Sunday, July 31, 2011

23 and 12

That is how old my two boys are. Kaden at 23 months and Logan at 12 weeks. As I type this, Kaden is sitting next to me with his ankles crossed and his computer on his lap. A few hours before this he sat there learning about zoo animals on the iPad and knew exactly what buttons to push to get where he needed to go. He is a sponge-sitting, watching and soaking it all in. We now have to watch how we "swat" at flies or he thinks it is a game and goes around swatting at anything and everything, especially the dogs. We have to put drinks as far back on the counters or as far up as possible or he will instantly be moving chairs and climbing on whatever it is to reach them. He is climbing into Logan's crib (Logan isn't in it). He is climbing onto the back of the couch and jumping off. Basically, he is a monkey-but our Monkey he is. The trantrums can be tiring and tough but his innocence and charming personality makes up for them 100 folds. It is hard to believe that one month time he will be two-a wild, rambunctious, jabbering, never-wanting-to-sit-still-two year old. And I can't wait to see all the new things in which he learns and he teaches to his little brother. (They can't all be bad things, can they?)

Speaking of his little brother. Logan hit another milestone, he turned 12 weeks old and loves, loves, loves to eat his hands. His first week of daycare went just as expected-perfectly. I missed him to pieces but knowing that he is in such great hands and is with his brother helps get me through the day. He is certainly making the run for favorite kiddo at daycare and not with just Ms. Brenda but all the kiddos tell me how much they love Logan and what a great baby he is. They are just the sweetest. Before we know it, we will be planning his first birthday and yes, the ideas are already brewing!

This upcoming week will mark a first for us Souths. It will be my first work trip. Mom is headed to Minneapolis for an investment symposium and will be leaving Daddy in charge. Although I know everything will go perfectly and the boys will have so much fun with their Daddy, it doesn't stop me from worrying. I know that me working is the best thing for our family and I love what I do but it doesn't make leaving any easier. Luckily, my husband is pretty fantastic and always steps up to the plate and because of him, I can do what I do. The only thing I am looking forward to-a solid, SOLID night of sleep in that comfy, COMFY hotel bed.

Oh the wonderful "cheese" face how I love thee.

Save Me San Francisco!

Not really any saving needed here but the only title that came to mind with San Francisco in it! This weekend we had the wonderful treat of catching up with Justin's cousin, Roy and his family that were in from San Fran. Each year when they come back, Papa John, invites us all over to his house for a pool party and this year was no different. In town were Roy and Time, Diane and Regina and the three blondest boys you'll lay eyes on, Ryan, Jack and Evan. Also over to join the fun was Leanne and Deonte, Adam, Becky, and Colton, and as we were leaving Jennifer and Chris stopped by. It was great to see everyone and introduce Kaden and Logan to a few cousins they haven't met until now.

The weather was fantastic, a little muggy but after the temperatures we have been having 85 is just fine. The water was even better! One of the things which I hate about swimming is getting in. Inching my way into the freezing cold water of the pool, well not this time, it was perfect and oh so relaxing! To Justin and I's surprise, Kaden took to the pool. He was all about it, unlike over 4th of July when he cried when we put him on the raft. Where he found this courage, not sure but it was a nice change of pace. He played shark and minnow with Evan-Evan made a fantastic shark. He jumped to Grammie. Blew bubbles which was soon followed by swallowing water and a "hands up". Played ball with Colton and made a spewing geyser out of a water gun. Oh and don't worry, Logan got to get in on the fun too. He too swam and then took a little siesta in my make shift tent. Have I said how great of a baby he is yet?

BTW, our next home will have a pool and we will have it open every weekend so consider this your standing invitation!

Before heading home and putting the kiddos down for a nap, we celebrated Evan's 5th birthday. He was sooo funny, he actually asked us to sing Happy Birthday quietly and was very worried that Kaden would want to sing too loud but I let him know that Kaden didn't even know the words and he felt much better about his birthday song!

It was great catching up with family and we hope to see everyone again some time real soon. It is starting to look like The South Baseball Tour 2012 might be taking us to Giant's Stadium. Not only will we get to see a great stadium but more importantly, we get to see family.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Introducing Oliver Beckett

I have been sitting on this new venture for some time to see exactly where it would go but without really getting it out there, it can't go too many places…Please give a warm welcome to Oliver Beckett Photography.

One might wonder where I would find time to take on a new "business" with starting back to work full time and two kiddos under two at home. But this has become my favorite way to wind down. At the end of the day when the boys are in bed, I pull out my camera and my Mac to play around a little more. In the last few months I have come a long way with my pictures but there is so much more for me to learn and that is what is so exciting. I don't know where this will go or even if it will take off but what I do know is there is a market for families that are looking for good pictures at a very reasonable price and that is all I am hoping to provide. The best thing, I get to do something that I really enjoy and hopefully capture some very special family moments all at the same time.  

What is in the name? Oliver Beckett, you can say it is my heart and soul. Kaden Oliver and Logan Beckett have brought more joy to my life than I ever thought imaginable. This is my way of saying thank you to them. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Nothing Compares

Today marks the second day being back at work and let me tell you, 5 o'clock could not come soon enough. The days have dragged on forever and the weekend, what is that and how many more days until that is here? It probably doesn't come as a surprise, but I think it might be safe to say that I spend the majority of my time at work counting the hours till I get to do this...

Nothing compares to holding something so precious, except for maybe another little something running and hugging your legs as tightly as his little but mighty arms can.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Argh Matey!

What a perfect day for a Pirate themed birthday party and what even made this better was the fact that it was a pool party. Wednesday will be Wyatt's First Birthday and today, his mom and dad gathered with their closest family and friends for a little celebration. We weren't able to stick around for the cake and presents (wish we could have though) but we did get a few great shots of the birthday boy. Can't believe all these kiddos are turning one!

      *Please Note, this was stage but the kid does have a thing for a shiny can!

Baby Legs! Baby Legs! Baby Legs!

I love Baby Legs! They are just so darn cute and much easier than pants. He probably doesn't even need them on today. Is it still blazin' hot outside? I have heard the thunder and seen the gloomy clouds so I just figured they made sense!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Happy, Happy Birthday to Madi

What a great birthday party! And what a CUTE birthday girl Miss Madi made. Her mommy and daddy did such a great job with the watermelon themed party. From the balloons to the flowers to the cake that even split because of the heat. It all was just too darn cute. Especially the one-of-a-kind-made-especially-for-Madi-birthday outfit. It almost made me sad to see it get covered in cake but then again, you only turn one once…

Now you see, Miss Madi is one very lucky girl. She not only was surround by lots and lots (and I mean lots) of her closest family and friends but she also had her two boyfriends there, Kaden and Logan-she gets to have her pick when she gets older! It is amazing how different our lives are now...

To the mom and dad of the birthday girl, you both make amazing parents and have done such a wonderful job this last year. We were honored to be able to share this special day with you and look forward to many, many more birthday celebrations in which our kiddos will have. Love you Miss Madi and Miss Korie-you are two of my most favorite girls in the whole wide world. 

Friday, July 22, 2011

All Good Things...

Must come to an end. Today marked the last day of my maternity leave and can you guess how I spent it? With both of my boys-the best way possible! We started the day off with some family pictures (hope to post a link soon) to mark Kaden's 2nd birthday and Logan turning 3 months (in a few short weeks) and then came my favorite part of the day. (Which also happens to be what I enjoyed the most about my maternity leave.) Napping. But not just any old nap, a special nap, one with Logan snuggled right up next to me. Sure my arm would fall asleep once in a while and his poor bald head would get a little sweaty but those were very small prices to pay for those precious bonding moments that I will forever cherish. Come Monday, I will be in cuddle time withdraw and just like with Kaden, we will have to incorporate Logan into our morning snuggle time where as a family we spend the first 15-30 minutes of the morning just laying in bed, all 6 of us!

--As a side note, Kaden naps in his bed and normally is at daycare. We made the decision before Logan was born to continue taking Kaden to daycare. Not only would Logan get the devoted time that Kaden got when he was born but more importantly Kaden's routine wouldn't be interrupted.--

This maternity leave was a complete 180 from my first maternity leave. With Kaden, I couldn't find enough time in the day to get anything done. With Logan, we conquered so much. I painted the bathroom and vanity. We hung pictures. We planned and shopped for Kaden's birthday party. We went on vacations. You name it, we did it. He was and still is such an easy going baby, so much so, that it doesn't matter when or where we need to go, we go.

You will have to forgive me while I correct myself...I know I said that napping was the thing I enjoyed the most about my maternity leave but I might have lied a little. It is a close number one but it falls just short of Kaden coming home from daycare. As soon as Kaden walks in the door or we pick him up, he looks for Logan. He says hi to him and runs straight over to kiss him. The love that he has for his little brother is so special and sitting back and just watching him with Logan gives me such a happy heart.

Before Logan, I was so scared about how we would function as a family of four. You always hear that the transition from 1 child to 2 is incredibly hard but for us, it just flowed. As if we had been doing it all along. Yes, we have two strollers or we have to pack the double stroller. Yes, we have to get two kiddos buckled into car seats. And yes, I have two butts to wipe multiple times a day but it all just fits, fits perfectly.

So although I am heading back to work and traveling will start to pick up again, we will continue to make it work and if there is any one thing that I am looking forward to it is getting into our new routine. Making sure that after we get home from work that it is quality family time before the kids go to bed and that we are making the most of our time together. Posts will slow, laundry will pile up but let it. I will happily spend my time with my boys, all three of them.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Day Three-Target Field

The whole reason we decided to take a trip to Minneapolis was to visit Target Field and take in a Twins game. When we started looking at dates we were pleasantly surprised to learn that the Royals were in town just two weeks before my maternity leave would end-pretty perfect timing if I do say so myself, and I do! Game time was at 6 o'clock so we had a little bit of time before having to catch the tram to the game so why not do a little more shopping. This time it was IKEA. I bought a few picture frames, a really neat blanket and then the light fixture which I have wanted for so long now, you can see it here but the jury is still out on where we will hang it… IKEA was massive and I could probably shop for days there but with a limited amount of time, it was a blur and I was lucky to find what I did.

After lunch we met up with the Walshes at MOA to jump on the tram and while we waited my dad just had to run back to a store he visited the prior day and pick up one more thing. He came back with an energy bracelet for Kaden. He had bought one for him and my nephews the day before and they all were believers that not only would this aid in energy but balance too and if anyone needed balance it was Kaden. It ended up being a little big for his wrist so we decided it would find a permanent home on his ankle and since it was closer to his feet one would think that surely it would work even better. I will say, I don't remember Kaden falling or tripping over his feet for the rest of the trip and really since…

We finally boarded the tram to take the ride into downtown where we would later meet up with the Garretts. Kaden slept for the majority of the time but when he woke up he was pretty excited to be on the train. We would ride this train to the very last stop it made but once it was time to step off, we stepped right out to Target Field. We grabbed a quick appetizer at a local bar and even though we were in Royals gear, the Minnesotans were so friendly. We made it into the ballpark and found our seats just in time for the Royals' batting practice and a few home runs made it to our area but we left without a game souvenir. By game time, the heat was almost unbearable and my mom, MIL and I took turns standing in a breezeway keeping Logan cool. Finally the sun went down and  we all were able to enjoy the game. The Royals weren't able to pull out a win for us but my dad did get his Walleye on a stick and even started planning which ballpark we were hitting up next year, Denver and San Fran are high on the list-bring on some cooler weather.

The road trip home was quick thanks to the superstar drivers and I had mixed feelings about pulling into our driveway. Yes, I was happy to be home but it also meant saying good-bye to my family. We had such a great time and watching my mom and dad and even my nephews with my boys just makes my heart happy so saying good-bye tends to be one of the hardest things I have to do these days. At least it is just a quick drive home to see them all again!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Special and Speedy Delivery

It wasn't until my Mom and Dad were halfway home to Carthage that I realized that something was missing. A very important something-and no, I don't mean my child, we got him back. But that same child did leave something behind that he would be distraught over if we didn't get it back soon. Grandma to the rescue, we received the following package via overnight mail today and not a moment too soon! Kaden might love his lovies a whole, whole lot but he sure loves his Grandma Sara much, much more!

The L Family

Mini Photo Shoot Monday flowed over into Tuesday. This morning Keri and Jeremy brought over their little bundle of joy, Brecken. Brecken just turned 3 months old and is such a great baby. He has pretty baby blue eyes and the best mohawk I have seen on a little man!  Such a cute little family and I am so blessed they allowed me to capture their first family picture.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Day Two-MOA

As we drove to Minneapolis on Thursday the temperature never climbed higher than 61 and having been in 95-100 degrees for each of the previous days, we were in shock and freezing. When we checked the weather on Wednesday we were in for a gorgeous weekend and packed accordingly so when it was a bit on the chilly side, we started layering the clothes. We also got some unexpected rain on both Thursday and pretty much all day on Friday so our hopes of going to the zoo were shattered but we weren't going to let that get us down. We took to the mall for some family fun followed up by some retail therapy. First stop was Sea Life Aquarium where we were able to touch Starfish, walk with the sharks and admire the jelly fish. The zoo might have been fun but it would have been hard to compare to our fun at the Sea Life Aquarium and we can't wait for Kansas City to open theirs.

After we walked the fish and shark filled tunnels we headed shopping. Four floors of never-ending stores-my kind of place. One might think that I would be the one to go crazy and spend way too much money and one would be completely accurate but this time it wasn't on me. I went nuts on the kids clothes. My one rule, if it can be bought in KC then it wouldn't be going home with me. My favorite and wallet breaking stops included H&M (which is coming to KC) and 77 kids by AE. I was able to find some really cute outfits for the boys pictures on Friday and most importantly got their new fall wardrobes started. My favorite purchases of the day came at Puma when we bought Logan his first pair of shoes and Kaden his second pair of Pumas. It was only fitting that Logan's first pair of shoes be Pumas since they were also Kaden's first pair of shoes. After hours of shopping and multiple elevators we decided it was time for some LEGO fun and Blake and I visited Lego Land where he added to his collection and helped pick out Kaden's first Lego set-Mater from Cars. Kaden loved his new toy and ran around the hotel shooting everyone with the little canon that came with it.

After hours of shopping at the Mall of America we headed back to the hotel to rest, freshen up, meet up with the Walshes and head to dinner. Tonights destination was Psycho Susie's another Diner, Drive-in, and Dive restaurant known for their flaming drinks and pizza. This was the first night that the whole crew was together for dinner and Psycho Susies' wasn't sure what they could do with us all so we had to split up in parties of 4-5 since they were so slammed. We eventually all met back up at the hotel and then our wonderful parents took over and babysat the kids while us bigger kids went out for some drinks. And to our surprise, a TGI Friday's, was just around the corner-brings back so many wonderful memories. It has been some time since Justin and I have been able to go out with just one another and not the kids and enjoy a few drinks and the fact that we were surrounded by great friends made it that much better. Another successful day in Minneapolis, even with the crummy weather.

Two Wee Little Ones Turning One

In keeping with the theme of Mini Photo Shoot Monday, we traveled to a local park and took a few pictures of two adorable little kiddos who will be turning one very, very soon. Miss Madi is the daughter of my dear friend Korie and Madi will be celebrating in style on Saturday (I have heard that her birthday party is turning out pretty darn cute) and then 4 short days after that Mr. Wyatt will be turning the BIG O. N. E.

I won't lie, it was hot and not the best time of the day to do a shoot but we got it in and worked around nap time. The kiddos were troopers and full of smiles even through the prickly grass popping their balloons and the sweat pouring from me and their mommies. A special thanks to their mommies for getting tons of grins and laughs and letting me experiment with their babies (soon to be toddlers-sniff, sniff). Happy Birthday Madi and Wyatt-You are two of the cutest almost-one-year-olds that I know.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

South Baseball Tour Twenty11 (Day One)

Yup, we took a vacation. I took two actually. The family vacation of course and then one from blogging too. And let me tell you, not only was it great to be home (don't get me wrong the vacation was great too but there is just something about pulling into the driveway at home) but it is great to pull the photos into albums and start typing away and documenting another memory. So here goes...

Before Kaden was born Justin had decided that each year we would take him to a new ballpark. Last year we visited the Garretts in Milwaukee and saw the Brewers play and this year we decided to take a little road trip up I35 to Minneapolis and take in a Twins game at Target Field. This year we not only got to see the Royals play at Target Field, we also had a few more join our tour, 16 in all. Justin and I invited both of our parents, my nephews got to come with my mom and dad, we of course had Logan, Jenn and Jake were meeting family in Minnesota so they came and joined us for a few of the days and then the Garretts made the road trip from Milwaukee with Tugce's parents. The caravan was in town and ready for fun-Go Big Blue!

Day one would set the mood for the rest of the trip and everyone in the South/Hartley caravan was thinking the exact same thing. How would a 22 month old and a 10 week old do in the car for an 8 hour road trip? Answer. Awesome! But you better believe we came prepared. We had snacks, movies, toys, music, walkie talkies (and yes, people still use these) and we had Brett and Blake! Logan did what he does best and slept, only waking to eat. Kaden rode with my parents and he too was a champ. (TMI Heads up, consider yourself warned) He even waited until we stopped for lunch before he was grunting away and pooping in his diaper. We got a few looks in the Wendy's restaurant that we stopped at but hey, a boy has to take care of business. After a quick lunch we were back on the road and pulled into our hotel just after 2 in the afternoon. We had decided that since we spent the majority of the day driving we wouldn't try and pack too much into the afternoon so we decided to head out to an early dinner at The Nook. The Nook was featured on Diner, Drive-in, and Dives and this was the only thing my father wanted to do while in Minneapolis, let's get it out of the way. We decided that since we were passing by Fort Snelling on the way, why not stop. I will tell you why not…CLOSED! All government ran parks CLOSED. Guess Minnesota was having a hard time coming to an agreement on their budget so their visitors paid the price. We decided to walk around anyways but didn't make it far…

We loaded back up, plug our destination into the navigation and the next thing you know, we are going through a parking lot and the airport baggage claim lane and yes, navigation told us to make these turns. After we all thought she lost her mind she finally told us our destination was up on our right and there it sat. We got to eat some of the best cheese curds and burgers we have had and then we were in for a real treat. Downstairs housed an old bowling alley and bar, the little boys bowled while the big boys drank. A great little ending to our first day on the road.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Special Treat

On my way to Belton this morning to pick up a chair that I purchased on Craigslist for a whopping 4 buckaroos I got a call from Tiffany. She was in a little bit of a bind and was needing someone to watch Sophie for a little while this morning. Told her I would be home by 9:15 and to come on over. I happily bartered an hours worth of babysitting for a short modeling shoot with Sophie as my muse. I even got to put the chair to good use already. Little Miss Sophie has the biggest, brownest eyes ever and just loved hearing the click, click, click of the camera. I know her Momma doesn't want to hear this but she looks just like her Daddy. Absolutely Precious!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Monkey vs. Gator

I guess it is fitting that the boys are Monkey and *Gator to me because just like a real monkey and a real gator, these boys don't look a thing alike. Or at least I don't see it…

Monkey at 9 weeks.

Gator at 9 weeks.

*I have been trying to figure out a nickname for Logan for awhile and I always keep coming back to Gator. He loves to coo so his chompers are getting quite the workout right now!


Mini Photo Shoot Monday is getting more and more challenging. I have a great subject but my little subject doesn't move a whole lot so we end up doing the same set of pictures over and over. This week we tried bringing in a few hats, a tie and then some letters to add something a little different. Have I said how I can't wait for the weather to cool down so we can go outside and take pictures yet?