The Boys Right Now.

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Everett. Four and a half going on seventeen. Right now you are so much fun I can hardly stand it. I keep telling you to stop growing up and you keep telling me you’re going to keep doing it.

You love playing Candyland, we play it at least 3 times a day. Your favorite card is the ice cream floats, because you love ice cream AND because it bumps you so close to the finish line. Which you remind me of, every time.

Lately you have been telling me, “I’ll love you forever mommy and I’ll never stop loving you”. And you are also saying, “I love you 100”. There are really no words to describe how it feels when you tell me these things. I LOVE YOU FOREVER 100 TOO!!!

You are continuously working on your worksheets from school, even when we are at home and not talking about school work. You’re getting so good at your name that now you are practicing writing Daxton’s name and it makes me so happy when you are so proud of your work.

You are eating so good these days, my love, and GOSH is it a relief after the journey we’ve had. I am so proud of you for eating your broccoli, even if we do douse it with an extreme dose of parmesan cheese.

And you are so helpful with your brother, letting him know when his behavior warrants a discipline. I’m sure he appreciates it, but not as much as I do. You are going to make a great daddy with all this practice you’re getting these days!

You are so thoughtful, asking the best questions. Questions that make me ask myself questions! Like, “Mom, what is prison? How do you get there?” Omg.

You run so fast, Everett. I cannot wait to see where those legs take you.

We are reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe right now before bedtime, and you keep saying you want the witch to win, which makes me giggle. I can’t wait for you to figure out that she’s really the bad guy.

You refuse to nap, so we are in that stage where you are having “rest time” and somehow finding ways to get out of it. You are quite the negotiator! But seriously - I miss the days when you napped.

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Daxton.

My two-year old. You big, beautiful burly babe. You have gotten so snuggly with me lately, which is really making my life. I don’t care what else is happening in the world when I’m snuggling with you - it’s just that good!

You are speaking so well, repeating everything you hear your brother say. It makes my heart soar to hear you say, “I wuv you, Ev-wett” when we put you boys to bed at night. And you say “Thank you, mama” about 10 times a day which makes all of my insides smile. You make me SO happy.

And watching you and Everett play together is exactly what I dreamed and hoped it would be all those months when I was pregnant with you and imagining the brotherhood you two would share.

Your hair is so, so soft. I hope it stays that way forever.

You are experiencing a good dose of the 2’s right now, so discipline is happening around the clock. I hope you will understand in the future that it’s all for your good and because we love you.

You also have decided to follow in your brother’s footsteps when it comes to his repulsion of most foods. Thankfully he has grown out of that, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed (and trying to stress less) that you will soon grow out of it, too.

Speaking of, you still call snacks “Thuhhhhh” and as much as I want you to start saying it the right way, a bigger part of me DOESN’T. Because when you ask for a “thuhhh” I can’t help but laugh.

You are easy going, fun to be with, and you make everyone around you smile because of your smile. Even your teachers want to keep you! You bless me every single day. Although I’m pretty certain I’m going to have to stop carrying you around places because, BOY, you are growing like a weed.

Both of you boys, stop growing! And at the same time, keep doing it, because with each incremental bit of growth comes an unexpected amount of fun and I feel like we are all just in a really good groove these days. You two have made my life full, so full. I am overwhelmed with gratitude. I love you both forever!

Happy 2nd Birthday, Everett!

Tonight when I was putting you into bed, at the very last moment, you wrapped your arms around my neck and placed your head to sweetly on my shoulder. You sighed softly and said, "My mommy." I was so taken aback - this wasn't something you had ever done. So of course I answered, "My Everett", and you replied, "My mommy", and we did this over and over again. About ten times in total. Then you leaned your body down, motioning that you were ready for bed.

I laid you down, my memory flooding with the moments of being in labor with you, exactly two years before. My Everett.

I am overwhelmed by how tender you are, how unbelievably sensitive and outspokenly sweet you are. You are all boy, with the yelling and the stomping and the throwing balls at all the furniture in the house. But then you are also my Everett, telling me my dress is beautiful (true story - every single time I wear a dress, he says, "Mommy dress beautiful") and noticing when I actually fix my hair ("Mommy take shower? Mommy, what with this hair?"). You are a mountain of a person - so full of life and love and goodness, that I am convinced that the world is a precious place, just because you are in it.

I can't believe you're two today. This second year of your life has been teeming with adventure - you took your first steps the week of your 1st birthday, just a few days after moving into this new house. You started "school" and hated it so much it made both of us cry. Thank goodness you realized how much fun it can be when you let your teachers and friends love on you. You learned to throw a ball and a frisbee and swing at the playground and run fast. You broke your leg. That really sucked. But we watched you heal and it made both my muscles and my heart stronger, carrying you and caring for you. You are a person of great boldness and courage and strength. I couldn't be prouder of you, little son.

Your favorite things these days? You love bagels. Fire trucks. Dinosaurs. ELMO. The color green. Playing outside. Riding on the golf cart. When Dad gets home from work. Wearing your hat backwards. Wearing Nikes. Eating waffles. Balloons. "Flying" with Dad. Reading books before bed. Fruit snacks. Bird watching! And a million other things, because you love a lot. You're the best thing in my world. It's such a privilege being your mom.

I love you so much, Everett. Happy 2nd Birthday, my boy.

P.S. - My mushy thoughts on Everett's 1st birthday.

Everett's 1st Birthday Party!

Happy Friday, friends! I hope you have lots of lovely plans in store for your weekend. It's been a really, REALLY busy week in our camp, with our upcoming move and lots of family events taking place, but I will have lots more to share about all of that on Monday. I wanted to take a moment today to share something super special that happened this past Saturday:

My son turned ONE YEAR OLD.

After sneaking into his room to watch him sleep every night this past week (that's not weird, right?), I am still in disbelief that my itty-bitty baby has developed into the most effervescent, beautiful, strong little boy over the past 365 days. The day of his birthday was especially peculiar for me, with my emotions oscillating between extreme excitement for his future and overwhelming sadness that my baby has outgrown himself day by day. I kept replaying videos of him over the past year, everything from his first grunts to his first smiles, first laugh, first crawl, first solid foods, ahhhh it's getting me all over again.

He is so sweet, so good, so infuriating and funny and fanatic and vibrant - I am overcome with gratitude. I am so lucky to be his mom, I am so lucky that he came into my life and surprised me with his joyful presence. His nocturnal, ever-teething, probably forever nursing (ah!) presence. Before I go completely emo-mommy on all of you, I'll cut myself short of all the reminiscing (since I already did that here) and just cut to the chase.

We threw him a pirate pool party with 45 of his closest friends. You can spot my immediate family members because we all wore pirate bandanas. You can spot me because my hair increasingly swelled with humidity every moment of the party. And you can spot my babe because he wouldn't let me put a bandana on his head; instead we had to settle for him wearing it around his neck like a bib. So he looks kind of like a cowboy while the rest of us experienced some rather excruciating head sweat, all in the name of committing to the theme. Honorable mentions go to my mom, who drew a mustache on with eyeliner.

My family is nuts. In case you needed the disclaimer.

Cousins with the she-pirate.

Cousins with the she-pirate.

Super mimi!

Super mimi!

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My best creation.

My best creation.

Watermelon pirate ship. Perhaps my second best creation.

Watermelon pirate ship. Perhaps my second best creation.

A special smash cake, all for him!

A special smash cake, all for him!

Happy Birthday, Everett Lee!

Happy Birthday, Everett Lee!

You can see the progression. He didn't dig it. Well, he dug  in , but he didn't dig it.

You can see the progression. He didn't dig it. Well, he dug in, but he didn't dig it.

Sweet boy. It was just such a big day for him, with all the people around him fussing and making a big deal. He really didn't know what to make of it. And he didn't even try to eat the cake. Which is a shame, because Publix really does make a mean birthday cake. THAT BUTTERCREAM FROSTING.

Sweet boy. It was just such a big day for him, with all the people around him fussing and making a big deal. He really didn't know what to make of it. And he didn't even try to eat the cake. Which is a shame, because Publix really does make a mean birthday cake. THAT BUTTERCREAM FROSTING.

Sometimes a boy just needs his dad. Especially when everyone is staring at the icing on your face.

Sometimes a boy just needs his dad. Especially when everyone is staring at the icing on your face.

My little nephews decided to take up their cross and bury their faces in the cake since Everett didn't quite understand the fun in it. These little guys have my heart.

My little nephews decided to take up their cross and bury their faces in the cake since Everett didn't quite understand the fun in it. These little guys have my heart.

A dip in the pool, to wash away the crazed cake memory. And that stubborn red frosting...

A dip in the pool, to wash away the crazed cake memory. And that stubborn red frosting...

Boom boom. Heart snatchers, both of them.

Boom boom. Heart snatchers, both of them.

We had a special present opening on the porch. With Everett's girlfriend. AKA my future daughter in law.

We had a special present opening on the porch. With Everett's girlfriend. AKA my future daughter in law.

Everything she picked out was his favorite. Of course. Because she's perfect.

Everything she picked out was his favorite. Of course. Because she's perfect.

Stacking cups for the win.

Stacking cups for the win.

To all those matchmaking dads who try to make their babies kiss each other goodbye... GET A LIFE. Okay fine, I might have had the camera poised in hopes of capturing the epic moment. Alas, a kiss never came. #theresstilltime

To all those matchmaking dads who try to make their babies kiss each other goodbye... GET A LIFE. Okay fine, I might have had the camera poised in hopes of capturing the epic moment. Alas, a kiss never came. #theresstilltime

Happy Happy Day.
And just like that. My boy is one. I am dumfounded, caught up in the fleeting wonder of parenthood and childhood and life. Any advice for this mama of a 1-year old, entering the toddler stage with a busssssssy boy? I'm all ears!

More up here next week on the party planning elements - how I made a pirate ship out of fruit, festive food for kiddos and adults alike, and the awesome photo booth that we kind of forgot to use. Oops.

Happy weekend to you! XOX

Psssst - In honor of his birthday, I am hosting a giveaway with Freshly Picked to gift a pair of babe moccasins (our favorite shoes) to one lucky winner! Do yourself a favor and enter here - it's the best kind of birthday favor, I promise!

Happy Birthday, Little Son.

I can't believe it. I really can't.

You are one, my dear boy. You are a whole year old, 365 days. Those days have been FULL. For both of us. For all three of us. You have cried every single day for a year. You have napped. You have eaten. You have snuggled. You have discovered and awakened to new elements. You have grown. You have rolled, wiggled, crawled, stood tall, and now you are just shy of a walk. I'm sure your swagger will make me proud (AKA make me cry.) You, with the rotund thighs and the pouty lips and the humor in your eyes and the crinkle in your nose. I could kiss you all over, and oh, I have. I HAVE. But still, it's never enough!

You have four healthy, happy, inclusive grandparents that adore you. You are so lucky for that, dear one! You have a zillion little cousins that think you're the cutest. You have two parents who swear you're the best child on Earth. Even when you pull mommy's hair and interrupt daddy's work calls and throw your food on the floor. We love you so much, we are buying you a whole house with a lawn where you can run and play to your heart's content. You have traveled the country and the world and you have lived to tell the tales of gelato. You love chicken, hate spinach, refuse bottles, welcome juice boxes and oatmeal and waffles, and you most certainly live out loud (literally - you are LOUD.) You love to be silly and you know that you are funny and I love that you are already confident. You are a little wary of people you don't know, and I admit, I kind of love that about you, too. You don't just take to others immediately. You are careful, cautious, and you really think about what's happening around you. There is no getting anything past you! Believe me, I've tried. You always manage to find my iPhone, my hair, my last bite. You are very good.

You have changed my paradigm. You came in like the great awakening, and now I am forever defined by you. It's crazy to think that after 27 years of my living one way, the only way I knew how, you came to me and spent the past year etching your expression into my life. You are forever to me. Me and your Dad. We are going to love you endlessly, until the end of our time. And even then, I will still love you. I'll bend the rules of eternity.

I'm so proud to know you, little son. You are a powerful person. You are strong and gentle all at once. You are so special, so sweet, so good, and you always will be. In the years to come, you will understand so much. But you will look back on your life and have questions about things. Just know this - my prayer for you as you enter your second year is that you may know how very, terribly loved you are. That you won't be able to deny your worth. That you will be overcome with excessive affirmation, endless encouragement and a parade of truth and kindness all around you. My love for you is fierce and overwhelming, but is is a mere shadow of the passion that our savior Christ has for you. Lean into Him, always, little son. Learn His language, the way He speaks, and listen closely. You will always have peace when you seek first His opinion. I can promise you that.

I can't promise that you will like the outfit I dress you in today.

While you're still little, I'm the boss. And the boss likes you in blue onesies.

I love love LOVE you.
Mom

When Two of Your Favorite People Meet.

When Two of Your Favorite People Meet.

This happened a few weeks ago. Technically there are three of my favorite people in this picture, but Stevie and my dear Aunt Shirley know each other well. But it was the greatest privilege for me to witness my son meeting the snazzy, savvy, sweetheart that is my Aunt. Somehow my heart managed to melt a bit more. I thought it had done all the melting it could possibly do.

My Aunt Shirley has been a life-long inspiration. Not only is she overly-accomplished with an impressively long resume and all the accolades of the world, she is a woman of endless compassion and unparalleled conviction. She's basically Mother Theresa, serving all her extra time for others, and encouraging her students to join her many efforts. If I could emulate her character a tiny little bit at the end of my life, I would gladly call myself blessed and be done. And her joy! I don't know anyone who is more positive! Well, she and my mother-in-law can duke it out, because they are the two most positive people I know. FYI It's a really beautiful thing to be surrounded by practically blind positivity, by the way. Makes you feel like the world is your oyster. And why wouldn't I want my darling boy to be surrounded and influenced to believe that (because it's true!) But her kind of positivity isn't blind. It's fierce, statuesque, absolute in it's hope for what is the best kind of good. I am so lucky to have this woman as my guidepost, looking out for me, correcting me, smiling her big gorgeous, mischievous smile at me. Oh that Italian broad.

I hope your holiday weekend is filled with family time that makes you feel uplifted, full of hope, and encouraged beyond measure. Because that is a treasure not to be diminished. And if you don't have family like that? Well, then BE the family that does that. We have such a few precious days on this Earth. If you have the opportunity to be a person like Aunt Shirley to a little person like Everett, DO IT. The impact will be a pulsating, rippling, life-changing kind, and really, what else matters? Not career. Not money. But a little person being shaken by absolute love, acceptance and sheer hope for the future? Well, you could say that's kind of what this holiday weekend is all about.

Happy Easter, friends.