boys woke up excited, they knew the drill. The Easter Bunny had visited and it was time to check out their baskets, bedhead and all.

Brunch was delicious as always & the boys were eager to hunt the eggs the Easter Bunny had left behind and to try out their new scooters. So while they waited for just a few more minutes, Aunt Barbara and I hid the eggs--blue eggs were Kaden's & yellow and green were for Logan. Even Steven at our house.

As our brunch started to wind down we pulled out Kaden's homework and noticed that we needed to find something from nature that he could take to school with him the following day after writing a brief report on it. Luckily we live near a lake so we took off for a walk, well I walked, they rode their scooters.

We didn't really find anything all that great, I mean we could have gotten grass and sticks out of our own yard but we settled on a long blade of grass and headed home. As we were getting close to home we found a luna moth--with a missing tail that wasn't doing too good. We picked her up (we were able to determine by her wing coloring she was a she) and we took her home. We placed her in our flower pots and checked on her from day to day but by Tuesday, she was sadly dead so she became Kaden's little nature item.

Easter weekend was spent pretty much just like it's supposed to be spent--with family and remembering just how lucky we are to be the freaking son or daughter of God. We may doubt that we are enough when it comes to most roles in our life--wife, daughter, mother, friend, colleague--but being his daughter means I never have to doubt I am enough for Him. That gives me peace.