Friday, November 21, 2014



Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Together We Can End Hunger

Last week Gracen's Daisy troop (are they called troops?) had a field trip to Harvester's food bank. I volunteered to be one of the drivers so I could go with them, and I'm so glad I did. As someone who has never had to worry about where my next meal would come from, I think it's incredibly important to teach my kids that unfortunately not everyone gets to live with that kind of security. Especially right now at Thanksgiving time.

The girls all brought food to donate, and I loved all their enthusiasm, and their innocence. On the drive down there I tried to talk about what we were doing, and more specifically why we were doing it. They knew we were bringing food for people to eat, but they just couldn't comprehend that sometimes people go without dinner, or breakfast. Including kids. I got a lot of why don't their parents just go the grocery store? And, well they can come to our house for dinner - let's invite them over!

If only it were that simple!

Harvester's is a regional food bank serving northwestern MO and northeastern KS providing food and related household products to more than 620 non-profit agencies including food pantries, homeless shelters, and children's homes. In addition, they are one of five regional disaster relief staging sites for Feeding America. They store food, water, and cleaning supplies that can be sent to a disaster site on short notice.

Harvester's feeds over 141,500 people every month. Every MONTH! Isn't that amazing? 25% of those served are children. Doesn't that just break your heart? And 8% have a college degree or higher. The face of hunger does not discriminate. 54% of households have had to choose between paying for food, or paying their rent/mortgage. How do you even make a decision like that?

It takes so little to buy a few extra staples and donate them. Yet so often we (me) forget. I don't want my kids to feel guilty by any means for their full bellies, but I definitely want them to be appreciative. And visiting Harvester's and beginning the conversation is a pretty good first step.

While we were there, our tour guide told us a couple of stories about how they get their food. She said one time Kellogg's had a mistake in their factory and they accidentally left the blue fruit loop out of the cereal. So they were unable to send them to grocery stores to be sold, instead they donated them all to Harvesters. Isn't that incredible? Do you think anyone would notice it was missing the blue fruit loop? I don't think so, but I'm just glad they donated them all instead of wasting them!

This was such a simple way to get Gracen involved. So many times we feel over-scheduled with activities but Daisies has had such a positive impact on opening her eyes to a community around her. I love living in our PV bubble, but there's a great big world out there ready for her to explore. I want her to continue to have the desire to help others, and to be compassionate to the world and everyone in it.

Since visiting Harvester's we've had many different conversations about hunger, and why people don't have food, and how we can help stop it. I hope she continues to believe she can change the world, because if everyone thought that way, it would be a heck of a lot easier. Even kids can make a huge impact, and I'm glad she understands that. I'll be here to support her every step of the way.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Parker Mae's Baptism

My darling Parker Mae got baptized! A couple months ago, but whatevs. And if you know me at all, you know that I am SUPER sentimental about the most random things, and it just so happens that we were both baptized on the same day, Sept 14th. Which I didn't even plan! But it just makes my heart so happy anyways. Simply providential (Anne of Green Gables anyone?). She also got to wear the same gown that I wore at my own baptism. And her bonnet - which was seriously the most adorable thing ever - was a gift from Great Aunt Diane. It's an Irish bonnet that we'll put away until her wedding day that becomes a handkerchief for her to carry with her bouquet as her "something old". I'm getting misty eyed just thinking about it!

Mass was a small struggle because they were playing the organ that day, and it is LOUD. 10:30am is always a hard time anyways because it's right around eating/nap time so it's a crap shoot on whether or not it will go smoothly. I'd say this wasn't our best day, but definitely wasn't our worst. The older girls were VERY antsy because their cousins were there. Again not their best, but not their worst either.

I mean seriously could she get any cuter?!

Parker was a dream for the actual Baptism, just went with the flow. She even giggled once or twice. Just wanted to watch everything and everyone.

 We had everyone over for brunch afterwards, and the whole day was kind of a blur. I spent the day before running around like a chicken with my head cut off, with soccer games, heading to the grocery store, Sams Club, the liquor store (all brunches require mimosas) and baking all night long. Her Baptism was right after the 10:30am Mass, which was like a super awkward time. It started around 11:45 so by the time it was over (there were FOUR! baptisms that day) everyone was starving when they got back to our house. It was a little chaotic trying to get all the food out and set up, change the baby, feed the baby, all in our cozy (read: tiny) house, but we survived. The weather was absolutely gorgeous and sweet P was spoiled with gifts (and love).

Gracen desperately wanted to hold Parker, but had just gotten in trouble for messing around, hence the pouty face.
Have to get a siblings pic!

We celebrated Hadley's 5th birthday that afternoon as well since our families were all together anyways. Sorry to steal your thunder P. #thirdchildproblems We promise we still love you oodles, and were so excited to celebrate your special day surrounded by so many people who love you just as much as we do.

Photos c/o Andrea Strecker Photography :)

Friday, November 14, 2014



and I'm like

Monday, November 10, 2014

Halloween 2014

I'm in total denial that Thanksgiving is only 2 weeks away. Because that means there's only 44 days until Christmas. I'm behind already.

Normally I don't think I feel this rushed, but October was jam packed from start to finish with all of our normal activities, and then the Royals just totally took over with the World Series (not that I'm complaining).

Halloween came and went and all that's left is a bunch of candy that I eat while my kids are sleeping. Better me than them right? Gracen's school was collecting candy to send to the troops overseas, and we were totally going to donate it, but we were literally a day late. #itsthethoughtthatcounts

We had quite the list of costumes due to all the festivities. Trunk-or-treat fell on Thursday night and we had gorgeous weather. I talked Hadley in to wearing her doctor scrubs, and Gracen decided to be a chef. G had piano lessons that night and was coming straight after, so she needed an easy costume. Thank goodness for drawers full of dress up clothes.

I love the play stethoscope around her neck, and the crocs complete her look. And girlfriend carried around that kit all.night.long. 

Gracen got there a little late, but totally made up for it. I don't think I've ever seen anyone trick-or-treat so fast. Becuase, free candy! And they thought it was the greatest thing in the world that they got to play on the playground in the dark.

What was Parker you ask? Uh, nothing. At least not this night. #thirdchildproblems

Friday meant school parties and parades. The girls dressed up as Anna & Elsa (appropriate for sisters no?)

It seriously was amazing how many Elsa's there were. Only one or two Anna's though. {Side note: I'm sure Disney is thanking their lucky stars for Frozen. Because that movie has been there biggest hit since I can't remember when, Frozen fever is still going strong}

I just love classroom parties! Candy corn bingo? Yes please. 

Hadley was the only Anna in her class! She had a great time at her parade, and since it was a little cold we headed inside for performance.

Isn't she the cutest?

After school they got to swing by my office to trick-or-treat (because they clearly didn't have enought candy yet, and it's not like they were going to get more that night. Oh wait..)

The Anna & Elsa dresses weren't nearly warm enough for Halloween night, so we changed into our 3rd, yes 3rd costumes. 

Rockstar Gracen. With pink hair and cowgirl boots. Because why not?

Little red riding hood. Even though that's what she was last year.

Before trick-or-treating we headed over to Aunt Nanie's for our annual jack-o-lantern pizza. And looky there Parker's a ladybug! See we do love her. ;) That's the very same costume Gracen wore for her first Halloween. #handmedownsforthewin

This is the best I could get with all 3 of them. In their defense, The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown was on, and 2 of the 3 were hopped up on sugar. Parker got to stay inside and help hand out candy while the Mr. and I took the big girls to trick-or-treat. Hadley and I only lasted one block before we were ready for hot chocolate and to eat some of the goods. Gracen made it another block before calling it a night. They have it so easy. Remember when we had to trick-or-treat for HOURS to fill up our pillowcases? Now people just throw candy at them by the handful because hardly anyone trick-or-treats on actual Halloween anymore. #kidsthesedays

The Mr. kindly took them all home and put them to bed while I got to play Mall Madness and enjoy some Moscow Mules. Halloween you treat me so right. 

Quite possibly the greatest board game ever invented, and the best $2 my brother's ever spent. #attentionmallshoppers #chaching 

Until next year Halloween!

Friday, November 7, 2014



Wahoo for the weekend!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

To Shop on Thanksgiving or Not

So here's the thing. It's that time of year when everyone gets all up in a tizzy about whether or not to shop on Thanksgiving and it really irritates me.

I'm a huge black Friday shopper. I love looking through the ads the night before and planning out where we want to spend our time and effort. I love waking up early, trying to find a good parking spot, and the thrill of the hunt. Last year was the first time ever that I actually did some shopping on Thanksgiving. However, it was at 10pm at night when most people were sleeping. Before you hit the send button on your hate mail, hear me out.

Absolutely no one is forcing anyone to shop. And on the same note, no one's really being forced to work. Because guess what, when you're in the retail industry, holiday shopping is just the nature of the beast. Most stores are also open on Christmas Eve - some even Christmas DAY -  yet where's the boycott for that holiday? Stores are also open on Easter, and the 4th of July - yet where's the boycott for them? I would venture to say that almost everyone at some point or another in their lifetime has had to work a holiday (including myself).

Those people you're complaining about that don't get to spend the holiday with their family? I'm willing to bet not all of them are agreeing with your complaints. Employees that work on holidays get paid time and half. And maybe (emphasis on the maybe) that extra money is what allows them to have a Christmas with their family. Whether it's for a new bike for their kiddo, or a plane ticket home to actually be with their family. Maybe those people are just thankful they have a job, in a time where some people don't have that luxury.

How many people are standing up for hospital workers? And for policemen (and women), firemen (and women)? You do know they don't all get Thanksgiving off right? And yes I'm fully aware that there's a slight difference between a doctor and a retail store employee. But the point is still the same.

What about gas stations and fast food workers? There have been plenty of times my family has stopped in Bethany at McDonald's on the way to Iowa and they were there working, and no one is standing up for them.

What about grocery stores? I'm willing to bet that at some point or another you or someone in your family forgot the milk, or cranberry sauce, or ran out of butter, or crescent rolls and had to run to the store on Thanksgiving to pick some up.

What about the news anchors? Thanksgiving wouldn't be Thanksgiving without the Macy's Day Parade - how about all those people? Not home with their families either.

Most of the time employees get to choose which holiday they want to work - Thanksgiving or Christmas. And you don't see them throwing a hissy fit. And if they are, they're in the wrong line of work.

What about volunteers? Should we shut down the food kitchens that allow people to eat a hot meal on Thanksgiving when otherwise they might not eat at all?

What about the men and women in the military? They might miss every single holiday for years. But we all know that's what they signed up for, to serve our country and often times that means heading overseas and missing out on family time.

I get it. It's all about consumerism. It's just because it's about people shopping. But there are far bigger battles we could fight in this world than this one. It would literally be impossible for every single person in this country to be able to stay home with their family on Thanksgiving. You don't want to shop? Then don't.

I'm not saying I agree with stores opening, or not. Honestly I don't really believe there's a right answer. But I do believe we could direct all this energy towards something better. Ya know like solving world hunger, or curing cancer.

Monday, November 3, 2014

4 Months with Parker Mae

My darling Parker, this month has by far been the quickest. Fall in general is our busiest time, and I'm trying my hardest to soak it all in. It's been such a wonderful month, and I cannot even fathom how we're 1/3 of the way to your first birthday already. Cue the waterworks.

This month you got to cheer the Royals on in the World Series! Although the outcome wasn't what we had all hoped, we never stopped believing. Hopefully it won't be another 29 years before you see it happen again.

Cheering on the boys in blue!

You also had your second sleepover. We packed up basically our whole house (gotta love traveling with a newborn, i mean baby {tear}) and spent the night at Aunt Nanie's during the ALCS. When you don't have cable, you do what have to do watch the Royals win the pennant. And Mom and Dad may or may not have been drinking. #drinkresponsibly

We've also been keeping busy watching the Wildcats. You're such a mellow baby and just go with the flow. You don't mind when we drag you all over town. As long as you get fed, you're happy. This month we had to start adding in formula, because girlfriend you've got quite the appetite. I thought I'd be a lot more dissapointed about it, but turns out there are a lot worse things in the world, and I'm just thankful you're a healthy and happy baby.

You've started to roll over, except not on purpose. It's kind of funny. You startle yourself, but then you're kind of proud of it and - I know I'm biased - but it's precious. You scoot your adorable little booty everywhere. Gone are the days of setting you down somewhere and expecting you to stay there. You're so close to crawling it's crazy. Feel free to slow down anytime sister.You love to kick your legs like your life depends on it. And you screech. I mean screeeeeeeeeeech. You just like to make sure we're paying attention and know you're there. I feel ya sister - #thirdchildproblems

You got to tag along on Mom & Dad's date night. I have no doubt you would be nothing but a perfect angel for Aunt Nanie or Aunt Whammy but I can't see the same for your 2 older sisters. So we'll wait a little longer until we try to reserve 3 spaces at Hotel de Aunties house. We hit up IKEA (I want everything), and then went out for sushi. You politely declined to try any, more for me! We were out kind of late for you, but you fell asleep on the way home and didn't flinch when we moved you to bed.

Everyone loved your outfit. And giraffes just so happen to be my favorite.
Thanks Aunt Jaime!

I'm still dreaming about the pot stickers and the fried Philly roll.

Sweet girl, I've saved the best milestone for last this month: you started sleeping through the night! It's amazing. You usually go to bed around 7, and don't wake up until 7 in the am. Seriously a girl after my own heart. You eat well, sleep well, basically we hit the baby jackpot. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to make sure I'm not dreaming. I know it won't last forever, especially once teething hits in full force, so I'm taking advantage of it while I can. 

Happy 4 months Sweet P!!