All the Sun For You

A mom, two boys, a husband, and a whole lot of adventure!


Caking is my Therapy

A friend asked if she could pay me to make her son’s birthday cake.   When you post pictures of your cakes to FB, that happens a lot.

I always say no.

I don’t like the pressure of being paid to make something look good (I’m a perfectionist and can’t stand mistakes with my cakes), but I do love making a cake. So, I went to her house and made it there while our kids played and she learned basic fondant skills.  It was the perfect way to spend a Friday morning… So relaxing!

(The cake isn’t “done” in this photo… She will add a fondant trim to the bottom once she transfers it to her serving plate.)




Another Holiday… Another Cake!


My sister hosted a HUGE Halloween party so we came out to Chicago to attend. My contribution was the centerpiece cake (and cupcakes), a design I took right out of the Wil*iams Son*oma Halloween catalog. This one was so easy, a beginner could have done it (my sister’s bakery owner friend agreed!).



Blogger Friends ARE Real Friends

Once or twice a year, I get to meet up with blog friends who have become some of my favorite friends IRL.  Some of them live relatively close (3 hours) and some are a quick flight away (1.5 hours) and some are overseas.  Somehow, though, I see them in person quite a bit.  And  because we talk so much via text, FB, etc, it doesn’t feel that unique anymore when we do meet up.  Sometimes, it feels like we’d just seen each other so recently that a hug seems too formal.  And this year, it has felt so incredibly natural seeing everyone that I’ve forgotten to blog about it when in the past, I would have posted immediately.

It’s wonderful!


I met up with a few of my girls for a half marathon in July.  We talked via text multiple times a day, encouraged each other to train hard, and had good laughs about our kids and husbands leading up to our trip.  I hadn’t met one of the gals in person which seemed so strange to friends here (“you’re meeting her for the first time at the airport and then you’re traveling for a few days together?  Isn’t that weird?”) but it felt 100% normal to me.  Looking back, sure, it could have been a disaster but we’d become such good friends over the prior year that I didn’t even think it could be awkward. She and I spent two nights in Estes, hiking and running together, before we met up with two other friends in Denver.  We then spent two nights in Denver and ran a half marathon together that Saturday morning (in perfect weather!!!!).  It was super, super fun!  If they’d do it again, I’d be up for it again next year!  No matter what happens in regards to running together, I bet I see these friends again next summer!

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Steph and I get together a lot.  She lives a short drive away and our kids get on very well together (not to mention our husbands, who are as different as night and day but have a great time together!), so it’s just ridiculously fun to hang out!  I think the last time we saw each other was in March on my 40th birthday, which was without kids.  Going 6.5 months between visits is not normal for us – we usually meet up every 3 months or so.  My aunt lives in the same area as Steph and so does a friend of ours who moved there from Iowa, but with the passing of his wife and changes going on with him, we didn’t make it down at all in the spring or summer.  Being perfectly honest, it just felt weird to us to head down there and not see our friend who was wanting to adjust to his new life very privately – so – we didn’t make a trip down.  I really missed our trips to see Steph and her family.

Last year, we met in Omaha to visit their insane pumpkin patch and we decided then to make it an annual trip.  I was so excited for the big trip to roll around because it had been forever since we’d all seen each other.  When we did meet at the zoo, it was just like old times – like we’d seen each other just the week before.  It was terrific fun!  We got separated on Sunday at the pumpkin patch which was where we were both heading home from, but I thought enough to get a picture of our kids together.  Steph usually thinks of this, but I was all over it this year!  The best part about our friendship is seeing our kids grow together in their friendships.  Matthew and her daughter are great buds – unbelievable fun is had between them!  Bryson and her son will hopefully notice that the other one exists the next time we go to the pumpkin patch!  😉


Next up… hopefully a trip to St. Louis to see my ex-pat blogger friend and her family!

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Halloween Paint Night

I painted another Halloween painting last night! My friends and I have been waiting for a good one to be added to the calendar and we found it! The class was sold out, and the painting was harder than we thought it would be, so we were glad it wasn’t our first painting rodeo. The three of us together didn’t require the amount of help that a single new person needed, so we’re making progress. Ha!



Juror #9

Anyone who knows me IRL at any level knows that I am deep into the Adnan Syed case via the Serial podcast.  Yes, I’m way late to the party (recorded in 2014) but with recent developments, I find it riveting and to call myself obsessed is probably an understatement.  I cannot get enough of it – I’ve been getting on the treadmill sometimes twice a day just so I can play the next episode of “Serial” or “Undisclosed” (I am now done with “Serial” but have plenty of “Undisclosed” to go).  I have always been skeptical of our judicial system, and truly believe that many, many, MANY people are in prison because of false convictions, but to have a real case to follow, dig into, think through, and discuss with others has really reinforced my concerns.

We need to be doing better.


About a month ago, I got that dreaded letter in the mail – a jury summons.  Back when I had no kids to take to and from school and to care for before and after school, I would have celebrated that letter. But now with the responsibilities of a stay-at-home mom, that letter stressed me out.  I filled out the potential juror questionnaire and was honest, but did list my family member in law enforcement and mentioned that we speak very regularly and get on well.  I was hoping that my relationship with him would get me out of jury duty.

It didn’t.  Ha!


As I got more and more into Syed’s case, I started changing my attitude about jury duty.  I was getting a bit excited, just hoping that it wouldn’t last longer than the designated week.  Hottie planned to change his schedule to cover much of our childcare and my in-laws were on deck to fill in when needed.  The stress of taking care of the kids was gone, and I got pumped about playing a role in the judicial system for someone’s case – someone’s case that may mean EVERYTHING to them (and little to others).

I went to jury duty this morning and enthusiastically sat through the video and judge-in-person orientations.  I found it fascinating.  I hoped to be selected for an important case.  I thought that I was the type of juror that a defendant would want on his or her jury because I truly believe that one is innocent until proven guilty, and I know that charges and arrests do NOT equal guilt.

After orientation, I sat out in the hall waiting to be called (there were 250 of us there – there were 11 jury trials just on Monday).  It took forever for the court clerks to come out and call their jury pools, but I was finally called for the 6th case.  I was so excited and hopeful that I’d be selected, but chances were slim considering the pool of potential jurors for the case was 24-deep.

The attorneys asked us questions, some to the group, some to individuals.  I had to answer one individual question about the responsibility of “burden of proof.”  After one person said it was the attorneys’ responsibility, when I was asked, I said, “it is not the defending attorney’s job, it’s only the prosecuting attorney’s responsibility.”  We were asked if we had any personal or familial experience with child abuse and the hair on the back of my neck stood up.  We were told we’d be shown evidentiary photographs.  My stomach hurt.  But, I reminded myself that the man in front of us was simply charged with crimes – and that I needed to be shown that he was guilty.

I was selected.  I was so pleased!

Before lunch, they had opening statements and the prosecuting attorney presented basically everything.  I kept waiting for the big bomb, but there wasn’t one.  There was an argument in the home between the defendant and his wife, the defendant was holding his 1-year old child, the 15-year old attacked him by sucker punching him in the face, and he dropped the baby.  We were told the baby’s mouth bled and that he had a bump on his head, but that he was never taken to the hospital.  I waited for him to tell us that the defendant then went off on the teen.  But he stopped with the injuries to the infant and the teenager was unharmed.  The police arrived, and the defendant was later charged with child endangerment and bodily harm done to a child.

The defending attorney was truly awful and seemed very unprepared, but he put it in simpler terms than the prosecuting attorney.  There are no eye witnesses because the teen and mother won’t testify, the 911 call is hearsay per the presiding judge, the police officers who will testify are not eye witnesses to the alleged crime, the baby did not have any injuries requiring medical attention, and the defendant contained his anger against the teen when this all happened.

It sounded so simple to me.  And I was anxious to see if my opinion would change as the trial went on (my opinion wavers a lot!).  I did not discuss the details of the case with Hottie over lunch, but I did say, “these aren’t the most awful charges, and if he was guilty, I’d think he would have pled out by now.”

We were all brought back into the court room to the judge, who was not wearing his robe, and to the clerk and recorder.  The lawyers were not present, nor was the defendant.  The judge was very kind and explained to us that the teen showed up over lunch when the witnesses were being prepped and stated exactly what the defendant had said, that he attacked his step-dad with no warning causing him to drop the baby.  He went so far as to say that the defendant never struck him back (the prosecutor said the same thing in his opening statement).

The state dropped their charges immediately.

I was so hoping to serve a full trial, but I’m much happier to see this man not have to go through it.  He took a gamble opting for a jury trial.  We were told that he was offered a plea deal of a simple misdemeanor charge (I think it was disorderly conduct) and passed because he knew he’d done nothing wrong.  He took a gamble, and he won.

We did see the family outside the courtroom before we were told that the charges were dropped, and the defendant was holding his baby and hugging the baby’s mom and a teenager.  I assumed that they had come just to be in the courtroom for him, but it turns out they were celebrating the conclusion of the trial.  Looking back on it, it was great to see even if I didn’t know at the time what I was seeing.  The charges, even from the prosecutor’s mouth, just sounded ridiculous.

Justice was done, even if it wasn’t done in the way that most trials play out.

It was a great experience for me and the timing was perfect given my latest interests.  😉

I did speak with several jurors on the way out and we all felt the same way after opening statements – the charges sounded loose, at best, and like the prosecuting office just wanted to charge without giving a damn about the situation.  It is infuriating, and even more infuriating that the defendant appeared to have a horrible court-appointed attorney, but in the end, it worked out.  And I think it worked out the way it was supposed to.



School Has Begun….

… Thank God!

Summer camps ended on August 12th and the final pool closed on August 21st. Turns out, all of those camp counselors and lifeguards want a few days of relaxation before returning to school the week of 8/22. When you parent kids who start school after Labor Day, you don’t think of such things.

The final 3 weeks between camp-end and school starting were rough. We were all pretty tired of each other and it was too hot to do outdoor activities after 11:00 AM. The kids watched too much TV as my fuse got shorter and shorter. Next year will be better since Matthew will start kindergarten the same week as the lifeguards and camp counselors!

This morning, we were ALL ready to get back to business as usual. Matthew proclaimed his excitement with smiles and laughter and Bryson was upset that he had a delayed start rather than starting at the same time Matthew did. Everyone went into their classrooms happily as I drove off happily to listen to a podcast (too hot here to run). Structure and routine are so wonderful!

Both boys had great days and Bryson had so much fun, he fell asleep on the drive home. They’re already making me promise that they get to go back tomorrow! 😁



A Needed Change

Hottie makes his own soap.  He’s pretty into skin care and questions the things we put on our bodies.  He’s told me for years that I need to find a skincare regimen that works for me and that I should be taking better care of my skin in general (“it is your largest organ, you know.”).  I’ve always been told that I have great skin, that it’s the “peaches and cream” skin that people wish for.  I don’t really understand what “peaches and cream skin” really means and although I know that my skin isn’t horrible, I also wouldn’t consider it great.  Others disagree with me, especially when they ask what I do for my skin and I say, “Nothing.  I don’t even wash my face at night.”

My grandma had great skin.  When she died, she barely had any wrinkles.  My aunt swears I have her skin, and if I do, that would be terrific.  But I do know that my grandma took great care of herself and probably nurtured that fabulous skin of hers. It didn’t just miraculously end up that way.

Hottie had made some face soap that I was using and just about two months ago, I said, “we need more face soap made.  We’re out.”

“We’ve been out for 6 months.”

“What have I been using every day?”

“What?  You’re using that on your face?  That’s straight Dr. Bronners.”

And so began my quest for a skin care regimen all my own.  Hottie told me it was time, time to do the research and figure out what I needed for my skin type.  He was right, but damn… I didn’t want to take the time!

A month ago, I went to my sister’s house for a visit and she had a friend there.  Her friend kept mentioning some skin care product that she sells and I blew it off because I despise nothing more than a multi-level marketing product.  We talked about all sorts of things and I realized that we were pretty similar in our approach to health (eat pretty clean, don’t drink much, lots of exercise, made all of our kids’ baby food from scratch, want to be dairy-free) and wondered, “what is she selling?”  Right before she left, she asked if we wanted to see her stuff and I said yes.  She gave me some samples and was on her way.

That night, I researched.  I dug deep into the safety of skin care products and re-enforced my decision to avoid the ever-so-popular skincare product out there that is nothing but chemicals and things you can’t pronounce.  My cousin actually sells that stuff and when I said that I don’t want chemicals on my face, she said that her product was not for me.  We joked about giving yourself a daily chemical peel with her products.  HA!  I found an incredible cosmetics safety website that I used to look up every makeup item I use on my face as well as our sunscreen and body washes.  It was enlightening.  It was scary.  It was time for a change.

The stuff my sister’s friend sells is so incredibly safe, and after a week of researching it and other alternatives, I jumped in and bought the standard skin care regimen.  I absolutely love it and my face has never looked and felt better.  All this time, we thought I had my grandpa’s rosy cheeks but it turns out my skin was just irritated.  I still get some acne but it’s nothing like it was and when I do get it, it doesn’t hurt like it used to.  It clears up quickly and leaves no trace.

Replacing my makeup was a different story.  There are so many items out there and finding them locally is difficult.  My powder and eyeshadow scored well/safe in the cosmetics database so I kept those.  I had to replace my blush, foundation, and lip gloss and did so with products from the maker of my skin care regimen.  I also needed new eyeliner (both liquid and pencil), an eyebrow pencil, mascara, and additional eyeshadow.  After a lot of research and review-reading, I settled on a few cheap products (but scoring very safe) for the eyebrow and eyeliner pencils, and high-end mascara, liquid liner, and eye shadow.  I just got the eyebrow and eyeliner pencils yesterday and love them!

I now wash my face every night before bed and every morning with a very gentle cleanser.  I use various moisturizers depending on my needs and the time of day, and I use my eye makeup daily.

I feel so much better about what I’m doing.  I feel good knowing that the products I’m using are deemed safe by a highly-regarded non-profit rather than the vendors of said products.  My face just feels better, not a size too small like it used to feel.

Change… it’s a good thing!


No foundation, no powder… just eye makeup, lip gloss, and a touch of blush.

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THIS Moment in Time – Roadtrip Sleep

131156197902446144Vacations aren’t a time for sleep. As the mother of two young boys, I know this.

We’re at my sister’s north of Chicago right now and last night was a shit show.  Two kids in a queen bed with me, one of them very likely to roll out of bed. I didn’t sleep. But tonight…. all of the kids are sleeping in the living room and I’m banking on a few hours before anyone wakes me up. Good night!



Family Trip!

We took a family trip this past week and it was terrific!  We rented a cabin at Mahoney State Park in Nebraska and it was like being at summer camp.  I can’t wait to go back next summer!

Here is my photo collection from 4 days with limited TV, hot weather, and an abundance of activities with the kids!  They’re in reverse order, but it doesn’t matter  🙂

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THIS Moment in Time – Selfless Parenting

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I’m not one to toot my own horn (aside from my fitness blog which is more of a diary), or my kids’ horns (you’ll never hear me say that they “rocked” anything). But today, I did something completely selfless as a mom. It’s hotter than shit right now (“real feel” of 98*) and on our way home, after doctor appointments and a food truck outdoor lunch, the boys asked to stop at the park.

“No, guys, It’s hotter than shit outside.”

“Ok, Mom. It is hot.”

And I thought, “what do you care if you have to sit outside for 20 minutes while they play?”

So here we are (or…. here we WERE because it was so hot, my phone prompted me to turn it off while writing this post because it was overheating).

(They were more than happy to leave after 15 minutes, thank God!)