Thursday, August 29, 2013

first dive

We went to the pool the other day and Tristan said, "I'm going to go off the diving board." And off he went to do so! It's amazing because all summer he's been scared to do so, but today for some reason, he wanted to.  He also decided all of the sudden he wanted to go down the water slide too. We didn't get the first dive on video, but Nathan was able to capture a few others (sideways). Check them out!

Monday, August 26, 2013

failure, faith, and grace

Failure has such a negative connotation. As kids we believe with all our hearts that we know everything. As I get older, I realize the less I really know. I know nothing, comparatively. Why is that? Where did that thought come in? We come out of the womb prideful. Ironically, as we get older, we tend to have a fear of failure that increases within us. We can't make a mistake or we. are. done. Really? How is it that we have become so arrogant to think we cannot make a mistake? Again, we come out of the womb prideful. We really need to expect to make mistakes, expect to fail. Realizing now as an adult, that we know far less than we ever though we did and yet, we struggle, with fear of failure.

Faith is an amazing thing. For some it is easier to come by than others. Personally, I think that is God's way of allowing others to encourage people in their walk. We can't all be in despair at the same time. God takes us through a season of stripping away junk in our lives. He is constantly working on one thing or another. We get to a point with it where it is time to show how we have learned, strengthened, and increased our faith. Yes, I did say learned. We have to be taught how to have faith. Anyone can say they believe, but put those words into action and that is called faith. God will allow the same thing to happen to use until we are putting out faith into practice in that area. It's not to punish us. He draws out the junk and says, "Now, let's put this into action!" Sometimes we land flat on our face, other times we coast right on through. But this is exercising our faith. We are given the opportunity to practice what has been taught.

Between our fear of failure and learning to exercise our faith, we begin to understand grace. Grace, is understanding I will make mistakes, over and over again. Grace, is when presented with a problem and I fail, it's okay, I will try again. Grace allows room for error, growth, and success all at the same time. Grace is not condemning yourself when you can't get it right. Grace is not quitting and giving up when things get hard. When we can extend grace to ourselves, we begin to see God in a different light and see that this whole life is literally a journey to becoming who He has created us to be. We understand what it means to co-labor. We experience love in its fullest.

Brooke wrote this to me as something she's recently learned and wanted me to share on my blog. Hopefully you gain something from her experiences as well.

Friday, August 23, 2013

why i work

Dear Tristan,

Not too long ago you informed me that Daddy and Tristan live at home and Mommy lives in New York. (OUCH!). I'm sure it was not designed to do that, but the statement breaks my heart. But no worries, I won't hold it against you. You were merely saying what you observed. 

Seeing as how you are three years old, you've never really seen a time when I didn't ever work. Although I was anxious about leaving you after maternity leave with the daycare provider, it was also a relief to relax into something "normal" compared to the gigantic craziness you brought to my life.  Flying to NYC for a work trip immediately after my maternity leave was over ensured I was able to get a full night's sleep ~ despite having to wake up every 3 hours to pump. I think one time I even slept 5 hours - oops! 

Tristan, some people work to earn a living and some people are lucky to get paid to do what they love. I am lucky to be someone who gets paid to do what she loves. While chaotic at times, my job provides me the motivation and determination to consistently think outside the box, find solutions, work well with others, and develop something great for an outstanding company. Am I saving lives? No. But I could be by creating jobs with my successful projects, right? Some people put a lot more into those types of jobs that 'save lives' or 'save people', such as medical doctors, firefighters, lawyers, or teachers. But in my eyes, most every job is important to the success of the economy, which in fact, saves lives and people. Everyone is important. And every job is important in some way or another. But I love the challenges my job mentally provides me, similar to how I see your blissed out look when you are thoroughly engaged in completing your Thomas puzzle. 

What if I told you it was your puzzle, games, toys.....or me? I'm almost certain you'd choose me, but wouldn't that be unfair for me to put that pressure on you to decide?  I think somewhere down the line many people have absorbed the message that the mommys who love their kids don't work. Well, there may be many reasons why mommys work. And they may not be what you think. But these are mine:

  1. I love what I do.
  2. Being creative through my thinking, design, processes, and production makes me happy. And it helps bleed over into how patient and engaged I am as a mommy to you. 
  3. Because those awesome vacations are not a necessity to many families, but they are to me. It's important to me you receive a variety of experiences, including those that take us places ~ most of which you have a lot of fun at. Without these experiences, you may not be as open minded of a person you can be, and being open minded is an extremely great quality to have. These experiences and vacations are made possible by two incomes. 
  4. Because I want you to view a woman as a strong, independent individual and I want you to wholeheartedly respect all women as you would a man. 
  5. Because I worked before you were born and I want the job I love to be there after you go to college. 
  6. Because I hope it teaches you to be happy and do what you love in life.
  7. Because I would go insane if I stayed at home all day without the any intellectual thinking going on. 
So, I love my job, I love work, I don't love traveling so much (so I agree with you there) and I'm glad it's slowed down a lot from the first half of the year....but I love you and Daddy so much more. So if I had to choose, I would choose you. But I'm glad I don't have to. And I hope I never do.

Love you forever and always, 

While all of my reasons for working are true, my inspiration for writing this letter to Tristan after he made the comment came from reading this author's letter to her daughter.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

it's worlds of fun!

Almost the entire Kems family headed to Worlds of Fun last Sunday for a day of roller coaster ridin', cotton candy eatin', lemonade lovin', bumper car ridin', nacho lovin', face paintin' day of fun!  Check out our day of fun!

Our first ride ~ the patriot. So. Much. Fun.

Saving some money by having a picnic with food from home. :)

Alex ready for his first roller coaster ride.

Sibling and niece fun!

Daddy and Tristan 


So sweet!

I'm hungry....


Cousin fun!

Riding with Aunt B!


Thanks for contributing all the selfies, Christine!

What up, Prowler?

Riding with T

How scared he was to be in my backpack, lol.


Spiderman face painting fun!

More beauties!

Monster truck rides at Camp Snoopy!

Best Buds!

Toot toot!

Tristan LOVED the bumper cars.

you decide

Monday, August 19, 2013

build a bear

Uncle JJ gave Tristan a build a bear gift card when he was born. We finally used it this last weekend. Tristan had so much fun picking out his doggy, stuffing it with a soft heart, and he even picked out a sound machine that makes a loud ROAR (instead of barking) to give his new doggy. Doggy's name? Well Dolphin, of course.  

Being a little shy....

Picking out a soft heart for Dolphin.

Washing Dolphin all up to make sure he's clean. (He told me he's a boy).


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

nathan's grillin' and chillin' 37th birthday

Last weekend Tristan and I threw Nathan's 37th birthday party as an outdoor grillin' and chillin' party. I surprised him with a gift of flying Giffin in for the weekend and Tristan bought him a KU basketball jersey with the number 76 on it (year he was born) and our last name. I thought I bought a size way to big, but it turns out that it fits him perfectly and me like a dress. :)

I tried to go as green as I could for this party by eliminating as much plastic as possible ~ aside from the old fashioned hot dog baskets and table cloths (both made from plastic and decorated in classic picnic colors). Instead of plastic cups, I used mason jars and ordered paper cups from amazon (since apparently you can't find 16 oz paper cups anywhere close by). I used cloth napkins for the guests as well as bamboo utensils that I found online at Joanne Hudson's.  I wanted to use all glassware, stainless steel utensils, and ceramic plates, but I didn't have enough on hand. For easy disposal, I set out two recyclable containers for the guests - one for glass only and one for all other recyclables. I set out a fun basket for the guests to discard of their linens. (Thanks for the recommendation Grammy!)

Grammy, Aunt B, and Aunt Amy came early to help set up and decorate for the party. While there weren't a ton of decorations, it was still fun putting everything together for the BBQ. We had hotdogs on fresh hoagies, grilled veggies, fresh veggies, pirate's booty, quinoa pico de gallo with tortilla chips, Italian pasta salad, coleslaw, corn on the cob, and fresh fruit all served on old fashioned hot dog baskets. We had a variety of toppings for the hot dogs including: relish, fresh onions, ketchup, mustard, hot mustard, hot peppers, and a relish/onion mix that I found at World Market. Drinks consisted of grilled lemonade, watermelon cherry water, a variety of world market soda pops, San Pelligrino, honest kids juice boxes, beer, and fun mason jar adult drinks. The kids played long and hard on the slip n' slide, chased each other with water guns (even got the grandparents involved too), played in the sand box, and even competed with their parents in a game of washers. All in all, I think Nathan had a great time and was so happy for all who were able to come out and celebrate with him. 

Isi playing washers with his dad.

The birthday boy cooking up the grub.

Fun paper straws for the guests.
They say "drink me" "party" and "celebrate".

Grilled lemonade ~ yes, that's right. And it was awesome.

Went as green as I could for this party.

Watermelon cherry water ~ yum!

Drinks for kids and adults. 

The tables were ready for the guests.

The kiddos were too hungry to wait.

Me and my birthday man.

Sterling and Amy taking selfies.

Fun with the kids.

Colton and Sterling ~ cheese!

Uncle Lloyd enjoying some grub.

Smile Aunt Cheryl!

Sand pit fun.


Giffin surprised Nathan by flying in from LA!

Kale and Josh waiting to slide.


Bailey bug looking totally 80's out!

Water gun fun - Thanks for letting us borrow them Aunt Amy!

Alex having some fun.

Birthday boy smiling.

Sterling and I having fun!

Giffin and Jon joking around.

Grandmas preparing for some water gun fun!


Don't you shoot me!

Making up after another argument. 

Katie helping the girls out.

Aunt Jamie smiling!

Uncle Daniel posin'

Profiles with Aunt Misty

Cover of a card from Uncle JJ

Shay is too cute!

Grammy posing for a picture.

Sally is "all done".

Aunt Christine is all smiles.

Me and Grandma Kems posin' for pics.

Bailey was enjoying the food!

Cute sisters!

Fun times!

Here's the link to all pictures ~ Thanks for letting me borrow your camera again, Amy!