{faith . family . friendship . fashion . fitness . food . fun . fabulosity}


Friday, September 23, 2011

{family night}

I am a family girl all the way. My love language is quality time, which means I love nothing more than spending time with the people that I love. This week, we went out to dinner in the city with Ryan's family (notice the lack of kids!) to spend time with Ric's cousin Lisa who was in town visiting from California. It was a great night....full of lots of laughter and TONS of protein (brazilian steakhouse style) with the Boyd fam. I think it needs to happen more often! Next up is a visit from my parents next week. The countdown has begun...they get here on Tuesday and I can't wait!!!!!!



"There's a girl in the corner
With tear stains on her eyes
From the places she's wandered
And the shame she can't hide

She says, "How did I get here?
I'm not who I once was.
And I'm crippled by the fear
That I've fallen too far to love"

But don't you know who you are,
What's been done for you?
Yeah don't you know who you are?

You are more than the choices that you've made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You've been remade. "

I heard these lyrics one night and I was so touched by this song. There are so many times in my life when all I can see is my failure. Whether I am losing my patience too often with my kids or forgetting for the thousandth time to return a phone call or an email to a friend, or some personal struggle that goes much deeper than either of those, I all too often find myself feeling like I suck at life. The words in this chorus are so comforting....that reminder of God's grace and the fact that I am worth so much more than my greatest shortcoming. I have a few friends that are struggling greatly right now. My heart aches for them and my mind is constantly trying to wrap itself around where they are right now, how I can be praying for them and what they need the most to get through the trials they are facing. For one friend in particular, I can't help but see the need for grace. She has fallen far. Further than any of us could probably imagine going....but the thing is, she hasn't fallen too far. Jesus died for it ALL. The not so good, the bad and the really, horribly, downright ugly. I find myself being reminded for her sake that even though we don't deserve it, we have all been offered a great dose of grace. Thank God for that. Thank God that we can fail epically and He is still willing to take us in....if only we are willing to surrender to Him. If we were all defined by our lowest points in life and our greatest moments of failure, there wouldn't be hope for any of us...I'm so grateful to know that even though I don't deserve it and never will, it is Christ's work on the cross that defines me instead.


October is just around the corner which means I can start whipping out the black and orange. I'm decorating like crazy around here today:) I always love setting my house up for the fall which leads into Christmas decorations which unfortunately leads into an empty feeling house in January. Oh well, I love love love that for the next 3 1/2 months my house will be festive!!!!:) Bring on the jack o lanterns....


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

{poodle skirts}

I love dressing my kids. I love dressing them in regular clothes, so dressing them in Halloween costumes is just that much more fun. I'm one of those obnoxious moms that starts planning their Halloween costumes in July (or April, or maybe even on November 1st;)). When the girls were babies, I always made their Halloween costumes. The past few years they have worn store bought costumes and I have missed out on the fun that comes with gathering all of the elements of the costume and the excitement when the final look comes together and the hard work pays off. For that reason, I'm back to making costumes this year! Emma decided a few months ago that she really wanted to be a 50's girl. The idea has steamrolled down to the other two, so we are going with a 50's theme for the family. I found this adorable poodle skirt tutu on etsy and I started making it this morning. I'm pretty sure I'll be working straight through naptime today because I can't wait for the finished product!!


Monday, September 19, 2011

{training wheels}

We spent a good part of our weekend teaching the girls to ride their bikes. Ryan and I have been feeling the urgency to get rid of Emma's training wheels for a while now, but she hasn't been the most coordinated little girl and since Claire still can't ride a tricycle, it's kind of hard to have three kids that need constant hands on them and only two sets of hands to do it. Well, after I saw a friend's three year old son riding his bike without training wheels, we sucked it up and had bike riding bootcamp this weekend. Emma and Madeline both rocked it! They can both ride on their own now for longer and longer stretches. Emma still gets frustrated getting herself started and Madeline gets lazy and doesn't want to peddle after the first few minutes which causes her to slow down and crash, but for the the most part they've got it. Woohoo!!! A few more grueling sessions (do you know HOW hard it is to let go of your baby's arm when you know that she is going to come crashing down ten seconds after you do?) and they will be pros:) The funniest part of all was how different the girls were in their reactions to the process. Emma would fall down and start crying and yelling at us something like "Hello? Do you not care about the person that is FALLING? I'm a person here. This is your fault. You made me fall!". Madeline would fall down a second later and start cracking up and wave her hands in the air and scream "I'm OK!!". Night and day, these two. I love each of them for the differences they have and for the parts of their personalities that make them unique. Emma has always been unsure of herself, so even though she was doing great at riding her bike, she saw all of her falls as failure and was looking for someone to blame to make herself feel better. Madeline wants more than anything in the world to be just like Emma and to do the things that Emma does, so even though she fell along the way, she couldn't get over how proud she was for the things that she did accomplish. Navigating the emotions of three little girls can be exhausting! So proud of my girls, though, for conquering training wheels and can't wait for lots of family bike rides this fall!


Friday, September 16, 2011

{constitution day}

madeline's first "event" of kindergarten.....constitution day. the teacher requested that the kids wear red, white & blue to celebrate. mad was a little excited to participate and i was a little excited to dress her for the occasion:) oh, the joys of childhood!

{halloween party}

One of my favorite things about living in a small town is all of the fun, family friendly activities the town has to offer. Top that off with our ability to walk to them all and it's icing on the cake! I absolutely love Halloween....the pumpkins, the costumes, the decorations, the kick off of fall. Last year, we decided to make an annual tradition of having our friends and family over to stroll down Main Street for the Halloween parade and bonfire at Stokes Hill and then gather back at our house afterwards for dinner. I just ordered the invitations and I cannot wait to start on the decorations and the details for our second annual halloween parade party! Here's a sneak peak of my inspiration....

I'm loving the muted colors and the vintage inspired theme. I can't wait to dress my babies up and to see all the adorable little kids in their costumes. Oh, and maybe we will be on time this year and actually catch the parade!!;)


{muddy buddies}

i am a distance runner. it's who i am; it's how i was made. i thrive on logging miles. i thrive on the high that comes after the first mile when i am into my groove and feel like i can keep going all day. i thrive on the exhaustion my body feels afterwards. last weekend i ran my first mud run. it was AWESOME!!!! 6.4 miles of dirt, sand, rocks, water and of course lots of MUD! the best part, though, was the company. rebecca, serena and i stuck together through it all....we had so much fun singing, yelling and cheering each other on. for me, this race was less about the competition than it was about the experience and the chance to bond with my girls:) can't wait to do it again next year!!! until then, i'm gonna keep on running, keep on racing and doing what i love.


{first day of school}

{first day of second grade}

{first bus ride}
{old pro at this}

{always the ham}

hello there.....i know it's been a while! we have been so busy with the winding down of summer and getting ready for school to start up and i've been blog slacking big time. i'm back with a new batch of back to school pics:) we are one week into the school year and the girls are LOVING it. the novelty has not worn off yet, so they are both excitedly still picking out outfits and jumping on the school bus and eagerly doing their homework. can't wait to see how long THAT lasts!;) i am loving our new schedule and routine so far. i'm more than thankful for half day kindergarten and that i don't feel like madeline is too far out of my reach just yet. claire and mad still get to spend their mornings together as busom buddies and i still get to have my girl around for most of the day. when mad goes to school it's naptime for claire (and usually mommy!) and then we have a few quiet hours to ourselves. it's AMAZING. i've vacuumed more in the past week than i have in the past five years. i haven't felt this productive in a long time and i'm loving it! the past few days i've been working on our fall family schedule and i'm amazed at how busy we are getting as the girls get older. next up is ballet & tap for claire (ummmm....adorable!!), gymnastics for madeline and art & girl scouts for emma. so thankful for my "quiver" of girls and the fullness they bring to my life:)


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

{home sweet home}

Today we spent the day in Medford....sometimes I just love driving out there to spend a day hitting my favorite parts around town and getting back to my roots. Every time I drive into town I get that warm and fuzzy "I'm home" feeling. There's just something to be said about being in a place where everything is so comfortingly familiar. We spent the morning with Jill and the kids at Fort Medford. The kids absolutely love it there and after a little bit of a rough few days of feeling sorry for myself, it was great to just be myself with Jill. The weather today is incredible....75 degrees, sunny and breezy.....it's like a little sneak peek of the greatness of fall that's just around the corner! After the park, I took the kids to Rose's farm stand (one of our favorite Medford must go to locations) to get Leo's yum yum. DELICIOUS!!! The orange vanilla & lime vanilla are to die for! Next, we hit an antique store and then the girls spent a while playing with some goats (yes, goats) that we happened upon:) It was just one of those perfectly simple mornings. We got home just in time for a much needed nap for Claire and an earthquake (go figure) to rattle the house and completely terrify the girls and I!!!! We had just walked in the door, I put Claire in her bed and came downstairs and the entire house started shaking. The girls were screaming at me to go upstairs and get Claire, but I was just frozen trying to figure out what in the world was going on in my house. I was running all the scenarios through my head: train going super fast, nearby trees being uprooted, a jackhammer on the street, an earthquake? Certainly not an earthquake. As it was ending, the girls and I went outside to see what was going on in the rest of the world, I called Ryan to see if he felt anything and then I logged onto facebook (apparently, my news source) for confirmation. We did indeed experience our first earthquake. My heart was still racing for the next 20 minutes and the girls had so many questions. I'm hoping they sleep soundly tonight and aren't too traumatized by the fear they had in the moment. Next we go to pick up Lily Kate, our favorite one year old, who is spending the night at our house. The girls get to have their favorite baby around and I get to pretend for a day that I have four girls:) Can't wait!!


Monday, August 22, 2011

{final sale}

after a month of obsessively checking j.crew's website, the sale is finally here.....time to wrap up the school clothes shopping!!!!!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

{back2school bash}

If there's one thing I love to get my creative juices flowing, it's having a party to plan. I will usually find any and every excuse I can to throw a party just so I can the spend weeks (and sometimes months) leading up to it obsessing over every little detail. It's always sooooo worth it in the end to see how it all comes together....and then it all ends with a big slice of cake. Really, what's not to love? Next up is our Back 2 School Bash. Part of the fun of having kids is celebrating all the events in their lives....big or small. Life is too short to not take the time to make the most of every little milestone and moment. The way I look at it, these are the days I will never get back, so while they're here, I am going to revel in them...one cupcake worthy celebration at a time:) The girls and I can't wait to have some friends over for one last play date before school starts. Here's a sneak peak of what's to come!!:

Saturday, August 20, 2011

{the new girl}

As much as I love being in NJ and feel like we are starting to settle in here, every now and then I get hit with the feeling of still being the new girl or the outsider and wonder how long it really does take before a place truly feels like home. To be honest, this week was a little tough for me. There were a few "biting back the tears" moments, but I guess that comes with the territory of being the new girl. Every now and then the wind gets a little knocked out of my sails like when I'm with friends with whom I think I've become very close and suddenly their old friend is back in town visiting and everyone's making plans in front of me that don't include me because the "old crowd" is getting back together and I wasn't here then....I was never a part of the old crowd. So no matter how close I think we are now, I don't get the pleasure of being a part of those plans. Kids that are being asked for sleepovers right in front of us and mine aren't invited because they haven't been around forever and they are not on the forefront of anyone's mind. Watching Emma play by herself on the fringe of the group because the other kids have known each other their entire lives and like her mama, she's the new girl who is still sort of disposable and can be easily forgotten. Or when Emma leaves camp telling me all about a "friend" and that other little girl has no idea who she is, because to Emma that little girl is one of a few, but to the other girl who's lived here her whole life, Emma is just one of many. Sorry to be so raw, but today, this loneliness is my reality and maybe some of you have been here and can relate. It was just a long week being in close quarters with friends while have constant subtle reminders that any way you look at it, I'm still the new girl. On the bright side, five years down the road, I may be wrinklier and older than I am now, but at least I won't be new.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

{stick with me}

Ryan has been out of town all week with his macbook and my backup computer and laptop have not been cooperating with me, so I apologize for the lack of posts! It's frustrating for me to see all the new visitors on the page and to know that I'm not offering anything new for you. Stick with me....hubby gets home tomorrow and I'll be posting away. Hope you all are having a blessed week and are enjoying the winding down of your summer. Here's some food for thought in the meantime.....

"For wherever your treasure is, there your heart will also be." Luke 12:34

What is it that you're treasuring and who or what holds your heart the most? If you are being honest with yourself, the answer may not be what you expect it to be. Here are two questions to ask yourself to find where your heart really is: 1. Where do you spend the majority of your money? 2. Where do you spend the majority of your time? I was challenged by this this past weekend and have been doing some soul searching of my own to find out the answers for my own life. Nothing like a little inventory every now and then to help keep your priorities in line:)


Monday, August 15, 2011


I can remember pretty much from the day that we got married how Ryan and I were dying for a golden retriever. We would spend our spare time browsing through pet stores or looking in the paper for puppies. And then one day we found it: a litter of golden retriever pups ready to be adopted. Immediately after work that night, we went to the breeder's home and fell in love with the precious litter of puppiess. It didn't take long for us to choose the right one....we knew we wanted a boy and this little guy had the perfect balance of cuddliness and playfulness. That night, we took home Doug, our little "nugget" for the first time. For years, Doug was like a child to us. I remember driving down the road with him on my lap, walking through the streets of downtown West Palm with him, making a bed for him under my desk at work, swimming with him in the ocean, running with him along the seawall, playing with him in the park, rolling around with him in the snow. I remember the way he "talked" to me, spooning him on the couch night after night and telling him he was the "best boy I ever had", how he instantly seemed protective of Emma when we brought her home from the hospital, how he was always the most content right by our sides. Neither one of us have ever really been dog people, but we were Doug people. Shortly after Madeline was born, our house was too small and our growing family was taking precedence over our beloved dog. We felt like poor Doug who had been our one and only for so long was getting neglected and pushed aside because of the demands of having a two year old and a newborn and a house with a yard too small for him to run free. Around that same time, my brother, who had always loved Doug, was suffering from a brain tumor. His health was only declining and he needed a companion to keep his spirits high. We sent Doug to live with Tim and for a while, it was the perfect solution for both of them. After a year and a half, the cancer won the battle and my brother was called home to be with Jesus. At that point, Claire was already on the way and we didn't think we were ready to take Doug back home again. Thankfully, my sister was willing to take him and he's been a part of their family ever since. I loved that even though Doug didn't still live with us, he was still in the family...he was still my boy who's ears I could rub and who I could snuggle with every chance I got. This weekend we got the call that Doug, who had been fighting cancer for a while now, was rapidly declining and the time had come to put him down. Ryan and I spent the weekend looking over all of our old photo albums and Doug's baby pictures and reliving the first 8 years of our marriage with our boy. I hate that we didn't get to say goodbye, tell him we loved him or hold him one last time. He was a huge part of our lives and will always be missed. But maybe, just maybe Tim just got his buddy back:)


{product junkie}

Thanks to my sister, I've become a product junkie. I could browse through Sephora all day scoping out all the products. And the free samples? Hello, are you kidding me?!?! Getting hooked up with the right sales girl at Sephora is a dream come true....I love leaving there with an endless supply of miracle working products to try out:) Ahh, it's just like christmas morning! After much research, bareMinerals Pure Transformation Night Treatment is going to be my next splurge. I'm desperate to shrink my pores, revive my skin and fade any imperfections (who isn't?). This one's gotten rave reviews and I can't wait to try it...I'll let you know how it goes!


{art camp}

Mad & Emmy started art camp today. It's such a treat for them to be at Miss Rebecca's house doing all sorts of fun art projects, seeing their friends and having their little minds stimulated after a long and lazy summer. When I picked them up, Emma said that her brain was aching....I told her it was probably because she hadn't used it in so long;) I'm excited to see what this week brings for my little picasso's as I get to spend some one on one time with Claire bear. The two of us have some busy mornings planned....story time, a few playdates, errands to run and a few treats thrown in so she doesn't feel totally jipped. Ryan's leaving again for a trip this afternoon (booooo) so I'm thankful for a full schedule to keep me preoccupied this week while he's gone (and for the Bachelor Pad to keep me preoccupied for at least one of the four nights!).


Saturday, August 13, 2011


This morning, we were out for breakfast and the owner of the cafe came over to check in and say hello. Shortly after, I took all three girls to the bathroom and left Ryan alone at the table. While we were gone, the man walked back by and said to Ryan, "Three girls, huh? Three was a breeze and then I had a fourth and I'm still not recovered from it.". Thank you, Mr. cute little coffee shop in Ocean City man for completely ensuring that I will never have another baby!!! So as an official follow up to my earlier post entitled {four}....AIN'T. GONNA. HAPPEN. EVER. On a brighter side, while Ryan and I were soaking up some sun together on the beach in complete peace and quiet while the girls played together in the sand, we realized how good we've got it and that is a blessing in itself :)



This week was Emma's "half birthday". She was so excited to now be seven and a half, but all I could think about is that 7.5 is halfway to 15. Yes, FIFTEEN!!!!!! To be honest, I remember being 15 and all of the drama that came along with it and the thought terrified me. But more importantly, 15 is just plain old and it's that much closer to my baby being all grown up:( And considering how the first seven and a half years of her life has absolutely flown by, I know without a doubt that before I know it, my little girl will indeed be fifteen. Why does it have to be this way? I spent my childhood in such a hurry to be all grown up and now I am and suddenly time moves at a warped speed. My tiny baby whom I once sang "Isn't She Lovely" to every single night turns 7 in the blink of an eye, my skin sags despite my best efforts to stay toned, I can't go anywhere without makeup. (I would go on, but really it's just too depressing). I've been saying it for years now, but if I had one wish it may just be that time would stand still....or at least slow down for a while. Motherhood is by far one of the greatest blessings in my life, but with it comes a tremendous burden. I'm not just talking about the day in, day out burden of lost sleep, a house that always has an incredibly high noise volume or laundry piles that have been in mountain form for years. I'm talking about the burden of having three girls that will one day be women whom God has entrusted to Ryan and I to "train in the way they should go". That one day these little peanuts of mine will be out of my care and on their own. I am a perfectionist and an idealist, so there are many things that I want or hope for my daughters: I want them to be smart and beautiful, happy and successful, gentle and kind. I want them to have great style, handsome husbands, a handful of kids, a golden retriever and a house with a picket fence (or is this just what I want for myself?;)). But so much more than that, I want them to be holy. I don't mean holy as in "holier than thou", stand-offish, how dare you holy. I mean holy as in pure in heart. I want them to love what is good and to be driven by it. I want them to realize that there is so much more to this world than themselves. I want them to see the bigger picture and to have a heart for other people. Lately, this is what I've been praying for my girls:

"She obeys me, she accepts my correction, she does trust in the Lord, she does draw near to God." (adapted from zephaniah 3:2)

This sums up my hopes for my daughters. I want Emma, Madeline & Claire to be girls (and one day women) who obey, accept correction, trust in the Lord and draw near to God. Above all else, I want them to know God in the same way I know Him and to know the freedom that it brings. I also want them to never grow up, but somehow I don't think that one's gonna happen:(


Thursday, August 11, 2011

{the little things}

Today was one of those perfect days that just makes me so thankful for my crew of little girls. I took the girls to the mall for mommy & me craft time. The discovery museum did a super-cute presentation on dinosaurs, there was a bounce house, some crafts and some treats and prizes for the kids. Afterwards, we walked the mall to go on our bigouting of the morning....to Bath & Body Works to buy new "hanatizer" for their backpacks. I adore little girls and the fact that picking out their newest scent of hand sanitizer is a fascinating event. The four of us were like kids in a candy store, smelling all of the different scents and deciding which bottle would match the best with each girl's backpack. They were also excited to pick out some bottles to send to their cousins for a back to school gift and made me text Kristin right there in the store to find out what color Lily & Jane's backpacks are:) The girls were in heaven and I was in heaven watching their joy over a silly little $1 item.
Afterwards, we brought a delivery of Rita's water ice to daddy's office and sat outside at the picnic table enjoying a sunny summer afternoon and midday work break with all the cryo guys and Aunt Rach. Two simple pleasures that absolutely made the day of my three little girls. It doesn't take much:) Ahhhh, life is good!!

{people person}

I had a friend say to me the other day, "I feel like I need to tell you: I read your blog." She went on to ask me if I felt weird being so open: putting myself out there and having people know exactly what's going on in my life and what I am thinking. I have to admit, for a split second I thought to myself, "Wait a minute, am I crazy? Should I be more private? Why do I feel like it's ok to bare my soul in this way?" and then just as quickly the thought vanished because that's just not who I am. It's not how I'm wired. I am a people person. I have often been told that a conversation with me can often seem like an interview because I ask so many questions. The truth is, I ask those questions because I really do care. People fascinate me. I really do want to know your daughter's middle name, what color you painted your bathroom or who your best friend was growing up. And if you tell me, I can pretty much guarantee that I'm gonna commit it to memory and never forget it. I guess the same goes for me.....I'm an open book. There's not really much that I'm not willing to share with anyone that cares enough to ask. The way I look at it, we are all just people. We are all flawed in our own way. No matter how different we may appear on the outside, when you get right down to it, we all have the same fears, the same longings and similar needs brewing on the inside. So who cares? Apparently not I. Do you want to know that I left my baby in the car once or that I leave the house about three times a week without my wallet? Do you want to know that I do some sort of exercise about once every five minutes (much to my sister's annoyance) but I'll devour an entire cake if it gets anywhere within my arm's reach? I'll gladly tell you....because that's me. A girl that's often getting it wrong, but redeemed by a God who loves me in spite of my greatest shortcoming. Whether you're reading because you know me and love me, or you're reading because you know me and can't stand me, or you're reading even though you have no idea who I am but came across my blog when you put "birthday cake, working out, j crew & babies" in your google search box.....welcome! I'm really glad you're here:)



It's been a while since I've done a list of my current favorite things, so I thought it was about time. Here's what I can't get enough of right now....

1. early morning runs: cool air, quiet streets, burning calories and a route that has me running by homes that look like they're right out of the Truman Show....what's not to love?;)

2. french press coffee: totally old school but totally worth the effort.

3. mornings on my porch: i love how starting my day sitting on the porch with a cup of coffee and my bible completely changes my perspective and gives me just what i need to make the most of my day.

4. murad sun undone: for someone who's been fighting freckles for years, this product is a miracle worker. i'm hooked.

5. bare escentuals: LOVE every product and I love the makeup geniuses in the boutique that always know exactly what I need.

6. trader joes: (mom, are you proud??) i think i've officially become obsessed with this grocery store. i love the simplicity of it, i love the food and i love that somehow going there is an "event" that even the kids enjoy. (the frees samples, stickers, and hunt for the monkey game that results in lollipops could have something to do with it)

7. the swim club: there really aren't any words to express it's awesomeness and how it has saved my life this summer;)

8. bachelor pad: go ahead, judge me. then watch for yourself and see how television really cannot get any better than that. ever.

9. treat receipts: the pay off for my hubby making his daily stops at starbucks in the morning means i get a nightly walk to main street and an iced latte for myself.

10. home: after being away for so long at the beginning of the summer (don't get me wrong, florida was AMAZING and i can't wait to do it again next year) i am thankfully reminded of how much i love our house, our life here and how good it feels to be HOME.

11. flat belly diet: oh so thankful for my never failing, miracle working, go-to diet to get my butt back into shape after a summer of slacking.

12. ben & jerry's coffee heath bar crunch ice cream: almost more heath bars than ice cream. unreal. (ummm.....maybe why i need the flat belly diet?)

13. my girls: i am so thankful that i get to spend my days with them and i swear they get sweeter by the minute.

14. back to school time: i know i'm being redundant, but there's just something to be said about a fresh new backpack and lunchbox, a new stack of clothes, unworn and unscuffed shoes and the promise of a new year and the change of seasons that i just adore.

15. pottery barn kids halloween floor set: as usual, i'm completely in love. stayed tuned, because this is so great it deserves it's own post!

Ok, this list is ridiculously long. Apparently, I love a lot of things and I could go on all day, but I'll spare you for now....


Thursday, August 4, 2011

{coffee talk}

Growing up, Jill was like a sister to me. We had that love/hate, super close but could be violatile kind of friendship thing going on (which our poor parents had to deal with on family vacations!). I am so thankful that the Lord has crossed our paths again in this season of our lives. There are some people that you are able to be closely connected to regardless of time and distance....it's been such a blessing to pick back up with this dear friend:) One of my favorite new routines are the early mornings that we spend together....catching up, sharing what's going on in our hearts and talking about the things that really matter over a cup (ok, several cups) of coffee while our kids play together. Just another little blessing that makes it feel more like home here:) Now, enough typing....time to get dressed and go deplete Jill's supply of K cups!


Wednesday, August 3, 2011


The question I get more than any other (and the one I have the most difficulty answering) is without a doubt "Are you having more kids?". For Ryan, the answer is a resounding 100% NO! He has a long list of very logical reasons for why we should not have another baby. For me, the answer is not so simple. I also have a list and it's anything but logical: I have always wanted to have four kids...I don't know if I just like round numbers or if four just seems like a lot and three doesn't (unless they are all complaining, whining or fighting...then three seems like plenty!) or if I just want one more baby to name and dress (could be!) or if I don't want my babies to grow up and that phase of my life to be over (sniff, sniff) or if deep down inside I really do feel like our family isn't complete just yet. What I do know is that I struggle with this daily. Take yesterday, for example....I'm at the pool with the kids which, like most things lately, has become QUITE EASY. I spent all morning watching a mother of three preschoolers lose her mind at the baby pool. Literally, this lady was on the verge of losing it. Chasing all three kids at once, screaming at them, pulling her hair out...the whole nine yards. Meanwhile, Emma and Madeline were off having tea parties underwater and taking turns on the diving board while Claire waded in the baby pool with her Barbies and I was laying out working on my tan and reading a book. I kept thinking about how relieved I was that I was no longer in the throes of toddler chasing, diaper changing, never sit still motherhood and how it really was ok if I never had another baby. While I was still reveling in my "life is good" mindset, I walked right past the cutest mom ever (tiny bikini, toned body, tanned skin and all), with her FOUR girls in matching swimsuits and eight little pink rubber flip flops all lined up in a row and the longing hit me in the gut all over again. SO. TYPICAL. It left me right back at sqaure one thinking that if I could throw all logic out the window, I'd have another baby in a heartbeat. Because the only thing cuter than three little girls......is four:)


Saturday, July 30, 2011

{so long}

Ryan leaves in the morning for a weeklong trip to Indiana. Before the girls and I even wake up, he'll be gone and we'll be on our own until next Saturday:( Since this trip is a little longer than usual, it infringes on the weekend (ugh!) and it's summer and I've got no relief from the kids, I'm especially dreading this week. I've got a lot on my mental agenda (as usual) to keep us busy and to keep me from going crazy....I'm thinking long days at the pool, a trip to the movies, a beach day, some ice cream outings and a few play dates thrown in. Whenever Ryan's gone, I find myself trying to keep as busy as possible so that I'm not sitting around all day watching the clock and waiting for him to come home. What is it about knowing that another adult is going to walk through that door at the end of the day that makes the chaos so much more bearable? Or knowing that no one will be walking through the door that makes it so much more unbearable?

I've had Zephaniah 3:17 on my heart the past few days and I have a feeling that I will be praying a lot over the next week that I would realize the truth in these words:

"The Lord your God is with you (even though Ryan is not). He is mighty to save (me from losing my mind?!). He will take great delight in you. He will quiet you with His love (when I'm tired and frustrated and tempted to take it out on the kids). He will rejoice over you with singing."

Wish me luck!

{ultimate chocolate chip cookie n oreo fudge brownie bar...WHAT?!}

Seriously??? How AMAZING does this dessert look?!?! If you know me, then you know that I have a huge sweet tooth. I count every calorie and pretty much survive on lettuce.....until I come across something like THIS. Then I indulge enough to make up for all of the calories I've been depriving myself of. And then some. Ok, and then A LOT. But oh my goodness, it's soooo worth it. Every single time (well, every time as long as my jeans still fit). I cannot wait to try this recipe out. I'm thinking Monday night for the Bachelorette finale....watching Ashley hand out the final rose (team JP!) is cause for celebration, right?? ;) Can you not resist either? And seriously, how could you? Find the recipe here: http://www.kevinandamanda.com/whatsnew/new-recipes/ultimate-chocolate-chip-cookie-n-oreo-fudge-brownie-bar.html

Happy ooey gooey chocolately fudgey indulging!!!


Thursday, July 28, 2011


I took this picture in the middle of one of Claire's daily "I want to be beautiful" fits (apparently this bathing suit won't make her look beautiful...I totally disagree;)). Yesterday, after her third outfit change and all of the nonstop whining about what dress she was going to wear, I gave up and asked Emma to take over with Claire because I had had enough. Five minutes later, Em comes in with Claire all dressed and ready to go and tells me that she found the solution: "Mom, all you have to do is tell Claire that Jonah, Carter & JP (her current love interests) will all think she's beautiful in it and she'll wear whatever you want her to." OMG. As funny as that may be, it's the last message I want to be sending my three year old! The next day, I was reading 1 Peter and came across this:

"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair (claire's fave!) and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes (my fave;)). Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a GENTLE and QUIET spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight". (1 peter 3:3-4)

Ahhh, those verses are so true and I'm thankful that as I'm learning how to shephard my three year old little girl, God is using her to show me my own heart and to refine me. So together, Claire and I will be working on being a little less concerned with our appearances, slightly less obsessed with our clothes and a whole lot more patient, content and beautiful on the inside:) With three girls in the house, I have a feeling that this is a battle we'll be fighting for years to come.....



Wednesday, July 27, 2011

{breaking the rules}

Like I've mentioned before, Madeline has been starting to feel the brunt of being the middle child. It doesn't help that Emma always gets all the "firsts". Tonight, our neighbors were going to a baseball game and had one extra ticket and invited Emma to go with them. I knew it would make Emma's day...she's been missing her friends big time lately and had already knocked on this same little girl's door at least twenty times in the past three days anxious for a chance to play with her. I also knew (and was proved correct by the half hour meltdown that followed) that it would crush Madeline. It was loud, it was ugly and it was heartbreaking. To Madeline, Isabella is her friend too, and she just couldn't understand why Emma was invited to go to the game and she wasn't:( After much consoling and a little bit of ice cream, she recovered....sort of. Well, Ryan is out of town, Claire is asleep, Emma is at the baseball game and I've got Madeline all to myself. I am usually the bedtime Nazi...I savor my down time way too much to be lax about letting the kids stay up late (especially when Ryan is away!). Tonight I threw my rules out the window. Instead, Maddy and I are snuggled up in my big white fluffy bed, staying up way past bedtime, watching The Princess and the Frog and having a sleepover of our very own. This is the stuff that memories are made from. I hope she never forgets this night....I know I never will.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011


I have had a burden on my heart lately for so many people I know that are suffering. It seems day after day that I am constantly hearing of another dire situation...friends who are longing for babies yet cannot conceive, people hoping to adopt babies only to have to return them to their birth parents, marriages that are falling apart, spouses that are unfaithful, addictions and substance abuse problems, mothers that are dying of cancer and leaving small children behind, parents burying their children who have been taken from them way too soon, a dear friend that is here one day and tragically gone the next, mounting bills with no money to pay them....the list could go on and I'm sure for some of you I haven't even touched the surface of what's going on in your own heart. Yesterday, I was rereading some earlier blog posts and I saw in one that I had mentioned that I was loving Romans 5 at that time. To be honest with you, I could not remember what Romans 5 says or why it was so meaningful to me then, so I grabbed my bible to look it up. This is what I found:

"And we rejoice in the HOPE of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance character; and character hope. And hope DOES NOT disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." Romans 5:2-5

This I do know: God is good. So good, in fact, that while we were so knee deep in our own sin, he CHOSE to send his son to pay the price for us. I can only imagine the suffering that God felt watching his son die. I can only imagine the suffering that Christ felt as he was nailed to the cross. He KNOWS your heart. He knows suffering. He understands your deepest fears and can meet your deepest needs. He has been there. And He is waiting to walk you through whatever burdens He's allowing you to endure. All you have to do is let Him. And it really is as easy as that...He waits patiently for us to realize our need for Him and then He supplies us with all of the grace we'll ever need to endure whatever it is we're suffering through. This is the undercurrent to my life. The fact that no matter what happens, or how bad things get, I have a loving God that will never let me fall out of His reach. I can't imagine surviving everything this world throws at me without that hope. I'm praying you know that Hope too.

"Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28


{back to school}

This is the time of year that I start to get a little too excited about all things "back to school" related. Backpacks, lunch boxes, back to school clothes, freshly sharpened pencils, school supplies, new shoes....I love it all! This year Emma is sooooo excited to have Madeline at her school that she requested they dress alike the first day so that everyone will know that they are sisters. She didn't have to ask me twice!;)

Here is what (as of now) the Boyd sisters will be wearing on their first day of school:

I start stalking the pottery barn kids backpack selection every year on the 4th of July when they roll out the new styles. (Yes, I'm aware that it's slightly sick that I know the exact date when this occurs.) But really, don't these pictures just get you so excited for back to school time?

Ahh, I love it! I can almost feel the crisp fall air and the promise of a year full of new adventures and new beginnings with my girls. Until then, I'll be soaking up every extra minute that I have with them and we'll be making the most of our long and lazy summer days together:)


{simple pleasures}

Everyone now and then I love me a good old fashioned, high school style date night. Tonight was one of those nights. Ryan suggested going into the city for dinner, but getting dressed up and eating way too much just wasn't what I was in the mood for. Instead, we opted for dinner at Chipotle, a pint of Ben & Jerry's and a romantic comedy.....and it was perfect!! We saw Friends with Benefits-so so adorable. It had a great soundtrack, Mila Kunis (hello, GORGEOUS) had a killer wardrobe and THE best hair ever, and Ryan and I both laughed throughout the whole thing. All that and a shared pint of coffee heath bar crunch and it was the perfect night kicking back with my hubby:)



Ah, summer! I'm not gonna lie, there are moments when I'm over it...when Emma, who is used to being busy at school everyday, is bored by 7 am; when I'm sweating my butt off ALL DAY LONG; when the heat index is 117 outside and the a/c in my mini van breaks; when I have to figure out creative ways to cool my kids off without a pool membership, etc. But for the most part, I am reveling in the lazy days with absolutely no agenda, no extracurricular activities ruling our schedule and no long school days stealing away my cutie pies who are growing up way too quickly.

Today has been the perfect summer day....we lazed around all morning. Literally, all morning. We barely made it out the door by noon. We met Sara and the kids for lunch at Friendly's....the service was terrible, the food was tolerable, the company was great and the ice cream was delicious!!! From there we went to the Moorestown Library for movie day. ABSOLUTELY ADORABLE. They played Beverly Hills Chihuahua and had a whole little movie theater set up complete with snacks, lemonade and a treat bag for the kids!! The girls had a blast:) The library has become one of my favorite parts of small town living. I love the endless supply of activities they provide for the kids, the fact that it's within walking distance, the familiar faces we see there and that the children's librarian knows my girls by name. I'm pretty sure that we'll be attending movie day every Tuesday for the rest of the summer:) Next up is the long awaited lemonade stand...the girls have been anxiously awaiting this for days but the weather has not been cooperating. Right now the sun is shining and it's not too hot, so we're off to sell some icy cold lemonade.....(wish them luck;)). Pics to follow!!:)


Sunday, July 24, 2011

{hello there:)}

Anniversaries, birthdays, changes of seasons, new phases of life, the passing of time....ok, pretty much EVERYTHING....makes me sentimental. Combine our 12 year anniversary, madeline & claire's recent birthdays, the mark of our first year in NJ, the end of our first trip back to FL, a new school year on the horizon, the begging and pleading of my mother;) and the tugging on my heart to start blogging again and here I am....the new and improved blog. As usual, life has been challenging, strengthening and blessed in so many ways and I am excited to begin capturing it here again. First, let's get caught up!

Gosh, I love that guy. As I was shopping for anniversary cards, I noticed that there is this whole new section of cards within the anniversary section dedicated to "I love our family life". I picked up card after card and read sentiments that described loving "our kids, our family time, etc" but never mentioned a single thing about loving the actual spouse! This was so sad to me...so sad, in fact, that I found myself reading card after card because I was in disbelief of how many like that there were on the shelves. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely adore our children and as a "quality time" love language girl, one of my favorite things in this world IS our family time together....doing anything and everything just the five of us. But I hope and pray that I never reach a point in my marriage where it no longer becomes about US. As much as I love our kids and the family God has blessed us with, I love Ryan. I love that he is my best friend in the whole world, the person I feel the most at home with. I love that he is patient and loving and kind. I love that he can have more fun with the girls than I ever will but he can also be the voice of reason. I love that he is future-minded and sees the big picture when I only see the here and now. I love that he is way more obsessed with shoes than I am;) I love that he values me and is devoted to me. I love that he drives home everyday just to eat lunch with us. I love when he thinks he needs a haircut, but really it looks just perfect to me. I love that he considers shopping at Nordstrom a totally acceptable date. I love that the words he writes on a card can make me burst into tears. I love a million different things about him and I love that I love him more the more I know him. I am continually in complete awe and thanking God for the marriage He has blessed us with. And I will fight to keep it that way:)

I spent a good part of this year concerned and prayerful for my biggest girl and the Lord has been so faithful in answering those prayers. Em is my most shy and introverted and the one that has always given me the most worry lines. Adjusting to a new school and new friends was hard for her, but she's getting into her groove. A minor crisis a few months back that led to her being grounded for two weeks and me completely MORTIFIED! has surprisingly turned itself into a new friendship with a sweet little girl. This summer has been great for Emma....she is HAPPY as a clam and right now, and for this girl, that's good enough for me. I'm not sure if I've ever seen her this content and with her guard completely down. I'm so thankful to God for that blessing. She is a great big sister....thrilled to have Madeline at her school next year and excited to show her the ropes. I love overhearing her filling Madeline in on life at South Valley:) She is Claire's other mommy...if she gets the chance to dress her, feed her breakfast or read her a book, it's the highlight of her day. She finds value in feeling needed and capable and I find value in having an extra set of hands. Win/win? I think so! I'm still amazed at how well she reads....I don't think there's anything that we've thrown at her that she couldn't just read right back to us like it was the easiest thing in the world. Crazy, how quickly they grow:(

Sweet Madeline, where do I start?! For most of her life, I have labeled Mad as "the easy one". HA. HA. HA. Boy, was I wrong!!! Madeline is still a people pleaser and has the sweetest, most loving heart, but easy? No way. I don't know if it's classic middle child syndrome starting to make itself known, but Mad has quickly become our handful. There are several times a day where I have to brace myself because I know that any little change of pace or her not getting her way will turn into a complete Maddy Meltdown. Trust me, you don't want to be anywhere near one. They're UGLY. Kicking, screaming, out of control, "you are way too big to be doing this", ugly. The good news is that the meltdowns eventually come to and end when she realizes that we're not giving in and just like that she's back to being her sweet and happy self. The bad news is I don't see them going away anytime soon. Mad has many nicknames around here...."little miss forgetful" (the amount of stuff this girl loses is actually kind of shocking), "little miss complainy pants" (we're working on Philippians 2:14 for this.....so far, it's not really working;)) "little miss sunshine" (because other than when she's in meltdown mode, she is one of the silliest and happiest people I've ever met). I'm trying more and more to not take her for granted and to make sure my monkey in the middle knows that she is loved and valued as much as the next girl.

Claire is 100% girl, 100% adorable and full of 100% attitude. She looks like a 2 year old, talks like a 3 year old, thinks she's a 15 year old and spends half her day posing in front of a mirror. The world is Claire's stage. She thrives on being the center of attention and she usually gets it...whether it's just our family being held captive by her antics at the dinner table or any adult that loves the girl with the huge personality and the tiny body. Bear wakes up in the morning and immediately needs to get dressed in the fanciest thing she can find...it's a tutu EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. for this girl and if I even think about dressing her in anything else, I literally have to listen to a sob story about how "no one will think I'm beautiful". Claire and I have a talk on a daily basis about inner beauty, but for this just turned three year old that already has her mind fixed on her wedding day and the boy of her dreams (jonah glassford:)) it's not really sinking in. I've got my work cut out for me with this one! I cannot wait to have her all to myself at home while the big girls are at school this year :)

{and then there's me....}
I'm the same as always and hopefully different all at the same time. The Lord has really used this year to stretch me and mold me. There's nothing like being thrown from your comfort zone and starting over from scratch to keep you on your toes. I am thankful for all of the pain, sadness, excitement, loneliness, hopefulness and the million different ups and downs that this year brought because they have all drawn me nearer to the Lord. I had the best time in Florida...it was great to spend so much time with my family and to jump right back in with my friends. There were so many times throughout the trip that I forgot that I had moved, felt like I had never left and I thought that leaving would rip my heart out. I am so thankful that the Lord protected me from that. When we got back here, it actually felt like home. I had people I couldn't wait to see, places I couldn't wait to go and a house that I was anxious to settle back into. This was a huge answer to prayer! I have been loving the laziness of summer and the chance to spend extra quiet time because there is nowhere we need to be running off to. The girls have been memorizing scripture (they are sponges...it's incredible how fast they pick it up). I love how it's keeping me in the word, excitedly looking for their next verse to learn and how the silly little hand motions we come up with make it so easy for Ryan and I to memorize right along with them:) I am already counting down until the fall....daydreaming about the change of seasons and remembering how blessed we are to experience it. I still love a shiny new Range Rover, the latest j crew catalog, and the new fall floor set at pottery barn as much as the next girl (ok, probably MORE than the next girl), but it all pales in comparison to Jesus and the hope I have in Him. As great as those things are, they are temporary...and they still leave me longing for more...and there is SO much more than this world has to offer....how great is that?:)


Monday, February 7, 2011

melt my heart

this is by far my favorite conversation of the week....
Earlier today, I was working on a blog post for Emma's birthday and I had tears running down my face. Madeline asked why I was crying and I told her that sometimes I get sad because I just wish my girls could stay little. A little while later, she came up to me and said, "Do you know that if you don't blow out the candles on your birthday cake then you don't turn that age and don't get any bigger? So I'm never gonna blow my candles out again and I'll stay little!" Big. Huge. Hug. A few minutes after that, she comes back to me and says, "Mom, on your birthdays can you not blow out the candles either? Cause if I'm always gonna be a little girl then I need you to stay a mommy. Otherwise, I'll just have three grandmas." Not only do I love how her little mind works, but I love the sweetness of this girl. She kills me.

p.s. earlier today, this same little girl left the playroom, ran across the house just to give me a kiss and then ran back to continue playing. please, please, NEVER GROW UP.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

62. a full night's sleep

63. consuming tons of cake on a saturday (and having cake-worthy events to attend!)
64. making valentines with madeline
65. when claire tells me "'I'm so proud of you"
66. selling cookies with my girl scout :)
67. cilantro
68. tanning (and feeling heat on my body for the first time in months!)
69. an hour alone in target
70. j crew's extra 40% off sale
71. my inlaws living a mile away
72. God's provision for my every need
73. spur of the moment date nights with my hubby (courtesy of rach)
74. whole foods!!
75. pushing myself to the limit on the treadmill
76. swimming laps then sitting in the hot tub
77. having sore muscles for the first time in months
78. distressed boyfriend jeans
79. gelato

big girl bed!!!!

We finally moved Claire to her big girl bed. After months of her waking up cold and uncomfortable several times a night (and me getting no sleep feeling like I still had a newborn), we finally pulled the plug and took the crib away. She was a little resistant at first, awake and screaming at 1 am the first night, begging for her crib, but she soon fell back asleep and has been sleeping like a champ ever since! The sweetest part is when I can overhear her and Madeline talking and playing with each other when they wake up in the morning. This week has been the first time since we moved that I have slept through the night. I am so much more rested and so much less grumpy when the morning hits :) I can't believe that it was this easy or that it took me this long to ditch the crib....but Claire is in no hurry to be a big girl and I am in no hurry for my baby to grow up. I know it's inevitable, but I plan on delaying it as long as possible! Now we're gearing up to start potty training....eventually!! ;)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

bedtime bliss

After months of struggling with Claire waking everybody up insanely early in the morning and me stressing out over how to keep it from happening, I have found a solution that works for now. I have been putting the girls to bed by 6:30 and it has worked out perfectly (thanks beth for the inspiration!). I finally realized that if I could not change the time they were waking up, I could at least make up for it on the other end. The girls fall asleep within minutes of their heads hitting the pillow and I have noticed that the big girls are much more rested when they wake up. I feel a lot less guilty when Claire wakes them up early on a school day because I know that they have gotten a full night's sleep. This week, Ryan has been out of town and it has been such a relief to have them in bed early and to have hours of peace and quiet to regroup before I start it all over again the next day. I know that this routine won't last forever...once the warmer weather is here and the sun is still shining bright at 6:30, I won't be able to fool them into believing that it's bedtime, but I'll take it as long as it lasts and we'll figure out what works when that time comes. Because isn't that how parenting always is? Getting things perfectly figured out just in time for them to change again. Keeps us on our toes, I guess. Or just gives us premature wrinkles and high blood pressure.

busy week

Ryan's been out of town all week and it's been busy, but yes mom, I'm still counting my blessings....

44. the snowfall that's on its way!
45. Claire gaining 4 pounds in a month and finally landing herself on the growth chart!
46. The Bachelor.
47. American Idol
48. Philosophy Advanced Makeup Optional. Sara, I owe you.
49. a week full of playdates!!
50. finding leftover christmas decorations at pottery barn for super cheap
51. hearing claire say, "you my best friend, emma!"
52. friendly's butter crunch ice cream with peanut butter sauce
53. people magazine in my mailbox!
54. rain boots
55. romans 5
56. breakfast at the pop shop!
57. emma's enthusiasm over selling girl scout cookies
58. the ridiculuous amount of cuddles and hugs i get from madeline every day
59. "i miss you" texts from my hubby when he's out of town
60. pushups
61. that i haven't felt lonely (or cried) even once this week :)

Friday, January 14, 2011

37. madeline playing with her bff all afternoon

38. watching the complete joy on the girl's faces as they sled down a hill
39. hearing madeline say, "i love winter!!!" for the first time
40. when claire says "actually"
41. the cheesecake factory
42. breaking a little bit of a sweat running uphill after sledding
43. baking in the early morning while it's still dark outside

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Twelve is my token number. The one I use to describe anything (larger than two or three when it needs to be or smaller than twenty or thirty depending on the situation). Get the picture? For example, if you have more than four kids, you probably have twelve. Or if I want to put into words exactly how young I was when Ryan and I got married....we were twelve. Obviously. So when my mom suggested this week that I look into becoming a real estate agent, my response was that nobody was going to hire me because I look like I'm twelve. To this, her response was, "I've got news for you, but you REALLY can't pass for "twelve" anymore." Sounds logical (after all, I am twenty years past my twelfth birthday and I've birthed three children), unless you know me and know my mom and know that my mom knows that twelve is just a way of me saying that I look young. So, what she was really getting at was that I look old. And it hit me like a ton of bricks....it's like she opened my eyes and I've seen it ever since. I'm OOOOOLLLLLLLDDDD!! I have wrinkles that I never knew existed and thin, saggy skin on my face. I am flat out, clear as day aging and I never knew it. I am bound and determined to invest in every skin care regimen out there and re-twelve-ify myself!!

30. story and craft time at the library for madeline and an hour alone with claire for me

31. philly soft pretzels dipped in buttercream frosting
32. a surprise day at the spa package from ry
33. seeing my hubby in the middle of a weekday
34. naptime with a warm blanket, a good book and a dunkin donuts latte
35. knowing that i have two different playdates to look forward to tomorrow
36. the sunlight pouring in my living room windows

22. the change of seasons

23. snow days!
24. sledding on stokes hill
25. salted caramel hot chocolate
26. unexpected emails and words of encouragement from friends and relatives :)
27. super cute Sorel boots
28. bare minerals faux tan bronzer
29. snuggies. seriously.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

the long and lonely road

I knew this would inevitably happen. It took me a week of sleepless nights and lots of prayer to first process the move when Ryan initially brought it up to me over a year ago. I remember pouring over my bible all hours of the night, knowing that moving away and leaving my life behind meant that a time would come when I would be feeling empty, lonely and desperate. Fortunately, God prepared me ahead of time and even though this road is long and hard, He did promise "to bring me back to this place".....not the literal place that I left, but the place of contentment, happiness and knowing who the heck I am. I currently feel like a shell of my former self. I had so many defining circumstances that made me who I am that I feel stripped of now. The best friends in the world...the kind I prayed and waited my whole life for. So many of them, that I often felt pulled in many directions trying to juggle all the people in my life that meant so much to me. A church that was passionate and real and drove me to pursue the Lord like never before. A gym that felt like home where the equipment was lacking, the dirt was often collecting, but a place where everyone knew my name and I knew theirs. A place that sparked in me a passion for breaking a sweat in the gym and kicking butt in a race. I left behind a place that wherever I went...the grocery store, the beach, the doctor's office, I was bound to run into someone that I knew. The TANNING SALON, the sun and the gloriously golden color of my skin. A hairdresser that I completely trusted with my hair and chatted with on facebook. Birthday parties that took months to plan, millions of dollars spent on little details and a guest list that required the largest cake possible and then some. A bible study where I was completely comfortable with everyone in the room and I was completely free to laugh, joke, cry, tell my leader how hot her husband is.....to BE ALI. Now I sit in my car and cry before walking into MOPS because nobody there knows me. They have never met my children or husband and I have never met theirs. I see them for two hours every two weeks, say goodbye and never see or talk to them again until two weeks later. They know nothing about my loves and interests, my short comings, what makes me who I am. Now we try out different churches and nothing ever feels right and the word is never alive to us and the crowd consists of ten percent young families like us rather than ninety percent. Now I go to the gym to the most ridiculously easy class in a room full of emaciated middle aged women and the teacher asks me if it's my first time there even though it's my tenth. Now I have a little girl with an upcoming birthday and only one or two friends and therefore no party on the agenda. Now I have more split ends than I can count, roots halfway down my head and hair longer than it should ever be. Now I can go for days at a time without seeing a familiar face. Now my playdates are every other week rather than daily and my girls nights out are every other month rather than once or twice a week. Now I am a shell of my former self. But like I started out saying, none of this was a surprise. When you go from having the life you've always dreamt about and lacked for nothing and you uproot from that, it is expected that days like these will come when you realize how high you were and how far you've fallen. I am thankful that the Lord prepared me for this and trying my hardest to cling to that and cling to Him even when my circumstances seem hopeless. That all being said, I would be an enormous brat if I did not recognize how much I am truly blessed. So, here's an inconclusive list of what I'm currently thankful for and my hope is that as I recognize new blessings daily that I will post them as a reminder of the big picture and that as this list grows, I will grow and that through it all, I'll find "Ali" again.

1. the unfailing love of a savior even at the loneliest times
2. a husband that I adore and who I'd still follow anywhere, no matter the cost
3. the three most precious little girls in the world
4. a mom who will spend hours listening to me cry and moan and empathize with me and then counsel me
5. the gorgeous white snow outside my window
6. raising my kids with the kids of my childhood friends
7. the perfect house for our family (even if our electric bill made me cry)
8. the school bus
9. a new tradition of holiday parties with sara, beth, jill and our kids
10. a new partner in obsessively loving pottery barn and j crew crime (you know who you are)
11. rach living right next door
12. monday night bachelor dates with bec that bring me back in time eight years
13. walking into starbucks and at least one person knowing my name
14. my mini van (no matter how dirty and food encrusted it may be)
15. an unexpected text from a friend that can turn my day around
16. a pediatrician that cares enough about our family to call me himself
17. visits from my sister, maria and my parents
18. my weekly dates with emma and a time set aside to focus only on her
19. the loving, tender heart of madeline and her never ending hugs and kisses
20. a 2 1/2 year old that looks like a one year old, talks like a three year old and has every one she meets wrapped around her finger
21. knowing that this too shall pass

"I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you and will bring you back from captivity." jeremiah 29:10-14