Eight-Years-Old

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Dear Lucy,

A few weeks ago, you turned eight-years-old. How is this possible? I can’t explain it, but apparently when you feed and clothe and bathe a little human, they tend to grow and change and one day they are rolling their eyes at you while saying “Seriously, mom?” I don’t understand it, myself, but I’m not the smartest person you’ll ever meet either. I guess that’s a lesson I wanted you to learn later in life, but it’s already too late. We’ve reached the point in this parent-child dance where you teeter back and forth between thinking I am the greatest person on the planet or the absolute worst. I am learning this is part of the game called motherhood, and I’m trying to handle it with grace. There are days I succeed and days where I fail miserably, but I hope you can see I’m trying. For me, it is not “success” or “perfection” that is important, it’s the act of trying, again and again, even when it’s hard. I want you to see I’m flawed and I make mistakes rather regularly, because I don’t want you to think of your parents as infallible. But I do want you to see when I make said mistakes, I own up to them. It’s okay to screw up, Lulu, but you have to take responsibility for your actions, and I’m still learning this as an adult. Hopefully you’re a more apt student than I, and you won’t spend years learning this lesson, but even if you do, it’s okay. Just try again.

She looks like gold to me... #love #motherhood #latergram #mothersday #blessed #365grateful #blackandwhite #flare #light #daughter #peace #serenity

You are becoming someone entirely independent, someone outside of myself, which is an adjustment for me. Today I dropped you off for your first day of a week-long theater camp, and all morning you were nervous and full of angst. You went to this camp last year, but you were still afraid of not knowing anyone and didn’t want to wear your glasses because you were afraid of being teased. This broke my heart, and I tried my best to keep it light and fun this morning, but the cloud over your head wouldn’t lift. Then, we arrived at camp, and while I was filling out paperwork I saw you talking to a few other girls. When I looked up to say goodbye and take a photo of your first day, you were gone, over the hill with your new posse of girlfriends, without even a backhanded wave. I almost went after you, demanding a hug and a high-five, but as I strode across the way, I realized what a total dork mom I was being, and decided better of it. I gathered up your little brother and we left without our goodbyes, but inside I felt joyful knowing you were finding yourself in this group of new friends. My childhood theater friends are some of the best and most generous people I have ever known, and realizing you may build similar relationships this week makes me so happy.

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You are young for your grade, Lulu, turning eight as many of your friends are rounding up to nine. I think I am spoiled because of your young age, sometimes forgetting you too will keep having birthdays and growing into an entirely new person. All year I tell people, “She’s seven!” and then one day you’re not and I’m flabbergasted. Every year it happens and every year I’m caught off guard. I just realized I’m going to have to let you go off to college a year earlier than most of your peers and all of a sudden I’m furious with the unfairness of it all! I guess that’s part of being a parent, wanting so much for the years to go by faster so life seems easier, only to beg for them back once they’ve past. I’m grateful to have these letters to you, these little love notes I’ve been typing out since the day you were born. I can look back and remember that sweet, round face throughout the years, and still see her in the giant almost-third-grader who sits in front of me.

So grateful to be mama to this sweet soul. She is kindness embodied and joy in real life. Her name means "light" and she has certainly guided me home plenty of times. #365grateful #daughter #motherhood #lucinda #light #lucy #read #book #littlehouseonthepr

Lucy, I admire you. You are smart, funny and brave. You have great comic timing. You love to read and devour books the way I did as a child, all at once, with no stopping until storylines are resolved. You are methodical and creative. You are an artist, an actor, a gymnast, a fish, a friend, and a sister. You and your brother are partners in crime, enemies at moments, but mostly loving. You are so patient with his endless antics and you try to teach him the ways of the world. You are as an older sister should be, even as you yell, “TATE!!!” in that horrible, shrill voice when you find he has destroyed the Barbie Dream House you spent an entire day organizing just so. And yet, you still read him bedtime stories and sing to him when he’s afraid. You are the best.

She reads to him using lots of funny voices  #365grateful #reading #brother #sister #love #bedtime

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I know the upcoming year will hold new challenges for us, and even in those moments when I’m the absolute worst, I’m assured, deep down, you still love me to bits. You just may not realize it at the moment. My sweet Lulu, I love you to the moon, the stars and the supernovas light years away. You are my heart.

Love,
Mama

The Bluffs at Gardners Grove

One of my favorite parts of road-tripping across Kansas was watching the scenery around me. Yes, of course, Kansas can be boring. But just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, you’ll come across something surprising. For me, that something was Gardners Grove.

This little gem was in the middle of a pasture, and we had to drive a Jeep through a few wheat fields to get there. Apparently this little grove of cottonwood trees and the bluffs that tower over them were sacred for the Native Americans in the area. They’d run the bison right off the edge of the bluffs in order to kill them for their meat and fur, and to this day you can still find bison skulls there. There are also the elusive shark teeth, which we searched for, but never found. We did come home with a few fossils and some awesome rocks and crystals. The kids had so much fun, we decided to go back with Trent when he got into town. He and Lucy spent ages scouring the bluffs for fossils and other treasures. Next time I’ll bring my big camera, but this time around, I managed to get a few shots with the iPhone, which was much easier to carry on the big hike.

Hiking the bluffs today...pretty incredible. Kansas is beautiful! #kansas #bluffs #grove #gove #nature #rock #sky #plains #beauty #tate #climb

More from the bluffs...like whoa. That's Lucy, Ash and Ace in the distance. #gove #grove #bluffs #kansas #hiking #climb #beauty #nature #horizon

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Had to take dad to the bluffs! He was as amazed as we were. Came home with a bunch of new fossils and lots of good memories ❤️ #kansas #gove #gardnersgrove #bluffs #nature #cliff #climb #fun

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Old Friends and New Places

When one returns from 13 days either in a car with two small humans or bunking at someone else’s home, one has a few choices.

1. Throw the entire contents of one’s suitcase into the washing machine and pass out
2. Make everyone go to bed early so you can finally get a moment alone
3. Revel in how easy it is to sleep in one’s own bed WITHOUT a three-year-old’s feet in your face
4. Attempt to write a blog post about one’s trip

We just returned to Kansas City after about two weeks of driving across our beautiful state of Kansas. I am always amazed when Kansas is described as boring, because I honestly believe it’s one of the most beautiful and diverse places around. We spent a few days in my hometown in the Flint Hills, then headed west, where the trees are scarce and the sky seems like it’s never going to end. Our first stop was in Hays, Kansas, where a great friend of mine from high school lives with her sweet family. There is something really special about watching your kids become friends with children of your own childhood friends. Watching our silly boys make trouble or seeing our girls share a private joke, it makes me wistful for the days when my friends were my whole world. It’s nice to know that even after all these years, grown-up responsibilities and professional living, we can still get together and giggle until our bellies hurt. We visited the Natural History Museum, spotted some bison, ate some great food, attended a neighbor’s surprise birthday party, and even gave Tate a little buzzcut on the front porch. Such a fun time, and I’m feeling especially grateful for old friends these days!

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Cruisin' in Hays, KS, USA...

The Natural History Museum with @hjbieker and family! So fun, and only a tiny bit scary  #museum #hays #kansas #history #fossil #fun #friends

Silly boys! So grateful to watch my kids become friends with my best friends' kids! #365grateful #silly #boys #goof #love

I am mostly posting this because a lifeguard yelled "No photos!" when she saw me taking it and I think that's straight up dumb. Rebel without a cause over here ✌️ #summer #pool #rebel #lazyriver #fun #friends #cantkeepmedown

The magic of @hjbieker is she's able to convince Tate, who screams in terror at the thought of a haircut, to shave his head on the front porch. Magic, I tell you!!! #haircut #friends #yay

I’ll be blogging more about the rest of our trip for the next few days. Next up, what happens when two city kids see a teeter-totter for the first time? Pandemonium.

Top photo taken with the Canon 60D, all other photos taken by my iPhone 4s, edited in Afterlight

Summertime Nostalgia

Summer is here! I can’t believe it. Every year it comes faster and faster, and as the kids get older, each summer seems better than the one that came before. We are taking some time to see family and roadtrip across Kansas for the first few weeks of the summer, so while I’m away, I thought I’d share some of my favorite videos from summers past. Happy summer, friends!



(As always, you can follow our summer adventures on Instagram under the handle @crazy_bananas)

8 Great iPhone and iPad Apps for Kids

I have some fun news, friends! I am officially working with the awesome website, Pixelkin.org! Pixelkin is a site created by gamers who are now parents, which focuses on video games and other screen time activities and how they affect our kids.

Pixelkin covers the latest news, reviews, and developments in games—with a special focus on families. Whether you’re concerned about learning opportunities, exposure to violence, or screen time—or you’re just trying to keep up with your kids—we’re here to help.

You can learn more about Pixelkin here, and I’m so pumped to be working with them! My first post went up today, and it focuses on a few awesome iPhone and iPad apps for kids.

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How did people parent before smartphones or mobile tablets? I received my first iPhone when my daughter was about 3 years old, and having that magical little box with us on long trips or in the doctor’s waiting room has been such a lifesaver. I use the iPhone or our recently purchased iPad Mini for everything, from getting directions to meal planning. I even use it as a white-noise machine (a great white-noise machine app, here) when we’re staying in a hotel. These devices make it easy to travel light, which is quite a feat with kids in tow!

You can read the entire post here!

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