Sunday, November 30, 2014

He's Back & With a New Attitude

Mr. Fishlegs is back & he showed up with two more boxes and another letter for the boys. & let me tell you, the boys were so excited to see him. As I laid in bed I could hear both boys screaming, "He's back. Mom! He came back." followed by joyful squeals.

& when I came downstairs they were both sitting on stools just staring at him, fully aware that you couldn't touch him. They were both pointing to the letter and wanting me to read it & before I go down that path, let me remind you what Fishlegs was up to last year…


He & his friends were up all night long playing Uno. You should have seen the mess they created & I am pretty sure it wasn't a regular game of Uno as I found a few dollars that were left behind...

He was kidnapped & held hostage by all the villans...

Got into snowball fights right in the middle of the kitchen. Even the boys know the snow stays outside. Outside Fishlegs! 

He was so embarrassed at all the mischief he created that he decided he would try and hide out for awhile but he didn't fool anyone. 

We had a lot of fun last year with Fishlegs. It was the first year that the boys were really into it and I admit, I may have went a little overboard. I loved thinking up new ideas as much as I loved seeing the smiles on their faces the following morning. I loved that with one little mention that Fishlegs was "watching" the boys almost immediately changed their behavior. It did what it was created to do, encourage good behavior during the holiday season but we didn't want to encourage good behavior by threatening that Fishlegs would tell Santa or just during the holidays--I wanted good behavior all the time.

So this year we made a few changes when it came to Fishlegs. I had been seeing a lot of posts regarding Kindness Elves instead of the Elf on the Shelf & I figured why not marry the two. We would still move him around each night but this year we wouldn't think up elaborate settings for him, he would just be hung, stuck, or sitting on something. He would still have magic powers & report back to Santa but instead of threatening to tell Santa that they were making bad choices, we would ask them what acts of kindness they did each day.

The letter basically stated that Fishlegs needed help spreading Christmas Magic. He needed help making people smile. He needed help doing random acts of kindness & for each time Justin and I caught the boys doing something kind without being prompted, then they would get a Kindness Punch. & let me tell you, the boys are liking the Kindness Punch--they love us talking about all the kind things they are doing.

On Sunday Fishlegs showed up with a box of Rice Krispies & suggested that the boys make some yummy treats for their friends at daycare, so we did.

It won't be every day that Fishlegs comes with a note and a suggestion but thanks to Pinterest I have a few ideas that the boys will love to carry out. We will be handing candy canes out to strangers at church or gymnastics or at the store. We will donate some doggie treats to the local shelter. Hand out some hot chocolate to the bell ringers & leave some quarters taped to some of their favorite candy machines. Small random things that will hopefully make someone smile or even make their day.

And on Christmas Eve the boys will get to hug Fishlegs and say goodbye till this time next year.  Even though Fishlegs won't be showing up on Christmas morning, and each morning thereafter, I sure hope the boys remember their acts of kindness can be a daily thing, not just a holiday thing.

Thanksgiving 2014

This Thanksgiving was a little different than the past few Thanksgivings---we went back to Jasper, well Carthage but who's keeping track.

Now don't get me wrong, its not like I haven't been home during Thanksgiving in the past years its just that its a little later into the evening--we have met my parents halfway and did the handoff, Justin came back to KC as the boys and I spent a few days with my parents---this time we all went down and made it to the Hartley Thanksgiving.

But before that Thanksgiving day we spent Thanksgiving Eve with my nieces and nephews & yes, the South boys are in their underwear. This is rare for Logan but Kaden is always walking around in his underwear and I am not sure who he gets this from because Justin and I certainly don't make it a habit...

& the next morning Grandpa Hartley came over for a quick Thanksgiving breakfast with the whole family. The house was full and it was so loud but so very wonderful too.

the two are just the cutest when together. 
It wasn't long after this picture and Logan had crawled up on Justin's lap and was fast asleep, he had stayed up way too late the night before but then again, its suppose to be that way at Papa Tom's and Grandma Sara's.

The family fun didn't end there, we headed over to my Aunt and Uncle's house for lunch where we saw a few more cousins and other family members. We of course made Grandpa Hartley take a few pictures but I am not sure he quite understood where to look for the camera.

& let's take a moment to talk about the food for a second. My mom and dad were in charge of the homemade chicken and noodles---one of Grandma Hartley's signature dishes. They spent a lot of time on these noodles and everyone was looking forward to them except for one person, Logan!

As we went around filling our plates he told me no on the noodles and at the last second he changed his mind--he said he take a little bit. In the end, he went back for four helpings & he wasn't the only one smiling, he had just made Grandma Sara's day.

My day was made when I saw the blueberry pie my Aunt Sandy had made, for me. No joke, her kids don't eat blueberry pie & as much as I love my mom, she doesn't make a blueberry pie like Sandy, so I know its for me. & maybe my sister too but she wasn't there so it was basically ALL mine.

And as we were just getting ready to say good-bye, my dad opened up the piano and the boys had to take a test run. When it came to talents, I was 100% athletically talented and 0% musically talented & by the sound of it, the boys probably will follow in my footsteps. ;0)

We weren't on the road for 5 minutes and the boys and I were out.

Our Thanksgiving celebrations weren't ending there, they continued on into the next evening where we met up with Justin's family at his cousin Jennifer and her husband's house. They have a lovly home and was spacious enough to host us all which this year was a lot because we had so many family members in from out of town. This was the second time in a matter of months that we have all been able to be together and although the first get together was a celebration of life, it was still a sad occasion so being together for no other reason than to be thankful for one another was a good change of pace. The boys and I ended up having to skip out a little early since I wasn't feeling very well but I didn't want to take Justin away from his family, well Chris, Justin loves cooking and well, Chris knows a thing or two about it so Justin was practically in heaven all night long.

The boys and I watched a movie when we got home and then Kaden climbed into the top bunk of his bed for the first time.

Over the holiday weekend we also...

Ventured out to Sky Zone for some toddler time. The boys love jumping there & toddler time is perfect because there aren't any big kids to worry about and the rules are a little more relaxed. We made our way back to the foam pit & as quickly as I built the foam walls, they came crashing through. We even tried it in slow-motion so my camera could try and keep up but that wasn't happening.

Visited our favorite donut shop in the city--John's Space Aged Donuts.

Decorated the house for the holidays.

& I may have done some online shopping, just little though...

Thanksgiving was filled with everything that it should have been filled with--family, friends, faith, football, and yummy food. It's why it ends up being one of my FAVORITE holidays of the year, behind St. Patrick's Day of course!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Splash of Happy

I am embarrassed to say but our laundry room looked like this for about a year…

You see that pretty teal box on the back wall. Yup, that one. We have stared at it for almost a year. I have been dying to paint the laundry room. Our house, although I love it, is pretty much your typical Johnson County Beige when it comes to paint & the laundry room WAS no exception. It would be our first POP of color. 

Pretty boring. Now don't get me wrong, our laundry room is upstairs on our second level with all the bedrooms, right off the hallway and our master bathroom. No one but us really EVER sees it. I love its location--never having to truck laundry up and down stairs & the boys are actually pretty good about getting their dirty clothes not only in the laundry room but in the right baskets too.

& lets be honest, I don't do the cooking or the grocery shopping and although Justin does change out the loads from time to time, I do a majority of the laundry and most of the folding & ALL the putting of clothes away. & I was tired of looking at that Johnson County Beige. It was time for me to roll up my sleeves and to get to painting. This past weekend was the perfect time for a painting project because I have pretty much wrapped up all of my shoots---only took me a year to wind down my sessions since my announcements but they're done & now I have time for projects---hubby is super pumped.

Justin also wasn't all that excited about the color that was "tested" about a year ago so I went back to the drawing board. I wanted something blueish. Something that made me happy. Finally Justin gave in and just told me to pick it, if he didn't like it, I could just repaint it--or so he says.

I went with Sherwin Williams Quench Blue.

About 6 pm on Friday night I started taping and prepping 3 of the 4 walls. I had two "helpers" that watched almost every move I made. Pretty sure I said "Hey boys, please don't come in the laundry room. Stay on that side." To which I would hear, "Wow, Mom. You are doing an awesome job." and then they would worm their way back in by my step stool. Lil boogers. 

A few hours later it was starting to take transformation…

But the verdict was still out on wether or not I liked it. I was starting to think it was too baby blue, too light but I kept plugging along. After Logan's gymnastics class on Saturday, I rolled my sleeves back up and went back at it. Pulled the washer and dryer out from the wall, started taping off the shelves and squeezed my way into the tight space to cover up the last bit of the boring Johnson County Beige. 

As the kids went down for naps, I pushed the washer and dryer back in place to let everything dry. & one of my favorite things I learned, pulling up the tape from the trim while the paint is still a little wet, it made for a very clean line. 

The verdict was still out even after it was all done. After a few more hours and moving baskets back in the paint color was starting to grow on me. My goal was to have a laundry room that would make me smile each time I walked into it and this paint color was certainly doing its part but the room was still missing something...

a little decor and some of my favorite black and white pictures of the boys. These were just a few of the images that I had laying around the house that were ready to be hung or displayed but the plan is to do a full gallery wall of black and white images---yes, in our laundry room. It may sound a little weird to have a ton of images in your laundry room but one thing is certain, it will be hard not to smile while tossing towels in the washer. I even catch myself walking through the laundry room instead of our bedroom to get to our closet now---all while smiling. & although it has only been a few days, I have managed to do about 6 loads of laundry and the baskets are pretty much empty. I think its safe to say it was a SUCCESS all around & our home finally has some color in it.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Flip & Tumble

Kaden has had all the fun when it comes to activities and it was time Logan got in on the action. We had been talking awhile about finding something just for him, not something that Kaden would get to do too, something just for Logan. Like I said it was time. 

We had heard great things about gymnastics & Logan is all about jumping and twirling around so we thought it would be a perfect match & it has been. 

Unlike most of his classmates who are in cute pink little tutus and leotards, he goes in his comfy shorts. 

I thought he would be a little shy when he first walked into class but when "Jitterbugs" were called, he popped up and headed straight for the door and never looked back. For the next 50 minutes he runs, tumbles, jumps, summersaults--forwards and backwards. 

& his teachers are fabulous--Coach Carly and Coach Tyler. They make class so fun for this little dudes and dudettes.  I'd be ling if I said Logan wasn't their favorite--he totally is. I am sure its because he is one of the ONLY boys in his class but with a smile like his, how could he not be their favorite. 

As soon as gymnastics is over for the week he is already looking forward to the next time. We have NEVER had tears & honestly, the biggest problem we have, what way to take on the way there. 

"Can we go the secret way, Mom?"  

The kid does NOT like going on the highway. 

Although we were only going to do this for a couple of months in the beginning, it looks like now we may just be sticking with it, he seems to LOVE it. I think he enjoys having something all his own too & who can blame him. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Go Ducks

After the spring session of soccer ended, I wasn't really sure what the future held for Kaden. He had his highs and lows during the season which was fine but when it was all said and over, he wasn't the least bit upset. So when fall rolled around and a co-worker mentioned she was signing her son up for soccer again and asked if we wanted to join, I kind of just shook my head from side to side. I went ahead and brought it up to Kaden and to my surprise, he said yes. He actually wanted to play. Now, I am not sure if he really wanted to play soccer or if he just wanted to hang out with Jake but either way, we were going to give it another try.

This time around it was a little more structured. They would have practice each Wednesday night and then a game on Saturday. They would play 2 twenty minute or so halves--each with 2 defenders and a goalie plus 4 players that could run the entire field. In our last league we didn't have a goalie and we didn't have defenders, just 4 kids running around like chickens with their heads cut off. 

Now I would love to say that Kaden was the STAR athlete on his team but he was far from it. He did fairly decent when he was a defender and had a specific task at hand. Frankly, at the beginning of the season he wouldn't go and kick the ball. He was always one of the first to the spot of the ball but never really engaged in advancing the ball. I finally asked him why he didn't kick it and he said because everyone else was faster than he was---which wasn't the case, speed was not an issue for him. Finally, I did want any great parent would do, I bribed him. If he kicked the ball 5 times during the game, we would stop and get ice cream. 

& Justin was so happy to hear this since he was the one who took Kaden to most of his games when they were scheduled during Logan's nap time. Although I hated missing Kaden's game, he often did better when I wasn't there. Maybe that was a coincidence but more than likely it wasn't. If I wasn't there, he wasn't worried about where I was or wouldn't come and sit by me each time he was sitting on the sidelines. Plus it gave Daddy and Kaden some extra bonding time which is always good.  

In the end, I would say this go around with soccer was much more positive one. We only had tears at one game and that was pretty much my fault, 4 o'clock game and he fell asleep on the way there, one tired little soccer player. He may not have scored any goals--for or against us--but he (and me too) certainly learned a little more about the game and Justin & I couldn't have been more proud of the effort he put forth. 

On the day of his final game he came home and said:

"Hey Mom, I didn't get a trophy but I got something!" 

"Really, Kaden, what did you get?" 

"A trophy because we win & I was speedy fast, like Flash." 

He was so proud of his trophy & it was nice to end on such a high note. & a big thank you to his coach, it takes a special type of person to teach soccer to 10 four and five year olds & he did an amazing job. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Three and a HALF

It should come as no surprise but around the South house we celebrate HALF birthdays. & this lil' dude turned three & a HALF this last week. Since I was traveling for work we decided to put off the celebration until the weekend.

But before we brought out the Rice Krispy Treat cake, I decided to take the boys out for a little date on Friday evening after returning from my work trip. I had told them all week long that we would have a movie night and a slumber party when I got home so they were already excited for what was in store but when I announced we were headed to the movies to see Big Hero 6 they were ecstatic. I sent a text to my SIL and her and Colton joined us and then Grammy jumped in the boat as well.

The theater was crowded but luckily we found 6 seats next to each other on the top row, which actually worked out perfectly, allowing the boys to stand if they wanted to.

The boys & us, moms & Grammy, would certainly recommend the movie. The boys laughed with excitement throughout the movie & there was even a little bit of adult humor sprinkled in. It also had a very good message, one which I don't think was too far over the boy's heads & can easily be talked about in car rides and at home. Two thumbs up & we will be waiting for it to come out on DVD.

The rest of the weekend was spent at home with very little to do on our to do list. The only thing on Saturday's list was to a quick haircut for Kaden & to pick up Nathan. He stayed the afternoon with us as his mommy and daddy celebrated their 5 year anniversary.

On Sunday, we headed to church. Logan and I ran to the grocery store---yes, its true, I went grocery shopping and get this, I even fixed dinner. Kind of. & after an hour and a half of trying to get Logan to finish his dinner, we finally were able to light the candles and sing him Happy Half Birthday.

Happy Half Birthday To You
Happy Half Birthday To You
Happy Half Birthday Dear Logan
Happy Half Birthday To You

Friday, November 7, 2014

A Thursday Night Treat

Over the last few weeks my dad has been spending more of his time in Kansas City for work & although no one is really happy that he is up here and not at home with my mom  where he belongs, we are trying to make the most of it. 

We have started implementing Thursday Night Dinner with Papa Tom. There is only one rule---we have to go some place that he has never been to & that is kind of a hot spot in Kansas City. 

The first week it was a little like pulling teeth to get him to come. He was worried that he was imposing on us or that we needed to get things done at home but I wasn’t letting him back out. 

First up on our KC Food Tour was Stroud’s. Now Justin, the boys and I have eaten here a handful of times, we are no strangers to the best pan-fried chicken in KC but my dad has never been there & during the days leading up to our dinner he was hearing a lot about this place. 

Dinner was good but the cinnamon rolls were better. & my dad would probably give it a 3.5 out of 5 stars---you have to remember, I grew up in an area that had Chicken Mary’s, Chicken Annie’s, & Barto’s---its tough to find better pan-fried chicken than what you would get at one of these places. 

The following week wasn’t as tough to get my dad on board, we mentioned the new-to-us Taco Republic & he was in. Although on this Thursday it was raining pretty good and my dad didn’t want me to have to drive and get him in the rain & I laughed. The boys were excited to see him and I was excited to try out a new place. 

We all left there giving Taco Republic a 4.5 out of 5 stars---the food was delicious & I enjoyed the atmosphere. The only negative, those darn restrooms are sooooo tiny, unless you get the back one---its hard to fit a 3 year old and a 5 year old in there. 

The next couple of weeks we unfortunately had to skip, dad had a meeting one evening and then we had a family gathering with Justin’s family when Nannie passed away. 

Have no fear though, we resumed our dinner dates this past week. Dad had been hearing people talking about the Westport Flea Market and how great their burgers are. I hadn’t been there & it had been a long while since Justin had been so it made for the perfect spot.  

Luckily the boys got more smiles than weird looks as they had dinner in their costumes & the food was spectacular. Another 4.5 out of 5---it was a yummy patty melt & the curly q fries--I haven't had any like that since the good ole' Dairy Cream in Jasper! 

Its such a catch 22 with Thursday night dinners, I wish my Dad wasn't up here because that means he'd be home with my mom but if he is going to be here, we might as well spend a little more time with him. The boys are just loving it & I won’t lie, I’m kind of fond of our new little ritual too. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Happy Bat-tastic Halloween--ARRRR

Last Halloween I spent the month prior working on homemade costumes. I was working on the Mr. Frederickson & Russell costumes all the way up to the time the boys walked out the front door and down the sidewalks to do a little trick-or-treating. & I swore, I wasn't going to go to all that trouble again, sure they loved their costumes but they never wore them after that evening. Not too mention they probably cost us a fortune to make after it was all said and done.

So this year, I didn't & we actually let the boys decide what they wanted to be. What a novel idea, right?!?

A few months before Halloween we started talking to the kids about what they wanted to be. Kaden declared he wanted to be Captain Hook which wasn't surprising knowing that is what he wanted to be when he grows up in his pre-school video. Logan he wanted to be Batman, also not surprising since he has been stuck on Batman and "Bad Guys" for some time now.

& we lucked out with Logan's costume, he was Batman for his 3 year old Superhero photo shoot so the costume was already in the closet. And if he changed his mind, we could run out and get something different.

I confirmed with Kaden one last time that he was certain he wanted to be Captain Hook before I ordered it from the Disney Store and he was still on board. At least he was for about 5 weeks and then it changed, he wanted to be a Power Ranger. The Red Power Ranger to be exact. So I quickly ran upstairs, pulled out the Captain Hook costume that had arrived a few weeks earlier and had him try it on, he was happy again. & so was I.

The boys got their first trick-or-treating outing when we went to visit my dad down on the Plaza. I picked them up from daycare and we headed out to get my dad for our Thursday night dinners & my mom had the great idea of having the kids dress up and trick-or-treat his hotel room. Usually we just meet him outside but they were so excited to knock on their Papa Tom's door.

They got way too much from Papa Tom--donuts, M&Ms, bubble gum (their most favorite thing in the world right now) & then the fun stuff came---they raided Papa Tom's bucket of food. They each took home instant mashed potatoes, mac & cheese, crackers, more bubble gum--two more packs, peanuts & wait for it, a potato--as in one you poke & put in the microwave. At first, Logan didn't want one but then when Kaden went for his, Logan couldn't be without.

After they loaded up on their "treats" we headed down to the lobby and ran into one of Papa Tom's buddies, who ran to his room and came back out with a few more treats for the boys.

Then it was off to dinner. & who better to go out to dinner with than Captain Hook & Batman themselves--Papa Tom was stoked.

On Friday we started the day off with Kaden's Halloween party at pre-school & then it was off to Brenda's for more Halloween fun.

After picking the boys up from Brenda's for the day we headed home to start one of our Halloween traditions--Mummy Dogs & of course we had to try and replicate the picture we took last year.

Logan in his Batman shirt last year…

Logan in his Spiderman shirt this year…

& then it was off for a cold evening of trick-or-treating. So cold that we made it to a few houses on our street and found our way back to trick-or-treat our own home. & then the boys handed out candy to those who came by our house.

It was a great spooky holiday & you know what, the boys have continued to wear their costumes this time around. Looks like I'll let them pick out their own costumes from here on out.

Mr. Captain Hook.

Mr. Batman

and a few of the treats the boys took with them to daycare. Daddy's Candy Corn Rice Crispy Treats were as yummy as could be…

And Logan sure loved our Dracula Cookies.