Sunday, April 30, 2017

A Rainy Weekend

Sometimes all you need is a good rainy weekend to force you to stay home and tackle a few projects & then spend the rest of the time curled up on the couch introducing some classic movies to the boys.

We started our weekend off with Justin bringing home a new car for us to test drive (it was finally time to say goodbye to the old Camry), dinner with Cousin Colton and then a trip to the batting cages.

The boys were begging to start a movie and since Justin and I both were pretty certain their games would be canceled the following morning we gave in and started The Sandlot. The boys had seen it once before but it had been awhile and now since they are both playing baseball we thought it would be a good time to reintroduce it. They loved it & hearing them laugh to something we grew up with was just the best.

We had decided after driving the car Justin brought home that we didn't want that exact one because there were some paint issues---it's what Justin does for a living, assesses damage on cars--but they had another one just like it on the lot so we went with that one. He left nice and early to start the buying process while the kids and I started another classic--Might Ducks Two. A little while later we loaded up and headed to meet Justin to finish the paperwork and say goodbye to the Camry. I wasn't all that sad to see it go but we've had it as long as we've been parents. Which then got me to thinking, if we keep this car as long as we did the Camry, Kaden will be driving and it might become his. Mind. Blown.

Thankfully the process wasn't too long and the boys were great so we treated them to a quick lunch at Chipotle before heading home and taking on another project, the birthday cake for Logan. They get a real kick out of me baking their cake each year and my mom always made my birthday cakes too which makes this even a little more important that I do it for them as well. This year since we were having two parties and one place wouldn't allow homemade treats it was decided for me on which theme we would be following--Smore's, camping, nature it was.

The cake was pretty basic and a lot easier than it looks--I mixed a chocolate cake and a white cake together and cooked 75% of the batter from both cake boxes in two 9 inch round pans and then stacked them. From there I iced the cake, cut down graham crackers and placed around the cake using the icing to secure it. Melted down chocolate, poured on top and then topped with marshmallows.

But the cake toppers still needed to be created so Logan and I went to work on them next. I purchased a few woodland animal plastic figurines and drilled a little hole into the top for a candle to be inserted.

I then spray painted them gold, after all it is his Golden Birthday, and now we had woodland animal cake toppers.

And just like the rain that didn't stop ALL weekend long, our projects didn't stop either. On Sunday after church Logan and I decided that we would head to IKEA for a couple of things. I needed to grab some frames to make a gallery wall in the toy room and while we were there, we picked up some mini orchids for our neighbors--it was May Day the following day.

The gallery wall was kind of a spur of the moment idea. We picked up a few Ribba white frames, mixed in a couple gold Ribba frames and within 30 minutes of being home we had it completed. Gallery walls always scared me, I was worried it wouldn't be balanced correctly or I wouldn't have enough frames or too many, but I have quickly learned, they can be a work in progress. Start with what you think and then live with it for awhile. If you don't like it or it needs something more, change it or add to it. & if you use 3M Command Strips, you don't have to worry about putting tons of holes in your wall to hang your frames--I seriously, never hang anything without thinking about using 3M Command Strips, they're stock at home.

I've saved every single piece of artwork the boys have brought home and I needed something for this wall so I thought why not put up a few of their favorite pieces they have brought home from school. I anchored their artwork with my brother's charcoal piece from when he was in high school. (I may or may not have stolen this from my mom).

Look how proud this kid is of his work.

And that was the weekend. Lots of movies. Lots of projects. Even more family time. Thankfully the sun came out on Monday when it was time to head back to school & the boys were able to deliver those flowers for May Day.

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.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter Weekend

We typically don't have set Easter plans each year. A few years ago we hosted our families, last year it was pretty small and we went to a Royals game, one year when Kaden was little we went to my mom and dad's. The only constant, family. This year was no different.

We took off for my mom and dad's on Thursday evening after Kaden's 1st grade musical. We arrived just a little after 10 but mom and dad were still up which meant the boys got candy and Popsicle. As soon as they were done though it was off to bed as we would have visitors nice and early Friday morning, cute visitors too. Really, cute visitors that had grown so much since the last time we had seen them. I spent most of my day looking at this...

And when I wasn't holding and looking at him, he was laying and looking at me. And I love that Kaden plopped right back down by him & that they both had on their Chiefs shirts. Cousins are the best.

Friday was such a beautiful day and Grandma Sara wanted to introduce the boys to Food Truck Friday up at the Carthage Square--and boy were we glad she did. I had an awesome brick oven pizza & the boys had some yummy turkey sandwiches followed by cake pops. 

We didn't want to stay away too long as the Papa Tom was left with Trenton so we hurried back where the boys and Miss Madison headed outside for rides on the golf cart & I assumed my position holding Trenton again as Grandma Sara started working in the kitchen to get our Easter Dinner ready--Papa Richard was headed over and Jennifer and the kids were coming up too. Miss Leah just recently got her driver's permit so when it was time to head and pick up Papa Richard, I told her to grab the keys and she could drive. We made three stops--Sonic for ice, Braum's for milk and the third stop being Papa Richards. It was an eventful trip, while in line at Sonic, I mentioned that she would have to get a little closer to the window when she pulled up because we wouldn't be able to hand them the money. While we were waiting a car started honking at us. She started getting worried it was at her and I assured her she was doing nothing wrong and it couldn't be at her but in my mind I was worried. Then I saw someone get out of the car behind us and was walking towards my door. I was about to get out as well so that I could have a conversation without her hearing--no need to put unnecessary fear into a 15 year old--when I noticed it was my Uncle Scott. He thought I was driving and was trying to be funny--joke was on him.

On the way back to my mom and dad's I drove. Not because Leah couldn't do it but because Papa Richard needed to sit in front and I wasn't going to sit behind Leah to coach her so she sat in back and I drove. & we both listened. Papa was in one of his moods--my favorite moods--where he talks about the good ole' days. He told stories about growing up and about Grandma Hartley, who we were all missing a little more that day. I just love his stories and they're part of the reason I also volunteer to pick him up.

& this picture just brings the biggest smile to my face. I am so blessed with the fact that my boys not only met their Papa Richard but that they got to KNOW their Papa Richard and he got to know them. I can only imagine the conversations he will have with Grandma when they are reunited again, I'm sure would love to listen as they each share their perspective on the same events!

Before we left the next day--we had to make it a quick trip because it was Easter weekend and we missed Justin who was at home preparing for our Easter brunch the following day--the boys played a little more with the pup, who had also grown so much & helped plant the garden. Help is a probably a strong word, more like they played in the dirt while Papa, Blake and Grandma did the heavy lifting. Me, well Leah and I snapped a few pics of baby Trenton.

Seriously, could he not be cuter!?!

Our time came to an end about lunchtime & we headed back north towards the city where Justin was waiting with new flowers to be planted. It's one of my favorite things about spring. I love all the bright colors---flowers, grass, trees.

We pulled the house together as quickly as we could because the following day we would be hosting brunch for Justin's side of the family. This year we were missing Adam, Becky and Colton as they were enjoying Disney World but we gained Uncle Bob, Aunt Barbara & Jeff and Jenny too.

The boys woke up excited, they knew the drill. The Easter Bunny had visited and it was time to check out their baskets, bedhead and all.

Brunch was delicious as always & the boys were eager to hunt the eggs the Easter Bunny had left behind and to try out their new scooters. So while they waited for just a few more minutes, Aunt Barbara and I hid the eggs--blue eggs were Kaden's & yellow and green were for Logan. Even Steven at our house.

As our brunch started to wind down we pulled out Kaden's homework and noticed that we needed to find something from nature that he could take to school with him the following day after writing a brief report on it. Luckily we live near a lake so we took off for a walk, well I walked, they rode their scooters.

We didn't really find anything all that great, I mean we could have gotten grass and sticks out of our own yard but we settled on a long blade of grass and headed home. As we were getting close to home we found a luna moth--with a missing tail that wasn't doing too good. We picked her up (we were able to determine by her wing coloring she was a she) and we took her home. We placed her in our flower pots and checked on her from day to day but by Tuesday, she was sadly dead so she became Kaden's little nature item.

Easter weekend was spent pretty much just like it's supposed to be spent--with family and remembering just how lucky we are to be the freaking son or daughter of God. We may doubt that we are enough when it comes to most roles in our life--wife, daughter, mother, friend, colleague--but being his daughter means I never have to doubt I am enough for Him. That gives me peace.

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.