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Monday, December 06, 2010

Every life is a living, breathing, beautiful work of art.

When you capture moments that make life beautiful, you want to hold onto them forever. Sometimes you want to share those moments with loved ones…sometimes you want to share them with the WORLD! Shutterfly helps you do all of this and more.
I’ve been using Shutterfly for my prints, birthday invitations, books and online photo storage for years now. What I love most about Shutterfly is that it not only gives you a safe and secure place to store your digital photos, it also helps you present them as beautiful works of art. When my daughter was born last year, Shutterfly was my “go-to” for unbelievably gorgeous birth announcements. When we went to the beach this summer, I uploaded my digital pictures to Shutterfly each night so I knew that they would be safe in my online gallery. When I got home, all I had to do was pop them into an album using Shutterfly’s publishing service and my book was made in no time. Not to mention shipped to me within 25 hours…wow!

This Christmas, I am searching for the perfect Christmas card from Shutterfly’s 2010 holiday collection that captures our favorite memories of 2010. I found this one and imagined choosing some less traditional photos of our children- you know the ones- the crazy, silly little moments of life that wouldn’t qualify as wall portraiture, but give you an honest glimpse of everyday life in our household. This one, with its retro flavor, yet classic design would look fabulous on any mantle. Finally, there is this one, which I am most excited about because you can take complete control of the creativity and design a truly one-of-a-kind card.

I absolutely LOVE receiving Christmas cards with photos, so much that a few years ago I started showcasing each photo Christmas card we receive in our Christmas tree. Yep, right next to my great-grandmother’s hand crochet snowflake, you may find the face of a friend I’ve known since I was a child; relatives I only see once a year twinkle in the lights and sit on branches among other cards from dear friends and family. When Christmas is over, I keep all of the cards and am hoping to begin a fun project where I place all of the cards into an album each year.

I am not sure which card I will choose yet but I know that whichever one I do decide to commemorate 2010 with, I know it will be a beautiful, high-quality work of art that I will treasure forever thanks to Shutterfly.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

The Performing Arts of the season

If "all the world's a stage", then my first born will do just fine.  He was so excited to announce last week that he would be singing "ON STAGE, MOM!" at his Christmas performance at school.  I could not wait to see him and his little first grade buddies dance and sing to "Up on the Rooftop" tonight.  It was short and sweet but he was proud nonetheless.  We were even surprised with a rare weeknight visit from "GG" which made tonight all the more special.  Great job, son!

"Yeah, I'm a Rock Star!"

", click, click."

Special night with a special lady!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

He's Here!

Elfie arrived at our house today.  (yes, my children were so very fabulously creative and original when they chose a name for our little elf last year)

He showed up with a kid-friendly Christmas Tree, all of our kid-friendly ornaments, our library of Christmas books, seasonal stuffed animals, presents for each child (new holiday pajamas), a special Hallmark recordable story book and a handwritten letter reminding my little sugar plums what Christmas is all about.

Tate LOVED the books, Brit was excited about getting to decorate the tree and all Ellie cared about was climbing the stairs.  It was fun to see their faces but even more fun to re-emphasize that ALL OF THIS is because of a Baby born in a manger, sent to save the world.

Merry Christmas my friends, may you cherish every minute of this magical season and bask in the Glory of the true meaning of it all.

The  typical "portrait pose" with their new pajamas on.

Christmas favorites, old and new.

Elfie, himself.

December Daily- Blog Style

I have an extremley ambitious and creative friend who makes these fabulous December Daily scrapbooks for she and her husband.  Although I admire her little treasures of Decembers past and present, and love to hear the progress she is making with her 2010 album, my December Daily will be kept here, in the blogosphere.  Out here, no one will eat my mini glue dots, make confetti with the christmas tree shaped hole puncher or get tangled in spools of beautiful ribbon. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

"My cullahs are Blush and Bashful" ..."Her colors are PINK and PINK!"

So, I guess this is what happens when the mother of two boys gets to celebrate her daughter's first birthday...
My one wish for my girl on her special day, was to be surrounded in love.  My wish came true.

Thanks to Marty, Mom and Gram for help with the cooking; Dad, Sandy, Nana & Grandpa Ed for travelling so far, Missy & Kristin for making the last-minute cake, Abigail for capturing the moments, Derek for helping me cross of my list and to everyone who came to celebrate with us.  I could not think of a better way to cap off the first year of Ellie's life.  THANK YOU!

PS:  We all know that the party for a One year old is really for the THANK YOU ALL for indulging me!  Oh, and favorite pic of the day...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

5 till One- Birthday Countdown

Dear Children-

I began this post as a letter to Ellie 5 days before her birthday, but all of these apply to all of you.  Here are 5 little nuggets of advice from your mother:

1.  Get to know your Maker.  And by Maker, I mean the one and only Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior.  As much as your dad and I want to be your "everything", even we cannot love you and be there for you like Jesus can.  It is inevitable- everyone you know will eventually, at some point let you down. God will not.  I promise that I will show Him to you in every way that I can.

2.  Stick with it.  Never quit.  Never give up.  I am referring to marriage here, honey.  Your dad and I don't know what it is like to have parents that are still married, but we'd both probably say that is the one thing in our lives that we long for no matter how old we get.  Some people may make marriage look easy all the time- and maybe for them it is.  For the rest of us, however, marriage can be tough.  The absolute best advice on marriage that I can give you is to love, unconditionally, no matter what.  In the best of times, marriage will be fun, exciting and easy.  But in the hard times remember this: Love your spouse through the eyes of God completely unselfishly.  Seek the good in your spouse and honor the commitment you made.  Always.

3.  To have a friend, be a friend.  Be the friend you want to have.  Take the risk, share your heart, be OK with being vulnerable and open.  True "heart/sister/brother friends" are more valuable than gold.  Unlike family who you don't choose, friends become your friends because you WANT them to be.  Guard your heart and use discretion when choosing your friends.  But, when you do discover that a person is worthy of your love and friendship- give your heart freely to them and love them unconditionally.  Should a problem arise between you and a heart/sister/brother friend- approach, talk it out and move on.  Chances are you will be closer afterward. 

4. Tithe.  I cannot even begin to tell you how important this one is.  EVERYTHING you have comes from God, we owe HIM everything, so please, at the very least, give back to Him what is biblically required.  Give joyfully and with thanksgiving.  I promise you that the Lord rewards the faithful.  And while we are on the subject of giving...give your time, your talents, your resources to those in need.  You will think it is you who is giving, but in the end, you will be the one walking away with the greatest reward.

5.  Write, record, type, photograph...document your life and the life of your family.  You won't ever regret anything you do to capture your history and the history of your spouse and children.  You will enjoy looking back to see where you've been, what you've looked like and reflecting on God's blessings in your life.

Well, there you have it.  5 little pieces of advice from me among thousands that I will probably give you in your lifetime.

Tate: Accidentally just slung toothpaste all over Brit.
Brit: Crying about being covered in toothpaste.
Ellie: Sleeping peacefully in your crib.
Dad: In Michigan oblivious to it all. :-)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

6 till one- Birthday Countdown

Believe it or not, you share the same birth month with 6 other VERY SPECIAL PEOPLE
Carole Ann Vansant Everett- family
Brooks Owen York- friend
Brooks Bowman Ray- friend
Jack Garrett- friend
Tommy "Papa" Shaw- family
Nancy Dolph- family

What you're doing now:
Tonight you are crying out in your crib intermittently...just so you know, carrots give you gas.  sorry for that.  will wait a few more months to try those orange trouble makers again.

Monday, November 15, 2010

7 till One - Birthday Countdown

In seven days my baby will be one year old.  Here's seven memories of my girl:

1. When I found out I was expecting you I did what I always do when I am expecting a baby- I went out and bought a journal so that I could write down my thoughts and my memories of you.  The color of journal I chose?  Pink.  Do you think I knew?

2. When the ultrasound technician so rudely proclaimed "girl", I almost hyperventilated- she could barley keep the sonogram wand on my belly because of my sobs.  I stared at the monitor in disbelief and to this day I cannot believe I was blessed with you.  My girlfriends threw me a "pink party" that night to celebrate with a mom who had two times been blessed with boys...but finally got her girl.

3.  The first thing I said to you when I saw you was "she looks like Tate!".  Guess that wasn't poetic or particularly memorable, but I wasn't expecting you to look like that...or have THAT MUCH hair!

4. I've used a hair dryer on you since the day you were born...and a comb.

5.  I let you sleep with me for your first 4 months of life.  I know that is awful, but I couldn't help it.  Our room was SO COLD and you were SO LITTLE.  I loved that special time with you.

6. In those early days, you were SO SLEEPY!  I remember fretting over you and praying that you would be OK.  I would hold you in front of the window so your yellow skin could drink in the sunshine.

7.  I almost let you drown when you were about two weeks old.  I was bathing you and you got really slippery and soapy water got all over your mouth and you were breathing in the soap bubbles and I thought I might have a heart attack.  But you survived...and I did too...barely.

Friday, November 12, 2010

On this day...

Today I lift up a friend who has been where no mother ever wants to go. 
On this day, two years ago, she gave birth to an angel who went to be with Jesus before his mama ever even saw his face. 

We held that mama, we loved her, we cooked for her, we grieved with her, we were there when she laid her baby to rest.  But we don't walk in her shoes, we don't see through her eyes we don't hurt with her heart. 

I draw strength from her strength and the way she only ever looked to the Lord for comfort and for peace.  I remember being afraid to tell this friend that I was expecting another baby just a few months after losing hers, but oh how she rejoiced with me.  It was then that I began to understand the love and strength of a Christ-filled heart of a true friend.

And on this day, her newest miracle will be on the operating table. We all pray for strength for that baby, for the doctors' hands to be steady and minds to be clear.  For peace and patience as the mama waits...and prays...and prays...and waits...until she can hold her baby again.

God Bless you, my friend.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010


Sunday, November 07, 2010


First there was "ma ma", followed by "da da" (which has three meanings- daddy, dog & bye bye) and today it was "uh-oh" as you dropped your cup over and over and over again saying "uh-oh" each time and laughing at how fun this new game of yours is.  Not sure if it is considered a word or a phrase, but either way, you are hilarious and you entertained all four of us today.

Friday, November 05, 2010

First Born Friday

My first born in a word: heart


the first experience i had when i knew mine was no longer beating in my chest, but bundled up in a blue blanket early one june morning in 2004


i've never seen a man lose his for another like the way your daddy did for you when he followed you to the NICU


you wear it on your sleeve


you say it might explode because "the most beautiful two girls in the whole world live in this house"


mine breaks when yours does


Jesus lives in yours and you both live in mine

Monday, October 25, 2010

First Borns, Middles and Sisters

Usually when I don't blog it is because I have SO MUCH to blog about, that I don't know where to start. Taking inspiration from a friend or two, I am committing to at least three posts a week: Middle Child Monday, First Born Friday and Sister Saturday. These posts will be dedicated to Brit, Tate & Ellie respectively. Trying to keep it simple as to not overwhelm myself. Also, since it is a rare occasion these days that I pick up a pen to write in the journals that I've kept for each of my children since their births, this will be another attempt to document their lives. and mine.

So we begin with Middle Child Monday and I will sum up Britton David in one word: Silly.  See ABOVE..wouldn't you agree?

Don't feel left out, B...all the other ones are getting one word this week as well.  More about all of my babies next week.

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Eleven at 11

I realized as soon as I posted the Top 10 at 10, there were a few things I forgot to mention, so we'll just add them here. Again, in no particular order, here are 11 things about my girl at 11 months of age:
1. You traded in your paci for your arm. Looks like you have permanent burns/hickeys right next to your wrists.
2. You DANCE! I love to watch you move.
3. You can stand on your own, but quickly sit as soon as you catch yourself doing it.
4. You LOVE your bath. I knew you took after me.
5. So thankful that you will let just about anyone hold you. I know you love me but it gives me comfort to know that without me, you are still ok.
6. You save your deepest belly laughs for your brothers. Oh, how they make you smile.
7. We call you Ewa, baby Squirrel, Squirrely Girl, Smells, Rusco, and Bells to name a few.
8. You pitched your first fit on October 20th, 2010. Hope it's not a taste of things to come.
9. You started waking up between 2 & 3 am...EVERY NIGHT for the past week. I try to ignore you and usually can for about 30 minutes, but you don't give up until you get a visit from mom and dad. (I see that smile, April!)
10. Guess how many times I've been truly frustrated with you in the past 11 months? ONCE! Same for your dad...just once...he SOOOO obviously adores you.
11. I'm still your favorite!

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

I don't ever want to forget this day

Dear Ellison,

I wish that I could tell you that today's discovery would be something that you will rarely experience in your life- but I can't lie to you.  What you did today, with such curiosity and gusto, will not always feel like such a Disneyland adventure.  It won't be fun, you won't ever get a medal for it, no one will die if you DON'T do it, and chances are it will never be something you look forward to.  Ellison, today you discovered LAUNDRY.

I can't promise that you may not one day find yourself angry at the very person who's boxer briefs you are holding in your hand, or that you won't be irritated by the 15th grass/ketchup/sharpie stain you find on your schoolager's Sunday best, or dumbfounded at the sheer volume of burp cloths and onesies have accumulated in a day.  I can't promise it will ever be easy or exciting or fun. 

But I promise you this:
One day you will pray over that pair of undies and thank God for the man who wears them.  You will gasp when you think how much that schoolager has grown and how it has become increasingly difficult to decipher "who's is who's" because they are all just getting so big.  One day you will fold a onesie or a burp cloth or a fuzzy little sock for the very last time.  And then it will hit you.  You've spent the last (however many) years taking care of your family- from the food on the table to the clothes folded neatly and placed in a drawer.  You've loved them, prayed for them, held them and have simply been there for them.  Then you will know that no task- great or small- is a burden or a chore as long as it is done in love.

Delight in the little things, my love.  Cherish the path that the Lord has given you.  Rejoice and seek God's  face in all you do.

Oh, and bleach for your whites, cold for your colors, and don't let anyone ever tell you that liquid fabric softener is a splurge.

I love you,

Monday, October 11, 2010

Top Ten at 10

Ellie is almost 11 months, but I've had this post in my head since her 10 month birthday.  Here are the Top Ten (in no particular order) things that came to mind on September 21st:
1. Her first pearly white pops through her bottom gum
2. Says mama to me and dada to the dog...and Derek
3. Holds the phone up to her ear as if to say "hello"
4. Waves "Bye Bye"
5. Stands on her own
6. Belly laughs at her silly brothers
7. Goes to bed at 6pm....wakes up at 7 or 8 am
8. Eats a blueberry waffle every morning for breakfast
9. I FINALLY let her eat Cheerios and WHOLE Puffs
10. She reaches for me, hugs me, kisses me and LOVES ME

I love, love, love this little girl!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

September Mourn

OK, so I am sure that wasn't exactly the way Neil Diamond intended it when he penned the lyrics to his 1986 hit, but as I was packing away all of my summer fashions- white pants, white shoes, sun dresses, swimsuits, summer purses and accessories, I found it surprisingly difficult to pack away these:

My beloved white sunglasses.  I think I bought them at TJ Maxx or maybe Marshall's for like, 9 bucks...but oh, they are worth so much more than that to me.  Whenever I put them on a feel young, fashionable and...well almost frisky!  I can't explain why they have this effect on me but they do.  As I pack them away, I feel like I am packing a part of me that has been buried beneath breastfeeding, booty-wiping, sippy cup filling, boo boo kissing and all the other makings of motherhood for the past 6 and 1/2 years.  I really can be fun, spontaneous and full of laughter...I promise.  So, as I pack these away I am going to make an effort to never lose myself be the "me" that I truly am and not just the "me" that I think I am supposed to be.  Oh, and I have an appointment with one of my besties to go shopping tomorrow...TJ Maxx and Marshall's is definitely on the "hit list".  Here's hoping I'll come home with a little (new) piece of me!

"Look at what you've done

Why, you've become a grown-up girl"
-September Morn, Neil Diamond

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Ellie at 9 months

Friday, September 10, 2010

Boochie, Roni, Bitzer & Ewie

If you know our family well, you know that we come up with all kinds of crazy nicknames for each other.  For starters, Derek and I have called each other "Boochie" since...well, I cannot even remember when or why or who started it.  When Tate was born he was Tater, Tate Mouse, Mitter and apparently "Boochie" seemed appropriate for him as well as the two children that would come after him.  Now we call him Tony or Roni or Tate-opolis.  Then there is Brit who was Bit, Bitzy, Bitzer, Bitzerpotomus, Bellus.  So here is Ellie and we call her bellie, smellie, Ewie, Petunia, Belles.  Even our dog, Rose has nicknames: Rosetta Stone, Rosa Barks and Rouge (like, what your grandma calls the pink stuff she powders on her cheeks)...usually said at an ear-splitting volume ROUGE!!!!!!

But we don't limit ourselves to the monikers (thank you, Laura) listed above.  Just yesterday Derek called me corn chip and fuzzy Popsicle.  Its kinda fun to just call someone whatever comes to mind at the moment.  It keeps life interesting and definitely keeps us laughing.  Oh, and don't worry, chances are we have a name for YOU as just don't know what it is...and we'll never tell!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Finally his first

After several seasons of sitting on the sidelines watching his brother play sports, Britton is finally old enough to join a team of his own. He had his very first soccer practice tonight and he loved it. I expected him to do well, and he did. I hope it gives him more of his own identity since Tate decided not to play this year (regrettably so, as you can see in the picture). I am excited to be able to see Brit run and play and hopefully do well during his first team sports experience.

While practice was going on, I couldn't help but take a few snapshots of Kristin's baby...what a love!
From Collages

Monday, September 06, 2010

up to and into

Ellie was 9 months old on August 21st, and I must say that she "grew up" more in one month than she had in the last 8.  She went from happily sitting and observing to actively exploring her world.  She's UP TO 16 1/2 pounds and INTO just about everything!
Her favorite indulgence right now is her brother's marker collection.  As soon as she sees the pantry doors open, she scurries over to discover what markers look like, feel like and taste like. 
She also loves my cookbooks.  She can occupy herself for a good 15-20 minutes pulling them all off the shelves in the kitchen making this funny little new laugh that I MUST capture on video soon.

Ellie has also discovered that it's OK if she does not like a particular food, because Rose will eat just about anything.  I've caught her tossing pieces of veget ables and bread to our four-legged friend.  Rose LOVES when its time for Ellie to eat.

"I didn't do it."
She has discovered brooms, drawers, the dishwasher, shoes, toilet paper, the bathroom scale, the bathtub drain plug, the fancy balls that mommy keeps in a basket/tower thingy on the fireplace, daddy's computer keys, the vacuum cleaner cord, the drawer that sits just beneath the surface from which I am right now typing (has found change, stamps, earrings, flash drives, iPod ear buds...all kinds of neat things in there!).  So her curiosity and propensity to explore means more than ever that I CANNOT TAKE MY EYES OFF OF HER.  And I don't.

More work for me...less undivided time on Facebook...more time shucking my "to do list" to spend time sitting right with her and chasing her all over the house.  I love it though.  I love to see those wheels turning, the zest for more, more, more, as she takes in her little big world.  UP TO 20th percentile in height and weight INTO 100 percent more than that!

Saturday, September 04, 2010

We interrupt this marriage...

It's here, folks!  And just in time for kickoff, a cool breeze meanders in from my back porch and through the open french doors into our living room.  Welcome, welcome Football & Fall. 

I have one happy fella perched on the couch, tuckered out from today's noon-thirty game with a sunburn he wears as if it were a badge of honor. 

We took Tate to the Raider Game last night and tailgated with a few friends.  This was the first year since I've been up here that I didn't have a family member either on the field in uniform or shaking pom poms from the sidelines. Kind of sad to think that almost all of the cousins are grown.

I love how football brings everyone together; the young and the old, the Gator and the Dawg...the passion and frenzy that surrounds this season is exciting and special and treasured in our home.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

And so it is

I spent 30 years of my life believing that the New Year begins on the first day of January.  As all parents of schoolagers know, that is not the case.  The year begins anew for us every August when the first bell of the new school year sounds.  Bittersweet goodbyes to a summer that we will remember fondly...

Mama was home with the boys and her new little girl.  They collected bugs, planted a garden, watched fireworks, rode bicycles, ate Popsicles, spit watermelon seeds, dipped cucumbers in ranch dressing, ate tomato pie, swam in a lake, in a pool and in an ocean.  Spent time with relatives, welcomed home some old college friends.  Celebrated births, loved on friends.  Built sandcastles and went fishing with dad.  There were bee stings and skinned knees and a broken wrist.  Big brother learned to ride his bike without training wheels AND how to swim without floaties.  Mama and Daddy finally "got" the middle child- learned to appreciate that for him, life is light and fun.  The baby learned to sit up and crawl and has fallen into the family rhythm of the rest.

The summer went quickly but was well documented with photos and entries into the journals that I keep for each child.  Goodbye summer days with hours laid out before us with nothing to do but what we want.  See you again next year.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

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Wednesday, June 09, 2010


How can my baby be six?

When I look at you, I can still feel my breath get taken away. I still marvel at your perfect face, your ten fingers and ten toes....the same ones we counted all those years ago. You make me smile with your humor and the way you can put everyone in a room in stitches. You live life loudly and fully with a heart bigger than the moon.

Bless your heart- you were my "starter baby". I've made a lifetime's worth of mistakes with you, yet you love me still. Giving birth to you was my first experience of what it feels like to have my heart beating out of my chest. I've kept you close to me, but lately have been learning to let you go...just a little. Let you be you and discover why God made you and what purpose you have here on earth. I hope we will be close forever and that you will always come to me, no matter what.

We both love music, love to dance, we're stubborn and dramatic, both have messy handwriting and we both like to laugh. But you are stronger than I. Funnier, more confident, more sensitive, more...well, just more. And I am thankful. I wouldn't change one thing about you son, you are an angel to me and every day I thank God that I get to be your mama.
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Monday, May 31, 2010

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Movie Night MONDAY

This is the last week of school for my Kindergartner, so we are celebrating each day.  Monday was "MOVIE NIGHT Monday".  I ordered The Princess and the Frog off of PPV and let the boys eat popcorn in my bed.

Today was "TASTY Tuesday" and I let the boys choose their treat of choice.

Tomorrow?  "WATER Wednesday".  The boys will be splashing in the baby pool and sliding on the slip-n-slide in the back yard.  I CANNOT WAIT for school to get out!!  Happy summer everyone!

Sunday, May 09, 2010

How do you thank your mother?

Is there anything that a child could ever do or say to thank their mother for the love, the care, the always "being there"? Only when I became a mother did I realize just how much a mother gives, does and loves. Today I want to thank my mother for one thing in particular: She took me to church.

Mom, I know it wasn't always (if ever) easy being a single mom. I know that there are things you would have done differently and I know there are probably times, if not years, you wish you could erase. But let me tell you today that because of you and your influence, I gave my heart to Jesus when I was 6 and have had a relationship with him ever since. You helped plant the spiritual seeds in me that will continue to grow in my heart and soul all the days of my life.

Thank you.

I love you.

Happy Mother's Day!

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