One of a Kind

How do I describe this boy right now.  Active.  Cute.  Funny.  So smart. 

All of the above.  He is just one of those kids you want to be around.  Where Ava and Sam have always been a little reserved in most situations, Jack is not.  He comes in and makes his presence known.  He is waving and telling everyone, "hi."

He is talking so much now, and you forget how cute that early speech is.  He says some words all day - tractor, cup, mommy, football.

He loves Ava!  Sam is his buddy and they play (and fight) a lot more than he does with Ava.  But he loves her!

He has got a little bit (or a lot) of a temper.  Our kids didn't have much of a chance with that Sicilian and Lebanese blood in there.  They also talk with their hands A LOT.

Did I mention cute?  Always smiling, laughing, making faces.  So many people stop me when I am out to tell me how cute he is.

This is a pretty good capture of Jack's personality.  He has this new smile - or maybe that is his pirate face?  And he will (and does quite frequently) pick up any kind of bug outside.  He especially loves a spider.  This is some kind of punishment for me to have all three of my kids like bugs.  I don't know what I have done to deserve this.  And if you zoom in (or look real closely) you will see a nice little granddaddy long leg in his hand.  Lovely.

Sick Days

One of the hardest things about having kids - sick days.  I have always said I would have so many kids if they didn't get sick.  But they do.

So.. this past week Sam and Jack have been under the weather.  They both get pretty bad allergies which in turn leads to a bad cough.  If Sam's cough doesn't get treated quickly, it can lead to pneumonia - which we thought we were dealing with on Saturday.

After a trip to the after care clinic, many battles with the inhaler, and several sleepless nights for both of us, I think we have made it through the worst of it.

I promise to be back with better posts this week. 

Here is to healthy kids!

Favorite Things: Bryan/College Station

So..  obviously I didn't do a great job keeping up last week.  We headed out of town on Friday for a very fast trip to James' hometown of  Bryan, Texas.  We attended a memorial for James' grandmother on Saturday and had a nice visit with family.  We also took a little tour of Kyle Field so Sam could see where the Aggies play, and we  caught a glimpse of the Heisman - so cool!

So I thought in honor of our trip I would share a couple of my favorite things about James' hometown:

Freebirds.  Probably the original make your own burrito joint (I really have no idea).  It is like our Moe's but way, way better!

Chicken Oil Company - pretty popular in College Station.  We try to visit here or Koppe Bridge every visit.  They have great (and very greasy) burgers.

It is really fun to go watch a Texas A&M game in College Station.  I think they have a lot of great traditions, some which I find honestly a bit confusing - there is a lot of singing and swaying and kissing.    Anyway, the best thing about the game (in my opinion) is the band.  It gives me chill bumps every single time.  
And for a little fashion in honor of the Aggies - maroon is in this year and it is everywhere.  I keep seeing these maroon skinny jeans, and I think I love them.

And plaid is in too.  I have my eyes on this shirt from Forever 21 to wear under a grey t-shirt on layered with boots.  Or I could wear it exactly like the picture with my high waisted short shorts and my crop top.  I think the kids would love that!
Happy Monday!

Hog Heaven (Not Exactly)!

James and I had a weekend with no kids!!  It has been a long time coming.

We met some of James' friends (and fellow Aggies) down in Fayetteville on Friday afternoon.  We started off the weekend with a little Pat Green.  So much fun!

The next day we got an early start to get to the stadium for the game that night.  Our friends wanted to see the stadium and hang out before the game started.  Well, the theme of the day was rain and more rain.  We parked at the stadium to tailgate and maybe even hang out downtown. 

We got about halfway through the parking lot and the sky opened up, and the rain did not stop for hours.  Oh well, best laid plans!

We hung out under several overhangs - doesn't that sound exciting?  We were great hosts!  And we finally made it into the stadium 3 hours before the game started.  At least our seats were covered. 

It was a bad hair day for sure.  As for the football, we (the Arkansas fans in the crowd) were not realistically expecting a win.  At least those of us with some sense.  I was just hoping for something a little less embarrassing than last year.  And even though the outcome wasn't one we wanted, I thought the Razorbacks played a great game, and I have high hopes for them.

I was definitely proud to be a Razorback fan that night. 

(I already mentioned bad hair day, right?)

Happy Places

The other night I was in Sam's room talking with him before night time.  He was telling me he couldn't sleep because his brain was working too hard.  For the record, I am so exhausted lately I have completely forgotten what that feels like.  Literally the second my head hits the pillow I am out. 

Anyway, I was trying to help him.  I asked him to think of something nice  that made him really happy - that might help his brain.  I was giving him ideas.  Can you think of superheroes? No.  What about cars?  No.  Um, Transformers? No.  I gave up and asked him to tell me what he could think of.  He said, "you."

I am tearing up a little writing about it.  It was such a sincere moment.  It was one of the kindest things that anyone has said to me but also one of the most humbling.  I hope that I give him good things to think about as he goes to sleep, and I am sure most days I do.  But there are those days that I am tired and I rush through dinner,  bath, stories, etc. because I want a minute to myself.  There are those times when I lose my cool and say something that I don't mean to the people I love most in the world.  We all have those days and moments, but those words form my Sam put things in perspective for me.

I am so glad to be his happy place - he is mine too.

Kids Say the Funniest Things

I always think I need to write down some of the funny things that Sam and Ava say.  And I never do.  I never want to forget their innocent little minds and the things that come out of their mouths.

Ava has said some funny things lately, and I thought I would share.

A couple weeks ago Ava started a new dance school.  When I picked her up the first day I wanted to hear all about class.  Ava was SO excited!  She said, "Mom I have the most exciting news.  There are big boys in dance.  Really big boys.  I read about that in a book one time, but I never thought that would happen to me." 

Last week I picked Ava up from school and we were talking about what she had for lunch that day.  She said (in an exasperated voice), "Mom, we had Domino's pizza for lunch.  But it is very confusing.  There are not actually dominoes on the pizza.  It is pepperoni.  I think they call pepperoni dominoes."

And finally a couple weeks ago I was dropping Ava off at school.  She comes up to the front of the truck so I can give her hugs and kisses before she gets out.  This particular day I was giving a tight squeeze and Ava said, "Mom you are hurting my nuts."  What??  She said, "(sigh) Mom, you are hurting my nuts.  That is another word for booty.  Daniel told me."  And then I got the look like I don't know anything.  Then the principal opened the door and Ava was gone for the day!

Horsin' Around

We had Sam's 5th birthday party at a local ranch here in Conway.  I have never had a birthday party anywhere than our house, so I was pretty excited about this one! 

We invited Sam's closest friends and our family, and we just spent the afternoon riding horses and eating cupcakes.
Sam came with me to decorate our space.  It was the two of us and such a sweet, precious time.  He was SO excited!

After our chores were through, Sam spent the rest of our time perched on this gate watching the horses.

Time to ride.  We did not invite a whole lot of kids, so each one got to ride as much as he or she wanted.  This, of course, was the highlight of the party.

 After riding, the owner took us back to the stalls to visit with the other horses.  The kids are standing on some contraption used to massage the horses.  It made them vibrate, and they were all giggling pretty hard after this one.

Sam and his buddies--

It was the perfect party for our little cowboy.

A Few of My Favorite Things

So, I am starting something new every Friday.  I want to share some of my current favorites - anything from books to fashion (don't hold your breath for this one) to gadgets.  Just anything that I am loving right now.  Think of Oprah's favorite things (I wish)!

Here goes--
James and I pick a series to go through about twice a year, and we watch a couple episodes most nights.  We are currently on West Wing, and I love it.  I did not appreciate it way back when it was on TV, but I am completely involved with the lives of these guys.

Old Navy yoga pants
They are so comfortable and stretchy and they have never stepped foot into a yoga class.

I downloaded the Artkive app for my phone and love it. It saves all the kids artwork from school and home in one place.  I never now what to do with all that stuff.  I can eventually make a book with all of the saved images which I plan on doing soon.
I can't download the image, but I recently finished Sparkly Green Earrings by Melanie Shankle.  It is not a all like the books I normally read, so I was reluctant to try it.  I loved it.  I rarely laugh  out loud at TV or books, but I could not help myself here.  It is totally enjoyable and completely relatable.
Have a great weekend!!

Times Are a Changin

Check out this big boy - no more high chair!

Birthday Boy

Our Sam is 5 today.  It is hard to believe.  I used to love when Ava and Sam were so little and people would ask me how old they were and I could answer, "They are 1 and 2."  It made me feel like I should get an award or something.  Then I blinked and they are 5 and 6.  What??!!

Where do I begin about Sam?  He is our funny child.  You never know what is going to come out of that mouth.  He makes me laugh all day!  He is sensitive.  He is one of those kids that will take a while to get to know you.  But once you are in, you are in.  He will be loyal forever.

Sam is a rule follower.  You have to watch what you tell him because whatever you say is the law.  He will remember.  He brings new meaning to the word stubborn.  He really didn't have a chance with James and me as parents, but oh my goodness he is stubborn.

He has the best laugh, and he laughs a lot.  He loves his daddy.  He and Jack are becoming best buddies.  And he really wants to be Ava's protector.  The other day he told her he would stop all those boys from chasing her on the playground.  She said, "Uh Sam you don't have to do that - I really like it." - ha!

We are so blessed by Sam and count ourselves as the luckiest parents to get to love on him!

We are actually going through a little something with Sam.  He is not one to adjust to new situations real easily.  So, we started him at a new preschool which is the same place where he will go to kindergarten next year.  We thought it would be easier to transition him this year instead of next.  Well, he is having a HARD time.  He starts crying the night before he has to go and is crying when I drop him off.  Not actually crying but tearing up, which is worse to me.  It is so hard to watch.  We know he will make friends and be OK, but it is so hard to explain that to a five year old.

I will continue to pray for and love on him.  While Sam was at school today I was reading about a zillion books to Jack and he brought me Oh the Places You'll Go to read.  It is funny how when you are struggling with something sometimes an answer or a bit of encouragement will just pop up in unexpected places.  

As I was reading this to Jack, I felt like I was meant to read this today.

"But on you will go though the weather be foul.
On you will go though your enemies prowl.
On you will go though the Hakken-Kraks howl.
Onward up many a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore
and your sneakers may leak.......

On and on you will hike.
And I know you'll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are....

Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So get on your way!

Sam - you are strong, funny, kind, loyal - really all the things that people love in friends.  Growing up is like climbing that mountain. I have no doubts that you are going to get to the top of any mountain you want and make us proud doing it.

I love you buddy!

One of those Days

We had a pretty busy weekend planned, but I will tell you it did not get started in a good way.  I had one of THOSE days on Friday.  First, we had a birthday party at the park.  Within two minutes (and I am not exaggerating) I had two screaming, injured boys.  Yikes!  After a little rest at home, we had to go get Ava at school.  A lot of times Sam will go without shoes because we just drive through and then drive home.  That was the case on Friday.  Well, I forgot that I had to pick up our dog, Elle,  from Petsmart where she had gotten a bath and haircut.  So, I decided to run in with all three kids - and Sam with no shoes.  In my head I knew we could run in and out and no one would ever know.  I was SO wrong.

On our way out (in the middle of the store), Elle decides to potty everywhere!  This may be too much information, but let me assure you it was awful.  I was holding Jack, cleaning up a major mess, directing store traffic away from the mess, trying to keep up with Sam and Ava- ugh! 

Then we headed to watch my oldest nephew play football.  We were so proud of him! 

Sam had a soccer game on Saturday.  I am putting this on the record - there is nothing cuter than Sam and his buddy Brooks playing soccer.  They dominate the game!  And they are cheering each other on, giving high fives the whole way down the field.  Seriously nothing cuter.

And the major highlight of our weekend.  We hosted Ava's class pet, Penguin Pete.  He went everywhere with us, picked out his favorite restaurants, shared his opinion on just about everything.  My girl takes that stuff seriously, y'all. 


I always wanted to have boys.  As a matter of fact, I cannot understand this current obsession for having girls.  Yes, they are wonderful.  And I adore having Ava, but not because she is a girl - simply because she is wonderful and ours.

Having said that, I am learning fast that boys are very different.  It is kind of mean to have a sweet little girl first.  I feel like I am always in shock about what these boys are doing. 

I have to admit something here.  I took Sam to the pediatrician when he was Jack's age now because I thought there was something wrong with him.  He was so rough.  I honestly thought he had some kind of anger management issues.  The dr. thankfully did not laugh me out of the office, although I am sure he wanted to.  They are just different!

Sam can burp on command.  Everything (and I mean everything) is a competition.  As soon as Sam gets home, Jack pushes him.  And before I can say anything they are pushing each other and laughing hysterically.  Girls don't do that.  They climb on anything, anywhere.  They are completely inappropriate.  We live on a golf course, and I can't tell you how many times Sam has pulled his pants down and peed right in front of the world.  Active is too mild a word for Jack.

I am exhausted most of the time, but man they are worth it.  I love having these two boys.  There is something so special about brothers.  And for a mama, to watch your boys loving on each other - there is nothing better than that!

New Day

Where do I begin?

I have been thinking a lot lately about blogging.  For a while I decided that I would just put this little blog to rest; it is hard to find the time.  But I love looking back at this blog to see what our lives looked like.  And not even the big things like holidays - the little things that I think I will always remember for some reason, but I don't.  Also,  I want my kids to see pieces of their little lives and to know me in a way that only writing can do. 

So, I have decided to start a new chapter in this blog.  We have a new design (which is cute, right?)  I plan to write every day (excluding weekends).  It will mainly be about the kids, but I also want to include more about me - my thoughts about motherhood, interests, friendships, etc.

I realize that I don't have many (any?) readers, but this is really for the kids, and so that is ok with me.  I will continue to write and share our lives, and you are all welcome to come along for the ride.

When I last wrote on this blog it was Ava's birthday back in February.  I am not going to try to catch us up.  I barely remember last week much less what happened all spring and summer.  I will leave you with a couple pictures of our summer though, and I will be back with a normal post tomorrow.  Until then...

We took a family trip to the beach this summer - probably the highlight.  James only got to come for a couple days; he is so busy at work in the summer.  But, my kids could live at the beach.  We all made so many fun memories.

Family Pics - We were making silly faces (obviously).  I laugh out loud every time I look at my dad in this one.

The crew - minus James :(


Never a smile - but is this GQ or what??
Just a little glimpse.  We accomplished a lot and made tons of new memories this summer.

See you guys tomorrow!

Celebrating 6!

Ava turned 6 back in February.  This growing up thing is happening too fast for me - slow down time!!  Anyway, she really wanted a tea party for her birthday party.  I just couldn't pull together a "party", so we had a few close friends over for a almost sleepover tea party.  But let me tell ya - it might have been easier to do the party :)

Of course we also had a family birthday dinner and a school birthday.  Does anyone else feel like a birthday lasts about a week?


The girls decorated tea party hats - which turned out to be a big hit

Tea time

I asked each to give their best tea party pose :)

 After a movie and pizza, we put on our pj's and headed upstairs to paint nails and play games.

And then on Ava's real birthday she chose dinner at the local Hibachi restaurant then home for cake and ice cream.
Easy bake oven for a big six year old

I won't gush too much, but words can't describe how blessed I feel that I get to be your mom.  Ava, you are such a light in this world.  You have the gift of joy, and we all can't help to be be lifted up a little by you.  You promised me on this birthday that no matter how old you get that you will always snuggle with me, and that when you grow up you will live next door.  I am going to hold you to it.

Happy Birthday!

Home for Christmas

Because we had just returned from our trip to Disney World, nothing sounded better than just being at home for Christmas. 

Even though we stayed home, we were BUSY!!
Class Christmas parties

My new favorite ornament

Ava's First School Christmas Program

Gah- Too Cute!

Making Cookies - Christmas Eve Tradition
Christmas Eve
Santa came!!

Then it snowed a lot on Christmas day this year.  We made the decision to travel to my mom's ( an hour away) and brave the snow and ice (based partly on the fact that the only thing we had to eat here was a frozen pizza).  It turned out to be a really fast trip because it started sleeting the minute we got there.  We ate fast, opened presents fast, and then slowly drove home.  But then we got to spend the next couple days playing outside, drinking hot chocolate, making snow ice cream.  I remember this time now as being just heavenly and peaceful - enjoying my family.

Snow Days

Jack's First Snow

Little Bear

 One memory that I hope I never forget is simple, but it really struck me. After a day spent playing in the snow, playing games in front of the fire, snuggling, Ava and Sam were in their rooms asleep and I was rocking Jack to lay in his bed. From his room I can look out the window and this night the snow was lit up by the streetlights. I was just overcome with contentment. Our life is certainly not always easy, and there are a lot of times that I get overwhelmed with three kids, but in that moment it struck me that there is nothing better than this life.