Tuesday, January 31, 2012

58 degrees

Who'd have thought we could ride bikes and play outside in January without hats and scarfs? Weird. These three sure had fun (most of the time) running off some energy this evening.

Some people think my little people look alike. I really don't. I think they are each really unique looking and cute in their own ways.
This dude's smile makes me happy.
The not so happy version. Just trying to be honest in my documentation. :)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Goodbye two-year-old. Hello Kitty.

We celebrated Nat's 3rd birthday this past Saturday (her real birthday isn't until the 28th). She LOVED every minute of her special day! She loves Hello Kitty and wanted to wear every piece of Hello Kitty clothing she could find (sweater, necklace, bow, slippers, and even undies!).
Before I had kids, I thought I wanted all boys, but boy did she change all of that. She is sometimes a handful (ok, a lot of times), but I ADORE this girl. I love my boys with everything in me, but she is just special. A spunky, wild, crazy, dramatic, silly, funny, sweet, special little girl.
She's been talking about her Hello Kitty party for at least six months. When I say talking, I mean literally bringing it up at least once a day. She was SO excited about every little detail.
She ate a whole plate of food, four giant chocolate covered strawberries, a piece of cake with ice cream and AT LEAST four cake pops. I was getting physically ill watching her go back for more. She kinda likes sugar. :)

I love these pictures. This was the best part of the whole day. We were singing happy birthday to her and she was so happy. She was looking around the room at everyone and giggling and smiling. She was just soaking up every minute of getting the full attention of so many people that love her. She is definitely a middle child...craves attention. I just keep looking at her face and smiling.
Presents! (Notice all the Hello Kitty accessories!)
Some of the party peeps...although I failed to get pictures of some.
I love you, Natalie Alison! Happy 3rd Birthday!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Just call me Mountain Mama...

Over the Fourth of July weekend, we traveled to West Virginia for a family reunion and some relaxation with Papa and Nana. We stayed in a hunting lodge in the middle of nowhere/up the side of a mountain. It was very nice and so peaceful. We all loved it!


View of the cabin from across the lake...

We were on a hunting preserve, so we saw a ton of wildlife during our stay. Elk would come out and swim every morning and we would sit on the cabin porch and just watch.

Don't worry, we didn't actually hunt for any wildlife, although Benny did shoot a vicious bear that was about to attack. Good thing Papa brought along the bb gun...phew! :)

The boys did A LOT of fishing. Ben, honest to goodness, caught at least 30 fish (mostly little blue gill) over the course of a couple of days. He even caught a pretty good sized bass and was so proud of himself. He is definitely our little outdoorsman!

Two of my favorite pictures from the trip...they love animals (like their Daddy!).

This was Max...he roams the property and is the owner's dog. He was such a good boy and Nat and Ben couldn't wait to play with him each morning, as soon as they woke up. Ben cried when we got home and looked at the pictures because he said he missed Max "soooo much!" He asked for a picture of Max to go on his bulletin board in his room.

I'll title this series of pictures...Hillbilly Baby. She took off her shirt and was sitting at the side of the dock throwing rocks in the water one evening while the guys were fishing. I look over and she is dunking her whole head in the water?! I said "What in the world are you doing?" and she replied, "I just takin' a bath, Mommy." Ummm...ok? She also gave herself a little mud facial...who needs the spa?

There were lots of antlers to go around....and we couldn't resist (Ok...it was mostly just me.). You definitely wouldn't want to stay here if you had a problem with animal heads staring at you all day. There were heads and skins and all kinds of animal parts everywhere. Taxidermy heaven!

Nana with two of her favorite people...she hasn't confirmed this, but I'm willing to go out on a limb with this one. :)

Family reunion!

Sparklers...clearly Benny was in his glory running with fire in his hand....real safe, I'm sure.

What would a trip to West Virginia be without a ride on an ATV?!

Finally, an attempt at a family photo. Unfortunately, we were looking into the sun and this is way overexposed, but I like any photo that contains all five of us looking in the direction of the camera...so I'll take it!

What a fun weekend with people we love!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Dad's Day, etc...

This post is way overdue...when I feel stressed I'm not a very good blogger...and lately I've been stressed, resulting in a bit of a blogging hiatus (at least compared to my previous track record of excessive posting!). To my loyal readers (Mom and Nana!) who expect to see new pictures of my children weekly, if not daily, I apologize.

Moving on....Nat and Ben had fun giving Daddy his Father's Day gift before church. It was an extra special day because Mike was baptized that morning during the church service. I love you, Mick! You are an excellent daddy! Our kids are blessed to have you.

We spent the afternoon at Papa and Nana's celebrating all the dads! Ben was excited to give Papa his gift...a fishing pole and some fishing supplies! My kids LOVE Papa (and we do too!). We missed you, Dad/Pops, but we are glad we'll see you soon!

Nattie and Pappy...we are so glad to have Paps in our life!

Ok, I know this post is about the dads, but we can't forget the grandmas!

Moving on from Father's Day....just some random, but cute, pictures of my little people.

What these three have been up to lately....playing with pirate ships, "texting", and climbing stairs like a wild man!

A rare picture of just us... :)

Pardon my unpedicured feet...but isn't she cute? Her wild hair fits her personality.

We did some serious chalk art on the driveway this weekend, so I took Nat's picture with her name. I love that little smirk.

I know I'm always talking about what an angel Andy is...so this is just to prove that every once in awhile he does get ticked. He was mad because I set him on Nat's towel and he couldn't go anywhere due to the fact that he HATES touching the grass. The good part is that I could just leave him there and didn't have to worry about where he might end up...the bad part is that he screamed bloody murder and I started to feel like a bad mom...go figure?

It has been absolutely perfect weather this week, so we played in the sprinkler for a bit...well, mostly just Benny. Nattie was more concerned with turning the hose on and off to irritate her brother.

Daddy took Benny fishing this evening and Ben actually caught three fish. He was so excited and proud. I was glad Mike took his camera!

I saved the best for last. I was making Nat lunch earlier this week and she kept saying "Mommy, look at Andy!" I was busy, so I just brushed it off. As I walked to the kitchen table to bring her her lunch I looked in the living room where Andy had been playing with toys to see this! He wasn't crying or upset...just kicking his legs and looking for a toy in the bottom of the basket! I pulled him out (only after taking a picture, of course!) and he had a big smile on his face. I love that kid.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Goodbye unrealistic expectations...hello summer!

I've kind of felt out of sorts with life these last few months. God is teaching me a lot these days about my expectations for everyone and everything. These expectations of mine are often so lofty that I usually end up disappointed because, let's face it, perfection is impossible...for me or anyone else in my life. God is basically showing me, little by little, that I am not in control...He is. What I want, what I think I need, what I think I deserve, what I expect of others, etc...none of that really matters. Most of these expectations I have are "of this world" and have been so ingrained in me that it's hard to break free. All I can do is trust Him and obey His word...and that's what I'm trying to do. Such a weight is lifted when I realize that I don't have to be in control...because He is!

He knows the plan for my life and it's better than any dream or plan or idea or expectation I could conjure up in my own little head. I am trusting in Him more daily and each step I take in faith draws me closer. Don't get me wrong...I screw up all the time and will until I die, but I know God is at work in my life, that I've already been forgiven, and that He loves me.

So, now that I got all of that out, here are 9,000 pictures of our summer so far. I love my little family and just don't know that there is anything better than getting to spend time with them. God blessed my life in so many ways when He allowed me to be a mama...that is for sure. I'm lucky to be on this journey with a husband who loves, nurtures, and cares for these little people so well.

Since Nat was asleep when the family picture above was taken, I thought I'd post a cute one of just her. I ADORE this picture. She looks so sweet...and she is...but let's face it, two seconds after this picture was taken she was probably whacking her brother upside the head or getting into some kind of trouble.

We've already spent quite a bit of time on the deck playing in the kiddie pool. Andy took his first "swim" last week and loved it. I didn't even add any buckets of warm water to the freezing cold hose water that filled the pool and he STILL loved it.

These pictures are a more accurate representation of my two-year-old's typical behavior.

Nat and Andy were in bed early one evening, so Mike, Benny and I played a fun game of Pirateopoly (like Monopoly only everything is pirate themed).

He was so proud of the army man set-up he created on the coffee table. The army on the left side of the table was quite the eclectic crew. I believe there were not only army men, but also cowboys, Indians and a few alien space creatures. :)

Benny drew a lovely self-portrait on the left. Daddy was a good sport as Ben traced him on the right. It looked like a crime scene when all was said and done.

Dad took off the training wheels and Ben is starting to learn to ride on his own. They practiced on the hill in our backyard and then moved out front to the sidewalk. He hasn't mastered it just yet, but I'm confident he'll be an official two-wheeler pro by the end of the summer.

On Saturday we headed to Rittman Orchard to pick strawberries. It's becoming a June tradition. It was a PERFECT day and the kids had fun running up and down the rows of strawberry plants picking away. In Nattie's case, it was more like illegally eating any strawberry she picked. I tried to stop her and well, it didn't work.

Andy hung out in the stroller just watching his big brother and sister like a good boy. Nat's face in this picture makes me laugh...notice the half-eaten strawberry in her hand, the stains on her shirt and the red drool on her chin. Sorry Mr. Orchard Owner, but I think she only ate maybe 10 strawberries and they were the really, really little ones.

On Sunday we attempted our first bike ride with all three kids in tow. Mike pulled Ben and Nat in the bike tent and Andy rode in the seat on the back of my bike. We got on the tow path in Akron and rode about 10 miles. Nat and Ben started getting a little irritated with each other towards the end (a little too close for comfort), so we knew it was time to call it quits. I think Andy loved it and seeing him in that big ol' infant's helmet made me smile.

Finally, just a few pictures of Andy and Nat that were too cute not to share. Andy is rarely seen without a smile on his face. He makes me so happy.

My spunky monkey....I've been putting her hair in pigtails/ponytails lately and she's pretty cute, if I do say so myself. How do you like the sock/Croc combo in the middle picture? We are all about fashion over here.

Oh and just had to highlight a funny Nattie comment...Sunday morning as we were giving Daddy his Father's Day present, I told Nat and Ben to go tell Daddy "Happy Father's Day!" and she said, "Happy MOTHER'S Day, Daddy! I love you!" We all corrected her, but she INSISTED on wishing him a "Happy Mother's Day!" all day long. She did the same for Papa, Pops and Pappy. Pops even has an official voicemail with her little voice wishing him the best Mother's Day ever! She's a nut!