Thursday, February 27, 2014

Home Tour


The official story of Modern on Meadow, as told by our architects. Find it here! (Note: the vineyard images are of Tuscany, not Napa.)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

We found the sunshine!

Take a big breath, let it all out. Repeat. That is how our vacation to California felt - a breath of warm air, and a bright swath of sunshine at the end of several long and cold Winter months. We were in familiar surroundings with family. Our most uncomfortable moments involved a few lines at Lego Land waiting for the Coastersaurus - a small price to pay for fun and relaxation.

The kids barely came out of the pool during our stay - one more day and Charlie's hair might have fallen out from all the chlorine. Izzy braved ankle deep water in the ocean and Charlie attempted to surf atop a boogie board with his Dad and great-Uncle holding on tight. We dug in the sand and made elaborate homes for penguins.

We spent time around the kitchen table with old friends and family members we see way too infrequently. We shared stories of travel, memories of loved ones, and hopes for tomorrow. We got up to paddle surf at the crack of dawn each day and my head sank heavily into my pillow each night at barely past 9pm. The kids were in perpetual motion every day and they crashed whenever they sat still long enough for their bodies to rest - in the car and at the dinner table in a crowded restaurant. Ryan and I got lost on a long run that involved an encounter with a nude beach. We racked up steps on our Fitbits walking to the beach, restaurants, and everywhere in between. We played baseball in the park and walked barefoot in the sand. We sat in the hot tub three times a day. We listened to family favorites recorded by my Uncle Adam, and cheered on the Jayhawks. 

I woke up Monday morning with a list of things to do in my head and I knew the vacation was over. I unpacked my beach gear yesterday, and I will refill my suitcase and head in the complete opposite direction and towards the east coast for work tomorrow. Our flight home was bumpy and Iz was in a mood (!) but we made it back to a clean home and a happy pooch. The snow is gone, for the moment. Once this work trip is out of the way, it will be March, Spring, and Izzy's birthday. So much to look forward to. 

For the next few days, until I get through February and what looks to be one more blast of winter, I'll channel the beach and southern California. Breathe in, breathe out. Repeat.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Rainbow Party - behind the scenes #tbt

March is just around the corner and that means Spring weather and St. Patrick's Day! Now that we have a St. Patrick's Day birthday to celebrate every year, the day has special meaning and I really look forward to the holiday. This post on Izzy's birthday is one of the most viewed on the blog (that cake just might be my favorite of Janelle's awesome creations - check out the inside!).

It's hard to focus on much besides Izzy's beautiful rainbow birthday cake...

But there were other aspects of the party that I really enjoyed as well.

I loved the idea of using baby food jars to decorate for Izzy's first birthday when I saw this post. In the interest of time and my waning energy, I decided to simplify this idea.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Over Winter

Isn't the snow lovely? Isn't it great when the kids and the dog can all run around outside in this Winter wonderland?

There's hot chocolate to be had and a warm fire to cuddle it. Except when I'm completely over Winter and its bitter cold. Winter - you've worn out your welcome. The reality this year was that it was too cold to enjoy the snow. Izzy was outside for exactly 2 minutes when I took this photo. We didn't build forts or snowmen or go sledding. 

Charlie did enjoy playing in the snow - and by playing I mean shoveling. He saw our elderly neighbor out shoveling and ran over to help her. She only let him help for a few minutes and paid him $5 for his effort. She should have let him continue, he would have cleared her whole drive. The kid likes a task.

In a few years, Ryan won't have to head outside to shovel at all. Do you pay your child to perform a chore that benefits the family? Now that Charlie is 5 we should probably start thinking about chores and allowances. I'm learning there is quite a debate on paying/not paying kids for work around the house on various parenting blogs. I guess I will have to formulate an opinion on this pretty soon.

Roxie likes the snow and runs through the yard at top speed. Ryan always tries to dump snow on her as she races past. 

This is how Izzy enjoyed the snow - from the warmth of inside. That's my girl.

We're all ready to ditch this snow and cold for sunny, warm Southern California. Maybe by the time we come back, Spring will be just around the corner!

Monday, February 17, 2014


Five-year-olds, five-on-five, high fives...bitty basketball was all it promised to be. I've written here about our first attempt at soccer and t-ball with mediocre to no success. But the third time was the charm and basketball was the sport for Charlie this year. Maybe it is because he is almost a full year older than when we first tried soccer (he looks so young here!), or maybe it is because he is just much more familiar with watching and playing basketball.  Whatever the reason, our experience with basketball this winter was fun for everyone.

We had 6 sessions, two nights a week for three weeks, and it went fast. The first three sessions were practices and the last three were games - and I use the word game very loosely!

Check out that jump shot!

I love that every time Charlie shoots he puts his entire body into it. Classic Charlie.

As I said, it was fun for all of us - Izzy included. On this particular night, Wonder Girl made an appearance at the school gym.

We were surprised at how well Charlie listened and paid attention during all the practices and games. He stood (mostly) still in line waiting his turn during practice, watched the other players and listened to his coach closely. Whenever the coach gave everyone a water break, Charlie used the few free minutes to shoot more baskets. He was very serious about it all.

Once they started playing games, Charlie figured out what it meant to play defense and he was the first one back every time. He would race down the court, stop under the basket, turn around and throw his hands up in the air - it was awesome.

Leading the not-so-fast break...

Ready to score, but wait, that is his own teammate playing defense against him. It happened a lot.

The ball is up! Charlie scored quite a few times and although I didn't get a picture of his smile after making a shot, I won't forget it.

By the time the games were over, Charlie was hot and sweaty and ready for more. This was the last game and the Bumblebees (the inspiration for this cake!) huddled for one last team talk.

The coach was really patient with the kids and good at channeling their energy. At various times throughout the one hour sessions he would have them run in circles until they could focus again. It is hard to get the fundamentals across at this age, but Charlie definitely learned from the experience.

A medal! 

Time for ball players and super heroes to head home - until next season!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The best kept secret for family fun

Of course, a KU basketball game, right? Yes, but not just any KU basketball game...a women's game!

Earlier this year we took the kids to their first KU basketball game at Allen Field House.  It was a men's game and it was really loud, a packed house, and very intense. Not exactly the best environment for small children that can't sit still and have a short attention span. But last week we took the kids to a KU women's basketball game and it was the most family fun we've had all winter.

There are no crowds at the women's games and you can wander through all the old Jayhawk memorabilia and the KU Athletics Hall of Fame at a slow pace. There are some interactive displays where Charlie measured his vertical jump and checked his wing span against Wilt Chamberlain's. We compared the size of Izzy's red boots to the giant basketball shoes behind this glass display.

We were the only ones in line to shoot some hoops!

We went to the game because I was introduced during the pre-game ceremony as part of this year's KU Women of Distinction - a cool bonus. But my part in the evening paled in comparison to the rest of the fun.

The best part about going to a women's game is that the seats are all general admission and you can sit anywhere. We sat right behind the team bench and I felt like we were in the game. And did I mention how inexpensive it is to go to a women's game? If you have to leave at half-time or miss half of the game because you are going back and forth to the bathroom with two little ones, it isn't a big deal. And parking? Not a problem. We parked directly across from the field house - thankfully - on a very cold evening.

KU played Texas tight for the first half. They grow them big in Texas - #40 is 6 foot 5 and she is not even the tallest on the team!

There weren't many people sitting around us and the kids could squirm and stand up to their hearts' delight. They had popcorn and hotdogs. They cheered loudly and danced to the band. I wish we could have stayed longer, but it was a week night and pretty late for the kids. A weekend game would be perfect and I hope we can make it back.

Charlie and Izzy had the Allen Field House experience, but in a low key and kid-friendly way. They got the VIP treatment from the cheerleaders and the Jayhawks, and we had the added bonus of sitting a couple feet away from some of the men's players.

There are still games left in this season - get over to AFH and have some fun. Rock Chalk Jayhawk!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Feeling privileged

I read somewhere yesterday that most five-year-old kids chatter non-stop and it is their way of testing out words and becoming skilled in conversation. The article said you should feel privileged to hear every thought that passes through your five-year-old's brain (!). Sometimes Ryan and I can't hear ourselves think for the constant flow of words. And did I mention that he has no inside voice?

I know someday he won't tell me what is on his mind, and I will wonder and try to figure out what he is thinking and feeling. At five, he hides nothing inside, wears his heart on his sleeve, and spills his thoughts out loud. So privileged.

Thursday, February 6, 2014


It's been a busy week. Snow days and a big birthday. I can't believe my baby is five years old. How is it possible?

His birthday cake did not disappoint again this year. He changed his mind about what he wanted a million times. Hulk, Chick Hicks, Broncos, Batman, Missouri Tigers (?!) and Superman. Finally, a basketball with the bumblebee mascot from his biddy basketball team. Nice choice Charlie and thanks again Janelle! 

We took the kids to Great Wolf Lodge for Charlie's birthday and they had a blast. That place is all about the kids - kids running around barefoot and in pajamas when they aren't slipping down water slides and jumping in pools. The sort of place Ryan and I try to avoid. Not this time. Just for you, buddy. 

We made cupcakes with Charlie's class and read a few books per Charlie's request. It was Charlie's last birthday at Berkley and we will miss the open door they offer parents. We can come in anytime and plan just about any activity with the kids. 

Almost all the kids request pajama day for their birthdays. Charlie was so excited, picking out his pjs the night before, thinking about whether his friends would like Batman or his Christmas jammies best. 

I don't know how we got to five so fast. I would feel sad except that I love this little five year-old person more than life and love knowing him more every day. 

Dear Charlie,

You learned how to write your name, swim, and ride a bike when you were four. You had four stitches and your first play date. As a big four year-old you tried soccer, t-ball and basketball for the first time. I am convinced there is nothing you can't do someday. You are a sweet big brother and a kind friend. Please promise to always give your mom hugs and kisses.  I loved four and can't wait to see what fun five will bring. I love your bones!