Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Happy Birthday {a few days later}

Okay, I'm an awful wife.  We've had the busiest days lately...even with the snow days...and although I thought about it a lot, I never actually put anything together to celebrate Brandon's birthday on Monday.  It's a good thing he's not too excited about his birthday...turning another year older...I think it would be okay with the hubs if we just went along like it was just another day.  But, I can't possibly do that and I know his Momma couldn't do that either.

It was a simple day.  It was a snow day on Brandon's birthday.  That would be any kid's have a snow day on their birthday.  So, instead of going to school with Parker to be the helper {as planned}, the boys decided to take the day off and spend it together at home.

They had some visitors...Brandon's parents stopped by for lunch, along with Reese...the most adorable 7 month old I know!  My mom stopped by to wish him a happy birthday.  And, we even managed to make a trip up to Lawrence to eat some BBQ for dinner {this was Parker's request...this kid knows his dad pretty darn well to pick BBQ for his birthday dinner}.

When we got home from dinner, it dawned on me that I never wrapped Brandon's {little} gifts...and I never had the boys make him a card {our tradition}.  For my OCD, over-the-top planning, make everything perfect, birthday lovin' personality, this was the worst possible thing that could have happened on one of my family member's birthdays.  Especially my husband's birthday.  Gasp!

So, I took the boys down to the basement {where I strategically hide all gifts...original, I know} and had them choose which gift they wanted to give Dad.  They hid them behind their backs and took them up to Brandon....with a quick hug and a happy birthday...then they were off to play the 'crazy game' with the dog {more on that later}, and I was left to shamefully apologize for not making Brandon's birthday more special.

But, this awesome husband of mine...he didn't care.  He smiled, gave me a quick kiss, and then he too was off to play the 'crazy game' with the little guys.  I guess it was special after all.

Happy Birthday {a few days later} to the most amazing husband and dad I've ever known.  We love you so much!!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Easter Train

The forecast called for snow.

But, that didn't stop us from boarding the 'Easter Train' on Saturday afternoon.

{Don't laugh at my 'make-up-less face...or my hair...I just ran 10 miles an hour prior to this photo being taken.  I was Super Mom that day.}

The cousins were excited...the parents (and Aunt April) were looking forward to an afternoon out of the house (after a week of Spring Break)...and the grandparents had been planning this outing for weeks.

What is it about trains?  Boys love trains (and I'm sure there's even a few girls out there that get excited every time they hear a choo!  choo! and a train whistle go roaring by).  You probably could have called this the 'Eat Your Vegetables Train' and these boys still would have eagerly boarded it...knowing they would be required to eat all their vegetables once on board.

But, thankfully this was the 'Easter Train'.  Complete with an Easter Bunny, cookies, and the anticipation of an Easter Egg Hunt as the next stop.

 We chugged along.  Saw the bunny.  Listened to an Easter story.  And then we were there.


Don't think the giant snow flakes falling from the sky stopped us from having an egg hunt.

{Planning their attack of the Easter Egg Hunt!}

{We all felt a little silly out in the snow...hunting for eggs...even Aunt April!}

As the older boys searched high and low for the 'golden egg', Andrew, Aunt April, and I trudged over to the toddler area and while Aunt April and I tried to talk Andrew into picking up eggs, he had a different idea of fun and it wasn't hunting eggs in the snow.  He didn't want a thing to do with those wet, cold eggs.  He wanted back on that train...back into warmth, where his animal crackers were, where he could snuggle up with Mom and be crazy with his brother and cousins.

{This is Andrew's WTF face...He thinks we're all crazy for making him go out there!}

{Seriously, Mom, it's cold out here.}

The older boys, well they didn't find that 'golden egg', but they filled their buckets up with plastic eggs full of tootsie rolls, plastic rings, poppers, and much more.  Covered in mud, wet snow, and excited about their findings, we headed back to the train stop to head home.

{Yep, Andrew was screaming at  me to get back in the train...but, we needed one more photo!}

And, while we didn't have perfect weather, this is one Easter Train ride and egg hunt, these boys will never forget.

I do have one little request for Mother Nature: Please send spring!  Soon!  No more snow days!  We want to plant our garden, play outside, and watch the grass turn green and trees bud out with flowers and green leaves.  We've enjoyed it while it's been here, but now it's time for the snow to go.  Let's see what this week will bring!

Happy Monday!  Umm...I mean Tuesday...

**Disclaimer - You'll notice that Parker isn't in very many of my photos {or looking at the camera in most of the photos I do take}.  My big guy has decided to tell me when I can and can't take his photo.  Apparently, he's way too cool for his dorky old mom to follow him around with the camera.  I'm pretty sneaky though...and I love pictures of my don't worry, my cute, big guy still has years of his mom cramping his style!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Just Being Two

He throws some major tantrums...

And can get away with pretty much everything.

(Just look at that tongue...he's workin' so hard on the iPad.  He's so smart!)

He wants to do everything by himself, but also wants Momma there at all times.

He is loud.  Spits when he's mad.  Hits when he's frustrated.  Jumps off the furniture.  Thinks he's a ninja or Wreck it Ralph...and likes to destroy things just like that.

He won't sit still at a restaurant.  And, don't even try to tell him 'no' out in'll get a full-fledged WAF.  Then you'll get eye rolls and some major judgment from those childless people at the grocery store.  (And looks of sympathy from those mommas who are also carting around their two year old littles.)

He is my crazy little man.

As Andrew goes through this stage of being my crazy little man...this stage where he is changing every day...growing and's like I can see his mind taking shape as his legs get longer and longer (and longer and longer).  He has me wrapped around his finger (along with his Bubs and Dad).  

And while every moment with Andrew brings a surprise and it often feels like I'm walking through the trenches of unchartered territory (although I've been down this road before), he brings me so much joy and happiness and I've learned so much about patience and kindness and unconditional love for my little man.  Just when I feel like my two year old boy is going to cut my nerves in half...he does something so sweet or funny or encouraging for my mommihood, and everything else just fades away.

Right now he's just being two.  It may sound crazy, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Happy Friday!  Get out and enjoy this day!  Wow!  It's simply gorgeous.

Monday, March 11, 2013

What's for Dinner?

At 'Run Club' the other night we were discussing food. 

We were talking about trying new things and how there's no time to come up with something new and we shared a few of our favorite 'family friendly' meals.

That got me thinkin'.

What if I made up a calendar for every (yes, every) month of the year with our 'menu' of dinners on it and then shared that with all of my friends. 

I mean, they may not want to try everything I put out there, but maybe, just maybe it would help them come up with something new and different for dinner.

So, here it is my Run Club friends (and all of you who just want to take a peek).  Here's a look into what the Riffel family does for dinner every night.

Now, keep in mind....we may stray from this calendar.  In fact...around the week of spring break, I'm sure we won't stick to this at all.  But, at least I've got it.  I've got a plan.

And, I do believe I'm going to spend the next few weeks working on next month's plan, a grocery list, and a few more details about the food we're eating (my new obsession).  So, stay tuned...I'll be sharing that soon!

Happy Monday!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Gymnastics {Take Two}

Tuesday night was Family Night at gymnastics.

(My little man is on the left end...second from the end for part of the video and then they jump so much he ends up on the end!)

If you remember, in December, Parker had quite a bit of stage fright during his gymnastics performance.

Maybe it was the crowd (it was rather intimidating) or maybe he just wasn't in the mood to do gymnastics to music....that last performance was not my Parker.  But, Family Night....that's a whole new story for my guy.

Parker balanced on the balance beam.  He did forward roll after forward roll.  He hung onto the bar, did a pike on the bar, showed me his jumping skills, and gave his coach a hundred high fives that night. My favorite part - his smiles.  His pride in his new skills.  Every time he said, 'Mom, did you see that?!' 

I'll admit.  After that performance (or lack thereof) in December, I was hesitant to return to our local gymnastics program.  I thought maybe there were too many kids in the class.  Maybe it just wasn't Parker's thing.  But, he wanted to keep going - I mean, really, he loves the classes, but just didn't like that whole performing in front of hundreds of people thing.  I can't blame him.

So, in true Parker fashion, he kept going and trying.  And, because the parents can't watch every night, I really had no idea what he was up to every Tuesday evening from 6 to 6:30.  We'd talk about it, but he was never overly excited about it and basically his favorite part of the class has always been getting to see his best buddy. 

I am so thankful for this Parent's Night.  I got to see Parker's vast improvements from last September and I am so glad that I kept him in the class.  I know these videos don't seem like much, but you gotta love a bunch of five year olds doin' their gymnastics.  Right?!

Now...little bubs loves going to Parker's gymnastics class. In fact, I couldn't bring him with us to Family Night because he would be so sad that he couldn't get out there and 'perform' with his big bro.  But, he had fun with his buddy Ethan that night and I am thankful for my friend and neighbor for making it possible for me to attend Parker's Family Night (Brandon was at a soccer coaches meeting and couldn't be there either).

Whew.  Do we sound busy enough? 

I tell ya - I love this.  I love getting out and allowing the boys to try new things and burn off some energy. This is one part of being a Momma that makes me smile, reminisce, and 'live' through my kids.

This weekend will be wonderful and I hope you all get out to enjoy this beautiful weather and let your littles run off some of their 'snow energy'!  Happy Friday my friends!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

I've {finally} Convinced Him...

You know those 'crazy theories' that us Mommas have? The ones that sometimes come from facts or have some sort of proof, but for the most part they are there from something deep inside our Mom brains that's been stewing for quite some time...something I like to call 'Mother's Intuition'.

These photos have nothing to do with my blog post topic.  But, I thought, rather than gross you out with pics of 'pink' chicken nugget meat and gross, greasy fast food photos, you'd rather see a little of what we did during our days of hibernation....this first one is what our street looked like during the second round of snow.  Yes, Brandon and our neighbor friends plowed away at every driveway on our street.  I was inside, taking this photo out the window.

Yep, you know what I'm talkin' about.  Those remedies, those routines, those traditions, the recipes, the 'kisses that heal everything', and the old saying 'Mother knows best'.  All of these fall under the category of 'crazy theories' that I have and I'm pretty sure the Hubs thinks they are just that: Crazy.

Snuggled up on the couch with Foxy and the blankets I made the boys.

That is, until this evening.  Yes, this evening....I think the heavens opened up, someone found the gold at the end of the rainbow, and yes, I even think a few pigs flew...because tonight, as we were eating dinner, my Hubs, he admitted it.  He admitted that one of my 'crazy theories' was actually true.

It was freezing outside, yet my baby boy decided he did not want to wear pants that day.  Good thing we were snowed in.

I think I've finally convinced him.

Old school - we love these Tinkertoys.

Of one thing at least.

You see, our boys...they are sensitive.  Not emotionally, not physically, but they are sensitive in another way.  This kind of sensitive makes them gag...makes them puke with even the slightest inconsistency, funny smell, or different texture in their food.  The sensitivity that if something doesn't smell right, they must gag it out.  And, unfortunately, this is something they've been plagued with for years {or forever}.

We even got the 'balls' out of the basement.  I'm still finding 'balls' in funny places all over my house.

Except for the past six months or so.

Now, these next photos are kinda funny.  You know those 'shooters' (guns) that your kids get...that are kinda fun, but kinda annoying at the same time?  Well, we've got a few of those.  And, instead of allowing the boys to shoot each other with them (or poor Bella), we've come up with this 'shoot the monster game'.  The boys draw the monsters and then set them up around the house to shoot.  Pretty it doesn't encourage them to shoot the 'shooters' at anyone.  This is a game I love.

Let me rewind a bit: Around the time of October of last year, Parker proclaimed that he no longer liked fast food.  He thought it smelled funny.  And, while I've always had a soft spot for a cheeseburger and fries, I thought this was amazing.

My five year old could smell the toxicity in the food he was eating - I thought maybe his sensitivity to smell was now a super hero power and he could somehow distinguish the difference between something good for him and something bad, just by smelling it!

Just one of the many 'monster' displays that the boys set up.  I absolutely love this.  Imagination at its best.

So, since then, we've had absolutely no fast food {on my watch at least}.  No Wendy's, no McDonald's, no Sonic, none.  Sure, we've ordered our fair share of pizza from our local pizza joint...we've indulged in Subway and Mr. Goodcents, and we've definitely visited our favorite Mexican place a time or two, but we haven't had any of that nasty, fake, fried, overly processed chicken.

Andrew loves to get the 'monsters'!

Okay, now fast forward to about a month ago, when I realized that the gagging, the vomiting, and the sensitivity to smells, textures, and inconsistency, it had all stopped.  Cold.

My kids hadn't been sick ALL winter long.  We hadn't had any dinners interrupted by one of them proclaiming that the cheese in their tacos was too stringy, followed by them either spitting it out or gagging their entire dinner up.

It was an epiphany.  I knew what it was.  It was the grease, the grime, the toxic 'stuff' in that fast food {which, seriously, we only ate at the most once a week} that was making them do this.  When I proclaimed this to Brandon he looked at me like I had six eyes and a horn coming out of my head.  He wasn't buying it.

Then, a few weeks ago, Brandon took Parker to Wendy's for lunch after preschool.  Then, that night, we had tacos, which are Parker's favorite meal.  That night at dinner, Parker gagged on his taco and ended up throwing up.

After that incident, I gave Brandon the ole, 'I told you so' look, but he still wasn't convinced.

Parker is such a sweet big brother.  Here he is setting the 'monster' back up so Andrew can get 'em.

So, not believing me, Brandon took the boys to Wendy's last week while I was working in the evening.  And, what do you know?  The next morning, Andrew gagged and threw up his pancakes (his favorite) and then tonight, Parker got sick at dinner.

What did my Hubs do tonight?  You got it - he threw the towel in {or napkin...since we were eating dinner}.  He looked at me and said, 'I am never taking them to Wendy's again. Ever.'  Mmm....Hmmm.  That's right.

I love Andrew's looooong legs in this photo.

What is it about that food that makes my kids do this?  I need your help.  I'm doing some research, trying to find some scientific proof to this 'crazy theory' of mine, but it's difficult.  Is it an allergic reaction to the grease used?  Is it acid reflux?  Does the food just have so much toxic stuff in it that it upsets my kid's stomachs?

I think Parker is too close...easy shot.

All I know is that it can't be good.  It's gross.  And, as a parent, who wants my kids to grow up healthier than ever before...I just can't let this slide.

Just look at the detail on these 'monsters'.

What do you think we should do?  How can we change the common mindset that this is okay?

The old (Goodwill) table under this blanket has some major changes coming to it...stay tuned to the blog to find out what happens to it.

And, now that I've {finally} convinced Brandon, I know I still have a lot of skeptics out there, how do I convince everyone else that this isn't just my 'crazy theory' and I believe this to be a real problem?

My little 'monster' shooter.  He's keepin' his Momma safe at night.

I'll let you know how this goes.  But, in the your kid's eating patterns after dining on fast food.  Let me know if they have these same or similar symptoms.

It's never too late to make a change.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Five and a Half...


{Parker and some of his friends at Pajama and Pillows Day at preschool}

This guy is already five and a half?!

{Parker and one of his best buds on Pajama Day}

It seems like just yesterday we were Wiping Out on Parker's 5th birthday.

{Parker at the basketball clinic he attended in February}

But, strangely enough, six months have passed us by and he's already half a year (and 10 days) older.

{Shootin' hoops with his friends}

My big guy is one amazing dude.

And, in case you didn't know, I'm not the only one who thinks so.  I just have to share with you what our wonderful daycare provider wrote in Parker's daily update this week:

"Parker has a heart of gold. He is very helpful. He is sincere with what he does & to boot
he’s extraordinarily smart! I have a Chicka Chicka 123 book & he can count to 100 by
looking @ the numbers! You have a very special boy. (Both of them!) Thank you for sharing them
with me. It means a lot that you have entrusted me with them!"

I tear up every time I read it.  Know why?  Because she nails it.  Right on the head.

My sweet boy does have a true heart of gold.  He is extremely helpful and strives to do his best in all that he does.  He is the most sincere person I know.  And he's honest.  He wears his heart on his sleeve and will let you know exactly how he feels by the look on his face or with his thoughtful words.  He is intelligent...not just smart...but, intelligent. 

He is a lover.  And, he loves his mom, dad, brother, family, friends, and even his dog, more than anything else in this whole world.

If you give Parker a task or a chore.  He wants more than anything to please and he will do it perfectly even if it takes a few tries.

{You'll notice Parker is with his sweet friend - with the pink shirt - in most of these photos...I adore all of his friends, but Ms. Pink Shirt is one of my favorites!}

He is a negotiator...and a fine one at that.

{This was on Valentine's Day.  We bought the boys Legos and they were so excited...but I had also made them each a special blanket and they always have these blankets with them.  I love that.}

He wants everyone around him to be happy, to feel included, and to have a fair chance at what this world has to offer.

In fact, just this morning, as I was upstairs getting ready for the day, I heard him saying these words to his little brother:

"Here, Andrew, let me help you with that....oh, you want to watch Super Hero Squad...Hulk?  Okay, Bubba can turn it on for you....Now you want the, I was playing this game, but you can have it if you want to play.  Okay, Andrew, Bubba will help you with that too {I'm afraid they were sneaking into the chocolate kisses at this point)."

See what I'm sayin'?

He is very sweet.

He is five and a half.

With Kindergarten Round-Up just around the corner and a Preschool Graduation to attend in May, I can't help but feel a little ache in my heart and wishful thinking that we could rewind just a bit and maybe keep the clock from ticking any further toward Parker turning six.

But, it's inevitable, and as much as I want to stop {or even turn back} time, I know that what the future holds for this little man has so much within it and it turns my heartache for little man Parker to amazing excitement for big man Parker.

I love you, my five and a half year old boy and I am one lucky Momma to have brought you into this world!