Thursday, February 27, 2014

one VERY PROUD sister

Tomorrow is the end of an era--my little brother is hanging up his policeman hat after 6+ years of being on the force.

And I couldn't be more proud of him & what he has sacrificed over the last six years. My brother is what you would call a GOOD guy. & he truly wanted to make the world, well his jurisdiction, a better place. He went to work each day thinking about how he could make it better but just like with any job, politics can get in the way. But he still tried to keep his head held high & to serve his community the best he could.

For 6+ years he got up in the middle of the night or went to work in the evening when we were all getting off work, put on his vest & strapped on his weapon & patrolled his community. He often worked late due to a call coming in just as he was about to head home to his wife and baby girl & without hesitation he would respond--to a theft, domestic abuse or heaven forbid something even worse. Countless times he would miss dinner. He would miss birthdays. He cut vacations short or didn't even go on vacations because his job was serving & protecting and he valued his job. He valued helping people.

& as I sit here and think about the comments I have seen on Facebook about officers, in general, & how horrible they are, it makes me sad. It makes me really sad. These people put their life on the line. Everyday. & for who? US! They patrol the school yards & protect our kids. They put criminals & drug dealers behind bars so that our families and kids can play outside & feel safe in their own homes. They deliver babies stranded in traffic in ice storms. They save lives.

& they give us speeding tickets. Hell, I've gotten two in the last year & you know what, I WAS speeding. I was breaking the law and as badly as I wanted to try & pull some fast one on the officer, I thought of my brother. This officer was just doing his job, just like my brother would have been. So I took the speeding ticket and I thanked him. I thanked him for doing his job & he looked at me & said that he didn't get that very often & smiled & tipped his hat. & you know, that's a shame. I wish he heard it more. I wish she heard it more.

Yes, there may be a few rotten apples in the police departments but for the most part they're all trying to do their best to make our streets safer & for that I will be forever grateful. It takes a very special kind of person that can put their lives on the line daily & take the amount of ridicule from the drunks, druggies, criminals or the random person just having a bad day AND still get up the next day and do it over again. And again. And again.

I couldn't be more proud of my brother than I am right now. He made a difference each and every day he was in uniform---I can't say the same about me. Can you? So if you see my brother around town tomorrow, give a good farewell wave. & the next time you see an officer, thank them. Even if they are giving you a ticket, because let's be honest, you were breaking the law. & remember just how much they are putting on the line every day--they are someone's husband. They're some little girl's daddy. A father and mother's son. A little brother. And an uncle.

So why the switch. Family. That's why. & we are so excited that Uncle Zack, Aunt Lindsey and Cousin Maddie will be able to come to KC any weekend they want this summer, maybe even the Lake.

Love you little brother and Justin, Kaden, Logan and I couldn't be prouder of you. You are a true hero.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Going Home.

This past weekend the boys and I loaded up & headed back to Grandma Sara's & Papa Tom's. We had a pretty important reason to be in town but I won't be discussing why…

BUT, I will talk about our Saturday and how amazing the weather was when we arrived. When we left KC on Saturday around noon it was about 60 out but when we pulled into my parent's drive two hours later, it was a breezy 70---fresh air never felt or smelled so good. I have had some of the worst seasonal depression as of late, so much so that I was fully prepared to pull the trigger on a last minute Disney Cruise for the family but my logical and much smarter husband said we should wait, we have enough on the calendar this year. He was right but guess who has the trip almost planned for next year--this girl!

As soon as we pulled up the boys were begging to get out of the car & I barely got it stopped before Kaden was opening the door (just a figure of speech--he isn't allowed to unbuckle until the car is off). My dad was working in the garage & my mom in the yard. They both dropped what they were doing and made their way to the Yukon. Each boy had already decided that they didn't want me to help them out, they wanted Papa and Grandma. Once the boys were in their arms Papa and Grandma told them they had a little surprise for them. 

GLOVES. Little did they know the boys are OBSESSED with gloves. They had hit the jackpot & these little boys didn't taken them off all weekend, Logan even napped in them. & Kaden took them to show & tell on Tuesday at pre-school.

& the next few hours the boys were put to work but to them it wasn't work at all, it was fun. They helped Papa Tom split wood--well Papa Tom split the wood, Kaden and Logan loaded it. 

& of course Kaden had to help Papa move the wood up to the house so that Grandma didn't have to walk out in the cold to get some wood for the fire. What a great helper he was. 

and he even became a waiter for Papa Tom. & yes, I know he is carrying a beer but he was excited that Papa Tom asked him to go and get something & I can't say no to Papa Tom. However, I can assure you that this will only happen at Papa Tom's house, he will not become the beer fetcher at the South house!

It wasn't long after the boys had finished with their chores that my sister arrived with my niece and nephews & Brendan, Kaden and Logan are both smitten with Brett's girlfriend. They are hoping that she gets to come to KC for Logan's birthday in May & even said that if they ever had a baby sister they wanted to name her Brendan. Don't hold your breath boys. 

They barely made it into the house and we were loading up and heading to see Papa Richard. Papa Richard had one of his hips replaced the week before and we wanted to bring a few smiles to his face. He was surprised to see my boys so quiet & frankly so was I and then I noticed who they were by, Brendan. They were just standing on the wall next to her, asking her questions on how to play the game on her phone. 

We finally made it back to Grandma and Papa's house with pizza in hand--anyone had Casey's pizza? Delicious. After we got finished eating it was time for a new Hartley Challenge--wood splitting. Papa Tom made this task look pretty easy but I can now say, it ISN'T. I missed my mark the first 3 swings and even when I finally hit my mark, the wood didn't split. But you know, I am perfectly fine not being able to do this task because I won't be asked to do it in the future! 

Before the Siebert crew left for the evening we had one last celebrations--Blakers turning 10. I can't believe he is 10 already. It seems like just yesterday we were all waking up in the middle of the night and making our way over to the hospital to meet him for the first time. It seems like just yesterday that we were having a Spiderman birthday and he unwrapped a box full of bubble gum & a new video game for his Wii. & it seems like yesterday that when I visited he would crawl up on my lap and want to snuggle with his aunt. Now he just wants to try and prove he can beat me in wrestling. Little did he know that his aunt had a few never-before-seen wrestling moves & he didn't stand a chance. After three failed attempts he still thought he could take me, so I accepted his challenge one last time & said that I would take him down in 10 seconds and when I did, he would have to announce proudly to his whole family how awesomely strong his aunt is. It took me 2 seconds and he was down on the ground, he just laughed in amazement and proceeded to tell us all how embarrassing that was & that he needed another shot! There will come a time that I will no longer accept his wrestling challenges but I think I still have a couple more years before I have to worry about that. Happy Birthday Blakers.

Weekends at home are just the best, especially when the things you were so worried about go so smoothly. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Girls Weekend--Chicago

When Justin turned 30 he spent his birthday weekend at the Final Four in Houston with a couple friends. When I turned 30, my friends were all pregnant so Justin and I had a night out at the Plaza & then took off the next morning and headed to Columbia for a basketball game. & don't ask me what I did last year, I have no clue…

But this year, this year was going to be different. In October one of my bestest girlfriends had a pretty big birthday, she turned 40 & you can't just give a girl some smell good lotion or a day at the spa for that sort of birthday so I thought, why not give her a girls trip. I'd take her to Chicago---well, Southwest would take us to Chicago on points---we get a hotel & we would shop on that Magnificent Mile. We started looking for dates & then JT, aka Justin Timberlake was headed to Chicago & it was the weekend after my birthday so of course we knew it was meant to be. (This was all done before Justin added two dates to KC).

We had decided that the only thing that we would plan beforehand was the concert, everything else we would do on the fly.

We arrived just after 11 & decided our first adventure would be taking the train into the city…

I had never taken the train but we knew we could save at least $50 by going with the $3 train ticket & that just meant either more drinks or more clothes and we were totally cool with that!  & you know, the train was super easy, it had us downtown within 20 minutes and all we had to do was walk 1/2 mile or so, and we were at our hotel. & the walk allowed us to size up what stores we wanted to hit the following day!

Once we arrived at the hotel we checked in, actually, we tried to check in---our room wasn't ready yet. But we were early so they took my number and said they would call as soon as they had our room clean. Great, we were hungry so we stored our luggage and headed off to lunch. We went a couple blocks down to the one and only TGI Fridays. Yes, we were stepping out of our comfort zone---but really, I knew they had Redbull, mozzarella sticks & mashed potatoes. So we went--Jennifer was a good sport. 

After we had lunch we headed back to the hotel & checked the status of our room, it wasn't ready. They had 30 minutes left. That came and went. We checked the status once again and now they no longer had a room, it needed maintenance. They had no other "Executive Suites" available, the other two were occupied, so now what? We all know I am not a stranger to traveling and I understand that these things happen but I also know there are extra rooms which they always keep available for issues such as ours. At first they offered us a standard room, double beds but no comps. I said no, that wouldn't be happening. They then offered us a Superior Suite which had one king bed and one pull out sofa. I laughed & said that we weren't sleeping on a pullout sofa. What else ya got? We finally settled with a standard room and a lower rate, plus a couple free drinks to a bar that NEVER opened. At the end of the day, we had a room and we had plenty of time to make it to our massage Jennifer had scheduled for us. 

& just as we closed the door to our room there was a knock. The concierge had a delivery for us. As I opened the card & read what it had to say, I noticed that whatever it was from Jake & I let Jennifer take it from there. He had sent us a very beautiful bouquet of tulips and roses & certainly made up for the issues we had as we were checking in. 

The massages were amazing. I say it each time I get a massage & I am not sure why I don't follow through but I think massages should be mandatory on a monthly basis. For 60 minutes I was completely, 100% relaxed without any worries in the world--and those knots in my shoulders, well they got worked the HECK out.

After our massage we headed out to dinner. We figured we were early enough & we could try and get a table at Giordano's pizza but when we arrived, the line was OUT the door. It would be an hour and a half wait and then an hour for our pizza to be fixed. Wasn't really craving pizza all that bad anyways so we hopped across the street. We had good food and drinks in a matter of minutes--much more our style.

Finally we made it back to the hotel where we decided to rent a movie. Now it must be known that I was traveling with a movie buff. Jennifer has made it through most of the Oscar nominated films already & has seen a number of other movies too--so our options were slim. We went ahead and went with Best Man's Holiday--who wouldn't want to look at a shirtless Taye Diggs hanging out with his shirtless friends! The movie made for great eye candy and it wasn't just funny, it pulled at your heartstrings. We were both grabbing for Kleenexes.

Sunday was JT day & we were both on the hunt for something new to wear to the concert so we hit Michigan Avenue and went down one side & up the other. It was cold, after all it was Chicago & it is February but luckily our hotel was perfectly located and we could stop in, drop off a few bags, warm up and head on out. & since we didn't get to have pizza the evening before we thought we would give it a try during lunch time. This time we went to Gino's East. We had tried eating here in 2010 for Tiffany & Jason's 30th birthday but again, the line was crazy long but not this time. We got in without a wait. The atmosphere was great. The service was great. The pizza was pretty good & it gave us the extra energy we need to continue shopping.

In the past I would always visit H&M for the boys' clothes, I loved how no one else would have them because there wasn't one around. Well now there is & although I still buy a lot of their clothes there I still love it when I find a store that is my style & isn't in KC---Zara. I could have purchased a lot more than what I did but I was traveling with a carryon and was hoping I could fit everything I purchased in the bag for the trip home…

& we hit up Gap, where both Jennifer and I fell in love with their athletic wear--check it out. & we may or may not have bought just as much stuff for the boys at Gap as we did for ourselves. So far we weren't treating ourselves but that all finally changed. We decided to pop into Express, I haven't shopped here in years but it was 40% off the entire store, maybe we could find something cute there for the concert. We both found skinny jeans which I'll be honest, are the most comfortable skinny jeans I have ever worn. We both found cute little tanks & I found a leather jacket & Jennifer a black 'jean'like jacket. Technically we both had the black 'jean'like jacket in our hands but it looked better on her than me and that's when I found the leather jacket that I kind of fell madly in love with. Win. Win. Win. 

We headed back to the hotel and after getting ready I asked Jennifer where her scarf was. She said she didn't get it. WHAT!?!?! It was gorgeous! So I made her go back and get it & the very nice salesman suggested a tiny pub up the street to grab a drink before the concert. It was tiny. It was festive & just perfect for us.

Next Stop JT. We were so excited for this concert. We were looking forward to some great music & watching some great dancing. & so was a lot of Chicago. But before the concert even began I got a text, our flight the following day had been canceled and we needed to rebook it. Ahhh, we could do that later, we had more important things going on…

When we arrived there was a Deejay getting the crowd going. Justin actually doesn't have anyone open for him, just the Deejay & he was good, the music he was playing was getting the job done but then he quit right at 8. Justin didn't come on until around 9 which wasn't the plan so for about 50 minutes we all were sitting there wondering if we had time to go get another drink, a hot dog or even use the restroom. It was a very restless 50 minutes but finally he came out. 

JT played for over two hours. He had two sets, each about an hour & played 25+ songs. Vocally he was great. He played the piano, guitar, the keyboard. He danced on his own and with his dancers. He was good. He wasn't great---or at least in my book he wasn't great. I was expecting something big, to be WOWed and I just wasn't. Jennifer felt the same way. I guess I like to feel as though I am part of the concert, that I am just wrapped up in this world the entertainer has created but I didn't. I really enjoyed his older music & his new music is great it just didn't come across all that well in concert form---to me. The Chicago Tribune will disagree, heck all of KC will probably disagree in July when he comes but you won't find me lined up waiting to get into his concert. & I can't stress it enough, this is just how I felt, someone else probably thought it was the best concert ever & maybe it was. To each their own. 

I will say that when the stage started rising and then coming over the crowd, that was pretty cool. The stage went from one end of the United Center to the other, right in front of us. He played about 5 songs from this end of the stage before returning to the front. I feel bad for not being so IN LOVE with his concert & honestly, I hope I am wrong and everyone who has a ticket for his concert in July has the BEST time ever. & although our expectations were not met (I am known for having exceptionally high expectations) we still had a great time and it didn't effect our girls weekend one bit. 

The snow however did. We ended up having to book the 8:50 am flight out the next morning. Our plane had to be de-iced as the snow was starting to fall but wheels were up and we were headed home. Lucky for me my MIL had the boys & they picked me up at the airport. I am not sure who was more excited, me or them. & even though our shopping was cut short---we really wanted a few more pairs of jeans from Express--I got to spend my afternoon with these two lil guys. 

Not that bad of a consolation prize if you ask me.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Kaden's {LOVE} Day Party

We enrolled Kaden into Pre-school back in November, we (Ms. Brenda, Justin and I) thought it might be best to get him into more of a classroom atmosphere and around kids his own age for at least a couple days of the week.

& it has been. Kaden not only has enjoyed being with more kids and going to "school" but its been good for both boys because they have this time to spend apart. If not for these 3 hours, two days a week, you can about bet that the rest of their time is spent side by side. They do everything at this point together which is fine, but having a little time away from one another is a good thing too. 

Each morning we drop off Kaden at school Logan gets to go in as well. We walk Kaden to his room, he puts his coat and tote bag up & then he gives both Logan and I a great big hug good-bye. After Kaden heads off with his buddies, Logan and I proceed to Grammy's room to say our bi-weekly good morning. & since today was Valentine's Day, Logan brought Grammy some flowers. The big kids think Lil Logie is pretty cool but Logie isn't quite sure what to think of the big kids.

After we said our good morning to Grammy, I took Logan to Ms. Brenda's & when we walked in we were greeted with a full on Valentine's Day party there too. These boys were about to have one very special day. I quickly ran into work to get a few things done and then hopped back in the car to try and catch Kaden's party. I arrived just as they were lining up to head down to the cafeteria & Kaden was pretty surprised to see me there--I hadn't told him I was coming. As I was watching him sit so very quietly until his name was called to line up I noticed he was sitting by a pretty blonde, that had to be Sophia. Every time I have picked Kaden up over the last month he has proceeded to tell me that Sophia wasn't there that day and so he played with someone else but that he missed her a lot. Well, today he finally got to see her & luckily I was able to confirm that she talks just as much about Kaden as Kaden does her. 

I am amazed by Kaden's teachers just as I have been in awe of Ms. Brenda over the last few years. These ladies have such a gift. They are able to get 45+ 3, 4 & 5 year olds all to quiet down at one time and to listen & follow directions. These kids decorated their sacks. They played pass the sack & each got a cool little prize & then while half of them got snacks, the other half handed, well dropped in, their Valentines. 

Of course he had to finish the party off with another cookie. The kid was officially on a sugar high & I was pretty high on life watching him interact with the other kids and his teachers. It almost makes me want to send him to Kindergarden this next year because I know he could do it but we have decided that since he is an August 31st birthday and the cut-off is on September 1st that we will wait another year. We will send him the year that he turns 6, not only will be one of the oldest but he should easily be one of the biggest too. & I know, its hard to believe that little old me at 5 foot 4 inches is talking about having one of the BIGGER kids--have you met my dad at 6'2", my brother at 6'1" and my sister at 5'11" oh and don't forget my 16 year old nephew who is easily 6'1". Somehow I just managed to get skipped over in the good ole height department. 

Once his school party was over I dropped him off at Ms. Brenda's where he walked in during activity time. Luckily she had an extra spot for him all ready to go. The games continued. The candy continued. The sharing of Valentines continued. These boys are so very luckily to have so many wonderful family and friends who love them so much in their life. First Christmas and now Valentine's Day, they're going to think they get gifts every month if this doesn't slow down!

On a separate note, we are talking about allowances around here. When to start and how to implement it. Do you just give them allowance that isn't tied to any chores and for just being part of the family where they can earn more for chores they do or do you tie it to chores. We are thinking maybe a $1 per week multiplied by their age & giving them 3 jars--Save, Give, Live. Not sure thats exactly how it will all work out but I know its time to teach them the value of a $1 & to stop buying toys for them.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Out with the OLD & In with the NEW.

A little over a year ago I found the perfect frames for THE pictures of the boys. These two pictures have been my all time favorite images that I have captured of the boys…

and for more than a year they have hung in our upstairs hallway. They are the first thing we see as we make our way up to our living space & the last thing we see as we head down the stairs to start the day. 

& honestly, I thought they would stay up for years to come but after I got off work tonight I had a little package at the door--our 5 minute Valentine shoot images had arrived. & the moment I saw those 8x10s I ran upstairs pulled down the frames and switched out the images. 

I didn't realize until I got the images that I would make the switch so of course I didn't order an 8x10 of the two of them together so there's still one more image to be switched out but its a comin'. 

I loved how the black and white images looked in our upstairs hallway but the color, it just gives it that little pop we needed. One might say it adds a little color to this oh so dreary winter weather. 

Now for a little secret--that backdrop is the kids' table that I painted sometime last year from their playroom. I just turned it on its side, plopped a Valentine's banner on it and pointed it towards the light. I had it up and ready to go for a client & asked Logan if he wanted to take a few pictures. He gave me 5 minutes max & then 20 minutes later Kaden said he was ready & he gave me no more than 5 minutes too. Although I got a number of images from that short 5 minutes with the boys, I would have been happy with just one. Funny thing is, both my favorite images of the boys---the black and white above and then these---were all done on a whim. Anytime I try and do an elaborate setup, it never pans out the way I envisioned, it always happens when I just pick up my camera and start shooting. Guess I should pick it up more often...

Monday, February 10, 2014

My {FUNNY} Valentines

With boys its a little hard to get caught up in holiday outfits & its not for the lack of trying on my part--they're just not as cute as ruffles and bows. BUT you can put two simple t-shirts on these two sweet boys & they will still melt your heart.

 Time. And. Time. Again.

They have hearts full of gold & are constantly amazing me with their compassion for one another & for others.

& we don't let a day go by without saying those three tiny words. A hundred times over. I love you.

So simple. So meaningful. These three words have such power. They allow for our boys to be confident in our love no matter what they may do. There is nothing more they could do to make me love them more and nothing they could do to make me love them less.

These two brought a whole new level of LOVE to our lives. & the best thing, its not just them. I see it with my friends and their kids---some of my friends just now learning what this "LOVE" we won't shut up about but yet can't quite explain, is all about. Some of my friends who are still waiting and anticipating the day that EVERYTHING changes. The day they watch as though their HEART is walking outside of their body.

& just when you thought it couldn't get any better, they crank it up like 100 notches. They put on those charming grins, bat those eyelashes and ask for hugs & kisses. 

I'll admit it. They have me wrapped around EVERY single finger of theirs & I am perfectly okay with that. I love being a mom to boys, to brothers & honestly, couldn't imagine it any other way, just as any other mom couldn't imagine having anything other than what they have. 

Seriously. I can't get enough. It's crazy how when it comes to putting words to the LOVE that I feel for these two, I can't. It's indescribable which I think is exactly how it should be. There will never be enough words. Never. 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Pre-Birthday Celebration

Birthdays just aren't what they use to be but I am so very thankful for friends who still make you believe they are.

With only a few days notice our friends found babysitters and joined Justin and I out for drinks and dinner on the Plaza, a very cold & quiet Plaza. I decided that I wanted to try something new for dinner so I had reservations made at PotPie in Westport but the only time they had was 6 and although I don't like staying out that late anymore, that was a tad early. So we canceled the reservations there and I called up Gram and Dunn. I had been there so it wasn't exactly new to me but no one else had been & I was sure it wouldn't disappoint.

& although I am still on somewhat of a wheat and dairy free diet (I try and limit the amount I consume) I threw that out the window & went for the kill. I had the Chicken & Waffles & although I could have devoured the entire plate, I was kind & we passed my plate around the entire table for all to enjoy.

& in other news, I ordered something other than a RBV. Yes, you heard me. I actually drank a martini, I believe it was called a D-Cup & it tasted like pink lemonade.

& my pre-birthday celebration would not have been complete without a trip to the Melting Pot. It was good but my husband could totally have done that here at home & we wouldn't have had to deal with the "Melting Pot Smell"---it can just be too much at times.

By this time it was 10:30 and my bed was looking pretty good. We said our good-byes & we headed home to our babies. Both being awake when we came home--in bed, but awake which was perfectly fine with me.

& this weekend brought a lot of down time. I had a couple of shoots scheduled but due to illness (both on my part, coming down with a sore throat and not a great idea to do a newborn shoot, & a little client who was sick) & the snow from today, all shoots have been postponed. I should have gotten the boys out of the house this weekend but I didn't, we enjoyed some much needed quiet time at home, with NOTHING on the schedule. Now, if it could only warm up or better yet, we planned a spur of the moment cruise to the caribbean. That sounds amazing.

Even though birthdays aren't what they use to be, I do plan on taking full advantage my 32nd year & cramming as much family & friend time as I can into it. To be more spontaneous, which for a planner like me will be hard to do but I'm up for the challenge. To be a healthier me-physically, emotionally & spiritually. To be a better Wife. Mother. & Friend. Birthday's might not bring as much excitement as they use to but they allow for reflection & to ask-what's next. What's next for me & my amazing little family we have built. Guess that means you'll have to come back from time to time and check in on us. I do know that there is a little JT in my very near, as in next weekend, future!