The Epic Summer of 2017

We’re into our third month of school, leaves are falling, and the air is definitely chilly, but I wanted to share some of the memories we created this summer. I’ve been meaning to write this for months, but with four Little Ones…well, you know.

At the beginning of every summer, our church ladies get together at Hidden Lake Gardens for a retreat. I’ve made it a family tradition to bring along one daughter each year for some one-on-one Mommy-daughter time. This year was Lydia’s turn and she was absolutely thrilled about going. The theme was “Transformation” with butterflies tied into everything from the activities to the decorations to the talks. There were caterpillars and butterflies adorning the tables at lunch and, at the end of the day, we released butterflies on the top of a hill. Lydia had a blast.



Our family made one more visit to the Toledo Zoo before our membership ran out and we let the kids ride one of the carousels. Growing up, my own parents often took “carousel pictures”, so here’s to carrying on that tradition.


The first week in July we spent up North, visiting family and enjoying the Cherry Festival and Traverse City beauty. We squeezed in lots of visits, two beach days, a day at the Cherry Festival, and cherry picking. We had planned on staying in a cabin near town, but the cabin was too musty, and, since Dan is particularly sensitive to mold, we made an emergency call to my parents and decided to haul our Little Crew over there. That turned out to be great because we got extra family time and we were even closer to everyone we wanted to visit and everything we wanted to do. It was fun, but exhaustingly fun.


One night, my parents took the three big kids and Dan and I got to go on a free VIP Cherry Festival date.


My sister and her family came too. 🙂

The girls looked so sweet all tuckered out from the fun.


One of my favorite moments from the trip was relaxing under a cherry tree after a morning of picking cherries. We had packed a lunch, and we just rested there eating our picnic and enjoying some time together.


Ever since last year’s family Christmas photo attempt, I’ve taken to a new philosophy: capturing life as it really is. Tears and all. (Some say you can’t have too much fun. You can. This is what it looks like.)


Papa entertained the kids for a few minutes while Dan and I unloaded the car.

A couple more visits…


Our kids love the children’s parade because…candy. For once-a-year tourists, they’re getting pretty good at snagging the candy. Even Paul caught on this year.




Toward the end of our trip we realized that the kids really only wanted to go to the beach. We tried to squeeze in a little more time there on our last day.





And then it was time to head home. The next day was our Church Picnic followed by a busy week of Camp Tikva (our version of Vacation Bible School).





Every year the kids learn a large Bible Memory passage set to music. Those who learn it and can recite it for their counselors get a prize. Lydia was so excited to get her prize on the very last day.

Once we recovered from the craziness of having a week of vacation followed by Camp Tikva, I gave Dan his first-ever day off. We sent him out of the house to have a day alone to read and pray and bike and think. The kids and I had a tea party lunch and played games.



Lydia lost her first tooth. And then her second.

And I raced in a triathlon. This was actually what made this summer so epic for me. Every other summer since Dan and I got married has had its share of difficulty (pregnancy, NICU stays, temporary living situations, working crazy hours, etc.) so this summer felt epic to me. With Dan’s help and support (and weekly babysitting help from Dan’s mom), I trained four days a week to be able to complete a sprint triathlon (1/4 mile swim, 14 mile bike ride, 2 mile trail run). I could write a whole post on this, but I just don’t have time. In short, it was SO FUN but also so hard. I definitely would like to do another one someday, but I think Dan’s going to have to do one first. I was by no means near the front of the pack, but I didn’t come in last place either, so that was good enough for me. The goal was to get back in shape and have fun and both of those goals were accomplished.





After the race we spent a day at our church camping trip. Then we stopped for ice cream on the way home. Best ice cream stop of the summer.

Since our kids so desperately wanted more beach time in Traverse City, and since I feel like they’re deprived not living ten minutes from the beach (like I did), we planned a sort of last-minute beach trip to the West Side of the state.

We found a family-friendly bed-and-breakfast and had a wonderful stay. Getting to eat breakfast, play in the pool, then go to the beach definitely brought smiles (and good sleep) to all of our kids.










Shortly after our beach trip, we embarked on a long-awaited vacation in Pittsburgh. What’s in Pittsburgh? That’s what everyone would ask us, and we honestly didn’t know. We knew we wanted to visit a big city, just our family, and our first pick was Boston. We decided Boston was too far away to drive with these kiddos, so we looked at a map and picked something within driving distance.

On our way down (and back) we stopped at Brandywine Falls in Ohio. It’s just a short walk from the parking lot to the falls, perfect for the short break we needed.

We fell in love with Pittsburgh. The amazing city views, welcoming old neighborhoods, incredibly hilly winding roads, three rivers, a million bridges, and tons of fun things to do. We visited a science museum, children’s museum, parks, play grounds, unique restaurants, and a natural history museum. We stayed at an old apartment building that had been renovated and converted into hotel suites. One of my favorite parts of this trip was waking up in the morning, eating a casual breakfast together, taking our time getting ready for the day, and talking about the fun we had planned.






We also took the kids to a Pirate’s game, starting with batting practice. The evening turned out to be WAY too much fun for our family to handle, but batting practice sure was fun. Each of the kids got a baseball while the Cubs were practicing.





We took an inclined railroad up Mount Washington and ate at an Italian restaurant with a beautiful view. And we took a few now-classic “take it like it is” family pictures.



And then there were more museums…




Our last day there we made it to the River Walk, something I had on my list of things to do. When we got to the “water steps” we had to hustle to keep the kids from jumping right in (which would have been a lot of fun if the weather had been warmer!)



And so wrapped up our epic summer. We gradually have made our transition into fall and are currently enjoying the school year, colorful leaves, and lots of apples and pumpkins.

🙂




Taylor Christmas Letter 2016

Well, my Friends, I am back again for anther edition of the Taylor Family Christmas Letter. For those of you just tuning in, I am the much Beloved Christmas Moose, back again to update you on the Taylor Family Happenings from this memorable year. Ready? Here we go…

(The pictures you will see were all taken from the Taylors’ afternoon-long, pathetic attempt at a family picture. I say pathetic because they did not get one successful shot, and because they accidentally pointed the camera too low to include me. I was on top of the fireplace mantel. Ah well. Family pictures with four Little Ones are literally impossible.)

 photo IMG_1546_zpsrksbcmid.jpg

Would you believe I woke up to meet another little Moose-calf in the Taylor household? They never even told me they were expecting! But out I come, out of my box in the closet to join the family in putting up Christmas decorations, and there was the most adorable little Baby just nestled up in Justine’s arms! If you’ve seen pictures, maybe caught a glimpse of the Little Guy snuggled up and sleeping…you have seen nothing. He is SO cute. Just wait until you see him with his little eyes open wide. Adorable.

 photo IMG_1496_zpsorsqr7wh.jpg

Along with writing a traditional Christmas letter, this year I have been delegated with the task of including an update of Elijah’s first month, because yesterday was indeed his first month birthday. Lij, as the family most frequently calls him (pronounced as the middle portion of E-Lij-ah) was born on November 20, bright and early. He flew through his tests and procedures and was happily discharged and sent home two days later, November 22, two days before Thanksgiving and four days before I came out of my box (Yes, they got me out a day late this year). However, Taylors like to break the medical odds and in true Taylor fashion, Lij tested positive for borderline congenital hypothyroidism. It sounds worse than it is. While hypothyroidism (low activity of the thyroid gland) can be very serious, Elijah has a very mild case and is already taking special medicine to keep everything right where it needs to be. As long as he takes his medicine, like the good baby he is, he shouldn’t have any symptoms.

Elijah weighed five pounds and eleven ounces when he was born, and at his latest appointment was up to six pounds, ten ounces. The first couple of weeks were slow going because he was just too sleepy to eat very much. Most parents want their babies to sleep more. Justine was trying earnestly to wake him up. Elijah even sleeps at night, much to Dan and Justine’s surprise and delight. Sure, he gets up every 1-3 hours, but three out of every four nights he’ll go right back to sleep after a diaper change or a snack. He is a content Little Boy and everybody in the home loves snuggling him.

And, I might be speaking too early, but as I was writing this update I saw the Little Guy roll over for the very first time. (Although he was sort of on his side to begin with.) Way to go Little Man!

 photo IMG_1467_zpsg92mzw9a.jpg

Well, as adorable as Elijah is, I just can’t spend my whole time writing about him. Next up is P-Man. That is: Bud, Buster, Buddy, Butch, Butchems, Butchcake, Stinker, Rascal. Paul. He’s a cutie too, and always up to something. This year Paul set a new record for the family by taking his first steps at 16 months old. He spoke his very first words during one of Dan’s softball games this spring, “Hi Daddy!”. Aww. Some of his other words are: baseball, Mama, Daddy, baby, Leeya (Lydia), Lijah, no, and sock. He loves wearing his shoes everywhere he goes, except in the car, where he loves to take them off. He still needs two naps a day, sucks his fingers when he gets sleepy, and enjoys being held by his Mommy. He loves to be outside in the warm weather and hates being outside when it’s cold. He will hold his little brother and give him kisses and sing him songs. He absolutely loves to wrestle anyone, but especially his Dad. Recently he found the drawer where Justine keeps her oven mitts, and now he likes to dig those out and put them on before finding Dan and punching his legs. He is all boy and super sweet all at the same time.

 photo IMG_1526_zpska86w1xt.jpg

 photo IMG_1529_zpsowdo74ec.jpg

Then there’s Abigail. Abby, Abster, Abs. She’s a little fireball and whatever she does she does ALL THE WAY. If she’s happy, she’s irresistibly sweet. If she’s angry, everyone from here to Detroit knows about it. She doesn’t let her big sister push her around. They are the very best of friends, even if they don’t realize it yet. Together they love to play house, wedding, and princesses. Lydia is always the bride or bridesmaid and Abby is the “Wedding Girl” (we don’t know what that is yet). She is three, but if you hold up your three middle fingers she will tell you that she is not that three. She is the pinky-ring finger-middle finger three. Abby always calls Paul by his nick-name “P-man”. She thinks Elijah is “so, so cute”. She likes to do school with Lydia, which involves coloring in a coloring book or tracing in her special tracing book which she calls her “cat book” because of the cat on the cover. She is learning that napkins are not called “Backins”, but she still calls toilet paper “paper toilet”. Abby is funny and sweet and learning and growing a lot this year.

 photo IMG_1553_zpsjqcqddys.jpg

Lydia (Lyds, Lydnacious, Munchkin) started school this year and loves it. Her favorite parts are probably math and art, but everything else comes in a close second. Lydia is almost always pretending: pretending to be a mom, pretending to be a grown up with a sister that she is always visiting, pretending to be a princess, or pretending to get married (to Dan). She is incredibly creative with her outfits (regular or dress up) and becoming more and more aware of what she likes and doesn’t like. Today she was sharing her list of foods she doesn’t like (spicy peppers, onions, celery, mushrooms, and sort of baby carrots) and does (tomatoes, cucumbers, burgers, pizza, cheesy noodles, ice cream, chocolate cake, chocolate brownies, and chocolate). If you ever are lonely, you could use a Lydia in your life. She loves to be together, loves to snuggle, and can always find something to talk about with lots of questions included. She has an insatiable desire to play with her Daddy; read stories; and, at Christmas time, make tea, turn off the lights, and snuggle in the living room by the Christmas tree. She is quick to love, quick to forgive, and learning how to be a Big Helper to her Mommy and a Loving Sister to all three of her siblings.

 photo IMG_1472_zpsk5kzkfkf.jpg

Justine has her hands full this year, as strangers love to tell her. She likes to think that full hands and full days make for a full heart, and she has been basking in the joy of it all this Christmas. This summer felt like one big, long wait for Baby. Now that he is here, Justine is soaking up his Little Newbornness as much as she can (while still taking care of the rest of the pack). She also loves teaching Lydia. All year she has focused on being a Good Mom and being grateful. She finally found a satisfying healthified toffee bar recipe, an accomplishment that can only be trumped by successfully taking all four kids to Elijah’s doctor’s appointment last week. (They are a handful!) Other than homeschool and Baby, the highlight of Justine’s year has been spending more one-on-one time with Dan. She, like Lydia, loves to spend time together.

 photo IMG_1524_zps6gqyzrmm.jpg

Dan started a new job working as an Artificial Intelligence Computer Scientist on the Autonomous Vehicle for GM this year. So far he has been enjoying the challenging problems at work, despite a longer commute and even earlier mornings. He still loves to work out in his (unheated) garage gym, even on the coldest and windiest winter days. This spring he joined several young men from church on a Softball team, and this summer he spent many Sunday afternoons playing baseball and soccer. Dan has also tackled several home repair projects this year including roofing his garage and rebuilding his old shed. He can’t wait until Paul and Elijah can tag along on his projects, in his gym, and on the baseball field.

 photo IMG_1511_zpsiybsmfn9.jpg

As for me, it was a good year snuggled up in my box. I have never had the privilege of seeing a Taylor Baby so freshly born, and, if I haven’t mentioned it yet, he sure is cute. The others are too, and even more so this year as more of them can say my name and give me hugs. I just love when they suck on my antlers.

 photo IMG_1507_zpsp42vm3vj.jpg

Well Friends, so wraps up another year for the Taylor Family. They, and I, wish you a blessed Christmas season and a very happy new year.

Yours Truly,

Christmas Moose.

 photo IMG_1557_zps1mrsgplv.jpg

So Much to Say…So Little Time!

 photo IMG_0662_zpsqxxgfaan.jpg
Even though I have a handful of blog posts practically written in my head, getting them typed up on the computer is another story!

The kids just keep me so busy. Right now Lydia is begging me to take her outside so she can ride her bike with its new training wheels. Getting training wheels is probably the most exciting thing that has happened in her life to date (at least from her point of view). Paul is crawling around looking for a snack, and Abby is (thankfully) still napping. Someday I will be old and my house might actually be clean, and I might actually have time to write again, but right now being Mom is just a bigger priority.

So, enjoy a few pictures and a new look on the blog. Paul finally made it into the header picture. Way to go Buddy!

I am off to watch my biggest Munchkin ride her bike while I feed the others orange slices to keep them happy despite the cold.

Little Rascal

This month has been a month of “mores” for Little Man. Paul is 10 months old this week, still weighing in at just under 19 pounds.

 photo IMG_0304_zpsjjvqs42x.jpg

First of all, Paul is sleeping more. Yay! I desperately started cornering moms at church one week asking for their best sleep advice. I didn’t get much that was helpful, but what I did get was prayer. Thank you to you ladies who have been praying!

Normally Paul goes to bed at around 8:00 and gets up at around 8:30 in the morning. In between there I usually stay up a little later before bed and get up at 5:30 to make Dan coffee for work. So, I decided to make use of my already awake time and feed Paul. It’s working! I wake Paul up before I go to bed and feed him, then I feed him again before or after I make Dan’s coffee, and for now, that’s enough to keep him satisfied through the night. Good job, Buddy!

 photo IMG_0350_zpsogxv1uvz.jpg

Oh, and this is Paul’s sleepy face. If you ever see him crawling around like this, it means he is in dire need of a nap. This is also his, “Mommy is holding me and I am content face”. I love the two-finger sucking. Pacifier days are over; we’ll deal with the finger-sucking later.

Paul is playing with his sisters more. Sometimes I’ll send one or both upstairs to wake Paul up from a nap. They’ll talk to him, try to tickle him through the side of his crib, and giggle together. Then, when Paul is not napping, they’ll bring him toys, tickle him and talk to him. It’s super cute.

 photo IMG_0336_zpsbdiwefzw.jpg

Also, I have come to the sad conclusion that good family pictures for the Taylor family are pretty much a thing of the past. These kids…

 photo IMG_0269_zpsi8xvpvgt.jpg

Paul is also eating more. Now that he’s figured out finger-foods (and there’s no going back), we can hardly keep up with him. It’ll be a relief when he gets more teeth and fine motor control so we don’t have to tear or cut all his food into little pieces. Whoever is on Paul-duty can hardly get a bite in between refilling his tray or bowl. Two weeks in a row, we’ve practically run out of food because we’re adjusting to the obscene amounts this boy can eat. You don’t even want to know how many bananas we go through in a week!

 photo IMG_0360_zpsuo4hiacw.jpg

Just for fun, here’s a clip of Paul finishing off some of those bananas I was talking about.

Little Man is also crawling more. I haven’t captured a good picture yet, but he’s even getting up on all fours and rocking back and fourth. Neither of the girls did that, and neither of the girls were mobile until 11 months. Paul absolutely loves it when Dan gets down on the floor and army crawls around with him.

 photo IMG_0401_zpslnxfoltl.jpg

We’re just loving these days with our little Rascal and the Munchkins. Paul is proving to be just as smiley as the girls, and, if you haven’t picked up on it yet from the pictures, he looks very much like Abby. If this appetite of his keeps up, it won’t be long before strangers are mistaking them for twins.

 photo IMG_0399_zpsqhve1dvx.jpg

Little Man, Big Moves

 photo IMG_20151130_192157707_zpsi3iljtjk.jpg

Three quarters of a year, already! Paul is getting so big, so fast. During the past month he hit half a billion milestones and is cuter than ever.

We can start off with the one area where our Little Man is not winning our hearts: his sleep habits. Getting up three times a night is usual, four isn’t unheard of, and there’s a rumor that he got up five times in one night (but who can think clearly enough to count THAT high in the middle of the night?). We’re working on this (and someone may be moving out of Mommy and Daddy’s room a little earlier than his sisters). Moving on.

 photo IMG_20151208_132745369_zpsxdxlu1lt.jpg

Paul is so cute. And he’s doing new things. All in the same week, he started sitting up, army crawling, clapping, and babbling. We have definitely heard him say, “baba” and “mama”. Dan claims he has also heard “dada”, but that hasn’t been confirmed. 😉 We just love it when he talks to us. His laugh is contagious. And boy, can he get around! It has conveniently worked out this year that our baby became mobile within a week of our setting up the Christmas tree, so that makes for some exciting times. His sisters do a great job watching him when we ask, playing with him occasionally, and warning us if he tries to pull the tree down or chew the lights.

 photo IMG_20151207_164429375_zpsucm6dgru.jpg

Paul has started to enjoy his solid foods more this month too. He, for a while, would glue his lips shut when we tried to feed him. We recently figured out that he will eagerly eat up his food as long as he gets to be the one to feed himself. So meal times are a little messier now, but everyone is a little happier. And we aren’t too concerned that most of his food ends up on the floor since he’s still gaining weight like a champ: nineteen pounds exactly at nine months old.

 photo IMG_20151209_132511941_zps1pdvwzcy.jpg

Paul still loves Mom and Dad, but isn’t afraid to go with others either. Mostly he just wants attention and the chance to move around. Even when he’s being held or sitting, his arms never stop waving and his feet never stop wiggling. But my favorite is when Dan has him in the other room at Bible study, church, or even at home and Paul starts to get tired. If I come into his line of vision he’ll stop fussing and watch me, and if I step away he’ll start crying. Then I come back, scoop him up and watch him grin, happy to be back in Mommy’s arms.

 photo IMG_20151210_090337_zps6qibfnfm.jpg

Gobbles is in the Oven

 photo IMG_20151126_065917930_zpseqflc0g5.jpg

Paul woke me up early this morning so I tip-toed downstairs with my Bible and had a nice quiet time in front of the fireplace before taking the turkey out to rest. By the time Dan came downstairs, morning prep was almost finished and we enjoyed some nice snuggle time with Lydia before the others got up.

 photo IMG_20151126_093449840_zpsvf6mmd0q.jpg

Now the kids are fed and running around to burn off their breakfasts before our big turkey dinner. They’re excited for the turkey (only because we’ve hyped it up so much), the dessert (because every tooth in each of their little mouths is sweet), but mostly for the friends we’ll be seeing today and that Daddy has the day off from work.

 photo IMG_20151126_093443617_zpsbciheikj.jpg

We are looking forward to a day together to rejoice and reflect on all that God has done for us in the past year. He has been so kind. Wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving Day and the blessings of the Lord on your day, your meal, and your year ahead.

 photo IMG_20151126_093405177_zpsjpqbwsnz.jpg

Little Treats

 photo hug_zps6vaclmjc.jpg

Lydia is getting old enough now to have discussions with us. We had one recently at breakfast about “treats”. She has come to associate treats with dessert and I was trying to explain to her that a treat doesn’t have to be a small, sweet, edible snack.

A treat is anything that you enjoy, that you don’t get very often.

We listed some examples of treats and went on with our day. Since it’s November, I thought the conversation was pretty fitting. It’s fun to focus and watch other people focus on things for which we are thankful.

Of course, one of the things I’m grateful for, well three of the things that I’m thankful for are my kids. Today for your own little treat, I’m going to share some of the cute things the girls have been saying.

 photo Abby1_zpsoa7ya3wl.jpg

Abby doesn’t say much yet. At least, not enough to get a quote from. But she does have one quoteable moment from the past week. After breakfast we were having our daily “Bible time”. I asked the girls, as I always do, what they were thankful for that day. Lydia has a handful of items she often repeats: bubbles, bread, seeing friends, and Grandma. Abby always says the same thing: Pizza (which sounds more like “Pita”). But one morning Abby surprised me with a new one, “Anju”. I asked her if she meant her friend from church and she nodded.

“Aww, Abby, that’s so sweet”. And she added “and Jesus.”

 photo Abby2_zpsnolh4ne5.jpg

Now that it’s harder to sneak treats without sharing with Lydia, our family has learned that she also has inherited our sweet tooth. One night when we had finished dinner and were getting ready for Bible study, Lydia informed us that she wanted a “sweet treat” and when she didn’t think we had understood her, she insisted she wanted “a little somethin’ somethin’.”

After our vacation last month, we had some leftover apple cider sitting in our fridge. Lydia consistently asked for some hot cider every single day. One evening when it looked like she wasn’t going to get any she walked up to Dan, who was sitting in the living room. She very gently put her hand on his arm, lay her head on his shoulder and looked up at him with the biggest eyes imaginable as she cooed, “I love you Daddy…” She probably did get some hot apple cider that night.

 photo Lydia2_zpsrx3zpyvm.jpg

Several weeks ago I was sitting in the living room. Lydia was on the floor playing with a doll when she looked up at me and asked, “Mom, did God, like, put glue on my head and put my hair on?”

 photo Lydia1_zpskdgmjaah.jpg

The other day I was having a comical conversation with Lydia trying to ask her to do something and she was not following. “Lydia,” I insisted, “use your brain.” She responded cheerfully, “Ok, but I don’t know where my brain is.”

 photo kiss_zpsi8mriku9.jpg

Windy Sunsets

Ok. I finally finished going through pictures from our trip, but some of the best ones turned out terrible because I was using Dan’s phone. I’m including them anyway because the memories behind them are just too good to leave out.

Where to begin? The views, the views. I wouldn’t normally use the word “delicious” to describe a sight, but that’s what kept coming to my mind as we drove along the peninsula, stood outside our room to watch the whitecaps, or played on a playground overlooking the beach. The wind was cold, but we just soaked up the Northern Michigan beauty.

 photo 124_zpsbx5wkpsu.jpg

On our first day up North someone mentioned something about apple cider and it became a quest throughout our week to buy some. Sadly, we were just a bit early for apple season and we couldn’t find the cider anywhere. Not a day went by when someone didn’t mention hot apple cider. And each day we failed to find any.

 photo 57_zpsdfcbc5po.jpg

I took Dan along one of my favorite trails in all of Northern Michigan, close to the house where I grew up. The girls were baffled as to why we wouldn’t let them in the freezing water, but we sat on a bench and enjoyed the view for a while despite their protests.

We didn’t actually get to Northport until Tuesday, although we enjoyed some visits on our way out for the first part of the week. Once we made it to our vacation-home, the fun really began.

 photo 97_zpsefdvxxso.jpg

We packed most of our food for the trip, special meals we don’t get to eat very often. Then we splurged with little treats here and there.

 photo 117_zpsqncp2bzx.jpg

 photo 92_zpsozjeyrya.jpg

Wednesday morning we treated the girls to a normally against-the-rules sort of treat: doughnuts from the famous local bakery. If you ever make it up to Northport and you want a sugary treat, you must try a baked cinnamon twist from Barb’s. Take Abby’s word for it.

 photo 62_zpscqusezsp.jpg

A quick outing in the morning, and then we make our way back to home-base for lunch and naps. Yes, naps. Every day. It was one of my stipulations for making it a successful vacation. I insisted on naps; Dan insisted on treats, and the whole gang was happier than ever.

 photo 90_zpsmbhgpenf.jpg

In the afternoon we took it easy and played with bubbles. As simple as it may sound, bubbles really made the day with our munchkins.

 photo 105_zpsosobpcgq.jpg

Then bath time, and another special treat: baseball in bed. After the kiddos were in their pajamas we snuggled together for a couple of innings on Lydia’s giant bed.

 photo photo 2 10_zpsdfkuhcsj.jpg
 photo 56_zpsey5rgmhp.jpg

Then it was early to bed for another early day. Dan tried sneaking Lydia off for a Daddy-Daughter doughnut date, but Abby woke up and Lydia invited the rest of us to come along too. Despite the very cold wind, we stuck to our plan to visit the marina. It was one of the things we just had to do so I could get a picture to go along with the one of us walking the marina on our honeymoon. 🙂 We walked the whole marina, although it wasn’t actually fun because it was so cold. We stubbornly enjoyed it anyway before rushing back to shore and letting the girls play on the playground for a while.

 photo northport_zpskligbyfj.jpg

 photo 87_zpsg4r981hf.jpg

We enjoyed another day of bubbles, yummy meals, traveling around Northport, enjoying the views, and naps. Yes, I loved nap time. Afterward I stayed in the warm room while the girls played outside with Dan.

 photo 127_zps8eodmxvu.jpg

 photo 104_zpsvgib3idi.jpg

 photo 123_zps3ujrtevx.jpg

Our last night in Northport we came up with a Grand Finale activity. We ate an early dinner than bundled everyone up in their pajamas and drove to an overlook to watch the sunset. This turned out to be pretty hilarious. Everyone was freezing and it felt like the sun took forever to set. When it finally did there wasn’t much to it. No pretty colors, just a big, blinding ball of fire sinking below the horizon. But it made a great memory that we can already laugh about.

 photo 91_zpsquy3sg2g.jpg
 photo 100_zpss89fwqgn.jpg
 photo 111_zps2xksjf0g.jpg

Friday was the day we had to leave Northport, which was sad for everyone. But, not to rush things. We wanted to enjoy every moment of our trip so we planned a grand outing for Friday as well. We hung out in our old stomping grounds, letting the girls run around on the train playground at F and M park. Then we walked the downtown stretch, stopping to sample goodies at Cherry Republic (where we also received free apples in honor of “Apple Days” weekend, but alas, no cider), and stopping again to eat at the supposed best pizza place in town.

 photo 129_zpsntrmag69.jpg
 photo 128_zpsw29qhpmp.jpg

As you can see, this was a special treat. Lydia was practically in awe of her own personal pizza which was twice as big as her stomach and much bigger than her face. Before the night was up we made one last grocery store stop to find…

 photo 136_zpsbywmyh0r.jpg

Apple Cider! And at that moment the trip officially became a success.

We had a wonderful week. Every memory is pleasant. We have never seen the girls, especially Abby, so happy ALL the time. Paul was as cooperative as ever. And Dan and I got to revisit our honeymoon location. As we were about to leave I was feeling a little sentimental as I looked out over the bay and thought about how crazy it is that we hadn’t been there in so long. Five years and three Munchkins later…Dan came up behind me and just started praying, thanking God for the past years and committing the next ones to Him again. Maybe that, and not the cider, was my favorite moment of the trip. 🙂

“Mommy, Will You Snuggle Me?”

 photo snuggles2_zpsnmof4ylj.jpg

For several weeks now, Lydia has wanted me to snuggle with her at night. After we tuck her in and say goodnight she cries out earnestly, “Mommy, will you snuggle me?”. It’s often late and there is always much to do. I need to go downstairs, wash dishes, clean the dining room, pack Dan’s lunch, wash diapers, feed Paul, sometimes go for a run, and on a good night, spend a little time with Dan. Oh, and we try to get to bed early ourselves. The members of this family need their sleep.

But I usually try to rest with Lydia for just a little while. It’s never long enough for her, but at least it’s a little time with Mommy before the last “goodnight”. Saying, “goodnight” is always a challenge for Lydia.

A couple of weeks ago I had a hard day. It was the sort of day that leaves me worn out before lunch time, and ready to cry by nap time. By the time Dan came home from work we were all a mess, Mommy, the worst, was tired and emotional. I had already given myself a time-out earlier in the day to take a few minutes alone in my room to pray and think and try to be calm and practical instead of irritable and emotional.

Something happened, I don’t remember what, but I timed myself out again, after sending Lydia to her room to wait for me. She must have done something wrong and it sure seemed like a big deal at the time, but it must not have been anything too serious or surely I would remember what it was today.

Well I was a mess. I was frustrated with Lydia, frustrated with myself, and crying like a three-year-old having a temper tantrum. It is not good when you act younger than your children and you’re trying to parent! So I took my time-out and prayed, “God help! I’m a mess! What should I do?”. And the answer came:

“Ask for forgiveness”.

So I did. I went into Lydia’s room and told her I was sorry for getting frustrated and emotional, asking her to forgive me. We talked for a while. I cried. She told me she loved me. I asked for a hug.

I needed a hug.

She gave me a hug and then waited while I held on. After a short while she asked, “Mommy, why are you still hugging me?”

That caught me by surprise. I needed a snuggle and Lydia always wants snuggling, so I told her, “Mommy needs to snuggle right now. Will you snuggle me?”

“Ok, but only for a little while”.

“What?” My little girl didn’t want to snuggle? “Why only for a little while?”

“We have to go eat dinner soon”.

In that moment, I saw what I’d been doing to my daughter. As emotional and worn out as I was, I really felt like I needed to be held and loved by my daughter. How many nights had she expressed the same urgent need to be loved and snuggled by me, and I had said, “Ok, but only for a little while”? How many times had she graciously agreed to “just a little” snuggling so I could hurry off and do my chores.

That day, Lydia snuggled me, probably for longer than “just a little while”. And that night, I snuggled her back. Now I make it a bigger priority to snuggle with her at night for more than “just a little while”. I try not to rush off too soon. And if Lydia falls asleep before I get to snuggle her, I sneak into her room and give her a short snuggle. Not because she asks for it, and not because she’ll even know I came. Just because I love her.