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!

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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

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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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.

Roadtrip to Texas!

1,468 miles, 41 hours of driving, 7 days, and 4 hotels.
Every minute spent was absolutely worth it.
This Thanksgiving, we traveled down to Texas for a family reunion. It was the longest road trip we have ever taken, and it definitely wasn’t easy with a 4 month old. But, whether it was driving extremely long distances, or taking time off work or school, we all made sacrifices to be there. That sacrifice made our time together that much more special. 
We first drove to Dallas to stay with Curtis’ parents before heading down to Hunt. Once we got to this tiny, secluded little town in the hill country of Texas, we stayed a few days enjoying a river side resort. We canoed, swam, hiked, and explored. The kids all roamed free around the hotel grounds and they reveled in the freedom! We explored this fun hiking area where all 6 families, and 23 grand kids, made a long, arduous, 5 mile hike up and down a mountain. It was so difficult, but I think very rewarding.
After our time by the Guadalupe river, we traveled to San Antonia to see the Alamo and some of the sites downtown. We ate at a hole in the wall taco joint (which was delicious), and explored a city market full of Mexican goods! 
It was truly a magical trip. The boys only get to see their cousins about once a year, but when together, they play as if no time has passed. My favorite part about this trip was watching the friendships and love grow between all of the children. I can’t help but feel blessed that we have such a large family, with so many wonderful examples of genuine, kind, righteous people for my children to look up to. I just can’t even imagine a better childhood for my boys (and Lucy too). 

falling for fall

Temperatures drop, leaves fall, and days shorten. It’s finally fall, a season of change and a feeling of togetherness. 
Just like the season, our family is getting used to change, and it’s a good change. We’re a family of six now and we’re still getting used to what that’s like. Having Lucy around has allowed life to slow down a bit. We have to plan our outings a little better, and we often find ourselves staying in more often. Not being able to jet set around town and being in the home more is actually kind of hard for me, but I’m embracing the slower pace and trying to be more engaged in mothering the kids. This fall I’ve spent more time building Lego’s, reading books, sitting on park benches, swinging, and dare I say it…cooking! By the end of the day, I am exhausted, but in a good way. The exhaustion makes me feel like I accomplished something, and I need that feeling. Sometimes I feel like just being a mom isn’t as fulfilling to me as it might be to other stay at home moms. I like to have something to work on, something to sell, something to make. But I’m glad that having a baby has given me a chance to feel a little peace in the day to day. Every night, no matter how tired I am, I try to take a walk around the neighborhood. I usually listen to a podcast and scare myself silly on this one dark street, but it has been something I really look forward to. I’ll be bummed when it gets too cold for it. 
This fall, the kids have all grown, and learned, and changed so quickly. They’re all in school (Milo in preschool), and something about school really just makes them grow up so fast. I love it and I hate it all at the same time. Lucy is also growing and becoming such a fun baby. We live for her smiles and coos. I’m constantly covered in milk and spit up, but I’m getting used to the smell and one little smile from that girl makes it all worth it. So far this fall, we have had a lot of fun park days, family walks, and a trip to the pumpkin patch. On Halloween the boys wore their silly costumes and I will cherish the memories of that night so much. It was truly one of my favorite Halloween night’s ever. I wish so badly that I had captured every moment of trick or treating on film…Ande in his astronaut helmet with his candy bag attached to his belt, Owen in his spider outfit with those spider legs bouncing around, and Milo running, white faced, in his ghost costume shouting, “Wow! Look at all this candy!” after every…single…house! I almost missed those moments because of a very tired baby, but we found a way for me to join the fun and I’m so glad. 
There have certainly been a lot of challenges this fall with the growth of our family, and a new baby around. I’m struggling with mom guilt a lot, wishing I could have more arms to be there for each and every kid every time they  need it, and definitely feeling a little old at times. But I also wish I could bottle up the love that little Lucy has given our family. I am really enjoying the tenderness she’s given her brothers. They love her, and nurture her, and because of that I think our family is going to be better than ever. 
So this year, I’ve fallen in love with fall. I love the changes we’ve experienced this year and I so look forward to the future (except January…January is brutal…we could skip that chilly month! 😉 )


Below are some fun moments from our visit to the pumpkin patch, and other fall fun…
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Lucy’s Blessing Day

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The first Sunday of September was Lucy’s blessing day at church. Curtis gave the most wonderful, heartfelt blessing for her. What a great way to start out her life! We were lucky to have many family members there. We missed our Haynie clan, but enjoyed being surrounded by my family. In the evening, we celebrated with dinner at my parent’s house where all the little boys wrestled on the trampoline and the adults got eaten alive by mosquitoes! My side of the family started out so small, and I really love seeing it grow and grow! We are so lucky to have added Lucy to the mix. It’s no secret that we all love her SO much!
My Dress: Piper and Scoot
Lucy’s Flower Crown: My Monday’s Child
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(I can’t trust that trickster for anything! But glad to have a life full of laughter with him!….
 and that couldn’t be more cheesy…)