Our Backyard Oasis

For once, I remembered to take "before" photos prior to last week's home improvement project - a stamped patio in our backyard.  A patio was something we had wished for since living in our old house.  Since our deck is higher than ground level, we wanted a place to sit while the boys play.  In just four days last week, the ground was leveled, concrete was poured, retaining wall was built, and patio was stained.  I'm not sure we could love the final product any more than we do and we pretty much spent the entire weekend on it.







And a few eleven more photos because, well, I'm pretty much in love.

In the Books!

My summer break 2015 is officially in the books.  I know what I said yesterday about being ready to head back to work, but in all honesty, I'm not ready.  I'm extremely sad about not getting to spend these precious daytime hours with my babies and though I know it will be a-okay in the end (as it was in 2012, and 2013, and 2014), I'm going to miss them so incredibly much.  It's a hard adjustment going from 12 hours of interaction per day to three.  I may or may not have teared up a few times today.  And there may or may not be tears streaming down my cheeks right now.  However, this quote rings true and has been playing on repeat in my mind all day.

There are no words to describe the joy I've felt having spent the last 11 (and a half!) weeks with Brantley and Holden.  As has always been the case, I am so grateful for a job that lets me pretend to be a SAHM for part of the year - every year.  We had so much fun this summer and I will forever cherish the memories made with these two special boys.  They are at such fun ages right now and this has most definitely been my favorite summer to date!  There are quite a few summertime activities that never made it to the blog, so here's a little photo dump instead.  Some of these photos have already been shared; others have not.  But they fit together quite nicely to paint a picture of the most perfect. summer. ever.

Some of my favorite summer time memories include:

Day Date + Segway Tour
Deanna Rose
Strawberry Picking
Blueberry Picking
The Zoo
A family wedding
Brantley's 3rd Birthday 
Lake of the Ozarks
Wichita and Tanganyika
The Farmer's Market
Coffee Dates
Play Dates
Lunch Dates
Park Dates
Ice Cream Dates
Pool Parties
Birthday Parties
Neighborhood Gatherings
A Visit to the Firestation
Baseball Games
Baseball Practice
Open Gyms
Kiddie Concerts + Music Classes
Monday Bachelorette Nights
College Roomie Reunion
My DSLR Photo Challenge
Our 5-Year Anniversary Staycation

As you can see, there was a lot that never made the blog!  Mostly because it's impossible to blog about everything, but also because if I blogged about every daily occurrence, I would never get to relish in those moments.  A busy summer it was--and a fabulous one at that!

We went for one final summer treat this evening and these pictures describe perfectly how I want to remember the boys at these ages.

They even cooperated for a selfie.  They must have known Mama was having a hard time with going back.

There's still more I'd like to blog about (that I never got to), but if these next few weeks are anything like the previous years, you'll be lucky to hear from me in September!  Until then, take care!!  And think of me as I'm prepping for and getting to know 100+ new students this year!

Not How I Envisioned It

It's currently naptime on my second to last day of summer break.  Even though my sleepy eyes are telling me to partake in a nap myself while I still can, both my head and heart feel the need to blog.  You see, it's been a crazy couple of days and since blogging helps me sort through all of the feelings, I can't help but want to write it all down. 

If I could choose one word to describe my final week of summer this year, it would definitely be: eventful.  Let's start with the good!

1 | A quick trip to Iowa to reunite with my two best college friends and roommates.  

Despite living only a few hours from each other, we don't see each other too often.  Life is busy and between the three of us, we have seven kids.  (I can hardly even believe I just typed that sentence!)  However, one of my friends, Sarah, is also a teacher, the other, Casey, is a SAHM an unemployed pharmacist, and the youngest of our seven children is almost one, so last Monday, I decided there is no reason we can't all get together!  I offered to make the trek to Des Moines and both of my besties quickly obliged!  It was a short little reunion (less than 24 hours together), but very, very sweet!  It was fun catching up with Sarah and Casey and reminiscing about our old college days, but even more fun watching our kiddos play together.  Casey--assuming you're still "unemployed" next year, I insist of making this an annual thing!!

2 | A visit from my cousin, Beth, and her little family of three.

It was fun having family in town for the weekend.  Beth and her hubby, Gene, have a little boy, Calvin, who just turned one.  We enjoyed some kid-friendly activities (Deanna Rose and our pool), introduced them to kolaches, and tailgated at/attended Saturday's Royal's game.  I barely took any photos and the ones I did take are well below average iPhone photos...but at least I have record of them being here!

 3 | I finally found Charlie Hustle shirts for the boys!

This photo is a little grainy, but how cute are they in their matching KC tees?!  Craig may have freaked out when he learned they were $28 a pop, but Brantley's will definitely get lots of use as a hand-me-down, and assuming we have another kid someday, girl or boy--Holden's will, too!

Annnnnd, that pretty much takes care of the good.  Now for the bad, or shall I say - eventful.  Because in the end, everything has turned out okay!

1 | Kinnick was attacked.

Craig was taking Kinnick for a routine walk around the lake last Thursday.  Apparently, they came upon another dog (quite a bit larger; a poodle of some sort) also out for a walk.  The other dog broke free of his leash and before Craig could even register what was happening, the other dog was on top of Kinnick.  Craig lifted the poodle-mix up by his neck, but only after his teeth had sunk deep in Kinnick's skin - enough to give Kinnick quite the puncture wound.  Craig whisked our poor, blood-matted dog off to the vet to have the wound looked at.  They gave Kinnick some antibiotics and pain meds and said that the dog bit into Kinnick's muscle.  Needless to say, the owner of the other dog is taking care of our vet bill and now I'm a little nervous to take Kinnick for walks without my husband along for protection!  Here is a picture from today, four days after the occurrence.

2 | Holden puked.  At the Royal's game.

I have no idea what happened, but Holden randomly threw up at the Royal's game on Saturday evening.  He didn't eat anything the rest of us didn't and he acted fine both before and after puking, which is baffling.  Luckily, the people in front of us had exited their seats for whatever reason; otherwise, they for sure would have been covered in vomit.  And bless the mom lady to next me who helped clean it off of me.  He threw up again on the drive home and a couple of times on Sunday, but the story was the same.  He played and acted completely normal both before and after puking.  I only wish I could say this was the most eventful thing to take place on Saturday.....but lo and behold, there's more!  And remember I said he acted fine before getting sick?  Here's a picture of Holden clearly feeling okay just 45 minutes before throwing up!

3 | Kinnick ran away.

That's right.  Just two days after being attacked, he was spooked so much that he ran away.  Now, let me just say, Kinnick is the best dog.  He is not the dog that wanders from his mom and dad or from his house, for that matter.  We don't have a fenced in back yard, but the chance of Kinnick escaping has always been the least of our worries.  He goes out, does his business, and comes right back to the door.  On Saturday night (after returning from the Royal's game and cleaning our pukey kid and carseat), Craig let Kinnick out.  In those same few moments that Kinnick was outside, our backyard neighbors decided to shoot off not one, but two, fireworks leftover from the 4th.  Kinnick hates fireworks.  And I mean H A T E S.  Because they were so close (and SO loud), he took off.  We spent the next hour (plus!) searching for him.  Craig + me + Beth + Brantley + multiple neighbors.  Yep, even Brantley.  Why he wasn't in bed you ask?  Because the fireworks were so loud they woke him up and he was too terrified to do anything but stay attached to my hip.  So what's a mom to do?  I put him in the car and we started searching together.  It was the sweetest thing hearing Brantley yell "Kinnick!?!" out the window of our car.  At 11:30pm, nonetheless.  At one point, we got wind from some people out walking that there was a stray dog walking around the lake, so with some direction from our neighbors, I drove our Highlander on the walking path halfway around the lake.  After an hour or more of unsuccessful searching, I was convinced Kinnck was long gone and we'd never see him again.  (We live in such the outskirts of KC.  With that, comes coyotes and other wild animals.  We're also close to a pretty busy highway and I was convinced he'd find his way there and get hit.)  I had tears streaming down my face as my neighbor friend told me the best thing to do at that point was probably give up and call around to animal shelters in the morning.  As I was debating what to do next, Craig called me with the news that Kinnick had been found.  Huge sigh of relief.  But with that relief came even more tears.  He was found {by Craig} just a couple blocks from our house.  Who knows what he did that entire time and where he went, but reunited we were. 

4 | My cousin and her family were in a car accident on their way back to Iowa.

The most important thing is that, with the exception of some minor injuries, they are all (including 1-year old Calvin) okay.  Their car?  Not so much.  But cars can be replaced.  I think Craig and I were both in shock for part of the day yesterday though.  It's scary how quickly everything can change and makes me appreciate returning home safely each and every time we leave our house.  God definitely kept their little family safe yesterday and for that I am very thankful!!

5 | Brantley displaced a tooth. 

I mean, seriously, enough is enough, right?!  This morning, in the same manner he did almost two years ago, Brantley fell tooth-first into the corner of the arm of our couch.  We tell him all. the. time. the couch isn't for jumping on or diving into.  But he's a boy.  And he's three.  And he just doesn't think about the ramifications or injuries that could result in such a thing.  In this particular instance, he was jumping from his PB Anywhere Chair into the couch.  Well, he hit the corner of the arm and by the time I got to him, his mouth was full of blood.  I could tell he tooth was pushed back, but I was too scared to see if it was wiggling.  I tried to put on my big girl pants and remain calm, but there's just something about an injury to teeth that freaks me out.  I called Craig.  Then the dentist.  All the while, I held Brantley and refused to look inside his mouth.  The receptionist told me to bring him in immediately and they would work him in as quickly as they could.  (Side note: We visited the dentist last week for his 6-month check up and it was an all-out brawl between him and I to get him to open his mouth.  For some reason, he freaked out and refused treatment.  Needless to say, I was less than excited to tell him we were headed back to the dentist to have his tooth looked at, so instead I told him he was tough like Alex Gordon and we were going to the doctor so they could fix his owie, just like Alex Gordon had done.)  Brantley fell asleep on the ride there and his tooth stopped bleeding.  Craig met us at the dentist, thank goodness, because my stomach (and mom heart) just can't handle this kind of stuff.  The dentist took some x-rays and inspected the tooth.  She said it was the best case scenario and that he hadn't damaged the root of the tooth.  The tooth was definitely displaced (which is only a problem cosmetically), but some neighbor friends have assured me that it's not at all noticeable.  And Brantley did such a good job at the dentist.  Opened his mouth, allowed them to {easily} take x-rays, etc.  I tried to snap a few photos.  You can see the injury in the first photo and the displacement in the second one.  

At this rate, I'm ready to go back to school on Wednesday.  Or at least some normalcy in my life that includes less eventful days!  Thank goodness this is Monday wine night with my favorite neighbors!!

Summer Photos - Week 10

Also known as - the week Brantley was at Camp Grandma's.  He had a blast with his cousins in Wichita and I'm not ashamed to say it was amazing around these parts, as well.  I mean, I don't think any mom of 2+ children will deny the fact that when you're left with only one child, it's smooth sailing!  I only busted out the big camera once, so this is all I've got for week 10.


While in Wichita last weekend to visit Craig's family, we hit up Tanganyika, a zoo-like wildlife park that offers way more interaction than a zoo.  We got up close and personal with a number of animals--the boys were able to feed a giraffe, pet a kangaroo, and ride a camel! 

The giraffes were our first exhibit and also probably the most impressive of all of them.  I couldn't believe how close we were able to get!

There were all sorts of weird rules when it came to the kangaroos.  Only pet the ones laying down.  Approach them only from the back.   I can't remember the rest, but it was a little nerve-wracking!

Brantley...the goat-whisperer.

 And then there were the bunnies.

And turtles.

Shortly after this next picture, Brantley got bit.  He was just trying to be nice and ensure the turtle got the last little bit of lettuce.  Oops!

I just couldn't resist this photo.  Perhaps this makes me a bad mom?  Or maybe I'm a bad mom because I was acting as mamarazi and not helping to keep my child's fingers out of the turtle's mouth?

Never fear, he was over it rather quickly and onto the camel.  Quite literally.

Come to find out, Brantley, Holden, and I could have ridden the camel altogether.  Kind of like the time my mom, sister, and I rode an elephant.  But we didn't know that until after the fact.  Next time, for sure!

Here we are waiting to visit Lemur Island.  Brantley was able to feed a lemur on the island, but unfortunately, they didn't allow photos because the "lemurs were new and 'in training'".  Riiiiight.  That would explain their professional photographer then, right?

Our final exhibit was the lama-pulled barrel train.  I mean, not everyone can say they've been in a train pulled by a lama!!

We saw lots of other animals while at Tanganyika - a white tiger, a panther, a leopard, monkeys (both boys loved them), an albino alligator, a rhino, zebras, etc.  Ironically, a lot of the same animals in the book Dear Zoo, which is one of Holden's current faves!  Albeit hot, it was a fun trip and it was nice to explore a part of Wichita I had never been!