Monday, October 10, 2011

Disney World!!

I still have to pinch myself when I think how we just went to Disney World!
This has been a little "dream"of ours ever since we took Alathea (then 3) and Abigail (then 1) to Magic Kingdom one day back in 2008, thanks to a sweet friend who gave us free one day tickets. It was one incredible day and all four of us loved every minute of it. Joe & I talked soon after how we'd love to take the girls again while they are still little. I know they may not remember much (Ava won't remember any of it!), but at these little ages, Disney World and all the princesses are quite a magical experience for these little girls!!!

It seemed like a lofty dream, because of cost, but the Lord provided through my sweet Dad & Rachel giving us a place to stay and my Grandpa & Jane's generous Christmas gifts, which we saved for two years to pay for the tickets. We brought freezer meals for dinner and packed a picnic lunch each day... it worked great!

We stayed at a beautiful condo, with a full kitchen, two bedrooms and two screened porches that overlooked a gorgeous lake. It was merely minutes from Disney's property, which was a huge blessing with little nappers! We were able to come home every afternoon for brief naps & dinner and it sure was a lovely place to come back to at the end of a long day of walking!

Alathea & Abigail we're totally besides themselves. They really loved everything...meeting ALL the princesses, riding just about every ride, every parade & fireworks and all the other fun play area's sprinkled throughout Disney World.

Poor little bean...she really was a trooper. She loved all we did, and really loved the rides, parades & shows. But she never got more than a 1 hour nap a day, so she'd often fall asleep on rides (like above). It was pretty cute. I'm grateful she's such a fun & adventurous little kiddo...whenever we'd go to our resort for a break, she'd take my hand and walk me to the door saying "bye-bye"....she loved being there!

Meeting the princesses, especially Rapunzel & Tiana were major highlights for our little girls, obviously, but one surprising thing was Abigails incredible love for Jessie & Woody from Toy-Story. She would NOT stop hugging them. We eventually had to make her leave. It was totally adorable, and I think even Woody & Jessie thought it was cute.

Another fun surprise was Alathea & Abigail were tall enough to ride just about every ride, including most of the roller coasters. They loved them! Especially can see her with her hands up on Thunder Mt in the picture below. Alathea, being the not-so-brave big sister, would ask Abigail to go on the ride first and then report back to her if it was scary or not. Abigail always came back with a great report of how fun it was, so then Alathea would go too. It was so funny to watch their dynamic! Fortunately, Alathea always ended up loving the ride once she was on it, and Abigail loved that she got to go on every ride twice :)

One of the huge perks to a 7 day pass, was that we got to go to all four big parks. We knew the girls loved Magic Kingdom, and we were pleasantly surprised that they loved every single one of them, even Epcot!

This picture above, of the girls on the "Honey, I shrunk the Kids" playground, totally amazes me, because my Mom took one of me & my siblings on the same giant ant, and I remember being there when I was just five. I actually think my earliest childhood memories are from a trip to Disney World. It's amazing, moving and also kinda strange to be the parent now, taking my own kids to Disney, since I remember so clearly my parents doing the same not so long ago. I guess its another sign that I'm growing up! And a huge sign of God's kindness to allow us to make these sweet memories as a family.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Summer Love

As the last few hours of summer are officially coming to a close, I thought I'd actually stop for a moment and record some of the sweet memories from the past few months. It's been an incredibly sweet summer, I suppose you could say I was enjoying it so much I never took a break to document it!

Since Ava was born last June, life took off at full speed. Three kids, two moves and one baby with acid-reflux (think no sleep)...those first 9 months of Ava's life, while totally precious, can sometimes feel like a blur. Once spring of this year rolled around, I finally felt like I could catch my breath. I felt settled in my new house and adjusted to life as a mom of three. Which brings me to this summer...what a sweet gift it was! I soaked up every moment of it. Especially the time with my girls. They are now 5, 3 and 1, and I totally adore these ages. There are (obviously) still many difficult days have three young kids, but I'm also daily aware that they are growing

It's been a while, so here's a little update on each of my girls:

{Alathea Joy}

This girl is growing up. She can swim across the pool by herself, has her first loose tooth, is learning to read and has *gasp* started Kindergarten this month! Alathea is a total delight to me. She's perfectly created to be a first born. She loves helping me and takes delight in "coming to the rescue" to help her little sisters through out the day. She loves every bit of Kindergarten and is learning to read like a champ. I'm so grateful to have her as my oldest (or as she likes to refer to herself, as my "#1 girl, since she was born 1st"...its only logical, right?). She loves to talk, about God and really anything...I almost feel like I'm having adult conversation during the day. I love watching her amazement as we talk about God and the Bible and I'm so grateful for her heart that her little sisters would learn about God too.

While she can seem so grown up at times, I love that she's in many ways still just a little 5-year-old girl. She loves playing dress-up, playing with her doll house, her princesses, riding her bike...or her all time favorite activity- coloring. Really, this girl has been known to color for two straight hours!

I'm grateful for Alathea's seemingly effortless mix of being a social butterfly and a homebody. All neatly packaged in the same little girl. I think she's actually simply content, in whatever circumstances she's in. She loves being home and is totally content to play all day with her sisters. But she also loves every minute she gets with her friends and would be happy to spend all day playing with them. Funny thing is, she's also totally happy and content to do her school. I'm a blessed Mom to have such a happy & content 5-year-old...and I have a lot to learn from her!


Oh my, Abigail. Where do I begin with you. This picture sort of speaks for itself :)
While Alathea seems so grown-up, Abigail still seems very much, well, not in a huge hurry to grow up. She's in no way behind for a 3-year-old, but she's just content to be my little girl.
She still loves her blankie & paci (which she's only allowed when sleeping, but would have in her mouth 24hours a day if we let her). She love her Momma...I guess you could say she's my Momma's girl, or as she likes to be called, my "little buddy", because when given the opportunity, she'd be by my side 24/7. She's my grocery shopping pal, my snuggle bug and my permanent helper in all that I do. And I know there's nothing wrong with that...I think she's just happy to be three.

I make Abi sound all quiet & sweet, but obviously you all know her better than that :) She is sweet, but that girl also has a wild & crazy side too. I think her mischievious nature has caught a second wind in discovering a little-sister-partner in crime in Ava.

Abigail's also all about bling. She's regularly seen with a dozen bracelets, necklaces and a big shiny ring on her finger...topped off with 10 applications of lip-gloss, daily applied nail polish and her sparkle tennis-shoes. This is complete with a mis-matched outfit, a dirty face and her oh-so adorable crazy head of hair. Gotta love that girl :)

Abigail's current claims to fame are her ability to climb up a 15-foot fire pole with virtually no effort (no doubt in my mind, she's our athlete); her intense passion for food, especially food covered in some sort of sugar; and her ability to safely carry Ava all over the house while in search of Mommy.

{Ava Jean}

Don't let this sweet little face fool you, this teeny-tiny little thing packs a whole lot of spunk. Ava is packed full of personality. Funny thing is that you'd never know unless you spend a good chunk of time with her, because she's just now starting to grow out of her "stranger anxiety- all I want is Mommy" phase. So when other people are around, Ava is glued to my side. But at home with her Daddy & sisters, she's a non-stop running, laughing, squealing 15-month old.

Ava's definately my most opinionated child...she's fiesty and spunky in the best sense of the words. This picture below is perfect- Ava facing a wave bigger than her, all by herself, with no fear, just excitement. I'm looking forward to seeing how God uses this energy & spunk as she gets older.

Our summer was full of pool days, play dates, two beach trips, a most wonderful family reunion, painting and settling into our new home and an extra amount of family time, which I'm so grateful for. Joe & I are very aware that we are blessed to have these three sweet girls to live life with.

The thing that probably brought the most smiles to me this summer was watching the girls friendships with each other grow and grow. They just love each other. Alathea & Abigail have always been the best of friends, but Ava has now happily joined the sweet sisterhood...they're like the three amiga's ;) I don't take their closeness for granted, it is a gift from God indeed!

*love them so*

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

.1 year-old.

My little bean is ONE! I distinctly remember Alathea & Abigail's first birthday, and feeling a tiny sense of sadness that a whole year had flown by and they weren't tiny babies anymore. Amazingly, I only feel gratefulness and excitement as we celebrated Ava's 1st birthday last Tuesday. Maybe its because, despite this being probably the fullest (and most challenging) year of my life, with tons of change, I made a point to cherish every moment I had with Ava, fully knowing the "baby stage" is so fleeting. Also, having now a 3 and 5 year old, I know that every stage of raising a child has its own unique joys that I can look forward to!

Despite being my biggest baby at birth (8lbs 1 oz), she is by far my tiniest now! At her 1 year check up she was only in the 3% for weight (17lbs 10oz) ! I can't say I mind her being so many ways its a back doesn't hurt from carrying her, she's not out growing clothes very fast (she can still wear 9 and 12month clothes), and she still looks like my little baby. But despite her petite self, she doesn't act little. She is packed full of life and personality. Her name, Ava, means "life", and how appropriate that name is! Ava definitely makes an effort to keep up with her big sisters. She's making strides in walking...up to about 10 steps at a time now. And she's saying a few words too: Da-Da, Ma-Ma, baby, night-night, ball and duck.

We celebrated Ava's birthday on Tuesday with a trip to the birkdale fountains (she LOVES them...and literally is not afraid of them at all) and Cold Stone Ice Cream (yes, she was a happy girl). And that evening we had her favorite dinner of pizza & watermelon. It was a happy day!

We are totally smitten with this fireball of energy and cuteness! Happy 1st birthday, my sweet baby girl.

.Little Friends.

We have been one blessed family to have the priviledge to host some of our dearest friends, the Seavers, four times in the past few months, since they moved from Charlotte to Summerville, SC to lead a church plant there. I still distinctly remember Mike & Kristin inviting Joe & I over for dinner, just two weeks after they moved to Charlotte with an 18-month-old Emma and 2 month-old Sarah Evelyn. I was 9 months pregnant with Alathea. Fast forward 5 1/2 years of friendship, 5 year of serving on staff at the same local church, two beach vacations together and the addition of FIVE more girls- they are some of our most cherished friends and we miss them so much!

We now have SEVEN girls between our families (ages 7, 5, 5, 3, 2, 1 and 6 months)...and they sure have fun together! We loved every minute of their visits and can't wait until they *hopefully* plan another one soon!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

.Spring Adventures.

We love spring and summer around here. Who doesn't, right?
We love having the windows open and spending hours outside in the sunshine.
I've been loving life too much to take a minute and add a post.
So here is our spring in a nutshell:

{We've spent many hours walking to the park & pond down the street.}
Which included watching eight baby ducklings grow up.
The girls wanted to go to the pond daily to build the ducklings a nest to sleep in each night.
(I believe we've read "Make way for the Ducklings" one too many times!)

{Pop-Pop & Ray-Ray came in town for a visit!}
Always a treat for each of us!
The girls have said that they'd chose Pop-Pop & Ray-Ray visiting over a trip to Disney World...that's saying a lot for our little girls!
We get spoiled to the max, including lots of pizza, ice cream and starbucks for me!

{Trip to Hilton Head}
Joe will be in Mexico over our anniversary in July, so we took an early trip and spent four days in Hilton Head (with Ava in tow). It was a lovely trip, with lots of sweet time together- but also four straight days of rain!! We had only 6 hours the entire trip to really enjoy the island. We soaked up every minute and spent a good bit of time riding bikes on the beach. (OK, I know I'm just a big eight year old, but I LOVED it! And now I want a bike really bad ;)

We had Easter at our house this year, including an Easter egg hunt.
Sweet times with the family.

{Strawberry Picking}
Nothing says spring like Strawberry picking.
This is the first year we actually picked more than we consumed on the spot!

{Real Life}
This picture makes me so every day life.
Any given moment there is a good chance on of my three is joyfully smiling, one is screaming at the top of their lungs, and one is off in outer space. They rotate rolls throughout the day. Despite the challenges "real life" can bring with three little ones, I couldn't be more grateful for them and the privilege it is to be their Mom. They are precious gifts from God that I cherish!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

9 months

little miss ava is now 9 months old.
Considering how she cried constantly and never slept the first 2 months of her life were, she's been an incredible baby and we don't take for granted her sunny personality and happy-little-self!

she's ACTIVE, crawling around and pulling up on everything.
both of her big sisters we're active little things too, so the verdict is still out whose footsteps she'll follow in. she may just be the "partner in adventure" that Abigail's always wanted :)

ava's current loves are food (she's teeny-tiny, but LOVES any and all food!), her blankie, baby dolls, da-da (her 1st and only word, other than "baby"), giving kisses and sucking her thumb.

although her very favorite thing in the world is her two big sisters. she lights up and whips her head around at just the sound of their voices, followed by the happiest squeal of laughter!
ava's a blessed little girl to have two doting big sisters, who beg me all of ava's nap time long to go in, wake her up and play with her. i'm so grateful for the love & friendship these three sisters share!

we love you, happy girl!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

.totally smitten.

Ava is now totally smitten with her Daddy, just like her big sisters.
In fact, "Da-da" is her first and favorite word to say right now.
And she says it only when she is with her Daddy.
There is no doubt that "Daddy" is their most favorite person in the whole world...
and for good reason.
They are blessed little girls to have such an incredible Dad.
And Joe's a pretty lucky guy too.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

.there and back again.

I feel so blessed to be a part of Rekindle once again.
I've made the journey to Laguna Beach so many times now, I now know how to plan pit-stops at all the Starbucks along the way of this 12-plus hour trip.
For Joe & I, this makes our 8th consecutive year at Laguna Beach Christian Retreat; its Rekindle's 7th year; and believe it or not, at only 5 years old, this was Alathea's 6th year (she was a mere 3 weeks old on her 1st trip). We are blessed indeed to see God powerfully work year in and year out in these college students lives. What a pure joy to watch!

This was Ava's first trip to the beach.
I had high hopes for her, as she is a Lechner, but she was not at all in love with the beach!
This was disappointing :) I'm hoping she quickly changes her mind before her next trip in May.
I cannot complain though...overall she was an amazing baby, especially during the car ride there and back. We'd forget she was in the car, except for her occasional happy sigh!

This is how little bean preferred to spend her beach days.
I can't say I minded too much!

pretty Abigail...
I adore her beach weather curly hair

The big sisters were troopers as well. They were a little less than happy about the loooong car ride (especially an unnamed middle child), but the torturous journey was immediately forgotten when they caught sight of their beloved beach! The first words of Alathea's mouth when we stepped on the sand was "this smells like home". Thats my girl, a total beach bum.

This is Abi's "happy beach dance". No joke...she'll tell you!

can't beat waking up to this view from your balcony

Daddy and his girls

The only bummer this year was the much colder temps than we are typically used to.
Thankfully this didn't stop my girls (or the rest of the M28 crew) from enjoying the beach most days.

Until one afternoon the thunderstorm of all thunderstorms rolled through!

Look at the BLACK sky in this picture!
The beach cleared out quite quickly as this storm came through...
But even thunderstorms can't stop this happy crew from enjoying the week.

I'm bummed to have not taken more pictures of the incredible meetings, hilarious Rekindle cup games and the many, many people we loved on this trip. On a week like this, with so many unfamiliar faces, Ava becomes quite the Momma's girl...making one-handed pictures hard to come by. We were incredibly blessed to have our friend Emily, who is a senior in high school, come along this year to help with the girls and to watch them during the morning and evening session so I can attend. It makes a trip like this with 3 kiddos possible! We are so grateful for her.

Another sweet year.
Lord willing many more to come...and maybe I'll be blessed to see all that God does yet again.
Until then, its beautiful gulf-coast beach dreams for me!