Tuesday, July 17, 2018

bethany victoria | eight months.

You are officially eight months old, baby girl! These days are flying by, constantly reminding me to savor every moment before it passes us by and becomes a memory. You are growing and changing each day, and we love watching you become your own person with your own personality. It's crazy to think that you'll be celebrating your birthday in just four months, but it's true -- it's also true that I need to start planning a party! Mommy loves planning parties to gather as many of our favorite people as possible, and I'm especially thankful for the splashes of pink that will be found throughout your birthday bash. Over the next month, we'll decide on a party theme and probably start crafting, too -- I told ya, it's my favorite!
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We've had another full month filled with two hikes (both of which included daddy!), lots of time spent at the pool, your first July 4th, countless walks around town, lazy days where no one gets out of our pajamas, and more. The most exciting thing we did this past month was take our annual trip to the beach! That's right, girlfriend, your first time on the coast is officially in the books! You did so good considering your schedule was all out of whack all week, and you loved the water and the sand. You took several naps in my arms (swoon!), splashed in the water, and loved the sand most of all. Yep, you loved the sand so much that we had to take you to the eye doctor because you got some of it in your eye and we couldn't get it out. You're all better now, though! Your least favorite thing about this trip was dinner time (basically you cried//screamed through every one we ate), and your favorite thing about the trip was Russ. Your first little crush. LOL! Seriously -- your eyes stayed locked on him the whole week. Teppy didn't mind; good thing.
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You are sitting up strong now with minimal falling over, and you're trying to go from sitting to up on all fours. You still haven't crawled, but you are sooooo close to being on the move. You love to get up on your hands and knees and rock back and forth; you'll move your legs, but you hands haven't figured out how to move quite yet. It won't be long until you're seeing the world in a whole new way, baby girl! You sleep about thirteen hours straight a night (hallelujah!), and you take two good, long naps during the day (sometimes a short third if you just can't hang until bed time). Also, you're still not a fan of food. Lord, help us. You love your milk (no denying that), but your interest in food hasn't changed since we first tried to introduce it two months ago. You do better with small pieces of food than with purees, but you never take more than a few bites. By the time Braxton was your age, he was eating three times a day and downing puffs like it was his job; you, on the other hand, are the opposite. We're not worried about it because we know that you'll eat when you're supposed to, but we're still steadily trying to get you used to it. Maybe one of these days you'll realize what you're missing out on! Hopefully by the time it's time to wean you from the bottle. A mama can hope!
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You're long and lean, and you wear a big ol' grin most of the time. I still get tickled over how you went from constantly crying to constantly smiling, and I definitely like the new transition better. Your smile lights up our world, and we seriously giggle when you flash it! You are a DOLL, and you know where to look when the camera comes out; your brother figured out the camera by this age, too, so now I'm two-for-two on babies who know and humor me well. As sweet as your smile is now, I know it'll be even sweeter once your teeth start popping through. Still no teefers yet, but as swollen as your little gums are we know it won't be long! I just love a toothy grin!
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Daddy is going to Haiti later this week, so it will just be you, me, and Braxton for a week. Thankfully baseball season prepared me for weeks like this, buuuut we will still miss him while he's gone. We'll have lots of play dates and do lots of fun things to fill our days while we wait for him to come home to us. We've been blessed with the best family and so many wonderful friends, and I know they'll help us with any needs that arise. Our tribe is seriously amazing -- you'll see that for yourself one day! We're also nearing the end of summer, so we will be making the most of these final weeks before daddy goes back to school. Oh, if only summer could last forever!
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Keep growing big and strong, little one. We love watching you figure out your world, and we'll never stop being thankful that God saw fit to knit us together. You are more loved than you know, and we will tell you that forever and ever. God has given us the most incredible gifts in you and your big brother; we hope you grow up believing that, too. We love you, we love you, we love you! These past eight months have been the hardest, best, most praise-worthy months we've ever known -- what joy!

Monday, July 16, 2018

our seventh.

I'll be honest, year seven was our most difficult year of marriage yet. Everyone always talks about the "seven year itch," but that's not what I'd call it. For us, it has been a year of growing pains, having our faith stretched further than ever before, and continuing to learn how to struggle well.

I can still remember when we were teenagers, both dreaming of the day we'd be married. It sounds crazy to most, but we both knew we would marry each other back then. Even when I was unsure about us in the moment, I was certain that I would spend the rest of my life loving him. Again, it sounds crazy, but it's true. From the first few months of calling each other boyfriend and girlfriend, we had a strong connection, a pull even, towards one another -- and that's that. He has always respected me, honored me wholeheartedly, given me the very best of himself, and humored my sometimes insane ideas. It didn't matter how many times I didn't want to love him after a silly fight or when my feelings were hurt, I did.

And I still do today. So much that it hurts sometimes.

The hardest thing about this past year, our seventh year as husband and wife, has been having such an increasingly full life. For nearly twelve years, it was just me and him. Then came our boy, and most recently, our girl. And on top of careers and extracurriculars and about a dozen other things that take a lot out of both of us, our time together has changed. We've gone from date nights whenever we wanted to date nights that sometimes get cancelled last-minute when our sitter can't make it, talking about everything to often times being too tired to talk but trying our hardest to muster up the energy to do it anyways, and more. Don't misunderstand me -- we are so grateful to be in this season of our lives, raising babies together and following our God-given callings. But that doesn't mean it hasn't been hard to adjust, tough to pursue each other when it would be easier to not.

Nothing has changed in regards to this, though: we are still, and always will be, better together. Even if we're arguing and fighting with each other while we're together, I'd rather be arguing and fighting with him than not without him.

We're still those two young love birds who kissed each other and proudly walked back up the aisle hand-in-hand, ready to take on whatever life threw at them. We knew it would be hard, because we had seen first-hand how easy things could go from good to bad if we let it. We, also, knew it would be thrilling, because we were stepping into a new chapter that we'd never opened before: us, officially. What we didn't know was just how hard and thrilling it would be.

Still, seven years old, our adventure is just beginning.

And no difficult year or tough season will ever be strong enough to steal our joy, take our zeal, or water down our commitment to each other. I think that the best way to be crazy about one another is just that: be crazy about one another. No matter what. Always.

So, today, as we steal away to celebrate our marriage, that's what we're going to do: remember how crazy we are about each other.

Like we've always been.

Like we always will be.
Happy seventh anniversary to us, Teesh!
Come hell or high water, I'd choose you every time. You and me. Forever.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

halteron beach week | 2018.

It's been two weeks since we returned home from our week on the coast, and I'll be honest: I wish we could just live there. There is something about the ocean that breathes life into my weary soul -- it has since I was a little girl. The salty air does something to my soul, and the endless shore beckons humility in my core.

This was the third year we've ventured east with our best friends, and every year gets more fun. The boys splashed and played their hearts out, Bethany took it all in (just like I remember Braxton doing his first trip), and the grown ups even got to rest some, too. It was good for everyone, and we even had an extra reason to be thankful because Auntie Mel joined us for a few days. She is always the crowd favorite, and Braxton and Maddox didn't waste a minute with her. She even watched the little ones for an evening so that we could have a parents night out -- this was the night that dueling piano bars officially became my all-time favorite. So much fun!

The theme of our week was just plain ol', good-timin' fun.

We had perfect company, perfect weather, perfect everything. Well, except our kids -- but I guess if they were perfect then we'd never have good stories to tell. Traveling with kiddos gets a little easier each time -- not because they do, but because we get a little better at making realistic expectations. The chaos is just part of the fun, and the better we get at embracing it the more we can really appreciate every moment -- the good, the bad, and everything in between.

We may not be able to show them the world, but I hope we'll always show them as much as we are able. And that we'll let them live a little along the way.

Because what better way to live than alongside those who breathe life into you more than anyone else?
"Smell the sea, and feel the sky
Let your soul and spirit fly."
-Van Morrison

Saturday, July 7, 2018

black balsam + tennent mountain | hike it baby.

A few weeks ago, we adventured to a place we had never been before off of the Blue ridge Parkway. Oh my! It was almost as if I had entered into heaven.

We joined our Hike It Baby crew for a day of exploring, and we got to see two spectacular places: Black Balsam Knob and Tennent Mountain. We were surrounded by bright green the whole way up and back, and there were bursts of color everywhere. We hiked under blue skies to Tennent Mountain, and we started our trek back just as rain clouds rolled in. A little rain couldn’t take the smiles off of our faces though!

Bethany rode on my back, and Braxton walked for a good while before TJ put his long, lanky body in the carrier. This hike is probably the last one that we’ll go on with two babies being carried, and if that’s the case then it was a good one to go out on. Even weeks later, I’m still reliving all the beautiful scenes we got to live out in the midst of so much beauty. Every time I hike, I’m reminded of how creative my Maker is — and this particular area made me offer up extra praises.

We even witnessed a wedding happening at the peak of Black Balsam, y’all. Yes, I’m serious! And they were so gracious towards us crazy parents toting our crazy kiddos as we walked through their small wedding party to cross over. We all added “wedding crashers” onto our resumes. Ha!

I sincerely hope this won’t be the only time we venture to this spot. I’d love to see it when the leaves are changing colors, so maybe we’ll mosey back up there in the fall. The older I get, the more thankful I become to live in a place that’s so rich in adventure and beauty. I could hike the world every day for the rest of my life and it still wouldn’t be enough! There is so much to be discovered, so much to see — I suppose I’ll simply try to see as much as I can for as long as I can.

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