Sunday, December 31, 2017

NYE 2017

New Years Eve had a little bit of a different ring to it this year. We typically spend it with our wonderful friends the Berbs and Walshes but with a new puppy we knew you wouldn't be able to stay the night anywhere so we decided to keep it kind of low key. We planned on getting together with a few families from school for the Chiefs vs. Broncos game--one of the dads is originally from Denver & then we were just going to stay in. 

That didn't last long, our other good friends, who live right around the corner, decided to plan something simple and small. Everyone had every intention of being home and in bed by 10 or 10:30 but the evening just kept going. The men were all in the garage teaching the boys poker while the girls were inside painting our favorite memory from 2017.

The kids were all playing so well together that when 10:00 came, it didn't make sense to leave. We figured we would head home as soon as the boys couldn't figure things out on their own but that just never happened. So as the boys played Xbox and watched movies in the garage, the adults played What Do You Meme? --think Cards Against Humanity except with memes. I don't think I have ever laughed so hard in my life and it didn't matter that we barely knew two of the couples (also in the neighborhood), it was just a great, stress free evening -- thanks to the kiddos who rocked the night. 

And although we never thought we would make it to midnight, or at least we didn't think any of our kids would---they all saw the clock strike 12 and the confetti flew. 

2017 was filled with lots of joy and a little bit of pain but most importantly it was filled with the people who matter the most to us. Some how, the years just seem to be getting better and better, can't wait to see what 2018 has in store for the Souths. 

December Extras

Summer at the Lake of the Ozarks - Kaden's 2nd grade traditions project

Both boys managed to get strep at the same time!

Stoli isn't the only one that LOVES finding the sun on Saturday mornings.

Ugly sweater party at the Griffiths. Kaden really disliked his unicorn but everyone else LOVED it.

Basketball kicks off again for this kid--Go Stealers. Mom's the coach again too.

An attempt at a double feature - first Wonder, then Justice League but we weren't feeling the MX4D for Justice League but Wonder was amazing, a must see for everyone.

Grumpy Cat has nothing on Grumpy Gus.

Ferdinand with friends. 

Protein and lots of it for this kid.

He found out he was headed to puppy school.

Double feature day at the movies with Jenn.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Logan & Amazon

Cute dog, right?!

The other day I was on Amazon and noticed a number of items in my cart that didn’t belong there. I deleted them but quickly clicked on my previous purchases to ensure other random items were not ordered. That’s when I saw that this little guy was set to arrive by 8 pm Wednesday evening. I also noticed that it was being sent to one Logan South. I asked him about it. He proudly exclaimed that he was needing something soft to sleep with so he searched for stuffed animals and found this cute little guy. And with one click he was on his was. 

As soon as he arrived, Logan opened the package and then I instructed him to hand it over. This cute little guy was now mine and Logan is not happy to learn he has to earn him back. He’ll be paying me in reading minutes, how many, I haven't decided just yet. 

Rest assured, we had a little talk regarding Amazon & how he is NOT to add anything to the cart and purchase it. He is to come and talk to us. Then we will discuss, we will discuss how he can maybe work towards said item, after all, we don't just buy things to buy them. We work for them.

Monday, December 25, 2017

CHISTmas Morning

I don't believe there is a better morning to be a parent than Christmas morning. The build up of anticipation from the night before all being released as the boys scurry down the stairs to see what Santa brought them. 

We always try and stick to three gifts but this year, we did a few more than three this year. This past month and a half had been hard on our family so Justin and I bought felt we needed a few extra smiles on the boys' faces. My heart just exploded when both boys were so excited to see the Pupsocks we had gotten for them with Brodi's face plastered all over them. 

Logan doesn't like that Kaden can easily make "tents" in his room because he has bunk beds--which Logan does not want in his room. So I found him a dream tent and he is a very happy camper now!

The boys opened up the Blue Crew 2018 kit - complete with a new Royals hat, sleeves, jersey and a bag. They of course just had to put it all on - okay, that isn't true, I had to bribe them.

One of their favorite gifts--like, they won't take them off EVER and I have to beg them to let me wash them---their Chewbacca onsies. I mean, adorable!

This was also the first year that we had the boys pick out a gift for each other. Logan for Kaden. Kaden for Logan. They had a budget and instructions to think of something that they think their brother would really, really want. Oh and they couldn't tell each other what they got one another, it was a SURPRISE, or was it!

Christmas morning was pretty magical and before the South family arrived for the South Christmas the boys unpacked the hover board and the Nintendo Switch to try them out. By the end of the day they both had pretty much mastered the hover board and were well on their way with the Switch. Mom and Dad were holding their own on the hover board too.

And we even got a white Christmas, doesn't happen too often here in Kansas. The boys bundled up and out they went for a little fun in the snow -- Gus even joined them for part of it, although he wasn't sure what to make out of this crazy cold white stuff.

And as the day was winding down, I found myself on the couch with a hot tea in hand recalling as many memories as I could from that morning. It was a good day. We found happiness and joy in that morning & we didn't lose sight of the real reason we celebrated. 

Merry CHRISTmas.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve and the excitement was building.

We had just arrived home from Grandma Sara and Papa Tom's & the boys instantly found the Christmas pjs that Fishleg Hiccup had left for them. And this year, he also left them some house shoes which were also Star Wars. That little elf sure knows how to make these boys happy. & cute.

The boys also knew that since it was Christmas Eve they could give Fishlegs Hiccup a nice BIG hug. They both told him how much they would miss him and that they would continue to be kind to not only one another but also to others. They then thanked him for his kindness to them & squeezed him so hard his head almost popped off.

& this year, Christmas was bittersweet. It was the first Christmas in 12 years that we would spend without our dearest Brodi, we still miss him terribly. It would also be the first Christmas that Gus would be with us -- he has brought so much joy.

JOY - the contentment in the midst of worry and hardship.

We sat out the cookies, poured the milk and then we found a comfy place on the couch for the reading of Twas the Night Before Christmas, another tradition except this year, Kaden and Logan read it to Justin and I. The wonder & excitement in their eyes still remain one of my most favorite things to see. Especially during this time of year.

After our reading was finished, the boys were off to bed but they couldn't sleep. Logan proclaimed that the distraction of Christmas and Santa coming was just too much, that he couldn't fall asleep and if he didn't fall asleep that would mean Santa wouldn't come. I explained to him that Santa was one sneaky jolly ole guy and he would find away. It was a very long battle but after about 2 hours and close to 11 pm, he finally drifted off to sleep next to Kaden's bed on the floor.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

A Hartley Christmas

Christmas at my parents' house is always one of my favorite gathering times of the year. It doesn't just mean our immediate family is able to gather together but it also means that our entire extended family can come together as well. And come together we did. But first, we got to spend a little more time at my mom and dad's helping bake desserts, snacks & even putting together a few puzzles. And before this was something Kaden had no desire to do but now, after being able to treat his ADHD, he LOVED it so much, he did two. And he did them basically all on his own too. I was just his helper.

and we even got a WHITE Christmas. WE haven't seen one of these in a very long time. So of course the boys had to go out and play in it but of course, we forgot our snow boots so we made due with Walmart sack. Double sacked just to make sure.

That evening we gathered at my Aunt and Uncle's for our Hartley Christmas. Each of my cousins were there. Each of their families were there. The only one missing -- Grandma Dorothy. And as I look at this picture, I can't help but think how blessed our family is. The only loss we have experienced as a family is that of my grandma & we were lucky enough to have had so may wonderful years with her. She lives in each of us and I know she is watching over each and everyone of us very carefully from Heaven.

The next morning we celebrated at my mom and dad's with the boys, their cousins and three dogs, all of which were on their best behavior. We once again hired the best three gift passer-outers that we could find--thankfully they were willing to work for a few presents.

I had purchased a couple of these Fingerlings back in July for the boys thinking that not only would they be one of the BIG toys of the year but also thinkig that the boys would be asking for them but they NEVER did. I decided a few weeks before Christmas that I would offer them up to someone who couldn't find them and that had children with them on their wishlist--I found someone. Made their Christmas and their daughters Christmas. In the end. the boys ended up getting one from Grandma Sara and Papa Tom. Both were pretty excited to open them up to see what they would do.

When my mom was in town a few weeks prior to Christmas the kids mentioned that they needed some new hot chocolate mugs since Kaden's had broken the year before. Mom made a mental note of it and ran into these cups one day at a random stop in at Big Lots -- where she never goes, really it was so random. When she saw these mugs with Brodi's mug on them, she knew the boys needed them & I couldn't have agreed more. We miss Gold Dog so much & loved all the little ways he made it known he was with us during the holidays.

Joke Books--Kaden and Logan love joke books, they love jokes in general. Kaden was begging to order a joke book prior to Christmas and I kept putting him off because I knew exactly what they were getting from Papa Tom and Grandma Sara -- he was pretty stoked!

Sadly the above picture doesn't do this gift justice. So Kaden and Logan both created a wish list with sticky notes to share with the grandparents. They picked a few items under $25, a couple under $50, one under $100 and then a "gold" gift--which was reserved for Santa but when Kaden opened this particular box his hands went straight to the side of his head, his jaw dropped in excitement and he literally had to catch his breath. I love that a $7 and a $6 toy mean just as much, if not more, than some of the bigger and more expensive gifts he received.

The rest of our time there was spent around the kitchen table eating a delicious lunch -- including Grandma's famous meatballs, can't be a Christmas without them -- and watching the Chiefs play. Although we were able to spend a few more days than we typically do at my mom and dad's, it's still never enough and after the win we headed back to KC to prepare for Santa's arrival.

This guy though kept it real -- I won't lie, it wasn't unicorn and rainbows the whole time we were at my mom and dad's. There was frustration which led to disappointment in both Kaden and I and Papa Richard was there to remind me to smile. That we were blessed and life was too short to get to bent out of shape -- he's so right. A smile felt much better than the frustration that I was holding onto. Thanks for the reminder Papa.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Wonders of His Love

Wonders of His love.


Tuesday, December 19, 2017

A new tradition-I think so.

 I had an idea. Actually, I have had this idea for awhile now but it wasn't until seeing a few friends do it that I knew it was time to pull the trigger and find out more information. You know, the "you never know, unless you ask" scenario. That is me, always. 

I wanted to take the boys on a lights tour of KC but not just any lights tour--one with a limo. They had never been in one, heck, I've only rode in one like three times--and I figured this would be a great highlight of the holiday season. It of course would be lots more fun with friends so I texted Jen and told her my idea and she was in, if we found availability. Turns out, the Wednesday and Thursday evenings were booked but Tuesday night wasn't -- we were locked and loaded. 

The limo would fit 12 adults comfortably and we had 4 kids, 5 adults so I asked Justin's family if they wanted to join us too. They were all in. Even when I mentioned that we were doing this in our PJs.

We decided that we would surprise the kids with the limo part but went ahead and told them we were doing Pizza in PJs at our house on Tuesday to celebrate winter break.

So, of course, Fishlegs had to bring new PJs for the boys.

The initial plan, eating pizza in the limo while looking at lights. Justin suggested we feed the kids before, he was right. For once, I admit he was right. Everyone arrived around 5:30 and the limo was expected to pick us up at 6, so we had 30 minutes to get the kids fed and playing. I noticed the limo drive by the front of our house & called up to the boys. I asked what they all thought about going and seeing the lights. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO was said by all. Then I suggested that we all climb into the same car and see lights together. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Thanks. I mean, at least this time I got a No Thanks. So then I just kind of laid it out there, told them that we had a surprise for them outside and when they stepped outside the limo was just starting to pull in front of the house. Jax was the first to scream, "a limo" and the rest of the boys were right behind him, they were all running towards the limo when I yelled, HOLD ON! They all needed shoes on and they needed to use the restroom which they weren't too excited for because all they wanted to do was see inside. 

A few minutes later and we were off on our way.

These boys thought they were the coolest kids EVER. Smiles were plastered across their faces as they peered out the windows hunting for light displays. 

We had instructed the drive to that we were hoping to hit up 69th and Ward Parkway, one of our favorite streets in the city & then take a spin through the Plaza as we headed down the Mayors Christmas Tree at Crown Center. And that's exactly what we did...with a potty break at QT in there.

Our favorite stop -- Crown Center hands down. We were able to get out for a few minutes and take a few pictures -- Christmastime at Crown Center is so beautiful.

So beyond thankful for the Shafers. Its so hard to find friends that just get you and you just get them at this point in your life. It can be a little intimidating trying to make friends with your boys' friends but not with the Shafers. It's been so easy with these guys & I already know that there will be soooo many new memories and traditions created alongside them. I mean, we are already planning the 2nd Annual South-Shafer KC PJs Lights Tour for next year -- and the only thing the kids noted they'd like to improve the experience, SNACKS. We can easy handle that.