Fun Times! Fun Times!

Ahhhhhhhh……

image(5)That’s exactly how I felt last weekend at my sister’s house.

Even my drive was relaxing…

We had so much fun!  You wanna know the reality of it… we really didn’t do anything spectacular or over the top.  We just hung out together and cooked great food.

imageI had a love affair with this plate.  This Southern girl LOVES a plate full of grits.  Add shrimp and greens and life just doesn’t get any better.

image(2)(If you’ve never tried collard greens or been afraid to because you thought they looked “scary” (guilty!) then you are MISSING out!!!!  They are AHHHH-MAZING!!!  I could have eaten the ENTIRE pot!)

image(4)Enough about the food.  We had GREAT conversations, shared a few tears followed by a seriously hilarious belly laugh (the BEST way to have tears),

image(3)enjoyed some toe pampering,

image(1)good squeezes from this wise little troll, and then a great brunch with family and friends.

It was exactly what I needed to recharge.

As much as I loved every minute of that, the best part was coming home to lots of squeals of happiness, hugs and kisses and being told that I was truly missed by Daddy and the babes.  It sure made this momma’s heart happy.

So, this week is THE week.

School starts which means SECOND grade for my baby boy and a whole new adventure for me.

Yesterday I got my toes wet at my first staff meeting.  As with all new jobs, all the “new” was a little overwhelming, but my heart is telling me this is the right thing and I was surrounded by lots of really great people.  Tomorrow I take the full plunge.

So, today we’re enjoying our last day of summer doing absolutely N-O-T-H-I-N-G.

Ahhhhhhhh…….

Peace, love and endings!!!

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Snippets

We’ve been SO busy this month.  It’s all been kind of a blur.  I have so much to share with you and not enough time to get it all in.  With that said, I’ll give you little tidbits as I can.

This past weekend we traveled to Colorado for a ranch rodeo.  The families tagged along this year to make it a big camping excursion.  It was a great time!  Lots of laughs, some weird weather, good camp fire cooking and a quick trip to the mountains.

I thought I’d share a little snippet of our family mountain adventure.  Tucker had never seen the mountains and since Colorado Springs was a mere 75 miles from camp Grady and I couldn’t justify NOT taking our kiddo on a little road trip.

With all of the wild fires engulfing the Colorado Springs area we were literally IN the city before we could REALLY see the mountains.  The haze from the smoke was really heavy.

DSC_0175 copyGrady and I are sometimes “fly by the seat of our pants” kind of people.  We had no plan once we got there.  We just knew that we wanted Tuck to experience this amazing piece of nature.  My only goal was to get to the mouth of ANY canyon where he could get out and see for himself what it was all about.  On our drive we saw a sign for Seven Falls.  Neither of us knew what it was, but the signage and advertisements were enough to let us know it was something spectacular.  That became our destination.

DSC_0181 copyIt proved to be well worth the $25 for us to enter.

DSC_0183 copyDSC_0179 copyIt’s been 10 years since I lived in Utah among the majestic Wasatch Mountains.  As much as I dearly love, Love, LOVE living in the Flint Hills of Kansas there is a part of my heart that will always belong to the mountains.

Seven Falls is exactly that… it’s a large natural waterfall that has seven tiers.  There are steps that have been built up the side of the rock so you can climb to the top.

DSC_0193 copyDSC_0188 copyDSC_0185 copyWe started out climbing and discovered about 20 steps up that Tucker has a rather large fear of heights.  The poor kid had a tearful panic attack, so back down we went.  We got the tears under control and tried to talk him into giving it another try.  There was NO way the kid was going to go up those steps.  Honestly, I couldn’t blame him.  They were STEEP and they gave me the heebie-jeebies a little, as well.

Opposite of the falls is an elevator that will take you to the top of another lookout platform.  After much talking, reassurance and insistence that we were NOT going to let fear take over and keep us from experiencing something so amazing we got the kiddo to go up the elevator.  Once we got up there he looked out and said, “OH!!!  This isn’t bad!  I thought were were going to just be on the side of the mountain…”  Poor thing thought we would literally be clinging to the side.  (Big sigh.)

He was so glad that we made him go up.

7 falls 3He was so proud of himself!

DSC_0200 copyDSC_0198 copy7 falls 2They were checking out what the folks at the top of the falls were doing.

DSC_0197 copyHe was so brave.

We told him over and over how proud we were of him for overcoming his fear!!!

DSC_0201 copyHe kept telling me, “Mommy, can I take you and Daddy’s picture????”

“Sure, Tuck.”

Turns out we may have a little photographer on our hands.  He didn’t do a bad job…  Pretty good composition, if I do say so myself.

DSC_0204 copyI could have parked my hiney up there all day.  It was BEAUTIFUL.  I wish we would have had more time.  After seeing how awesome it was Tucker was ready to try the steps, but unfortunately our visit had to be brief.  We had a rodeo to get back for.

We told Tuck that we were NOT taking the elevator back down.  He was going to have to be brave and try the stairs.  You could see the concern across his face, but he stoically went down with a death grip on his daddy’s hand and the railing.

DSC_0205 copyWhen they got to the lower platform he just took off!

No fears!

7 falls 47 falls 5Mountain Quest 2013 was a SUCCESS!!!!  I thoroughly loved answering all of Tucker’s nature questions.  The learning experience was PRICELESS!!  It’s now our goal to take a mountain vacation when Ella gets a little older and can remember and enjoy the beauty and excitement as much as her brother.

 

 

Peace, love and quiet majesty!!!!

Dreaming Warm Dreams

The wind has been blowing 30+ mph outside since yesterday morning.  We were hit with another snow storm, milder, but much colder and a little more intense with the wind and blowing snow.

The roads are snow packed and drifted and so I sit at home…again, for another snow day.  Driving conditions to the office aren’t safe and I’m not a risk taker when it comes to snow and ice.

I’m READY to get back to the office.  Tucker hasn’t had school since last Wednesday and the cabin fever is really starting to set in for my high energy kiddo.  Ella’s been sick since Friday night.  The respiratory flu bug hit her pretty hard.  Then it decided to hit Grady late Sunday night.  We were ALL home together yesterday.  Needless to say, I would really like to go to work today.  Tucker would really like to go play with his friends at daycare and Ella is missing her little group of daycare girls, too.

I have vowed, though, that I am NOT going to complain about the snow as this moisture is most definitely a gift!  We need it desperately.  I’d just like to get out and back to my normal routine.

In the meantime, I’ll reflect on some sunny warmth and share my pictures from Florida.

Several weeks ago Grady and I attended the NCBA (National Cattlemen’s Business Association) Convention in Tampa, Florida, representing the feedlot he works for.  It’s a 4 day convention packed full of educational seminars, an industry trade show, lovely meals and lots of networking.

The weather was amazing, 80° everyday.  The food was outstanding.  The company was fun and entertaining and the memories are cherished.

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The first day the guys had a very long meeting so, another wife and I took a VERY long walk along the bay.  This was our view for our 2 hour trek.  It was breath-taking.  I could do that every day!

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I soon figured out that jeans and my beloved Chuck Taylors were NOT the appropriate walking attire for that particular sunny day.  Too hot and the Chuck Taylors rubbed my feet in all the wrong spots.

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The convention center where all of our activities took place was only a 2 block walk away from our hotel. It had a really great outdoor cabana style bar setup where we could sit and enjoy a drink and the beautiful water. The fun “pirate ship” was docked right outside.  It looked so fun.  The “thing” Grady has his head stuck in is a fun scrap metal sculpture of a piranha at the bar.  The bay had several draw bridges across it.  This one was lit up at night with lights that would change from green to blue to red to yellow.  It was gorgeous!

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Our second night was a treat.  We were invited onto this beautiful boat for an evening dinner cruise with drinks on the deck and the most amazing steak dinner I’ve EVER had.

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It was fun to get gussied up for the night and feel pretty and special.

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The view from the boat was spectacular!  I love all the colorful lights over the water.  Tampa is a beautifully colorful city.

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Earlier that day, after our classes were over, Grady and I took a walk along the Tampa River Walk on our way back to our hotel.  The entire walk was lined with boat docks and beautiful boats.  There were condos all along the waterway.  Can you imagine pulling your boat up to your house rather than your car.  Wild concept for this land locked girl.

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In Kansas our natural paths are made of small gravel and rocks.  In Tampa, the natural walkways are made up of broken sea shells.

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Leave it to Grady to get a little goofy.  This was the only Florida gator that we saw on the trip.  The cowboy insisted on wrestling it.

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Our last day included an afternoon trip to Clearwater Beach.  The sand was a beautiful white.  The water was a chilly 40°.  The air was drastically different at 80°.

Sadly, within 20 minutes of getting there a storm started to roll in.  The skies turned grey, the wind started to blow and the temperature dropped at least 20°.

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We braved the cold water and wind for photo proof for the kids that we actually got into the ocean.  I immediately got right back out and covered up.

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Grady stayed in the water trying to find sea shell treasures for Tucker.  That was the only thing he asked us to bring back for him.  His daddy couldn’t disappoint.

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After freezing on the beach for another 20 minutes and then cozying up to a little local bar we all decided to head back to Tampa to go out for a nice dinner on our last night in town.  We had such a fun time with this group.  We had lots great belly laughs and made wonderful new friends.  I can’t wait for the next opportunity to go on this trip!!

So, now I’m back to reality looking outside at the blowing snow and white covered ground.  I’m thankful for the moisture and am now looking forward to the muddy mess it will all be by this weekend.  I’m looking forward to the balmy 52° forecast for Saturday and am praying for more rain, but secretly dreaming of 80° and sunny, sandy, white beaches with a fruity drink with a tiny umbrella in my hand.

Hey a girl can dream, right…?

 

Peace, love and warm wishes!

 

Home Sweet Home

We’re sitting in the Tampa airport waiting to board our plane.  It’s been a wonderfully warm and sunny break from the Midwest (mild) winter. 

I ate a ridiculous amount of delectable food.  I paid no attention to calories for three days.  I’ll admit that while my taste buds loved the indulgence my digestive system wasn’t nearly as thrilled.  I’m ready to get back to my usual routine and recipes.

Our exciting beach excursion was cut short by a rain storm.  But… our goals of getting in the ocean, digging our toes in the sand and finding Tucker sea shells were achieved. 
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The rain made a good excuse for our group to go to a local bar and grill and enjoy good drinks, appetizers and great belly laughs.

Our biggest bit of excitement was our cab ride back to our hotel last night when our barely out of school cabby turned onto an on ramp and promptly did a 180 on the rain slick road and landed us in the ditch.  Aside from some serious excitement for a few minutes, all was well.  The poor kid was so nervous that we were going to turn him in.  Grady, personally, thought it was GREAT.  I comforted the poor guy several times.  When we got out at our hotel we looked at his tires and immediately knew that the accident wasn’t all his fault.  His tires were as bald as a bald could be.  We tapped on his window and told him. Just as I suspected that he had NO idea what his tires looked like.

Now, I’m ready to be home hugging my kiddos and relaxing.  Vacation is always lovely, but going home is sometimes the best part.

More pics will come soon.

Peace, love and Florida sun!

Camping 2012

Two weeks ago we went on a big camping trip with our rodeo family.  I was nervous about the excursion.  I’ve become a softie in my old age.  I’ve become quite partial to daily showers and that squeaky clean feeling.  I’m not big on being one with the dirt for an extended period of time (more than 24 hours).

To relieve my nerves AND to accommodate one cowboy, who shall remain unidentified to protect his rouge masculine character, we booked one motel room to house the cowboy and provide a shower for any member of the camping party who so desired to feel “fresh”. (It was A-MAZING!)

We looked like we had a little village.

Three tents and the camper.

It was pure relaxation. 

We had no concept of time with the exception of when the rodeo began each night.  We woke up when we wanted.

Tuck and I were the first one’s up.  We woke up to Jason building his campfire.

 

Jason and Mandy made a spectacular feast for breakfast.

I was completely in awe of this whole process.

We all know how much I love to cook and I can say that I’m fairly handy in the kitchen, but this camp cooking business was a whole new ball of wax for me.  I sat and took it all in.

Bacon.

Biscuits.

Eggs.

Hashbrowns.

Coffee.  Lots and lots and lots and lots of coffee was consumed that morning.  Just a little side note…if you’ve never tried percolated coffee, you need to.  It’s not half bad.

It was insane.  I ate to my heart’s content.  (Calories were of no consideration this weekend.)

The kids played football.

Colored in coloring books.

Dug holes they could have been buried in.

Ate junk food all day.  If you’ve never tried a banana boat you are MISSING OUT!!!  These things are RIDICULOUS!!!

And just genuinely loved each other’s company.

Our purpose in this trip was to watch the team rodeo as a family.  Be that as it may…this was the ONLY picture I got of the guys doing anything rodeo related.

It was too dark and I don’t have one of those fancy flashes.

That’s okay.  This stuff was entertaining enough.

We had so much fun.  I really hope this can become an annual adventure!!!

 

Peace, love and white rabbits!

Ruby Slippers

I have never, in all my life, been happier to return to my warm, cozy, familiar home.  On more than 15 occasions I would have KILLED for Dorothy’s ruby red slippers to click three times transporting me back to the safety of Kansas.

Our misfortunes didn’t end with Tucker’s nasty face plant.  Although we were relieved to find out that he didn’t break his nose, we WERE certain that he had a mild concussion.  His demeanor over the rest of the stay was sluggish, sleepy, moody and odd.  He just wasn’t our normal spunky, fun loving boy.

Ella…oh, poor Ella.  The cough that she’d had turned into a hacking, vomit inducing bark that resulted into she and I missing the Saturday night performance and having multiple wardrobe changes Sunday night. 

Both kids ended up with fevers and chest congestion leaving them pale and sickly for most of the trip.

It was a parenting nightmare.  My patience and faith were certainly tested over those six days.

With all of that said, we DID have some good times.  We shared laughs with great friends, watched some incredible athletes, saw a monkey ride a dog and heard a six-year-old belt out our anthem like no other.

There is always excellent shopping opportunities for the girls AND the guys.

And this AMAZING toy section for the kiddos.  We, literally, let the kids play for at least an hour on the first day.  They never want to leave.

We got to see Ella’s boyfriend, Hank.  Isn’t he the SWEETEST!!!!  He’s such a little charmer.  Her daddy is already worried!  I just LURVE him!!!

We paid tribute to the many men and women of our armed forces.  It’s always touching to see these faces every year.

Grady had two really great rides.  I’m so very proud of him.  He improves with every year and I’m always so impressed with how his hiney can stick to that seat.

I actually have a lot more pictures, but WordPress is being a big pain in my hiney on this post.  I’ll try to share the others later.

I’m looking forward to a completely LAZY and RELAXING weekend.  I hope you do the same.

 

Peace, love and slothlike movement!!!

Hello? Tap. Tap. Anyone out there?

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Can you see that?

Those tiny little white things…

Yep.  It’s snowing here in Kansas today.

Makes me want to go home, fix a pot of soup and curl up on the couch with my favorite afghan.

Have you missed me?

Did you think I got lost somewhere in Amarillo?

Well, I didn’t.  I’m back and have tons to tell you about.  It was such a crazy vacation. 

I promise I’ll tell you all about it soon!

PROMISE!

Peace, love and frosty flakes.