Friday, October 31, 2014

Coffee Date Friday: Happy Halloween Edition

A HAPPY HALLOWEEN to you on this beautiful Fall Friday! Were we to meet for coffee today, I'd suggest we actually switch our beverage of choice to a spiced apple cider, this being Halloween and all. After catching up on all things YOU, my friend, I would share the following about me, my week, and my comings and goings: 

...that, first things first, my trio's 2014 Halloween costumes:

This poor little lobster better scuttle along before he's cooked up by my two favorite chefs. ;)

...that, in keeping with the Halloween spirit, we have a busy day today, including a playdate for Raleigh with two of her girlfriends while Banks is in school this morning, pre-trick-or-treating dinner and drinks with neighborhood friends, an evening of trick-or-treating (duh!), and a fun way to cap off the day: my hub and I are hosting a bunch of friends and their kiddos for some post-trick-or-treating bevs and fireside s'mores. Should be a blast!

...that, aside from what's in store for today, we also had a full week o' Halloween fun, including three school Halloween parties, our annual evening hayride around the 'hood to check out all the house decorations, as well as a full-on neighborhood Halloween party last weekend, that included a kids' costume parade, chili cook-off, pumpkin bake-off, adult bevs, and lots of fun Halloween Hoedown-themed games for the kiddos to play. Too.Much.Fun.! 

Scenes from our 'hood Halloween Hoedown last weekend

Scene from our neighborhood Creepy Crawl last night

...that I MUST give a shout-out to Harris Teeter. I use their online shopping every single week for my groceries. This deserves a shout-out in and of itself, as it prevents me from having to traipse up and down the grocery aisles while entertaining a kiddo or three. It's more than worth the $5 charge to be able to place my order online, choose my pick-up time, and then stay in my car to pay and have the groceries loaded. Not to mention, the online ordering program saves all my previous orders, which saves LOTS of time when placing new orders. Anywho. Still, this is not what is deserving of the shout-out I speak of. Nope, the shout-out is because last Sunday, we went to Harris Teeter straight from church to pick-up my grocery order at our pre-determined time. Well, unfortunately, a mistake was made and some of our groceries were given to a different family. Not only did the store manager come out to our car and profusely apologize, he saw our car full of three kiddos, and the Zaxby's lunch that we had just picked up, and insisted on paying our lunch tab since it would take a few extra minutes to re-gather our groceries. Seriously? Their customer service is just phenomenal. Team Teeter all the way, right here folks.

...that last Sunday, Clay and I were finally able to resume volunteering in the church nursery again. This time, we had a 4-year-old room, and it was really fun to not only read them a Bible story and create a craft that went with it, but also to watch as the kids learned the story of Esther through role play in our church's amazing "Art Studio." It only reinforced how much we enjoy our church and especially love the amazing children's program our kiddos get to live and breathe each Sunday.

...that you can't teach Sassy.


...that I want to share my sincerest gratitude for so many wonderful family and friends of my hub and mine, who have not only donated to our favorite yearly cause, one that is so dear to our hearts, but who have also taken the time to share the link to our donation and even stopped by and bought cupcakes from my kiddos in their efforts to raise money. Thank you, truly. My hub and I very readily recognize how blessed we are to have such supportive people in our lives, and we love you all. And also? If you haven't donated, but have even $5 to spare, please take a moment and consider giving to the LW Rutland Thanksgiving Food Drive, which will feed over 80 families in need this Thanksgiving season. <3

...that there have been EIGHT doctor appointments for our little family over the last 2.5 weeks, and that FIVE of those appointments were mine: three with an ENT, one with a family doctor (I got my first full physical since, oh I don't know, high school?!), and one for a CT scan. My hub also had a physical, while Banks and Harrison each had well-checks (5 years and 6 months, respectively) and Raleigh tagged along and got her flu mist. Whew! Here's hoping we don't see another doc again anytime soon, although it looks like I may have to start having weekly allergy shots. Yuck! Better than sinus surgery, though, so I'll take it!

...that my sister will have a new baby by this time next week, officially closing out the "year of the cousins" (aka the year all three of my biological siblings and I each welcomed a baby). This baby is an answered prayer, one who brings hope and peace and joy. One who is SO loved already. I cannot wait to hear news of the baby's arrival and then snuggle this baby as soon as I possibly can!! Oh, and also find out if it's a niece or a nephew. Come on, "Rocky." We're ready and waiting for you!!!

And with that, I'd wish you an awesome Halloween before letting the fun roll on in. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

One Half of One Year


I truly cannot believe it when I re-read the title of this post. My precious baby boy, my last little one, my cubby, you have officially surpassed the 6 month mark. 

The last six months have been the fastest, hardest, most exhausting, most rewarding, most precious, most emotional, most amazing, most beautiful of my entire life.


I have been waiting my entire life to have my three children and finally, they are here. YOU are here. And I will be thankful for that for the rest of my life. 

Sweet Harrison, you are pure joy, my littlest bud. Your Daddy and I always say, "He's just happy to be here." And it's true. You radiate light and love and life. 

There are simply no words for how much I adore you, little cubby, and I just don't know what I ever did without you.

At your 6-month check-up, you weighed 16 pounds, 12 ounces (36th percentile) and were 27 inches long (70th percentile), which is almost EXACTLY what Raleigh's measurements were at your age! However, you definitely have chunkier thighs than your older siblings ever did, and your Daddy and I just can't get enough of them! 

These days, you have gotten pretty good at sitting up by yourself, although you'll still topple over sometimes when you get distracted by a toy. You are also thisclose to crawling. Oh man!!! It's about to be a whole new world in our household. You can slowly make your way across the room....but backwards! You haven't mastered the forward motion yet. 

You smile big any time you see or hear me and will giggle uncontrollably at your big brother and sister, for no apparent reason! You also adore your Daddy...and the feeling's mutual. He can't get enough of his littlest guy. You aren't babbling yet but love to "roar" and make the /mmmmmm/ sound. I'm fighting hard for /mama/ as your first word! You also love to try to "talk" to me while you're nursing--already a multitasker, just like your Momma. Your naps are a battle these days. Just within the last week, you have gotten really stubborn when it comes to napping unless someone is holding you. You can be sound asleep in my arms, but the moment that sweet noggin' hits the mattress, BOOM! You are awake and frustrated! Luckily, this is only an issue during the day. You are still doing really well sleeping at night (knock on wood!)! Here's some more of what you're up to these days:

Yes, you are pure JOY, sweet Harrision, and I can't wait to see what the next six months bring! 

With All My Heart, 


Friday, October 24, 2014

Coffee Date Friday: Re-Caffeinated Edition

Hi friend! So glad you're joining me on this beautiful morning. We've continued to have beautiful Fall weather this week, so were you to stop by for a cup o' caffeinated cuisine, I would suggest that we each grab a quilt and sit on my porch to enjoy the cool breeze and glory that is the changing leaves. I would also be oh-so-happy to be having coffee with you today, as I had to go caffeine-less up until yesterday while waiting to undergo allergy testing. And actually, I have a CT scan of my head scheduled in a couple of hours. So. We'd just have to enjoy one quick cup together this morning. [Side note: No worries. I'm just trying to get some sinus issues figured out, and we're trying to determine whether meds or surgery are the best bet while simultaneously making sure there isn't something scary lurking in this ol' noggin of mine. ;) ]. 

Regardless, I would first check in on YOU, asking about the latest and greatest in your world. I would then share the following about my re-caffeinated self:

...that I must first give a shout out to my hub, who watched five kids all by himself last Sunday so that my girlfriend and I could go to our hip-hop workout class. And we're not talking throw the kids in front of the TV kind of parenting/babysitting. We're talking let them run around outside to their hearts desire and wipe 4 out of 5 hineys along the way. High 5 for him!

...that this week was a doozy and it is VERY clear that I am addicted to caffeine. I mean, really addicted. But honestly? It's just not something I'm willing to give up at this point in my life. Maybe one day. But. Not today. Anywho, with my hub gone the first half of the week, my littlest guy going through some teething/separation anxiety/crawling frustration issues, and me caffeine-less (and chocolate-less), it made for several looooooong days, especially since Raleigh decided to suddenly start crying in the middle of the night, every night this week, for no reason. Whew! Needless to say, I was pooped at the end of each day and asleep BEFORE 9 pm two nights!

Look at that 'tude

...that we have been busy checking things off our Fall Bucket List the last few weeks. Although I'll share more about our Autumn Adventures in another post, I can say that we had a glorious picnic dinner at our local greenway earlier this week, and it was just lovely!

...that Banks was SO excited because his class had a "tailgate" party at school yesterday. Each student was allowed to wear their favorite team's jersey and they had a full-on tailgate spread for snack time. How cute is that? You can bet your bottom dollar he asked me every day this week if it was jersey day yet. Ha! And also? How sweet are these 2014 school pics?! 

...that we are in the midst of raising money for a very worthy cause, one that is so close to my heart, the 8th Annual L.W. Rutland Thanksgiving Food Drive. Every year, after we raise the money, we travel to Aiken, South Carolina, to organize and hand-distribute the meals to the families in need. This is always very special, as it allows us grown-ups to bring our children so that they can help with the efforts while seeing how important it is to help others and give back. Well, this year, I wanted to take it a step further with my kids and have them help with the fundraising efforts as well. Enter our cupcake sale! Last night, we set up a little cupcake stand at the entrance of our neighborhood at 5:00 pm, just in time for all the men and women who were heading home from work to stop and grab a cupcake, with all proceeds going toward the Thanksgiving Food Drive. Success!! And an evening I won't soon forget: 

...that every single day, I make it a point to sneak in solo momma time with each of my babies. Some days it's more time than others, but always, every day, time with each of them. Honestly, I think it's as good for them as it is for me. So I hush that ever-talking to-do list echoing through my head, keep my tired eyes propped open, and focus on each of them, individually. The payoff is divine and I never regret these moments:

...that tomorrow is a busy day for our little party o' five. After I attend a baby shower for one of my Life Group girls, our family will be headed out to throw down at our neighborhood Halloween party! It is always so fun, with a costume parade for the littles, a chili cook-off, games, treats, live music, adult bevs, and more (If you follow me on Instagram, be on the look out for our big costume reveal). ;)  We'll then conclude our day by cheering on the Clemson Tigers from the comfort of our couch and resting up so we'll be all ready and set to manage a room full of 4-year-olds in the church nursery the following morning. Yahoo! Let the par-tay begin!

And with that, it'd be time for me to head out for my appointment. Please say a little prayer, if you could spare a minute, that all looks well and the treatment is an easy fix. See you next week with an update and a fresh cup o' joe!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Two Tickets To Paradise

Y'all. Ohmygoodness. Last weekend was one of my favorites of all time. Ever.

Although my hub and I are big advocates of spending time away from our kids a few times each year (it's good for all parties involved!), the overwhelming majority of the time we are gone we are with other couples. Well, this last weekend, we snuck away, just the TWO of us, for the first time since I don't know when! And let me tell was GLORIOUS. 

We had the entire weekend to focus on each other, to enjoy each other's company, to relax, to reminisce, to laugh, to do whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted, in my new favorite little town: Lake Lure, North Carolina. 

This served as a delayed 10-year anniversary celebration since Harrison was born just one month before our actual anniversary. When we were deciding where to go a couple months ago, I had two requests: a mountain view and an outdoor hot tub. We searched all over North Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia, and finally found the exact cabin I had envisioned (and bonus...just 90 minutes from our house!):

The cabin was very secluded, which we loved. You could hear a pin drop when standing on the porch, and several times we simply halted our conversation to listen to the.....silence. It's rare in our home these days! 

We arrived Friday and settled in before snacking on some apps and sipping wine while my hub made a delicious steak dinner with rosemary potatoes and fresh green beans. Divine! We spent the rest of the evening enjoying more wine, lounging in the hot tub, playing each other in pool and darts, and watching the end of a movie. Perfection.

We "slept in" until a little after 7:00 am (heavenly!), which was just in time to watch the beautiful sunrise. My hub spoiled me again with a delicious breakfast of egg whites topped with fresh salsa accompanied by sausage and fresh fruit. It was so nice to eat a leisurely breakfast on the porch while sipping hot coffee and watching the colors change as the sun continued to rise. I also loved that we started out the day with no set plans, with the exception of knowing we had a dinner reservation that evening. 

We soon decided we were in the mood for some hiking, wining, and dining. We first drove to Chimney Rock, a short 10-minute trip from our cabin, where we hiked to "Exclamation Point" and took in the gorgeous views. 

After working up an appetite, we headed back down the mountain to a riverside grille, where we enjoyed a yummy lunch that included fried pickles and my hub's favorite beer. We then decided to walk around the quaint little town of Lake Lure, where we wandered in and out of shops and landed in a coffee cafe. I ordered a delicious pumpkin spice latte (what else?!), and my hub suggested we play checkers at the little wooden table available for patrons. It was one of my favorite memories from the whole trip--sipping coffee and playing checkers at the bottom of the mountain with the man that I love. Amazing.

Our view at lunch. See that teeny tiny speck on the upper left on top of that "rock"? That's the American flag we were standing next to in the photo above!

Next, we ventured to a gorgeous yet quaint and welcoming vineyard, which boasted beautiful mountain views as well as a garden of wild flowers. We sat and chatted with the vineyard owner, as well as a few other friendly guests, as we sipped various wines and took in the beautiful views. My hub and I ended our wine tasting visit by sitting atop a porch overlooking the vineyard and enjoying a glass of fresh sangria. 

We capped off our afternoon by heading back to our cabin where we watched a little Clemson football, napped, and got ready for our dinner date. And what a dinner date it was! We had one of the best meals of my entire life at The Lodge at Lake Lure's Tree Tops, an inviting and warm restaurant tucked away into the hidden lodge that housed the most incredible lake and mountain views. Our mouth-watering cuisine included salmon cakes, shrimp and grits (best I've ever had!), scallops (again, best I've ever had!), beef ribs, mud pie, and pumpkin cheesecake, which was topped off with some extremely tasty wine. Oh.So.Good. 

This was the view from our table. Breath-taking! 

We ended our evening back at the cabin with college football playing in the background while we hit the outdoor hot tub again before concluding the evening with a little board game action...Clue! If you know me, you know I love me some board games; so, this was an absolute blast. :) 

After one more morning of sleeping in, one more sunrise, and one more hub-prepared breakfast, we were back in the car for the quick trip home to see our littles and thank our amazing parents for always taking such good care of our babies when we're away. 

In sum, I highly recommend a trip to Lake Lure! In fact, my hub and I are already planning to return, this time with a couple of couples, and we can't wait! You should visit, too. I promise you--it will not disappoint.  

Friday, October 17, 2014

Coffee Date Friday: Chock Full Edition

Helloooooo friends! I thought I'd switch things up for a bit and go back to posting "Coffee Date Friday," where we pull up a couple of virtual chairs, pour some virtual coffee, and have virtual conversation to catch up on the latest and greatest from the week. 

So. Were we meeting on this GLORIOUS Fall morning, for a cup o' joe, I would first ask how YOU are doing? Your family? Your friends? How was your week? Do anything fun? Whatcha got planned for the weekend? Is there anything you're struggling with? Anything you need to get off your chest? 

And then, after being properly saturated in all things YOU, I would share the following about me...

...that last Friday, Raleigh, Harrison, and I accompanied Banks on his first field trip of the year to the Bush-N-Vine Farm, and boy did we have fun! We learned all about pumpkins, took a hayride to see a beaver dam, and got to observe a working beehive (random, I know, but cool!). It's crazy to think that this is the last year Banks will attend his preschool, with the same classmates he's been with since he began there three years ago. It's really an awesome group of kids (and mommas!), and it's been so fun to watch them grow together. Anywho, I digress. We had a blast and are already looking forward to his next field trip in a couple months!

...that, speaking of school, we hit the jackpot with Banks' teachers this year! Both have many, many, many years of experience teaching kindergarten and are truly doing an awesome job preparing my little buddy for elementary school next year. Just this week, we started a reading program wherein he brings home a different book each week, and we practice reading it together each night, with me reading it the first two nights and him reading it the last two nights. Well, he knocked it out of the park this week, reading the whole (short) book by himself the first day! Way to go, buddy. And also? I walked into the kitchen one afternoon this week to find him sitting quietly at the table, a proud smile on his face, as he showed me what he had done: written his first ever sentence, phonetically decoding it all by himself. My eyes filled with tears as I had this flashback to holding him in my arms the day he was born and then seeing him sitting before me, a 5-year-old boy who had independently written, "I love you Dad" the best he could. Oh, my momma heart. 

...that, over the weekend, my sister, brother-in-law, and their new baby girl came to the Mill for a visit and we had so much fun together. We spent a little time exploring our little town but mainly stayed home so that we could soak in as many baby snuggles as posssible. And ohmygoodness, seeing the littlest cousins together was just the sweetest thing. Even though they are just 2 and 5 months old, her Skylar and my Harrison were in awe of each other. Melt.My.Heart. The weekend went by way too fast. But. It's one I will not soon forget. I just adore my precious niece!

...that I was so, so happy my hub didn't travel at all this week. This is extremely rare. So. I take full advantage when it happens. That means, not only spending time with him at night, but also squeezing in a little fun with my girlfriends. We started off the week by having some family fun with several other couples in the 'hood, getting together for some delicious homemade gumbo, fireside, with our boisterous crew of 10 adults and 15 kiddos! I was also able to squeeze in girls only movie night on Monday at a Cinnebarre, where I promptly ordered a glass of red wine to accompany the hot-out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookies I just had to have (side note: we saw "Gone Girl" and ohmyword. I'm still thinking about it five days later. Wowzer.). Then, I snuck out for a girls only wine night on Wednesday. Although it made for a busy week, it was definitely a fun one!

...that I love my neighborhood. I think that's probably pretty clear if you've read this blog for any amount of time (always, always, always recruiting!! Come one, come all!!). But. I especially love my 'hood when it comes to the holiday season. You see, I love me a good holiday celebration, and there is plenty of that to be had 'round these parts this time of year. Well, the month o' Halloween was officially kicked off when were "Boo'd" earlier this week. So much fun! And also? Look how much things have changed over the last two years with our "Boo" basket deliveries. Crazy!!




...that my kind, adorable, smart, loving Raleigh Jane? She is reeeeeeally keeping us on our toes these days. I mean, she is T.R.O.U.B.L.E. While she is as sweet as can be, she is also very defiant, in a mischevious, who me?, bat-her-eyelashes, surely-you-can't-get-upset-with-me, kind of way. For example? The other day, she was in timeout, and I told her not to suck her finger while sitting in her timeout chair. She oh-so-stealthily snuck out of her chair and crept over to the door, trying to close it ever so slightly, so that it was at such an angle that I wouldn't be able to see her sucking her finger since she had shut the door just the right amount to block my view. And this is just one small example of my little trouble-maker. Add about 15 more similar incidents and you'll have one typical day with our girl. And we have tried just about everything I can think of to promote better "listening ears." I mean, y'all. I am a child psychologist for heaven's sake, yet my 2-going-on-14-year-old has me stumped. Luckily, our LifeGroup just started a new 6-week series on a different style of parenting, and I'm hoping a new approach will help. I mean, if Jesus can't help me with this one, I'm not sure who can. Ha!

...Lastly, that my hub and I are headed out of town in just a bit to finally celebrate our 10-year anniversary (which was delayed since we added a certain someone to our family a month before the actual anniversary). We rented a beautiful cabin a couple hours away that is supposed to have beautiful mountain and lake views. I cannot wait! Ever since my hub took his new, extremely busy job, and we added family member #5 to our clan, it often feels like we are two ships passing in the night. So. I am really excited for a whole weekend away, where we can have real, non-interrupted conversation, sip delicious wine, have tasty food, enjoy the beautiful views from the outdoor hot tub, and see where the weekend takes us. Meanwhile, our three babies will be soaking up time with their Nana and Pop back at home and cheering on the Tigers from afar, of course, like the biggest little Tiger fans that they are:

And on that note, with our cups empty and the clock a tickin', I would give you a big hug before throwing my bags in the car and hitting the road. See you for coffee again next week, same time, same place. Cheers!