Saturday, June 16, 2018

Cades Cove By Ourselves

John and I went away together to camp at Cades Cove, a place that we have experienced together for several years. It's John's favorite place on earth, something that I can see now. Settled among rolling green mountains, it's a huge cove where a community lived before they were pushed out to create the park. We always wonder about what their days looked like there. It offers a beauty and quiet that pushes peace down into our bones. 

Without our children, we were able to do things that we aren't normally able to do. We found a covered porch on an old house and sat there with our camping chairs and books as a storm rolled through. 

We had slow, involved meals and only had to run our food in our tent once because of rain. It was enough of a mild adventure for our simpleton selves that made us laugh. We have no edge, but we pretend to. 

Our favorite experience was hiking 5 1/2 miles up a mountain to Gregory Bald. It offers big views on either side, to which we didn't see. We were hoping to catch good weather, but when we reached the top, clouds were quickly moving over the bald. We watched them come in while we enjoyed salami, cheeses, and a baguette. We both agreed that it was better than the good view. It was a very unique experience, and probably goes into my top ten things that I've done in my life. When we got down the mountain, we sprinted the last mile, jumped in the creek, and celebrated a good day. 

We finished our trip by heading to the highest point in the Great Smokies Park for great views. That proved to be breathtaking. 

We pulled back to our house after three days gone, and the kids were having the time of their lives. They said we should have stayed away longer (so next time we just might). It's always great to get away together and invest in our relationship, but it's such a treat to get to experience such amazing moments together. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Go Giants!

I've been to minor league and major league baseball games all my life, but nothing tops watching Burl and the Giants play coach-pitch baseball. My heart races, I yell, and I jump up and down. It's an event. 

This was our first year doing a rec league and it was a whirlwind! We loved our team. We had an amazing coaching team, a wonderful team mom, and parents that rooted for each kid on the team. One of our first games, the other team had walkout music and announcer for each player. I thought that was overkill for kids, but then I hit reality. Reality check: that's an app and I could totally do that! All the kids wanted and I had parent support. For the rest of the season, we played music almost as much as we played baseball!

I am thankful to find another reason to be proud of Burl, working so hard to figure out a game that he didn't know much about. We look forward to another great season!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Ridge's 3rd Birthday

This is a post about our son with a million dollar smile and a million dollar attitude. We celebrated Ridge a few weekends ago, and looking at the pictures I realized that we put candles in everything he ate for two days and
 apparently I really like him in that green shirt!

His birthday landed on a school morning when we have a bit of a hustle, but he woke up early enough to help make his birthday pancakes. Sometimes pride in something made from his own toddler hands is better than anything we could give him. 

For dinner, we took things outside and gave him a balance bike, a hand-me-down gift that he was very excited about!

On Saturday we had family over for doughnuts and gifts, then we had friends for dinner and fun. He really got into it! I'm sad to let his second year go because he's been the cutest, sweetest, funnest, best thing ever. The third year is going to bring changes, but I believe he'll stay just as awesome!

I tell people that he's our good time kid. He's always ready for fun, always happy, always compliant, and gives his smiles easily. A lot of people joke that he's my personality twin, and I can see that. We're always looking for the fun in everything. I think that this third year is going to be good too, and I'm so thankful for what he adds to our family!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

My Ridge & Lark Days

I've missed Burl and Fern so much while they're at school, but I am openly thankful for the sweet time that it has given me with my baby boys. We've had a great time together this school year! We've dropped off the big ones, said our goodbyes, hugs and kisses, then we've set off for adventure!

Sometimes the adventures are interesting. Sometimes they're boring grocery runs. Sometimes it's on the floor of the den. This is always true: Ridge and Lark are close together. 

I've got front row tickets and the theater to myself for the show of their blossoming friendship. Even though Ridge is on the younger half of the sibling chain, he's a big, proud, doting brother to Lark. It's direct and powerful how much Ridge loves "baby awk-y" (aka baby Lark-y). Lark adores Ridge too, but it's indirect. Lark stays close to Ridge and casually copies what he does. So far, they can make the same truck noise, airplane nose, and some similar animal noises-mostly aggressive animals. 

We had a long stretch of illnesses around here that kept us pinned down. While we all got stir crazy, I personally enjoyed the small, simple time with my children. We spent time away from people because germs, so we stayed home or went to the woods. The woods don't mind our germs. 

After a long week of having Burl then Fern home with strep, Ridge asked me if the next day could just be him, me, and Lark. That tells me that Ridge has enjoyed the baby time too. 

Next week the kids finish school, so everything will change. Instead of slow and quiet, we will have loud chaos and wilder ideas of playing. (Just today after school, "Mama, can we try to start a fire in the backyard?") Our tickle sessions will be interrupted with random questions that I can never satisfy-How are straws made? How much money does Daddy make every hour? Can you solve this very random number sentence that doesn't make any sense? 

While I daydream about what I will do with myself when they're in school, I'm not rushing through this stage at all. I'm here all day, e'ery day. 

Monday, May 14, 2018

Fern Lost Her First Tooth!

Fern lost her first tooth at school, and she was so proud of herself. It was a carpool day for her, so she was dropped off at home. She hopped out of the car and ran to me on the porch. She had the biggest, closed-mouth smile on her face and I knew what had happened. 

I asked her, "DID YOU LOSE YOUR TOOTH!?" She confirmed with a smile, a nod, and a proud display of her new gap. Then we squealed together, to which she replied, "I knew you would scream." 

We went inside and she told me the details. She was sitting at lunch, when her friend London pulled out her tooth. Then, London told Fern to take a bite of apple, then try to pull out the tooth. Check and check. Tooth came out. 

I had put an extra baggie in her lunchbox to bring home the tooth, but the teacher had a cute tooth saver necklace. She loves the necklace so much, so she's bypassed the tooth fairy to keep her tooth. 

Another milestone has been celebrated in our house! 

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Mother's Day 2018

It's been a time around here. I've learned that with four young kids we are going to be sick a lot. It's a stage of life-I get it. That stage has been our only stage lately. Lark had HFM and the rest of us had a very long run with strep. We've been hunkered down, pent up, sequestered, washed and dried. Luckily, my expectations have become closer to actual life and I've been given a *mostly* good attitude about it. I love these babies and taking care of them!

Today we celebrated by getting back to our regular routines! That's all I wanted for Mother's Day, well, that and cards! We went to church this morning as an entire family. It's been a couple of months since we've gone together. Before we left, the kids gave me their mom surveys. This year, Burl and Fern filled them out themselves! What a sweet change. Fern said that her favorite thing to do with me was go on GNO's (Girls Night Out) and Burl said that his favorite thing about me was the funny jokes that I say. Such kind words. 

I got my Sunday afternoon nap, then John made dinner for us. We ended the day in my favorite way-dinner and yard lingering outside. John played my role and his role, which freed me up to give a yes to everything the kids asked me. I played fun music and we jumped on the trampoline until I had drops of sweat running down my face. 

It was a great day, getting back to normal. I told John that once school is out, I want more days like this. I want to end as many summer nights just like this. I want these nights to be a strong foundation in the kids' memories. These nights will for sure be a part of my memory of this stage of being a mom to littles. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Veggie Wrap

Making healthy decisions is such an adult struggle. While I have the power to make and eat whatever I want, I feel better when I put those good, colorful veggies in my body. 

My doctor told me that it's not just about cutting down the calories. Instead, I need to focus on getting in the much needed nutrients that come from plants. I finally decided to focus on a healthy lunch that tasted good and made me happy. 

Right now, I'm loving my veggies wraps:

matchstick carrots
chopped kale
half an avocado

No dressing is needed because the avocado and hummus offer enough creaminess. My kids call it The Monster Burrito. Paired with an orange, this lunch is as almost as good as nachos. Sometimes self discipline tastes the best-and sometimes dreams are filled with chocolate. 

Friday, April 20, 2018

Ice Cream Chaos Makes Us Serious

Every year in April, Ben & Jerry's has a free scoop day. The lines are long, they have face painting and balloon animals, the staff is extra excited, and the music is loud. It's chaos on overload. This year, we swung by after I picked up carpool. (Carpool kid not photographed because she was taking the picture.)

Everyone got a free scoop-even Lark. They were excited-best after school snack ever! John joked last time that we went as a family, "let's say I buy everyone their own pint and we don't fool with the lines." 

Where's the fun in that? We want the hype too, no matter how much it makes me sweat in the process. I do it for me, and I do it for the kids. Just look at those cute, not-smiling, ice cream concentrating faces!