Thursday, August 27

Keaton's Royal Little Prince Party

When you think of two year old birthday parties... the first thing that comes to mind is a Royal British party, right? No? Well--it worked perfectly for our little prince, who was born the same day two years ago as that other prince across the Atlantic.

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I rented the local indoor soccer field for the party, which was absolutely perfect. You can't let kids run wild outside in July in Texas--but they still want to! The venue came with four long picnic tables that were just asking to be draped in fabric to look like a Union Jack flag. Right? My fancy balloons backfired a bit--they were underinflated which means they weren't clear enough to really see the confetti or strong enough to support the weight of the fancy tassels I made for them. But they looked semi cute on some little gold buckets of chocolates.

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I struggled a bit with how to make a backdrop for the table--we weren't allowed to hang or attach anything to the walls. I ended up using the back PVC parts from the donut stand at Braden's party and creatively draped some tablecloths and fabric over it. It worked. I'm trying to ignore the fact that IS TWO is slightly off center...

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We had lots of sweet treats for the party. An AMAZING cake that was way past my expectations and adorable cupcake toppers that went right along with the theme. And I have a really hard time hosting a party without sugar cookies or macarons! All the treats were delicious and complemented the theme perfectly.

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The party was from 10 to 12, so we served some tea sandwiches that were a huge hit (probably because I made them all on delicious white bread...) We had PBJ for the kids, smashed chickpea with avocado and pesto, lemony cucumber and cream cheese, and strawberry chicken salad sandwiches. The strawberry chicken salad was amazing and the recipe was highly requested. I thought my spin on "fish and chips" was clever... and it certainly was delicious.

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I had made really cute little signs for the drinks that somehow didn't make it to the party--so we had to improvise with BOOZE scribbled in crayon on an extra little sign. We didn't want the kid's version of the Pimm's Cup to get mixed up with the real thing!

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Keaton really really liked everyone singing to him--so much that he didn't realize we had snuck a cute crown on him. As soon as he realized the crown was on--he was mad. I'm pretty sure Braden was the one who actually blew the candles out, but Keaton didn't seem to mind. Also, I'm totally in love with their little Mini-Boden shirts. I ordered them a few weeks before we settled on a theme and want them to wear them every day.

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For the kids who needed a break from running around on the field--we had some coloring pages and crowns to bedazzle! The crowns were so fun to make and wear!

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The kids all had a blast running around and waving the ribbon wands--they were so cute and fun!

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We had a bounce house, little car roller coaster thing, tons of beach balls and hula hoops for the kids to play with on the field. They ran around and had a blast--which meant the parents had time to chat!

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Using the London Underground symbol to welcome guests on the doors seemed so fitting! It also adorned the sugar cookies and several different printables. I ordered way too much Union Jack bunting on Amazon--but sometimes more is more.

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Probably my favorite part of the whole party was the awesome Prince Keaton banner. The gold crowns and pictures of his sweet little face make me infinitely happy. I cut the banner up and have it hung in various places around the house now.

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I needed somewhere to use my gold tablecloth (obviously) so I set up a little table at the entrance with more Keaton heads (also obviously) and an assortment of other things that matched the theme. Red suitcases (previously seen at Braden's second party), a little marquee K, the slightly overused "Keep Calm" sign... and other favorites from the party. The sweet crown and ribbon wand obviously needed a place of honor!

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It was so fun. The birthday boy thoroughly wore himself out and ate a lot of sugar! As always, many many thanks to Jenn for helping photograph! I'm always so grateful to have pretty shots of all my hard work--and occasionally shots with me in them!

Tuesday, August 25

Keaton is Two!

My baby is two! My tiny, sweet, huggy baby is two. And he's about to have his title of baby usurped. I'm struggling with him not being the baby a bit more than I was when Braden was promoted... I think its because he's so much littler than Braden was--he still looks like a baby. And he's in no hurry to talk... so he still feels like a baby. Which I don't mind at all.

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He's a tiny guy--he's 32.5" tall (5%) and weighs 24 lbs (15%) and he has a normal sized head. Hooray! Texas is good for his hair--it's the perfect blend of Finley and Braden's hair. The silky, softness of Finley's and the sweet curls of Braden's. It's been a rough year for him--we finally got him tubes in the spring and solved basically all of his problems. He sleeps at night, he can hear us, he doesn't have a chronically runny nose... it's great. We celebrated him being healthy by having his front two teeth pulled after he shattered them and getting stitches next to his eye after he dismounted his high chair rather ungracefully. Boys... am I right?

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He's just so fun to be around. Part of me wants to have keep having babies forever just to see what we get--because I swear the get cuter every time. Keaton is a snuggler. He gives very intense, arms-around-the-neck hugs and lays his head on you when he's tired. He's also very bossy for a kiddo who barely speaks--he frequently tries to corral Finley and Braden and get them to go where he wants them. They generally tolerate it. We're working on increasing his vocabulary--possibly starting some speech therapy soon. He probably says 15-20 words--when he feels like it. He loves going to the childcare at the gym, preschool, reading books and anything that his brothers are doing.

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Two means he has some opinions now--about which toy he wants to play with and whether he wants to watch tv (which is always yes) or what snack he wants to have (whatever is on the bottom shelf of the pantry). He's starting the lay-on-the-floor-and-wail phase, which is not my favorite. But I'm glad he knows what he wants--even if what he wants is not something he can have.

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It's so sweet to be loved by him--there's not much better than seeing him run to us when we've been away for a bit. I'm not sure how he'll react to a new baby in the house--but I'm excited to see him become a big brother. I can't imagine he'll love this new Scott any less than any of the current ones. We just love this guy so so much.

Monday, August 24

Finley is Six!

I kind of can't believe this kid is six. But you know what? Six is pretty fun. It's so fun to watch him figure things out and learn about how the world works.

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He continues to be our tiny guy at 42.5 inches (6%) and 39 pounds (10%).  I still don't think he totally knows that he's pint sized... he sure makes up for it with his chattiness! He's got endless energy and curiosity and can wear me out with his constant chatter and questioning. I'm hoping those traits serve him well as he grows up! He loves Legos and Star Wars. He's a great reader and loves to learn. He plays so sweetly with Braden and is generally a very good big brother. 

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I've recently recruited him to be in charge of buckling Braden into his carseat. I need a nap every time I think about getting the kids in and out of the car. The fact that Finley can help with Braden is huge! Finley is a huge help around the house--he loves moving the laundry, washing dishes and unloading the dishwasher. And I can generally convince him to help with just about anything else I need help with. He's very motivated by earning money so he can buy more Lego sets...

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He's excited about the new baby and is pretty set on naming the baby something from Star Wars. He's recently decided that he doesn't want a sister after all--hopefully he can change his tune if we do have a girl! He loves to sing to my belly and feel the baby kick. I'm excited to see him be a big brother at six--its so different than being a big brother at four!

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We love this kid so much--I'm so grateful for everyday where he comes up to give me unsolicited kisses and hugs... even the times he sneaks out of bed for "just one more kiss and hug." He has such a sweet heart while also being 100% light saber wielding boy. Love you, Finn!

Wednesday, August 19

Braden is Four!

Time to write some posts that probably should be written before we have a new baby! This kiddo turned four about three weeks ago and is about as sweet as a donut. Sol regularly gushes about how awesome this kid is--and how he wishes he could live in his brain. He certainly always keeps us guessing!

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At four years old, he's just about as big as Finley. His feet are actually a bit bigger! He's a few inches shorter than Finley still and weighs two pounds less. He's 39.5" (30%) and 37 pounds (59%). So basically he's ruining my plans of being able to pass clothes down in an orderly way. I'll forgive him because he's just so cute.

He's a sensitive kid--he frequently asks me if I'm happy if I seem upset and is basically devastated when the answer is no. He loves everything Finley loves--Legos and Star Wars are his favorite now. Even if he has a rather warped understanding of both. They've been playing so well together recently--they are finally to the point where Braden can play along with whatever game they are playing, which makes my life amazing. They'll play for quite awhile up in their room--and they rarely fight. Knock on wood.

He loves lots and lots of things. He loves to draw and his artwork has become very complicated and surprisingly good. I feel like he went from scribbling to very intricate drawings over night. He currently loves Curious George--the TV show, the books, listening to books on the iPad... he loves George. He did several camps this summer and enjoyed them all and is excited to go back to preschool soon. He'll be going five days a week--such a big guy!

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He's a finicky eater--we have to sneak vegetables into him. They generally make him gag... so I'm working on that. He is a great sleeper--he's the only child we have who tells us he's tired and wants to go to bed. He doesn't often nap but he'll lay in bed and listen to music or books for an hour or so. For which I am grateful.

He's excited about the new baby and likes to look at my belly and ask if its growing. His baby names are all Star Wars related--although he's also mentioned Jesus and Parsla (the name of his preschool teacher). He is generally sweet to Keaton too--his frequent refrain is wailing, "Get Keaton!" when he's worried that he's going to mess up his stuff. A valid concern. But he also is very protective of him and Finley and is always making sure we don't forget them somewhere and that they are ok.

He is a gem. It's an adventure raising kids--and Braden certainly keeps us on our toes. He surprises us all the time and is just precious. We're so grateful for the past four exciting years with him.

Wednesday, August 5

Family in Little Rock

We had been trying to find a place to meet up with Sol's family for months--and eventually discovered the perfect location... my parents' house! My parents were headed out of town on vacation with my brothers, so their house was vacant. It's pretty close to the midpoint between Sol's parents and Beaumont--which made it perfect! I don't think all four of our parents had been together since we got married, so it was fun to have them all overlap for a quick dinner.

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The highlight of the weekend was renting a boat and tubing on the lake. Braden l o v e d it. He was in heaven. I think he was on the tube about 75% of the time we were on the water.

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Finley was a little nervous at first, but decided it sounded fun after watching Braden go.

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We had lots of snacks and swam a bit in the (lukewarm) water. I had fun even though I was verging on really really pregnant. I got in the water for a bit and tubed reeeeeaaalllly slow and almost sank. It was barely fun.

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So much fun on the lake! The boys all had a blast and it was a nice to get a short break from the steamy temperatures. The other highlight of the weekend (not pictured...) was going to a restaurant that serves "hubcap" hamburgers. They were really big and really delicious!

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Friday, July 31

Finley's Teeth

My kids have all been early teethers--and it seems like they are a bit ahead of the curve on losing teeth too! Especially Keaton... who lost his first two teeth at the ripe age of ONE. Finley lost his bottom two teeth awhile ago--the first one was lost while eating a hamburger. He never even noticed--Sol just saw there was a gap! So that tooth is somewhere in the Beaumont sewer system currently.

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Within the span of a week, he lost both top teeth and one of the side bottom teeth. The top two had been loose for so long. In June they had gotten knocked to the side at basketball camp--instead of being evenly spaced, they were both pushed to the right (you can see in the picture in the blue shirt!) They really needed to come out--he had a hard time eating and both were dying an possibly getting infected. We pulled out the first one but he really wanted the second to fall out on its own.

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I should have taken a picture on my nice camera of his one ganky tooth--but this iPhone one will work! It was just ridiculous. Kind of twisted sideways--and not looking good at all. Also, I think he was dressed up like a secret agent.

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Eventually we pinned him down and pulled out the other one--promising him a Lego set if he cooperated. It seriously was starting to look infected! He did NOT think that was a good idea, but as soon as Sol popped it out he realized that he had been fussing for nothing. Sol really wanted to tie it to a doorknob to pull it out... Finley was not convinced. Finley's looking forward to the big teeth coming in so he can get back to eating apples--but in the meantime, we're enjoying the fact that Keaton and Finley are both slightly eating challenged!

Thursday, July 30

Trail West Family Camp

In early July, we went with a few other local families to the Young Life Family Camp in Buena Vista, CO--Trail West. We had so much fun! We drove, like we typically do because, hey! it was only 17 hours.  We stopped for lunch in Salida, CO which I deemed the Austin of the middle of Colorado and we loved it. It's on the river and had tons of cute restaurants... and a train. It was a great stop before we arrived at camp.

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We did lots of stuff at Trail West. These pictures aren't in any certain order--so I'll just comment on each activity. The camp was great at having a mix of scheduled and unscheduled time. There was time for family activities, kids activities and adult activities--and relaxing. We really could be as busy or relaxed as we wanted. I wasn't able to participate in many of the big activities... river rafting, ropes courses and horseback riding aren't great for pregnant ladies.

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We'll start with what Keaton hated the most--a small hike to the top of the mountain! This was towards the end of the week and all the boys were a bit rundown from the lack of sleep (sharing a small room with three small kids means... no one sleeps well) and Keaton rolled with it most of the time--except the hike. He literally cried the whole time, which is very much unlike him! Some of the kids' staff carried the kids up and down when they got too tired which was awesome. The view was awesome and the boys loved that there was still snow at the top!

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There were a few cowboy themed events--which was fun because we live in Texas and needed a chance to wear all our new western duds. Keaton got to wear Finley's outfit from his first birthday--glad the pearl snap onesie and boots could be reused!

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Finley took his role as a self-appointed bandit very seriously. He pretended to shoot basically everyone. He's actually wearing his belt from his first birthday in these pictures. Yes, he's a skinny fellow. The boys participated in a little rodeo and a western dance--they all loved dancing so much!

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This is a random assortment of pictures. There was a Christmas party. We trekked over to another Young Life property--Frontier Ranch--and got to use their pool and water slide. (It was too cold to swim but we did anyways.) And there was a family challenge where you had to do lots of activities and Sol was basically the only one of us with enough spunk to participate. Mama was tired.

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One morning we took a wagon ride out to the wrangler breakfast--which was just gorgeous! The boys did their best to catch french toast that was flung at them.

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We had a solid group from Beaumont on the trip--and got to dress up in nice clothes one night for a fancy grown up dinner with no kids!

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Look at that handsome man! I sure can pick them.

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I think the highlight for Sol was getting to go on a jeep tour of the area! He wants a jeep more than just about anything--so I think this was able to scratch that itch for awhile.

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Our destination in the jeeps was a ghost town--the main attraction was a bunch of chipmunks that the kids got to feed!

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I love this picture of Emily Claire and Braden--I told them to hug each other and this is what they did. Sweet kids. Finley desperately wanted the chipmunks to eat the seeds off his belly. I don't think he was successful.

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This family picture was taken right before Sol ruined Finley's life by accidentally dumping out all the sunflower seeds that he had smuggled in his hat. Whoops.

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Another activity I couldn't do--the ropes course! Sol was a huge trooper and carried Braden most of the way across. Braden did not understand the concept of holding on to Sol and made it very difficult to keep him safe!

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Because Sol got Braden to the other side, they got to do the zip line, which Braden LOVED. I think Sol's favorite thing in the world is ziplines so I'm glad he got to share that special moment with Braden.



Finley gave the ropes course his best effort--he was really nervous about it and did a really great job! When he fell off midway through he held on for a really long time before he finally dropped the line and let his rope catch him. Sperrys might not have been the best choice in footwear. Finley did a pretty good job climbing the climbing wall--he enjoyed that a little more.

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Camp ended on the Fourth of July--which meant we had a really great drive home, watching lots and lots of fireworks through the Panhandle of Texas.

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We had such a great time--relaxing with friends, playing with our boys, and catching up on sleep when we could. And the icing on the cake--we all got to hear great messages about Jesus. It was great to know that our kids were being prayed for and were in great care of leaders who love Jesus!

Thursday, July 16

Breakfast at Willy Burger

I mentioned int he previous post about eating in Austin--that after spending two weekends eating fun food in Austin, Sol forgot we lived in Beaumont and wanted to go get fun, hip stuff for breakfast. Willy Burger was about as good as we could do.

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We've been to Willy Burger a few times for lunch and dinner and we really enjoy it--they have great burgers and fries and a cute atmosphere. We barely made in time for breakfast--and I'm so glad we did! It was delicious. The boys and I loved our pancakes and Sol's breakfast sandwich was great. And they had chocolate milk.

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For the sake of the blog, I've been making a sincere attempt to take more pictures and post them even if they aren't perfect... it's tough to find time to pick up the camera with as many boys as are whizzing past me all the time, but they love looking back at all our memories and they aren't too discerning about white balance and stuff. So imperfect pictures it is. :) We have so much fun taking them places and enjoying time together--and fielding the inevitable questions about what kind of baby is in my belly. Spoiler alert: we still don't know.

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