Posted by: Tricia | April 6, 2016

Hattie’s Birth Story


On Friday, January 22, I went to my regularly scheduled midwife appointment. I was dilated to 4 cm and baby girl was sitting pretty low in my pelvis, but I hadn’t started having any contractions. After an entire pregnancy of keeping my blood pressure controlled it was finally elevated enough that the midwife and I talked about our options. She said I could a) head over to L&D and have the baby that night, or b) go home and rest and keep checking it. Before I left she stripped my membranes hoping that it would send me into labor on my own that afternoon. It was such a difficult decision to make! On the one hand, I was so tired of being pregnant and the thought of getting to meet our little girl that day was so tempting! But, on the other hand I had been hoping and praying that I would be able to go into labor on my own and do most of it at home. I was hoping to achieve my first natural labor, too. David and I talked about the pros and cons of both options. To have control of the situation, including getting to choose which midwife I would deliver with was a big plus. On the other hand, if I were to be induced it might eliminate my chances for a natural labor. After going home and giving it hours of consideration, and still no sign of labor starting, I called the midwife and let her know that we were just going to wait it out.

For the rest of the day Friday, and all day Saturday I didn’t have any contractions, but did have lots and lots of cramping due to the stripping of my membranes. I felt icky and was discouraged because I was really hoping that I would have gone into labor afterward just like I did with Benjamin. Along with the cramping I was also losing my mucous plus. A good sign, but still no signs of true labor. Also, my blood pressure continued to stay elevated. Finally, after worrying over it all day I decided to call the midwife. She instructed me to go to the hospital to be monitored. We were sure that this was it. We packed our bags thinking that there was no way they would send me home with high blood pressure. I was excited to be going to have the baby, but disappointed that I didn’t get to go into labor on my own. I was also a bit apprehensive to be starting the process out so late at night. I was already so tired. How was I going to endure laboring all night and attempt a natural birth with an induction?

We arrived at the hospital around 10 pm. Once they got me settled in and started checking my blood pressure we were shocked to see that it was perfectly normal! We could not believe the difference in readings. The midwife came and talked to us and said she really couldn’t justify inducing my birth at 38.6 weeks pregnant, and with no current problems. Had I been a day later she probably would have gone ahead with it. What a roller coaster! For the second time we were so close to having this baby! And, once again we were flooded with mixed emotions about it all. I was sad to not be meeting my baby soon and frustrated that we would now have two hospital admissions for insurance to deal with. But, I was certainly glad to get to go home and sleep in my own bed and glad for the chance to go into labor naturally. I got dressed and we headed back down the long hall not sure when we would be back again. By the time we left the hospital after midnight we were pretty hungry so we stopped and got ourselves a “second dinner” at Whataburger and ate it on the way home!

Sunday morning, January 24, I awoke with a different attitude. I decided to stop thinking that each day “would be the day”. Because we were out so late the night before we planned on skipping church and made it a laid back family day at home. We played and talked as a family in the play room with the sun beaming in through the windows. It was a nice morning and I felt so content. Around 10 am I noticed that I was having some contractions. They weren’t painful, but were definitely more than Braxton Hicks contractions and they were coming about every 10 minutes. I tidied up a bit around the house to see if they would keep coming and they did. At lunch I casually mentioned to David that I was having some contractions, but not to get his hopes up. I took an afternoon nap and was so disappointed to wake up 45 minutes later and discover that the contractions had all but stopped. I knew I didn’t want to go on like this all night long wondering if it was the real thing so I suggested that we all go on a walk when Benjamin got up from his nap. I timed the contractions as we were walking. They quickly progressed from 10 minutes apart at the beginning of the walk to 3 minutes apart by the time we returned about an hour later. At this point they were lasting 30-60 seconds, but I could still walk and talk through them. They were uncomfortable, but not terribly painful.


Such a terrible picture of me! But, hours before having a baby!

While David was taking care of the boys’ dinner I stayed in our bedroom and rolled on the exercise ball while watching tv to keep myself distracted. I hadn’t really been keeping David updated because I really didn’t want either of us to get too excited about anything. We had already had two close calls! It wasn’t until a couple of the boys ended up in our room during a contraction and I felt irritated by them that I realized things were starting to pick up. I headed out to the kitchen to tell David that it would be a big help if he could keep them out of the room and a few minutes later he came to keep me company. At this point my contractions were coming every 1-2 minutes and were increasing in intensity. I busied myself with packing a few last things and asked David if he had ever watched the youtube videos I’d sent him about comfort measures during child birth. He hadn’t but he quickly pulled them up and watched them while I sought relief on the ball. He was a fast learner because as soon as he started applying pressure to my lower back in the way that the videos instructed I felt so much better! It was about 6 pm now and David was getting a little concerned that we needed to leave soon. I, however, was just waiting for the contractions to get more painful! Wasn’t I supposed to wait until I couldn’t walk or talk through them? At his urging I decided it was probably best to give my mom a call since, after all, it would take her 45 minutes to get to our house.

By the time my mom arrived I was in a lot more pain. We were completely ready to walk out the door when she got there and that is basically what we did! After a quick “hi”, a contraction, and a “bye” we were on our way to the hospital to have a baby! In the car I had a much harder time getting comfortable, but the contractions eased off to 3 minutes apart. David wheeled me down the long L&D hallway and we began the process of getting admitted…again. My contractions were still 1-2 minutes apart and I was needing to stop talking and find something to lean on during them. They had me get into bed so that they could monitor the baby and my blood pressure for about 20 minutes. I could not get comfortable there and was looking forward to when I could get up and walk around again. Sure that I was dilating fast, I was anxious for the midwife to check my cervix. So you can imagine my disappointment when she said I was a 5. After all of those contractions! A 5 really!? I thought for sure that now I was doomed to be laboring for a long time in the hospital which I had tried so hard to avoid. Shortly after being checked my water broke on its own! This was a first for me, and made quite a mess when I eventually got out of the bed!

While getting checked in to our room I mentioned to them that I would like to attempt a natural birth and that I was interested in using the tub. So in between contractions the nurse walked us even further down the hall to the tub room where she had the bathwater already drawn. The water was warm and oh so relaxing! Upon getting in I immediately felt some relief. David was still giving great pressure on my back during contractions and I was still talking and happy in between. I figured that they would check my cervix again and if I wasn’t progressing as fast as I would like I might get out of the tub. I still wasn’t 100% sure I would make it without the epidural so I figured I would still have the chance to get one if the pain got to be too much. It was 7:15 pm. I asked David if the bag with our speaker for music was in the room and he said that it wasn’t and that he would go get it.


The tub! We thought it resembled a space ship!

While he was gone the contractions really increased in intensity. Part of this was probably due to the fact that I didn’t have my partner to give such great support. The midwife applied pressure to my back for several contractions, but it just wasn’t the same. She suggested that I turn from my hands and knees onto my back so that I could spray warm water on my abdomen. It was during this turn that everything changed. I only made it to my side before the pain became searing. It was all I could do to just lay there, hanging onto the side handles of the tub, with my eyes closed. I was also becoming quite vocal at this stage. I was already doing great with my breathing. It felt quite natural to take deep breaths in and slowly breathe them out. But, Katie, the midwife, instructed me to make low-pitched moans with my voice instead of high-pitched squeals. This helped tremendously! And, several times, when I forgot and began to squeal again she would say, “No. Mmmmmmmm. Mmmmmmmm.”, and I would get back on track. It was at this point that David came back into the room. He later said that it was then that he knew everything had changed. He tentatively asked me if I still wanted the music to which I quickly shot back at him a definite “No!” A few more minutes passed with David giving pressure on my back and me making cow-like noises with my eyes closed in the tub. I was still on my side, and all of a sudden I felt an extreme urge to push. I let Katie know and she did a quick check of my cervix. “Yes you do! You’re dilated to 10!” I could not believe it! So many thoughts were swirling in my head! Wait…this was really happening. There was no going back. It was time to push and I was going to have this baby in the tub. Now. Without an epidural!

Somehow I got positioned on my back and held on for dear life to the tub handles and PUSHED! It hurt like the dickens! But, the most remarkable thing about this stage of labor without an epidural was that my body was doing it all by itself! When a contraction came my body responded with a push so powerful that I could not have stopped even if someone had tried to force me to. For lack of a better comparison I likened it to vomiting. My body had taken over and it was amazing and frightening all at the same time. Equally frightening were the guttural screams coming from my core! I am sure that everyone in L&D could hear me! A few pushes later and SHE was here at 8:32 pm! Our little GIRL, Hattie Kate, had arrived in the most amazing way, and she was perfect!



Unbeknownst to me Hattie’s heart rate had begun to dip while I was pushing so Katie was anxious to get her out quickly. She was born with the cord wrapped around her neck. And, once the placenta delivered we discovered that the umbilical cord had a true knot in it! It’s a miracle that she didn’t have more problems because of these things.


David got to cut the cord, just like he did with Benjamin. After I held her skin to skin for a few minutes the nurse handed her to him to do the same while they got me cleaned up. It was an amazing feeling to be able to stand up after giving birth and walk into the next room to the bed! What a difference from all of the other births!

Hattie’s birth was so special in so many ways. We still laugh about the fact that we didn’t make a big deal about the contractions all day. We were on a walk and had no clue that 4 hours later we would be holding our sweet baby girl! I will always, always remember and be thankful for the fast labor that I had prayed for throughout the pregnancy. And, to be able to say that “I did that!”. To have gone through labor and child birth without meds is an amazing accomplishment and I will always be proud that I was able to do it. My only regret is that I didn’t have this experience with any of my other labors!


Posted by: Tricia | July 11, 2015

Washington D.C. – Day 3

Day 3: Einstein, Lincoln, Smithsonian, & Union Station to name a few!

Day 3 in D.C. was packed full! I am so proud of how we pushed through and got to see so much in such a short time! The night before we decided the best way to get to the area of town where we wanted to be was to ride the city bus rather than the metro.

Excited to ride on a real city bus!


Although I was a bit intimidated to wander away from the familiarity of the metro the bus ended up being perfect and the boys were thrilled to try out yet another form of transportation. It dropped us off a block from the Lincoln Memorial and saved us the near-mile trek down the National Mall that we had already done the first day. Twice.

I absolutely loved the Lincoln Memorial! We all did. The architecture is truly stunning. The boys loved climbing the stairs and Benjamin didn’t stop talking about “Abwaham Winkin” for the rest of our trip. He would see his face around town and quickly point him out to us.







From there we walked toward the Vietnam Veteran Memorial. What a sobering experience to see just how many lost their lives in Vietnam.



At the Einstein Memorial we were joined by a school trip group of 4th graders from the midwest. The boys had a blast climbing all over him!



We couldn’t believe our luck when we discovered that a brand new circulator bus line route that would go from the Einstein Memorial to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History would be opening up…the very next day. There was no way around it, so we started the mile long walk up the National Mall to get to our next stop.

Handsome hunk and a snoozing baby in the Ergo


Rather than pay for overpriced museum food we decided that this food truck had just the right lunch for us! The five of us ate for $18. We thought this was a steal! Until we said “yest” to requests for ice cream that cost us another $12. Still, $30 for a family of five to eat AND get dessert. Not bad!




It was a long walk, but we finally made it! Elliott walked the whole time we were in D.C. with very little complaining. He even pushed the stroller some to help out. What a trooper!


This guy has been in a few movies!


Once again we were in a museum that was HUGE! We could have spent days here, but we still managed to whiz through and see a lot while we were there. My favorite exhibit was the ocean room. Elliott continues to amaze us with his ability to retain information. He was sharing facts with us that weren’t even listed in the exhibits. At one point I told him to go find out something he didn’t already know and come back to me. It took him a while to accomplish the task!


Prehistoric shark jawbone. Yikes!


Freaky vampire squid!


There was an entire exhibit devoted to these amazing fossils found all over the world. I had never seen such well preserved fossils and was amazed at how many were found right here in America.


We saw a neat bird exhibit, a mammals exhibit that included the evolution of man, a dinosaur/archeology exhibit, and practically an entire floor devoted to rocks and gems. We wound our way through the rooms on a mission to find none other than the Hope Diamond. Once we made our way past the crowds surrounding its case we finally got a glimpse. Pretty amazing.


As if we hadn’t already seen enough for one day we decided to squeeze in one more museum! The National Building Museum was one of the few things we had to pay for, but I had a Groupon. A lot of the sites I looked at recommended it for young children because it has several hands on play areas. One of my favorite things about this place was that we practically had it to ourselves! This was a nice change from the crowds we experienced at the zoo and the Smithsonian.


Of course the architecture inside the National Building Museum would be beautiful.


Trying to figure out what to do with all of the blue!



Overall, the museum was a fun addition to the trip. I’m not sure I would pay full price to go again, but it was definitely worth seeing once for a discounted price. And, it was a nice break not having to worry about losing the kids in the masses!

Finally, as the day was coming to a close we went out of our way to check out the famous Union Station. We had to do several line color changes on the metro during rush hour which felt like an adventure, but it was definitely worth it! We had dinner in the basement food court. Well, most of us did anyway.

Snoozing again


After dinner we headed upstairs to check out the rest of the station. It was neat watching the hustle and bustle of the people making their way to their destinations. Finally, it was time for us to ride the metro one last time back to our side of town for our nightly swim!


While in D.C. we were able to cover so much ground considering we had three small children with us. If we had had more time we would have loved to have visited Mt. Vernon, gone paddle boating in the tidal basin, and visit the capitol and a few more monuments. We could not have been happier with our three days there! I never expected to love it as much as I did, and I never expected the boys to be such a breeze while we were there. They were truly amazing and we made memories to last a lifetime!

Posted by: Tricia | July 11, 2015

Washington D.C. – Day 2

Day 2: The White House and Pandas!

After an amazing breakfast at the hotel (Embassy Suites never disappoints!) we headed out for day number 2 of exploring D.C.! Rather than take the metro we decided to walk the 0.7 miles to the White House so that we could take in more of the city. There are regulations that prevent skyscrapers from being built so most of the buildings are fairly short and unintimidating. I think this added to the homey feeling of the city that I wasn’t quite expecting. That, paired with nice people and it being an easy city to navigate made us feel really comfortable there. As we neared downtown and got closer to the White House the buildings did change a bit from Georgetown where our hotel was.

I thought this design was particularly odd! I love that the old buildings are still in tact right in the middle of the more modern ones.


We passed the Treasury Department on our way there


At last we made it to the President’s house! I could not get over how different it felt to be there. All my life I’ve seen it on TV, movies, and in books and it just didn’t feel the same. There were more trees and shade than I expected. And, I didn’t realize that there is a big grassy park directly across the street from it. Also, it did seem smaller in person. Because we only had three days to spend in D.C. we opted not to take the tour inside. If we ever make it back there when the kids are older I would love to do that.

A family photo outside was all that we needed to prove we were there!


The boys weren’t overly impressed with the White House. They were anxious to make it to our next stop, the National Zoo! We made it to the metro station nearest to the zoo and were all impressed by the looooong escalator ride up to the street level! We were not so impressed on our trip back to find that the escalator had quit working. We had to climb the long trek down with a stroller in tow!


How Benjamin usually rode the escalators


When I was researching places to visit in D.C. at first I wasn’t sure about the zoo. After all, it is just a zoo. But, two things about it changed my mind: it’s free and they have pandas!


It goes without saying that Benjamin was super excited to see some pandas in real life. We had watched these pandas a few times on a live video feed at home and we couldn’t wait to get there and see what they were up to. They had a fantastic outdoor habitat, but were nowhere to be found. When we asked the zookeeper she told us that it was too hot for them outside and that we could find them inside. We followed them from room to room admiring them and all of their cuteness. Benjamin’s panda even got a good look!


So cuddly and cute!


Outside the Small Mammal House


Cute lil guy


On the farm


Poison dart frog in the amphibian house


Bug made of bugs!


One of Elliott’s favorites, the piranha 


The zoo was HUGE and had a ton of exhibits. Also, it was built on a hill. A very steep hill. It didn’t take us long to realize that we were doing great walking down, but that at the end of the day there was no way we would want to climb back up to the front entrance. Luckily, we asked and found out that there was a shuttle available to take us most of the way back up. We all thought the National Zoo was great. It was hot and hilly, but it was a nice way to break up our visits to museums and do something that was outside a bit different.


We stopped at 7-11 across the street from the zoo and treated ourselves to slurpees and ice cream for the long walk back to the metro. That evening we grabbed a bit to eat at a Potbelly around the corner from the hotel and enjoyed our nightly swim. Two days down, and one to go!

Posted by: Tricia | July 9, 2015

Washington D.C. – Day 1

In June our family got to take a 10 day vacation to see Uncle Luke, Aunt Krista, and the six cousins on the East Coast. Two years ago, we started what we hope will be a biannual tradition of meeting up with them for a summer vacation. Last time it was country lake living in Tennessee and this time we were beach bound for Ocean City, Maryland! Once plans were in motion David and I decided it would be too much of a shame to be so near to D.C. and not pay it a visit. Months before we left I began scouring the internet for the best sites to see and tips for visiting D.C. with little kids in just three days. I researched and planned and mapped and pinned lots of ideas! Vacation planning is one of my favorite things to do and I enjoyed every minute of it! And, as you can imagine, our little information-aholic, Elliott, could not have been more thrilled at the prospect of spending three days in a city busting at the seams with museums!

Day 1: Planes, trains, & Automobiles!

After much anticipation, the day finally arrived for us to take flight! We woke the kids bright and early and loaded them into the van at 4:45am. They were already dressed for the day when they went to bed, making it a really easy transition. We thought that they might snooze on the way to the airport shuttle, but they were all abuzz on the drive there. Benjamin and Jude especially loved riding the bumpy “polka-dot” bus to the airport.

Each boy, even Benjamin, carried his own backpack with all of their busy activities and snacks for the trip. If they wanted to bring it they had to carry it. Plus, the big boys carried their own booster seats through the airport until we could check them at the gate. David and I had our hands full with luggage, a car seat, and a stroller.

Checking out our ride to D.C.


We grabbed a bite to eat for breakfast in the airport and then it was time to board the plane! We hadn’t really talked about seating arrangements, but once on board the boys all piled in next to each other tickled to be with one another. David and I looked at each other in amazement and smiled at the thought of getting riding next to each other without children separating us!


The boys did fantastic on the flight there! They are all at an age where movies, books, and coloring are plenty to keep them occupied. Without an itty bitty around there was no need for minute to minute busy activities and walking the aisles to count the minutes down until landing! Jude and Benjamin particularly loved taking off. “We’re flying, we’re flying” they would shout!


After only 3 1/2 hours we arrived in DC! We caught a minivan taxi cab easily and were off to the hotel! We really enjoyed seeing some of the sights as we made our way into town, and the cab driver was happy to tell us a little about some of them, too.

We arrived at the hotel around lunch time and were told that our room was ready early. Of course, we also checked out the lobby. Low and behold, there was a giant panda in our midst! Benjamin was over the moon!


Taking the elevators up to our room on the 8th floor was always a big hit


The view from our floor


Checking out the Koi Pond


For lunch we stopped at a cool hamburger joint called Burger Tap and Shake and chowed down! We all got milkshakes that were to die for, too. Poor Benjamin was wiped out and totally missed lunch though!

Snoozing through lunch



David’s burger! Wowza!


Our next stop: the metro! I was a bit nervous about traveling with three young children on the metro. I pictured doors opening fast, people moving fast, not knowing when to get off, looking like clueless tourists and frustrating the locals. And, lets face it, fast is not exactly our speed. But, with the help of some great online tutorial videos that I watched before the trip I felt like we were as prepared as we could be. As it turns out, the Metro was awesome! It was clean, the maps were easy to follow, people were helpful, and it was a super convenient and affordable way to travel around the city.

In one day we traveled by car, bus, plane, cab, and train!




First stop: The National Air & Space Museum!


I hadn’t originally worked this one into our plans, but when Elliott specifically asked to go I decided we could squeeze it in on our first day there. We were all pretty exhausted, but our excitement kept us going. This museum was HUGE! There was no way we could see it all in one afternoon, but we managed to cover quite a bit nonetheless. There were so many interesting things to see and do. A lot of it was over Jude and Benjamin’s heads, but Elliott certainly enjoyed himself. His favorite room was the exhibit on the Wright Brothers. It was extra special for him to get to see all of the things he had been learning about in 2nd grade. Even though I didn’t get a picture of it, I particularly enjoyed the room with World War II planes and soldiers’ uniforms from around the world.











Sculpture outside of the Air & Space Museum


From the Air & Space museum we made our way across the National Mall to the famous National Mall Carousel. We grabbed a snack and had the ride to ourselves! Jude was so proud that he got to ride the dragon!


We were a little bummed that a huge portion of the National Mall looked like this. I suppose there is always construction somewhere in D.C.


Before the trip I ordered this book for Elliott to take around with him. It was perfect for him and he really enjoyed checking off the boxes as we went!

Cutest little tourist ever


As we were heading back to the metro we caught a glimpse of the Washington Monument. On a whim we decided to go for it and make the trek down the rest of the National Mall towards it. The closer we got the more we knew that we just had to make it all the way. We were all so impressed with how much bigger it is up close.



Shortly after arriving I looked over at Jude sitting on a wall to find him dozing off. I plopped him down in the stroller and he took a long nap. At this point he had been awake since 4:30 am! He missed the Washington Monument, but got some much needed rest instead!


Elliott had me time how fast he could run around the base. He made it back in 24 seconds flat!


It really is such a majestic monument. It was definitely one of my favorite parts of the trip.


Best buds


With Jude in the stroller and nearly a mile away from the metro station it was time for David to test out the Ergo. I am SO thankful that we brought it along. Benjamin rode in it every day quite a bit so that Jude could rest in the stroller some. He even took a few naps in there!


We got very good at obeying traffic signals and racing the crosswalk clocks!


One of the many embassies we saw while in D.C.


What to do at the end of a long day of traveling and sight-seeing when you’re tired, hot, and hungry, but still excited to be on vacation? Go swimming in the hotel pool, of course!


And, that’s exactly what we did. Every. Single. Night. We had a blast doing it, too! The indoor pool was warm and relaxing and just what we needed that night. David ordered a pizza that we ate by the pool and then it was off to bed to rest up for Day 2!

Posted by: Tricia | May 27, 2015


Elliott has always been a great speller. He thinks it’s a fun game to be quizzed on spelling words, both those that he’s heard of and even those that are a challenge. But, we were still shocked when he came home from school one day in first grade and told us that he’d won his class spelling bee, thereby securing a spot in his school’s spelling bee. He further blew us away on the day of the even when he out spelled the other first, second, third, and fourth graders. Not to mention a few students that were even older!

Fast forward one year and this kid is still spelling strong. He won his class spelling bee yet again and made it to the school’s spelling bee. Unbeknownst to me they students grades 1-6 are all lined up and quizzed on the same set of words for grades 1-9. Each round the words get increasingly harder. I thought that they would just be quizzed on words appropriate for their grade level. Had we known this, Elliott would have no doubt begged me to quiz him over the entire list of words all the way through to ninth grade!

Even so, he did exceptionally well. He made it through 7 rounds of words: neat, fixed, sesame, tulip, snide, squirm, dim sum, and finally out on savvy (which he spelled savy). He outlasted more than half of the kids, placing 8th out of 24! And, he did it all with such composure. This kid has nerves of steel and I have no idea where he got them from! I would have been a nervous wreck!

We could not have been more proud!


The cutest little spelling bee contestant #7


Proud Mama

Posted by: Tricia | November 12, 2014


They say that these little years are going to fly by. They say that before I know it they’ll be teenagers and I’ll be begging them to share about their day. They say that I am going to miss this. And, I believe them. Most days that is. When Elliott was an only child somehow I found the time to blog about it every time he blinked! Times have changed. Life is busy and we are busy just living life. I wish I could capture every little moment, or even the big ones for that matter, on camera. I wish I could know, without a doubt, that these times would stay in my memory forever. Neither of these are realistic, so I am going to start with a few tidbits.  It’s not much, but here’s a start. The boys say funny and sweet things every day. Here are a few from this week.

*As I was driving alone in the car with just Benjamin I decided to quiz him on his animal sounds. I was surprised at how many he actually got right. When we came to “what does a sheep say?” He answered very confidently, “BAA RAM EWE!”. I am still laughing about this. Apparently the movie, Babe, was quite influential in teaching him about sheep.

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*The weather is finally cooling off enough around here and we had to don our winter coats the other day. As I was helping Benjamin into his puffer coat he asked, “It snowing?”. Cute. Cute. Cute.

*Jude attends Hulen Street Church for preschool. Or, as he lovingly refers to it, “Human Street Church”. Makes us giggle every time he says it.


*While I was putting Jude down for his nap a few days ago he snuggled in close and stroked my face. He pulled away to look at me for a second and I assumed it was because I had smelly breath (the boys are always quick to point out an offensive smell!) But, when I asked what he was doing he said, “I just like the way you feel.” So sweet. Perhaps they won’t feel the same when they are teenagers and grown, but for now, it feels nice to be loved.


Posted by: Tricia | June 9, 2014

Mother Daughter Getaway!

Every year my mom and I get together for lunch on each other’s birthday.  It’s a tradition that we started only three years ago, but I look forward to it so much each time.  It’s a chance for just the two of us to sit and talk without any interruptions.  Last year at my mom’s birthday lunch in May we started talking and dreaming about a mother/daughter getaway!  We talked about going to Europe, but in the end with just 4 days to spend away, we decided that what we needed was a relaxing trip to the beach!  Barbados was chosen as the destination and we couldn’t have been more excited! 6 months felt like forever, but it was so worth the wait!  Finally, November arrived and we headed off to the airport anxious to start our vacation!

Grabbing a bite to eat in the airport sans kiddos!  Whoo hoo!

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We talked for the majority of the plane ride there.  We had lots of catching up to do!  We had a brief layover in Miami where we relaxed and snacked in the Captain’s club.  Not long after we were taxiing into the Barbados airport!  We arrived at night but had no troubles getting to our hotel and checking in.

When we left Dallas it was in the 30s and when we arrived in Barbados it was in the 80s.  Needless to say it was interesting trying to dress appropriately for both locations!

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The next morning we woke up to THIS!!!!!  Ahhhh.  What a view!  The beach at the Hilton Barbados was amazing.  I loved that they had the long line of rocks to break the waves.  And, the extra swimming beach off to the right was perfect for a relaxing dip in the sea.  The waves would crash up and over the big rocks creating little puddles in the sand that were just perfect for itty bitty kids to play in.  Although I was soaking up every bit of kid-free time I had in Barbados I couldn’t help imagining the boys having a blast playing in those puddles on the beach there.

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Our first day there we had a leisurely breakfast in the hotel dining room with a gorgeous view. After a full day of traveling the day before we decided that we wanted to relax on the beach and by the pool.  We saved the rest of the trip for exploring the island.

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We ventured away from the hotel for dinner that night.  We weren’t headed far, but when you’re driving on the left side of the road things can get a little exciting!  We accidentally turned down a one way street (there weren’t signs!!) and got honked at.  I’m sure the locals were rolling their eyes in disgust at us crazy tourists.  The place we chose ended up being more of a beach bar setting, but it was nice nonetheless and the food was quite good. After we ate we enjoyed a nice walk along the beach and watched the sunset.

View from our table at the beach restaurant

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Day 2 we planned to explore the island!  Once again, I think both of our nerves were a little on edge due to the unfamiliarity of driving on the “wrong” side of the road and not knowing where we were going.  We worked together as a team, though, and managed to survive a full day of driving around the island.  Never mind that part of our piece of junk rental car totally broke off and had to be duct taped back on because of how bumpy the roads were.

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Our first stop was the Barbados Wildlife Reserve.  We had heard good things about this place and were hoping to catch a glimpse of some green monkeys during feeding time.

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We started out down a hiking path and wandered around for a bit. We were both a bit disappointed because there were no monkeys to be seen!  There were lots and lots of cool snail shells though.

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We hiked down the hills to the bottom and came back up again just in time.  It was feeding time and the monkeys knew it!  At first there were just a few, and then more and more began to gather around us.

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This gentleman cut up lots and lots of potatoes, sweet potatoes, and bananas among other things for the monkeys to eat.  They were not at all shy and would take the food right out of our hands.

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They were so cute and the man was very informative about them.  Apparently the green monkey can only be found on the island of Barbados.  They are actually a nuisance at times to farmers because they will destroy the crops they have worked hard to grow.  Also, they travel in family packs.  One of my favorite things to watch while we were with the monkeys was this little baby monkey begging to nurse.  He would try to make a move inside to get to his mama’s milk and she would swat him away.  He tried and tried until finally she gave in.  It reminded me of how things are with human children!  I guess all species of children can be quite persistent at times when they have something on their minds when they are trying to get what they want!!

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After spending quite a while with the monkeys we made our way over to the rest of the reserve where we were in for another treat.  This place was so simple yet so cool!  There were hundreds of tortoises milling around in the pathways as well as a few peacocks, giant rabbits, iguanas, and deer.  There was also a small display of macaws and a few snakes.  Once again, I couldn’t help thinking that the boys would have absolutely loved this place!

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While we were there we saw a little group of school children on a field trip.  They were so sweet and fun to talk to.  They seemed to be having such a good time.

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We stopped for lunch at a local restaurant on that side of the island. I tried Barbados’s Banks beer and it was actually quite good!

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After lunch we headed up some more bumpy roads to check out what turned out to be a fantastic view!  While we were there we met a friendly local, Leroy, and bought some souvenirs from him to take home with us.

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After being out all day we decided to stay close to the hotel for dinner.  Just two minutes down the road there was a Mediterranean shack, for lack of a better word.  The food was delicious and we learned that the owner had moved to Barbados from Syria about 20 years prior.

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Our entertainment for the evening consisted of playing cards while indulging in sweet treats with the balcony door open so that we could hear the sounds of the ocean waves in the background.  Hooray for vacation!

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Our last day in Barbados we started out early for a half-day snorkel excursion. The boat was small and we were joined only by a daughter and her parents from England.  And, of course, Charlie, the captain!  The people from England were super nice.  It turned out that the daughter had three children of her own back at home and the two of us got along fabulously.  Her parents were fun to talk to as well.  Never mind that I made a complete fool of myself when I asked if they would be traveling back home to England in time for Thanksgiving.  As the words were coming out of my mouth a realized my mistake, but what’s done is done!  They looked a little perplexed but were nice enough about it.  Silly Americans.

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We stopped at several places to snorkel, but the highlight of  the trip was most definitely getting to swim with the sea turtles.  Charlie had bits of chicken that he used to entice them into coming closer.  It was neat getting to see them so close.  I was even able to reach out and touch one as he swam past me.

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Captain Charlie served the five of us lunch out of this tiny kitchen!  It tasted soooo good after a day of swimming.  Oh, and of course the bar was open all day as well!

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Back at the hotel we decided that we wanted log some more beach time before heading home early the next morning.  I couldn’t help but feel a little sad that this was going to be the last time I would see the ocean for a long time.  I was soaking it all in…the sand, the waves, the smell, the colors, the sounds, the sunset!  We did a little beach combing and found some neat things to take back to the boys.  We watched the sun set and that was it!

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We managed to eat conservatively most of the time while we were in Barbados.  But, our last night there we decided to go all out and eat at the fancy hotel restaurant.  They even had menus that were back lit so that we could read them in the dark!

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It was a wonderful trip.  A much needed getaway.  And, the best part is that I got to share it with my mom.  I am so thankful for her.  She is generous and wise and funny and an amazing person all around.  I hope there will be many more mother-daughter getaways in our future!

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Bye, bye, Barbados!  You were amazing!

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Posted by: Tricia | November 6, 2013


I had the best day on my birthday this year! Summer is always busy for us, but with a trip out of the country and a trip out of the state soon after we decided to have a relaxed family day on my birthday.  It was perfect!  I told David that I wanted to brave the Modern Art Museum with the kids.  I think we were both a little worried that they would be too wild but I was determined to do something different and a little more geared toward grown-ups on my special day.

We met up with Nonnie and the boys were enthralled with the sculptures in the parking lot.


Once inside, we laid down the law and the boys were actually quite well behaved.  The docents were nervous and watched us like hawks, but I was so proud of them for making it through the entire museum and enjoying it, too!



There weren’t many people there so it was easy to keep up with our kids!


We stumbled upon this grassy area about half way through our visit.  The timing couldn’t have been more perfect for our little wiggle worms who needed to run and play and TOUCH for a few minutes!


We all loved this painting of the scene at Noah’s ark.


Handsome soon to be 6 year old looking so grown up.


Benjamin went along for the ride!


For lunch I chose Chuy’s.  It was delicious and a great time was had by all!  I was able to snap a few precious pics of this sweet boy while we waited for David to bring the car around afterward.



Back at home David graciously took care of the boys and allowed me to venture back out ALONE to do some shopping.  It was heaven!  I was able to look around leisurely at Anthropologie (a store I had never been in) and use a gift card from my Aunt Julie.  Did I mention that it was heaven?  I fell in love with their kitchenware and snagged myself a cute little initial mug, 4 adorable bowls, and a candle that makes my home smell fantastic!

Later that night Janet came over to watch the boys and David and I got to have sushi for dinner.  It was perfect!  The whole day…absolutely perfect.  I am so blessed to have such wonderful people in my life who love me and treat me so well.

And, as if that day wasn’t enough fun, my mom also treated me to a special lunch followed by a trip to the thrift store the Sunday after my birthday.  This was the third time we have met for a mother-daughter birthday celebratory lunch and shopping date so we both agreed that it will have to be a tradition from here on out!  It is so special to have a meal with just my mom where we can talk uninterrupted by little ones.  And, we both LOVE to find a good deal and rummage through things at the thrift store so it is something that I will look forward to every May and July very much!


Posted by: Tricia | November 6, 2013

Cassie & Derek tie the knot!

This summer we had the great privilege of attending the wedding of the century!  Cassie was the last of our group of girlfriends to get married and to top it off, she and Derek planned a destination beach wedding in the Dominican Republic!  Thanks to my mom generously giving us her airline miles and her hotel points  for our first night in Miami we were able to attend and only pay for our hotel room and any other incidentals while we were away.

My mom also did the majority of looking after the boys which is no easy task!

The flight schedule worked best for us to spend the first night away in Miami.  We got in late, but didn’t hesitate to use our free drink voucher for the evening.  We were so excited to have some time alone where we could converse without being interrupted!


The next day we were up bright and early for a wonderful breakfast at the hotel and then it was off to the airport to wait to board our flight to the Dominican.


Excitement was building as we descended and could see the gorgeous blue hues of the ocean!


The DR airport was so adorable and tropical.  We exited the plane outside of course and found our way into customs.  There was a groovy drum band playing while we all snaked through the customs line which made the experience much more fun.  They were quick, too!

Check out the little air traffic control tower there behind the ever so tropical grass roofs!



Once at the hotel we didn’t waste any time getting into our swimsuits and hooking up with friends who were already there.  Poor Jeff and Justin were fighting some kind of food poisoning that we were fortunate enough to fight off until the last night we were there.  Later we found out that the culprit was most likely an amoeba.  Yuck.




Our room was perfect!  We were on the first floor which meant that we had a patio with its own jacuzzi tub and a couple of very comfortable lounge chairs.  One of the best parts about the hotel is the pool that snakes its way through the resort giving everyone a “step out your door and into the pool” atmosphere.  Being on the first floor, we could literally do this!  It was paradise!




Champagne and a jacuzzi bath!



The view from one of the resort restaurants


After lunch we hurried off to the beach.  Ahhhhh!  Those white sands….those blue waters.  It doesn’t get much better than this!


We arrived in the DR on the fourth of July.  Being in another country we weren’t sure if there would be any sort of festivities, but we were wrong!  This place went all out for Americans!  They had a huge event happening in the courtyard with food, a karaoke contest, and lots of music.  They even had a replica of the statue of liberty!


The next day we had the entire day to laze around and enjoy the beautiful scenery.  We spent the morning at the beach and the rest of the afternoon at the pool.  Our resort was a bit of a party place and one day we got caught up in a foam pool party!  It was so much fun…I’m pretty sure we were too old to be having so much fun with it, but it was fun, nonetheless.



We visited the swim up bar frequently and drank enough Mamajuana to last us a lifetime!






The guys signed up for the volleyball tournament and needed an extra player.  Stacey was a true sport and happily joined in.  It was a really exciting match!  Our guys did quite well actually and made it to the championship game.  David turned out to be an excellent server and scored a lot of points for the team.



Friday night we attended the rehearsal dinner and had a lovely meal with all of Cassie and Derek’s family.  There was not an official wedding rehearsal but we all found ourselves walking toward the beach and decided to orchestrate our own impromptu practice!  It was so much fun and a sweet memory to hold on to.

The next day was wedding day!  After grabbing a quick brunch with David I headed over to Mrs. Debbie’s suite to begin getting prettied up for the wedding.  All day long, I couldn’t help thinking about how we were never going to be doing this again.  Going through all of the steps of having a wedding for each friend has been such a fun chapter in our lives.  I will certainly miss it, but will hold on to so many sweet memories!

The beautiful bride


Absolutely stunning!




The wedding was perfect!  The beach was breathtaking just like the bride.  The pictures that the photographer took were amazing.  I wish I could include them here!

Mr. & Mrs. Blackwell after the wedding!


Cassie switched out her white sash for her coral pink party sash and we were off to the boat reception!


The bus ride was long and bumpy and when we finally made it to the beach we were all surprised to find this little boat waiting for us!  Peering out toward the bigger boats in the water we were wondering which boat could hold us all for a wedding reception!  We all managed to make it across in our wedding clothes without falling in and were pleasantly surprised to find ourselves aboard a beautifully decorated two-story reception boat.  Everything was just perfect!

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David and I chowed down on our dinner and both agreed that it was the best food we had the entire trip!  After dinner the tables were pushed aside so that we could dance the night away!  We pulled off our last bridesmaids’ dance without a hitch and Cassie was definitely the star of the show.  It was so much fun…so much so that I really did not want to get off that boat!


We had the entire day after the wedding to relax before heading home super early the next morning.  The guys made up some pool games to entertain themselves.  Silly boys.   And, we joined the Parkers on what turned out to be the longest beach walk ever to go buy souvenirs from the locals.  It was fun, but walking for over an hour in the sand is quite a work out on your legs!


After our long walk on the beach we were surprised to come back to our room and find this waiting for us!  We thought they’d made a mistake, but apparently everyone received one.  Honeymoon or not, we gobbled it up!


We all met for dinner at the French restaurant at the resort our last night there.  The food was nothing to write home about, but sharing the evening with these friends made it all worthwhile!




I still cannot say how much this trip meant to me.  What a special treat and wonderful life we live to get to do things like this!  I am so thankful for my friends and the memories we made that will last a lifetime.

Posted by: Tricia | October 21, 2013

He’s 6!!


Six years old…time is flying by!  Elliott’s birthday occurred in the middle of the  work week this year but we didn’t let the day go unnoticed!

Of course, the day began with the birthday boy waking up to his very own birthday streamers – a tradition passed down from David’s family.


And, what kind of birthday would be complete without a tasty breakfast?  Cinnamon rolls and eggs were served up in style and with a candle for this sweet 6 year old.


Gifts from mom and dad followed.  David and I figured that since Elliott is a reading machine that it was definitely time to buy him his very own Bible.  David did lots of research and finally decided on the Grow Bible.  It’s fantastic.  It’s got lots of pictures and extra information boxes, along with maps.  But, it’s also got the complete scripture.  He has enjoyed reading through it, and bringing it with him to church.


After breakfast we headed out to pick up Nonnie on our way to the Omni to see a film about the ocean.  We ate a picnic lunch in the courtyard leaving us just enough time to make it to the theater and climb all the way to the top where we found our seats!  Nonnie treated everyone with popcorn and Benjamin surprised us all by sitting through the entire movie!  Everyone “oohed and ahhed” over the beautiful scenes, and the birthday boy sat, intrigued, the whole time!


We left the omni and headed over to a cute little candy shop called Pop Corn ‘n’ Ice Cream for dessert.  We were the only ones in the shop so we got to sit in the coveted elevated truck bed booth.  Here, Nonnie gifted Elliott with a super cool Herocia Lego game that he had been asking for and a very, very special treasure box that belonged to Papa.  Inside the box she put a magnifying glass and a tin box full of unique and vintage coins.  This gift was perfect for Elliott!  Since then we have added a lock and he puts all of his “treasures” that he finds in the box as well.  As a mom trying to stay as neat and organized as I can with three young boys in the house I appreciated this gift for other reasons!  Elliott is always bringing home random items from nature or little trinkets that he doesn’t want his little brothers to get their hands on and it’s always been a challenge trying to find the best place to put them.  For several years he used a cardboard treasure box from VBS that had long lost its decorative jewels and looked quite junky to be honest.  This special box is not only practical and  a sweet reminder of a man who we loved dearly and will miss greatly, but it’s also beautiful!



Jude was happy to celebrate and partake in some ice cream!


Nonnie also treated the boys to a bag of candy.  Talk about sugar overload!  This little shop is so cute.  The boys loved going around and using the shovels to scoop up the candy that they wanted.


Benjamin enjoyed getting his hands on some wrapped candy that he could reach!


The celebrating didn’t stop there, though!  For dinner, we let the birthday boy choose the restaurant.  We were not surprised at all when he declared Pizza Inn our destination!

This is not a great picture, what with Elliott’s stunned/unhappy expression and Jude running across the parking lot, but it’s all I’ve got!


After filling our bellies we headed over to the pet store so that he could pick out his very own pet fish!  Elliott was considering getting a turtle for a pet, but when we did a little research and discovered that they aren’t the best pets he decided that he’d like to have some fish.  This was the big gift from David and me.  A few days earlier our friend, Brandon, who is an aquarium expert, came over and helped Elliott set up his very own aquarium.  He instructed us to wait a few days before adding the fish so we figured timing it with his birthday would be the perfect day to introduce them to their new home.  Brandon recommended starting with Platys so Elliott chose 4 and named them all that night.  Sadly, Mr. Mickey Mouse passed away shortly after we added him to the tank.  A few weeks later we came home from being out of town to find Scaredy Waredy floating lifeless in the tank as well.  But, several months later, we are still really enjoying King and Dancey Pants.  Dancey Pants is a show stopper, swimming up and down fast – hence the name Dancey Pants.  And, King is named King because he seemed to rule the roost from the moment he was let loose in the tank.  Our plan is to keep adding more species to the tank.  Frogs, snails, sucker fish, and more colorful fish are on the list!

Proud 6 year old and his new pets – looking so grown up here!

This was a perfect day spend celebrating a perfect 6 year old!  I just can’t get over how COOL this kid is.  How fortunate we are to get to know him and love him and have him as our own!

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