Three Weeks

We're three weeks into this deployment and today was the first I wasn't able to speak with Michael. I am having a hard time and I think that missed phone call has everything to do with it. Funny how a 25 minute dose of Michael does me well. 

We miss him. 

Life is so crazy good for so many reasons, but there are times in the midst of joy I look into Levi's face and my heart aches because Michael should be here. He should be here experiencing all this good with us.

When Michael calls each morning I hold the phone to Levi's ear for a few minutes. He becomes very still and listens hard. He never says anything in reply but always smiles in a knowing way. He is very aware that his daddy is on the other end and it brings forth a lot of emotion for us both. 

Some days are harder than others. 

We Are Going To Be Ok (And That Feels Good)

We said goodbye to Michael on Monday morning. It was a lot harder than I remember it being our first deployment. I just could not stop crying.

Since then we have successfully managed to drive a moving truck (with our car hitched to it) from Kansas to Wisconsin. My in-laws made a trip down to help us pack, load, and drive back. We could not have done it without them - WHAT a job. I am so glad it's over with. (I hate moving. And goodbyes.)

Michael has arrived safely to his destination and I've gotten three phone calls from him. Levi and I are all moved in to my parents house for the next six months, and (knock on wood) so far everything is going smoothly.

I am adjusting to a busy schedule, and have so much tv to catch up on it's ridiculous. My mom and I have been preparing for a rummage sale, so between that, unpacking, shopping, taking care of Levi, and seeing my families - these last few days have been a blur. Saturday I have an interview with our local coffee shop, and I would start training next week already. Monday I am taking Levi with me to a military support group and next saturday I begin photo sessions again. (I haven't touched my camera in months. Instagram is where it's at.) On top of all that, I plan to start RUNNING to get rid of this weight. Monday Weigh-In posts are coming back and I am super excited!

Thank you LORD for distractions, a WONDERFUL husband and a great support system! We are so blessed!

The One I Wrote In Two Minutes

Does a deploying daddy or a moving mommy have spare time to do fun things like blog, relax, or... blog?

Yeah right.

Especially when said mommy (the queen of procrastination) waited until she only had several days to pack up her whole house?


Maybe in a week I'll find time to do fun stuff. But right now? I'm too busy scrambling. And when I'm not scrambling, I'm squeezing in kisses or cuddles with Michael. (Who may guest post before he leaves. If he finds the time, that is.)

Back to stuffing boxes. If you talk to God this weekend, we'd really appreciate your prayers. It's gonna be a tough one all around.


My spirits are so very heavy. I try to summon the energy to blog. To do chores, to change diapers, to give baths, to make meals.

But it's not there.

I lay on my side of the bed each morning and think how another day has gone.

Levi knows something is up. He follows Michael around like a puppy and cries by the door when he leaves. He wakes up screaming at night and wants nothing to do with me. (We're thinking night terrors.) He just wants his daddy.

I'm anxious to return to Wisconsin. To the hustle and bustle of a busy life. To distractions. I have all this pent up ambition pulsing through my veins and it needs to be executed. I know who I want to be and I can't be her here. But in the midst of my day dreams I remember Michael won't be there, and every day brings us closer to a goodbye. It's a giant flashing light. panic. Panic. PANIC.

I hate feeling like a baby about this. The people I admire most are strong in the face of adversity. They have such grace and courage.

I want to, too. 

The End Of An Era (A Picture Heavy Post)

365 days ago we trekked 12 hours from Wisconsin to Kansas with a moving truck and 6 month old baby in tow. In a lot of ways it's been a hard year, but this is where we learned to be a family. This is where we made a life together.

When we first arrived Levi wasn't even sitting up yet. He fought acid reflux daily but that didn't stop him from being the happy guy he is. I was scared to death of being a parent without his grandparents around, and homesick to boot. 

Michael had just returned from his first tour overseas. He was (and still is) my rock through a season of change. 

It took a while to "get our feet wet". We often visited Pillsbury Crossing, a natural wildlife park buried in the rolling countryside. 

On our way out we'd stop to see the cows and horses. The land here is so yellow in comparison to Wisconsin's lush green. When I think of Kansas, I'll remember the golden light. 

The weather was quite a change for this born and raised eskimo. Kansas is HOT and when it rains - it rains hard. We have endured many terrifying storms in just a year. Although tornado season is April - June, this particular wall cloud appeared last September. 

Some of you may remember that we adopted a dog. We kept and loved River for several months before she found another home. We knew she would be much happier with a bigger family and a yard to play in. Levi is obsessed with animals and we think it began with River, but there will be no more doggies for us until we own a house.

We had many visits from Levi's grammys, grampys, aunties and uncles. That third bedroom really came in handy! Here Gramma was helping Levi sit up before a storm rolled in. (I can't get over that chubby baby face!) 

Levi and I had a brief experience with cloth diapers. If we ever have a utility sink those babies are coming back out for sure! I'm so glad we tried them.

Kansas State University is in the heart of town, and directly across from campus is a little shopping block called Aggieville. It's filled with places to eat, shop, and drink. My personal favorites include Bluestem Bistro Coffee, The Dusty Bookshelf, (where you'll find that handsome fella below) Kites Grill & Bar, (best. burgers. ever.) and CD Trade Post. (A fun throwback shop filled with all kinds of gaming/music/movie goodies.) 

I wish I could say I got better at cooking, but that's just not the case. One recipe we implemented into our menu was chicken chili. It's the perfect savory dinner during colder months, but we ate it all year round. Chicken chili literally takes ten minutes to cook and is very tasty. We've definitely turned it into a staple. 

This was our first entire year as a family, so we finally had a chance to enjoy the holidays together. I welcomed the cooler temps after a hot hot summer... but it didn't snow until Christmas had come and gone. (The photo of the pigeon was taken late December - still no snow!) 

We joined a gym in January, determined to fulfill those New Years resolutions. We were pretty dedicated until March, anyway. :) 

Levi turned one on February 19th. His Grammy and GGma came down to celebrate and mama made him sit through a smash cake session. I don't think he minded too much! (It's so odd that until his first haircut, he had stick straight hair. Now he has a mop of curls!) 

I started going to MOPS (Moms of Preschoolers) in November. It was there I met my friend Daneesha, and in March I started babysitting her two girls. Levi loved them! It was so nice to finally have a friend after months of not knowing a soul. (They actually lived in the same apartment complex as us.) We took the kids to the park and mall often, and even had Thanksgiving together. I think we managed to get away from the madness two or three times, once to see Bridesmaids. (SO GOOD.) 

It was here that I really decided to chase after my dream of pursuing photography. Michael and Levi let me drag them all over to practice. (There's that golden Kansas light again!)

We spent many a weekend in Kansas City while Michael worked for Strongbonds - a Chaplaincy wide program that the Army provides for soldiers and their families. Most of ours were marriage focused, so I've seen the seminar "Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage" at least five times. It's funny enough that I don't mind. These retreats gave us the chance to explore Kansas City and get away from the daily grind. 

Being a housewife and stay at home mom, I sometimes felt like all I ever did was clean and change diapers. Looking back, it's obvious we did much more. :) 

The temps this summer have been brutal, so any spare time was spent at the splash pad...

or eating delicious frozen yogurt from Orange leaf...

or playing at the park with new friends...

or chilling at the pool with said friends...

or eating corn at the county fair in the midst of sweaty, stinky people farm animals. 

But with the news of a second deployment came the realization that the end of an era draws near. We've been anticipating this all along, but now that it's here I'm having a hard time coming to grips... 

One year ago, I was not excited to be moving away from our home, our family, our friends. Now I believe this experience has changed us for the better and I'm thankful for the opportunity we had to live in Kansas. It's going to be a hard goodbye.

Let's Get This Over With

Michael is deploying. Again.

He returned from Iraq one year ago this month. Like clockwork, that army. My walls are up and I'm trying my best not to let reality seep through the cracks. There are moments of weakness. "The last time" hangs fresh in my memory.

I dread his departure. I'll fight ever fiber not to chase after him as he loads onto that bus. Watching someone you love drive away is such an awful thing. Coming home to an empty bed is even worse.

I'll be busy. I know that. Busy chasing a toddler. Busy building a business. Busy making a home. 

And there's our family. Our friends. 

But the pain is there. It's inevitable and terrifying and hard.

For now I busy myself with boxes that need filling and a house that needs finding. With one deployment under our belt, I know we'll be ok. It won't be easy, but I guess that's just a part of growing.

Riley County Fair

Despite the sweltering 105 temps we braved the heat and paid a visit to the county fair. Free entertainment, people! 

We figured Levi would looooove the animals. He has a fascination with dogs so he should love all furry creatures, right? He giggled for this big eared guy, anyway. (I have a thing for ears... I died.) 

After a few minutes of nibbling and snuffing, Levi decided he wasn't a fan of the goat any longer. We tried again with a sweet baby pig, but he wasn't having it. Poor kid was over-stimulated and content to view from the safety of his stroller. 

It took all my strength not to steal a piglet. It would've been very Charlotte's Web. But then Michael reminded me that they grow up to look like their mama... and she was one big girl, if you know what I mean. 

The cows brought me back to Wisconsin. This mama and baby were snuggling... too cute.

Michael was upset we skipped the funnel cake. And Levi? He just wanted some corn.

Michael and I are going back on Sunday without Levi. (We actually have a sitter and plans for a REAL date!) It was painful not to ride the tilt'o'whirl or ferris wheel this time... even if they do cost 3 bucks a piece. 

So howbout you? Eaten a baked twinkie yet? Or does the thought of a giant, sweaty crowd make you cringe? 


Our lives are about to change in a big way. 

For now we're soaking up the sun and enjoying time as a family.

Just chillin'. :)

Pool Days

Our new friends rescued us from the house for a day at the pool. We soaked up vitamin D and let the water cool us down. Our fair skin, however, didn't agree with it as much. 

Doesn't Levi look great in pink & purple? 

A Little Bit of Levi

There's something so fun about 12-18 month olds. Michael and I are really enjoying this stage with Levi. He does the funniest things and is soaking up the world like a sponge.

We've had to be a bit more firm with him than usual since our return from Wisconsin. I'm not sure he had any discipline during our visit! Now (for the most part) he listens very well when we say no. But in return, he head butts the nearest wall, window, floor, or piece of furniture. It's kind of disturbing, but upon further investigation I'm finding this to be fairly normal behavior for kids his age. At least he's not biting himself! When we walk in on him doing something he knows he shouldn't be, he jumps about a foot and his eyes get as big as saucers. It's so funny we usually forget to be upset. :)

He's very dependent on our reactions. If we laugh at him, he'll do whatever it was again and again, making us laugh even more. Several months ago, my mother-in-law was visiting and she pretended to cry. We'd never done this, and it must have freaked him out because he started crying big crocodile tears! It's scary how much he watches the way we interact, truthfully! 

It's been awesome to see his personality emerge. He's laid back like his daddy with a bit of Mama's sass. He's a busy boy and a drama king. Overall he's a very happy camper and smiles ALL THE TIME. 

But then there is his naughty face. He looks me straight in the eye and flashes the tiniest smirk before misbehaving, almost as if to say, "Oh, you think you're in charge lady? Let me show you whose boss!" 


He loves to play with other kids, so we've never had a problem leaving him in nursery or day care. (He doesn't understand the concept of sharing, though.) We just hired our first real babysitter to watch him for a few hours on my birthday. I'm not too nervous, but it feels like quite the milestone! 

Bananas and mandarin oranges are his favorite. He recently decided he's not interested in peanut butter and jelly anymore. We've had to call Poison Control twice, once after he ate dog poop and the second after we found him covered in Triple Paste, licking his fingers. (Fantastic.)

He'd rather play with a cell phone or the remote than a toy, and he's taken a liking to splashing in the toilet and wearing underwear on his head. 

When he wants attention he fake coughs, or he'll pretend to put something in his mouth so he can laugh at me when I find nothing in it. (Really, he thinks it's hilarious.) If one of us is laying on the floor it's pretty much an invitation to have our hair pulled, be climbed on, or hit in the face. We're still working on "gentle". (The joys of having a boy.) Oh, and  he really likes wearing my headbands. 

I've especially loved watching his relationship with Michael bloom. He sure loves his daddy! Michael missed the first 6 months of Levi's life while he was in Iraq, but they've come leaps and bounds and that makes me smile. 

Levi has been nothing but a joy and fills our lives with the good stuff - laughter, smiles, love. We are so deeply blessed with this child and delight in watching him grow.

America's Birthday

Well, I'm still playing catch-up. I won't bore you with housewife talk because honestly, I'm exhausted just thinking about it. (Thank goodness for the crock-pot.)

Instead let's talk about the fun things we did this weekend, like eat ice cream!

The average temps around these parts have been HOT. Three days in a row we were greeted by a blast of 103 degrees dripping with humidity. It was pretty miserable, but then we found Orange Leaf - a bright, funky ice cream shop that introduced us to the Boba Ball. My husband would eat an entire bowl of them alone, if he could. They pop in your mouth and leave you with a refreshing burst of mango juice. (Or orange, or strawberry, if you wish.)

Anyway. We found this hidden gem after taking Levi to his very first splash park. I think he would have enjoyed it more had he been able to run all over. (No, at 16 months he's still not quite walking. He can get across a room but prefers to crawl. Anyone else's kid take their sweet time?)

Other weekend perks included Mario Bros on the wii, long naps, nachos, several episodes of Wild Boyz, a bbq with new friends, and a water balloon fight. 

To wrap it all up Michael and I enjoyed the fireworks show from our balcony - with the fireflies. We weren't able to be at the park due to Levi's earlier bed-time, but our own private viewing was pretty awesome, too.

What a great birthday, America. Thanks to our people for defending our freedom!

Welcome, Summer

 Hi, friends.

I'm still behind but feeling so much better. Today? Levi and I played. We played all day long and didn't worry about dishes, laundry, or bills. We tickled and chased and read books and went swimming... Levi was especially excited after he finished his lunch and ate a soft sugar cookie with brightly colored frosting! Now we're tired enough to collapse into bed and fall asleep with smiles on our faces, our day was so fun.

Tomorrow the sun will hang high above us and it will probably reach 100 degrees once more. For dinner we'll grill burgers, slurp watermelon, and nibble at corn on the cob before another swim. It's fourth of July weekend and we're looking forward to fireworks, parades, and fruit pizza.

I think it's safe to say summer is here. If we never stop smelling like sunblock, that'll be ok with me.

That Shirt & Those Curls

Are to die for!