Thursday, November 20, 2014

Tyler Paul {18 Months}

Well, I'm not really sure how we got here, but somehow it's time for me to document that my BABY turned 18 months old. Say it aint so! Truthfully, I have a love/hate relationship with 18 months. On the one hand, the 12 month teething saga usually is turning down (Praise Jesus and Hallelujah!), but on the other, I feel like 18 months is the very quick goodbye to a lot of things baby. Suddenly the baby is enamored with the big boy things like cars and trucks and trains and super heroes, is walking (and running and climbing!) everywhere, and can communicate more fluidly with the big people in his life. I relish the fact that Brayden and Connor still call Tyler "our baby." I feel so validated in my feelings of still having a baby, even if he is less baby and more toddler with every new day that passes.

Here are some things that are fun at this stage with Tyler:
  • He is FEARLESS. This can be not so fun on those moments where I see his life flash before my eyes, but by my third boy I've learned to roll with the punches a little better and embrace this wild and crazy.
  • He is social. He loves to say hi to people wherever we are. But if they say hi back, he'll typically play the shy card and hide behind my shoulder.
  • He LOVES school. He knows when his school days are typically, and will stand at the garage door pointing at the knob and say "go, 'choo'? Till I open the door.
  • He loves to watch football on tv and will run in circles in the living room shouting "go go go! Touchdown!"
  • His vocabulary has really blossomed over the past month. He's begun saying a few sentences (have a good day, see you later and love you are his three favorites). He calls Brayden and Connor "bubba", though he does try to pronounce their names too. 
  • He loves to eat and is like clock work on WHEN he likes to eat. If he does not get his food at 11am and 5pm sharp, he's likely to sit at the table and cry about the poor service. 
  • He now says "cheese" whenever he sees a camera. I have trained him well.
  • He wears size 24 month and some 2T stuff. Most of his pants are 18-24 month size. He wears size 5 shoes and size 6 diapers.
  • He can call the Hogs on command. 
  • He has 12 teeth and several more breaking thru.
  • He takes one 2 hour nap every day. He'd probably take a longer one, but I have to wake him up to go and pick up Brayden each day. Sundays he typically will take at least a 3-4 hour nap. 
  • We'll get his official weight and height measurements on Friday. Last time he was weighed he was about 26.5 pounds. I have no idea how tall he is. 
Tyler Paul--

People always comment about me having three boys. But here's the deal: I'm so glad that I have three boys, and more importantly, I'm glad that God chose you as my third. You are an absolutely joy, and the smiles and laughter that you bring to everyone you meet makes me so proud to be your momma. You are wild and crazy and quite possibly the biggest dare devil I've raised yet... and I love you for it. You have helped me learn to be even more laid back than I thought possible, and to enjoy the crazy that having boys brings to a household. We all love you so much and are so grateful for the gift of your life. I can't wait to see what these next few years will bring as you learn and grow and become the great young man that I know you will become... I love you little man!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Connor Andrew {4 Years Old}

In general, I begrudge my children growing up. Except for the fourth birthday. The fourth birthday, much like the 6 month birthday, is a landmark of sorts for me as a parent. It marks the exit of the dreaded third year, the year that leaves many children (and parents) to wail and gnash teeth, trying to figure out collectively how we'll all get along for the next several decades of life without ending someones existence. Terrible twos? No. Terrible threes? YES. (I realize I am being a bit melodramatic here, but if you are a parent of littles, then you will understand what I mean when I say that the third year is like walking in a long, hot valley without but a drip of water for reprieve. It's rough in every sense of the word rough).

SO... we're glad to be exiting that phase again (and please, don't get me wrong. Threes do have their sweet moments. But let's call a spade a spade and say that if someone told me that my kid would stay three forever, I think there'd be tears. Just saying.). Over the past several months I have seen glimpses of the four/five year old phase in Connor and I have been encouraged to press on. And in all truthfulness, I don't think there is a more sensitive soul than our Connor Andrew. His ability to empathize with people and to tap into his emotions is something I've not seen in many young boys. He is soft and affectionate and will make anyone feel like a million bucks (my friend Katie said it best when she said that if she was having a horrible day, Connor would be the first one she'd want to see. He's sure to light up even the darkest of rooms.)

As we've neared age four, Connor has blossomed in his ability to be truly funny. He is a goofball of goofballs and will do some of the craziest things for a laugh. As much as I LOVE LOVE LOVE the baby stage, having my boys get to be a little older where they truly appreciate whit and sarcasm... it gives me hope for these older years with them. I love being able to laugh with them and joke with them. Connor is no exception.


I love that Connor marches to the beat of his own drum. He's determined to not live in the shadow of his brothers and I love him for that. He loves sports, but is content being quiet with action figures and hotwheels too. He loves to read, and he absolutely loves TV more than any of my boys. His imagination is vivid, and he dreams things that I never even knew a 4 year old could dream (just today he told me that his preschool teacher was an astronaut when she was younger, and that she has taken Connor on her spaceship to see outerspace.)

Connor Andrew--

Four years ago when you came into this world, you were placed in the arms of a momma who wasn't quite sure she'd be able to handle two babies under two. Yet, even with all of my insecurities, I knew that I couldn't not love that sweet chubby newborn with spikey black hair that I laid eyes on that early morning in November. Yes, it's true. You have stolen my heart every day of your existence, and are a constant reminder to me that sometimes the plans we think we have ourselves are not near as good as the ones that God has for us. Connor, thank you for being a gentle soul, for loving so well and so big, and for teaching everyone to find joy in the smallest things of life. You are an incredible little boy and I am so very proud to call you my son. Happy Birthday, sweet boy!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Easy Vegetable Soup

I'm just going to go ahead and admit that I have been a bit begrudging towards the change in seasons. I've never been one to truly hate winter, but after last winter where I was stuck inside with 3 boys for what seemed like an eternity, I have learned that summer (and the outside) is my best friend as a boy mom.

With that little truth nugget out of the way, I would also like to tell you one of my saving graces in the fall/winter months: soups. They are relatively easy to make, and super easy to double and put away in the freezer for another meal later on. There's always a silver lining, isn't there? ;) A few days ago I posted a picture of my vegetable beef stew on social media and had so many people ask about it that I thought I'd post it here. This is the easiest soup I make, makes a TON and is family friendly, which is always nice to know that you won't have to deal with dinner drama.
2.5lbs ground beef, browned & drained (season with 2 Tablespoons of Canadian Steak seasoning while browning)
6 stalks celery, chopped
6 whole, large carrots, chopped
1 yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
10 size B red potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2lb bag of frozen mixed veggies
2 cups frozen lima beans
2 cans Italian seasoned diced tomatoes
1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes
32oz tomato juice
2-3 Tablespoons beef base, dissolved in 2 cups water
3 bay leaves
1 Tablespoon dried basil
1 Tablespoon dried oregano
dash of cayenne pepper
Tony Chaceres, to taste
Seasoned salt, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a large stock pot (I use a Betty Crocker brand stock pot that is unmarked for size, but I think it's 10-12quarts). Once all of the above ingredients are in the pot, add enough water for it there to be about half an inch to one inch of liquid over the ingredients. I prefer my soups (and food in general) to be pretty salty, so I use 1 teaspoon of seasoned salt (like Lowry's), and then about a teaspoon of Tony Chaceres (which is a cajun seasoning). This soup definitely has a little kick to it from Tony Chaceres and the cayenne, but we tend to prefer things to bit spicier (I blame my Louisiana roots). Bring the soup to a boil, and then let it simmer, covered, for about 2 hours. This makes A LOT of soup, so it works well for large groups, or if you're wanting it for just your family, it's great to serve for dinner and then freeze the leftovers for one of those winter days where you don't feel like cooking. We love to garnish the soup with shredded cheese (mozzarella is pictured), but this is completely optional. Happy soup making!

(This post is linked up on Lamberts Lately: Create It Thursday)

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Birthdays & Fall Pictures

We have had a slam-packed weekend. November always has a way of sneaking up on me, but this year seemed quicker than before. That sneaky November.

One thing about November is that it inevitably is filled with lots of parties, be it holiday or birthday. Since most fall parties have to work around the Razorbacks schedule (we live in the South, y'all), and this weekend was a bye weekend for the Hogs, we were filled to the top.

Starting with Connor's fourth birthday party. He actually doesn't turn four for another two weeks. But if you read the previous paragraph, then you understand. Because I'm an awesome mom, this is how Connors party went down: basically I realized two weeks ago that his party needed to be this weekend, so I whipped out the handy gmail and typed up an awesome email asking 6-7 buddies of Connor's to come over for a small party. Please, go ahead and pin this post because this is what awesome birthday parties are made of: forgetfulness and email invitations (and I'm not even talking about the highly sophisticated evites.).

I asked Connor for his help in planning. Hind site is always 20/20, and in this instance I'm afraid to tell you that I would have been better off planning alone. Connors tastes are quite eclectic; for his pinata, he chose Ninja Turtles (Because he is, of course, a ninja). Then he wanted Captain America cupcakes. I figured this was an easy catch. IT WASN'T. Who knew that Captain America does not work alone, and only with his Avenger friends when it comes to cake decorations. I figured this would be ok. And this is where I was SO WRONG. I happened to take a picture of the cake I ordered, and excitedly showed Connor while we were waiting in car line for Brayden, two days before his party. Connor, however, was not amused. I was stunned. Words like "this is NOT what I wanted for my party" and the ever popular "you ruined my birthday" were involved. So there I was, stuck in car line with an emotional almost 4 year old, and failed attempt at Avengers and the sad realization I would need to go to Walmart with all 3 of my boys in tow to exchange party decor and cancel the cupcake order. Connor ended up deciding he wanted Batman decor and treat bags, and then after a close race between the Duck Dynasty cupcakes and Carrot Cake, carrot cake won out. CARROT CAKE. Lord have mercy. I was deathly afraid by this point that he'd somehow change his mind at 10am on Friday morning and we'd be stuck with whatever the bakery had on hand, but thankfully not a mind was changed and we ended up with a carrot cake from Sams, much to the delight of all the adults at the party. It should also be noted that if there was ever a theme with this child, it is that I am (obviously) not in control. From the time I was surprised to find I was pregnant, to the time that we had the great cupcake drama of 2014.
the beloved carrot cake of 2014.
we've thrown parties big and small, and I have to say that the small ones win in my book by a long shot. I hate having to tell my kids to narrow down their guest lists (they want to invite ALL THE PEOPLE), but it just works out better all the way around.
Ninja Turtle pinata for the win
Connors Granddad and Papaw got to come to the party... He was so happy to see both of them!

We had two other birthday parties to attend this weekend in addition to our own. Unfortunately I have no pictures to prove it. I wish I had had my boys reaction on camera when I told them that they would be ice skating AND meeting Ana and Elsa today. MIND BLOWN. I asked Brayden if he would hug them and he said "NO! Because then you would fall in love, and you have to be a grown up to be in love!" (I like the way you think, son. Let's see if this holds in about 7 years). I asked Connor if he'd hug them and he said "yeah, sure!"

Also, after watching the weather forecast and realizing that today was quite possibly the last warm day staring me in the face until next March, we decided to get to church early this morning and snap some pics of the boys. I'm so glad I did because I managed to snap this and I about squeal every time I look at it. Y'all, say what you will, but being a mom of 3 boys is just about the best thing that has happened to me in life. I love all three of them so much. Hope everyone has an awesome week!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Rolling Up Fall.

I realize we're into November and well on our way towards Thanksgiving, but there were a few loose ends from October I wanted to wrap up.
We kept with our annual tradition of carving a pumpkin. The boys were so excited about it this year. It's so fun to watch them anticipate some of the traditions we have started as a family.
Tyler saw the inside of the pumpkin and declared "EWWWW!" and wouldn't touch it. Hilarious!
The finished product. They decided to do something simple.
Brayden finished flag football last week. It was a very fun year, and Brayden's patience and determination throughout the season paid off, as he was put in at running back during the last game and scored his very first touchdown. He was SO excited (and so were we!). If ever there was a time I was kicking myself for not bringing my camera, that was it.

We had a blast trick-r-treating this year. My older two were obviously excited. I was a bit surprised how much Tyler caught on. He didn't complain at all for wearing his lobster costume (he won the night with it, y'all!). Ty refused to ride in the wagon, so we were left pulling the wagon behind the independent lobster and his blue jack-o-lantern candy bucket. He acted as if he's done this before, and walked up to the doors, knocked and then said his version of trick-r-treat and waited for the candy (he sometimes snuck into the people's houses. Apparently that's a gene found in all of my boys. I'm sorry neighbors).
This little lobster refused to ride in the wagon (or stand still for pictures). He also is a huge fan of suckers, and walking into peoples houses.
Connor refused most pictures on Halloween day, so I'm posting a picture I took of the boys earlier in October so that we can all remember how awesome sir Dash Incredible (aka Connor) looked getting candy on October 31.

The boys got to play in leaves this year, thanks to Drew bringing some home for the garden. I kind of cringe with the whole leaf playing thing. It's fun for them, but the allergies afterward are a beast.

For the record, I'm still resisting the change in seasons. We have frigid temps headed our way next week, and it's taking every ounce of self control in me not to break down crying. I do love the holidays though, so I'm trying to embrace the silver lining. Here's to rolling up fall and rolling into Thanksgiving food, Christmas parties and Holiday traditions. Hope y'all have a great week!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Old Places, New Memories.

In the fall of 2000, I met Drew on the campus of the University of Arkansas. And in the spring of 2001, I fell in love with him and knew that he would be my husband one day (don't worry, I didn't tell him right away... otherwise he'd probably have run). Needless to say, the U of A and the surrounding area has a very special place in my heart. Drew ended up getting off early from work recently, so we headed down to Fayetteville to enjoy some of the Arkansas homecoming festivities.

We've visited the University with the boys in the past, but this was the first year that Brayden really understood that it was 'college.' We decided to make a quick stop to Wilson Park, one of Drew and my most favorite places to frequent when we were dating (it's also the place where Drew proposed!). This was the first time taking them to the park since Brayden had been only a few months old. So many emotions ran through my heart as I watched my three boys tromp around on the very ground that I had walked with Drew over 13 years ago on that cool spring night on our second date.
hello, five year old frat boy. Love him to pieces.
he's also a monkey. ha!
Connor was king of the castle!
Tyler didn't stand still for pictures much. He was enamored with the garden hedge, aka as the big giant worm (which is kind of weird)
truth: it's nearly impossible to get a picture of all three of them smiling. This is more like reality right now (which is also why I skipped family pictures this fall. There's no way I am paying someone to take pictures of these 'tudes) ;)
Brayden has always been a funny child, but I feel like in the past few weeks his humor has become truly hilarious. His faces crack me up!

After almost an hour at Wilson Park, we headed to Old Main.
Tyler was thrilled. Clearly.
If you follow me on social media, then chances are you've probably already seen this picture. But if not... hope you can figure out how to unmelt your heart. He purposefully stomped on every leaf on the senior walk in front of Old Main. He is in an exhausting yet precious stage.
oh the thrill of squirrel chasing.
this picture is a little blurry, but I love it so much. I wish that we could all take a moment to find joy in even the smallest of the leaves.
acting like he owns the place. Which he probably will in about 17 years.
Again, the faces. These are totally unprompted. He's pretty awesome if I do say so myself ;)
U of A is one of my very favorite places in fall. The maple trees are the biggest reason why. This is an unedited picture, SOOC. God's handiwork is so amazing.
I typically hate flash photography, but I was left with no natural light and all 3 boys gleefully enjoying a huge pile of red leaves. Look at Tyler's face! ha!
We ended the evening watching the homecoming parade. What's funny is that Drew and I don't remember ever going to the parade as students, and this is the first year we've gone as a family. Hoping we can make this a tradition... the boys LOVED it!

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