Tuesday, May 31, 2011


I think it's in their DNA. Why do my boys love camping so much? Is it the fresh air? The campfire? Eating hotdogs, marshmallows, chocolate bars, and graham crackers until you can't eat any more? Is it fishing that they like or climbing on rock piles or climbing up the "climbing tree"? Is it because they like sleeping on the ground (in the tent) or in the camper that sways and clangs everytime the wind blows? Do they love the extremities of it being cold one day and blazing hot the next day?

Whatever the answer is, there is no question to the fact that Brandon, Parker, and Andrew love camping. They love being outdoors.

Parker and Brandon kicked off the camping season three weeks ago at the farm. At the farm, they camp in a tent...in the woods...with a campfire and the climbing tree. They do this with Grandpa Mahlon, Uncle Lance, Cooper, Cameron, and Bella (and I'm sure Andrew will be there with them in a couple of years). This year Grandma Robbie and Aunt April were there, although they slept in the house. It was cold and cloudy, but these boys loved every minute of it! Parker loves any time that he gets to spend on the farm and you throw camping in and he is in heaven.

Parker and Cooper exploring the woods....I think it was at night!

Parker and Bella asleep in the tent.

All of the campers....after a night of sleeping in the great outdoors!

And....while the big boys were camping, Andrew and I were at home practicing his sitting skills!

Then, over Memorial Day, we went to our annual Riffel camping trip at Brandon's Uncle Riff's farm. This time we took the camper (because Andrew and I were going). We loaded up the Armada and the camper and drove down to Herington, KS (about 20 miles from Council Grove), set up camp, and enjoyed the Riffel "family reunion" for three days.

Parker got to climb on the rock pile, see the new kittens, go fishing, ride his Gator and four wheelers, play with Morgan and Avery, swim in his pool, draw with chalk, roast marshmallows, play "monkey in the tree", and enjoy the fresh (windy) air. We had a campfire, played games, and enjoyed the company of family. Andrew was loved on and held by grandmothers, aunts, uncles, and cousins...showing off his sweet smile and personality. He also enjoyed time outside in his exersaucer and playing on the blanket, and eagerly watching is big brother run around with the girls.

Roasting Marshmallows with Pa Pa. (Even though Parker prefers to eat the components of a S'More separate!)

Andrew's first night in the camper!!

Cousins on the Gator!

My little fisherman!

Cousins playin' some B-ball!

Morgan and Avery in "The Wave Pool".

My sweet Andrew and Aunt Dana!!

Yes, these boys have a special "camping" gene. And, I have to say that I love it too- watching them enjoy every minute of their time camping...being boys and doing boy things is what I love! I love camping because it means that summer has arrived and summer (although it's the busiest time of the year) is so much fun! This summer holds so much....swimming lessons (Parker's first private lesson), pool parties in the backyard, Pandamania (Parker's first time at VBS), Andrew's first trip to Colorado, weekends at the lake with our good friends, summer camp at the farm, street parties with our neighbors, family walks in the evening, and yes, even more camping! These two camping trips have been the perfect kick-off to summer!

Happy Summer!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Winner!!

So, we didn't actually draw the winner's name at 6:00 pm- as on most beautiful, spring days...this evening we went to the park, ate dinner outside, played outdoors some more- until the sun started to fade, took a bath (a bath is a necessity from being outside so much), had a bedtime snack, and read our books. Somewhere in between the bath and bedtime snack, I pulled Parker aside to pull out a name!!

Yay! I was so excited to do this!! Parker reached into his red KU hat and pulled out a name.....when he did....I laughed! I thought to myself, "What are the odds?!" Yes, what are the odds that one of the GREATEST DAD'S I know would win this Mommy Bling!?

I looked at Brandon and said, "What are the odds that you and Justin (probably the only two dad's on this Earth who read blogs) would both win contests meant for women?!" But, I have to admit, I am SO excited about Justin winning this beautiful bracelet for his beautiful wife, who just happens to be one of my best friends!!

The best part about Justin winning this bracelet, is that he is probably the PROUDEST dad that I know. Justin loves his boys so much and would probably wear this bracelet, just to show off his kiddos! Ha ha!

Justin- you give me a call when you read this and we can work out how to order the bracelet!! Yay!

I will also be making a gift in your honor to the Heart of Missouri United Way- to help the people of Joplin, MO.

And, just for fun, and because we are such good friends, here are some photos for Justin:

Remember this night....when our two families became the best of friends? Look at how young we look!

And, remember these...just a few days after Caden was born?

And, here's one of Parker and Caden from just the other night!

I can't seem to find any photos of all of our boys, so the next time we get together, we've got to sit them all down (if that's possible) and get a picture!!!

Now....just because you didn't win this contest....don't give up!! I had so much fun doing this one, I think I'll do another one real soon!! If you love this bracelet as much as I do, please check out JLynnCreations on Etsy and get one for yourself. Every mom deserves some Mommy Bling!!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Heart Strings

Because the tragedy in Joplin is laying heavy on my heart and pulling at my heart strings, I've decided that the winner of the "Mommy Bling" bracelet will also have a gift of $25 made in their honor to the Heart of Missouri United Way. There is a VERY generous family in Missouri that is matching all gifts made to the Heart of Missouri United Way up to $50,000. So, this small gift of $25 will turn into $50 and will be used 100% for the people in Joplin, MO.

Here's how you can help:

It's the second fund raising day and we're learning more and more about how much help people need. To give now and ensure 100% of the proceeds go to Joplin:
- Go to http://www.uwheartmo.org/ and click to donate
- Text JOPLIN to 864833 ($10 donation)
- Call the Heart of Missouri United Way at 573-443-4523 later this AM

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Paying It Forward

Don't you just love it when something completely unexpected and nice happens to you?! Recently, my friend Holly at Happenings Of Our Home, had a giveaway on her blog...and, of course, I entered it! Well, little did I know that my husband also was reading her blog that day and entered the contest too...now, keep in mind that this was a contest to win a recipe book. I'm not implying that boys can't cook, but this recipe book was definitely intended for a female- with custom fabric on the outside, ribbon trim, monograms, etc (you can find this cute little recipe book on Etsy). So, come to find out, one week later Brandon won this book and is giving it to me! This little act of kindness from my friend Holly got me thinking....if only we were all this generous and thoughtful! Then I thought of ways that I could pay it forward and keep this act of giving going strong.

So....do you all remember my "mommy bling" from a few months back? My new bracelet, that I wear everyday and absolutely love?!

In the spirit of "paying it forward" I talked with my friend Jacquie at JLynnCreations and together we are going to give away one of these custom "mommy" (or grandmother, or aunt, or great aunt) bracelets! I am so excited to "pay it forward" and give one of our friends or family members some new bling to show off the special little ones in their life! And, I thought, there is no better day to do this than on Andrew's 6 month birthday!!

To be entered to win this contest, simply 1) become a follower of our blog...you are reading it anyways, so why not be a follower? 2) Leave a comment on this post about your favorite spring time activity. That's it! It's super easy!!

At the end of next week (how about we do it on Thursday, May 26th at 6:00 pm) we will put all of your names into a hat and Parker will draw the winner! I am so excited, I can hardly contain myself!

This is one little way that I can pay it forward and thank all of the women (and men) out there who care about our little family and keep up with us by reading the blog. So, thank you Holly, for this fabulous idea!! And, thank you Jacquie at JLynnCreations for helping me to share my favorite piece of jewelry with all of my friends and family!!

P.S. You'll be able to choose the names and birthstones that you'll have on your bracelet. Mine has charms with Parker and Andrew hand-stamped on them, their birthdate, and their birthstone. The third charm has our anniversary with another little heart charm dangling from it with B & B inscribed on it. There is also another little heart stamped charm. This will be completely customized for you!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Half of a Year

For Mother's Day, the boys gave me a digital picture frame to keep at work so that I have hundreds of photos with my boy's smiling faces looking at me all day long. I absolutely love it! And, as I was going through all of our photos from the past six months to upload into the frame (well over 1000 photos), the photos made me think of Andrew's six month birthday that is on Friday!

Six months?! Can it be true?! Although the photos from November seem like a hundred years away, time has certainly flown by and I look back wondering where the days have gone?! There are plenty of memories- the pictures prove that- but, as my parent friends can all atest too, the second time around (with child #2), time definately does not slow down...in fact, sometimes I feel like we're set on fast-forward!

Andrew is becomming a big boy- sitting up on his own, eating baby food, scooting around on his tummy to get to toys, grabbing at everything (especially my food), and intently taking in his surroundings everywhere we go. He loves to sing along with Parker's TV shows and his newest noise is a "baby raptor" screech that he loves to make at random times throughout the day. Yes, Andrew has grown so much since that day 6 months ago when he was born. And, I am excited to tell him "Happy Half a Year Birthday!"

November 20, 2010

Six Months Old

Here is my Baby Raptor:

Not only has Andrew been developing and changing at rapid speed, but Parker is growing WAY too fast for my comfort! His legs are dangly, and he looks like a full grown boy! Not to mention that he can now pretty much write any letter of the alphabet, can write his name on his own, as well as one of my favorite words, "MOM". His mind moves so fast and the stories he tells have me thinking, laughing, asking questions, and wondering, "where in the world did he come up with this?!"

Parker's biggest accomplishment in the past month has been learning to pedel on his "big boy bike" (which is quickly becomming too small for him to ride). Now, Parker's favorite thing to do is ride his bike up the street with Brandon to get a Sno Cone. I'm noticing that I get a funny (but wonderful) feeling in my heart when Parker learns to do things that I remember doing as a kid....as parents of young children, we get so accustomed to them doing "little" kid things and needing help with everything. I guess I never thought past the age of 3, when Parker would be doing all of these "big boy" things on his own...without help (luckily, he is still a momma's boy and last night he even told Brandon, "Dad, I love you, but actually, I love Mom more." He he!).

Here is Parker on his Lightning McQueen bicycle.

And, just for fun...because tomorrow is Parker's 44 month birthday, here is a photo of Parker on the day he was born- September 20, 2007.

The other day, I was chatting with one of my friends at work who recently had twins (she is my new hero). We were both reminiscing about the birth of our babies and it brought back so many memories of Andrew's birth, as well as Parker's. They were both very different experiences and both of those moments brought so much joy into our lives through two baby boys. Brandon and I are overwhelmed with pride and love for our boys and one of the things we are most proud of is that we've survived the past half of a year as the parent's of two little boys (and we've had fun doing it!)....now, we only have forever to go!

Thursday, May 12, 2011


I've been telling Brandon that I think it's strange that Andrew hasn't "found" his toesies yet! When he's laying on his back, I'm always trying to get him to grab his toes....with no interest from him, of course. So, last night, while I was making dinner, and the boys were downstairs playing...Andrew was in his Bumbo and he found his toesies!!! Being the thoughtful husband that he is, Brandon recorded it and e-mailed it to me so that I could be the first to see it! But, now I want to share it with you all....

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Before I Was A Mom...

I've always loved this poem....and it just seems right to post it today! Happy Mother's Day!

(I've added my own comments under each statement.)

Before I was a Mom I slept as late as I wanted and never worried about how late I got into bed.
(I TOTALLY took advantage of sleep....right now, I would love to get more than 4 hours of sleep at a time, but I don't think I would trade this time in my life for anything.)
I brushed my hair and my teeth everyday.
(Okay, so I admit to not brushing my hair every day...or washing it everyday when the boys were little babies, but I ALWAYS brushed my teeth!)

Before I was a Mom
I cleaned my house each day.
I never tripped over toys or forgot words to a lullaby.
(I love my house with toys....a family lives here.)
I didn't worry whether or not my plants were poisonous.
(Ummm....I am poisonous to plants- they don't live here.)
I never thought about immunizations.
(Andrew has his 6 month immunizations coming up :( ).

Before I was a Mom I had never been puked on.
(Caught puke in my hands in the middle of a restaurant and it didn't even phase me!)
Pooped on. Spit on.
(Pooped on yesterday. Spit on this morning.)
Chewed on.
(My shoulder has a constant wet mark from Andrew chewing on it.)
Peed on.
(Twice on Friday.)
I had complete control of my mind and my thoughts.....
(What mind??)
I slept all night.
(Never again.)

Before I was a Mom
I never held down a screaming child so that doctors could do tests.
(Scariest thing in the world.)
Or give shots.
(Worst feeling in the world.)
I never looked into teary eyes and cried.
(I get teary just thinking about this.)
I never got gloriously happy over a simple grin.
(Ha ha....every day this happens to me!)
I never sat up late hours at night watching a baby sleep.
(I love sleeping babies!)

Before I was a Mom
I never held a sleeping baby just because I didn't want to put it down.
(Ahhh.....the snuggles from a sleeping baby are priceless.)
I never felt my heart break into a million pieces when I couldn't stop the hurt.
(Yes. This is what it feels like when your child is hurting.)
I never knew that something so small could affect my life so much.
(Wow! This is an understatement.....CHANGE your life so much.)
I never knew that I could love someone so much.
(More love than I ever thought possible.)
I never knew I would love being a Mom.
(Before you have your kids, you never know this kind of love...or how much you will love motherhood.)

Before I was a Mom
I didn't know the feeling of having my heart outside my body.
I didn't know how special it could feel to feed a hungry baby.
(I am obsessed with feeding my hungry baby!)
I didn't know that bond between a mother and her child.
(It's one of the best feelings in the world.)
I didn't know that something so small could make me feel so important and happy.
(My kids give me meaning and a purpose in life.)

Before I was a Mom
I had never gotten up in the middle of the night every 10 minutes to make sure all was okay.
(This is what happens when they sleep all night....I am still awake every 10 minutes to make sure they are still sleeping!)
I had never known the warmth, the joy, the love, the heartache, the wonderment or the satisfaction of being a Mom.
I didn't know I was capable of feeling so much before I was a Mom.

I'm going to add some more of my own thoughts....

Before I was a Mom, I didn't really know my Mom. Her sacrifices, her love, and her reason for doing so many things during my childhood were all a secret to me, until I became a Mom. My respect for her is huge and I am thankful for everything she has taught me and given me to become the Mom that I am today! Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

I would also like to say Happy Mother's Day to my Mother-In-Law, Julie, and my Step-Mom, Debbie. Thank you both for the love and support that you give to me and our family!!! We will see you soon!!!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Easter Celebrations

After Christmas with a newborn, Brandon and I came to the conclusion that we can't continue to try and squeeze in every family celebration at every holiday- at least not on the day of the holiday. So, starting with Easter, we told our families that they may have to live without us on holidays, but that we would make time around the holidays for our many family celebrations. That is the reason why I am just now posting about Easter...last weekend we had our final celebration, so I can tell you all about it now!

One of my favorite traditions as a kid is dyeing Easter eggs. I don't know what it is...it's not like they are chocolate eggs that are super yummy to eat after making them, but they are fun. This year Parker was really into Easter eggs, so on Wednesday before Easter, we had our dyeing party...followed by eggs and pancakes for dinner (this will now be an Easter tradition at our house).

Our next Easter tradition is going to Easter at the Farm the Saturday prior to Easter Sunday. "The Farm" is where my mom and step-dad live and they have goats, chickens, dogs, and 80 acres to run around on. With grandma Robbie, grandpa Mahlon, great grandma Elaine, Aunt April, Aunt Kasey, Uncle Lance, and most importantly Cooper and Cameron...Parker and Andrew had a fun time at the farm! We hunted for Easter eggs, looked for Easter bunny footprints, ate delicious food (I made cheesey potatoes for the first time and they were delicious...the recipe is at the end of this post), blew bubbles, romped around the farm, and celebrated Easter by spending time with family.

The best part about holidays at the farm is that "the boys" are all together. My poor mom has four grandsons....and after being a mom to two daughters, this is definitely a change for her, but one that I know she loves! When all of these cousins get together, you can count on a wild and crazy time, but you can also count on many, many fun memories! I love how much these boys love eachother and I am so thankful that we are close to them in so many ways.

Easter morning is almost as much fun as Christmas in my mind. This year it was especially fun because I had all of my boys with me. And, one of the best parts was that Parker had completely forgotten that the Easter bunny would be coming to our house! When he woke up, I had to remind him about it! We went down to find the Easter baskets and I think the Easter bunny did a great job this year!;)

My favorite part of Easter is our reason for celebration. On Easter Sunday, it has always been our tradition to go to DeSoto and attend the Easter Sunday church service at the DeSoto Baptist Church. Brandon and I are not regular attendees at church, but we do have a church in Ottawa that we go to occasionally. There is something about the DeSoto church that makes us feel home- maybe it's because Brandon attended church there his entire life or maybe it's because that is where we were married...whatever the reason, we enjoy going to DeSoto Baptist church on Easter Sunday.

After church, we USUALLY rush back to DeSoto to eat fast and head to our next Easter celebration, but not this year! We took our time, spending the entire afternoon and evening with our Riffel family. Parker got to play with Morgan and Avery, there was time for an egg hunt, and Andrew got passed around and snuggled with every second of the day. It was an Easter Sunday that made me feel blessed.

This last weekend we had our final Easter celebration! Yes, my kids are going to grow up thinking that holidays last for two weeks....and, I am just fine with that...because it means they have double the fun, double the traditions, and a lot of wonderful family to spend the holidays with! And....the best part...we won't be rushed and stressed everytime it's time to celebrate! Our final Easter celebration was spent in Topeka.

Traditionally, we would go to Topeka on Easter Sunday to visit my grandparents with all of my dad's side of the family- brother, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, and all of their kids. But, unfortunately, my grandparents are getting older and this is becomming something they can't do anymore. It's just too much for them. So, we went to my dad's house and started a new tradition of hunting for Easter eggs (lucky Parker, it's only him and Andrew, so he is the only one hunting...with lots of help from aunts and uncles, and grandpa and grandma), eating lunch together, and just hanging out! And, don't worry, Andrew got plenty of attention too!

We definitely had fun celebrating Easter this year! Although I was skeptical of missing our family on the actual day of the holiday, I think this is going to work out great for us- a slower version of each holiday! With two boys, life is going to be crazy enough without all of the hustle and bustle of each holiday. We want to take time to enjoy every second of them and make wonderful memories along the way!