Sunday, March 30, 2014

Mattie Claire ~ 9 Months

Dear Mattie,

How is it possible that it has been 9 months since the day of your birth and the day you received your angel wings?  You have now been in heaven about the same amount of time you were in my tummy.  Mommy really misses you.  I long to know what you would look like today.  I wish you were here making memories with your family.  I cherish the memories we made during your life with us and am so very thankful that we did make so many memories with you.  I read a story just recently about another mommy going through the same situation missing her little girl in heaven.  She wrote about how although they knew their little one was most likely going to go to heaven before she was born, they made special memories with her two brothers and shared the experience together.  Although we never expected in a million years your life would end so soon, we are so thankful that we experienced so many memories together as a family of five.  I smile when I think back to nights when you, Mommy, Daddy, Evan and Brody would cuddle together on our bed (yes, it can be quite crowded at times, but we love it!) and how we would all laugh together and watch you move and kick.  We all looked forward to having you join us in a tickle fest and wanted to see who would make you laugh first.  This month, you would likely be crawling all over the house and getting into all of your brothers' toys.  I can just see you chasing them around the house.  There would be so much laughter!

You may look like this:

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Evan ~ 9 months

or

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Brody ~ 9 months (wearing the same cardigan sweater)

This month, we took family pictures wearing our green for St. Patrick's Day, and we would have loved for you to be with us.  Here are some of the outfits you may have worn:

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A cute Carter's outfit

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And a cute little t-shirt. 

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You would likely still need to wear some warmer clothes this month as we've had an unusually long winter. 


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No matter what you would wear, you would be so beautiful to us!  We love you, little angel!

Love,
Your earthly family

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Happy 7th Birthday, Evan!

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Yes, this kid is 7!  
Dear Evan,

You have given us the best 7 years of our lives as we have enjoyed being your parents so very much.  You never cease to amaze us with your bright smiles, laughter, intellect, sense of humor, and numerous other skills you seem to acquire on a daily basis.  Every sport you attempt, you play with skill and a true love of the game.  From your earliest days as a toddler, you had a profound love of a ball (it was your first real word, you know).  From the moment you started talking, we marveled at how someone so small could sound so grown up.  You have always possessed a maturity level and fascination for life well ahead of your years.  Your caring and sensitive spirit have often made me worry about you, but you continue to show me that most of my fears are unnecessary as you are completely capable of being strong when you need to be.  As fast as these wonderful 7 years have passed, I know that the next 7 years will be even faster.  Soon, you will be 14 and then 21 and 28.  I am sure you will quickly comprehend that I counted by 7 there as you are such a math wiz!  You are such a well-rounded individual these days.  I have also worried considerably about your education the last few years, but you continue to show me again that my worries are likely unnecessary as every new lesson you tackle seems to come so easy for you.  You love math but can also appreciate history and science, and I will often find you watching a history channel special with your dad.  You are also a technology geek and are so good at all the games you play.  Your cousins often want you to play their games for them to beat some part they can't win.  You also love to sit and read for fun now which makes me so happy.  It only took us finding some more interesting books for you to challenge your mind.  You actually read a condensed version of Tom Sawyer recently and really loved it.  You even appreciate the things that girls like which is probably why you get along well with the girls in your class as well as the boys.  You are all boy for sure, but the girls do all seem to really love you.  When Daddy visited your class a couple of weeks ago to do a forestry presentation, he asked the class if you could go home with him after it was over.  One of your girl friends, Addison, spoke up and said "No, we NEED Evan!" Haha!  I will try not to harass you too much about the girl stuff, but just know that when you want to talk, your daddy and I are here.

From the first moment I laid eyes on your adorable little face, glowing red hair, and beautiful blue eyes, I knew you had stolen my heart.  My love for you has only grown since that day.  You continue to make us so proud, and we will always be here to help you become the man you are meant to be.  We wish you another amazing birthday and year!

Love always,
Your Mommy and Daddy


Sunday, March 23, 2014

A Photo Book Four Years Late

With a recent Shutterfly coupon savings, I finally made a photo book for our wonderful trip to California with Evan four years ago!  Yes, I am four years late on making this book.  Talk about a procrastinator!  It does make me feel so much better getting this accomplished.


Build your own high-quality photo books at Shutterfly.com.



Friday, March 21, 2014

Our 1st Spring Trip to the Park

As tradition has dictated, on one of the first nice weekends of the year, we like to take the boys to the park to play.  The first weekend in March gave us some lovely Spring weather, and the boys enjoyed getting to wear their shorts and t-shirts outside.

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Brody is such a big boy now at the park!

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Loving that sweet smile, but the little red scar on his cheek from his recent fall makes me a little sad.  

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My cool kid

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Brody going down the big twisty slide. 

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And sliding is more fun with a daddy to catch you.

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Truck driver Brody

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Crossing the shaky bridge very carefully.

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Evan wanted to ride this little motorcycle that he used to ride as a toddler.

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He loves the slides!

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The purple dinosaur picture is always a must.
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He still loves it.  I think one day I will have a whole wall of pictures of all the pictures of them on this purple T-Rex.  Ha!

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Had to get one together.

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Yes, Evan thinks he is so cool in his shades!

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Brody climbing up the little rock wall.

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We tried to get one of all of us, but the boys would not cooperate.

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Daddy and Brody pushing Evan on the swings.

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Brody thinks his daddy is hilarious!
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Then it was Brody's turn to swing. 

After this short reprieve from the very long winter, we experienced many more rainy and cold days.  Today is another nice warm day, and we hope the weekend will be equally nice.  However, apparently our forecast is calling for this next week:

Yuck Yuck Yuck!  The article says we haven't had weather like this at this time of year since 1983!  

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Truth About Charlotte

Charlotte, NC
{Image from here}

I don't know why I keep finding myself having to defend the honor of this place I call home.  I don't really even understand why so many people feel the need to talk negatively about a city.  I think it is because it has become an increasingly more noticed city in the country in recent years due to its presence as a large banking and financial district like NYC.  However, it makes me angry that people would try to put down a city that is trying to be built up.  I mean, you don't hear people talking about Atlanta this way even with Atlanta's more serious traffic and crime problems.  Since I found so much error in this silly Huff Post article, I thought I would just clear a few things up for everyone (or just the two or three who happen to read this blog): 

1.  Downtown is called Uptown. – Totally true!  We do call our “downtown” area uptown.  In our defense, our downtown area isn’t like most cities where it is run down and dirty.  Our uptown area is the true center of our city.  It is a really nice place to hang out with your friends or your family.  It still boasts the usual tall office buildings, but it has a ton of other fun things to do.  It has an NBA team arena, an NFL football stadium, and now our minor league baseball stadium all within walking distance of each other.  It has some great museums like The Mint Museum of Art, Nascar Hall of Fame, Levine Museum of the New South, Discovery Place (a children’s exploration museum), and many others.  It has lots of great restaurants, both local and chain establishments.  In short, uptown just seems to capture more of the feel for the center of our city. 

2.  No One is Actually from Charlotte.  – I really don’t think the writer of this post knows a whole lot about Charlotte and can’t figure out why he or she wrote the piece.  While Charlotte does have a lot of northern transplants (because it is a great city to move to), it also has a rich history that many of us “locals” are aware of.  Charlotte’s rich history dates back to the 1700’s when it was first chartered as a city although its history goes much farther back to the first European settlers.   The first Declaration of Independence from Britain was actually signed here because its people have a long history of standing up against tyranny.  The only reason Charlotte wasn’t chosen as our state capital was because it is not located in the center of the state.  Yes, that is the only reason.  Raleigh isn’t a very big city at all.  The fact that the writer of this article had the gall to say Charlotte lacks both character and culture just makes me angry because it is most definitely a lie!  Sounds like he needs to visit a few of the museums mentioned above.  

3.  Charlotte only has 3 celebrities? – Really?  Um, I’ve seen that many actual nationally known celebrities at my church (and no, it is not Elevation church, but I will leave that discussion for another time). 

4.  Everything is Oddly Evangelical – Well, we all know the South has a reputation of being a bit religious, don’t we?  Charlotte is no exception.  Billy Graham, the well-known evangelist, is headquartered here.  Elevation is a newer church phenomenon that I would rather not discuss.  I think religion is just another part of the “culture” that has shaped this great city.  As mentioned in the article, Charlotte is also “artsy” with its center of art and music being a little community just outside of “uptown” called NoDa (short for North Davidson). 

5.  Everyone Works for the Big 3 – Well, if you had a couple of big mega banks headquartered in your city, a lot of people would work for them too. Charlotte is actually the headquarters of 6 Fortune500 companies, including Bank of America, Lowe’s, and Duke Energy, making it 10th in the nation for number of Fortune 500 companies.  We also have several Fortune 500 companies that are headquartered here but don’t count in the ranking because they are incorporated outside the U.S., like Carolinas Healthcare System and Hendrick Automotive Group.  Of course, my husband and I don’t work for Fortune 500 companies, which is okay with us. 

6.  Buzz City Bobcats – I admit that our NBA team hasn’t had a great history, but we still show our support for them.  We are looking forward to brighter days ahead when we go back to being the Charlotte Hornets.  But yes, North Carolina does show a lot more interest in college basketball as a whole because we have such great college basketball history from both UNC and Duke.  Of course, I don’t see either of them winning the NCAA tournament later this month, but we will see.

7.  BofA is Trying to Tell You Something – Ha!  I have actually never seen the art this article described.  The Bank of America building is the tallest in the city and is always under visitor restrictions for security purposes so you don’t just walk into that building to browse.  I haven't stepped foot inside it in several years.  
8.  The Streets are Always Empty – Really?  When did you visit?  In the middle of the night on Christmas Eve when everyone was at home asleep?  Or maybe during one of our recent snow days?  Uptown Charlotte and other bustling areas of the city like Southpark, Dilworth, and Myers Park are very busy places although the surrounding “suburbs” are actually quite nice and quiet. 

9.  If You Ain’t First, You’re Last – While NASCAR does have a big history in the Charlotte area (the race mentioned is actually in neighboring Concord, NC), it definitely isn’t all or everything the city has to offer.  I am not a race fan and have never been to a race, and I don’t feel I am missing out on anything in this city. 

10.  Public Transportation is Hilarious – Our primary modes of public transit are the CATS bus system, a little trolley system called the Gold Rush (an allusion to Charlotte's history as having the first gold rush in the nation) that just goes around the uptown area, and a very new light rail train system called the Lynx.  Like most southern cities, most people in Charlotte still rely heavily on private automobiles although that has been changing in the last few years.  The light rail system is only in its first stage so it only goes one direction from the southern part of the city into uptown.  As the system grows and expands, it will most likely grow in popularity. 

11.  Rafting and Rapids? – Yes, I agree that it may be weird to have a place like the U.S. National Whitewater Center here, but we aren’t complaining.  People love it! 

12.  Graveyards are EVERYWHERE – I don’t actually notice a ton of graveyards in the city although I suspect that there are some very old ones attached to some of our city’s oldest churches.  This is a very old city with a very old heritage after all.  I think that is a good thing!

13.  BBQ is an Issue – While I think there are some good barbecue places in Charlotte, Charlotte is right that it doesn’t actually boast the exclusive right to call its barbecue the greatest.  Charlotte restaurants actually serve a variety of the types of barbecue that you can find in other parts of the state, i.e., eastern style chopped vinegar based (the best in my humble opinion), western style tomato based, and SC style mustard based.  However, after recently discovering the wonderful smoky flavor of the barbecue at Midwood Smokehouse in Plaza Midwood, I do have to say Charlotte is a contender! 

14.  Amelie’s > America – I’m not sure what that means, but the only time I have tried anything from Amelie’s French Bakery was at my nieces’ Paris themed birthday party.  The treats were pretty yummy. 

15.  Charlotte is Kind of Like Purgatory – I am of the really happy to have settled in the Charlotte area kind.  It has been such a great place for my family for the last 7 years.  I think this writer just means that when northerners and other transplants move here, they quickly become surprised at how much they actually like it.  I know that many of our pro sports players continue to call Charlotte home even after they retire or move to another team.  I also know some celebrities who love calling Charlotte home and appreciate it as an escape from some more dangerous and less family friendly places like Southern California.  Charlotte is not a kind of purgatory; it is a great place to call HOME!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

The boys and I celebrated St. Patrick's Day on Sunday so that we could all wear our cute green outfits to church.  I found the boys cute green and white gingham ties from Target and just thought they looked absolutely adorable and so handsome.  Of course, taking some family pictures was a must as it has become a little tradition of ours to all wear green and take photos for St. Patrick's Day.  Of course, since the weather took another bad turn this weekend and we are expecting a few more days of rainy and cool weather, we had to take our pictures indoors.

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Our little green family

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Me and my handsome baby boys

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Oh, I do love those boys!

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Be still my heart!

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Beautiful little men.  I just adore Evan's little bowtie!

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My little leprechauns.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Our Spring Home

Last weekend, I was really wanting to rid our house of the dreary winter dust and bring in a little Spring freshness.  We had luckily enjoyed some lovely Spring weather, and it was so nice to open the windows and let a little of that Spring air indoors.  My sweet husband and I gave the house a good Spring dusting and cleaning and then I needed to add some Spring color.  Mostly, I like to decorate with what I have or make my own decor.  Spring is definitely my favorite season of the year so it is no wonder that this is the time of year I enjoy decorating for the most.

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Our Spring Mantle {the Spring banner was a Target find from last season}

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I made this little arrangement using some of our many colorful Easter eggs and some sheer ribbon I already had.

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I just tied this piece of sheer ribbon around a candle holder I already owned.

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I made this little pennant banner with some Spring colored scrapbook paper I found in the dollar section at Target.  I also added some matching Spring flowers to my blue vase.  I really want a whole collection of this pretty blue glass.

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I made another little banner for over our kitchen bar.

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I had these mason jars just sitting in my kitchen window after being washed and thought the kids would enjoy a little "science" project turning the water different colors.  Brody loved "shaking" the jars after I added food coloring.  Of course, his favorite is blue!  I just love the way mason jars look, and the way the colors really show the details of the glass.

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Some more colorful easter eggs make a little Spring centerpiece on the table.

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I updated my wreath for Spring with some aqua blue ribbon and paint.

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And Eddie and I finally decided to purchase this little bench from Kirkland's for our bedroom that we had been thinking about for a while.  I have also finally ordered some curtains to finally replace these tired and too short curtains.  I am a little worried about how long it is taking for them to arrive as I ordered them from Joss & Main and then saw a bunch of complaints online about how long it takes for this company to ship orders.  Sigh.

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I also bought some new blue pillows for the couch to cheer the living room up a bit.  I also ordered new curtains for this window to replace my tired old sheers.   I am in the mood to redecorate apparently!  

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And just to show you some of the Spring loveliness I am loving in our area right now.  Daffodils are always one of our first signs of Springtime, and they are particularly special to me.  I went to elementary school in a town that celebrated the beginning of Spring with a Daffodil Festival every year.  It was a really big deal!

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Of course, my favorite sign of Springtime is always the cherry blossoms!

HAPPY SPRING!

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