Tuesday, November 29, 2016

29 for the first time

Over 2 months ago, I celebrated my 29th birthday.  As you know, I've had a hard time remembering how old I was the past couple of years.  Don't worry - it won't be a problem this year...

My sweet husband made my day super special.  Here are a few of the things he did to make the beginning of the end of my 20's so great:
He made 3 flavors of cake balls, and they were all soooo delicious!
Pan-seared steak.  Yum.
Can you believe this?!
One of my very favorites!
Gift not pictured: a gift certificate for a massage with the appt. already made for my birthday afternoon!

So many friends and family, near and far, thought of me and called and/or sent texts, messages, cards, and gifts.  How kind and thoughtful?!  They all know me so well!  Here are a few of the tangible items I received:

You know how much I love a good deal, and in the weeks surrounding my birthday, we got to take advantage of several awesome birthday offers.  Here are just a few:
Free appetizer with an entree purchase at Granite City.  We shared both and still had leftovers, and our sweet waitress even sent home a special birthday treat, since we were too full for a b-day dessert!
Free Gigi's cupcake!
(We ate it before we remembered to take a picture...woops!)
Free pizza from Pizza Shoppe.
This didn't photograph super well, but it sure was yummy!
Free stack of pancakes (any flavor) from IHOP.
This one was white chocolate raspberry!
It was a really good day...and week...and month.  Haha.  ☺  29 is going well, so far - life is good.

Anyway. just thought I'd share with you...finally.  Thanks for reading!

More to come soon.


Favorites of the day:
quality family time
my cat-shaped lap warmer ;)

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

A new kind of goodbye

Oh man - I am so behind on blog posts!  I've literally been working on this one for a month.  Yikes.

Here's my to-do list where future posts are concerned:
new job
new additions to the home decor, etc.
cooking/Pampered Chef things

But first, I need to share some sad news and heartfelt thoughts...

About three weeks ago, I said goodbye to the family I've nannied for since moving to KC...because, they moved...to California.

Words can't really express how/why/to what extent this makes me so very sad, but I'm going to try:

First of all, I love them to pieces.  Really.  They're such wonderful people and those boys are simply the sweetest (and cutest).  From the moment we met, they immediately embraced both Bryant and I into their family, and they've been there for us ever since.  For the most part, we saw each other a few times a week for almost 2 years, whether it was just the boys and I, or all of us together for some occasion.  They became part of our "normal," our routine.

Secondly, this goodbye is different than ones I've said before.  I have babysat/nannied for several families - a couple for many years on end - and "goodbye" is never easy.  When I said goodbye to the family I cared for in Topeka, due to the fact that I was going to be spending summer breaks (and then graduating and living) in Lincoln (where I was attending college), it felt very strange.  I had known that family for 8 years - long enough to hold two of the three kids as newborns, help all three through potty-training, start helping them learn to read, etc.  Not living 5 minutes from them and spending time with them, together with my own immediate family, on such a regular basis just didn't feel right.  When I said goodbye to the sweet family I nannied for in Lincoln, because I was getting married and moving to KC, it was so, so difficult.  That family had welcomed me into their hearts and home and provided a level of genuine love and comfort in the home-away-from-home I found myself craving after graduating college and truly stepping out on my own.  I wrote about those sweet, smart, funny kiddos often in this blog!  They were a huge part of my life in Lincoln.

I'm comforted by the fact that I have continued to keep in touch with these families, both virtually and in person.  Even though some of the kiddos have grown taller than me, one is visiting colleges (*gasp*), and all are out of diapers and reading on their own (still hard to believe, though this has been true for several years, now), they still hold such special places in my heart, and I'm glad to call them friends.

What was different about this recent goodbye was the fact that I wasn't the one doing the leaving.  My life was not the one in transition, this time.  As a result of their departure on a new adventure for their family, though, my life did enter into a time of transition.  That job title had become part of my KC identity - it was the first thing outside of the home I found to do here, and it was something I absolutely loved!  Yes, there are several other pieces of my identity here, and I celebrate and embrace those, too.  It's a tough reminder, though, when people ask what I do; I no longer say, "I'm a nanny for twin three-year-old boys," because they're gone.

(Of course, this also means a dear friend (the boys' mom) is also moving away.  Good thing I've had practice maintaining long distance relationships!  Though, it's difficult to lay by the pool together, share meals, craft, and do each other's nails over the phone...)

These pictures of the boys trying to pack me in a box to take with them (I think they really thought it would be possible to do so) pretty much sum up how we feel about each other and the fact that they were moving away:
(It was too dark to take pictures inside the box, but at one point, I really was all the way in with the flaps closed.  Upon me mentioning how dark it was, one of the boys handed in his beloved Daisy Duck to keep me company.)

Of course, we had to come say goodbye to Charlie and Pepper.  (There was too much movement with sweet Pepper to catch a good picture.)

I sent them to CA with one of my beloved stuffed cats.

Our final goodbye was so hard, but so sweet.  I was crying, of course, and as I leaned into the car to give one last hug to the boys in their car seats, one of them just held my head - gently, at first, then squeezed tighter and stroked my hair.  I can't make this up - it was so, so precious.  The other was too busy wiping his own silent tears.  Though it was so difficult saying goodbye, I will cherish that tender moment for a long, long time.

As sad as we were to see them go, we're thrilled for their family and all the new opportunities and adventures to be had in CA!  Praise the Lord for technology and how easy it makes it to keep in touch!

Sadly but glad-for-themly,

Favorites of the day:
I don't think I've posted since I've been able to announce that
My brother and sister-in-law are expecting a baby boy in March!  WOHOO!!

the time I was able to take to finally get this post finished up this morning (with a candle lit and a cat warming my lap, no less)

my sweet husband who regularly makes breakfast for me, because he's way better at mornings than I am
(Also, it's the 3-year anniversary of him officially asking me to date him!)

Friday, September 2, 2016

More glad than sad. ☺

Seriously?!  It's been over a month since my last post?!  Goodness gracious.  For the love of Pete.  "You've got to be pulling on my leg!"  *all the sad and/or surprise-faced emojis*

I said a long time ago I wasn't going to apologize for any lapses, so instead, I'll just THANK YOU for sticking with me and for reading.  ☺

Today's post is going to be more introspective than informative.  So, if you're looking for a play-by-play life update, a new recipe to try for supper tonight, or a guide to all the awesome things KC has to offer, you'll probably need to wait till a later post...or you could just read this one, anyway.  ☺

I recently took a trip back to "the good life;" more specifically, Lincoln, NE.  (Calm down - I'm not saying life isn't good in MO - it just says "the good life" on the NE state signs...also, it's true.)

The trip started with a baby shower for a couple former coworkers and quickly developed into a fun-filled, action-packed 24 hours...which actually consisted mostly of "catching up" over food and/or drink.  (Lincoln friends - please don't be offended if this trip didn't include visiting YOU.  Will hope to catch you on a future one!)
Some of the "food and/or drinks" pictured here.
A brown-bag lunch packed just for me?  Be still my heart. ♥

The introspective piece that came of all this - which was mostly developed over the 3-hour journey home - is this:
It was very refreshing to go to a place I am so familiar with and spend time with people who I am also so familiar with...and who are familiar with me and who I am.

Here's why (I think):
As much as I love meeting new people, exploring, building relationships, and trying new things, it's sometimes very exhausting!  Even though I'm more of an extrovert than introvert, there's a large part of me that cherishes the familiarity and ease that comes with established relationships.  Being able to "pick up where we left off" and already know background/"getting to know you" details makes sharing life happenings much easier.  And knowing the path someone has taken to get where they are makes for a unique, deeper perspective on current situations.

If I wanted to be poetic about it, I'd explain it this way:
There are many, many people who have played important roles in various chapters of my life.  You could even say they helped write some of those chapters.  It fills my bucket when those same people are anxious and excited to read the new chapters I am, and have been, working on.  Some prefer a summary, others want to read every word.  Either way, they're more interested in continuing to read than just putting the book down because it doesn't include their name as often as it used to.

I think I've taken that analogy as far as it will go, so I'll say it this way:
Friends are awesome - new and old.  But when distance separates you on a regular basis, old friends have the power to show how much they truly care by the effort they put into maintaining the relationship.  This doesn't mean calling every week, writing occasionally, visiting, or even texting every so often.  It could mean all those things and more, but it doesn't have to.  What means the most is the genuine care and interest shown in what's happened during your time apart, no matter how long it's been.  As I write this, I'm realizing this is also true for new relationships.  What sets the old ones apart, though, is the understanding the two parties have of each other that only comes with time and shared experiences.

Anyway, it was a really great trip, and I'm thankful to have had the opportunity to make it.  I've been asked if going back makes me miss Lincoln more and/or makes me sad.  There was probably a time in my life (in the first few pages of the KC chapter - ha) when I would've said, "Yes."  This time, though, the answer was, "No."  I was more glad than sad.  I was glad to have so many people I wanted to visit...and so many who were excited for me to visit!  That may sound a little conceited, but I don't mean for it to.  It's just nice to be "wanted" by so many in such a short amount of time, I guess ("I want you to want me...").  I was glad for my time in Lincoln - past and present.  I was glad to spend time with several people who had a large impact on my life then and who care so much about what's happening in my life, now.  I was glad to be reminded of how easy it is to go back...and I was glad to get home to KC.  ☺

Speaking of - I'm excited to share some of the awesome things we've been doing in and out of the house!  Will hope to be able to share sooner rather than later, this time!

Until then,

Favorites of the day:
This girl warms my heart.  She's so genuinely funny and cares so deeply about those she loves.
I just love spending time with her!
He isn't embarrassed to greet me with a huge hug in the middle of his school lunchroom.
I think that says a lot about this handsome, growing-up-too-fast guy.  ☺
 the new Pampered Chef products that came out yesterday!
My most favorite (or, at least, the one I was most excited about)?
The stoneware deep dish pie plate!
I grew up using my mom's, but it had since been discontinued (happens every so often when they change stoneware glaze colors), and I'd been patiently waiting for them to bring it back - hooray!
Check out all the other new products here: www.pamperedchef.biz/kensybyers
Let me know if you'd like any for YOUR kitchen!  I'm offering a 10% discount on any new products ordered this month.
Also - check out (and like!) my PC Facebook page (Kensy Byers - Pampered Chef)!
Tell all your friends!  ☺

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Operation DIY: status update

Welp, it’s a good thing we bought a house in the summertime when most of our evening commitments/activities are on a break (points to those who are referencing Friends, right now), because it (the house) sure has kept us on our toes!

There have been several not-so-fun (and sometimes surprise) house (and car) projects, but there have also been some fun projects, so I thought I'd share a couple with you. ☺

Upon receiving an expert recommendation, we decided to put our bed in the corner of the master bedroom, rather than on a wall.  It looked fine, as it was, but we thought it would be even better with a headboard!  We happened to have one we hadn't used in a while in the basement, so decided to make use of it...and upholster it!  After doing some Pinterest and Google research, we had a plan, and after gathering the necessary materials (using coupons for everything, of course), we started to implement it.  
First, we pried the top piece off, so we'd have an even surface.

I nearly forgot to take a picture of the foam piece by itself, but caught a bit of it before we covered it with the batting.
Here's a scrap!  ☺
Padded front and soft edges ready to cover.
Guess what we covered it with...?
A curtain panel!
452 (or something like that) staples later, we had a finished product!
Installed.  ☺
So, the next challenge was night stands.  Long story short, we found the perfect solution(s) at IKEA: skinny, stackable storage "cabinets."  We unstacked them and mounted them on the wall.  They have just the right amount of surface space for the things we need access to and a ton of storage in the fold-out "pocket."  IKEA is so good at small spaces...and ingenuitive storage...and awesome stuff, in general!  And my husband is so good at installing all the things!

The other project I'd like to share with you is our bathroom door.  There was some unused space in the main bathroom that we want to fill with a double vanity, at some point, but the door situation didn't make that possible, as it was.  So, we decided to put on a sliding "barn" door.  We found plans to build one and had some truly amazing help with the process!
Unfortunately, this is as much of the building process I was able to capture...it was a busy day.
Here's the (almost) finished product, though!
We took it down so I could add a few coats of primer and paint, then we put the handle on and hung it for good!
(Some of you may be wondering what that little "nook" in the wall is, am I right?  As far as we know, it was built to hold a phone.  We left it on the wall, but had to cut off part of the ledge.  It's still functional as a cute little shelf, though!)

Despite all the discouraging discoveries in the house, it has been fun to continue to make it our home.  I'm so thankful for my handy husband and his ability to do (and/or figure out) pretty much anything.  He's pretty amazing.  ☺

With all fingers in tact,

Favorites of the day:
time with friends, new and old
the fact that I'm able to wear flip flops
(This has always been a "favorite," of course, but I'm especially thankful after my broken foot.)
ice cream

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Rain, rain, go away. Actually...stay. We thank you today!

Hey, everyone!

Hope this finds you well and you're staying as cool as possible (no, I didn't say cool as a popsicle, but that wouldn't be terrible...) in this lovely summer weather.

I finally unpacked the computer - hooray!  Haha - just kidding...it's been out for a while.  But seriously - we're starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel (kinda) as far as unpacking goes, so we're able to take time for other things, finally...like writing a blog post about our moving day/weekend!  ☺

I'll try to keep this a "nutshell" version - can explain more in person, if you'd like!  This is what memories are made of...or something like that:

The plan was to close the purchase of our new home the Thursday afternoon before Memorial Day weekend.  That all went as planned, but it had been raining most of the day and was expected to continue the rest of the afternoon, which wasn't ideal...nor was it the dry weather we'd been praying for.  

We had helpers (friends and family) lined up to come help move the piano and other large, heavy stuff that evening.  Bless their hearts, they all showed up, despite the rain and tornado warning!  I'd gone straight to the new house after closing to do some cleaning, so I wasn't there when they loaded the piano (there wasn't much "uncovered" ground to cover there, so the rain wasn't as much of an issue on that end).  They kept watching the radar and decided to take a half-loaded truck to the new house in hopes of catching a "dry" window to get the piano in (which was a much more extensive process on the other end - it was pretty amazing!  I'll show you the video sometime, if you'd like.  My husband is a piano-moving genius and knows some really strong, helpful people to assist in carrying out his plans!).  By the grace of God, they literally had just enough time to get it in while it was not raining.  We had some pizza, then, those saintly helpers offered to go get another load, despite the rain!  Truly can't thank them enough!

We'd planned to put the entertainment center, couch, and most of the extra boxes in the basement, but on Bryant's first trip down to do so, he stepped on the carpet and heard a "squish."  It was wet halfway into the basement - a lot of wet carpet.  We'd also gotten about 8 inches of rain in 36 hours, the front yard was completely saturated, and water was coming over/under/through the front wall of the house.  Luckily, my handy husband had already redirected some of the drainage on the sides of the house, so the two side rooms in the basement were not affected.  We had fans, wet shop vacs, etc. going in an effort to salvage the carpet in the main room, but alas, it was not in any shape to keep.  So, we (mostly my dad and some helpers - thank you!!) tore it up - pad, tack strips, and all - and found this underneath:
"Wow!" huh?  I'd say we'd keep it, since it's back in style after its debut in the '50's, but it's not really salvageable, either, after having carpet pad glued to it, then scraped off.
While this was very discouraging on our very first night in our new house, and staying up into the wee hours of the morning trying to prevent a completely flooded basement wasn't ideal after a full day of moving, this is the conclusion we came to:
The rain we were praying away all day was actually a blessing in disguise.  If we're going to live in this house, that was the best time to have water in the basement, because...
...we didn't have any of our things down there, yet (besides the piano, which was on the opposite wall and not affected, praise the Lord).
...we can ask the seller to pay for some of the necessary remedies, since these issues weren't disclosed to us (this is the short version of that...more details, upon request).
...upstairs is still comfortably livable with the downstairs things up there..
...our realtor is awesome and is still on board with us to keep taking care of the issues at hand - even post-sale.
...we had lots of help right away, so didn't feel totally on our own with this particular "joy" of homeownership.

In the days following, we continued to have several helpers show up in big ways.  From cleaning and unpacking to pulling up carpet and installing ceiling fans to building shelves and a sliding barn door!  All the projects were things we'd planned to do, at some point, and could've done on our own, but we were so very blessed to have lots of helpers to get so many of them knocked out right away.  What a blessing to feel so supported and what an encouragement after the discouragement of a wet basement!  We were nearly in tears most of the day as we realized in such a tangible way the time and effort people were willing to give us.  It was a beautiful day, and they got a TON done!  Huge thanks to those who were involved (or home watching kiddos!)!

Another big thank you for all the well-wishes, offers to help, and to those who have been so gracious to give us housewarming gifts!  From gutter guards to power tools and so many thoughtful things in between - we sure do appreciate it all!  Here are a few:

It's feeling more and more like home every day, and we're still very excited for the potential this new home holds for us.  Thanks for sharing the journey with us. ☺


Favorites of the day:
generous friends who are willing to continue to allow their basement to serve as our storage unit till we can get our feet on the ground with the basement stuff
surprise flowers in the yard
pool time!