Merry Christmas!

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Merry Christmas from our family to yours. 

The Beauty in a Story Pillow

Remember how I told you that there was an adorable pillow I wanted to tell you about for Father’s Day?

Without further ado….

Daddy and Me Pillow

 

How cute is that? (And yes, it is propped up on a Pirate Ship for the picture.)

And the precious pillow counterpart….

Noah's Story Pillow

Story Pillow Back

 

How much do you love these pillows?

My favorite blog link up is Memories Captured. It’s a sweet link up hosted by Alison and Galit that celebrates capturing your latest memories. It is so fun to participate, share your memories and read and see the sweet moments of other families. If you enter, you have a chance to win one of the amazing prizes they offer at each link up.

I was lucky enough to be selected as a winner of a Story Pillow by Moving Stories at the January Memories Captured link up. I was asked to send some personal information and some pictures and Michelle would handle the rest.

Oh my goodness, did she. Not only did she incorporate the pictures I sent her into a unique design, she also included a quote that I always say to my son, and mine and my son’s very favorite feature is the sweet surprise Noah Bear puppet that she made to fit in the pillow pocket. I have been calling my son Noah Bear since he was in my tummy and he adores the little bear that looks like him in his special pillow.

Noah Bear

And then there’s this gorgeous Father’s Day pillow that my husband and I both LOVE! Michelle surprised me with the making of this pillow, and when I saw the pictures of it in my email I just had to buy it. She did not even know, but we are HUGE University of Georgia fans and having a pillow with my boys on it in UGA colors is priceless. And I adore the pom poms. It already has a very prized placement on our living room couch.

The cats love it too.

The cats love it too.

Michelle was truly a pleasure to work with. She was very patient as I sorted through pictures to send and was very detailed in her emails about the progress of the pillow. These pillows are hand sewn and the attention to detail is just beautiful. I hope that my son’s pillow will be one he treasures into college and adulthood. How neat is it to have a pillow of your family and your nickname brought to life to snuggle with every night?

I am so excited to be the recipient of these pillows and they came just in time for Father’s Day. I have to admit that I had never heard of a Story Pillow before, but I am absolutely in love with this sweet idea.

Surprisingly, Story Pillows are not even the main part of Michelle’s business! Moving Stories specializes in movie making and can capture your moments for personal stories, business presentations, or documentaries.

If you are interested in working with Michelle to make your very own story pillow or to explore all of the creative services Moving Stories has to offer, head over to www.movingstories.biz.

I can’t wait to see what you create!

*I received a free story pillow as a prize from the Memories Captured link up. I purchased the Daddy and Me pillow for Father’s Day. All opinions and recommendations are my own.*

Memories Captured Spring 2013

Twice a year, we set a date with our favorite photographer.

I try to coordinate outfits and spend a lot longer than I normally do on hair and make up. We leave behind stained shirts and toddler snack crumbs and capture our family as we are in that moment in time.

I thought about skipping the spring session this year, but my husband insisted.

I’m oh-so-glad he did.

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I love seeing ourselves through someone else’s eyes and capturing these fleeting moments when my son is little and we are young. I love that these pictures capture my son’s defiance and cuteness, because it’s a perfect reflection of who he is at this age; charming and infuriating and adorable all at once. And I realize, with bittersweet certainty, that my sweet little boy is all of a sudden not so little.

Linking up with my absolutely positively very favorite blog link up that only happens twice a year, Memories Captured with Galit Breen of These Little Waves and Alison of Writing Wishing. What beautiful memories have you captured lately?

 

Pictures courtesy of Amy Robinson at Amy Robinson Photography in Richmond, VA.

 

Valentines and Memories

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Today, I am linking up with my very favorite link up, Memories Captured, which encourages us each month to capture the moments that catch our hearts and hold our memories. This will be the last Memories Captured link up until June, so instead of sharing just one memory with you, I want to share a few of my recent favorites.

Most of my heart belongs to this sweet little boy who I am honored to make memories with daily. I absolutely adore this most recent picture of him that I just captured Tuesday. At three-and-a-half years old, this little guy is mischievous and sweet all at the same time, and I think this exactly captures his current complexities.

(And the love between a boy and his ice cream.)

A boy and his ice cream

Then there’s this one from January, when just enough snow came to Richmond to build a small snowman and bring this grin to my sweet boy:

playing in the snow

I adore this picture of my son and I riding a children’s train during a weekend afternoon winter visit to an outdoor mall.

Mommy and Noah

And this very rare occasion of a date night at the beginning of January, when my husband and I went to dinner and a movie for the first date we had been on in 6 months.

date night

So this Valentine’s Day, I am cherishing these recent memories and so many memories from the past, and thinking about all of the amazing people that may not be in these pictures, but are always in my heart.

I did something a little crazy for Valentine’s Day this year…I entered a boudoir photography contest and have been selected as a finalist. If you would like to vote for me I can promise I will reward you with a probably hilarious story of how embarrassing it was to take intimate pictures. Voting ends February 14th at 5 pm PST. Thank you!

Update: February 15th: Thank you so much to all of you who voted for me! I did not win, but another one of the deserving finalists did. Thank you again for helping me try to make that silly little idea a reality! Maybe one day…. :)

That Mom

I am not that mom.
The mom who makes homemade outfits and always has cookies in the cake plate.
The mom that has organic healthy meals prepared for dinner every night.
The mom that has crafts and busy bags and art projects in mind for each day.
I’m not a Pinterest worthy mom or a working out of the home mom or even a really put together mom.

I am his mom.
I am the mom who worries too much but tries not to show it.
That mom who is sometimes so overwhelmed by the love I feel for my son that it moves me to tears.
That mom that sometimes loses my temper.
That mom that keeps a clean looking house,  but you probably shouldn’t touch anything because toddlers are sticky.
That mom that will read a million bedtime stories and spends hours cuddling because there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.
That mom who is aware, every day, that these moments, the good and the bad, will not last forever.

I am not a perfect mom.
But I am his mom.
And for getting to be that mom, I am thankful.

My little guy very proudly showing me a train.

My little guy very proudly showing me a train, and me very proudly capturing a picture.

 

I am linking up with my very favorite link up today, Memories Captured with Galit Breen of These Little Waves and Alison of Writing Wishing. Head over to see the other wonderful writers who have captured memories lately, and think about linking up with one of your own!

Christmas Moments

Time is rushing by, as it tends to do.

There are still presents to be gotten and wrapped, cookies to bake and stockings to fill.

I feel so very far behind this year, though I am normally such an organized person.

But this year, instead of letting the stress of my a-bit-behind schedule throw me, I’m taking in moments.

Moments of meals eaten in a Christmas filled dining room.

Moments of salt dough ornament making.

And couch cuddles by the tree.

Moments of neighbor gifts delivered by a sweet toddler.

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Moments of excitement as the mail comes each day filled with beautiful Christmas cards of those we love.

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Moments of stockings hung by the stairs and Santa pictures with little ones.

I know we will all be stepping away from our computers soon to enjoy our last minute shopping and never-long enough family time.

But I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

From our family to yours,

 

(This is a video of my son’s Christmas performance at school. I pixelated it to protect the privacy of the children. But how can you resist those sweet little voices? Enjoy!)

Merry Christmas video

 

Choosing Memories

We had spent the day getting ready.

Which means I spent hours on make-up and hair in between fixing toddler snacks and playing trains and putting on toddler shows.

We fought about putting on shoes and “please don’t spill milk on your shirt” and “please stop messing up your hair Mommy just brushed it.”

We struggled all day, just the toddler and I.

The husband changed out of scrubs into street clothes and met us at the park straight from work.

We were rushed.

We were tired.

We were all drained.

The toddler had a case of the “I don’t want tos” and screamed and fought and kicked and would not smile.

We begged and pleaded in between rushed and whispered how were your days and looks of desperation.

We bribed with ice cream and even resorted to a scolding.

It was a disaster.

But then our amazing photographer managed to capture these:

My beautiful boy

My sweet family

Fall leaves

The way we were when we were still in our twenties and he was still three

An afternoon in the park (I think this is my favorite)

A silly face

Some of the historic beauty of Richmond(We are right in front of the famous St. John’s Church in Richmond, VA where Patrick Henry gave his “give me liberty of give me death” speech. The sign behind us is noting the historical site.)

A family of three

And so I hope that many years into the future when I see these pictures I will not remember the tired Mommy or the fighting toddler or the rushing over from work husband.

I will choose to remember the beauty of our little family, at that moment in time.

When he was still little, and we were still in this busied, crazy, beautiful stage of life.

*The amazing photographer that manages to make our little family look beautiful is Amy Robinson of Amy Robinson Photography. If you are in the Richmond area, check out her website or Facebook page to book a session!*

 

Pumpkin Patch

I don’t have a lot of words to go with this post, but in the spirit of Halloween I wanted to share one of my very favorite October traditions with you; the Pumpkin Patch.

I love going every year, and it is so much more fun now that my son is old enough to get excited about it, too.

Please enjoy some pictures of our day as we selected pumpkins, went through a straw maze, and enjoyed playing together.

PS – This top picture? Is my favorite. :)

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October 5th

I remember the day vividly. Of course I do.

Over time, its events have transpired into a movie in my mind, playing on a continuous reel that occasionally makes its way to the forefront. In it, I am watching myself as though I wasn’t a part of it, as though it wasn’t me living those moments.

I see myself as I get the news, as I cry, as I process.

I remember all the details; even the blurry ones.

So on the morning of October 5th this year, I was transported back to that day ten years prior, the day my Dad passed away.

There was my mind made movie, playing all morning as I recalled those things that I already know so well; the events of the day that changed everything.

This October 5th, I woke up in sobs and let the tears stain my pillow as the toddler slept peacefully beside me.

The anniversary of this loss is hard every year, but ten years seems so significant. Ten years. A decade. A milestone.

I miss him everyday. I grieve all of the momentous things he has missed in my life. College graduation. My wedding. Meeting my son.

But there is so much I have missed seeing of him. The way he would have loved seeing the Phillies win the World Series in 2008. The way he would have loved the historical election where Obama became President. All of the Christmas presents I missed getting to see him open and Father’s Days we never got to celebrate. Getting to see him be a granddad.

He is forever a part of me. I see it every time I look in the mirror as his eyes stare back at me. I hear him every time the Beatles song “Imagine” is played, even all of the bad cover bands. I feel him every time I say my son’s full name, because we gave our son my Dad’s name, Richard, as a middle name. I smile every time I pass a chess set, or watch my son play soccer, or stare into my son’s eyes, because, luckily, he has those same big eyes, too.

Yes, I remember that day. But I remember so much more of him as my father and I missed so much more of him in these ten years since he has been gone.

So on October 5th, rather than transporting myself back to that day, I let my mind movie play and I let my tears fall. Then I got my little boy dressed and we had a play date at the Botanical Gardens, surrounding ourselves with butterflies and flowers.

And then I think my family gave each other the greatest gift; we gave each other a weekend of each other.

Leaving the husband and toddler at home, my mom, sister, brother and I went away for a weekend to Charlottesville, VA. We immersed ourselves in laughter and conversation, scenery and adventure, and no shortage of extravagant food.

Nothing will change the significance of the loss, the way his presence is missed daily, the way my heart grieves eternally for the man that I was lucky enough to have as my father.

But this year, on this tenth year of the day we lost my father, we celebrated my Dad with love and laughter, just the four of us.

I know for certain that there were still five of us there.

“Oh heart, if one should say to you that the soul perishes like the body, answer that the flower withers, but the seed remains.”  ~Kahlil Gibran

Spending time with my family, remembering and celebrating my Dad who helped create it.

My Dad

The Third Birthday

After eventful first and second birthdays, and a lot of planning for the third, I had high hopes that this birthday party would be perfect. This year, his birthday fell on a Saturday, a perfect day to host a party. So on September 1st, we hosted a yellow birthday party at our house. Here is the big reveal; Noah’s third birthday party!

This year his birthday was all about his favorite color; yellow. Throughout the summer I diligently planned, bought, and made yellow items. We covered our home in yellow decor and invited his preschool class over for some fun. We were able to celebrate with my mom, sister, and brother-in-law, too.

The Yellow Birthday Party

Mommy, Noah and Daddy

The Invitation

The decor: kitchen chalkboard, living room streamers and balloons, entry table with pictures of Noah at ages 1, 2, and 3 and favor bags and birthday hats, dining room decked in yellow

Dining room. The food was all yellow: bananas, Goldfish, cheese, pineapple, doughnuts, popcorn, and yellow cupcakes and candy.

Beverage station featuring lemonade and lemon water, striped straws, and lemons. There are also homemade cookies shaped like the number 3 in the cake plate for each child to decorate with yellow frosting. Close up of homemade birthday banner.

Cupcakes and candy jars.

Cupcakes with yellow striped liners, yellow cupcake flags, and the number 3 candle, looking out into the back yard.

The back yard ready for the yellow party

The birthday boy.

Party details: my artsy shot, striped straws and lemons, the three cookie cutter and yellow icing…all of the 3 cookies were eaten!

There are a lot of pictures of all of the children and family at the party, but I’m not sure they would like being included on a blog. The children played outside on the swing set and I had set up bowling, bubbles, t-ball, and a yellow bucket of toys. They had a great time playing outside and decorating number three cookies. We all enjoyed singing Happy Birthday to Noah.

Happy Birthday Noah! Blowing out the candles and making a wish.

Look at that beautiful three year old.

The favor bags. Cat not included. :)

A boy and his balloons.

After party cuddles

Mommy, Noah, and balloons. My favorite yellow birthday party picture.

The Yellow Birthday Party was a great success. Noah had a wonderful time and I was so happy to host a party at our home for his friends. I think the third birthday was the best one yet.