Live. Love. Photograph!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Yearly Letter to Hensley (age 5)

My Beautiful Hensley:

Your 5th birthday is here and I can’t believe how fast our time with you has flown by. In one sense it seems like yesterday that you entered our lives and on the other hand I can’t remember what life without you was like. I write you these letters every year and I hope one day when you are older and look back on them you’ll remember just how much joy and love you brought to our lives. This was the year that you really outgrew a lot of your “baby traits”. You just seemed more grown up this year. No more little baby fat rolls, less clinging to a favorite toy (a very constant trait of yours since birth), and a more independent attitude. Luckily for me you still are mommy’s little boy and still love to cuddle and recently went through a phase where you would tell me 100 times a day that you loved me and give me lots of hugs for no reason at all. You will still crawl up in my lap and just snuggle, you still call us mommy and daddy (I don’t look forward to the day you start calling us “mom” and “dad”).

You are still a crier. You have always been “emotional” and cry when something bothers you or your feelings get hurt. You still spend nights curled up between daddy and I and you still insist on holding both our hands while you fall asleep and every single night before you fall asleep you ask me the same question, “Will you hold me?”, to which I always respond, “Always”.  You are obsessed with writing and knowing how to spell things. Your letters and writing skills are so great for your age! You are an incredibly bright and smart little boy who makes everyone smile and brings joy to so many people.

Your days are spent with preschool fun in the mornings and afternoon play time with Nate. You guys love playing in the woods and climbing trees, riding bikes, and jumping on the trampoline. He has been your best buddy for almost two years now and it’s awesome to watch you guys share so many memories. This year you met a new friend, Gavin Williams. He is the son of our friends Emily and Chad and you boys clicked the instant you met! You bond over video games and super hero's. The two of you can play for hours on end and never get enough of each other. He has brought so much fun to our lives and we are so thankful for your friendships. Your dad and I want you to always be surrounded by amazing people and good friends who love you and lift you up to be the best you can be always. Even though you are still so young we feel like you have a great foundation of friends and people in your life.

You take after your dad with your love for animals and your big heart. You are a very compassionate little boy and you are always asking questions and wanting to learn more. Our hearts are full because we have you. Our days have so much fun and laughter in them because you are here with us. You entertain us and love us with your whole heart. There are many times where you will just randomly say “Mom, I just love everyone in the whole town!” You talk about GOD a lot and ask a lot of questions. You pray every night and are always thanking GOD for the things you have and the people in your life. It fills my heart so so much to here you talk to GOD and see the love and belief you have for him.

This coming year will bring a big accomplishment and a big stepping stone for you. Preschool graduation is in a few short months and Fall will bring a whole new chapter with Kindergarten. We are currently praying hard that you get accepted to one of the several charter schools we applied to and we know GOD will lead us to the right place for you to grow and learn. We are so thankful to be your parents and we are so excited to continue to watch you grow and develop into the amazing person we know you are. The light that surrounds you is incredible and how we got so lucky to have you in our lives we will never know. GOD truly blessed us.

Our prayers for you are to be a man of GOD. To be strong. To be compassionate. To be giving and loving. To be smart and to be happy and content in whatever you do.

Love you to the moon and back,
Mommy and Daddy

Let him sleep, for when he wakes he will move mountains. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Snow Day!

School's out! It's a SNOW DAY!! (well sort of) We got .4 inches and in North Carolina that's a snow day!  We did snow day things like make snow angels, have a snow ball fight, and have a little indoor campout :)

This snow was pure powder which we don't get often here. Usually its slush or rock solid. This was REAL snow and even though there wasn't much we had a great day :)

The boys wanted camp inside in the tent 

So we whipped up a quick little indoor campfire broke out the tent and grabbed some marshmallows :) They had a blast. 

Later they put on an awesome rock n' roll show for me ;) They can always be counted on for great entertainment :) 

It was a super fun day and we are all ready looking forward to a few more snow days and our trip to the mountains coming up ;) 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Put down the phone and step away.......

We had a very lazy weekend partly because it was so stinkin' cold outside and partly because all of us were under the especially. Andy has been lucky enough to have Friday's off the past few weeks and that has been very nice to have the extra time with him. But one thing stood out from our lazy weekend......

On Friday night we were all laying in bed watching TV snuggling together and my phone went off. A text or Facebook notification or something. I immediately turned over to check it without a second thought. After a few minutes of responding I turned back over to resume my position and continued to snuggle my little man, when something he said struck me like a bolt of lightening.
"Mommy you stay on your phone all the time." One simple eight word sentence that he said so matter a fact not missing a beat and continuing to play with his toys. 

Andy laughed and couldn't resist the urge to respond: "Yep. You do."

For a second I thought, "Wow this must be gang up on Mom night", when suddenly another simple three word sentence came from our sweet little freckled face boy, "You too, Daddy."

We both didn't say a word for a bit. Kids are always to be counted on when you need to really see the facts. They speak such truth because at this age it's all they know. We all get in a routine and we stop even realizing what we are doing. To so many of us our phones become an extension of us. They become a lifeline, so much a part of our day that we don't even stop to think about how much time we are spending staring at that little screen. 

Hensley brought this reality to me and it really was just like flipping a light switch. I turned it off. I started thinking that night about the reasons why I slide my finger across that screen multiple times a day. What would I do once I had it in my hands. Check Facebook. Check Instagram. Read a few blogs. Check my email. But what was on there that made a difference in my life. What would be missed if I wasn't checking. NOTHING. In fact in days since making the change there has been more, so much more in my life. I have seen little moments that would have other wised been missed. Actually listened every single time my son has spoke. I have caught him making up little characters when playing and hearing how he repeats movie lines over and over again and I have seen that smile so many more times a day and that, in itself is worth putting it down. 

I didnt't realize the extent of the time I was spending away from my son. I was always home with him but I wasn't always WITH him. I checked out several times a day without even realizing it. Social media is fun, its entertaining, and its informative at times but my joy comes from my family. From my son. From my friends who are in my daily life. My faith. Our adventures. 

My one little word this year, as you know, is JOY. And in my son's truthful observations I found one of the biggest things that was hindering my JOY. I have been so much happier this past week without the constant little glowing screen. 

So put down the phone, close the laptop. Check out on all that doesn't matter and check back in to what's important. You won't regret it, not for a second. Weekends here are phone free now and much more enjoyable. Phone time is reserved for a few minutes after Hensley's in bed and in all truth I have found myself not even wanting to log on once he is sleeping. It had become a chore to me. Something I felt I had to do. Had to log on. Had to see what everyone was up to. Had to see the latest of the news and gossip. That chore is now eliminated from my day. 

One more part of this journey to JOY this year. :)


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

One little word.....2014

One little word can make such an impact on our lives. It can stick with us and really change our out look on things. I have seen several blogs about having one little word to focus on each year but my biggest inspiration was Shannon Brown, check out her blog here.

I was thinking about my goals for this year recently. I never make resolutions because they never stick so instead of making a list of things I want to change I try to focus more on the positive and set goals I want to achieve or ways I want to improve my life. I was making my list and noticed a common trend, they all came back to bringing more JOY into my life and the life of my family. I started thinking of all the things that I find myself wanting to do but never making time for. I find myself feeling like I have to do things that don't really make a difference in my life (like social media). I was getting online reading blogs or checking facebook and each day finding that seemed more like a chore. I wasn't making the time to read the things I loved or making calls to people who are important to me. Instead I was scrolling through a news feed of people I have seen in years nor really cared about ( I mean that in the nicest way possible), or reading blogs that I thought I just must read because, well everyone else reads them, and not reading the ones that inspired me or uplifted me. I realized something I wanted more then anything this new year was more JOY.

I am beyond blessed in my everyday life. I have a wonderful family who all live close by and who are a big part of life, a beautiful little boy, and a hard working husband who blesses me every single day with giving me a life which allows me to stay home with our son. I find joy in my son and the ones I love each and every day, but with Andy being out of town so much and Hensley being in school more and more independent when he is home that I find myself with more time to myself and more time to focus on other things. And I want time to be spent on only things that bring my JOY.

I saw a quote for the first time on Shannon's blog: "Find JOY in the JOURNEY." It has stuck with me the last few years that I have followed her blog and started acting on this quote last year with the photography of my son. I intentionally took less photos of perfect little set up's and pasted on smiles of him and more pictures of his grass stained feet or chocolate covered face. I wanted to remember the little moments of each day and the ones that make me smile that are so easy to forget. I found so much JOY in going back and looking at these photos. They meant so much more to me then ones I took in years past. They brought me back to such special times.

Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are. 
-Marianne Williamson

The more I thought about it the more I realized that JOY is a conscious decision we make to have in our lives. Happiness comes based on certain people or events in our lives but JOY comes only from inside and only when we allow it to happen. I not only want to create more JOY in my life I also want to make things more simple in order to recognize the JOY in my life already and that over look because I am too busy doing other things that don't matter.

Each month I plan to focus on different aspects of my life and how I can create more JOY in it. This is going to be a fun journey and I can't wait to see where it takes me or shapes me into this year ;)

Thursday, January 2, 2014

It's a blank canvas....paint something beautiful!

This year is almost over which is very hard to believe. It seems like it was just yesterday when I laid on my couch, hubby asleep on the love seat, and Hensley sleeping beside me, watching the ball drop and wondering what this year would have in store for us. It was a fun year. It was packed with so many memories and fun adventures. It was also full of a time without Andy home. He worked out of town a lot this yea;r there were TWO 2 month stretches where he wasn't home and that was hard.

This year ended ties with some people that were much needed for the growth of our family and it also invited new amazing people into our lives. We have been so blessed this year with the people that have surrounded us. They have uplifted us, supported us and loved us. In life it always seems as life changes so does relationships with people in your life. As this year comes to close and we look around at the people we share our lives and our hearts with I feel so much peace with it. Honestly the best thing about this year has been the people we have shared it with.

Andy has worked so much this year and a lot of the year it kept us from him but we have tried to always stay grateful for it. He has worked so hard the past few years to find his place in the field he loves and this year he did. Despite having very little time off and working a lot of 60, 70 and even 80 hour weeks at times he loves his job and his co workers and that has made all the difference in the world.

We were so lucky to spend another year watching our beautiful little boy grow and thrive. It's crazy to me to think that he will be turning 5 in just a few short months. He has reached so many goals and excelled in school by leaps and bounds. We saw him fall in love with swimming and karate. His freckles have continued to multiply which is just fine by me. He swam all summer long, made new friends and, sadly, has slowly started to lose a lot of his little baby features. But as always it's bittersweet watching our children grow.

There are so many things I have learned this year personally and as a family unit. But in life we realize that most of the time when we think we have learned a lesson life throws us a curve and we realize we are never done learning. I found a strength this year inside myself that brought me a lot of peace. This was a big year for me to reconnect with myself and be happy with who I am. I have an easier time not comparing myself to others and I have left social media in the dust a little more often to focus on family and that has made a big impact on me.

Another year passing and growing older always is a journey that must include hard time and happy ones, but if you play it right you become a little better verison of yourself after each dropping of the ball. You now have to take all those moments and weave them together, learning from them all, and creating a beautiful life.

One quote that I found myself relying on quite a bit this year was "Some people search the world over looking for something beautiful, while others carry within  them." This year I plan to expand on that and continue to rely on it. Carrying yourself with a positive attitude, a good heart, and a kind spirit will allow you to carry the beautiful inside you at all time. Learning that in order to find happiness you must look within is a big lesson.

This year instead of resolutions we are going to use the word "goals" because let's face it resolutions never stick and I like the word goals better ;) I've never set anything big ones or any really that I intended to act one but this year I am feeling refreshed and inspired. So let's give it a go :

- My friend Emily (who is a big reason this year made me so thankful) got a new DSLR for Christmas and set a goal to take 365 pictures this year in manual mode. And since I've had mine 2 years now and have never tried to learn much about it I am setting this same goal :) I can't wait to see the amazing photos we take.

- BOFM365 on Instagram is posting scriptures everyday for the whole year and once you have read them all you have read the entire Book of Morman. I am excited to explore this and see where it takes me.

- Blogging will be big this year. I am planning to devote a few mornings a week to it while Hensley is at school and learn some more features and "fun stuff".

- Biting my nails .... so over this year!!!

- My husband and I are trying a weekly savings program we found online this year and I am really excited to see where it goes.

- An amazing vacay with our sweet friends, The Williams' is so in order this year!!! Cruise here we come!

- Being more organized and more devoted to things that make me happy are big for me this year. I plan to spend time on things that bring me joy and for those who don't ..... as ta La Vista!!!!

Happiness is on the top of our priority list and I have a feeling it's going to be a great year!!!! :)

I decided to post one picture from each month of this year. My favorites. The ones who bring me JOY!

January: brought snow!!

February  had no shortage of love

March is a pretty fun month with Hensleys birthday :) Three of my favorites for this month :) 

April was warm and full of trampoline afternoons :)

May was muddy and a cute little bunny and a fluffy little puppy joined our family 

June brought a gymnastics graduation and a lot of days at the splash pad

July brought the beach. Salt water and ocean air.... we could have stayed all month!

August was full of anticipation for school to begin enjoying the last few days of summer and lots of Popsicles!

Back to school for September. Entering our last year of preschool was very bittersweet

October = Halloween and lots of candy

November! I wanted to post some Thanksgiving related photo but this was my favorite photo by far for the month!

December: Our yearly family photo :) I love this tradition :)
Here's to 2014 bringing new adventures, more blogging, lots of laughs, lessons learned, and a lot more JOY!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Elf on the Shelf 2013

It's that time of year again! BENNY'S BACK!!! Our Elf on the Shelf returning has been much anticipated in our house! We have all missed Benny and couldn't wait to see what predicaments he would get into this year! He arrived in full force this year!!!

Day 2: Being held hostage by the Lego bad guys

Day 3: Playing a little Angry Birds

Day 4: Benny got caught playing in the dog food. 

Day 5: Benny hanging out in the top of the tree (aka It was Dad's night to pick )

Day 6: Hensley had been feeling cruddy and the doctor put him on breathing treatments which he hated. Benny hoped he could help ease the process. 

Day 7: Benny wrapped the toilet ( which was no easy feat!)

Day 8: Benny TP'ed the tree

Day 9: Benny and Mario had a snowball fight 

Day 10: A little reminder for Hensley 

Day 11: Benny was inside Hensley's box of Christmas books reading a bed time story 

Day 12: Benny was giving Hensley a reminder of the real reason for the season. 

Day 13: If you know Hensley you know this Mario is very important to him and earlier this day his head fell off, which was a total tragedy. Benny glued it back on for him. 

Day 14: Benny decided to visit the crabs
Day 15: Benny made a snow man :) 

Day 16: Benny decided to swing from the door ;) Loved his glittery swing!

Day 17: Benny was getting a little loopy! Hensley thought this was hilarious! 

Day 18: The countdown has begun. 
Day 19: Benny knows oral hygiene is very important :) 

Day 20: Benny loves chocolate. 

Day 21: Benny set up a kissing booth. It was obviously very successful.