Saturday, June 25, 2016

Miss Leah, BBQs and Donuts

One of our favorite things about summer is that my niece, Leah, gets to come and spend a few weeks at a time with us. Two years ago it was two weeks, last year it was 3 weeks and now this year we got her two separate times for multiple weeks at a time. Even tried figuring our a way for her to go to Cabo with us but she had no passport. Boo. 

Of course the boys love having her with us as do Justin and I but the one that loves having her here the most, Stoli. Stoli doesn't leave her side. She sleeps with her now instead of on her dog bed on my side of our bed. She doesn't come upstairs until Leah does. The other night she literally sat right next to Leah on a bathroom rug as she was helping with the boys' bath time. Stoli has become quite the traitor.  

The first time we had to say goodbye wasn't too hard knowing that we would get to see her again in about two weeks but I'm not sure how we are going to muster up the courage to say goodbye later this month. If her parents would let her, we'd let her live with us and we'd pay for that ubber expensive private schooling...

She has such a great heart. 


When I stepped away from my photography business a few years back, it was partly because I knew my husband had some things he wanted to do too. For one, he wanted to get a BBQ team together, so he did. & after a couple of years of trying to get into the Lenexa BBQ, they finally did. Pitt Smokers made their Lenexa BBQ debut and they couldn't have been more excited. 

Friday night was grab-a-sitter-and-head-out-to-the-bbq-to-support-your-man-night. & so did the rest of his family too. Justin's aunt and uncle were in town from Florida and they brought out his Uncle Bob too. Thankfully, the weather was amazing for end of June and their tent was perfectly located next to the band and the entrance. 

The boys and I decided that after donuts we should run and say hello to their dad. Give him so good luck vibes and a little love. It must have worked too because Pitt Smokers had their best finish in brisket to date and finished 31st out of 185 teams overall. Not too shabby. 


DONUTS. Did someone say Donuts?!? Yup, we can't start a South vacation without a trip to John's Space Age Donut Shop so that is exactly what we did before having to head home, finish packing for our next adventure. Passports needed. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Mr. Gold Dog

I guess it's Gold Dogs turn. Seriously though, if it's not one, it's the other. March and April was all about Stoli and now here we are at the end of June and it's all about Brodi.

He has an ear hematoma. And now a cone. 

Basically, he got an ear infection and started shaking his head too much and popped a blood vessel or something or another. That blood started filling up in his ear. We didn't notice it, my MIL did when she kept him over the weekend as we went to the lake and told us when we got back. I took him to the vet, he got his ear drained and then was put on some medications. The positive side to the medication, it has a good track record of working and thus not having to get the surgery. The downside to the meds, he drinks A LOT and pees A LOT! It's really unreal how much he pees and he has had many accidents in the house as of lately.

The cone was a HUGE adjustment for him. He was running into everything & we thought that maybe in a few days he would get use to it but no, it never really got better, he just learned to deal with it better. The best part was when he would walk up our stairs, after every other step he would have to pause and lift his head a little and scrape the cone on step to continue moving forward. It was about a 5 minutes process to get up the stairs now--Justin and I would just shake our heads at him. 

Thankfully, it does seem as though the meds are working. We just gotta ensure we have ample carpet cleaner on hands at all times. And my apologies ahead of time to anyone that may come over to our house in the coming weeks---we are trying really hard to keep the pee smell out but right now, we are losing the battle. 

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Lake Bound

A few months back I asked Justin what he wanted to do for Father's Day weekend, since it's his weekend and all, he wanted to be at the Lake. Easy enough, I got on the lake house calendar and booked the weekend.

As the weekend approached I asked one of our friends if her and her family would like to go down with us---they have kiddos about the same age as the boys and I knew the kids would just have the best time. Lucky for us, they said yes. We were officially Lake Bound...

Kids in both cars were sleeping on the way so we decided to eat dinner in Laurie before heading to the house, plus this allowed us to eat at Chances 'R'. We try to eat there at least once a summer, if not more--just like their signs states. The food was great as always but the best part of the dinner was when the entire bar joined in and sang Jason happy birthday.

Thanks to some early morning construction happening at our neighbors we were all up and at it nice and early Saturday morning. Before things got too crazy I made the boys pose for their 4th annual "lake picture"--I think Kaden has grown a little more than Logie has, that gap seems to be getting bigger.

and then it was non-stop playing for the next 8 hours. Every once and while someone would take a little break and head back up to the cabin but that typically only lasted a few minutes before they were putting their suit back on and heading back down. 

We had hopes of going out on the boat but when we tried to start it up it would start so decided we would charge the boat overnight and take it out the following morning for some fun. Which meant, the adults could enjoy the downtime too.

Logan was showing the big kids how it is done when it comes to flips and Jake jumped right in on the action too. Kaden, well he decided to let everyone else have the glory & stuck with what he knew. 

& that was Justin with the booing in the background. Bedtime came nice and early and the kiddos were out in matter of minutes--after promising a dollar to whomever fell asleep first. Sunday morning started out with a few cartoons followed by a trip on the boat. Justin took us all tubing since the water was so quiet that morning.

We then loaded up back in the boat and took it out for lunch at Coconuts.

The little boys celebrated their dad's with Dad's Root Beer...

while the big boys celebrated with a little something more.

while the mom's watched the kiddos...

The weekend was one of those weekends were you just don't want it to end. The kids were having fun and getting along so well and honestly, I am one of the first ones to want to leave on Sundays so we can get back and get ready for the week ahead but I just wanted to soak it up as much as I could.

It really doesn't get old and I love that our boys will grow up with so many lake memories. Who knows, maybe one day they'll get to bring their own kids down, I mean that is the whole idea of a family lake house.

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to this man.

He doesn't receive as much credit as he should, I try, but it will never be enough. He takes care of so much around the house---cooking, grocery shopping, trash, anything car related. He is the best partner in life that I could have asked for & I am one lucky gal but as lucky as I am, these two boys are even luckier. They get the privilege of call him "Dad" or most recently, "The Big D".

It could be showing the boys how to swing a bat, catch a ball or how to make french toast--whatever it is, the boys are in awe of their daddy and look up to him so much.

If the boys take after their dad at all when it comes to being a father or husband they will be doing a pretty great job. So what do you do for the number one man in your life for Father's Day? You make him a card of course---and not just any card. A sidewalk chalk masterpiece. & no, this wasn't my idea, I stole it from Pinterest.

The boys helped when it came to a coloring in some of the planets and the heart they did all on their own. Their favorite part was dumping water all over it when I was done---we couldn't leave any evidence behind of our surprise.

I uploaded the images into the computer, edited one or two of them and then sent them off to the printer. As soon as the image arrived at the house we framed it and headed out to buy his gift. We picked out something he had been wanting for awhile and we knew we weren't going to be able to keep it from him for long so we decided to go ahead and give it to him early---after all, he was going to want to use this for our lake trip that weekend. We decided that we would just leave it in the car and then asked him to go out and get the boys' baseball stuff, he rolled his eyes but went out there anyways.

He was pretty stoked about the picture and even more so about his new YETI. Now he had a new toy for his Father's Day weekend at the lake.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

One Pretty Great Saturday

We haven't had many free weekends over the last few months so when Saturday rolled we decided a trip to City Market would be the perfect way to start it. We started out nice and early because we knew the heat was coming and we were right--it was a scorcher.

Not only did Logan find him some giant carrots--his favorite food--but we ran into a little festival too.

The Busker Festival to be exact. We saw a hula hooper, a fire juggler, a yoyo artist, & some hoop acrobat performers.

After the Busker Circus was finished we headed over to jump in line for our inaugural ride on Kansas City's first street car.

We took a ride for a few blocks and then hopped off and headed home to have lunch before getting our suits on and spending the day at the pool. Remember, it was hot & what better way to cool down than at the pool. We had made plans to go to the drive in but Justin was trying his hardest to get the kids to stay longer at the pool, promising him that he'd take them the following day but it wasn't working. They were set on the drive in so home we went to take a little rest & before I could even get pool bags unloaded they were all out--Justin, Kaden and Logan. Drive in wasn't looking too promising…

and then they rallied. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2, here we come.

It was still hot. We were there way too early but the last time we were there we about didn't get in, guess day 2 of the weekend is a little less busy, especially when the two shows that were being shown were on the week before. Oh well, we made the most of it.

From the get go Justin said we were only staying for one movie & although I was a little bummed at first but when the time came I couldn't have been happier. We were all ready & super tired. But what a fun day we had.

Friday, June 10, 2016

KidsGig 2016

The past couple of years the boys have spent a few mornings during the summer at Kids Gig. Kids Gig is our church's version of bible school. The first year we participated we did the evening session and I was able to volunteer but the last two summers I have been traveling so the boys went to the morning session. It's a little longer than the evening session but I figured any more time learning about Jesus' LOVE for us is time well spent. 

Cousin Colton was staying the week with the boys and Emily so he got to join in on the fun too. & on day two he shows up and announces that it is Crazy Hair day at Kids Gig. I didn't get that memo but that wasn't surprising so when I asked the kids they immediately confirmed it and we had some work to do. Colton's hair was already spiky but they all wanted to add some fun color to it so I hunted down some chalk. Blue and Red and for Logan, a little Red, White and Blue!

They had crazy sock day, wear your team color day and at the end a big bash---that we had to miss because Kaden spiked a fever. They made new friends and learned to "Walk This Way" with Jesus & how He is always with them.

"When you walk, nothing will slow you down. When you run, you won’t trip and fall. Hold on to my teaching and don’t let it go. Guard it well, because it is your life."            
- Proverbs 4:12-13

They have learned so much about loving Jesus, being like Jesus and sharing Jesus because of Westside Family Church and we are beyond blessed to be part of such a wonderful church family. 

Monday, June 6, 2016

Baseball is HERE!

When it come to extra circular activities or sports, surprisingly, we don't have the kids involved in a lot. Since they are still so little we have a little rule, on sport or activity at a time. We finished up their winter soccer league and then decided to take a break until this past week when baseball started up. We decided to go ahead and do JCPRD again, mainly because the boys could go back to back on Mondays and Wednesday again---we'll switch over to Olathe's version of JCPRD once Logan is in school and both boys can play with their classes.

This year Kaden would be starting coach pitch and Logan would move up to T-ball with no parental help---basically, Justin and I would get to sit and watch both boys play without being on the field & more importantly, wouldn't have to find anyone to help with the boys while I was traveling.

We pulled out their cleats from last year and both pairs were too small--I knew they would be--BUT, Kaden's old pair fit Logan and he was totally stoked to wear them. So all we needed was one new pair of shoes, some ball socks and some ball pants.

& why is it that when your little man pulls on his first pair of ball pants that he just doesn't look so little anymore. It's hard to believe this guy is going to be 7 in just a few short months. EEK. 

And then there is this kid. He may just be the cutest thing EVER. I seriously can't get enough of him. 

Can't wait to watch these two this summer at the fields & thankfully my mom shared a video with me about how baseball can be the biggest self-esteem destroying sport in the world. A fielding error and he probably wants to cry--the other team is cheering, their fans are cheering, your team is upset and coaches could be yelling too. And then he has to ride home with us and possibly hear about it. But what he really wants is ice cream and damn it, we are getting ice cream---if they listen to their coaches. They don't have to play well but they have to listen well. Here's to having a positive impact on the boys this summer with the game of baseball.

Sunday, June 5, 2016


About 6 or 7 months ago my dad called and told Justin and I both to mark our calendars that he was getting everyone in the family together in Branson and it was not optional. He and Mom had found a cabin to rent for 3 nights which would accommodate the entire family and they weren't the only ones looking forward to this little trip--I can't even recall the last time we were all under the same roof for multiple days in a row.

As the dates approached we kept checking the weather and things looked clear and sunny but like typical Missouri/Kansas/Arkansas weather, things changed and rain was in the forecast for most of our time there but we were going to make the most of it.

We started off our adventure the only way we know how---with John Space Age Donuts.

We headed down to my Mom and Dad's on Thursday and followed them the rest of the way down. As soon as we arrived we all unloaded our cars quickly as the rain was headed in. My dad entertained the littles as the rest of us put everything away...

As we waited for the rest of the family to arrive we got a game of Left, Center, Right going. & yes, we played for money and the kids are learning to gamble but they also worked on who was to their left and their right! Logan thought he was pretty hot stuff...

But once Blakers arrived the littles wanted nothing to do with us. They just adore their older cousin--I think his pretty special too. 

Friday arrived and it was still raining. We had figured that we could do a shopping day for the girls and the boys could go to the pool but with the rain continuing throughout the day we had to find something else to entertain the littles--Did someone say magic? I mean we are in Branson---where Las Vegas performers go when their shows get canceled. We saw Rick Thomas, who was actually pretty good and the boys loved it but we could not for the life of us figure out how old he was. It is like no where!! Go ahead, look it up---you won't find his DOB anywhere, its like magic. 

Of course the kids had to have popcorn and slushies and Grandma Sara happily obliged. 

The show lasted a few hours & both boys couldn't stop talking about it. I got to go up on stage and help out with a few of the acts and I couldn't even begin to tell you how I think he did those tricks---unless his assistant is super flexible. After the show was over we got to meet his two dogs who are part of the show & each kiddo purchased a stuffed tiger which proceeds went to benefit his tiger foundation. 

We stopped for ice cream before heading back to the cabin & walking into this...guess she needed a quick power nap for the intense game of pitch which was only hours away from happening.

Saturday it was an early start for most of us. Jennifer and the BIG kids--Brett and his girlfriend, Anne--were going to meet up with us later, the rest of the clan was ready to for a day of adventure when the park doors opened. (Zack and Lindsey had a work event to attend that morning with Zack's employer, so they too met up with us a little later but we got the Miss Madi!)

We started off our adventure with a little carnival game--Papa Tom gave each kiddo a chance to win a dog. Kaden stepped up to go first and won a medium size dog. Logan and Leah won small dogs and Blake came through with the large dog for Madison. Such a sweet cousin he is. But now we had to carry these darn things around for the rest of the day.

Up next, the Tea Cups--me with the little, littles and Kaden with the big kids. More like, they wanted to spin around like crazy and we didn't!

We hit the flying elephants---I think they were elephants. When we got off we realized that Papa Tom and Justin were searching for a locker to keep their new dogs--good idea and we met up with them at Grandfather's Mansion. The boys laughed so hard going through this crooked house. It was always one of my favorites growing up too.

The big kids got locked up in the jail---they play the part of upset criminals pretty good. 

We then took in the first Main Street Shootout & the cap guns were quite loud and the boys loved being a safe distance away from the action. 

It was now time for a few rides and the American Plunge was just around the corner. Kaden wasn't really wanting to go so I suggested that Blake and I take off to ride Wild Fire first and then we would come back and check to see if he had changed his mind. While we were gone he stood on the observation deck and got drenched--he was game. & so was my dad, which made me relax a little more because I knew we could sandwich Kaden in between us & we did. Thanks to Justin we got it on camera. 

We were soaked and as much fun as Kaden said he had, he did not want to go again, or "Maybe at the end of the day, Mom." Either way, was proud of our big guy and so was his dad, who had found a few other family members by the time we got back. I mean, how cute are these two? They have matching shirts and sandals on...

Now that we were all together we decided a train ride was in order and Logan led the way, with a little help from his Aunt Jennifer. 

After lunch we split up. The big kids, plus Zack and I, headed out to do the roller coasters while the rest of the gang took the littles to the playground area. Not sure who had more fun by the looks of the pictures...I mean my brother's face is priceless!!

We finally met back up and I was a little bummed that I missed out on the Lost River and although they all agreed to go again, the line was forever long and the kids were losing steam so we charged ahead and did something we could all enjoy. A little friendly shoot out.

& we were lucky enough to get to go twice in a row because the operator forgot to stop our boats. Although, the second time around the Siebert boat started to sink and fill up with water, it was very amusing and no one was ever in any danger. 

Following that ride we felt that we were at a good stopping point & headed out but not before one last picture. A happy one too. Kaden wasn't feeling pictures by this time...oh well, the rest of the day he had a smile plastered on his face. 

The kids were pooped but still wanted to go swimming when we got home and I didn't have the heart to say no so we loaded them up and headed out to the pool. Thankfully Leah and Blake were there and in the water, a little chilly for this momma to have to get in. 

And that was it. We woke up the morning, packed up the cars and we all headed in different directions home. Jennifer back to Arkansas, Mom, Dad, Zack and Lindsey to Carthage and then Justin and I to Kansas City. We actually had a few extra guests--Leah was coming to stay with us for a few weeks and Brett and his girlfriend were celebrating an anniversary with a trip to Top Golf so they were following us too.

Speaking of Brett's girlfriend. He isn't the only one that is smitten with her. Logan has quite the crush on Anne. & why wouldn't he, she is just a sweetheart and so very good for my nephew. 

So that was #Hartleypalooza16. It was such a wonderful time to be with everyone under one roof with no outside agendas in the way. I think Mom and Dad should think about doing this on a yearly basis---it's about creating memories right?!?!