Category Archives: family

Thanksgiving = Animals & Coffee

Hey Friends! How was your Thanksgiving? Ours has been a bit busy. I was off the last few days, but it flew by way too quickly!

Our Thanksgiving festivities began last weekend. My aunt was in town, so my cousin invited us over for a small, family dinner.

Family Thanksgiving

(not my picture)

It was a good time including playing with three of their four dogs. They have a labor doodle puppy who is hilarious! And another dog who just got a cast put on her broken leg earlier that day. She was drowsy from her pain killers and giving us all side-eye. Poor little pup.

Thanksgiving was spent in our usual fashion. Lunch at my uncle’s ranch.

Thanksgiving family

(still not my picture)

We totally lucked out with temps close to 60 degrees! That meant plenty of time outside enjoying the animals!

horse, ranch

The horses are my absolute favorite there. They love all the attention and petting. They also love Sassy! She goes out there almost weekly to ride them.

We also had to visit the new calves. Seriously, look at those beautiful babies! I take it back. The calves may be my favorite.

cow, calf

The cow on the right is due any minute now! We were hoping she would have her baby while we were there. No go. Then all weekend, we waited for the call that the baby had arrived. Nope. Not yet.

After time at the ranch, Sassy and I headed out to do a little shopping. We hit up JCPenney for something specific that was a fantastic price. We got there just as they were opening. The line was across the front of the store and down the side of the building. Crazy, but it moved quickly and I was able to grab what I wanted and pay before the checkout lines were all backed up.

Next we stopped at Starbucks for a treat and then met my mom in line at Target. She had her eyes on one item. We brought her a blanket and waited in the car. I didn’t really need anything there so we were there more for support and the thrill of the hunt. We finally joined the end of the line about 15 minutes before they opened. We all had fun browsing and people watching. Once we got in line there to checkout, it was LONG. As in wrapping up and down aisles long, but it was moving almost constantly.

After Target, Sassy was done and ready to go home. My mom and I regrouped and went back out to see what was happening at Kohl’s. We quickly got in the line there to checkout because it was wrapped 2/3 around the store and barely moving. We then took turns shopping.

It was a fun night, but I made a dumb mistake earlier that day. I forgot to order decaf coffee at Starbucks. I was WiReD! I couldn’t go to sleep until well after 1:00 AM. Ugh. That made for a late start on Black Friday. Luckily, I didn’t have anything I was really on the hunt for. Just a good bargain. I actually spent the morning lounging at home, then went for a massage late morning, before getting ready and going out with Sassy.

Black Friday

We found some great deals and I was able to mark a few people off my shopping list. It was a great feeling to be done with so much of my list so early in the holiday season! After that it was a late dinner of Mexican food, followed by a movie, The Edge of Seventeen. Have you seen it yet? I thought it was pretty good. Not as good as Napoleon Dynamite or Juno, but good enough that I would watch it again.

Saturday was another day of what? Yep, more shopping, but this time was more local. We walked around and shopped our downtown district. The best part was discovering a new-to-us coffee shop featuring locally roasted coffee! And the coffee was delicious. It really was so good that I can’t wait to visit it again!

coffee shop

What was the best deal you found, if you shopped over the weekend?

Give a shout-out to your favorite small business!

Which Way is Up?

Tennis, tennis, tennis. And no, I am not talking about the US Open. I am talking about our lives at the moment. Right now everything seems to revolve around tennis. It’s just crazy how busy and fast the tennis season is.

It starts for Sassy’s school at the beginning of August. They have their tryouts and cuts all within the first few days. That is immediately followed by two weeks of 3-hour practice 5 days a week, 2-a-day practices twice a week, and challenge matches on Saturdays. I should also mention Sassy takes a private lesson weekly.

Then school starts! Practice is cut down to 2 hours a day after school, unless there is a match or tournament. There are 2-4 matches a week. The regular season lasts five weeks and we are right in the middle of it. I don’t know if we are coming or going half the time, but I know it includes tennis both directions!

Please don’t think I am complaining. Far from it! I love all of the competition. I also love seeing Sassy improve weekly. I asked her tonight what she was going to do when the tennis season ends in a couple of weeks. Her answer? “More tennis!” Guess there is no stopping this crazy train!

A few highlights from the Labor Day weekend, tennis and otherwise.  =)

Friday night we went to the Kansas City Royals baseball game. I was given two tickets. One for me and one for?… My girls had to figure out which one of them was going. They decided to do a best 2 out of 3 in Rock, Paper, Scissors. And the winner was… Sassy! Poor OMG Becky. She was okay with losing. She had to work anyway. She’s socking away money for next fall when she leaves me. Sad face.

kansas city royals, kauffman stadium, The K

kansas city royals, kauffman stadium, The K

It was a fun game that went into extra innings, but we did not come out on the winning side. Boo.

Sassy and I hit the courts Saturday night to work on her serves. We weren’t there 10 minutes when a boy a bit older than her asked if she wanted to play a match.

tennis court

Game on! He had a few good shots, but she beat him while I kept busy chatting with an elderly man and his son playing Pickleball on the next court. That looked fun! I don’t know that I have ever seen it played in person.

Sunday was a birthday party for my youngest niece. She’s three now!

puppy cake

Her puppy-themed party was adorable. They even had a puppy adoption center!

I may have ended up with two of those puppies. Maybe. Though it wasn’t on purpose. My youngest nephew came home from the party with us to stay overnight. He brought the puppies and then forgot them the next morning. Now they are mine. All mine! At least until he remembers they are here.  ;-)

My nephew had never been to the nature reserve near my house so we had to take him. He really wanted to see the bison. We could see them from afar, but that wasn’t too exciting. One thing that was exciting? When we were feeding the female elk and the bull elk decided to get in on the carrot action!

bull elk

The bull then turned around and chased all the females away from the fence. Fun time over.

Monday, Sassy had her private lesson and then we met up with my oldest niece for a match. She just started playing recently and is really enjoying it.

tennis match, tennis court

By then it was pretty hot outside. Sassy was already worn out from her lesson and happy to just play for fun. They played a pro set to 10 at a leisurely pace while I chased balls around the court. Lucky me.

So sweaty.

sweaty betty

I really need to start carrying a beach towel in my car for such occasions.  :-/

Have you ever played Pickleball?

Most importantly, should I keep the puppies?!

School, Road Trip, & Tennis

Hey friends! I hope you are having a good week. We are working on getting into a rhythm here with the start of a new school year.

I have to tell you it was such an odd start to this year. It was the first time in 10 years that I didn’t have both girls starting school on the same day. Sassy is a sophomore this year and was all by her lonesome.  =(

I have to tell you it was such an odd start to this year. It was the first time in 10 years that I didn’t have both girls starting school on the same day. Sassy is a sophomore this year and was all by her lonesome.  =(

OMG Becky started college full-time in June a week after she graduated high school. She’s staying local this year as a dual student at a community college (free due to scholarship!) and the university she picked. She will then transfer to the university next fall with her associate degree completed.

It just so happened I needed to head to Arkansas for work to visit a clinic in my region the same day. It’s a four-hour drive one way and I would have gone down the night before and spent the night, but I didn’t want to miss the first day of school. Mom guilt at it’s finest. So instead I needed to go down and back all in one day. Thankfully, OMG Becky got to go with me! It sure made the ride go by faster.

On the way home, we stopped in Branson. I let Becky pick the restaurant. She thought I meant a dinner and a show. No. I meant dinner. No time for a show on this trip! My goal was to get back in time to see Sassy before she went to bed. FYI… I didn’t make it. I was 10 minutes too late.  =(

gyro, pita, hummus

Anyway, back to the food. Becky made a great selection! Everything was so fresh and delicious!

Other things keeping us busy right now is the tennis season.

tennis, high school

This is her second year playing for the high school. It’s great watching her improve month after month since she starting playing just a little over a year ago.

Something that is happening less is swimming.

swimming pool

Insert sad face. We haven’t been swimming since school started last week. No time,but maybe this weekend.

And on a fun note… I got to experience a Royals game from a suite for the first time!

Royals, suite life, mlb, baseball

I don’t know that I can ever go back to a regular seat mounted to the ground and no free food or free drinks. Ha! Who am I kidding? Though I am game if anyone wants to invite me!  ;-)

Has school started in your district?

How are you wrapping up the end of your summer?

Florida Family Vacation 2016

We just returned Wednesday from a 9-day family vacation in Kissimmee, Florida. Get ready for a photo dump!

We hit all the usual tourists sights, starting with Disney Springs for some shopping on our first full day there.

cousins, family vacation, disney springs

The kids outnumbered the adults this year!

merry-go-round, carousel, disney springsThe following day we donned our family vacation shirts and hit up Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. They wanted to take a silly picture…vacation shirts, family vacation, disney world, magic kingdom

… but I think only half of them got the message.

I must say the vacay shirts were an awesome idea! It made it so easy to find each other when needed in a crowd. We wanted something lightweight in a bright color. Next time we need to splurge for a dri-wicking shirt, but the color was perfect and really stood out. We received a lot of compliments on them from other park goers and extra attention from staff members.

disney, goofy

disney, donald duck, cousins

The following day we were all still tired from a 14-hour day in the park, so we relaxed and did a bit of shopping.

Hoppy bought her very first Vera Bradley bag and wallet using her own money she made selling some of her crafts!

shopping, vera bradley

She was so cute comparing all of the patterns, sizes, and prices. She really wanted a crossbody bag like my girls and I all have and she got one!

The next day we were all ready for a beach day. The original plan was to go to our favorite Clearwater Beach, but their forecast called for storms all day. No bueno. We decided to switch directions and head to the Atlantic coast. Cocoa Beach was the closest so that’s where we ended up.

cocoa beach

cocoa beach, waves, atlantic ocean

It was so fun! I had picked up a bodyboard the day before to try out. The kids and I loved it!

Another first for me? Seeing a sea turtle nest! How cool is that? The only thing cooler would have been actually seeing them hatch.

sea turtle nest, beach, cocoa beach

Then another first!!! We happened to be there the day they were launching a rocket from Cape Canaveral.

rocket launch

See the gray clouds right above the middle of the pier? That’s where the rocket took off from. We watched it go higher and higher with its fire boosters (orange arrow). It was pretty far up in the sky before the sound of its lift off ever reached us. Amazing.

After we wore ourselves out in the waves and sun, we needed food ASAP!

family dinner, family vacationAnd adult beverages! Midday adult beverages because VACATION. And seven adults and eight kids in one house for nine days. Lord have mercy. Kidding! It was totally fine. We rented a house with 7 bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms at the same resort in Kissimmee as our last family vacation there the summer before last.

emerald island resort, florida

There was plenty of room for everyone! The cost of renting a house is so much cheaper than a hotel. And we got to cook our own meals. We cooked breakfast at home everyday. And had at least one more meal at home each day. Plus, we had our own pool! I think almost all of the houses at that resort have private pools, plus a large pool for the entire resort at the clubhouse. We again made the most of our pool with nightly volleyball games.

swimming pool, water volleyball

Notice the net? Last vacay’s “net” was something we pieced together. Tragic. This year we came prepared, lugging that net all the way from home! Worth it.

The next couple of days were spent at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. All the rides!

universal studios islands of adventure

cousins, universal islands of adventure

As a family, we had a great time, but of course, we were right in the middle of the saddest time in Orlando. All three tragedies (the murder of Christina Grimme, the worst mass shooting in American history, and the alligator attack and death of 2-year-old Lane Graves) happened while we were there. As you can imagine, the entire area was in mourning, in shock, and on high alert.  So very, very sad.


Another incident that didn’t make the national news really scared us. Monday while we were at Islands of Adventure, we could suddenly see a large black cloud of smoke rising. We couldn’t tell if it was coming from inside the park or very close by, but I could tell it was a massive fire. I asked a couple of park workers, but they hadn’t seen it and then were shocked when we pointed it out. We didn’t know if we should leave the park or wait for more information. At that point, I was beyond nervous given the terrorist attack the previous day. I finally called the local fire department’s non-emergency number to inquire. They informed me it was a structure fire at a construction site at the theme park next to ours. We were relieved to find out it was not another attack on innocent people.

Tell me your summer vacation plans!

Any firsts for you lately?


Almost Famous

It seems like just last month I was posting about OMG Becky being a senior this year and taking her senior pictures. How are we now just one month away from her graduation?! It’s been such a busy year for her. We had a few college visits in the fall.

college visit, university, campus

college visit, university, campus

She fell in love with the second school! She’s had a major picked out since last year. She applied, was accepted, and we started the housing process. Then a couple of months ago, she decided to change her major. With her new major, elementary education, she can attend a local community college for free (program through our school district) before transferring to the university as a junior. She will actually be a dual-student with benefits at both schools. I’m so happy she has decided to stay home a bit longer!

OMG Becky also got a new car. Very exciting for her! It wasn’t something that was planned, but after her car was totaled, it was a necessity. She was able to get exactly the car she wanted. Lucky girl! I also feel better knowing once she transfers to the school farther away, she will have a newer, more reliable car. This one should last her at least another 10 years.

We have been busy planning her grad party. She decided on a garden tea party theme. We have spent many hours driving around the lake system next to us checking out all of the shelters and what each has to offer. So many things to consider! Playground, bathroom facilities, lake view, flat area, baseball field, sand volleyball courts, basketball court, horseshoes, parking? What are our priorities?!

lake shelter, parkWe finally decided on one and reserved it as soon as reservations opened for the season in January. We were able to get our number one choice on the date we wanted! Now to decide how to decorate it and what to serve. Ugh, more decisions.

She is also having a phenomenal year in her writing. She has always been a great writer and this year is really shining. Last month we found out she was a finalist in a district-wide poetry contest. We weren’t really sure what that meant, other than we were invited to a reception where she would read her poem along with the other finals. Once there, we realized there were three finalists from each grade level 6-12. They would read their poem when they were announced where they placed starting with the 6th grade. It was a long wait, but finally it was time for the senior poems. Third place was announced, they say the school, then the teacher, and finally the name of the student. We tried not to show our enthusiasm as another school’s name was read. Next came second place. They said OMG Becky’s school, then her teacher… we were all holding our breath… then they said her classmate’s name! Trying not to smile at that point was so hard! Finally OMB Becky was announced as the seniors first place winner and invited to read her poem and receive her award.

So dang awesome! That was really the icing on the cake for her. We also found out last month she will have two of her pieces, a poem and a short story, published in a literary magazine this month. She is officially a published author! What?! I could not be more proud. And I cannot wait to get my hands on a 1000 copies of that magazine! Or at least 500.  =)

Teachers have been telling her for years she should consider writing as a profession. She is really looking forward to getting her teaching degree and having summers off to really devote time to writing while having a steady income. I think it’s the best of both worlds for her!

Next up is prom! Her dress is so gorgeous. Can’t wait to share it with you!

Did you have a grad party? Mine was a small party at home with just family. All I really remember is the cake. It was really good!

What was the best part of your senior year in high school?

Watch Your Rearview

Happy Saturday, friends! How is your weekend going? We are enjoying some fantastic weather over here! I’ve been stuck inside sick for a week now. It has not been fun, but it’s really helped to be able to have the windows open to enjoy the fresh air. Now seemed like a good time to catch up with what’s been happening around here.

Sassy turned 15 a few weeks ago, She had a great birthday that involved a trip to Starbucks in the morning, followed by a surprise pedicure, then lunch with her brother and his fiance who came in town to surprise her. One of her favorite cousins came in town for the party that night. We went to Cheesecake Factory for dinner with her friends and my parents. And then her cousin spent the night. It was a long day, but a good one!

Cheesecake Factory, cousins

Along with turning 15, she was able to get her driver’s permit. It was scary for both of us.

student driver, new driver

Doesn’t she look scared?! She should be. We were practicing in a large, empty parking lot. Then another new driver joined us to do some practicing himself… In a semi truck with a trailer!


Sassy got more nervous, real fast! Ha! Anyway, she did fine and has graduated to a busier area in a nearby park. We are not street ready yet, but maybe soon.

We also had a nice Easter, though it was a quiet one. Sassy was at their dad’s house. Most of the other cousins were out of town, too.

Easter basket, cousins

After church, we headed to my uncle’s ranch for the annual Easter dinner and egg hunt. And playing with cows. Oh my goodness, I could not get enough of them! They were so friendly and cute!

cows, ranch, cattle

And this one with the horns was the most curious, but watch out. If you tried to pet her, those horns would come right at you!

cows, ranch, pond, cattle

The hunt for the $100 egg had to be moved inside due to rain. It was a lot of people running around in a small space trying to find it. My uncle is so sneaky! You just never know where to look. OMG Becky finally found it in a pinecone.

I was so happy for her, but mad at myself. I had touched that pinecone at least twice before she picked it. Ugh! Oh well, there’s always next year. And OMG Becky is now out of the hunt. Once you find the egg, you get a lifetime ban from trying again. It’s very competitive!  =)

You can tell spring has arrived here. It arrived on a Monday. Seriously! It was a Monday that I noticed all the flowering trees had bloomed, So pretty! And it’s been so warm. We have been able to get outside and enjoy several hikes.

hike, lake, woods

hike, lake, woods

I love it! Can’t wait to get back out there. I am also signed up for a race next week that I am not at all prepared for. I signed up just two weeks ago at the intense pleading of a friend. I had hoped to get a few runs in beforehand, but this being sick business has eliminated that option. The best I can hope for at this point is good company and good weather the day of the race and enjoy the walk/run.

When is your next race?

Favorite item at The Cheesecake Factory? I always get the Chicken Piccata, minus the chicken. I can’t help it. It’s that good!

How old were you when you started driving? I was 16. That was the minimum age at the time.


Hike, Zoo, and Desserts (A Few of My Favorite Things!)

How was your weekend?

Friday, I took off work a bit early so I could get a hike in before the sun went down. It was much needed after a pretty tough week.

trail, hike, bridge

That evening, both girls went to the basketball game at their high school. I got to enjoy a quiet, empty house. It was heavenly! Why don’t basketball games last longer?…  ;-)

Saturday morning, OMG Becky attended a visitation for her former teacher. Hard morning for her. We then took ourselves to the zoo. It was a gorgeous day, almost 60 degrees. We needed to be outside!

zoo, elephant, daughters, sisterspenguin, zoored panda, zoo

The lorikeets enclosure is just nuts. Those birds fly right at you from all directions!

lorikeets, zoo

The kids wouldn’t even go in there with me. OMG Becky may have a small fear of birds. This “attraction” would not help that.

One of the funnier parts of our day… OMG Becky went into this mock meerkat burrow. As she was trying to come out, that little girl in the purple about knocked her over with an “excuse me!” as she tried to push her way in at the same time.

So funny OMB Becky was almost taken out by a seven year old.


We worked up a bit of an appetite after all of that exploring. Froyo for an almost-summer-like day!


I tried all new-to-me flavors: Salted Caramel Corn, Toasted Marshmallow, Pecan Praline, and Peppermint Stick. Yum, yum, yum, and YUM! Well, maybe except for the Peppermint Stick. It was good the first couple of bits and then started tasting very artificial. Sad, because peppermint ice cream is one of my all-time favorite flavors.

Sunday was another sad day for us. My great aunt passed away last week and we had her memorial service yesterday afternoon. We spent the morning baking cookies for a family dinner after the service.

My niece enjoyed all of the desserts. Literally, one of each type.

cupcake, niece, toddler

Her sugar crash happened shortly after that. I’m pretty sure she fell asleep maybe two minutes into their drive home.

What was the highlight of your weekend? 

What is your favorite animal at the zoo? I love to watch the penguins swimming around. They are so fast!