The week after VBS and more…

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We’re slowly getting back to our daily routine after a fab week spent with our Goddaughter and another fun week of VBS. It seems to be becoming a summer tradition for our lil ladies, our Goddaughter, Aryie, and our niece, Brylee! This year we brought a school friend of Aub’s along as well. The girls could hardly wait for vacation bible school since school let out. And quite honesty neither could I. It’s a happy flashback into my childhood when Maw-Maw would bring me and one of my fave cousins each summer. I can still remember running up to her with every picture I had made and to tell her everything I had learned much like these little dolls do now. I loved being able to bring them each morning and getting to listen to six little girls sing all of the new Christian songs they had learned (of course Bitty loved singing along with the big kiddos) on the way back to our house each day for another play date. It’s Always so much fun to be able to watch these little lovelies bond and I will never pass up a chance to hear all of those little giggles. Of course Maw-Maw was an amazing help in keeping a house full of little gals happy as I had continued to battle a migraine. I’m so thankful to her for helping me make sure they still had fun days regardless of how I felt. No way was I going to ruin their much anticipated special week. And as usual Maw-Maw’s are pretty awesome at saving the day!

It’s kind of hard to believe this summer is more than half way over and our monsters will be starting school before we know it. Our life has changed an awful lot as of late, both in happy and a few uncertain ways. I’ve continued to take a bit of a break from blogging to take in all of these changes that are going on and to enjoy these summer days with our monsters. Even as life shifts in unexpected ways I can’t help but to continue to count my blessings and love our little family with all of my might. I am somehow reminded daily of the incredible people we so graciously have in our lives and their unfailing way of always letting us know they are there. We have lots of interesting and exciting things coming up in our future. Sometimes things can be out of our control and let’s face it not always turn out the way we want it to be. But we choose to hold on to our faith and know that God’s plan is always bigger than our understanding. And with my Hubster always by my side I anxiously look forward to what’s to come.20140731-001441-881749.jpg

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Gibberish

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Aryie: “Nanny I learned how to write my name in gibberish at VBS!”

Me: “In gibberish?”

Aryie: “It was something with a J, I can’t remember.”

Me: “Jewish?”

Aryie: “That’s it! I knew it was with a J!”

-Aryie, 8 years old, VBS stories20140723-124238-45758520.jpg

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Throw me somethin’ Mista!

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We decided it was time to get Buggie (4 years old) & Bitty (2 years old) back home for their first real Mardi Gras this year. We had planned to do so long before my unexpected surgery and almost thought we would have to wait until next year since I wasn’t fully healed. But seeing how excited my lil Buggie was, there was no way I could let her down. So we went, knowing I would have to take it a little easy. It was a fun filled vacation with my love and our four lil monsters to say the least, regardless of my aches and pains. We were able to see lots of family & even a few friends. We made it to almost every place we had on our things to do list. Ate at all of our favorite local spots and even tried out a new to us old local place in the Quarter one night, The Old Coffee Pot on St. Peter’s. We enjoyed several nightly parades with family all around the city. My dad even got to enjoy a parade with all six of his grand kiddos together one night. I think my favorite part was hearing Buggie scream “throw me somethin’ Mista!” over and over again, even when a float was no where near us. A memory I am sure I will never forget. We loved watching our lil monsters’ excitement as they collected a wide variety of fun throws from each parade.

One night paw-paw watched our three little ladies so that along with my cousin and her husband we could take Budah to the French Quarter for a few hours. While most people enjoyed their night on Bourbon Street, after a nice dinner on St. Peter’s, we opted to take a stroll down our favorite street instead, Decatur St, and did a little shopping and sight seeing. Of course my dad knowing me all too well texted me pictures and video clips of all of the fun he and our little ones were having! And I’m pretty sure none of us will forget the hysterical taxi ride to and from the Quarter that night!

Then as if our vacay wasn’t rad enough, we got to meet two of our fave Texans in my hometown and bring them to a down da road fave, Charlie’s. Scott & Ryan loved it, and our lil monsters were thrilled to get to see their Guncles too!

My love & I got to celebrate our 7th wedding anniversary in NOLA, which was coincidentally Lundi Gras Day, surrounded by our four lil monsters and a few of our fave people. Though our big celebration is still to come in late May and I can hardly contain my excitement! I simply adore this man of mine and am being spoiled far too much this year for our anniversary!

As always, New Orleans’ crazy weather dished out a very cold and rainy day for Mardi Gras. Oddly enough we weren’t overly let down to not get to spend that day in Metairie on the parade route. By then I had pushed myself far more than I should have and it was time to slow down anyway. So after watching some of the Metairie parades and Uptown parades on tv at my cousin’s house we all headed out to Deanie’s Seafood for a special Mardi Gras Day lunch. All of that freezing cold rain washing out our day didn’t dampen our spirits at all, we were so happy to be back home. We finally slowed down a bit after a full week of non stop fun and enjoyed a leisurely last full day there.

On our way home we stopped along the way for a quick visit with one of my favorite cousin’s, Joe. Buggie loves every chance she gets to visit with her Paran!

When we got home Buggie & Bunny were thrilled to bring lots of Mardi Gras beads and trinkets to share with their classmates. I love the generous little souls we are raising!

Just some of the hundreds of pictures from our fun filled week! We can’t wait until next Mardi Gras!20140313-160759.jpg20140313-160808.jpg20140313-160818.jpg20140313-160828.jpg20140313-160836.jpg20140313-160844.jpg20140313-160906.jpg20140313-160916.jpg20140313-160923.jpg

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FaceTime, cousins, Paw-Paw, & Lin-Lin

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Tonight my lil monsters got to talk to their Paw-Paw via FaceTime as they do daily. The 600 miles between them has nothing on the bond they share. Only tonight they enjoyed chatting with my sister, their Lin-Lin. And loved being silly for an endless amount of time with my Godson, their cousin, Parker Baby. Though today he informed us he is not a baby! He’s THREE now! I can’t get over how much he looks like his mama! It’s been 15 months since we’ve seen my sister and nephews/Godson. To say we miss them would be an understatement.20140220-233606.jpg

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2013 summed up, Happy New Years!

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I’ve been reading everyone’s New Years resolutions and reflections of the last year on different social medias and blogs. I can’t say I have ever really made resolutions. I’ve honestly never really been one to follow through with them. But I did enjoy going through one of my apps and looking at pictures of our last year and I can’t believe all that we squeezed in to it! It’s been a year full of blessings, family visitors, traveling, bonding, gatherings, parties, ending of toxic relationships, gaining of new friends, and so much more. I have to say it’s been one of our better years and I look forward to what the future holds for our family. Here are just some of our moments in 2013…
20140101-021353.jpg1. Bitty’s first trip on a plane. Thankfully nursing kept her content nearly the entire time.
2. Bitty’s first time in snow. A massive amount of snow at that. I’ve never really seen a tremendous amount of snow until Ohio myself and I’m sure this southern gal stuck out like a sore thumb!
3. I spent my birthday traveling all day with Bitty and couldn’t wait to get home to my little family.
20140101-021811.jpg4. Much to my surprise, my dad was waiting for me at the airport! He had flown out to be here for my birthday & Bitty’s.
5. After a very long day of traveling I came home to a little birthday celebration with my family. It couldn’t have turned out to be a more perfect day.
6.Bitty’s 1st birthday! She had an owl themed party. And loved her smash cake!
7. Naps, a rare thing for this daddy & mama, but certainly a welcomed treat especially if it’s with one of our monsters.
20140101-022324.jpg8. There are so many things for our family to give thank for. No matter how busy life gets, I adore the fact that our monsters know to stop and pray daily.
9. Buggie decided she was a boy and wanted to chop off her long beautiful curls, and so it is.
10. Bitty may have far too many toys, yet nothing is more entertaining than our kitchen cabinets.
20140101-022621.jpg11. Mardi Gras Day is just another day in Texas. But I got my monsters a king cake and made them a traditional Cajun meal too.
12. My sweet sweet Valentine.
13. Our first annual Valentine’s for maw-maw’s and paw-paw’s. With the help of family and friends our monsters delivered 209 handmade Valentine’s to a local nursing home. I’m not sure who enjoyed the visit more.
20140101-023306.jpg14. Matt’s cousin Rachel came to town and spent the night with us. We won’t talk about how she threw out her back that night:/ But I will mention how much I adore this kind hearted fun lady!
15. Lots of music is played in this home.
16. Oh the confusion of teaching Buggie this is NOT the finger to point with. Nothing sweeter than the innocence of a child.
17. We avidly support EBF (extended breast feeding).
20140101-100027.jpg18. We did our first annual 4 lil monsters Easter for Children’s Hospital. Along with the help of my monsters, some of my friends & family, Bunny’s class, & half price books we were able to make and donate over 100 pillows, hats, blankets, handmade cards, and three large boxes of books to every single child at our local Methodist hospital. Even more rewarding was being able to deliver said gifts to those precious children with my son and my husband. I will never forget some of those sweet faces and the happiness something so little brought them during such a scary time in their lives.
19. Buggie decided to pretend to take a nap, while she was really trying to give their barbies a bath in their garbage can. Sometimes it’s not easy to keep a straight face while correcting our monsters.
20. We got rid of all the toxic chemicals and cleaning supplies in our home and went all natural and started making our own.
21. My B-Boo and Nannie Boo to some of our monsters came out for a surprise visit. I simply adore my time with her.
20140101-101414.jpg22. We enjoyed a year of baby wearing our little bambino.
23. And our toddler too.
24. I discovered I needed glasses. The very next day Budah was prescribed some too. He wears his every day. I haven’t exactly been a good example in that department.
25. Lots of selfies happened.
20140101-101828.jpg26. We took our lil ladies to see Yo Gabba Gabba and Daddy & I may have been just as stoked about “Biz’s beat of the day”.
27. We spent spring break on the coast . This was also Bitty’s first time in the sand. She wasn’t sure about it.
28. Bitty & I neared a end as she started weening herself after 18 months of EBF (extended breast feeding). I will forever cherish those special moments.
29. Not all were a fan of the Easter Bunny.
20140101-102330.jpg30. A whole lot of skateboarding took place and then some.
31. We spent Easter morning in a hotel in New Orleans.
32. We made some memories in our fave city. You can take the gal outta NOLA, but you can take NOLA outta the gal.
33. We went to the annual Easter Freeman family reunion.
20140101-102719.jpg34. Najah had many baths.
35. Disney on Ice with our three lil ladies.
36. I spent lots of one on one time with my little Bitty while her siblings were at school or work.
37. My hard working son bought amazing tickets for us and after dinner in ATX he took Bitty and I to see The Lumineers and The Tumbleweeds (who happen to be from NOLA and quickly became another fave folky band of ours).
20140101-103220.jpg38. Our monsters became a huge help in the kitchen.
39. Lots of silly moments were had between our monsters.
40. I enjoyed Mother’s Day with these four little monsters I made.
41. There was a very special guest at Buggie’s 4th (pirate themed) birthday party.
20140101-103618.jpg42. First steps were taken.
43. Bunny celebrated her 8th birthday with a fun luau themed party surrounded by a bunch of her little friends.
44. A whole slew of sleep overs were had with either squealing little girls or a group of teenage fellas.
45. Many toxic folks were removed from our monster’s lives. Best decision we could have possibly made. Life is suddenly peaceful and only spent with folks that genuinely care about us.
20140101-104114.jpg46. Many weekends were spent with my Godchildren. Such sweet blessings.
47. My Aunt Glo spent a few weeks with us!
48. These two precious little cousins enjoyed a full spa day on Bunny’s birthday. Hair, make up, manis, pedis, & princess dresses!
49. Budah celebrated his 17th birthday Fiesta style surrounded by a ton of friends & fam before a day of skate parks with this huge group of fellas.
20140101-104551.jpg50. After much thought and prayer I have finally discovered forgiveness. And gained the knowledge from a very dear friend that forgiveness was necessary for my faith and self healing and didn’t mean I needed to be around said people that I forgave. Such an amazing feeling to be able to let go of years worth of hurt as well as the people that caused unnecessary pain.
20140101-104931.jpg51. The Guncles never let us down…literally. Our monsters are so lucky to have these four amazing fellas in their lives. Both as family and a good example that love has no boundaries. Teaching our monsters that no one has to be the same to be accepted is one of the greatest lessons we could possibly teach them.
52. These four little beauties had a blast at their week long VBS (vacation Bible school).
53. My mom & her sister celebrated their 55th & 60th birthdays together with lots of red & purple deco and were surprised by the flock of huge flamingos in the front yard.
54. We celebrated my dad’s 60th birthday early with a full nautical themed party before a trip to Big Lou’s.
20140101-105504.jpg55. 4th of July with these cuties!
56. Lots of swimming & fun took place.
57. We love our weekends with Aryie.
58. Knot-Geek flourished!
20140101-105833.jpg59. We celebrated Matt’s God daughter’s birthday too!
60. Enjoyed many visits with rad friends.
61. We spent a week in a condo on Mustang Island on the beach and exploring near by places.
62. Braces were removed!
20140101-110237.jpg63. Have I mentioned how much these monsters love their Guncles?
64. JuJuBee with Matt & Alex!
65. Much to my surprise I happily joined the mini van club.
20140101-110626.jpg66. Bunny donated ten inches of her hair to locks of love.
67. Just when I think it’s not possible I love these lil monsters a little bit more.
68. First day of school! Pre-K, 3rd, & our home schooled 11th grader.
69. Labor Day! Maw-Maw, Jamie, Dustin, Brylee, Britton, Phil, Angie, Billy, Syd, & Tanner. Painting, a little covered up Slayer,BBQ, & swimming fun.
20140101-111254.jpg70. Budah discovered he could cross his eyes…all the time.
71. Buggie decided she could shave like her brother and in the process shaved off her eyebrows & scraped her chin and lip. Budah also decided to face plant the very same night skateboarding and broke his glasses. Thanks for those near heart attacks monsters. Please no injuries in 2014.
72. We celebrated my MIL’s 60th birthday with her at her new beautiful ranch house.
73. I got my Van Gogh on with Em.
20140101-111915.jpg74. These lil doll faces started ballet & tap dance classes.
75. Pumpkin patch fun!
76. Duckies were fed for the first time by this little gal, and she easily ate as much bread as she shared.
77. I had two very unexpected surgeries in a matter of three weeks time. Thankfully I have amazing family that nursed me back to health.
20140101-112248.jpg78. We spent our first year in our new home. Still can’t believe it’s ours.
79. We did our first annual Halloween book drive for the local Methodist Children’s Hospital and collected 350 books!
80. Odessa! We loaded these 6 monsters in the car and drove to west Texas to spend the weekend with my love’s old Army friends.
81. Bunny’s school book parade.
20140101-112758.jpg82. Bunny was a homecoming princess.
83. Many days were spent at cheerleading practice & football games.
84. Superhero’s for Halloween! Budah- The Hulk, Bunny- Cat Woman, Buggie- Spider-Man, & Bitty- Wonder Woman.
85. Bunny did fantastic at her first cheer competition.
20140101-113136.jpg86. Many mornings waiting for the bus!
87. We didn’t let nosey folks change our routines.
88. We have constantly been surrounded by rad folks, that while they may not share the same bloodline, have been the most amazing family we could ask for.
89. Turns out Buggie likes to write on our house just like Budah did when he was little.
20140101-113623.jpg90. We didn’t have to leave our neighborhood to take this year’s Christmas pictures of our monsters.
91. Daddy, Budah, & I nearly froze waiting to watch Bunny & Buggie’s dance class in our local Christmas parade.
92. Our monsters have loved having Maw-Maw live with us.
93. I loved experiencing Buggie’s first class Christmas party with her!
20140101-113937.jpg94. Bunny was very proud to have Bitty join her for her 3rd grade Christmas party.
95. Bunny & Diamond danced beautifully at their first Christmas Dance Recital.
96. Bunny finally welcomed her first American Girl Doll, Audrey, into her little world!
97. While Buggie loves her dance classes, she wasn’t feeling her first dance recital.
20140101-114347.jpg98. Our little ladies sang away at their school Christmas programs.
99. Santa visited our little ladies at our house!
100. We celebrated our 2nd Christmas in our home with our four lil monsters, maw-maw, paw-paw, & maw-maw Susie.
101. Budah shot his first doe on a hunting trip with his dad.
20140101-115400.jpgWhat an amazing year we’ve shared together. While yes there were some disappointing moments this year, clearly there was far more happy moments to out weigh the bumps in the road. We truly are blessed beyond measure. I celebrated my 6th wedding anniversary with my husband this year. What a pillar of strength he is. He never ceases to amaze me. I know with him by my side we can take on anything that comes our way.

While we had such a fantastic year I watched many of my favorite people experience their worst year ever. I only pray that we have been some form of a comfort to them during their heartache.

So while I won’t be making “New Years resolutions” per say. I will continue to set goals for myself and our little family. I will continue to strive to be the best person I can be regardless of what some may think of me. I will hold on to my faith. I will be the faithful & supportive wife this loving man I married deserves. I will forever strive to be the best mama, daughter, DIL, sister, SIL, niece, cousin, aunt, Godmother, & friend I can possibly be. I will continue to work on forgiveness. I will continue to protect our monsters from hateful people. I will continue to be the best role model I can be to my monsters. After all they do learn by example.

Now off to cook our traditional New Years Day meal: pork (for health), cabbage (for wealth), & black eyed peas (for good luck). And spend this day surrounded by loved ones. Can’t wait until our Budah Booskie is home!
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Houseful of monsters, 11-24-13

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Today I am thankful for the houseful of monsters I have.

This morning I woke up with EIGHT lil monsters. I love nothing more than a houseful of monsters, chaos, and laughter. We are going on day two with two of my Godchildren, Aryie & Caj, here with us. Last night was Caj’s first of many sleep overs with his Nanny! Oh sweet Jesus does this lil fella melt my heart! Then we have our regulars, Diamond & Janae, add in our 4 lil monsters and it’s been a fabulous house of chaos!20131124-103556.jpg

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One year already?

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We had five different scheduled appointments to check around our home and service appliances today since we have had our one year in our home sneak up on us. One year already? How is that even possible? So many good memories have been made. From watching the slab being poured, to picking out every tile, cabinet, & tub, to seeing it quickly come from the ground up. All the way up until the day we got our keys. Such a whirl wind of stressful moments and lots of exciting ones along the way. In the last year we have experienced so many changes. Some have become family and sadly a few have exited our circle. We are tremendously thankful for the folks we are surrounded by at this new stage in our lives. Bitty has had so so so many first in our new home. Her cute little scooting on her bum across a room (because she never did learn to actually crawl), her first steps, first words, an almost mouthful of teeth now, sneaking on one stair before we quickly put up baby gates. Now she can get up and down those stairs like it’s nothing and fast! Seeing her run around in the home she will get to grow up in. Each of our monsters have had a huge birthday party here already. We’ve had a big Thanksgiving dinner that we had enough room to invite several people in to our home for. A blessed Christmas with our children, my mom , my dad, and Matt’s mom even came over that evening. Bitty’s Christening. Measuring our monsters when we moved in and each of their birthdays. We have also celebrated many other birthdays here over the last year: my hubster, Leilani, my mom, Aunt Glo, my dad’s, and mine. We’ve shared lots of random gathering with friends and fam. In our first year my mom moved in with us. My cousin Joe lived with us for a few months while he worked at Retama. My sister, Godson, Parker, and nephew, Joshie, my B-Boo, my dad, Matt’s cousin, Rachel, Joe’s wife, Sandra, and my Aunt Glo have all stayed with us for some very special visits. Matt’s Aunt Debbie & Uncle Scott came to town and we quickly pulled together a little Graham fam reunion. My husband did a half marathon with Phil in military boots and a 35 lbs ruck sacks, this was less than a year after we had a very big scare with his health and we had thought he had a heart attack! Still so very proud of my husband’s huge accomplishment. He also spun up a small and very successful business that has been both enjoyable & rewarding. This man never ceases to amaze me. Sleepovers galore have happened on nearly every weekend and basically all summer for our three oldest monsters. Bitty and I successful met our goal of extended breast feeding. Budah started his first job. Our girls took hip hop dance classes, tumbling, and karate over the summer. Buggie started Pre-K, ballet, and tap. Bunny started third grade, sings in choir, is a cheerleader, and takes tap, and ballet as well. Budah entered his junior year in homeschool, has held down the same job for a year now, is wrapping up drivers Ed, skateboards like crazy, and is looking forward to purchasing his first car in the near future. With our four little monsters & friends we made handmade Valentines and delivered them to a local nursing home. Then with friends we also made & delivered pillows, hats, cards, and some books to every single child in the Methodist Children’s hospital for Easter before we went to New Orleans for my family reunion. Bunny, Buggie, Aryie, and our niece, Brylee went to VBS at our church this summer. I have had three surgeries in the first year we have been in our home and my family and friends have been amazing through each and every one. I have been very blessed to be a stay at home mama. I finally started using the blog my husband created for me last year and have so enjoyed documenting our life, some not so good moments and lots and lots of very special things that I will have to look back on and cherish for many years to come. Sigh. Just so many special things have already happened in what feels like a very short amount of time. It’s been an amazing feeling to start building new traditions and memories with the folks we truly love and adore. Thought I would share a peek into our last year through photos. God has truly blessed us and we are beyond thankful for the life we live and the fabulous folks that are in it. We are so incredibly humble and don’t for one second take any of it for granted! Thanks be to God!20131015-000224.jpg20131015-000236.jpg20131015-000248.jpg20131015-000258.jpg20131015-000309.jpg20131015-000319.jpg

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