jennifer
When I was in high school and college, my sister and I kept a quote book.  It was full of things people around us said that--when taken out of context--were hilarious.  It wasn't where I thought it was in our house (although I did find some old journals, and oh my, super embarrassing), so maybe it's at my parents' house.  If I can track it down, I'll share some of the better ones in a future post.

It seems like we constantly have hilarious interactions in our home and I'm always sad when I can't remember them later.  Last week I decided to start trying to write them down and make them into a blog post.  So, here we go...

At dinner--
Me: Cliff, what would you like to drink?
Cliff:  Pepsi.  And 28 Dos Equis.

A "Finley is two" moment--
Eating spaghetti and meatballs for dinner, Finley would only eat his meatballs if they were cut into fourths and served in a tiny ice cube tray out of our mini fridge.

In passing (can't remember what I was really wishing for)--
Me:  I wish...
Cliff:  You had married better?

Another "Finley is two" moment--
Finley insisted on sleeping the entire night with his brush clutched in one hand and his comb clutched in the other.

After all of Cliff's hunting gear was stolen out of our truck in our driveway, and several annoyances at work, Cliff won a DWI case and we received a call that the Sheriff believed our items had been recovered and suspects were in custody--
Me:  Well life is improving greatly!
Cliff:  Baby, life improved greatly when I married you.
{Ha. Ha. Ha.}

Another "Finley is two" moment--
In a meltdown moment, Finley could only be consoled by being able to hold a toy tow truck. (And the meltdown did not involve the toy tow truck so this concerns me a little about his future career endeavors.  Probably more so because Cliff and Jacob often hope that Finley grows up to own a salvage yard.)

Out of nowhere--
Cliff: I want to do a twit.
Me: As in "an obnoxious little twit"?
Cliff:  No, as in that bird thing everyone is doing.
{Turns out he was referring to Twitter.}
(I really wish I had asked him what he wanted to "twit" because I'm sure it was a doozy.)

After I mentioned something about Finley's box of musical instruments/toys, which Cliff plays with a-LOT  (he's really good at playing the d*** recorder by ear)--
Cliff:  That box of music toys should really be mine, not Finley's.

I'll leave you with these entertaining videos.  Just ignore our disaster of a house.  And Cliff's overalls.  And Finley not wearing pants.  And then join me in concern that this terrible music really moves Finley to dance.
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jennifer

By now it's no secret that my husband isn't the stereotypical attorney.  At the office he's not holier than thou, he's not a know-it-all, he's not a know nothing, he's not a do nothing, he's not a bull in the china cabinet, he's not an ambulance chaser, and he's not a sneaky snake (although I can't count how many times we've listened to that Tom T. Hall song.)   Outside of the office he doesn't drive a BMW, he isn't rude, he isn't a liar, and we don't have a yacht and summer home in Greece.  But, his most shocking hammer to the lawyer stereotypes, is that he wears overalls.  He doesn't just wear them to load out cattle a couple of times a year, he wears them like 61% of the time outside of the office.  He has no problem dressing "normal" but when we are just around the house he prefers to wear overalls.  I can't say that I blame him, because I've been guilty of throwing on a pair a couple of times in my life to paint or work on a messy project, but when people find out this little secret about him, they usually can't believe it.  
Until last year, he had stuck strictly to regular blue denim overalls.  You may remember my post about homecoming in Warrensburg last year and my brother's over-the-top shopping trip.  Well, during this male spending spree, Cliff and Jacob both purchased a new pair of blue denim overalls
AND sprung for the hickory stripe also.

All I could think of was Christopher Walken in Joe Dirt.
Or just about any character in O Brother, Where Art Thou?

But then, while they were in the dressing room, I saw an ad for Round House overalls that was totally based on sex appeal.  It was a man and woman in a steamy make-out session, with his pair of hickory stripe overalls half off.  I really wish I had gotten a picture of it because I can't find it online anywhere and I'd like to reassure myself that the poster wasn't some figment of my imagination to ease my concern about the apparel purchases.

The good thing is, Jacob and Cliff can both joke about their love for overalls.  When we got home, we did some research on the hickory stripe bibs and found that they were the "fancy" version of overalls.  Of course then the constant joke was that they should be able to wear their hickory stripes out in public, like to weddings and funerals, because they were "dressy."

The Round House website actually still has them listed as "stylish uptown overalls."

And then I was reminded that Miranda Lambert, Neil Patrick Harris, Jennifer Aniston, and Jessica Simpson have been photographed or filmed wearing Round House overalls.  Plus, I like the fact that they're still made in the USA.  Fashion points for Cliff.

But then I learned that Donald Trump was also photographed wearing them.  Loss of points.

Then I found them in a size 2T and that made them so much cuter.  Fashion points on the rise.

Cliff and Finley have been known to wear matching socks...
and now they can wear matching overalls, too.
And then Andra Day performed the National Anthem at the first NFL game this year wearing none other than a pair of hickory stripe overalls.  Even though fans hated on her outfit, I had to give Cliff some fashion points for this one.


And then Cliff and Finley went to a hunting event this past Saturday and found another twinsie.  And all of Cliff's hard earned fashion credit went right down the drain.


jennifer
It has been a few weeks since my last post because I've been waiting around to grab pictures for this one.  The bonus is, you get several Mason jar/handprint projects in one post, so let's agree that will make up for the missed weeks...yeah, that sounds good...
Grandparents' Day was a few weeks ago.  Grandparents have been so important to Finley, so we always celebrate with a homemade gift.  This year, we made our annual handprint gift for Finn's grandparents.  This one was super simple.

I had already painted these Mason jars a flat gray.  I actually used spray paint instead of chalk paint just to experiment and it worked really well.  Then, we added Finley's handprint in white (which he loves to do now) and painted on his name and the year (which I didn't love to do because I had a horrible brush.)  Doesn't his hand look huge now?  It looked so much bigger on the jar than it does in real life.
In 2014 we did a clay footprint and handprint in a shadow box.  I bought specific clay for making handprint and footprint keepsakes and they have not held up, which makes me so sad because those newborn hands and feet were SO tiny and adorable.
In 2015 we did a handprint flower pot.


One other handprint gift we've done is this tea towel, which is probably my favorite.



So those Mason jar DIYs required Finley's help.  This one went much smoother without his help.
You need:
a board (you can use an old board or stain and distress a new board).
I actually used a weathered board we saved from the original garage that was here, which we tore down to build our current garage/shop.
large hose clamps
screws
Mason jars
a drill
a screwdriver
hanging wire

I started by measuring out and marking where I wanted my jars to hang on the board.


Then go ahead and measure, mark, and attach your hanging wire on the back.  It's easier to do this now than to try to do it after you have your jars on the board.

Then drill a hole and screw the hose clamps into place.  Cliff had to drill a hole through the clamps too.  For some reason, I was completely incapable of doing that.  I fought and fought with the drill and those clamps and finally gave up and got help.  Then Cliff made it look so easy. 

Then add your jars and tighten the clamps with a screwdriver. 

Then hang it and fill the jars! 


We added ours above our changing station in the bathroom and I love how it turned out.
(By the way, that changing pad is one of my favorite baby purchases.  It is completely wipeable, so you're never washing a pad cover, plus it's made in the USA.) 


jennifer
The other day at my parents' house, we told Finley to "get ready to go outside."  He came into the kitchen wearing this:
his rain boots and my mom's visor.

This cracks me up on its own, but it cracks me up more because we always joke about my mom's visor addiction during the summer.  But it really, really cracks me up because when my brother was about the same age, he was riding my sister's brand-new-straight-from-Santa lavender Big Wheel around the house and pulled up beside me looking like this:

He said, "Beep beep.  Hi.  I'm Debbie."  It is probably the very first thing I ever remember him saying as a toddler.  Apparently my mom had been wearing the hat all winter and he associated it with her.

This all makes me laugh even more because when I think of my mom, I never think of her as a hat person.  I mean, this is our family on a normal day:

(Just for the record, that is not a disgusting neck sweat stain on my black shirt.  It was some design made out of tulle and it did not photograph well.  I never wore that shirt again.)


jennifer
Before I begin today's post, I have a quick addition to last week's post.  A sweet friend sent me text a few days after that post was live and said that she and her three year old daughter had paid it forward with their quarter/cart at Aldi.  It melted my heart to hear that and she pointed out that it was a great lesson for her toddler.  Isn't that so awesome?  Although, it then made me realize that the lesson for Finley is a bit skewed at age two--every time we do it, he just says "uh oh" loudly on repeat because he thinks I didn't put my cart back correctly.  Hopefully we get the lesson straightened out over the next year...

(Title of this post should be read in the Church Lady's voice from Saturday Night Live.)
Every August, the little bitty Catholic church that my grandma attends in Wien, Missouri, holds its annual picnic.  Somehow, this teeny tiny town pulls off this picnic and it's a huge success.  It's very nostalgic for me because I always remember going as a child.  Our cousins would be there and we would get to run around and play all day.  In college, I still attended, but more for the beer garden than the rides and games.
Last year, Finley wasn't into it too much, but this year, he was hooked.
I don't know how long this ride has been in existence, but it was there when I was Finley's age, so it deserves some serious museum status.
The ride costs one quarter (yep, only 25 cents).  Finley chose this car the first time.

The ride just goes around and around and around, for like 10 minutes.   That's no exaggeration.  The first time Finn rode, I thought the guy just lost track of time and forgot to stop the ride, but no, every single  time it went on and on and on.  They should be charging like $5.00 per ride for this thing.  


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So, just as I suspected, about eight minutes into the ride, Finley started getting brave and curious.  He eventually got himself off his seat allowing his feet to touch the ground.  He was literally having to sprint around the circle because he was still stuck within the car, but it was going so fast that he had to run to keep up.  I really wanted to get a video of that, but I thought it would be frowned upon.  Instead, the guy had to stop the ride and we took Finley off.  The guy in charge thought he had done it on accident, so he didn't think anything of it, but I knew better.  
Against my better judgment, we let him ride again though.  The second time, I put him in this:

I thought maybe I had outsmarted him this time.  No hole to put his feet through, and an empty rocket on each side so he couldn't get out.  Bingo.
I.Was.So.Wrong.
This time, about two minutes in, he literally stood up on his seat and climbed over into the outside rocket.
Again, I thought a picture might be frowned upon.  This time, the guy in charge sharpened up and knew it was no accident.  Finn was asked to get off the ride.  We like to joke that he's now on the banned list.
Next we tried the bounce house.  I wish we had a permanent one in our backyard because he could have stayed in there forever.  He really didn't have the hang of it at first though.

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(Probably should have been helping him instead of videoing and laughing.)

After that, it was on to Cliff's favorite--the turtle races.  There is a circular wall with twenty openings.  A few turtles are contained within the circular wall.  You pick a numbered opening (or several), bet money on it/them, and then cheer the turtles to get out through your numbered gate first.  Here's a video to help you understand:

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Finley was super lucky at this game.  I wanted to go straight to the horse track when we left, but being miles from anything in Wien, Missouri, time just didn't permit.  He won about 85% of the time at the turtle races.  And he really had no idea what was going on as far as betting or the end result.  He quickly learned how to give his quarters to the guy in exchange for spoons though.  The spoons with your chosen number are new.  We didn't have those when I was a kid.  But now everyone bangs them on the tabletop really loudly, which makes it more exciting and fun.  And he definitely knew how to handle banging a spoon loudly.

By that time, we had gotten our delicious evening meal of hamburgers and fries (the fried chicken and sides are the early meal) and everything was closing up so we headed home.  

Bingo is usually my favorite part of the day, but it seemed impossible with a toddler that wants to constantly move, so we skipped it this year.

Every year, without fail, it amazes me that such a small town and parish can put on such a big event and continue making it successful.  Then I remember, it's a money betting, beer drinking, delicious food eating church event where you can put your kid on an antique motorized merry-go-round babysitter.  How could it not be a giant success?

If you're interested in the community of Wien, there is some neat history and information here: http://www.wien2000us.com/

And this brochure on The Great Imposter is also interesting: http://www.keytesvillemissouri.com/Wien.PDF
It's my understanding (and I may be wrong) that this guy is part of the basis for Leonardo DiCaprio's character in Catch Me If You Can.

Two side notes about Wien:  This teeny town kept a bar and restaurant open for a long time.  And it actually had good food and fun times!  I think it closed, but I'm not positive.
Also, I once heard that on one end of town, the road sign read "Wien" and on the other end of town, the sign read "Wein".  Cliff, my brother, and I roadtripped there once for verification, but it was spelled the same on both ends.  I always see "Wien" but I really prefer the e before the i spelling instead.
jennifer
With everything going on in the world today, the whole hermit crab way of life seems appealing at times.  But, what if we reversed what is going on in the world today, one tiny gesture at a time.  Paying it forward has become more common in the last several years and I love it every time I hear one of those stories.  My paying it forward doesn't compare to the other stories I hear, but every time I go to Aldi, I return my cart without taking my quarter.  I just leave it for the next person.  I've been doing this for about a year and always wondered if the person that got my cart next kept the quarter or paid it forward.  Last week when I went to grab a cart, there was a recently returned pre-paid cart.  It had come full circle and it really made me smile.  Speaking of Aldi quarters, isn't this cute?
It's a gift someone gave my friend Destiney whose husband is an Aldi district manager.

I'm an old soul and there is something about a hand-written note that makes me want to flip head over heels.  I remember the first real letter I got from Cliff when we were dating long distance.  I still have it and I still love to read it.  For me, there's something about a handwritten letter that I just don't get out of a phone call or text or email.  I still love when Cliff leaves a note on the bathroom sink if he leaves the house before I'm awake.  And the time he left a letter on my desk on New Years Day is set me up for a whole year of happy.  A friend of mine and I used to write letters back and forth, even though we had full access to email and our smartphones.  Sending cards and letters is one of my favorite things to do.  Even better, I love to send cards and letters out of the blue.   It's an amazing thing, too.  Several times I have had someone come up to me and thank me for the card I sent and I can't even remember sending it.  They on the other hand, have remembered it long after it was received.
So, you can imagine how crazy my heart went last week when I received a TOTALLY unexpected card in the mail from a real sweetheart and the best bank teller we've ever known.  (By the way, this little chica also always sends Finn a birthday and Christmas card from the bank since he's an account holder.  Actually, I could write another entire post about how super awesome our bank is, but that can be for another day.)
So here's what Cliff brought in from the mailbox the other day:
First of all, my heart probably literally skipped a beat when I saw the envelope.  I heart decorating envelopes when I send them, but I've never gotten one sent to me.  I wanted to frame it.  When I opened it and read the card inside, I practically cried (and it wasn't the pregnancy hormones.)  Brianna is possibly the sweetest person I've ever met.  She is always smiling, always friendly, always has something exciting to say.  She never just says hi; she always asks about us and has an actual conversation.  She is super talented; from her photography to her mason jar decorating to her writing (don't miss her blog: https://pearlbayou.wordpress.com) to her envelope addressing.  She is constantly posting something on social media that I wish I had come up with.  And she's the cutest darn thing you'll ever see.  How she is still single...it can only be because she's one smart cookie and knows a deserving guy hasn't come along yet.
Working with teenage girls in KC, I realized that (at that age especially) building up another is extremely rare, but tearing someone down is so constant.  Self-esteem is so low.  In a girls group I led at the high school where I worked, we started a campaign to raise girls' self-esteem.  We wrote each other lovely letters.  We only talked positively to each other.  And we started posting anonymous notes around the school building for other girls to find.  The girls loved doing it and not one of them ever chose not to participate.
So, I'm challenging everyone to do something like this.  It really does make you feel better, too.  If you feel funny writing to someone you see on occasion or know really well, check out moreloveletters.com at their website or on social media and start there.  My sister tipped me off to them awhile ago and I have really enjoyed "making love famous."  I hope you do too!
jennifer
Just like his first birthday, Finley had an awesome second birthday.  
First, we got to celebrate with Cliff's mom's side of the family.  He got lots of fun gifts, including these underwear hats.
And a rainbow cake for breakfast. 
And his dream come true, his great-grandparents' basement full of electric trains. 
And a rocking horse.  Seriously, does it get any better for a two-year old?

And don't forget riding the tricycle with the perfect spot for his breakfast cupcake. 
And last but not least, a HUGE piece of delicious watermelon. 
Last year, his favorite book was "Goodnight Moon" so we based his party on that.  If you missed it, you can read about turning one here.
This year, he loves Curious George.  It's really the only tv he ever watches (besides the movie, "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" {seriously}), and he loves the books, too.  So, we went with that theme.  It fit perfectly since Finley is such a monkey and so curious!
We designed and printed our invitation.

We made up this stats sign, which was fun to do while looking back at the one we did for his first birthday.  He had only grown about 4 inches and gained about 4 pounds and most of his interests were still the same.  This year, Finley loved walking on the board while I was trying to write, hence the smeared chalk.
We set up a guest book, note jar, and favors at the door.
I only made eight favors for the kiddos, and luckily, exactly eight cousins showed up.  

We used a Curious George birthday book for our guest book.  The jar was given to us at Finley's baby shower with notes from our guests.  Last year, we had birthday guests leave notes and this year we added to it.  Each year, I just use ribbon that coordinates with the party theme, and they look really cute stacking up in the jar and are such a great keepsake.
I just threw together the "Thanks for swinging by!" signs and glued them to paper straws.
We used popcorn tubs and filled them with balloons, suckers, Curious George fruit snacks, a Curious George bookmark to color, and of course banana runts and a real banana.
The fireplace mantle was my favorite part.  My mom put in the elbow grease to make this adorable fabric garland.  We used Curious George books, stuffed monkeys, balloons, a cute Curious George tin piggy bank my mom had on hand, a paper covered wooden 2, and painted Mason jars for decoration.

 We sat the stats sign on the hearth to tie it all together.
When I tried to get his picture there, this is how he posed...  He had the cutest shirt that my parents ordered for him.  On the front it had Curious George decorating a cake with the number two and was personalized with Finley's name.  The back said "It's my birthday!"  Just like Curious George, Finley wasn't still long enough for me to get a good picture.
We named all the food according to Curious George characters, which ended up being really fun.  
We had:
Hundley's Hot Dogs (which we grilled and then kept warm in a crock pot)
 Charkey's Chips
Gnocchi's "Purrrrfect" Potato Salad

Man in the Yellow Hat Deviled Eggs (Shout out to my mom for making these! They were so delicious.)
 Chef Pisghetti's Mac & Cheese
Betsy's Baked Beans (After 30 plates were filled, I swear these beans had not decreased in amount at all.)
 The Renkins' Farm Fresh Veggies & Dip
and Professor Wiseman's Watermelon 
You  may remember from our Goodnight Moon cake last year that our neighbor, Naomi, makes the best cakes you'll ever see. I put together this little banner with scrap paper and paper straws and she did the rest. The little star the monkey is holding is even a candle!  Finley LOVED the cake.
When we sang "happy birthday" Finley hid behind his cake and the table the whole time.  He has suddenly gotten shy over the last week or two.  It was actually really cute though.  He worked really hard to blow out his candle.
As soon as guests arrived, Cliff had our horse out and was giving rides.  The kids loved it.  They also swam in the pool, played in the water table, and had fun with Finn's other outdoor toys.  The adults enjoyed horseshoes. 
 Finley has a fan club of women.
 Fan club continued.
Of course he needed nothing and got everything.  He truly loved everything he got though.  All the new toys were a huge hit with everyone.

And he ended up getting his very own antique collector's rocking horse to keep at home.
 We sat outside with the remaining guests the rest of the evening and enjoyed the beautiful weather.  What better way to end your second birthday than in your birthday suit watching a train go by?
 Or sitting in the perfect size chair?
Now to send our Curious George thank you cards.