Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Cutest Subjects

I think I've mentioned on here before that I love photography.  No, I'm not going to attempt to ever start a business with it and I definitely have a ton to learn, but I'm always excited when I get to use the knowledge that I do have to take pictures for a friend or family member.  So when my sister, Mindy, asked me to take some pics of her son, Adam, when she was in town this past weekend, I jumped on the opportunity!  Jake was with me, too, and thank goodness our oldest sister, Angie, came along to help us "herd" the kiddos... they were all over the place!  The pictures were taken at the Kentucky Horse Park, which lent us so many beautiful places to shoot.  It took me a little while to get my settings correct (like I said, I'm no professional but I do always try to shoot in Manual mode so I can practice) but by the end of the day (and about 500 shots later), I think we got some good ones!  None of these are edited (aside from making a couple of them black and white) as my sister is the Photoshop expert, but here are a few of our fav's:

Such a serious face, but I thought it was so sweet!

Yes he is holding a shoe... it made him smile, so we went with it!
Despite my efforts, his Mommy ended up getting the "money shot" of the day:

I love this one I took of Adam and his mom... her hair comes out so beautifully in photos!  Then again, it's incredibly beautiful in person, too:

Of course I took some of my favorite little man, too.... but mostly just got his back as he ran all over the place!  That boy loves to go go go!  I actually liked the shots from behind though as this captures his personality at this age:

My favorite: 

And how did we keep the kiddos occupied and smiling for the hour + that we were out there?

First off, Auntie Angie was essential!  Thank you for coming along and entertaining them both! 

And the real secret?  Oh yes, our kids love the iPhone.  Here's our geeky children with their gadgets... too funny:

My sister was also sweet enough to take a couple of prego-pics of me and Lilly, but I'm saving those for another post since this one is already pretty picture-heavy.  Besides, I am way behind on a belly update, so I'll have the hubby take one today and let you know how it's going tomorrow.  I have a doctor appointment later anyway.

Apparently I passed the test because I get to take pictures of this whole family in the fall!  Yay!  And luckily I won't have a big belly to work around since photographing toddlers takes a lot of bending over, laying on the ground, etc.

I hope you enjoyed your daily (double) dose of cuteness today!  Thanks, Mindy, for letting me practice my favorite hobby on my super-dooper adorable nephew!  Oh how I love that little guy!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Where's My Baby?

I think we timed this second baby just right.  Lately we've had some extra time to spend as a family (which has been wonderful!) and have gone on lots of fun outings while we explore our new city.  But it seems like more and more, I find that our "sweet baby Jake" has turned into a little boy right before our little eyes.  I know it sounds silly as he's only 17 months old, but the boy talks up a storm, throws a ball like a champ, runs around like a crazy-person, and climbs up everything- and I mean everything!- he can possibly figure out how to climb.  Plus, he is the size of a two-year-old, so when put next to a kid his own age, people just assume that he's older.  Here are some things that have wowed us recently and make me wonder, just where did my baby boy go?

First up was at a place called Just 4 Kids last weekend, which is a tiny-tot gym for kids pre-school age.  Jake loved the trampoline and jumped better than I expected him to be able to!  Then again, he gets lots of practice on our bed, in his crib, and on our couch:

Then there was a very large bounce-house with an obstacle course.  I totally underestimate my son's brawn apparently... he climbed all the way to the top by himself.  Please disregard the comments from his nervous camerawoman/mommy:

And this weekend Aunt Mindy and cousin Adam were visiting again (yaaaayyyy!) and the two of them had their first arcade experience.  Let me just tell you, Jake was LOSING HIS MIND over the carousel, driving games, and particularly all of the basketball games.  That boy loves his basketball, which is good considering we just moved to basketball country.  We let them play one of the smaller ones, and Jake even made a couple of baskets!

What I don't have video of is how difficult it was to drag him out of there!  Or how wound up he was once we left... all of that stimulation really excited him!  I am pretty sure these two spots will be ones that we'll visit occasionally as a nice treat for our crazy boy.  And each time, I'm sure he'll surprise me with his new skills and abilities.  As much joy as I find watching him learn, discover, and try new things (even though he scares me to death sometimes!), I do look forward to our sweet little girl arriving so that I have a squishy newborn to cuddle again.  Seventeen months goes by far too quickly.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Heaven Is For Real... and it's in our house!

Okay, so I really should actually blog about the book Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo.  If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it.  But instead of doing an insightful, intelligent post on that topic, I have chosen instead to share with you my favorite part of our new home.  I had hoped to have pictures of several rooms by now in order to do a full house tour, but it seems as if every single room is waiting on one tiny little detail, whether it be a picture to be hung or a shelf to be filled and I'm far too anal retentive to post pictures of an unfinished room.  Plus, once they're completely decorated, I will also have to find a day when they are clean... so it could be awhile.

BUT... the good news is that one room is done!  Josh has found my obsession with this room completely amusing and couldn't believe when he walked in and found me decorating it.  Yes, even hanging pictures.  So where is this room you ask?  Well, without further ado, let me show off our master closet!

Well wait a second, before I do that, I do want to throw a disclaimer out there.  Or a couple actually:
1 - As much as we loved our old house in Illinois, we did not love the lack of closet space.  Josh's clothes were split between two closets and mine were in a third down the hall.  I couldn't find a pair of shoes if I tried and the rest of my clothes were in a dresser in the guest bedroom.  The two of us had to visit three separate rooms in order to get ready to go anywhere.

2 - Even though we downsized (which I'm actually happy about), this house has definitely made up for it in closet space!  Most of our square footage is upstairs, and I think a fourth of it is closets!  One even has a window... it's crazy, but helps for storage.  The master closet is about as big as Jake's old room was, and we even joked about making it Lilly's room when she comes along!  For now, we're planning on having the kiddos share a room for awhile (after she's done bunking in with us) but there's still time to change our minds!

3 - I have never had a walk-in closet or anything remotely similar to one.  I never understood what the big deal was about them.  But now that I can see everything I own, I totally get it!  And poor Josh now realizes that I will never accept anything less.

Okay... enough explanation... let's get on with the show.  Here is a glimpse of my "heaven" at home:

The full view from the entrance

Josh's side... overly organized due to my nesting

All of the clothes that I don't fit into right now.  *sigh*

A picture of my favorite little man and some marathon medals for inspiration

And yes... a decorated wall!  I've never really known where to display our race memorabilia, but this seems to be the perfect spot.  And I hope to grow that wall soon after #2 is born.
So yeah, I officially feel a little bit like a psycho, especially now that I've done an "Ode to our Master Closet" blog post, but I'm okay with it.  Just know that if you're ever visiting and you can't find me, chances are you'll find me here... in my favorite room of the house!

Monday, August 22, 2011


Before marriage, a family, and all the fun that comes with this season of life, many of my weekends were spent with my girlfriends.  In Florida, I was so fortunate to find a great group of gals so surround myself with, and about four times a year we'd pile in the car and head out of town.  Well actually, we always went to Disney, but we never got tired of it!  I miss those trips, and even though I had some new great girlfriends when we lived in Illinois, I was knee-deep in pregnancy and dirty diapers during those two years that a trip with them just never panned out (yet, right?  You know who you are!).  So I was ecstatic when an opportunity for one of those rare girls' trips came up two weeks ago... this time with an old friend who I haven't seen in awhile and my best friend since high school.

The South Florida crew... and Pluto

Aside from living near family now, I have also quickly found that it's equally as lovely to be near some old friends.  As a graduate of the University of Tennessee (go Vols!... that statement could get me killed around here, but it's a risk I'm willing to take) we are now about two and a half hours away from Knoxville.  Even though most of us grads did not stay in K-town after graduation, all of my closest friends from those years seem to be within three hours of the place.  Once I graduated I spent five years in south Florida and the next two in Small Town, Illinois, so needless to say, I have not lived within driving distance for quite awhile.

About three weeks ago, my best friend's boyfriend sent out a mass email with plans for my best friend's big 30th birthday bash.  We had literally just moved into the house, but I knew immediately that I wanted to be there.  Elizabeth is probably winning in the who visits who more tally, and she even surprised me to be there for my bridal shower a couple of years back.  Yep, she's the best.  The party would be in downtown Atlanta, about six hours away, and Josh and I knew that we just couldn't get away for an entire weekend.  I was bummed because I knew that I didn't want to go all that way by myself, especially at 33 weeks pregnant!

Not long after that, my friend Kristen and I started emailing each other to see if the other was going.  Kristen was Elizabeth's college roommate (as was I in different years) and is honestly one of the nicest people in the universe.  If someone doesn't like Kristen, then they have serious problems... but I digress.  Up until this point, it had been a little over five years since we had seen one another, even though we keep up with one another on Facebook and in the blog world.  She mentioned that she was trying to work it out so that she could go, but would probably have to go alone so that her kiddos could stay home with their daddy.  And so from there, a plan was born!

Last weekend, I drove about four and a half hours to Chattanooga and met Kristen at a random hospital that we found on Google maps.  It was close to the Interstate, and a hospital was the safest place we could think of to leave a car overnight.  I'm not sure if I was more excited to surprise Elizabeth, or to see Kristen!  Because of some traffic snafus, we estimated that we would be at the restaurant about an hour late, so we texted Dara and let him know.  Kristen thought that Elizabeth might have had an inkling that she was coming, since she mentioned that she was trying to figure out a way to be there the last time they chatted, but we figured that if we were late, she would lose all hope... not part of the original plan, but sneaky sneaky on our part!  The drive to Atlanta went much faster than the rest of it had since we had such a great time catching up and we were downtown in no time!  We realized that we both needed to changes and scoped out the surrounding area for someplace that we could run in and use their restroom.  Feeling a bit awkward about that, we ended up in a non-crowded area of the mall parking garage and changed in the car!  I have to say, what sounded like an easy task proved to be quite a bit more difficult than usual with this belly of mine, but I managed.  We both put on some make-up and headed to the restaurant, arriving exactly an hour late.  Perfect.

The actual surprise itself could not have worked out more perfectly.  As we wandered through the restaurant looking for a big party, we saw two long tables flanked by balloons and figured that it must be them.  I spotted Dara right away and  noticed that Elizabeth was sitting right next to him, with her back turned to us.  Convenient!  We walked right up to her and tapped her on the shoulder.  When she turned around, she let out the loudest squeal, right in the middle of the restaurant!  We also  got hugs and a few happy tears, which was awesome and made the drive totally worth our while.  We were told later that some of her friends at the other end of the table thought that she had seen a mouse or something based on her unexpected scream!  BEST. REACTION. EVER.  She was absolutely giddy with excitement as she introduced us to everyone and her friends were kind enough to scoot down a bit so we could sit next to the guest of honor.  Again, our timing could not have been better considering that the waitress came around to take everyone's order about five minutes after our arrival.

Elizabeth, Kristen, and Me... back together again!

Dinner was delicious (sushi, which I rarely get... yum!  And don't worry, mine were cooked to keep the little one safe and healthy) and then we headed over to an upscale Irish pub nearby.  The place was really nice and not too crowded, which I appreciated, and we found a table and sat right away.  As the others in the group mingled with one another, Kristen and I just sat and caught up some more, even though we found that being blogging buddies over the years has made it feel like we had chatted last week!  It's funny how I feel closer to some of my blogging buddies than I do to some of my close friends that live far away.... just another great reason to not be so lazy and continue with mine I guess!  By quarter 'til one, the two of us were probably visibly tired and just trying not to show it and so we were happy when Elizabeth came over and said that she was ready to call it a night.  By the time we got back to her place it was already after 1:30am and I must say, I was quite proud of myself for hanging in there because this mama likes her sleep!  It was worth it to celebrate with my best friend though!

We would have loved to stay longer, but we had to head out pretty early the next morning as we both had things that we needed to get back home for.  On our way though we did spend about two hours at another friends' baby shower in Chattanooga (another one I hadn't seen for years) and there were some other familiar faces there, too.  It was just amazing to see some folks that I hadn't seen in a long time, hear about the great places their lives have taken them, and learn about their families.  It filled my heart with so much joy.

Needless to say, when I finally arrived home Saturday afternoon, I was pretty exhausted.  I managed to catch a little nap before we headed back out for the evening and actually felt pretty good for the remainder of the weekend!  I also realized later that this was officially Lilly's first girls' trip, too, and it makes me very excited to think about the trip that we will take together someday.  I used to get a little bit sad thinking about Jake going off with Daddy for a weekend of fishing or camping, but I know that this will be a big, special part of his life someday.  He is my little man and I know that I'll miss him like crazy and wish that I could be there, too.  But now I realize that on those weekends, I will have some girl-time with my little one where we can go have our fun, too!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

We Start 'Em Young

As most of you probably know, one of our favorite past-times in Mauneyland is racing- well, marathons and triathlons mostly.  I realized today that I started this blog a little over two years ago and this has never been a topic because I've been on a two-year hiatus due to always being pregnant or nursing!  But once upon a time, there was not much that I liked better than a race day.  Josh and I have run several together and a few separate and have plans for more in the future.

After the 2009 Disney Marathon
So it was much to our delight that we heard that one of the biggest summer events here is the "Midsummer's Night Run" downtown.   The event includes a one-mile family fun run, a 5K, and wait for it...... the Fastest Kid in Town Race...... complete with a division for 1-year-olds!  As soon as I heard this, I knew that it was time to introduce our little boy to something that his mom and dad love so much!  And then to make it even better, my sister and brother-in-law decided to come down for their night and enter Adam into the race, too!  It's one of the perks of having us all living close to each other again!

At first, I think Josh was a little nervous that my competitive streak would come through and I would become some crazed lunatic about this whole thing.  However, I was surprisingly okay and just wanted to see Jake have a good time.  We went downtown plenty early and got the boys signed up.  The best part?  They even got official race bibs and numbers... how cute is that???

Our little racer... built for speed!

Adam is ready to go!  He even practiced "ready, set, go!" all week.
It was quite hot outside, so by the time race time rolled around, Jake was losing it a little bit.  We knew that it could go either way... he was either going to love it, or have a complete meltdown.  I stood at the other end of the racing field, which was quite a bit farther than I expected them to have to run!  I knew that Jake would never be able to see me from the other end, but at least I was at an angle to take pictures!  After the kiddos and their parents were all lined up, we heard "On your marks, get set, go!" and off they went!  Well... most of them anyway.  Thanks to Adam's training, he set off at a dead sprint (well, for a 1-year-old) and we pretty much thought it was in the bag.  About halfway to the finish-line, however, he noticed all of the folks on the sidelines cheering and clapping and became far more interested in clapping and cheering along with them than he was in running any farther!  It was incredibly cute (and comical).  Jake, on the other hand, took about three steps and just stopped!  I started yelling his name as loud as I could, but he just stood there!  There was another kid standing back there, too, and I could tell that Josh just couldn't get Jake to move!  Finally (after a winner was already determined) he came charging down the field and all was fine and good until he fell.  At that point, he was over it!  I ran out to try to coax him to the finish, but as soon as he saw me, his arms went straight up and he wanted to be carried the rest of the way.  Oh well... I guess our little bruiser wasn't built for speed after all!

Mindy and Adam on the far left, Jake and Daddy STILL standing at the start!

Go, Adam, Go!
Later I did learn that (as I should have expected) our little man was sabotaged.  The dad of the kid next to him had a sippy cup, and as soon as Jake spotted it, that's all he could focus on.  In retrospect, we should have come prepared with an apple or Goldfish to bribe him with since our kiddo loves to eat so much!  Oh well, maybe next time.  Josh ended up running the 5K later in the evening (along with many others in our family) and I took the boys home to bed... they were pooped!  And let's be honest, so was I just from standing in the hot sun for awhile!  The entire event was so much fun though and we're already excited for next year.  Aside from the races, there was some other fun that our little man was a big fan of as well:


Mmmmm... a cherry sno-cone.  Yes, please!
Once our little Lillian comes along, I hope to pick something to train for and get back into the race world again... it's been too long!  But I did enjoy being a spectator for once and think that I could get used to doing that more often as well!  All I know is that when the race rolls around again next year, we'll be ready!  Look out 2-year-olds... here we come!  

If you want to see a video of the cuteness, you can check out the post on my sister's blog here.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Moving, moving, moving...

Okay, so I realize that I have been missing for some time now.  And I realize that I have neglected my little blog for... well... all summer really.  And I realize that many of you may be wondering if I am still alive, so to answer your questions... yes!  We are alive and well!  But very, very tired.  I'm happy to report that we are in our new digs and almost 100% moved in, thanks mostly to my husband who worked diligently to get us unloaded and unpacked as quickly as possible.  So here's a recap of where we've been and what we've been up to:

July 1st - 15th
My sister and her family were super generous and let us crash at their home while we set up some groundwork for the church and found our own place.  Our house-hunt only took a couple of days and we signed a lease that would allow us to move in on August 1st and live in the neighborhood that we wanted.  I've never been a big fan of subdivisions, but I must say, I'm really loving suburbia right now.  After two years of having the weirdest neighbors in the world (except for Ted, who was awesome, but we hardly ever saw him since he is 96-years-old) I am excited that there are other families all around us.  But back to my point... we lived with them for quite awhile this summer, which was fun albeit chaotic.  I had several built-in babysitters, however, since my nephews love to play with Jake and so I was able to lock myself upstairs each day and continue to work from home.  Then on the 15th, we headed back to...

July 15th - 30th
Small Town, Illinois and the address formerly known as home, sweet, home.  It was a bittersweet two weeks really and it still hadn't sunk in that we were moving away.  I spent as much time as I could visiting friends and we really took our time packing up the house.  It was actually kind of nice to do it that way because it never really got exhausting or stressful.  Jake was so wonderful while we were there and it makes me realize that kids really do recognize "home" and their own environments.  His temper tantrums almost went down to zero and he loved being back in familiar territory and routine.  And a happy baby makes for one happy mama!  On the afternoon of the 30th and the morning of the 31st, friends and loaders came over and packed up the trucks.  We originally were supposed to get one 26-foot truck, which is what we used when we moved up from Florida, but UHaul double-booked our truck and so we ended up with two 17-foot trucks and a trailer for our pickup truck.  It wasn't ideal, but we didn't have much of a choice.  So yes, I got to moonlight as a truck-driver for two days... don't be jealous.  The majority of our house fit in the trucks, but our garage, attic, and basement still have quite a bit of stuff in them, which didn't stress us out considering that our house is still on the market.  So basically, we have the world's most expensive (and inconveniently located) storage unit, but hopefully not for long!  We were worried that our house wouldn't show as well empty, but honestly, it looked huge once the furniture was out!  Now we're just waiting on that right person to come along and fall in love with it the way we did... it only takes one person!  I'm thinking that October would be an ideal month to close since the baby will be here, I'll be on maternity leave, and we want to head back up there anyway to introduce her to all of our friends.  Yeah, let's make that a plan, okay?

Me and my big-rig... I make this look GOOD!  And by big-rig, I mean the truck... not the belly!

Our convoy... yeah, we know how to make a grand entrance!
Moving on... July 30th - 31st
Most of the time, we make the drive from Illinois to Kentucky in one day.  With the late start and the trucks, however, we decided to split it into two.  Our "vacation home" is pretty much at the exact halfway point of the drive and conveniently enough my sister, Mindy, and her family were visiting, too.  We didn't arrive until close to 7:30 PM on Saturday night, but it was great to see some friends and family, have a meal, and relax for a bit.  Jake got to play with his cousin, Adam, and they put on quite the show.  The older they get and the more they interact, the more entertaining it is!  I love watching them play.  I know that my sister took some pictures, so if they make it up onto her blog anytime soon I'll have to link them together.  We finally crashed around 11 or so and got up bright and early to head to our new place.  We were supposed to meet our landlord at 1:30pm to get the key, but our caravan took a little longer to get there than we anticipated.  We made it there around 2:30pm, unloaded some stuff, and dropped Jake off at his aunt's house.  As with any move, our first trip upon arrival was to Home Depot to get some odds and ends and order a washer and drier... something we really can't put off with a one-year-old in the house!  The good news is that my husband thinks it's so cool (yes, we splurged on the front-loaders, but that's mostly what they sell now anyway!) that he has already done about four loads of laundry and I have not even tried them out yet.  I think I could get used to this arrangement!
Off we go!

Jake did not mind riding shotgun AT ALL.  What a spoiled boy he is... and we had no choice!

August 1st - 2nd... move-in day!
So we've officially decided that our landlord is awesome.  Upon hearing that we wanted to do some painting, he told us to meet him at Sherwin-Williams on the morning of the 1st so that he could purchase the paint.  He had told us that the walls needed repainting anyway, but he was just planning on painting them white.  If you know me at all, you know that Kim does not do white!  But like I said, he is awesome, and let us pick out whatever color we wanted!  Considering that it's a rental, I didn't want to do anything all that crazy so we just got a few cans of a taupey-beige color called "sand dune" and a darker brown color called "hatchnut" for the living room.  I have been carrying around a magazine picture of a brown living room for months and was dying to have it for myself... weird, I know.  Our landlord had his concerns as they were not colors that he would ever pick out for himself, but he went with it.  Have I mentioned that he's awesome?  And then get this- he had his father and two of his sons come over to help us paint.  And his father used to paint for a living.  Yes you said it.... awesome!  So with the crew that we had helping we managed to paint the dining room, living room, kitchen, kids' room, and the master bedroom all between the hours of 9 AM and 2:30 PM.  Amazing!  And it looks spectacular if you ask me!  I would post pictures, but I'm waiting to get all of the finishing details up around here and then I'll do an official "house tour" post soon... I promise (and mean it this time!).  Because we knew we'd be painting and figured it would be just the two of us, we had no intention of moving anything in that day.  Since we got done so early in the day, however, Josh started  bringing in the light stuff and as many boxes as he could.  Then my brother-in-law showed up and Josh's dad arrived from out of town and between the three of them the light stuff turned into the not-so-light stuff.  By the time evening rolled around there was literally about three dressers and a desk left in the truck... we were almost completely unloaded!  Not only that, but as they unloaded, I had unpacked boxes and so on day one our kitchen was completely unpacked as well as most of the living and dining room.  I ran to the grocery store that night and we enjoyed a frozen pizza as our first meal in our new home... and it tasted divine!

On Tuesday we had unloaders coming to help and thank goodness we had called them the day before and told them that we'd only need them for an hour.  I think that they were literally here for about 35 minutes before the second truck was empty.  Josh and his dad took the trucks back to the rental center and I got to work.  By the end of the day, we were pretty much all moved in except for having pictures hung.  My sister and her family came back over and could hardly believe it!  She wanted to help but there was really not a whole lot left to do!  I'm loving that it's feeling like home already.

I did not mean to get this long-winded, but now you're all caught up on what we've been doing and where we've been.  Unfortunately I did not take any pictures during the whole process because my memory card is not in my camera and I have no clue as to where it is.  Thankfully there are no new pictures on there to upload, but it's still a rather annoying situation.  I may just have to suck it up and buy a new one so I can take pictures for the house tour.  It's been such a crazy summer with so much traveling and it feels wonderful to finally be settling in somewhere, so much so that I fell asleep at 7:30 PM last night in all of my clothes!  I think all of the running around had finally caught up to us, so we've committed to having a low-key weekend and spend some time relaxing a bit.  I think we've earned it!

Thanks to all of you (again) who have been praying for us and helping us during this crazy time.  We had so many friends show up to help us move and lend a helping hand and you all made this process so much easier than it would have been.  And a big thanks to my husband, who I just can't brag on enough... he knows the importance of home, particularly to a woman who is 31 weeks pregnant, and has worked hard to make this home in a hurry.  I look forward to hanging out with him and Jake this weekend with very little on the agenda... that is music to my ears!