Thursday, May 30, 2013

Memories of Edisto Past

We are headed to the beach next week for our annual Luton family beach vacation. 

We are very lucky in that my hub's uncle owns a house right on the beach in Edisto, where we travel each summer with my hub's parents, his sibs, their spouses, and their babies. This week is so special to me in large part because I know my children will have memories of the same beach house, at the same beach, playing with cousins, and spending time surrounded by love and laughter. And I'll have all of those same memories, too.

So. Of course, as any week goes before anyone takes a vacation, things are a little crazy around these parts this week as we prepare for our trip. Nonetheless, I thought one more post, looking back over the last few beach trips to Edisto, would be a fun send off!

So. Here we go! Back to Edisto:

Edisto 2010: Banks was just a young fella, at the ripe ol' age of 8 months old, the first time we took him to Edisto. Just looking through all of the old photos makes me feel so happy and sad at the same time: It is just so hard to believe he was once this little! But that was such a special trip, one I'll treasure forever.

Blue-eyed boy, excited for the beach!

Nana/Cousin playtime indoors

Checking out the ocean views with cousin Brantley, who turned 1 about two weeks after this trip

Who doesn't love a good beach nap?!

My boy and me 

This face. This pose. I die. 

Edisto 2011: Banks was just two months shy of turning 2 when we went to Edisto the following summer. It was so, so fun to watch him run up and down the beach, chasing seagulls and playing with his cousins. And the blonde curls. Oh, how I loved those blonde curls!!

Beach bum.

Snuggles for Cousin Maddie.

Baseball with Cousin Chandler during a break from the beach.

My handsome boys.

There is very little I enjoy more than being surrounded by little ones. 

The three amigos: Cousins Maddie and Brantley with Banks.

Edisto 2012: Raleigh's first trip to Edisto! Our sweet baby girl joined us for her first trip to the beach last year, when she was just 5 months old. In typical Raleigh fashion, she was a laid back beach babe, clearly enjoying her vacation and fun in the sun. And Banks loved the beach more than ever before, building sand castles, jumping waves, hitting golf balls down the beach, and soaking up family time. 

Naps with Daddy: An almost daily occurrence last year. 

Three amigos, back at it again.

My sweet baby girl, relaxing on the beach.

The big kids, patiently waiting for the porch pool to fill.

Pop is always a trooper, letting the littles bury him in the sand.

My precious, then almost-3-year-old, whose hair is now curl-less and the EXACT same shade as his Daddy's.

Our Nana, with her three little chickadees.

My bald beauty (and me)

Our family of four, Edisto 2012. 

You've got big shoes to fill, 2013, but we're ready for you!!

In true vacation fashion, I fully intend to take the next week or so off from blogging but will be back soon with vacation-overload photos, stories, and more. 

Cheers to summer, cheers to vacation, cheers to Edisto! 

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Best Surprise Of My Life

In January 2009, I received the biggest shock of my life. The biggest shock of our lives. The best shock of our lives. 

We couldn't wait to share our shocking news with the world. This was the pre-Pinterest era, and we wanted to share our news in a big, bold, fun, and creative way. So. Inspired by a scene from one of my favorite movies, Love Actually, the following video was created with much love, excitement, and anticipation. I know I am biased, but it is my favorite video of all time. And the song still makes me tear up, every time I hear it:

I will treasure this video, and the indescribable promise of what lay ahead, always. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Doe Bhahts!!

We closed out our first teeball season last weekend. 

It felt like such a right of passage, as a momma of a little boy, to end our first season. It seems like the first practice was just yesterday. But. Alas. The season has come and gone. 

Some of my favorite memories from our first teeball season: 

  • Seeing my little buddy in his teeball uniform for the first time

  • Watching an excited group of boys meet their head coach (my hub) for the first time 

  • Watching little athletes get distracted by dirt approximately every 5 seconds of each game

  • Seeing the entire team go darting after the ball every.single.time it was hit. Not just one player. Every single player. Running after the same ball. No matter where they were standing on the field. No matter which direction the ball was hit. I laughed every.single.time., too. 
  • And getting to see those same sweet little teeball players hanging on the bench in the dugout, ready for their turn at bat

  • Watching baby sister proudly cheering on her big brother, alongside her momma, yelling "Doe Bhats!" (toddler translation: "Gooooo Banks!") all throughout the games

  • Having all the grandparents as well as several other family members come to proudly and loudly cheer on our little buddy

  • Seeing the oh-so-excited reactions from little teeballers after they learned they would be receiving both ice cream AND trophies after their final game

  • Attempting to get eleven 3-year-old boys to smile at the camera at once

  • Watching a proud daddy hand his son his first teeball trophy. Just awesome.

Memories that are forever etched in my mind. It really was a great season seeing these little players learn to run the bases (in the right order!), hit balls off tees, catch and throw accurately, and just have fun together, as a team. 

And with that, I will proudly proclaim, one last time, GO EXPRESS!!!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Beachin' It With Babes

I'm pretty sure just about every person on the entire planet loves a good beach vacation, no? 

The sound of the waves dancing along the shore in a beautiful, rhythmic fashion. The feeling of the hot sun spreading its warmth across slightly sandy legs. Seeing the ocean water ebb and flow, ebb and flow, dancing across the coast. Tasting the salty air and rinsing it down with ice cold water. And ice cold beer. Feeling the gentle breeze oh-so-lightly kiss tanned cheeks. Falling in and out of the best kind of naps--beach naps. 

Hearing the shouts of "Momma! Mom! Mommy! Mom! Mom! Mommy! Mom! Momma!" over and over and over and over again. 


You mean that sound doesn't totally relax you? You mean all you mommas out there are no longer able to take the best kind of naps--beach naps--as you see fit? You mean you have less than 0.5 seconds to soak in the sun from the comfort of a lounge chair and instead are changing diapers (while silently praying the flimsy ol' swim dipe is NOT full of poop),  applying sunscreen, wiping sand from baby hands, cleaning salt water out of burning eyes, re-applying sunscreen, finding seashells...yet again, filling sippy cups, cleaning up snack messes, answering inquisitive pre-schooler questions about all things beach, helping toddlers avoid stepping on jellyfish, and putting on sun hats that have been tossed to the ground again and again and again? You mean THAT doesn't totally relax you?

Yeah. I guess those oh-so-relaxing beach vacations are for the birds anyway, right? Right?


Now that I am 3.5 years into this mommahood thing, and will be taking my fourth beach trip as a momma in less than two weeks, I thought I'd offer up some tips/advice/ideas that I've gathered along the way. I am by no means a momma-expert nor a beach expert. Just a momma who has accrued a few beach trip notches in my belt. 

And now, without further adieu, how to (semi-, somewhat, kind of, sort of) successfully beach it with babes:

  • One-piece or two? After my sweet little girl was born, I felt strongly that she should wear only one-piece bathing suits. I mean, she was just a baby. It felt wrong to parade her around in a bikini. So. She wore one-pieces all last summer. And then, I quickly realized, I had made a rookie mistake. A big rookie mistake. You see, while it does still feel a little wrong to me to put my baby in a two-piece swim suit, what I didn't realize at the time, as a new momma to a baby girl, is how much harder it is to change a diaper when your baby girl is wearing a one-piece. A wet one-piece. A wet one-piece that is coated in sticky beach sand. You see, the entire swimsuit has to come off for a diaper change. And, considering how frequently little itty bitty babies need diaper changes, this seriously cuts into beach time. So, this summer, my girl will, for the most part, be rockin' two-pieces in the hopes of decreasing time per diaper change and increasing time per fun-in-the-sun.
  • Sandy bodies. Smart mommies. Oh, Pinterest. What did we ever do without you? Feel a little less threatened and a little more secure in our home decor/children activities/workout routines/outfit choices? Absolutely. But, Pinterest, you are also a fabulous place to find genius, who-the-heck-knew-that ideas for any and everything we need to make the most of beach trips. One of the best tips I've found on Pinterest to date? Baby powder easily removes sand. Sticky sand. Sticky sand that covers every square inch of a child's body post-beach day. So. I highly recommend you throw some baby powder in your beach bag. It is certainly a staple in mine!
  • Bald beauties. Doesn't this go without saying? Sun hats are a MUST for little ones. Especially bald little ones. Like my little girl was during her first trip to the beach last summer. Of course, I slathered her sweet bald head in sunscreen, but I am always the paranoid momma who is worried I missed a spot during pre-beach sunscreen lathering. So. Sun hats are a must. But more importantly, sun hats with CHIN STRAPS are a must. Because, as any well-versed momma knows, if the chin strap is missing, so, too, will your sanity be after picking up and putting on the non-chin-strapped hat, that has been thrown to the sand, for the thousandth time in 10 minutes.
  • Covering all the bases. Tents. Tents, tents, tents. I must take a moment to thank my hub's hardcore Clemson tailgating ways for the tent that, not only is the crucial element for any good 90+ degree Clemson tailgate, but is also the means by which we are able to spend an entire day on the beach with young children. Because the sun gets hot. Babies get tired. And the large-and-in-charge tent provides all the shade and coverage needed to ensure a full day at the beach is possible. And comfortable.
  • Ain't no party like a stationary party. Heading to the beach with a non-mobile baby, or one in the early stages of mobility, can be easily aided by packing a few stationary devices to keep him/her comfortable and entertained. Last summer, when my baby girl was a wee 5 months old, we took a bouncer chair and travel swing, which were great for elevating her so that she could see the ocean and lay comfortably. But also a must-have? Enter, stage left, the KidCo Go-Pod. This brilliant device allows baby to stand, is easily transportable, and has little notches where you can clip on baby toys. An awesome device that can be utilized in many settings and doesn't break the bank. Highly recommend!
  • Soak it in. As I learned when my Banks was just a wee lad, swim diapers do not, and I repeat do not, hold pee well. Duh. If they did, they would puff up all regular-diaper-like after getting wet by pool or ocean water. However, I didn't think about that simple fact in the early days of being a momma when taking my firstborn out for a swim to a local pool. So, by the time we got there, the carseat was soaked in the urine that was not well-held by the swim diaper. Take home message? Try to change your babe into his/her swim dipe as you pull up to, or are walking out on, the beach.
  • Shady business. Sunglasses. Don't forget the sunglasses! Because they are just adorable on kiddos. But also? In our unique case, helpful for a little girl with anisocoria and whose eyes are thus especially sensitive to sunlight. Sounds like a good excuse to buy a few extra pair to me. :) 
  • Smart cartin' it. Last year, a few weeks before leaving for our annual beach trip, I ordered a beach cart. Initially, my husband balked at the idea and price and was none too happy when I informed him I had already made the purchase. But then? You know what happened? He totally ate his words. Yup. He acknowledged that it had been a good purchase after all, as we were able to throw allllllll of our beach gear in it and pull it easily through the sand. And by allllll, I mean multiple beach bags, small coolers, beach chairs, toys, floats, etc., etc., etc. Awesome. Another highly recommended product and a good investment for those who take annual beach trips.
  • Sandy seats. Remember that bullet point about stationary devices? Yeah, well, when all else fails, just carve a chair in the sand, throw a towel or sand blanket on top of that bad boy, and call it a day. 
  • Don't be a fool. Bring a pool. One of my favorite tips: Whenever possible, bring a baby pool for non-ocean swim (and sand removal!) for the littles. Sometimes, kiddos just want to splish-splash in a kiddie pool rather than jump ocean waves. And the win-win? It is very easy for mommas to pull a chair up next to the pool and catch a few rays while the littles splash to their hearts content. I think small inflatable pools are much easier to travel with, and very easy to transport directly to the beach, but plastic tub versions are fun, too!
  • Dollar store dreams. As if I need to say this, but don't forget to pack beach toys galore. Luckily, any Walmart, Target, or Dollar Store has beach toys galore this time of year. So, stock up and let the kiddos play, play, play away. Oh, if your little boy is anything like mine, I highly recommend throwing in some sporting equipment, too. I swear he hit golf balls for hours at a time last year at the beach. 

  • Secure swimmers. Puddle-jumper!! Do you know what this is? I didn't either, until two years ago, It is a GENIUS invention for little kids (weighing 30+ pounds) who don't yet know how to swim. It keeps them upright in the water while also allowing them the freedom to bob up and down and float on both tummy and back. Yet another HIGHLY recommended product. A must-have, really!
  • Rain, rain, go away. And of course, we've all had the beach vacation wherein it rains for a day or two (hopefully not more!). Sometimes, beach towns offer fun venues where kids can go during rainy days. But our family? We love, love, love going to Edisto, where it is less touristy and more relax-y. Which I truly love. But when the rain comes? Well, then we have a bunch of little bodies stuck inside with little to do around the small beach town. So. As was the case last year, I packed a few brand spankin' new toys and kept them hidden from little eyes until the rain days hit. Then, when we realized we would be indoor prisoners for the day, I busted out the new toys, which were met with excited reactions from kiddos who were ready for some new indoor entertainment.

Alright, that's all I've got for y'all off the top of my head. But. Hopefully, this was helpful for those mommas who are headed to the beach soon. 

And please, all you experienced mamas out there, feel free to comment if you have other great tips and advice! 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Last Call

Hi friends. Hi family. Hi strangers alike. As always, thank you so much for visiting and reading my little ol' blog. 

Here I am, again, asking, pretty, pretty please with sugar on top, one last time for your help. 

You see, I wrote a manuscript for a short children's book. It is simple but, I think, special. Special to me. And, hopefully, will one day be special to all you mommas and grandmommas and daddies and grandaddies and children out there. 

I love to write. Love, love, love to write. But. I am lousy at drawing. Lousy at illustrating. This girl is to drawing what cats are to swimming. It's not a good combination. 

But. That's okay! As I have blogged about many-a-time before, my idea is to do something totally different and outside-of-the-box and right in line with the current trend of all things social media. Specifically, I plan to illustrate my book using beautiful images, my images and YOURS, from photos YOU take and post on Instagram. 

My goal is to finish the project by the end of the summer. So. Here's where you come in. 

Please, oh pretty please, snap any or all images from the list below, pretty them up using an Instagram filter (or don't filter--whatever you think is most captivating),  post to Instagram while tagging me @lindsayluton and using the hashtag #morethanphoto. Easy peasy, right? And, of course, if I end up selecting your photo for publication, you will most definitely be given credit for your image. 

To see the complete list of the images I plan to use for the book, see here. Here are the images I am most in need of at this time:
  • Pitcher of sweet tea with lemons
  • Grass with dew or mist
  • Bullfrog in a puddle (yes, I know this is a tough one)
  • Lightening flash at night
  • Peach pie
  • Full moon
  • Front porch with a porch swing
  • Hummingbird on a flower (yep, another toughie)  
  • Rocking chair
  • Storm clouds
  • Fish in a stream (maybe the toughest of them all)
  • Stars and moon
  • Ocean waves on the sand 
  • Quilt 
Also, please feel free to share, share, share this post with any and everybody you know. The more photos I receive, the better! So, even if you don't plan to submit photos, please take a moment to help a momma out by sharing this post with others you know. 

Thank you! Hopefully, the next post about this topic will be news about publication and whose images will be used! Stay tuned...

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Thinking Outside the (Gift) Box

I loooooove birthdays and holidays. My hub doesn't get it. Especially all the fuss over birthdays. But. I say, you get one day to celebrate YOU each year. So. Let loved ones spoil you and soak it all in. I feel the same way about holidays, too. There are 365 days per year and a handful of holidays. So. Why not make the most of them, too? 

With the explosion over Pinterest the last few years, it has made a holiday-lovin' momma's dream come true. It is a great place to find inspiration for creative gift giving (and thrify home decor; and party ideas; and recipe suggestions; and workout tips; and outfit planning [which is especially helpful for those of us...ahem...who don't exactly earn any prizes for wardrobe of the year]). 


I thought it'd be fun to share a few gift-giving ideas if anyone is looking for something a little outside of the box. A few of these are Pinterest-inspired (shocker!), but I will also give credit where credit is due for a few original ideas: a few of my own and also to one of my sister's best friends. 

So. Off we go:

For my hub's birthday last week, he repeatedly said that he didn't want it to be a big deal. Pssh. That goes in one ear and out the other for this holiday-lovin' mama. But. I also didn't want to overspend. So. Aside from a homemade banner (beautifully colored by his babies), some balloons, cupcakes, and surprise office decor, I modified an idea I saw on Pinterest to make him his own Man-Bouquet. 

The bouquet was very easy to assemble and included many of his favorite things, including Hot Fries (barf), mini bottles of Glen Livet (barf), beer salt, a variety of hot sauces, his favorite candy (Rolos), granola bars, peanuts, and beef jerky. Each item was mounted on a skewer, which was stuck through that floral styrofoamy-greenery stuff, and put in a large beer mug. He absolutely loved it! And I didn't break the bank. I call that a success!

Oh, but my hub. Ever the consummate one-upper. For Mother's Day, which fell three days after his birthday this year, he totally stole my (okay, Pinterest's) idea and made an extra large Momma-Bouquet. It included many of my favorite things, including several bottles of wine, a gossip mag (I haven't bought one in YEARS and was SO excited about it!), a Starbucks gift card and new coffee mug, gum, yummy snacks, and a bouquet of flowers. Oh, and my sweet hub also bought two Golden Delicious apple trees (my favorite fruit!) from Lowe's to plant in our backyard, which we did that afternoon. Now, every time I see those trees and watch them grow, I will think back very fondly to Mother's Day 2013. 

Moving on to a few original (gasp! Non-Pinterest inspired!) gifts: 

One of my favorite gifts was one I gave to my first niece, Brantley, on her first birthday a few years ago. I think first birthdays are especially special, so I like to try and do something a little extra special for the occasion (how's that for special?). For Brantley, I bought passes to the local zoo, aquarium, and children's museum so that she would have some new, memorable, and fun! activities she could experience as a toddler. I am a firm believer in giving experiences, rather than toys or gifts, whenever possible, to help create beautiful and fun! memories. It's why my kiddos gave their daddy a helicoper ride with our son for Father's Day last year.

Another favorite (original! Non-Pinterest inspired!) gift was the one I gave to my niece, Cameron, for her first birthday last year.  I ordered her a personalized, tutu tote from etsy (in her hot pink and yellow birthday party colors) and then bought 12 books and labeled each book with a specific month for her to open on the 10th of each month (her birthday is on the 10th) for the next year. I've been told by a reputable source that she loves seeing her new book each month. :)

Lastly, something new to the market, but something that I think is a lovely, innovative, and out-of-the-ordinary gift idea, is an Owl Origami locket. It is a different take on charm jewelry and it is oh-so-sweet!!! One of my sisters and I gave one to my momma for Mother's Day this year, and she loved it. If you're looking for one, check out this awesome, amazing, cool-as-can-be consultant, Lindsey, who can set you up with one of your own if you're interested. :) 

I hope that helps if anyone is searching for fun gift ideas. And if all else fails, there's always Pinterest. And gift cards.