Monday, April 27, 2015

Papa Tom is SIXTY!

Wow, and I thought I was getting OLD.

The boys and I hadn't been home to see my Mom and Dad for awhile and what better reason to go back than to celebrate my Dad turning 60!

I am sure this is exactly how he envisioned celebrating his 60th birthday too---surrounded by all his grandchildren. What he probably didn't envision happening was keeping them ALL, everyone single one of them (except Brett), ALL weekend long while my sister left for vacation and my brother and his wife went off to celebrate their 5 year anniversary. Through the boys and I in and it was one pretty full house.

Full house = Full heart. Right?

Before we headed down to Papa Tom's the boys and I tried out two new cupcake recipe's---I needed to get a trial run under my belt and we needed something for Papa Tom to make a wish on so it was a win, win.

For the most part they were delicious--the icing needed a little help but we could work with that.

My dad isn't one to want to sit still, unless the Royals or Chiefs are playing, and had a number of things on his to do list for the weekend---none of which had anything to do with him and I having special bonding time building a table for our back deck. They did have to do with mowing his yard and planting his garden, of which he had bonding time with the boys and Blake so I guess I can let the table thing slide.

One of the things I love most about country life is being barefoot---not that you can't be barefoot in the city, it's just that we NEVER put shoes on. I love the crisp cool grass between my toes. I love the wibbly, wobbly walk across gravel. It's freeing and I'm not the only one that loves it. The boys dig it too--pun intended--especially when they get to play in dirt.

Each of the boys had their own job when it came to helping Papa Tom plant the garden. Blake would help hold the fence in place while Papa Tom hammered in the post that Kaden and Logan took turns carrying to him and then Papa Tom would secure the fence to the posts. Once they were secured he would dig a few holes and Kaden and Logan would drop in tomato plants behind him.

And then they got to get down and dirty by helping him plant each one. It took a few goes before they received the Papa Tom stamp of approval---they had to be just close enough to the fence to ensure they would grow correctly. And amazingly enough, the boys didn't get bored but with all the hard work they managed to work up an appetite too.

What they didn't realize is that while they were working hard in the garden with Papa, Grandma Sara and Cousin Leah were in the house packing up a picnic. As soon as we were at a place were Papa Tom could take over the garden on his own the rest of us loaded up and headed to the park.

 All weekend long the boys ran around after their cousins. They love being around Blake and Leah and I love watching their bond grow. It doesn't matter that there are 6-9 years of age difference between them, they love being around each other and you don't have to ask them if they do, their smiles say it all.

For the rest of the weekend we spent as much time as we could outside. We played baseball. We played kickball, volleyball, tag…they ran and ran until the dropped.

And for all the reasons I mentioned above, weekends at home always end up being some of my favorite weekends of the year. There's never really an agenda. There is always laughter and voices coming from every room in the house until way past bedtimes. All of which only makes saying good-bye that much harder. Here's to hoping the summer is filled with as many family get togethers as possible. Love these littles.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Celebrating Daddy at the K

My MIL loves to celebrate birthdays and there isn't a birthday that goes by that we don't get together as a family. Typically we have dinner, birthday boy/girl's choice. We have had a wide variety of requests over the last few years, all of which were delicious---crab legs, beef tenderloin, chili cheese dogs---I'll let you guess which was had on my birthday celebration.

Last year she threw us for a loop, she mentioned going to the Royals game for Justin's birthday celebration instead of having dinner & trust me, it didn't take long for us all to reply with YES. So when Justin's birthday rolled around this year again, we all just assumed we would be headed back to The K and we were.

The boys all a year older, well actually we all were, which meant they were more into the game than they were the year before as well as what was going on around us.

Not only was there a lot of excitement during the game---multiple ejections, benches clearing and a Royals team that dug their heels in came out with a win. We also had a lot of excitement in our section---the row behind us actually. They were using very vulgar language and we are fully aware that we are bringing out kids to a ballgame and language would be thrown around but they had their own kids and it was just mind boggling that they speak like that in front of their kids. They also brought a full bottle of liquor into the stadium which we all know is against the rules and was only making things worse. Lucky for us, they showed the wrong person and soon after the cops came down and escorted him out and we only hoped things would settle down but they got worse. Those that were left were very upset and started calling people around them by not so very kind names and clearly wanted everyone in the section to hear them. Top this off with a toddler that kicked US non-stop and had multiple 30 minute crying fits. Maybe it was a good thing that we were sat there as we kept our cool and just tried to watch the game & not what was happening on behind us.

As the game was wrapping up we headed out to get in line for the Family Fun Run & thankfully we all had our Blue Crew passes to jump to the front of the line. Within the first 5 minutes of the Run starting we were rounding 3rd base and heading home. Kaden took off and left Logan and I in the dust. Logan tried taking off but the people in front of him had a little issue which caused Logan to have an issue and fall, from there it was mainly me pulling him along and him holding back tears. We crossed home plate though and that was all that mattered.

And our day wasn't over yet, as a family we decided to head to dinner and help out a local catholic school since they were having a fund raiser & part of our purchase would be donated to them. So we got ice cream too. To celebrate Justin's birthday. The boys were so stoked and it was the perfect way to cap off the day.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

the {south} life 2015

I think it is pretty well-known that I like to take pictures and document just about everything I can. I do this for more than just the obvious---you know, my kids being the cutest kids on planet Earth and everyone wanting to know what they are doing at every moment of the day. 

I do this for my family. My parents, my grandparents, aunts and uncles, brother and sisters & then all of Justin's family--don't see the kids as often as they would like and this allows them to get an insider look at our days. Our life. To watch the boys grow. 

I do this for the boys. Each year I make a book off my blog posts. I also print off all Instagram pictures into a book---minus a few food posts & non-family posts---and print two copies, one for each boy. Together these act as the boys' scrapbooks. A detailed account of their childhood. I don't catch it all, but I try to catch most of it. Which brings me to this post, random Instagram pictures of the {south} life 2015 that I don't want to forget and I certainly want them know about. 

 Getting a kiss from a Superhero is an everyday occurrence in this house.
Learning the art of 52 card pickup. 

The first-in-a-very-long-time-nap with this guy. 

Grand Central Station
Skills testing at gymnastics--moved up to Rollie Pollies

PNO---date night with my love. 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Mommy & Son Dates

Now that Oliver Beckett Photography is pretty much a thing of the past, our weekends and evenings are a little more open & we have started filling those with fun family outings. We also thought it would be a good time to give each of the kids a little one on one time with each of us so we decided I'd take turns taking the boys on date nights. Not only would they each get to spend that one on one time with each of us, it would also give me a chance to teach the boys some chivalry.

One of the very first things that caught my eye with Justin was his chivalry. How he would aways open every single door for me. How he would always walk on the street side of the sidewalk with me.  He would come to the door to pick me up. Insist that I order first and almost always picking up the check---unless I had chicken strips and then I was on my own. 

Backstory--I ate chicken fingers everywhere we went. I knew that I liked them and I didn't want to order something I wasn't sure about so I went with what I knew. Justin wanted me to venture out and try new things & I have him to thank for my expanded but yet still limited pallet. 

In our house we are VERY big on manners. If we don't hear please the first go around or the boys don't catch it on their own, they often don't get what they were asking for. We say "thank you" almost more times a day than we say "I love you" which is an awful lot. We have the boys open doors for us. We ask that they put their dishes away when they are finished with their meal. We insist that they ask to be excused from the table. We ask for a lot but all of these things have been something they have done from the beginning, thanks to our amazing Ms. Brenda. 

Let's face it, we live in a ME world & that is not what we want for our boys which brings me back to our date nights.

While I take one of boys out, well they take me out on a date, the other stays at home and gets to either cook with dad or they get to go out and eat too. Each boy gets to pick the activity and where we want to eat from a few suggestions I give---movies, bowling, miniature golf, etc. Once it's decided they pick me up at the door. They open the car door for me----and then I open theirs and get them buckled in. They open the restaurant door. They pull my chair out first and then find theirs. They place a napkin (even if at a fast food restaurant) on their lap. They pay---with our card. They hold my hand---I am their mother, so that's fine. We talk about walking on the street side but of course, we don't have them do that just yet because its still my job to protect them. & when we get home, they open my car door again and walk me to the front door. 

It's going to take effort and practice on our part but that's okay. Our boys will know what it means to be good men. To respect the women in their lives and their elders. All while spending some one on one time with us. Win. Win. Win.


Logan has never really been one to care about what he is wearing. He has been perfectly content with me picking and laying out his clothes each morning. Besides the occasional asking for a specific superhero shirt, he just goes with it. That is until recently. Lately he has taken an interest in every aspect of getting ready. He doesn't want me to pick his clothes out anymore and if he somehow miraculously allows me to, we go through 10 different shirts and have to decide between comfy pants, shorts or jeans and then we move onto which comfy pants or which jeans or which shorts. It is a process to say the least. A battle. 

So I decided this was one battle I wasn't going to fight. I'd give him the independence he is looking for and let him pick out his clothes, from head to toe---as long as it is appropriate for the forecast. We start out each morning with Logan asking pants or shorts and then he takes it from there. I'll admit, he has quiet the style but he is more likely to show up on What Not To Wear vs. the Best Dressed list. 

"But, Mom, they're both stripes so that means they match. Ok." Not to be outdone by the awesome tattoos and monster socks. Oh and crazy bed head. 

On this morning I said that he could wear shorts but that I wanted him to wear some long sleeves too. & I have to give it to him, he followed my instructions to the T. I think the boots gave this outfit that final touch it needed.

And as much as it makes me cringe to see his OOTD, I love seeing his little personality and creativity being expressed so freely. 

Friday, April 10, 2015


Baseball season has begun and it took us no time at all to make it out to The K for our first game. We decided to miss the crowds for the home opener and take in their first day game, all while celebrating Justin's birthday.

We decided that since we didn't have to splurge for opening day tickets that we would splurge a little for this game. We found tickets that were 4 rows behind the Royals dugout but the only catch, there were three tickets and they couldn't be split up. We went ahead and bought them and later decided we would take Kaden with us. He has preschool on Thursday mornings so Logan would already be at Ms. Brenda's and we wouldn't have to worry about his nap time nor upsetting him. & to make it up to him,  we figured that once Kaden starts kindergarten we would take Logan out to the ballpark and spend a little time with just him.

All week long we watched the weather and it wasn't looking all that great but come game time it was beautiful. 

We got to the ballpark a little early so that Kaden could go down to the dugout and wave to the players & maybe get an autograph or two...

We didn't get an autograph and we spent the next 5 innings running from our seat down to right behind the dugout to see if he could get a game ball as the Royals came off the field & after a few innings where Kaden's heart was broken, he finally got one. 

A grounder was hit to Alcides Escobar who cleanly fielded the ball and threw a strike to Hosmer making the third out. As Escobar jogged towards the dugout Hosmer flipped the ball back to him and he took one look at Kaden and tossed it up to him. It hit the top of the dugout and rolled right into his glove. The kid has never smiled more. 

Before "catching" the ball, Kaden was a little squirmy. He wanted cotton candy, he wanted a hot dog, he wanted to go home--yes, home. After getting the ball, he was all about the game. It was like Christmas morning all over again. He was not letting go of that ball. 

It had been a perfect outing up until that point and the good luck continued. The Royals swept the White Sox and were starting this new season off just like the ended the last season--as the American League Champions. 

They are such a fun team to watch and I can only hope that they continue to have as much fun playing as they are. Something so special to watch. 

& remember that boy, that boy who got that game ball. That boy who wouldn't let go of the ball. He was a little tuckered out by the time we hit the car and made our way to Brenda's to pick of his little brother but through it all, he never let go of his ball. 

Forever Royal. 

Monday, April 6, 2015


When I was growing up Easter was a big deal. Sure the Easter Bunny came and brought us goodies but we ALWAYS went to church on Easter. We also almost always got a new dress or outfit to wear & most Easters we spent at my Grandma and Grandpa Hartley's. I can remember finding Easter eggs and then sitting on their "grass" green carpet covered front porch on their little white bench opening up each egg. They were always filled with money or candy or maybe if we were lucky both.

Sure, I knew the meaning of celebrating Easter, our Savior, Jesus Christ had risen but I know for a fact that it has never really had the affect that it has on me now. I am sure that is partly because I am older and I would hope wiser but I also believe it's because of a dedicated choice that Justin and I have started making. For a little over a year now we have been faithfully attending church services. Now, don't get me wrong, I don't think you have to attend church to be a believer in Jesus Christ but for me, it wasn't until we started faithfully attending that I started to talk, to listen for HIM throughout the day. Since last year, my relationship with HIM has grown leaps and bounds. I've learned to let go (of some things) and just turn it over to him. I learned to seek HIS guidance in times of trial & in joy. Most importantly, Justin and I have started not only building our foundation with HIM but our boys foundations too.  We have found a home at Westside Family Church & we are All In.

& Easter 2015 was no exception. Like most worship centers, additional service times were added to the calendar to accommodate the influx of guests & we, the congregation, was asked that if possible if we could choose one of the less busy times--we chose 5:00 on Good Friday. This had been the second year in a row that we attended on Good Friday but the first year that my Mom and Dad would be attending with us. We were all eager for them to join us as we always join them when visiting. We were excited to show them where we found a home at.

The service did not disappoint---it hardly does. & the boys came out of their classrooms cheering at the top of their lungs---HE'S ALIVE. & even had a little cheer to go along with it.

We decided that since my parents were in town and Justin's birthday was the day before that we would go out for dinner and headed to one of our favorite places, ASA, a Japanese steak house.

On Saturday we did a looking egg decorating & started prepping for our Sunday Brunch at the house. We were fortunate to have Justin's Uncle Charlie and Aunt Barb come in from Columbia to join us, as well as his Cousin Jeff and his wife Jenny who recently moved back to KC.

The boys were so eager to do their egg hunt but first they had to eat their brunch & surprisingly, they all dug right in---okay, probably not so surprising since they knew what awaited them once they were done.

This year we the Easter Bunny did things a little different--EB knows that this mom is not all that fond of candy. EB sent along two sizes of eggs for us to hide. The large eggs were in three colors---Yellow, Green, and Blue---each of the boys were assigned a color and could only pick up large eggs in their specific color, the small eggs were fair game for anyone.

Each of the large eggs were filled with ONE Lego Mixel. The instructions were in one egg and each of the other 8 eggs had pieces to the set---once they found all their eggs they were able to build their new Mixel. Honestly, this was a bigger hit than candy which is a win all in itself.

EB had also brought a few other small things for the boys and for Kaden the kites took home the top gift award. The kid loved flying his kite that afternoon and caught on a lot quicker than I had expected. Logan was a little disappointed as we couldn't keep his kite up in the air as long, or as high, as Kaden's but he didn't stay disappointed for too long as he quickly moved on to the Nerf guns.

And although the gifts from EB were nice, we all, boys included, enjoyed being with family the most. After all, it's because of HIM that we are even able to gather together and celebrate life--HIS life which in turn gave us LIFE. It's because of HIM and the sacrifice HE made that we get to claim these two ornery boys ours. HE has blessed us in so many wonderful ways and although Easter is a wonderful time to remember HIS sacrifice but it's not the only day that we thank about it. We think about it every day when we see our boys.