Thursday, April 30, 2015

Houston Art Car Parade 2015

The Houston Art Car Parade is one of those quirky things that happens every year in Houston.  It's been going on for 28 years!  This year we made it downtown, claimed a great piece of parade watching real estate and cheered on over 250 cars and their drivers.  Winston loved seeing the parade and repeatedly exclaimed, "Look at that one!" each time a new car came into view.  Even though at the start of the week the forecast was a ninety percent chance of rain, the weather turned out to be perfect for sitting outside enjoying art on wheels and the company of sweet friends!
This guy's tail feathers moved up and down as it drove along the parade route!
 This car was called the Peep Jeep!  It had thousands of Peeps all over it!  
This is just a smattering of the creativity that we saw that day.  We look forward to next year Houston Art Car Parade!!  

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

My First Year as a Stay at Home Mom

It has officially been more than a year where I resigned from my corporate job to be a stay at home mom.  I remember being excited, nervous, apprehensive and slightly overwhelmed at this decision.  And now, here it is a year later.  And I've survived.  And so has Winston!   
The decision that Benjamin and I made together for me to stay at home has been life changing for both of us.  No longer is Benjamin responsible for waking up Winston and getting him ready for school.  No longer do I wake up at 4:30 to get ready for a day of meetings, negotiations, and spreadsheets.  Instead Winston and I have our own little routine that I love it with all my heart!  I still get a thrill hearing him call my name each morning when he wakes up.  The hours after dinner and before bedtime is when Benjamin and Winston have their special time together.  Most days I get to jump in on the action, but some days it's just the two of them out in the garage creating and imagining great things together.  
During the first few months after retiring there were moments of wondering if I had made the right decision.  There was no need to check my email umpteen times an hour; there was no one needing a report or a presentation.  I didn't need to dash to make a meeting I had dismissed on the calendar.  The only person that need me was the tiny human {and our sweet Lulu fur baby}.  Was I okay with only being with this one human all day every day?!  Each time doubt came along, God was there to affirm that what we were doing was the right thing for our family.  
Since retiring there have been times where I have struggled with if and where am I adding value because that was my mindset at work.  And then I look at my Winston and realized that his life is where I am adding value.  That by simply being available and ready to build a block tower for the thirty-third time was where I am adding value.  That raising a human to have manners, to be courteous and to have a heart for God is where I am adding value.  That my mornings with the Lord are where I am adding value.  This is a precious time for me to be filled with His Goodness and Truth.  A time where I can come to him confessing the many times I fail and thanking Him for the provisions He gives.   I look at Benjamin and see that my staying at home and managing things here is a comfort to him.  We have home cooked family dinners around the table together to talk about our day.  I have energy to fully engage in conversations with Benjamin about his day, our schedules for the week along with our hopes, fears and future.  By simply being available, intentional and present with my family I add value.  
I have the privilege of having my Buddy with me to go on grocery adventures, to take to the zoo, to run errands with me, to play on the back patio with.  He is the best little side-kick I could have every hoped for.  He is smart and funny!  He is quick witted and observant.  He is passionate and kind.  Winston truly loves his people {and the dogs!} with a fierce love.  He is polite and a charmer.  Winston is a great encourager to others and loves to dance when he hears a song he likes!  He has a big imagination and I love that I get to play a part in it!  I am thankful each day that I get to see his personality develop.  

Not all moments of every day are sunshine and rainbows.  We have our hard days, our tiring day.  And even though there are struggles and times of disciplining and moments where I lose my Mom-cool, and times when I am exhausted and feel a little mushy-brained, I wouldn't trade it for the world.  
Winston attends a preschool program two days a week.  He loves his friends and his teachers!  It makes my heart smile when he sings new songs that he has learned and tells me about the letter of the day!  This allows me to do things around the house and meet Benjamin for lunch every once in a while!  Even though the school year is nearing to an end my heart skips a beat each day I get to see his face light up when he sees me walk into the classroom!

In the evenings when the men are playing together I use that time to clean up the dishes and take a few minutes to breathe.  I either fold laundry, read for a few minutes or take a bath.  Or some nights I join in on the fun or we go for a bike ride!  We have a good balance and I am thankful to Benjamin for that.  
When I look over the past year there are so many things, big and little, that I am thankful that I have been able to experience with Winston.  Zoo days, park time, swimming lessons, first day of school, water table fun, shopping, cuddling while we read book after book, baking and just being goofy!  
So that's it - a tidbit the journey of my first year of being a stay at home mom.  Everyone's story is different; there are ladies who kill at being working moms.  No matter what your story, I love that we have a God who created us uniquely and individually.  Romans 8:28 is such a comfort and an encouragement to me and I hope it is to you:

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

No matter what being a Mom looks like to you or how you execute it in your own awesome way, be encouraged to know that He is on your side!  

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Show and Tell Tuesday: Names!

I am really enjoying these prompts from Andrea of Momfessionals!  Today's topic is Names: How did you or your kiddos get their names.  Without further ado, here we go: 

Sara: 
When my Mom and Dad were dating, Fleetwood Mac was in the middle of their mainstream success. They had cranked out hits like "Rhiannon", "Landslide", "Gypsy" and "Go Your Own Way."  They both remember listening to the radio when "Sara" came on.  It was one of my Dad's favorite songs.  He looked at my Mom and said, "If I ever have a little girl someday I will name her Sara."  And ta-da!  Here I am!

Sara, You're the poet in my heart.  
Never change.  Never Stop.  
But now it's gone.  
It doesn't matter what for.  
But when you build your home, call me home.

Benjamin:

Benjamin's parents had the name David picked out for their little boy.  However, a cousin born before Benjamin was given the name David and instead of having two Davids running around the family, Brian and Nancy looked for a new name.  With the help of a baby book, they discovered they both liked the name Benjamin!  


Winston: 
When we discovered that we were having a boy, we announced it to our family and close friends before sharing it to the rest of the world.  We already had a first name rolling around in our heads and needed a middle name.  It all came together the same day we found out that he was a he!  When we announced him to the world, I shared the story of how Winston Ace got his name!

Lulu:
Our sweet puppy girl!  We first saw Lulu on the screens of our laptops.  She was adorable with her dapple and mixed blue eyes.  I had a two names picked out: Peppy {just because I thought it was cute!} and Lulu {after my favorite purse designer}.  Benjamin said that we would know what to name her as soon as we saw her.  We drove to Nocana, TX and met our little girl.  She was so calm, cuddly, and precious that the name Lulu was the one that stuck!  She curled right up into our arms was content.  She was our very own Lulu Belle!

What about you?  How did you get your name?  Any funny or sweet stories?  I'd love to hear!!  

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Goals Recap: March 2014

March.  A month that is near and dear to my heart for it is my birth month!  It's also the month in which I became a big sister and sometimes get to celebrate Easter depending on the calendar.  It's the month of Spring Break and the hope of warmer weather.  This March the weather was a bit on the confusing side for us in Texas.  We took advantage of the nice weather days and snuggled on the rainy, cold ones!  And now for the recap:

Social
|| We had a play date with friends from Winston's school.
 || Attended what we have dubbed "The Wedding of the Season" mainly cause it's our only wedding this season {and it was truly gorgeous!}!  We were able to catch up with dear friends who are now out of town and others that are in town that we don't see very often!

Family
We thought we would go to the zoo at some point, but one of our planned activities fell short of expectations, we headed to the zoo!

Winston
And we made our Easter craft!

Personal
Finished my Easter wreath
Kept up my morning stretches!

Decor + House Projects
Completed the construction of our Shine sign...now to get it up to its home on our ledge!

I have a goal for April to start riding my bike again now that the weather will be a little bit nicer!    Confession: There has been a project that I have wanted to start since January and I keep pushing it back and pushing it back.... Perhaps this month I'll dive in!!  April, we are glad you are here and look forward to what you have in store!

See how I've been doing this year:
January Recap
February Recap

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Show and Tell Tuesday: Favorite Vacation

Today's prompt for Show and Tell with Andrea from Momfessionals is my Favorite Vacation.  This one, while I had to debate a little bit back and forth, is an easy one for me to answer.  While I love every trip that we go on, whether a quick weekend jaunt or a week long adventure, there are two that tie for my favorite.

one || Honeymoon to Costa Rica {2007}
This was the first trip that Benjamin and I took together.  He planned almost all of it on his own and did a wonderful job!  Costa Rica is a short plan ride away from Houston and neither of us had visited there previously.  We stayed at two hotels: one on the coast and one more inland.
We first stayed in a little bungalow at Villa Caletas.  After one of the most terrifying drives of our lives, we arrived to what looked like paradise.  Nestled in the rain forest and sitting right above the Central Pacific coast, the views, weather and fruit were absolutely delicious!
Since this spot was secluded and away from any major civilization, our days here were spent walking around the property, enjoying the beach and the views.
Finca Rosa Blanca was our second hotel stay.  It was closer to San Jose and allowed to us do more sight-seeing and touristy activities.  While San Jose was not our favorite, we enjoyed visiting the Cafe Britt coffee tour, visiting the La Paz Waterfall Gardens as well as spending time at Zoo Ave, a place that rescues and reintroduces wildlife back into their natural environments.
This trip was special because it was the wonderful way to spend our first week as a married couple.  Away from everything, reminiscing about our wedding, learning what it meant to travel with each other and having hours upon hours to dream about the next years of our lives together!

And now just a few snapshots before trip two!

two || Family Trip to Aberdeen, Scotland {2013}
When I was in the second grade our family moved to Aberdeen and from that time on it has been my favorite place in the world.  I love the castles, the sheep, the weather, the people.  When Winston was six month old, we went with my family to Aberdeen!  My brother had not been back since we left at the end of his first grade year.  This is my second favorite vacation!
Little Bug did an amazing job the the flights.  The first leg was easy because we flew overnight landing in London in the early morning.  This helped greatly in switching his sleeping and eating schedules.
Since we went in April, we knew that the weather would still be a bit on the chilly side.  Every time we went out, Winston got bundled up in tons of layers to keep him warm!  Our first day there we walked Union Street visiting favorite stores that were still in business like Waterstone's, Nova, John Lewis, and the Kilt Shop.  Because he was warm in his Oscar the Grouch onesie, Winston got some great napping in while we were out and about.
Jamie Oliver opened a restaurant in Aberdeen so we made reservations and went there for dinner one night.  It was all Italian food and I can remember that the desserts were quite tasty!
Every meal my place setting had an Irn-Bru ready for the drinking!  It is one of the things that I acquired a taste for while living there.  The taste of it is hard to explain.  It doesn't taste anything like orange soda even though you might think it.  Our Kroger and the British grocery store in the area sells it so I am still able to taste it's deliciousness every once in a while!

The second day was spent at Crathes Castle.  It is our family's favorite castle in the area.  And since all of us were on this trip, we hired a photographer to get some family photos.  They turned out beautifully!  
That night we ate a family favorite restaurant Yu's, which sadly closed its doors this year.  I am thankful that we were able to eat there together and enjoy their delectable duck!  
Right after college I had the opportunity to move to Stonehaven for four months to work at Hunting.  It was one of my favorite times in my life.  I got to meet really great people and the Martins, who I stayed with during this time, welcomed me into their family.  It was such an honor for me to be able to introduce Winston to some of the Hunting folks that I worked with and the my sweet family!
Benjamin, Winston and I took at road trip to Huntly to see a falconry one of the days we were there.  It was a new experience for all of us!  We arrived in plenty of time to walk around the grounds and then watch {and participate!} in their flying display.  
Every trip to Aberdeen is not complete without a stop at The Ashvale for fish and chips! 
Our last full day in Aberdeen, the men went golfing at Porthlethen Golf Course while the ladies + Winston went shopping!  We met up at the ruins of Dunnottar castle, another favorite spot of mine.  We had brought along our ErgoBaby and it was perfect for this excursion up and down the steep steps leading to the ruins.  
The last place that I really wanted to stop at before leaving was The Albyn School.  When Noah and I attended this school it was a school for girls that only allowed boys to attend for Pre-K.  Then the boys were sent to Robert Gordon.  At this school I wore a uniform that in the winter consisted of knee socks and a kilt, picked up an accent, learned Scottish history and learned to swim the breast stroke.
This is my favorite trip because I was able to share a place that was near and dear to my heart with Benjamin and Winston.  I was able to visit special places again with Mom, Dad and Noah.  It was sweet because Salem was able to see the places that we have talked about and referenced in stories.  It was not just a good trip, it was a great trip.  I am thankful that we all have stories with, "Remember that one time we all went to Aberdeen...."  

And now for a slew of photos just because:

Thanks for sharing in our vacations with us!  Do you have a favorite vacation spot?  Are you traveling anywhere for this summer!  Let me know, even if its just a staycation in your hometown!  I love to hear where people's adventures take them!  

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