Sunday, July 29, 2012

Move OVER Betty.

And make room for the newest baker in the family-Kaden. It is no secret that I don't cook. I don't like it one bit. My husband loves it and is great at it. On the other hand, I am the baker in the family. And I have perfected the yellow cake cause when it comes to cakes, there isn't anything better than a nice yellow cake and milk chocolate icing. ---Note to readers, if you ever need to get on my good side, just hand me a cake or a batch of cupcakes and you will be my new best friend! Yellow cake, chocolate icing!---

I figured it might be important to let Kaden in on my baking skills so if he is ever in need of getting out of the dog house with me, he will know exactly what to do. So we combined my love of cake with my love of Pinterest.

I ran across this really fun cake the other day…

and thought that it would be great to have a little Mommy and Kaden time in the kitchen. Plus Kaden has been working really hard on identifying all colors of the rainbow. Laugh, Learn and Eat. Perfect activity for a super hot day.

I was afraid that it would be a long drawn out process and that Kaden would be bored before we even started but it was easy and really didn't add any extra time. We made the cake as instructed on the box and then divided the cake mix into 5 different bowls-Red (Kaden's favorite color), Blue, Green, Purple, and Orange.

We decided to make cupcakes since they are a little more kid friendly. We started with the red and added a little to each foil tin. Once the red was gone and the batter had settled we moved onto the next color and so on and so forth. After the last drop of batter had been used we had some rainbow madness on our hands.

At this point, we were feeling pretty good about how things were turning out but they still had to face the oven. What would 350 degrees bring and would the batter stay puddled up or would it all melt together in one big hot mess?


and if they don't look as utter scrumptious to you as they do to me. Ask these little boys what they think about them. Pretty sure they both give them raving reviews with two thumbs up.

So there you have it. Fun filled Sunday with FUN, delicious, colorful cupcakes that we will certainly be baking again. Which might be sooner rather than later because I have had WAY too many already and come Wednesday I might need another fix!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Balls, Balls, and kind of Balls...

The boys have been into balls lately. Baseballs, kickballs, soccer balls. If it bounces then it is safe to assume that it will provide hours of entertainment and that my friends is a good thing considering the massive heat wave we have been experiencing. Wait. Thats a lie. I guess I can't really call it a wave since it has been so very CONSTANT. None-the-less, the boys are doing their best at trying to stay satisfied with being indoors.

Logan has been watching his big brother kick the soccer ball lately and he gives it the good old 14 month old try and once in awhile succeeds and makes contact but most of the time he would rather just sit on my lap and have Kaden roll him the ball as I guide his foot. He finds this amusing and frankly I find HIM amusing so we do it over and over and over again.

This is the infamous POWER kick. Watch out.

If the Royals are playing then you better believe that they are on TV at our house. Daddy doesn't miss too many of the games. So instead of throwing a fit and begging for a movie, we pull at the glove and ball and we play a little baseball in the house. And the kid has an arm-one heck of an arm. Not the little kid, the big kid. I often find myself requesting that he moves back a little or ducking as he throws it towards my face cause it has some heat and he has some control too. He might just be an athlete after-all and if he isn't, this will be one broken-hearted momma.

The boys have also been learning about the planets and the solar system at day care. Kaden has come home with a ton of art projects lately and I think it is just amazing what Ms. Brenda is able to get these kids to do. Today he came home with a 'Good Night Moon' drawing, yesterday they painted a full moon, half moon and crescent moon and by golly he can name each and every one of them. On Monday it was the solar system and Ms. Brenda even took the time to put a little fact on the back of each and every planet. Kaden knows that we live on Earth and that Earth moves around the Sun. I love that not only is he getting time to play with his friends during the day but that he is also learning and that she has a curriculum set up for each age group. 

I won't lie, I learned a few things reading the back of the planets as well! I might have to be that mother that says "give me 10 minutes to read the chapter and then I'll help you with your homework." Amazing how quickly some things just fly out the window when you don't really need them or maybe that is just with me and if so…how embarrassing!


And I have to share two reviews. One good review and one not so good review and hopefully these will help save time or money or maybe even both for someone. We will start with the not so good review first.

Freebird World Burrito. 
Lets just say it AIN'T no Chipotle. They recently opened one near work (Shawnee Mission Pkwy and Metcalf) and it has been packed each and every time we have went by. Finally yesterday the line wasn't out the door so a few co-workers and I decided we should give it a try. We walked through the door and there was SOOO much going on and the line, well it was pretty much at the door. As we made our way through line, which took forever, we passed by the drink station and we were able to get a drink as we stood in line. This was actually pretty sweet and later we were able to get a refill as we left so one point to the positive side. Unfortunately that was the only positive mark. The line, like I mentioned was forever long. There were WAY TOO many choices, who needs to choose between white meat and dark meat for chicken, just get WHITE. If you request too many things, then your sour cream is extra. Your guacamole could be too, I just didn't get any. The services wasn't all that great and it was super slow and disorganized. With all that being said, we still had high hopes for the food. We decided to take it back to the office (there wasn't a place to sit in the whole building) and critique it together. The consensus of the group was that it was NOT worth the wait. It was super salty and we will be heading back to Chipotle the next time we are craving a burrito bowl. I am sure there are people who love it but I don't. Guess it is kind of like Canon vs. Nikon, I am a Canon girl. Always will be. Guess I will always be a Chipotle girl too.

Munchkin Stroller Links
In planning for our family vacation to the beach Justin and I started thinking about strollers. We have a double stroller but airlines won't let you take something that large (weight must be under 40 pounds) and we really didn't want a double stroller with us at all times because Kaden might be happier walking. I took to the internet to see if there would be a way to turn our Chicco light weight umbrella strollers into a double stroller for use in the airport when we had luggage. I ran across a couple different options-a few that fit round posts and a couple that were universal. I went with the universal just to make sure. The best part was the cost, they were 13.99 on Amazon with two day free shipping. They arrived in the mail today and we decided to try them out tonight. They went on very easily and steering the two strollers as one was just as easy. I read in the reviews that you might have a few issues if you are trying to off-road with them but thats not part of our vacation plans so I think we will be in the clear.  If you are looking for a cheap way to make two strollers a double stroller or are wanting a side by side double, this is a great option. It might not be the best option for shopping but any side by side might be hard to fit through the isles. However, if you are out walking around at the lake, zoo or at an amusement park this might just be a great option.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Busy Weekend-Part Deux

So where were we? Oh yea, we were in the middle of a wedding shower for Miss Dawn. As soon as the wedding shower wrapped up we loaded the boys, a few photography props and our bags in the car and headed south on 71. The kids fell asleep before we hit Grandview and I wasn't far behind. Next thing I knew we were rolling through Nevada and Justin was ready to hand of the keys for me to finish the drive. 

We headed straight to my brother's so that we could introduce the boys to their newest cousin, Maddie. Kaden went straight to the baby swing to check out the new family member and he just looked at her in awe as she slept. It had been a few days since I had seen Maddie so of course I didn't waste any time scooping her up in my arms and the next thing you know Kaden is sitting down beside me. He wanted his turn but not before a trip to the bathroom. We made sure to wash our hands extra good and he ran back to the couch and took position. And just like with Baby Nathan, he was in his element. 

Logan wasn't really that interested but he did sit down with me for a few seconds while we snapped his picture. And then Uncle Justin got in on the fun too. I kind of laugh when I see this picture because Maddie probably looks more like our kid than Kaden and Logan do. She at least has dark hair like we do and well our boys certainly don't! I mean I know I did when I was little, I was a little toe head just like both the boys are. But I couldn't tell you when the last time I could actually claim being a natural blonde was?!?

And even though I could sit there for forever and a day holding that precious little girl, my ovaries weren't crying for another baby! I loved the idea of being able to shower her with gifts, hold her closely and then hand her back over to her mom and dad to take care of the sleepless nights. Just not ready for that again…yet. 

After we got our baby fix we drove back to my mom and dad's where we met up with my sister, Rob and Lauren, and my Grandpa Hartley for dinner. Dad had pulled together a feast, as usual. I filled my plate with fresh grown tomato after fresh grown tomato-most all of them being ends. I love the ends! 

As we were finishing up and as I was getting ready to head out for a photo shoot, the guest of honor arrived for her first trip out of the house. Miss Maddie came for a short visit and Grandpa Hartley was ready to hold her the second she came through the door. He even got to help feed her as her mommy and daddy filled their plates. Seeing my Grandpa Hartley holding a little baby never gets old...


That evening I had the privilege of shooting the kids of an old friend from high school. The oldest was turning 9 very soon and the youngest will be turning 2 in a few short months. These kids were so well behaved. I hadn't really ever shot in Carthage before so we were in a trial in error mode and fortunately for us, it all worked out. We found a jackpot of a location just off of the square, old painted buildings with vines, stairs and pallets. I wish I had that location up here in KC, I would totally be using it all the time! 

After returning from the shoot, I started editing for a few sneak peeks and then we all hit the sack because it was up bright and early for another shoot but this one would take some time. While Kaden went to church with Papa Tom and Grandma Sara, Logan stayed back with Daddy, I ran over to my brothers and started setting up a few props for Maddie's newborn shoot. We got started a little after 9 and finished a little after 11. Maddie slept for most of the shoot and was a perfect angel the entire time but just after 11 we were all pretty tired and we decided it was a wrap. I hated saying goodbye but I just had to. We had to get back to Kansas City and get the boys all ready for the upcoming week and I had to get a bag packed for a trip to Atlanta for work. 

The weekend was constant go, go, go but I wouldn't change it. I got to see most of my family, I got to see an old friend and capture her precious kiddos and I got take pictures of my new niece, the most darling little girl that I have laid eyes on. My most favorite part of the weekend, watching my brother, Zack and his wife, Lindsey transition to parenthood. They were amazing and did everything with ease. They weren't wound tight or overly protective, they were just naturals at it and seeing my little brother hold his little girl was kind of emotional for me. He was really a DAD and a great DAD at that. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Whew, What A BUSY Weekend.

Can life just slow down for one second? Its kind of hard to be able to enjoy all the great things going on in our lives right now because there is SOOOO much of it and so little time for each one. I know, tough problem to have right? At least I can put it all down on "paper" and relive it any time I want. So here goes.

The weekend started off with a wedding shower at our house. A wedding shower that 18 hours earlier I wasn't sure was going to be taking place at our house. Justin came home on Friday to no power. NO POWER. Are you kidding me? In less than 18 hours our house was to be filled with 20 women, a blissful bride-to-be and lots of gifts to be unwrapped. I really wasn't looking forward to making that call to the bride. Luckily the power kicked back on 2 extremely long hours later. We were back in business.

We all know how much I love to plan a party and believe it or not, I didn't plan one ounce of this one. I am on the Bachelorette Party Planning Committee (yes we have committees) so I got to sit back and watch others take control and after having done so, there might not be any other way to go. I opened up my doors to the Wedding Shower Planners and in a matter of 30 minutes they had decorations set up, food out and drinks were being served. They brought everything in and a few hours later they took everything back out with them. What an amazing group of girls.

And even more amazing is the lady we gathered around to celebrate with-the bride, Dawn. There might not be a person who has a bigger heart and thinks more about others than Dawn. She is always the first to offer help if something is going on in your life whether your grandfather passed away or you are just down and out with a nasty cold, the first to reach out and say happy birthday and you can always count on her for a Happy Mother's Day/Memorial Day/Fourth of July text-she makes you feel special. She stood by me on my wedding day and I am so honored that I will be standing by her on her wedding day. She is the definition of a true friend and it makes complete sense as to why her wedding party is so big--once you're a friend, you're a friend of hers for life.

What a perfect way to kick off the wedding festivities.

Mimosas-I had a few but at least I wasn't driving.

Things Remembered can engrave a wine bottle-how cool is that! 

Dawn and her Mommy.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Odds and Ends

A New Addition to the Master.
Piece by piece. Room by Room. We are starting to pull the house together. Logan's room is pretty much complete and so is their bathroom. Kaden's room is just missing some wall decor. Then there is our room. Pretty much a blank canvas and frankly a little on the sad side but things are starting to look better. We hung the tv on the wall which will be framed out soon. I "antiqued" an old dresser to add a punch of color to the room and to tie into our "grown-up" bedding. And we finally added a headboard. I did a lot of searching for the perfect headboard and was willing to spend a good chunk of change but in the end I found a bargain at NFM for half the price at other retailers.

Its amazing what a headboard can do to a room. Now we just need to figure out some wall decor, some night stands and possibly a little settee. Still a long way to go but getting there.


I {HEART} Summer--but not for the reason you think. I {HEART} summer for the fresh home grown TOMATOES. Not only did I get to meet my new niece on Tuesday but I was also sent home with a small flat of tomatoes from Grandpa Hartley's garden. As soon as I got home I cut two up, one for a sandwich and one just to eat. Delicious. And lucky for me, Logan doesn't like them…

But they both love some Brakers' Sweetcorn and watermelon. Both of which have become staples at dinner. 


Lets talk crazy eyes. Most every picture that I put on this blog is UNedited. The only edited ones in fact were just posted yesterday of my niece. As I was downloading pictures from my camera a few pictures of Logan caught my eye. He looks totally possessed. And while one might think I edited the pictures to make his eyes pop like they do, one would be wrong. Straight Out Of Camera or SOOC for those photography lovers…

So that's it. I am twiddling my thumbs until I can get my hands on my niece again come Saturday but first, we have a big BRIDAL shower for one of my great friends Miss Dawn. Can't wait to see what the party planners have pulled together for her. Lots of fun still to come...

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Meet the NEWEST Hartley

Madison Eve Hartley
7 pounds 4 1/2 ounces
20 1/2 inches long

Ten Fingers. Ten Toes.

As I drove to the hospital to meet my new niece I had tears in my eyes-happy tears. My little brother was becoming a daddy. He would get to experience a love like no other and I couldn't be more excited or thrilled for him and Lindsey. They were becoming their very own little family of three. 

As I arrived at the hospital I found my father pacing, my mom sitting against the wall with her head in her hands, Lindsey's mom texting Lindsey's dad the play by play and her BFF, Jennifer, trying to peek through the doors. They were pushing and we all were very eager to know what was going on. After about an hour I decided enough was enough and snuck back by the door to take a quick listen. At that moment I heard one of the best sounds in the world-a baby's cry. My heart stood still and my eyes filled with water-she was here. 

It took what seemed to be forever until we were able to get back there and get our hands on her. We were told 2 or 3 at a time and as badly as I wanted to rush through those doors I knew there were 3 grandparents that had been there most of the day and needed to see their granddaughter more than I. So I waited, another 10 minutes and then it was time. I walked through the door and there she was, in my brothers arms. He stood up and handed her to me and said, "Madison, meet your Aunt Kayla." Hello Beautiful.

She stole my heart along with everyone else's. She was so alert and just looked up at me. I could have held her forever but that wouldn't have been fair so I handed her back off to Grandma Sara before we were all booted out of the room from the new Daddy. He was already becoming protective of his little girl…

We decided to go and grab the new mom and dad some food on our way back I got the best treat of all.  I got to be there for her first bath and watch the first pink bow placed on her tiny little head. And as an added bonus, my best friend's sister just happened to be the nurse on duty so I knew Madison would be in the best of hands. 

After her bath and after getting the new parents to their room we said our good-byes until morning. And this morning I spent most of the morning holding my precious niece. When I wasn't holding her, I was snapping a few pictures to document these first few hours of her life. A little before noon I said my final goodbye and headed back to KC for a few conference calls I need to be on. It was hard to say goodbye but I'll be back soon-Saturday soon. And with the kids. Its time Kaden and Logan to meet their newest cousin. 

Welcome to the world Madison Eve. You are so very LOVED!!