Saturday, October 15, 2016

Braxton Cade: 5th Birthday Celebrations

Brax had quite the birthday week with several celebrations - it just keeps going and going!

Since he didn't have school on his birthday, I decided to take the day off and love on him all day long. It started with a trip to see papa at Starbucks, followed by a surprise stop at Hurt's Donuts in Wichita with cousins.

We were then off to the zoo for a morning of exploring and going to whatever exhibit he wanted. We fed the fish (I hardly ever have enough quarters for fish food), went to the reptile room (ick for mama!), and meandered over to see the lions, tigers, and elephants. 

It was fun letting him lead the zoo trip for the morning - and even more special just him and I able to spend the entire day together. The days of him and I hanging out, just the two of us, are quickly coming to a close as he heads off to all-day school next year.

Once daddy and Mackie came home from school, little dude excitedly opened his gifts from us: Legos, Ninja Turtles, a constellation lantern, colors/crafts, and some camo gear for the upcoming hunting season. We capped off the evening with a trip to Chili's (his pick!) for his favorite dinner - corn dogs, chips and salsa, and pineapple and broccoli. (he's easy to please!)

Today, though, may have been more exciting for the little dude as he's finally old enough to have a friend birthday party. We decided long ago that 5 was the magical age where the kidlets could start having friend parties. 

Like Mackie, we opted to have the party at Bluebird Books - and once again, our favorite bookstore and Downtown Hutch shop didn't disappoint! Mel and Dell went above and beyond to find Ninja Turtle books, crafts (including slime!), and made the cutest cupcakes. Brax was going a mile a minute - and despite the noisy room, all seven of his friends were gentlemen and well behaved. (and provided us some exhausting morning entertainment!)

Happy Birthday week, buddy! We're so glad to celebrate YOU!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

To Braxton Cade: On Your 5th Birthday Eve

My dearest Braxton Cade (aka: Leonardo), 

In just an hour, you turn five years old. FIVE! How on earth did my baby turn five overnight? Wasn't it just yesterday where I was lifting weights, only to have my water break and your daddy rush me to the hospital in a (somewhat) quick labor, where you made your grand entrance just five hours later (and 17 days before your Oct. 30 due date)? And wasn't it just the other day when we took you in to get tubes for your poor ears? Or last week when you broke your leg and donned a purple leg cast oh-so proudly while dressing up as Bill Snyder for Halloween? 

I promise you it seems just like a few days ago when you started "big kid" Sunday School, then 3-4 year old preschool. Now you're in your last year at preschool and next year you'll be going to even "bigger kid school" (aka: kindergarten). 

Sniff sniff. This growing up stuff is hard for mamas. Especially when it's time for the baby of the family to grow up. 

I don't have any pictures of your daddy at your age. And I didn't know him (way) back then. But I have to think you and him are twins, 29 years apart. You have his tow-headed blonde hair, wild and fun disposition, and doesn't-like-to-sleep-at-night spirit. You definitely have his quick wit and charm and somehow light up a room and make everyone giggle while also being really endearing and loving, all in one moment.

You're one of my best baking assistants.... 

Hands down my most handsome before-preschool Starbucks date....

Can ask for anything you want from me when you wear a hat...

Make Target dates out of the ordinary... 

Can pull off playing soccer in baseball cleats...

And have the cutest grin (and mohawk) this mama has ever seen. 

Buddy, your daddy and I pray that you let your light and spirit shine oh-so mightily for Jesus in your fifth year of life. That your knowledge of the Bible and of our mighty Father continues to grow and you learn of His love for you. 

A lot will happen this coming year - you're going to graduate from preschool; you'll start kindergarten; and you're becoming a big kid, not the little boy with pudgy hands and cheeks that I can't help put kiss or hold over and over again. We're praying for you in every transition, every memory, and every stage that you approach. (even if mama weeps a bunch...remember your promise that you're always my baby, even when you're a grown-up!)

We love you, Braxton Cade, and can't wait to see what God has in store for you this coming year. You're an entire handful now - Happy 5th Birthday!


Sunday, September 25, 2016

Mama On The Run: An Extra Special Half Marathon

I've run the Run for the Rocks Half Marathon at least six times in the six years we have hosted it through my job at Hutch Rec.

Only this time my time actually counted. And I ran the entire course uninterrupted instead of setting up mile markers or checking on volunteers or going back to double-check that curves and turns were safe and just right for the participants. 

I passed the baton to our new full-time race coordinator and had the time of my life racing through my town a race near and dear to my heart and one that I've spent countless nights mulling over, sweating over, and making sure our participants had the best taste of the Salt City they could experience. 

I went in with a 2-hour time goal. Ideally I wanted anything under 2 hours - 1:57-1:59 was sounding mighty nice, but I crossed the finish line exactly in the 2-hour mark, 2:00:16.Normally competitive me wonders where I should have kicked it in or where I lacked. My training was steady - slow - these several weeks leading up to the race, faced with a nagging staph infection and other issues. I definitely see the need for a structured strength training plan and being consistent with my diet as a whole (meaning: sweet treats are just that - treats and not every day!).

That being said, I sped through the finish line feeling giddy and am still smiling as I reflect on the race. There was nothing like smiling, waving, and shouting at all of the volunteers and police officers throughout the course- many by name as they are the same ones year in and year out I've had the pleasure of getting to know during the coordinating years. I loved going through each water station giving out high fives. And there's nothing like the Gowans Stadium finish, which I've drooled over and have watched more than 1,500 runners do it since 2011.

It's also a joy running with fellow Hutch and regional runners who I've gotten to know pretty well. They're the ones who are registering year in and year out, who understand the importance of racing local and the excitement it brings a community.

So can I race better? Sure, there's always a way to get better. (And I get to try it all again in two week at another half-marathon race).

But this morning's race story wasn't going to be about the finish time. It's all about community and literally running out a vision that unfolded all of those years ago and I had the pleasure of being a part of from behind the scenes for the last five years.

And a side note...I also brought home my Rock Out Challenge medal after running my own 5K yesterday when the Classic Rock was canceled. Bling bling!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Birthday Babes

Mama may be on to something.

After years of doing one child's family birthday party, only to have 4-6 weeks pass by and host the second child's birthday party, mama decided it was time for the kidlets to have a joint birthday party with the family this year. 

With Mackie's birthday in August and Brax's birthday in October, we opted for the tweener month and hosted the grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins for a very casual Sunday afternoon party, complete with outdoor play, pinatas, balloons, ice cream and cake. Perhaps the hardest part of the party was frosting a stubborn homemade vanilla cream cake with whipped strawberry frosting. (I'll take that type of "stress" any day!)

Both babes had a blast and made precious memories with cousins. And the best part? We kept everyone outdoors so our somewhat clean house remained that way!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Mama On The Run: Hold On...For One More Day

Labor Day brings a purging mindset of sorts in the Conkling household. I'm in full organization, type-A, back-to-school and structure mode, which calls for a fall clean-out of the house.

I've been purging kids' clothes and houseware items for future garage sales. Jack has been cleaning out the garage making his own piles. Even the kids will be joining in on the fun tomorrow as they purge those annoying little toys and trinkets that aren't worth anything but somehow pile up in their rooms (to which mama will later permanently purge them in the trashcan).

I have no problem purging, giving items to Goodwill, or stockpiling the garage sale stash underneath the stairwell in the basement.

With one exception....

This beauty is a 2009 BOB Ironman jogging stroller. I received this a few months before Mackie was born after weeks upon weeks of research (ridiculous amounts of research went into this product before my parents gifted us with one). We even purchased a BOB Revolution Duallie stroller when Brax came along, but sold that to fellow running friends about two years ago (fighting back tears, mind you).

As I said before, I've had no problem selling or purging stuff - including baby items. I didn't sniffle when someone bought the exersaucer or Bumbo chair or a bulk of the baby clothes for each of my children (with the exception of a few essential outfits and first pair of Baby Nikes that I had to keep). I didn't even choke back tears when we sold the play kitchen or little toolset or other fun toddler items that took up our entire living room.

So why is it so hard to part ways with a 7-year-old stroller that is only used a few times a year to cart Brax around when he's done walking or running? I certainly don't push him for a few miles like I used to with both him and his sister.

And that's the problem. While I love each stage my child enters, a part of my heart aches a bit when I think back to those days. The cool, fall mornings when I'd bundle Mackie up in a blanket and we'd run around the neighborhood and wave at the school kids on the bus. Or loading up the snack stash to keep Brax entertained while we took a jaunt along the trail when big sis was at preschool.

I remember thinking to myself back then - when we waved at the bus or as I glanced down at my tow-headed toddler moving his head back and forth to see pictures in the clouds - that these days were but a moment and I'd find myself where I'm at now....deciding when (or if!) it's time to sell the final piece of baby equipment that has brought along so many precious moments with my babies.

It's silly to have so many emotional ties to an object. This is why I don't have a problem purging - it's just stuff! But this object goes beyond being "just" an object to me.

There will come a day (hopefully!) when I feel it's time to say good-bye to good 'ole BOB. In the meantime, we've created a lovely parking place for it in our garage...and I'll keep trying to squeeze Brax into it a few more times, just for memory's sake.