Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Wee One Wednesday: Introducing Our Daughter

Clay, Banks, Raleigh, Harrison, and I are overjoyed to introduce our daughter/little sister, 

BELLA ELIZABETH LUTON





(The first two pictures were taken six months ago, when our girl was 18 months old (the second photo is the one that came with her official file). The last two photos are from last month, right before she turned 2. My, how she's grown! We absolutely adore her and think she is one of the most precious little ladies we have ever seen, our sweet Bella Elizabeth. <3 )

Bella means "beautiful." It has been the little secret sign that God has sent me all throughout this process. Every time I asked Him to send me a sign - to know that things would turn out as they should, to know that He had already chosen our daughter, to know that we just needed to be still in our wait, there it would be: Bella. It would show up everywhere, at just the right time. And I would feel totally at peace as soon as I saw it - He's got this. He's got us. So, our little lady, our beauty, just had to be named Bella.

Elizabeth means "oath of God." Elizabeth was my middle name. My mom chose it for me. And now, I have chosen it for my daughter. 

Bella Elizabeth - our beautiful oath of God. 
 

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Ecclesiastes 3:11.
 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Cheers to the Weekend, Schoooolssss.... Out. For. Summer.!!!! Edition

WE MADE IT!!!!!!!!! 

Today is the last (half!) day of school, which means at 11:00 am, Summer 2017 has officially begun! And we are starting it with a bang...but more on that next week! :) For now, here is what we are saying CHEERS to as we wrap up Banks' 1st grade year and dive head-first into summer: 

First grade success. Banks had a fantastic year in 1st grade, and I am so, so proud of how hard he has worked, how well-behaved and kind he has been, and much he has learned. We lucked out with an incredible teacher and are so thankful for the love she poured into her class. Teachers are SAINTS and we definitely had a great one! And look how much my sweet boy has grown over the school year. Sheesh! He'll be taller than me soon!



Gymnastics shows. Earlier this week, Raleigh closed out her year of twice weekly gymnastics at the Spring show. She and her adorable class, the Pod Squad, performed the most precious routine. And my girl did so great! Then, they performed various skills they have learned on floor and beam this year. I was one proud momma. Although she was asked to move up a level next year, she has decided that she wants to return to the dance studio. So, it's back to the barre we will go! It is so fun to continue to expose her to all sorts of activities and see where her interests are developing. Where she goes, I will follow...and cheer her on all along the way. Go Rals! 





T2 Tennis. Earlier this week, my doubles partner and I finished up our second season of T2. We had so much fun, played some awesome matches, and can both see how much we have learned and improved compared to our first season. In fact, we DOUBLED our wins...from 1 to 2 (details, details). ;) I was so proud of us and there is no one else I would rather play alongside than my girl, V. Bring on Season 3!!! 



Pool days. With the glorious weather we had last weekend, we were at the pool 2 of the 3 weekend nights...and loving it! Our neighborhood pool is where you will find us most days of the summer, and we kicked it off with a bang!


 
Birthday celebrations. There was lots of birthday celebrating around these parts over the last week - with Banks, Harrison, and my hub/I each attending birthday parties for our buddies. :) The kids may have had fun at their parties...but there is no WAY they had more fun than my hub and I did last Saturday celebrating our sweet friend's big 4-0. It was an awesome venue with yummy food and drinks and the dj was playing the best dance songs all night. We had a blast! Happy Birthday again, Alice!!!




(Pet) lives well lived. Yesterday was a tough day for our Bankster. His beloved pet, Peeve (#petPeeve), the leopard gecko he received for his birthday, suddenly became very sick and passed away. There were many tears and prayers and heart-felt talks, an emotional burial, and a life lesson that is never a lesson anyone wants to learn. It was a hard afternoon for Banks, but we know that pet Peeve is in a better place. <3

Now. On a happier note, it's time to load up and head out! I'll be back next week with details of our little getaway. Until then, I hope y'all have an awesome (long - Happy Memorial Day!) weekend. Be back soon! 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Loving Lately...

I haven't written one of these posts in awhile and thought it'd be a nice easy-breezy post after a crazy couple of weeks #endofschoolmadness. Here is a simple list of some of the things in my life that I am loving lately that you just may love, too!


Jack's jellies. Rarely do I buy clothes for myself, so when I do, I want to ensure it is something I will get a lot of use out of. During the summer, I am more often than not wearing a single pair of flip flops; so, I like to make sure they are a pair that are good quality and that will last. I am also not a "label" person - I buy things because I like them, not because of who makes them or what designer is the flavor of the month. However, I will say that over the last three summers, I wore a pair of Tori Burch flip flops pretty much day in and day out, which is probably why they finally fell apart this summer (and why I would be okay investing in them again). In fact, I intended to buy them again for this summer #ifitaintbroke, but they no longer carry the style I had :( and I wasn't loving any of the other options available. So. I switched it up. I had heard about these really comfy jellies, and once I saw they had them in a neutral shade (i.e., I can wear them all day err day), I was sold. Meet my new Jack Rogers jellies. They are very reasonably priced (especially for how much I intend to wear them over the next few summers) and very comfortable! Tip: If you are between sizes, size down. I wear an 8.5 and ordered an 8. They fit fabulously! I actually wore them out to a party the other night and was comfy all night and able to dance the night away when the dj was rockin'. :)

First Dates. My hub and I stumbled upon this cute new NBC, which chronicles the blind first dates of couples who have been pre-matched by producers. The show was created by Ellen Degeneres and is narrated by Drew Barrymore, and it is a really sweet, Friday night (8:00 pm) show. The season finale is this week, if you're looking for something new to watch! In non-boob-tube news, I have the goal of reading several books for fun this summer. Is there anything better than toes in the sand, drink in hand, and a book on the ready? I think not! I started What Alice Forgot recently and it is interesting so far! A girlfriend told me that two other books by the same author are actually better; so, I will be picking those up as soon as I finish this one (Big Little Lies and The Husband's Secret, for anyone who's interested). Happy reading and happy watching!
Shalom art. I am so, so lucky to be surrounded by so many amazing friends, from every age and stage of life. One of my insanely talented friends contacted me after reading our latest adoption update and gifted me with the most BEAUTIFUL piece of art. I fully intend to have it printed and framed and it is also currently the background on my phone...so that I will take a deep breath each of the fifiy million time I check my email. Thank you so, so much, Amy!!!
Queen of the Fill. Last year, one of my girlfriends introduced me to one of my most favorite cosmetic purchases ever, and I haven't looked back since! I have always had very sparse eyebrows but did not enjoy the hassle of carefully filling them in every morning. Ain't nobody got time for that. Enter: Queen of the Fill. It looks like a mascara wand but is made to fill your brows. A couple quick swipes and done! 

Lash Boost. Speaking of cosmetics, have you ever heard of Lash Boost? Ha! Unless you've been living under a rock, I'm assuming you've seen it overtake any and all social media feeds over the last...forever. Bleh. BUT I can honestly say that, while I don't love all Rodan + Fields products, I am obsessed with the amazing results this magical wand provides! I have never, ever, ever had good lashes. But after a quick (as in, like, two seconds), nightly application of this stuff, my lashes have been totally transformed. And now, I just use it every second or third night to maintain. It is awesome! Check out the before and after pics below (and also, my sweet itty-bitty toddler Harrison and my big preschool Harrison) :



Aldi. Random. I know. But also something that has saved us a great deal of money over the last several months; so, it is definitely something I love! Do you have an Aldi near you? If so, run, don't walk, to do your grocery shopping there. It has cut our grocery bill in half. There are no bells and whistles - you bag your own groceries, rent a cart for $.25 (which you get back when you're done with it), and the items aren't housed on pretty shelves in a modern store. BUT. The food is good and the prices are unbeatable. Although I still buy a few items at our Harris Teeter (e.g., deli meats and cheeses), almost everything in our pantry and fridge these days is from Aldi. Give it a try!

Summer Bucket List. I am also loving the fact that we are thisclose to summer! So. It was time to create our annual Summer Bucket List. Several items are repeat offenders--things we have loved doing in the past and look forward to every summer. Others, are new. I can't wait to cross each one off as we begin our summer adventures.


Plum Paper planner. Okay, okay, okay. I haven't actually purchased this yet...I am trying not to jinx our adoption. BUT the second we get confirmation that China approves us for our girl, I will be buying the planner I have already designed and is sitting in my cart on the website. :) What makes this planner so great? Well, in addition to the month and year at a glance pages (not unusual for a planner), you can personalize the planner in such a way that there are custom sections outlined on the side of each weekly page so that you can fill in what each member of your family has going on that day! So, along the side of each page, I will have my name, my hub's names, and all of our kiddos' names so that I can see what each of us has going on each day. Isn't that genius? I am thinking I will need it as a mom of four (say wha?!?). You also get to design the cover and there are tons and tons of beautiful options. I can't wait to order mine!


I know that's a pretty random list, but it's all that my end-of-school brain can come up with at the moment. Anything you would add that the rest of us need to know about it? Would love to hear!


Friday, May 19, 2017

Cheers to the Weekend, So Long School Edition

We are so close, SO close, to welcoming in Summer 2017! Well, Raleigh and Harrison have actually already entered the post-preschool summer dayz, having finished up school on Monday and rocked their preschool programs/graduation on Tuesday. Now, we just need our Bankster to close out first grade! He has two full days and two half days to go next week, and then it.is.on.!!!!! 

In fact, by this time next week, we will have whisked our trio away for a fun surprise trip. But until then, just a few more days to complete before we load up and head out. For now, here is what we are saying CHEERS to this week/end:  

Mother's Day. I had the loveliest Mother's Day last Sunday. <3 My hub did not allow me to lift a finger all day - taking care of all meals, chores, and childcare. :) The day started out with breakfast in bed and two dozen roses. I was then given the sweetest homemade cards and drawings and a gift card to shop at my favorite local boutique! After a lovely church service, we headed to brunch at one of our favorite local places, which included a mimosa for this momma. This was followed up with a NAP for ME! So divine! When I woke up, I learned that a giant turtle had made it's way to our yard, so we walked down to our little neighborhood creek to release him. Then came an hour-long tennis match with my hub while our trio played on the playground right next to the courts. Finally, we walked straight over to our pool, where we saw lots of friends and I was able to lounge and read a book while my hub watched the kiddos and ordered poolside pizza. Perfection! It really was such a nice family day, and I felt so loved and appreciated. Thanks, fam! <3 






Farewell baseball. Last Saturday, after Banks' team lost their playoff game the night before, we attended his baseball banquet at Mellow Mushroom. It was a great way to close out a fun season with a team of terrific kids. Banks has opted out of baseball for this summer, instead choosing to get in another season of flag football, which will start up in a couple weeks. Since he is also participating in his second year of flag football camp, it will undoubtedly be a football-heavy summer...and we don't mind one bit! We Lus LOVE us some football! 




The 80s. Last weekend, my hub and I headed out to an 80s soiree and had a totally radical time. Although the rest of the pics from the event shall remain confidential ;), here is one of my hub and me in our 80s gear before we headed out. 

 
Preschool programs/graduation. Like I mentioned, Raleigh and Harrison closed out an absolutely awesome year of preschool earlier this week. We were SO lucky that both kiddos had unbelievable teachers this year, who they just adored! Both Rals and Harrison did so well in their respective programs, and their daddy and I loved cheering them and their adorable classmates on. 






Raleigh then officially graduated from preschool in a sweet ceremony. Think Pomp & Circumstance, graduation caps, and lots of sniffling mommas (including this one). It was adorable. We then headed out to lunch with most of her sweet classmates before saying farewell and diving into summer! :) 




  
And now, the weekend begins! We'll be low-key tonight (finally!) before a busy day tomorrow of my hub and I participating in a little mixed doubles tennis clinic and tournament, Banks attending a sweet buddy's birthday party, and then my hub and I attending a sweet buddy's birthday party. :) Sunday will be church volunteering, a LifeGroup party for Bankster, Pure Barre for me, and softball for my hub. Whew! But then, oh but then, only four more days until our little getaway. Yeehaw! Happy Weekend, y'all!!!

And please keep those prayers coming for our adoption. We are still waiting for a few things to fall into place and could really use your prayers!!! Thank you in advance, and Happy Friday!  


 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

So Long, Preschool

Sticky fingers, runny noses,
Head, shoulders, knees and toes-es;
Shapes and colors, ABCs,
Taking turns and 123s.


Toothless smiles, hugs, and giggles,
Circle time and lots of wiggles;
Wooden blocks and dress-up clothes,
Learning how a flower grows. 
 

Milk and cookies, first-time friend,
Thinking days like these won't end;
Preschool done before you know it,
No one sadder than this poet.


Like a butterfly, time has flown,
You have learned and you have grown;
Tiny chairs give way to desks,
Book reports and spelling tests.
 

So take off now, spread your wings,
Soar to new heights, learn new things;
Just remember as you do,
Someone's very proud of you.

-Author Unknown
 
Raleigh, the time has come! And you, my girl, could not be more ready, better prepared, nor more excited to begin kindergarten. I am not sure how this day has arrived so quickly, but you have transformed from a quiet and shy 2s-class-preschooler to a confident and effervescent preschool graduate. We are SO proud of you, sweet girl. On to our next adventure, together!

With All My Heart,

Momma