Saturday, July 28, 2012

30


Well, it really did happen. Today I turned 30 years old. Or 30 years young, depending on how you want to look at it. Me? I still feel young, so we are going to go with that. I have so many thoughts and feelings over this 'entering a new decade in my life thing', so many wonderful things I want to remember and record about today, and so many of my peeps I would like to thank (you all know how to make a girl feel loved!), but all of those things will have to wait. Because being 30 years young is hard work, and this Mama is ready to go crawl in to bed next to Boss, kiss his sweet cheek, and tell this world goodnight.  I am so thankful for another day, another year, more chapters in this book called life. And I am ready to see where my journey will lead next. Thank you for walking with me.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

'Hood Shots

Number 22 on my 30 Before 30 list was to improve on my photography skills. Photography is kind of a little hobby of mine. Not because I am any good, but because I love bright pops of color, and well, because I love preserving memories for a lifetime, whether through pictures or the written word. I have asked Boss for a new camera lens for my birthday, and we shall see if he delivers. (Boss, in case you are reading this, take note.) In the meantime, I have been reading up on all things photography and practicing with my (old) neighbor and (current) friend's fancy camera and lens. Tonight I took a little walk around our yard and neighborhood at dusk and captured whatever caught my eye. It was fun! And if you ask me, the world is always better when you see it in color.









Monday, July 23, 2012

Scenes From Amish Country

Hello, Little Red Barn

Hello, Horse and Buggy

Hello, Sweet Kate

Hello, Baby Goats

Hello, Inn at the Amish Door

Hello, Sweet Horse Looking at Me

Hello, Farm With Golden Fields

Hello, Sweet Sisters

Hello, Buggy Parked Outside Dollar General

Hello, Brown Fuzzy Baby Cow

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Girls Just Want to Have Fun

Mama, Kate, and Emma

This morning, my mom, my girls, and I left on a little road trippin' adventure in honor of my upcoming 30th birthday. Remember my 30 Before 30 list? On there I listed that I wanted to take a little trip with my own mama before I turned 30, and I was kind enough to invite my little girls to come along. A three generation trip, if you will. Our destination? Ohio's Amish Country. Also known as one of my happy places. Little girls in simple dresses and kapp's, small boys riding bicycles, the clippity clop of horse hooves, sleek black buggies.... all of it makes my heart feel happy. We reached Holmes County around two this afternoon and checked in at our Inn. It's gorgeous! It has a grand central staircase to die for. This afternoon we hit the shops in Berlin. I fell in love with a $128 dress, but decided that Boss might not feel like that was really in our budget. I tried to convince the girls that eating might not be necessary over the next two days, and told them how good Mama would look in that dress, and wouldn't they rather starve in the name of mama looking stylish? Oddly enough, they declined. Turns out they are  rather fond of eating. Who knew? So after we shopped, we took my little food lovers to Cindy's Diner for some yummy grub. It did not disappoint. And then it was back to the Inn for swimming. Well, the girls swam and I soaked away 29 years of stress in the hot tub :). And now I have decided to join in with my Amish neighbors and go to bed with the sun. Good night, all!






Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The One About Cupcakes



Photo by Kristin Szabo (aka The Cupcake Lady)

So, as most of you know by now, I turn the BIG 30 next Saturday. And while most of the time I feel as though I am in the midst of a mini aging life crisis, today I decided that there is one pretty cool thing about growing older. And because I am feeling generous, I have decided to share with all of you lovely people what that one pretty cool thing about aging is. Your welcome (in advance). So here goes. The one pretty cool thing about aging is that the older I get, the smarter I get. It's true! I am most definitely not the brightest crayon in the box. Remember a few months ago when we had the opportunity to vote for who we wanted to be the presidential candidate running for the Republican party in the coming election? (See? It just took me five minutes to figure out how to word that last sentence without sounding like a complete idiot. Not the brightest, I tell you.) Anyway, the night before we were to vote, Boss asked me who I was going to vote for. And you know what I told him? I told him that after much thought, I had decided that I was going to vote for Phil Phillips. Say what? Boss was confused. Phil Phillips, I told him again. That's who I was going to vote for. And then understanding dawned on Boss' face and he rolled his eyes and walked away. You see, while Boss' brain is on important, grown up stuff, my brain tends to focus on the really important things of life like American Idol. Imagine my disappointment when Phil's name was not on the ballot the next day. And that, my friends, is just one example of my usual non smartness. 

But the good news is that I am definitely seeing an improvement with age, because today I was so smart that I actually discovered the answer to all of the worlds problems! I really did! And because I am still feeling generous, I am going to share the answer to all of the world's problems with you today, too. Are you ready for it? The answer to all of the worlds problems is......drum roll please..... cupcakes! That's right. I thought long and hard about this, and there wasn't one single problem in the world that I could come up with in which cupcakes wouldn't have made things better. Woman feeling hormonal? Eat a cupcake. Girl gets dumped? Eat a cupcake. Got fired from your job? Cupcakes it is. Get in a fight with your spouse? Cupcakes. Children driving you insane? You got it. More cupcakes. I even came up with my own saying. A Cupcake a Day Takes Your Problems Away!  And it's true. Cupcakes really do make everything better. One bite of sweet, creamy goodness, and you can't help but smile. Clouds part, the sun shines, and birds start chirping. And that my friends, is the magic of cupcakes.

Today's cupcake of the day was a Vanilla Chai Cupcake with Cinnamon Buttercream Icing, prepared by my super talented friend, Kristin. I usually call her The Cupcake Lady, but I am considering changing her name to The Cupcake Queen. Because her cupcakes are seriously that good. Especially her icing. Kristin can whip butter and powdered sugar like no body's business. Some of us keep telling her that she needs to ditch her job with numbers (accounting? Kristin, are you an accountant?), and go into the cupcake industry full time. Because it is a scientific fact (since lunchtime today) that her cupcakes make people happy, and goodness knows the world needs more happy people. And the world needs more Vanilla Chai Cupcakes with Cinnamon Buttercream Icing. So if you are in the area and you are in need of a delicious cupcake, ask me for Kristin's number and I just might consider sharing her with you. For a finder's fee, of course. And if you are far away, then I want to encourage you to search high and low, far and wide for your very own cupcake lady. And when you find her? Treat her right, and perhaps she will reward you with cupcakes, solving all of your life's problems.

Okay lovely people, I believe that is all of the wisdom I have to impart upon you tonight. Sweet Dreams! (Get it? Sweet Dreams? Oh gracious, I crack myself up!)


Monday, July 16, 2012

Cousin LOVE

Photo Courtesy of Aunt Beth!

Cousins are different beautiful flowers in the same garden. - Anonymous


Growing up I had five cousins. Come to think of it, I still have five cousins even though now we're all grown up! :) And let me tell you, when I was a little girl I adored my cousins. In fact, before I was old enough to know that it was wrong (on so many different levels), I even had a crush on a couple of them. Four of my cousins were boys, one was a girl, and my youngest cousins were still four years older than I was, leaving me the baby of the family. But I looked up to them all and was so excited when our family's would spend time together. My girl cousin, Annika, was the best. We would go swimming together, play babies, pretend we were elves in Santa's workshop (aka my grandpa's shed in the backyard). We would paint pottery that my grandma made for us and I always felt so cool when she would invite me to hang out with her older friends. I will freely admit here that I am a little sad that none of my cousins and I really talk anymore. I am just as much to blame for that as anyone else . We all live in different states now, we all have our own families, our own busy lives. But when we get together every few years it still feels good. It feels right. Because that's the way that it is with family. That's the way that it should be . Because we all come from the same place . The same garden, if you will. Some of us shared the same last name growing up, many of our childhood memories were shared, and we all shared the same love for the people that we called grandparents. And that draws families, cousins, together when everything else in the world draws us apart. It's a pretty cool thing, God's creation of the extended family.

So when Boss and I decided to move away from New Mexico back in early 2007, we didn't really talk long about where we wanted to move . Ohio topped the list for one reason. Family. I have the unique blessing of having my parents choose to live wherever Boss and I live, even if it means a move for them. So moving to Ohio to be closer to Boss' side of the family, with my parents coming along as well, was a no brainer. Being with family was where we wanted to be . And while we still don't get to spend nearly enough time with all of them (darn those busy lives!), our kids are in heaven when we do all get together. The reason? Cousins! My girls have some major cousin LOVE going on. And while they only have five cousins (just like their Mama!), the cousins in our family are like little stair steps! Pictured above we have 10 years, 8 years, 7 years, 6 years, 5 years, 2 1/2 years, and 2 years old! And when they get together it is running, and jumping, and screaming, and smiling, and sometimes fighting if we're being completely honest, and cookie baking, and 'office' playing, and complete craziness that leaves me feeling exhausted just from watching. And that's just the way that it should be . Each cousin a unique beautiful flower, all of them coming from the very same garden. And it's a really awesome thing when you take the time to stop and watch, to appreciate and to be thankful for the way that your family's garden is blooming. So thank you God for cousins. And for family. They certainly make our lives more colorful!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Snapshots from a Birthday Sleepover


Orange Polka Dot Flag


Chalkboard


Fashion Show


Fireplace Balloons


Six Year Old Smile


Rainbow Jar Cakes


Yours Truly


Best Friends Forever


The Whole Gang


Cute Boss in UGLY T-Shirt


Pink Stripes and Sprinkles

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Shake Your Groove Thang

Thousands of emotions well up inside of me through out the day. They are released when I dance. - Abraham Lincoln

If there was one thing I would go back and change about our wedding day nine years ago, it would be that we had dancing at our reception. Oh, how I wish that we had danced! You see, I grew up in a culture where dancing was considered inappropriate.  It was even common to hear people joke that dancing lead straight to pregnancy. And my sweet, sweet grandpa was a firm believer of this. He, as well as several of my other relatives and friends, would have died right there on the spot had we busted out a DJ at our dinner  reception and suggested that everyone shake their groove thangs. So we passed on the dancing and settled for yummy bar-b-que and karaoke. And it was still a most perfect and beautiful day, though inside I did secretly wish that I could have had a first dance with my new groom. 


Over the past nine years, Boss and I have danced together on occasion. I mean, come on! How else do you think we got our three children! Ha! Just kidding, just kidding. Our first dance together was on our honeymoon cruise in one of their cheesy night club rooms complete with a disco ball. I could kick myself now for not paying attention to what song was playing the first time Boss grasped my hand and twirled me around the dance floor, but for the life of me I cannot remember.  But I do know that we rocked it. And that was the night that I fell in love with dancing. It made me feel breathless, and alive, and beautiful! But sadly, I can really only remember dancing together one other time after that at a friends wedding.  It just wasn't really something that we did. That is, until our girls came along.


Because my girls? They LOVE them some dance parties! And ever since I have become their mama, music and dancing have become a part of our lives. A most beautiful part of our lives!Now, before you start to judge (if you are so inclined to do), I am not referring to seductive dancing while shaking body parts that were not meant to be shook. I am referring to throwing your arms up in the air, letting your hair flow free, spinning in circles until you are dizzy while you hoop and holler that this is the best night ever! kind of dancing. I am talking about sisters grabbing hands and twirling around the kitchen while mama makes dinner and brother  claps or tries to do something crazy like stand on his head.  That is the kind of dancing that we do in our family. We have dance parties in the car if a good song comes on the radio, we have dance parties in the kitchen, we have dance parties at the end of most movies while the credits role. We have dance parties anywhere and everywhere, whenever one of us feels the itch. And it's kind of awesome.


Most recently we had a midnight dance party when my girls hosted their birthday sleepover. When the clock struck twelve, six little (and big) girls and I turned the Kids Bop CD up as loud as it would go and then we shook our groove thangs for nearly an hour. I remember smiling, and laughing, and thinking to myself that this was what happiness felt like. And let me tell you, it felt really good! It was silly, and fun, and my favorite thing was that my girls actually wanted me to be a part of it! I love that they are not embarrassed by my crazy dancing, and I hope that day never comes. I hope our dance parties are something they will store up in their childhood memory banks and think back on with happy thoughts. Most of all, I hope that my girls never, ever stop dancing , especially if it is to the beat of their very own drum.  Because that is the very best dancing of all.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Sum Sum SUMMERTIME Adventures


I believe that every single day is an adventure waiting to happen. Each day we wake up is reason to celebrate! And this summer is no exception. In fact, everything seems more spectacular this particular summer, because Boss is home most days, we have very few weekly commitments, and it has been so long since it has been just the five of us that every day feels so relaxed and like a party! Most days we sleep in (not Boss, he didn't get the sleeping gene in his DNA, and not Kate as she takes after Boss). But the rest of us? We sleep in as if our lives depend on it. Professional sleepers, we are. We have slow, lazy mornings, cold breakfasts so as not to heat up the house first thing in the morning, and by eleven am the grown-ups (that's myself and Boss) decide that perhaps it is time to get everyone dressed for the day.  And then we sit around the lunch table and decide what our adventure for the day should be.

Yesterday's adventure was to the local splash pad. We loaded up our picnic basket, packed our bag with towels and sunscreen, and then we hit the road. And it was so much fun! For a simple three dollars we had three hours of fun. That's a dollar an hour, folks! And even Boss can smile at that. He likes him some cheap fun. The kids splashed in the creek, played in the tiny fountains, slid down slides (extra fast since they were all wet, which was AWESOME according to Emma), and tried out their skills on the monkey bars. And then they repeated everything all over again. Every time Boss or I would try and sit down, Jack would run up to us, grab our hands, and say, Come! So of course we would get up and follow him as he went on his next adventure. And when we were all done, we loaded three tired, sun kissed, happy children up in the family mobile and we headed home. And I felt happy, because another day was celebrated.





And just so you know, the day was not perfect. Boss didn't particularly want to be going on an adventure that day, we had to scrape the three dollars together out of our coin jar, our kids whined because we wouldn't buy them an ice cream cone, and where we chose to have our picnic ended up being right next to a screaming mama. If I never hear the name Acadia yelled again, it will be just fine and dandy with me. But it's okay that the day was not perfect. Perfection isn't the point of going on an adventure. Just going on it is the point. Being together, exploring the world, making memories, and living. Those things are what adventures are all about.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Golden


I first learned about "golden" birthdays when I celebrated my own. The day I turned 28, on July 28th, my girlfriends went all out like the party rock stars that they are, and they made a super big deal about it all being extra special because it was my golden birthday. They lavished me with thoughtful presents, took me out for dinner and Starbucks, and suggested that the next day I treat myself to a pedicure. I took them up on their suggestion and had the pedicurist paint my toes a sparkly shade of gold. It was awesome. For a celebration loving girl like me, celebrating my golden birthday made everything seem extra special. And now that I knew about these once in a lifetime gems called golden birthdays, I couldn't wait for my children to reach this milestone for themselves! And this year just happened to be Emma's year, as she turned 8 years old on July 8, 2012!

Some special things we did to make Em's special day golden included painting all of her nails gold, serving her her morning juice in a golden goblet, eating lunch at Golden Corral (completely her choice, as Boss refers to that place as 'the feeding trough', though it did fit our golden theme quite nicely), and visiting the Newport Aquarium to see the goldfish! We finished her celebration with our now traditional birthday balloon release. I really, really wanted gold balloons, but the lady at Kroger was fresh out, so we settled for deep purple ones (one of her current favorite colors), and we wrote our birthday wishes for Emma on them with sparkly gold markers. Fabulous!

We have always referred to Emma as our golden girl. She has the lightest hair color of anyone in our family, and when it is sun kissed, Boss tells her that she has beautiful golden strands. So it was a joy to celebrate the life of our golden girl on her golden birthday. It never gets old for me, this celebrating each and every moment of life thing. Life is such a gift, and when you get to watch it unfold through the life of your child? There is nothing better. Makes me feel like I am walking on golden sunshine, and yes, it feels good!