Thursday, July 31, 2014

Two weeks of Leah

Each summer we try and spend a little extra time with my niece and nephews. One summer both Leah and Blake helped potty train Kaden. Last summer we got to go on a vacation with the whole family. This summer Leah was coming by herself and what started out as one week turned into two wonderful weeks.

We started her stay with a BBQ at the Johnson's new home followed up by dinner at a Japanese Steakhouse and ice cream on Monday.

& Monday morning wasn't all that tough but soon the boys figured out what they were missing & the mornings weren't so fun anymore. The boys couldn't understand why they couldn't stay with Leah and frankly I didn't want to go to work either! But we all made it through each day and took advantage of our evenings, pushing bed times back and eating lots of Popsicles.

We went to the pool.

We went to the Sporting KC game.

We went to the carnival.

Neither the boys nor Leah have ever been to a carnival and I haven't been since high school and I was keeping my fingers crossed that not only there would be lots to do for the boys but hoping they both were tall enough so I wouldn't have to ride every ride too.

We arrived at the ticket booth and I was immediately shocked by the price. Who knew carnivals were so expensive!  A bracelet for each of the boys were $25 bucks, which meant Leah and I needed them too since we weren't sure of the rules so we were already in for $100 & we hadn't even made it on one ride yet.

The boys didn't stop running the entire time we were there. They ran from one ride to the next. They ran to get their corn dogs (another 18 bucks). They ran to the bathroom. To get their waters--another 6 bucks--and they ran up the stairs of the slide about 10 times in a row. Leah kept up well.

And the smiles never left their faces. I haven't seen them have this much fun in so long and the fact that it was with Cousin Leah made it that much more special.

We stayed for almost three hours and although the wrist bands were expensive, the boys and Leah got their monies worth. I luckily only had to go on two rides. A Rollercoaster with both boys, which neither liked and then the Ferris Wheel with my brave little man--his request.

It was a fantastic night of fun.

While the boys were at Ms. Brenda's and Justin and I were at work Leah got to enjoy the house all to herself. She also worked on a little project…

The weekend was full. Full of family time. Full of trips to the pool. Shopping. And more Popsicles.

Although we tried to have something going on most evenings, there were nights where we just chilled at home. Leah and I stayed up late one night and ordered a chick flick. I introduced her to the wonderful world of Big Brother and The Bachelorette. & when it came time for the boys and their baths, she took control. She rolled up her pant legs, got her feet wet and actually completed bath time without any fighting between the boys. Her help made a huge difference because while she was splashing away with the kids, I focused on laundry and afterwards we had more time for more Popsicles.

And because we had such an amazing time at the carnival the Friday before, we went for another round. This time I contacted a photographer who was doing mini photo shoots to see if she had any openings and she did. I wanted to do something extra special for Leah. We got her all dolled up--she got to shop my closet. (How sad is it that my almost 13 year old niece is as tall as I am?!) She is such a beautiful young lady and has been such a joy to have here with us. The boys and her have made such a bond & that needed to be captured.

Plus, she has the most beautiful soul and that needs to be shared with the world.

I get a little teary thinking about Leah leaving. I knew the boys would love having her around but what I didn't realize is how much Justin and I would love having her. And it's not that we didn't think we would enjoy it, she's a great kid and super low maintenance &  she's my niece! But it's because she has brought so many more smiles to our face. Laughs to our home. She has been a ray of sunshine and you just can't help be a little happier when she's around. To say we will miss her is an understatement. We love you Leah Michele.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Little Miss Turns TWO

It seems hard to believe that Miss Madison Eve turned two this past week but there we all were huddled around her cake singing Happy Birthday. She isn't supposed to be this old just yet--she's supposed to stay tiny forever...

And although the first few days of Kaden and Logan's birth are a little blurry to me, I can recall so much from the day I met Miss Madison. How as I held her for the first time minutes after being born, she looked up at me with those big eyes, just taking it all in. How I got to watch as she got her first bath and that little pink bow was placed on top of her head.

How my little brother looked down at his daughter with such pride and joy. How he comforted Lindsay and looked at her with such appreciation for bringing their little girl into the world. & how you couldn't wipe the smile off of either of their faces. It was such a wonderful time for our family.

& Saturday we all gathered around her again. She couldn't have been cuter in her Minnie Mouse shirt, jean shorts and jellies. Her hair pulled up in a bright pink bow.

She took full advantage of this party being all about her and she commanded her stage. She had everyone eating out of her hands & she was eating out of everyone's hand too---literally. She didn't need a plate of her own, she just found what she wanted on each guest's plate and they happily handed it over. After everyone had a chance to get food it was cake time...

As you can tell, Minnie is her most favorite thing in the world---next to her Aunt Kayla. & Lindsay did an awesome job with the decorations and food. She made the most amazing cookies that were pink and had white chocolate chips in them---pretty sure I had at least 5. Kaden had more. Guess he wanted to show everyone how strong he was by hoisting the birthday girl up on his shoulders. 

Life is so much better with a little Madison in it. She almost always is in a good mood. She loves to sit on your lap and watch videos--her favorite is a video all about her that her Daddy made. 

She loves following Logan and Kaden around, doing everything that they do. Logan and Kaden love the fact that she is right behind them, at all times. These three have so much fun together & I can only imagine that will fun will grow as they get older and older. 

And it never hurts to have one more cute little face for Papa Tom to have to say no to, because these three have figure out that Papa Tom can't say no, it just doesn't happen. At least not when they all three ask! Popsicles in the morning before lunch. Yes, please and we'll have two!

& if I couldn't have a girl of my own, this is the next best thing! A little niece that I can spoil and love on as often as I would like. Now the next question, when will there be another?! Zack? Lindsay? Madison definitely needs a sibling & a built in sidekick. 

Happy 2nd Birthday Miss Mad

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Boys' First Trip to the Pond

This past weekend was filled with so much fun. We celebrated a very special 2nd birthday--still to be documented. I got to photograph my best friend from high school oldest nephew's senior pictures. (Did you get that!) We got to kick back and enjoy the last few days of AMAZING July weather and we got to take the boys FISHING for the first time.

Middle of last week I called my mom up and mentioned the idea of taking the boys fishing, especially if it was so nice. She had already mentioned it to my dad but he was thinking that swimming would be more fun. Mom went ahead and bought the boys poles--Spider Man poles. We were going fishing.

We told the boys they had to take a good nap because we had a surprise for them when they woke up. & they must have been excited for their surprise because they were out as soon as their little heads hit their pillows. They both woke up asking what the surprise was so my mom went to the closet, told them to hide their eyes & brought out the poles.

Kaden: "WOW, a fishing pole. & it's Spiderman. This is awesome. Thanks Grandma."

Logan: "I think I want one of those." which was followed the most adorable chuckle as Grandma Sara gave him his pole.

Now it was Papa's turn, the poles needed hooks and bobbers.

Logan watched and Kaden wandered.

Finally it was time to head over to the pond. We packed the truck up with chairs, blankets, a cooler and "don't forget my pole Mom!"

Before the first cast we told the boys that we had to be quiet so that we wouldn't scare the fish. They were on board.

We threw the first cast and within seconds Logan had a bite & Grandma was able to set the hook, he worked and worked and finally he pulled in his first catch EVER.

He was so excited and was fully prepared to hold the line himself but then Mr. Fish twitched. Not cool, Mr. Fish. Logan decided he was perfectly fine a safe distance away.

After we got both poles back in the water and the bobbers sat there for a few minutes Kaden smile went to a frown. "What is taking so long?" Patience is not one of his strong suits.

A few minutes later, he got his first bite and reeled it in all on his own but before he got it to the bank it jumped off but that didn't halt his excitement. We threw out another cast and just a few minutes later he had another one on the hook and this time I even caught it on video.

Does it really get any better than this? Talk about PURE JOY. These are the days that I wish I could just freeze in time, the days that wish our boys would stop growing up so quickly. Next month, this kiddo turns 5! FIVE. As in one WHOLE hand! But I don't really want to be thinking about that just yet….

Mom, Dad and I had a wager on how long the boys would actually last and surprisingly they lasted almost two hours, well beyond any one of our guesses. And in that two hour time frame we caught about 10-12 fish while only getting tangled up about three times.

I'll admit, I was hoping that it wasn't going to warm up as quick as it did on Sunday and that we could have jumped back over to the pond for a few more casts. & I guess the boys did too because on the way home from church they were asking to go fishing again. Papa's response. "Fish don't bite on Sundays." & of course the boys just shook their shoulders with an "oh. okay. next time we come down then."

& that is exactly what we will be doing the next time we visit. I would have loved Justin to have been there because that was the only thing that kept this day as ranking as one of the BEST. DAYS. EVER. I loved being outside, in the country, watching our boys lean against Grandma Sara and Papa Tom as they waited patiently for the fish to bite. My heart is so full seeing the relationship between our boys and their grandparents & I pray that in they'll be making more of these same sort of memories next month.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Up-cycled Dinos

Over the weekend Justin was watching one of his shows, a cooking show called The Kitchen. We caught it the weekend before and they had some very interesting and MIND BLOWING camping tricks when it came to cooking your dinner over the campfire. If we were campers, we would be trying each and every one of them. But we're not.

This past weekend though they had a kid-friendly segment where they incorporated dinosaurs into summertime fun. There was one that immediately caught our eyes & since we already had a number of dinosaurs on hand from Logan's 2nd birthday we figured we would give it a try. Not to mention, my mom and dad had just delivered two bags of fresh corn to us the night before. Yes, I said FRESH!

I pulled out our stash of dinosaurs and picked out two that were identical---didn't want to deal with the "I want that one." and the "No, I want it." or the "Mom, Kaden took my dinosaur!" Identical. Dinosaurs. The only way to go.

I made sure they were hallow and then I had Justin cut them in half.

I took a hot glue gun, glued a bouncy ball inside the dinosaur (just to take up some additional room) & then glued the corn holder in place. & that was it.

Easy Peasy.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Sweet Surprise

My Mom and Dad had been talking about coming up to a Royal's game for some time now and when they saw that Salvador Perez would be having a bobble-head night this past Saturday they sat their eyes on that game--Salvie happens to be my Dad's favorite Royal. Of course, that meant we would be going too but, before headed out to the K, we had a special first birthday to attend so the plan was to just meet at the ballpark. They asked us to not say anything to the boys so they could surprise them but the boys weren't the only ones surprised...

Justin, the boys, and I walked up to a table of Siebert kids and Brendan, Brett's girlfriend. It was such a sweet surprise as it has been a few weeks, maybe 6, since we have seen these kiddos. & kiddos might not be the most appropriate word since the youngest is 10 and almost as tall as I am!

It took a little while for the boys to warm up--they were caught off guard and not expecting to see everyone, but once they did, they were off. Justin and Dad watched the game & the kids, Mom and I went to the Little K.

& having the kids all here was really best case scenario for me because Kaden and Logan wanted Leah and Blake to go everywhere with them. They each rode the Merry Go Round with the boys, followed them around the playground, ran through the water fountains to cool off from the heat, & raced each other on the "bases".

I love having my niece and nephews around, & Brendan too. Its nice to have a little time with them and catch up on their lives but its even better watching them play with my kids, their cousins, who look up at them as though they are superheroes. I just wish we got to see these sweet, sweet faces more...

& for anyone keeping count, this was the South's 4th time to the K this year and we are 0-4 when attending, needless to say, we will probably not be going back as we can't afford any more losses!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Marky Mark

& no---not the Funky Bunch one--the Sugar Ray one.

When I was in high school we got to take a few days before school started and locate our lockers and get situated---the girls, well we all lined our locker doors with heartthrobs. Junior year in high school it was Ben Affleck (still a heartthrob) & my senior year it was Mark McGrath of Sugar Ray. You know the:

I just wanna FLY.
Put your arms around me baby. 
Put your arms around me baby. 

Yes, that Sugar Ray. 

I was AM still a HUGE Mark McGrath fan and I am totally not ashamed to say that. In fact, I have been to three of his concerts and was seriously contemplating joining the cruise he and a few other bands were putting together, that ended up falling through and the cruise never happened. Some people might think its because no one knows who Sugar Ray is but really it was 100% weather related. ;0)

The first Sugar Ray concert that I attended was in college, maybe 2001. Abby and Korie humored me and went with me. We drove to Joplin, attended the concert and then drove back to Pitt. We managed to get fairly close to the stage & they put on a good show---Abby and Korie would totally back me on this.

Girls didn't we have a picture of all of us? Abby, I know you were wearing GREEN!

The second Sugar Ray concert I attended was in June of 2006 & Tiffany came with me. Now this concert will probably go down as my all time favorite concert. We once again had pretty good seats (I'll admit, it wasn't overly crowded) but after the show ended we stuck around. As we were trying to get a guitar pic or anything off the stage really, a member of the stage crew came over and told us to tell the guy at the door "little ricky". What did we have to lose? Nothing. We walked over, gave the secret password and was told to have a seat. The next thing we know we are walking backstage and being told to grab a beer and look as though we know what we are doing. 

WHAT? BEER? I have to drink a beer? Didn't they have anything different. Oh well, I can act like I am drinking it, I mean, I may just get to meet Mark.

Five minutes later and out they walk. Ten minutes later he makes his way over to our side of the room and he  actually takes a picture with us. SWOON. And then I ask him my infamous question---Boxers or Briefs (I asked Tony Gonzalez this same question & because I know you are curious, he prefers to go without!). Mark on the other hand, he prefers Calvin Klein boxer briefs and gave Tiffany and I a little glimpse. 

Pretty sure I was on a high for the rest of the year. 

It was a few years later that I found my heart breaking. Mark was marrying his longtime love & they were expecting twins, a boy and a girl. And guess what they named their girl?? Nope, not Kayla. Better. They named her Hartley Grace. Who else would name their daughter Hartley besides me?! Mark. That's who.

And then this past weekend happened. My most recent Sugar Ray concert and I have to give it to my girls, Tiffany and Jennifer--they humored me and stood danced right alongside me. This time around I was able to score some sweet VIP tickets thanks to a dear friend who will remain nameless because I don't want to burn that bridge, what if he come back to town in another 5 years?!?

The whole week my colleagues were giving me crap. They couldn't believe just how excited I was for the concert and how I could even come close to comparing Mark's concert to Justin Timberlake's concert. Saturday rolled around and I was ready for a girls night. My wonderful husband dropped us all off at the Cashew where we ordered a drink and dinner & then we made our way to the Crossroads. We entered through the VIP entrance, found the bar & made our way to the stage.

It was approaching 8 and the dee jay was getting the crowd going and then it happened, lightening. Out came the tarps. Down came the rain. In we went. We took advantage of our rain delay and stood in line for the restroom and got another round of drinks.

Finally the rain stopped and Mark was on stage---he came out and welcomed everyone to show and introduced Uncle Cracker. Uncle Cracker was wasted but he was good and a great warm up for what was next....MARK.

Yup. That's me and Mark--and unfortunately, that is as close to Mark as I got this time around and not for my lack of trying. We even had an After Show pass but I guess I never found the right person to speak with because we didn't get back there.

We did call it a night at the concert and headed out to Power & Light for a little while where we realized that scene just wasn't for us--or at least it wasn't that evening. Finally we hailed a cab home and we walked through the door around 2 am where I crashed...for 4 hours until the boys were crawling into bed with us. 

The only sad part of the evening was knowing it would probably be another 5 years before I have the chance to see Mark again---maybe he will try the whole cruise thing again!