welcome baby peter

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My newest nephew, Peter, was born right before my brother Chris and his family moved.

I was so happy I could meet Peter in the first few days of his life. He is the sweetest little bundle of love. Holding him just melted my heart into a puddle of tears. He is precious!

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I love those wrinkly little feet

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Welcome to our world Peter and once again congratulations Chris and Lizzy! Love you all!

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welcome baby drew

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I recently did a newborn photo shoot for a darling couple in my ward!

Newborn photo shoots are by far my favorite! It is probably one of the few times I will be passed a baby and be given full rights to love and snuggle that little bundle of joy without any qualms from mom or dad. “Oh, no! You know what you are doing, go right ahead.”

Score! I found my baby fix. :)

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Thanks for giving me this opportunity and once again congratulations on a beautiful baby boy! He is precious!

back to the grind

We have been in school for almost four weeks and in many ways I feel like I am back in kindergarten, second, fifth, and sixth grade all at once :). It is going well, although some of the homework load is a bit of an adjustment.

I am so thankful I have sweet little Cora with me during the day. I sure love that lady. We have fun talking, working on puzzles, and taking trips to the library or the park. One of our favorite parts of the day is when we get to go pick up Addie from school. Cora hops on her little balance bike, throws on her shades, hot pink flip flops, and backpack and we are off. She gets a lot of attention and comments from people.

It is funny because we live in an area were most families have one or two kids, parents are throwing their child’s backpack over their shoulder, and walking them all the way to their classroom. In contrast, I am hurriedly rushing my four kids out the door to run off to school on their own, including my kindergartener :). Point is, it is really great for us to live in this area where there are some pretty stark contrasts between our life and those around us. I feel like we have a lot to give and we have so much that we can gain from this experience. Like calmly sending my kids to school ON TIME :).

It is a really funny experience to live here with FIVE kids. When people find out we have five kids, their jaw drops and they step back as if they are going to fall over in complete shock. This exact response has happened numerous times in doctor offices, at the school, and at the store and it makes me laugh every time.

One afternoon I picked up Adelie from a friends house, as we got talking I mentioned that we have five kids. She laughed and said, “Oh, I thought Adelie was making that up!” Ha-ha-ha! And another time, “How do you manage all the laundry? You must do a load a day.” or two :). It makes me laugh! But I am so glad that people feel comfortable enough to openly ask me any question and I find it exhilarating to meet so many people with varied backgrounds and cultures. I am learning and gaining so much from them.

I have to admit that there are still plenty of times that I miss home, family, and friends to the point that I wind up being a teary mess at the drop of a hat. But I have done a lot of self talk and decided a few things:

1. I need to be more grateful

2. I need to look for similarities and rejoice in the differences

3. I need to distracting myself from myself with a good book like David Copperfield. Love it so far!

4. I need to reach back as a friend

5. I need to stop thinking about me and look to serve

6. I need to get outside everyday

Basically, I just need a big attitude adjustment.

Anyway, somehow a post about school starting ended up being all about me. Guess I still have a ways to go. HA-HA!

A Fall Flop

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October 2013

A year ago I took my kids out to a beautiful grassy hillside at a historical farm in Duvall, Washington to capture the joy and wonder of their childhood. Wes was the entertainment for the night and he did a marvelous job, but it was impossible to get all five sets of little eyes and smiles on me. I came home that evening, scrolled through all the pictures and felt like it was a flop—I was discouraged.

Those feelings coupled with the fact that I took several family and senior pictures that fall left me with little time or desire to edit. Soon after the holidays I found myself in the midst of a big move to the California Bay Area. Every time I glanced through these pictures I felt a twinge of sadness that pricked my soul. I ached to be back home….

Six months later I was ready to throw myself back into photography.

Once I finally sat down to edit, I couldn’t believe what I had once thought of as a flop. I would take these crazy hysterical laughing photos over a picture perfect moment any day.

I am so grateful for each of my sweet children and feel it a privilege to be their mother! They are so patient, kind and forgiving of me as I struggle to learn how to be a mom.

Being a mother is challenging, the days can be long, and patience can wear thin. Many days, weeks, and months could be glanced back through and quickly chalked up to as “a flop”. Disappointment and discouragement settles in, “I am failing my kids!”

My perspective as a mother is so limited.

If I quickly glance through life looking for perfection, I won’t find it. But if instead, I search for moments of chaos, smiles, and laughter I will surely have it.

Frequently I create an ideal image of what a family event should look like, and I get so focused on that vision of “perfection” that I don’t enjoy the moment sitting right in front of me. I get uptight over the kids rocking on their chairs at dinnertime, or laughing hysterically during prayer, or coming out of bed for the hundredth time for just one more hug and drink of water.

Perfection is there, I just fail to see it.

It is time to cherish these fleeting moments of childhood and rejoice in the madness, because it is going to end, and when it does there will be a gapping hole in my heart.

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I love you crazy kids :)! xoxo, Mom

** After posting this I felt silly. I fully recognize that these pictures are far from perfect, as are any moments in our life. The point is, that it is good and that I can find joy in what I have :).

a mess of fun

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There are a lot of things I don’t really love about our home, but this room makes up for all of that.

The room usually looks like a tornado hit and there are times I feel super crazy inside just glancing in. That feeling leaves me with a need to do one of three things, one, run in and clean it up as fast as I can with or without help, two, ask the girls a millions times to clean it up, promise rewards, threaten consequences, and finally set timers, or three, shove everything back in the room, close the door and pretend it does not exist. The last is my go-to. :)

But really this room is wonderful! It has been the space and source of many cherished memories! I would take the mess and chaos over a Pottery Barn home any day.

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They are the cutest friends!

point reyes seashore

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A stunning day greeted us as we drove across the golden gate bridge to Marin County. We didn’t know exactly where we were headed, but we knew we were in for an adventure. And Point Reyes Seashore was a perfect pick.

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Rolling grassy hillsides, wildflowers, fantastic company of the Horkley’s, backpacks full of snacks, seven little monkey’s in a tree, a dog named Rascal, and stunning vistas made this an unforgettable adventure.

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A day hiking in the sun by the seashore with dear friends was exactly what I needed to fill the gapping holes in my heart. I realized California is beautiful and offers many wonderful adventures ahead if we are willing to seize them. Marin-Horkley-10  Marin-Horkley-11

Cora was de.ter.min.ed to get up the sandy hillside on. her. own! And she did it! :) We all love her spunk and adamant personality. She adores little Rascal and has almost convinced me to get her a dog. Give us a couple more years in this rental and then I will buckle :)

On our way home we stopped by a fabulous Mexican restaurant and eventually made it home in the dark.

It was a treat to have the Horkley’s visit! They are amazing friends. I appreciate their perspective and conversation immensely. Love you Horkely’s and hope you come again soon!

pet rocks

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Rocks, garbage cans, testing kits, live sand, salt and more salt landed at our doorstep within weeks of moving in. Wes and Jacob were excited and super anxious to start a salt water aquarium. 

Having a salt water aquarium, has been a dream of Wes’s since he was a boy. The moment Jacob expressed the same interest Wes jumped on board and together they began to studying stacks of aquarium books and making notes on what kind of fish and corals could live cohesively in their tank.

After 2 months of babysitting rocks, taking water samples, and doing extensive water changes, the rocks were ready to enter the tank.

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a Sunday tradition

This is Kaitlyn and Adelie’s massive bedroom that doubles as our playroom. We all love it!

It has quickly become a Sunday tradition for Jacob to truck across the house with bins of Lego’s and knights to join the girls in an epic battle against the ponies and Care Bears.

They have even found a way to incorporate Cora into battle scene. She is “King Kong” set loose to do her worst.

Occasionally, they tire of her destructive nature and all run out of the room in rapture, Cora follows and then before she knows it they are back in the room with the door slammed shut. Waaa! Poor Cora! She is stuck with her boring mom and dad.

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imageIt makes my heart happy to see their imaginations come alive especially, when they are playing so nicely.

Due to the grandeur of their play and I had create a huge incentive for them to clean it up. Meet the Uh-Oh box. It has helped :).

I am so grateful for smart moms, who share their tricks and printables!

i {heart} my little red heads

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Adelie, Cora, and I are enjoying our days in sunny California drawing with chalk, going on walks, playing at the park, visiting a local farm, and eating lunch on the back porch.

I can’t think of a better way to spend my days than with these sweet little ladies

My baby Cora finally has enough hair for piggy-tails. Oh, it is so cute! But I am so not ready for her to grow up.

I guess she isn’t doing it too quickly since she hardly talks and the few words she does have are mamamama, dadadada, hi, whoa!, Wow!, nana {Hannah}, and I think that is about it. Other than that she squawks and cries “Aaah,” as she pulls and points people in the direction of what she wants.

Adelie is sweet as pie and can be often heard belting out “let it go… let it go… can’t hold it back anymore…heaven know I tried.” Oh, how I love that little muffin of love.

there’s no place like home

Our house officially sold last week. It has been under contract since we moved, but just took forever to close.

It was a bitter sweet moment the day it was no longer ours.

I miss my home.

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Looking back at these pictures makes my heart ache.

I miss the hours spent in my kitchen with a friends sitting at the counter talking, eating, preparing food, canning, making dinner together, or feeding a host of children.

I miss my beautiful bedroom and master bathroom.

I miss chasing the kids up the stairs to bed.

I miss our amazing neighbors and friends that loved us and helped us in countless ways.

Oh man, I really thought I was done crying. I thought I was okay.

I guess not…

I’m bawling with snot streaming down my face. Lovely, I know. *sniff*sniff*

Luckily the room is dark and no one is around to see me blubbering all over myself.

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Today we went on a hike to Castle Rock with some friends. It did my heart a world of good to escape the city. I felt like I could breathe. It was fantastic to set the kids loose sprinting up the trail.

Wes and I have decided we are not city people. I like visiting the city on occasion, but I would prefer to scale some rock face or climb a mountain over strolling through crowded streets any day.

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When the kids first spotted castle rock they were giddy with excitement. “Dad look at this cave! Look at all the holes up there! Oh wow! You have to come up here dad!” All while scampering up and over the rocks like little mountain goats.

We are excited to return and do some fun top roping later as a family.

photo1 (1)One of Wes’s really great friends, Peter, arrived today and was with us on the hike as well but he was kind and volunteered to be our photographer on both group shots. Thanks Pete!

Tromping through the forest as a family is just what I needed to start feeling like this can be home.