Friday, April 29, 2016

High honors

A couple months ago, I got an invitation to attend an assembly as the guest of Kayle Fitzmaurice, one of Megan's friends. She chose me as her influential adult and recorded a message to me about how much she enjoyed trick or treating with our family last Halloween. It was so cool and I loved being there. Megan chose Julia McCauley as her adult friend, so I even got to have someone to sit by.

Kayli and Me :)

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Megan and Mark's super duper trip to Cincinnati!

April 22nd. 6 am. 

They're off!

There was 10 hours of this:

But then, the reward.....skyline chili. I can't think of a better kid to go out for skyline. She is a true connoisseur.

Then to Mark's old high school job...Aglamesis Bros. We feel it is the best ice cream on this planet.

The Kentucky Bridge.

Going to cheer on the Cubbies at the Reds stadium.

It made all the difference. Cubbies won!

Here's a snapshot of them singing "Take me out to the ballgame"....complete with a loud "CUBBIES!" inserted in its rightful place. 

The Kentucky Bridge at night.

Megan at the beginning of her first real rollercoaster experience....King's Island!

The Vortex. She looks so unaware of what is about to happen to her. She did not like it.

NO, not at all.

The racers. She says she "wasn't a fan".

Time to get back to what really made her happy.

Then they took another detour over to a movie theater to see "Zootopia"....and have a huge bucket of popcorn.

Then back to King's Island, where they settled on Adventure Express and bumper cars to bring out "just enough" thrill ride without the stark terror.

Leave it to Mark to figure out a way to get a big carnival prize....just make sure that you and your daughter are the only people in the race. One of you is gonna win.


They stayed and watched the fireworks show and then for a late dinner (how can they be hungry?) at O'Charlies. 

The next day was the drive home and facetiming with the fam. 

It was a trip to remember. Great memories made and some serious treats were consumed.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Worth the wait

Four years ago I planted a lilac bush. 

2 years later I realized that the bunnies were dining on it every spring. 

I caged it in and got it past bunny height.  Then I forgot about it again. 

And this morning I got a beautiful surprise! I really picked an adorable lilac! 

Thursday, April 21, 2016



Anna's preschool: Overland Park Arboretum

As the preschool year comes to a conclusion, I feel that instead of preparing my lessons, it is better if we just go on a bunch of field trips. 

I know and have accepted myself by now and therefore it was no surprise to me that I would be out of steam when my final turn to teach rolled around. So I strategically chose birds and gardens as our final unit.

Shall we take a ride over to the Arboretum and hike to the bird blind? We shall!

All this will require is toilet paper binoculars: (we didn't use toilet paper rolls. That is seriously gross. There is NO WAY that our empty toilet paper rolls aren't fully coated in dried pee. I'm not pointing any fingers, here. But if I were, I would be pointing them right at Ethan, Mathew, Megan, Laney, Anna and Everly Hufford.....pee everywhere.)

Luckily the path to the bird blind is well marked and delightfully short. And paved.

These binos work surprisingly well.

We stopped at a lovely garden bench for a some sliced apples and a quick lesson on what a proboscis is. We pretended our capri sun straws were proboscises. It really is a great word.

Preschoolers are dependably cute.

Thank heaven for fieldtrips.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Deborah Sampson

Let me tell you a little story. I found out years ago that when your child reaches the 5th grade, they will participate in the "wax museum". They pick a historic figure, dress up in a costume devised by their mothers and Pinterest and the local thrift shops, they memorize a quick biography and then recite it for parents and siblings in one fantastic afternoon.
We put together costumes for Paul Revere and then Ethan Allen. Meanwhile, I have kept my eye out for dresses that might help us pull off a Martha Washington or maybe Molly Pitcher....and I've been hoarding these little items for years....(years!) knowing that I have 4 little girls that will need skirts and aprons and whatnot.
So wouldn't you know? Megan chose Deborah Sampson. A woman who DRESSED LIKE A MAN so she could fight in the revolutionary war.
And that's how it goes.

Animal Talks....Laney's fieldtrip

I think I've mentioned that I really can only manage to chaperone one field trip per child per year?

So Laney got me for the "Animal Talks" this year. 

We started at Sunnyside and walked one mile to Olathe South High School to listen to teenagers give a 3 minute talk about their assigned lizard/bird/rodent/snake what-have-you. 

We had so much fun. 

The cuteness factor of the baby hedgehog was through the roof. 

My own little critter is pretty cute, I think:

Then she got mad at me on the walk back to the school because I wasn't planning on taking her out of school (3 hours early). She gave me the silent treatment and then her poor little walking partner got caught in her ice-out. I gave her a very stern talking-to and if it made any difference, she wasn't about to tell me. Silent treatment, remember?

Friday, April 15, 2016

Haven Park

The weather is getting pretty nice, so we are spending long stretches of time at Haven Park. This park is great because it has fantastic climbing trees:

A sand volleyball court perfect for digging holes:

(Everly and her best buddy Aaron)

And newly installed swings just Ethan's size:


I love/hate crossfit.

I talk about it too much with other people and I know I'm being annoying and I can't help myself.

But I really love these people and I look forward to seeing them every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday (Tuesday and Thursday if it's something that doesn't involve wall balls or thrusters).

And now Mike Cardinal is moving to Iowa. (He's in the white t-shirt), which totally stinks. Because he is kind and crazy strong and an example of what you can do over time if you just stick with it.  

And he tells me "good job" even when we both know I'm a bit of a wimp.

This is the best use for a box I've seen so far. Why jump up on it, when you can sit?

We did geriatric wall balls in honor of Mike's age on his last day.

I'm so sad to see Mike go, but I'll see the rest of you at 8:30.

Saturday, April 9, 2016


I'm not going to lie. 

As a rule, I have very little experience being associated with any kind of winning team. I still can't believe the Royals won the World Series last year. By default, they should have lost simply by virtue of my watching games and caring about it.  I have lots of experience having the "what matters is that you had fun!" talk with my kids. We are consistently the scrappy underdogs in any given sports arena. 

But today we won. 

The whole shebang.

And it was really fun.

Nicely done, Olathe 3rd Young Men's Basketball Champs!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

General Conference: outdoor session

I used to be really strict about attending the Sunday morning Conference session at the chapel.  My thought was that it helped the kids to feel a sense of "differentness" about the day and feel like the Sabbath instead of just a huge break from church. 

But then I realized that I was sitting out in the foyer, frustrated and angry with my kids because I wasn't able to hear the Prophet's address. I was spitting mad and full of resentment and it wasn't doing us any good. 

Elder Uchtdorf gave a great talk during the October 2015 session. It was called "It Works Wonderfully".
A great quote:

"I wonder if we as Church members might also benefit from asking ourselves from time to time: “Is my experience in the Church working for me? Is it bringing me closer to Christ? Is it blessing me and my family with peace and joy as promised in the gospel?”

"sometimes we take the beautiful lily of God’s truth and gild it with layer upon layer of man-made good ideas, programs, and expectations. Each one, by itself, might be helpful and appropriate for a certain time and circumstance, but when they are laid on top of each other, they can create a mountain of sediment that becomes so thick and heavy that we risk losing sight of that precious flower we once loved so dearly."
I think, for now, I need to let go of the expectation that we attend our Sunday morning session at the chapel. It really isn't necessary. And it isn't bringing peace and joy into our family.

So today we decided that we would tune into the session on our phones and walk down to Prairie Creek Elementary with Grandma Kathleen's awesome kites. 

I can listen to the prophet and Everly can swing.

Mat can ponder the gospel and fly his kite from the monkey bars.

We can enjoy the morning with our kids and see if we can't practice some the principles we learn from our good leaders. 

And Ethan will be around to catch a few words while he holds his string. Instead of asleep at home while I fume in the foyer. 

Grateful for wise words and the ability to change today.