Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What A Year Can Do

One year ago today we found out that this little sweetie was a boy...

1 year since I said, "A boy!? Really!? Are you SURE!?".

And now a whole year later we have this amazingly sweet, lovable, squeezable, snuggly, giggling, smiley, most adored little brother......

Should I go on?


...rolling, babbling, wonderful, bury-your-nose-in-his-sweet smelling self, beaming, mama melting little guy...

Sigh. Will the "mama's boy" thing ever wear off? Will his sisters ever not gush all over him? Will there ever be a girl good enough for my sweet Lincoln?

Am I getting ahead of myself? Sorry.

Anywho. Just was reading some posts from this time last year and saw that it had been a year since we heard, "its a boy!". Good, good times.

We just love that kiddo. He's one of my 6 greatest gifts. I could have a hundred more of that little babe :).

(Or maybe just 1 or 2 more, a hundred is a lot. Boundries, people, boundries.)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Post Long Weekend Rambling

We had a great holiday. Long weekends with my people are my favorite.

I made the switch from Pumpkin Spice creamer to Peppermint Mocha creamer. Needless to say I've been drinking a lot of coffee. Have ya tried it??

We ate a lot, and relaxed, and decorated...

We watched movies, baked some goodies, and started to listen to Christmas music around the clock.

Remember how I said we were making pies for Ella's school?? We won a prize. I'm not kidding, it won 1st place! I still laugh just thinking about it...I'm not a real seasoned pie maker. AND, it was the easiest pie I've ever made, my friends. Funny, huh?

Oh, and you guys, I got an awesome deal on a "under the cabinet" stereo the day after Thanksgiving. And let me tell you, I don't know how I cooked without it. It is SO great!

(are there some southerners out there laughing cause I say "you guys"? I lived in Baton Rouge for a while and they always thought it sounded so funny! Some of my favorite people live there, I miss them.)

The girlie's can get a little carried away sometimes with the new stereo and before I know it there is a small dance party underway while I'm trying to make dinner. Totally worth it though.

Seriously, Christmas tunes while you're cooking, it's a gift. It's like a whole new world to me.

Anyway, thats all the rambling for now. The later it gets, the harder it is for me to form a thought. You understand.

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Gift Debate - We Try To Keep It Simple

It's the holidays, obviously. And as you know, I'm a big fan.

The family get togethers, the last minute shopping, the amazing meals, the look on the kids faces - all of it is wonderful to me. Just, wonderful.

Thanksgiving is almost here (yay!!), the Christmas shopping is starting up, and we again face the gift debate as we pick out things for the kiddos.

Life has changed as our family continues to grow. Christmas isn't cheap anymore. And even with that fact set aside, I just feel like the kids get SO much from everyone, when they really already have all they need. We by no means are real flourished with money, and even if we were, the kids wouldn't get everything they want. It just doesn't work like that around here.

We knew that having a big family would mean that everyone would not always get what they want, sacrifices would be made at times, and that we would probably never be real "well off". And honestly, I don't want to be. We're not exactly chasin' the American dream here :). But in my opinion, no money could ever top what we have been given.

The world can keep that dream, I'll take this dream.

Those kiddos are spoiled rotten with love anyway, no material item would ever compare to what they already have. Thankyouverymuch :).

Don't get me wrong though. Those little loves have my number for sure. They ask for this or that, and flash a sweet little smile at me, and I can cave like nothing you've ever seen. I can be weak.

Sometimes its hard to say no to a face like that, but I do. A lot.

I look at the ads, I count what we've saved, map out what I'm going to pick up for the kids, and I get all excited about seeing the look on their sweet little faces when they open it. But at the same time I've always felt this pull, this feeling in my heart that we should be doing Christmas gifts differently, even though that's what the kiddos really look forward to.

After all, it's not about the gifts, it's about Him. The One who gave us all we have, the One who provides for our every need, and the One who gives me the amazing gift of Grace when I open my eyes every morning.

So we asked ourselves - do they get 1 gift, 3 gifts, 6 gifts? When is enough enough? At what amount of money do you spend when you finally say, "this is kind of ridiculous."?

I just want them to really understand that this is all about giving, not receiving, you know? I want them to be thankful for the small things, not always expect the big things.

So last year we started focusing on 3 gifts each, the same amount that the wise men brought Jesus. And then they get some little things or accessories in their stockings.

It's simple. But I think it might just work out :).

Does our gift giving sound anything like yours? How do you do Christmas in your house? Gifts? Traditions? Ground rules?

I'm always up for new ideas :).

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

10 Things I (Try) To Teach Our Girls


I got some comments on a recent post questioning how I raise our girls. And just in case you were curious as well, I'm not forcing our girls to be homemakers. I believe they should be whatever God calls them to be.

My calling is not their calling.

But for the record, if you are a mom and a wife, I do feel like "homemaker" is part of our calling whether you work full time in an office or stay at home full time with the kiddos, so I do focus a lot on teaching them about it. But that doesn't mean I tell them they shouldn't pursue a career or some other passion.

I myself run a small photography business AND consider myself a homemaker as well :).

However, homemaker is my calling, photography is my hobby.

SO, I thought I'd share things that I do often tell our girls, and rules I keep close to my heart that I want them to know and embrace.

1. You are like a ruby. Rare and one of a kind.

2. Modesty is admirable. And a must in this house till you are old enough to support yourself. Ahem. Covering up doesn't mean you can't be trendy. Passing trends are often not very classy anyway, keep things covered that should be covered, lady.

And I don't care if everyone else is wearing it - lead, don't follow.

3. The point to makeup is to make it look like you're not wearing any. That's what my mom used to tell me. Anything that matches an actual color of the rainbow is to much, unless you're pursuing a look that resembles Mimi from the Drew Carey Show. Which we aren't going for.

Oh, and there is no makeup till you can put it on AND wash it off effectively...which I haven't even really mastered yet at age 30, so you've got some time.

4. The future is yours. Well, ultimately it's His. You can accomplish anything you want. Follow His lead, and be the best YOU that you can be.

But promise mama that someone will have a little bundle at some point, ok? My ovaries will eventually dry up and I'll need to rely on you for a baby fix.

5. Don't be a gossip. It's just not good. "If she's talking to you about her, shes probably talking to her about you." Don't be that girl. God wants your words to be full of grace.

6. Focus on your heart, not your appearance. The pressure from our culture can be nasty, be prepared to fight for what you know is true. The state of your heart is more important than your size, or choice in "designer" clothes - you are more important than a number. And at the end of the day, people want to be with someone who's heart is full of passion and joy...not with someone who only talks about her image or lack there of.

7. I am your mother, not your friend. This is a hard one for me because I really want you to like me and I know that sometimes you won't. For now though, it's my job to raise you. When you are older, settled down, and having a family of your own, I can act more like a friend in some ways.

But for now, and all the way through high school, I will basically stalk you. Someday, you'll thank me.

8. Take a good look at me. This is your future. Hips and all. You will at some point say, "Oh goodness, I am my mother!".

9. Be hard to find, not easy to get. A friend told me that back in my single days and I have never forgot it. Have high standards and don't compromise. God has already chosen a perfect guy for you, wait for him.

10. Always be upfront and tell the truth. Honesty is freeing, and everything comes to light eventually anyway. It's like telling someone they have something in their teeth - its awkward at first, but rewarding for everyone in the end.

So there they are. The top 10 things I tell our sweet, growing girls.

And from what I see thus far, we have all kinds of dreams ahead :).

Monday, November 21, 2011

We Like To Party - Holiday Ultimate Moms Night Out!

It's time to celebrate the holidays!

I looovvve my kiddos, my full time mommy life, and my everyday tasks. Although I could do without scrubbing the toilets, but lets not go there. I really do love my job. But you know what else I reeaally love??

A Mom's Night Out.

And I'm not talking about an evening trip to Target with this group...

Even though they are fantastic company...and always a good time.

I'm talking a relaxing night of encouragement, pampering (as in complimentary manicures!!), conversation, and good food with some fabulous women. Women who understand your life, your madness, your stress, your passions, your faith, and the reason you love this big blog world.

That is one of my favorite pictures from the last night out, they look like they're having fun, don't ya think :)??

This time around however, we want to encourage you all to give back to others before the event. We want you to reach out in your community and love on some people. Take balloons to the maternity ward and coffee to the nurses. Pass out suckers to the kiddos in the store who are making things hard on their mom. Pay for the person's items behind you in line. Take someone dinner. Send a friend an actual card telling her how thankful for her.

Just. Give. Back.

I know random acts of kindness don't sound like a big deal, but they are. Believe me. You never know how much you can brighten someones day, or how much someone needs that extra blessing to get them through a long afternoon.

Love on each other. Share the joy. And spread some cheer, ok? Promise? Good.

SO, on December 6th at 6:30pm, Amy and I, along with Lifestages, Peeps, and Pedi-Derm, will host the 1st Holiday Ultimate Mom's Night Out.

It just sounds fun, doesn't it?

So if you're local (oh how I wish you were ALL local), or close enough to get here, you will want to go HERE and grab a ticket! We are going to live it up, ladies!

Mary Kay and Beaute Box will be pampering us, Veggie Tales and many others will be giving gifts, and lots of swag will be stuffed inside bags for each of you.

And there is much more :).

So go get your ticket! There are only 50 available this time, and even though I love ya'll like sisters, I can't guarantee anything.

I took an oath.

Not really but I've always wanted to say that.

I am so thankful for the mama's that make my life richer, and I am so looking forward to a night of relaxation, laughter, and catching up.

So c'mon Mom's, let's get together for the Ultimate Mom's Night Out :)!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Things You Need To Know...

or maybe you don't need to know. You can be the judge of that.

We are putting the tree up this weekend. I am a full week behind on that, we usually are one of those houses that you drive by right after Halloween and say, "oh my goodness, they have their tree up!" I can't help myself, I love the holiday decor.

Speaking of which, I bought a sign a few weeks back that I just adored. It was one of those things where you want to buy it, but don't really want to spend the money, but then end up with it in your cart because Christmas decor is SO FUN.

Anyway, I put it up. But clearly it didn't stand a chance in this house full of kiddos...

I actually wasn't even upset, I kind of smiled. In this house, it makes sense that it would be missing a letter. I'm going to leave it up, "erry Christmas" will have to do :).

Please reassure me that we're not the only ones who love the Mariah Carey Christmas CD?? Should I be embarrassed about that?

Remember that laundry system I had going a couple weeks back??


Don't be mad.

I sort of left it in the dust this past week...

All for good reason though. I have so many (sweet) distractions, right?

 I looked at that full couch yesterday and thought, "I should quit complaining about this chore, how blessed am I to have all these little clothes to fold?? That's a big 'ol pile Gods goodness right there!"

So I'm back on track today, we'll see how long this streak lasts.

7mo old Lincoln is on the brink of being mobile. I think we are about a month away from baby gates and a Christmas tree with only ornaments on the top half.

I've been looking at some of the black Friday ads that are being released and I have to admit, I'm tempted to line up at midnight at Target for some of those deals. We changed how we do gifts last year by taking on a more simple approach, but I wouldn't mind getting good deals on what we do buy! Anyone else do black Friday shopping??

We are baking pies this weekend for a Thanksgiving thing at the girls school. Please, someone stop me before I volunteer for anything else. I can't say no when it comes to that stuff!

Well, I think that's all the random I have for now :). Happy Friday!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Super Easy Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

I've had a few questions about our chicken noodle soup recipe that was in a pic a few weeks I thought I'd share it :). It is a staple around this house, the kiddos seriously love it.

I call it one of our "big family meals". Its easy to make in bulk and it's easy to reheat for leftovers.

Also, its an insanely simple recipe. I like simple. And fast. And healthy.

This satisfies all 3 of those things.

So, here is the chicken noodle soup recipe that I make for our growing brood...


1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
4 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth
1/2 pound chopped cooked chicken breast
1 1/2 cups egg noodles
1 cup sliced carrots
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste


Dump everything except for the noodles in the crockpot and cook on low for 8-10 hours. Cook noodles right before the meal and serve! That's it!

I just made 3 batches of it yesterday so I could freeze 2 of them. There is nothing better than realizing you have frozen chicken noodle soup that you can just pop in the crockpot on a busy day. For real.

Hope you like it as much as we do!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sing With Me...

Happy birthday to you (two)...

Happy Birthday to you (two)...

Haaappy Birthday to my sweet, squeezable, savvy littlest women...

Happy Birthday to you (two)!!

Oh ladies, you are a joy. We had a blast celebrating your 3rd birthday at your little Pink & Purple party...

Your sweet faces have been making my life brighter for the past 3 years. You are by far our most talkative 3yr olds we've ever had, you love to play outside, you love to sing, and you loooove to be with your big sisters...when you're not lovin' on Lincoln :).

3 years ago today you gave us a gentle shove into big family life. Clearly, you've been gifts from the get go...

Happy 3rd Birthday, baby girls! I am so proud you, and can't wait to see what God has in store for your little hearts. We love, love, love you SO much!!

Monday, November 14, 2011


I usually don't get real deep around here. Well, sometimes, but usually not on Mondays.

But writing is cheaper than therapy, amen?

We all struggle. With something, someone, some thought, some habit, etc. And so often, we keep quiet because struggle makes us feel insecure, vulnerable, or like we are letting ourselves and those around us down.

That's a lie from the enemy, by the way.

4 months or so ago when I started feeling anxiety well up in my chest way more than I'd like to admit, I didn't want to say anything. I didn't want to admit that I was having trouble with it, and I didn't want to admit that it was occupying way more of my time than it should. I felt under attack during a season of change in our life - in a way, I kinda felt plagued by worry.

It was hard. After all, how often do I hear in a store, "wow, this is a lot of little must be Super Mom!!". As I'd shuffle my anxious heart out of that aisle with my crew I'd often muffle under my breath, "if you only knew, lady."

Besides, 2 kids, 6 kids, 10 kids, or 20 kids doesn't make you super mom. Loving your kids fearlessly, putting their needs before your own, and getting out of bed in the morning and dragging your struggling heart to the toaster to make waffles is what makes you super mom.

We all do it. We should have capes.

That carefree, laid back mom who considered a stroll through Target with her half dozen a relaxing and fun outing, turned into a mom that instead said, "Why don't we just stay home instead?"

Don't worry, I still love cruising Target. It's a place dear to my heart. Team Target forever.

But I am convinced now that He lets the storm move in so He can teach you, guide you, and get your attention when you're having trouble listening. He was using this rough patch to teach me about mothering, about myself, about my lack of boundaries, that being home is SO important, and that I was missing vital time with my crew by running around town when we really didn't need to be.

I can't raise 5 homemakers in the seasonal clearance aisle at Target.

I heard somewhere recently that Satan doesn't want you to talk about your struggles, he wants to make you feel isolated and alone. He doesn't want you to know and remember the freedom you have in Christ, so he tries to keep you quiet, chained, and ashamed.

But you know what shatters his twisted plans? Bringing the darkness to light, sharing your heart with close friends in the middle of Panera Bread, and hearing them say, "oh yes, I've been there, I totally understand."

Is there anything better than hearing "I understand"?? It's a gift. For real.

God sets us free. He goes before us. And He heals our beaten down spirit.

I am free to take a deep breath, free to live a life of joy, and free to walk through Target without listening to that voice that says, "you can't handle are're not good at this."

I can do this with Him, and I don't have to live with anxiety or fear or worry or any other struggle.

He. Sets. Us. Free.

Call this struggle with anxiety what you want. You can call it hormones, you can call it raising a big family, you can call it the stress of every day life. I call it staying in the grip of fear, instead of living in the grip of grace.

No more.

Today is like any other recent day. Except different. Because today I remember that I am His, and He cares about every single detail in my life. He is right there with me (and you) during those anxiety or fear filled moments.

He can kick the crap out of those moments. I just need to ask.

Is this to much on a Monday?? Yes? Sorry :). 

Everyone has something going on - everyone struggles. God wants you to talk about it, He wants you to be free :).

"When I said "My foot is slipping," your love, O Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul." Psalm 94: 18-19

Friday, November 11, 2011

They Have 2 Requests...

that everything is pink and purple at their birthday party.

They insist.

When I ask what kind of cake they want, they say pink and purple. And when I ask what they want for their birthday, they say pink and purple things.

So I'm taking that party theme and running with it for my almost 3yr olds this Saturday.

I've done a lot of pink parties in the past 7 years...

This time though, I am determined to do it on a budget. I can get carried away when it comes to having a party and I want to change that :)! I've got a big meal I'm going to be cooking and I even am going to venture into some cake baking...and yes, they want that pink and purple too.

Its sort of like a challenge to see what I can do and for how little. I like a challenge. Bring it on.

I love, love, love celebrating birthdays, which is why I can go over the top :).

Simple is sometimes better, right :)?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

We've Been Busy...

jumping on the trampoline...

eating halloween candy...

(well, not as much them as me on the above)

(please, someone, COME GET THE CANDY)

editing pictures...

And editing more pictures. The one below is actually of one of my favorite women on the planet, she is like a sister to me, she's seen it all...

We've been busy playing hide & go seek...

playing doll house...

playing Simon Says...

and "playing" Jenga...

We've been busy staying in our pj's till lunchtime...

reading books with our SO eager-to-learn-to-read 5yr olds...

and baking lot's of homemade bread...

We've been downloading Christmas music...

drinking hot chocolate...

and getting out some of our decorations...

We've been busy wearing our fleece coats...

trying out our snow boots from last year...

and eating chicken noodle soup on chilly nights...

We've been busy, but the good kind of busy :).

Hope you all are having a great week!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

These Two...

will be 3...

next week...

How is that even possible!?

(those were pics from their 1st birthday)

Oh I wish we could fence time...just for a little bit. Anyone know how :)??

Monday, November 7, 2011

Just Some Random Words

We had a quiet weekend here. Well, you know, kinda quiet.

The girls are watching a dvd we picked up at the library and I'm trying to rock Lincoln to sleep. Poor guy was up a lot of the night, I think its his ears, or maybe some teeth coming in?

It's kinda one of those mornings when I'm having trouble getting started. It's Monday, a full week lies ahead, and the only thing that keeps me from climbing back into my warm bed is the tune of these little feet running around me. That rhythm is the rhythm that keeps me going on this mom-is-moving-slow kind of morning.

I feel myself hibernating a tad. I do that from time to time...usually when life has been really busy and nothing sounds better than sitting around in your lounge clothes with the kiddos. Running errands and taking Target by storm has taken a backseat to just staying around the house and hanging out. I also hibernate when I'm pregnant.

But I'm not pregnant. So don't get all excited. Or all up in arms. Which ever you'd choose :).

It's been a tad chilly here, but that hasn't stopped us from spending loads of time outside. I think Fall is by far our favorite weather. Even though I do miss the pool just a tad.

Gods been working on my heart when it comes to mothering our crew. Showing me again about how this is a calling that needs focus, time, and lots of attention. And that I need to continue to cut back on some of our distractions, like filling our calendar, and even running too many errands - I don't always need to be shuffling them out the door to keep us busy.

Oh how I've learned lately that chaos and stress comes from all the shuffling. And to be more honest than I want to be, it's been giving this mom an anxious spirit.

I have a lot to learn about this parenting gig :).

We've been spending lot's of time being at home together, talking and folding laundry, baking and chatting, and swinging out back on that rusty ol' swingset. I'm seeing how important it is to spend as much "down time" with them as possible as they grow.

Sharing, answering, laughing, and connecting. It's hard to do those things if we're always on the go.

Someday Eric is going to build a big playset - maybe next year? Or when it fits into our time and budget :).

So we're starting our week without a ton planned. Although I am going to bake some English Muffin Bread today. Sounds yummy and I know the girls will looove it. I'll post that recipe if it turns out as good as it sounds.

I'm all the sudden that mom with all those kids who bakes her own bread and never leaves the house. Is that bad? No? Phew.

I'm trying to refrain from baking peppermint goodies as of yet. Support may be needed, my friends.

How's that for a random post!? 

I'm out for now, hope you all had a great weekend!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Yep, I Sure Do...

have my hands full.

Full of love...

full of joy...

full of crumbs on the floor...

full of crazy...

full of endless loads of laundry...

and full of beauty...

Full of laughter...

full of wonderful...

full of discipline issues...

full of time outs...

full of sweetness...

and full of afternoon talks on our ancient swing set...

Full of savvy goodness...

full of moments I'm not proud of...

full of memories...

full of mommy doubt...

full of chaos...

and full of curls...

Full of hugs...

full of kisses...

full of good days and bad days...

full of 2nd chances...

full of running around the back yard...

and full of wonder...

They're full of reminders of His grace.

Full of blessings that I don't deserve.

And full of reasons why I pull myself out of bed some mornings.

Children are a blessing.

Love that rambunctious handful that He dealt me :).

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

If I Was This Good Lookin'...

I'd drool all over myself too :).

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I Think It's Time

We've enjoyed the Fall, we've indulged in a lot of pumpkin treats, we made our annual visit to the pumpkin patch, and we walked a handful of pumpkin princesses around the neighborhood last night...

(seriously...those skirts...worth every penny)

But I think, and I've told you before, that November 1st should be the official start of the real holiday season. Am I right? Good.

I'm reeeealy itching to get out my Christmas gear, I wait all year for it! So get out the wreaths, put up the lights, order me a Tall Peppermint Mocha, and break out the music...I just can't wait any longer :)!

C'mon, I'm not the only one who wants to decorate early, right???