Our Front Yard

We are in the middle of completely redoing our backyard. Like EVERYTHING up to the edge of the pool has been ripped out and is being redone. Anyway, in the middle of all that, Ian asked our concrete guy about adding on a walkway in the front yard and since it was super reasonable, we went for it. We had the flagstone taken out (and now have the yellow spots on our grass to prove that they sat there for two days) and replaced with 3 foot by 3 foot concrete squares. My favorite part of this is that we now have a true path over to our driveway where we park...you can see the front of my car stopped right at that path ;)

Here is what the front of the house looked like when we bought it.

Since moving in, we ripped out all the plants planted on the driveway side and replaced them with plants that make sense. I say "we", but what I really mean is my aunt and uncle showed up one afternoon in May with all the plants and did all the work while the kids and I sort of helped. You can't tell from a picture, but we also installed a small led can light in the arch above our front door, allowing us the privilege of now actually being able to see the key hole without getting out our cell phones to use as light to find it. And lastly, the walkway we just put in. Since this picture is in full sun, here is one from when the house was listed by the buyers

Did you know you can see all the photos associated with your house in the last several years on realtor.com? Well, because of that, we got to see what our house looked like before it was renovated in 2014. Here's the front of the house from then.

I just realized when I downloaded this picture that the house used to have a shake roof. They really changed a lot about the house when it was redone. And the tree on the right has grown a ton in just 3+ years! Anyway, here are a couple move photos of our new front walkway.

I really like it and am glad we made the last minute decision to do it. And Ian and I managed to place all that rock in half an hour. It was way easier than I expected. Also, in case you are wondering, I have no clue who put those pink flamingos in my front yard. They were just there one day when I came home. But the joke is on whoever put them there because I totally like them!

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Girly Girl

I remember when I had Isla, being afraid that I wouldn't be enough for her. You see, I am not a girly girl. I don't know how to really apply make up...a little mascara and tint on my lips is about all I can swing. And before I cut all my hair off, I wasn't high maintenance in that area either. I was (and still am a bit) afraid that when Isla gets older and turns to me for advice, I won't be able to help.

I like to think of Isla as a girly girl with flair. She loves her some skirts, but also loves pokemon and star wars. She loves makeup and hair product, but loves to play in the dirt like no other. Perhaps, well balanced would be a better way to put it.

A week ago, we went away for a couple nights with Ian's family. Ian's parents took all the grandkids into a toy store and let them pick out a toy or two. What did Isla end up with? A nail kit. The other day, she put on some nails, then went into my bathroom and "did" her hair. AKA: put a bunch of my hair product in her hair, threw in a few hair clips and called it a day! She also found some makeup and put it on. Then, she went and admired herself in the mirror. No matter how insecure I feel about not being able to help her with these things as she gets older, I couldn't help but love watching her looking so proudly at herself in the mirror.

Of course, all the pampering at five years old also has me a bit worried for the teen years!!!

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Little moments not to be forgotten

// drinking pool water //
// family Pokemon battles //
// chores //
// ice cream //
// sprinkler cool off //
// sprinkler cool off times two //
// pool jump //
// watermelon //

Summer and I are a bit of frenemies. I love all the downtime and fun activities that we get to do. Heck, just the fact that I don't have to set an alarm every morning is enough for me! But the heat. Oh, the heat. When it gets hot enough, it's just miserable. And I swear every member of my family gets irritable from the dang heat. See? Frenemies. 

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^^ These ladies have been an integral part of my community over the past few years. I love that our crazy dream became a bigger reality than we could have ever expected. And I also love that our tagline is "cultivating creativity & community"

People crave community. Most do, at least. And many people seem to complain about the lack of community in their lives. And we seem to think other people will somehow fix that for us. The thing is, we are the only ones that can do something about it. We literally have the be the ones to create the community we crave. You certainly can't have community if you don't participate in it. 

I have learned so much over the past year + about community from a beautiful soul in my little community, Bonnie. She oozes love and community everywhere she goes. She genuinely cares about other people. She talks to people. She hugs and embraces our babies. She is always inclusive and never exclusive. She has been a beautiful living example to me of what I want my community to look like, of how I want to be towards other in my community. Open, vulnerable, helpful.  

^^ Bonnie does a "friendship bake" every Thursday for her amazing bread. See the line in the background? That speaks for itself. And she begins every friendship bake with a story time for the kids.

Who is your community?
Remember, YOU are creating the community you crave. So it can look however you want. My community probably looks random to many. But it is made up of all the people I am happy to help out, ones that I would call when I am in need and I want to be in community with. It includes my close friends, some family, families from the kids school, my awesome bread lady Bonnie. Heck, I would even consider our awesome mailman Jared as part of my community. I talk to him daily, he cares, we care. Your community can literally look however you want it to...and you have only yourself to blame for how your community looks and feels.

How do you create community?
Talk to people. There is a lady I walk to almost every single day either doing to or from the kids school. She've given me garden clippings, I listen to her talk about her painful divorce. Be willing to help people out. It doesn't always have to be grand gestures. It can be food or flowers from your garden, loaning them a tool they need or even helping them move a large piece of furniture. Just the act of being there for someone, no matter how small it is, is how community is built. Turning your eyes away from need is almost what our society has become. Community is the opposite of that. It's openly helping others. 

One of the biggest things about being in community with anyone is GENUINELY CARING ABOUT OTHERS. You want people to care about you, right? You want people to listen when you talk? Then you have to do the same for others. Open up your life to people. Invite people over to your home. Not comfortable with that, then invite them to coffee or to go on a walk. If you want to get to know people and be in community with others, you have to let them in your life and be willing to get invested in theirs. 

Building a community takes time. It takes effort. It takes vulnerability and that is a hard one. But I promise you, in the end, the payback is great. 

Without a sense of caring, there can be on sense of community.
- Anthony J. D'Angelo

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A 19 Month Comparison

I know, I know, another comparison. But this is basically my last one, unless I want to do first day of school comparisons or something. Plus, I love any excuse to walk down memory lane. I literally loved going back and looking at toddler Connor and Isla while looking for their pictures. Remembering how life was. Remembering how they were. Anyway, here's all three of my babes at 19 months, freshly awoken in the morning, in the same crib. 







Whenever I think Callum is really starting to get a head of hair going, I look at picture of the other kids at the same age and am always shocked. At this point, Connor had numerous hair cuts and Isla just had a ton of long hair. But that's ok, I'll take his cheeky little smiley demeanor any day over him having a full head of hair. 

In case you care to check out the other comparisons of the kids - a cheeky comparison, three little monkeys, 8.5 month comparison, three kids, one outfit and same hat, different boy

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The Slowness of Bath Time

I remember when Connor and Isla were little, bath time was literally my favorite time of the day. They could literally play happily in there forever and it gave me a moment of calm. Something about getting three kids bathed and ready for bed feels less calm and more assembly line like.

The other day, due to consuming far too many blueberries the day prior, Callum NEEDED a bath in the morning. And let me tell you, when you don't have any place to be, a morning bath is where it's at! The older kids were still asleep. I just sat on the floor of the bathroom and watched this little guy splash and play to his heart's content. It really was a sweet part of my day. And given that I don't enjoy these times the same as much anymore, due to all the distractions, it was a welcome relief to our normal bath times these days.

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The 4th

We were all over the place this year on the 4th. Connor is doing French camp this week, so I took him to that while Ian took the younger two to our city's parade. By the time I got to the parade, neither Isla or Callum had much interest in it. I ended up hanging out for about 45 minutes before taking Isla with me in and leaving, as I didn't want to get stuck in the crowd when I needed to get Connor. 

After the parade and French camp, we spent a few hours at home, just getting some things done. The kids played while we did some work in our bathroom. Then we headed over to have dinner with my parents, my aunt and uncle and my brother. We finished up with fireworks at our house. Which, I loved because then the tired children can be put straight in their beds instead of screaming on the car ride home! 

^^ All ready for the parade. And Callum is teething big time, hence the wet shirt in every picture! #droolfordays

^^ Connor and my brother played giant jenga. Connor did surprisingly well with his very bold moves. The biggest challenge was keeping Callum from purposefully knocking the whole thing down and keeping Isla from accidentally knocking it down while dancing around the room.

^^ Callum trying to blow out the sparkler! It was cute. But he was crazy with the sparklers. He wanted to shake them all over the place, so had to be controlled while having them.

^^ The kids loved the flashers (the little fireworks that just flash, killing your eyesight!) and the adults hated them. But seeing the kids dance around in front of them was pretty fun.

The day felt busy, but ended relaxing. And I was the one that set off all the fireworks, so I guess I'm a bit of a pyro.

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