DIVE

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It’s time to throw it all the way back to elementary school… to when me and my family were members of a swimming pool that also had high dives and an olympic sized diving tower.

For some unknown reason, I was a brave child when it came to doing scary things. I was terrified of talking to people, but I would do any roller coaster no problem. Every summer I challenged myself to dive off the high dives, touch the bottom of the 16 ft. deep diving pool, and jump from the very high platforms. Being brave didn’t mean that I wasn’t scared. I was very scared. I remember standing at the top of the 2nd platform, legs shaking, toes lined up on the edge. I was even scared as I fell through the air, as if in slow motion, waiting to hit the water beneath. But let me tell you, the thrill I felt when I came up out of the water, was like no other. I felt powerful. I felt confident.

That is why my “word” for 2018 is DIVE.

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Last year my word was start. A simple word that carried with it a lot of meaning for me. I had a lot of big plans for my year. I wanted to start making things happen. When I first reflected on this past year and my “one little word,” I felt a little disappointed in myself. I am really good at dreaming big, but not so good at making it happen. But then I read over last year’s post and realized that I accomplished more than I thought. I did start taking more pictures. I did start reading more books (I even joined a book club). And most importantly, I did start to take notice of how I spent my time, especially when with the kids. I didn’t necessarily accomplish any of the grandiose goals I had envisioned but I, at least, got started. I made progress, however slight. And now I can say, I’m proud of myself.

This year, my word is DIVE.

This year is about follow through. I want to build on what I got started in 2017, but just like my leg shaking high dives, I need a thrill and a challenge. I don’t know when things changed for me, but I’m much more comfortable sunglasses on, sitting warm in the sun, watching everyone swim and take the risks. I want to feel brave again. I need to do something a little scary that will give me that same rush of confidence that diving head first off a high dive gave my 10 year old self. And so as not to create an unattainable goal for myself… if I only take a small leap, or if it takes me all year to do one daring, terrifying thing, I will know that I followed through. I didn’t break form and I made it into the water safely, more brave and confident than when I started.

So whether it’s as simple as turning my phone all the way off to enjoy afternoons fully present with my kids, or finishing a book even if I don’t love it (yes, this is actually hard for me), or putting myself out there to serve my friends, or putting myself out there for friends that are far away, or sticking to a budget (yet again, scary), or starting down a new creative business path… if I could jump off a 20 foot tower 20 years ago, what’s to stop me now?

 

What word will you choose for 2018, or what goals do you plan to set for yourself? I challenge you to challenge yourself. Work towards something that may seem scary, that will make you better!

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A Low Key Christmas

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We had a pretty low key Christmas this year. I was actually kind of worried about how simple we kept things. We didn’t get out and do many fun activities around town like ice skating or sitting on Santa’s lap, and we kept the gift giving to a minimum. Surprisingly, the kids seemed to really enjoy the quiet days spent at home and on Christmas morning they exclaimed that it was the “best Christmas ever!” It was such a great reminder that kids don’t need much to be happy. They just need that good old quality time!

I also took on a couple big projects right before Christmas that may have contributed to our lack of holiday outings. I made all new stockings for us. Lucy didn’t have one last year, and I wanted a little update in decor. I also became temporarily insane when I decided to steal all the pictures from my parent’s “picture closet” and tried to digitize all of them. It was a massive project that I didn’t end up finishing the way I wanted to. I did, however, manage to get all of the pictures ordered and organized in boxes, along with a video montage from the time my parents were young, up until all of us kids got married! Going through all of those old photos, especially the ones of my parents early marriage and when us kids were babies, was one of my favorite parts of Christmas!

Today is New Years, and we spent the morning taking down our decorations. It’s always bittersweet to do so, but I think we lived our holidays out to the fullest. As we put everything away, I smiled at the memories and am looking forward to the many more that will come!

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my velvet dress is from HERE

the kid’s Christmas pjs are from HERE

Lucy’s baby stroller is from HERE

 

Our Thanksgiving In Texas!

For the past couple years, we have traveled to Texas for Thanksgiving! Several members of Curtis’ family live there and it’s a fun place to gather! This year I lucked out and Curtis decided we could fly instead of drive the 20 hours to get there! Dream come true!

We hopped on our flight, where we had to keep Lucy from licking the seats, and then landed in Houston! We drove a couple hours from there to a little place in the “hill country” where our little river side cabins were located. While there we spent a lot of low key time hanging out, jet skiing, and watching the kids play. The kids spent so much time just running around outside, making camp fires, and exploring! It was fun watching them be so wild and free!

One thing that I really wanted to fit into our holiday this year was service. On the day before Thanksgiving, we spent the morning working with the local Habitat for Humanity! We helped prepare a house to be move-in ready for a small family and the youngest kids got to decorate studs that would go up in another soon-to-be built home! It was great to see the little ones so eager to serve, and to teach them a little bit about giving.

Our travels are always some of our favorite memories from the year, and I know the kids are going to remember this trip for many years to come!

Below I’m sharing some of my favorite photos from the trip!

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Fall Catch-Up

Fall this year in North Carolina has been spectacular. Maybe I was just paying more attention, but it seemed like the leaves were extra vibrant and those beautiful colors stuck around for a lot longer than usual! In fact, there are still bright colors on some of the trees and crunchy leaves are still swirling around as we drive down the street. I have loved it, and it has sort of made me forget that we’re moving past fall and into winter now!

Aside from the beautiful leaves this year, we really packed in a lot of fun activities as a family, which made this fall extra special! The boys helped me make a “fall bucketlist” that we kept on our refrigerator to keep track of our activity “wishlist.” We didn’t end up crossing everything off, but we got close!

We rode rides at the fair, played at the pumpkin patch, dressed up for Halloween, and even made a couple trips to Washington DC and then Texas!

Here are a few pictures to sum up the fun!

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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!

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!?