Sunday, July 6, 2014

While The Kids Are Away...

After eight days away, my kids returned home last night from a week at Gramma's house. With the exception of the four days I spent in New York City and the weekend where I dropped them off at Gramma's house while I went to my friend's lake house, this is the first time I have been without both kids for much longer than a work day.
 
Is it wrong to say that I have really enjoyed this time!?!
 
After eight years, I'd forgotten what it felt like to have no one to care for but you. To go out when you please, come home when you please, run around the house naked if you please.. (Okay, that last one never actually happened, but it could have, if we wanted.)
 
We've taken full advantage of having no kids around to tend to. Saturday morning we got up early, without having to rush kids along, and visited the City Market in downtown Kansas City. With no kids to keep an eye on as we paraded through the crowds, and no whining about being bored or tired of walking as we perused the produce, it was an enjoyable morning "date".
 
Later that evening, after a nap and some shopping for me, and some World Cup action for him, we went out to celebrate our 17th anniversary -- which was actually the Saturday before (June 21st). Brief storms earlier in the day made it a gorgeous evening to sit on the back deck of Gordon Biersch at he Power & Light District, people watch (at least five bachelorette parties arrived at P&L, and one 80's themed party -- not quite sure the reason for it), and enjoying some one-on-one time, just us...something I don't think we really have had since our 15th anniversary day out. The food was delicious, and, in what I think is a first, we both had wine with our dinner! Not beer or cocktails, but I had sangria and he had a riesling. We were awfully fancy and adult that night!


We followed that up with something I don't know that we've ever done -- drinks at a different location!  Okay, so by we I mean he drove me to Houlihan's and ordered nothing while I ordered the mini-martini flight -- Hibiscus, Blueberry, and, the whole reason I went there, Key Lime Pie! So. Good! And so worth every extra calorie I consumed that night! The evening ended with some good conversation at our friend's house until about midnight.

Yummy!
Sunday was a lazy morning, and afternoon, with more World Cup soccer and another nap, and then dinner at a bar and grill in Liberty that we decided to check out. We skipped the wine and went right for the beer, with me getting my favorite local -- Boulevard Wheat! That was followed by a nice, leisurely stroll around the Liberty Square, which included some weird, random "we don't have any kids for a week" selfies, and a trip to Target!



I even enjoyed the freedom during the work week, with dinner and drinks with a neighbor Monday night, taking Tuesday off work and having lunch with my "bestie" and her youngest (followed by a trip to Sam's Club), a three-hour happy hour with some co-workers and my hubby at O'Dowd's on the Plaza Wednesday after work, and then dinner at a local pizza place (and another Boulevard Wheat) Thursday night, followed by grill shopping! Good times!

Friday --the 4th of July -- I spent the morning by myself, antique shopping in the West Bottoms, just west of downtown. The first weekend of every month, the 10 or so antique shops in the West Bottoms open their doors and crowds of people go shopping! It was the first time I've experienced it and even although none of my friends could join me, I refused to let that stop me, and made the trip by myself. It was neat, but I do admit it would have been a lot more fun with friends!

And Friday night was the first holiday we've spent without the kids. While they enjoyed a block party with their cousins, we went to my friend's annual 4th of July party/40th Birthday Party and enjoyed good food, good beer (yes, Boulevard Wheat again), great company, lots of laughs (including butt flops on the trampoline), and watched the other kids shoot off fireworks. I must admit, it was nice not having to keep track of our little ones, or worry about them eating, or whining, or fighting....we let all the other parents do that.

I won't deny it, and I'm sure it makes me a bad momma, but I had mixed feelings as we drove to pick them up.  I missed my kiddos and have been anxious to get them back and really get this summer going -- since it seems to be going so fast and I feel like we haven't done anything "summery". But I've also enjoyed the time they were away.

I've enjoyed the quiet, not having to play mediator or fuss at kids to brush their teeth, pick up their toys, or go to bed. I've liked being able to just go anywhere without having to bring the kids or worry about them being home. But most importantly, I've enjoyed reconnecting with my husband. Our marriage hasn't always been perfect. Heck, it's not perfect now. But there are times when I wonder what would happen if the kids weren't around? Most of our conversations and dealings tend to be around the kids, would we have anything to talk about if the kids weren't around? Would we ONLY talk about the kids? Would we run out of things to say or do after one or two days? Would we get on each other's nerves and retreat to our separate hangouts for most of the time?

To my surprise, it wasn't what I "feared". We spent a lot of time together, the kids were only a part of the conversation for a small amount of time, and we actually had a lot of fun. Just us. We were goofy. We were spontaneous (ok, sort of spontaneous). Having the opportunity to reconnect was priceless!

If anything, this was a reminder that we need to take more time for just us. No kids. Spend the money on a babysitter or trade off with friends for a date night. Because they are young now, but they are growing quickly. It wont be long before they are spending more time out with friends than at home with us. Then it's just us.

So while I think I'm going to miss the quiet house and "freedom" of not having kids, I know I need to enjoy it while it's here. I need to remember that the great moments outweigh the stress and enjoy both the big and little moments. I want to yell less. Stress less. Play more. Have fun. And love the little things.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Rest in Peace, Justin Reynolds

In January 2009, at just 30 years old, Justin Reynolds was diagnosed with cancer. After chemo, radiation, and surgeries, he went into remission, but two years later, the cancer had returned. Given two years to live, Justin refused to accept that as the final answer. He was accepted by the Mayo Clinic for a risky procedure that could prolong his life, and while there were multiple risks involved, Justin went through with the treatment. Unfortunately, 18 months later, after an inspiring, brave five year battle, Justin passed away very early this morning. He was just 36 years old.

I got to know Justin several years ago through my brother and sister-in-law. He was a co-worker, good friend and a member of their wedding party. I haven't seen him in several years, but have been following his journey for a while through his Caring Bridge Journal and on Facebook. He has been an inspiration to me in that time.

With everything he went through, all the pain, procedures, therapies, doctor’s visits, and every diagnosis, he maintained a positive, upbeat attitude, always smiling, living life to the fullest, even when the odds were against him.

I have seen many tributes to Justin recently, every one of them describing a man who was loved, loved others, made their lives so much richer, and lived life fully. I agree with them all.

What Justin has done for me is inspired me to keep fighting, never accept defeat, to always smile, to live every day with intention, to make sure those who are important to me know how much they are loved, and to remember that every single day we get to be on this earth is truly a gift.

I will honor him by remembering and doing all of those things.  

God definitely blessed us all with you, Justin!

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Dishwasher is on Timeout

It has now been over a week since we've run the dishwasher. The dishes are clean, so no worries, but I've been doing it the old fashion way. By hand!

It's amazing how many dishes a family of four can use in just a couple of days. And when the dishwasher gets full, the sink and surrounding counters usually get filled up to. With spring coming and the bug population beginning to come out of hiding (like the dang ants that came for a visit a couple of weeks ago), I refuse to give them any incentive to come into my house. Plus, the dishwasher is noisy, and annoying, and it seems like it has to run every other night.

So last weekend I decided I was going to challenge myself, to see how long I could go without running the dishwasher, doing the dishes by hand.

It's sad, and probably shows that I'm getting old, but it's actually been kind of fun.

As soon as the kids or I are done eating or drinking, I wash.

As soon as I discover my husband has put dirty dishes in the dishwasher, I pull them out, and I wash.

Not sure how long this will last, but I'm proud of one week. And it also means we haven't run out of any silverware in at least a week.

Score!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Spring Saturday

It's been a long winter, and its not quite ready to let go, but it was a GORGEOUS spring day today. Almost summer like.

61 degrees when I woke up this morning, so I knew exactly where I was going to spend at least some of my morning -- my happy place!


But it was short lived, because we had to get out to Brendan's first ever soccer game.


Considering it was his first time ever, in any kind of organized sport, I was happy with his performance. It's always fun to see a bunch of 4 and 5 year olds running after the ball. Unfortunately, one of the three kids that he was grouped with seems to really enjoy the ball, so since my boy isn't very aggressive, he didn't get a chance to kick it much. But it was fun watching him out there, and he had fun, which is the MOST important!

After the game, we headed to the Shoal Creek Living History Museum for their Easter activities. There was an Easter egg "hunt" were the kids earned some treats, some old time games, including sack races and stilts, a few crafts, and we watched the blacksmith make nails, as well as taking a look inside of some of the old buildings -- including the jail.





Following THAT was lunch at Burger King, birthday present shopping at Target, and what was supposed to be a little time at home to relax (but turned into a mad rush to pick up the house when I found out my sister-in-law and brother-in-law were coming over to visit), before we headed out for our evening entertainment.

Grilled chicken and asparagus (hot dogs for the kids) was on the menu at my co-worker/friends house, for a girls night with kids. Both kids had fun playing with the other kids, and once the sun went down and the movie was turned on, the adults were able to finally enjoy some time on the deck with a beer.

It was a crazy day, but unfortunately, next Saturday will be worse! Church Easter egg hunts and crafts in the morning, then the boy's second soccer game, then a birthday party for a dear friend's daughter, then ANOTHER birthday party for a classmate of Brendan's...at least those parties are going to be extremely relaxing and fun! Better try to relax this week in preparation...



Monday, April 7, 2014

If You Miss A Day...

If you miss a day (or three) in a blog challenge (that you have set up yourself with yourself), but nobody actually reads your blog, do you REALLY miss a day??

Thursday, April 3, 2014

A Little Home Decorating

We have lived in our house for about 7 1/2 years. When we bought it, I was so excited about being able to finally decorate my home as I wanted, after all of those years of living in my mom's house and then apartments. 

When we moved, I thought the first thing I would do is paint and decorate the baby's room. Even though she was already 9 months old, it was something I couldn't do in our previous living arrangement, so I was pumped!

But upon further inspection, the room she was going to be in was already decorated with blue and yellow paint and a Peter Rabbit border, so we decided to just leave it until it was time to upgrade to a more mature room.

When we moved in, the only room that wasn't white was the bathroom. It was lavender and not my favorite. Since I already didn't like it, and it was the smallest and probably easiest room to paint, it's the first room I tackled. And it was obvious I didn't have painting experience.  

After that, it was our bedroom. A dark green, and I still love it.

Following that, when I was pregnant with my son and knew my daughter was going to move to the spare room, I painted it light green with white trim. Then finally painted over the blue and yellow room with blue and darker blue.

The kitchen was next -- yellow to brighten it up.

The living room, hallway and entry way remain white. Not even a pretty white, but a dirty "I've been here forever" white. But the ceilings are vaulted and we'd have to hire someone to paint it, which will happen eventually. So for now, it is what it is. 

But something had to be done. I've had the same black and white frames hanging above the couch since we moved in, and the same black and white photos since my son was about 6 months. I've changed a couple of the photos in the frames on the wall occassionally, but its really looked the same for almost 7 years. 

That all changed last weekend. I've been longing to do something in there -- add color somehow (I've had the same orange curtains, brown couch and tan chair and ottoman since we moved in). So, for my birthday, my mom pitched in on a new bench/storage solution for the living room -- bright yellow, and I love it! 

[Picture to be added later, when I actually go home and take one.]
 
It is currently sitting by my chair, which probably wont be its finally resting place, but it still sticks out. I needed something yellow to put somewhere so it wasn't the only yellow in the room. I looked for throw pillows which I couldn't find (although I think I've found some online, I just need to pick), so then I started to look at something for the wall.

A trip to Hobby Lobby on Friday was all I needed. Three trips, two separate Hobby Lobbys, and about 18 hours later, I had purchased three pictures for my living room walls, an "EAT" sign for the kitchen, and the happiest additions to my kitchen shelf. 

First, the kitchen. For some reason, I have recently been drawn to the ideas of roosters in the kitchen. Well let me tell you, if you want roosters, you MUST go to Hobby Lobby. They have an entire FLOCK of roosters, but these three guys were the ones that crowed to me the loudest.

 
Meet Big Red, Penny, and Chickie (although I think Emily changed the name of the yellow one to something else but I can't remember)

 Then there is the picture I bought for the top of the stairs. I just love inspiring quotes, and I loved the color, and the birds. I know it's not yellow, which was the whole point of this, but it makes me happy and I decided that is more important then being all matchy-matchy.
Before and After
"Live Laugh Love"

Then there is the picture that is now displayed beside my window. I picked it because the moment I read it, it brought back memories of my Grandma singing that song all the time when we were kids. Once again, the colors may not go with anything, but it makes me happy and brings back wonderful memories.
Before and After
"i love you a bushel & a peck and a hug around the neck"

Then there is the granddaddy of them all, my big yellow flower, picture thing that I was unsure of at first, but now I just love!
Before
After
There is still much I want to do. Need new curtains, I want to create a frame/picture wall somewhere, with a bunch of the photographs I've taken the last couple of years, maybe a rug to cover some of the carpet...  I just wish I had a better eye for all of this stuff! Thank God for blogs and Pinterest!



And I've Already Blown It

Well isn't it funny how yesterday was just day TWO of my April Blog Challenge and I already blew it?!?!

I'm really not shocked. It's not a habit for me and yesterday was crazy at work, exhausted by the time I got home, then storms approaching in the evening...my head wasn't in the game.

But that's okay, because this apology totally makes up for it, right?!? That along with my promise to do so much better going forward.

And to REALLY make up for it, I'm preparing a really long blog post for sometime this week or early next! Cool, right? I'm really trying to make my posts shorter and more to the point, but this one I'm writing is totally coming from my heart and I think it would do it injustice to shorten it for the sake of easy reading.

So for now, my one "oops" has been made and from here on out its blog, blog, blog...