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.

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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!

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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.

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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…

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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!

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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.

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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.

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Little Man, Big Moves

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Gobbles is in the Oven

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Little Treats

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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?”

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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?”

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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.

No More Mr. Serious

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This month Paul finally transitined away from “Mr. Serious” to a smiley Little Man. Within the past couple of weeks Paul has grown to love interacting with people. He loves his Mommy. He loves his Daddy. He loves his big sisters. And he pretty much loves anyone who will look in his cute little face and talk to him.

Not only is Paul smiling a lot more, but he laughs and it’s cute enough to melt your heart. Sometimes Paul cries just to be held and when you pick him up he’ll give you his charming little grin and a chuckle that’s contagious. He’s usually content to sit wherever you put him: in his bouncy seat, on a blanket, in his jungle, or in your arms. Sometimes it’s just too hard to put him down and go “be productive”.

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Paul is still sleeping and eating like a champ. He weighed 14 pounds, 3 ounces at four months old and is our biggest baby by far. Dan and I are amazed at what an easy baby he is! He just rarely cries. He seems to be a little more of a mover than his sisters were too. In fact, last night he rolled over for first (and second) time from his tummy to his back. Way to go Big Guy!

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He’s also getting pretty good at those “neck raises” during tummy time. He’s become sturdy enough that he has taken over Abby’s standing toy. This is the first baby we’ve had who seems to be developing far too fast. Before we know it he’ll be rolling and crawling around, and it seems like we just brought him home! For now, though, we’re enjoying the smiles, the snuggles, and the precious baby laughs.

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This Day

We are nearing the end of a really fun staycation, and I’ve been slacking on updating the blog so I could enjoy the time with my family. Monday Dan will start work, we’ll start having a routine again (you all know how happy that makes me 🙂 ) and then I plan to be updating a little more frequently.

But I did want to take time out to mark this monumental moment. Do you remember this day?

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That’s our Abigail at 81 days old when she came home from the hospital. She weighed less than six pounds and we were thrilled to finally bring her home.

Today Paul is 81 days old. He weighs twelve pounds and is just starting to smile. We are also thrilled to have him home, and to have had him home for so long already.

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Now how long do you think it’ll take before Paul is bigger than Abigail? 🙂

The Big Guy

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Well, it’s been one happy, peaceful, sleepy, surreal month since our Paul was born and we are loving being a family of five. Paul has been doing his job like a pro: eating, sleeping, and breathing. For the first three weeks he did nothing but eat and sleep all the time. Well, sort of.

Lets talk about that sleeping, shall we? I include sleeping in these updates so I can look back and remember that it is possible to survive on very little sleep for a very long time. Paul is a good baby, but like many babies, he was born with his nights and days flipped. During the day we could lay him down anywhere at any time and he would sleep peacefully. During the night he would eat and go right back to sleep until we tried to put him down. Then he would spit up, or realize his diaper was dirty or wet, or he would just want to be held. So he would cry and we would hold him…all night long. He’s gotten much better in the past couple of weeks. On a good night, he’ll eat every 2 to 2 1/2 hours and sleep in between. On a rough night he’ll eat every hour and a half and he won’t sleep in between except when we’re holding him. (Last night was a rough night.) Dan’s been a champ guarding my nap times and letting me take a nap when the girls go to bed until about midnight.

But there are more fun things to talk about here than sleeping! Paul is up to…maybe 8 pounds by now. (Last week he was 7 and a half and we’re going to weigh him again tonight). And he actually opens his eyes! It took almost three weeks before we got to see much of those eyes, but now he’ll have one or two long stretches a day with his eyes wide open.

He’s so cute. We love holding him and playing with him in his jungle gym. Every day he seems to be able to see a little farther and he makes more little baby grunts and snuffles.

He’s developed quite the personality too. Or maybe we’ve developed a personality for him. Paul is all-business. We call him Stone Face when he’s sleeping because he looks determined not to wake up and to put all his energy into growing. He’s also developed several other nicknames (in order of how frequently we use them): The Big Guy, Little Man, Buddy, P-Kizzle, and PK.

Paul’s main goals right now are learning to lift his head and stand on his feet so he can play baseball with Daddy and on Sundays with our church. He’s already been working on the right form for holding and swinging the bat and he’s almost as big as Dan’s baseball glove. 🙂

It’s been over a month since God blessed us with this little take-home-baby and it’s still hard to believe how it all happened. It’s hard to believe we really have a little boy. And it’s hard to believe how peacefully we’ve been transitioning to having three munchkins at home (Dan helps a ton). We feel so blessed and can’t wait to keep watching our little Paul grow big and strong.

One Year of Thankful…Complete

One year ago, on my birthday, I began a project I called “One Year of Thankful“. My 26th year had been tough. We moved a pile of times, endured unpleasant job changes, suffered through 12 unexpected weeks with a baby in the hospital, and were in the process of adjusting to having two kiddos at home. I was having a hard time, feeling down, getting angry, and realizing the lack of joy in my life. So I began this project: record one blessing a day and take a picture to go with it.

Now my “year of thankful” is complete. I’ve learned a few things along the way and I’ve enjoyed counting my blessings. I’ve learned that it’s not enough to pick one thing a day, an attitude of thankfulness has to be continuous. I’ve learned that blessings come in showers and sometimes there are droughts. At times I would have to choose between a number of blessings in a day. Other times I would go for days struggling to think of anything for my “thankful”.

As I was wrapping up my year, I thought it would be fun to go through my complete album to see what I was the most thankful for. I think this says something about my personality and it definitely says something about what I treasure in life. Here are my top ten:

10. Finding Things – Apparently I lose things somewhat frequently and really dislike it. Every time I find a lost item I have reason to rejoice.

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Day 54 – I found my lost phone.

9. Nature and Beauty – From the beauty of freshly fallen snow, to a colorful sunset, to my favorite flowering trees, I love enjoying the beauty God has placed all around me.

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Day 79 – Baby bunnies.

8. Relief from My Job – You don’t even know how many times I took pictures of dishes washed by someone other than me! Or sometimes it was folded laundry, someone to watch the kiddos, or a discovery that made my life easier. A break from the grueling task of “domestic engineer” frequently made my thankful list.

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Day 216 – Having my parents here while Dan and I were at the hospital, being able to take it easy as the girls were cared for and all the dishes and laundry done.

7. Material Things and Comforts – Material things were often gifts and comforts often included warmth or sleep. I’m blessed with so many nice “things”: a house, clothing, all sorts of kitchen knick-knacks, and so many comforts like warm blankets, medicine when I’m sick, or the exercise ball that brought so much relief late in the pregnancy.

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Day 71 – Nap time.

6. Love – Originally this was lumped under “Family and Friends”, but it came up so many times I gave it a category of its own. From date nights to flowers, love letters, and special chats with Dan, it’s clear that I enjoy any language of love from my husband.

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Day 315 – My one and only Valentine.

5. Walking with God and Answered Prayers – This category skyrocketed late in my pregnancy with Paul. Every week was an answered prayer. But it wasn’t just weekly milestones that made the list. During some of the most pressing trials of the year God brought much peace, guidance, and comfort.

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Day 348 – This moment. I thought it would never happen. Psalm 37:4

4. Quiet, Precious, and Meaningful Moments – I am a creature of habit. Special moments that we enjoyed every day (like breakfasting in the breakfast nook or snuggling with Lydia in the morning) often made my list. I’m also an introvert and any quiet or peaceful moments made it into my thankful album.

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Day 82 – This Moment: Snuggled up with his girls.

3. Food and Fun Times – I was amused at how often food came up as my thankful for the day. Especially special occasion food (aka something with cheese) or fruit. Fun times were also a favorite, including family outings, trips up North, and weddings and showers.

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Day 156 – Another perfect pre-baseball picnic.

2. Productivity – This one really surprised me. It’s back to those pictures of dishes I guess! The second most frequent thankful has something to do with making progress on housework, organization, research, or projects.

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Day 233 – Finished!

1. Family and Friends – This one isn’t much of a surprise. Family and friends and the special moments we have together were the most common thankful by far. God has blessed me with many loved ones, but most frequent were my loving husband, and crazy kids.

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Day 364 – Adding another little one to our family has only made me love them all more.