Monday, July 16, 2012

Two Front Teeth

Ryan's mouth made room for his adult front teeth weeks ago and his baby teeth were hanging on by the tiniest thread for EVER. It was driving everyone crazy! All week long at our family reunion different people offered to wiggle, pull and pay him $$ to get those teeth out!! Finally at Kings Dominion I pulled a fast one on him and grabbed it with a napkin and yanked it out. It bled a ton but there were so many cheering fans, he laughed and thought it was great because Aunt Christen promised him $5 if he lost it that day.

Then Jared tried the same trick at our cabin the next day. No adoring fans and no aunts & uncles handing over money. I love this picture of him after Jared did the dirty deed. He was not happy with dad. His tooth-less grin is worth a million bucks. I wish it would last forever.

Summer Hair

I admit I miss those long wild locks.

But I love my short hair girls!!!

Having the same hair cut really makes them look alike too!

25 Random Acts of Kindness

Dixie really gets the credit for today. For her birthday this year she announced that she was planning to do 25 random acts of kindness to celebrate and invited anyone so inclined to join her. The kids and I decided this morning at scriptures that it sounded fun so we brainstormed what we could do, looked up a few ideas online and printed these cute tags I had tagged on pinterest several months ago. We attached a notecard to all our items, in hope that others will "pay it forward". Here is what we did:

  • Left a water bottle & granola bar in our mailbox for the mail carrier
  • Gave a $2 off your grocery order to a lady in Kroger
  • Taped baggies of quarters to drink machines
  • Dropped off a case of gatorade to the fire station
  • Left a container of baby wipes and a few diapers on a changing table in a public bathroom
  • Took a treat to the librarians 
  • Ran into the missionaries and gave them some gatorade too!
  • Taped a baggie of quarters to a gum ball machine
  • Taped dollar bills all around Dollar Tree (mostly in the toy isle)
  • Distributed smiley face balloons to people in the parking lot
  • Gave some granola bars and quarters to a homeless fellow
  • Dropped off a load of donations at Goodwill (not so random, but still kind - right?!)
  • Paid for the car behind us in the Wendy's drive-thru
I was so impressed with my kids. I thought they would be too shy to approach strangers but they really got into the spirit and were really brave! We said a little prayer as we headed out that we would find people who really needed a bit of kindness and I think we did. I loved seeing the faces of the people we surprised in the parking lot with the balloons. The Wendy's employee was totally confused, but once she understood what we were doing she agreed and we watched her hand the lady behind us one of our cards and the kids were all waving wildly at her like she was our long lost cousin. They really wanted me to drive back around town to see if our change baggies were gone from the drink machines and they were especially funny in Dollar Tree, taping their $1 bills around. There were a couple Asian women shopping and one stopped and looked at one of the dollars and read the card but didn't pick it up and that worried them. I assured them that soon enough some kids would find them and put them to good use. It was such a great couple hours. Grace kept saying "Dixie wants us to help people!" In the end we gave away 24 cards - plus the goodwill bags which equals 25 happy birthday wishes for Dixie!!!! 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Beach Week 2012

Ah... the beach. We missed you last year and it was so good to be back. We spent the first week of summer on the Outer Banks in NC with great friends, the Mace family and our Enciso cousins. It was such a fun week! We had a few great beach days and a few windy, riptide days but we can't complain. There was loads of boogie boarding, movie watching, board game playing, eating, reading, sitting in the sunshine and laughing. I'm still laughing at some of our conversations, we solved many of the world's problems and came up with several million dollar ideas. 

The pictures (with the exception of a few lousy ones from my iphone are all courtesy of the wonderful Kim Mace - thank you!) I have zero desire to be a photographer so these great photos are a treat. 

It was a 2 cart trip to Sams - we did not go hungry!
The water in June is a bit chilly but no one was complaining.

Maggie & Gwen 

Noah, Logan & Ryan catching a wave

Lovin that smile

The big boys had an intense game of 500 in the ocean 

This one is my favorite. Noah, Logan & Ryan - the 3 amigos.

The satisfaction of a good wave.

Soaking it up.

The fort.

The first wave to fill the moat is so thrilling, but before long it's all washing away.

Despite the obvious red, NO SWIMMING flags these two yahoos couldn't stay out of the big waves. Until the lifeguard removed them.

Crazy windy.

The crew (minus Sir Sleeps Alot, aka David & Kalin)
Gwen, Sadie & Maggie 

Josh took one for the team and drove his suburban out on the 4WD beach so we could see the wild ponies.  All 7 little kids piled in the back and bounced and laughed the entire way. And just when we had given up hope of finding any ponies we came upon these 4. Loved it!

 I really wanted a picture of myself ON the beach WITH the wild ponies. This was the best we could do - pretty hilarious. It's like a weird growth out of my head.

What a great bunch of kids.

Zonked out after a day at the beach. This little gal was missing some sleep and it showed.

Becky & me at dinner -  we had the BEST shrimp and grits there.  

Obviously, this is one of the crappy iphone pics - but Josh, Kim, Becky, me, Jared - all fat and happy after a delicious dinner.
The week went by entirely too fast - I'm ready to go again.

Elementary School Graduate!

5th Grade graduation was actually really cute. A student from each class read a speech about their years in elementary school, they gave out lots of awards and the music teacher had them sing some cute songs. My favorite was the "we go together..." song from Grease. I loved it because they did the hand motions and totally got into it and I know that is the last time those boys will stand up in front of a crowd and sing like that. Middle schoolers just don't do that. Gwen looks so grown up in this picture. She's such a fun, smart, helpful girl. She is growing up, darn it all.

Gwen and her best friend from school.

 Honor Roll, "diploma" and a surprise math award!

Gwen decorated the basement and was waiting for the boys to get home and come to her end of the school year dance party. 


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Sharp Top

Jared was off on Monday so we celebrated Memorial Day with a early morning hike. We hiked Sharp Top at the Peaks of Otter. It was short but steep and Grace made it all the way up on her own! It was well worth the effort - the views at the summit were awesome. We are so thankful for the sacrifices of many that allow us to enjoy this wonderful country!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Mother's Day

I did a lot of reading this year prior to Mother's Day, just various blogs and opinion articles on the celebration. I still don't get why so many women hate Mother's Day - I know the guilt for not being perfect, the unrealistic homages to mothers over the pulpit in church, the discomfort of being the center of attention, the gift of another potted plant to keep alive...  No surprise that I am all about a day for me! No complaints here. My crew went with their usual: Breakfast (bagel & oatmeal squares) in bed, our traditional "Great Mother's Day Race" where I run around scavenger hunt style, doing all sorts of silly challenges and find my prizes (always the kids with a bow on someone's head and other various gifts). This year my challenges including skipping down the street, riding Grace's bike, playing one of Noah's piano pieces (oh how he loved standing over me pointing out my many mistakes!) and fighting through a barrage of styrofoam sword attacks. I wonder if they will still make me do it when they are all teenagers? What about when I'm 60? But honestly, look at those cute kids - what would I not do for them?

Gwen's 5K

Gwen participated in Girls on the Run again this spring. She loved it, but I like to tell people she did "Girls on the Walk & Talk" more than she ran. I tried to set some goals with her at the beginning of the season, made a chart, you know the type-A mom stuff, but she was clearly uninterested. She loves being with her friends and I love that she's made so many nice friends through the program, so I can't complain and quit bugging her about her efforts.

In the fall she ran the 5K with friends and they took their time coming in around 45 minutes, so imagine my surprise when the 3 of them coming running down the finishing shoot at 35 minutes! They decided at the starting line to stick together and one (the one who actually trained throughout the season) said she wasn't going to let them slow her down, so they pushed themselves and did it! I was pretty impressed and loved seeing how happy they were with their effort. I hope it's a feeling that will stick with them for a long time.

Brandy came to the race to cheer her big cousin and she was so funny. We cheered right at the finish line and Brandy told my mom that my her "woo-hoos" were embarrassing her. She finally caught on and did some yelling herself, but the best was her dinner prayer that night. I quote "and thank you that Gwen is the best and fastest and she won and bless that we can know how hard Gwen worked and she is the best" and on and on. Doesn't everyone want a cheerleader like that?!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

first swimming hole of the year

We found a new favorite hike last week. It's so short it hardly qualifies as a hike, but the kids begged to do it again this weekend and they had a great time again, this time Dad got to come along too. They found lots of good swimming holes and our van seats are still moist from the ride home since we didn't have any towels. I'm excited for lots more hiking this summer, and I'm sure we'll be back for more dips in this fun creek. And next time we'll know to bring towels.

Ryan, the beaver

It is so easy for me to get stuck on all the fighting that seems to happen throughout the course of a day, but they really have lots of fun times together. Last Sunday they spent hours and hours in these homemade "hammocks" playing sailors. They crack me up when they aren't making me pull out my hair.

I think this was the same day that within an hour I went from "Mom, you are the very best mom EVER" to "you are the worst mom in the world! (slamming door)". I love it. Seriously, it's the best job ever and these four kids are perfect for me, they are teaching me and stretching me and helping me become a better person with every slammed door and sweet hug. 


It always takes a while to really feel at home somewhere. And I don't mean the friends or knowing how to get around the city without the GPS, but that feeling deep down that says "this is just right, exactly where you belong right now." I had that moment the other day sitting at the stop light looking out over the Blue Ridge Mountains. Of course, I'm a Virginia girl and there is nothing I love more than some rolling farmland and those blue hills in the background. Virginia is always home for me, but it was a perfectly peaceful moment, a tender mercy from my Heavenly Father, to let me know I'm home.

A bathroom moment

My most meaningful moment at church last week came while I was in the bathroom stall. Grace had an accident and I was busy cleaning her up when I realized that in the stall next to me a daughter was helping her elderly mother use the bathroom. She was lifting her from chair to toilet "scoot up a little mom" and "let me hold this for you" all the while I was changing little panties and "that's okay, you can still go to nursery" and "are you ready for me to wipe your bum?" As the mother and daughter finished up and daughter helped mother wash her hands at the sink, I helped Grace wash her hands and felt like for a moment I had experienced something special. I don't even pretend to be a "writer" and others would do the experience justice by writing more eloquently, but the moment was poignant and so many thoughts went through my mind about women and the stages of our lives and serving others and the bonds of family, I just don't want to forget my special bathroom moment.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


We love visitors! And cousins are pretty much the best (next to grandparents, of course). We had so much fun, I had to post a few more pictures from our weekend with the Bentleys. Come back soon! 

 Waiting in line for a SCARY ride!

 Walking, walking, walking. Seriously perfect weather all day.

Bumper cars are always lots of giggles (just ask the 2 large women I watched squish into a car together - I was afraid someone was going to wet their pants they were laughing SO hard. But maybe that only happens in my family). These two cuties did not disappoint, they were so funny.

Gotta get a shot with Snoopy.


 Thanks Aunt Wendy!!!

 Our fav park in the city (is actually a cemetery).

 But it has the coolest swing and great hide and seek spots.

Even the "big" boys had to get a turn. And, no that is NOT a fat joke.

 Love these guys (and gal!) Erica, why didn't we make you get in on the photo shoot?!