Honeymooners

When Trent and I got married almost 10 years ago, we were young. Young, pregnant and honestly, pretty overwhelmed. While we would have loved to take a magical honeymoon like so many of our friends were doing, we felt like saving money was more important. And it was! We had a baby on the way, and for us, the honeymoon phase wasn’t a reality. We jumped right in to marriage and family, and while I don’t regret one moment, I admit it didn’t give us much time to adjust to our new roles. In the next ten years there were many ups and downs as we worked on learning how to be partners…there is a HUGE difference between long-term dating (we had been together almost four years and had lived together for almost three when we got married) and raising a family/growing a life together. While we surely had a lot of fun along the way, it wasn’t free of conflict and a LOT of growing pains.

St. Lucia

St. Lucia

St. Lucia

St. Lucia

For the past few years we’ve said jokingly if we made it to 10 years, we would finally take our honeymoon. And then earlier this year, we realized the time had FINALLY come! After working on some scheduling conflicts and finding a good time for our family to take our kids off our hands for a week, we booked our long-awaited honeymoon to the incredible island of St. Lucia.

St. Lucia

St. Lucia

St. Lucia

St. Lucia

St. Lucia

I cannot put into words what this trip meant to Trent and I. For the past 10 years we have worked so, so hard on creating this life for our family. Whenever I hear people saying that marriage shouldn’t feel like “work” I have to hold my tongue, because that hasn’t been my experience. Our marriage has absolutely been fun…but it’s been work too. There have been moments (sometimes lasting longer than a short moment) where one or both of us has questioned what the heck we were doing. We never had the luxury of being married without the pressure of raising children, and that in itself is WORK. In those 10 years we’ve had two children, started two businesses, rented and owned homes, upgraded to a minivan, laughed, cried, yelled, hugged and smiled. But we’ve never had more than three days alone together.

St. Lucia

St. Lucia

St. Lucia

St. Lucia

St. Lucia

For us, leaving the country and heading to paradise for seven long days was beyond a treat. We were able to reconnect and remember why we chose each other in the first place…because despite our differences (of which there are MANY), we fit together. I’m not a person who banks on “forever” in any aspect of my life. Forever is just too big of a concept for me to grasp. But our travels to St. Lucia reminded me why I wake up every day making the conscious choice to be married to this incredible guy. Not because we are perfect, but because we are worth it.

St. Lucia

St. Lucia

St. Lucia

St. Lucia

St. Lucia

St. Lucia

St. Lucia

St. Lucia

St. Lucia

St. Lucia

St. Lucia

St. Lucia

St. Lucia

St. Lucia

St. Lucia

(All photos taken with my Fuji x30)

I Love Kansas City : Date Night

Date NightThis year instead of resolutions, our family worked together to come up with some overarching goals that we could work on continuously through the year. With my new business, Trent’s hectic work schedule and two kids with lots of activities, we knew that creating a list of resolutions to check off probably wouldn’t be very successful. I’ve talked about our family goal plan before, and one of our goals that we have carried through to 2015 was having more date nights. Trent and I both spent the last few years in a crazy flurry of activity, and while we achieved a lot, our relationship suffered. So we made a pact to spend more time together as a couple…not as parents or business partners, but as a married team.

While I know the idea of “date night” is sort of a cliche, I have to say, it’s really worked for us. Getting out of our routines and ruts has helped us to reconnect and learn more about each other. This weekend we celebrated 13 years since our first date, and while the core of who we are is the same, people change A LOT in 13 years. If we don’t spend time alone together, we can forget to keep learning, and before we know it, we don’t recognize the person standing in front of us.

With that in mind, I wanted to share a few of our date night activities, in case you’re looking the break out of a rut in your own relationship. We’ve had quite a few dates that fell a bit flat, but here are our top choices for a rad date night in Kansas City.

Eating Spots
We have tried so many restaurants and eateries on our date nights, but a few definitely stick out as favorites. The Farmhouse is delicious and while I’d eaten there for work lunches on several occasions, we’d never tried it out for a romantic dinner. We also loved Le Fou Frog, which is only open for dinner. I had the Filet Le Fou and it was incredible. The Rieger Hotel is probably next on the list, because their location is so cool and historic. I’m a dessert girl, and The Devil’s Food Cake is amazing.

Stuff to Do
We are working on being more open to new experiences and getting out of the old “dinner and a movie” routine. One fun thing we did this year was join the Kansas City Theater League, which gave us tickets to the Kansas City Broadway Series, a set of traveling Broadway companies bringing their shows to Kansas City. So far we’ve seen Chicago and Book of Mormon, and we think it’s probably some of the best money we’ve spent this year. We have two more shows left this season, and we think we’re going to buy next season too! Other favorite date night spots are The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and Union Station, where we enjoy seeing the traveling exhibitions (like King Tut!).

Do you have any favorite date night spots? Places to eat? Activities? I’d love to get some new ideas to add to our list!

Elsewhere : Mothering Gamers, From Opponent to Advocate

In 2002 I met a gamer boy who was super cute and he asked me on a date. I had fake red hair and listened to way to much emo rock, and he wore lots of puka shell necklaces. It was adorable.

2002

Today I’m over at Pixelkin.org talking about how I started out as a gamer’s girlfriend who was VERY confused about the appeal of gaming and how my opinions have changed as my kids have become more interested in video games.

Now, as the “mother” I pride myself on being in tune with my kids’ wants and needs, but this was something I didn’t understand. I admit, at first, I was jealous. This was something my kids and husband could do together and I had no idea how to participate. Excepting a one-month binge of The Sims in college (when I locked myself in a closet with the game for a few weeks and then realized I needed sunlight and never played again) I certainly wasn’t a gamer by any definition of the word. All of a sudden my husband and kids were connecting on a level I couldn’t relate to, and I felt lost.

You can read more at Pixelkin.org.

Merry, Bright

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Oh hey there! It’s just me, lounging in front of my Christmas tree, taking selfies in my new sweater that I’ve literally worn, like five out of the last seven days. In my defense, I am officially a real, live blogger now and it’s a super cute sweater, so I couldn’t really help myself. I think it’s in the blogger code that you MUST take selfies in front of twinkle lights in cute new sweaters or they will expel you from the union.

In other news, you’re probably wondering why I’m just now saying I’m a real, live blogger since I’ve been doing this for over 10 years. Well, long story short, this is my job now. My entire job, not my part time job or my fun side project…it’s the real deal! Earlier this week Crazybananas, LLC became an actual company with a tax ID and everything! On January 1st, 2015, this blog, my photography and my freelance writing will be my profession. Try explaining that one! Seriously, try. And if you figure out how to do it without sounding like a derpy dope, let me know. So far most of my conversations have gone like this:

Me: I created a company this week! Ahhhh! I’m so excited/terrified!

Kind, Inquiring Person: Oh, cool! So what is this company? What do you do?

Me: Um, well, a lot of things actually. I’m a writer, I freelance write and I also photograph people sometimes and I design stuff. Oh and consulting! Companies come to me to learn about how to work with bloggers. And stuff. It’s pretty varied actually…

Kind, Inquring Person: *blink blink blink*

I feel like something extremely big and important is happening in my professional like, one of those “two paths diverged in a wood” moments, but I’m realizing you never understand those moments until you’re looking back on them. While you’re actually living them, all you can do is keep swimming and try to keep your head above water. So for now, I’m going to do my best to put one foot in front of the other, breathe, and do the best I can.

Thank you so much, so, so much, for all of the love, support, comments, shares and insights. I know I wouldn’t have kept blogging without readers to connect with, so you are the ones I’m grateful for today.

Of course, I’m also extremely thankful for my family who has supported me as I worked my way through this decision. It hasn’t been easy, but here we are, and I know they are behind me. Our life is far from perfect, but I really believe as long as we keep trying, it will keep getting better. So for the rest of December, I’m signing off. There are two little people who need me to take them ice skating, a giant puppy who needs to hop through the snow like a bunny, and a husband to snuggle up to. Leading up to this big change, I’ve been working on overload, and they’ve born the brunt of my crazy. I know that doing this thing will require a whole new type of work ethic, and while I’m excited and ready, I want to make sure I start with my family’s tank full to the brim. I also need my tank to be filled, and part of the reason I’ve worked toward this change for so long, is because I believe it’s the best way to do this. The family/work balance will forever be a tightrope walk for me, but I think this is one step closer to getting my feet firmly planted.

Can't. Stop. Baking. This is getting ridiculous. BUT! If you're like me and you're bad at housewifery-type stuff like baking, and you find a technique that works, you go bananas! ???? Plus, Tate was begging for trains/cars/planes for his bday party on

I hope you all have an amazing holiday! I challenge you to list out 10 things you are grateful for every night before you drift off to sleep. This simple practice has changed my life in every possible way. I have found when I’m looking for the good things in my life, no matter how small, the bad things have less oomph. They just don’t pack the punch they used to. So for today, I’m thankful for:

1. Tate’s successful birthday party
2. Little boys in superhero costumes in a pink, princess castle, bounce house (see #1)
3. Lucy getting through her first semester of third grade with no big problems or issues
4. Teachers who love and care for my kids
5. Other parents who love and care for my kids
6. The ability to help out others when they need it
7. My friend Mara who is currently loaning me the latest season of Doctor Who, which I’m watching while writing this (multi-tasking!)
8. The big, dumb dog snoozing at my feet
9. My husband’s distinguished, ginger beard
10. My fully completed holiday shopping, and the fact that I don’t have to go to the Mall until December 26th (thank freaking god!)

See you in a few weeks, friends! It’s gonna be a fun ride!

Lemonade Stands and Block Parties

It’s really summer now, isn’t it? Today is actually quite cool for a Kansas summer (65 degrees on my run this morning, what?!), but last week was scalding. We spent most of our time at the pool or in sprinklers, searching for relief from the heat. This weekend was our first annual neighborhood block party, and have I mentioned how much I’m loving our street lately? When we first moved here almost five years ago, I was so blah blah about living in suburbia, but in the last year our little nook of the city has become a pretty fun place to be. Lucy spends her days and evenings running back and forth to the neighbors’ homes, making grand plans and catching fireflies. Little Tate runs behind them, trying desperately to be part of the crew. It’s hard being the littlest sometimes, but he does pretty well for himself. This is the kind of life I envisioned for my kids when we moved out here. Running from house to house, eating popsicles and pushing each other on tree swings. Having a secret walkie talkie code with the neighbor boys and spending all day selling lemonade from their homemade stand.

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This weekend was the debut of the big lemonade stand that Trent and Lulu made together. It took them about a week, two weekends really, but it really is the cutest thing you’ll ever see. Trent made it out of an old desk painted with leftovers from Lucy’s room remodel. He got all the neighborhood kids involved and everyone had a piece in making the stand a success. They served three kinds of drinks (regular lemonade, strawberry lemonade and Kool-aide…or a mix of the three if you wanted to get crazy!) and even came up with a bottomless cup system, where you’d pay a base price, then you’d get a temporary tattoo to wear, which you’d show to get your refill for free. I was so proud to see them work on this together and to see how happy Lucy was to show off what they’d built.

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The lemonade stand’s first day was at our block party, which was also a huge success! It was so awesome to see all of our neighbors come out and spend the day together. One of our neighbor’s used to own his own BBQ restaurant, so he smoked ribs and grilled hotdogs and hamburgers for everyone, while the rest of us brought sides and desserts. The fire department came with a shiny red truck for the kids to climb all over and explore. Sidenote: This was seriously the best looking fire brigade in history. They looked like they belonged in one of those hot firemen (and women!) calendar. Tate was especially enamored with a firewoman aptly named Megan, who he flirted with the whole time. There was a bouncy house, karaoke and a fire pit with s’mores. At around 10 p.m. I finally made Lulu come inside, covered in dirt and with a Kool-aide mustache, exclaiming, “This was the best day ever.”

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Bouncy house wildness! #summer #blockparty #iloveourstreet

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As you can probably tell if you have seen a calendar today, it’s the first day of July! And if you’re a long time reader, you know July is when I take some time off from the blog to refuel my creative engine and go on a little Internet hiatus. I have lots of fun plans for July, and I will definitely share our adventures when I’m back in August, but if you miss me too much, you can always come visit me on Instagram, where I will be posting daily. I am participating in the July Photo-A-Day Challenge and have set a goal to run a mile each day, which I will be documenting over there under the hashtag #mileadayjuly. I will also be over on my Crazybananas Facebook and Twitter pages sharing bite-sized updates and photos when I just can’t help myself. I hope you all have a fantastic July! I will miss you like crazy!

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