Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Family tree and root growing

We are coming up on our 3 year anniversary of living in Branson this June.  Finally, we are about to break our streak of only living in places three years or less.  When we started out we lived in Lenexa in a town home for 2 years before we bought our first home in Lee's Summit.  We stayed in that home 3 years before we moved to Springfield.  We stayed in our Springfield home for 3 years before we moved to Branson.  Now we are in Branson for 3 years and I am looking forward to breaking our 3 years or less mark.

Our family really is like a tree.  Each member is a branch.  It seems like we have transplanted so often that we never get to grow firm roots. We have scratched the surface at several places, but never stayed long enough to really feel like we are home, home.  When we moved to Branson, with each passing year Jeff's business really grew.  With that growth I felt as though is roots were getting deeper and deeper.

Kadyn's roots have really grown this year too with her starting school.  She now has several friends that she enjoys being with and loves her school, teacher, and church.  She has told us that she DOES NOT want to move.  That warms my heart.  She got her first Branson library card today.  Another root sprouted from it I think.  I even got to witness her experience her first adventure book where you get to choose your own ending.  Love it!

Bren's roots.  Well...let's just say they will stay on the surface for awhile until she begins school.  I'm not sure she's old enough to understand what moving to a new location really means.  Until then, her roots will probably stay on top.

My roots, hmmm.  I'd have to say they are just a little below the surface, but not too deep just yet. My current job has really isolated me for a long time and made it difficult to make connections.  Now that I am finally able to get out and about with the kids I hope this will change.    I really feel what will cement them into the soil is getting my career back and having my job be in this town.  I received my Kansas license yesterday in the mail.  Now I wait on Missouri to issue me a license too.  Once that is received, there will be no obstacles in my way from getting my career back.  I am so close and so excited!  I hope and pray that God will open the doors for me to teach in Branson.  I love this town.  It's beautiful, the people are great, the schools are great, and there is SO much to do.

I like trees.  I like growing roots.  I sure hope we are done transplanting.  We shall see.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

It started with a sale

We only intended to have a laid back relaxing Memorial Day.  The last few weekends have been busy, busy, busy.  Taking it easy just felt right.  But then, there was a sale.  Colemans had a huge sale and we just couldn't resist.  We've been wanting to get Kayaks for some time and getting almost fifty dollars off each Kayak was too good to pass up. Tents were marked down to a great price too, and we had been wanting to get a small pop up tent for the kiddos to use in yard and basement for a long time.

Saturday morning we took it easy while Jeff went to Springfield for a car repair at the dealership.  Saturday afternoon the girls made homemade icecream with their blizzard maker they got for Christmas.  This was the first time they had gotten to use it.  It worked really well and it made a tiny amount of icecream which was good for this dieting Mama (confession, I've gained back 2 of the 6 pounds I lost.  Sigh!).  After the ice cream making, the girls and I headed outside and they had fun swimming in the kiddie pool.  That night we ran out of time to set up the tent outside as we originally had planned so we set it up in the basement and promised they could spend two nights in it since we set it up on the inside.  Kadyn read books to Bren with a flashlight in the tent and they got to play with the ratties in the tent.  Super cute!  Sorry no pics of this, the only activity we forgot to photo.

Sunday morning I started my morning trying out an idea I got from Pinterest, coffee ice cubes in chocolate milk.  Yum! Sunday we headed out after lunch for our first family Kayak trip.  We went around 8 miles and it was TOUGH.  It was very different than when Jeff and I went on our guided tour over a year ago.  Our Kayaks were very hard to maneuver and there was little to no current to propel us forward.  We were constantly fighting with our boats to keep them straight as they kept spinning around.  What took us 2 hours last time, took 4 hours this time.  The girls enjoyed it a bit, but also got bored (understandably so) after awhile.  We will be purchasing Skegs to put on the boats for future use.  This is a fin like attachment that is supposed to help the boat track straight.   

Monday I took the girls to the local Aqua Plex to take advantage of our pool passes for the first time this year.  Kadyn ran into a couple of friends there so she was a happy camper. They had a ball.  Bren said, "I want to stay here forever."  She was not a happy camper about leaving.  That night the girls helped me plant my vegetable garden and we ended the night catching fireflies. 

We did so much this weekend it really felt like a vacation but it really was a staycation.  It wasn't what we had planned, but I'll take it. Memories were made.  Fun was had.  Couldn't ask for more.

Making icecream for a snack before pool time

Chilling in the kiddie pool

Coffee ice cubes in chocolate milk, YUM!
Love this pic.  Just chilaxin!
aquaplex fun
My little garden helper.  She could water plants with me for hours.  I love watching her carry her little mini watering can around and water everything with it.  We have orange, red, and yellow pepper plants , one Mr. Stripey tomatoe plant, and cilantro in this flower bed.  I planted basil in a pot in the front.
Note to self, stop using ipod to snap photos.  Clearly, they aren't as clear as a real camera. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Kadyn minus training wheels

Kadyn has started to beg us to take off her trianing wheels.  Amazing how influenced your kid is to be like other kids once she starts school.  She wouldn't have dreamed of taking them off a couple months ago.  Then she found out others were doing it.  So....since Dada was out of town, Papa filled in.  I bought extra padding expecting some pretty hard falls, especially since our ground isn't very level.  Turns out she hasn't really needed the pads.  At least not yet.  She picked it up and looked as though she had been doing it all month within 15 minutes. 

My Dad pointed out that it probably came so easy to her since she learned how to balance her body weight on a scooter first.  I think he may be right. Neither of us expected her to pick it up this quickly.  Proud of her.  She LOVES riding her bike now. 

The first video was the first time out without the wheels. It's long and there isn't much action.  The second video is her without any assistance only 15 short minutes later.  Crazy how good she got and how quickly she got that good.

Weekend with Part III

OK this is out of order I am just realizing.  Oh well.  After we went to the fishing pond on Saturday we headed down the road as there just happened to be a petting zoo.  This was a nice unexpected little perk and made our thirty minute drive all the more worth it, especially since our fishing experience was so short.  The family that owns the petting zoo basically just takes in orphaned animals and decided to share them with everyone else.  There is no admission fee. You just pay a few dollars for a bucket of feed and get to go feed the animals. This was Bren's favorite part of the trip.  There were ducks, chickens, dogs, bunnies, donkeys, llamas, goats, and a horse.  The couple also has a country store where I assume they sell things from the farm, I didn't check it out.  It was a fun little stop.

This rabbit's name was Velvet.  It really did look like it had velvet for fur.  Never seen one like it.

The ducks, chickens, and goose went NUTS for the grain.  It was a mad feeding frenzy.  I thought it was comical, it scared the girls though.

Papa in his element.....horses.

They raise baby ducks and chicks on the farm

Week one done!

Week one start of my salad plate diet.  My goal was to loose 2 pounds.  I lost 6!  Go me.  Only got hungry two times.  The first time was 30 minutes before lunch the first day, understandable.  The second time was yesterday when I was late getting supper on the table.  So all in all, this has been pretty easy.  I was even able to resist a cheesecake that stared me in the face all week.  I finally allowed myself one piece on Sweet Saturday.  The rest of the weeks I had NO sweets.  Another huge accomplishment for me.  I can tell my stomach is shrinking due to my smaller portions.  I am getting full quicker than I used too.  Good deal!  Can't wait to see how I do this week. Hopefully another 2 pound loss.  I don't expect that I will continue to loose 6 pounds in one week.  The first week is usually the most rewarding.  After that the loss slows down.  I like it that way though.  It is so encouraging to see such a big difference in one week and motivates me to keep going.

Graduation Weekend

I forgot to post this last week.  A week ago we traveled to Pittsburg Kansas to see Jeff's brother, Jason, graduate from Pitt State.  He isn't technically done as he still has 2 classes left to take this summer, but apparently, students who take summer courses are asked to walk in graduation in May anyways.  It was a nice relaxing trip.  We stayed in a casino hotel 20 minutes outside of Pitt just for extra fun.  The girls got to swim, the boys got to play in the casino, and I got to relax in a really nice hotel room.  It was a momentous occasion because not only was Uncle Jas graduating, but it also happened to be Mother's Day weekend and Jeff's birthday. I feel bad that Jeff has to share is birthday with Mother's Day every so often, but he took it like a champ. 

When people get bored at graduation they check facebook and... with the program

The new graduate

Bama checking out the menu at Cracker Barrel

Happy Mother's Day to me!

When asked what she was working the door for she replied, "for compliments!" She must have done this for at least 30 minutes.

Nice smile uncle Jason

A short game of checkers while we waited.

A weekend with Papa 2

On Sunday we decided to explore some local trails that we had not yet been on.  We went on two trails and walked 2.5 miles by the end of our experience.  The girls did a lot better than I expected.  Kadyn never pootered out and Brennan did a little only towards the end. 

Rickety old viewing tower

Taking in the views

Love this!

Man of the day

A piggy back ride towards the end.

A flowery view!

My two cuty pies!

The first trail was paved and it had a huge lookout tower half way through which was really neat.  I was surprised that neither of the girls were freaked out about the height of the tower or the fact that it was kind of shaky going up.  The second trail was dirt with a lot of rugged rocks so it was a little more challenging, but the girls were really champs about it all. There were two more lookout points on this trail and some pretty views.  The weather was just perfect for this.  We even got sprinkled on a bit, but no one minded.  These trails were, by far, the best ones I've been on yet in our area.  The paths were nice and wide so didn't have to worry about poison ivy and there were so many flowers and views to look at.

Sorry the pics are awful.  I had to use my phone as I forgot my camera....again!  If I blew them up they looked pix-elated.

A weekend with Papa Part 1

Jeff left for Minneapolis on Wednesday for a conference and didn't return until late Sunday night.  As it turned out, I only had to man the girls for two days by myself as my Dad was going to be in the KC area on business and thought he'd stop by for the weekend.  It was AWESOME!  We had so much fun.  At the end of the weekend I literally felt like we had been on vacation just because our weekend was chalked full of lots activities that we hadn't experienced yet.

Saturday morning we all got to go see K's last soccer game.  It was the first game that her team actually won and they got their participation trophy at the end so it was extra special.  My Dad never got to see either I or my sister do any kind of sports growing up and this was the first athletic event he got to see any of his grandkids do as well, so that made it even more neat.  Unfortunately, I forgot my camera so no pics.

Later that afternoon we headed to Highlandville which is about 30 minutes north of Branson.  There is a couple that has a fishing farm there.  They provide the fishing equipment and you can fish as long as you want.  At the end you have pay $5.50 per pound of fish that you catch.  There were three different ponds.  One had 3/4-1 pound fish.  Another had 1-2 pound fish, and the biggest pond had 2 pounds and up.  We opted for the little guys.  K and B had fished in a little pool at a carnival once, but this was much closer to real fishing.  The ponds were VERY shallow and you could see all the fish in them.  The fish were conditioned to being fed so every time you threw your pool in the water it was a feeding frenzy trying to get to the bait.  Catching a fish was a sure deal and it was pretty neat for the kids to be able to see the fish bite at the bait in the water.

 Unfortunately, because catching the fish was so easy and because you had to pay for each fish you caught, we didn't fish long.  Once we caught 4 fish (our supper's worth) we called it good and decided to leave.  One of the best parts of this experience was that the fish farmers cleaned the fish for you.  The kids got to watch this process.  They even deboned the fish and then packed it on ice and sent us on our way.  The four fish we caught ended up costing us $17.00 and our experience lasted half an hour.  When we grilled the fish that night we all had our fill and still had 1/2 a fish left over.

For the more experienced fishermen, they offer a catch and release experience.  The cost of that experience is 20 dollars per hour.  We saw another couple fishing that caught a seven pounder while we were there.  I'd say that's the way to go if you want to experience catching a big fish.  Taking home a seven pounder would've costed close to 40 bucks, if you decided to keep it!

Here are some pics of our experience. Kadyn enjoyed it the most and wanted to fish more.  Almost wish the fish were just a little harder to catch so it would prolong our experience. Another time I guess.
This was the medium sized fish pond.

The duck's job was to eat the moss.

This is how you put bait on your hook.

The BIG fish pond next to us


Look at all those fish go after the bobber!

It wouldn't be a real fishing experience if you didn't get your hook stuck once

"I don't want to smell fishy!"  Typical clean freak Bren!

"I caught the first fish! Dinner!!!!"
  This really is the way to go if you have small children and want to go fishing.  There is no waiting for action so the kids don't get bored and impatient.  Fun, fun, fun!!!!

Thursday, May 17, 2012


I had a big long blog posted about the exit of one of my daycare clients.  Then I decided, nah.  Too much negativity.  I just want to say that I hope his departing will return peace to my home with the other kiddos therefore reducing my stress load.  AND....I'm really hopeful that come next August, I can actually fill his spot with someone who is a joy to watch.  We shall see.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

9 weeks

Does anyone ever stay their goal weight their whole lives or is it a constant battle for everyone?  It is for me.  I have seasons of greatness with my body, and seasons of not so great.  I'm back in the not so great category.  The good news is I know what to do.  I know it works.  And I finally have the motivation I need to get going. 

I knew I was gaining wieight since my clothes were starting to fit snug, some I had even outgrown, and it seemed I was in need of a larger bra. Oh, and lets not forget that little belly pudge that I liked to pass off as extra skin from having babies.  For some reason though, I didn't feel the need to do something about it until I finally got the courage to step on the scale again.  When I did, I found out I was heavier than I thought and only 3 pounds shy of where I was years ago when I was living in KC and at my heaviest.  Finally, I got my motivation. 

I've done only two different kinds of diets: calorie counting, and portion control.  Both work.  However, one is more work than the other.  The last diet I did was portion control.  So much better. You don't have to count anything.  Simply use salad plates to eat making sure to make half of that plate veggies, 1/4 of it protein, and 1/4 of it carbs.  I don't usually snack, but if I need to I will try to snack on fruit and chase it with some water. 

I have tried to add exercise into my daily routine before, but it has been harder than ever to stick with when you have little ones around.  So....I try to be active when I can, but I don't beat myself up when I can't and I certainly don't depend on exercise to get my weight down. 

My goal is to loose at least 2 pounds a week for the next 9 weeks, then maintain.  I kind of hate the word "diet" as it almost implies something you do until you see a desired result then you can stop.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Being able to be the person that never fluctuates and always stays in their healthy zone requires a permanent change to how you eat.  So.....I hope to keep doing the salad plate thing indefinitely, but realistically I know I'm human and I will flub up again at some point.  What is important is I always seem to have a threshold.  This point where I start to feel uncomfortable in my own skin before it gets the point of being very unhealthy. I use that as motivation to start making better decisions about my health.

So here's to the next 9 weeks and meeting goals.  I have a weight check in log to help hold myself accountable. I will try to check in every now and then on my blog to also add to that accountability too.  Also, by blogging I am keeping record of my triumphs as motivation for the next time I find myself in this same situation and need just a little extra encouragement that I can do this!

As I told my mother, it's not about being skinny. It's about feeling sexier for my husband.  It's about wearing clothes that flatter instead of hide my body.  It's about feeling good in my own skin.  And it's about being a better, healthier, happier me. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Results are in

Kadyn was tested and this came back to me:

"Kadyn did very well on the identification tests and shows a high potential for academic achievement.  However, because state guidelines limit gifted programs to service only 3-5 percent of the school population, identification criteria must be high.  Your child's scores will be in place for two years and at that time they will be re-evaluated." 

I have no idea what her score was.  They didn't share that.

So at least I don't have to worry about Kadyn feeling any extra pressure to perform at a higher level because of a label.  That is a relief.  I still know my child is very bright and will still continue to try to foster her growth at home. 

It will be entirely on her next teacher to make sure to differentiate the curriculum to meet her needs.  All teachers should do that for all the different learners anyways.  It is a job requirement and they'll all required to do it.  However, some teachers are better at that than others.
I feel fortunate that her teacher this year was receptive to my concerns.  I realize that she has a whole classroom full of different level learners and Kadyn is just one of those students.  I do not realistically expect her to spend a ton of time with my one child, but I do expect her to know where Kadyn is in her education and take a little time to send home material that I can work with her on that will continue to help her grow and thrive with the level she is at.  This year Kadyn spent the first half of the year in a reading group with one other child.  By the end of the year she was in a reading group all by herself.  Her teacher would send home different materials than she gave the rest of the class for me to work with her on and I really appreciated this.  Kadyn never did complain about being bored and I occasionally would see evidence of new learning which relieved me.  I hope that her next teacher is that accommodating for Kadyn.  I think part of my anxiety comes from not knowing what next year's teacher will be like.  We shall see.

I'm excited to see how Kadyn does next year when things are presented to her that we have not yet learned at home.  I may have overprepared her for Kindergarten.  I want to see her challenged.  If there is one thing that Kadyn needs more of, it's challenging material.  She has a tendency to get very upset if she doesn't catch on to things quickly.  I think it's an important life lesson to figure out how to get through challenging things rather than just giving up.  I want her to learn perseverance and believing in herself. 

It was never so apparent to me that Kadyn needed this lesson as when she tried to ride her bike for the first time (with training wheels).  For once, she was presented with something that she didn't get right away.  It wasn't something she could just tackle with her brain.  It was physical.  She tried it several times and had trouble.  With each try she became increasingly more frustrated the point of throwing a fit and then finally just giving up and saying she "hated" her bike.  It was a side of Kadyn I didn't particularly like to see, but it made me realize that she is so used to understanding things immediately that she didn't really know how to handle herself when she didn't get something right away.  It made me realize how important it was for her to be challenged more often.  I really want her to know what it means to work for something. 

So anyways, I'm rambling.  Just the thoughts and musings of a mother who wants the best for her child.  Gifted or not, it really doesn't matter. What matters is that my baby girl gets the best education possible to help her turn into a wise, independent adult who makes wise decisions and knows what it means to persevere and work hard for something.

Will I retest her in two years when her results expire?  I don't know.  I think I'll just see where she is at and take it from there. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Soccer 2012

Kadyn and her bestie Kaylee
Kadyn did soccer when she was 3 years old.  She didn't get into it much so we never did pursue it any further.  This year her best friend from school was going to participate, so she took the plunge again.  This time she did get into it a little more, although not that much and if the weather is hot, forget it. has been fun none the less.  I enjoy watching her run around after the herd and occasionally get a kick in.  Her team has yet to win. The best they have done is tie, but that doesn't seem to bother her at all.  I'm glad she's doing it for the exercise alone.  I have to admit, I enjoy it more than I thought I would.  My favorite memory from this season was when I was trying to tell her to be more aggressive and go for the ball when the other team has it.  She asked, "Do I have to say excuse me?"  Such a sweetie.  My kids are just not competitive I guess.

Prayer before the game. Love this about the YMCA!

A butterfly finally!!!!

This Sunday Jeff had to work and I was on my own to get the girls ready for  church.  We NEVER make it to church on time.  So I was especially excited that they were getting their shoes on (the last step before we load up) 20 minutes before service began.  We were going to make it on time by golly!  Then, I got a little side tracked.  As I put a few dishes in the sink I noticed that our cacoon in the bug cage had just hatched into a butterfly!!!!! This was soooo exciting for us. 

You see every year we collect the little buggers and they hatch into tiny little brown moths.  So disappointing.  This year I decided we had to catch a different type of caterpillar to have any shot at it turning into a butterfly.  One day we saw these big black caterpillars crawling around and they had what looked like sharp little black spikes.  The kids were intially scared to touch the caterpillars because of these spikes, so I took the plunge and touched them first.  I was a little nervous about those spikes too, to be honest. We discovered they looked worse than they felt. They were actually soft.  So we got out the old bug cage and waited for the cacoon to be built.  It only took a day.  Then we waited for two weeks.  During that time, I picked up the cage a couple times and looked.  I knew that little bugger was still alive in that cacoon because if I disturbed him too much the whole cacoon would wiggle with life.  It was so sci-fi.  I wondered where he was in his development to be able to protest my handling of his cage while still in the cacoon so much.

Anyhoo....the butterfly that emerged was not the prettiest thing I ever saw, but he was much better than a moth.  He had a little yellow and blue inside his wings, but I was unable to get a pic of that as his wings were still wet and floppy and he didn't have much control over them when I photoed him.  We had to go to church so we couldn't wait around for him to dry off and I didn't want to leave him in the bug cage because it was almost too little for the big butterfly he had become.

Needless to say, it was exciting and I have a feeling God will give us a free pass this time on being late to church again.  I'm sure he enjoyed watching us marvel at his new little creation. 


Friday, May 4, 2012


If you keep up with me you know I have suspected Kadyn is gifted.  Today I got a letter saying she scored in the 95% on her standardized tests.  They would like to further testing to see if she qualifies as gifted.  The test she would be taking is called the Screening Assessment for Gifted Elementary Students or (SAGES).  Should she score a 100 or higher (and I have no idea how high those scores go), then she will be asked to come back for further IQ testing this summer.  What was interesting to me is that her scores for the SAGES test will be remain in effect until the end of her second grade year.  If she qualifies to do further IQ testing the scores she makes on those tests will remain in effect until the end of her fourth grade year.  Wowsa!

I have heard proponents for and against having a child in the gifted program.  Proponents argue that their gifted children need to be challenged so they do not become bored in school and can reach their full potential.  I think I lean this direction.  I was very concerned that K would be bored in school going in as I came to realize pretty quickly that she wasn't performing at the same rate as many of her peers. I figured this out after working with my daycare kids.  There was no comparison.  She just picked things up so quickly and I could take her so far.  It was exciting working with her because of that so I just kept feeding her more information as the years went by.  I am so proud to have fostered a huge love of learning in her. 

Opponents argue that putting that label on your child, "gifted" can put undue pressure on them to perform at a certain level and cause stress.  For some it could make children feel as though they are "better" than other peers.  I must say, I certainly don't want K to feel any "better" than other children; maybe different, not better.  I just want her to understand God gave her a beautiful mind and she needs to use it to it's fullest.  I also don't want K to feel overwhelmed or like she is a failure if she doesn't live up to a certain standard as a gifted student.  So....I get this argument. 

However, when I weigh the pros and cons, it just seems wrong to waste such a great mind.  I want to see her grow and flourish; if she is identified as gifted, I want to make sure she is given material that will keep her on a path of growth so she can reach her full potential.  Of course I'm totally jumping the gun here.  She hasn't even taken her SAGES yet.  But these are things I have to consider before I even allow them to test her.

I was never tested to be gifted, and I don't think I was gifted.  I did take advanced placement English when I was in high school.  Things didn't always come easy to me. I really had to work at them.  I made straight A's in school but it was because I worked my butt off.  Jeff on the other hand, he tested gifted, but was never put into the gifted program.  He did take several advanced placement courses.  He had a great mind, but his grades didn't reflect that (meaning not straight As) because he didn't work for it.  He didn't do his homework but he aced his tests.  He figured, he knew the material well enough to ace the tests, why bother with the homework?  This scares me.  I want my kids to have a good work ethic in school and I think being challenged with the material presented to them is an important step to making sure they work hard.

So anyways, it will be interesting to see what comes of these tests.  I know several of my friends have gone through the gifted program. I would love to hear about your experiences good and bad and your thoughts.  Just want to educate myself so I know what might be in store for my little angel.

Toothless wonder

Kadyn is at a grand total of two lost teeth.  I love her new smile!