Marshmallow Mondays

Barbie Birthday

Every year, we let the kids choose the theme for their birthday. And every year, we host a big party at our home. This was the first year that Rydan asked if he could have his party outside of the house, which made me a little bit sad. However, he and his friends had a ton of fun at his SkyZone party, and I have to admit that only having to bring the cake was a nice change. No planning, no details, no decorating, no cleaning up, no entertaining… just jump, eat pizza (that I didn’t have to provide), eat cake, and go home.

Thankfully for the event planner inside of me, Lily is still young enough to enjoy parties at home. This year, she chose a Barbie theme, which I was quite excited to plan. Without having to worry about a ton of details for Rydan’s party, I had even more time this year to work on a Barbie-themed birthday party. We kept things girly and classy, going with a black, white and pink color scheme.

My first project was a life-size Barbie box that Lily and her friends could pose inside of for photos. After one Sunday of work, we had a finished project.


We kept our decorations fairly simple. Many of them I found as free printables online, and then added my own touch with things I already had. The rest I picked up at Party City and Walmart.





Since we held the party in the afternoon, snacks were pretty easy as well. Anything pink or Barbie-themed! (I put out some strawberries too to somewhat balance out all of the sugar.)




Our cake came from our favorite donut shop, Donut Days Bakery. They’ve been doing our cakes for quite a few years now, and they never disappoint. No matter what design or theme we come up with, they always come through with something even better than what we imagined. And they taste just as delicious as they look! This year, Donut Days also made a few sugar cookies as an extra take home treat for the girls.



To look like a real Barbie fashionista, our dear friend and neighbor, Mary, who owns K3 Kreations Monograms & More , created a fun shirt for Lily. We completed her look with some sequined hot pink shorts and a matching black hair bow.



Before the party even began, we had a big surprise for Lily. Her best friend, Reese, who sadly moved to Missouri earlier this summer, came to surprise Lily. Lily had absolutely no idea that Reese was coming, and actually told me that morning how much she wished Reese could be here. It took a little scheming, but we managed to get Lily out of the house for a few minutes while Reese and her parents arrived. Ryan told Lily they needed to go pick up some candles for her cake. After they left, Reese stood inside of the Barbie box and waited.


Ryan “forgot his wallet” and turned around to come home. The funny part was that Lily wouldn’t get out of the car while Ryan “came inside for his wallet.” After a bit of convincing, Lily reluctantly strolled into the house. I casually asked her to come help me with something, and then let her stumble onto her surprise. It was a truly priceless moment to see these two friends reunited on such special day. If you haven’t seen the video, check it out on my Facebook page. It will melt your heart.

Lily had a total of 11 girls who came to her party. These are friends from Kindergarten last year, dance class, our old neighborhood, swimming lessons, and even a new friend from First Grade. When the girls arrived, they found a seat and started coloring a Barbie (downloaded and printed from



After all of the girls had arrived, we played a few Barbie-themed games. The first – Barbie Bingo. This was an easy DIY game – Google Barbie images, print, cut and glue onto construction paper. The girls loved it.


We also played “Barbie Says” (just like Simon Says) and a variation of Red Light Green Light, where the girls held their Barbie and took a step forward every time I said “if your Barbie is wearing a dress” or “if your Barbie has a crown,” etc. The first girl to reach me won. Prizes were pink glow sticks/necklaces, pink lip gloss, pink necklaces, and pink nail polish. We played lots of rounds, so there were lots of winners.


After games, it was time for cake and ice cream.



Then came the gifts. These girls were so patient, so sweet, and it was so much fun to watch their excitement as they took turns sitting with Lily while she opened up each gift. There were handmade cards, new Barbies, crafts, games, a new dance bag, doll clothing/accessories, and all sorts of fun, thoughtful things for Lily to enjoy.


With fifteen minutes to spare, Lily handed out her treat box favors, which were filled with a pair of sparkly hot pink Barbie shades, a pink lollipop, sugar cookie, a ring, a pink beaded necklace, Barbie candy, and Barbie glitter glob.


Before saying goodbye, we took one last picture with the girls all wearing their new pink shades. When I bought these Barbie sunglasses, I remember thinking to myself how cute it would be to get a group photo like this. This might be my favorite picture from the whole party. Adorable!


A huge thank you to all of Lily’s friends for coming to her Barbie party to celebrate her 6th birthday! It makes me so very happy to see Lily making so many wonderful friends. The girls you see above are some of the sweetest little girls I’ve ever met. Lily sure is lucky to know each one of them. I can’t wait to watch these friendships grow!




Christmas in Pennsylvania
01.04.16, 8:40 AM
Filed under: Holidays, Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

I know this post is overdue, but right after our Christmas in Kentucky, we packed up the car and drove 586 miles to visit our family in Pennsylvania. It’s hard to believe this was the fourth Christmas road trip we’ve made since living in Kentucky. Those miles certainly don’t get any shorter with each trip we make, and this year we took our three month old puppy, Rosie, along with us, which made things even more interesting.


Thankfully, she slept for most of the ride on my lap.

We left at 3:45am on the 26th and arrived at Nana and Pappy Buff’s at 12:45pm. The festivities and family visits began pretty much immediately with a gift exchange that evening with Nana, Pappy, Uncle Brad, Aunt Jill and Bryar.



After opening gifts, we had a great time with the Pie Face game.



On Sunday we ventured to Klingerstown for a second gift exchange with my mom’s side of the family. Lily especially looks forward to this visit because cousin Kip has historically gifted her with an oversized zoo animal for the past three years, so she’s been anticipating what he could possibly come up with for this year.


The big reveal… a horse with wheels that Lily can actually ride.



Lily was pretty excited about her new riding buddy. In her words, “Kip buys the best presents!”


Rydan was excited about his stack of Xbox Live gift cards.

On Monday, it was a third exchange with Ryan’s extended family back at Nana and Pappy’s. There were lots of little ones running around, lots of laughter taking place, and lots of memories being made.

For me, a big highlight of the entire PA visit took place that afternoon. It was the time I got to spend with my mom, gram, pap and great-aunt Polly. Polly has been staying with my gram and pap while she recovers from her hip surgery. She uses a walker, needs help getting around, and doesn’t leave her chair much, but her mind is still very sharp. Nothing makes her happier than being surrounded by the ones she loves. She even told me that she’s had “the best week of her life” staying with my gram and pap. After complaining a bit about having to make the long trip to PA, I needed to hear that from her. At 90 years old, Polly has a lifetime of memories, many of them during days of better health. However, being with family during the holidays and feeling loved, even in a state of poor health, is what stands out to her as special and memorable. There is a lesson in that for all of us.


On Tuesday, we enjoyed our favorite subs from Nino’s while exchanging gifts with “Papoose” (my dad), Grandma Wiest and my brothers.


My dad used his wood-working skills to build Rydan and Lily a wooden box. Rydan is currently using his to store Taekwondo belts, and Lily is using hers for doll clothing. I love that they’ll have these boxes for years to come, and can store whatever treasures they like inside for safe keeping.


Lily would not leave Grandma’s lap, which warmed my heart to see.


Rosie had a great time running in my dad’s back yard.

On Wednesday we were treated to my dad and grandma’s homemade pot pie while visiting with more relatives on my dad’s side. It was a treat to finally meet baby MaKenna and see my cousin Laura after almost four years apart.

On Thursday, we made a trip with my mom and sister to Hershey’s Chocolate World, had lunch at The Chocolate Avenue Grill, and took Lily to the Disney Store.



One of my favorite parts of this day was listening to these three belt out Taylor Swift on the drive back to Hegins.

That evening we attended a New Year’s Eve party at cousin Megan’s, where we got to see her new house and spend our last few waking hours with family.

On Friday at 3:40am, we were on the road back to the Bluegrass. We pulled into our driveway in record time at 12:07pm. Rosie handled the trip home even better than the trip to PA. At only 3 months old, she traveled extremely well. We took her with us to every single stop we made in PA, so she was just as exhausted as we were by the end of it.

By 7pm that evening, we had all of our Chirstmas loot unloaded and put away, our tree was down, Christmas decorations stored away, and Valentine’s decorations on display. By 8:30pm, we were all ready for bed.


This sums up how we all felt after arriving back home.

5 Years Old
08.17.15, 7:32 AM
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: ,

Happy Birthday, Lily! Yesterday our little lady celebrated her 5th birthday. I’m not sure if she’s already adjusted to school time, or if she was just really excited, but she woke up at 6:45am ready to start her special day. After catching the early church service, we came home and let Lily open up all of the gifts that have been arriving in the mail from our family in Pennsylvania.


Perfect gift from Nana & Pap Buff for our Kentucky girl.

Perfect gift from Nana & Pap Buff for our Kentucky girl.

"It's the Glam Convertible!" Thank you, Papoose!

“It’s the Glam Convertible!” Thank you, Papoose!

Paddington! (from Mommy, Daddy & Rydan)

Paddington! (from Mommy, Daddy & Rydan)


New horse boots from Lola for our horse-lovin’ fashionista.

Papoose always keeps her well-dressed too.

Papoose always keeps her well-dressed too.

Ever since Mermaid Dance Camp in June, Lily has become quite the mermaid fan.

Ever since Mermaid Dance Camp in June, Lily has become quite the mermaid fan.


This was one of her favorite gifts. The doll’s legs actually pedal and it plays music.

One lucky girl.

One happy, loved birthday girl.

Later that afternoon, we met Lily’s friend, Reese, at Build A Bear for an extra birthday treat. The girls had so much fun choosing a bear and dress-up clothing. Meet “Bubbles” and “Twinkle”, Lily and Reese’s new stuffed friends.


After Build A Bear, we treated the girls to Dippin Dots. It was the perfect way to end Lily’s 5th birthday celebration.

lily4Today, she is off to school with 24 cupcakes to share with her classmates, and in two weeks, we’ll have a party with some of her friends.

Snowed In
02.23.15, 7:46 AM
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: ,

In case you haven’t heard, it snowed in Kentucky last week… a lot.  This was the Pennsylvania type of snow that we are used to, and we loved it. A whopping twelve inches of snow arrived on President’s Day, with a few more inches falling throughout the rest of the week. This was historic, record-breaking snow for Kentucky, but having lived in Pennsylvania for so long, this wasn’t anything we hadn’t seen before. Still, it was the first time in three years that we’ve been able to enjoy significant snow like this.

I have lost count on how many times we went outside throughout the past week, but if I added up the time it took to get all of us dressed and undressed, it would probably equal or surpass the amount of time we spent outside. However, I truly enjoyed spending that time with Rydan and Lily. We took a ton of photos, which I’m excited to share with all of you.

Here is a look at our 2015 Southern Snowstorm.  (FYI, Rydan spent three nights throughout the week at a friend’s house down the street, which is why he is absent from many of the photos).

Snow Day #1, February 16th.


One of my favorite pictures from the entire week.

We shoveled.

Working hard.

We took a snow selfie.

Snow selfie!

We were thankful that we  never got rid of our snowblower. Not too people have these in Kentucky.

We were thankful that we never got rid of our snowblower. Not too people have these in Kentucky.

Meanwhile, just down the street, these two friends weren't exactly thrilled about taking a break from their warm, indoor fun.

Meanwhile, just down the street, these two friends weren’t exactly thrilled about taking a break from their warm, indoor fun.

We played with friends.

But as you can see, they ended up having a great time.

"Mommy, I think there's snow in my boots."

“Mommy, I think there’s snow in my boots.”

Snow Day #2, February 17th.

Standing in record-breaking snow.

Standing in record-breaking snow.

My little snow bunny.

My little snow bunny.

Snow selfie!

Snow selfie!

A winter to remember.

A winter to remember.

Why not?

Why not?

Lily's first ever snow angel.

Lily’s first ever snow angel.


Checking out the view.

Snow Day #3, February 18th.

Building a fort...

Building a fort…

Building a fort.

…and a tunnel.


Crawling through the tunnel.


Icicle lollipops.

Snowboarding/Sledding. We don't have a sled, so we took turns sitting on Rydan's snowboard to go down the hill. This was a big highlight of the week. Rydan hadn't been sledding in a few years, and Lily had never been sledding at all. Listening to their giggles as they flew down the hill is a sound I will treasure forever.

Snowboarding/Sledding. We don’t have a sled, so we took turns sitting on Rydan’s snowboard to go down the hill. This was a big highlight of the week. Rydan hadn’t been sledding in a few years, and Lily had never been sledding at all. Listening to their giggles as they flew down the hill was the best.


“Hurry up, Rydan! It’s my turn!”

Snow selfie!

Snow selfie!

Hot chocolate with extra marshmallows.

Hot chocolate with extra marshmallows.

Day #4, February 19th.

The arctic blast arrived, so we stayed indoors and made chicken soup.

FullSizeRender (14)

Snow Day #5, February 20th.

By Day 5, the view hadn't really changed.

By Day 5, the view hadn’t really changed.


Snow selfie!

Snow selfie!

Lily's way of warming up... marshmallows with a pinch of hot chocolate.

Lily’s way of warming up… marshmallows with a pinch of hot chocolate.

The weekend brought round two of winter weather, but it was mostly rain this time. We are now left with a slushy, sloppy mess, but Rydan has returned to school and our schedules will go back to normal. Our Southern Snowstorm was fun while it lasted, and it created some great memories for us.

V-Day Recap
02.16.15, 8:49 AM
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags:

We hope all of our readers had a very Happy Valentine’s Day filled with lots of love!

Here’s a recap of our day, which began with a very cold, windy 10-mile run for me. I returned to find a beautiful bouquet of roses, a dozen of the biggest chocolate-covered strawberries I’ve ever seen, and a package of red velvet Oreo’s. Yum!



I gave Ryan three boxes of funnel cake mix, a heart box full of Kit Kats and a special orange tie to wear at the Gift Of Life Gala that’s coming up on March 14th. (Guests are encouraged to incorporate orange into their attire to show support for kidney disease awareness).

For Rydan and Lily, Valentine’s Day looked more like Christmas. I suppose that’s one perk of living 600 miles away from your grandparents, who sent lots of sweet treats through the mail.


That afternoon, Rydan and Lily skyped with Lola (my mom) while opening up the gifts she sent.


Night Vision Goggles for Rydan and some Juggle Bubbles for Lily.


Plus, a new FourSquare ball for Rydan and a pink dance skirt for Lily.

They also opened up some chocolate from Papoose (my dad), straight from Hershey, PA.



Even Brooks got a Valentine… his very own devil (how fitting).



GoFundMe – MFR Transplant Fund

It has been over four months since Ryan was placed on the kidney/pancreas wait list.  Though we had high hopes that Ryan would be in recovery with his new organs by now, we have to continue to trust and have faith in God’s perfect plan.

In the few months that Ryan has been waiting, our Match For Ryan page has attracted over 700 followers. This is definitely something that we are proud of, because that’s 700+ people who are being provided with daily information on kidney disease and organ donation.  So many of you have shared our posts, which means that our reach has extended to an even larger audience.  The more we all understand this awful disease, and the more we encourage others to become organ donors, the better outcome there will be for people like Ryan.

2014-05-08 09.30.12Ever since we announced Ryan’s need for a transplant, a lot of you have asked how/where donations can be made to our Match For Ryan Transplant Fund. I have finally set up a account, where online donations will directly support Ryan’s medical costs associated with transplant surgery, hospital stay and post-transplant medications.

As a reminder, Ryan will be in the hospital for approximately one week when his transplant takes place. Post-surgery appointments will occur in Cincinnati three times a week for a month, then two times a week for a month, and then one time a week for a month. He will need anti-infection medication for the first year post-transplant, and anti-rejection medications for the rest of his life.

This is our personal link, so please feel free to share away!  

Please note, donors are not charged any processing fees when making a donation.

As always, we thank each of you for continuing to follow Ryan’s journey towards receiving his transplant, and for all of the love and support that you provide.  Having such an awesome support system gives us comfort, hope and encouragement.

T-Shirt Deadline

ShareYourSpare-GreenToday’s post is a friendly reminder that there are only five days until our t-shirt deadline for Share Your Spare 5K Run/Walk.  To guarantee that you receive the size you need, please make sure to register before Friday, May 16thWe will order extra shirts, and you can still register after Friday, but we cannot guarantee size preference after May 16th. This deadline includes virtual participants and Lexington participants.  T-shirts are included with your registration fee, whether you run/walk as an individual, as a couple, or virtually.  

Kids One Mile Fun Walk:  There is no shirt option for the Kids One Mile Fun Walk.  Kids are encouraged to wear as much green as creatively as possible to support kidney health.  Prizes will be awarded.  Rydan is very excited to lead the Kids Walk! At the end of the walk, all kids will have the opportunity to “Guess How Many Kidneys” (green jelly beans) are in the jar. Closest guess wins the jar!  All kids will receive a goody bag for participating in the walk.

Lexington 5K Participants:  Your t-shirt will be available for pick up on June 6th in Lexington.  Location and time will be announced in the near future, and you will be contacted via email with more details.  In addition to running/walking with us on June 7th, you will also have the opportunity to register as an organ donor.  If you would like to do so, please be sure to have your driver’s license with you. Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates (KODA) will have a table set up to help you register and answer any questions you might have.  You will also be able to receive a FREE kidney health screening from the Kidney Health Alliance of Kentucky (KHAKY).  Kidney disease can often go undiagnosed because the signs and symptoms are so subtle.  This is a great opportunity to get screened for FREE!

Hegins 5K Virtual Participants:  Your t-shirt will be available for pick up on June 6th in Hegins.  Location and time will be announced in the near future, and you will be contacted via email with more details.  

Virtual Participants outside of Hegins or out-of-state:  Your t-shirt will be mailed to you at the end of May so that you receive it prior to race day on June 7th.

***ALL VIRTUAL PARTICIPANTS:  Don’t forget to snap a few photos of yourselves on race day and email them to me at, or send them to me via text or FB message.  Our Match For Ryan FB page does not allow others to post photos to it, but I will create an album with all of the virtual photos that I receive.

Unable to participate?  Please consider making a donation, which will help fund Ryan’s transplant costs and medications, as well as support The National Kidney Foundation of KY. Please use the link below to sign up and/or donate, and feel free to share this post on your own social media sites.  Let’s help spread awareness for kidney disease, encourage others to become organ donors, and run/walk to show our support for Ryan!

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