Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Beach Trip 2014

Every year, the ladies and the babies go the beach.  Every year there is a baby who has never been to the beach and one pregnant mama.  Every year, we only wear pajamas and swimsuits, spending all our time playing outside and eating simple, sweet toddler-friendly meals at the house.  It's a sweet, sweet time.  This was our fourth year.  The first year, Henry was weeks old, so Susanna had to stay home, but Carter got his first taste of napping to the ocean waves lapping at the shore. 
The second year,  Henry got his first taste of saltwater and I ended up going into labor with Samuel two weeks after we came home.  Last year, Samuel got his first year and thought the sand and water were made for him.   A few months after coming home, Cora came.  This year was her first year in the sand and we'll be welcoming Ella to the tradition soon.

It's fun to see the littles and their changes from year to year as they grow in their acceptance and enjoyment of the sand and salt.

It makes for good naps...most of the time :)

This was the first year the boys were old enough to really get excited about and help build sand castles.  Truly, the two Castillo boys were much more excited about knocking them down, but Henry was patient in trying to teach them the merit of building something fun before smashing it to bits.

This year, Andi celebrated her birthday at the beach.  We had grand plans of all eating Krispy Kreme donuts together after supper to celebrate.  2 of the 3 toddler boys chose major disobedience just before the treat and Cora was deemed too little for that level of sugar content, so Samuel was the only one to get the dessert.  He couldn't of been happier.

This little lady enjoyed making us smile at her cuteness in the shade in between naps. Such a happy, content girl...she had plenty of big cousins to entertain her with their sandy antics.

If Samuel loved anything about this trip, it was surely these sunglasses.  He hardly let them leave his face.

Henry and Carter had lots of important work to do.

These are the two big brothers of the crowd.  Their favorite game is running, chasing and screaming together while Samuel narrowly avoids disaster in the fray.  It's a sweet bond they share.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Sugar and Spice

Some friends are just for seasons and some are just for life.  It's just the way of the world, I think.  Ashley is one of those "for life" friends.  In some seasons, we have been barely physically apart for more than a few hours a day.  In others, months have passed without a solitary hug or conversation.  It is the way of long, old friendships.  We always pick up because we never really leave off.

So when she offered, as a teacher in the craziest part of the school year...who had just returned from maternity leave with INFANT TWINS to coordinate and throw a shower for my sweet Ella, I wasn't surprised at her generosity.  But I was grateful, as I always am, for my sweet kindred spirit who never slows down when it comes to the people she loves.

She coordinated help and did an enormous amount of work to make our room at church a sweet, cheerful place, filled with people who already love this little girl of mine.

Sweet friends arrived early, arms full of gifts and adorably delicious snacks to hang decorations that were just the right amount of girly for this grown-up tomboy to enjoy.  Everything was so cheerful and just made me feel so loved...and warmed me to the core to have a group of people celebrate this tiny, coming gift.

For almost four years, I have enjoyed the simplicity of boy clothes and the "little man" look that has covered my sweet boys.  As a girl who has never been super frilly or into fashion, I anticipated enjoying girl clothes as a change, but not much more.  I think I underestimated the cuteness.  You guys.  Ella was SHOWERED with the sweetest things I HAVE EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE.  I squealed and giggled and everything.  I may be a boy mom who loves being outside and in the dirt, but I found myself unexpectedly pulled into the enjoyment of ruffled rompers and tiny bubble shorts.

Our friends overwhelmed us with clothes that I can't wait to put Ella in...and diapers that I can't wait to see her roll around in.  Because let's be real.  Babies and their sweet outfits are so cute...but nothing matches the cuteness level of baby rolls stuffed only into a diaper.  (not to mention the enormous blessing of not having to buy EVERY SINGLE DIAPER she wears.)

Friends made gifts that were so beautiful...and I can't wait to tell Ella about the hours others sat at their work, thinking of her before they even knew her.  What a blessing it is to be loved before you are even known.

Ella's special present from Boo:

Grandma made her dresses, just as she did for me and my own mother...and even herself.  We will treasure these always.

At the end of all the tearing paper and removing tissue, I was overwhelmed to see all the precious things that friends picked especially for my girl.  She is a loved, loved girl...and so am I.  To be surrounded by people who celebrate with you, mourn beside you, sit by you, walk alongside you, and join with you in this life is one of the sweetest gifts one can have.  I am so grateful for all those who celebrate alongside us as we prepare to welcome sweet Ella.

34 weeks

Monday, May 26, 2014

Two. Two years with Samuel.

There is no one in this world who can believe how quickly time passes.  These years of babies and toddlers are screeching past me, and while some days feel so exhausting, I will be so sad when they are gone.  They are good, good years.

I decided when Carter was infant to save big birthdays for only the big birthdays.  I think turning 1, 5, 10 and 15 will be our years for the big parties of inviting friends, family, reserving a place, making decorations...the whole deal.  With three children, that will calculate 12 big ole parties in my mothering career.  That sounds like a number I can happily do instead of begrudgingly suffer through.  In between, we have celebratory birthdays that are filled with their simple favorite things.  Favorite breakfast, park days with friends and family over for supper, cake and presents.  For us, it feels just right.  

Samuel turned two on a beautiful Monday morning.  We started with cinnamon toast, spend the morning at the park with our friends and ended with a picnic and cookies filled with M&M's.  Samuel thought it the perfect thing.  He kept requesting we sing "Happy Birthday" to him and grinned through each repetition.  

During nap, I hurriedly made a cake.  He's too little yet to request something particularly, so I got to do whatever I wanted.  It wasn't my favorite tasting cake, but the bright colors made me smile.  The sugar content was high enough that all the children were more than happy with it :)

After nap, we played at the "airport playground" and the "ever-prepared" Teri Lee realized that the restaurant next door where we planned to eat supper together was CLOSED AFTER 2:30 ON MONDAYS.  Thankfully, Andi and Boo swooped in with sandwiches, sides, and waters from Jason's Deli.  Those and the picnic tables in the shade seemed as good as the original plan and life went on despite my foiled attempt to fly by the seat of my pants and not check out their hours ahead of time.  

Samuel loved being surrounded by people he loves...and he was pumped to finally get the cake he'd been promised all day.

He drooled on the cake directly before blowing out the candles.  He got them all on his own, despite big brother's attempt to "help."  

This year, he felt differently.

He loved being in charge of opening presents.  Last week was his cousin Henry's birthday.  The week before, Andi's.  The week before, it was Uncle Travis'.  While he stood back each week and watched other people opening presents, he was happy to take the spotlight this week and get the job done.

Henry and Carter were quick to be on stand-by just in case Samuel decided he needed help.

In reality, Uncle Travis' pocket knife was needed a few times, but Samuel handled the rest of the unwrapping alllllll by himself.  No matter how long it took.

This little guy was so happy with his special day.  So happy to just be outside with people he loves, get a little extra sugar in both the granulated and kiss form, and open a few sweet gifts given to him by people who love him.  It was my favorite kind of day, and I hope he felt celebrated.

This boy.  I wonder if he'll ever know the sweet grace he is to my soul.