Summer Conditioning

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Here we are on May 31st and it's been about two weeks since we started summer vacation. And I don't know about any of you, but I am not at all conditioned for summer. I'm not talking hair care, bathing suit ready, or exercise. I'm talking about the day in/day out lazy days of summer! As I've mentioned before, I'm not a schedule following mom. I don't have our days planned out or play dates on the calendar. I wing our days, weeks, and months leading up to the first day of school and sometimes my lackadaisical approach to things isn't family friendly! With a new month dawning tomorrow, I'm thinking ahead about how to make my summer a little more organized but still a little lazy!

Meal Planning: How many of you out there plan out your meals for the week? I generally try to have some kind of idea when heading to the grocery store, but by Thursday, we haven't always had what I thought I might make that week. Busy schedules can get in the way. But at the same time, I'm super tired by the end of the day and don't really feel like whipping up a family dinner! And with summer here, I definitely don't want to spend all my evenings at the stove. So I'm going to start doing a little meal planning. What's my plan, you ask? Freezer meals for one. I'm going to try and carve out one day a week where I spend some time making meals to have on hand in the freezer. My mom and I did this last year and it was so incredibly helpful. All I had to do was decided what was for dinner the night before, put in the fridge to the thaw, and then bake it for dinner! This way, if I find that we're still at the pool at 5:00, I'm not scrambling to throw a crappy meal together, not leaving the fun early because I have to make dinner, and everyone wins with a hearty meal! And it doesn't always have to be a freezer meal. Just having it on the calendar helps. As of right now, I'm planning to make spinach quiche one night for a two night meal. With it I'll serve a fruit salad and muffins. A saw a yummy chicken tostada meal in the Food Network Magazine that I'm planning to make as well. My goal on most weeks is to make a two night meal so I'm not cooking every night. 

Blogging: I'm not sure if you noticed, but I haven't been blogging daily. Why, you ask? Because I don't have the time! I'm not conditioned to have my posts planned ahead, which isn't really authentic to who I am as a blogger, and I certainly don't have that much time at night to sit down and blog. But, I'm going to make the time! How can I call myself a blogger if I'm not blogging! So, I'm going to try and think of fun topics to share, but keep them as real time as possible. I like to pride myself on the fact that I'm blogging about what's really going on around here when it happens. And, I'm going to try not to always have DVR time after McKinley goes to bed, but instead focus on chatting with you guys as often as possible! Speaking of topics, got any?

House Keeping: I'm a horrible house keeper. Just ask my husband. Clutter doesn't bother me as much as it does him. I've always been one that will clean when I've had enough. However, I cleaned last week for a Stella & Dot styling session I hosted and my house never looked so bright and shiny! Okay, it's looked that bright and shiny before, on several occasions, but you forget when you're trying to live life! So my plan this summer is to take one day a week to do the deep cleaning. Vacuuming and dusting will be the main thing as I'm trying to keep a goal for myself of picking up clutter daily! Honestly, I think the mess makes the house look dirtier than it actually is! What do you do to combat a dirty house? Do you clean daily or weekly?

If I can tackle these three areas all summer, I think things are going to go swimmingly well over here! I think it will help me be a better mother because I won't be so worried about time management and just live in the moment. It will help dinner time run smoothly and come together quickly when everyone is starving. And the house will be presentable in case we do have a spontaneous play date! Nothing worse than trying to tidy up when your house needs a four hour deep cleaning. 

Are you summer conditioned at this point or are you still making adjustments? What is working for you? Anything new you're trying? Old tricks of the trade you are willing to share? I'll keep you posted on the happenings over here!


Summer Vacay - Week in Review

Friday, May 26, 2017

Well, we made it through our first week of summer vacation! I'm tellin' ya, I'm not yet conditioned for full on summer break, but I'm getting there. The first day was a little rough. We just need to find our footing and I think it's going to be fine. That could be my first week optimism talking....

Here's what we've done so far. We kicked off summer break with a visit to the library, per McKinley's request. You can read all about it here. He's obsessed with the Titanic so we got a couple of books for him to continue his research. I picked out some lighter topics to read. As a family, we hit World's of Fun on Saturday. It was our first trip to the amusement park this season and it didn't disappoint! McKinley was super brave, conquering the roller coaster again for the first time in a couple of years and squealed "again, again" after it was over. He road on the Snoopy airplanes for the first time in ages and actually flew above the low lying clouds! He even rode a few rides on his own. This is definitely becoming the summer of firsts!

Sunday brought a baseball game and a very sluggish player. He complained before we left that he didn't feel well, but having spent the night with Meme and Granddaddy, I just assumed he didn't want to leave their house. All during the game he would barely swing the bat, would slowly run the bases, and made frequent trips over to tell me how he didn't feel well. I completely shrugged it off and commanded he take the field. About an hour after the game, I took his temp. At 101.4, I guess he wasn't feeling well.

On Tuesday I made a doctors appointment and it turns out he had an ear infection and strep! Mark yet another notch in the "Mom of the Year" belt for this mama! He is in full on recovery and playing a lot more!

He has had sleepover number two. We got much needed haircuts. We built a fort. We're working on reading. And he earned $5 yesterday for helping Granddaddy so much in the yard. Today we are heading to Louisburg with Meme to check on the booth. From there, we're getting flowers to plant in pots around the house. And possibly do a little additional gardening, if the rain holds off. 

How has your first week been? Are you ready for the summer vacay like you thought you were? Still need some conditioning? It's okay! We all do! I just saw another mom post on FB that it was only day two and she was curious how many days were actually left of summer vacation! It's not just us! Remember that! And maybe have a little sip or two at the end of the night. It helps!

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!


My Little Artist

Thursday, May 25, 2017

There was a time in McKinley's life where I couldn't get him to pick up a coloring book and crayon. Working on at home art projects was a chore, except for the occasional finger painting. I hated it because I loved to color when I was little, still do, and I chalked it up to maybe boys just don't like to color like girls. All that changed in Kindergarten.

His first art project came home and it was a Flying Carpet. Large strips of colored paper to represent fabric, scribbles to represent the details in the tapestry, and green fringe along the edge completed this darling piece. And like any proud mother, when Artsonia sent the email with all the different products you could purchase with this art project printed on it, you can bet that I took the bait. And so did my mom. Mouse pads, travel mugs, coffee mugs, and quilt squares were purchased with proceeds going back to the school. We were over joyed!

There were pumpkins for fall, hearts for Valentines Day, and a few things in between. But everything seemed to change when Artsonia sent an email with his cardinal project. I seriously teared up at this sweet piece. It honestly touched my heart and that's when I knew I had a little artist. He had taken such great care with this project, explaining to me how he executed certain techniques under the watchful eye of Mrs. Feathers, his art teacher. I knew in an instant I would frame that piece and start a wall of art work that was all McKinley. But then the piece never came home and a lump formed in my throat. It had been lost in the school move over winter break and I would never see it in person, I thought. Until the schools Open House in the spring! She had chosen his cardinal to be hung among his peers. I couldn't believe it. This child that wouldn't color was now showing art work at school! And, his Rainbow Fish was there too. Two art projects in one year. My heart swelled! 

The wall of art was a slow process, but it's finally done! My mom and I had some custom framing created, they deserved the extra attention, and I was able to hang them yesterday. I love how my little office is coming together. It's such a personal space that represents all the facets of my life. Fashion, passion, my sweet son, and a little fun splashed in. I love stepping into the space. It may be attached to a part of the family's hanging center, but it's still my little world. Take a look!

I adore it, but I'm not sure how 1st grade is going to fit on the wall! We will just make it work, right Tim Gunn? I can't wait to see what he creates next year!


He'll Love to Read, Eventually

Monday, May 22, 2017

With a show of hands, how many of you remember learning to read? If you didn't raise your hand, that's okay. I didn't either! I honestly don't remember learning to read which includes the techniques. I remember my dad reading to me nightly as a child, even after I could read, but that's about it. So when it comes to helping McKinley learn to read, I'm relying on old news and techniques that I think might work. And the early homework arguments have begun....

We've been reading to McKinley since birth. In the wee early hours of morning, after his bottle, I would bounce him to sleep while reading small books. I would read on car trips to VA, even if he was only three months old, hoping that the words would sooth him and soak in via osmosis. Plane rides brought new books to entertain him for the first five minutes. We took the book The Little Red Caboose with us every where we went. And, we would find him reading to himself from toy catalogs from time to time. Still today, at age six, we share the nightly reading of books he picks out. And I'm looking forward to the day he can read a book to us and we read one to him. I don't want to give up reading to him.


I created a library in his room. We have so many books, which isn't a bad thing, that I didn't have a place to house them all. So, I turned his changing table, something we still need for storage, and turned it into a mini library. It still houses underwear and socks in the drawers. And in the larger baskets on the bottom are pajamas, small blankets, and bath towels. But the shelves hold most of the books that we read often. I also have a large basket in our den that's full as well. Again, trying to instill that reading is fun! That he will love to read...eventually! And I love this little bookcase. It's full of Little Golden Books, books we've purchased at his school book fairs, and others that Santa has given him over the years. See, even Santa thinks it's important to learn to read. My hope is that one day he will simply pick books off of these shelves, sit in his bed, and enjoy reading to himself from time to time. Fingers crossed!

But the reading is a slow process. And when I say slow, it's not because he can't, it's because he doesn't want to. He read weekly to his class over the past 20 weeks, and I know it's 20 because he had to fill out the 20 books he read, and we practiced daily. When he's interested, meaning his idea, he's totally into it. When it cuts into McKinley time, which means play time, he has zero interest. He works at sounding words he doesn't know and excels at the site words he does. And he's even making the effort to spell three letter words. It's just getting over the hurdle of doing it consistently and with gusto. I know we will get there, but it's the most frustrating thing for a parent when you have a strong willed child!

At the same time, he's very much into writing his own books. At first it started with pictures and he would "read" the book to us based on the pictures he drew. Most recently, it was a Ghost Ship book, you can view the reading here, and it's evolved into books with pictures and a few words. Words that he have to spell for him. I try my hardest to sound out the letters in hopes he will start writing the word himself, but it usually turns out that I'm angered by his lack of trying and just spell it for him. Or leave the room in a complete huff. Strong willed parents should not be allowed to raise strong willed children. It's not good for the chemically colored hair that turns grayer with every argument. I guess it's good for my hair stylist....

On the last day of school this year, McKinley announced that he wanted to go to the library. I knew why. He recently discovered Titanic and wanted to check out a few books on the subject. I used this opportunity to get him ready for the Summer Reading Program. I even told him it was time for him to get his own library card in hopes it would excite him to start the reading journey. And, that when he finally got a wallet (something he's dying to get), he could add the card to it. We, I, picked out books that I thought would interest him, while he spent time at a small table scouring through his Titanic book. I even picked out three beginning reader books for us to work on. So far, he's read the Titanic books three times each and a couple of the other train books I found. I figure it's only the third day of summer vacation so I shouldn't push too hard. But come June, I'm changing my tune. We are going to tackle this thing called reading, and we're going to come through it with flying colors. Or more chemical color to my every growing gray hair. At least something will have color....

What are you doing to help your child read? Do they have interest or do they just want to be left alone? Do they read fluently? And if so, what did you do to assist? I know he will learn to read. Just like he learned to talk, walk, and everything else I thought he would never learn to do. The impatience in me just needs to learn to backseat. Or just leave the room in a huff....


A 1980s Summer

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

A couple of weeks ago, I was chatting with fellow baseball mom during practice, and we were lamented about how we couldn't believe the Kindergarten year was almost over. As everyone knows, time flies! I asked her what they might be doing this summer and she said they didn't have much planned. She was hoping to have a 1980s summer. I mentioned that to my husband and he asked what a 1980s summer actually was. And that got me to thinking. What was a 1980s summer? I think I have the answer!

When I was growing up in the 80s, life seemed so much simpler. We played outside, went to the pool, hung out with our friends, and basically made our own fun. We didn't have iPads, iPhones, or DVD players when taking long car rides. We had corded phones, Walkmans, books, and bikes. We played outside all day long, even into the evening, and would come in for dinner, basic cable television viewing, and went to bed with dirt stains on our body. We drank Kool-Aid with sugar, never wore helmets or elbow pads, and lived at the community pool. It was truly the life!

I spent time at our school library participating in our summer reading program, which resulted in McDonald gift certificates for completing 10 books that summer. I think the number was 10. I mean, it has been 30+ years! I took swimming lessons, lived in my ballet studio during summer classes, rode my bike to the pool every day, and tried desperately to create a mix tape from the Casey Kasem Top 40 countdown on Sundays. And when you weren't doing all of that, you were having sleepovers at friends houses and trying to stay awake all night because it was summer!

But when I wasn't doing all of this, I was sitting in the backseat of my parents car heading out on a summer family vacations. But not just any family vacation. We went camping. Not glamping, camping! One of my favorite trips was to Hannibal, MO to explore the Mark Twain attractions. I remember getting one of the best t-shirts ever! It was white, with green ringer accents, and had a frog on the front that said "Hannibal's Hoppin'". But that wasn't the best part. The frog had his front foot in the air, and because there are only three "toes" on the front foot, it looked like it was giving you the bird! We still talk about the shirt! But it wasn't just the shirt memory that came from camping, it was everything else. We pitched tents, my parents in a dome tent and me in a little pop-up. We cooked on a small camping stove, drank powdered milk mixed with water, showered in the communal bathrooms, and had zero Wi-Fi! Can you imagine? You made your own fun! You met neighboring campers and played during the day. You promised to keep in touch and now can't remember their names or where they were from. But during that trip, you were best friends! We usually camped for about two weeks a summer. A 1980s summer at it's best!

We went to Estes Park, CO one year. Again, a car trip without any real electronic device, aside from my Walkman, and no air conditioning in the car! That's a long trip across Kansas when a thunderstorm pops up and you have to roll up the windows! And yes, we traveled with the windows down the whole way. We didn't camp on that trip, stayed in a cabin instead, but it was just as memorable. Our summers were filled with family time and adventures. Things I'm trying to instill in McKinley with your family. As for camping, we may try the backyard first before heading out into the wild or state park!

We don't have a lot planned this summer. A trip back East for my mom's high school reunion and much needed family time with those that still live there. We will be traveling by car, that's 15 hours if you're keeping track, and I'm pretty sure there will plenty of electronic device time for McKinley! I'll try to limit it, but let's be honest, eight hours a day is so long! Even at 43!! I'm planning trips to the Arboretum, the train depot in Edgerton, a trip to the city dump to watch all the large construction trucks move in and out, library time so he can participate in the summer reading program, and frequent trips to our community pool. And yes, I do have some larger things planned like Worlds and Oceans of Fun, Science City at Union Station, and a possible family trip to someplace like Omaha. But we will also head to the zoo, Deanna Rose, and have plenty of water time and picnics in the backyard. A 1980s summer in 2017. It can be done!

So what is the takeaway from having a 1980s summer? Make it easy going. Don't put stress to make it perfect. Don't have a Pinterest activity every week. Don't stay hooked to electronics. Spend as much time outside, for as long as humanly possible in the Midwest heat, and soak up the sun. Soak up family time. Make memories as you walk to the pool every day. Take family vacations that aren't extravagant, but fun and adventurous! And I hope to create this kind of summer for us! And follow along this summer as I document our time together and adventures along the way. I'm thinking this is going to be a totally awesome summer, to quote the 80s!


KC Fun: Strawberry Picking at Gieringer Orchard

Monday, May 15, 2017

This place appears to not need any introduction, but let me introduce Gieringer Orchard to those of you who may not have heard of it! This orchard, located in Edgerton, KS, is one peaceful spot! Frank and Melanie Gieringer started Gieringer's orchard in the spring of 2001. They harvested their first crop of peaches in 2004. They have since added blackberries, strawberries, Hightunnel production of tomatoes, and sweet corn. Gieringers Orchard has an on farm market where they offer pre-picked and u-pick fruits in season. And we can't wait to get back there for all the produce listed above.

But about a week ago, we headed out there to do some strawberry picking on a fun Friday no school day! We took my mom with us. I love taking McKinley to do things like this and he seems to enjoy it. We've been apple picking over the past couple of years, so strawberry picking seemed the next logical step. I think it's important to teach McKinley that you don't just head to the store and buy produce. It's grown by local farmers, or by us in our own backyard, and we need to take care of the earth we live on. If we don't, we can't have these amazing fruits and vegetables. So we loaded up his wagon (unsure of what the space would be like), some lunch for the car, and we were off!

Once outside of the "city", the landscape was glorious! We missed our turn off, but that was okay. We ended up taking a gravel road for the last 10 minutes of our journey. What we found was farm land for miles, cow, steers, horses, oil pumps, a train depot, and more. McKinley, who had been interested in his YouTube train videos, stopped watching and began chatting about all the things around him. Thankful for his interest!! 

We found our way to the orchard and was in for a treat. Here's what you need to know. Parking is in their main field. Take as little as possible with you. You will need your money (cash and card), as you pay out in the orchard, and a phone to take photos if you want to document your day. They take you out via a "hayride" as McKinley calls it and drop you off right at the strawberry patch. You will get a picking container, 50 cents per container, and from there you start picking. Pick the ones that are ripe and leave the yellowish green ones to continue to grow! And eat while there. Not tons, but one or two to get a taste of what you're taking home. (Did you see what I did there? A little Monday humor!) And when you've loaded up your container, take it to the weigh station. Also, check out their food truck! You will definitely want to try their strawberry donuts, made fresh on the orchard, and their strawberry lemonade slushies. We were able to enjoy the donuts, but their slushies were about 10 minutes out and we needed to get going. Oh, did I mention that because Shawnee Mission was out that day, EVERYONE came to pick strawberries? Those poor folks didn't know what hit them that day!! But they took it all in stride. And so did the patrons.

In addition to the fun picking, donut eating, and slushy drinking, kids can also play on all of the fun playground equipment! This is the tractor on the property, but they also have hay bales, a cute trampoline for the little ones, another wooden climbing piece, and a huge combine playground at the beginning of the orchard. Love how family friendly this orchard is!

We can't wait for peach, blackberry, and blueberry picking later this summer! Such a magical place right here in the city!

Have you been to Gieringer Orchard? If so, what was your favorite part? Plan to go if you haven't? Let us know what you think! Gotta love a little something special in the KC Fun arena!


Organizing My Life: The Bathroom Cabinet

Monday, May 1, 2017

I began a nail polish clean out a little over a week ago, but didn't get terribly far. You know those bottles. The ones that are half empty, where the brush won't even touch the polish, or have settled and the polish has started to separate from itself. Or, it's simply dried up. I had so many of those bottles. Plus, I had colors that I just wasn't wearing anymore and you just have to make the decision to throw them away. I had also gotten into a really bad habit of simply placing bottles that I had recently used in a makeup bag. That bag was completely overflowing and I couldn't find the polishes I wanted when I wanted to use them. It had just become a problem.

So on a rainy Sunday afternoon, I started the official cleanup. But, if you are anything like me, it doesn't stop there. While I was cleaning out bottles, finding new colors in different bags under the bathroom sink, I started pulling out more and more stuff. Before long, this is what my bathroom floor looked like! And you can see the mess that's still under the sink....

I found things I didn't ever remember having. Old makeup, lipsticks, lotion bottles that were nearly empty, samples I had never used, nail color strips I've horded for years, makeup bags galore, and the unused organizational tubs that I placed under there five years ago. Sure they had stuff in them, but they were overflowing and there was zero organization taking place. It was time to get it under control!

I started asking myself about the shelf life of makeup. I know there is a number listed on the back of each container, but some of the numbers are so small you can't read them. So, I headed to trusty Google and got the answers. We all know that you should discard mascara every three months, but what about lipstick? Well, throw it out after two years. I recently used a lipstick that I've had for a while and I swear it smelled rancid. Turns out, it was. There are a couple of things you can do to test yours. If there is a change in color, texture, or smell, toss it! I actually found a couple that looked like a wax had formed, I refuse to believe it was mold, so in the trash they went! However, if they don't have any of these three things wrong, go ahead and give them a good cleaning with some alcohol and continue use.

What about your powder cosmetics like blush, eye shadow, and face powder? They typically last one to two years. Same as the lipstick, if the color changes or there is a distinct smell, toss it. And if you've decided you no longer want that teal blue shadow, go ahead and toss that as well! Eyeliner lasts six months to a year and foundation six months to two years. Follow these rules and you will have a truly clean makeup bag! Mine is now completely up to date. Thanks Huffington Post!

As for the rest of the clean out, I took this seriously. I used Swiffer sheets to get all the dust, hair, and debris out of the cabinet and followed that up with Clorox Wipes. I did that for the entire cabinet. I then used a Clorox Wipe to clean out all of the storage bins. It just needed a true cleansing! And then I started pitching things right and left. Cotton balls that had fallen out of the bag, old bobbie pins that were laying around, samples that I knew I would never use, empty lotion bottles went into the recycle bin, and all of those hair accessories that I might use again went in a makeup bag that I wasn't currently using. I did the same thing with Tampons. Instead of having that bulky box sitting in the cabinet, which was taking up some much needed space, I placed them in another makeup bag. And all of my Jamberry packs went in another. Nice use of pretty bags that will decorate the interior! 

Here is what it looks like now!


Not all, but the most used polishes are in a side drawer. I placed them in cute little baskets. Great use of storage so they aren't just rolling around in the drawer.

Check out all the trash I threw away!! That's a lot of stuff from under one little bathroom cabinet, but it also goes to show just how necessary a clean out was. Maybe every six months. Maybe once a year. But definitely not once every five years! I'm pretty sure that's they last time I really took the time to clean this space out.

In my quest to organize my life, I'm five months in, and I've cleaned out a spice cabinet, a linen closet, my car, and a bathroom cabinet. I think I'm doing fairly well. Next up, under the kitchen sink! I can't remember the last time I really looked under there and I'm not sure I want to do it now....

What are you doing to organize your life? Did the makeup tips help? Are you ready to tackle your bathroom cabinet? Hope this helped!!


electric toothbrush