Monday, April 24, 2017


We all have them. That one or two drawers in the kitchen that are filled with some some-what-maybe-kinda important things but mostly just crap. & as clean and simple as these drawers always start out, it takes no time at all until they just get shoved full of anything and everything. Anything and everything you think you may need-maybe not today or tomorrow but one day, you will totally need that thingy majiggy and you will know exactly where it is.  Yup, we all have them.

At least twice I year I try to go through these drawers and take out all the crap. Reorganize the "stuff" we do need--or will probably need. And the cycle starts all over again. This time around, those some-what-maybe-kinda important things weren't going back in and these drawers would start serving a purpose.

Usually I take the challenge of cleaning out these drawers on a whim. I usually have an RBV (Red-Bull Vodka) beside me & the Royals are playing. It starts with "I can't find any pens" and ends with about 20 working pens found after cleaning it out.

I also feel lighter after having purged something & this night it started with two drawers and ended with the cabinet below that. & a LARGE bag of trash--seriously, I am not sure how that much crap fit in there after having looked at the size of the trash.

I am hopeful that this time things will be different, that those two drawers and one cabinet will stay clutter free for more than a few weeks. You see, I did things differently this time. Those kit lenses that I haven't touched in 5 years-gone. That box from my camera that I haven't touched in 5 years-gone. Note cards that weren't getting used-gone. Half completed projects-gone. Seriously, I can't tell you how much weight felt like it was being lifted off my shoulders at that moment. The feeling felt so good that I didn't want to stop there so the next night I took on the buffet in our dining room. & you know what, another bag full of crap. & more weight being lifted off my shoulders.

But let's back up--I started this purging project off with one thing in mind, ridding our house of toys. I read something the other day that a friend posted on Facebook about how getting rid of 'stuff' saved this woman's motherhood. The basis of the story is that she always felt like they were spending time picking up EVERYTHING in the house. So one evening she spent time getting rid for the toys, not all of them but a lot of them. She made three piles, Keep, Trash, Donate and if she felt the toy wasn't benefiting her children then she got rid of it.  The following morning when the kids came downstairs they hardly noticed what was gone--what they did notice was everything still there and played for hours in the toy room with their trains that they could now see. She immediately felt lighter. I wanted this.

So I printed off her little manual and went to work at home, first starting with a few smaller projects to get into the mood--you gotta be in the mood to purge and then finishing with a few of the larger projects in the house. And since I work full-time, I knew I needed a weekend where I could put the boys to bed and stay up till 1 or 2 getting it all completed and out of the house before they were up ready to play. So Friday night at 9:30, I put on my gloves and I took the toy room head on.

I started in the closet. At the bottom and worked my way up. If it wasn't a Lego, a Matchbox car, Nerf stuff, board games (with complete parts present) or books, it found it's way into either the donation pile or the trash. I was amazed by all the teeny tiny toys we had that didn't get played with any longer or may have never been played with. The boys had maybe 20+ superheroes and TMNTs. It was craziness, craziness that found it's way to the donate pile. Slowly but surely I made progress, I could finally see the floor, the games were organized, the books were sorted and stacked where you could find what you needed. Just having cleared the closet out made so much difference but I wasn't about to stop there. I tackled their baskets of superhero capes and costumes, their drawing table, the "junk" basket--if it was in the room it was gone through.

In the end, I decided to keep a few superhero capes (the ones with special meaning), the dino tails (which they haven't worn in ages but both have worn in the last few days since they can now see them), their remote control cars, books, Legos, Matchbox cars, board games and Nerf guns. I filled one large trash bag full of trash and two large boxes of toys to donate/sell at the garage sale. I wrapped up about 1 am but I knew that if I didn't get it done before going to bed and clear the room of the trash and the two large boxes that the boys would probably put up a fight when they saw the room half completed the following morning, so there was no choice but to get it done before I went to bed.

We woke up the next morning and I wasn't sure what they would do, although our morning was tight since we had to be out of there early, they both made it to the room and not even one complaint was muttered. Kaden instantly found his Fitbit & quickly declared "I've been looking for this for like a thousand years! Thanks Mom for finding it." & then gave me a giant hug & thanked me for cleaning up the toy room too. Logan was right behind him.

I kind of figured that after that large of a project that I would have had enough but nope, I went straight for Logan's room and then followed up with Kaden's room. I had been holding onto clothes that were Kaden's and that I figured Logan would grow into but truth be told, I end up buying Logan new clothes anyways. So unless they were special shirts and "sparked joy" I put them in the garage sale pile. I got rid of most all of the pants that Logan and I fight over, shirts too. He hates button downs so why would he need 8 of them in his closet--he won't wear them. EVER. So I kept 2 for those non-negotiable holidays and got rid of the other 6. Same with his sweatshirts, there are so many that I LOVE but he doesn't, he doesn't like how they fit around his head so why fight the fight, it isn't worth it. I dumped a WHOLE drawer of t-shirts, he wasn't using any of these shirts anymore. He had his favorites and that's where he pulls from. Socks. Same story.

Kaden. Different kid, same story. So much "stuff" that doesn't need to be there. Although I haven't made it into my closet I can only imagine it will go just about the same. & what makes this time different? In the past if I would have said, "well, maybe I will wear that again" I would have kept it but maybes this time around are an automatic garage sale item. The one area that I did manage to tackle were my purses and a few of these still "sparked joy" but I knew I wasn't going to use them any longer so why let them just take up space in our house. Why not let someone else get good use out of them? So, I'm saying goodbye to 7 purses and not going to feel guilty about it either.

At the end of the day, all this "stuff" was causing me frustration. I'd walk into Logan's room and see the drawer that I just spent so much time on organizing busting at the seams because he was digging for a specific shirt & in turn, created a mess. It would infuriate me, I wouldn't tell him that but inside, it just frustrated the hell out of me because I knew it was up to me to fix. And maybe that shouldn't be the case but he's 5 & he does what he can to help out and this is something I do for him. The "stuff" in the toy room, always had to be corralled, whether it was me or the kids, it was just everywhere & exhausting. Not anymore.

My only regret, not doing this sooner.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Bear Went Over the Mountains

It was first grade musical time. A little over 2 months ago, maybe longer, a script came home with Kaden and a note stating that on April 13th the first grade would perform their rendition of The Bear Went Over the Mountain. Every first grader had a part in the musical & they had lines they needed to memorize. They suggested working about 5-10 minutes a night on their lines but when I asked Kaden what his line was, he rattled it off. In character too. 

"The creatures of the night, will catch you UNAWARE!" 

He had the last line before the fourth song. Since he knew his line from like day one, Justin and I worked with him on slowing down and speaking more clearly. He, however, knew how he wanted to say it and stuck to his guns. Seriously made me smile each time I heard it and we just knew that if he got up there on stage and said his lines as he practiced, he nail it. 

I was impressed that our music teacher was able to give every first grader a speaking part in the play but what was even more amazing were their costumes.

We had squirrels, bunnies, birds, bees, bats, owls, raccoons and of course, a bear.

Kids needed to be there by 6:40 for the 7:00 showtime. With knowing how holiday parties are at this school we knew we should arrive a little earlier than that to ensure we got a seat. We arrived about 6:30 but when we entered the gym most all floor seats were either taken or someone was saving them. So we took a seat on the first row of the bleachers. Thankfully we were given a little heads up as to where Kaden would be standing so we knew we should sit across from him. We instantly found him but he wasn't able to see us.

And thankfully I had a good friend who was sitting much closer than I was and was able to record Kaden's line. & as a bonus, she recorded his "streamer" performance too which I didn't even know he would be doing. Almost as soon as the play started Kaden and a few other kiddos filed off the stage only to come back on the stage each waving a streamer. The only problem, Kaden's streamer was suddenly MIA, so he had a wand with NO streamer. I could see that he wasn't to thrilled but he held it together and continued on with the performance as though he had a streamer all along. The show must go on.

Line. Nailed. 

I didn't know what to expect but I was so stinking proud of Kaden and honestly, all the first graders as they put on a pretty cute performance. Lil brother thought so too. Although I am not certain I would have hugged this sweaty bee...

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Season Opener-Aces

Baseball is here & not just for the Royals but for the boys too! Both Kaden and Logan loved playing last fall so we decided to get them into spring baseball too. We figure baseball in the spring and fall, basketball in the winter--if they want to. We loved Kaden's coach last year but we were thinking about making the move to 3&2 since Logan was in kindergarten this year & we wanted to try and get him on a team with some of his school friends. We found out two things:

1. There was already a 3&2 Cedar Creek Elementary team for 1st grade and they had been playing together for a number of years--I guess these things happen prior to even being in school. So that meant we needed to find a team for Kaden.

2. There was already a kindergarten CCE team also---mind you, Logan is in kindergarten so that meant we had to figure out a team for him too.

As I was asking around for both boys, Kaden's old coach reached out and said he was moving to 3&2 and wanted to know if Kaden would want to play with him and a few of the kiddos from his team last year. This was really best case scenario for us as there were a few CCE kids already on that team & we really liked the coach. He was great with the kids and did a great job of teaching the game. Kaden was officially on the Aces. He would play machine pitch again & his season would stretch from March with practices through the end of June, 14 games.

With Logan I decided to reach out to all the mom and dads of boys in his class and ask if anyone was looking to play at 3&2 and was not on a team--one of the perks to being the room mom. Luckily a couple of boys were looking to join a team and one of them just happened to be one of his best friends Caden. So we signed the boys up and we all put the names of the other kiddos on our sign up and hoped for the best. The wait was long but we did it, all three boys ended up on the Jammers & their 10 game season will also run through the end of June.

The boys have multiple conflicts but for the most part there are no games on the weekends & where there are conflicts it is either with practice for one or the are on separate fields at the same place so Justin and I will just be doing some tag teaming at those games.

The first few games were rained out and Kaden was so disappointed. He really wanted to play. So on Sunday night after Justin and I returned from the lake he asked about the weather for Wednesday. I kind of thought it was odd for him to ask about the weather so I asked why, "Because I really want to play my game Mom. If it rains, it will get canceled again and I don't want that to happen." Good thing for him, the forecast was looking sunny and bright.

& when I walked in from work on Wednesday he was dressed and ready. We arrived at the ballpark only to find out that we were playing against the team that one of Justin and I's college friends coached. His son was the catcher so this picture is pretty special with Kaden batting and their son behind the plate. 

We didn't win but it was fairly close until the last inning. Kaden didn't get on base. He struck out the first time and the second time at bat he grounded out to the first baseman. It was a close play, close enough Kaden felt the need to slide into first but in the end, he was out. He was disappointed and got a little upset which I didn't like to see but at least we know he wants it. After he was able to calm himself I had to remind him that we run through first base, we don't slide. That only Eric Hosmer can do that. He laughed. & then said he wanted to be Hosmer. Give it some time buddy.

& this kid.

Well, he wasn't looking forward to the game. He didn't want to sit and watch Kaden play the entire time & was just so worried about what he would do. He managed to find a few friends and they chased one another in the open field next to the ball field. At one point he just had to show me how he could jump over this huge hole in the ground. Pretty good leap Logan. Pretty good leap.

It was nice to get the first game under our belt but I am not wishing this season away too quickly. I love watching the boys play ball--hopefully in the next few years we can get them on the same team. The South boys.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

A Lake House Refresh

Since the day that Justin was born he has spent his summers at the lake, Lake of the Ozarks. His maternal grandfather built the lake house when his mom was just a little girl and the rest is history & memories being made. There have been updates to the house along the way but for the most part the structure has stayed the same. After Nanny got to an age where it made sense to transfer the title, Justin's mom and his aunt inherited it & thus we continue to spend part of our summers on the water. As Justin has gotten older, so have his cousins and each of their families have grown to where there isn't as much space as there once seemed to be. So we started brainstorming on ways we could make better use of the sleeping arrangements. And then that led to a huge list of to dos that needed to be done at the lake house over the course of the summer. Instead of spending part of our time during the summer doing some of the jobs, we decided to knock it all out the beginning of the season. Open the cabin, rid it of clutter, clean it from top to bottom, make a few changes & then sit back and relax when we visited during the summertime. 

My mom came up to watch the kids as it was an adult only weekend. The first leg of the caravan was my MIL and I. We packed the Yukon as full as we could. 3 sets up bunk beds, 1 mattress, 2 large ceiling fans, 7 pillows, paint, food, cooler & overnight bags & took off for the lake. We would arrive after dark but we thought that it might be best if we could get the cabin open, get everything working and start moving things out of the way so that when our helpers arrived the next day they could get straight to work too. 

The big project of the weekend was the porch area. This porch area is original to the house and has about a couple hundred jalousie windows. They are a pain to wash but totally worth it--I love the character they add. We currently had two futons that were housed out here and they always had someone sleeping on them--it's only a two bedroom cabin. We thought that we could remove the desk, the wall shelving unit from one end and replace it with a full size bed with a twin bunk on top. 

On the other end we thought we could replace the futon with 2 bunk beds, making 4 twin sleeping spots. We knew the measurements would work out but we just didn't know how it would look, I was a little worried as I started to put it all together. Somehow, Janet and I managed to remove all furniture out onto the deck & at about 11:30 decided why not start putting together the beds and prepping the walls for paint. 

By morning we had one bed mostly put together and we were ready to paint. And you see that spot over there, yup, I decided to sleep on the porch, try out the new bed. And you know what? It didn't creek every time I moved like those darn futons did!

We knew we had limited space to work with so we started with cleaning the screens and windows at one end where then Janet and I began painting so we could at least move one bed into place and out of the way once she was done with that area. As we started to work, Leanne showed up and provided some much needed DJing and help. She took over window duty and finished clearing the cabin of the old trust radio.

Before the night was over 3 other caravans showed up--Adam and Becky bringing 6 mattresses, a whole lot of wood & tools. Justin. And Craig. & as soon as each one arrived, they got straight to work. We managed to finish the painting, have all the beds put together and have one of the ceiling fans installed. Oh and Becky started the DEEP cleaning of the cabin. 

& when we woke up in the morning we could really see the porch taking shape.

Saturday was divided into two groups. Projects outside and projects inside. Janet and Becky pretty much took care of the inside while Justin, Adam, Leanne and Craig managed the outside projects. I floated back and forth after getting back from a Home Depot run with Adam because we had a fan to exchange for just a light---the matching fan we had bought for the other side was just too big with both bunks there.

The to do list was long but we were determined to get it all done. It made all the difference in the world having so many of us there and so many of us that were capable of taking a task and completing it without much input or help from others.

By Saturday night we were able to sit down, enjoy a wonderful belated birthday dinner for Justin and just relax. All the work was done and most everything was loaded back up, Sunday would be an easy morning.

The lake house has always been about creating memories and I pray that this new space allows more and more memories to be created for all of our family. That the work that managed to get done will allow for a few more conversations to be had over drinks near the water. Sure there will be the usual maintenance like mowing and weed-eating but there is no way we would have been able to get half of this done during a summer weekend--especially with kids there.

So cheers to the lake house being opened for the season. I for one am looking forward to showing the boys their new sleeping quarters--heck, I might sleep out there too as they are now the most comfortable beds in the house.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

DIY--Tulip Wreath

Justin was getting annoyed with the lack of effort on my part to finish putting away the holiday decorations--I considered them "winter" decorations and spring only began two weeks ago! But we did need something fresh an new on the door so I did what I always do, went to Pinterest. I really wanted something bright and fun & was loving these...

but I have seen them on just about every street that I drive down. I wanted something a little different so I kept culling through all the ideas until I ran across some tulip wreaths. Who doesn't love tulips? And multiple colors of tulips like this one. Yes, please.

So I followed her tutorial. I stopped at Hobby Lobby and bought the branch wreath for like $5, the greenery garland at $12.99 with 50% off and then the tulips which I should have waited for them to be on sale but I didn't. I bought 8-10 bunches, 4-5 in red and 4-5 in white. Again, wait till they are 50%, would have made this project much cheaper, by like $25-$30 cheaper.

Now, I knew mine wouldn't end up looking like hers, I mean, that just looks picture perfect and anything you do never really looks like the inspiration. But I was okay with that because I could tweak mine over time and figured I could still come out with something that I was happy to hang.

I started out first by ensuring that I had a RBV--this is one of my must haves when projecting, it helps me work better. Next step was to wrap the greenery garland around the wreath. I had hoped that the garland would have a few small white or yellow flowers on it but I wasn't able to find what I was looking for so I just went with all green. I literally wrapped it around once and then tucked it into the branches to keep it in place, no tying necessary.

I then used some wire cutters to cut the tulips down to size. The tutorial suggested 10 inches or so, I roughly did that but certainly didn't measure. Some I cut shorter, some I kept longer with the leaves. After having disassembled each tulip bunch I started putting them on the wreath.

I basically took a tulip stem and shoved it through the twigs so the stem came out the backside of the wreath. At that point I just tucked the rest of the stem in someplace on the backside to secure it in place. I worked from the bottom up the left side and then from the bottom up the right side, trying to ensure that the tulips faced a little more inward than outward.

At this point, I thought it was huge and I only used an 18 inch wreath, she recommended a 20 inch or even 22 inch wreath but I was happy I went with the 18 inch one. I hung it on the door, moved a few tulips around and then added our "S" for South to the middle. I literally just hung the S from the hook with the wreath, I just made sure that the length was right. This way, the S isn't attached and I can easily remove it and add something new if I would like. To hang the wreath I took some burlap that I had on hand, folded it in half and then tied it around the wreath--simple. I might need something more like a bow but it will work for now.

Like I said, a few tweaks will need to be made but it has certainly brightened up our space a little. Now we just need to wait for the nice spring weather to come so we can add our planters filled with flowers to the front porch---my favorite thing about spring. Well, besides the endless nights outside playing with the boys.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Pound Cake 101

I've made Justin a Rice Krispie Treat cake. We've made the overly used by so delicious yellow cake and chocolate icing for his birthday. He's had a Harvey Wallbanger cake from his mom. Fried Ice Cream last year after celebrating a The K.

He doesn't have a particular favorite and isn't a huge fan of sweets---guess it's where Logan gets it from and man do I wish I didn't enjoy sweets as much as I do.

Anyways, you can't have a birthday celebration without cake and within the last few years I have gotten a little more adventures with my cakes. I made Kaden's 5th, and 7th birthday cakes and then made Logan's 4th and 5th birthday cakes so why not do something for Justin too.

I decided to go with a pound cake. I had never made one before but though that a good pound cake paired with fresh strawberries and whip cream might just be something Justin could get on board with.

So I bought the bunt cake pan. & late Friday night I went to work--figured I would bake the cake on Friday night and then finish it up on Saturday. I didn't realize that it needed to cook for an hour and a half so starting it at 9:30 made for a pretty late night as it wasn't ready to go into the over till closer to 10 pm.

The recipe I used was Best Sour Cream Pound Cake In the World from and it was everything the name said it would be. The recipe was 7 easy ingredients, most all of which are probably on hand at home all the time.

- 1 cup butter
- 3 cups sugar
- 6 eggs
- 3 cups sifted flour -- I used bread flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 8 oz. container of sour cream
- 2 teaspoons vanilla

I creamed the butter and sugar, added the eggs, sifted he flour and baking soda in and then added the sour cream followed by the vanilla. Placed it into a generously greased bunt pan and baked it. For what seemed to be FOREVER in cake years.

Although it was completely worth it. It came out looking beautifully.

I tipped it upside down on top of a serving plate and there it sat until the following morning. I eased it out of the bunt pan--remember, generously greased pan & then added some powder sugar to the top which covered the imperfections on the "bottom" side of the cake.

I also made a simple strawberry reduction to serve on top by cutting up some strawberries fairly small and then adding sugar and lemon juice to a sauce pan. I brought it to a boil and then reduced it to a simmer so that it could thicken. While that was happening I cut up some additional berries--strawberries, blueberries, blackberries. The boys love berries. I do too.

& then I thought, why not add the berries to the center of the cake. Any juice will be absorbed by the cake and that can only be a good thing--so I filled the center of the cake with berries until it started to overflow.

The boys helped by adding some candles and there you have it. My first pound cake. It won't be the last either--it was a huge hit at the party with everyone.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Daddy's 36th

Six years ago Justin got to enjoy the Final Four for his 30th birthday and this year he was headed to a practice round of the Masters--luck guy. His flight was leaving bright and early on his birthday so I conjured up a way to celebrate with some of his favorite people the evening before. The only thing---I was trying to keep it a secret which meant I had to be a little pessimistic about the things he was recommending for dinner and the basketball games, I couldn't tell the boys because they would surely tell him & I had to make sure that all our friends were "busy" if he were to reach out and try to plan something.

For the most part, everything went smoothly. We were planning on eating at home and I would be fixing dinner. I was already making a cake for him and although it would be a "special" cake he didn't think anything of it because one thing I can do is CAKE and I like to try different ideas out with him and the boys. This year I was going to attempt a pound cake, I had never made a pound cake before but Justin isn't the biggest fan when it comes to sweets so I thought a pound cake with some fresh strawberries would be right up his alley.

I was trying to stall with dinner. I told him I had a few ideas and then he left for salmon to smoke as an appetizer--perfect, that would give us something to snack on and push dinner a little further out and give all his friends time to show up & allow the food that I ordered everyone to show up too. He came home and sadly there was only a small piece of salmon so what did he do, picked up two huge steaks. Then he proceeded to get rolls out and bake them, and green bean to stem. Quinoa was getting ready to be poured into the hot water---I had to stop this. I texted his SIL and said that it might be good if they came a few minutes earlier than expected.

They arrived and he still didn't think anything of it because he just figured that since he was leaving the following morning they had stopped by to drop off a card. Then he saw the Classens' and when he asked Becky what was happening she just darted into the house. He finally figured it out. Everyone was coming to the house for him.

His first thought, food---Kayla didn't plan anything for food, what I have won't feed everyone & that's when I just told him to relax. It was all taken care of.

A few minutes later CG and Becky arrived with Joe's Kansas City for everyone. He couldn't believe that I pulled it off but I explained that I had only shared it with Logan earlier that day and wasn't about to tell Kaden because well, it wouldn't have been a surprise.

We spent the rest of the evening with the kids running around in the backyard & the adults, all but Nolan who was with the kiddos, watched the tournament games. We needed the Carolinas to win. Both would have been nice but North is really who we needed to pull out a win.

At the end of the night, the kids were exhausted, the cake was gone and North Carolina had won. It was a pretty happy household.

Happy Birthday Love. The boys and I are quite lucky to have you all to ourselves.