Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Last Day of Summer

We have partied like rock stars this summer.

During the school year, Max went to pre-k 3 days a week, and those three days Rylan got picked up by a van from Max's pre-k and played at that school until I got off work. When school ended, we went to Colorado. After we returned, I dropped my hours from 3 days a week to 1. We asked our niece to babysit our boys. We have a niece that is 24 (I know what you are thinking. How can that young girl have a grown niece?) and stays home with her son. (I KNOW, how can that Sara be great aunt?  She's so young!) She very nicely to agreed to come stay with our kids 1-2 days a week so I could work.  This worked out so well. She made some money and we spent less than we would have a daycare and I was able to stay home 3-4 weekdays. 

The boys and I came up with a Summer Bucket List. We didn't do it all, but we got seriously close. I am proud of all we did this summer. 
Here is the before:
Gulley Park
Rotary Park
Vandergriff School Park
Bryce Davis Park
Arkadia
Dickson Street Food Trucks and Dickson Street Book Shop
Springdale Aquatic Center
Rogers Aquatic Center
Prairie Grove Aquatic Center
Toys R US/Petco/Barnes and Noble
Chick Fil A playplace
McDonald's Playplace
Lego Club at the Library
Storytime at the Library
Lokomotion
Tour a Food Truck
High Rise
Fast Lanes
Garage Saling on Fridays
Ricks Bakery to watch cakes be made
Amazeum
Berry Picking
Einstein bagels for breakfast

Gulley Park
Rotary Park
Vandergriff School Park
Bryce Davis Park
Arkadia
Dickson Street Food Trucks and Dickson Street Book Shop
Springdale Aquatic Center
Rogers Aquatic Center
Prairie Grove Aquatic Center
Toys R US/Petco/Barnes and Noble
Chick Fil A playplace
McDonald's Playplace
Lego Club at the Library
Storytime at the Library
Lokomotion
Tour a Food Truck
High Rise
Fast Lanes
Garage Saling on Fridays
Ricks Bakery to watch cakes be made
Amazeum
Berry Picking
Einstein bagels for breakfast
Wilson Park Pool

I think we did awesome. Add in that the kids went to my parents for 4 days, the family did a trip to Branson, I went on a girls trip to Lake Viking, and Rob did his 18th annual Guys Only Camp/Canoepalooza. We summered like we have never summered. We also did chores, the boys started making their beds for the first time in their lives, we volunteered at our church pantry, we participated in the Summer Reading Program, and I feel like did awesome at it. Today is our last day. As much as I'd like to tick off a few more items, I think we are going to go to the gym, chill, clean a little, play and spend time together for one final day.  I've said it before, I am a fun mom, but I am not a good Stay at HOME mom. I dont't really stay at home all that well. I like to find stuff to do, see what's out there. Explore new places.  

Tomorrow I packup my littles (BOTH OF THEM!) and send them to school. They will be at the same school for 3 years. I am beginning a new shift, working 8am-2:30pm four days a week and making it to carline instead of 3 days a week of 8-4:30. I prayyyyyyyyyy that this works. My job lends itself to making my own hours, BUT, if I have a patient, and no one can take my patient, I can't exactly leave my patient. Sometimes crap happens. I have had to call Rob or other family SOS before to get them at 4:30, so trying to leave 2 hours earlier than that is a scary thought. If it works, and I can leave and get my kids in time for school to be out, we will be saving...................$500 a month in daycare and afterschool care money. And I was only part time!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

I am sad that the summer is over, but I feel really ready for this next chapter. I have no regrets of staying home and being frugal to make that work. I have no regrets of not completly staying home, always working a little, just to keep my nursing skills up so that I could get the kind of job I have now. It is a good job, but it is a hard job and my years of experience, even extremely part time, helped me get it.  My kids have had some of the best teachers at several different care centers and they have also had a lot of mama time.  I am so happy I get to be there at the end of their day after school

I am sad to say my phone died and a lot of photos did not transfer to my new one. So, here are a FEW photos from this summer. 

 Max owning some sparkly shades at Roger's Aquatic Center

Couple of weirdos at Springdale Aquatic Center

Our beach ball sprinkler before our dog ate it



Berry Picking in the blistering heat. Summer got REAL this year

Saturday, August 13, 2016

I've become a bookaholic

I have done 5 posts in all of 2016 and this is the fourth in a month, WHAT??????

I miss blogging.I really do. In the last year, I have made a very large effort to get back to several things I used to enjoy doing. Some of it was given up with kids and the brain cells and time that raising young humans took. But, I honestly think that that with the invention of the smart phone, I have lost so much time and have nothing to show for it. So, new old loves are coming back to me. Thrift shopping is one. Planning and cooking new foods is another (especially since I have gone on Weight Watchers). Blogging is slowly coming back. But,the biggest, for me, is reading.

I love to read. I absolutely love to get lost in a book and find that occassional book that you just cannot put down.  Since having kids my reading has suffered. Like I said, the smart phone is a brain zap and it would take all my free time most days. I hate that but its true.  I would go in spurts, find a good book, buckle down and read like a banshee and then go 6 months. A few coworkers and I would go to a cheap book event at the library every 4 months, I would drink the proffered wine, get a tad tipsy and then buy 20 books or so with the promise of restarting my book love. And then I'd get busy, see something shiny, start a new game of Words with Friends, and find a new park for me and the kids to go to and my book shelf would get dusty.

 About a year ago, I asked some fellow MOPS moms to start a book club with me. We did pretty good in our first year. It was nice for all of us to find time for ourselves and find something besides kids to talk about. I honestly think you lose that as new (or newish if you are me) moms.  Besides the fellowship that a book club provides, the book club also has helped me discover new subjects and authors I might not have found otherwise. Since September of last year I have read, for the book club,  For the Love, The Book Thief, The Husband's Secret, Me Before You, The Giver, and The Storyteller. I have loved all of these books. There were two (Under the Banner of Heaven and The Dinner that I didn't finish and didn't love).  I am so thankful to have found people to discuss books with.

In December, I learned about the Goodreads app, which is basically Pinterest for readers. You see what other people are reading and can make a list of books you want to read based on their ratings of books. *even more people to discuss books with!* The Goodreads app has yearly reading goals. So, in January, I made a 2016 reading goal. Well, actually Rylan did. I was thinking 20 books would be good. He said 36, for how old I am. PHHHHHHTTTTTT. So, as my 7 year old told me, 36 books became the goal. I started decently strong and read 3 books from January to mid February. And then, as most New Years goals do, I fizzled out and was maybe reading a book a month. In late May, I realized I only had only read 9 books. OOPS. So, I have upped my game majorly.

With that has come a need to have more books everywhere around me.

I moved to Fayetteville 2 years ago, with 2 boxes of the books mentioned above from various library cheap book sales. Since then, I have gleaned books from garage sales and thrift shops and I have discoved Little Free Libraries in my town. Love that sweet part of this town. There is also a used book store that I the kids and I have visited twice this summer. I currently have a shelf in my dining room stuffed full of books, and shelf in my closet stuffed even fuller. I don't think I am lying that there might be an unpacked box in the garage from our move a year ago. A friend recently sent some of her books that she's read for me to read. Those are now crammed wherever I could fit them. I also love our local library. There is also books on CD,as well as the Overdrive app where I can download books and listen on my phone while I walk or drive or clean or whatever.  What I am getting at here, is that I have a lot of books for my new old hobby. I am not hurting for any more books. I LOVE IT. Books make me happy.

So what did I do? I joined a website called Blogging for Books, where they send me free books, in return for a book review. Because I NEEDED MORE BOOKS OBVS.

With my return to blogging, I hope to provide many book reviews. Here is my first.

Freedom's Child by Jax Miller


Freedom is the main character of this book. She is in the Witness Protection Program after being getting off for the murder of her cop husband 20 years before. Her deceased husband's family is the reason she is in Witness Protection and the reason she chose to give her children up for adoption. Freedom finds out that the man that went to jail for her husband's death has been released at the same time her daughter was kidnapped. On the run from her Witness Protection handlers, Freedom sets out to find her daughter, getting wrapped up with a religious cult, hit men, and a local law enforcement crush all at the same time.

I give this book 3 stars.

If you capture my attention and get me hooked to where I have to work hard to put the book down and I try to read it while also blow drying my hair, you get three stars. This book did that. It was a page turner. And I was excited to know what was going to happen to Freedom and her kids. I was hooked till about 65% into the book. It gets a little hairy towards the end. There are about 3 books worth of plotlines going on and Freedom herself isn't the most likeable character.

I chose this book from Blogging for Books to read because it was very different from my usual book. And it was definitely that. I fear that I have a hard time with difficult subject matter (murder, rape, overall meaness) that I have a hard time. One thing that I really appreciated about this book is that the end wraps everything up nicely. You aren't left not knowing what happened to everyone. I am a reader that needs a "where are they now" bit at the end and this book definitely does that.

I have been loving reading more SO MUCH, especially this summer,since I have stepped up my game for my 2016 challenge. Since late May, I have read (or listened to) 8 books. That is more than I read in all of 2015, probably. I needed to post a review for Freedom's Child, to fulfill my commitment for receiving a free book, but I plan to talk more about all my books I am loving. Until next time.....

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Summer Vacation Part 3

Here I detail Leg 1 of our journey (Friday-Saturday), which was Webfest.
Here I detail Leg 2 of our journey (Saturday-Sunday). When I left off we were standing in a graveyard in Grainfield, KS.

I apologize that it took me so log to get this last segment together. I kind of thought I already did. Oops.

We hopped in the van in the middle of Kansas and started the final stretch, possibly the toughest, to our final destination: Estes Park, CO. I am a proud mid Western Kansaser by birth. Because of the people, the history, my own family, and the fun things that happen once we reach our destination. Traveling across western KS? My proudness waivers. Its a little slice of hell going and going and going. No fields, no trees, lots of windmills, and so much wind. Luckily we had Aunt Tammy riding with us, who helped with our kids, we were caravaning with my other sister Angie, and Max hopped in their car (he basically would like to join their family, its fine) and we gained Anthony, so changing things up always helps.

At this point, traveling was getting old. We could care less about nice meals like we had enjoyed at Char Bar, so we got food at a gas station and stopped only in emergencies for 6 hours. When we began to see mountains, things got so real. The Rocky Mountains are, baseline, beautiful.  When you have just trekked across Kansas, they are the most fan freakin tastic sight you have ever seen. When we started our trek around and up the mountains, the weather decided to throw us a curveball. More like slush ball sleet that steamed when it hit our window that, 5 minutes earlier, had been traveling in 85 degree weather. For some reason, I was driving during this point, and I'd like to say I handled this well, but........going from the neverending straight road to the curving mountain road with steamy slush balls coming at me? I didn't. Its embarrassing.

But it was all worth it. My parents hit a grand slam with their choice of house rental. It was fabulous.












The first night there, we had pizza and hung out with my Uncle Tony and his family that JUST HAPPENED to be in Estes Park at the same time as us. Sidebar: if you have 21 uncles and aunts and 36 first cousins, there is a good chance you'll end up in the same town as one or two of them at any given time. Having finally hit the end of our journey there, my butt fell into bed and slept for 8 solid hours.

We woke up to our beautiful house, that fantastic view and a week of vacation in front of us. We went to downtown Estes Park to shop and visit a traveling art show and have lunch. 






After visiting the town, we started out on our first hike. It was suggested to us as an "easier hike, good for the kids" by my extremely in shape aunt.  You hike up a mountain and come across 1-3 lakes, depending on how how you climb. Oh my Jesus, it was one of the most beautiful places I have been to in all my life. However.....we didn't really count on.....snow. Because it was June. And we live in Arkansas.And when you look at snow capped mountains, you don't really imagine yourself ever going up that high. No lie, Max was wearing shorts. Proud mom moment.






But, it was a fabulous hike, with fabulous views.Pretty much everyone fell at least once. My brother in law saved me from a certain death (still need to get him a thank you gift for that.....). But, we were in great spirits and ready to tackle more hikes. With more clothes, better shoes, and snacks. 

On Tuesday we took professional pics and then took the kids to a fun park as a thank you for smiling for an hour straight.











We hiked, toured a brewery, found more beautiful lakes, hiked, found wildlife, ate like kings(not the wildlife), rode horses, and hiked. It was so fun. And relaxing. And beautiful. Colorado has not been on my radar as a vacation spot, simply because I am somehow trained to think you need a theme park or beach for it to be a vacation. I am so thankful it was put on my radar for me.

This is the view when you get coffee at the little shop downtown. So ewwww.

Serious hiker



This guy can move mountains. 

Hands down, cutest creature, ev. Marmot Love 2016.


Glacier Falls



These Elk were about a block and a half from our house, just chillin and eatin.

I bought a Self Portrait Pole at Dollar Tree (not a selfie stick!!!!) Rob thinks its funny when I use it



Until next time, Colorado.



Friday, July 22, 2016

Summer Vacation Part 2

We left Arkansas on a Friday and drove to Salina, KS, where we spent Friday and most of Saturday with my mom's side of the family at Webfest. Saturday, we left late afternoon and drove an hour and a half west to Hays, KS, which is where my sisters and I were born. I lived there until I was 6. The place where my dad worked (Travenol) shut down their Hays division, and my dad got a job in Arkansas at a different division in Mountain Home, which later was renamed Baxter Lab.  So, we are the only members of either side of our families that live in Arkansas. 3/4 live in Kansas.
My Grandma, (Grandma Kathy to my boys) is in Hays. I grew up visiting her at the same house she still lives in. She is a lovely human being and I am proud to be her granddaughter.  We pulled up to her house and in about 3 seconds my kids had found her treasure trove of toys that she keeps for the great grands.
Later that evening, we went over to my Aunt Ruth and Uncle Tim's house where they had a picnic dinner for us. I have three cousins on this side that live in Hays and they have a combined 7 kids who were all there and we had a great time catching up, watching our kids become reaquanted (had not seen each other since Thanksgiving).
My cousin, Kim's, son Jack
My Dad and my Aunt Rachel, holding Henry, the baby I will eventually kidnap.  #bidingmytime


The kids had played at the park with the other side of my family for 3 hours earlier that day, and then had a big dinner followed by trampolining, basketball, and running for 3 more hours with this family. We took them back to my grandma's dirty, sweaty, and almost comatose.
I slept like shiz. Rob calls it my travel brain. I get so excited I cannot sleep. I was up by 2am, ready to get the third leg of our journey started. I do this almost every trip we ever take unless I get Benadryl on board.  So, I sat in the guest bathroom playing games on my phone and watching Netflix like a giant weirdo.
We got up and had a scrumptious Grandma Kathy breakfast. We call her kitchen the magic kitchen because it is tiny, and seems like it would have very little food offerings, but she always has something magical whipped up in minutes in there. My children started an all out shoving wrestle match on her floor and grandma laughed and said she loved the noise of kids playing. Don't you just love it when something you are apologizing for ends up being something that makes someone smile?
Not sure where I got my height from

he



We left Grandma waving to us from her porch and had a different kind of reunion. We took flowers to my Grandpa Gene's grave and then drove another hour west to Grainfield, KS (where my mom grew up) and put flowers on my Grandma Webers grave and my cousin Michelle's grave. My cousin Michelle was born 3 weeks after me and we were very close until she passed when we were 6. I think about her all the time and wonder what kind of 36 year old she would be today. She is forever 6 in all our minds, and she was the sweetest, most precious 6 year old you would ever know.  I hadn't been to see her since my Grandma passed in 2008. We brought her some summer flowers and I told my kids about her. It was hard for my kids, as Max is 5 and Rylan is 7 and Michelle was right between their ages when she died. To them, people die when they are old and sick.  I am so glad that we stopped and did this. Our cousin, Adam, who did not go to Webfest was able to come meet us and we had a nice visit before we moved on to the third leg of our vacation journey..........