Friday, December 30, 2011

A Look Back At Twenty Eleven

I can't believe that I am sitting here getting ready to recap Two Thousand and Eleven, but yet I am. It seems like it was just yesterday (I know, so cliche) that we gave a proper farewell to 2010, seen here. and welcomed 2011 with opens arms and frankly, its kind of sad to have to say good-bye to another blessed year. But lucky me, I have this little thing called a blog and I can relive 2011 whenever I want to!

So let's get going. I decided to try and choose one picture or memory to represent each month. Notice the word try, some months just may need more. I got this idea from Shutterfly.  I was contemplating a New Years card but then figured that since this actually reaches more people that it was the only way to go. So here goes nothing or in our case, everything!

The passing of a GREAT man, my Grandpa. He was a husband. A father. A grandpa. And a friend to many. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about him. But I suspect thats exactly how its suppose to be for someone that you loved so dearly. Love you and miss you so very much.

Our trip to Milwaukee to see the Garrett Family. I love that it is such a quick and cheap flight to see them but it still stinks to have them so far away! Good thing we hopped on plane and came to the Cheese State for NYE!

One of my favorites of Kaden.

Kaden got a "new" room to go with his new role as a big brother! He loved the little decal on the wall with his name-okay so he might not have noticed his name but he certainly loved the car! And I loved his expression. Doesn't get much better than that!

St. Patrick's Day. So maybe it was the day that Justin and I "technically" got married 3 years prior but this year we were able to enjoy a few of the festivities that this holiday has to offer and better yet, with some great friends. This was our first time at the Brookside St. Patty's Day Parade and it did not disappoint-calendars are already marked for this years trip!

Another of my favorites. 

Brought bigger bellies, birthdays and a new living room.
Justin turned 30 and while he was turning 30 in Houston at the Final Four, we were at the zoo wishing him a very happy birthday

One word, well name, Logan Beckett. He was our biggest blessing of the year. 

We got a trial run at what a family of five would feel like. My nephew, Blake, came to town for a few days and boy did we have a great time. We got to go see the Royals play-Logan's first game. We took a trip to Deanna Rose. And we ate dinner at a japanese steak house. 

Was hot. So what better way to cool off than with a trip to the lake for the 4th of July. We might have lost power one night but the boys still had fun. 

July was also the month that we took our big FAMILY trip to Minnesota for the 2012 South Baseball Tour. This year it wasn't just Justin, Kaden and I-we took the whole family and then some.

Monkey turned two! He had a big birthday bash full of dump trucks and hard hats. It the perfect way to celebrate his special day with all his family and friends. 

Lions, Tigers and Bears, Oh My. The circus was in town and Kaden was at the perfect age for his first trip. Another trip that we will be making again in 2012. 

Another big event for September, Logan rolled over for the first time. He was getting too big, too quickly!

Was full of family, pumpkin patches and Fall Bucket List items were checked off one by one. The highlight was a tie. Between Logan being baptized and the kids in their costumes for Halloween. Have you seen anything cuter??

Thanksgiving is suppose to be about family and friends. Well, this year, Thanksgiving wasn't all that great. We made it to one family gathering but halfway through Kaden got sick and we spent the next few days trying to get everyone healthy. Normally the highlight would have been Thanksgiving but this time it was taking Kaden to his first movie.

Another highlight and probably one of the most important of the year was traveling to Joplin, MO with colleagues to help plant trees for those who lost homes and had their lives turned upside down. The stories that we heard will be forever etched in my mind. 

Was all about FAMILY. We had someone very special turn 97. We had a HUGE announcement for the family. Logan started standing up on his own. And we celebrated Christmas with all our family, unlike Thanksgiving. Even as I type this we are adding to our December highlights, Milwaukee with the Garretts but more to come on that later!

Overall, Twenty Eleven was pretty fantastic and although it will be sad to say goodbye, I can't wait to see what Twenty Twelve brings for our family. Thanks for taking the journey with us. Happy New Year to you and yours, may it be filled with lots of love and laughter.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Special Treat Just For You-My Readers

Pop the champaign and throw the confetti because I just hit 400 posts! WOW was the first word that came to mind but quickly replaced by Blessed. Kind of hard to believe that this is my FOUR-hundredth post. That's like an entire year plus 35 days or its like eating 33.3 dozen cupcakes-WOWZA. Sure, I would have continued with this blog whether or not it was read by anyone else besides myself but because of all the comments (fb, emails, etc.) I have given it a little more time and love. Found a little piece of myself along the way too. So the biggest thanks goes to all of you, my loyal followers. You make this a much more enjoyable experience! And since this is such a BIG milestone for Keeping Up With The Souths, I wanted to do something extra special for you. So special that this has never been done on Keeping UP With The Souths. Are you ready?

Meet Sarah J. As in Sarah J of How Lovely You Are... blog.

Miss Sarah J. is a dear friend and colleague of mine. She also just happens to be the brains behind our living room redesign from earlier this year and she has started her own blog. Is it weird that I may just be a tad OBSESSED with everything about it and her!? Miss Sarah J. is here at Keeping UP With The Souths to do a guest post, to give a little preview of you can see over at How Lovely You Are... Sit back, relax, enjoy a cup of cocoa and prepare to be amazed, cause this girl has some mad skills!

hi everyone! sarah here from how lovely you are...  thank you to my dear friend kayla for asking me to celebrate her huge blogging milestone with you guys!  her introduction to me & my blog was far too generous so i hope i don't disappoint.  i have been reading kayla's blog since the beginning & have loved keeping up with her family, kiddos & projects.  she is truly an inspiration & known around the office as the girl who does it ALL!  i have always considered myself a "blog stalker" rather than a real blogger but that has all changed recently, largely because of kayla's encouragement.  i finally started my own blog in recent weeks.  my husband (m) & i just bought a new house, a major fixer-upper, and i plan to chronicle our progress to share with friends & family.  today, however, i wanted to talk about something else (and something decidedly less expensive than remodeling!).  with new year's right around the corner, i thought it would be fun to share some ideas for inspired NYE celebrations.  i don't know about you, but my days of heading out to the trendiest club to stand around in uncomfortable heels all night are over! i much prefer a celebration with friends & family at some one's home...everyone can chip in to help out & make the evening a celebration of food & friends.  one easy way to celebrate is to host a simple NYE dessert party.  might as well enjoy a few more delicious treats before the resolutions kick in, right?!?!  with minimal effort on your part, your friends can enjoy a variety of gorgeous & sweet treats as you ring in the new year.     

                          Source: via Sarah on Pinterest
to celebrate the new year with friends & sweet treats, ask everyone to bring their favorite dessert and a bottle of bubbly (or wine, beer or liquor if preferred!).  get creative with your displays...after all, NYE definitely calls for some sparkle & fun.  
Source: via Sarah on Pinterest                                            Source: via Sarah on Pinterest

try stacking various cake platters at different heights....a simple way to add interest to your buffet table & display food & decor.

Source: via Sarah on Pinterest               Source: via Sarah on Pinterest  

you can keep your the rest of your decorations simple & easy too...try making some banners or bunting with gold-hued paper & sparkles.  paper source, for all you local kc folks, is a great place for inspiration & supplies!

Source: via Sarah on Pinterest                   Source: via Sarah on Pinterest

and, if you're like me, just because you aren't venturing out to the trendiest clubs anymore doesn't mean you can't dress the part.  NYE definitely is one night a year that we can all add a little sparkle! although you'll probably find me dressed down in jeans this year, how fun would a sparkly ensemble like this be?!
thanks again kayla for letting me guest post on your blog today & congratulations on your huge blogging milestone! hope everyone has a safe & happy new year's celebration with friends & family!  xoxo sarah

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Good Little Boys

By the looks of it both the boys made it on Santa's "Nice" list. Kaden got the luggage set that he had been pleading for ever since he turned two and Logan actually got some toys he can call his own.

The sad part. I think we already lost Sophie the Giraffe. We headed out this evening to visit Nanny and poor little guy gal isn't anywhere to be found. We have looked high and low, guess we'll be heading back to get another.

It took absolutely no time at all for Kaden to have his backpack on waving goodbye as he headed for the door pulling his suitcase right behind him. It was a hit!

After pulling out every single cop car, toothbrush, boxer briefs and DVD from his stocking we moved to the pile of presents just waiting to be torn into. We started off with great speed but a little halfway through Kaden got a little tired of unwrapping and just wanted to play with his suitcase. Logan just wanted to eat wrapping paper. We finished the unwrapping for them and quickly cleaned up just in time for our guests to arrive. And who wouldn't want to be greeted by the charming boy below... 

Grammy Janet, Adam, Becky and Colton all came over for a breakfast which would be followed by the South Family Christmas. Justin took care of the cooking while I prepared the table. At first there really wasn't going to be a table but then I remembered that I had a few things left over from the wedding that I could easily make work. Out came a few green napkins which just happened to match the split peas. Some dark place mats and our Crate and Barrel dishes. Simple but festive. 

We weren't sure how round two of presents would go since Kaden was only partly interested in opening earlier that morning but slowly we made it through it all. The boys got a few more DVDs and they each (Colton and Kaden) got a portable dvd player to take on their upcoming trips. 

The boys also got their annual picture ornament for the tree and this year it was a picture of each of them in their Halloween costumes. Kaden knew exactly what to do with it too. He turned around and placed it right on the tree. When asked to help Logan hang his, he was a good big brother and placed it right next to his, literally. 

We might not have the biggest family on the South side but we make up for that when it comes to how close we are. I am lucky enough to have this family so close and to be able to get together whenever we would like. There probably isn't a week that doesn't go by that we don't see one another and although it kind of felt like any other day with the family, it still had its special moments. We got to sit back and watch Kaden and Colton play with one another and I could easily picture Logan following at their heels one day in the very near future. These boys are going to be a hoot for some time to come and I am so blessed that I get to sit back and watch it all unfold. 364 days and counting…

Speaking of 364 days-Justin and I have decided that Kaden will be the perfect age to really set the expectations for Christmas next year. This year we scaled backed on the gifts. I mean, lets face it. The kids don't go without anything and probably already have too much so why continue to spend money on things that they just don't need and probably won't play with. Instead we will be buying three gifts for each of the boys. Why three? Because the Wise Men brought three gifts to Baby Jesus when he was born. So from us they will get a gold, silver and bronze gift to represent the Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. I would love to take credit for this but I got the idea from my sister and frankly, I think it is genius. What a great way to not only incorporate the story of Baby Jesus but also to help teach our children that giving is better than receiving.

Any new holiday traditions that you and your family started this year? Any old traditions that you would like to share? I would love to hear them as we are always looking for fun ideas to do with the boys. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Quickie-GO MIZZOU!

Logan is decked out in his Mizzou jersey and ready to kick some Tarheel Butt! And it made me think, I have a picture of Kaden in the same jersey so of course I got out the camera and took a few pictures…

Logan-7 1/2 months
Kaden at 6 months. 
And since Logan just happens to be the cutest 7 month old that I know, here is another picture from today. Yes, I understand that I may be a tad biased but what mother isn't!?

Hartley Holiday

And what a MERRY one it was! Since we weren't able to be home with the family on Thanksgiving this would be the first time that everyone was together since Jennifer and Rob's wedding followed by Kaden's birthday the next weekend. And that was in AUGUST, in other words, WAY TO LONG AGO. At both of those events, it was just shy of chaos and not that the this past weekend was anything different-it certainly wasn't with 14 people and 3 dogs in one house but we had time. Time to just be together as a family and actually have a conversation. Over the past few years we have pretty much stuck with the same tradition-staying the night at Mom and Dad's on Christmas Eve's Eve and then celebrating on Christmas Eve. We had a pajama party, see here for the awesome pjs that everyone is going to totally be standing in line for. We had the 2011 MarioKart Hartley Tourney. We ate. We drank. We were merry.

Christmas Eve started off later than normal for us. Somehow the boys, well Kaden, slept until 7 o'clock which is a rarity and Logan, well my mom decided she would have him sleep in her room so I am not really sure when that lad woke up. We had kids on blow up mattresses, a kid on the couch and two kiddos who wanted to sleep on the upstairs hallway-we were everywhere. It was perfect. We hadn't been up for  20 minutes and the "when are we eating" questions started coming and of course Grandma had a plan. She had her homemade donuts ready to go for appetizers. Kaden was obsessed with these and he didn't like having to wait for Aunt Jennifer to cut his donuts up one bit…

And this little guy had the best seat in the house-Papa Richard's arms. 

Finally it was the time everyone had been waiting for, especially the kiddos, it was present time. We all gathered in the living room and waited as Kaden helped Blake and Leah passed out the gifts. One by one we took turns opening up a gift. Here are a few of the favs...

The girls got Fijits.

The newest hunter in the family walked away with a new camo backpack that had a built in water dispenser.

Check out those totally awesome pants. They matched my uni-pajamas.

Kaden got the ever-so-popular Rock Star Mickey and Logan he ended up with some clothes and some money.

The gifts were great but being with my family, now that is what its all about. As I looked around the room there were so many things people to do be thankful for. It wasn't about the presents, not even the Cloud's giftcard we got, it was about each other. About family. I am blessed to have such a wonderful family and for being able to come together and celebrate the birth of Baby Jesus, for all, he is the reason for the season.

The morning continued with a friendly, yet competitive game of MarioKart. To make sure that everything was fair we drew for seeds and a few individuals were given byes. I can't speak for everyone about their match-ups but as for mine, Round 1=Cake. Round two was my sister-in-law, the wife to the tourney's favorite and I knew not to understand her, it was close but luckily I got a little help from those tiny surprise boxes. The semi-finals were up and I most certainly was the underdog. I was taking on my brother, the gamer. You see, my brother, has a room dedicated to video games. Instead of partying and being all crazy, he plays video games. Don't misunderstand, he has a full time job as a police officer, he is a great husband and takes care of the house things which Lindsey in-trusts him with but in his spare time he games, thus the tournament favorite. He beat me. It was close, but he beat me. I was hoping that he would end up winning it all and then I would have been beat by the tournament championw but low and behold the fourteen year old took it all. Brett is the official 2011 Hartley MarioKart Tourney Campion.

We finished up just in time to watch the Chiefs and for the kids to take their naps. Once everyone was up we headed outside to enjoy the weather. We snuck over the fence and took a few quick pictures before heading off to Christmas Eve's service. Most everyone remained troopers through our little photo shoot except for my youngest nephew, Blake. He wasn't all too happy to have his picture taken but when he finally figured out that the quicker he smiled the quicker we were done, his frowned turned upside down. Christmas Eve's service was the perfect ending to the Hartley Christmas. It gave us time to worship as a family and once again to reflect on our blessings. I stood there with my husband on one side holding Logan and Kaden standing between us holding my hand with my family all around us. Life was good.

We finished the evening off at Scott and Kelly's for the entire Hartley Family Christmas. Its pretty special when a family of 14 can all get together and not have a conflict but when a family of 24 can do the same, now that is something. We gathered around hot cups of soup and dessert. I had 1/2 a blueberry pie-not all at once but within two days I devoured my portion. A big thanks to Sandy, she makes the best blueberry pie and get this, it isn't for her kids, they don't even like it. Instead she makes it for Jennifer and I. Seeing that blueberry pie makes my heart skip a beat. Delicious. 

Finally it was time to head back to Kansas City. We loaded the kids up in their pajamas and arrived back home just before 10:30. We sat down and opened the last book for Advent. We read through Twas the Night Before Christmas, sat out our cookies and milk, said our good-byes to Elf and then tucked our boys into bed. Tomorrow would be Christmas and this mom was giddy with excitement. What a perfect start to our Merry Little Christmas...