Category Archives: Life Lately

The Sparkly Time of Year Has Arrived!


I’ve been listening to Christmas music for weeks, not gonna lie.  Even when I’m NOT listening to it, I’m humming it.  Yes friends, it’s my favorite time of year!

Lately we have enjoyed visits from family with several more to come… we’ve been enjoying yummy meals that take extra time to prepare and make your pants feel tight…we’ve enjoyed wandering the aisles of Target looking at all their fun holiday stuff…Picking out Christmas trees and choo choo trains…and Christmas Plays…  It’s been a fun few weeks and there is more to come.


I told everyone that I made the best thing for Thanksgiving this year…RESERVATIONS!


Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer is becoming an annual tradition for us. 


We were so happy that Matt’s Mom was in town and could enjoy it with us!  Milo’s face though…


Again… that face?!


Another Christmas Play – this time A Christmas Carol at the Wyly here in Dallas… it was amazing!


Christmas Tree Shopping!  We may or may not have 3 trees up in our house…


One of those long trips to Target.  Cady and I both wanted this sweater so this is our edition of “who wore it better?”.  Neither of us ended up getting it.  ha!


This years advent calendar…What can I say, I went super simple this year.  Pieces of scrap paper taped to our chalkboard with activities written on the other side.


We have lots of more fun advent activities waiting for us.  Cady has a Christmas concert this week.  Milo is part of his preschool’s holiday program next week…  This year, in addition to a lot of our regular activities, we’ve added in some fun ones like “put on our own family Christmas play” and “Christmas make-overs”.  And each day I decorate a little more – every corner will be sparkly and  Christmasy by the time December 25th gets here.  I’m not sure who will take it all down but we’ll figure all that out later!  Gage and LaLa will be here for Christmas and we can’t wait until our whole family is in one place – even if it’s just for a few days.

Until next time, I hope you have added sparkly lights to every room in your house…there can never be enough.


Thanks for reading!



A full start to Fall – Life Lately Oct 2016

I’m about to download a deluge of photos… About a month’s worth… Here’s what we’ve been up to lately:



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We are channeling our inner “Bob Ross”.



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We had a bunch of friends over Labor Day weekend for an end of summer celebration.  The weather was perfect, the pool was cool, and the food was yummy.  Love celebrating with these people.


Shopping for Homecoming dresses:

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Spent a day in Dallas looking for the “perfect” dress.  Favorite part of this pic?  The unicorn balloon animal on the floor.  Cady totally made me buy that for her from the “balloon guy” in the mall. 


I also made a quick trip to Canada and Michigan:


Pic on left is in Windsor, Ontario.  What a lovely little place.  The squirrels have black fur and are VERY friendly.  That one eventually jumped up on my table and glared at me like I had forgotten to bring him a sandwich or something.  Pic on right is when I was cruising down 8-mile in Detroit.  I sang rapped Eminem songs the entire time I was there.  


We took a trip to the moon from the backyard:

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Gage, Cady and LaLa made this rocket for Milo one night while they were babysitting.  Crazy good, huh?


Milo taught a class to imaginary friends dressed as The Little Prince.


We have read and watched The Little Prince quite a few times.  We found that little fox online from a European company and Milo loves him…sleeps with him every night. His name is “Best Friend Fox”.  


We headed to our local Oktoberfest…it was HOT…


It was fun.  I think Matt mostly enjoyed it because he got to drink multiple steins of beer. 


My sweet friend Kelly came into town so we all went to the Ray LaMontagne concert.  It was fabulous!   Although I was reminded again that I am old and staying out past 10 is so hard. ha!


Three Amigas.. Renee, Kelly & Me.  We may or may not have had a few cocktails at this point.  Also, clutch game on point. 


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We were so close!  Fortunately while we were taking goofy pics and drinking cocktails, the boys found a good spot.   Only drawback was a guy with a chubby butt in front of us that felt the need to twerk for most of the night…to folk music.  He also kept making out with his date.  #stop


Last week I had to head up to MO for meetings and I was able to take our company jet so I would only be gone for the day.  I LOVED IT!  I totally texted Matt and said “forget the Subaru, we need a jet…now”.  As a frequent traveler, I know the frustrations of delays, security, people in your personal space…  Flying privately is the way to go…also, a rarity.  I’m back to old AA next week.


On the flight home, the copilot let me have his seat and the pilot let me fly the plane.  It was so cool!  I got to push all the buttons and everything! 


Took some pics of this kid on picture day last week…


I literally have no idea when my baby got so big…He turned into a kid overnight I think…


And lastly… last weekend was homecoming.  And my girl had a great time with friends while looking fab-u-lous.


It’s been a full month!

The BIG big kids just got in last night and we are headed camping this weekend.  The weather is supposed to be great and I’m looking forward to unplugging and hiking and getting dirty for a few days.

Check in next week because I am determined to get a post up about all or fall activities – crafts, pumpkin patches, costumes, etc.  Cheers and thanks for reading!

Life Lately, July 2016 edition…



It was in the 70s while we were in Illinois! Perfect for walks and reading!

I started this post a couple weeks ago… Just when we returned from our trip to the Midwest for camping and family adventures and a celebration of America (Independence Day).  My heart was feeling kinda heavy though, even as we watched fireworks and everyone donned their red white and blue and we all whooped and hollered because the 4th is a reason to celebrate, right?!.  It’s just sad to see the politics of our country be so negative and well… gross.   Our own house is divided… it’s crazy.  I get on facebook and see people I really love and care for spouting  the most asinine things… yucky stuff that divides and attacks – and I’m talking about both sides.  So anyway, I haven’t felt super proud of our democracy lately – it seems a bit broken.  THEN… the police shootings happened.  And at first I tried not to watch or read about it because those things make me angry and confused and I just don’t get it.  I remember after the shooting in Minnesota I happened across the facebook video that had been posted.  It was sad and scary and absolutely avoidable.  I was laying in bed that night and I asked Matt, “why did that cop shoot that guy?  There was no reason?  This wasn’t one of those cases where there is some question about right and wrong, it was clearly wrong.”  I’m always one to support the police, I have family and friends that are police officers so I wasn’t choosing a side – I was saddened that something very wrong had taken place.   Sad, sad, sad…  Cady came in a while later and said, “what’s going on in Dallas?  a bunch of cops have been shot?”  And I just kept laying there.  I couldn’t bring myself to turn on the news or get online or anything (we live in the Dallas area, so it was especially close to home for us.).  I just laid there and prayed for this crazy, wicked, broken country of ours.  The next morning I watched along with everyone else as the media broke the news of the tragedy.  My heart broke.  And again I prayed throughout the day… what I didn’t do is listen.  I just kept repeating silently, “dear God, I don’t understand.  Please be with these people who have lost their love ones.  Please help our country.  I’m scared…”  And when I was finally willing to listen God gave me an answer I didn’t ask for.  He convicted me to stop with the frantic worry, intercede in prayer for these people (the innocent and the guilty) and to listen…to just be still.  I need to quit trying to figure everything out and stop convincing people of what I think is right and just let God handle it.  Politics, unlawful shootings, terrorist attacks, I need to remember that God is much, much bigger than these things.


So that’s why I haven’t been online much lately.  I try and keep away from the negative, divisive talk and focus on other things.

And with that, on to our recent adventures.


A coworker brought me a ton of purple hull peas from their farm.  We taught Milo to shell peas and he loved it.  Sometimes the simplest of things are entertaining to littles!  I have fond memories of front porch pea shelling as kid – if you don’t, get some.

Our 10 hour road trip went pretty well this time.


I created a map for Milo so he could get an idea of where we were and how long it would take.  I think it was beneficial… Also, when all else fails, the iPad is always a winner! ha!

Cady decided that while in Missouri she would film a movie…


Matt was one of the stars.  It’s a scary mockumentary about some kids that were murdered in a cornfield back in the 70s… Matt “knew” the people so he’s being interviewed.  He really played into it.  They planted evidence and everything.


Cady is still doing final edits, I’ll have to post a link when it’s done.  I’m sure it will be hilarious and anything but scary since she interviewed a ton of family about the “corn massacre of the 70s” and they were mostly like “what the h3ll are you talking about?!” City kids…

Next up was camping in Illinois!  Ninna came with us and Milo was thrilled.  I’m pretty sure Ninna will do anything Milo tells her to so she is pretty much his favorite person.


Even Milo and Ninna went on a few short hikes with us!

She also taught him some bad language so he has recently learned what ivory soap tastes like.  Just saying.

We chose to stay at a nice cabin that was close to a lodge this time.  We knew myself, Matt and Cady would be venturing out to do some hiking/rock climbing and Milo would not be able to go.  So we picked a cute place at Giant City State Park.  They even had two pools, one was a kid pool that Milo loved – just the right size…


Our cabin.  So cute!  We will definitely stay here again.  The lodge also had a restaurant so that was super convenient.  We brought some food and then had our dinners each evening at the lodge.


The hiking in the Shawnee National forest is fantastic!







There are tons of rock cliffs.  It was amazing.  It would be really cool to go cave hiking or rock rappelling, but this girl is too sensible for all that… (scaredy cat…)


The view from our back cabin… crazy pretty, huh?!

It was a good “camping” trip.  We all enjoyed it.

I have to post this pic too… This is on a road in Illinois.  Is this not the most creepy barn ever?!  See the weird stuffed people hanging in the barn opening?  *shiver*


While back at Ninna’s house we also did all of our normal things.  We thrift shopped…


We find the BEST stuff at an antique store one town over… We go there every time we visit.

We also hung out with family and of course Milo jammed with Uncle Ted.


I have so many pics of these two jammin’.  Uncle Ted was in a band with Matt’s dad so he has lots of great music stories.

It was another successful trip to MO.  I don’t think we’ll be going back until next summer though.  I love going, but it’s a LONG time in the car.  We are hoping Matt’s mom can come down here a couple times over the next year – I mean Milo doesn’t quite know all of the bad four letter words yet.  LOL!!  Until next time, I’ll leave you with this adorable guitarist on his grandmother’s porch.


Thanks for reading and may God bless America – we need it!


Sweet 16 and a Fabulous 4

As I sit down to type this, Milo is running around the house singing “happy birthday to you!”.  He is so used to it being “someone’s” birthday lately, that he just sings it all the time now.

Birthday recaps…

As you are aware, Cady turned 16 a week or so ago.  I just CANNOT believe she is 16…  She wanted a party with friends at a local pizza place so that is exactly what we did.  She also requested a “boho” birthday cake so I actually made one for her.  It was super fun and turned out so cute.  Thanks Pinterest for all the inspiration!




She got about a million presents for her birthday but her favorite was probably her new car…


It’s a cute little sporty Hyundai Elantra that her Dad got her.  We went and picked it up last weekend and she drove it through a drive-thru for the first time.  Of course there was a boy she knew working the window and he was all “Uuuuh, Hi Cady” – she was probably only a little embarrassed.  Although she looked super cool, her Mom was still riding shotgun and asking for extra helpings of fancy ketchup (it WAS whataburger – you have to get extra ketchup…)

The other big birthday event was of course Milo’s.  In his words, his birthday took “FOREVER to get here” so we celebrated for a few days.  Last week was also my last week at home with him full-time so we made sure we took advantage.  We spent time at our community splashpad…


Visited the museum…


Met Daddy for lunch downtown…


And rode the trolley – probably his favorite!


You can also see in this pic that he has a brand new black eye. Welcome to 4 I guess… 😉

And of course, the only present Milo asked for was a bike… so he has been learning to ride that over the last few days.



And If I didn’t mention it before, Milo loves Peppa Pig.  Cady made the most adorable cake topper for his Peppa birthday.


that shiner though… and that dog in the back licking her lips.

Two fabulous birthdays celebrated!

I also started my new job this week… And Milo started his new preschool program.  So far so good!  I cannot believe how crazy blessed I am with this job at this company!  I’ve spent so many years in an environment that was scary and pushy and stressful and I never knew from year to year if I’d even have a job because we did layoffs every.single.year.  I was so afraid to leave though because the money was great, the benefits were great, and you just DON’T leave good jobs like that.  It took a leap of faith and it has turned out better than we could have ever imagined or hoped.  I’ve been in orientation at my new firm this week and the CEO (yes, the CEO) came and talked to us and said – you’ve interviewed for your last job if you want – this can be your career until you retire.  It’s such a different culture. I totally understand the 6 rounds of interviews now – once you’re in…you’re in.  Pic of my new 1.5 mile commute…


I was also in the process of taking a selfie at the office the other day and someone totally walked by and I had to play it off.  How embarrassing.  I haven’t tried again since.

Milo is doing well in his new program too.  Matt and I have finessed our schedules so that he is there from around 9-3.  Give or take a half hour – another blessing that we have jobs with flexible hours!  9-3 is the recommended amount of time a child his age should go to school (or some sort of activity “away” from home) and it is suggested that he go 4 days a week (they should go the number of days of their age)… 1 day at age 1, 2 days a week at age 2, 3 days a week at age 3, etc.  This is recommended so their social skills develop, etc. I realize that a lot of kids go much more because their parents need them in daycare but I really get anxiety over that and it was another reason I was hesitant to go back to work.  I feel good about his school though and I can watch him at anytime from an app on my phone.  See?


I take screenshots periodically to send to Matt throughout the day.  And yes, I pixelated the other kids – don’t want their mugs out on the www without permission!

He looks so sweet there working on his letters (he’s in the peach shirt at the table).  His class is really scheduled and has a good routine.  It’s been a positive thing for him.  The only thing is he doesn’t like their lunch choices but when you have to adhere to our government’s school lunch policies, it makes for some interesting stuff.  They had baked fish for lunch yesterday…And one day this week they are having fresh sliced tomatoes as a snack.  Nasty.  Meanwhile, Matt wants to start eating there… people who eat healthy are weird.  Fortunately, they eat lots of ice pops on the playground and he LOVES that.  And trail mix, he loves the trail mix there.  haha!

So that’s our birthday update.  Next time I’ll update you on some fun things are family has done lately.  Bike Rides and new restaurants and visits from family.  And soon we’ll be taking off on our annual summer trip to the Midwest.  This year we are camping in Illinois and I think it’s going to be a BLAST.

Thanks for reading!




Hello Sweet June

June is one of my favorite months.  It’s when all 3 of my babies were due (Gage came a week early, but was technically due in June).  It’s the month that most of the May rains cease and the temps rise enough for sprinklers and pool time.  It’s when school gets out, time slows a bit, and I add stacks and stacks of books to my summer reading list.


I love half-price books.  I can load up on $3 books – even cheaper than Kindle.  I’ve got a nice stack waiting on my nightstand for me!  Milo picked up some favorites too.

Yep, I love sweet June – she’s a keeper.

What’s up Lately…

We’ve been celebrating that aforementioned birthday of Gage.


Alyssa flew in the night before Gage’s birthday.  Matt and I picked her up from the airport and she was able to totally surprise him when we got home.  Our family is NOT good at keeping secrets so the fact that we were able to pull that off says something!

Also for Gage’s birthday, he decided he wanted to do an “escape room“.  It’s one of those experience activities.  You pick your adventure (could be detective, zombies, mystery etc.) and then you try and escape a room with that specific theme.  We did a murder mystery and did really well.  We “escaped” so that’s a win.


Also… we bought a new pool float…  It took all the big kids and me to air that bad boy up…


It was getting a ton of use…


Until this…


Just as our pool was opening, it got shut down.  LOL!  We are actually doing a backyard remodel.  Completely renovating our pool (like pretty much getting a NEW pool – this was the first stage of demo).  We are getting all new tile and coping (the stone that surrounds the pool) and also ripping out the bottom to resurface it and upgrade from plaster.  We are excited!  After the pool reno is done, we are having our old fence ripped out and replaced.  We’ve done a ton to our backyard in the 2 years we’ve lived here, so hopefully this will complete it!  It should be done in the next week or so, so we’ll have the rest of the summer to enjoy it! Yay!


In other news…  Our whole family is signed up for bike ride in a couple weeks, so we’ve all been trying to find time to get some practice in.


I always think of Blair Witch Project when we are near woods like this…

I’ve learned from this practice that I will NOT be doing the 30 mile but instead the 20.  Ha!  My booty can’t take that skinny seat for hours on end!  I can’t believe I used to ride more than 70 miles in a day.  You’d think with the extra “natural” padding I’ve acquired that it would be easier – not so.

And I also want to add that Cady and I went to see Me Before You the other night.  I love the book but it was just heartbreaking and emotional for me.  It really made me…sad.  So know what you are getting into if you want to see it.


It’s a good film, but they literally handed out tissues at our screening… so go prepared.

And the last update I have for y’all is this… And it’s a big one…


I’ve accepted a position at a local financial firm (1.5 miles from my house)!  I know!  I can’t believe it.  We totally planned for me to stay home until Milo started Kinder next year (Fall of 2017).  But honestly, I’ve decided that he needs to be in a full-time preschool program this fall.  And if he is going to be in a full-time program, I should probably consider getting a job.  I only interviewed with this company because I just had a good feeling about them and I was right.  My schedule will still be flexible like it was in my last job.  And we got him into a great private preschool that is super close to us.  This was a position I couldn’t pass up.  The flexible work hours, the salary and the company are A+.  I’m thrilled.  It did take 6 rounds of interviews (wow!) and a 30 min presentation… they aren’t kidding about being selective about their employees!  God  is good and I totally left it in His hands whether I would go back to work or not and he answered faithfully!  I’m so grateful that I got to take 6 months off from work.  I loved spending so much time with my family and my little Milo.  I loved volunteering and having time to do things I hadn’t had time to do in years.  I will always be grateful for that time, but I have realized that I also love working and this is the right decision for our family.  In the past I’ve worked solely for financial reasons, it’s been a great experience seeking and accepting a job because I wanted to, not because I had to.  So yay for me!  Matt and I even went shopping for a new work wardrobe last week for the days I’ll be in the office – yessss!

This weekend we are celebrating our girl’s 16th birthday.


I’m lucky to be her Mama and if I’m extra lucky maybe she’ll let me hang out with her and her friends at her party.  ha!  Initially she said that Matt and I couldn’t even be in the restaurant where her party is being held.  She has since modified that request and said that maybe we can just sit at another nearby table… Teenagers are so fun.

And I’ll leave you with this.  Part of my photog challenge.  Fantasy.  This is Milo going over the edge of our pool’s waterfall in one of his toy boats.  Fun stuff! 😉  He cracks up at this photo because he doesn’t “remember” taking it.  What  can I say, 3 year olds don’t understand photoshop.


Happy June and Happy Summer!

Thanks for reading,


A quick trip to the shore…

Semesters are ending, temps are rising, and this family is easing into summer mode.  Big exhales.  I can’t wait to “open our pool” soon and spend hot afternoons lounging on my recently purchased pizza raft. ha!

The semester for the school where I was helping to teach English recently ended.  We celebrated our graduating students this past weekend.


Of course that means that Milo’s preschool time there ended as well.  It was truly a gift to be able to work with the refugees and also for Milo to have the chance to go to school with children from different parts of the world with varying cultures.


Preschool performance…

Our local preschools and even the elementary school he will attend are very Dallas suburb with very little diversity.  I loved the time we were able to spend there.

After the graduation, Matt, Milo, and myself loaded up for a quick weekend road trip.  The Bigs had other weekend plans so it was just the three of us.  We had two missions – 1. to see the giant sand box called the beach that I had been telling Milo about 2. Visit with one of our sweet friends and her new baby!  I’m happy to report we succeeded with both.

First night on the beach…


searching for seashells…


Big Boy talks…

We were up early the next morning for breakfast and headed back out for more exploring…and sand play…and burying Daddy…



Matt can sleep anywhere…even with a bucket pillow…

After we were adequately full of sand, we headed back to our room to shower and explore other parts of the island.  Milo loved the sand so much that he was literally rolling around in it.  His ears and hair and shorts were packed with sand and he loved it!  Meanwhile, I get just a little sand on me and I immediately feel sticky and want to rinse off!

We ate a seafood lunch at one of my fave restaurants and then headed to the pier.  I committed to riding the giant Ferris Wheel and super regretted it about 5 minutes in.  I know this pic looks like I’m having fun, but that’s a lie.


I was scared to death.  And also we totally saw SHARKS swimming around when we were way up there.  I mean come on!  Heights and ocean water are two of my biggest fears!  I don’t even go in the ocean because I’m afraid of what’s in there.  I was SO happy to get off that thing…


Next we let Milo ride a few rides on his own and he fell in love with the bumper cars.  The kid is obsessed with cars anyway and has talked about bumper cars nonstop since…


After finishing up an afternoon at the pier and then doing a little shopping we headed back to our room.  We napped and then headed back out to the beach for a final sunset that evening.


Chasing birds

We were lucky to have the beach almost to ourselves the whole time we were there.  It was such a fun experience for Milo.  We have plans on heading to a beach much further from home in the future but we’ll just have to plan that when it’s possible.  For now, it was a short fun getaway for a couple of days.

And of course on the way home we stopped in and saw that new baby…and she was perfection…


In the next couple of weeks, we’ll be celebrating all three of the kids birthdays!  I can’t wait!  And also, Mother’s Day was a success as well.  We lunched at my favorite restaurant and ate loads of cheesecake and Matt waited on my all weekend (which translates to he let me take tons of naps which is my favorite hobby).


Hopefully your summer plans are shaping up and like us you are readying yourself for patio dinners and cold drinks!

Until next time – thanks for reading!



Life Lately – April 2016

Ha! I’m gonna get a life lately post in just in the nick of time to call it April.  Since I haven’t done a random pic post of what we’ve been up to in a couple months, some of these are several weeks old.

So here’s what’s keeping us busy lately…

Family Nights… We made a ton of Greek food and watched the first Big Fat Greek Wedding as a family movie night recently…


Making all that Greek food was so fun… and Cady is holding a BUNDT Cake…  It’s a joke from the movie.  


Having a family FitBit Challenge for Lent to encourage each of us to be active… This is Gage being our official score keeper.  He won the competition ($80! – we each put in $20), but wow, we all got in some serious steps during Lent!  Around 500K steps each!



Speaking of Gage, he and Alyssa got engaged!  We are thrilled!  Wedding is planned for next summer.  I just love these two young people so much.  We are blessed for sure.


I met up with a couple of girlfriends from high school that I RARELY get to see.  I love them so much and we laughed and gabbed until I nearly lost my voice!  We are planning a girls weekend for this July and I’m WAY excited.  There is something special about being with those friends that have known you since you were a kid.  Lucky me to know these beautiful girls.  Pic on top was from when we were in college (around 1996)- bottom is from a few weeks ago.



And of course we have been enjoying ALL THE SPRING THINGS… Like…

Kite Flying.  April is so windy where we live that it definitely calls for kite flying on sunny afternoons.


And speaking of sunny afternoons.  Milo and I spend a lot of time in the backyard… playing with waterguns…dipping our feet in his baby pool…planting and watering our flowers.  We are soaking this mild weather up because soon it will be Texas Summer and we’ll die outside in the afternoons.




And it wouldn’t be springtime without patio drinks and picnics.


Hanging at Trinity Groves


Church Picnic


Cady is obviously serious about Gaga ball (Church Picnic)


Hanging out on yet another patio… 

And bike rides!  Gage and I did our first race (they are actually called rallies because let’s face it… I’m doing well if I complete – I’m not winning any medals) of the year last weekend!  Hopefully we’ll get several more in over the next few months.


first pic was at the beginning…second was about 15 miles in and I was hurting!  Gage seems to be pretty happy though!  lol.

And what is April without Wildflowers?!


Yes, we love our bluebonnets here in Texas!




And Matt’s favorite time in April is DIFF (Dallas International Film Festival)… He saw lots of movies and did several interviews – Cady helped!


Press night at DIFF


Cady on the red carpet doing interviews.

I love this time of year because there is so much fun outdoor stuff going on.  Whether it’s just a walk around the neighborhood or grilling in your backyard…a sanctioned race or the local farmer’s market – there is always a good reason to get out and enjoy a beautiful day!


The next month or so is packed for us.  It all starts with Mother’s Day, then ALL THREE KIDS birthdays, then ends with Father’s Day.  I love it!  So many reasons to celebrate each other.  We’re winding down the school year (thank goodness!) and prepping for summer laziness.  Until next time…

Thanks for reading,