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Lacey Ruth’s 2nd Birthday

Oh, I could just cry.  Our sweet, big girl is TWO!  We say it way too often, but we seriously feel like we just brought her home.  This precious baby has brought so much joy to our home, and we wouldn’t trade an ounce of her.

This year, she learned to walk/run, talk (oh heavens, the talking!), test her parents…  She became a BIG SISTER, a puzzle expert, and declared a total love for Tootsie Rolls.  Lacey Ruth is obsessed with Bob from Veggie Tales, changing her baby dolls’ “poopy” diapers, devouring scrambled eggs, peanut butter, and grapes, and loving on her Papa.

We decided to keep her birthday celebration low-key this year, after going all-out for her first birthday.  She woke up to a visit from Nonna and Papa, who came with a Bob the Tomato balloon and massive cupcake.  She’d just finished her breakfast, but we decided to go ahead and let her enjoy a sweet treat since it was a special day!  That afternoon, my sister came over to watch Addy Grace, while Luke and I took the birthday girl out for Chic Fil-A and a visit to the zoo.  She was over-the-moon with all of the one-on-one attention.  It was the sweetest day for all of us!

The following Saturday, we had a small party with super close family members.  I made a pink sprinkle cake and a few finger foods.  We ordered pink and purple balloons and called it a party!  It was far from Pinterest-perfect, and I wouldn’t change it for anything.  It was such a sweet time of celebration.  We were heartbroken that Luke’s parents couldn’t make the party because they weren’t feeling well.  They’re planning to come for a visit in a few weeks, and we can’t wait to visit with them!

Happy birthday, darling girl!  You have brought more joy than we ever knew was possible!

Christmas 2017

This post is embarrassingly late!  This year, we celebrated the sweetest Christmas with family.  We talked a lot about how much has changed now that babies have been added to the mix, but, of course, we wouldn’t change a thing!  When Luke and I got married, we decided we wanted to be very intentional about establishing our traditions.  We decided that Christmas Eve was “ours,” and we would always spend that evening attending the Christmas Eve service at our church, followed by a home-cooked steak dinner.  Well, last year, we threw that out the window — it was just too hard to pull off with a baby in-tow.  Instead, we’ve started a few new ones, and, no surprise, making memories with your babies is so fun!

On Friday, the 22nd, we traveled to Georgia to spend the weekend with Luke’s family.  The weather was chilly, and we had the best time eating (and eating and eating), playing with the girls, and opening gifts.  We traveled back home on Sunday (Christmas Eve).  As soon as we got home, we had to hit the ground running to prep side dishes and a breakfast casserole for the next day.  It was a super late night but totally worth the time put in because the next day was so sweet and special.

Blurry, but cute!  Christmas Eve in their jammies!

On Christmas morning, my parents, siblings, and brother-in-law came to our house for Christmas breakfast and to watch the girls get their gifts from Santa.  The morning was low-key and so sweet, and I can’t wait to continue this tradition as the girls grow.

Cheers to all the daddies who go out of their way to make things extra special — thanks for the jazzed up Ikea kitchen, honey!

We laid Addy Grace down for a morning nap and headed to my parents’ house to continue the festivities.  We spent the rest of the day opening gifts, enjoying a massive meal with other extended family, and resting.  Full disclosure — the girls were so tired and out of their element, which meant they were both very cranky.  We kept putting off having them open their presents, hoping they would perk up and be more into it.  Nope.  Luke and I ended up opening most of their gifts ourselves, which was a bit of a bummer.  It’s a phase, we know.  Next year, it will probably be so much easier with an 18 month old and an almost 3 year old.  It was still special and memorable, and we wouldn’t change the day for anything!

My mom and I talked about the “let-down” that can come once Christmas is over.  There’s this huge build up, filled with prep and anticipation, and, then, it’s over.  So, this year we decided to pack everyone up on the 26th and head to DeFuniak Springs to see their annual light display on the lake.  It was a great way to extend the fun, and we are hoping to continue this tradition.

It’s so easy to lose sight of the significance of Christmas and what we are celebrating.  I find myself so often getting caught up in picking out the perfect gift, coordinating decorations, buying all the Peppermint Mochas.  I want to choose every year to be intentional about focusing my girls’ (and my own) hearts.  God becoming flesh was a sacrifice, and that sacrifice deserves pause, revelry, and humility.  I’m writing this out for myself, as a reminder to really focus on the Advent season, not just Christmas Day.

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Visit to the Pumpkin Patch

This is a super delayed post but too cute not to share!  Back on October 21st, we visited Aplin Farms, right outside of Dothan, Alabama.  We visited with friends, which was so fun.  Luke and I had visited a few years ago, before kids, and weren’t crazy impressed.  We went on a random weekday, there was no one there, we never rode out into the fields, so we basically drove an hour and a half to pick out a pumpkin.

This year, we went on a Saturday morning/afternoon, and it was slammed with visitors.  Busy, but not so busy that it wasn’t enjoyable.  There were farm animals, cute set-ups for pictures, a hay ride out to the fields to pick sunflowers and pumpkins, and a bake sale.  It was great!

Addy Grace was a little fussy, and we got lost on the way (do NOT trust GPS with this one), so we anticipate a much smoother trip next year.  But, it was still pretty great!  We are hoping to make it an annual tradition with these sweet friends of ours.  One of the families is expecting a new babe this summer, so our group is growing, which is just so sweet.  Thank you, Aplin Farms!  We can’t wait to see you next year!

 

Labor Day Weekend

We spent our Labor Day weekend with Luke’s family in south Georgia.  There was a family reunion at his parents’ house, so we were able to spend some sweet time with his extended family that we only get to see once a year.  This was not only Addy Grace’s first trip to her Gram and Pa’s house, but it was her first road trip ever!  It’s about a four hour trip from our house to theirs, so we made one stop halfway so that I could feed her and Lacey Ruth could get a break.  Overall, the driving portion of the trip went about as well as we could have expected.  Addy Grace was actually a travel champ!  Lacey Ruth, not so much.  Nineteen months is a fun but very moody age!

Once there, we had a blast!  The girls were totally off their schedules and neither of them napped well during the day, but they both slept well at night, thank goodness.  We got in on Friday and headed back on Sunday afternoon, so it was a quick trip.  We needed Monday to get caught up on groceries and laundry and mowing (Luke).  We hated to leave so soon but are thankfully heading back next month for a quick drop in on our way to vacation in the mountains!

I snapped this picture during our pit stop on our way to Georgia.  I love this girl so much!

On Saturday, everyone headed to my in-laws for the family reunion.  There was lots (and lots and lots) of food and fellowship and family.  Lacey Ruth got to play with her cousins who fawned over her the whole time.  She ate up all that attention, and we loved watching her interact with family that she doesn’t get to see very often.  That evening, we watched our team pull off a successful win over Florida State (my alma mater – HA!), so the girls wore their best Bama gear to show off our colors on opening Game Day!

Gram and Addy Grace

 

Headed home!  Lacey Ruth just wasn’t loving all this time in the van, so when we stopped to feed Addy Grace, Luke ran in Publix to grab her a banana.  It worked for about five minutes.  Thankfully, she fell asleep on our last leg of the trip.  Clearly, Addy Grace enjoyed her break!

 

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Two Under Two — What It’s Really Like

So much of my heart in deciding to blog again revolves around encouraging other moms who are in the same phase of life as me.  Growing up, I never thought that I would have kids so close in age.  I had planned to put a perfect 2-3 year gap between pregnancies, but that’s just not the way our family has developed.  Of course, I wouldn’t change a thing, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t really hard, exhausting days.

When I first found out I was pregnant with our second, only 9 months postpartum with our first, I devoured information.  I read blog posts and online articles about what life is really like having two kids under two.  Some posts were less than helpful and only made my anxiety worse, so I’m hoping to offer a little more encouragement to those who need it.

Here I am, only 6 weeks in, but I think I’ve already gained a tiny glimpse into what this is going to look like for our family.  It’s going to be hard, it’s going to be busy, but it’s also going to be so, so worth it!

So, from a practical standpoint, how are we making this work?  For starters, I was completely spoiled by having my husband home with us for the first 4 weeks.  He has an amazing employer who allowed him all the time he wanted to be off to help us get going on the right path.  I know this isn’t an option for many, but it was a tremendous help in the beginning for me, as you can imagine.  When he was home for us, he made it very clear that my only job was to nurse our baby — he would handle the rest, including most of the care of our one-year-old.  After four weeks, though,  he had to return to work, and I was a puddle.  That first morning, I got some great advice from a sweet friend who just brought her own baby boy home to a toddler.  She said to just do the next thing.  Don’t worry about figuring out the day all at once.  Just do what needs to be done next.  As the weeks have gone by, we’ve figured things out little by little, but there is no “schedule” at the moment, and that’s just fine for now.

Another important tip I’ve picked up, even though it goes against every wife/mama instinct I have:  Embrace the mess.  Your house is going to be a little ugly for a while.  I pick up in the evening enough to satisfy my inner need to tame the chaos, but I’m not fretting over every little thing.  Lacey Ruth plays hard all day long to preoccupy herself while I nurse baby sis, and I’m just grateful that she’s becoming better at independent play.  A messy room is a happy room!

Along the same lines, lower your expectations and expect others to do the same.  This is a hard one for me, particularly because I really really care about what others think of my family and our home.  My husband constantly reminded me as guests dropped by to visit us and the baby that they weren’t expecting to walk into our home the way it looked before Addy Grace was born.  They knew our focus right now was going to be on our kiddos and not our home, so I shouldn’t constantly feel the need to apologize for the mess.

One thing I had to mentally prep for before Addy Grace was born was to plan to just be home for a good, long while.  Getting out of the house at the moment takes both Luke and me, and there is just no other way right now.  While I would love to be able to grocery shop and have lunch with friends, there’s no way I can do this right now with both girls in tow.  Breastfeeding is a 24/7 job at the moment, and I can’t really do that job outside of the house very easily.  But, being that I’m feeding baby #2, I know from Lacey Ruth that this phase doesn’t last forever.  Getting out will become second nature, and we will have a life again…one day.  Just not now, and that’s okay.  I’m enjoying the process so much more than the first time around, knowing how quickly this phase passes and how FUN it gets soon!

One thing I’ve learned to do for my own sanity is when I start to feel like the walls are closing in on me, Luke and I go out for a drive around town.  We make these “mini dates” with the girls in tow.  In fact, Addy Grace usually uses this time to get in a good nap, and Lacey Ruth is nice and quiet in the back.  Sometimes, we stop by Sonic, grab a milkshake, and drive to up-and-coming neighborhoods to take a look at houses and dream a little!

Reality:  There are hard days.  Days when everything feels monotonous, and I wonder if I’m really cut out for this.  Or, days when I’m wishing away time, hoping things will get smoother down the road.  But, I’m trying to keep everything in perspective and remember that these days really are precious, and I don’t get them back.  The time I have with them right now is meaningful and a daily opportunity to point their little hearts to Jesus, and I’m so very privileged to have two little girls to call me Mama!