Monday, June 30, 2014

Lakin' It.

This past weekend we loaded up the Yukon and headed to the lake for the first time this summer. We have spent A LOT of time at our pool but had yet to make it to the lake and it was time to check that off our Summer 2014 Bucket List.

We decided to leave during nap time on Friday in hopes that the boys would fall asleep on the way but that didn't happen. And about every 15 miles we got the infamous, "Are we there yet?" or "Are we off the highway yet?". It got old, real quick.

Finally we pulled in the driveway just after three & the Walshes pulled in right behind us. The boys reluctantly allowed us to unpack the car and get settled in before putting on their suits but once they were on though, it was times for the RULES. We really only had two but they were important ones.

Rule #1: No stepping foot OFF the DECK without a LIFE JACKET.

Rule #2: No going to the DOCK withOUT Mom & Dad.

Got it Mom.

It didn't take long and Kaden was jumping in & this time was not worried about the darn dragonflies, thanks to Ms. Brenda. She had just finished teaching the boys about butterflies and told them that dragonflies were just as friendly as the butterfly & that is all it took.

Logan didn't want to jump in but he allowed me to lower him down into the water and off he went as well. Day one on the water was looking pretty good.

In fact you couple an afternoon of swimming with a three year old who didn't get a nap and you get this. 

& not to be confused with an afternoon of swimming and a five year old who didn't get a nap. Kaden was giving us all a run for our money & it finally took turning on a movie for him to fall asleep.

Saturday morning we had more time at the water followed by a short ride to Coconuts for lunch. Where not only did we run into Coach Pinkle, who shook Kaden's hand but the same three year old that passed out early from no nap the day before, decided to take his nap at lunch. & no, he didn't fall asleep in the life jacket, I actually put that back on him while not waking him up.

this was our way of "taking a picture" but not taking a picture. 
As we were making our way out of the restaurant Logan must have heard Kaden ask to stop and play for a few minutes because he was instantly sitting up in my arms and wanting down to join his brother and Nathan.

We didn't let them play for long because we could tell it was going to start raining soon and although our ride back to the house was rather short, we didn't want to get caught out in the rain. It may look as though the boys are absolutely terrified in this image but they weren't. Kaden, especially, loved everything about the boat this year, it took no time for him to get comfortable with it and was asking from the beginning when he would get his chance to drive. I got that warm and fuzzy feeling in my heart when I saw the boys climb up next to Justin and drive, as I am sure Janet did when Justin was young and climbed up on Dave's lap.

The rest of the afternoon was spent dodging rain. While it was sunny, we were at the water. While it rained, we were watching movies. And we weren't the only ones who got to enjoy the warm sunny weather, Stoli made the trip with us. She absolutely loves being down at the lake. She doesn't care a lick (pun intended) for the water, in fact you could tell just how annoyed she was in Justin forced her into the water but the girl LOVES her sunbathing time. She could & did sit out on the hot deck all day long. She somehow managed to take a little break and give me some kisses.

& while the two little boys rested Kaden got to spend the afternoon with the girls on the water. He became our captain and pulled our floating raft to and from the dock. We didn't particularly need to be pulled back and forth but he enjoyed getting on the raft, jumping into the water, swimming to the ladder and repeating this over and over--at least it made for a nice breeze. He also managed to consume a large number of snacks, all of which I was fully aware of him eating but neither of us anticipated the huge tummy ache later in the evening and him getting sick all night long. & thus making an early night for him & me. Its never easy seeing your little one sick but at one point I had both boys in my lap watching Frozen and there really wasn't anywhere else I would have rather of been.

Since Kaden wasn't feeling all that well and Logan had started saying his belly was hurting (he likes to do EVERYTHING his brother does) we figured it might just be best to take off around lunch time and head back home. Plus it was overcast and the water was sure to be cooler with all the rain we had received the night before. We decided to try out the Jerk Shack for lunch which was right up the road but since we would be eating there, we had to leave Stoli behind for a little bit, couldn't leave her in a hot car. She was a little confused because she just saw us load the cars up with our bags & was not leaving our sides. She wasn't the only one confused though, Kaden and Logan didn't want to leave without her. Finally we convinced them that we would be back very soon to get her & apparently it wasn't soon enough because the moment we got back in the car to go pick her up, they both were letting us know just how much they missed her & they made sure to show her too with a giant hug when we walked back through the doors.

So the weekend had its ups---hanging with friends, swimming and sunbathing & it had its downs---the rain & Kaden's sick spell. And as good as it is to get away for a few days, its ALWAYS great coming home.


Thursday, June 26, 2014

A Swimming Weekend

This past weekend turned out pretty darn spectacular even after starting off a little bumpy. You see we were supposed to have our "family" from Wisconsin staying with us for a few days, they were attending a special wedding and we were going to get to watch the kiddos. We were so excited & then as life typically happens, the kiddos got sick and their Daddy decided to stay home and not try and make the 8 hour drive. I don't blame him but it certainly was disappointing since I couldn't wait to be covered in sparkles again and get my morning hugs from this little diva.

Now that we had absolutely nothing on our weekend agenda we started to brainstorm about what we should do. In the end, we stayed around the house and went to the pool. Multiple times a day.

Logan and Kaden both had just finished a weeks worth of swim lessons and let me just say, they did amazing! Kaden was already a little fish but his confidence grew and he learned a few new tools. Logan, well, he didn't want anything to do with the water unless he had a death grip on me or his Daddy. He didn't want anyone else holding him and every five minutes he would say to us, "Don't drop me Mommy." or "Don't make me fall." & honestly, I am not sure why he says these things because I have NEVER dropped him but he does.

Luckily, Ashley came to the rescue. She had him floating on his back (with the help of a noodle and her support) by the end of the week. He was jumping into her without holding onto fingers and had some new found confidence. It was great seeing him smile & watching as he grew more fond of the water.

On Friday night while we were at the pool he wanted me to hold him without his life jacket on and I did. But he wasn't having much fun and he was starting to get heavy, after all, he was soaking wet. I managed to get him to try on his life jacket and I told him I would hold on this his back but that he could kick his feet and run in place. After a few minutes of him doing just that, I released my grip, without him knowing. As I stepped a few feet away and started talking he started realizing what had just happened. I quickly and excitedly yelled, "YAY, Logie! Look at Logie, Daddy. He is swimming all by himself!" Both Justin and Kaden started clapping for him and from that moment on he didn't want anyone touching him! Me do it all by myself. 

Saturday after naps we headed back down and spent almost 5 hours at the pool. Grammy, Adam, Becky and Colton joined us too. We ordered a couple pizzas and we just hung out at the pool. Logan met a new friend. & when I say met, I really mean he followed her EVERYWHERE. Good thing she was nice and allowed it. She would go up the ladder and back to the steps. Logan would go up the ladder and to the steps. She would make her way to the middle of the pool & about 2 feet behind was Logan calling for her to "Wait up, I'm coming. Don't leave me." For two hours these two played and chased each other around the pool & Logan had a permanent smile on his face. Lucky for us, well me, she lives 800+ miles away and I don't have to worry about another girl working herself into his little heart just yet. 

He did manage to take a couple breaks from chasing his new girlfriend but only for pretzels and pizza. & as long as I have pretzels on my side, I will always win!

I can't tell you how much fun Saturday evening was. We just relaxed with our kids splashing around us. We were all in the pool, wet, and having a great time. We took jabs at one another but it was all in fun and made for some great laughs. Saturday was so much fun, we decided to do a repeat on Sunday & we managed to pick up right were we left off.

But instead of pizza, Justin went home and made Guac Burgers-delicious. While he ran home the boys continued to play and make memories. Colton looked at Kaden and asked, "You wanna jump in holding hands?" & I quickly ran to get my phone (and a towel) to capture the joy. 

The service that morning at church was centered around JOY & how we often have cases of TIFG--Taking It For Granted. 

Scripture says: This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalms 118:24 

It doesn't say yesterday or tomorrow, it says THIS IS THE DAY. Our teacher that day spoke about the "Do It Again, Dad" phrase and that often times, this request comes at a time of complete joy. And how when you hear "Do It Again, Dad", to do it again, because you will never get that moment back. 

That afternoon, Justin was throwing Logan up in the air and he yelled out "Do It Again." and our eyes met, Justin smiled and threw him up in the air a half a dozen times more. 

This weekend wasn't about striving to be happy, it was all about the JOY. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Father's Day Weekend

Justin spent part of his Father's Day weekend doing exactly what he wanted to be doing---BBQ competition, which we all know went pretty good.

& while he was cooking away, the boys and I had a little fun of our own. Friday nights are usually the slumber party night for the boys & Logan gets to hop on over to Kaden's room. But since Justin was going to be gone all night, I figured why not let both boys "sleep" with me. And I say "sleep" because I wouldn't be getting any REAL sleep, not with Logan by me. He still manages to flip sideways, placing his feet smack dab in the middle of my back but I couldn't turn these sweet faces down.

So we had a big slumber party in Mom and Dad's bed--we started to watch Walking with Dinosaurs which was a NO GO---SNOOZER & I was losing the boys. If I didn't find something quick, and I mean quick, they would be in the middle of a full out WWE wrestling match. Luckily, I ran across the perfect movie--How to Train Your Dragon & we all sunk into the pillows and watched as Hiccup made friends with the Night Fury.

& get this, although I didn't sleep well, the boys slept until almost 8 am. EIGHT AM!!! They have to be some of the worst kiddos when it comes to sleeping in. Far too often Justin and I are up by 6:30 on the weekends but not this particular morning. After we finally made it down to the kitchen I fixed a little breakfast, and yes, I MADE breakfast. We then got cleaned up and headed out for the day. I had thought about taking the boys to the pool but it was really windy and we had a Chuck E Cheese gift card burning a hole in our pocket & I as much got Chuck out of my mouth before they were both jumping up and down with excitement.

We didn't spend a lot of time there because both boys needed to "rest" earlier than normal so that we could catch the afternoon showing of How to Train Your Dragons 2. We have been so excited for this movie to come out as we have been HUGE fans of this series. We not only loved the movie but the short stories--Riders of Berk & Defenders of Berk--were huge hits too. & I won't lie, they are at the top of the list when it comes to animated films for me. So, we picked up a couple of friends and off we went to the movies…

The kids sat there with their eyes glued to the screen, shoveling popcorn in their face as they watched the bright colors scroll across the screen. The movie picked up about 5 years later & Berk had certainly changed. We were introduced to new characters, dragons and villains. We had to say goodbye to a favorite character of ours but we watched as another took his rightful place among his people. This little ole movie took me on an emotional roller coaster and had the kids clapping as it ended. When Kaden and Logan were asked what their favorite part of the movie was they both responded with "Astrid." Kaden took it a little further and told me just how beautiful she was.

& that clapping at the end of the movie wasn't the only thing that gave it away that they boys loved it. On the way to church on Sunday Kaden gave the best scene by scene breakdown to Justin. He and I looked at each other in amazement & I can't tell you what he said for it will spoil the movie for most but the way he described certain parts of the movie just shows how innocent children really are.

Since it was Father's Day Justin got to choose what he wanted to do. We ate brunch at a nearby restaurant we hadn't tried yet, we came home and took a family nap & then we went to the pool. We ordered pizza to be delivered to the pool & sat back as Kaden and Logan had their first swim lessons of the season.

& with the fun-filled packed weekend that we had it was no surprise that we all crashed WAY early. Looking back at it, I am not sure what more Justin could have asked for. He not only competed in a BBQ competition but the team won Grand Champion, I took care of all the cooking for him on Sunday---and yes, paying the bill and ordering pizza counts---he took a nap while watching the Royals & he relaxed by the pool with his boys, his mom and his wife. See, relaxing.

On a serious note--Kaden, Logan and I are truly lucky to have this man in our lives. He goes above and beyond when it comes to taking care of us. He does all the cooking and all the grocery shopping. He knows how to change a load of laundry and fold that same said load of laundry. He drops off, picks up, feeds, bathes, & tucks in the kids when I am away on business. He manages all our household bills. He picks up everything that I drop. & I know, I don't give him the credit he deserves. He's Super Dad & we are beyond lucky.

& because my editing skills are a little lacking in the movie department, his special video will have to be posted at a later date. I am piecing it together as best as I can.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

One of Many

Although it doesn't seem as though my photography sessions have slowed down--due to the images I have been posting--they have. & I am close to working through almost all sessions that were on the books prior to making the big announcement, with the exception of a few Watch Me Grow sessions.

& even though I am still doing a few sessions here and there, the days and weekends where I haven't picked up my camera have been spent doing exactly what I wanted & NEEDED so badly. Its no secret that my husband was and still is my biggest supporter when it comes to my photography & it shouldn't come as a surprise that when I was away on a shoot, he was at home with the kids. Or took them grocery shopping. Or over to his mom's. He let me dive head first into my passion and I am sure he got annoyed that his weekend plans or evening plans were dictated by photo sessions but he didn't complain once. He would look at me and say, "Go, I got this. It's only a couple hours. We will see you when you get home." & I would go.

But then there came a time where I was "going" way too much & frankly, I didn't want to go anymore. I realized by not saying "No" to clients and trying to make everyone happy that I was saying "No" to the most important people in my life & I was done. & as I sat there thinking about the announcement that I made, I started realizing that I was being pretty selfish & yes, that's hard to admit but its the truth. Justin wasn't really getting "his" time. He was getting to follow his passion and that needed to change. & it did.

He and some buddies had been toying with the idea of getting into some BBQ competitions so over the next couple of months the Pitt Smokers (they all graduated from Pittsburg State University) got together a few times and did a couple trial runs. Justin was in charge of brisket, Jake had pork, CG had ribs and Scott had chicken. Most of the time the trail runs occurred at our house & I happily accepted the job of being the "judge". Now I will admit, outside of what Justin has fixed in the past & Oklahoma Joe's I don't eat a lot of BBQ but these Pitt Smokers' were on to something. They knew what they were doing.

BBQ competitions are normally two day, all day events. You begin on Fridays at 3 & they come to a close on Saturday afternoon, if you're lucky.

One afternoon I got an email that they had signed up for their first competition in Overland Park, the only bad thing, I was out of town on work. Thankfully I have an amazing mom & MIL and they split time with the boys so that Justin could be at the competition.

They put a lot of pressure on themselves to do a great job & I am sure it was nerve-wracking. I mean, you aren't just cooking in your own home for your own family and friends. No this, was being judged--on the color, the intensity of smoke ring, the taste, the use of sauce, tenderness, and so forth and so on. I was nervous for them because I remember what it was like to have those first few photo sessions and having to press send on the album, hoping that the clients liked what they saw because I had put so much work and love into them that if they didn't, it would have broken my heart. Being told you are aren't as good as what you thought you were isn't what anyone wants to hear but the reality is, it happens.

After the first competition the boys were ready to sign up for the next. They weren't discouraged & they weren't super stoked. They finished in about the top 25% or 50% in each category but more importantly, they learned a few things.

This past weekend they entered their second competition & were down a man. This competition was in Lousiburg & was the first annual competition & all proceeds were going to charity. They kicked off the evening around 4 pm & the boys and I, along with my mom and dad, arrived around 5:30 to say hello and enjoy a hotdog. They looked legit. They had a nice tent, tables to prep the meat on, electricity, lounge chairs & hammocks, two smokers & one temperature regulator (Justin's father's day gift for his giant smoker). They were ready to take on the night.

The boys, our boys, wanted to run.

And wrestle. But what's new.

The next morning I received the following pictures of two turn in boxes, the ribs & the brisket. Now they just had to wait & wait a LONG time. Turn in was from 11:30 to 1:00 and awards weren't happening till 7…

About 7:35 I got a call. A call from a very giddy Justin. It went a little something like this:

Justin: What are you doing?

Me: Just got home from the movies, I stopped and got us all dinner.

Me: How did it go?

Justin: Oh we just got first in ribs, pork and brisket & third in chicken. Took home Grand Champion. No big deal. 

Me: Shut up. No really, how did it go?

Justin: No, seriously, we did. & the funny thing, CG wasn't there to accept the awards, he already left. He is going to be so pissed. I'll be home shortly.

Now, I won't lie, I didn't really believe him. To take first in three of the four categories and then grand champion on their second EVER competition--that's unheard of. & then I got the following picture.

& even after seeing that, I kind of thought, they could have taken that picture while talking to the winners. It wasn't like I didn't believe them, I just couldn't believe it! As great as their BBQ is, there is a lot of strategy that goes into these competitions & rookies don't often win, the cards just weren't in their favor.

& then this picture came through.

They really did it. I'm even smiling from ear to ear just thinking about it now. The hours and hours of watching Pit Masters, of reading anything and everything BBQ related, all the little gadgets, the new smoker & heat regulator, the trip after trip to the meat market---it all paid off. They were on cloud 9 & it was nice to see them so giddy about their achievement. They earned it.

& seeing my husband following his passion and loving every second of it, makes stepping back from photography all that much easier.

Now, we wait and see what happens at the next competition, they may finish at the top of the pack, they may finish at the bottom but there is one thing that is for certain--no one can take away this Grand Champion achievement.

Oh & if anyone would like to get creative and design a shirt or logo for them, please let me know. We would love to get some t-shirts made up but we aren't very artsy!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Lil Gig(gin')

One of my new LIFE resolutions was to find a church that we felt fit us, that met our family needs. We wanted a place that not only had a great place for Justin and I to worship but also a place that put time, effort and love into their children's ministry. We found that at Westside Family Church & since the beginning of February we have become regulars. Our boys love seeing their teachers each week & we love watching them get excited to learn about Jesus. Each month has a different focus and for the month of June it's about how Jesus came to do AMAZING things. How god loves us and wants to hear from us--anytime, anywhere, about anything.

Probably about 6 months back or so I made the comment while we were passing an accident that we should pray. I said a little prayer and each of the boys followed up with an Amen. From that moment they started praying on their own whenever we pass by an accident, or anything that may resemble an accident.

Everything about this warms my heart. How Logan clasps his hands in prayer. How he says "Dear God". How Kaden tells him "start over bud." & especially at the end where Logan once again says "Dear God." followed by a long pause & a quick but firm, "Amen."

& this week we are attending Westside Family Church's version of VBS called Kid Gig or Lil Gig for toddlers. At first we thought it was only going to be Kaden who could attend due to his age but since I was volunteering I could bring Logan too. Kaden was all about it & Logan was all about the shirt, he did not want to go to a different room than what he was used to. We had a few tears the first time I dropped him off but they didn't last long. And luckily, I was volunteering for crafts with Kindergarten which allowed me to "spy" on their large group time. This is where all the toddlers who have not gone into school gather and sing songs. The first night Kaden was right upfront and Logan was towards the back but by the end of the week the boys figured out they were both in the same room and made their way to one another...

This week they learned a bible verse...

(This video was taken with my fancy camera, I've never used that function before but I figured it was time to learn how to use it and pull together little videos of birthdays, trips & everyday life--still working the kinks out.)

They learned about loving Jesus, loving like Jesus & how Jesus loves them BIG & they are excited about going back next year. & I'm excited to watch as they continue to let Jesus grow within their hearts and to see how they spread His love.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Little Fish{ies}

Although Justin and I haven't lived in our home for long, its been two years, we do know that it isn't our FOREVER home--probably our kids-get-out-of-school-home but thats it. When that time does come we KNOW for certain it will either have a pool of its own or we will have to find a subdivision with a pool. Either way, it will be top of the list.

Since the pool has opened we have pretty much been every single night--one way or another. On the weekends we often go multiple times.

Most of the time Kaden does the driving, after all he is the experienced driver of the two but sometimes, we let Logan have his turn. He tends to swerve a lot & Kaden has decided that he'd rather walk than get whiplash and ride with Logan.

Kaden had a round of swim lessons last year and surprisingly kind of picked up where he left off. He is now tall enough to touch in the shallow end and loves being able to dive down to the bottom for his dive sticks. He does a pretty good job on the swimming part but since he can stand he doesn't really know how to come up for a breath and then to keep swimming, hopefully he will pick this up in our next swim lessons. 

Although we have had multiple nights where we are the only family at the pool we have had days where the boys have been able to make new friends too. Its interesting to sit back and watch it all unfold, Kaden is not shy--"Hi, my name is Kaden. What's yours?" & then off he goes following his new buddy. 

Logan, he ventures more towards the little kids but sometimes he is able to talk the bigger kids into playing ball with him. He'll stay in the shallow end while the boys through him the ball. He loves being able to feel as though he is part of the big kid crowd. 

Logan didn't adjust to the water as easily. He would only go in the 6 inch part of the pool & on the steps, he wouldn't even let me hold him in the water at first. Each day we grew a little braver. He finally allowed me to hold him in the water. He finally laid back and got his hair wet. He finally turned around and started kicking BUT all while keeping a death grip on my arms. I had to promise each time not to let him go. The biggest breakthrough came on Sunday evening when he finally JUMPED to me, after which he didn't want it to stop. 

& I fully believe it would have taken us much longer for him to be this comfortable with the water had it not been for his big brother & his cousin. Each time we tried to get him to do something more we had Kaden and Colton show him how it was done. To show him that I wouldn't let go, that I would catch him each and every time. He wants to be just like them. 

The last week or so the weather has been quite interesting, almost as though we live in Florida. Each night a little rain seems to pop up but we don't let it ruin our evenings. The boys are already wet so they just keep swimming and we head for a little cover. 

So far summer is off to a great start & if the rest of our summer is anything like the first few weeks have been, we are not going to want it to stop. EVER. 

And that little truck right there, best money we ever spent. Thanks Angela for not allowing your kids to drive it while you had it, our boys (Justin and I too) really LOVE having it. It makes traveling to the pool so much easier & its only a matter of time before they are given their own parking space for it.