On the 4th day she was productive

Most of 2013 I was invisible online. I was enjoying real life.  The start of 2014 has been similar…I returned from a parents only vacation and have since indulged in my children. Today I tried something different, I attempted to be productive.  

A long time ago I had this cool menu planning sheet that I stole from someone else online (this was way before pinterest).  I liked the idea that it had a grocery list on it. It never really met my needs, so I had good intentions to customize it.  Which in my world that meant it was indefinitely posted on the family command center and rarely used.  Today, I customized a menu planning tool to include a grocery list of regular household good for us.  I also organized the grocery list to align with the flow of most of our grocery stores and the way my mind works (You should have sympathy for me for even thinking this way). The best part is, I already used it to go grocery shopping and plan meals for the week. And because I also believe in random acts of kindness, here it is for you to use freely…

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Week one of a productive task: Check.

You’re Welcome :) 

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Filed under Random thoughts

redefining our story

October 10, 2013

It’s 8:33 PM my husband walks into little man’s darkened room and snaps his fingers to get my attention.  Slowly I emerged from Caleb’s request to “lay with him” walk downstairs into a darkened dining room with the illumination of 2 candles, 2 wine glasses and the transformational bottle of Barbera wine (a symbol of our honeymoon) with an anniversary card propped delicately against the proper wine glasses on the counter.  The scene was far different 5 years ago.  Completing a rehearsal dinner with our favorite people and favorite meal (still is, although a rare delicacy in our eat-out options these days), scurrying to the reception hall to decorate and greet out-of-town hotel guests.  5 -years ago we were embracing the eve of our wedding and writing the first chapter of our life together as Mr & Mrs.  Tonight a few chapters are under our belt and our definition of a romantic evening is now redefined to an evening in the basement, drinking wine, watching baseball and hoping the kids sleep through the night!

a-kiss-for-the-crowd

 

5 years ago my focus was details for our wedding day, realizing if something didn’t go according to the 5-page itinerary, it was completely ok.  We had worked over the year to develop a day that would be the perfect start to our story with pieces of us interwoven throughout the day by making and creating all aspects of the wedding that would be future reminders of our life together.  I was focussed on the decorations, the weather, waking up on time and wondering what the next 24 hours would hold.  Today the focus is to not drop our children, remembering to feed the dog or to pick the kids up from daycare, and recognizing that 6 hours of sleep is A LOT, and there is no shame in google being is my new best friend. There is no itinerary fitting for this type of life, and no manual that will prepare you for the heart ache and joy that can happen in a 5 minute swing.

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Today our story is filled with the entertainment of a 5-year old dog, a 3-year-old son, and an 18-month old daughter who keeps our story alive and fulfilling everyday.  The days of serenity are depleted to a few hours of quiet each week and our relationship thrives between the blood lines of our children and moments passing by as we prepare for the daily monotonous lifestyles we live.  And yet with each “uneventful” day we add and fill our story with moments that are more meaningful than the anticipation of our wedding could ever fulfill.

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In five years we have added a few adventures of travel; a loyal dog-child who continues to greet us each day with varying levels of spunk and energy; a house which we have converted to our home filled with projects, pitter-patter of children’s feet, laughter and tears; Our son who prepared us for the un-predictable nature and complete fulfillment of children; and for our daughter who made us realize we really weren’t as ready as we thought we were.  Each day brings experiences, challenges, opportunities, and memorable stories.  I have added a photography business to the mix to help us and others capture these moments to tell the story of our life. To hectic work schedules challenging us to balance professional and personal goals while maintaining the presence in real life.  What I have learned is, I don’t know the half of what I thought I did, and I have loved learning each day with you!

 

My husband, Brent, deserves an award!  He is a talented man who can create whatever I ask.  He can man the house and coordinate 2 children, a dog, dinner, 2-baths, and have kids into bed (on time) with smiles and snuggles, just in time for him to drywall the basement before bed!   I am a free-spirited explorer who has a chaotic approach to life.  Thankfully, my husband grounds me and makes our life a reality.  Each vision, and dream I draft he adds a touch of reality and perception to the story to make our life “for real.” He accepts my creative endeavors, welcomes my spunk, and sometimes encourages my outrageous ideas and spontaneous lifestyle :)

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Thank you Brent.  Thank you for being a friend, partner, father, confidant, and life-partner.  Above all thank you for being you and allowing me to be me.  It has been a splendid 5 years with events and stories that I hope we spend many more years expounding upon!

Photo taken by Matthew Murray Photography

Photo taken by Matthew Murray Photography

Happy 5 year Anniversary!  Should we celebrate and go to McDonald’s tomorrow?

Love you More,
Heidi Marie :)

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Filed under Deep thoughts, Let's talk about me!, Proud Parents, wedding, wedding jazz

Curveball: Inspirational Story of the Greater Good

Let me start by saying my 3-year-old son LOVES baseball.  He’s been swinging a bat and hitting pitches since he was 2 years old.  It’s ordinary for us to be outside playing “Baseball” by 7 AM no matter the temperature, season, or other planned activities for that day.  We DVR any baseball game just so he can watch baseball on rainy days.  Truth of the matter is he doesn’t care if he’s watching a t-ball game at the park down the street, or sitting front row at a Major League game…. he simply loves the game.  Earlier this year we had planned a family vacation to St. Louis and the thought occurred to us, maybe we should take the Major League Baseball Stadium tour….and a plan was born.  Our family goal is to hit all 30 stadiums before he graduates from high school.

Early Last week, the family situation was different.  We were called up to Northern Wisconsin by my in-laws after my father-in-law was nearing the end of his 10 month battle with cancer.  As fate would have it the kids and I would arrive just moments before his final breath.  The daily routine of our family life took hiatus to reconciling memories and planning the celebration of my father-in-law’s life.  My 3-year-old son and 17-month-old daughter took things in stride.  Somewhat isolated from other kids their age, we tried to find recreational activities to get them out so they weren’t stir crazy.  The temps were nearing high 90′s with high humidity, but my children were still anxious to play outside. Luckily I packed the wiffle bat, 2 baseball gloves, a few balls and my son’s baseball helmet.  Regardless of the forecast he pleaded to play baseball regularly.  As my week with the extended family was drawing to an end, it seemed fitting to find a way to squeeze in the nearest Major League Baseball Stadium to check one more off the tour.  So Wednesday, August 28th we decided to brave the heat and head to Minneapolis to catch the Twins vs. Royals game at Target Field.

In true Little Man fashion he dwelled in the experience of being at a baseball game.  He wore his Brewers outfit, cheered for the Cubs, and watched intently as the Twins played the Royals.  He observed others trying to get on the big screen by holding posters and dancing, so he grabbed his “First Game Certificate” and held it up with pride.  Of course there was a fair amount of the required baseball snacks.  A typical baseball game experience…until the 7th inning.  As the heat waned on us we decided we needed to get up and walk around.  Opting for the cheap seats in the 300 level, we were excluded from the occasional breeze I noticed on the lower levels.  We made our way down to the lower level, managed to get a picture with TC Twin Bear and were drawn to some open seats along the first base line near the right field.

First Game Cert TC Twin Bear

After the Royals put up 5 runs in the 7th many fans cleared out, leaving clusters of empty seats throughout the stadium. We lingered along the 1st base line, and eventually took a seat a few rows back from the field to take in the final 1.5 innings. I felt slightly guilty sitting down so close to the field, although I knew we weren’t stealing anyone else seats.  The fans around us welcomed us and easily chatted with my husband, son and I.  I noticed a family to our right, just across the aisle. A young teenage boy was decked in Twins attire, sported a handmade sign, and pleaded every opportunity for the right fielder (Wilkens Ramirez that game) to throw a ball, sign his glove, whatever he could get. He seemed to be a true diehard baseball/Twins fan.  I smiled and thought to myself, “that will probably be my little man some day.”  As the Twins took the field in the bottom of the eighth after warming up, Wilkens threw the ball in our direction. My husband fumbled it and the young boy I explained above got the ball…rightfully so. We sat down, my son was disappointed.  As we explained to our 3-year-old that you can’t expect to get everything you want, and that the other boy was waiting the entire game … he showed up next to us and offered the ball to my son. I assured the young boy it wasn’t necessary, but he insisted.

Twins-high five

We were so moved by the gesture we encouraged our son to give him a high-five and say thank you. Which he did, and the crowd cheered. The mom snuck over to share the picture she had captured of my son giving  the high-five.  Together we dwelled on the moment and shared in the joy of the proud mom moment.  Generosity and sportsmanship at it’s finest.

The boys with THE BALL that changed our week

The boys with THE BALL that changed our summer

I learned that the 13-year-old boy had a similar love for the game and like my little man has played the game since he could walk.  Several other fans shared positive comments,  the usher even stated he wished he had a ball to honor the young man’s generosity. Without knowing our story, our struggles or the week had just endured, he found it in his heart to give the ball to my son and make this night the highlight of our summer. My son has been sleeping with the ball ever since. I shared the picture below with the family when we arrived home later that evening.  The crossing of our family’s path with the young boy’s family has been an enriching and fulfilling experience in and of itself.  I feel like I have been given a gift and I need to share this story.

Twin- Sleep with Ball

Now I’d like to ask your help.  Help me  honor this young boy for his generosity and selflessness.  Share this story!  I would like to highlight how little acts of kindness can really make a difference, to provide inspiration, to show how everyday people contribute to the greater good!

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Filed under Daily Grind, Deep thoughts, Proud Parents, The Caleb Times, Uncategorized

Mighty Mae: Reflection of 1-year

Dearest EllaMae (MaeMae),

12moCollage

A day as your mother is unpredictable, enlightening, adventurous, and sometime nerve-wracking.  You are a girl who is driven to do whatever she puts her mind to.  Your determination, sense of humor, and flexibility will serve you well, as you have already proven to have won the hearts of a few boys and one proud mom!  On the eve of your first birthday I reflect and capture the moments that have and will continue to shape our family story with EllaMae as the newest character.

The name EllaMae reminded me of a graceful, poignant, and sweet little girl.  Well, 1 for 3 ain’t bad I guess (Amazingly Sweet). Your personality and physique have drawn a different picture of you as a determined, head-strong, and less than delicate little princess.  Amazingly this “princess round-face” can light up a room and turns heads at locations throughout the city.  Your sincere eyes, vivacious smile and layers of love have friends, family (and even strangers) are drawn to your charismatic personality.  Your daycare friends have renamed you to “MaeMae” and the name has stuck.  Most recently, your curious and destructive nature have given you the title of “Mighty Mae.”

Having done the whole motherhood level 3 thing with your brother, I felt a bit more prepared this time.  As ignorance would have it, while you and your brother have some similarities, your differences will rival my plans.  You never took a Nuk, and no need for a mute button.  You were smart enough to know what was food, and what was just a hunk of plastic in your mouth.  As with eating there was really no reason to rely on others.  Taking things off people’s plates, spoons, or drinking from your brothers cup as needed are standard operating procedures in your manual.  Utensils are over-rated unless there is ice cream involved, in which case a few drips to the chin determine your plan of action.  Sitting (3 months), Crawling (6 months) walking (10 months), and now running, climbing all happened on a similar timeline.  However you have been able to stand from a sit without using your hands to brace or support you for quite some time.  A task many adults still struggle with.  You seem to have a considerable amount of coordination catching and balancing yourself despite obstacles that attempt to take you out at the knees.  Talented yes, although simply looking down on occasion might serve you well, or at least protect your shins from bruises!

Eating is a sport, as is riding the dog.  Both bring great joy.  Adding to the list pulling the recyclables out of the bin, climbing stairs while mom and dad aren’t looking, and bouncing to music are gaining momentum.  Most of all  you are a sincerely sweet, and entertaining little girl.  You have won the hearts and taught me lessons I didn’t know I was lacking.  You inspire me everyday to a better person, and recognize that fashion and hair accessories are over-rated.

So on this April 11th eve of 2013, I wish you many sweet dreams.  As we would typically sing (to the tune of hot-cross buns)

“EllaMae, EllaMae,
How are you, How are you?
Mommy Loves you so much, Mommy Loves you so much
Yes I do, Yes I do!

Dream big little one.
Love you more,

Mom :)

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Filed under Musings with Mae, Proud Parents

3 years of Motherhood

I’m grateful for chaos, chubby cheeks, curiosity and independence.  Cleanliness and messes, infants and toddlers.  May I not lose sight of the amazingness taking shape before my eyes and enjoy the beauty that I have created despite it’s perceived imperfections. May I learn to recognize and appreciate the moments of silence when they do exist so I am prepared to embrace the chaos later! I am grateful for the opportunity to notice and capture the little details that will add to the chapters of our life story.  Motherhood has taught me how to be a better person, my husband and children inspire me everyday, and I am eager to continue to learn and grow together.

March 1st was little man’s 3rd birthday.  I am so proud of the respectful boy that he is becoming and yet so amazed that this time has warped before my eyes (as everyone told me it would).  I have been stretched (literally, my body has done some strange things in the name of motherhood) in ways that I never imagined. While your never quite prepared for their curious thoughts and inquisitive nature, or ready for the roller coaster of the emotions, or expressions they can make their faces convey, I’m also pleasantly surprised how mature and respectful a 2-year-old can be.

Over the past 3 years I have tried to capture the little details of Caleb; His personality, interests, expressions and even his sorrow.  The transition from “only child” to “big brother” has shown me how caring, compassionate, fun and adventurous he can really be (in some ways more than I prefer). I am truly blessed to be a mom and learn life lessons from my children everyday.

To reflect on the past year, here are a series of photo collages to see how he has grown!

Little-d-Tales: Enjoying Life &emdash; "Two"Little-d-Tales: Enjoying Life &emdash; Napping with "Jack" (his rabbit)Little-d-Tales: Enjoying Life &emdash; IMG_1527Little-d-Tales: Enjoying Life &emdash; IMG_1813Little-d-Tales: Enjoying Life &emdash; IMG_2199Little-d-Tales: Enjoying Life &emdash; Little-d-Tales: Enjoying Life &emdash; IMG_2718Little-d-Tales: Enjoying Life &emdash; IMG_3196Little-d-Tales: Enjoying Life &emdash; IMG_3574Little-d-Tales: Enjoying Life &emdash; IMG_3839Little-d-Tales: Enjoying Life &emdash; IMG_3446Little-d-Tales: Enjoying Life &emdash; IMG_3776Little-d-Tales: Enjoying Life &emdash; IMG_3949Little-d-Tales: Enjoying Life &emdash; IMG_4016Little-d-Tales: Enjoying Life &emdash; IMG_4018Little-d-Tales: Enjoying Life &emdash; IMG_4192Little-d-Tales: Enjoying Life &emdash; IMG_4445Little-d-Tales: Enjoying Life &emdash; IMG_4476Little-d-Tales: Enjoying Life &emdash; IMG_4623Little-d-Tales: Enjoying Life &emdash; IMG_5075Little-d-Tales: Enjoying Life &emdash; taking his job seriouslyLittle-d-Tales: Enjoying Life &emdash; IMG_5175Little-d-Tales: Enjoying Life &emdash; IMG_4807Little-d-Tales: Enjoying Life &emdash; Is that CAKE?! Actually it's dunking cookies (oreos dunked in milk).  Not sure where he gets his big mouth from!?!Little-d-Tales: Enjoying Life &emdash; they seriously love eachother!Little-d-Tales: Enjoying Life &emdash; IMG_5683Little-d-Tales: Enjoying Life &emdash; IMG_5748Little-d-Tales: Enjoying Life &emdash; IMG_5757Little-d-Tales: Enjoying Life &emdash; IMG_5861Little-d-Tales: Enjoying Life &emdash; IMG_6051Little-d-Tales: Enjoying Life &emdash; IMG_5855Little-d-Tales: Enjoying Life &emdash; IMG_6125Little-d-Tales: Enjoying Life &emdash; IMG_7719Little-d-Tales: Enjoying Life &emdash; IMG_8023Little-d-Tales: Enjoying Life &emdash; IMG_8094Little-d-Tales: Enjoying Life &emdash; Little-d-Tales: Enjoying Life &emdash; Little-d-Tales: Enjoying Life &emdash; IMG_8592Little-d-Tales: Enjoying Life &emdash; IMG_8628Little-d-Tales: Enjoying Life &emdash; SPorting the Herb coat!Little-d-Tales: Enjoying Life &emdash; IMG_9441Little-d-Tales: Enjoying Life &emdash; IMG_9483Little-d-Tales: Enjoying Life &emdash; Sleeping in at Papa O'sLittle-d-Tales: Enjoying Life &emdash; IMG_8992Little-d-Tales: Enjoying Life &emdash; He's hunting bucksLittle-d-Tales: Enjoying Life &emdash; reacquainting with Cousin MichaelLittle-d-Tales: Enjoying Life &emdash; IMG_9188Little-d-Tales: Enjoying Life &emdash; IMG_9417

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Filed under Daily Grind, Proud Parents, The Caleb Times

The Honey-moon bucket list trip {5 year edition}

2013 will mark 5 years of marriage, which is quite entertaining since that is how this whole blog thing got started, in a big ball of wedding planning and life.  And here I am 5 years later with 2 kids an average of 2.7 blog posts per year, and the ambition of a 3-toed sloth.  To revitalize our life and jump start my once monthly tradition, I’ve decided the husband and I need a trip. A vacation of sorts where we can do things that we really want to do.  I’m calling it our bucket list trip / 5 year honeymoon.  Now before you get all hyped up and thinking we are so romantic, let me warn you Bora-Bora and Europe will need to wait for a raise.  Instead we’re hitting up Montana in winter. Given my husbands lack of travel experience and my moderate travel experience,  we decided this needed to be a trip where we could experience all kinds of new stuff together!

So what does a 5 year bucket list honeymoon include?  No kids, a amtrack excursion (first for both of us), a dinner in a yurt (first for both), skiing in the mountains of Montana (I’ve skiid in the Mountains, but not in Montana), and a dog sled ride (first for both).  And just to add something romantic to the mix, we are trying to find a place to stay with an outdoor hot tub and hope for snow while we are there!

We are headed to Whitefish, MT.  Any other ideas to add to the pre-existing mix?  Any suggestions on where to stay? Where should we eat?  Where’s the best place for a sunrise?  Best brew or local establishment to explore?  We’re game for anything.

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Filed under Random thoughts

1,055 days of Motherhood

I have been a mother for 1055 days.  There are days when I pause amidst the chaos and reflect on “what did  8 hours of sleep really felt like,” or “when was the last time I had 10 minutes completely to myself (showering doesn’t count).”  Today was one of those days. Little Miss Mae was up every 3 hours for almost an hour each time.  In her defense she’s cutting 4 teeth and is completely uncomfortable.  Little man coughed his way through the night, then all morning had snot streamers every time I turned around.  The dog is dire need of attention, this means he follows me and paces endlessly around the house, which would instigate anxiety from any relaxed person.  I shot their morning routine to hell, and realized at 10 AM we needed breakfast, I couldn’t even make pancakes right.  Might have something to do with having 2 blow outs and several snot streamers from both kids during that time.  Who knows what ingredients I missed. I was feeling sorry for myself and wanting a glimmer of hope.

Then I grabbed my camera.

I’m overdue in recognizing all that I have to be thankful for.  Check out what 3 AM looked like for me…

She has been title by many different people “the happiest baby on earth.” 99% of the time it’s true.

I need to do a bit of narrating for a bit.  I have my own photography & design company (Little-d-Tales) whose slogan is to capture the moments that tell the story of your life.  What you will not see is my lack of sleep or short fuse, instead you will see all the miraculous things that mold and shape who my daughter is at 7 1/2 months.  See how many little details (get it) you can notice in the next few photos.

Okay quiz time:

  • How many creases or rolls does Miss Mae have on her left leg?  5 is the correct number in the picture.  Trust me there are a few more under the diaper.  Did you notice the ankle roll?  I love her adorable little chubbs!  I took this picture to help me remember all the fun little rolls in the most peculiar places (wrists and ankles?!)
  • Do the length of her toes go in chronological order?  Nope, her 3rd toe is slightly longer than her 2nd toe.  She has funky toe nails too.  Why does this matter.  A little blemish of mine is the disgustingness of my feet.  My husband jokes all the time about how he hopes the kids end up with his feet!
  • Which pictures show her teeth coming in?  Actually 2 of them do.  The smiling and crying one expose different teeth.  She actually has her front 2 top teeth and front 2 bottom teeth coming in all at once.  One is more prominent on top so you only see 1 in the happy photo.  I try not to compare to my little man, but occasionally it’s interesting to me how different they are, despite how similar they look.  My little man had 4 teeth at 6 months, her’s are just starting to push through at 7 1/2, in fact the first one broke through last Thursday.
  • Based on her fabulous bed head, what do you presume her hairstyle was earlier in the day?  If you said pony tail sticking straight up on her head you would be correct.  With all that baby hair and new growth, there is hair of all different lengths.  Clips come out in .2 seconds.  Despite her longer hair, she HATES hair pretties and either pulls the out the second they go in or she fights you to the death while you attempt to put them in.  The pony tail on top of the head (think Bam-Bam) is our best option at this point, so it’s the fall back hairstyle.

These are all little pieces that we overlook in our everyday life, and yet at this age things change, develop and disappear before you have the chance to notice and appreciate it.  I have always LOVED her cry.  She puts every ounce of expression into it. Although I just noticed the bottom lip isn’t curled.  Either she was far enough into the cry or she has outgrown that too.  Gee, I hope not. Okay that was 3-4AM.

Here’s 11 AM….Bath time.  I am falling into the 2nd child trap (not having as many picture of the 2nd) as soon as EllaMae was wrapped in the towel and grinning from ear-to-ear, I realized I had a moment in front of me that I wanted to capture and share.  I should mention my husband is away for the week and misses these bambinos, so I thought of him as I sped to my camera before the moment passed. No quiz this time, just me narrating as needed.

True story, she is smiling all the time.  She smiled because she saw me with the camera.  She’s had some practice with a mom like me.  Either way I think she’s amazing.

Obviously she doesn’t sit for long now that she is moving around.  She quickly rolled to a sit an attempted to take her towel off.  Proved to be more difficult that she anticipated, so she went back to smiling for the camera.

And of course, big brother (little man) has to do whatever his sister does.  He was in the bath with all but 2 toys, which means 82 were in the tub… he noticed a few  toys on the floor.  From Miss Mae’s perspective, “thanks for pointing that out.”  Just goes to show she doesn’t let much slow her down, including a towel.

I really hope we are functioning in a judgement free zone.  I promise you that the stuff on the floor was the product of my sanity.  When both kids decided to explode out the back, douse themselves in syrup from breakfast, and the never ending snot streamers tying us all together, I opted for the least restrictive path to the bath, which meant clothes of all shapes and sizes were dropped to the floor. Getting Miss Mae dressed I decided I NEEDED this shot.  Again- no judging me or this shot.

And then there is little man! Fresh and clean.  After each bath I always snuggle him up and pretend he’s my “little papoose.” He was a bit disappointed he didn’t get a hooded towel.  We’ve been trying to transition him into big boy mode.

I had pulled out his clothes, but he was determined to dress himself.  Clearly I underestimated him.

He was so proud of putting his own socks on.  We really should celebrate our little successes more frequently.  He has taught me that.

While I was finishing up with Miss Mae, little man continued his adventures in the tub.  I was so impressed after his bath to see him in his bedroom getting dressed.  No word quite capture his determine to dress himself.

To make this story even more enlightenting ( at least to me as a mom) is not just recognizing them as individuals with unique traits and characteristics, but also as siblings.  After bath time was an attempt to have nap time.  As I tucked little man in, miss mae kept trying to get on his bed.  When I set her down they broke into squeels of excitement.  As you can see they LOVE each other!

So this Thanksgiving day I’m grateful for chaos, chubby cheeks, curiosity and independence; Siblings and parenthood.  Cleanliness and messes, infants and toddlers.  May I not lose sight of the amazingness taking shape before my eyes and enjoy the beauty that I have created despite it’s imperfections. May I learn to recognize and appreciate the moments of silence when they do exist so I am prepared to embrace the chaos later! I am grateful for the opportunity to notice and capture the little details that will add to the chapters of our life story. In the past 1055 days I have learned how to be a better person, my husband and children inspire me everyday, and I am eager to continue to learn and grow together.

Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving.  May you notice the little things that make your life grand :)

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Filed under Bundle of Joy, Exploring, Flow of Creativity