Sunday, December 25, 2016

Battling Backlog: Bloggers Block

How does one even begin to write about all that has happened in the last 6 months?  I've had the most severe case of bloggers block.  I would suspect that it has something to do with the resident 2 year old along with her housemates.  Also, it seems the longer since you've written makes it easier or should I say more daunting to put your words on the screen.  I've gone to the trouble of reading blogs ON bloggers block hoping for some inspiration.  I have 10, yes TEN drafts of blogs with the photos in place but I can't seem to press publish.
In some of the peptalks I've been having with myself I made a mental notes about how my kids on a regular basis pick up my blog books and read over them.  (Even if they are just reading them to find my spelling or grammatical errors.)  Maybe one day I'll have an editor in the family to help with that!
Some of the best advice I read was to set a timer for 9 minutes, go for a walk and take your camera, make a top ten  list and talk about something you're looking forward to.
Some of the advice I wasn't so sure about was Tell a secret, talk about your body, do something that makes you feel uncomfortable and write about something that scares you.

Then it hit me.  All of this writing is my nemesis because it forces vulnerability.  Not all the time, especially since my blog is mostly family and kids memoirs.  But writing in MY voice is vulnerable and it's something I struggle HARD with. I was once posed this question.

What does vulnerability mean to you?

I had one word.
To me, vulnerability was totally synonymous with weakness and weak wasn't a quality I was brought up to display.

I then went into  a somewhat life changing nose dive into a world where vulnerability could possibly mean more.  If I watched Berne Brown's Ted Talk once, I watched it a thousand times.    I loved her and I hated her.  I kinda still do.

She says

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.”

"We either own our stories (even the messy ones), or we stand outside of them—denying our vulnerabilities and imperfections, orphaning the parts of us that don’t fit in with who/what we think we’re supposed to be, and hustling for other people’s approval of our worthiness. Perfectionism is exhausting because hustling is exhausting. It’s a never-ending performance."

"Rather than sitting on the sidelines and hurling judgment and advice, we must dare to show up and let ourselves be seen. This is vulnerability. This is daring greatly"

"Vulnerability is the last thing I want you to see in me, but the first thing I look for in you."
"To claim the truths about who we are, where we come from, what we believe, and the very imperfect nature of our lives, we have to be willing to give ourselves a break and appreciate the beauty of our cracks or imperfections."

Her quotes on vulnerability never cease to convict me.  It challenges me in the same way back blogging 6 months of life does.  But it's just as important.  Here's to being MORE vulnerability and ok with less than perfect because in essence, it's what we all want.  Greater connection, belonging and vulnerability.  

If you've never listened to this ted talk, DO IT!  Its inspiring and eye opening and quite possibly life changing.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

30A may never be the same again!

We spent an AMAZING 3 days in Rosemary Beach with my family!  It came QUICKLY on the heels of our Costa Rica trip but it proved equally as fun and never a dull moment!  We packed into the rental like a can of sardines.   We had every bed and floor space covered with kids and luggage.  You'd have thought we were moving in for the semester at LEAST!  We ladies don't like to forget anything.  We had been planning photos shoots and coordinating clothing for weeks on end.  The girls needed to match at every opportunity and they certainly did!  

For the photo shoots, it's July in Florida.  The temps were topping mid 100's on any given day.  When it was just kids starring in the show, I was just a minor melting mess in my workout clothes.  When WE were involved in the shoot, it was an EPIC all in MELTDOWN.  I felt a little like the wicked witch when water was thrown on her.  I was MEEELLLLLTTTING!  While the pictures don't prove it, photographing these 5 is not for the faint of heart!  It's like a 3 ring circus.  Literally.  Mom is the ring leader, she's the one with the camera!  Tracie and I are her trusty assistants in herding our kittens while they bite and scratch at us.  That place is truly beautiful to photograph though. The white sand, the sunsets and the architecture is amazing!  Bucket list held photos of the girls in THESE amazing blue and gold dresses.  I bought this one when Lillian was only 7 months with photos like these in mind, I knew it would one day be beach perfect and so it was!  

Alys Beach is an amazing spot like none other on 30A. It has a distinctive Mediterranean feel.   Lucky for us it was walking distance from Rosemary.  Each little community on 30A has it's own charm, town center and activities for the week.  We were close enough to enjoy them both at Rosemary and Alys!  

These girls LOVED being together for the week.  They don't get to see each other as often as we'd like but they make the most of when they do!  

Sister, Sister.
We don't get to see each other nearly as much as we'd like to either but she's still my best friend and a day doesn't go by without talking to her.  My babies love her as much as they love me.  You see, Lillian calls her "udder (other) mommy" And will hardly come to me when she's around!  

The boys loved the sugar white sand and playing in the clear water and waves.  They got Pawpaw's daily workout in bossing him around in the ocean!  They'd be out there for an hour sometimes!

It was a trip to see Tracie and I haul ALLLLLLLL that stuff down to the beach.  It was about 3-4 blocks from the ocean and while it's walkable, it doesn't mean easy!  We had a tent, 4 chairs, an umbrella, a pool and pump, buckets, sand toys and boogie boards.  And as you'd guess once we got it down there and all set up, the kids wanted to go to the pool!  Some days it would rain and we'd be caught in it trying to disassemble all our gear.  It was humorous to see from afar, just not so much as being the one doing the work.  

The oldest.  He rarely stops for a photo with mom anymore but I love it when he does!  He's nearly as tall as me now and he'll pass me before long.  

Let it Goooooo!  
We were all happy to have a "relaxing" few days on the beach!  
(but seriously, what vaca with kids is actually relaxing?)

Two things:  You see that lollipop?  That's the size of his sweet tooth!  
You see that mosquito?  Yeah.  Lots of them!

It's tough when you're potty training and your mom is forcing photos in 100 degree weather and you just GOTTA go!  

Sorry about that residents of Alys beach!  But there wasn't a potty nearby.

Air dried and still adorable!  Lil is wearing a vintage shirt re-purposed into a cute tunic set for her by mom!  It's details are sheer amazing and is most definitely a piece that we will keep forever!

Then there was THIS.  This is what the beach looked like on Tuesday morning.  We had set up our whole posse in the 50ft of beach they allow "personal umbrellas" to be placed on.  We had 4 chairs, an umbrella and toys spread out.  There were 2 kids digging a hole, 1 building a sand castle and one attempting a sandcastle destruction mission.  (One guess where Baby Wyatt was at this time!{Tracie's lap.})
All of a sudden less that 10ft away, large umbrellas were being swept into the air by a micro burst of wind on the beach.  Dad had the quick mind to GRAB ours while mom, Tracie and I LAID on top of kids.  I mean we literally pushed them into the sand with our bodies as the umbrellas and a tent next to us was vaulted into the air around 30ft.  Yes, 30ft!  As quickly as it swept through it was gone leaving people running to our area of the beach to rescue us and grab the stray umbrellas and make sure no one had been impaled.  These were heavy duty umbrellas with large wooden handles flying around.  The lifeguard said he'd never seen anything like it as long as he's been there.  Only one minor injury to the girl next to us as the pop up tent they had grazed the side of her head.  Lots of people came to check on us and the kids but we were all perfectly fine except for Allie Gray's terror of what had just happened.  It's not something that we will likely forget anytime soon.  It came and went SO quickly!  

Then there was what might have been the most terrifying moments of my life.  We were wrapping up a fantastic day at the beach.  The babies had all been carted off to naptime and Dad and Jackson had wandered off somewhere.  Lincoln was left with Tracie and I and he'd been in the ocean playing in the waves as we sat on the shore.  He went in to rinse off one last time (playing in the waves along the way) while Tracie and I packed up ALLLLLLLL the stuff we carted to the beach.  It usually took us more than one trip even to get it all loaded back onto the stroller and ready to roll.  As we were folding the last of the stuff, I went to recruit Lincoln to help carry things for us.  We looked for him to yell and didn't see him.  I went into the water while Tracie stood on the beach.  It didn't take long for a little panic to set in.  I was yelling in the water and Tracie on the beach.  I kept looking out further and even under the water bc he's a fish and sometimes doesn't stay on top of the water long.  No answer from him quickly led to full on screaming psychopath PANICKED MOMMA in the water as I yelled and screamed for him telling everyone that I saw to look for my 7 year old wearing a NAVY shirt.  Tracie was also in Panic mode asking everyone on the beach to help her look for her nephew.  I was shaking, yelling and my heart was beating beyond my chest.  I was honestly afraid I may never see Lincoln again!  
Then Tracie thought to run up the boardwalk to check there, we had checked the beach (along with everyone else on Rosemary at the time), we had everyone in the water on high alert.  By the time she got to the top, she could see him, there at the gate.  He was holding the door for others to get through.  She told him he better RUN down to the beach and tell his Momma he was ok.  When I saw him I was flooded with emotion.  He knew what he'd done and immediately apologized.  I physically sobbed for a few minutes after that and needed to sit down to collect myself before resuming packing up our beach situation.  I'm almost certain he never left my sight the rest of the trip.

I might spend a week in a tiny beach house with these crazies, but there's no way I'd wanna be locked up in a jail house with them.  I'd have to break out!  
We had the best time in just 4 short days in Rosemary!  I hope we can do it again before the kids all grow up and move a way to college!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Princess Onion

Late one evening in June, I bribed these three to join me at The Woodlands, East Shore neighborhood for a little photo sesh.  It's a lakeside neighborhood full of houses the size of HOTELS.  It will make your jaw drop and walking around is beauty at every turn.  I found this perfect little path earlier in the week and knew it was going to be magical.  This dress.  Oh this dress, I bought it when Lillian was around 7 months old.  I knew she wouldn't wear it until 2 but it would be PERFECT and so it was!   As soon as I put it on her she said, "I tincess, tincess onion (princess lillian)". As she twirled around and held up the gold tassels, my heart melted into a puddle of mommy love!  It was everything I had hoped for on her and even her brothers loved her in it!  (They kinda love her in anything!)

She gets more girly everyday!  Flowers, crowns and jewelry are in our daily wardrobe!  

I hope you choose to drink from the Everlasting Fountain.

I hope you walk through many doors in life and as one shuts, you see another one open!  

I hope you dance like no one's watching and never stop twirling!

I hope these three always love like they do right now!

I hope you always take time to stop and smell the roses!

I hope you always LOVE others, LOVE Jesus and LOVE yourself!

I hope you always know how much you mean to me.

I hope you always know how very much I LOVE you three!


June brought an end to the boys 1st and 4th grade years.  They were happy to be out of school and we were all excited to kick off summer break!  Look out pools, here we come!

Rain slowed down our pool visits quite a bit in June.   It rains A LOT here in Houston.  Great for the grass, not so much for the hair.  It's like a tropical rain forest.  The rain didn't stop us from donning our swimsuits though.  We waited for the storms to pass and took to the streets to dance in the puddles!

When you have 3 kids, you really learn to embrace the idea of "family date night" when you want to go out.  A babysitter is only for once in a while or special occasions so on a regular Saturday night, you dress up the kids and date your whole family!   

And the waterway is picture perfect for daddy daughter photos!  She is mostly a mommy's girl but daddy gets to jump in every now and then!  
We had a fab pizza, salad and wine (mommy) at Grimaldis on the waterway. Only had one meltdown on the way to the car as Lillian cut her foot on the door and proceeded to bleed ALL OVER my white shirt.  A bandaid and some late night laundry and everyone was in bed before 10.  Family date night WIN!

A summer play date should probably involve the water hose.   I heard you get double mommy points if it's also SUPER messy.  I probably got mom of the day this day and I handed each boy a can of shaving cream and told them to have fun.  They filled the blow up pool, sprayed each other then washed it off.  

What could be more fun for boys than this terrific mess?

Yeah, I'd call this a mom win, at least until tomorrow when I'll probably be the worst mom ever when I make them clean all this up!

Little miss had to get in on the action when she woke up from nap!  I've always wanted my toddler to smell like a 1970's mens barber shop!

We finally started our pools tour for 2016.  The kids all love this wide slide pool and it was Lillian's first time on the slide!  She loved it and had the boys take her again and again and again!

The second full week of summer we had VBS at church.  I try to always volunteer.  I sometimes wonder WHY I did but these sweet kids on my arms and 1000 others just like them are all the reason I need to spend my mornings helping with this epic week!  I still remember VBS and how I loved it.  I hope they have the same memories someday!

We made a trip to the Houston Zoo!  Lil likes the zoo more all the time.  She seems to like the snakes the best.  Wonder where she gets that from?!?  (BOYS!)

During shark week, I made these super awesome shark cups!  Blue Rasberry Jello with gummi sharks for another jewel in my mommy crown.  (yeah, yeah, it's getting heavy these days!  haha!)

A trip to the Houston Aquarium was fun and HOT!  The rides outside are fun, especially for the boys.  We had to get in early and get out to beat the heat AND the crowds!  We met Lillians bestie, Chloe and her family there.  We rode the train, the carousel and the ferris wheel all a few times before calling it quits to go inside. 

Chloe didn't take too well to this bouncy ride.  I think she needs another year or so as she clung on for dear life!

The aquarium is always cool!  As in air conditioned AND pretty neat.  While the fish are cool, everyone also loves the white tigers!

The Woodlands Children's Museum is another place that "it's cool inside".  Really, it's pretty neat place to play for a while and its fully air conditioned which is so necessary this time of year in Texas.  We all had fun, the boys stacked foam blocks while Lillian pretended groceries and pushed her baby around.  Looks like both boys are getting a feel for being fire fighters!

Miss Hollywood had a fun morning at the museum!

And mama had a fun afternoon rocking the baby to sleep for a nap!
These are the best days of my life!