I had so much fun last year sharing a recap of our year that I thought I’d do it again this year! So here’s a highlight of what happened in our lives in 2017…
We started off the new year with a new member of the family- meet Snowy the hampster
Bella turned 6 months old this month
And rode sitting up by herself in the shopping cart for the 1st time
I celebrated turning 35 with some of my girlfriends doing my favorite thing- a craft!
James & the kids bought me some flowers for the garden for my birthday
We went to dinner to celebrate & little Miss helped me blow out the candle
When James asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I told him I wanted to take a day trip to Blanco State Park
It was such a pretty day & we had fun just relaxing
The boys loved fishing & playing in the water
Bella came with me to Caden’s Valentine’s day party at school & was a chick magnet :0
Bella is crawling all over the place & loves her big brothers just as much as they love her- it’s so sweet
We have the best recycling guy who honks for the boys to come outside when he gets to the street. He even let Joshua pull the lever to dump the can- he was in heaven but now thinks he should be able to do this every time!
We celebrated Bella’s baby dedication at church with the grandmas & great-grandmother
Bella wore my baby dress which made it really special
Our little superhero turned 4 with a Superman themed birthday party at his favorite “bouncy house place”
We all dressed as superheroes- the boys said we were the Super Family
We went to the Austin Rodeo, we hadn’t been since Joshua was 1 & had such a great time
The petting zoo was definitely the highlight of the rodeo for all the kids
The boys loved riding a “real” roller coaster
We took a trip to my sister & brother-in-law’s ranch over spring break- we always have a blast out there romping around in the country fishing & riding the ranger
I took some pictures of the kids in the pretty “weeds”- lol
Then they drove us down to a neighbor’s house who has wild game
This little boy is growing up so fast
I call Joshua my “flower picker boy”- he can’t resist picking me a flower when he sees it…even if it comes out of someone else’s flower garden. But these dandelions at school are his favorite to find for me
The boys just can’t get enough of this little girl… especially the biggest one
Aunt Sherry & Uncle Paul came to visit from Boston
It was Paul’s 1st time to Texas so we did it right, we cooked Fajitas one night & took them to Rudy’s BBQ the next
I went with Caden on his spring field trip to the LBJ Wildflower Center- the highlight was seeing a garter snake in the wild
Bella came too of course & loved crawling all over the place
The boys were so excited about our spring garage sell & begged us to let them open their own lemonade stand- I’m pretty sure they made more money than we did!
Bella got to swing for the 1st time & of course Caden begged to be the one to push her
She loved it!
It finally got warm enough for the slip-n-slide & this was the boys’ favorite thing to do in the afternoons
Bella likes getting in on the action too
Then it was time for Easter- the boys love to hunt, hide, & re-hunt the eggs over & over again.
Easter Sunday- the boys dress themselves & they were stylin’. Joshua did his own hair for the occasion which I thought was hilarious but James joked that he looked like a troll
Later that evening, we took them to a park for some spring pictures
Bella had just learned to pull up
We thought we had missed the bluebonnets but we found 1 small patch left
I remember us saying when we got married that on our 10 year anniversary we were going to take an amazing vacation overseas or to a remote tropical island. Well fast forward 10 years & we found ourselves with a cute little 9 month old girl who was still nursing & would never allow Mama to leave her behind. James had a work trip to Nashville so we decided to turn his trip into a little anniversary trip. The boys came to the airport to tell me & Bella goodbye.
James had to fly out the day before so it was just us girls together. It was a little rough flying with her by myself but she did pretty good & even took a short nap. It was going through security & getting all the luggage after the flight all while holding a baby that was the difficult part.
James’s conference was at the Gaylord Grand Ole’ Oprey so that’s where we stayed & the grounds were amazing! They had 3 or 4 huge atriums like this that all the rooms overlooked, each one had a different theme. Ours had this waterfall- this was the view from our room.
We had fun exploring downtown Nashville & found it strikingly similar to Austin- especially this main drag that’s just like 6th street
James did a whiskey tasting
My favorite part was all the delicious food!
After Nashville we rented a car & drove to Ashville, NC which was about 4 hours away. Along the way we stopped in Knoxville, TN for lunch. The views driving were gorgeous & now I understand why they call them the blue ridge mountains.
Ever since I saw a postcard on my history teacher’s wall in high school, I knew I wanted to visit the Biltmore Estate. I’m a history buff & love historical sites, I get that from my dad. When I found out we would be in Tennessee & within driving distance to the mansion, I begged James to take me & of course, he said “let’s go!” So we spent the entire day of our anniversary touring the grounds of the Biltmore. It reminded me a lot of the palace of Versailles that we toured on our honeymoon to Paris but on a much smaller scale. But don’t get me wrong this place is still huge & it takes the whole day to see it.
The gardens were incredible
The Biltmore has its own winery so we did a little wine tasting…baby in tow
She wanted to walk so bad & had learned to pull up to standing without holding onto anything
After spending the entire day walking around the biltmore we were so tired that we decided to just order some Thai food to go & eat it back at our B&B. But on the way there to pick up the order Bella fell asleep & surprisingly we found a parking place right out front so we decided to ask if we could eat there & they had a table open. It was nice to be able to walk in, get a table, & them already have our food ready! And Bella gave us the best anniversary gift, she slept through the whole thing!
After dinner we walked to a chocolate shop/coffee house & waited in a line out the door to get in, but I never mind waiting for chocolate! James got some sort of shake & I got hot sipping chocolate which is basically pure chocolate mixed with a little cream & served warm. It was the best thing I’ve ever had & I wish I could find something like it here! Bella wanted some too 🙂
Then it was time to fly home
We really had a great trip. It wasn’t what we thought it would be 10 years ago but we wouldn’t have traded it!
We took a little weekend trip back to College Station to visit family
I took my mom out for a girls only lunch to celebrate Mother’s Day
The boys planted pumpkins in their garden for the fall but they all died. Then a rogue seed took off & grew a spring pumpkin! The boys were so excited & loved watching their prize possession grow.
Caden got to take it to school & tell his class all about it- he was so proud!
Then they helped cut it up & make pumpkin pie
It was delicious!
Joshua was so proud of all the gifts he had me for my Mother’s Day Tea at preschool
We celebrated Remi’s 10th birthday with his traditional dog cake
On our trip to Nashville, we gave Bella a shower because there was no tub. It scared her half to death & she refused to go anywhere near water after that. So the only way we could get her into the tub was if her brothers were in there with her. So no more baby baths for her, they now all bathe together.
And there are some days where baths are more important than others…
Bella loved to sit in boxes, baskets, & pretty much anything she could fit in. Also, she started walking this month- 10 months old
Caden had his end of school musical performance, which he always hates participating in but this year he actually did sing & do the motions.
Every year James’s company plans a family night at the Dell Diamond & we all have a blast watching the game & eating of course!
Bella was in love with Remi & laid on him all the time… however he wasn’t so fond of all her “love”
You can find the 3 musketeers outside playing most every afternoon waiting for Daddy to get home
For Father’s Day, James said he wanted to go to Colorado Bend State Park– it was hot!
The boys complained about having to hike to the swimming hole
And I’m pretty sure being a pack mule wasn’t exactly what James had in mind
But swimming in the very cold natural spring pond was worth the hike & the boys especially loved swimming with the fish
We all love our daddy!
Several times a week after dinner we took the kids down to our neighborhood pool, they couldn’t swim enough!
Preschool ended & Joshua said goodbye to his teacher Ms. Marsha
Caden said goodbye to his teacher Mrs. Rummel- he did great in Kinder & was reading a grade level ahead by the end of the year
The boys got to pick their end of school gift & Joshua wanted a lasso
Caden worked hard all year to earn his light up globe as his present
Caden also said goodbye to his beloved bus driver Ms. Light- she was the sweetest lady
We kicked off summer with a trip to a new splash pad in Georgetown
It was Bella’s 1st time to a splash pad & she thought it was pretty amazing
Bella Rose turned 1 year old! My friend & fellow photographer Michelle Loconto took her birthday pics, she also took the boys’ so it’s a tradition.
I debated forever on the theme of her party before deciding on a Lemonade theme. I had so much fun designing every little detail & was thrilled that it was featured on Project Nursery. You can see more from her party HERE
After her party, we went to dinner with my 2 sisters & their kids who came up for the party
The next day we took them swimming at Blue Hole in Georgetown
Bella’s birthday present from us was this adorable lace tent for her room
The boys love it too but I have to keep them out so they don’t destroy it!
Little Miss is wearing the same outfit Caden did to celebrate his first 4th of July
We went to watch the fireworks at Avery ranch, a tradition we started when we lived in the apartments across the street as newlyweds. Bella was scared of the fireworks & only happy if Mama was holding her & covering her ears.
I took the boys to watch the fireman show at TEEX in College Station
They wore their fireman suits & were a big hit with all the firemen
We went to the Austin Aquarium for the 1st time. It’s small but the boys loved the birds & stingrays
Joshua loves to help James mow the yard
And the boys loved our garden & watered it every day
We live outside in the summer so we always have the pool out
I’ve hated our front flower bed for years – it was overgrown & because our tree had gotten so big things just didn’t grow there well. So I told James I wanted to pull everything up & xeriscape. He was all for that idea & trusted my vision.
These are the “Before” shots
The boys loved helping cut down everything
I took the boys bowling for the 1st time & they loved it
Back to school time already- Caden headed into 1st & Joshua into Pre-K 4
We lived in the pool over the summer
We celebrated James’s birthday at my sister & brother-in-law’s ranch with all our family- it was a blast
The boy’s favorite thing to do when we visit my mom is to catch grasshoppers- we just don’t have those in our yard
My niece Keeley came to stay a week with us. It’s a tradition we started with my nephew Kyler when he was about 5, then Kyler & Kayde came together when Kayde was about 5 because he was scared to come on his own, & now it was Keeley’s turn. A week in the big city!
Caden wants to be a fireman & “practices” all the time. He even made his own oxygen tank.
Monkey see Monkey do. Bella copies everything the boys do & loves to wash her hair like a big girl.
James took the day off before school started & we spent the day having fun as a family at Main Event. We were all a little sad that summer was over.
Caden’s 1st Day of School
His new teacher Mrs. Zacharias
I took them to get snowcones on the 1st day of school at a new place called Urban- they were really good & Joshua loved all the nerds sprinkled on top!
The next week Joshua had his 1st day of school
His new teacher is Ms. Jessica
When James found out he was going to have a week-long conference in Wellesley, just outside Boston, we were so excited because my sister lives there & she had just had her 1st baby. The timing was a little bit of an issue because the kids would miss a whole week of school just after it started but we decided we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to go with him.
This guy is just like his mama- he can sleep anywhere!
Bella passed out too
This is what it looks like to travel for a week with 3 kids- James was not amused
We made it to Uncle Paul & Aunt Sherry’s house
I got to meet my sweet little nephew Aaron for the 1st time
The next day my sister had to work so the 5 of us headed to a local orchard to go apple picking. I’ve always wanted to do this so I think I was more excited than the kids!
The apple trees looked more like shrubs than big trees like I had pictured & they were loaded down with apples
Bella ate more than she picked 🙂
We picked a few different varieties
Caden loves babies so he couldn’t get enough of little Aaron
That night Paul & Sherry gave us a tour of the Wellesley campus- this swing was the highlight for the boys
The next day we headed to a local beach
It was Bella’s 1st trip to the beach & she wasn’t so sure about the sand at first. She did not want to sit in it & would only touched it with her toys but slowly she warmed up & by the end of the day she was rolling (literally) around in it & loved it! Caden reacted the same way when he 1st touched sand- ha.
It was Aaron’s 1st trip to the beach too
The boys were in heaven
You can’t tell from the pictures but it was actually pretty cold
Bella loved her new little cousin
The conference started the next day so we all moved into the hotel. All 5 of us in 1 room was a little rough & Bella wasn’t the best sleeper but the free breakfast buffet each morning was really nice. She insisted on walking by herself to breakfast each morning & did not want to be held- little miss independent! (I have no idea where she gets that from..wink wink)
The rest of the trip I was on my own with the kids while James attended the conference from 7am-7pm. So I drove the kids into Boston & we went to the aquarium. The huge turtles were my favorite part, the boys loved the penguins.
We were on our way back to Wellesley when I discovered my wallet was missing (I think Bella tossed it out of my bag). I called the museum & they had found it but closed at 5pm. I knew I wouldn’t make it back by 5pm with the traffic but the security guard told me he would open the door for me when I knocked. So we had to drive all the way back which wasn’t too far distance wise but took about 30 min with traffic. By then we were in rush hour traffic & I knew it would easily take over an hour to get back to the hotel. So we decided to stay in Boston for dinner. Parking was so difficult to find & very expensive. The kids were tired, hungry, & not happy about all the walking from the parking garage to the restaurant. I’m not going to lie, it was pretty rough.
But we found the famous Italian district & had some amazing food. Well, I loved it & Bella shoveled my pasta into her mouth as fast as she could. But the boys complained that the pizza didn’t taste like Dominos- insert eye roll
The next day I decided to leave the car & take the train into Boston. The boys were so excited to ride a real train & as it got into the city it went into the subway which they found fascinating.
We rode the train to Boston Commons
We felt like a local playing at the famous Tadpole Playground in Boston Commons & eating hot dogs & lemonade from the local street cart vendor.
We met some wonderful people on the train going both ways & everyone was so helpful & friendly. We really loved the train & mingling with the locals. I hope one day the kids will look back on this trip & remember these unique experiences. Also, I hope they think their mom was pretty brave & amazing to tackle an unfamiliar city alone with 3 kids under 6 years old in tow…haha one can only wish!
When we got back to Wellesley we headed to my sister’s house & got to babysit Aaron for a little bit while my sister went into work
This is the moment I realized my baby wasn’t a baby anymore
And poor Aaron was subjected to his Aunt’s crazy photo ideas
Anytime we were at Aunt Sherry & Uncle Paul’s house, you could find Caden playing outside with Riley the dog- he adored her!
Poor Bella had a hard time sleeping & ended up in our bed every night. Her lack of sleep finally caught up with her & I had to wake her up to go to breakfast on our last day at the hotel.
After spending 2 days in Boston by myself with the kids I was pretty tired, but I knew we would lose our minds if we stayed at the hotel all morning. So I rallied the troops & we drove into Boston again. This time we went to the children’s museum & it was the highlight of our time in the city. We had to get back to pick up James after lunch so our time was pretty rushed but we could easily have spent the whole day there- we loved it & didn’t want to leave! It was so much fun & the perfect ending to our time in Boston.
Playing in the water was Bella’s favorite part
The famous Boston Harbor
Caden said goodbye to his buddy Riley
Aunt Sherry is the Head Golf Coach at Wellesley College (she’s kind of a big deal) so she gave the boys a free golf lesson before we left.
We were sad to say goodbye but excited to head to Cape Cod for some much needed R&R
We didn’t get to Cape Cod until dinner so we grabbed a quick bite, went to our house, & crashed. The next morning we went to the famous Red Cottage Restaurant for breakfast & got some tips on the best beach to visit from some ladies waiting in line with us. Again, just like Boston, we found the people there to be so kind & helpful. So after breakfast, we headed to the beach they recommended.
We pretty much had the place to ourselves except this lady walking her dog. She told us the best places to eat for lunch & dinner as well as some places we should visit.
The boys’ favorite part of the beach was catching these huge crabs- you don’t find these on a Texas beach
The sand was fine soft granules & so nice to play in
The water was cool & refreshing, we kept saying how nice it was compared to the hot ugly beaches of Texas
I enjoyed relaxing after my long week with the kids. James is so helpful & brings such balance to our family, I really missed him.
We took a break for lunch, explored another beach looking for seals (the shark warning signs were a little distressing), & then headed to a different beach for sunset.
I sure love this man- couldn’t make it without him!
This pretty little girl soaked up every minute at the beach
Sunset on Cape Cod
We only had 2 nights on Cape Cod & really only 1 day. We got up early the next morning & played until lunch then we had to head to the airport. We were pretty close to missing our plane & were praying hard. James actually dropped me & the kids off at the front while he went to return the rental car, I was a little afraid I was going to end up on that plane with all 3 kids without him but thank God we all made it! We had such a great time that we decided we were going to go back for a week in the summer but baby #4’s due date ended up putting a little wrench in that plan!
When we landed in Austin, the pilot let the boys go into the cockpit to explore. Such a sweet man & a fun way to end our vacation.
We knew the trip wasn’t going to be easy, especially for me since I would have all the kids by myself for most of it. So before we left we prayed as a family that God would be with us & bless our trip. We told the boys to look for the “God Things” as signs of his faithfulness & answers to prayers. From my wallet being found with nothing stolen, good parking spots, not missing our plane, the many many kind & helpful people that crossed our path, to this pilot who only let our boys explore the cockpit, & more! There were so many God Things & looking for God’s hands every day made us feel so blessed & brought such joy to our trip. The next time you take a trip or heck every day, pray & look for the God Things… you’ll be amazed!
The week after we got back from our trip we headed to my mom’s house to see my Grandmother who came in from California to visit, it was her 1st time to meet our kids
Then we went out to my sister’s house for a Tex-Mex fiesta. (My Grandmother, Mother, & 2 of my sisters)
“Gigi” with all the great-grandkids
The whole family
We love Fall & headed to the pumpkin patch to pick our pumpkins for the year
I think we bought the biggest one they had!
This is Bella’s favorite thing to do- be driven around by her brothers
James built me a bench for my garden from an old crib I got for free online. The boys loved helping to sand it down.
The front flower bed is beginning to take shape
We took the kids to the landscape yard & hand-picked all the rocks for the walkway & put down a fresh layer of mulch. The kids loved the new sitting area.
Joshua’s favorite thing to do is jump on the trampoline, he’s always asking me to jump with him
Their 2nd favorite thing to do is have a fire & roast s’mores, we have a fire almost every weekend & love this little chimenea.
My best friend Catherine & her family came to visit us from Boise. All our kids are pretty close in age so we all had a blast.
All the kiddos
Catherine & I have been best friends since 6th grade
You don’t get to go swimming in October in Boise!
Joshua loves to dress up as a cowboy
Caden sometimes joins in
Caden’s fall field trip was to Crows Nest Farm. He & Joshua both had their 2nd birthday party’s there & it’s such a fun place
Of course, Bella came along too
For Halloween, we hosted a party for the classmates of both boys. It was fun to meet so many new people & I loved making themed food!
For Halloween this year we had a Fireman, Ninja, & Sweet Little Deer
James helped Caden make his firetruck with lights that worked & a ladder. I made Bella’s costume.
Bella wasn’t quite sure about trick or treating at first but once she learned they were handing out candy, she was all over it. She wasn’t shy about asking for more & walking right into people’s homes-ha!
We took Caden to the neighborhood fire station to trick or treat & he was a big hit
I won’t buy scary decorations so Caden decided to make his own graveyard
Caden played coach pitch baseball & Joshua played t-ball; we might be biased but we thought they were the best on the team & definitely the cutest
Caden loves when we come have lunch with him at school, Bella loves it too
And the biggest news…we found out we were expecting baby #4 this month!
We had a Thanksgiving feast at “Little Bear’s” preschool
We went to Caldwell for Thanksgiving with James’s family- Bella ate her weight in corn on the cob
We also went to my mom’s house to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family- Bella loves her Uncle Keith
All the cousins
Bella learned how fun it was to throw everything in the trash… even when it’s not trash
She loves for Caden to read to her
She decided she didn’t want to sit in her high chair anymore & wanted to sit on the bench with her brothers so we got her a booster seat
Caden turned 7- I’m not sure how that’s possible already!! We celebrated with a tornado-themed party.
His 7 balloon was bigger than he was which made us laugh but I can’t help but smile when I look at this picture & see Mr. Bear, he is still my baby boy at heart.
He got his 1st BB gun, our gift to him
It snowed in Texas!
Bella wasn’t so sure about it, she didn’t like being cold
James’s company always hosts a family day at Fiesta Texas in December, we were so thankful that this year it wasn’t freezing cold & raining like last year.
The boys were so happy they were big enough to ride some roller coasters
But I think riding in the bumper cars with Daddy was their favorite part, his too!
They both won snakes & were so happy
Joshua had his Christmas performance at school. He wasn’t excited about it beforehand but did great.
Both Grandmas came
James had a company Christmas party in Boerne, TX so we decided to make it a little getaway & stay the night. It was our FIRST night away from Bella since she was born 17 months ago! It always makes me a little nervous & sad to leave my babies but we really enjoyed having some time to ourselves & she did great with her Emama.
One of our Christmas traditions is to go look at Christmas lights in jammies (just the kids)- this was taken before we left
We also took them to mighty fine to get hamburgers & shakes
We celebrated Christmas with James’s family the weekend before Christmas for the 1st time. It was so nice not to have our usual 4 Christmas celebrations (3 of which were always on the same day). We started referring to that as our Christmas gauntlet & swore last year when we were done that we weren’t going to do that craziness anymore- 13 years was enough!
Bella loved pulling the balls off the tree & taking them apart
Each year the kids get a new ornament for the tree- this is what they picked this year
My favorite tradition we have is to go to our church for Christmas Eve service, the music is always incredible
Every year we light candles at the end & it “snows”- it’s pretty magical
Ever since James & I started dating we’ve had a tradition of going to a fancy restaurant on Christmas Eve. Once we had kids that wasn’t an option anymore so we started making steak dinners at home. This year the boys were finally old enough to eat with real dishes so I made the table all “fancy” for us & James cooked a prime rib.
The boys loved toasting with their wine glasses filled with sparkling apple cider. Bella toasted with her roll, of course, refusing to be left out- lol
My little elves on Christmas Eve
Cookies for Santa, carrots for each reindeer (which Caden could name in order this year), & notes from Caden to Santa – he really got into it this year
I decided not to take too many pictures this year during gift opening & instead we videotaped the whole thing. But I did snap this picture & I think it truly captures the joy of that morning. Caden got a mini-drone, Joshua got a “ride on motorcycle” as he calls it, & Bella got a walking & barking dog…all from Santa. We got them the boring gifts 🙂
We drove to my mom’s house Christmas evening to celebrate with my family
Grandmama with her grandkids- just 3 missing
Bella loves her “Emama” & also Joshua’s hand me down boots. She hates taking off those boots & cries if we try!
Once we got back home we took the kids to downtown Round Rock for their light walk- it was really spectacular this year!
We ate downtown at Slapbox pizza & ordered the boys 1 slice of pizza each which turned out to be the size of their heads!
We loved the light walk
We tried out the new selfie stick James bought me for Christmas…we were pretty bad at it LOL
Bella loves to “help” me get dressed in the morning. I have pictures of boys “helping” me when they were babies too.
Caden loves to read to Joshua at night
It’s was a cold December but this little stinker was ready with her hand me down boots, jacket, & stolen gloves from Joshua
For New Year’s Eve we celebrated at home with sparklers & a few small fireworks- the boys loved it!
Looking ahead to 2018:
2017 was a busy year full of adventure & excitement & 2018 is shaping up to be the same way! Since 2015 we’ve wanted to move to the country & have actively pursued that but God has continually closed the door. We’ve been preparing offers twice, once on land & once on a house when the door was closed & we didn’t understand why. Well, when we found out about baby #4 it just all seemed to fall into place & make sense. We felt like 2018 was going to be our year to move but the baby definitely made that clear as we are now completely out of space. The house that we didn’t even have enough furniture to fill when we moved in as newlyweds now feels like it’s busting at the seems with the 5 of us & we can’t image squeezing in 1 more! We have started making changes around the house that I plan on blogging about as we prepare to sell. We don’t know where we are going or how it’s all going to work out around the baby’s arrival but we’re praying & trusting in God to take care of us & direct our steps. It’s exciting, scary, happy, & sad all at the same time to be leaving this house we’ve known for 10 years & preparing to move to a place that we don’t even know about yet, but we’re so ready! New home, new school, new city, new baby, & new year… bring it on!
“A person plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps” -Proverbs 16:9