August 23, 2016

The Un-Pinterest Party

This weekend we celebrated Kendall turning six and James turning three with a very un-Pinterest worthy party.  I actually kept thinking to myself, "Wow, this is like an old-fashion birthday party" that whole day.  It was wonderful, actually.  So, if you came here for beautiful party pictures of perfectly placed decorations, adorable party favors and custom birthday tees, you came to the wrong place.

Since the Dew babies birthdays are just two days apart we still do a combined birthday party while we can.  In the years past we've been lucky and the themes have been neutral {Paw Patrol & pool party} but this year I knew we might have stronger opinions.  Kendall wanted Shopkins {of course} and James is obsessed with all things Star Wars.  That should be easy to combine, right {sarcasm font}?  Top it all off Kendall decided she wanted to do it at the beach.  OK, Shopkins+Star Wars+beach birthday party.  You got it kid!  I knew no such invitation existed {trust me I checked} so I used my ultra creative side and came up with an invite all on my own and I actually loved how it turned out.

The party was at a state park so we had no event coordinator or reservations to be made or even a deposit to pay.  When I called to ask a few questions I was basically told we just show up the day of and that was it.  Honestly the days leading up to the party felt really weird and I kept thinking, "I feel like I should be doing something!".  But it was so nice to be so stress-free about this party, for once.  Normally I feel like a chicken with it's head cut off days before throwing a party {all the cleaning!} and this year it was the complete opposite.  It was glorious.

The extent of my decor included the ultra adorable cake pops and thirty-two {I may have over estimated} balloons.  No coordinating party plates, no food labels, heck I didn't even use the tablecloths I bought due too the high winds on the beach.  We had hot dogs {I may or may not have forgotten the ketchup and mustard}, chips, pretzels, fruit, veggies and fruit snacks.  The kids swam, played Frisbee, blew bubbles, flew kites, and the adults played corn hole.  It was actually quite perfect.  I didn't even take any photos during the party but I'm thankful my mother-in-law snapped a few for the memory book.

You know the best part of this good ole fashion birthday party?  Everyone had a blast!  I wasn't worried about decorations getting ruined or making sure food was staying hot or whether the party entertainment was flowing.   We just had a nice, easy couple of hours with our closest friends and family members and I think all of the kids went home tired {win!}.

August 16, 2016

Happy Birthday Kendall Paige

My sweet Kendall,

Today you are SIX.  No longer an age that fits on one hand, you are now a two hands age and that is crazy.

Sweet girl this day is bittersweet for your mama. On one hand I can hardly believe we are here but at the same time I can't and never want to remember life without you in it.  It makes me so proud to watch you grow into the fine young lady you are.  You are my first born and I tell you {almost} every day that you will always be my baby, even when you're thirty-five.

You're daddy and I had no idea what we were doing when we brought you into the world six years ago- the joy of being the first born.  You were a dream baby and everyone always told us but since we had nothing to compare you to we didn't realize just how lucky we were.  You had a little rough patch around age three {could have had something to do with the addition of your baby brother right around then} but we overcame it and you have been such a blessing.

You have the type of personality that everyone loves and wants to be around.  You are shy even around people you know well and see often.  Once you warm up, however, your spunky personality comes out.  You are quiet and listen well around others.  You don't like to push boundaries and are usually the most reserved kid in the group.  You recently started becoming really protective of your brother and I find it super endearing.  I love how cautious you are.  I love that you think before you act {in most situations}.  I hope you carry those traits with you throughout the teenage years {wishful thinking}.

This year you started {and rocked} kindergarten.  We were nervous to send you, knowing you'd be the youngest in your class, but you proved that we made the right choice in sending you.  You love school and doing homework {for now} and made tremendous strides this year.  Math seems to be your strong subject and that makes me so happy seeing as that's where I struggled the most.  You made a lot of new friends and even though there was some drama here and there you never let it affect you.  You don't really like getting caught up in the petty stuff and for now just let it roll off your shoulder and move on from it pretty easily.  I love that about you.

You are my tiny peanut girl, always the smallest in the group.  You still fit into some 4T/5T clothing and your shoe size is just barely an 11.  I tell you all the time that you are my tiny peanut and it drives you crazy.  One day you'll appreciate your petite-ness, I promise.

Right now you really love swimming and soccer.  This summer you have blown everyone away with how well you are swimming.  From being a timid little girl who didn't even like putting her face under water to diving into the "deep end" for diving rings, you have done a 360 this summer.  Soccer season is almost here and you can't wait to get back on the field with your friends.  I love that you have a sport you are passionate about and with your determination I know you can be an excellent player.

You love all things you can collect- Shopkins, Twosies, basically any figurine on the market {especially animals}.  You don't care for dolls, Barbies, American Girl or otherwise.  In fact, when we were cleaning out the playroom you donate all of your baby dolls.  Your love for animals runs deep though.  You would own every stuffed dog, kitty, cheetah, bear, etc on the market if you could.  You want to be a veterinarian when you grow up, you love animals so much.  When we see a dog out in public you immediately want to reach out and pet it.  If you had it your way we'd have about five dogs of our own.

Kendall Paige you made me a mom.  You taught me what true, unconditional, selfless love was.  You will always hold a special place in my heart as my first born.  You were the answer to my prayers, the one thing I waited for my whole life.  You are the sweetest, spunkiest, deeply caring, silliest, fun-loving, energetic girl I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.  I am so lucky to call you mine.

I hope you have a wonderful day, you deserve it!  You are SIX!


August 14, 2016

Happy Birthday James Weston

Jamesy Baby,

Today you are THREE {3!!!}.  I'm going to say all the cliche mom things that we all love to say each year our babies turn older, bear with me.

I can't believe it's been three years since I snuggled your little 8lb 10oz self.  You were perfect in every way- the roundest head, the chubbiest cheeks, the thumb-sucking- you never looked like a newborn because of all your chub. I remember the first night you were born, it was just you and me, since your daddy went home to be with sissy, and I actually felt like my heart was about to burst.  I never felt a love like I did in that moment and I finally felt like my life {and our family} was complete.  I could cry just remembering those moments, they were so special.  You were our missing piece.

In three years time you have taught me more than the previous thirty years combined.  You have gone from being the sweetest snuggly baby I ever met to a kind of hard to deal with infant/toddler and now you are rounding the corner and sliding into awesomeness.  You have made me shift my priorities {in a good way}, you have taught me that boys need to be loved on differently than girls and, most of all, you have shown me a whole different side {messier, crazier, more dangerous} of life.  I wouldn't have you any other way.

Now that you are entering the next milestone, preschooler, you are more fun than ever.  You manage to make everyone want to pull their hair out while simultaneously kiss your cheeks at the same time.  Speaking of cheeks, yours are like pillows.  I tell you every day that I hope your pillow cheeks never go away but each day they start dwindling away and transforming into a big boy face.  You are WILD.  You love to test the limits and are a true thrill-seeker.  You will not think twice about jumping of the roof of a house boat, nearly sending me into cardiac arrest, or climbing on the counters to make "hot bread" {toast}.  At the same time you are a lover.  You snuggle like there's no tomorrow and I can't say I hate it.  At night when I put you to bed you put your little arm around my neck and I can't help but lay there a little longer.  If I didn't think it would create a bad habit I'd fall asleep in your arms every night.

You love your sister and even though you guys fight like cats and dogs at times, you are best buds. You look up to her and I can tell that she is truly your best friend. You love all things Star Wars, sports related, and your newest obsession is scary things.  You love to say, "how bout a ghost!?" and make a "spooky" sound followed by, "how bout a monster?!" with a big "ROAR".  You actually talk about ghosts quite often and it makes me wonder if you see them?  Your favorite thing on the planet is your blankie and your baboo {pacifier} and while I know I should take the baboo away you make it so dang hard.  Being outside, even if we are doing nothing at all, is your favorite way to spend any day.  You love your daddy and when you think it's about time for him to get home, every day, you say, "daddy home now!?" with such excitement.  But you are also a mama's boy and you have me wrapped around your little finger.  You still call me "mama" but, unfortunately, you have stopped calling daddy "daddy-o" and he's just "daddy" now.  Kendall has been "sissy" since you could talk but every once in a while you say "Kendall" and I can't help but smile when I hear it.

Three is going to be fun with you, I just know it. Even in the days leading to your birthday you have grown so much.  You are talking so much more clearly, actually putting sentences together, and becoming less baby-ish every day.  Your favorite word right now is "because". No matter what question I ask you the answer is "because" even when it doesn't make sense.  I kind of love it.  It's really amazing because I can actually see the wheels turning in your head as you try to figure out just what you want to say.  It's really fun watching you learn and grow and I know three is going to be a big year.

Happy 3rd birthday my sweet, rotten, snuggly, crazy, dangerous, awesome, adorable boy.  I love you.


August 1, 2016

Crave Freely

This post is part of a compensated campaign with Mom It Forward and Balance Bar but all my opinions are my own.

As women, we are taught that the word "crave" means something we should avoid.  It carries a negative connotation and/or references a period in life when women are "weak" {pregnancy, PMS}.  We never crave wholesome things, right?  How many times have you heard someone say, "Oh I'm really craving some kale"?  When the foods we crave are less than healthy {ice cream, pizza, cake} we try to avoid them at all costs because they are "bad" or they will make us "fat".  But, what if I told you you didn't have to deprive yourself of anymore?

My biggest cravings in life are sweets.  Gimme chocolate chip cookies {especially fresh, hot, homemade ones}.  I'll also take a double scoop of chocolate/peanut butter ice cream in a waffle cone anytime someone asks, "wanna get ice cream?".  Those things, however, don't coincide with my goals so they are eaten in moderation.  That's where Balance Bars come in.

I recently discovered Balance Bars and they have quickly become my go-to snack, quick breakfast on the go, post workout meal, and late night snack.  Guys, I'm addicted to these little smart bars.  I have tried Chocolate Caramel Peanut Nougat, Dulce De Leche & Caramel and Dark Chocolate Pecan Turtle and I can't tell you which one I like the best because I love them all.  I packed all three flavors for our most recent camping trip so that I could be sure I'd have at least one healthy option while we were sitting around a campfire or out on the boat.

Most of the time I find myself reaching for Balance Bars after my workouts.  The balance between fat, carbs, and protein promotes slow glycemic response, supports muscle recovery and helps satisfy your hunger with steady, sustained energy.  Fueling your body properly, post workout, is so important to your results and can help reduce soreness the following day {even though I do like to feel a little sore every no and again}. And all that for under 200 calories is a total win in my book!

Would you like to try these for absolutely FREE?  One commenter will win a 6-pack box of Balance available in Chocolate Caramel Peanut NougatChocolate Peppermint PattyDark Chocolate Turtle or Dulce De Leche & Caramel varieties.  All you have to do is leave a comment telling me your BIGGEST craving in life.  Good luck!

July 27, 2016

SO WHAT! Wednesday

This week I'm saying SO WHAT if...

  • I haven't done a SWW all summer.  Summer gets busy {as it does for everyone} and even when I want to write I just can't seem to find the time.
  • I am not one of those moms who gets excited about back-to-school time.  I am going to be sad when Kendall has to go back this year.
  • I'm really annoyed that JoJo sent Luke and Chase home this week.  The only two decent ones...I'm actually going to be really excited when this season is over.
  • Speaking of...They should have named the Men Tell All 'The Chad Show' because OMG...we get it already! Chad is a douche.  All the guys hate him.  Moving on...
  • I love doing Piyo because I can do it in my pjs and I can drink coffee in between sun salutations.  
  • I'm thinking about not sending James to preschool this fall.  I don't know if he's ready.  I might wait till January and do a half year to start. 
  • I'm obsessed with Big Brother, always am, every summer.  There's a rumor floating around that they're going to do a fall season, I would LOVE that.
  • I already bought some fall Scentsy bars.  I love summer but these near 100 degree days have me craving fall majorly.
  • I'm having a really hard time picking out bikes for the kids' birthdays.  WHY is it so hard?!
  • I'm feeling really emotional over selling our house.  I don't know if I can do it.
  • We saw Secret Life of Pets this weekend and I LOVED it so much.  I thought it was adorable and hilarious.  If you haven't taken your littles to see it I highly recommend it.
  • I'm thinking about teaching Piyo again. I miss it.
What are you saying SO WHAT to this week?

July 20, 2016

Get Fit In 22 Minutes?

Last week I wrapped up my first round of 22 Minute Hard Corps and lived to tell about it.

I was hesitant to start this program.  I knew it was a military inspired workout {think bootcamp} and that really did not appeal to me.  I had just finished up T25 though and knew I wanted to keep the momentum going with a challenging new workout. I posted to my social media accounts and let my followers vote for my next program, 22 Minute Hard Corps won by a landslide.

So what is 22 Minute Hard Corps?  As I said, it's a military bootcamp inspired workout.  It gets your heart rate up from the time it starts and it will have you dripping {literally} in sweat every day.  The workout is an eight week long program.  You workout six days a week for 22 minutes a day.  You alternate between cardio and resistance every day so you're never doing the same workout two days in a row.  There are optional core workouts that you can pair with your cardio days {some days I did it, some I didn't}.  In total this program comes with eight different workouts that you rotate through for the eight weeks.  Then week nine, Hell Week, is an optional challenge.  It's a week where you do two and three workouts per day for all seven days.

I did T25 immediately before starting this program and I thought that was a great program to lead into something like 22 Minute Hard Corps.  The main differences between the two is that T25 is mostly cardio and 22 Minute Hard Corps is more strength.  T25 was good for building my endurance so I didn't feel like I was going to totally die but 22 Minute Hard Corp definitely helped build more muscle.

I would not, however, call 22 Minute Hard Corp a beginner workout.  It's tough and even during Hell Week {nine weeks in} I was huffing and puffing my way through the workouts.  It will challenge every muscle in your body.  You will be sore each day {I'm weird and like being sore though}. BUT you will notice results {not just physical ones} almost immediately.  I loved being able to track my progress by how I felt doing each of the workouts.  Each week the moves got easier and I was able to do them faster/more reps and that was a really cool feeling.

At the end of this program I felt like a total bad ass.  I felt like I wanted to sign up for one of those Spartan races or something.  It pushed my body in ways that I had not done with any other program and that left me feeling like I could do anything.  My muscles were {kind of} popping up.  My booty was higher and tighter {holla!}.  I lost an inch off of my thighs {woop!!}.  I gained an inch on my arms {Obama can't ban these guns}.  Most importantly I felt really confident about my body when this program was over.

Oh and did I mention this program is on sale for the month of July for just $10?  Yep, you read that right.  When you buy Shakeology this month {July} you get 22 Minute Hard Corps for just $10.  If you are at all interested drop me a comment {make sure you have an email attached so that I can reply} and I'll send you the details!  

I will definitely be doing this program again in the future but for now?  Piyo!

July 11, 2016

Last Thursday we said goodbye to our first fur baby, Casey.

She was with us for all of life's major moments.  Jimmy got her before he and I met and in her twelve years she partied with him on OSU campus, moved to nine {or so} different houses, welcomed a fur sister {Chanel}, got a mom {me}, helped us welcome two babies home, and went on countless adventures {including a week long "vacation" she took by herself a few years back}.

She was truly the definition of a good dog.  She was so calm and mild mannered and I distinctly remember asking Jimmy, "Do you get this dog high?" when I first met him because she was that mellow.  She would never cause harm to anyone except the occasional mole in the yard.  She was more of a "loner" in the sense that she didn't require a lot.  She was perfectly happy just being around you but didn't need a lot of extra attention.  She loved our babies and tolerated them climbing on her, petting her and pulling her long, wispy hairs around her ears.  She never jumped or barked unless prompted by the other two dogs.  Anyone, and I mean anyone, who had the opportunity to meet Casey loved her almost immediately.  One of Jimmy's best friends even said, "Man, I like Casey more than I like most people."

While she was old in age she was young at heart.  Always happy to go out to the farm and run for hours with her dog brothers and sisters.  She loved going camping with us.  Her favorite words to hear were, "Casey, wanna go on a car ride?"  Her pleasures in life were very simple, which I loved about her.  She was in good health, minus her recent leaky bladder "situation" which we had finally gotten under control.

Her death was unexpected and tragic last week and, unfortunately, it wasn't due to her old age or health.

We live out in the country with one acre of property and another 30ish acres of farm land directly behind our house.  We have one neighbor, that is it.  Last Thursday I let Casey out before I laid James down for his afternoon nap.  It was near 90 that day so I didn't want her out very long.  Once I got him in bed I expected her to be at the back door waiting to come in but she wasn't.  It wasn't that alarming because Casey loves to sunbathe.  I can't tell you how many times I've looked out our window and thought the worst because she was just basking in the sunshine and heat {girl after my own heart}.  I did a few more things around the house before I looked for her again and, again, she wasn't there.  I called for her one more time, bribed her with treats, expecting her to come running.  Again, she didn't.  The kids and I had played hide-and-seek that morning so I thought she could have been shut in one of the bedrooms or the basement so I checked every room of our house, including the bath tubs {where I have found her "hiding" before}.  She was nowhere to be found.  I put my shoes on and headed outside to look for her, assuming she was probably "laying out" again.  But when I turned the corner to walk down our driveway to the front yard I knew she had sun bathed for the last time.

At 3:13 I saw our precious pup laying lifeless in the front yard and my heart sank. I didn't know what to do, who to call, what had happened.  I just started screaming, crying, shaking, pacing.  It was the most surreal moment of my life. I am thankful my in-laws live so close because my mother-in-law made it to our house within 10 minutes of my frantic phone call.

Since our dogs were old in age, I imagined how this day would go many times.  Jimmy and I had talked about what he wanted me to do because chances were good that I would be the ones home when something like this happened.  Nothing, and I mean nothing, could have prepared me for that moment.  Calling my husband, who happily answered the phone, and saying, "Hi...Umm...Casey's dead" was nothing I ever wanted to do.

Our initial assumption was that she was hit by a car.  It made sense, she was close to the road, there
were skid marks in the street.  She had what Jimmy called "a bullet hole" size hole in her belly and her back leg was broken.  Friday morning, however, I woke up to a gigantic pile of dog poop placed on our back deck by someone.  This pile of poop was too large to have been from one of our dogs and it had grass and weeds mixed in, but not in a digestive way.  Suddenly the bullet sized hole was starting to become a piece to the puzzle.

Casey's death and the poop on our deck are no coincidence, they are related.  Our theory, which the sheriff fully supported, is that apparently Casey had pooped in the neighbors yard {unbeknownst to us as we have NEVER been approached by them about this "problem"}.  In an effort to "scare" her he shot her/at her.  Casey is gun-shy so she would head for the hills if she heard a gun shot therefore she ran into the street, scared, and ultimately got hit by a car.  The poop being placed on our deck is the sickest thing of all, as if to say, "You know what happened to your dog?  Here's why."

As I said, we have filed a police report but so far that is it.  Unfortunately, for now, we still have to live next to this psycho so we didn't want to take it any further by starting an investigation with the dog warden for our own safety.  We are, however, going to be meeting with our realtor next Wednesday about putting our house up for sale.  We no longer feel safe in our own home.

Casey didn't deserve to die this way, that's the hardest part.  She deserved one of those amazing final days.  She should have had one last car ride, one more romp at the farm, one more bite of deer jerky.  We are all completely heartbroken over this and this will take a long time to heal from.  No dog will ever be able to replace her, she was truly one of a kind.