Friday, April 26, 2013

Spring Days

Ugh!  I've had about enough of this coooooold weather!

You see...this time of year is one of our favorites.

(Parker was so ready for soccer to finally start this year.  It kept getting pushed back because of all of the snow and cold weather!)

SPRING time.

And, even though these cold days feel more like winter than spring, we've managed to squeeze in a few good, spring-like, days here and there.

(Shhhh...Don't tell Andrew he's not really on Parker's team.  Every week he warms up with the team and stands on the sidelines waiting to play.  We are all excited for next year, when he'll have his own team!)

Days where we've had (some cold) soccer games...

Days where we've been able to 'shoot some hoops' on our new basketball goal.

(This was actually the day we put it up!  Since then we've had quite a few games of PIG and the boys love, love, love their new goal!  In fact, every morning, when we leave the house, Andrew talks about that 'doal' in the driveway!)

Days where we've worked on the yard, rode bikes and scooters to the cul-de-sac, walked the dog, made new neighbor friends, and yes, we've even had a few ice pops.

I can feel it.  Warmer weather is just around the corner (although I think I said this three weeks ago).  And, with more soccer, t-ball, and our first camping trip planned in the coming weeks, I am hoping and praying that dear, old Mother Nature decides it's time to quit playing tricks on us and warm things up a bit.

(I love this playing basketball, someone handing out a few brewskies, toys strewn through the driveway...this is what Spring should look like.)

Not that we are ready for 100 degree weather just yet...but, some nice 70 degree, open the windows, plant some flowers kind of days would be perfect.

Our flip flops are begging to be dusted off and worn...and our new shorts and t-shirts are almost jumping our of our drawers!  I think it's safe to say we are all hoping for some warm spring days in the forecast.

Happy Friday and here's to some (warmer) spring days that are coming up soon!

Thursday, April 25, 2013


On Saturday, April 13th, we ran a half marathon.

13.1 Miles.

I've been asked many times since that day, how it I sore...did I really run the whole thing...what was my time...etc.

I love it that people are so interested in this.  In running.  I love it that we received so many texts, Facebook messages, and phone calls to wish us luck in our race.

I've always been a 'runner'.

It's something I do for fun (well, it's the only thing that burns calories the way I want to).  And, it felt so good to accomplish this half marathon with two of my close friends.

I'm grateful for my husband encouraging me to do this.  Well, actually, I'm grateful for all of our husbands for their awesome encouragement!  (Even if they do still need some training on cheering!)

To answer some of your questions: We trained for 10 weeks.  I finished in 2:15 (two hours and fifteen minutes) - 15 minutes faster than I thought I would finish.  I ran the entire fact, 2:15 is around a 10 minute mile pace.  My fastest mile was 9:27 (believe it or not, it was the last mile of the race!) and my slowest...well, we won't go there.  He he.  I was really sore on Saturday (I hobbled all over the place and slept...a lot!), right after the race...but, by Tuesday, I felt great.

So great, that I was considering running another half marathon the following Sunday.  (I didn't, but I really wanted to...Brandon was going out of town so I didn't want to push myself too far and feel icky while he was away.)

It feels good to be at this point.  At the point in my life where I am comfortable with my exercise routine, and wanting to do more.  It's funny when a five mile run doesn't seem like enough...or that one half marathon is too small of a goal.

I need this in my life.  Not only to feel good about myself and to be a healthier person for my family, but to teach my boys that exercise is important...that making time to take care of yourself is important.

Whatever your goal is this year (I've seen a lot of them on Facebook!), stick with it.  You CAN do it and once you've reached your goal, you will feel so good about it.

I mean, just look at us.  We are ready for the next one!  Anyone up for 'Running with the Cows' on May 11th?  Go ahead.  Do it.  I know you're up for the challenge!


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Arms Flailing

Okay, so I had this whole plan to write about how I've been feeling like an awful mom my arms are flailing and I'm struggling just to keep my head above water.  You see, Brandon was out of town for a few days this week and for some reason, my patience was running thin. 


I've changed my mind.  No one wants to read about my short-comings.

And, when there's so much heart break in our country right now, so much division, and so much minor issues don't seem to be important enough to write about.

Instead I'm thinking about our entire country.  I'm wondering what in the world is going on with people and violence...and why we don't all seem to be on the same side about guns and safety.  And, things like chemical explosions, well they scare the dickens out of me.

Right now it seems like everyone in our country has their arms flailing.

These things all happened while Brandon was away from us.  Maybe that's why my patience was thinner than usual.  Because I was scared.  Scared about him getting on an airplane to travel hundreds of miles away.  Scared because I didn't have him to hug when, just two days after I ran a half marathon, there were bombs exploding at one of the biggest races in the world...a race that I used to dream about running in.

This is a sad week for our country. 

But I've been praying- praying for peace, for the victims in Boston and now in Texas, praying for safe travels, and praying that our leaders can agree on something that will help control outrageous violence in our country...which I believe is a mixture of tighter gun control and mental health care.

I'm lucky though.  I've been able to hold my boys close this week...even wanting them to sleep with me while Brandon was out of town.  Today I will get to take Parker to his Kindergarten visit day and take Andrew to get a much needed haircut.  I'll be able to go running tonight with some girlfriends and Brandon is making his special chili tonight for dinner.

So, although, I've had many moments this week where my arms have been flailing...right now I feel like there are more important things to worry about, to pray on, and to think about.  And, in moments like this, I look at my family and friends, my job, and my safety, and I am so thankful for all of this in my life.

My heart goes out to all of the victims of recent tragedies in our country.  I am thinking of you.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Bakin' Up Some Cookies

There's one thing around our house that we can all agree on - I We make the best chocolate chip cookies.

It all started on a snow day.  I thought I'd whip up a batch (it had been years since I'd make chocolate chip cookies) and when they turned out pretty good...the next week I whipped up some more.

Well, since then we've made a lot of chocolate chip cookies.  Pot-Luck Dinners: We make cookies.  Family Gatherings: We make cookies.  A friend has a new baby: We make cookies.  Every Sunday evening: We make cookies.  We will use absolutely any excuse to make these cookies.

They are so simple.  Straight out of The Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook {with one minor adjustment}.  The simpler, the better is what I always say.

And...the other night Parker said he wanted to help make the cookies.  So, of course, Andrew wanted to help also.

My cup runneth over.

This was Andrew's first attempt at 'helping' to bake cookies...and, let me just say...I have a couple of incredible bakers on my hands.  Watch out ladies...they'll win you over with their mad baking skills.

I can remember growing up baking with my mom.

And, I'm one lucky Momma to be sharing this with my boys.

{Not to mention that because they love doing this...we get more cookies!}

Here's our super easy recipe:

1/2 Cup Butter - Softened (I use Land O Lakes unsalted butter)
1/2 Cup Shortening
1 Cup Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup White Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 Teaspoon Salt (this is my addition to the recipe...I mean, seriously, cookies without salt?!)
2 Eggs
2 1/2 Cups Flour
Chocolate Chips (I only use half a may want more or less)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Using a mixer, mix up the Butter and Shortening, until well combined.  Add the sugars, baking soda, and salt and mix that in with the butter and shortening.  Stir in the eggs.  Add the flour 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough forms.  Throw in the chocolate chips (giving a few to your little helpers, if you're lucky enough to have some).

Next, eat a few bites of the dough.

Drop onto a cookie sheet with a spoon and bake at 350 degrees for around 8 to 10 minutes (we like our cookies a little on the raw side).

Mmmmm...I'm wanting one of these cookies with a big glass of milk.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013


First, let me give a huge THANK YOU to all of our friends and family that called, emailed, texted, Facebooked, stopped us at church and the grocery store, and simply sent happy thoughts toward Parker as he entered his elementary school for the first time last Friday.

All of your kindness wroked its magic for us on Friday.

Kindergarten Round-Up was a success.

(It was like pulling teeth to get Parker to let me take his picture...luckily, I got a few shots in.  One where he is actually smiling and looking at me!)

Let me set the scene for you guys...

Brandon picked Parker up from Preschool on Friday and took him to one of our favorite spots for lunch (Keim Bakery) and then I told the boys to go to another one of our favorite spots (Front Row Sports) to pick out some new shoes for Parker -- Big guy needed some new shoes...desperately.

Parker was feelin' pretty good by the time I got home that afternoon to go with them to Round-Up.  He was all smiles...confident...somehow he'd learned his phone number that day...excited...actually, exuberant is a better word...he was ready to show Round-Up everything he had.

We drove up to the school.  Got out of the car.  Walked up the loooooong sidewalk to the entrance of the school.  And in we went.

Okay, now stop for a moment.  Here's where it gets good.

This smiley, confident, excited, exuberant boy of mine....something changed in this moment.  He saw the big hallway, lockers along the wall, front office window, lines of doors leading to classrooms, the bulletin boards, drinking fountains, the bright lights, and I could tell, just by the tightened grip of his hand...that he was a little scared.

But, to be honest, I loved it.

Parker walked down those halls (to find room 207) holding onto parent's hands.  He had us there to support him, to encourage him, to smile at and comfort him the entire time.  You see...success comes in stages...and this one, this small step toward success started with the support of his parents. 

We registered and waited and after a couple of minutes, Parker was wisked off to be tested for Kindergarten.

I nervously filled out paperwork with Brandon.

And, with a few sheets left to fill out, Parker was done. 

He was fast.

One of the (super sweet) Kindergarten teachers took us back into one of the Kindergarten classrooms and sat us down.  She gave us her Kindergarten teacher smile and said this: 'Parker is one smart kid.  He did wonderfully.  In fact, he scored 100 out of 100.'

I knew this would happen.  Parker is intelligent.

She went on to show us every test they did.  Which, by the way, did not include asking him what his phone number was.  Teacher told us that he got everything right.  He even did the 'cognitive thinking' test and got it exact - something the teacher said hardly any kids his age get right.  She told us he may be bored for the first few months of school, but to keep working with him.  Have him read, color, and do his school work and he will be so great in Kindergarten.

When we (finally) got to see Parker - he was sitting with some of his preschool buddies - and we asked him what he thought of Kindergarten Round-Up...he said, 'Mom, it was easy.  They only asked me easy questions.  Like, I only had to count to 13 and write my name.  Stuff like that.'


Yep, Kindergarten Round-Up was certainly a success. And, now, with a big sigh of relief, we head into this whole Kindergarten adventure with high hopes and expectations.  Hopes of learning, friendships, bright school days, and of course, many more successes!


Happy Wednesday friends!  May your day be filled with many of your own successes!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Dear Parker

Dear Parker,

Tomorrow is Kindergarten Round-Up.  I'm not sure how this day came so quickly.  Tomorrow is a big day for you and, while I know you are completely ready for this day and for next year, your Momma isn't quite ready to let it happen.  You are so smart, courageous, friendly, outgoing, polite, silly, dedicated, and sweet - your awesome personality is what reminds me that you will be just fine.

But, I get nervous.

This is the official start of your elementary school days.  Days where you will be outside of your 'bubble', or outside of the Momma 'safe zone'.  In a place where you will be influenced by kids I don't know.  A place where you will have to make decisions on your own every day - everything from which library book you'll check out to what you'll eat for lunch (without your Mom or Sherry there to tell you what you should choose) to which friends you'll play with at recess and which answer to put on your school work.  I know you will make good decisions.  You've always been my logical boy.  Someone who thinks things through and finds the best answer and chooses the right choice (almost) every single time.  You will have so many new friends, but I am comforted by the friends that are going with you from preschool and Sherry's house - familiar faces and trusted buddies to go with you on your Kindergarten adventure.  I am also comforted by the fact that my office is less than two blocks from your classroom and I can be there to take you and pick you up from school every day.

I am excited because your preschool teacher told us that you are more than ready for Kindergarten and that you are ahead of the class in every area.  I know you are prepared.  You've been ready for this day for a long time.  And, even though I am super sentimental and begging for time to slow down just a little, so this day doesn't come so fast, I am also excited about what your school days will mean to you.

You are an amazing little man.  I hope that your confidence and your curiosity, as well as your eagerness to learn, never fades and that your love of school and learning and your friendships continue forever.

I know you will be faced with challenges - some that I've never experienced and some that I have - I hope that you will follow your heart and your wonderful instincts and know just how special and kind you are.  I hope that you will always ask for your Momma's advice and know that I am here whenever you need me.  I hope that when you are faced with challenges (like bullying) that you will always take the high road and help others learn what is right and stand up for what you believe in.  I pray that kids (and their parents) will be nice (although this is out of my control) as we have taught you to be kind to everyone you meet. 

I want you to respect your teachers and all adults at the school.  I know the teachers will recognize your talents and they will lift you up when you need it.  I am excited to help you with your school work and to aide the teachers in your education.

You are ready for this day.  You are ready to be tested - to show the teachers at Kindergarten Round-Up just how much you know.  You are going to blow them away with your knowledge and personality...and they will be so proud of you.  Just as I am today.

This is a big day.  And, while I know you'll be embarrassed because I'll probably be the only Mom there with her big ole camera, I know that one day we'll want this memory - of your first step inside your elementary school.  It will be a fun day for you...and if I cry, don't think I'm sad.  Because I am not sad - just nostalgic.  And proud.  And excited.  And nervous.  All at the same time.

You are my big guy.  I am so excited for you.  Good luck tomorrow - I'll be there cheering you on!



Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Welcome Spring!

There's nothing that says 'spring' quite like Easter.

And, while Mother Nature has been teasing us with a warm day here and there and then surprising us with snow the next day, I think maybe she's gotten our hints that we are ready for winter to officially be over...and ready for spring to commence.

Which is why she gave us such a beautiful Easter weekend.

I haven't had the camera out much lately.

I mean, really, there's only so many pictures you can take of snow.  And indoor activities.  And kids who are busting at the seams to get out of the house and romp around in the dirt, swing, dig up rolly pollies, and ride bikes.

So, maybe, just maybe, I went a little overboard on Easter weekend with this whole taking photos thing. 

Overboard, as in 500+ photos.



Yep, Momma's got some good scenery...happy boys...Easter treats...and a whole lotta picture takin' to catch up on.

Plus, there's nothing cuter than little boys and baby goats.  Right?!

Over the Easter weekend, we welcomed spring in so many ways (maybe even a little ninja style).

Family get togethers and football games with cousins.

Hours of playing outside.

Wearing shorts...and flip flops.  (Oh man, you should have seen their faces when they heard they could wear flip flops.  Best. Day. Ever.  For a 2 and 5 year old.)

Flying Kites.

Dying, hiding, and hunting eggs.


So much fun was had...which is why I guess I took so many pictures.

And, at the end of the day on Sunday, (as most of us parents do after a holiday weekend) I felt like I needed another day.  A day to catch up on all of the 'stuff' that I skipped over the weekend to enjoy these other moments.  But, those other moments.  They were worth it.

I love this time of year.  When the grass turns green.  The trees start to bloom.  The lillies sprout up.  The cold, dark, winter nights, turn into long evenings of playing outside.  The neighbors pour out of their houses to play and we sit in the driveway for hours, just hanging out.  The kids are tired...and love being able to just play.  Knees get scraped up.  Soccer games begin.  T-ball starts up.  Bugs are caught.  All of that other 'stuff' seems to disappear and the only worry of the day is just how much time can we spend outdoors?

As much as possible.  We are so excited to welcome spring!