The Patch 2015

For the second year in a row, we managed to pick one of the hottest days in October to visit the pumpkin patch!  Don't get me wrong, I'd rather have unseasonably warm than cold, but there's something about 85 degrees at the pumpkin patch that ruins the mood. 

We visited a new patch this year - the KC Pumpkin Patch.  It's way closer than the Cider Mill we've visited the last three years and honestly, I was ready to try something new.  We headed there at noon on a Sunday, which isn't ideal since the boys usually nap after lunch, but it's hard to fit in everything we want to do in the fall when we're working around college and pro football schedules. 

We started with the big, inflatable jump thing.  Brantley could have stayed and jumped all day.  Or, should I say, rolled.  Every time I looked at him, he was rolling down it--with the biggest smile on his face.  He may or may not have gotten in trouble on more than one occasion for not "staying on his feet."  One time, Craig saw him look for the employee and when he didn't see her, he purposely jumped onto his stomach.  #sillyrules

Meanwhile, I let Holden play on this wooden train thing. 

And attempted some pumpkin photos.  #whenatthepumpkinpatch

Did I mention it was HOT?  Next, Brantley rode the train.  We tried putting Holden in it, but he wasn't crazy about that idea.  He's definitely our shy one.

Apparently bowling is now a pumpkin patch thing.  News to me!  I think this was right before Brantley got mad at Holden for messing with the pins.

Brantley's favorite patch activity was, of course, the balls.  There were basketball hoops and places to throw baseballs into holes, among other things.

My favorite activity?  The slide!  But by the time we made it to the slide, Brantley was nearly to meltdown city.  First, he was mad because he wanted to go down by himself (and not with me), and then he was mad because he didn't want to use the "blanket".  I think he was finally happy with his third trip down the slide.  Oh, threenagers!

Poor Holden looks miserable, too.  Perhaps next year, we'll go to the Pumpkin Patch well before or after naps! 

We decided our time was probably up.  We stopped for a few pictures on the way out.  Don't the boys look like they're having the time of their life??

I dreaded asking because my husband is so anti-photos and our kids were done-zo, but we needed a family pumpkin patch photo for 2015.  After debating who to ask, I handed over my camera to one of the employees who looked like he was about 20 years old.  He seemed scared to death of my big DSLR, but he snapped a photo and we called it good!  While I was uploading photos later that evening, I realized that that picture had somehow disappeared (most likely in the process of deleting photos from my nearly-full memory card).  I spent about three hours on the Internet researching how to get it back.  I was beyond excited when I finally recovered the file.  But ironically, the photo is horrible--neither kid is looking and the blurriness is out of control.  Clearly the photog had never taken a single camera photo in his life.  #fail

Maybe next year?

For past visits to the Pumpkin Patch, follow these links:

Royal Pumpkins

Last year, we made a special trip to the Plaza just to see the blue fountain and commemorate the Royals in the World Series.  This year, we haven't seen the fountain, but our KC pride still runs deep.  

For the second year in a row, the Royals are playing in the biggest series of them all - the World Series.  It all begins tonight.  Game 1 versus the New York Mets.  It's been a wild ride to get where they are today, but, man, do these boys in blue deserve it!  I have no feeling on whether they're going to win or lose....and unlike last year, us fans have some pretty high expectations, but nonetheless, KC is thrilled to be in national spotlight once again.

I decided that instead carving our pumpkins this year, we would paint them.  And by 'we', I really mean 'me".  Who actually enjoys digging out pumpkin guts anyway??  Sorry, kids!

They turned out great!  Better than I could have imagined, really!  I should probably give myself more artistic credit than I do. ;)  My favorite is the Charlie Hustle inspired Heart KC pumpkin.  I thought that was super creative of me, until my husband showed me a similarly painted pumpkin on Charlie Hustle's Instagram.  To be fair, I like mine better.

I tried to snap some photos of the boys by the pumpkins.  That went well.

T minus 12 hours until first pitch!  We are excited, but honestly, win or lose this series, we'll always be #foreverroyal!

Surviving a Week Alone

Craig's been gone since Monday morning.  Which means I've been the lone soul in charge of taking care of everything - the kids, the house, the dog, and everything in between - for four and a half days straight.  Now, please know that I am not complaining.  Not one bit.  I know some moms who do this all the time. Every week.  Non-stop.  Month after month and year after year.  My hat is off to you! For me, it only happens a few times per year.  But I always dread those few times. Do you blame me? One time when Craig was gone, my kid's finger blistered after getting burnt on something in the wheel of my car, another time, I got a flat tire on my way to work (among other things), and another time, I was left to deal with a horribly-sick-and-throwing-up child......all while taking care of an itty bitty newborn (and all that that entails).  I've been conditioned to expect the worst.  Luckily, the last few times Craig's jetted off for work, things have been smooth sailing.  And this week?  Pretty great.  But it's still a challenge.  I have to get up 45 minutes earlier than normal to ensure that our kids are dressed and our dog is fed before leaving the house at 6:30am, then I have to drive them to daycare, which is 20-25 minutes from our house in the opposite direction of my school, then drive back to daycare to get the kids after school, only to turn around and go back home, which is a mere eight minutes from my school.  And then there's dinner to feed, dinner to clean, and bedtime routines go through.  I finally sit down to relax (or sometimes grade because I have to leave school pretty early to get the kids by 4:30) around 8pm.  Except that Brantley is going through a phase right now of not wanting to go to sleep, so he usually calls for me to come back upstairs (for various reasons) no fewer than three times.  It. is. exhausting.

Anyway, I'm feeling pretty good about how well I handled things this week!  Not once did I arrive late to work, I managed to keep food and water in the dog bowl, and I even remembered to take out the trash and water the flowers! #win

I also thought a lot about what made my week so successful.  Here are five of my suggestions for surviving a work week without your hubby.

1 | Make sure there are plenty of leftovers in your refrigerator.  I didn't purposefully plan to have a refrigerator full, but it just so happened that we had multiple meals' worth of leftovers from last week/weekend.  Best. thing. ever.  It made for easy dinners without having to dine on Easy Mac and hot dogs every night!  (Though I know the boys wouldn't have minded,  that's not my idea of a satisfying dinner for five nights in a row.)

2 | Shower at night.  I sometimes go in phases of taking nighttime showers.  But usually, I'm too lazy and just take one in the morning.  Morning showers mean I need to dry my hair, which takes forever. When I take a shower at night, I simply blow dry my hair for about 45 seconds and go to bed with a partial head of wet hair.  I didn't take one morning shower all week, which allowed me to quickly ready myself and get a few extra minutes of zzzzzzs.

3 | Take advantage of dry shampoo.  I discovered my love for dry shampoo over the summer.  It's pretty much the best hair product ever.  No shower = no problem.

4 | Lay out everything at night.  I would literally get everything for the next morning ready to go before heading to bed the night before.  K-cup in the Keurig, coffee mug + lid next to the Keurig, a box of cereal + plastic bowls for the boys on the counter, dry dog food in Kinnick's bowl, my lunch packed and in the refrigerator, kids' shoes, backpacks, and water bottles on our mud room bench.   I didn't always pick out my clothes the night before, which would have added to the morning ease, but my admin at school has allowed us to wear Royals gear and jeans during postseason play, so getting dressed has been pretty stinkin' easy anyway.

5 | Keep the house clutter-free.  This is huge for me and a rule I follow regardless of whether the hubs is gone.  I can't function when there is crap piled on our kitchen island and toys scattered across the living room floor.  This week especially, I made sure to put things away the moment I arrived home and I picked up most of the boys' toys before going to bed each evening.  This helps me live a less stressful life all around, but especially when single-moming it.

Family Photos - Fall 2015

This new blog design has me wanting to blog and blog and blog!  Funny how that happens!  Or maybe I just have more to blog about now than in the month of September??

I already mentioned that we had family photos taken a couple of weekends ago.  For once, I planned way ahead and scheduled the photos in June!  I also started putting together outfits shortly thereafter. I was inspired by the color scheme in my friend Brittany's most recent family photos and knew I wanted to follow suit.  I found a shirt for myself over the summer and purchased (and returned) no fewer than 20 shirts for the boys.  I don't know why decisions like that are so hard for me, but I changed my mind about 6 times!

I also decided to try a new photographer.  We used the same one for our past three sessions (Holden's newbornfall 2014 family photos, and Holden's 1-year session).  Overall, I was really pleased with her photos, but she was not very reliable, which is a total deal-breaker for me.  Don't tell me you'll have the photos done in three weeks if it's more like six.  Don't leave your photo props or lenses at my house two out of three times.  And most of all, don't arrive late to every session!!  Anyway, choosing a new photographer was a very stressful thing for me.  Having dabbled in photography myself, I am very picky when it comes to photos and very specific about what I want.  I also can't justify paying $300+ for photos, so that's an added challenge.  I decided to trust my gut and go with Whitney Revelle Photography.  I liked what I saw of her photos and she was the most reasonably-priced I found.  To say I'm glad I went with her is a huge understatement!  I love, love, love the photos. Probably more than I've ever loved our family photos before.  I will definitely be using Whitney for our future sessions!!

I know some people like to save the results of their photos until sending out Christmas cards.  But I am not one of those people.  I like to share, share, share.  And when there's something I'm excited about, I want to share sooner than later.  So without further ado, here are our fall 2015 family photos (13 of my favorite anyway!).  Would you believe I've already placed my Christmas card order?  #truestory #itsstilloctober

Links to past family photos:

Pumpkin Chili

Everyone loves two things in the fall: pumpkins and chili.  So why not combine the two?!  This recipe is not your traditional chili recipe, but it's delicious nonetheless.  I first tried it last fall when my aunt was visiting.  She had it simmering on our stove top when we arrived home from work.  (That was the best!) I recently made it myself, but with a few alterations to the recipe - some on accident, some on purpose!  Mainly, I added Bloody Mary mixture to 1) tame down the pumpkin flavor a tad and 2) make the chili go further.  That was a great addition, in my opinion!

If you're a pumpkin lover (who isn't...especially in blog land), I promise, this will become a fall staple in your house!  Spoiler alert: it's super simple, too!

What You Need:
1 pound of ground beef
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 can of pumpkin (original called for 1 cup; I accidentally used the whole can)
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
2 can of tomato soup
2 cans of chili beans, with liquid
2 can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 12-oz bottles chili sauce
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of chili powder (or more, to taste)
1/4 to 1/2 bottle of Bloody Mary mix, depending on how thin you prefer your chili
salt and pepper to taste

What To Do:
1. In a large Dutch oven, cook ground beef and diced onion until meat is no longer pink.  Drain.

2. Add remaining ingredients and stir to mix well.

3. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for one hour. 

That's it!  I told you it was easy. ;)  Serve with a loaf of sliced French baguette bread.
Serves: 6 to 8 adults

Show and Tell Tuesday: Halloween Costumes

First things first--how do you like my new blog design?!  I'm super excited about it and for the first time in five years, I feel kinda sorta "official".  I've always designed my own blog headers with free online editing programs, but this time, I bit the bullet and bought a pre-made template for $15!  Not too shaby, huh?  Totally worth the time savings!  Special thanks to Vanessa for inspiring me and helping me figure out the specifics...I texted her no fewer than 28 times. ;)

Anyway, since I wanted to show off the new design, what perfect timing for a Show and Tell Tuesday.  Today's topic: Halloween costumes!  So fun!

I wish I could share some of the Halloween costumes from my childhood (Pippy Longstocking and a troll are two that stand out), but that would involve me going into our basement and searching through old photo albums.  Considering it's already 10pm, I'll save that for another day. ;)  Besides, a few weeks ago we saw a spider the size of a half dollar down there, so needless to say, there's no way I'm venturing down there alone and in the dark.  

Instead, you get two of my adult life costumes (the only two I have digital files of) and recaps of the last three Halloweens with kids.

First up, Halloween 2002.  My sophomore year of college.  A Twinkie + a Playboy bunny + two 80s chics.  Most random combination ever?  I think yes.

While in college, I also remember dressing as a leopard and as Jessica Simpson (my love of her runs deep), but those pictures are in the basement.  Too bad for you.

In 2009, Craig and I dressed up.  He was an...ahem...Mexican immigrant and I was the border patrol.  That was fun.

And then we got married, had kids, and lived a tamer life in the 'burbs.

In 2012, Brantley was just 3 1/2 months old and I dressed him as a pumpkin.  I've always been a big fan of themed costumes, so naturally Kinnick was a bat.  You can re-visit our Halloween 2012 here.

In 2013, I found the perfect lobster costume for Brantley at a consignment sale.  I about died when I found a matching lobster costume for our dog at Target.  Done and done.  Of course, that meant we dressed as chefs. #duh  You can revisit our Halloween 2013 here.

And then last year, I had a second kid to dress up, so I choose Mickey Mouse and "Pluto".  I searched high and low for a real Pluto costume for Holden, but all I found was one for $90 on Ebay.  No thanks.  I had to settle for a puppy costume, but they were still a pretty cute combo!  See more of our Halloween 2014 here.

As I mentioned before, this year they are going as Olaf (Brantley) and a penguin (Holden).  They both look stinkin' cute in their costumes but you'll have to wait another week (or sp) before the big reveal!

Oh, and let's not forget the year (pre-kids) when I dressed Kinnick as his nemesis - a squirrel.  I'm such a mean doggy owner.  I just can't help myself.

Aren't Halloween costumes so much fun?!

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