This little girl melts my heart! I often think about how different my relationship is between my 3 neices and nephew (have I mentioned Brax is finally going to get a boy cousin on our side of the family? Yaah for Baby Boy Larson!) and wonder if it is the same when they are your own kids. If we had another, how would we feel about baby #2 compared to Tylee? I know we would love him/her as much but how would it differ? Would other people feel the same way about baby #2 as they did about baby #1? Do I have enough love to give? I know the answer, my sister has 4 kids and loves them all equally but it is a hard thing to comprehend. Brecca was the 1st baby of the family and I was nuts over her from Day 1. I lived in Chanute then and saw her literally every day the first 6 months of her life. I don't remember why I finally missed a day but I do remember being very upset. I'm sure Nathan and Lindsey just loved that I came over every single day for 6 months straight. No, really, I think they liked it. I don't remember what was going on in my life when Braylee was born but I do know that kids were the farthest thing from my mind. I think I was commuting to Pitt and working at the Alibi, which would probably be considered my "wild years". Everyone has those, right? I saw Braylee a lot but wasn't glued to her like I had been with Brecca. Priorities, I guess. Brax was born just a month before my wedding and moving into our house so again, I was selfish. As the kids grew, they each gained their own personality and Brecca was the only one that was truly attatched to me. Braylee is the funniest little girl I know but is very independent and could care less even if Taylor Swift walked into the room, let alone Aunt Chelse. I think Tylee and Braylee are going to be a lot alike. Brax was/is all boy and I remember being confused as to how to handle him. I wasn't used to boys and he was onery, always into everything and never the snuggly type.

Then I had Tylee and I realized how special these kids were. I really remember being like, "OMG! This is how Lindsey feels about each one of her kids! I never knew that she loved them this much!" It is crazy to even think now but I seriously didn't know. No clue! When I was just an aunt (aka not-a-mom), I was around and I made it to the important things but I completely underestimated how important those kids are to me. I blew things off, wasn't around, didn't hold the baby when I went over to the house, ect. Then I had Tylee and things have been so much different with Brynna! I appreciate the rolling over milestone. I care to ask Lindsey if she has tried cereal yet. I encourage nursing. I change her diaper. I watch her while Lindsey runs an errand. Heck, I would even keep her all night! It is CRAZY how much having a baby changes your perspective on every. single. thing in your life. Even how much you love your neices and nephew(s)!


The most fattening pasta salad, ever

Cast of Characters:
1 lb Bacon
1 box Penne Pasta
2 Heads of Broccoli
2 Roma tomatoes or 1 large regular tomato
1 teaspoon minced garlicBoil water. Add salt and cook pasta until Al Dente. Chop bacon, broccoli, and tomatoes.Start frying the bacon. When it is about halfway done, add broccoli. When bacon and broccoli are almost done, add tomatoes and a heaping teaspoon of minced garlic. Let simmer for 4-5 more minutes.Drain pasta. Do not rinse. Do not drain bacon mixture. Fold into pasta. Serve warm.

YUM! This is one of my staple summer side dishes.


"I sceered."

I wanted to get Tylee a swingset for her birthday. I begged and begged and begged. We settled on a Dora 4-wheeler. Big compromise, huh? Anyways, Tylee is scared of everything. She is getting better but for awhile, was a bit ridiculous. She now enjoys riding the Rhino, the lawnmower, and finally, her birthday 4-wheeler. It only took 2 months.
Her friend Josie came out and hopped right on. Josie should've came over a long time ago because as Tylee saw her do it, she wanted on too! Success! Now, however, she is fearless. She thinks it is funny to just plow into the house, my flowers, or my legs. Thank goodness it only goes about 2 mph.


Big Girl Bed

Call me dumb, but for some reason, I've been longing to make Tylee's crib into a big girl bed. No, she wasn't crawling out, nor was there anything wrong. I just wanted her to be in a big girl bed. I've been considering this move for 6 months or so now - ever since I saw this bedding in Pottery Barn and knew that very second that I had to have it. Something in my head didn't click at that point and I never realized that lowering her bed and putting a rail on it does not require a need for a new twin bedding set. Dangit. We do not need this bedding in the least but its just one of those things that has been nagging away at me for months, watching it go on sale, the price dropping lower and lower. Yet, I still have NO NEED FOR IT! Ugh. Either way, Tylee is now in a big girl bed and the first few nights when I went to check on her, I found this. (Insert sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach here.) Thank goodness she was just on the floor. The first week was rough - she would fall out, walk in our room, or wander around the house at random times in the night. That is not a good sound when you live in the middle of nowhere and your husband works random hours. (Insert sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach here.) Thankfully, Tylee would then peek around the corner, wanting in my bed. She hasn't gotten out of bed randomly, nor fallen out in the past 4-5 days so I think we are on the upward slope to easy. However, just this morning I was sound asleep and woke to a little voice chatting away...in the living room playing with her toys! Wonder how long she had been awake?! So now what? Wait until she is 4 feet tall and we need to convert her bed to a twin bed? There is no way that bedding will still be there is what, 4 years? How can I manuever this from a want to a need?



Who is ready for fall? I'm going to assume every person in the midwest just raised their hands. I am so sick of 100+ degree weather. This past week of 80 degree temps has been amazing and I doubt that I'm alone in thinking that. I'm tired of sweating, tired of our (Tylee and I's) summer clothes, tired of grilling (I need me some casseroles!), ready for some new candles, new house decor, and a new routine. Our delightful 10-hour days are about over at work and it appears that these cooler temperatures are going to be half-way staying put. Thank you, Jesus.
I read an article in my Womans Day Magazine (that I got a year subscription for FREE off the For the Momma's website) that said September should really be your "start-over" month. The start of the school year brings a different budget, (possibly) a new dinner-time, new activities, and earlier bedtimes. After 3 months of chaos summer and being on the go, September is the month we tend to slow down and start to settle in for the winter. The author said that she uses September to get organized and "stock-up" for the long winter ahead. I am finding myself agreeing with her. I need a fresh start. I always love need Sunday nights at home to get organized and prepare for the next week. I especially love the Sunday nights around payday when my budget is fully stocked and ready for the week. It always seems to be a better week when my fridge is full, my gas tank is full, my bills are paid, lunch is prepared for the week, my house is clean, laundry is done, and I'm ready to start the week. It is kinda sad that 99.9% of that revolves around money, but its true. When I'm broke, its like my tank is half empty and I can feel it in everything I do. That is why budgeting is so important for me. Sometimes I get off track but I am trying to pay attention. Money makes the world go round, right? You should head on over to my friend Audrey's blog for their weekly "Monday Money" post. They paid off over $28,000 in debt in just a few years. AMAZING, huh? I bet her tank is always half full. (Do you like that shameless plug? Ha!)
So what do you say, you want to make September your "fresh start" month too? I actually got motivated last week so I'm a couple days early but I'm geared up to start a new routine. I've been slacking on my budget, diet, cooking vs. eating out, house cleaning, and maintaining Tylee's schedule. Even though we aren't starting school, something about this cooler weather and change in seasons is motivating me. Wanna join me?



Have you been following my coupon advice and checking out For the Mommas? What's that? You haven't? Ugh - you've been missing some great deals. Yesterday, I got Grandma a brag book for her purse and Tylee a book with pictures of all her family from Walgreens for FREE. I got 15 FREE personalized Shutterfly cards in the mail just yesterday and all of them are ADORABLE! I also got a free 1-year subscription to Weight Watchers magazine a few weeks ago. Score! But remember, these bargains are only bargains if you were going to buy/needed the item in the 1st place. Did I need the brag book and family book? No - but for $2 shipping it was something I was willing to splurge on. Obviously, I'm a picture person and those are right up my alley.
My biggest score so far has been this photobook. Picaboo is giving away a 20-page book to each new customer AND I scored a $100 gift card for $25. My total came to $135 and guess how much I paid? Twenty-five buckaroos! Tylee has 4 or 5 other books from Shutterfly/Snapfish but this one from Picaboo is definitely my favorite. I try to only order books when I get a free coupon code but haven't gotten one in awhile. Translation - I haven't made a book in over a year. Consider yourself warned - this is long. If you have a couple (or 30) extra minutes and want to see the past year in review, click here. (If the pages don't open right away, toggle between them and they will come up.) Oh! And I would love to hear what you think! Just keep the errors to yourself because the book is already on its way. I will be highly disapointed if you find something wrong because it is too late to change it. What I don't know, won't hurt me! Right?


Baby Brynna

There are lots more where these came from!


How adorable is she?

I'll be honest. I didn't want to take these. I am not a professional, I barely know what I'm doing with my camera, and I have no idea how to pose people or anything about maternity shots. This is really a once in a lifetime thing and I didn't want to ruin it for Kaylee. She promised me that I didn't give myself enough credit and that she wasn't worried about perfect photography - she just wanted to document the occasion. I am SO glad she convinced me to take these. It was great practice with lighting and I think they turned out better than great! I hope she agrees!


Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny

I'm not normally a fan of bikini's on little girls but since I basically have full-access to anything and everything you'd ever want from The Gap right there in Tylee's closet (Thanks Linds!), I figured we myswell at least wear every article of hand-me-down super cute clothing at least once. It'd be rude not too, right? So here is Tylee's debut bikini modeling appearance.

I think she looks pretty darn cute! Do you?


23 Things I Learned Camping

  • If it takes 4 hours to get there in a car, plan another couple hours pulling a camper.
  • I need to learn how to relax.
  • Internet is a must.
  • We need to buy a TV.
  • The bathhouse is not near as bad as I used to think.
  • Camping would not be fun if I did not enjoy cooking.
  • Years of watching my Dad cook over an open fire at the lake paid off.
  • Tylee does not know if we are .5 miles from home or 300 miles from home.
  • Don't ask a 2-year old what her favorite part about camping was. I promise you will be disapointed when they say, "Coloring."
  • It is just as hot in Arkansas as it is in Kansas.
  • Our camper was the perfect size for the 3 of us.
  • Take more than 1 outfit a day for Tylee. Camping is a lot dirtier than playing at home!
  • There is nothing better than spending 4 days alone with the 2 people I love the most.
  • I need to teach my husband to take pictures of me. I really was on this trip.
  • Don't show Tylee the playground on the very 1st day next time. Unless all you want to hear is, "I wanna see the playground, Mommy. I wanna see the playground."
  • The scenery in Arkansas is beautiful.
  • A 2-year old screaming, "Look! Deer Mommy! Deer!" will scare them away quickly.
  • Have pool. Will travel. Brilliant!
  • Play-Dough is more fun for both Tylee and I when she is playing with it outside.
  • Soak up every moment.
  • We are still learning which shoe goes on which foot.
  • It baffles me that Tylee is big enough to put her own shoes on.
  • It baffles me Tylee is big enough to play on the playground all by herself.
  • 4 Days goes by way too quickly.