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milestones this week

This week we’ve had all kinds of life happening.

We got to celebrate Owen for making honor roll his first 9 weeks in kindergarten.

When I saw the invitation in his backpack for the award ceremony, I yelled “Owen! You made the honor roll!”
He said, “I did?!…What’s the honor roll?”
It was super cute.

His school went all out for the awards ceremony with a Hollywood theme, and the kids got to walk the red carpet in the center aisle to get their certificates.
Have I mentioned we love this school??

Later this girl took her first steps!

Owen had been playing with Harper, and he came running to me saying, “I think you need your camera. Harper is doing something amazing!”
She did it one more time for me to see…but of course not for the camera.

Not surprised she walked first with her brothers.
They are so good with her, and she tries to keep up with them.
Buddies for sure.

The kids have been riding bikes (or the walker, in Harper’s case) in the driveway. Ande worked with Owen to teach him how to ride without training wheels over a couple of days. After some initial tears and wanting to give up, he found his determination and got the hang of it.
Cheers all around!!

Tomorrow also marks one year since we got THE call from our social worker that we had been chosen by Harper’s birthmom to be her parents. Ande and I teared up a bit tonight talking about what a gift she is and what a great year it has been.
Looking forward to celebrating her first birthday later in the month. I had some fun buying a few GIRLY gifts for her today! I can’t wait to see her play with them!

Happy Halloween!

I love Halloween with kids…
The imagination and creativity.
Finding the perfect costume to fit his/her current stage or interests.
Seeing the boys turn into their costumes in their minds.
The excitement of trick-or-treating.
The candy!

I resell our costumes on Ebay, funding the next year’s costumes. This year, I nearly doubled my money spent with the resale. Woohoo!!

Happy Halloween from our wolf, bear, and mouse…the cutest creatures I know!

pumpkin patch 2013

I love going to the pumpkin patch.
We made our annual visit on Friday, one extra child in tow.
It was Harper’s first visit.

Last year around this time we were wondering if we would ever get “the call” that we had been chosen, discouraged that we were a waiting family for a full year. Little did we know we would get that call a couple of weeks later.
Let me tell you, we were glad to have our daughter with us this year!

Setting up the family shot

Brother/sister same face.

The tradition of riding the tire horse.
Knox is a full belly-laugher, and I love it about him.
Little boy joy is fun to witness.

This boy, how I love him. He is growing up.
The difference from year to year is amazing.

The graceful dismount :)

Kisses from the boys

Our sweet little waver

Knox saw Harper sitting there and ran over to hug her, repeating “Hey Babycakes, hey Babycakes!” over and over.

This is one loved little sister!

The boys were so brave until this horse came walking up to us, then the backpedal started! It took some convincing, but they regained their bravery.

This rooster hopped up on the fence and started calling.

Harper was super into the rooster. She can answer “what does a rooster say?”, so she spent a while answering its call.

Thankful for fall, pumpkins, the color orange, cutie pie kids, and this man to share my life with.

the best day of the summer

This year, I decided to make a family yearbook using Shutterfly’s awesome photobooks. I’ve been working on our summer vacation stuff, but when I got to these pictures I remembered that this was the best day of the summer.

Even better? We knew it while it was happening.

We spent two weeks camping in the mountains in my in-laws’ travel trailer.
I know, 2 adults and 3 kids (one in a pack-n-play) in a travel trailer for that long???
It was awesome!!!
We had the best time exploring the Pisgah National Forrest together and showing our kids the places we love.

This particular day, we went to Sliding Rock.
Kids are free, and adults are $1 each. A steal.

The water is between 50-60 degrees. The boys were into it, especially Owen.
It is a long way up the stairs…

and 60 feet of down, sliding on your bottom on bumpy granite!

I love the trust our two year-old had in his Daddy.

Ande took both the boys down together a few times, too.
He’s super-dad like that.

Knox looks more wary here…no doubt anticipating being dumped in the freezing water at the end of the ride!

It was so fun to watch.

I remembered being there with my family when I was a kid. I wasn’t going to go down this time…I was having lots of fun watching other people! But then I changed my mind. I wanted the experience as an adult. And I wanted to have a shared experience with Ande and the boys. So I went. Once.

Once was enough for me!!

Earlier in the day, we had taken the kids to the Pisgah Fish Hatchery to see and feed the trout. Then we went to a local, unmarked swimming hole to play for a little while. We ended up having the place to ourselves, so we stayed for HOURS swimming, catching minnows, enjoying the sunshine, “treasure hunting”…just enjoying God’s creation.
It was lovely.

Harper wasn’t a fan of the cold water, but she was happy to watch us, play with her toys, or doze off in the stroller.

We ended the day eating Mexican food (our family favorite) back in Brevard.
To quote Owen from that day “This is BEST DAY EVER!!!!!”

yellow submarine (x3)

Owen

Knox

Harper

One of my favorites, now passed down through all three (cutie pie!) kids.
Glad I held onto it!

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It is still HOT here in October, but Harper wore this for her final test at the end of her Safe Start survival swim lessons. She had to roll over in the water and float as though she had fallen in the pool in heavy, winter clothes and a diaper.
She did great!!!

Every weekday for the past four weeks for 10 minutes a day she did this…

And today she “graduated” and did this…

Usually we wait until our kids are a year old to do Safe Start lessons, but we signed Harps up at 9 months (they can start as young as 6 months). I was so proud of her for learning this skill so young! She never did get over the fussing in the water while she worked, but as soon as her lessons ended she would smile, wave, and blow kisses at her instructor…like no hard feelings, you know?
If you are local and wanting to do this, Kristen is a fabulous instructor. I can’t say enough positive things about these lessons!

I also took the two younger kids to the park near swim lessons, and one of my kids was loving the swing and one was not.
Can you tell which is which? :)


Her no-smile face was so funny to me. Usually, she loves the swings.

She’s totally a furniture cruiser and a quick crawler these days.

and totally loves her brothers…

Knox is so adventurous…no ladder or giant slide is too big. It does my heart good to see this part of his personality displaying itself. It’s fun to watch.

Happy weekend! We are looking forward to more soccer and hopefully some relaxing at home!!!

two in soccer

This is the first time both boys are in soccer. After watching Owen on the sidelines all last year, Knox can now suit up and play, too!

Owen is a Bandit this season, and Daddy is the assistant coach. Owen’s friend Alex is on the same team, and Alex’s dad is the coach.

Owen scored his first goal of the season in the first game of the season…a great start! This is definitely the most fun he’s had at soccer so far.

Knox is a Purple Pirate. I love how his looooong soccer socks would go up to his torso if we didn’t pull them down. Three year-old legs aren’t as long as the socks!

Knox and his buddy JD are on the same team. This definitely makes playing more fun for the mommies. :)

A view of the sideline. BUSY!

Our happy girl. Babies love empty bottles, right??

We’re happy to be playing this season. It makes our weeks a little crazier (and the minivan filthy!), but it’s totally worth it.

the new normal and kitchen talk

Since school started, it feels we’ve been running full speed in 100 directions.
It has not, by any stretch of the imagination, been easy for any of us.

To put it into perspective, I keep thinking of this little gem from the book Loving the Little Years:

“You know those pain scales at the hospital, where they rate your pain from one to ten? Well, pretend you are screaming, “Thirteen, thirteen! Fifteen!” What that should tell you is that it is time to restart the whole thing, stop screaming, and just deal with the fact that this is now the new “one”. Start over, and accept the new “normal.”

I promise that this little mental change will actually change how you feel, and by extension, how your children feel. Growing is, after all, what God wants them to do. -Rachel Jankovic

Honestly, that little shift of mindset has helped me immensely…

…as has a go-to easy, delicious crock pot meal. :)

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Crock Pot Mexican Chicken
(adapted slightly from my friend Kelly’s original recipe to suit what we typically have stocked in our house)

You will need:
Two frozen chicken breasts
1 jar Medium Salsa (the Greenwise one is my fave)
16 ounce bag of frozen corn
1 can of black beans, drained
Optional: cream cheese to add right before serving
Yellow rice
Tortilla chips

Mix the corn, beans, and 1/2 cup of salsa on the bottom of the crock pot. Add two frozen chicken breasts on top. Pour remaining salsa over top of chicken. Cook on high for 6 hours. Shred chicken after 4.5 hours. Additionally, we stir a few spoonfuls of cream cheese into the crockpot right before serving….Mmmmmm!!!

Serve over yellow rice and with tortilla chips.

Soooo good. We all gobble it up.
And it makes the house smell amazing.

Enjoy!

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One more thing: This week I learned how to make brownies healthier with no trade on taste:
Puree one can of black beans (do not drain) and add them to already-mixed brownie batter before baking.
That’s it!! It adds nearly 25 grams of protein and 14 grams of fiber.
You CANNOT taste the beans.
(Thanks, Jaimie!)

school days

We are now officially a school family.
We’ve prior enjoyed only the preschool schedule, 2-3 days a week.
Now, we’re up and at ‘em with the rest of the school-kid world 5 days a week.

Each night I am…
making lunch(es). thinking about how to incorporate protein into breakfast for the morning. making sure the school planner is signed for the day. pulling clothes for the next day for 2 out of 3 kids and myself. packing the snack and water bottle.

I’m getting the hang of it.
Mornings have never come easily for me.

First day of Preschool

First day of Kindergarten

Both boys rocked their first days.
Both hopped into the minivan bursting with excitement to tell everything that happened.
We couldn’t wait to hear every word. :)

tatoos and facial hair

They grow up so fast…

3 years old

This weekend our Knox turned three.
For weeks, he has asked everyday, “Is it my birthday yet?”
We had what has become our traditional party for him: swimming and lunch and cupcakes. I tried to make a cake this year, but Knox was insistent…for him, now, birthdays mean cupcakes.

We sure love this boy!

For me to remember:
Knox is sweet and thoughtful; he often remembers a heartfelt “thank you for…” following lots of daily tasks. He’s become a fantastic swimmer. He loves to do what Owen is doing, good or bad. They play together as best friends (sometimes for hours!) or worst enemies (squabbling over any little thing). He is Harper’s buddy and really enjoys being around her and doing things for her. He is a “collector”, and we sometimes find his favorite things stuffed into his pajama top at night after he’s gone to sleep. He carries a Little Einstein Leo figurine wherever he goes for the last few weeks…he kinda melts us with his cuteness.
So, so glad he’s ours.