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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Little Miss Sunshine Turns 3

This sweet Sunshine turned 3 on January 11th
... and this is really how she felt about getting her picture taken :)
We invited her besties - Ellaina (pictured above), Hartley, Logann, Faith & Micah - to join us at Wonderscope Children's Museum for a morning of play. 
We had cupcakes and juice to fuel up for the fun.
Daddy did a little cupcake smash after she blew out the candle!
How is it possible that our baby girl is 3?!!!

McKenna Jane,
You are the sunshine of our lives! Because of you our days are brighter, more full of love & laughter and noise. Your personality exudes happiness. You love when we crank the zuzic (music) up loud and have dance parties; snuggling up in front of a cartoon; playing Barbies and baby dolls and play time with just about anyone.
Currently, you would eat an endless supply of fishies (Goldfish crackers) or fruit snacks;  watch countless episodes of Tom & Jerry; bathe a dozen times a week never growing tire of playing surfer girl and live in your footie pajamas if life allowed. You would also chose to spend 1/2 your days at Papa and Mema's house as they are your grown up best friends and you never tire of quality time with them.
We love you more than you could ever possibly know!
Mommy and Daddy

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Photo Dump

It's time for a photo dump of recent pics
It is love or hate around this house with these 3. They go from each other's best friend and playmate to being unkind to one another in the snap of a finger. Another snap of the finger and they are back in the friend zone. I missed this opportunity to video their deep belly laughs while piggy piling on one another Christmas afternoon.
Photo taken 12/25/2013
McKenna crawled onto the counter in hot pursuit of finding Makayla's pacifier stash. She (McKenna) gave hers up on August 23rd and this is the 1st time she snuck one into her mouth only to immediately be reprimanded. She quickly removed it with a look of shame on her sweet face. This is her cowering in hopes of not being seen. Stinker!
Photo taken 12/31/2013
This one can almost always be found during quiet time with her new Kindle in hand.
Photo taken 01/03/2014

This fiercely independent one was given NO choice but to say good bye to diapers in early January. All it took was me saying no more to diapers and placing them out of reach. Day 1 I gave her the incentive to earn 1 sticker with each potty made in the toilet and after earning 5 stickers she could have a bowl of ice cream. A little bribery proved for success! It has been 19 days since we began potty training and I am ELATED to share she is doing #1 and #2 in the potty and is accident free 98% of the time. Can I get a woot woot!
Potty training initiated and photos taken on 01/03/2014
Gabrielle received this American Girl self guided sew and stuff owl craft kit from Papa and Mema for her birthday. We took a good chunk of our Saturday afternoon and sewed the larger of the 2 owls. This one is for Gabrielle, the smaller owl will be for her dolls.
Crafternoon completed 01/04/2014
Gabrielle wasn't feeling her best and curled up on the couch to rest. It was a matter of moments before McKenna was right next to her. This picture pulls at this momma's heartstrings big.time! It represents what I had hoped and prayed for when we found out we were expecting McKenna Jane ... sisters loving one another, lifting one another up and unabashed laughter. My heart explodes at the sight of them together at times!
Photo taken 01/05/2014
If this photo could tell you it's story. Oh my! I try very hard to make one on one time in the afternoon with my little dude. Last week I was sitting down with him in the kitchen enjoying "us" time.  Some time had passed and the eery silence surrounding us grabbed my attention. That generally means one thing - Little Miss Mischief. I walked upstairs to find MJ in our master bedroom standing in the middle of a haze of white powder. A large section of carpet was matted and the furniture covered in a think film of white. That turkey got a hold of a large size bottle of baby powder and decided to powder her bottom only to empty it's entire contents! I grabbed the Dyson and began vacuuming holding my breath in hopes I wasn't causing any damage to the motor or components. After the powder clean up, the Dyson got a deep cleaning and is working good as new, PTL!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Ms. G celebrates #9

New Year's Day marked another year in life for our #1, Gabrielle Annique. She wanted a small group of friends for a few games of bowling and a sleepover to celebrate her 9th. Wish granted!
These girls rocked the lanes at Mission Bowl.
Ava {far right} got a strike followed by a spare in the 1st round of bowling and Gabi got a spare.
Photo evidence of G's spare :)
It was really fun for me to watch the girls interact and giggle until I was sure they couldn't laugh any more. After bowling we returned home for pink lemonade cupcakes and ice cream sundaes in waffle bowls before the girls retreated to the basement for a movie, popcorn and theater candy. It is fair to say they were successfully sugared up yet amazingly well mannered!
Good morning bed head x 4!!!!
A big shout out and thanks to the Morris's for the FUN birthday spectacles! I'm sure these bad boys will make frequent return appearances over the years :)
Saturday morning we fixed Gabrielle's favorite breakfast of chocolate chip pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon and toast.  She had invited five friends for her birthday but Tatum traveled to Oklahoma to celebrate Christmas the weekend of the sleepover and Harper woke with the stomach flu. 
Once again the iPhone saved the day in documenting Gabrielle's 9th birthday celebration * 
We gifted Gabi a protective case for her Kindle, a cardigan sweater and headband that coordinate with the wellies she received in her stocking for her AG dolls and an AG craft kit. Her friends were very generous in gifting her cash, new clothing from H&M (one of her favorite stores), Beat the Parents board game and friendship bracelet kit, loom accessories and a Tapefitti Art Desk Set

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Embrace the Camera: January 16, 2014

I very much dislike being in front of the camera. It's not my thing but I'm vowing to do a better job of getting in the picture with my monkeys this year. My kiddos will thank me someday for it. 
iPhone photo taken on January 11th at McKenna's birthday lunch outing to Fazoli's
Me and my Boo. A momma's boy in every way! 
He told me just this week, "Momma, I know what we'll do. When I get too big for you to hold, I'll just hold you." He showers me in endless kisses and jumps into my arms, throws his legs around my waste and squeezes in tight. 
iPhone photo taken January 16th while in route to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art for the Meadow Lane 3rd grade class field trip
I treasured the 3 hours today that I stole away with my #1. It isn't too often that she gets me all to herself and today she soaked up my full attention. She even cuddled into my lap on the bus ride home and drifted off as I stroked her hair. I was filled with gratitude in the moment that this beautiful girl made us a family. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Christmas 2013

It wasn't the picturesque morning most parents envision.
In fact it was quite the opposite.
We woke just minutes before the kids so we all trickled downstairs to gather around the tree in preparation to open gifts. That is when all pandemonium broke lose between the two oldest in very short order.  One was blaming the other for peeking at the gifts or something to that affect but just envision voices and tempers escalating in seconds flat. Somehow we managed to settle down the forces just long enough for ONE gift to be opened. You read that right. One gift before attitudes became out of check again (mine included) and I called a family time out. A couple hours passed before the kids asked if we could revisit the gifts. I'm so relieved our 2nd attempt was a success. The kids were excellent and were thrilled with their gifts. Gabrielle's only wish, which came in late, was for another Vintage Pearl piece. Dawson wished BIG and asked for a Mustang - the real deal folks, not a matchbox, remote control, or toy model. We told him he needs to start saving his nickels and dimes now :)

In keeping with recording what the kids received this year (we follow the 3 gift "rule"):

Gabrielle -
Kindle Fire HD
Rainbow Loom tutorial book and storage case
Fleece leggings and cowl neck sweatshirt from Old Navy
I love that I captured her look of sheer surprise and excitement over her gift. Tears of overwhelming joy followed.

Dawson -
2 Lego City sets
{Nerf like} Bow and Arrow from Bass Pro
3 pair of {2nd hand} pants

Dawson whipped together this smaller Lego set in short order Christmas afternoon

McKenna -
McKenna the American Girl doll
Dream Lite
Carters fleece footie pajamas
McKenna tore into her AG doll immediately (ripping the box darn it!) and now has all the AG dolls housed in her Playskool Rose Petal Cottage. We renamed the doll baby Mackie to avoid any confusion. 

Family gift -
2 sets of Silly Hands identical to these but for a fraction of the cost. Honestly best gift ever and hysterical too!

I think in total we spent less than $175 for Christmas. Times called for resourcefulness and I'm so thankful for how well things played out with providing a wonderful Christmas for the kids. I picked up the Kindle on a screaming deal; we had $35 Bass Pro credit which covered the cost of the bow and arrow set; I bought the Legos on a B1G1 deal at Target and applied a $20 gift card I've had forever; the AG doll was purchased last year (thanks in part to GG paying for half) and tucked away until this year; and all the clothing items cost around $25 total out of pocket. Stockings were filled with gifts from Terry & Barb along with miscellaneous other fun finds.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Annual Cookie Decorating

December and the Christmas season wouldn't be the same without our annual cookie decorating time with Mema. This year Mema prepared the cookie dough, cut out and baked the cookies a day ahead so the kids could get right to what they enjoy most ... frosting and decorating. 
This little artist was right in her element ensuring her cookies were masterpieces.
I immediately took Dawson up to the bathroom after the cleanup and remedied his helmet head by giving him a long overdue haircut.
Cookie decorating is serious business with my trio. It's not about speed or production, they focus on the final look of the cookie. Holly candies placed just so; sprinkles evenly dispersed; candy canes lined red & white. 
We laughed so hard because the instant McKenna finished decorating her 1st cookie she immediately devoured it without hesitation. Call me biased, but Mema's cut out cookie recipe can't be beat.  Even though she baked around 8 - 10 dozen they don't last long in our homes given the fact that each of our sweet tooth prevails.
My neighbor and friend pulled me aside just this afternoon and told me how she thinks we are so blessed to have my parents live a stone's throw away and we all agree. Blessed indeed!

Monday, January 6, 2014

10 Random Facts

I am NOT a fan of a these type of things but allowed myself to get lured in by my once little neighbor girl, Becky Holtkamp Thim on a recent Facebook game/poll. Apparently if you liked someone's status when they listed their random facts about themselves then you in turn were given a number and were to post random facts about yourself. See ... lured!
SO ... I was given the number 10. 
10 things you may not know about me. 
1. My brothers are my biggest fans, supporters, encouragers & rescuers. In my perfect world we would all live in the same city (Brett and I currently do although on opposite sides of the state line).
2. Even though I wasn't given sisters by birth, God has blessed me with 3. My two amazing sister in laws, Linda and Teri and my little sister from another mother Molly Morris Conlon.
3. I don't live in fear however am learning daily what it means to live to fear the Lord.
4. I worked in the Oncology profession for years never imagining cancer would affect my immediate family. My mother is now a 2 year breast cancer survivor.
5. I grew up in corn country (Iowa) yet have never detasseled corn (that I have memory of). I have scooped manure and milked a cow 
6. I long to serve on a missions trip but am paralyzed at knowing how it will grip/rip my heart and wreck me for His good.
7. I wear my heart on my sleeve and am a highly emotional individual. It is how God designed me. (see #6 above) 

** Ann Voskamp states  "Tears are never a sign of weakness. Tears are always the sign of an open heart."  **
8. I have an irrational fear of a certain small, green, 4 legged creature that goes ribbit. (Ignore #3 above in this instance)
9. I always thought I'd marry a country boy/cowboy as I dreamed of ranch life and a field of horses but I met and married my city boy 14 years ago!
10. I moved 13 times in a 16 year time span and hope to not have to move again for years to come unless it is to Alabama to live closer to brother #2.

Reading #10 makes my head spin. 13 times!! Doing the math doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me as I lived an extended length of time at several of these. 3 1/2 years, 2+ years, 1 year, 5 1/2 years
Expanding on those moves ... 

  1. I moved from my childhood home in Primghar, IA to Nebraska Christian College in Norfolk, NE
  2. From NCC to a 2nd level housing rental with a roommate Michelle 
  3. From apartment with Michelle to basement housing rental with Michelle and Marcy 
  4. From basement apartment to (at times) cockroach infested apartment with (wish I could recall her name)
  5. From cockroach infested apartment in Norfolk to Tulsa, OK in with Brett & Linda
  6. From B&L's to 2 bedroom apartment with Michaela, the daughter of my boss at the time 
  7. From 2 bedroom apartment to solo living in a VERY nice 1 bedroom apartment on South Peoria Avenue!!! This was an immense blessing for several years due in part to the amazing relationship I developed while working at the Children's Boutique in Utica Square and babysitting their only child, Christian. I was blessed to live in this apartment for 3 1/2 years if memory serves me correct.
  8. From my 1 bedroom apartment in with a previous neighbor from the apartment complex, Armando for a short 6 month period of time 
  9. From Armando's 3 bedroom home into Travis's 1st home (yah for marriage!) July 2000 - April 2001                                                                                                                   A little tidbit of info for our children years from now ... Daddy & Mommy's 1st home sold in a matter of 24 hours within being on the market           
  10. From Trav's/our adorable 3 bedroom brick ranch home in Owasso, OK into our 1st home purchased together in Bailey Ranch Estates, Owasso, OK also known as our forever dream home. It was perfect in every way!  April 2001 - May 2003                                             The 09-11 bombing directly impacted Travis's job at the time where his #1 account was American Airlines. Our home in Bailey Ranch sold within 3 days of listing. 
  11. From Olathe to Barrington Park Town Homes in Lenexa, KS from May 2003 - May 2004
  12. From town home living into our new construction split level home in Foxfield Village Subdivision in Olathe, KS from May 2004 - October 2009 We brought both Gabrielle and Dawson home to this home.                                                                                       Although we were confident this home would sell very quickly as FFV was a highly sought after neighborhood at the time, we sat on this home for months before the right buyer came along. Take note -! We told ourselves this BEFORE purchasing it however fell in love with the neighborhood and don't regret our decision for a second. 
  13. From Foxfield Village Subdivision to our current home in Stratton Oaks Subdivision in Olathe, KS in October 2009
What is something random about YOU that you are willing to share with me? I'd love if you left a comment sharing. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

1st Snowfall of Winter

We received our 1st snowfall of winter the night of December 21st, the 1st official day of Winter! The kids couldn't wait to get all bundled up and head outdoors the following morning. It was cold but that didn't stop them! 
I laughed hysterically watching McKenna roll over and over again in the snow, her face beaming with joy!
The neighbor boys, Noah and Ben, joined the fun.
If you asked the kids, they would say the snow didn't last long enough. They are eager and awaiting the next snow fall!
The kids played long and hard before coming inside to enjoy a hot cup of ho-cho and cuddle up in front of the fireplace to warm up. 

I don't know about the rest of you, but we've been sporting pajamas for days this winter break. Things have been quiet which = good. We've spent far too many hours watching football, cartoons and recorded movies; the bigs have been engrossed in their screen time on the iPad, Kindle & their DS's; the threesome are either at each other's throat or playing beautifully together - this changes quickly and frequently; we've eaten loads of holiday treats and haven't done a darn thing to work off the extra calories. There are just a few days remaining of winter break before the kids return to their regular school schedule next Tuesday. We have a few fun things in store between now and then :)