Saturday, August 31, 2013

Tim and Erica's Engagement Photos

Tyler's brother, Tim, is getting married in May!  The last time they came to Kansas they asked if I would do their engagement photos.  This is now my third family engagement session and nothing has changed - I was still excited and scared to capture such a momentous occasion.  We ended up having such a fun time and a special thanks goes out to my wonderful mom for being the best assistant :)
Erica and I went through the pictures before they headed back to Texas and we ended up with 40, yes 40 amazing poses.  I keep telling people, my photos turn out great because all the beautiful people I am privileged to photograph.  
We coined this one ^ their future "first couple" pose or the couple that sleeps in twin beds ;)  
Congratulations Tim and Erica…we are so happy for you!!
I hope everyone is enjoying a relaxing labor day weekend.  We're having a great time soaking up the last few days of summer with family.  

P.S. Tuesday is Keeler's first day {of his last year} of preschool.  You know there's a post pending after I send him off and dry up some tears.  

Friday, August 30, 2013

Friday Favorite Things {13}

We have our first week of school under our belt and we survived it!
It wasn't picture perfect - there were meltdowns and accidents and frustrations - but it was good.
For that I am grateful!
One of these days I'll attempt to capture some pictures of the challenges in our days but usually I'm so busy averting a crisis or kissing a boo boo or calming a meltdown that grabbing a camera is the last thing on my list!
For now, here are some of my favorite moments of the week!

Little sister curiously watches math lesson proceedings.

Some days, keeping little ones occupied and happy during lessons is nearly impossible.
Then there are such sweet moments as this.

Taitum's lesson for the day was learning how to bounce and catch a ball.
This turned into a whole lot of craziness - balls flying around the room, children diving every which way and giggles galore!

Mashing bananas.
The hardships of a three year old.

First ever tea party complete for this little one!
She is so pleased to be a part of things!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

A First Attempt At Artist Study

There have been several elements of the Ambleside Online curriculum that sounded unrealistic to me.
One of those components was artist study.
The nice thing about AO is that you can follow it as closely or loosely as you want.
However, I figured that since it was created by people who have been doing this homeschooling gig much longer than me, I would follow it as closely as possible and then start picking and choosing what did and did not work for us.
Today was our first stab at artist study.

We had a tea party.

And talked about 'Paul Revere', a painting by John Singleton Copely.

Um, it was delightful!

I even found our discussion intriguing.
I purposely didn't read anything about the painting so that this week it would be all our own thoughts and speculations.
Piper thought he was holding a teapot he had found and thinking about whose it might be.
She asked why he was in the dark which led to a discussion about where the light was in the room and what time of day it was.
I pointed out the tools that are on the table and Piper thought that maybe he was fixing the teapot.
Tait gave her two cents every now and again (mainly echoing what Piper would say!).
In the end, they were over the moon about drinking real tea at their artsy tea party and even happier when I explained that this would be a weekly occurrence this school year!

So we are drinking tea and talking about paintings by famous artists, listening to classical music in the van, weaving potholders and reading more books than I ever thought possible.

Either I've gone off the deep end or we're officially Amblesiders!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Handicraft: Weaving

I've hummed and hawed over what to do for a handicraft to begin the year.
I really want this to be a time Piper looks forward to and enjoys.
Anything too difficult would cause frustration.
Anything too easy would lose her interest quickly.
I finally settled on weaving and ordered a kit with her homeschool supplies.
Yesterday afternoon, I pulled it out, gave her a few instructions and demonstrations and...

She loves it!

Her sisters were both sleeping so it was a very peaceful endeavor.
I think we both enjoyed the time together beginning this project!
She was very proud of her work so far!
She will continue to work on it each week and eventually will have made her very own potholder!

One Hour Of Perfection

Yesterday I wrapped up my old job (barely). Before I could leave I had to draft a motion for partial summary judgment. This was the stipulation for my final farewell. I finally finished it at 6:15pm! It's even pretty good, if I do say so myself. I even went to the effort of bate-stamping my exhibits so I could reference them by page number. Bate-stamped pages make me so happy.

As the evening dragged on, however, I lost steam in the final few minutes. The thought of taking the final effort of tying my arguments up nicely in a conclusion section seemed unbearable. So I kinda skipped it. I hope my boss appreciates this as he is reviewing my draft.

I'm the one that introduced him to the trending phrase "sorry for partying." So I'm sure he'll see it as a final souvenir of my employment with the firm...ha ha, RIGHT....

I also need to mention that on my last day at the firm, my boss sent out an email with the following subject (in all caps, of course): "WHOEVER JAMMED THE BIG STAPLER, PLEASE COME SEE ME!" The e-mail went on to explain the importance of having a jam-free stapler in case there is an "emergency." Ha.


Also, I totally had a nightmare that I filed a motion and used the word "hafta" instead of "have to" and my boss flipped out and I was totally horrified and filled with anxiety. I wonder if the litigation nightmares will stop sometime or if they will be ever present, much like those pesky high school test nightmares.

We are off to Canada tomorrow for the rest of the week/weekend. But today, I have absolutely no plans, obligations, or work-related stress. And it feels amazing! I kind of feel unemployed. It's the best feeling ever. Hmmm, I could get used to this.

This morning, I took the kids to the gym and ran 6 miles. Now the baby is sleeping, the big kid is "resting" on the couch. I'm sitting in my warm bed enjoying the post-run high and the awesome feeling of spent muscles while eating a much-deserved cookie dough Power bar (yes, there IS such as thing...and it is amazing!), listening to Macklemore's The Heist, and doing WHATEVER THE HECK I WANT. (Forgetting for a moment that my house it complete chaos.)

It may be really simple, but this is my idea of perfection. I am in a total state of bliss right now. Life is good!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Back To School 2013

Today was our first day back to school!
It went surprisingly well.
I think we're all glad to have some routine back in our lives!

Here is what we are doing this year:


Ambleside Online, Year 1 ( We are basically following this to a T. The only changes I've made is adding in Canadian History readings. )
Home Art Studio Kindergarten (I chose the Kindergarten level so Taitum could join in without it being too far beyond her!)


Slow and Steady, Get Me Ready (I'm using this with Renly, too, as it provides activities for one year olds. You can download it for free here.)
Before Five In A Row (We will occasionally row a book.)
Busy Bags (I'm working at getting these together for her since she likes to sit with us while Piper does her school work.)

The girls favorite thing today was the Home Art Studio art lesson!
I can't say I blame them!
I remember loving art projects in school, too.
And it made for a very pleasant way to end our first day back!

Weekend Whoas!

We spent another weekend at home.  It's hard to believe that this summer we have only gone out of town one weekend.  One weekend, how is that even true?!  We are usually traveling all the time.  I have to admit, it's been nice to be home more.  I think I'm becoming a homebody, eeek!  At least in September we have a couple exciting trips planned.  
So here's a quick recap {in iPhone photos}
Keeler was a bit under the weather late in the week.  We spent the afternoon at home resting and then made jewelry.  In college I worked at a build your own jewelry store.  I had a slight obsession/addiction to buying every bead and tool we sold.   Ten years and two kids later = several boxes full of unspoken 'treasures' in the basement.  It was fun to get out some of the old stuff and play.  I repaired a few of my favorites while Keeler made me and his Granny some pretty awesome necklaces and bracelets.  Please don't tell his dad, but it really was a good activity and great for his hand/eye coordination. :)    

On Friday, everyone was feeling better so after work we took a big ice tea out to Tyler on the farm.  He's been planting so I hope we helped break up his day.  We went and checked sprinklers with him in an old work pickup.  I looked over and saw that Kal was holding Keeler on his lap.  How cute is that?!

Since we had sickies on Thursday and Friday we got home so late I missed two workouts of T25 this week.  It's only a five day a week workout so missing two would set me back.  I was c-r-a-z-y and made Saturday morning an official weekend warrior fest.  I completed 2 of the T25 workouts plus ran a 5k.  I ended up working out for 92 minutes.  Never again will I do that because I was starving the rest of the day!  Pretty much defeated the purpose.  This week we start week 5 and I'm loving this program.  
Saturday was also the neighbor's birthday.  We spent the afternoon with them.  After the party, the older boys and dads went out to their family farm and rode paddle boats.  Whitney and I kept the little boys, cleaned up after the party and then enjoyed a well deserved adult beverage(s) while the kids played.  I love that we have great neighbors! :)

On Sunday, the most excitement we had was Tyler and I attempted to do a toy clean-out.  We explained to Keeler that we needed to donate some toys to children that don't have many.  He was all on board!  Tyler went around with him and asked him specifically if he wanted to "keep" or "donate."  It was so funny to hear his excuses on keeping the tiniest of toys but in the end he had a very giving heart and made us so proud!

 In the afternoon, we went grocery shopping and then had dinner with the neighbors.  
In the evening we played outside.  Keeler ran up to me and said, "I need to take a dump." - very matter of factly and in a deep voice.  He then went and walked to the side of the house.  I gasped but then quickly realized he meant to say, "I need to take a leak."  To add to the humor, Kal ran to the side of the house right behind him and started pulling down his pants.  Geesh, life with these cowboys is always exciting.  
How was your weekend?


Saturday, August 24, 2013

All Is Fair...In Mommyhood

I just closed the door to the boys' room after having tucked them snuggly into bed. As the door shut softly behind me, I wanted to just melt into a puddle on the fake wood floors (Wicked Witch of the West style). Today was such a ROUGH day. It shouldn't have been. But for some reason, everything was difficult.

My husband (who is pulling kid duty all day tomorrow) left for an all day long football draft event. So it was just me and the boys. I think Jacob woke up too early because he was on the verge of a meltdown the entire day. Anything could and would set him off. In the late morning we were at the table finishing his birthday invitations. He drew one pretty darn good Ninja Turtle. Then on the second one, he totally threw a tantrum because his turtle WAS TOO UGLY. It looked exactly like the first one, which he adored. Ugh. Then he refused to draw anymore.

Turtle power:

Then, despite his prior protest, he tried to draw a snail. He crumpled up seven pieces of half-drawn snails which much flare and drama. Then he threw his markers, stomped his fist, and had another meltdown. "I'll NEVER get the hang of this! It's no use!" He flung his body dramatically into a pillow on the couch. "I'm never going to draw AGAIN!" He proceeded to huff and puff, to my extreme annoyance, for the next ten minutes.

When I asked him to clean up his markers, he adamantly refused. His whining grew louder. Obviously he was tired and I was in no mood to deal with him. I sent him to his bed and instructed him to take a nap. For the next 47 minutes (precisely), he kicked his wall, threw his stuffed animals and chanted (without a single break!) "I don't wanna take a nap! I'll never take a nap! I'll never play Uno with you ever again! You're a mean mommy! I don't wanna take a nap!" ... I just let him get it out of his system.

He never did nap. I just let him out of his room (47 minutes later) with a very stern warning. The rest of the day was pretty much just like his. It was a complete battle to get him to do anything. Any little thing would set him off and trigger a barrage of pathetic whining. His food is too hot. He's too tired to put his shoes on. He is soooo thirsty. His drink tastes bad. "I don't hafta go potty!" "I don't wanna walk!"

When Ryan woke up from his nap, I had to get out of the house. We went to the gym and I cranked out 5.5 miles while the kids were in childcare. I got sucked into some really sappy romantic comedy on some Christian channel. It was so sappy...but I totally ate it up. At mile 5, on a 3.0 incline, I bawled my sweaty eyes out as a defeated couple rekindled their love in a remote South American village before the statue of some saint who had literally just healed a boy from his crippling condition. It was even worse than a Hallmark movie (which I secretly love and hate all at the same time). But it made my run go by quickly!

After the gym, I made four stops which is way more than my usual two-stop max. After two-stops, I find that buckling and unbuckling the kids and herding them in and out of cars, stores, and parking lots is no longer worth the energy-zapping effort. But these chores HAD to be done today because I promised my boss I would come into the office tomorrow.

Finally, because I'm totally freaking insane, I took both boys to the local county fair. I was tempted to cancel this part of the day due to all the excessive whining and lack of cooperation, but I had just run 5.5 miles dangit and I wanted some fair food!

It turned out to be much better than I thought. The kids were distracted by activities and the whining came with less frequency.

Humongous corndog (that Jacob just HAD to have and then barely ate because...well, for no good reason at all).

Meeting some sheep! Ryan was totally shocked by this sheep. He kept staring at it as if he was trying to figure out what kind of dog it was.

The llamas were just as shocking. Ryan absolutely loved watching all the animals. He finally learned how to "moo" -- hey, it's the little things.

Looking for more animals. This little man basically owns me. He makes me want to have five more babies right away. Those cheeks! That round belly! Those crocs!

Too much cuteness! I have no idea how I got Ryan to cooperate for this one. Act of God? Stars in complete alignment? Bribery of dum-dum suckers? Maybe all three.
In the belly of the dragon. For the first time, Jacob was big enough to ride all the kid rides on his own. He wanted to do it all by himself while we watched from afar. He took his tickets, found the line, and handled it all by himself. OMG. I just realized that someday he's going to grow up and make his own meals, drive himself places, and never ever need me! NOOOO!

I always talk about my love affair with this stroller. But I can't help it. This stroller is so perfect. It's so easy and smooth. I bought it used ($140- brand new they are 400+). And I love it so much that sometimes I want to bring it to bed with me.

Look ma, no hands! Such a goof!

He looks like a natural. We walked by the ponies on the way out of the fair and Jacob looked over so wistfully that I couldn't resist letting him go for a ride. And well.... it's a PONY! Who can pass up a PONY?! When I asked him if he wanted to ride the ponies he literally jumped out of the stroller, pumped his fist in the air, and said so enthusiastically to all the people within a 20 foot radius, "Woo hoo, this is my first time riding a pony!!" As he rode the pony around and around, he kept leaning forward to pet it's mane and it's rump. He was so comfortable and confident. He totally looked like a rancher's son.

My loves.

There were so many rough parts of the day. But for some reason, no matter how much I tend to complain about the rough parts, it's the happy parts that tend to stick in my brain. Now, even though I was so eager to put them to bed, I find myself strangely and uncontrollably wishing they were playing at my feet in the living room. Ryan would be twirling in circles and stopping to give me kisses while Jacob would be jumping off furniture showing me some ninja moves.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Show Us Your Life: Online Shopping

Linking up with Kelly's Korner for Show Us Your Life:  Favorite Shops Online.
I may have bent the rules because I am not a boutique shopper but more about a great bargain.
Living in a rural community basically in the middle of nowhere or in the middle of everywhere {depending if you want to see your glass half full and drive 3+ hours} I have become accustomed to online shopping.  I tend to shop more for the little cowboys online because sizes are easier to figure out and obviously they aren't too particular.  For myself,  I have to try things on so old fashion shopping is more my style.  And of course I need my mom and sister by my side to make sound decisions :)    

My number one stop for the little cowboys is always Kohl's.  They by far have the best deals online.  I have a Kohl's card for their discounts {husband's rolling his eyes now, ha!}.  Often I get a 20-30% off coupon on top of their low prices.  I love Carter's and Chap's clothing.  They both wash well and most of Keeler's clothes still look great on Kal several years later.  Below is a sample of some great bargains I recently scored for the little cowboys back to school shopping.  We pretty much wear t-shirts and polos with jeans everyday.  I'll touch on jeans in a bit!

1//  Carter's "Boy Genius" Tee $16.00 $5.76
2//  Mock Layer Monkey Tee $14.00 $4.39
3//  Chaps Striped Polo $26.00 $8.32
4//  Mock-Layer Football Tee  $18.00 $5.76
5&6// Chaps Colorblock Polo $26.00 $8.32
7// Carter's "Number 1" Tee $16.00 $5.76
8//  "Super Fast Racer" Tee $14.00 $4.39
Can you believe these prices?  The prices might vary as some were the door-buster deal on Wednesday with my 20% off coupon but defiantly worth looking into!
Oh, and that's not all.  For every $50 you spend you get $10 Kohl's cash.  
Makes for a great excuse to go shopping for myself {for free}!

My second favorite online store for the little cowboys is Gap and Old Navy.  I LOVE that these two stores are linked together.

1// Gap has always been my go-to for jeans.  For one they offer an adjustable waists which is a must for my little skinny boys and they wash/wear so well.  I buy 3-4 pairs each fall and we are good to go for the year!  Right now 1969 jeans are 30% off thru Saturday!
2// Gap Socks!  My boys are rough on socks.  I guess between wearing them outside and in cowboy boots most the time it's a hard life.  I have found that Gap offers the most durable {and cutest} socks.
3//  This post would not be complete without mention of Keeler's most loved staple:  Pocket Tees.  This summer the kid has insisted on wearing a solid color shirt with a pocket almost everyday - just like dad.  My mom found these at Old Navy and since I've ordered him more.
Family Date Night Attire:  Pocket Tee!

Here's a list of my other top online shops in general:
//  For Gifts:  Etsy  //
I love the variety and idea of homemade gifts.  I've done embroidered baby items and personalized jewelry to name a few.
//  Daily Deals:  Zulily  //
Each day it's something different.  I've ordered a few house items, kids pajamas and shoes for myself - all at great discounted prices.  It's really just fun to see what they have to offer each day.
//  Latest Obsession:  H&M  //
My friend, Kristin, introduced me to H&M years ago in Vegas and then again in Minnosota.  They offer cute and affordable clothes for us and kids.  It's a different style and you have to search to find your style but the items I have picked up are great quality.  We never had one even remotely close nor did they have an online store so I really just never thought about them.  However, just this month they opened up an online store and I'm super excited!

Thanks for stopping by. I can't wait to browse Kelly's Show Us Life to see where everyone else is shopping!