Dear Ande,

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A month ago, you turned 8! And this past weekend you were baptized.

In our church, children are baptized at 8 so that they can truly understand the covenants and promises that they are making.  I am SO proud of you for choosing to be baptized, but I never doubted that you’d make that decision! One of the things I love about you is that you have always tried to make good choices. You like to follow rules and you love to do what is right! It is so clear to me why you were sent to our family first, to be the oldest brother, to be an example and help to your younger siblings. I’m so glad that you’ll be the one that they’ll be looking up to, the one to guide them to do right.

Right now, your favorite things to do are build transformers with Legos, read Diary of a Wimpy Kid, play with your neighborhood friends, love on your baby sister, play chase with Aunt Laurie’s puppy Leo, and make obstacle courses with our zip line! You also started cub scouts and look so adorable in your uniform!

On Mother’s Day, you placed a letter for me in the mailbox. When I opened it, I read, ” Happy Mother’s Day!!! You are the best! There is a surprise right about….now!” And then you gave me a giant hug and said, “Surprise!” I love your creativity and your enormous heart.

Thank you for being you, Ande. I love you!

Choose Adventure!

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Most days the afternoon slump really gets me. The older boys get home from school, throw their backpacks on the floor and are starving for a snack and are ready to tell me every detail of their day! Around this time, Lucy is also waking up from her nap, ready to play and have her snack as well! And at this same time of day, when my attention is needed most, and my little ones are ready for action, I start to feel so, so tired.

I know I should be using nap time to rest, but I find myself getting antsy, thinking about all the things I could be doing instead.

I know I’m not alone in feeling this way!

Luckily, I’ve found a cure for those long afternoons. I choose to have an ADVENTURE!

Laundry can wait. A fancy home cooked meal, can wait. Homework can wait.

When I get out of the house and find an adventure with the kids, we all feel energized and happier. It’s amazing what a little sunshine and swings can do to your mood! Even when I’m so tired I can hardly keep my eyes open, we pile into the van and drive to one of our favorite parks. We end up eating bananas and sandwiches for dinner instead of vegetables and fancy pasta, but I come away smiling. I forget how tired I am when we’re riding the little train, or swinging on the tire swing, or climbing to the top of the equipment. And I’ll take those moments over feeling the gloomy afternoon slump any day!

So when you find yourself counting down the hours until bedtime…instead,

Choose Adventure

Must Have, Adorable, One Piece Swimsuits!

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I know that spring barely started, but I can’t help myself from dreaming about summer already! I have been loving all of the cute one piece swimsuits this year! When I was a kid, and my mom wanted me to wear modest swimsuits, there was NOTHING cute to choose from! I always wore speedos (and pretended I was on the swim team) because it was either that, or look like a mom!

Luckily, there are SO many adorable one piece options these days! I love that they have come into style. And now that I am actually a mom, I don’t necessarily have to look like one! Although, there’s really no hiding that I have had four kids…

Below are some of my favorite swimsuits from around the inter-webs. Can you tell I love florals?

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Moving from Left to Right and Top to Bottom:

The Weekender ::  Floral Lace Halter ::  Zinnia Plunge ::  Ruffled Halter ::  The Bridgitte

 

The Floral Lace Halter is a suit that I found at Target! It is almost identical to a swimsuit at Anthropologie for a much lower cost! Isn’t that awesome?!

Which one would you choose? Can you guess which one I’ll be sporting this summer?

happier times

“Can we speak in flowers? It will be easier for me to understand…”

-Nayyirah Waheed

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Spring, flowers, and warm weather are my love language. I know I’m not alone in how much weather affects my mood. On warm sunny days, I feel so chipper and happy and ready to conquer anything. On cold, wintry days, I am moody and sad and snappy!

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We were spoiled with an extremely warm February. We had so many beautiful 70 degree days. I was in heaven. We ventured to the park every afternoon, and I didn’t feel so bogged down by my lack of sleep. On one of these unseasonably warm days, we went to the “dragon park” (the boys have their own names for every park. ie: mulch park, castle park, blue park, etc). I wore one of my favorite dresses, snapped away with my camera, and we enjoyed a little picnic dinner!

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As I’m writing this, it is March, 30 degrees, and the wind will knock you down! I’ve been in a bad mood, refusing to take off my pajamas, with a knot in my pony tail the size of Texas, all day. I know that spring will come back eventually. But for now, I will just have to stare at these pictures and dream of happier times!

:: I got my dress at a cute little market in San Antonio, TX during our Thanksgiving road trip, but here are some similarly embroidered dress options you could try: here, here, and here! ::

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life lately

This has been such a beautiful, warm, winter so far! There have been some chilly days in the mix, but it has mostly been gorgeous weather! We have spent almost every afternoon down in our neighborhood park swinging, riding bikes, and playing with friends. The boys are all enjoying school, and Lucy recently turned 6 months old! She is loving sitting up and trying all kinds of new foods!

As for me, I have spent a lot of time getting back to the gym, listening to podcasts in the car, and trying to balance housework and getting creative again. It’s hard, and a work in progress, but fun.

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Here are some of the things I’ve been loving lately…

Must Listen Podcast: I am loving the Extraordinary Moms podcast! There’s an episode in there for everyone, and I guarantee you will come away feeling inspired!

Must Watch Show: If you love period piece films as much as I do, then you NEED to watch the latest from Masterpiece Theater, Victoria. As you can imagine, it’s about the life of Queen Victoria, and it is SO well done.

Must Wear Shoes: I am in desperate need of new tennis, and I’ve been eyeing these shoes. I mostly like them because they are cute, not sure how functional, though.

Must Eat Treat: I am a chocolate lover (chocolate obsessed, actually). I am really loving Bark Thins right now. The downside is that they are kinda pricey (imo), and I could eat the entire bag in one sitting if I’m not careful!

Most Used Item: I need organization in my life, or I don’t get anything done. I have been loving my Life Planner! It has so much room for notes, and meal planning, and anything else you can think of!

 

just before Lucy

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About 6 months ago, I was a couple weeks away from giving birth to Lucy. The boys and I got to participate in a photo shoot that a friend of mine from high school and her amazing photographer friend were putting together for a magazine article. Amy, an old school friend, is a talented wedding and event stylist, who designed the look and feel of this photo shoot. She styled our clothes, my hair and makeup, and locations of the shoot! We shot most of the photos in her gorgeous home! We modeled for birth and maternity photographer, Lauren Jolly. She is also incredibly talented and creative! She shot mostly with film, and I was amazed at the quality of photos!

The article that our photos were used for is on having “Grace in Motherhood.” And Lauren’s article was featured in a photography magazine called The Fount Collective. It was so fun to see our pictures in print, and to be part of such a creative process!

My favorite part was being able to capture that moment in time with my boys. These photos were taken only a couple weeks before Lucy’s birth, and are some of the last moments of my time as a “boy-only mom.” I will always cherish these photos. It was such a special day spent bonding with Ande, Owen, and Milo, and I’m so glad I got that chance to really spend time with them!

Dear Milo,

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A little over four years ago, I had 3 year old and 8 month old little boys. I started feeling sick and my gym pants seemed a little tighter than usual. It was around my birthday, in May, that I thought maybe I should take a pregnancy test. I was completely shocked when I saw those two lines show up, bright as day! Knowing my condition, and how hard we tried for Owen, you were the most unexpected, amazing surprise!

And now, looking back, I totally get why you came so quickly. You are one little boy who doesn’t like to be left behind. You started walking at 9 months old, and you potty trained yourself at 17 months old. You refused to wear a diaper and would only wear underwear! You used to always talk about being a “big boy,” and even now, you do your best to keep up with those big brothers of yours!

You are fast, and you love making sure we all know it! You are fearless! Last night, you jumped off the top bunk and scared me half to death! You don’t mind being dirty because you just don’t have time to be clean! You’re always on the move, and that’s what makes you so fun to be around! Milo, you are so funny. You love a good laugh!

And you know what my favorite thing is?

You are so loving and kind. You often hug me out of the blue, and tell me you love me. And you are so gentle and sweet with Lucy. I know you asked to marry her one day, but how about you just be the best big brother instead?

 

I love you and am so excited for you to be four! What a year this will be!

snow days

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2016 ended on a high note with a fabulous New Year’s Eve dance party in our living room, and so far 2017 doesn’t disappoint either! We started things off just right with a beautiful snow fall.

We were prepared for 6-8 inches, but woke up to a light icing on the grass. We were feeling pretty disappointed when suddenly giant snow flakes began to fall from the sky! Down here in the south, snow is a novelty, so we were pretty excited!

I spent most of the day bundled up inside with a crochet project and warm blanket, and the rest of the day watching the boys sled! Our fun neighbor spent the majority of the day pulling the kids around behind his riding lawn mower. Lucy and I even got a ride, and it was pretty awesome!

Isn’t snow just so magical!? I love when the world is covered in white. It’s like the real world suddenly transforms into  a fairy tale when it snows. I love it, and it was such a good day, one that I know the kids will remember!

Snow days from years past… the white fluffy stuff , snow day

Snow Day Outfit Details:

classic Women’s Plus Size Chalet Down Shawl Collar Coat-Black Floral • Classic • $149.97
Shimmer sweater leggings • Gap • $27.99

START…my 2017 motto!

2016 was a great year for us! We got to travel a ton, the boys mastered swimming and bike riding, we welcomed Lucy Grace into the world, and Curtis accepted a new job offer! Being pregnant for the first half of the year, and having a newborn for the second half, I’ve really had to push any creative efforts aside while I focused on my family. That shift in focus was exactly what I needed, and I hope to continue my efforts to be more present with my kids and Curtis in 2017.

But with all that said, while watching the kids ride bikes the other day, I knew exactly what my “one little word” should be. Each boy got a new bike for Christmas and so the day after, we took them to a parking lot to get some practice in. We were going to put training wheels on Owen and Milo’s bikes, but instead they decided to just start riding their two wheelers! And they did it! They were amazing, and it was so fun to watch! It made me think about all the little projects and ideas that I have in my head. Things that I dream about doing, but never do. I don’t know if I’m scared of failing, or looking dumb, or just lazy, but I decided in 2017 I’m just going to START.

I’m just going to START taking more pictures, I’m just going to START reading that book that’s been sitting on my nightstand for months, I’m just going to START playing with my kids more, I’m just going to START making things again.

I hope 2017 will be a year of making things happen, and I’m so excited to get started.

If you could pick “one little word” to define your aspirations for the year, what would it be?

Before looking ahead to 2017, I did some looking back. I went through all of our footage from 2016 to remember all of the amazing things we did and to see how the kids grew over time. I put it all together into a video because I never want to forget!

See for yourself…

shopping for our Christmas tree!!!

Earlier in the month we went on our annual trip to pick out a Christmas tree! The boys excitedly run through the isles of trees, and then we find the one that’s just right. They tried to convince us to get both the 20 footer as well as the tiniest 2 foot tree on the lot, but in the end we settled with the perfect, regular sized tree!

We wanted to document this fun tradition to have for years and years to come, so we filmed our day! Sometimes I feel like time is flying by way too fast and I want to capture every single moment because I am terrified I’ll forget! Do you ever feel like that? I already take a million photos as the children grow, but I wanted to start getting their little body’s and voices on video as well.