Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Last night I bought some stuff online. I had a giftcard. There was a sale at The Limited. The dresses I've been eyeing for months were on their final sale. My favorite trouser pants were on sale. I had a 20% off coupon. Everything was screaming at me: "Buy ME!" So, I ended my challenge. I also came to the realization that shopping online makes my life much more simple.

I am a working Mom. And if you add in the fact that I live in a super small town, you'll come up with the top two reasons I enjoy shopping online. 1) I don't have much time so 'shop around'. 2) I don't have much time to drive to the 'city' and buy all of the things we so desperately need [insert sarcastic voice].

Another reason: Shopping online provides me with a little retail therapy...retail therapy that can be done at midnight, in my lounge pants, in my bed, with a glass of wine, while watching The Bachelor. Enough said.

So, judge me all you want for not following through on my challenge...but, I am done with it. I made it 21 days...which is not bad in my book.

What I am going to challenge myself to do [forever] is not respond to every coupon, email, savings pass, etc. that I get for all of my favorite stores. I'm slowing it down. Only buying when I've really thought about it...

Now...I'm off to buy some Valentines Day goodies on Amazon. Gotta have 'em, right?!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

FINALLY...Feeling Better

The past few weeks have seen a lot of this...

and this...

and this...

We've had lots of runny noses, coughs, and more vomit than I care to EVER see again. We've only had two or three meals that didn't end in my little guy loosing it [literally] and being rushed to the bathtub. We've watched countless episodes of Blues Clues, as it is the only thing that will calm Andrew down when he is not feeling good...that and his Momma snuggled up close.

We've gone through gajillions of Kleenex's...Benadryl...two rounds of antibiotics...Dimetapp...Advil....and we've even tried baby reflux medicine...trying EVERYTHING we can think of to give my baby boy some relief.

I hate these days. I hate watching my kids suffer in any way...especially when I can't make it go away. I hate not knowing what's wrong and I hate not being able to cure their pain.

And, it's especially sad, when they can't tell you what hurts and what's wrong.

But, finally we had today. Today my Andrew looked and acted like he was feeling better. So good, in fact, that we decided to go to the park for a while and get some much needed fresh air and Vitamin D. I hope that today is a sign of what our week holds!

Wishing you and your family a wonderful week!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Sweet On Parker

With Valentines Day coming up, my big guy has been talking a lot about who he's going to give Valentines to at school [eventually he names off every girl in his class], asking me if we have more Valentine's Day decorations, telling Dad what he should get Mom for the special day, and asking if we can make Valentines Day cookies.

He's also been on this girlfriend/boyfriend kick.

So, when his little girl [that's a] friend from school came over before school one day, I didn't know what to expect....but, I knew that my Parker was going to be head over heels excited that she was coming over to his house. Now, my Parker gets pretty excited whenever one of his buddies comes over to play....he starts to act goofy, wants to get every toy out, and begs and begs and begs to play with something that isn't a 'normal' toy at our house [like Play-Doh, the X-Box, the ball pit, etc].

But when sweet C came over last week, he waited and waited by the window until she pulled up in the driveway. He awkwardly answered the door and walked outside to let her in. He asked her what she wanted to do....and he didn't argue a bit when she said she wanted to play with the girly looking Little People Valentines Day set that is normally reserved for Andrew [because it's too girly for a big guy like Parker]. He didn't say a word when she wanted to go downstairs and play 'house' in the ball pit. And, when she asked how to play his DS....he handed it over to her...only using it briefly to show her how to play it.

I even heard sweet little C say, "Parker, you are so handsome." Parker's reply, "Yeah, I know, my mom tells me I'm cool." Now, the real story behind this is that whenever I tell Parker he's handsome, I get a grouchy face and a super loud Parker that says, "No, MOM, I am COOL!" But, he didn't say this to his friend...he sweetly agreed with her...no argument here.

And, this morning when we dropped Parker off at school. C's dad said, "You know....the other day C asked me if she could take down her Justin Bieber calendar. And, when I asked her why, she said it was because she wanted to hang up a Parker calendar...because, dad, he's a lot cuter than Justin Bieber."

I die.

She is definitely sweet on my Parker-Man.

But, then again, who wouldn't be sweet on this guy?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Challenge Update

It's been 14 days now and I haven't purchased anything online! So proud of myself. I've deleted hundreds of emails from my favorite shops trying to lure me onto their website and I've thought of many things that I would love to purchase, but I haven't....it's nice to take control of something and actually think about buying these things before I make one simple click and get it.

[Now...I will admit that I asked Brandon to buy a new lense for our camera because ours is broken and he had to use my Amazon account to do it. But, that's a necessity in my book. Plus, it wasn't me that clicked on 'buy'...so that doesn't count!]

The best part about this challenge: I am buying more and more items from our local retailers! For example, Parker has been asking and asking for tie shoes (not to be confused with Thai shoes...or Japanese shoes, or Mexican shoes) for a couple of months now. And, after he finally convinced me that he would use his new shoes to learn how to tie shoes, I caved in and decided to get some. But, wait a second here! Where will I buy these shoes if I can't get on my favorite Piperlime website to buy them??!!

Oh yeah. We've got a super awesome [sometimes more expensive] shoe store downtown! And, wouldn't you know...they had the perfect pair for Parker!

[As you can see, they've been worn everyday since then. Parker loves these shoes!]

And I had a great time going into that shoe shop....I picked out a few pairs for myself...had the cashier keep them in a registry....and told her that I'd send my husband in before Valentine's Day to pick them up for me! Now, that's some good shopping!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Flashback Friday: Little Boys

Remember this little guy? This was one year ago....Andrew was so small, so quiet, so easy.

And, while my littlest man is still a super easy going kid...he's no longer small [he's only about 12 pounds lighter than Parker at 26 lbs.], he's no longer quiet [you should hear the lungs on this kid], he's no longer walking everywhere- he's running, he talks to us, he dances, he plays with cars, trucks, and anything else that he sees his big bro playing with. He loves hats of every kind. He loves to pretend like he's cooking. He loves the vacuum. He loves Blues Clues. He loves puzzles. He loves cookies [Oreos to be exact]. He loves grapes. He loves pizza and Fruit Loops. He loves to put on Brandon's slippers and he gets upset if he catches Brandon wearing them. He loves to play tug-o-war with Bella. He loves to pretend like he's playing on the X-Box with Parker...in fact, he loves to do ANYTHING that Parker is doing and believes with his whole heart that he knows how to play Parker's DS. Andrew loves his brother. He loves his DaDa. And, he loves his Momma.

Andrew has quite a vocabulary. He can say Momma, Dada, Bubba, Bella, bowl, car, more, please, book, dog, bues cues [Blues Clues], he can shake his head yes, and yes, he even has his own sign for 'I Love You'. He can say socks, shoes, and he knows so many more than that [he just can't say them]...he is one smart cookie!

Like my Parker always did, Andrew LOVES to be outside.

My baby boy is no longer a baby, but he is our little Andrew-Man. We can't imagine what life would be like without him. He is my sugar and our 'little Bubba'. And, today he is 14 months old!

[Unfortunately, our camera has been broken for a few weeks...we've ordered the new part and will have it fixed soon...so, here is a video of my boys doing something they love to do. They are putting on a puppet show.}

Remember these hands from last year?

Well, they are even bigger. They've done so much this past year and the boy that they belong to is one amazing kid. Parker is so smart. He is learning how to read. He is writing his name, his middle name, and his last name....thank you to the teachers at preschool. He has the best imagination. He loves his friends. He loves to play games. He loves his cousins. He loves to watch the Wild Kratts. He loves to teach his brother how to do things....but, he also loves to torment his brother. He loves to eat...and he will try to eat anything...but can't guarantee that he won't gag upon trying it. He loves to go camping. He loves to help set the table and make dinner. He loves to play on his DS, the X-Box, his computer, and the iPad [he is just like his dad]. He loves to visit his grandparents. He loves to go to the park and he loves to invite his friends over to play. He loves going to daycare and preschool and has grown so much this year because of these two places. Parker loves his dad. He loves his brother. And, he is still a Momma's boy...and is such a loving boy.

Whew! I love these flashbacks and I love to see just how much my boys have grown in the past year. So much has changed this year....I am absolutely in love with my family and all that they are!

Happy Friday!!

**Thank you to all of our friends who have checked in on us this week! Our week has gotten much better!! We love all of you and are very blessed to have YOU in our lives! Isn't it funny how something yucky happening, makes us more aware of our actions, our words, and our perspective on this crazy life?

Monday, January 16, 2012


We've had quite a roller coaster going on here at our house lately.

First of all, Brandon and I have been blessed with WONDERFUL sleep. Yes, that's right, our two boys have been sleeping all night, in their own beds, without a peep, or a cry, or a scary dream about ceiling fans with eyes and noses...it's been awesome to wake up refreshed....not dreading the wee hours of the morning, but actually completely by-passing them and rolling over to snuggle my husband, rather than toes that have somehow made their way to my head. Bliss...pure bliss.

But, we've had a bit of the blues lately. I'm not sure why. Brandon and I have always felt extremely blessed, lucky, stable, and most importantly, loved, but for some reason lately we've been cutting each other short, finding the negative in a lot of things goin' on, and we've just been in a funk. You know that feeling?

Well, my remedy for that is always to talk about it...and we've been doing a lot of chatting lately. We've also been getting out...remember my theory on getting out of the house and enjoying some fresh air and sunshine? And, it's been helping, but then today, we got some disappointing news....news that could have gone either way, but went south for us. It's frustrating, and I am bitter, but instead of pouring out negativity, do you know what my husband did? He made me feel good about it. He reminded me of just how WONDERFUL our lives are, even with this sour news. He made me feel better (although, I'm still a little bitter) and he moved on. Smart husband.

And, tonight, while that smart husband went out to enjoy the KU game (Rock Chalk!), I drove home from Lawrence (of course we had to go to Lawrence and eat dinner with him, Papa, and Uncle Joe)....and as I was driving on awful 59 Hwy, with my two sweet boys in the backseat, I just about creamed a deer...and I was reminded of just how insignificant my little bitterness is in this world. That there is something out there greater than me...something that is leading our lives down one path, even when we think that path should have gone a different way.

So, this reminder is for me, more than anything. It's a reminder to stop and take it all in. Take in all of the WONDERFUL things happening around me. We are so blessed...there are too many to count or list or describe. Stop for a minute and thank God for this life He is leading us through. Just a little reminder.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Rink

Eighties music....strobe light....the Limbo...funky techno carpet...a dated tile rink...yep, that's right my friends, I am talking about that famous rink that so many of us spent hours at in grade school, gossiping with our friends, showing off for our latest love interest, trying to go as low as we could go, eating Fun Dip, and enjoying every minute of our youth, without a care in the world except for how tight we could get our jeans to roll and which NKOTB guy we liked the most.

What a blast from the past!

On Saturday, some of our neighbor friends invited us to meet them at our local skating rink. I thought, 'why not?' Parker and I were just heading home from the grocery store and Brandon and Andrew were just going down for an afternoon nap.

Isn't it funny how tiny, little moments can give our little people the greatest memories? Here we were, not doing much on our Saturday afternoon, when all of a sudden....Parker was super excited to try out his roller skates at an ACTUAL SKATING RINK!

Now....do you know how hard it is to try and take a picture while roller skating...especially since it's been about 15 years since I've had any type of skate on my feet?! It's difficult...and no way was I going to take my Canon out there on that rink...so, bear with my grainy, dark and blurry photo and video...

Even though Parker's skating abilities were more of a scuffle and he fell down more times than I can count....you should have seen his face when he did the Limbo for the first time! You should have seen the way he blushed when this super cute 'older' girl told him how good he was and then proceeded to ask him if he would like to skate with her...holding hands! Don't worry, my boy said 'no' and stuck to his Momma...[yes!]. You should have seen his eyes light up when it got dark and the strobe light threw sparkles and light onto the skate floor and, yes, you should have seen his little dance moves to all of the eighties music they played that day [imagine the robot + a little skate scuffle + a super serious Parker face....priceless].

And, when the grown [somewhat special] men on the rink ran into Parker...then ran into his buddy....then ran into another little girl...you should have seen this Momma Hen show them who was boss...and then Parker's buddy's mom told them what was up! No, really...it was one of our finest moments. Just sayin you shouldn't mess with this Mom and her boy.

Just to prove this day to all of you and to mark it in Riffel history for all time, here's a video of Parker on his first ever roller skating adventure. And, nope, I didn't fall down once....it came back to me like I was in 4th grade.

I hope your weekend brought some little, but special moments that will last a lifetime!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Cutting Curls

No! I didn't cut off Andrew's curls! I couldn't do it! My heart started pounding, I got sweaty, and my stomach started turning, as soon as the scissors came out! Crazy, I know. My baby boy has the sweetest little ringlets and today I took him in for his first haircut. I mean....when we washed it, it was almost all the way down to the middle of his back....but, when it came time to snip, snip...I almost grabbed the scissors and threw them out the window!

Luckily, we have a super sweet hair dresser, who knows me so well, that she saw my panic and stopped when she got to the curls. She trimmed, layered, and made my sweet boy's hair look just that...sweet. Not crazy [like it has been for the past couple of months, while I procrastinated this day]. Not super short or buzzed or straight. She left the wisps of curls, but made it short enough to be an acceptable hair cut for a toddling boy.

But, unlike my first son, who used to cry and cry and cry when it was time to get his hair cut...

(Not so much anymore.)

Andrew didn't seem to mind at all. Give him a sucker and he is perfectly content!

Happy Friday my friends!

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Last night, Parker was so, so, so excited! But, after opening the backdoor and letting him run around the deck a couple of times...he reluctantly went to bed with hopes that in the morning there would be enough snow to play in.

I woke up first and looked outside...to be honest...I was disappointed in the amount of snow we got. I mean, c'mon, if it's going to be super freezing outside, we might as well have a good 5 inches of snow on the ground, if not more...at least, that's what I think.

So, Andrew and I waited and waited for Parker to wake up and when we started to hear a little rustling around in Parker's room, we braced ourselves for the disappointment that Parker would have when he walked to the backdoor to look at the snow.

I was completely wrong.

All of a sudden, Parker ran down the hall and said: 'Mom!! Mom!! There is snow ALL over the ground!" To say he was excited would be an understatement.

So, we all walked down to Parker's room, where he had pulled the blinds all the way up and I watched as Parker, Andrew, and even Bella, looked out the window with big eyes, full of pure excitement and anticipation.

Maybe that's why I love snow so much. It seems so magical and makes the world turn into this glittery white masterpiece of beautiful landscape. Plus, sledding, snowball fights, and snow forts....it doesn't get better than that!

Hopefully, there's more snow in the forecast this winter!

(And, by the way, I had a dozen photos of all three of my little ones looking out the window...but, unfortunately, our auto focus on the camera is broken and apparently, I can't focus very well.)

Happy Winter!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Wednesday Challenge

In my quest to find simplicity in 2012, I am going to start challenging myself every Wednesday to 'drop' something in our lives that takes away from the simple life we want to lead. These challenges aren't going to be forever....they won't take too much away from us, and they won't be awfully drastic. What they will do is give us more time, greater value, and help us find our simpler way of life.

Challenge #1: I am challenging myself to not purchase anything online for 30 days.

For those of you that know me, I am a self proclaimed online shop-a-holic. My most frequent stops are Gap, Old Navy, Snapfish, Etsy, Kohls, Pottery Barn Kids, Target, and the list goes on and on. I get a coupon in my email inbox....and I have to use it.

How does doing this make our life simpler, you might ask?! 1) I won't spend my spare time online, I'll spend it doing things with my family. 2) I won't spend money. We are fortunate to not have huge financial burdens...yes we have a few credit cards...and yes one of them has a constant balance...so shoot me, but what I'm hoping to do is this: cut back on spending = cut back on stuff. 3) I'm hoping this will cause me to really start thinking about what I'm buying, instead of 'just buying it because I have a coupon' or 'because it's on sale' and so that next January, when I clean out my closet...I won't have items that have never been worn, that are now on their way to the Goodwill. Imagine that.

So, Day #1 of my challenge is now over (I better put my computer away!). Only 29 more days to go....wish me luck!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sometimes You Just Have to Laugh...

Well, my two little guys, like most kiddos right now, have the sniffles...a cough...and some nasty mucus running down their throat. They've been on antibiotics, taken more Dimetapp than I care to admit, and they've been champions through it all- not complaining, not one little bit.

We had a WONDERFUL weekend (all caps type of wonderful) and I was looking forward to our quiet evening at home...playing a little Wipeout on the X-Box...Parker and Andrew's newest favorite game to play...eating a delicious dinner of meatloaf, homemade rolls, mashed sweet potatoes, and buttered corn...plans for watching a movie afterwards...and lots and lots of snuggles before we start a new week.

We sat down to dinner and Parker told me how yummy the meatloaf and the rolls were, Andrew was chowing down, Brandon and I were happy to actually sit down for dinner (for once, someone wasn't needing something). All of a sudden....Parker sneezed and two gigantic snot bubbles blew out of his nose...funny, right?! We got the snot wiped up and Parker took a bite of corn...and that's when it hit...his gag reflex kicked in and out came the corn (and some other unidentifiable stuff). Meanwhile, Andrew is still chowing down on some roll and I look over and he's got almost the entire roll in his mouth...and he starts coughing. Upchuck. Yep, that's right, Andrew's super phlemy throat got the best of his appetite and out came Andrew's dinner.

Needless to say, we were all done after that. Into the bath those boys went and this Momma Lysoled (can this be a verb?) every square inch of the kitchen and threw all of our clothes into the washer. And, as Brandon was walking upstairs to the bathtub, he turned around and looked at me...as I was sitting on the floor cleaning up some goo...and we just cracked up. Enough said.

Sometimes as parents, you just have to laugh.

And, don't worry, I don't have ANY photos of the mayhem that went on at our house tonight. I do, however, have a photo of the two cutest, sweetest boys in the universe! They are playing with their new Bat Caves.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Flashback Friday: Always Wear Clean Underwear

A few years ago, this was my New Year's resolution:

And, yes, I do always wear clean underwear, but that isn't what this book is really about. This book reminds us parents of the importance of having 'things' in order...just in case.

I know none of us want to think about the 'what if's'...if something were to happen to us...what would happen to our kids?

But, this book, it puts it all into perspective. The best part about the book is that is lays it all out there in a story format...yes, it's super scary to think about all of the scenarios outlined in the book, and yes, it's depressing, makes you feel sick to your stomach, makes you want to lock yourself up in a bubble...but, what it also gives you is a way to have peace of mind in knowing that if something were to happen to you, your spouse, or God forbid, both of you...your kids would be where you planned for them to be.

This book provides tips on little things you can do and huge things you can do to protect your family if the worst thing imaginable happens.

If you haven't done any type of estate planning, created documents to say exactly what should happen to your children if you aren't here, or if you haven't created a living will...you need to do these things...make it your resolution in 2012!

I still have this book and if you leave a comment below that you're interested...I would love to pass it on to someone!

(The first person to comment that they want it, will get it! And, if you're not the first person to comment, then look at your local library!)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


These boys of mine...man oh man do they crack me up. From Andrew's pouty lips to Parker's wise cracks, they sure are keeping me on my toes. And, just when you think you're going to have a completely normal 'moment' with them....they flip the coin and do something that makes me giggle, roll my eyes, gasp, or grab them up and smooch all over them. Or, then there's a 'moment' like the one that happened in the bathtub tonight....yes, this kind of moment that makes me wonder where in the world they get their goofiness....surely it can't come from me?!

I wasn't going to put these photos in here....but, as I was uploading the other goofy photos, I saw these from the other night and I couldn't resist. This is Parker, in my boots and Brandon's 'explorer' hat. Why is he dressed like this? He was a postman, of course!

Now here are the photos from the tub tonight. I started calling them 'Double-Trouble' and they thought it was hilarious!! So funny!!

Sunday, January 1, 2012


I read quite a few blogs and it's been very interesting to read those blogs today and see what others are doing in light of the New Year. It's been intriguing to me that quite a few of them have decided to use one word to describe their hopes and ambitions for 2012. I've read a few that said they are going to 'embrace' 2012. One that used the word 'happiness' and one that used the word 'hope'. And, this got me thinking....what are my goals for 2012? How can I sum up everything I hope to do this year in just one, tiny word?

Then it clicked. I knew exactly how to say it.


I know this word can take on many meanings in many different contexts. But, for us, in 2012, our resolution is to simplify our lives. The Riffel Family needs to take a few steps back in time and slow down life a little bit. Part of this is letting go of activities so that our lives aren't filled to the brim with things to do. Part of this will be eliminating clutter in our home (which we've already started doing....you should see our Goodwill boxes). Part of this is cutting back on all of the things we think we need and really working on the quality of our time together. Part of this is starting new hobbies that ask more of us than browsing the Internet. I think you're starting to get the picture.

The part of this word that has the biggest impact on my individual, a-type personality world....not sweating the small stuff. Keep it simple. Make moments matter without trying so hard.

So, for those of you out there who have mastered this with your family....if you have any tips, theories, ideas...please pass them on- I'm open to doing anything that slows us down a notch.

Here's to 'living the simple life' in 2012!!

(I've just ordered this adorable sign from a cute little shop on Etsy. It will be hung in our living room this year to remind us of our 2012 resolution!!)

The Greatest Gift

I know, I know, Christmas has come and gone....why, you might ask, am I writing about gifts on the first day of 2012?

This year for Christmas, Brandon and I wanted to focus more on the gift of time and friendship, rather than elaborate gifts and goodies. So, for Christmas, our best friends, Justin and Julie, got a date with us (I know, I know, super cheesy right?!).

Our date: An afternoon at the KU game and dinner in Lawrence.

For most people, this may not seem too exciting, but for the three of us (sorry, Brandon, you're outnumbered) that grew up in Lawrence, this was the perfect way to spend time together!!

We laughed, talked serious, got chills, ate good food, and had a 'hot' time (they'll get it) together, and we ended 2011 with our best friends. The most exciting part about the day...coming home from our night out together and seeing that our four boys (yes, my brave Mom volunteered to watch all four of the boys) had just as much fun as we did! Best buddies!

The greatest gift we've had this year? That's easy. Our friends and family.

Thank you for this precious gift.