Sunday, May 12, 2013

A Blogger's Perspective

Anybody who knows me, knows I'm a pretty optimistic person. Sure I have my down days, but I really do try to look on the bright side of things. I think this carries over into the things that I choose to blog about. I use this blog as our family history and looking back I realize that most of the posts I choose to include are about good, fun and exciting moments in our lives. However, our lives aren't always like that. When looking at these photos I took last Sunday, I realized that they sometimes depict the "blogger's perspective" on life.
Take this first picture. This one represents what I choose to portray on the blog for the most part (a cute sweet, smiling boy in his Sunday best!) Life is great, fabulous, full of fun and nary a problem in the world!!
However, this photo displays the "whole" picture a bit more accurately...
Our lives on this blog may come across as a bit idealistic, but don't let that fool you. We often are bored, whiny, tired, snappy, frustrated, sad (or caught with our pants off...more figurative for the rest of us, very literally for Mr. Nolan!)
Parenthood is great, but it is also hard...VERY hard at times! It requires a lot of patience, sacrifice, meekness, tears and there are days where I just want to curl up on my bed and forget it all. Bedtime is often "the most wonderful TIME of the DAY" around these parts!! This picture represents these particular days very well...
  But despite all the hardness that parenthood entails, it is also very, very good. I have never laughed as hard or loved as much as I do as a mom. The joy of watching a child discover the amazing world around them, or learn to read, or ride a bike for the first time, or tell a funny joke, etc. etc. Those things make all the hard things worth it.
So I probably won't change the scope of this blog. I do tend to look on the bright side of things and honestly those are the things I want to remember as I grow older. But just so you know, our "real" lives are every bit as challenging as anybody with small children can attest. Perhaps if we had all known how difficult parenthood would be, we never would have jumped on board. But then we would have really missed out on the most amazing adventure this world has to offer!!

And to all the Moms and Mom-like figures in our lives...

Happy Mother's Day!!

"Do the best you can through these years, but whatever else you do, cherish that role that is so uniquely yours and for which heaven itself sends angels to watch over you and your little ones...Mothers, we acknowledge and esteem your faith in every footstep. Please know that it is worth it then, now, and forever...May I say to mothers collectively, in the name of the Lord, you are magnificent. You are doing terrifically well. The very fact that you have been given such a responsibility is everlasting evidence of the trust your Father in Heaven has in you...You are doing God’s work. You are doing it wonderfully well. He is blessing you and He will bless you, even—no, especially—when your days and your nights may be the most challenging. Like the woman who anonymously, meekly, perhaps even with hesitation and some embarrassment, fought her way through the crowd just to touch the hem of the Master’s garment, so Christ will say to the women who worry and wonder and sometimes weep over their responsibility as mothers, “Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole.”  And it will make your children whole as well."
-- Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
"Because She Is a Mother"
 (Love this talk!!)

Saturday, May 11, 2013

More Spring Work

Along with the backyard transformation, we also ordered 6 cubic yards of mulch to redo all of the landscape areas around our house. (Let me tell you that was one huge mountain of mulch in our driveway for a while!!)
We (and by "we" I really mean "I") mulched all of our plant beds as well as the line of  evergreen trees that line our backyard. Amazing what new mulch can add to the look of a yard!!
We also found a clearance set of stones at a local nursery that we used to add in a little pathway in one of our mulch beds (eventually this will lead to a landscape bench but we haven't quite found one we like yet...)
We then used the remainder of the stones to border the corner mulch bed and planted a new Japanese maple tree.)
 After all that mulching, we had a bit leftover so I dug out some more sod around the mailbox and added some plants to create a nice landscape area around there too.
I think the back and front yards are now completely done. Not it's time for a long nap to rest from all that work (hmmmmm...maybe we should get that hammock I was eyeing after all!!!)

Friday, May 10, 2013

Our Spring Project

For the last three weeks we have been very busy transforming our backyard. The idea was to just get a new firepit for our backyard but like many projects do, it took on a life of its own and we are so happy with the results (even if it required A LOT of work!!)
Here was our backyard before (this picture was from the summer of 2010, just after we bought the home and had the patio put in...including our cheap yard-sale-find patio table!!)
The nasty grass was a result of a severe drought that summer. Thankfully it has grown in considerably in the last 3 years...
Stage 1 of backyard transformation...
I dug out all the sod around the perimeter of the patio and for the actual firepit area and then had to level it out since our yard slopes a bit on the side. Talk about manual labor!!
After digging and leveling for two weeks, we bordered everything with landscape timbers, put in the firepit and then laid some gravel. Add in some red chairs for a pop of color and things were starting to take shape...
We finished this portion on a Saturday afternoon and that evening we broke it in with our first fire and invited two other families over for marshmallow roasting and s'mores!!
The next week our mulch order was delivered and we bordered the edge around the patio with some more landscape timbers to provide some continuity to the whole project. We also added some plants to finish off the transformation. (And yes, that is the same patio table from 3 years ago, just spray painted and new cushions added. I like it so much better now!)
In the corner we let the kids pick out some flowers so they could have their very own flower box to care for throughout the summer...
Our final touch were some solar-powered tiki torches in each of the four corners of the firepit area. These come on and flicker each night and they look awesome (plus we don't have to worry about catching somebody's hair on fire!!)
 I came up with the idea myself, drew it all out, and did about 95% of the work. Jason was a bit skeptical about how it would all turn out but he was very excited to see that my vision of a "backyard retreat" wasn't so crazy after all. It seemed to take forever to get it all done, but I seriously LOVE how it all turned out and we have already had many evenings enjoying the fruits of our labors!!  

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Our Abby

Time for a little coverage of what our Abby girl has been up to this last month.
She was finally chosen as the spotlight child in April and got to make this fun poster. I love how under "My friends are..." she started to write a few names and then wrote "Everybody" (oh how I hope she can love all of her classmates forever!) And then under "Favorite Food" she stated "Hold it right there I like every food!!!! That's all I have to say about that. Close it." (She thought this was so hilarious and I loved how funny she thought it was!) We actually had a long and heart-warming talk one night about being an art teacher (it has been what she wants to be for a long time.) We talked about how important it is to get a good education so that you can do something that you will really enjoy but how I hoped that she would be able to stay at home with her children if that was an option. She got pretty emotional at one point, saying how badly she wanted to be an art teacher. I shared with her how much I love being a mother and how it is such an important job, but how we also don't know what will happen in life and we should be prepared for however our lives turn out. We talked about her aunt who isn't married, her aunt who is married but doesn't have children and her aunt who is divorced with three young children to provide for. I shared with her how grateful I was for my college degree and how it gives our family a safety net if something were to happen to Daddy or to his job and it gives me something to fall back on if I decide to return to the workforce again once our children are grown. It was a heartfelt and deep conversation with my little girl and I hope she left feeling my love for her and also with the realization that no matter what I could have done with my life, I am so grateful that I have the precious opportunity to be a stay-at-home mom.
A couple of weeks ago, the entire first grade put on a beach-themed choir concert. Abby chose her outfit carefully and then gave me her best "beach" pose...
They sang about 10 different songs and Abby even got to play one of the xylophones for one of them...
 It was a super cute concert and got us all ready and excited for summer!
Abby also started competitive gymnastics at the end of April. She is on the Mason-Dixon Level A team and is super excited about the opportunity to compete (the competition season starts in November.) She practices once a week for 3 hours and is loving it so far. She is really hoping to win a trophy next year and we are hoping just to be able to afford it all (gymnastics is NOT a cheap sport!) We are happy that she is enjoying it so much and are amazed at all she has learned just this last year. She is incredibly flexible and has the perfect build of a little gymnast. Here's to many more hours of flipping, jumping and cartwheels!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Day in Baltimore

In mid-April we headed down to Baltimore to celebrate my nephew's birthday. Jason ended up getting really sick that week and decided it was best that he stay home. I was a bit nervous about taking all the kids by myself (mostly because I was driving into Baltimore, I like Jason to do our big-city driving.) But I didn't want to miss out on Coldon's birthday fun and my sister Lara was also coming with her family from North Carolina for the weekend so I put on my "big girl pants" and made the trip.
 We started at the National Aquarium...
We enjoyed ourselves there, but admittedly it wasn't as fun as it has been during our other visits. They no longer do the dolphin shows and were doing quite a bit of construction. We were glad to get in one more visit on our yearly membership, but needless to say, we decided not to renew for another year.
After lunch, we headed a few blocks over to Port Discovery, a three-level kid's paradise!! All the kids had a blast and they had something there for everyone (we had kids aged under 2 to 15 years with us and they all had a great time!) 
I only got a few pictures of the water room because we were just too busy having fun (plus without Jason, I was a bit busy trying to keep all 3 kids close by!) We did decide to purchase a family membership though so that we can bring Jason back plus hopefully the grandparents when they visit this summer.
We had such a great time and it was pretty hard for us to say good-bye (Abby always starts crying when we have to leave her cousins...reminds me of myself at that age!) Fortunately we get to see them all again this summer at the beach!!
We left Baltimore a little later than I wanted and it took me about 45 minutes just to get out of the city (the GPS in our van needs an update...I ordered the updated DVD as soon as I got home!) At one point I called Jason to see if he could navigate us home but finally I found a street that I recognized and was able to make the rest of the journey home fairly smoothly. Trying to navigate and drive in a big city is one of my least favorite things to do, but it was worth it for the fun memories we made in Baltimore that day!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Boys will be boys...

The attraction of boys to electronics begins at a very early age...
As do bumps, bruises, cuts, and bloody noses!!
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Little Eater!

Have I mentioned before how much this little boy likes to eat? I mean he really, really, really likes to eat...
(And hands are just so much more convenient than utensils!!)

Monday, May 6, 2013

Spring Soccer Time

Landon started another season of soccer at the beginning of April. Winter still held us in its mighty grip back then and his first practice was super windy and cold. They actually cut the practice short because it was miserable for the kids and for us parents along the sideline. It warmed up just slightly for his first game the following Saturday (the sun was out at least) but playing in his winter coat was still necessary...
Landon is quite the little soccer player but he is still in the "Under 5" league which merely encourages lots of ball contact and scoring (which is great except my little "rule follower" gets frustrated when people score in the wrong goal or his own teammates take the ball away from him.) We have discovered that he is a good little defender and I think his skills will continue to improve as he moves on up to the next level in the Fall.
At his last game, there were two little boys who told Landon that he didn't have the right shoes to play soccer (cleats.) We've just had him play in tennis shoes for now to be sure he liked it enough. He only has one more game before he finishes up the Spring season so I told him we would be sure to purchase him his own set of soccer cleats come Fall (no sense in buying them now when they probably won't fit in a few months anyway!) He was overjoyed with the news that he too would be playing in "bumpy shoes" soon.
We considered having him play T-ball this season, but honestly, I think kids get way more exercise and have more fun with soccer. T-ball seems to be 90% standing around while soccer is almost 100% running and action. I think for now we'll stick with soccer, but we may try out baseball in a few years too.


On Easter morning, we found this "dapper" looking young man in our home...
Oh yes, he knew he was lookin' fine...
And you better believe he made quite the hit with the ladies that day!!
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Sunday, May 5, 2013

I looked out the window and what did I see...

Reason #145,789 that I love living in Maryland (or at least a place with all four seasons!) It is just so gorgeous here in the spring and I never tire of the beauty!!
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I think Spring has arrived...

(This was about a month ago, but we are still loving our Spring weather around here!) And along with that, we have already spent many days at the local parks. It is so nice to have all three kids that can enjoy playing at the park now!
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Outdoor Boy

With the weather being so nice, we have spend a lot of time outdoors. This little man would live outside if we would let him. We finally had to put a board to lock our sliding backdoor as I was constantly finding him out there (in the rain, in his pajamas, etc.)
After a long, cold winter, we are grateful for warm and sunny days again!!