Friday, September 30, 2016

Louisburg Cider Mill

Fall is definitely my favorite season, I love everything about it. But no one loves fall more than my friend, Libby. We decided to get out and enjoy the PERFECT weather on Thursday and head to Louisburg Cider Mill in Louisburg, KS. We loaded up four toddlers 3 and under, turned on a Mickey Mouse DVD to keep the littles entertained, and enjoyed a 47 minute drive to chat and catch up, what could be better?

If fall and the beautiful weather is not enough to get you outdoors here are five reasons you need to pack up and head to Louisburg Cider Mill this fall!

one. The Cider Mill...Our first stop was to tour the Cider Mill. I was amazed at how much the little guys enjoyed watching the apples be cleaned, pressed, etc. They even asked to go back and see it again before we left. I had to include this picture. Big brother Jack helping little brother Judson to see the apples. This moment melted my heart. 

two. Fun Activities for the Kids. We headed out to the Kids Area and Pumpkin Patch next. There were several fun things to do for the little guys. The jump pillow was met with slight trepidation at first, but a few minutes later, this was happening!

Who doesn't love a huge, giant sandbox?

Squinty eyes for the "How Tall This Fall?" picture. Full sun the day we were there!

The much anticipated Hay Ride, was short and sweet! 

Playing in the corn...I'm still finding loose corn kernels in my living room (somehow some left over remnants made their way home with us). There was also a giant 10-acre corn maze. We didn't brave the maze with the little ones, for fear that we might be in there a very long time!

three. Friendly Farm Animals. If your kids enjoy animals, they will love these guys.

Judson with his new buddies the three little piggies (Pumpkin, Apple, and Boo). These guys were one of my favorite stops. They were so friendly and came running to the fence to greet us. I've never seen friendly pigs before, we had to stop back here a few times to hang out with these guys. Jack enjoyed the two bunnies, Donald and Hillary, except he didn't like that they didn't come out of their home to see him, he said, "Hello, is anyone in there?"

four. The Apple Cider Donuts and Apple Cider Slush. Just thinking about them makes me want to jump in the car and drive the 47 minutes (from Lee's Summit) back to get a mid afternoon snack. The slush is so refreshing and the donuts are WARM! There is nothing better. Go get you some, and bring me one back ;-).

Pumpkins, pumpkins everywhere.

five. Fun Fall Photo Spots. There are so many fun spots to spot and snap a fall picture. My personal favorite is the old pickup truck. Jack loudly proclaimed, "Someone died in here!" We got a good laugh out of this. Clearly, the younger generation does not know a vintage classic when they see one (but to be fair to him it did look like certain wild creatures had been inside tearing things up a bit)!

Get out and enjoy these beautiful fall days before they are gone.  I'm so glad that we went early in the season. We did not have to fight any crowds, and it really cleared out after lunch (we felt like we had the place to ourselves). It made it so easy to visit all the favorite spots several times before we headed home. We had a successful day! The kids did great. We only had one injury (Judson face planted on the concrete shortly after we arrived and got a fat lip and skinned up face. It looks painful, poor little sweetie). The sign of any successful outing...all four sweet littles were asleep not long after pulling out of the Cider Mill! A quiet ride home for the momma's!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Dealing With Disappointment

Disappointment. The uncomfortable emotion that knocks at your door when you least except it, bringing its buddies anger, hurt and sadness.  Hoping you will roll out the welcome mat so it can cozy up and stay awhile. Like any unwelcome house guest, the quicker you become honest with yourself, and deal with it. The faster it will pack up its bags and move on.

Disappointment comes in all shapes and sizes. What may disappoint one, may seem like an easy obstacle to overcome to another. It is a subjective emotion, which can make it even more complicated, as not everyone may relate to you in your particular situation. Whether it's the perfect job that went to someone else, or a goal, hope, or dream that didn't come to fruition, we have all dealt with disappointment in one form or another, it's a part of life.
I had a major case of disappointment this weekend. I have been training since June for my 7th half marathon. Sometime last week, I injured my calf muscle. It was not an obvious injury, and I cannot pinpoint when it occurred (therefore, I'm hoping it is not a severe muscle strain or worse yet that it is torn). The rest of the week during my runs, after I would hit the two mile mark, a dull ache would set in my calf. I would continue to run, but by Friday, I could not get past two miles without major pain. I stopped and stretched (which I'm thinking was a bad call on my part), when I got up to resume, I could barely walk. I've googled what to do, I've been icing and elevating, and applying a compression bandage in hopes of an easy fix. Saturday, was no different. Reality set in, this may take more time to heal than I had hoped. At this point, I've been advised to take a week or two off to rest the muscle. My race is in three weeks.

262.2 miles of training under my belt since June, and I have a set back three weeks before the race. I can't help but feel the disappointment. I've put in the work, I've laced up my shoes and got out there on days I did not feel like it, I pushed through in hopes of having a great race day. I know in the grand scheme of things this is a small thing, there will be other races. To some, this may seem like a silly thing to be disappointed about. Yet, here I am. As I've been in the trenches of disappointment this weekend, I've been contemplating what is the best way to deal with disappointment. Yes, this happened to me, so now what?

Here are three steps that have helped me move on past my disappointment.
1. Adjust my expectations. When I started training in June I was training in hopes of getting a personal best come October. However, when I look at the circumstances, this is probably not likely, so now I'll dial back a bit with an expectation of finishing the race. Depending on my recovery, there may even be walking involved. By adjusting my expectations now, I am setting myself up for a win on race day. Positively, looking at the fact that I may not get a PR, but at least I can still participate (or at least I'm going to do everything in my power to ;-).

2. Remember why you set out to do this in the first place. After I began to realize that my injury cannot take away the 262 miles I have run this training cycle, I began to feel a little bit better. I've still benefitted (physically and mentally) from all those miles even if I don't get to run on race day.

3. Take the disappointment you feel and turn it into something positive.  Find an even better job to apply for. Start planning for another race. The pain doesn't come from the disappointment, the pain comes if you let it "stay" too long. Disappointment will only "stay" as long as you let it, so work through it, and then kick it to the curb. It's okay to feel the disappointment from your situation, but the key is to not stay in your disappointment. Keep a positive outlook, knowing you can come back from this. Sure, maybe the project you had worked on for months was not greeted with the praise and enthusiasm that you were hoping for, but let that motivate you to make the next project even better. Find out from your boss what would have made this one just what they were looking for, and then get to work.

Next time you encounter disappointment, I hope that these three easy steps may help you move past your disappointment. Don't let your disappointment define you, let your come back be amazing!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

When Less Is More

My littlest man turned TWO last week. I still don't know how this is possible, but it happened. A few months ago, my head was swimming with all the magical plans I had for his second birthday party. He has been attached to his Curious George Monkey and Tum Tum Monkey the last several months (he will not go to sleep unless he has both). I could imagine the sheer excitement on his face if we threw him a Curious George themed birthday party. I had been pinning amazing ideas, and could not wait to start working on it.

Life has been particularly busy since school started back into session. I've been pouring a lot of time and energy into getting ready for MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers), as I'm one of a five person team who plans the entire year. I kept thinking I needed to set time aside to plan, and time just kept getting away from me. Next thing I know, I'm getting text messages from family asking when Judson's party would be. As I looked at my calendar, I realized I had one week until his birthday. How did this happen? My dreams of the perfect Curious George party quickly began to fade. I set a date for his party, and now no longer had time to order anything. So, I headed to my local party store and realized they do not carry anything Curious George at all. Well, it was time for plan B. I ended up going with Mickey Mouse. Jack and Judson love Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. They ask to watch it everyday. So, I got some Mickey balloons and a birthday banner.

I normally make a fun cake (that I copy from someones Pinterest creation). However, the thought of making a gigantic mess in my kitchen and spending hours upon hours getting it just so, just didn't sound as appealing. I surprised myself as I drove to Costco. Am I really forgoing the "Pinterest inspired" birthday party this year? I felt a bit of guilt, like I wasn't giving Judson my best. I arrived at Costco, and they had the most amazing, massively large cupcakes. Iced in white with the perfect shade of red, yellow, and blue sprinkles. They would go perfect with the Mickey Mouse decorations! I headed home and unloaded the party supplies and cupcakes. My job was done. I actually had time to relax and spend time with my family, instead of being my normal party planning stressed out self.

The day of the party, I went on a long run. Seriously, I had time to do other things! I hung the banner minutes before the family arrived. I had some red and yellow streamers that I already had on hand, that I put up behind Judson's chair, and called it good.
And you know what, we had a great time. Judson was celebrated. I enjoyed visiting with family and I was able to be 100% present. No rushing around, panicked and stressed. I just simply enjoyed watching my little man at his 2nd birthday party, and loved watching him want to blow out his candles again and again! The guilt of "not giving Judson my best" quickly faded as I realized I was giving him by best, by being a happy and fun to be around mommy on his special day.

I learned a valuable lesson that day. The saying, "sometimes less is more," really is true. I spent less money, and less time planning, preparing, and stressing about this day. In return, I enjoyed myself so much more. When you think of the purpose of a birthday party, it's to celebrate the one having a birthday. That is what we did. He was celebrated just as much as if I would have had an amazing detailed Pinterest worthy party. When I think back to various parties we've thrown for the boys over the years, I don't ever remember them saying, "Mom, remember my Spider Man birthday party?" They just don't bring that up. I think its safe to say, the celebrating is all they care about. Not, the endless amazing and intricate details. I think that as moms it is easy for us to get caught up in those details and wrapped up in the hype of creating the perfect Pinterest worthy party, that somewhere along the way it becomes less and less about the birthday boy or girl and more about how cool of a party can I throw? The stress of all the planning and all the details can really take the fun out of celebrating the birthday boy or girl. I'm going to remind myself of this "Less is More" principle in a few months as Cooper's birthday approaches. Choose Joy and Celebrate!

Friday, September 2, 2016

Five Things Friday

Yay for determination! Our garbage disposal went out on Monday. When the garbage disposal is down, you can't use the sink. So, even a few hours of the sink being out of order was throwing a major wrench in my life (#annoying). So, Tuesday, Google and I fixed the garbage disposal. I even removed the garbage disposal (don't worry, I unplugged it before I began working on it, #safety first)! I was feeling quite proud of myself for getting it back up and running, and for saving an expensive service call.  So, direct any of your garbage disposal questions my way, as I'm clearly an expert now (I may have had to watch the youtube video a few times to make sure I was doing everything right)!

It's mum season. Last year, I drove to Johnson Farms to get a mum. I had seen them advertised on Facebook and they were huge and such a good price, $9.99 for one, or $26.99 for 3. I had seen mums at the area gardening shops and they were not as big and cost a lot more. I was very pleased with my decision. I enjoyed my mum well into November (they do have various bloom times, early, mid, and late fall bloomers). I just saw on Facebook that they opened September 1 for pre season mum sales! I will be heading over to get mine soon...don't delay they do run out of various colors!

Favorite weeknight dinner.  Martha Stewart's Baked Ziti. I love this meal. It's one that all my boys enjoy, and will eat. So, every few weeks I put it in the rotation. The only thing I do different than Martha, is I add ground beef to mine (we love meat over here)! It's so easy, if you are looking for a new pasta dish, add this one to your line up soon!

Memes. I have been cracking up at various memes this week. I have a friend, Libby, who loves them as much as I do, and we have been sending funny ones to each other all week.  Here are a few of my favorites.

Long weekend love. Who else is as excited as me for a long three day weekend? They don't come around very often, so when they do, I am so excited! More family time, fun, and relaxation. One less day of packing lunches, getting boys around, and drop off line...I'll take it! Enjoy your long weekend!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Monterey Chicken

Summer is almost over, but I'm still using our outside grill as much as possible. One of my favorite chicken recipes on the grill is Monterey Chicken. I love the combination of bacon, barbecue sauce, and cheese on a perfectly grilled piece of chicken. The best part about this recipe is the clean up is so fast, because most of the work is done outside on the grill.

Monterey Chicken

Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
Colby Jack Cheese
Barbecue Sauce

Salt and Pepper Chicken and grill for 8 minutes per side or until internal temperature reaches 160-165 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook bacon. After chicken is done, pour your desired amount of Barbecue Sauce, I used Jack Stack's Barbecue Sauce. Place bacon on top of chicken and then add a slice of Colby Jack cheese on top, leave on the grill for a minute or two to allow the cheese to melt. Remove chicken, and sprinkle diced tomatoes on top. 

Serve with your desired sides. We enjoyed our Monterey Chicken with mashed potatoes, and a nice garden salad. Super easy to make, and dinner will be a hit! Enjoy!