Hello December!

…oh what fun it is to take pictures of three children in tie-dye holiday shirts and red pants, romping around our yard and our neighbor’s driveway on a beautiful Saturday morning.  This is how we kicked off the month.

With two papers still to finish, I am about texted out right now.  But the semester end is in sight.  Then it is on to more holiday baking, crafts, gift buying, and a couple birthdays to plan.  Shawn’s get older and Sidney’s growing up fast.  My baby’s going to be a year-old in less than two weeks.  She running around, giving kisses, and saying “Go, dawgs, go!” these days.  A whole year has passed and I cannot get over how adorable she is.

Riley and Adrian, too.

And Shawn.

Enjoy the pictures!

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Sheet Walls, Listening Ears, and Church Change

Halloween pictures and three quick stories…

Sidney is walking all over.  A couple nights ago, we rigged a “secret base” in the playroom by arranging a sheet over the couch and the chair.  Sidney saw the sheet edge that was hanging down and went after it like it was a wall.  Down she went, laughing all the way.  On her next pass by the secret base, she did it again.  Sheet, lunge, forward fall, laugh.

Adrian has been struggling a bit with listening recently.  He’s even missed his evening show a couple of times as a result.  We’ve been working with his teachers to help him work on his listening skills.  At school, they started this thing with listening ears.  Adrian reaches up to both ears and makes a clucking noise to turn them on.  They still turn themselves off sometimes (maybe they are solar-powered?), but it is adorable watching him turn them back on and get focused on listening and making better decisions.  Of course, he’s also been really sweet recently.  He hugs Sidney all the time and helps unpack her bottles at daycare.  He gives me kisses and holds my hand.  He helps set the table and clean up the playroom.

When my parents were here this past weekend for the UGA football game (and to visit us!), my dad gave Riley a pocket full of change for the collection plate at Sunday School.  She is so happy to be jiggling her change all morning.  The plate comes closer to her, and then the tears start to flow.  She does want to give up the change.  First we get her to get a coin out.  Then one for her brother.  Mind you, this is all under duress, and now she’s crying even harder.

Through sobs: “I don’t want to give it all.”

Same girl who the day before made a collage for a teacher at her school who gave her a pack of Skittles the other day.  Exact same girl.  It was awful.

Finally, pocket empty, face red and wet, Riley calms down, and the ordeal is over.  Apparently generosity has an on and off button, too.

We used this as an opportunity to talk about giving to others.  And we laughed about it.

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Tell me about baby pictures…

I am doing a project for school that involves baby pictures, so I have been thinking a lot about them, the ones I’ve taken informally, the professional and semi-professional ones I have had taken, the ones I’ve seen on other blogs, on Pinterest, on Facebook.

First, let me say I love baby pictures.  They make me unbelievably happy.  But they are also a source of anxiety for me.  What clothes should the kids wear?  Will they look cute in the pictures?  Will they behave for the photographer?  How many prints should I order?  What do I do with all of these pictures?  You get the picture.

And now, we have Pinterest with so much family photography inspiration.  We have props and over-sized hats and flowers.  There are iPhones and Instagram and Facebook newsfeeds.  Baby pictures and kid pictures seem so complicated and yet so simple.  What does all this mean for us as mothers, keepers of childhood, preservers of those precious smiles and wispy hair and gumdrop eyes?


But maybe this simultaneous stress and pleasure is mine alone.  I am curious how other mothers feel.

Dear mommy readers, 

What do baby pictures mean to you?  Do you have a favorite?  What is the picture-taking/memory-capturing process like for you?  Do you have a schedule?  Do you have albums full?  Do you wish you had more?

I would love to get your feedback and insights.  I would be really appreciative if you could leave me a comment with your thoughts about baby pictures.

I also would like to put together a collection of baby pictures to try to capture certain trends and themes.  If you are interested in emailing me some of your pictures, that would be great, too.

Thank you!


What our pictures say about us…

It has been a while since I have uploaded any pictures to my blog, so here is the first batch of vacation images.  These are ones from my camera, and they cover time at our condo, the Tampa children’s museum, an ice cream outing, a park trip, and some silly faces.  As I was looking through them, I made a couple of observations/conclusions about our family, some true and some false

1.   Shawn always carries Sidney in the baby-carrier (false…it just so happens that I take pictures of Shawn with Sidney when he is carrying her.  Probably because my hands are free.

2.  Our kids like to be naked/without at least one major article of clothing. (very true)

3.  Our kids faces are always dirty. (mostly true?)

4.  Adrian is scared of water. (adorably so)

5.  Sidney is a good sleeper and enjoys her car seat. (mostly true)

6.  Adrian will accept help readily and from me. (mostly false…especially when I am involved.  Someone, please tell me he will get out of Daddy-mode at some point…preferably soon…)

7.  Adrian and Brendan have a lot of hair…Shawn and Grandpa don’t. (look and see!)

8.  Adrian and Grandpa are buddies. (true, true)

9.  We all like ice cream. (of course)

A Candy Land Birthday Party

Saturday was a beautiful day for Riley’s birthday party!  We had it at a nearby park with a covered pavilion, plenty of wide open space, and a playground (that we never made it to during the party.).  The pavilion was ours from 1-5 to give us an hour to set-up and pack-up around the two hour party, and we needed that whole time and then some!  Just after noon, we packed up the family and all of the party stuff in two cars and took off for the park!  Alli, CE, and my parents came down from Virginia to celebrate Riley’s birthday and Easter with us.  I don’t know what we would have done without their help!


1. I took this idea from Pinterest:

And had Shawn and CE put up the table cloths across the top of the pavilion.  It was a bit breezy, but they certainly filled the space nicely and created a cool effect.

2.  We had three helium-filled Mylar balloons for the cake table.

3.  Alli did streamers around each of the pavilion poles.

4.  On the tables, I just had table cloths and bowls for candy and food in Candy Land colors.

The Party Plan

Our idea for the party was four half-hour blocks of time for the following activities: games, eating, art, and playground.  But actually, we ended up with blocks for games, eating, art, and free-play around the pavilion while the parents and fam all chatted.  The two hours went by so fast, and I think everyone had a good time. I hope so!  Riley said she did!


1.  Balloon Pop Candy Race.  We did this last year, but with dinosaurs and lizards in the balloons instead.  The kids formed two teams of three, and raced out into the field where they popped a balloon, retrieved the candy, and ran back to tag off.  It was adorable watching all of the kids run and find new ways to pop the balloons.  Good times.

2.  Easter Egg Hunt.  This one seemed like a no-brainer considered Easter was the next day, and the party was focused around candy!  Alli and CE and Riley stuffed the eggs in the morning, and my dad and Adrian hid them around a field.  Total: 131 eggs!

3.  Bucket Ball Toss.  I had this idea from Pinterest for this game:

But instead of buckets, I used brightly colored pots and ping-pong balls.  Then, we just had all of the kids stand around and try to toss a ping-pong ball into a pot.  Okay, so this was a little lame, but the kids seemed to have fun!  Next time, I’ll just get buckets!


1.  Cookie Cakes.  Since I had had a cookie cake for my birthday, Riley wanted a cookie cake for hers.  But instead of one cake, the plan was to create four 9″ round cakes (since she was turning four and I had bought four packs of cookie dough).  In the end, we had three.  Two rounds turned out perfectly and popped right out of the pan (Kroger’s brand).  The next two didn’t, and I ended up destroying one cake and leaving the last one in the pan (Nestle’s).  Then, Riley and I iced and decorated the cakes with M&M’s, so they looked like giant pieces of candy.  Who knows?  She may be the next Cake Boss.

2.  Candy.  In keeping with the theme, we had a ton of candy at the party!  It was also part of the party favor, but during the party, we had all different sorts available for everyone to enjoy: gummy bears, jelly beans, Hershey kisses, Reese’s cups, M&M’s, Robin Eggs, and assorted mini Hershey’s bars.  We still have a bunch of candy left, too!

3.  Snacks.  We kept it simple since we had so much candy: pretzels, grapes, and strawberries.

4.  Drinks.  Capri Suns for the kids and bottles of water for everyone.


1.  I picked up a balloon animal kit for three dollars from Target.  The plan was to have Shawn blow them up for the kids, so the kids could decorate them as snakes (or something simple).  Instead, the kids helped blow them up and got a chance to wave them around a bit until they popped.  Adrian went through at least ten balloons!

2.  My dad is a sign-making genius!  So I asked him to make a banner for the kids to color together at the party.  Riley loves to color, and I thought it would be nice to have a chill activity in addition to the games.  My dad brought markers, and I picked up glitter glue pens and stickers.  The adults did most of the work on the banner, but the kids sat down for a little while, and it was nice having something for them to do quietly for a time.  I will definitely post a pictures of the completed banner once I get it from my dad!


1.  A friend of mine, for her baby shower, attached a thank you note to the favor for all of the guests, and I thought it was a genius idea!  So Friday afternoon, Riley picked out thank you notes and filled them out for her friends.

2. Then we picked up water bottles for all of the kids and attached the thank you notes to them.  At the party, the kids filled their water bottles with candy before they left.

I love being able to celebrate our kids’ birthdays in fun ways.  Now that Riley is getting older, it is nice having her help plan and prepare for the party, too.  A big thanks to all of Riley’s friends for coming to her party!  A big thanks to my family for being there and helping so much!

Enjoy the pictures!