Friday, April 22, 2016

my sister.

With Mother's Day coming up, I've been thinking about the mamas that inspire me.  Right now my circle of friends consists mostly of mothers.  Many are "beginners" like me, just struggling through. Some have careers outside the home, some stay at home full time.  Some with one tiny baby, and others with a gaggle of toddlers.  All just doing our best and surviving this beautiful + hectic phase of our lives!

Although she lives across the country in Montana, I am happy to get to experience motherhood alongside my big sister, Heidi.  We were pregnant twice at the same time, and have leaned on each other for encouragement even from afar.

Growing up I pretty much idolized Heidi.  She is five years older, and has always been very likable, fun, stylish, and beautiful inside and out.

I was certainly the annoying little sister who stole her clothes, copied her hairstyles, read her diary/notes from boys, and tried to hang out with her and all her cool friends!

When Heidi went away to college all of a sudden our relationship shifted -- and the separation in living circumstances actually made us closer!  I still adored her and followed all her friendships and dating adventures with fascination...but she definitely embraced her role of big sis to me then, when I wasn't underfoot and in her biz!
When Heid got married and moved across the country (and I started college) we amazingly got EVEN closer!  I don't even know how it happened but sisterhood somehow deepened into friendship.
with our mama, 2001,  makeupless (er, as much as we get!) post-canoe trip!  #beautybag #thehut
Easter 2015 - fourteen years later!
My sister was a teacher for years before she and her hubby decided to have kids.  Throughout the coming years they struggled through several miscarriages...and I felt Heid's heartache through it all, just as I experience her joy during happy times.  I listened to her announce to me with excitement when she learned of a pregnancy...and then call me again to share the news of sorrow of another baby going up to heaven. She dealt with it with prayer and strength in Jesus.  Her faith and transparency in such a difficult time was pretty incredible to me.

Now, she is a mama to four beautiful kiddos, juggling an age range of 2 to 10, complete with a packed calendar packed with school, sports, and church activities.
my gorgeous sister and her beautiful family of six
Heidi chose to stay at home full-time, just as our own mama did, and just as, coincidentally, I also did.  This definitely is financial sacrifice, particularly for their family.  She does try to squeeze in babysitting and substitute teaching to help out, which I am completely amazed by given how busy her family is!  They make it work - again, by trusting in God, who always seems to provide.

I could share lots of fun and embarrassing photos of me and my big sis...but instead I'll just say how happy I am to have such an awesome example of a mother in her.  Strong yet kind.  Soft-hearted, yet firm in her faith.

I love you, sister!  I am glad your daughters will have each other just like we always did!

+ + + + + + + + 

Got an inspiring mama in your life?  
Surprise her with a gift card from Stitch Fix for Mother's Day!  
I've enjoyed using this service for the past year (read about my Fixes here) and it's a fun way to surprise a busy mama with some lovely clothing/accessories!
Click the photo below to get started!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

the beach.

Last week we had the opportunity to spend a week at the beach with part of Hubby's side of the family -- our first vacation with them ever!  There is always a little nervousness at the prospect of spending a week with extended family - or any big group - especially when it involves children.

I needn't have worried about this trip, though.  It went about as well as it could go when you have toddlers, babies, and various family units cohabiting in one house for a week!  It was very relaxed, as we didn't really make a lot of plans.  We ate all our dinners at "home" together as a big group, while the rest of the meals were grab-and-go, depending on where we were at the time.

Though the weather was rainy some days, cloudy and windy others, with a bit of sunshine here and there - not ideal beach weather - we still found things to do and enjoy our time together!  We found a big park with huge playground for the kids, tried to get to the beach whenever it was decent out, hit up a couple state parks, and I even got some "alone time" -- which I spent buried in bed,  alternating between napping and reading Harry Potter.  Bliss!  Oh, and I even got in a few rainy runs on the beach.  

Took a ton of pics, per usual.  Here is a small sampling!   I'll let them and their captions give you a glimpse of our week...
en route to the beach - rest area shenanigans.

tiny daisies.
bouquet from cormac.
"Are we there yet???"
we made it!  the first day was the sunniest!
sister pic!
The sand was a big hit with both littles.  Particularly Fin who likes to immerse herself fully in nature.
Paul dragged both kids into the waves.  Neither liked it at all.
our home for the week

Had a few Alfred Hitchcock moments after Finola fed some seagulls a Pringle 

beach snuggles with dada.

Almost everyone loves to swing...
Hugo the turtle got chased around the nature center quite a bit that day.
at the nature center we found during a park outing. 
learning to be gentle with the baby ducks.
the kids put on the sweetest performance of 'Let it Go' from Frozen.

we clearly have some little performers in our family.
"Good night Gulf Shores!!!!!!" 

Despite her cold, Sloane was a joy to be around.  Got my baby fix!!!!
Emmie took this pic of Paul and Fin -- love the daddy/daughter dancing moment she captured.
had to flag down the creepy ice cream truck for a treat!
Date night!  The fam watched our babies so we got a night out! Ate yummy seafood at this little spot on a super windy evening!  Then we went to see a movie...because that is what we do.  Dead Pool was so good!
gumbo and beer.
fat delicious oysters.
Jen is so good at getting cute pics of her girls!!!!  Even on a windy beach day!
Fin - and see Hubby waaaaaay in the background with his boogy board?
These two beauties are only ten months apart and giggled together quite a bit on this trip...especially the night Cormac fell asleep early!
"Can't you see I totally got this, Uncle Ben?"
Fin had fun throwing sand back into the ocean.
Cormac was not into the ocean...but threw his heart into collecting a bucketful of seashells.  Love that kid.
Some of Cormac's beach spoils.  
can I just say that the selfie stick does wonders for getting kids to smile for photos????
I took a run on the beach the last day - despite the rain I still enjoyed some sand in my toes.
after checking out a million beach houses I decided I like the pale pink ones the best.  this beauty needs some love but so fab!
the gulf on that last rainy run.
Bye bye beach!  We had fun!
After saying goodbyes and checking out of the beach house our little fam drove halfway home and did one of our favorite things -- hotel + pool + pizza.  Thankfully our kids seem to love it as much as we do.  Cormac's questions about hotel rules were kinda awesome.  And Finola only called the front desk about thirty times...and wiped pizza sauce on the white duvet.  Good times!
The next morning we drove back to real life.
I'm blessed to be able to spend both vacation and normal everyday life with some pretty sweet folks.
driving home -- we loved vacay!