Road Trippin' with Toddlers

If you read yesterday's post, you know my family is on a short family getaway to Denver.  Today, we start the trek back, so, please, pray for us.  Our trip out here was pretty meltdown-free so here's to another eight hours on the road with rare moments of crying, lots of sleeping, and a few chances for Kevin and I to chat.

This week I am sharing items that made traveling with toddlers a little easier and sunnier.  It's not rocket science or anything new or trendy, it's literally what made this week better.  I value honesty, people.

First up, this bag.  Everyone needs a good backpack diaper bag, but on vacation, it's like the Chick-fil-A roadside sign you spot that says you can indeed get out at the next exit and regain your sanity.  This bag is beautiful and sturdy and has pockets and I can wear it to a nice dinner or to the park. Kevin ordered it for me for Mother's Day from Fawn Design and I love him for it.

Board books.  This is totally, utterly, obvious.  But, I say board books because hard cover books or regular paper back books always get torn by (ahem) Miss Lily.  Board books are sturdy and can stand being thrown or tossed to the side when Lily the kids are done with them.  They might be a little more bulky than paper backs, but it's worth the extra space to not discover an entire book's contents ripped out and scattered across the back seat.  The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by BabyLit is one of our new favorites and Lily adores it.  

We are not big on technology or screen time in our house.  It's just what works for us.  However, on road trips...rules don't apply and we indulge in the luxury of technology.  Luke used these headphones for many hours of the trip watching Veggie Tales and Thomas the Train movies downloaded from Netflix.  The headphones are invaluable because I don't have to have the Veggie Tales theme song in my head for the next seventeen days.  

P.S. This is most definitely the most important thing I will say in this post: DO NOT let your child watch a movie while driving through the mountains.  It very well could result in cleaning out your car and all the contents of your car on your last day of vacation.  That is all.     

Okay, moving on.  I'm sure many of you mommas out there hand-make many of your kiddos' snacks and lunches.  I promise I did that once.  But really, I wish I could be on top of it and pack super healthy whole food lunches and snacks. That is a dream of mine.  In the meantime, Veggie Straws are where it's at.  A bag of these will keep Lily content/pacified/happy for 15-20 minutes and that is absolutely worth the guilt I feel for not giving her homemade fruit leathers I made from berries I grew in my backyard.  #dreambig

This last one isn't pictured, but patience and prayer and paper towels are essential to traveling with toddlers.  Patience when your toddler is asking you when you will be to the mountains and you tell him two hours and he says why and you tell him that it's 120 more miles and he asks why again and you tell him that's how far it is and he asks why for like the 30th time in the last twenty minutes.  Patience for everyone in your car is priceless.  

Prayer always helps me on road trips as well.  I ask God to give me the specific, magical words that will get my sweet, intuitive, curious three year old to stop asking why, like right now.  

And, paper towels.  You never realize how valuable paper towels are until you don't have them when you need them.  They would have been really handy when my child who was watching a movie through the mountains lost the contents of his stomach in the car.  They would have been really handy.

This road trip was glorious and humbling and messy and just right.  On this Sunny Saturday we are driving back to the Trail and I can't wait to sleep in my own bed tonight and wake up to church and farm chores in the morning.

Hope you all have a Sunny Saturday!


Road Trip Memories

Little feet pitter pattering across the carpet, giggles erupting from the small, apartment style kitchen, Kevin singing, "Where are they?"  These are the sounds I heard as I was washing my face this week in our hotel room in Denver. I look into the kitchen that is right across from the bathroom, suds on my face and hands, and Luke and Lily are standing there, 'hiding', big smiles across their faces, anticipating Kevin coming around the corner any second.

Luke couldn't help himself, he starts laughing uncontrollably before Kevin peeks his head around the corner to 'find' them.  Luke and Lily come bursting from the kitchen into their Daddy's arms, knocking him over, like lion cubs to their momma.  This short film plays on repeat in our hotel room until bath time.

If you've been hanging out here awhile, you know that our family loves to travel.  Kevin and I love exploring new places alone and with our littles. Each trip brings with it new adventures and challenges.  

Kevin had a conference this week in Denver.  He loves having us tag along when we can, so we decided to drive out instead of fly and spend an extra day after his conference concluded.  Three months ago when I was planning this trip, I was giddy for some time away from the farm and chores.  Summer is beautiful on the Trail, but brings lots of extra 'to dos'.  As the trip grew closer, I was dragging my feet to prepare for it and actually dreading it just a teeny tiny bit.  Because I knew an eight hour road trip with the littles (especially Lily) would be hard and I knew packing would not be fun and I knew they probably wouldn't sleep well, which meant that Kevin and I probably wouldn't sleep well. And honestly, it just sounded easier to stay home.

But, I packed diapers and wipes and clothes and swim gear and our double stroller that takes up almost the entire trunk and a cart load of Trader Joe's snacks and we made the trek across Nebraska to Denver.  

And, friends, it was so worth it.  

It wasn't easy by any stretch of the imagination, but we have made memories on this trip.  Good memories.  Maybe Luke will remember and maybe he won't, but Kevin and I surely will never forget.

I won't forget Luke and Lily running from Kevin in the tiny hotel room with pure joy radiating from their little bodies or the way Luke's eyes lit up when he saw the Big Boy train at the Forney Museum of Transportation #bejealous or how Luke and Lily both cried relentlessly during their first nap in the hotel room or the nights after the kids went to bed when Kevin and I collapsed and binge watched Downton Abbey or the trip from you-know-where to IKEA with Luke and Lily alone.  Okay, maybe I will try to forget that last one.

Traveling with toddlers is hard and exhausting and fun and miserable and the best, especially when they conk out at the end of a long day.  We haven't made the drive back, yet, so don't hold me to this, but I just know we will be planning our next family getaway very, very soon.


Simple Summer Bucket List

It's the first day of summer...officially the longest day of the year.  I am sitting on my couch watching the clouds come in and praying, praying, praying for rain.  We need it.  

About a month ago I wrote about Being Intentional in the Summertime with my family.  I needed to reevaluate what I was saying 'yes' to and slow down and say 'yes' to my family more.

We like to keep things simple at our house, so I thought I would compile a list of easy or simple things our family can do together this summer to enjoy the beauty of this season.  Some of these things might be done during the day with just me and the kids and some might be with Kevin in the evening or on the weekends.

Here is our Simple Summer Bucket List:

1.  Go on an adventure and take a basket with us to collect treasures.  Display them proudly on the kitchen counter.

2.  Make homemade popsicles.
Watermelon, Lime, Ginger Pops

3.  On a Saturday night when Luke gets a special treat, roast s'mores by the fire pit.

4.  Eat breakfast at the Farmer's Market.

5.  Have a picnic in the backyard.

6.  Stay up later than usual one night and stargaze on a blanket in the front yard.

7.  Pick flowers around the gardens and take to a neighbor or friend.

8.  Make homemade strawberry-rhubarb jam from the rhubarb and strawberries from our garden.
Strawberry Rhubarb Jam Recipe

9.  Head to the Quarry (local swimming hole) in the morning and have lunch together after a morning swim.

10. Pick cherries and deliver a pint to a neighbor or friend.

11.  POTTY TRAIN #yikes
How to Potty Train Your Toddler

12.  Pick up fresh vegetables at the Farmer's Market and make a meal together at home.

13.  Go on a hike at a nature center.

14.  Do 'at home' pedicures with Lily in our backyard.

15.  Set up a sprinkler, sit back and watch memories being made.

15.  'Paint' the deck and sidewalk with water and paintbrushes.

16.  Fill a plastic storage container with water and toys to make a giant ice cube.  Put outside and let the kids chisel away to find their treasures.

17.  Make flower crowns for Luke and Lily out of flowers and twigs from the yard.
DIY Flower Crown

18.  Set up the tripod and camera and take some silly family pictures in the yard.

19.  Eat pizza on the deck on Sunday nights.

20.  Say 'yes' as often as possible when the kids ask to go outside or on an adventure.

21.  Go on a date with Luke to the park of his choice and then grab ice cream after.

22.  Make homemade frozen yogurt.
Homemade Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

23.  Enlist Luke and Lily to help water the pumpkin patch and garden.

24.  Pick and deliver ears of corn to neighbors or friends.

25.  Talk to my littles as much as possible about all the beauty that surrounds us and how our great, creative, imaginative God made it all.

What's on your bucket list this summer?


"Daddy, cuddle me."

I am in the middle of my morning routine.  I just finished up some quiet time and am now getting smoothies ready to blend and muffins on the table.  I place berries and yogurt in the blender and wait.  My three year old, Luke, likes to be in Kevin's arms before I turn the blender on, because, well, the blender is really old school and really loud.  I hear Kevin open Luke's door and come down the hall with him, sleep still in his eyes and the shirt he sleeps with wrapped tightly around his arm.  I give him three kisses on the cheek and they head to the couch to snuggle up and wake up.  

I love watching them like this.  Luke loves his Daddy, he always has, since the day he met him in the hospital.  At first, I was a little bit jealous of the connection that was so easy and strong and real with the two of them.  Praise Jesus I was staying home with Luke and nursing him because that was time Luke literally had no choice but to let me love on him.  When Kevin was home then and is home now, Luke is all about his Daddy.  

I watch the two of them from the kitchen and my lips and heart smile so big. That jealousy that was around back when Luke was just a newbie has completely vanished and is now replaced with admiration and thankfulness.  I ask Luke if he's ready for the blender and he nods a yes.  He is safe in his Daddy's arms. I start it up, wake up Lily who is still in her bedroom, and pour four glasses of mixed berry smoothies Three Little Bears style...a big glass for Papa Bear, a medium glass for Mama Bear, and two little glasses for our baby bears.  Kevin asks Luke if he wants to get up and eat some breakfast and he shakes his head no and says 'Daddy, cuddle me'.

Being the incredible Daddy that Kevin is, he stays a while longer, pulls Luke close, and enjoys the last few minutes of quiet time with his boy before he starts his day.  Eventually it is time for Kevin to get going to work, so Luke gets placed at the kitchen counter while Kevin finishes up getting ready for his day.  

Their bond doesn't end here, Luke is always giddy when he hears the garage open and knows his Daddy is home from work.  He always has big plans for them at night; lots of adventures, tractor rides, maybe some time on the swing set.  He loves calling Daddy during the day or Face-timing when he is traveling.  His love and admiration for his Daddy is big and wide...just as it should be.

Our sweet Lily Jo is more of a Mommy's girl, but her and Kevin are starting in on something that is sure to be an irreplaceable relationship.  If there is music on, Lily runs into her Daddy's arms and wants to dance the day away with him.  She loves when he chases her and always wants to climb on top of him if he is lying down.  She gives him kisses through our baby gate and railing when he leaves for work in the morning and loves to wave at him through the window. This girl has a special place in her heart for her Daddy.

In our broken world, dads are being pulled in many different directions.  There are higher expectations in the workplace, a greater demand for living the 'American dream', and more and more temptations outside the family unit.  Being a good, faithful, loving, selfless husband and dad is hard. 

When I think of how the world tempts the men in our lives, it makes me speechless with gratitude for my husband and his faithfulness and relentless love.  I am blessed with a man who loves me and our children well.  He leads us with unwavering faith and love and compassion.  He is our rock and there isn't a day that goes by that I am not thanking God for him.

I know there are so many dads and husbands out there that are like my Kevin. My own dad and father-in-law are two as well as Kevin's Grandpa Junior and Grandpa Gerald, and my Grandpa Hasley and Great-Grandpa Johnson that have gone to be with Jesus.  These men have loved well and have raised families in a courageous way.  They know what's important and have strived to 'stay the course' and leave legacies for the generations that come after them.

My prayer today is that all dads feel loved, appreciated, and capable to fulfill their vital roles as husband and Daddy.  These are the most important positions Dads will ever hold and will leave lasting impressions on the people that look up to them the most.  

Happy Father's Day to my own Daddy and to my incredible husband!  I love you both more than words can say!


Sunny Saturday

I don't know about you, but I love receiving packages in the mail.  It makes an ordinary day extra special and I get something swoon worthy without having to scour stores or leave my home or my couch.  This week I received a few extra special packages in the mail that I had been waiting on for awhile and it was like Christmas when I picked them up from the mailbox.  One of those items is included today.  (Hint: it's the first one.)

First up is this little crop top.  Crop tops are perfect for Lily because a) she is a miniature hot box and can stay cool b) her baby belly hangs out and makes me so so happy and c) she has easy access to her belly button, which is her favorite body part (is a belly button a body part?).  This top is made by Vivie and Ash and this shop carries the cutest tops, headbands, dresses, and bottoms.  I love everything they make and their fabric is just dreamy for summertime.

Bless-ed Target was having a sale on kid shorts last week, so I finally decided it was time to pick up a pair or two for the babes.  I'm all about the easy breeziness of t-shirts and shorts and these jegging shorts can go with the strawberry crop top or any other t-shirt in Lily's closet.  AND, don't you adore the little cuffs??

I was shopping for a few gifts this week and decided to stop over at Paper Kite.  Paper Kite is a baby shop that originally started in Lincoln and recently opened up shop in the Countryside Plaza in Omaha.  (Local friends, check them out!) Absolutely everything in the shop is adorable and I could baby shop for days in there.  This week when I went, my babes were tagging along so I was speed shopping all the while picking up five thousand things Luke and Lily knocked over and tried to discourage them from racing laps around the store with the wooden push toys.  The girl working the counter was so sweet and smiled and chatted and wasn't concerned at all about my busy children making the store look like our playroom at home.  #blessherheart  In between picking up the shoes Lily wanted to try on and asking Luke to not play the piano too loud, I found a simple, beautiful headband for Miss Lily.  It is soft and on nylon elastic and Lily will be wearing it constantly this summer.  It's from LuluLuvs, which is a handmade shop based in Brooklyn.  She has beautiful prints and her shop will be opening back up this fall.

When Luke was a toddler somehow we got started on eating lots of granola bars. He would ask for 'bars' constantly, so I finally decided it was time to take a hiatus from them for awhile.  Recently on a Target run, I was needing some extra shopping time, so I randomly picked up some bars off the shelf.  (Yes, I am the mom that opens a package in the store.)   The kind I found are the CLIF Kid Zbars and they are perfect for summertime when we are heading to the zoo or the park or the swimming hole.  This specific kind doesn't melt and I can feel good about what Luke and Lily are putting in their tiny little bodies.   Plus, they gobble them down and buy me a few extra minutes to pick up everything on my list.

My Lily girl loves flowers even more than her Momma.  We made it to Trader Joe's this week to pick up some beauties, but we also have lots blooming on the farm.  These hydrangeas are just starting to make my deck look a bit more beautiful and Lily and I love smelling them on our walks.

I hope you have a Sunny Saturday wherever you may be on this Father's Day weekend!  You can either find us in the A/C or on the deck with our feet in the baby pool.  It's going to be a hot one here on the Trail.

Have a Sunny Saturday, all!


The Days

"Everybody watch."  My little Luke is balancing on a short, wide wooden railing that goes around a raised garden bed on our deck.  He has a big grin on his face as Kevin and I turn to look at him.  He walks across the railing and jumps triumphantly off when he reaches the end.  He goes on to repeat this about 36 more times throughout the afternoon.  

It's summertime and we spend most of our mornings, afternoons, and evenings outside on adventures or in the baby pool on our deck.  This just happens to be a Sunday afternoon and Kevin and I are both home lounging on chairs watching Luke and Lily splash and make things float and throw flowers in the pool.  Lily pulls up a kid-sized chair, sits on it, and lets her feet dangle and touch the water.  She laughs and looks at us to receive a smile.  Luke dunks his watering can into the cold water and pours it out again.

These are the days...some would say.  I am going to have to agree with every grandma that tells her granddaughter to 'enjoy these days' or 'you will blink and they will be grown'.  Summertime is full of memory making opportunities and I don't want to miss a thing.  There is nothing better for me than watching my darlings play with my feet up and a cold drink in my hand.  It makes it even more relaxing when the outside chores are done and Kevin and I can just sit, relax, and give our babies our full attention.

When my sweet boy says "Everybody watch" my eyes will turn to him so I don't miss his prideful walk or his not so elegant dismount. 

Life is good in these moments, on our deck, in the heat and I definitely think these are the days.  


Not about the finish line

When my Luke was first born, I cherished every coo, hiccup, and finger hold.  I cuddled him like it was the last time I would ever cuddle him.  I met his every need and couldn't help but be present and in the moment.  My baby boy needed me and I was there every minute, every second.

Somewhere along the way Luke started changing (like maybe the day we brought him home), it started slowly and then picked up speed as the days and weeks went on and it seemed like he was growing and changing everyday, maybe every hour.  One day he would need to be swaddled, the next day we were transitioning him out of the swaddle.  One day he was taking three naps, the next day he was only taking two.  One day he was nursing, the next day he wasn't.  One day he was an only child, the next day he was a big brother.  All of this change and these transitions happened in the course of two years.  If Google is correct and the average person lives to age 78.7, that is only 2% of his life.  That is reassuring and frustrating all at the same time.  Do you know how many diapers I changed in 2% of his life?

After what seemed like the hundredth transition we had completed with Luke, Lily came along and started along the inevitable path of growing and changing. But, this time around I started wishing and hoping for the transitions to come and go.  Did I really want to do the swaddle or was it just another transition we were going to go through?  Did I want to stop nursing sooner so we could just move on to the next phase?  Should we have another kid ASAP to keep the train rolling and get to our destination?

All of these questions entered my mind and, honestly, there were some moments when I wished some time away to get to the next stage, an easier stage.  When I think about it, that's how some of our brains work.  We are always looking ahead to the next thing, to the next weekend, to the next job, to the next house, to the next kid.  We are the generation of looking ahead.  I'm not saying that planning and preparation aren't not good things, but they definitely should not rule our day-to-day life of moments with our children.

Once I saw the reality of what I was doing to myself and Luke and Lily's childhood, I took a step back.  I told myself some truths that I try and consistently remind myself of when I am wishing for Luke to be potty trained or when I can't wait until Luke and Lily can play outside by themselves or when I just want them to eat their dinner without making the kitchen look like a war zone.  

Time doesn't stop for anyone.

Time is moving all the time.  It doesn't slow down when I want my baby girl to stay little or when I want to memorize the look on Luke's face when he rides his bike down the hill.  I can't stop it, but I can embrace everyday and the joy, hardships, and season of the time I'm in right now.  I can stop wishing for the next stage to come and enjoy the present.

They will grow up.

Someday, probably not too long from now, I will wish and pray for this time with my babies.  I will want Lily to throw a temper tantrum on the floor.  I will want Luke to ask me to hold him and 'cuddle me Mommy.'  I will dream and long for these days.  Sometimes, I literally look at my littles and believe that they will be like this forever.  But, they won't and that's good.  That means they are alive and strong and God is building them up to be world changers.  No matter how tired I am at the end of the day, I need to remind myself to read that bedtime story, say those prayers, cuddle a little longer because they will grow up.

Embrace the present.

Sometimes it's easier to think about what life will be like when my littles can do this or do that.  I motivate myself in the present with the promise of the future.  As much as it sometimes works, the future isn't promised, at least not on this earth.  I want to be present with my babes and not looking ahead to what's next when things are hard.  I need to be there when they need me and be there when it's hard to be there.  I need to embrace the present and not be chasing after what comes next.

It's not about the finish line.

Anyone else get caught up in the checklists of what your child should be learning, saying, doing at each stage of their life?  Yea, me too.  These checklists are helpful and necessary to help us determine our child is physically, emotionally, and cognitively 'on track' and not needing intervention.  (Warning: I'm about to get on my soapbox.)  

But, BUT I think some of these checklists are missing the bigger picture.  Does it matter if my child doesn't speak exactly 50 words by age two?  I can confidently say it probably doesn't.  For some kids it might be an indicator of a bigger problem, but for most kids it's just something for parents to worry and lose sleep over.  When Luke was about 18 months, I had lots of people telling me they were concerned about his language  (he didn't talk much at all).  As a teacher, I was a bit concerned at first, but then I remembered back to my teaching days with all my sweet first graders.  Many of them would come in not being able to read, some not even knowing their ABCs.  By the end of the year, they had all made progress, significant progress.  All kids progress at different rates and I believe that's the beauty of humanity.  We are all different, unique, and beautiful in our own way.  We are not all going to know 50 words by age two.  Maybe by ten months, maybe by three years, maybe at eighteen months, but it won't be the same for all of us.  

I want to remember that it's not how fast I can check off skills and benchmarks on a checklist, it's about the journey and enjoying it and experiencing it with my two littles.  It's not about the finish line.

Luke has now probably lived 4% of his life while Lily has lived 2% of her life. As I write this, I hope and pray this is true and I have many more moments, days, and weeks with them.  But, I also want to remember the truth of this life and this motherhood thing...that they are only mine for a little while and I want to make every second count being their mom.  I want to be there for them now like I was for Luke when he was a tiny, pink newborn in my arms.  I want to embrace these days and not ever, ever wish this time away again.


Mommy Summertime Essentials

I am calling it today.  Summer is here.  The high today is supposed to reach 99, so even though the first day of summer isn't until June 20, I think it's safe to say that it arrived early.

My essentials for the summer have changed since becoming a mom.  My go-to's are simple and easy and not fussy.  They are all here to make being a momma a bit easier and allow me to enjoy the (sometimes) slow, hot days of summer.

Everybody needs a swim cover-up for pool days, or for us, swimming days at our local swimming hole, the Quarry.  This is actually a kimono from Haberdash Soul Co. that I picked up this winter before vacation.  You have seen this print before because Lily has one to match.  I love to twin with her on occasion. I'm sure she will roll her eyes at this one day.  #sorrynotsorry  This kimono is perfect to throw over a summer dress for date night or church or over a swimsuit at the beach.  My favorite thing about it is that it's versatile. Anything I can use for more than one purpose makes me happy. 

Okay, so macaroons might not scream summer essentials, but I have been all about them lately.  They sell them at the Farmer's Market here in Omaha and I picked these up at one of our favorite cupcake shops, Jones Bros. Cupcakes, this week.  I could not resist these bright pink strawberry cuties and the cookies and cream ones are a staple.  Someday, when my kids are grown and I spend my days watching reruns of Parenthood, I am going to learn how to make these beauties.

Do you need a good summer read?  Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan's Wild and Free is so so good for any and every woman, not just mommas.  I am just starting and I am internally saying 'yes'...'YES' to every. single. thing. This encouraging read won't be on my nightstand long because I just can't get enough.

This incredible Rodan and Fields lip shield is my new go-to chapstick.  It has SPF 25 and soothes and protects my lips all day.  I love the scent and the shape of the stick is unique in it's oval shape.  I keep one in my diaper bag and one in my beach bag so I am never without it.

I recently joined the dry shampoo band wagon.  Honestly friends, I don't wash my hair much.  It is long and thick and takes ten thousand gallons of water to rinse the shampoo out.  You might be grossed out, but I wash it once or twice a week.  I use this Umberto dry shampoo in-between washes and it does the job.  I didn't really research or experiment with other dry shampoos, it was just the one sitting on the shelf in Target that caught my eye.  Plus, I had two toddlers begging for bagels while I was shopping, so that moved my decision right along.  If you have a favorite dry shampoo, I would love to hear about it!

This summer is looking to be a good one.  We have lots of swimming and playing in the sun in mind, but trying not to load too many things on our calendar. 

Hope you have a Sunny Saturday wherever you are today!


Tuesday Mornings

Tuesday mornings I get up just a bit earlier than normal.  Kevin has Bible study in the city and that gives me a few extra items in my morning routine.  I make my bed and head downstairs for a quick workout.  In the summertime the sun is already covering all the surfaces with radiant light, beckoning for the world to open it's eyes.  After my workout, I jump into the shower and then grab my water and maybe a glass of iced coffee and curl up on the couch with my devotion for the day.  Usually about ten minutes in, I hear 'Daddy' being pleaded from Luke's room.  I ask Jesus for an extra dose of grace and then I head into Luke's room to help him start a brand new day.

Kevin is usually in charge of getting Luke up in the mornings and is given the best gift of about ten minutes of snuggle time with him as he wakes up.  On Tuesday mornings, I get to relish in that time with my Luke, even if he prefers his Daddy.  We head for the couch, Luke nestled in the crook of my elbow as we cover up with a blanket because Kevin loves it cool in the summertime and Luke and I are both cold.

Kevin is good at this cuddle time because he knows Luke doesn't want to talk or do anything (typical boys), he just wants to be together, on the couch, snuggled into the corner.  I have observed this many times and have made a mental note to try and not start blabbing right when I get him up.  This past Tuesday morning my mom brain was not acting so mom-ish and I actually remembered that he just likes to 'be' and not talk about everything that is going on in my head.

So, we snuggled up into the brown faux-fur blanket in the corner of our couch and he sucked his fingers while I stroked his hair.  I rested my head on top of his head and there we sat, just 'being'.  Instead of thinking of the rest of my morning to-do's during this precious ten minutes, I decided to focus on Luke and all of him.  I decided to let my mind take in how much he has grown and the obvious reality that he is getting bigger and older everyday.  One of these days, he will no longer want to snuggle with me on the couch on Tuesday mornings.  In fact, one day he might not want to snuggle with me at all.

After about eight minutes, he decides to turn around and put his legs up by my stomach.  He continues to nuzzle into my knees and I massage his skinny little legs as he tells me he wants to eat banana muffins.  I know we have to get going and get breakfast ready and his sister out of bed, but I just want to stay here a little longer. 

I want to remember how this boy of mine snuggled with me on this morning.  I want to remember how his sandy, dirty blonde hair shimmered in the light and how it was matted down at the back.  I want to remember the heaviness of his head on my elbow.  I want to remember how his legs didn't even fill up his train pajamas.  I want to remember that I knew he loved me in that moment.

Because someday he won't snuggle with me on Tuesday mornings anymore.

Someday he will probably still be sleeping at 7:15 in the morning in the summertime.  Someday he will roll his eyes when I ask for any sort of physical contact.  #heavenhelpme Someday he won't even be sleeping under the same roof. (This doesn't even seem possible.)

When that someday comes (a super long time from now) I will remember this special time, I will remember Tuesday mornings.


Blueberry Cheesecake Bars

Sweet sweet summertime is right around the corner.  In the midwest that means hot days and swimming holes, hot nights and s'mores, and a whole lot of fresh everything.

My good friend, Rochelle, brought me over some amazing plump blueberries a couple weeks back she picked up at some type of fruit club in Omaha.  They were so blue and so fresh.  I am not a huge blueberry eater, but I gobbled many of them up without even putting them in a muffin.  What can I say, I like my fruit in a baked good.

I love this gluten free blueberry crisp from Baked Bree and made it twice with the blueberries.  But, I wanted to go outside my comfort zone and make some blueberry bars.  Lemon blueberry cheesecake bars.  This recipe comes from Tyler Florence at the Food Network and letmetellyou they are incredible.  I am not a huge blueberry fan and I am not a huge cheesecake fan, but the two together are perfection.  The lemon doesn't hurt either.

Since I am the only dessert eating person in this house I ate a whole lotta these bars and almost think they got better with time.  You need to go grab some fresh blueberries at the market now and whip these bars up.  You will not regret it!

Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Bars


For the bottom:
Butter for greasing
2 T sugar
1/8 t cinnamon
1/2 stick melted butter
1 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers (9 crackers)

For the filling:
16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 eggs
1 lemon, juiced and zested (can use two)
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries

1.  Grease bottom of 9x9 pan with butter and then line with parchment paper.
2.  Using a food processor, pulse the graham crackers, sugar, cinnamon and butter together.  Press into bottom of pan.
3.  Put pan into 325 degree oven and bake for 12 minutes.  Rinse food processor.
4.  Meanwhile, blend cream cheese, eggs, lemon, and sugar in food processor.  Pour in cooled pan.  Top with blueberries.
5.  Bake in 325 degree oven for 35 minutes or until middle is not jiggly.  Cool completely and then store in refrigerator.

Hope you get a chance to try out this dessert and read yourself a good book while you enjoy the fruit(bar) of your labor.



Road Trip Treasures

Last weekend, Kevin and I had the privilege of having a few nights away to celebrate our 9th anniversary.  My parents came into town and we literally high-fived them with a 'tag you're it', jumped in the car, and got on the road. Now, we love our babies and missed them and talked about them almost the entire trip, but travel is our love language and we were excited.

We headed to Madison, Wisconsin, which is about a six hour drive from our house.  Honestly, I didn't have high expectations for Madison, because I really didn't know much about it (it was Kevin's choice).  I'm not sure how this happened, but I was literally planning our itinerary on our way out in the car. I was pleasantly surprised to find all kinds of fun things to do in and around Madison.

There were so many cute little towns with shops and outside parks as well as some beautiful biking and hiking trails.  Kevin and I ate some fantastic food, tried a few brews, and reconnected.  Road trips with my man are THE best.  

This week I'm sharing some of my favorite items that made our road trip just a bit sunnier.

I have mentioned a few times how I L-O-V-E Jamie Ivey's podcast.  She has mentioned The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom several times and I just had to order it.  I started it on the trip and it is so good.  It is a nineteenth century novel set on a tobacco plantation and follows the life of a girl from Ireland who works in the kitchen house and how her story and the story of the people on the plantation unfold.  I am about a fourth of the way in and I am already sad, but can't seem to put it down.

We took a little journey to New Glarus from Madison.  New Glarus is a sweet little Swiss town with so many fun shops, restaurants, a brewery, and a trail that runs through it.  After renting bikes and riding on the trails for a few hours, we headed back to walk around and do a little shopping.  The Bramble Patch was a gift shop that had unique pottery pieces as well as many other knick knacks.  I usually don't shop much when we are traveling, but I have started to try and pick something small up when we are on vacation to remember our time in that place.  This cup jumped out at me and I thought it would be perfect as a little vase to display flowers in.  Isn't it the cutest?

After our journey around New Glarus, we headed back to Madison.  On our way back, we couldn't help but stop off at the tiny town of Paoli, Wisconsin. Guys, this place was magical.  There was a plant shop, brewery, bakery/restaurant, and gift shop in this big park area where live music was playing.  I ordered an ice cream and Kevin got a smoked something sandwich while we browsed around and had a mini picnic.  

I couldn't help myself at the plant shop.  There were hundreds of succulents planted in small sections of branches.  I found three I loved and I could have bought a whole lot more.  Kevin said he could make me some (bless his heart), but he has a long list of to-do's all the time, so why add one more? Besides, I didn't want to wait until next summer to get them...

The shop also had air plants.  I have never had one, so I thought it was time to take the plunge.  I have seen them sold on Amazon (what?!), so I thought I would give them a try.  Isn't that little guy just awesome?

We couldn't go to Wisconsin without picking up some cheese curds to bring back. While we were in Paoli, we went across the street to a little local grocery store.  This place was nothing like I have ever seen before.  It was all natural, all organic, all anything that isn't bad for you.  The man running the shop was a character and there were shelves and shelves of homemade canned goods.  To give you an idea, the shelves included canned grape juice, canned pickles, canned jams and jellies, canned peaches.  When we asked him who does all the canning, he said he does...and he grows it...and he runs the shop...and he raises animals.  I'm not sure when the guy sleeps.  We picked up the cheese curds there, packaged in a little plastic baggie with no label.  #nolabelmeansnocalories

Our little road trip was short and sweet, but oh so good for our marriage and our souls.  I hope you have a Sunny Saturday wherever you are...treat yourself and go pick up some cheese curds.  But please, don't tell me how many calories I have eaten this week.

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