Our Morning Hike

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As you can imagine, life with four kids is BUSY! I spend a lot of time just cleaning up the house, preparing meals, cleaning up after meals, driving to and fro, checking homework, doing laundry, and making sure bedtime happens! Whew! Just typing all that out made me ready for a nap! And that’s just a small part of keeping this family running! I’m sure many of you can relate!

But recently I’ve realized that even though I’m doing SO much for my kids, that’s not necessarily what they need. What they really want and need is for me to slow down and just listen. And honestly, that’s hard for me to do. If they come up to me with their latest lego creation while I’m doing the dishes, I SO badly want to just finish what I’m doing first and then take a look. But lately, as I’ve been praying to have a better idea of what each individual child needs, I’ve been able to sense when they need a little more of me.

I’ve especially felt this lately with Milo. He and I probably spend the most time together, but even still, I’ve noticed him getting a little more cranky than usual. I’ve also noticed that when he typically has quiet time in his room, he instead, comes to sit next to me on the couch or the bed. I realized that he just wanted to be close to me. He just wanted me to really get down and talk to him, and enjoy him.

So last week, as I tried to be extra intentional with our time together, we went on a hiking adventure! I ran down the trails of crunchy leaves with him, and I engaged with him in his imaginary “adventurer” world. His smiled reached from ear to ear the entire time and now I know that slowing down is sometimes what they need more than a clean kitchen or  folded clothes.

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I also talked about Being Present In The Moment Here

& there’s a video I created about it Here!

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Getting Lucy to Sleep! :: Our Sleep Training Experience!

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In this post, I talked about how difficult the first 10 months of Lucy’s life were for us. I feel bad saying that, because we truly love her more than life, but the unpredictable nature of her life was such a struggle. Along with my bouts of postpartum anxiety, were Lucy’s bouts of stomach issues (constipation, spit up, food allergies, etc.) and severe ear infections. Because of these different factors, her sleep became more and more sporadic over the months.

Many of my close friends and family know that I have always been pretty confident with my ability to sleep train my kids! I started out reading this book when Ande was a baby, and it worked wonders with all three boys. So when Lucy and I were struggling to get a good night’s sleep, I was at a loss because all of my usual tricks weren’t working for her. After months and months of hoping that it would all just work itself out, we finally decided to contact a sleep trainer! I didn’t even know such a thing existed until recently! I found Pam Nease Sleep Consulting on Instagram a few months ago and very skeptically decided to give them a call!

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After our first call with Jessica, our personal consultant, we immediately felt understood and hopeful. We explained our schedule and sleep issues with her in detail, and she created a sleep plan for us that we were to follow for the next two weeks.

Curtis took charge for the first little bit of our training experience, and I’m so thankful he supported me in this! I struggled the first two days! It was SO hard for me to give up control, and I kept trying to “cheat” the sleep plan… but luckily he made sure we stuck to it! Our original nap and bedtime routine wasn’t terrible but I was unknowingly doing a few things that made it hard for Lucy to sleep on her own. Like I said in my post about my postpartum anxiety, Lucy and I were attached at the hip!

 

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After two days of following our sleep plan, miracles started happening! I know it sounds corny, but it’s so true! On the third night, we woke up at 6 am and were in shock that Lucy hadn’t woken up during the night!

During those two weeks of sleep training, we saw so much improvement and any time we had a question or hit a bump in the road, Jessica was just a phone call away with the answers we needed!

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I truly am thankful for the help we received from our sleep trainers! I’m so glad I realized that I didn’t know everything and asked for help! The thing is, this wasn’t just about getting Lucy to sleep through the night. It was about making a change to improve our family life. The tips that we implemented in our sleep plan helped to squelch both Lucy and my anxieties, her fear of strangers (and really anyone that wasn’t me) and my need to be in control.

I don’t have to be the ONLY one who takes care of her every need now, and it is so freeing. And now we get to finally enjoy every moment of her happy, chatty, and precocious little personality!

Predictability and order in our “sleep life” has allowed us a little fun and unpredictability during our waking hours! This past summer, with the boys home from school, was some of the most fun and relaxing weeks we’ve had in a long time! We are loving life, and soaking it all in, one squishy little kiss at a time!

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This post is sponsored by Pam Nease Sleep Consultants, but all opinions are 100% my own! If you can’t tell already, we loved our experience and are so grateful for Pam’s wonderful team!

If you’re struggling with getting a good night’s sleep from birth to age ten, you can find Pam at any of these locations:

Instagram :: Facebook :: Website :: Youtube

And if you CLICK HERE, you will receive Pam’s top 5 sleep tips! She carefully put these emails together to help YOU get a better night’s sleep! And by signing up, you’ll even receive a coupon code, so look out for that!

A Morning At The Farmers Market

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We never got around to making a summer bucket list, so we decided to work on making one for fall. One thing I really wanted to do, was the NC State Farmers Market. I know some people go every week, but I hadn’t gone since I was a child! Crazy! We didn’t really have any specific produce we needed to get, we were just excited to walk around and enjoy the sights! The boys were loving all of the pumpkins, begging us to buy some, but since Halloween is still a month away, we decided to wait! We admired all of the cacti and succulents, and ran our fingers through all of the herbs, enjoying all of the yummy smells! The best part, of course, was getting samples of the fruit at every stand! We ate delicious peaches, several kinds of apples, and we cracked up when Milo ate someones leftover corn rind (thinking it was a sample)! We rounding things out with giant pretzels, home made orangeade, and kettle corn!

While a little stressful trying to keep 4 little ones corralled in a sea of people, we really enjoyed the farmers market! We’ll definitely be going back, maybe with a few fall recipes in mind next time! I asked on Instagram this week for some fall recipe ideas and several people suggested butternut squash soup! So maybe we will give it a go!

What do you like to buy at the farmers market!?

Getting Help With Postpartum Anxiety & Our Sleep Issues!

This post is written in collaboration with Pam Nease Sleep.

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Since Lucy turned one over the summer, it had me reflecting on this past year. We had a lot of hardship getting pregnant with Lucy. It was a small struggle when compared to what many others face these days, but for our little family the sorrow of wanting a baby and treatments not working was our whole world. It was tough, but then all of that seemed to melt away when we finally found out that I was pregnant!

The joy really had us on a high for my entire pregnancy, and even through Lucy’s birth. It was probably my hardest pregnancy, physically, but I knew that it was what I had wanted SO badly and it made it easier to bear the uncomfortable aches and pains. And then Lucy was born and it was just so magical, and special, and everything I wanted it to be when meeting a child for the first time. I even remember, during that first week with her home, that I never wanted to put her down. I never wanted her to grow up, I never wanted to stop holding her, and I hardly let anybody else help me with her.

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And that’s when things went from perfect to problematic. Looking back, I think I was going through some sort of postpartum anxiety. Things that were never an issue with our older kids, suddenly became an issue. I was convinced that letting Curtis feed Lucy a bottle would completely ruin breastfeeding for us. I was even worried about the formula hurting her in some way. I didn’t want anyone else helping put her to sleep because I thought she would think I had abandoned her. Right now, 14 months out, I can see how all of these thoughts were so irrational, but at the time, I was consumed by them.

I really made things hard for myself with these “compulsions” and anxious fears. Lucy became a champion at nursing, but in return refused both a bottle and a binky. She went from a peaceful, sleepy baby to a clingy baby who woke up every night to be fed and comforted by me. I loved being loved and needed by her, but life started wearing me down. I couldn’t really go anywhere that required me to be gone at nap time or bed time. Curtis and I weren’t going on dates and I felt like a zombie.

I don’t know if these difficulties are the sole reason that it took so long to become pregnant with Lucy, but I can definitely see that the timing was just what we needed. Having the boys be a little older and all mostly self-sufficient helped me enormously. They understood why I was tired and not as attentive as usual. And they became my saving grace. I feel like I have three miniature dads living with me who have been so eager to help and so patient with me.

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Spending the first 10 months of Lucy’s life riddled with anxiety and worry and exhaustion was not what I had planned. Everything started out so beautifully. I felt like I’d been robbed of those 10 months because I wasn’t able to really feel joy and have fun as Lucy grew and hit milestones. I was terrified that I would be feeling that way forever.

When Lucy was approaching 10 months old, I decided that I was going to contact a sleep trainer. I needed an outside perspective. I knew that getting help would not only improve our sleep, but it would help Lucy and I to be more accepting of help from others. And that right there, was going to improve our life dramatically. I found Pam Nease Sleep on Instagram and after chatting with them, I felt so understood and hopeful. I looked into a couple different companies, but with Pam it felt much more like a community than a company. I could actually see the faces of the women (who she calls her “sleep angels”) who I would actually be working with. It felt so reassuring.

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It has been several months since we worked with Pam Nease Sleep. In all the ways that I had hoped, so much has changed in our little family. Lucy and I are still attached at the hip, as I’ve been with all my little ones, but we’re not so afraid to let others into our circle now. Life has gotten much more predictable, relaxed, and enjoyable.

We are finally enjoying the milestones that Lucy is hitting, but we’re also trying to just enjoy the little moments more. I am spending these last days of Lucy’s “babyhood” feeling so blessed for our sleep training “angels,” for the support that Curtis and the boys have given me, and for finally being on the other side of the fog that was holding us back!

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I can’t wait to tell you a little more about our experience with Pam Nease Sleep, but until then you can stop by their Instagram or Facebook and say Hi!  And if you are a zombie-of-a new mom like I was, you can contact them for a free 15 minute consultation to see if they would be a good fit for you and your family! But if you are frantic for some relief, click here, where you’ll get Pam’s top 5 sleep tips directly to your email so you can go ahead and get some sleep!

 

Lucy’s Cute Blue Dress & Hair Bow (can’t remember the actual vendor! eek! sorry!)

My dress :: made with Penelope Peplum Pattern

Being Present In The Moment

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about being more present with my kids. I brought it up in a recent Instagram post. I’ve noticed in myself, and in so many around me, this need to constantly be connected. Nowadays, it’s really no secret that social media can be addicting. The problem for me came when I realized that maybe I was one of those people that was addicted. I like to think that I’m aware of how often I pull out my phone to scroll Instagram or check my email, but I could be doing SO MUCH BETTER. I know you can probably relate. I want my children to have memories of me being with them, playing, and being available to answer their many questions. And for myself, I want to be more present in all of those moments so that I can enjoy life more.

To be honest, I love Instagram. (Who doesn’t!?) I love posting pretty photos, the encouraging comments I receive, and the supportive community of other moms/creatives I’ve found. But I often turn to social media when I’m feeling bored. I like being creative and lately I’ve been scrolling Instagram for inspiration. But what I’ve found is that I’m doing more consuming than creating. And more and more often, I come away feeling discontent and insignificant.

Deep down, I know that I have creativity that is worth sharing and a life that is worth every bit of my attention and enjoyment. So I’ve made a plan to do a little less consuming and a little more creating. I’m going to make more of an effort to be fully THERE as a mother.

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Last Friday as I was thinking about all of this, I decided to put my phone and computer away for the day and pull out my camera instead. I enjoyed so many beautiful and fun every day moments with my kids and I was able to be creative while doing it. Afternoons at home are often the hardest part of my day. It’s easy for me to get in a funk of feeling bored and uninspired. I can’t tell you how good it was for my soul to force myself to look for the inspiring moments where I wouldn’t usually see them. I ended up with a little video of our afternoon. I found special details in a completely normal day as Lucy woke up from her nap and figured out how to make sounds with a recorder, as Owen and Milo built a couch-fort, and Ande built an epic Lego parking garage. It made going out on a date that night feel great because I knew I had soaked up some good quality time with the babes beforehand. And now, with this video, I can enjoy those moments over and over again.

The video I worked on is below, and I hope you’ll follow along with my little journey through motherhood by subscribing to our channel while you’re there!

 

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For our date night in the video, I wore my favorite lace midi dress! I got it from H&M a few years ago, and altered the sleeves from long sleeved to short! I looked for a similar lace dress to share and listed a few cute ones below!

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(Click on a photo and the link will be listed below it!)

Dear Owen,

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You are such a sensitive little guy. Some might find that as a shortcoming, but I think it is one of your greatest strengths! You are so observant of others and your sensitivity to their feelings helps you to be such a compassionate, loving boy.

Thank you for always being willing to help me with Lucy. You won’t run out the door to catch the school bus unless you’ve given her a kiss goodbye first!

You are neat and tidy and I love it! You are a master bed maker, get the least crumbs on the floor at meal times, and rarely get food stains on your clothes. This ability also carries over into your school work. I love seeing your neat, adorable, handwriting on your papers every day.

We decided to keep your agenda from Kindergarten because you never once got in trouble, or had to “move your clip down.” That is amazing! I know you really just love getting the prizes for doing well in class, but I really appreciate your good behavior. I beam with pride just thinking about it!

You are really fascinated with animals lately, and most of all, snakes. I love to see you exploring your passions…butttt….snakes!? I will struggle through reading all the snake books, as long as we don’t ever have to have one in our house!

Owen, we love you so so much! We love that you are six now! Thank you for always being such a funny boy, for keeping us laughing, and making us smile! Happy Birthday!

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Owen Turns 4  ||  Owen’s Birth Story  || Owen Turns 3

Ice Cream, Sand Tunnels, & the 4th of July!

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Last year we did something so fun on the 4th of July, that we decided to make it a tradition! We drive around with the windows down, and the sunroof open, blasting our favorite patriotic songs. Meanwhile, the boys hang out of the van, furiously waving their little American flags. Last summer, we just drove around the neighborhood waving to our friends and neighbors along the way. This year, we were still down on the Outer Banks, enjoying our family beach week! So as July 4th came around, after a full day on the beach and some yummy homemade ice cream, it was time to roll those windows down!

We turned into our little beach house neighborhood and as the boys poked their body’s out into the wind, we turned up the volume as loud as it could go! We were having a blast waving our flags and singing along! What we failed to notice, was the police officer following us down the street! (Oops!) He eventually pulled us over. Once he realized we were just a family having some fun, and not some wild, drunk, hooligans, he laughed and let us off with a warning!

Maybe we should just stick to our own little quiet neighborhood next year!? It was definitely a funny experience and a memory we’ll never forget!

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Our day spent on the beach was full of swimming, boogie boarding, digging a giant sand tunnel, and casting our net for little fish and crabs!

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And then, of course, we had to cool off visiting a cute little homemade ice cream shop! The ice cream melted faster than the kids could eat, but who doesn’t love messy little ice cream covered mouths? Lucy even got to eat the end of Curtis’ cone and was so excited she couldn’t stop dancing!

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Wonderful memories were made and I can’t wait for our beach week to roll around again next summer! For now, we’ll just keep watching the PART 2 video of our awesome Beach Vacation, and you should too!

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Beach Week Part 1 Photos

Part 1 Beach Vacation VIDEO!

The Dress Every Nursing Mama Needs!

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I brought my flowy wrap dress to the beach a couple weeks ago to wear to church. One evening, the sunset was just too beautiful to pass up a fun photo shoot with my mom and sister, and of course I had to wear this dress!

A flowing dress + the ocean winds + sunset = the perfect combination!

I love wrap front dresses lately! They are great for easy access for nursing. I snatched this dress up from Piper & Scoot while I was still pregnant because I knew I’d need something forgiving in the tummy area, and with a no-fuss option for breastfeeding! It has worked out great so far! Another thing that I love about wrap dresses is how they make your curves look good and your waist look small!

We had so much fun snapping away at some pictures that night at the beach, with Curtis and my sisters husband making us giggle! Here are a few of my favorite shots from that night!

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My dress is no longer available, but below I rounded up some really cute wrap dress options for you! Just click the photo, then the link below each photo will take you straight to it! Hopefully you fellow nursing mama’s out there will find something you like! I find it SO important to find post-baby outfits that are not only functional, but that make you feel GOOD! Don’t you!?

Dear Lucy…

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Watching you turn one was not the easiest for me, and to be honest, the past year wasn’t very easy for me either (which I’ll explain in a post coming soon…). But as I looked over all of our photos from the day you were born until now, all I remember are the good moments! I see you as the little blonde sunshine in our home!

When you wake up in the morning (and after every nap), everyone races to be first into your room to coo and kiss you. And you welcome the love with big smiles and lots of babbling talk. Oh how I wish I knew what you were saying! You sure do have a lot to tell us! There are a couple words that we do understand like Mama, Dada, Dog, Bubble, Diaper, Bird, and Vacuum!

Your pointer finger is constantly extended so you can show me everything you see! You started walking about a month ago and you love to make your way around the house, curious about what’s behind all the cabinet doors and finding the best lego wheel to chew on! You love swimming, and I get such a good workout chasing you around the shallow end of our pool! As soon as your feet step into the water, you take off running with delight! It was so fun to see you enjoy splashing in the ocean too!

You are quite the picky eater and I struggle to keep you well fed! But you love anything that comes out of a pouch and I often just blend up our dinner, thinking how gross it is, and you gobble it right up. I’ll keep trying and hopefully one day you’ll stop watching your food fall to the floor as you lean over the side of your high chair! One thing that you DO love is dogs and any fluffy stuffed animal! Every night you sleep with your doggy and your blanky.

On your birthday, we played at the book store and you picked out a book with cute little flowers and bunnies and flaps that you love to open and close. You gobbled down ice cream after lunch and couldn’t stand the wait between bites! After dinner we turned on your new bubble blower and I’ve never seen you so excited! We gave you a cupcake and as we sang, I could tell you felt how truly special you are to us. As you tested out the cupcake, you kept looking up at us for approval. “Are you sure you want me to eat this sticky thing?” You liked the taste but weren’t so excited about the messy feeling!

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Lucy Grace, with your cute little teeth and your crazy hair, we love you! Thank you for bringing so much happiness and laughter into our home! Happy First Birthday Goosey Girl!

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Lucy’s Bow

Lucy’s Birth

Our Family Beach Vacation, Part 1 || Oak Island, NC

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Let’s start the day with the wind in our hair and the sand between our toes.

Let’s listen to the waves crashing and smell the salty air in our nose.

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Do you hear the children laughing and the shovels digging holes?

Did you catch a fish with your nets and your fishing poles?

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I’ll never forget the warm water run over my face.

I’ll always remember the way you could’ve swam for days and days.

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Little one, learning to walk and discovering all of the sea shells…

Little one, feeling brave swimming, even in the giant swells.

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All of us are sun kissed and tired in the best way,

so let’s make sure we do this again, another beach day.

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:: black ruffle swimsuit :: floral swimsuit :: kid’s sea green swimmers :: Lucy’s blue suit

SEE FOR YOURSELVES…HERE’S PART ONE…ENJOY 🙂