Saturday, November 30, 2013

Takin' it out of doors

When Tim and I met, I think I can speak for both of us when I say that we were thrilled that we had the love of hiking and camping in common. During our dating relationship we hiked a good bit and camped a couple of times but we've always loved both and we've sworn we will try to do both more often as the kids get older. 

Thankfully, with the weather getting cooler we've been able to get out and do both within the last few months and we love it now just as much as we always have. 

In September we started scoping out some local areas where we could both hike and potentially camp. This trip was to Anne Springs Close Greenway. The trails were awesome but the campsites weren't ideal for camping with our crew. The girls enjoyed this trip immensely and I'm not sure if it's because we obliged their desire to hunt for and use "walking sticks" or if it's because they truly enjoyed the hike itself. Regardless of their reason, Tim and I were happy to see them so happy and having such a great time doing something we love. 

 Avery spends some time in the backpack and some time hiking whenever we do a trail, but even when she was being backpacked on this particular trip, she proudly held on tight to her walking stick. 
 You can see why the girls want walking sticks - they want to be just like Daddy. 
 I was enjoying my point of view bringing up the rear and watching Avery properly use her walking stick while placing her other hand squarely on her hip. 

A little video clip, because: why not? 
Grey has no choice but to be backpacked, but if he loves hiking half as much as his sisters do - this is going to be a FAMILY AFFAIR before we know it and that thrills me to pieces. 
 We were cracking up because Grey fell asleep like this while we were hiking. I turned him around to the front after a few minutes because I figured this couldn't be good for his little neck, but not before getting pictures of him - too funny!
 Close to the greenway there is a local produce stand/farm and they make homemade ice cream and milk shakes with whatever is in season. Kennedy and Avery got Apple Pie Soft Serve and Tim got an "almost gone because we're moving out of the season" peach smoothie. Both sweet treats were delish! 
 Grey was in full agreement!
 The best thing about a good long hike followed by a yummy snack: 

Although this campground wasn't right for us, we found one that was. 

To be continued....

Friday, November 29, 2013

Cause for Pause

The last couple of weeks have been a bit challenging at the Taylor household. Two weeks ago Kennedy started feeling a little sickish - right after the Veterans holiday weekend. Kennedy feeling a little sickish turned into a cold that was then passed from she to Grey and then to Avery. After our first full week of sickness I thought that we were turning a corner to health but then I got their cold and then Kennedy got a secondary sinus infection, followed by Grey also getting a sinus infection. Amidst our colds and infections there were some cases of pink eye sprinkled in there too. Shew! 

Here's the thing - I'm a doer, a goer, a busy body, etc. I like to do for people: my children, my husband, my friends  - it's my love language - acts of service - it's just my thing and it's not work because loving on people I love comes easy for me. 

Speaking of people I love - I love people, being around people, being with people and building relationships WITH people. I keep my children and I "busy" during the week being with people because I've learned about myself that I'm much happier if I make that a priority in my life. I think sometimes others question my motives or my decision to stay "on the go", but it has been a strategic thing for me and for my kids. I came from living in KY where after much prayer the Lord provided amazing relationships over time, to NC where I'm still struggling to not only find my place, but also just find relationships that can be developed.  I've been discussing my need for relationships with the Lord even before we moved and it's still something I'm asking him for daily. I tend to get lonely and depressed and just not happy if I'm at my house all the time - not doing, not going, not enjoying others and life. So...I choose to be organized enough that we can keep our busy schedule. I choose to take the chance that not only myself but my kids might quite possibly get sick because they are exposed to so many environments. I choose to cart my sleeping babies in out of their car seats almost every day when they fall asleep on the way home from wherever we've been. I choose to be ok with not having an extremely exact and specific nap schedule. My kids need a happy Momma and thus I try to prioritize what makes me happy: learning about the Lord and staying in His word, exercising, and all things PEOPLE! 

Before I moved to NC I enrolled myself not only into Bible Study Fellowship, but also into Mothers of Preschoolers. Right off the bat and from the get go Bible Study Fellowship was a blessing - I honestly can't imagine my life without BSF in it. I have grown so much in my relationship with the Lord and my level of understanding and confidence in the Bible. No other study I've ever been involved in has been as intense nor as rewarding as BSF.  Last year I was in a small group with nursing Moms and because of that commonality, we were all in the same stage together. I adore those girls because they kept this Momma of a new babe in a new land afloat last year but this year we were re-assigned to new groups and I didn't know anyone in my group. I'm getting to know the women in my group and I love that they are older and thus wiser - they encourage me and inspire me and I admire them. One of the women in my group has seven children and one is special needs. SEVEN!!!! It amazes me and humbles me. 

My MOPS group last year was way smaller than the Moms group I was a member of in KY but I grew to love it. Before our last meeting this past year, they announced that their charter wouldn't be renewed and thus we would need to find another MOPS group if we wanted to continue in the ministry. So...this year I signed up for another MOPS group that is closer to home - my hope was that I would meet some local gals. So far I am enjoying the MOPS group but I cannot say that any deep connections have been made. In addition to BSF and MOPS, I hesitantly (only due to my already busy schedule) signed up for the Women's weekly study at my church that began in August. I'm happy to report that although it was another "thing", another "place to be" - it has been such a blessing and those relationships are ones that are developing and I'm grateful to be sinking in roots at our new church. 

So our crazy weekly schedule looks like this:
-Monday we hit the YMCA after dropping K off at school & K and Daddy have BSF in the evening.
-Tuesday we got to BSF
-Wednesday we go to the Women's Group at my church
-Thursday we meet a friend to run and then I go to the gym and then after K's school she has         gymnastics. 
-Every other Friday we go to MOPS &on good mornings I hit the gym beforehand

Well, the two weeks my kids have been sick we've missed all of the above and it's been challenging. Not only have I missed my daily workouts and commitments, Kennedy has missed school, BSF, and gymnastics too. I was to take food to women's study and a friend had to pick it up, I missed a MOPS meeting and I cancelled plans to run multiple times with my friend. I'm not a huge fan of saying "no" but boy I've said it a lot over the last couple of weeks. 

 I am glad to report that everyone is well at this point (fingers crossed) but aside from regaining good health, some other things happened in our time "off" - I've had to dig into the process of pushing the pause on everything.

Instead of getting up before the kids so I could get dressed, make all three breakfast and get Kennedy's school things ready - I slept until they woke and thought it was difficult, it was also nice. I went to carpool looking like death warmed over on the days she was able to go and then I came back home and leisurely fed the babes breakfast followed by lots of cartoons and PJ's. I don't generally watch cartoons with them truthfully - cartoons are a reason for me to buzz around getting things done, but when they are sick they want you WITH them and so I pushed pause on "to-do's" and watched cartoons.  

Rushing was replaced with snuggling and although I thought of all the things I could be doing, I tried to consciously push pause and sink in to the moment and smell my sweet babies' hair and just be thankful for the down time with them snuggling, playing, reading, or watching yet another Barbie movie for the millionth time in a row. 

At lunch time there were still dishes from breakfast because children needed me and there was no time for cleaning. Whenever I suggested things for meal time, my suggestions were met with "I don't want that, or that doesn't sound good" etc. I know those of you who have children know exactly what I'm talking about - I'd enter the kitchen with weariness looking around at the mess and then try to pull myself up by my boostraps when nothing seemed to satisfy them. I had to consciously look at the floor (mentally push pause) and then look at them and smile and say "ok, what would you like" while convincing myself internally that the mess could and most certainly would wait. 

Because Grey was so super tired from being sick, his nap schedule or shall I say lack there of was all over the place. Getting Grey and Ave down at the same time seemed impossible and so there was literally no break for me during the day to do things like, you know: SHOWER. I convinced myself that showering was over rated. In all seriousness, even in those moments when I'd catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and realize I looked like absolute crap (you can't church that up people!) had to push pause and remind myself that I needed to lean in and remember that every tear I caught, every runny nose I wiped and every dose of medicine I gave was about more than their little sick bodies - it was fulfilling my purpose in this season and communicating to them that I loved them more than my tennis shoes laced up in the corner, loved them more than the commitments I had during those two weeks, loved them more than the fluffiness around my waist I felt creeping in due to the lack of activity, loved them more than the other people in my life and at the bottom of it all - loved them enough to push pause on all my selfish desires for my days and my time. 

I remember when I was little absolutely loving sick days. I'm sure that sounds kind of weird, but here's the thing - I came from busy. Busy is in my bones. My Mom worked extremely hard as a teacher and sometimes tutored students afterwards and she was excellent and sought after in her career. Once home I'm sure she did all the things I do know as a Mother (laundry, dishes, grocery shopping, budgeting, bill paying and the list goes on). My Dad worked hard too and he had a 2nd job in keeping all things running and going smoothly with all of our vehicles and our home and our yard. My parents were not lazy. Lazy is something I still have a hard time understanding honestly - it's just not in me nor is it in any of my sisters. We are hard wired do-ers but I very clearly can recall being home sick with Mom and her pushing pause on her life to take care of me. I remember cold rags and plastic lined waste baskets and medicine and lots of cartoons and "what would you like to eat baby"? moments. Because I have three older sisters, finding alone time wasn't a routine thing with my parents but in those sick moments it was  just me and Momma and there was sweet mixed in with all the germs because of that one on one time. I remember some stress on her part, I remember her making phone calls and I remember her still doing things around the house but I also remember her coming to stand or kneel in front of me and looking directly in my eyes to say "how are you" or "what do you need" and I remember feeling valued and special and LOVED. 

I love all the encouraging blogs out nowadays for us young Moms. It can be such a rough job anymore - so many expectations and pressures and of course there's THE PINTEREST - don't get me started. I love it when I can feel despaired or just frustrated and then I pop onto Facebook and someones shared an article from another Mothers heart and it just lifts my spirits. Last week when I was feeling bad that amidst the sick Kennedy wasn't memorizing her sight words and her Thanksgiving play lines and Avery wasn't getting drilled on flashcards while I created a craft with Greyson and polished my silver (I'm kidding/sort of) I felt that pull to feel inadequate but I'm thankful that I could push pause and know that those things and feelings and comparisons and lies truthfully - they aren't from the Lord and furthermore they aren't realistic and those encouraging blogs were a reminder and gut check of sorts. I also love that I can feel like I'm at the end of me and then I turn on KLove and hear Mandisa belting out "Your an overcomer" and I feel empowered and recharged! I want my kids to be able to remember the good in sick days just like I can and thankfully I can now say (removed from the situation) I did my best to accomplish those feelings and I'm thankful. 

So...this Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for sick days with my babies and the perspective it brings. It's true - this time is fleeting and I feel it everyday when I look at Grey and realize he's growing and changing daily and I can't stop it. The last two weeks I've laughed, cried, gotten frustrated and weary, but mostly I've loved and it makes me happy. 

What are y'all thankful for? 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Smell my Feet

I can't help myself - "Trick or Treat, Smell my Feet" is still as funny now as it was when I was a kid. I was all excited for trick or treating this year because I knew Kennedy would love it but I also knew Avery would totally grasp what was happening and I couldn't wait to be along for that ride. Because trick or treating (as with all things in life - in my book) is more fun in numbers, we headed over to my friend Jennifer's neighborhood and got ready to go get some goodies.  

The kids were raring and ready to go, but before we let them - we grabbed some quick pics. Kennedy was Tiana from Princess and the Frog (Avery kept calling her Tahnana: too funny), Avery was a cupcake and Grey - the cutest puppy I've ever seen! I picked up all three of their costumes from a consignment sale on the 1/2 price day (score!). 
 I had to include the 2nd pic, because Avery is kind of trying to smile and I mean - that just doesn't happen often in pictures so including it is necessary :). 

 Kate was Rapunzel, Becca a cowgirl and Will a ninja. My kiddos couldn't have been more excited about trick or treating with their besties. 

 Jennifer's neighborhood goes all out for all holidays and thus she had some elaborate decor. Greyson was intrigued by the skeleton. 

 and the spooky bush!
 The plan was to let the littles ride in the wagon because I figured Ave would tucker out, but Grey kept trying to get out and Avery was at an all out sprint to keep up with the big kids so we scrapped the wagon and ended up putting Grey in the stroller. I'm glad before we changed modes of transportation that we got this sweet little pic. 

 ~Sweet Friends~
 This is the group we started with, but we ended up essentially just our family and then with Katelyn and Jen for a small part. Evidently trick or treating has turned into a sport where you sprint from home to home leaping small children and shrubbery as you go. thank you. 

 Avery was all about the running but bless her little puffy cupcake self - we had to strip her down mid evening because she was getting so hot. As it turns out a cupcake costume looks super cute with nothing but pink converse :). 

The loot! 
 No more empty treat bags = happy little girls!
We came home and had some treats and then got to bed - it was a fun Halloween night. Next year Grey will be trying to keep up with these two - look out! 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Build up to Boo

The week prior to Halloween my Mom came to visit and brought two birthday balloons she'd received from her Book Club gals for her birthday. Greyson.was.OBSESSED! 
 He would just stand underneath them and scream until I put one in each hand and then he would hold onto them for dear life. 

 Running while double-fisting the balloons was big fun too. Thanks for the free fun Momma! 
 Kennedy had an assignment in October to create a boat that would float and bring it to school to test it out during class. Now typically I handle all things that have to do with school, but building and testing - I seemed very engineerish so this was she and Tim's "thing" and they did a great job! 
 School projects at this age are funny because there are the parents who go ALL OUT and totally overachieve and you know they did more than their kid, but then there are ones who don't really care and don't put in appropriate effort. Team Taylor lies somewhere between these two groups of people and I'm ok with that. During class, the kids predicted whose boats would do best floating once rocks started getting added to the boats. I think it took Kennedy's boat 10 rocks to sink but remember those overachiever parents I was talking about? Some kids boat in her class held 80 something rocks and didn't sink. Wow! 
 We've had some amazing fall sunsets lately and one night I was marveling at a particularly beautiful sunset and the girls wanted to come out with me once I grabbed my camera to go snap some photos. 
 When I asked Avery who painted the beautiful sky for us she exuberantly and confidently replied: GOD! Yes Ma'am! 

 a few seconds later she did this, even though if I've said "up the stairs, down the slide" once I've said it a million times. This one is an envelope pusher! 
 Because Kennedy's school isn't fully state funded, they have several big fund raisers a year to gain support for the following school year. One of their biggest fund raisers is their "Boo Bash" which falls before Halloween each year. This year at the Boo Bash, they hosted a cake auction and asked parents to purchase and donate or make and donate cakes for the auction. I recruited Kennedy to help me select a cake design and she decided on a Pumpkin Cake we saw on Pinterest. This cake was two pumpkin cakes baked in bundt pans and put on one another - so easy and cute! I loved how it turned out minus the leaves (I need a leaf tip - that's my excuse and I'm stickin' to it!). Not to toot my own horn, but I'll have you know this cake was the high ticket cake at the auction and earned the Academy $75! 
 The girls were so excited about getting dressed up for the Boo Bash - here we are getting ready to do the trunk or treat portion of the event. Kennedy was so excited when she ran into one of her classmates! 

 This ladies' set up was ridiculously impressive (as were most of the cars) - she even handed out s'mores sticks and had a little grill set up to roast them over!!!

 Awesome pic of Daddy with our babes above and clearly Momma was rushed and couldn't really fix herself up (due to the insane cake prep) so although it's not the best pic ever - my boy/puppy looks super cute! 
Tim and I both volunteered at the boo bash (I the second part and Tim cleaning up after) but the time we spent together with the kids walking around, doing the hayride, playing carnival-type games and watching the kids do bounce houses was super fun! 

Sunday we had an easy going day and the weather was gorgeous so after church and naps we headed outside to play. Every now and then I try to take pictures of them interacting and playing because I just adore it: 
 I must elaborate on these pictures and make you laugh. So...Harley has been digging in our flower bed  (it's a nasty little habit that she's always had: digging anywhere)  and Molly has been laying right in the little area where she's dug a depression in the bed. Well - in these pictures Grey has plopped himself down in that little dug out area (awesome and totally germ free I'm sure) and Kennedy has brought her toy laptop outside to entertain him: the whole situation is just comical to me! 
 He was loving every moment of her attention and his freedom to sit where he pleased. After taking pictures Momma looked the other way so her OCD wouldn't take over and spoil the fun. 
 Oh the faces of Avery...they just never get old and I want to remember them forever. 
 This boy loves a ball - LOVES a ball!

 Can you tell. Do you like how he's not only in the "dog pit" but he's BAREFOOT in the dog pit. Praise God it was bath night! Ew.
 We stayed out playing in the yard until the sun started to set and it was so pretty i wanted to get some pictures but then I asked Avery to smile and well, you know: 
 They had been sliding their "babies" down the slide and taking turns doing so and laughing uncontrollably for Lord only knows how long - precious moments!