letters to nikhil: happy first birthday!!!

Dear Nikhil,

We are in shock.

Because here we are.

Celebrating your first birthday!

You are ONE today, love.

One.

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This was easily the fastest year of our lives.

You came into this world quietly in the early morning hours.  

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Since that very beautiful day, you have acquired a fun and BIG personality.

Just like your big brother.

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You have a laugh and smile that is absolutely contagious.

Our bad day blues get chased away with those big eyes and giggles of yours in a heartbeat.

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You are a dream second babe.

You have a reserved and quiet side.

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Especially when you watch us run around and play in the evening with your big brother.

You find any way to contribute to the fun we have as a family.

You are brilliant, sweets.  It amazes us how quickly you pick up a new skill.  

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Sharing gives you the greatest joy.  Toys, food, and kisses.  It lights up our hearts.

Many moons ago, Noah whispered his wishes for a baby brother…

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He was praying for you long before we even knew of you.

The day you were born was the day you blessed Noah with a best friend for life.

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He loves you an incredible amount.

The kind of love that makes us stop in our tracks and thank God for blessing us with the two of you.

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You are CRAZY about food.  We still have yet to find something you do not like to eat.  It makes us laugh daily how quickly you dash to the dinner table for your meals.  

You are fearless.  It is both terrifying and amazing to witness.

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The way you walk with confidence even when you are still learning to balance yourself will never get old to us.  

All your firsts are just as amazing to experience the second time around.

You are absolutely HILARIOUS.  You can send the three of us in a fit of laughter with your expressions.  

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You were never one to snuggle.    

Until the last few weeks.  

You know us.  Our hearts.  Our love.  

You melt into our arms.  It is an indescribable feeling, sweets.

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They are our favorite kind of moments with you.

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You taught us this past year that our dreams can change.  

Into dreams that we never imagined.

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And, they end up being better.

Far better.

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You have lit up our lives.

You have made our home full.

You are the perfect missing piece we had been praying for our family.

Thank you.

For giving us hands down the best and most humbling year yet.

We love you something fierce.

Happy First Birthday, little love!!!

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xoxo,

Daddy and Mama (and Noah)

  

good reads: only love today

Up until three weeks ago, I was a mum who was on survival mode.  Who was knee deep with her priorities in the wrong order.  Who was in the middle of a dark battle between envy and jealousy.  And, who forgot the simple joys life has to offer in those in-between moments.

Enter Only Love Today.

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I started this lovely book in Florida.  And, I owe her writing my overwhelming gratitude because that one week of our vacation gave me the chance to connect, embrace beautiful moments, and change my life for the better.  It may seem a little dramatic, but it is the truth.  Her words still echo in my heart.

Only Love Today opened my eyes to the way I love my three boys.

It made me slow down.  As in REALLY SLOW DOWN.

To watch my oldest smile as he sleeps soundly.

Or to see the tiny dimples that form on the cheeks of our sweet, baby boy when he is happy.

Or to notice the way his eyes dance when the boys and I come to greet him at the front door each day after work.

It made me realize to appreciate each of their strengths and to look past their flaws.

To accept my four year old as a wild little boy who is full of spirit.  Because that spirit is going to lead to something great.

Or to take the extra two or three minutes to let him splash in the bath tub and experience the amazing things that happen when you just let him explore.  Like hearing his sweet laugh.

Or to love everything about his quiet and steady heart because is it those same attributes in which he leads our family and keeps us safe each day.

I had an epiphany on our bike ride last weekend.  I could spend these next few years rushing.  Rushing to get to the next part of our day, to the next location, to our never-ending destination.  Or I can stop.  Choose joy.  Jump in a puddle holding his hand.  Snuggle our baby when he is teething in the middle of the night.  And, laugh, as in really laugh, about the silly moments of our day with my best friend.

I realize this life.  It is going by quickly.  When I think about our sweet, baby boy turning one, part of my heart aches that I spent much of his first year living in a state of worry and daze as I tried to make being a mama of two look perfect.  But, then I realize, much like Rachel Stafford, it is never too late to stop.  To change.  To say enough is enough.  To let go of perfect.  To strive for grace.  To say yes to the ones who hold the best pieces of your heart.  And, to say no to everything else.  Because when I am ninety years old, I will never care about how clean the house was, the clean dishes in the cupboards, the kind of car I drove, the way our home was beautifully decorated, and the kind of career I had and the money I made; no, I will ONLY choose to remember the people I love-the relationships I invested into that led to lifelong friendships, the countless memories I shared with the one I am lucky to call my better half, and the children, grandchildren, and possible great-grand children who will remind me daily how truly precious this life is.

To anyone who is struggling to remember what matters most in life, read her words.  They will change you and leave you feeling an indescribable amount of peace.

This book.  It was the kind you want to hug at the end.  To say a silent prayer of gratitude to both God and this beautiful writer.  And, to promise yourself, everyday may not be great.  You are going to make mistakes.  A lot of mistakes.  And, you NEED to forgive yourself for those mistakes.  But, always choose to be mindful and present.  And choose love.  Because let’s be honest, love never fails.

  

seven years

To my love,

It has been quite the year.  

Can you believe this is our seventh wedding anniversary?

Where has the time gone?!

We joke if either has felt the seven year itch.

Yet we both shake our heads no and agree, it still feels like our first year of marriage.

Bryan, you have shown me what true, raw, and unconditional love looks like in our seventh year.

To love me at my absolute worst.  

To look past my flaws. 

To only see the good my heart holds.

You make sure I laugh each day.

And, you always walk through the door with a smile, kiss, and a helping hand ready to tackle the evening with our sweet, little circus.  After a long days work.

You seize to amaze me because with everything you do and how exhausted you may feel, I have never heard you complain.  Once.

In which, I lay awake at night at times and ask God how I was gifted with you as my husband.

The one that leads our family.  Strong and steady.  

Always with a patient heart.

In all my fourteen years of being in love with you, I have yet to hear you raise your voice.  

You always say, I have helped you become a better man.

I am sorry, my love.

But, it is you who has helped me become a stronger version of the girl you met in college.

In the past, I have said I wanted four little boys just like you.

Halfway there, and this dream of mine, it has not changed.  

Because you make it easy, my love.

Even on our most challenging days.

The days where we want to throw the towel in and wonder what were we thinking with this thing called parenthood.

Even on those days.

I still go to bed dreaming about four brown-haired, hazel-brown-eyes boys.  

What I love even more is how you dream about a brown-haired, brown-eyes little girl.  

“Just like her mama,” you say.

Who I know, if we have, you will be her best friend. 

I want to thank you.

For not letting me get lost this past year.

I did briefly.

Yet, you helped me find my way.

You encouraged me to dream.

You told me not to give up my love for the camera and writing.

To try new things and revisit old things.

And, I am so proud of you.  

For not giving up on your passions.

To make time for what you love while somehow juggling a career and being a hands-on dad beautifully.

Babe, I thought the day I met you was the day I would love you the most.  Because I knew.  Deep down, I knew you were it for me.

But, I was wrong.

Because I was sure the day I married you would be the day I love you the most.  

Yet again, I was wrong.

The day you made me a mum to our second, healthy baby boy was the day my heart exploded for you.

And, that love gets stronger each and every day for you.

I mean it when I say, I literally cannot breathe without you.

You are my home.

Thank you for seven years of absolute wedded bliss.  

It has been beyond spectacular.

Far better than my wildest dreams.

I love you with all my heart.

seven years

Happy Anniversary, my love!

  

he dreams of being a daddy

The other night, I asked Noah what he wanted to be when he grows up.  Fully expecting him to say an astronaut, scientist, doctor, Lego builder, or teacher, he replied without hesitation, a daddy just like my daddy.  I stopped everything I was doing at that moment, and just squeezed our sweet boy.

For all the wrong you think you are doing during your day as a father, you are doing one very important and big thing right, B.  You have taught by example to our little love how to be an AMAZING daddy.

I wish I could keep track of the number of times Noah tells me he misses you throughout the day.

Or the way, Nik crawls into every room searching for his dada. Only to light up with a HUGE smile when you come walking through our front door.

The way they find you the fun one.

Their partner-in-crime and adventure seeker.

You are the strongest person Noah knows.  He tells me all the time.

And, I am told you can fix anything. Even if I tell him, I can do it. But, he insists you do it better (which is probably true).

One time I asked him who is stronger, Daddy or Superman.  In the very next breath, he answered, daddy.  No questions asked.

He is so proud of you.

I told him what you do every day when you are working hard.

He knows you design and build important things.

Which is always followed by, when I become like daddy, I will build big things like daddy. 

And, let’s face it.

After the amazing Lego buildings he has built, you know he is going to do something great.

And, I know, you will be the first one he thanks.

Because you are always there for our boys.

Big or small.

You have never missed one event, game, or celebration.

To our boys, you are their bestest buddy and their forever hero.

Cheers to all the spectacular fathers, hopeful, current, and expecting, to my wonderful father-in-laws, my kind-hearted and loyal daddy, and my husband, the love of my life who continues to beautifully juggle both fatherhood and a career.

Thank you for all you do.  For the love and support.  And, for always having a place for our children to land into with your soft hearts and strong arms.

Happy (Early) Father’s Day!

  

beach getaway to Florida

This vacation.  Our family vacation.  It was an absolute DREAM.

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On a whim, we decided to get away and visit our dear friends in Jacksonville, Florida.  This was the start to what turned into the most amazing vacation we have taken to date.

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We started in Jacksonville, explored St. Augustine, and drove thirty minutes south of Fort Myers to Sanibel and Captiva islands where we spent the remainder of our vacation just the four of us.

For those seven days, we had no set bedtime for anyone in our little tribe, we ate an abnormal amount of ice-cream, we adventured and filled our bellies with GOOD food, I had not one dairy or gluten attack, and we were kissed by the Florida sun resulting three quarters of our crew coming back at least two shades darker than our original skin colors (poor Bryan!).

We laughed, we felt rested, we counted our blessings every morning and every night, and we returned with full and very happy hearts.

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So blessed to have amazing friends who loved on our babes as their own!

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My soul sister and I.  She is truly a gem of a girlfriend.

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We got a chance to explore Atlantic beach.  Holy amazing food!!!

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My people.  I sure do love them.

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My sunkissed babe.

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Cannot believe next week will mark seven years of wedded bliss with this handsome hubby of mine!

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The beaches in Sanibel are gorgeous!

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Lucky to call them mine!

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While it was raining cats and dogs one of the days on the island, we decided to visit the shell museum and Noah man created a masterpiece!

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We asked him to show us his “excited” look.  It looks a lot like his screaming look.

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If only I could convince my boys how it is completely acceptable to live in a pink, yellow, and teal beach shack!

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Before catching our flight home, we visited the historic downtown in Fort Myers.  Such a charming little area full of wonderful boutiques and shops.

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Beyond thankful for the countless memories and a refreshing week I had with my sweet, little tribe!