This Labor Day weekend, we celebrate our little Labor Day arrival, Emma! My on-time twin (came on her due date, Labor Day) which was both ironic and wonderful all at once. I cannot believe you, my love, are already 5!
Emma is a loving, charming, adorable little lady with big puppy dog eyes when she decides to use them 🙂 She has always made life easier and sweeter, the most easy going girl. She loves fun, friends, little figurines, using her imagination, and is the best conversationalist. She really sees people, no matter age or walk of life, and can connect with them. I admire that about her so much.
She loves to play puppy dog, unicorn, baby cicada (truly, and yuck lol), and horsies. Emma adores her family, will literally weep with you or laugh with you, whatever emotion you might have. And she feels it. As a baby, her eyes were so captivating, she felt so wise, even though she was probably just making a BM. Regardless, she is like that now! Wise beyond her five little years.
We are so blessed to enjoy Emma each day, she is a true highlight and brings us all so much love, comfort, laughter, and joy. I hope her next year is filled with wonder, growth, and all the giggles 🤭 we love you Emma!
This year, James birthday was a sweet regular Thursday surrounded with some of his favorite fans (his students), notes and trinkets from family friends near and far, a homemade cake with the kids at home (we didn’t even cut it, hehe), and the perfect gift (imho) for someone entering their older 30’s – a massage gun 💥
James is one of the most magnetic people I know, and I like to think he can crack literally any nut. He brings so much thoughtfulness and care to those around him and inspires me to be a better friend everyday. I used to gush about him in my early blogging days (this one is ten years ago!) quite a bit, but for good reason. But also lol.
He brings so much masculine Italian energy to the world. From talking with his hands, to cooking, to familia love and literally taking the shirt off his back for someone, to passion, to exquisite taste. I mean.. I can picture it now – are we already sipping limoncello at Villa San Michele? Either way, he embodies so much of love, compassion, and generosity.
He has accomplished so much in our life together, it blows me away. Pursuing higher education later in life and to now being at the finish line for his Master’s! So many long nights of juggling and dedication to show up for himself and for something he always desired. And then giving his life and knowledge and love away to teach and care for his students every day.
His faith bolsters us all, and he helps us to keep looking to our North Star with every ounce of himself, a great reminder that we have a greater purpose in life. I just can’t say enough about what he continues to become. I cannot be more grateful to celebrate the love of my life, and best friend. Happy 3-7!
And by BTS I mean “back to school” .. not the Bangtan boys, though I do love their mashup with Coldplay. My friends, Georgians don’t mess around with a long summer. We were back to school August 8th, no lie. Though we technically get out in May and enjoy as full a summer as the next, it is strange to go back that early. Though, I have to say I was ready. There are only so many ways to occupy young students of the world in an off-routine, wild and crazy summer. Of which we had one of the best! But to respectfully contradict the words of Alice Cooper, school is indeed not out forever. Phew!
As I think over Luke entering 3rd grade, Kate in 1st, Emma in her last year of Pre-K, and Jordan rounding us out in the 3’s class, I am both shooketh and proud as they embrace their new school-year. And we also celebrate James as he continues his amazing work as a teacher. And an incredibly debonair one at that 🔥 Happy school year, folks!
This summer, we decided to treat the kids with a cross-country road trip back to where we started from, and by that of course I mean, California. Can you hear it now? Our entire fam belting that song, surrounded by poppy-lined roads as we cross the border into the state and cheers with our In-N-Out milkshakes?
In all reality, we evaded a wildfire by the hair of our chinny-chin-chins as we neared our last destination (Flagstaff, AZ) and hurriedly scurried cross the border, gave a little shout-out as we crossed the border (and a moment of silence for $7/gallon gas prices, wah!), and jammed down to Orange County so we could miss as much of the LA/OC traffic as humanly possible 😆
All things considered, I was so excited to come visit! There were friends, family, and so many things we’ve missed, and especially that refreshing ocean air as you frolic barefoot in the sand, warm sun on your back, watching that lingering fog just hanging a few miles away, giving off coolest summer breeze that I so adore. You know, just as an example.
I have to toot our horn here, because I’d venture to say that we have become top-notch road-trippers. James was the master of the driving domain, and of navigating the quickly-changing weather, which was especially dicey between Arkansas and Oklahoma. Luke trained and recruited the car as “red light/green light noticers”, calling out any remote shift of traffic lights. I came in with the reservation muscle, booking hotels and premium SUV’s at will (we’re welcome!). And then we all mastered eating on the fly and savoring stunning sunsets/sunrises.
We made our way from Atlanta to Memphis, Memphis to Amarillo, Amarillo to Flagstaff (so wished we could have stopped here), and then down to ye ole stomping grounds in Orange County, namely Costa Mesa. Family time was next level. We had so many great memory moments down at the beach, hanging around the house with grandma, aunties, uncles, and cousins, swimming, all the doggies, shopping and treats, pedicures, and movie nights. I mean.. these kids had so much fun. We also thoroughly enjoyed the fancy massage chair with all the bells and whistles, free to use at-will. My calves will never be the same.
Then we took the 101 up to Santa Cruz, our favorite route with all the sweeping ocean views. I feel like we’ve driven it hundreds of times, and if not, we’re probably close. Between jaunting back-and-forth when I was in school, different trips to visit family, vacation, etc. Many of them, James and I ♥️ And also, strangely, almost to the date when we had left just one year ago! As we neared our California hometown, I was curious how they’d take it all in. I was a little shocked at how much the kids still had every corner memorized down to the buildings and streets, even Emma and Jordy. We toured my mom’s newly-remodeled house, aggressively retrieved some of my favorite coffee around, and settled in.
In Santa Cruz, we visited with family, beach days and play dates with friends, long walks and sunsets on the beach just James and I, squeezed in some lengthy walks, park days, more family, and scored with multiple date nights(!).. such a highlight. Besides messing up my knee like a ding dong, this was a special time. I came away having great appreciation for the things I love about my ESSC roots (lol, that is strangely accurate), but also major love for our new phase and new town, and thankful to get to enjoy both. Although the long trip back (moment of silence for our stressful Chattanooga experience), crazy monster thunderstorms in the last hours of our trip, and mosquito bites upon our arrival home reminded us to stay humble.
Jordan turned three! We rang his birthday in with all the Super Mario trinkets and accessories possible, which filled him with all the three-year-old awe and wonder you could hope for. He really went hard in the paint for Mario last year and hasn’t looked back, which makes us giggle because James made a strong push for “Mario” as a name. You’re welcome, son – I’ve got your back!
It’s been a minute since I’ve gotten to muse about this wild, precious, lovable boy. What to say! Well, Jordan does not fit the mold, and I adore him for it. He decided to stir things up being the fourth child that he is, because any parenting methods that “worked” with our other kids, he typically won’t accept (lol). He has given us the chance to figure things out in a different way, and I mean that, and we are better for it. Life after Jordan has flipped the script in a lot of ways. Isn’t it funny to get to your fourth child, and think for a half a second that you’ve got your mom game figured out? Har-dee-har-har, as they say.
Jordan, or Jordy, is a grand recipe of sweet and tender, goofy, tenacious, willful and persistent, and the master of snuggles, many of which I am on the receiving end of ♥️ He loves MUSIC and is specific about his genres and artists (Jack Johnson is still a fave, and they’re almost birthday twins), football (saying “Let’s go man!”), going to preschool, snacks, riding his bike, reading, washing the dishes while I cook, LOVES the beach, and stealthily sneaking any electronic device he can get his hands on.
Jordan is so endlessly curious, and helps all of us slow down and be curious, too. He has this great ability to see people clearly and read their emotions, he’s been so near and dear to anyone in their tough time, even in his three short years. I can’t wait to see how much you’ll grow over this next year, bud – we all adore you and love you. Happy Birthday!
As I sit here listening to Toto and thinking about my 8-year-old big kid (you, Luke!), I can’t help but smile. Luke has been our buddy through all of life’s experiences for the last 8 years. Luke has so much spunk, kindness, thoughtfulness, rampant energy, hunger (proverbially and physically), and true tenacity, all wrapped up in what we can only describe as pure Opie Taylor energy. With freckles and strawberry-blonde hair for days, when the belt is buckled, the shirt is tucked, the hands in the pockets, I simply want to hand him a fishing line and send him off to the creek (I’m sure there’s one around here).
It’s easy to celebrate our Luke, he is an excellent big brother, kind friend, worthy competitor and companion. He tests us at times, but at the height of frustration, busts us up with laughter, which usually is to his advantage (though, sometimes not). I don’t have the words to encapsulate my feelings about having an 8-year-old, this dude was just a baby, our first. But he’s an excellent one. And I couldn’t be more thankful to walk around this world and this life with him. We are truly blessed and adore this boy, happy birthday buddy!
Our twinkling little lady is six! I never tire of birthday posts. They have a knack for leaving me in pieces without fail. Kate turned six and I can’t remember a person more thrilled to have a birthday, except maybe the last child to have a birthday in our family 😅 but her excitement was palpable! There was internal fanfare for months and now that we’ve arrived, she’s already counting on six and a half.
Kate’s birth was always something supernatural for me. There was so much peace and welcome newness when she arrived. I was also thankful to experience natural birth and a VBAC with Kate, which was an instant and divine gift. She came right away with a sweetness and delight. And she remains as such!
Kate has a gift of really seeing people, not letting the fluff get in the way. She loves to make others feel incredibly special and she makes sure they know it. Meeting a person is just an invitation for her to start thinking about what gift, card, or personal belonging she will give them. She transcends all the card making skills I ever possessed, and rivals all my Swiss card makers, and yes that is a thing.
She has so much artistic flair. There are so many odds and ends she has made for me, and the cutest tiny pictures with so much care and character. I’m loving watching how bright she has become up close as I watch her learn in kindergarten this year. While she dramatically sighs when I pull out an activity sheet for her, even more dramatically with a flick of her wrist and pencil, the sheet is complete! Mission accomplished. She has a knack for that!
We are so grateful for our little love who lights up our lives, happy birthday Kate!
Hooray for a change of scenery. We had so much fun visiting Lake Oconee last weekend and celebrating Emma’s 4th birthday. We haven’t been ready for too much driving and exploration since the cross country drive in June, but we couldn’t pass up a chance to see a new part of Georgia, in this case middle Georgia. We wined, we dined, watched sparkly sunrises, read, took multiple baths in the huge spa tub, and watched some college football! I realized how strange it felt to take a little trip, since we haven’t done much of any traveling since the pandemic, and this first half of the year, all our focus was on hammering out our move.
We found a sweet chocolate cake for Emma’s birthday dinner and a local butter pecan ice cream, since pecans are a homegrown thing here. She is one of the best people to give things to and celebrate, she just makes it might be the BEST thing that’s ever happened. She is so grateful and bubbly about it all. We trekked up with various gifts from faraway fam and also did some unicorn decorations when we arrived, she was in pure awe. Aren’t four year olds fun?
It is a labor of love to take trips anywhere with kids, but I’m determined to get better at it. This was surprisingly smooth at times! Luke, Kate, and Emma could all sleep in the loft in the three twin beds which is still a shocker for me. Then again Jordan deciding to be able to climb out of pack-n-plays and cribs probably made up for all of it 😂 we tried that crib in every room until he was too tuckered out to try anymore. Whew!
Here are a few cozy pics from the trip, we basically were expert loungers for a good portion of it. There was some tooth-losing, football lakeside, shore exploring, and always coffee! We did some balcony and sunset watching too. And driving round the lake, seeing some incredibly beautiful homes and scenery. And nap time, because what else do you expect with a two year old in tow heh!?
Luke turned the big ol’ age of SEVEN months ago and I’ve been drafting this post since. Let’s pretend it’s disbelief, but probably it’s purely the chaos that has been our last six months, a story for another post. Whatever the case, enough time has passed that Jordy also turned TWO in the meantime. I have to say, reflecting on life in this space is incredibly valuable to me. And while it becomes far less frequent, the depths of these posts that I’ve written over the years for and about James and the kids are everything to me. It takes me back to that very specific spot in time, the entire experience of those moments that we enjoyed, lived through, felt blessed by, or maybe, just barely survived. And sometimes I cringe, and that’s really okay. Either way, it is a treasure trove to our family story.
LUKE IS SEVEN
This guy. A friend til the end. Luke is the most steady, patient, kind, tenacious, long-suffering kid. I can really spill my heart to him and he is so understanding, maybe not always grasping the whole picture, but he just gets that human side of things. He is insightful, aware of others, and I can see him wanting to make people feel safe at every turn. He is as active and athletic as all get out and thrives in pushing himself physically; there’s a verging on crazy drive to master things is in Luke. It’s so exciting to see his talents and passions unfold day after day as he discovers more about the world. My dear boy, you are growing in a million ways right before our eyes. It’s hard to believe in six months we will be staring eight in the face. Luke makes us so proud and brings us so much joy. He lights up our family and we pray the feeling is mutual 🙂
JORDAN IS TWO
This sweet boy really deserves a last year run down, at least an 18-month-er. We all adore our baby bear Jordan. He is such a curious, brave, strong, capable little boy. He walks to the beat of his own drum and I am wracking my brain to remember a time when he was afraid. How can this be?! I can’t think of anything. He has given us the most shocks with his quick growth and ability to do things overnight that we didn’t know he could. He is in that investigative phase, where he will inspect and be curious about anything and everything. He has always and continues to love music. We’ve actually had to wean him from certain albums. He lives life to the ultimate fullest and just brings so much sweet love to our crew.
To our little love, Emma, happy birthday! We adore you baby girl! Emma always surprises us with her sweetness and flexibility in life. She brings joy almost everywhere she goes. A little animal or a small scene she’s set up is like the beginning of a magical world to her. She has such a specific love for people and things, and remembers so many minute details about them.
I see all the things she’s learning week by week come to life, and she sees them everywhere (like the letter “h” in a shadow on the ground just today). And we spend much of our time together in learning songs, she will always sing along. I also realized we do role play all the time, “unicorn needs her medicine!” Or “doctors always wear their masks” to get her to keep hers on 😆
Emma is just so attuned to our little world and her family, she cares for us all so carefully and so deeply. She is by far the best smoocher of our bunch, says hi to every person we pass on walks and could possibly make anybody in the world feel joy. I totally believe it. Emma, you love your world so sweetly, we adore you dear girl. You make our lives better ❤️
Well, it’s been a minute but I thought it was a good time to start keeping my dear wordy and wildly emotional online journal. And the big news, especially as far as a journal would be concerned, is that we’ve moved! Out of state! Yes, we have ended up in the land of peaches, sweet tea, Outkast, and summer rainstorms, otherwise known as Atlanta, Georgia (or the metropolitan area therein). A move has been in the works for us for a while, but nailing down where and when has been the big question. Through the process of 2020 and the months that followed, we ran over and over through different job opportunities, schools, locations, and in Spring, we sent James off to a few interviews here in Atlanta.
It is a process of the highest effort, brain space, emotion, prayer, organization, and nearly miraculous parenting to pull off. Historically, we do not shy away from a challenge, and apparently this was an exercise in making sure that’s true 😂 This has been the hugest challenge, with so many moving pieces and aspects. I wish I could say I’d be writing some follow-up posts (‘Five tips for moving cross-country with 4 kids under 7’) but I’ll spare you. It has been a will to survive at times. For example, driving cross-country with 4 children. Or arriving to find our house has no washer or dryer (pictures lied!) and waking up to vomiting children the very next day. Or being sick and getting lost at 3AM on the way back from the Urgent Care. For a second there, I thought Georgia was going to chew us up and spit us back out 😂 But we weathered a few of those storms and have a little Georgia grit now (well, maybe..) and we’re getting our footing now.
Regardless of those regular life hiccups, we are so thankful to be here, and honestly, it was totally worth the efforts. There is so much we do already miss in California, but we already have a beautiful friend group that is here, James gets to again be at school with the big kids, there is so much to explore and see, and there’s so much vibrancy here. The South is truly charming and the hospitality is real, people are so friendly. I had no idea Atlanta was the city in a forest, we live in the trees! I take so much comfort in that (feels so familiar) and I even woke this morning to fog (textbook coastal California).
We are unsure of the amount of time we’ll be here or the long-haul plan, but we’re really happy and thankful. I see so much opportunity here for us, in our goals, enjoyment, faith, family time. I have always had an itch to live somewhere else and so in some ways, this feels like a long time coming. We can’t wait to explore more and more of the gems around us. Sitting here in my new home office and looking around, I can’t believe we actually went through with it, and it’s been a pretty amazing adventure so far. More to come!
This girl. She is a party and a half, and one of our snuggliest. And sneakily turned five on me. She’s joy bottled, always creative, ponders life so deeply and is such a wonderful processor. She asks the most insightful questions in real time and always gets us with her thoughts on life, one of these beyond her years folks I think. But she also is good at reminding us she’s only 5! Giggles, tea parties, arts and crafts, fort building, princesses sometimes (ha) and a million books each night.
With each child, we can benchmark the milestones in our lives that took place as each one came on the scene, and Kate came at a pressing time. She was early, almost like we needed her presence and cuddles and sweetness all the more. But since then she has brought laughter, thoughtfulness, friendship and warmth to our family. She is so hospitable, thinking of the little things and details that not everybody would see. She is so struck when someone thinks of her, and I can see she is built that way, thinking of how to bless others and give them out of whatever she has. I can’t believe the fifth year is here and I’m holding on tight for the big exciting things this year will bring for her. Love this sweet girl!
Christmas pretty much began back on October 31, when, for the first time, James and I became avid Hallmark Christmas movie watchers. We didn’t see it coming, but we didn’t see anything this year coming, so we went with it, and we are hooked. Nothing like a predictable love story a la Lacey Chabert to wind ya down at night! In my apparent evolution into tried and true grandma, I’ve also become wildly enthralled by going to bed early. It’s almost exciting. And with Jordan on a steady diet of 530am wake ups with full energy, ready to climb on tables, which he does, it’s become necessary. But however offensive that hour has been, when I’ve had enough sleep, it’s the sweetest hour. And possibly the quietest. Which is somewhat of an unusual experience with four babes 6 and under.
My hands down 2020 must haves have been an exorbitant amount of coffee and popcorn. What are yours?? Coffee is great for kick starting my morning, an afternoon pep and summed up with a nice evening jolt. Truly it’s a massive problem, I will need a proper detox someday and look forward to functioning normally again. Popcorn can be utilized likewise. With all the popcorn and coffee, I did find I was much too busy for frivolous things like social media so I took a nice 6 month break. But really though, I needed a break. In its place, I did some online learning, listened to a ton of podcasts, and I maybe have a masters now, heh. It’s been nice, so freeing as they say. I’m often inching closer to throwing my iPhone in the ocean (or somewhere more eco friendly) and doing away with the whole thing, unplugging completely, writing letters, using a day planner and keeping a diary..
Had you heard the royals do this? I’ve watched the Crown and many documentaries over the years, but the members of the royal family are often keeping a diary, making entries daily! They are later submitted to the Queen’s archive and accessed for certain purposes. I stopped journaling when I grew out of my Lisa Frank stage, but I’m sure it’d be gold to go through now. I may need another fluorescent furry lock and key diary again someday soon.. recommendations welcome.
Back to Christmas. The kids enjoyed the advent season this year, however strange it was. I’ve noticed that a lot of life has been increasingly low key for us with the way things currently are. The typical pandemic outing has become so difficult to navigate with littles. We’ve been home so much, trying to explore new corners of our house and yard, hoping it’ll feel fun and different day to day. Some days feel a bit boring in comparison to only one year ago, when day trips, eating out and going to the park were so normal. Parties, date nights out with friends, feast days at church, grocery trips with the whole family, or just the normal beach walk and stopping to see whatever familiar face. Remember that? It’s not that any of this is impossible now, it’s just all so different. The kids are aware of it too, and they know how much work it is and how unique it is to just freely spend time with others in this current time. I found myself laying low this Christmas and hanging on for a more communal holiday season in the future.
So here are a few snaps of the last month or so. Everyone is growing and sprouting unnecessarily fast and we have another year of birthdays about to unload which I will gawk at constantly—how are you 7!? 5?! 4?! 2?! That’s what is about to happen my friends. Wild.
I hope you are safe out there, healthy and enjoying yourself endlessly this holiday season. Or as much as you can. And I hope you enjoy your last few days of this 2020 year. I am rolling the dice and praying this next one is a wee bit better. ❤️
My little love turned three earlier this month. These toddler birthdays are truly the sweetest! The realization that they are the special birthday person is pure joy, and the siblings excitement just made it that much more fun. Emma has been easy peasy happy since the day she was born. We always talk about how spoiled we were with the easiest third child. She would go anywhere, sleep anywhere, nurse anywhere, and would let me wear her at any point. It’s hard to believe how obvious their personalities are right from the start, and this was the case with Emma. The last year we have seen her completely become a little girl, no longer a toddler. We still call her one of the babies, but she is a little girl in every sense.