Monday, May 25, 2015

Mini photo shoot

I wanted a few pictures of the kids that I could print off and give to the grandmas for Mother's Day this year, so I decided to take the kids out for a little photo shoot. Usually, when I say I want to take a few pictures, they moan and groan about it, but this time, they were excited, so I went with it!

Here's some of my favorites.......

Tommy's looking away in this one, but I just love Tessa's little smile and that they're holding hands! 

This one I love because of her facial expression....this is her "help me" face and she does it ALL the time! I'm glad I captured it so I'll never forget what it looks like--so cute, even when she's being a little grumpy!
Sweet kiddos.........

 I love, LOVE this one because he was being so protective of her. Somedays, they fight and fight and fight until I wonder if I should just put a line of tape down the middle of the floor and threaten eternal grounding if they cross to the other person's side. And then moments like this happen that let me know they REALLY do love each other. We were on the side of the road taking these pictures and a car started to get close to us and he grabbed her and said, "Sissy! DON'T MOVE!" I might have cried a little.....maybe.
These are my favorite shots of them individually.....

And this is the one we decided on for grandparents.....
It was another one of my favorites because the smiles are real. That RARELY happens in pictures, but they were having so much fun trying to carry each other piggy back style and I just happened to snap this gem in the middle of their laughter!

It was such a fun evening and I hope they let me do this every now and then throughout the years!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Easter 2015

So I'm extremely a little late getting this post done. But, Easter this year was better than the last few we've had! It seems like the last few years, we've had a kid crying for one reason or another.

Easter 2011--he wasn't crying in this picture, but he screamed the whole time I got him dressed
 Easter 2012--he started screaming after he saw his Easter basket, because.....why not?
Easter 2013--she was SO unhappy with her dress

 Easter 2014--no idea what she was so mad about, but she. was. TICKED and let me know all about it.

But this year was decent! No meltdown, no crying, no fits. It was SO great. We celebrated with my side of the family on the Saturday before Easter. We had everyone over to eat and hunt eggs.We made a big ham and everybody else brought sides. It was SO yummy! And the kids all had a blast, of course!

On Easter Sunday, we woke up and the kids opened their baskets. They each got a pair of shoes and some candy. After we had breakfast, we went to church and met my mom and Granny there. We kept the kids in the adult service instead of sending them to the nursery and they were AWESOME. I was so happy (and let's be honest--surprised) that they held still and kept quiet. Much improved over the last time we tried to keep them in the sanctuary. After church, we headed over to Nick's family's house to celebrate with them. It was FREEZING cold outside (which is weird for Easter), so we ate lunch (delicious BBQ) and then we had the kids hunt eggs in the basement. They had fun and we stayed warm!

We were tired and SO ready for a nap. I think we all crashed as soon as we got home and just relaxed the rest of the day. I'm so thankful for our Savior and the REAL reason to celebrate Easter!
Two kids happy at the same time on Easter---it's a miracle!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Happy Birthday to me!

So, I turned 31 this week. And got a few new gray hairs, so there's that. I feel like I'm getting to the age where birthdays just aren't THAT big of a deal.

Don't get me wrong. I still love the gifts and attention :) I just don't get quite as excited about being 31 as I was about turning 16, 21, etc.

But my family and friends still go above and beyond to make it a super special day! My mom always gets us a present to open for every hour of our work days, so that always gives us something to look forward to! I got some kitchen towels and oven mitts, candy, nail polish, loofahs, hair ties..........all sorts of stuff that I wanted AND needed (my favorite kind of gift).

She also gave me a card with money in it to buy myself breakfast and lunch. Unfortunately, I was running WAY behind (because that's what I do in life) and didn't have time to get breakfast. But I just happen to work with my bestie, who texted to ask if I wanted her to get me something from McDonald's. So I took her up on her offer and of course, she denied my money when I tried to pay her back (because that's what SHE does in life--she's a giver!).

The girls at work all signed a card and Judy made me the most delicious cake--it was angel food cake with a caramel-y frosting. It was soooooo good, so I asked what all was in it and she said butter, cream and sugar. And I thought, "DUH! Of COURSE that's why it tastes so good!" You just cannot go wrong with butter, cream and sugar.

Right before lunch time, my sweet cousin brought me a diet coke and a HUGE cupcake that tasted a little like heaven.  On my lunch break, Hannah (the afore mentioned bestie that I work with) and I went to Wal-mart. I wanted to do a little browsing and found a pair of shoes I liked. Well, being the giver that she is, she took them from me at the checkout and refused to let me pay.......again. And I appreciate her generosity. And the lovely new shoes I got :)

After work, my family all met at Mediterranean Grill. I love it because it's tasty food but it's not super heavy, so you don't feel overly stuffed or like you gained 20 lbs by the end of the meal. My favorite part about birthday dinners is just having my whole family all in one spot where we can talk and relax without having to worry about making the food,  serving or cleaning up afterwards.

They spoiled me with MORE presents--I got money (which paid for a new iphone!), shoes, a drink dispenser that looks like a HUGE mason jar, earrings, tupperware, and a cutting board. I loved it all!

After dinner, my mom, Tessa and I went shopping at Kohl's. I bought a few shirts, but it was pouring down rain and we got soaked just walking to the door, so that was our one and only shop! I headed home and opened my present from Nick and the kids. They got me a $75 gift card to Lane Bryant! Happy shopping to me :)

I didn't get to celebrate with Nick's side of the family until Tuesday, but his dad grilled some super tasty brats and we had chips and fruit salad with it and it SO hit the spot! My sister-in-law made some killer strawberry scones that we topped off with a little ice cream and fresh strawberries---YUM!
This picture doesn't do it justice!!

After dessert, I got to open gifts......I got more money, the cutest bag and a cookbook. It was such a great night! I love that we both enjoy being with both sides of our families and that it's always fun and relaxing when we all hang out!

Overall, it was the perfect way to spend my 31st birthday--with the people I love, showering me with gifts....(just kidding about the gifts....kind of). Now, I'm off to spend that gift card!! ;)

Friday, May 15, 2015

Mother's Day 2015

Mother's Day was perfect this year! I think we may have found a tradition for my side of the family that works really well. For the second year in a row, we had my whole family over for breakfast. I love this for two reasons:

1. It's nice to do something in the morning so we have the afternoon open for Nick's family.
2. I freakin' love breakfast food. I could it eat for every meal, every day.

We made biscuits and gravy and pancakes and everyone else brought a side. We had turnovers, eggs, bacon, hash brown casserole, was delicious. And Nick did most of my cooking and most of the cleanup, so that made it even better!

After we ate, Tessa and I went to church with my mom and sister and brother-in-law. Tommy had been up alllllll night coughing (and on Mother's Day, I felt the sheer exhaustion that it takes to be a mom), so we didn't want to put him in the nursery or have him in the service where he could infect people (although I'm pretty sure now it's an asthma cough). So Tommy and Nick stayed home. I was bummed not to be with them but the service was SO good. The pastor read the book, I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always. Makes me cry EVERY time.

After church, we stayed home and napped. And it was glorious. I slept for two hours and had zero guilt about it!

We met Nick's family for dinner at Ciao at 6pm. They have delicious Italian food! I always get a little leery of eating with large groups of people on holidays because it seems like you always have to wait forever. And waiting forever with two well-rested children is not fun. But it turned out great! We got seated right away and it didn't take TOO long to get our food. And at the end of the meal, they served all the mom's chocolate cupcakes with a card on the plate and a little bag of Andes mints. The cupcake was SO yummy and the card had a great surprise in it--a $10 gift card to Ciao! So we'll be going back sometime soon :)

So, pretty much the cupcake picture is the only picture I took on my phone on Mother's Day. Is that sad? I didn't get any with my kids until it was like 9:30pm and they're on my big camera, so I'll download those later. Oops--guess that shows where my priorities are. Cupcakes over kids any day, right? ;)

Mother's Dad this year was WONDERFUL. I'm so glad Nick and I both still have our moms and that they're as wonderful as they are. And I'm forever grateful for the two blessings that made me a mommy.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Benton Days 2015

Last weekend was Benton Days--one of my favorite days of the year! I remember going as a little girl, so I love taking my kiddos and enjoying our small town.

I also have a tendency to get a little overexcited about the garage sales on Benton Days. Ever since I've had kids, going to garage sales is my jam. Like, I seriously can't get enough of it. There's nothing that gets my heart pumpin' like a good deal!

This year, Nick and Tommy were out of town so it was just us girls. Nana stayed the night and we got up bright and early (okay, it was 9am) to hit the town.

God is so good and so funny. I had been thinking in my head but never actually prayed about the fact that I was really hoping to find some nice Nike shoes for Tommy. He is obsessed with Nike's and asks for them all the time. But with my cheapness, I can't make myself pay $50 for a pair he'll grow out of in two months or get caked in mud in less than 30 seconds of being outside.

Well, the first garage sale we stopped at had several pairs of Nike's for $2 each that were in EXCELLENT condition. I bought 4 pairs. Thanks God! Tommy was thrilled when I showed them to him later.

Then we went to several more and I scored on clothes for Tessa!

Have I mentioned I LOVE garage saling?!? Cause I do.

After we garage saled, we grabbed some lunch and headed to the parade. Tommy was super bummed he was missing this and asked me to take a picture of every single fire truck. Luckily, there were only two fire trucks :)

Tessa had a blast and we ended up with a grocery sack stuffed with candy (like we needed more of that!). She did have a spill and scraped her knee up on the gravel. But after a few seconds of crying, she brushed it off and got back to enjoying herself. Is it terrible that I thought, "Thank God it was Tessa and not Tommy. If he was here and fell, it would've been a 30 minute ordeal." I hate to think that, but he is seriously SO dramatic and she is SO chill (about pain. She definitely has drama in other areas).

After the parade, we went home and crashed HARD. It was a long, hot, exhausting day, but I had SO much fun with my girl!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

It's been too long

I saw her at the grocery store. It was her hair, her clothes, her was her. Her name passed over my lips before I could stop myself. She turned at the sound of my voice, but as I held up my hand to wave at her, I realized her face wasn't familiar.

In that moment, it hit me like a punch in the gut and I remembered.

She was gone.

For four years now.

It happens all the time, it seems. I see the people I love that are no longer on this earth everywhere I look.

I think of my Grampy every time I smell aftershave. Every time I see a tall, skinny old man leaning on a cane and spitting his chew. Every time I walk past men's tennis shoes in Wal-mart or buy a can of peanuts.

My aunt I see in the flowers that dance in the wind....the antiques I love shopping for that I KNOW she'd love.....the daughters and grandbabes she left behind.

This year has been hard for some reason. Almost harder than the first. It's painful to think that it's become normal that they're not here. The fleeting moments of excitement where I think I've seen one of them or heard their voice are all the more a slap in the face when I remember that's not my family's reality. And while some people would say I'm lucky to have lost "only" two people I've loved.......two is enough. MORE than enough. When it comes to death, there is no such thing as "only" two.

People say it gets easier with time, but does it? Does the urge to see them touch them hear their voice just one more time....does it ever go away?

The only thing that makes it bearable is knowing that someday we will see them again. And that they're together--my aunt and my Grampy, two of Heaven's best angels.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Tea Time 2015

Yesterday, I got to spend the morning with my sweet guy at preschool! They had a Mother's Day Tea and it was such a cute, fun morning!

I dropped Tommy off at school at 8:30am and then the mom's were supposed to come back at 10am for a little snack and program. When I showed up to Tommy's classroom, he "escorted" me to my table. Then he went up to the table to get our snack and he served me fruit salad and water. It was delicious and all the kids helped "make" it.

After we ate, they read aloud these letters they had written where our kids filled in the blanks. I was a little nervous to see what he would have to say about me, but he did pretty good!
I had two favorite things---the first one was where he said I was very good at cooking bread. Ha! I've never actually MADE bread (other than banana bread). I asked him what he meant by that and he said I'm good at cooking biscuits and cinnamon rolls and making toast :) Sweet boy.

I also love at the very bottom where he said if he could give me anything in the world, he would give me a picture of a caterpillar! SO funny! Of all the things........some kids said cars, some said shoes......and he picked not just a caterpillar, but a PICTURE of a caterpillar. I asked him why he chose that and he said, "Because, mommy! I just know how you LOVE those caterpillars." Oooookaaayy.......I actually don't enjoy caterpillars or bugs of any sort, but I LOVE that for some reason, he thought of that.

It was so nice to hear his thoughts on me and to get to spend the morning just hanging out and chatting with him!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The zoo!

Lions and tigers and bears....and giraffes and tortoises and flamingos and gorillas....need I go on? This week was Tommy's school field trip to the zoo and it was SO fun!

I took the day off work to go with him and I'm so glad I did. We don't have a very good history of trips to the zoo. The only 2 times I remember are once when I was about 5 months pregnant with Tommy and it was 700 degrees outside and then once when we took him and he was about 1 year old and he ended up puking all over himself and the stroller. Not the two best days of my life.

But I digress.....

I was a little stressed over going since it hasn't always been fun, but was hoping this time would be better. And it was! My friend (whose daughter, Katie, is in Tommy's class) came also and brought her double stroller, so Tessa cruised around in that the whole time with her buddy, Tucker. And Tommy had so much fun playing with Katie that he didn't have time to think about whining (thank you, Jesus!).

We saw EVERY animal at that zoo. And it's a big zoo. But at least this time the animals were active and moving around. I feel like whenever we go, they're always lounging around in the sun doing nothing. The black bears were strolling, the orangutans were swinging and the penguins were putting on a show. We got to the giraffes just in time to feed them!

 Their tongues are really slimy and REALLY long. Tommy loved it.....Tessa, not so much. She kept dropping her lettuce before the giraffe actually got it, so then he would stick his head on the floor and sweep his tongue side to side to try to find the lettuce. It was so funny! But she was over it once she felt the tongue. And I don't blame her!

One of the giraffes was being a rebel and somehow managed to get down in the super deep ditch that's supposed to keep the huge, wild animals away from pedestrians.......kinda scary. The zoo keeper said the rocks that form the barrier have sunken into the ground so much that they can get down in the ditch now. And she didn't act like they were too concerned about getting it fixed anytime soon! At least giraffes are fairly tame.......right?

We went through the petting zoo and I was impressed this time. Last year, the kids were both too terrified to touch the animals, but they did better! Tommy walked right up and petted (is that a real word?) the sheep and Tessa sloooooooowly stuck her hand out, felt it's wool and then walked away. She wasn't a fan. I was anxious to get out of there because there was this little black lamb that kept running into things and shaking his head and slinging snot and foam everywhere. It was disgusting and I did NOT want lamb snot on me. So it was a quick walk through :)

The kids loved getting this close to a tiger!

However, after we saw them, Tommy said, "But mom, where's the REAL tigers? You know, the really orange ones?" I had to explain that those WERE real and he was in denial because in his mind, tigers are bright orange! It was cute :)

After a few hours, we met his class and all ate lunch together. It was fun to watch him interact with the kids because I never get to see that! After lunch, we finished making our way out of the zoo. The kiddos were SO tired and ready to be home. We stopped for ice cream on the way home to cool us down (it got HOT at the zoo!) and then the kids conked out.

I'm so glad I got to spend the day with my sweet babies! 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

My God is Good

When people ask why I like living in Kansas........I picture this sunset and think, "Why wouldn't I?"