Saturday, August 31, 2013


I don't even know where to begin. I have sat here for a few minutes now & just can't find the words to describe how I am feeling about my oldest turning four. Sure, I know its only four but its FOUR, as in, not three anymore. As in, one away from five & only two away from six which means KINDERGARTEN. The last four years have just flown by--since bring Kaden home a lot has happened. We remodeled a house. Gave him a brother. Sold the remolded home & bought our new home. We went on a number of trips that have taken us to 8 states & one beautiful island. He went from being the baby at Ms. Brenda's to being the big kid on the block. From sitting back and learning by examples that were set for him to being that example.

He has gone from an 8 pound 2 ounce, 19 3/4 inches long baby with a full head of black hair to a 40 pound little man who is 43 inches tall with blonde hair & blue eyes--which were there in the beginning & one trait that I can say he got from me.

Kaden keeps life interesting. We lovingly refer to him as our "Light Switch" because he can flip his moods off & on as quickly as you can turn the lights off & on. & if he is off, beware--he is something else but when he is ON, you manage to forget all the bad & you just want to soak up all his love, happiness & positive energy.

In the last year he has grown leaps and bounds in so many different ways. He has gotten a little braver when it comes to the loud noises & really has no fear when it comes to swimming and jumping. He is able to count to 100, spell & write his first and last name, & write his numbers to 15---all of these can be contributed to our wonderful day care provider, Ms. Brenda. 

He has always been the BEST big brother to Logan but in the last few months they have really become BEST FRIENDS. He doesn't like it when someone picks on Logan. He doesn't like it when Logan gets upset & he is easily the first one to tell him that everything is going to be okay, Logie. He loves helping his little brother out in whatever way he can--from finding the right shoes to helping climb a gym that he just can't quite make it through on his own. 

& the kid, well he says & does the darndest things now & most of which I have no idea where he gets it from. He told me the other day that a certain game was "tricky" & while we were at the lake this past week he pulled out the old cock your head side to side and crack your fingers jig before jumping into the lake. He does this just about every time he feels he is about to do something BIG. Cracks us up. 

Even though our first born is another year older he still hasn't lost any of his charming personality, it has only gotten bigger and better. He still manages to be one of the politest kids that I know (as long as he isn't switched off) & has the uncanny ability to catch on quickly when something is wrong with someone. He is a true sweetheart & has made these past 4 years the best 4 years of our lives. I couldn't be more proud & honored to be his mother and I don't let a day go by without him knowing just how much he is loved by us. & not just through words but by holding him, tickling him & stealing lots & lots of kisses.

Happy Birthday our sweet FOUR year old. Thank you for teaching me how to really LOVE & how to not take life so seriously. Thank you for adding a ray of sunshine to each and every day. We love you-to the moon & back. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Best. Case. Scenario.

Is a phrase we have repeated a lot this week. & lucky for us because with Light Switch Kaden, you aren't always sure what you are going to get.

Most people know that Justin's family has a lake house at the Ozarks. His grandpa built it when his mom was little & ever since he was a baby he has been spending summers at the lake. Sadly, we haven't been down for almost two years--Logan was just a few weeks old & it was 4th of July weekend the last time we visited. I'm not sure why we didn't go last year, maybe it had to do with having two little ones under 3 and being near a VERY large body of water--& yes, the beach is different, you can gradually make your way in the ocean, not the case at the lake.

Anyways, we decided that it was time to really introduce the boys to what the lake is all about so we planned a staycation. I mean it isn't St. Maarten (we spent this same week last year there) BUT it was A LOT closer & we had no issues with planes. Plus we knew school would be back in & it would be like having the entire lake to ourselves. & it has been.

But back to the phrase of the week. Best. Case. Scenario.

We arrived Sunday evening so that we could wake up on Monday and head out to the water. The boys were eager to see what it was all about. Justin & I pretty much thought that one of us would be in the water and the other on the deck waiting to either lower or raise each boy in or out of the water. You see, there is about a 2 foot difference between the dock and the water & even though Kaden loves jumping in the pool--we were pretty sure he wouldn't even TRY jumping in the dirty-can't-see-the-bottom-lake water. It wasn't 5 minutes into our first trip to the water & he was standing on the edge looking over his toes at the water.

He looked back at me & then at the water again.

& then with a little curiosity in his voice he asked "Can I jump?" & then repeated himself with more assurance in his voice like he was saying I've got this. No big deal. 

& then he jumped-feet first, hands in the air with a little CANON BALLLLLLLL.

He spent the next 40 minutes or so climbing up the ladder, running the length of the deck and jumping in without a second thought. Like I said-Best. Case. Scenario.

Not only were Justin & I super proud of our only-going-to-be-three-for-three-more-days (tear) biggest lil' dude but he was pretty proud of himself.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Changing it up…a little.

In years past we have always done some sort of donation for the boys' birthdays. We just noted on the invitations that instead of gifts we would be donating x to Operation Breakthrough & if they would like to join us they too could bring x instead of a gift.

I for one loved the idea of picking a charity close to our heart and helping out in whichever way we could. For each of their first birthdays we did diapers. For each of their second birthdays we did books. For Kaden's third birthday (and probably Logan's too) we did toothbrushes and toothpaste. Each time our friends and family gave graciously & together we donated well over 200 books, 2500 diapers & 100 toothbrushes and toothpaste. Remarkable. But again, made possible by our wonderful family & friends.

Justin and I felt as though it was important to teach our boys the act of giving & that giving can be more fulfilling & heartwarming than anything we may receive. We wanted, well want, them to know that there are boys and girls that don't have books to read at night or a toothbrush to use at bedtime. & since Justin and I are fortunate to give our boys everything they need & more, we felt collecting donations at birthday parties in lieu of gifts was a win, win. Once they got a little older they would get to take those donations with me to drop off & meet some of the children they were helping out.

I won't lie, this year I struggled with what to do--do we continue with this tradition that we have started or do we leave off the donation wording & if gifts are brought then we let him open those gifts. I, well we, went back and forth on what to do but in the end we felt that as parents it was our job to not only raise children who appreciate what they have but also children who can receive graciously. So for birthday number 4 we changed the rules, a little…

We didn't put the donation wording on the invitation. We didn't contact Operation Breakthrough to see what they needed. We watched as present after present was escorted into the house. The week leading up to the birthday party Kaden & I had numerous conversations around presents--the ones which his friends might bring over. We talked about how we needed to open each card before opening the presents. We talked about how he needed to say thank you to each person, not just a quick thank you shout out, but a "Thanks Grandma Sara" or "Thanks Jake & Hannah". He nodded & agreed but I was still crossing my fingers that he REALLY got it.

When present time came I was nervous. As I brought down the gifts and sat them down the kids started talking about how it was time to open presents & I could hear Kaden saying, "those aren't yours, these are my presents, its my birthday." & yes, technically he was right but he was sounding a little bossy too. For the most part he did great. He opened the gifts one by one & thanked each person. There were a couple times I needed to remind him with a "what do you say?" & he would instantly chime right in with a big grin. He might not have been the most gracious gift receiver known to man but he did a pretty darn good job for his first REAL go at it.

It was nice seeing him get to enjoy one of the many joys of being the birthday boy...but we still want him to grow up knowing how great giving feels & what a difference it can make to the person on the other end. On Saturday we are taking him to the toy store--he never has really been-- and we are picking out a few toys for boys that are his age & on Monday we will take them to Operation Breakthrough. & since these donations won't be as impactful to Operation Breakthrough, I am going to steal an idea that my SIL pinned on Pinterest. When the Elf arrives on Thanksgiving, he will be bringing two empty boxes with a note telling the boys they need to fill their box with a few of their toys to donate to those same boys and girls we see on Monday.

So there you have it, why there were gifts at Kaden's party this past weekend. It's hard knowing what lessons to teach & when to teach them to your boys. It's hard trying to make sure they grow up well rounded men but hopefully we are on the right track or at least not headed for the dead end.


Kaden is just a few days away from turning FOUR and this past weekend we celebrated in totally turtle fashion--Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fashion that is & it might have enjoyed this theme a little more than I should have...

You see, I have a brother who is just 16 months younger than I am & TMNTs played a very large part in his life & by sheer proximity, mine too. He wasn't really ever into playing Barbie with me so I had to play turtles with him. I knew the entire theme song, seen every movie--Secret of the Ooze (movie #2) is by far the best one-hands down! We had every action figure, the turtle van, masks, the whole works. My aunt and uncle even took us to see the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles live in concert & while at Universal Studios, we got our picture taken with none other than Michelangelo himself. We had turtle fever.

& a few months ago when we were scanning tv channels & we ran across TMNT it was like I had it all over again. I thought to myself, "this would make an awesome birthday party" but would Kaden even like them? Would it be the same for him as it was for my brother? It only took about two episodes and the kid was hooked. When his TV time rolled around he would ask for the Turtles & I happily obliged.

When it came time to plan his party I threw a few ideas out at him, I mean, after all it is HIS party. I threw out Superheroes, Pirates, Red Ball, & a trip to the farm or zoo but as soon as I said Turtles, it was over--we could stop right then and there, we had our theme. I once again told myself that I wasn't going to go overboard, that it really didn't matter as long as there was food and the kids had a good time. I pretty much waited until the night before to even start pulling anything together & in the end, I still probably did too much but Kaden was grinning ear to ear (except for the bloody nose part) and that was all that mattered.

A big shout out to Shanna Harris and MoMo Roo for the amazing TMNT cake pops & the "smash" cake for Kaden. As always it was the icing on the cake for the party & everyone RAVED about them! Also a special thanks to Marlis with Marlis Curly Q Bowtique on ETSY for the adorable TMNT masks & Kaden's turtle shell. She seriously makes some cute capes & costumes-check her out too, but only after checking Shanna at MoMo Roo out first!

& keeping in turtle fashion we munched on pizza, which we all know is a turtle fave & then a little dirt with worms also a turtle fave (in the new version of TMNT). & no turtle party would be complete without a little green ooze!

By the end of the night we had two very tired little boys & one very messy toy room which only meant that the party was a hit. Thank you to everyone who came out to celebrate with us this year. It's hard to believe our biggest lil' man will be turning 4 in just a few short days but each and every year gets better and better. I sure hope that doesn't change.

Now for the photo dump! Enjoy!!

I mean seriously, how cute are these?!?!? & they are just as delicious in case you were wondering! 

& in case you were wondering, we changed things up this year on the the present front. I'll explain in the next post...

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Little Miss Turns One

Last month we celebrated another FIRST birthday in our family--Miss Madison Eve. Its hard to believe that she isn't a baby anymore. I mean, she is still OUR baby--well not really my baby but you get the picture.

It was only a short 365 days before that we got to meet her & I whispered hello to her for the very first time…

but here we were surrounded by family & friends & lots of bright colors as we sung her Happy Birthday! Kaden & Logan stood close by & belted it out as loudly as they could. They were pretty proud & wanted to steal the show.

We don't get to see Miss Madison as often as we would like but I am pretty sure she knows who her aunt is. The crazy lady with the camera in her hand. The one that is always conspiring with her mom on what our next shoot is going to look like, where we are going to do it, or throwing something together last minute. The one who makes monkey noises, shakes weird toys above her head or plays peek-a-boo just to get a little smile…

& even with all that, you still can't get a full smile out of her. She just likes to sit back & take everything in--keeping her eye on everything that is going on. Sure, she'll sit on your lap (as long as you have food) but if someone where to get up and leave, she is watching & she keeps watching until they come back. She is quiet---or maybe she just seems so quiet because my boys are soooo loud & she isn't quite sure what to make of all the commotion they bring to Grandma Sara & Papa Tom's house. She gives the best hugs & has the cutest little wave I have seen.

I have loved being able to watch her grow over this past year and can't wait until she is a little older and is able to come & stay weekends in KC with her Aunt Kayla. I can't wait until I can take her to get pedicures or take her shopping for some fun girly clothes---girls clothes are just so much more fun to buy! I can't wait to watch her grow into a young woman but not too fast.

Happy Birthday Miss Madison Eve, we LOVE you so very much & remember, if your mom & dad say NO, come and ask us!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

We Took It Down.

Last night we broke the crib down & we are shipping it off to a dear cousin for her to use. I was dreading this moment. Honestly, I thought I would cry as I removed the bumper. The mattress. All his toys & the screws. But I didn't.

I thought it would weigh a hundred pounds as I moved it out of Logie's room into the spare bedroom where it will sit until my parents come to get it. But it didn't.

This is the crib that both my boys used for the first 2 or so years of their lives. It was the last thing to be broken down at the old house and the first thing to be put together when we moved into this house. Its where I go, well went, most mornings to a find a little boy sitting there looking at me with his arms reaching up asking "out?", "downstairs?".

Its hard to believe that this crib may never be put back together and used in this house again. Part of me is heartbroken at the thought of that but the other half of me feels somewhat lighter. We have been having the conversation about having another baby or at least not closing the door on having another but we just go in circles with it. We actually started making a pro & con list--& yes, I know how horrible that sounds but we did, not on paper but in our heads. I won't go through all the pros & cons but I will say, we decided to at least have this conversation again about this time next year…

But lets go back to the bed situation, we can't vary well take away Logie's crib & not give him something else-enter Craigslist, a can of green paint & some elbow grease. I knew I wanted a Jenny Lind bed but was not about to pay the Land of Nod price tag to get one & luckily I found a pair of twin  beds online for CHEAP. The big, master plan is to have two twin beds in his room so that the boys can have sleep overs but until I can get another bed painted, we went with just one. Don't kid yourself, I bought two of all the bedding just in case I don't get around to it for a few months, certainly didn't want the cute whale sheets going out of stock. Oh and his real sheets, well they are some what on back order and will be here in just a few weeks.

Apologies for the iPhone pictures---figured I would wait until I get the room more pulled together for real photos.

It took us three attempts to get it to this point. The first time we thought we might make the move was a few weeks ago. I went up to his room, pulled the rails out, put the rails in place and then pulled over the mattress that we had in the spare bedroom. And when I went to put it in place it fell straight to the floor. The mattress was slightly thinner than the rails. UGH. On the positive side, I was smart enough to test the bed out before taking the crib down. 

The second attempt came a few days ago when Justin picked up another set of box springs and a mattress from NFM. I was sure that all we needed was a box spring below the mattress. WRONG. When we went to put the box spring on, it too, fell straight to the floor. & this time around since I was so sure all we needed was a box spring, I decided to take the crib down. Double UGH. 

So it would just sit there on the floor. I removed one of the rails so that it wouldn't hurt anyone & proceeded to make his bed. 

The final attempt came tonight. After realizing the box springs weren't going to cut it, I texted my brother-in-law and asked if he could cut us some slats. & today when we arrived home there were 6 perfect slats sitting on our porch. The boys and I went upstairs, pulled the bed apart and crossed our fingers as we put the slats in place. They fit. & back to work we went on making the bed again. Thanks Adam, you saved the day! 

Logie thought he was sleeping in his big boy bed the last few nights but his eyes lit up when he saw that his new bed was BIG. Sadly, he didn't even want to rock tonight, he just wanted to climb in his bed, all by himself. 

"I do it."

Lots more still to be done with his room but we are off to a great start. I'm thinking he needs an "L" wall.  Wonder how many cute L's I can find...

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Birthdays, Births & More

There has been a lot of celebrating over the last few months, most of which went undocumented. That is until now...

Since Logan's birthday we have celebrated birthdays for four of our god children, a thirtyith birthday for my little brother, welcomed a new baby into our circle & a special someone turned one--all before July 15th. Lots to be thankful for!

So lets do a little recap and up first is Cousin Colton who turned the big four! Cousin Colton got to have his birthday party on his actual birthday. How cool is that? Last year it was a Superhero theme and this year he just wanted to focus on Batman. His mom made a really cool cupcake stand that looked like Gothem City---could totally sell these for a living, it was amazing. The kids ran around outside kicking balls, playing in the sand and on the swing set. But the moment the words presents and cupcakes were announced they all dropped what they were doing and made a beeline for the door. Unfortunately, we had a few mishaps with the cupcakes and both boys went into total breakdown mode, party was over for us.

A few days later we wished Mr. Julian a very happy FIRST birthday for afar. I hate that this little nugget and his sister are so far away. I wish I could see them everyday but even though we don't, that doesn't change how much we love them! Can't wait to get my hands on those chubby cheeks again!

And a few days after that, we celebrated Mr Nathan turning the BIG ONE. Mr. Nathan was having a Dr. Suess birthday and boy was it cute. Bright blue and red were everywhere. He was dressed in his birthday best with a top hat to finish off the look.

We were treated with delicious pulled pork smoked by none other than the birthday boy's daddy himself. The kids ran and played and jumped and blew bubbles till the little hearts were content. The only tears we got this time around were years when we said it was time to head home. Kaden was having way too much fun and honestly so were we, such a relaxing evening with some of our most favorite people in the world. Happy Birthday Nathan, watching you grow this last year has been amazing and I can't wait until you are chasing and following the big boys around. Life is going to be pretty interesting when it comes to watching the three amigos but I couldn't be more excited to see it all unfold.

And on the very last day of the month we celebrated my LITTLE brother's BIG 30th birthday before we headed off on our family vacation. & you know what, this birthday might have been the hardest of them all because by him turning 30 it reminded me yet again that I was his OLDER sister. I often have a hard time picturing him being anything than a twenty-something year old living at my mom & dads! But there he was, turning 30 with a family all his own.

& while we were away on vacation, Mr. Julian's Big sister & equally as cute sister, Gisele turned THREE. I swear it was like yesterday I was holding her in my arms for the very first time--these kids are GROWING up WAY too quickly!!! Can I please push PAUSE?

Now for the births, well BIRTH. Our dear friends Tiffany & Jason welcomed their new baby girl on July 8th. Miss Lilly Claire made her debut to the world and what an exciting debut it was!

She is absolutely perfect & I got to be the lucky one who captured her at one day old and again at 5 days old. I mean, stunning, right!?!?

and check out just how proud her BIG sister is! We have stayed friends with a number of people from college & I am just so grateful that we live so close to such great friends and that we all have kids that are going to grow up with one another. I didn't get it when I was younger, my parents had the same thing with the same group of people but now, that we have kids, I get it. I REALLY get it. We are a support team for one another. We are there to share our stories of success and failure as parents or in life  in general. Justin, the boys, & I have been blessed with such great friends that we can honestly call family.

& only a few days later the boys & I loaded up for a weekend at my Grandma Sara's and Papa Tom's (more about that later) to celebrate a special little lady turning 1. Talk about time flying, I can't believe my little niece is ONE. She is a walking, babbling toddler that loves to just sit back and take EVERYTHING in. Oh she'll smile, just not when you want her too!! Being a mom is pretty darn special, my most favorite job in the world but being an aunt, well that ranks pretty high on my list too. I love being able to spoil my nieces and nephews--theres just something different about it. I may not want my kid to have cookies, ice cream, or toys galore but I sure don't mind using those things to get my sweet niece in my arms!

And these birthdays & this one birth all took place in a matter of 2 months. & since the middle of July, well, we have celebrated a few more birthdays and prepping for our very own Kaden's 4th Birthday--turtle style. Sure to be turtly awesome & I can't wait to share all those details...