Category Archives: my life

Featured on Inspired By This and where the heck I’ve been

I am SO incredibly honored to be featured on Inspired By This today as part of their working mom series. This whole working from home with my boys thing has been quite a journey- from my wedding planning days and now into my etsy business- and I loved getting to share about what I have learned and what life looks like these days.

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Being a mom is the best thing ever and I am so thankful to have a creative outlet that I can do from home that enables me to chase them around, play legos and help at school while bringing in a bit of income for our family.

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Thank you to the ladies at Be Inspired PR for the sweet post & to Megan Ann for the fun photos of our little fam!

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I also wanted to apologize for the silence over the past month. Between working like crazy to get ready for maternity leave, a trip to New York, trying to prep for baby and tons of activities with friends and family, my blog got put on the back burner. Posts will continue to be slow around here as our new little guy will be here in 3 weeks or less!

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All custom orders have been finished and shipped out. We will not be taking custom orders again until early June. In the meantime, all products that are ready to ship will still be available for purchase in our shop. I will be listing more flags and mini banners tomorrow.

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I also have a couple of Easter/Spring banners left and I am going to do a little Instasale with them tomorrow. Follow @courttoney if you are interested in purchasing.

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Have a lovely Monday everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

InstaFriday!

This week’s instafriday post is going to be short and sweet. I didn’t take or share many photos this week, not for any specific reason- some weeks I just don’t have my phone out that much. And I’m okay with that :)

 

I still want to link up with Jeannett at Life Rearranged though and chronicle the photos I did take of this week in the life of the Toney family.

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Getting happy mail is one of my favorite things ever. The other day, my mailbox was full of happy with all of these fun fabric swatches. It is time to start designing baby boy’s crib bedding!

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I just couldn’t get enough of this outfit. The shirt is from etsy seller Greythread. Even though he is the stage of only making silly faces when you ask him to smile, I just adore this picture of him.

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I have mentioned my friend Emmy and her adoption swaps before on here. It is such a fun way to support a family’s adoption while getting to do something crafting. AND- on top of all of that- you get something super cute in the mail from another person. Again, with my love of happy snail mail, this is right up my ally! This week, I whipped up this sweet Valentine’s Day garland and shipped it off to my exchange partner along with one of our mini banners for Emmy’s Valentine’s Day exchange. If you want to be involved in future swaps, but sure to follow @theadoptswap on instagram.

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It’s a pretty exciting day when I get to hang out with batman all morning.

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My husband has been home for most of the past week after and before some traveling for sabbatical, which has been a treat. He’s made an effort to get some house projects done the past few days, which has been awesome. On today’s agenda was painting my childhood dresser to use in our front room for the kids games and puzzles. When my 6-year old asked to help paint the dresser with “lots of beautiful colors”, I handed him a paintbrush and told him to have at it- on the back side. It was a total win-win: he is stoked that he will have a hidden work of art in our house and I am stoked because my dresser will only be one color while still getting to encourage my son’s creativity and to allow him make a fun memory.

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That’s it for this week! We’ve got a full weekend ahead of baseball, winter partying and superbowling. I hope that your weekend is lovely!

 

 

 

InstaFriday!

It’s a cloudy day, which makes it feel like winter even though it is still over 70 degrees,  my husband is home after being out of town for the week and I just snuck some chocolate, which means it is a great Friday! And since it is Friday, I am linking up with my friend Jeannett of Life Rearranged for InstaFriday.

 

I didn’t post last week, so this is a double instafriday post, sharing some of the moments from our past two weeks that I captured on instagram (I’m @courttoney if you want to follow along during the week).

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There are not many places you can find a shave ice truck out front of school in January. San Diego is one of them.

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I got to have a girls night with two of my nieces. We went to see a movie (The Book Thief) that started at 10:00- which is the time I normally get in bed. Living it up in my old age- I can totally hang with the cool kids :)

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When you are pregnant at the same time as one of your best friends and you buy the same shirts, it’s only a matter of time before you show up at an event matching.

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The other day, Hudson asked me to put the Star Wars vinyl on. He then sat and stared at the pictures on the sleeve the entire time it was on.

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Last week, we headed up to the Central Coast to visit family. First, we spent a couple of days in Santa Barbara with my husband’s grandma and mom. It was such a special time for the boys to make memories with their GG (what they call their great grandma). All of my grandparents died before I was born, so it is so sweet for me to see my boys getting to not only have two sets of involved grandparents, but also a great grandma who loves them very much. I love this shot of 4 generations playing croquet:

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The boys were great most of the time, but Hudson managed to get one #placeshudsonhasatimeout in while we were at GG’s retirement community:

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We then headed to San Luis Obispo to visit my brother, my sister-in-law and their kiddos. We had so much fun enjoying summer- I mean January.

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What started out as father-son paper airplane making turned into guys on the roof throwing stuff:

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My niece Lily loves to cook and is a pretty impressive little chef. One night, Uncle Vito taught her how to make risotto and she was the best sous chef ever. It was delicious!

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One of the most exciting things for me about my husband’s sabbatical is getting to go to church together: driving all together in one car and sitting next to him during worship and the message. Having been in full-time ministry our entire marriage, this is an extreme rarity and so it is a gift for me.

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I headed home at the beginning of the week with the boys and we left Daveed in SLO for a few days so that he could get some quiet study and writing time in. We missed him, but it was such a valuable time for him. I hit the ground running with work when we got back, including finishing and sending out this adorable preppy custom order for a baby shower:

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Last week, I shared a recap of our 50 dates in 2013 project, including how our marriage was greatly affected by it and also a challenge for other couples to commit to intentionally dating their spouse. I am also giving away a VISA giftcard to help one lucky blog reader get started on their dates. The giveaway ends tonight at 5pm PST, so be sure to hop over and enter!

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Happy weekend everyone!

 

 

 

 

InstaFriday!

This week flew by! Time to link up with Life Rearranged’s instafriday again! It has been so nice to settle back into our normal routine. Isaiah was so excited to go back to school and Hudson has loved having alone time in the mornings again.

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This weekend, I got to put my wedding planner hat back on to help two sweet friends on their wedding day. It was such a joy- we are so happy for Brian & Kelsey!

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Yes, my eyes look crazy thanks to the red eye remover. Trust me- it’s better than the crazy evil glowing eyes :)

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This is how Southern CA does winter weddings:

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I didn’t get a chance to take many detail shots, but I did get this one. I love me a bow napkin!

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On Tuesday, Daveed started his sabbatical. Our church’s leadership team and elders are amazing and give full time pastors a 7-week sabbatical every 7 years. It’s a time to rest, study, spend time with family and rejuvenate for the coming years of ministry. We are so thankful and excited about this opportunity! We kicked it off with a date at our favorite breakfast spot, The Cottage in La Jolla. I just love this guy and I am so excited to see what God has in store for him over these next 7 weeks.

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Not only did I get to go on a date with hubby, but later that day, I got to go on a little date with my oldest. His choice? Going to Michaels to get more bands for his rainbow loom and ice cream. Like mother, like son :)

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First book of 2014: check! I really enjoyed The Ocean At The End Of The Lane. It was a dream of a book- very quick to read and beautiful imagery.

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That’s it for this week! Enjoy your weekend everyone!

 

50 dates project: dates #41-50

We did it! We actually reached our goal of 50 dates in 2013!! What a year it was. I am going to be posting a recap in the next week with my thoughts looking back and a challenge for others but, in the meantime, here is a look at dates 41-50 (you can see dates 1-40 here).

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Date #41: I scored major wife points by going to dinner at a wings place that had 30 TVs. Only for my husband and only to watch my bruins play (and they won that game to top it all of. Yay UCLA!).

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Date #42: We snuck away to Palm Springs for 2 nights for my dear friend Jenna’s wedding. We played music & sang together before their ceremony started and it was so fun! Music has been a part of our relationship since back when we met in Jr. High and it has been such a blessing to have such an amazing thing to share.

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Date #43: While visiting my family for Thanksgiving, we took an early morning walk to breakfast in the neighborhood I grew up in. We grabbed some donuts on the way home to surprise the kiddos. These are the streets of my childhood- riding bikes to get ice cream, walking to McDonald’s on long summer days, chasing the ice cream man in our bathing suits. Walking them with my love was a sweet thing.

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Date #44: An at-home date, decorating our tree while listening to Christmas records and starting our advent reading together. Mellow, merry and a lovely way to kick off the holiday season.

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Date #45: We went to see one of our favorite bands, The Head & The Heart, in concert. It was so so good. Going to concerts has been one of our favorite ways of dating since we were teens.

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Date #46: Thanks to a generous gift card from a family in our church, we went out for a fancy dinner in La Jolla and drove around looking at Christmas lights- including the house shown which had it’s own radio station that the lights danced to!

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Date #47: Another wedding date- this time for the wedding of one of our college friends. It was at an amazing new event space in Long Beach called The Loft on Pine and, once again, we had the honor of getting to be a part of the music for the wedding. David played for the ceremony and then we sang a song called “When the Right One Comes Along” for the first dance. It was a magical moment that was so special to be a part of. Wedding dates are extra special- getting to spend time with my love, all dressed up, while we celebrate love and the amazing gift that is marriage.

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Date #48: Sushi lunch date (don’t worry- I didn’t eat in raw fish!). This is a big deal- I do not like sushi, pregnant or not, so it never happens. Daveed loves it though, so last Christmas, I gave him a coupon for a sushi date and he just now redeemed it. He was a very happy boy :)

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Date #49: gift card night! We used a gift card for dinner, a gift card for gelato & a gift card to see a movie. Such a fun casual date night- made even better by the fact that it was free! :)

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Date #50: New Years Eve party hopping. First stop: celebrating the 20th Wedding Anniversary of our dear friends. Second stop: a gender reveal party for friends of ours having their first baby. What a great way to end our year of 50 dates: getting dressed up & celebrating life’s big moments with friends that we love.

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It has been an amazing adventure. More to come soon! :)

A full recap of our 2013 Advent Calendar

Christmas has now come and gone, which is always bittersweet for me. I am tempted to hang on as long as I can, but I also start longing to get the dead tree out of my house and get everything clean and back to normal. The holidays have always my favorite time of year, even more so now that I have kids who are super into everything Christmas.

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To best manage our time and focus during the advent season leading up to Christmas, I started doing an advent calendar with my boys a couple of years ago. I made mine in banner style and it hangs under our stairs, which is the boys play area.

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In each pocket, I write a Christmas related activity for us to do together that day. A little tip: I never write what we are doing until the night before or early that morning. That way, if I need to change plans last minute, any sneaky eyes don’t peek and seek the wrong thing.

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In our home, my goal is to put the focus on celebrating Jesus as much as possible. To set the tone for this, we start each morning reading an advent devotion together. This year, we followed along with posts from The Story Warren, which mostly used our favorite children’s bible, The Jesus Storybook Bible. On school days, we have our oldest get dressed right away and then we eat breakfast and get totally ready for school, making sure to leave 10 minutes for our advent time before we have to leave the house. Then, we squish on the couch and do our reading for the day. After that, Isaiah gets to take the card out of the advent calendar and read what we are going to do that day.

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Some activities were big and others were little, some were about giving and some were about eating or drinking something sweet. No matter what it was, though, Isaiah was excited. I loved that! Every day, he was pumped to do something Christmasy together- to create a memory.

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It made the season not as hurried and me not as crazy. It helped me focus on what was important, as I would have rushed through many busy days without doing something intentional to celebrate with my boys. It helped us be merry, it helped us love each other better and it helped build our joy as we awaited the day we celebrate our newborn King.

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Here is a full list of the activities we did this year, with any applicable links. I hope that this can help inspire your own lists in future years. Ours will change from year to year, but many staples will always be a part of our advent routine.

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Day 1: get our christmas tree.

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Day 2: christmas book marathon (always a favorite- I pack the Christmas books away with the decorations, which makes reading them that much more exciting for the boys)

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Day 3: holiday craft day with nonna (my mother-in-law). There were a couple of days that my kids were with one of their grandmas, so I planned something they could do together.

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Day 4: drink hot chocolate. (easy and quick- but made the boys so happy. Perfect for a busy day)

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Day 5: make christmas legos (Lego sells little $8 sets- we found them at Legoland the month before, but I am sure you can find them online)

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Day 6: Help daddy hang the lights and finish decorating.

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Day 7: listen to the Charlie Brown Christmas book on vinyl (yes- book on vinyl. One of my most favorite thrift store finds ever. This is one activity that will always remain on our advent calendar list)

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Day 8: family Christmas movie night. We had a picnic dinner in front of the tree and watched Elf.

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Day 9: make a gingerbread house (Trader Joe’s sells super easy and cute sets)

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Day 10: make snowflakes. We did some normal ones, but also used these templates to make some Star Wars ones, which were a big hit with this kid.

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Day 11: giving day 1. I try to have at least 2 days where we focus on giving to others and sharing God’s love with those in need. On this day, we went through all of the boys toys, books and clothes and donated what they didn’t need. Isaiah was surprisingly into it. It made this mama’s heart so happy.

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Day 12: make snow globes. We used these directions, but altered them a bit to make it less expensive. I just used hot glue instead of epoxy and didn’t use any anti-rust sealant and they turned out fine. We used them for decor on our dining table.

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Day 13: christmas light scavenger hunt. We had actually planned to go to the Zoo for our activity this day, but Isaiah ended up being a little sick, so we changed our plans around. After dinner, we piled in the car in our PJ’s, freshly baked cookies in hand. We drove to a neighborhood near us (in central San Diego) called Candy Cane Lane to look at the lights. I found this scavenger hunt list on pinterest, but next year I will just make my own. How often have you seen a dolphin in Christmas light displays? It became a big joke for us, as Hudson would look for a dolphin every time we drove anywhere for the rest of the month because he wanted to be able to check that last thing off of the list :) It was a fun way to spice up looking at lights.

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Day 14: christmas in the park. Our local park, Old Poway Park, is awesome. Not only do they have steam trains you can ride on the weekends, but they also have a big Christmas celebration one night in December. We saw Santa ride in on the train, rode the train (where they gave the kids jingle bells- which my boys loved), did free crafts and bought some gingerbread while choirs sang in the gazebo. Be sure to check your local community events to see what fun free family activities they may have planned.

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Day 15: christmas at Sea World. We are blessed to have Sea World annual passes, so we got to go check out the decorations and special holiday programs. We were really surprised by the Shamu Christmas show- it was totally a worship service! They had the words to Christmas carols about Jesus on the screen, a big choir singing and encouraged all the guests to sing along. I thought it was 25 times better than the normal Shamu show. (note: it is only on the weekends during the holidays. I made that mistake last year and went on a weekday)

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Day 16: Christmas bingo, found here. We use M&M’s as markers, because chocolate always makes everything more fun.

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Day 17: craft day. This day ended up being different and more awesome than I could have planned. I had a bunch of different crafts prepped for us, but Isaiah grabbed ahold of our first one and we spent all afternoon on it. I had planned for us to make a nativity scene out of popsicle sticks- which I envisioned as Jesus, Mary & Joseph inside of the manger. Oh no- Isaiah wanted to do the whole shebang. So we made shepherds, wise men, an angel and animals. I helped Isaiah glue and cut the more difficult things, but most everything was his idea. After we had it made, he wanted to use them to perform the Christmas story for my friends that were coming over that night. It was precious. I was able to hear him tell the story of Jesus’ birth in a way that I could have never initiated. This will be one I remember for years.

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Day 18: record their Christmas song with Daddy. Every year, our family releases a 3 or 4 song Christmas album. The boys always contribute and, this year, they each got their own little song. You can hear the album here.

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Day 19: giving day 2. This ended up spanning two days. On the first day, it was pouring rain, so we took hot chocolate to the cross guards during pick up at Isaiah’s school. I couldn’t get a picture because it was literally dumping rain & hailing, but they were so surprised and thankful. Isaiah’s face was beaming. We also: bought McDonald’s gift cards to keep in our car for when we see someone who needs them, paid for the car behind us in line at Starbucks, left a note & treat for our mailman in our mailbox and put together blessing bags to keep in the car for the homeless (we included socks, gloves, toiletries, snacks and water). Isaiah remembered doing some of these things last year, so he was excited to do them again. Once again, this mama’s heart was overflowing.

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Day 20: make cookies.

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Day 21: Surprise day with Grandma- she took them to see Frozen but didn’t tell them until they got to the movie theater. Daveed and I were at a wedding that day, so I was so thankful they could do something exciting with my mom since we couldn’t be with them all day.

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Day 22: ride on a double decker bus to look at lights. This has become one of our favorite holiday traditions. Friends of ours invite a bunch of people over for dinner and then we all load on a British-style bus to drive through several awesome neighborhoods. Daveed brings his guitar on board and leads everyone in Christmas carols. In one of the neighborhoods, we hop off at a house for dessert and hot chocolate. It truly is such a treat for us and we are thankful we get to be included.

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Day 23: watch A Charlie Brown Christmas on the lawn with our next door neighbors. We have been blessed with awesome neighbors who like to project Charlie Brown movies outside on almost every holiday :) Next year, we are hoping to expand this to be an outreach for our neighborhood.

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Day 24: make Christmas cards for family and friends.

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Day 25: we always end our advent activities by singing happy birthday to Jesus. We do this and read the last reading of the Christmas story before any gifts are opened. This is a tradition that will continue throughout the years and it is one of my favorites moments of Christmas day.

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A couple of other ideas that we did in past years, but couldn’t fit in this year:

*California snow day: We did  snow themed crafts all day long (including snow paint, made with shaving cream), watched Frosty the snowman and had snow themed snacks.

*Make Christmas pizzas: buy ready to use pizza dough and use cookie cutters to make it into Christmas shapes. Then add toppings and bake as usual.

*Deliver Christmas cookies to neighbors

*Each kid gets some one-on-one time with mom or dad at a store to pick out a Christmas gift for their sibling

*Ornament making day

*Buy a gift to donates to Toys for Tots. We did an Angel Tree gift this year, but took care of it before our advent calendar started, so it didn’t make it onto the list.

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It is a fair amount of work to plan these things in advance, but it is definitely worth it. Seeing the joy on my kids faces each morning as we talk about what we are going to do that day helps build the anticipation for Christmas Day and it helps me stay intentional in creating memories for my boys during a crazy busy time.

Boy #3

Two and a half weeks ago, we loaded the boys in the car and headed 20 minutes south to get a 4D ultrasound of our baby. Thanks to impatient grandmas, we were about to be able to find out the gender of the baby a month before we normally would have.

 

Baby Toney #3 is… a boy. Again.

 

I am going to be honest with you today. I was bummed. I am bummed. This will be our last baby, so we have now closed the door on the possibility of having a girl in our family.

 

Before I continue, let me just say from that start that I am so happy to get to have this little guy. After loosing a baby this summer, we are overjoyed that he is looking healthy and growing well. I love him fiercely already and I will NEVER wish that he was a girl.

 

However, I still need to mourn. When I found out that our second was a boy, I received a lot of mixed reactions from people. I was surprised to find that many people instantly tried to give me a positive benefit of having two boys: “You’ve got hand-me-downs!” “At least they can share a room!”. But the reaction that stood out the most to me, and was the most helpful, was what my sister-in-law immediately said. She said, “it’s okay to be sad”.

 

It was okay to be sad. It was exactly what I needed to hear. I felt guilty that I was holding back tears- that I wasn’t jumping up and down that it was another boy. Somewhere in my head, I was telling myself, “you’re not being a good mom because you are bummed that it is a boy”. Lindsey’s simple words gave me to freedom to give myself grace. To grieve the hope and idea that I might be having a baby girl.

 

And, now, when I am faced with the fact that I will never have a daughter, I’m allowing myself to be sad. To mourn all of the dreams I had of braids, dolls and prom dress shopping. You see, I always envisioned that I would be a mom of girls. God obviously saw me as a mom of boys. I have absolutely LOVED being a mom of two crazy little men. It has brought me more joy than I could have ever known. I love watching Isaiah play baseball, I know the names all of the Star Wars, Thomas and Cars characters, I am always looking for adventure and I’ve been pleasantly surprised that Isaiah loves to craft and bake with me. However, I am sad that I will not have a pink, ruffly, glittery nursery. I am a bit heartbroken that I will never get to use the girl name that we picked out 6 1/2 years ago before we found out our first was a boy. As a young girl (and a girly young girl at that) I loved playing house and playing with dolls and barbies. Whenever I was pretending to be a mommy, the baby was always a girl. Even recently, I assumed that, at some point, I would get to have nail painting parties, go to mommy and me ballet classes and, one day, help my daughter plan a wedding.
It has been hard for my husband as well. I choke back tears pushing away the dreams I had of seeing him with a little daddy’s girl wrapped around his finger. He told me one night that he was really sad thinking about how he will never walk a daughter down the aisle (cue the flowing tears).

 

The boys, on the other hand, are happy as can be to have another brother. Isaiah was jumping up and down in the ultrasound room and on the drive home he told us, “I prayed that it would be a boy”. It melts my heart. I love that we will have three little buddies. That this baby will have two older brothers watching over him and loving him wholeheartedly.

 

In the past two weeks, I’ve been able to work through a lot of tears and to begin processing all of this. As a side note, I don’t suggest watching the show Parenthood while dealing with all these emotions :) It is a hard hard thing to come to the realization that your life is not going to look exactly the way you had planned and dreamed and expected. Yet, every time my expectations have been turned upside down, God’s plans for my life have been ridiculously better. I take comfort in that. The excitement has come back and I’ve directed my attention to designing another boy’s nursery (no pink, ruffles and glitter obviously) and to trying to come up with a name (I am 99% he will remain nameless).

 

I will continue to allow myself to be sad and to grieve that which will not be. One of my dearest friends had this same situation in her life and she told me that she still has moments where she grieves, even though her youngest son is now 6. That is fully okay and healthy and I know that I will have moments of sadness for years. But I will not let this steal my joy. I will thank God daily for giving me these three sweet boys, when we thought chemo was going to take away my chances of getting pregnant. I will embrace being the lone woman in a house of dudes and will rock the mom of boys thing. I will paint nails and have tea parties with my nieces and other little girls in my life. One of my boys  might end up in dance class, much to my husband’s dismay, but we will cross that bridge when we get there :)

 

I will thank God continuously for my three blessings and my little sesame seed that is with Him. Even if it does not look like what I had envisioned, my family is more than I could have ever dreamed of and there is not a day that will pass that I will not be grateful for that. Even in the hard moments. Even when I’m sad.

InstaFriday- it’s a fun one!

This is probably my most exciting instafriday post to date because…

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Yep! There’s a baby in there!

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I am 12 weeeks- due in the middle of April. We are so thrilled and thankful! God has given me 4 pregnancies- when cancer said I would have none. God blessed us with this baby one month after we lost our sesame seed. He is so good. And I am so grateful.

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Less exciting from our week, but other fun moments I shared on instagram:

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A little father-son bocce match:

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At Isaiah’s best friend’s birthday party, the boys had their first experience with silly string and cotton candy. The verdict: Isaiah thought silly string was awesome. Hudson didn’t want to be anywhere near it. Isaiah loved cotton candy. Hudson took one bite, then left it on his tongue saying “yucky! yucky!”.

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My friend Emmy is adopting a baby and has been doing some fun fundraisers for it. This week, I got my banner in the mail from my banner exchange partner and it looks so great on my frame above my workspace! She also included some fun extra goodies, which was so thoughtful!

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My banner is done and will be going in the mail tomorrow, along with some of my mini banners. I loved playing with these fun papers:

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I am headed into the weekend feeling SO joyful and also a little crazy as I rush to get one million things done before we leave for Nashville on Tuesday morning. Fingers crossed for less nausea in the coming week and lots of productive Queen Bee Market prep.

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Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Instafriday!

Every friday, I link up with Jeannett at Life Rearranged and blog the photos I have shared on instagram throughout the week. It’s a become part of my weekly routine and gets me to actually blog at least once a week :)

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David & I both graduated from UCLA and pretty big Bruin football fans. We had season tickets for a few years, which I miss, but we still try to make it up to Pasadena for one game a year. We are happy to report that our boys have caught the bruin pride as well :)  We all were decked out in our UCLA gear last saturday and loved watching the team beat Nebraska. Every time we scored a touchdown (which was a lot!) Isaiah would lead us all in an 8-clap. Yes, we have trained him well :)

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On Sunday, our church held it’s annual beach baptism. It is one of my favorite things we do all year.

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Isaiah and his two best buds. He informed them the other day, though, that Hudson was his “bestest friend”. Then he assured them that they ranked right after his little brother :)

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On Tuesday mornings, I get the house to myself for a couple of hours. I opened up the windows to let the rare cool air in, lit my favorite candle, put Andrew Peterson on the record player and got to write. It was amazing. It is rare that I have time to myself, so I think Tuesdays may just become my favorite day.

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I got to work with these cute guys this week for a custom baby banner:

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My friend Emmy is in the process of adopting for the second time and has been doing some fun & creative fundraising. I participated in her hoop art exchange, which was super fun! This was the hoop I made for a bride to be:

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And I got these three beauties in the mail:

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Right now, she is doing another crafty exchange fundraiser: this time, it is garlands. If you want to participate, today is the last day to sign up. You can find the details here. It is only $5, and you make a banner and send it out and then you will get on in return. It is SO fun and it will help Emmy’s family bring home another baby!

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I’ll end with another installment of #placesHudsonhasatimeout. This time: at our local frozen yogurt shop:

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Happy weekend!

Remembering Summer

As a kid, I remember how magical summer was. There was an indescribable feeling that day school ended: the world seemed limitless and there was so much joy in what waited in those two and  a half months ahead of me. Summer days were thrilling- even if I wasn’t doing anything particularly exciting. Swimming in the pool, chasing the ice cream man down with my best friend, walking to get ice cream after dinner with my parents. There was a simple freedom, an everyday excitement. Even as a high schooler or college student, when work filled some of the time, that magical feeling was still there. The late night movie watching, the day-long beach excursions, ending with bonfires late into the night. Calling friends every day to see what their plans were. That freedom, that feeling- it was still there.

 

Then, the first summer after I graduated college, it changed. A few weeks into June, I realized that I didn’t feel it. The magic of summer was gone. Nothing changed in my life when mid-June rolled around- in fact, as a wedding planner, summer was my craziest season of the year. Sure we snuck a few beach days in there, but the magic of summer had been replaced with normalcy. That excitement constantly in the air changed to stress. I longed for the summers of my youth- carefree days and the break from routine and responsibility. I mourned that I would never again feel the joy and magic of June, July and August.

 

I was wrong. Little did I know, it comes back. The magic and joy returned through my kids. Not when they were little- summer activities were fun, but I still didn’t feel it. It wasn’t until my oldest started school. A couple weeks before school ended, I started to feel the itch for summer break- not just in Isaiah, but in me also. When the last day of school finally came, it took me by surprise: the magic of the beginning of summer had returned. I saw it on my son’s face and felt it in my heart.

 

I was committed to keeping the joy alive throughout all of his break. The main way I did this was through our summer fun list. Some people told me that I was crazy having such a big list of things to do for our summer. I’ll admit, looking at that poster of 50 things we dreamed of doing was a little overwhelming at times, but I am so incredibly glad we did it. It kept me committed to making memories, to filling our days with adventure instead of sitting around lazily (although we did have some days like that, which was necessary and wonderful).

 

Honestly, it was one of the hardest summers we have ever had. Between my miscarriage and my husband’s extremely full workload, it would have been easy and okay to cut myself a lot of slack and give up the list. To take it easy all summer long. But the joy in Isaiah’s eyes every time he read the list or got to cross an activity off kept me going. It kept me encouraged, it kept me present with my kids and it kept our days fun.

 

In the middle of the summer, we took a trip to a lake in Northern California with a group of high school kids from Santa Cruz. It is the second year my husband was hired to lead worship for their retreat and the youth pastor, being wonderful, invited our family to come along both years. It was just over a week after I had my miscarriage and was at the worst possible time for my husband’s work, but we had committed to going, so off we went. It was such a sweet time for our family to rest and connect and to also hang out with a bunch of kids in God’s creation, worshiping Him together and having fun on the water.

 

One day, we were out on a boat and Isaiah was on a tube with a few of the other kids. He was brave and nervously excited. As the boat took off, the thrill on his face burst my heart. Seeing his joy as he bobbed along, clinging to the handles for dear life, reaffirmed for me why the summer fun list was worth it. Some of my dearest summer childhood memories were of our lake trips- riding jet skis, tubing, feeling the wind in my hair while speeding along in a boat. As I watched Isaiah take in every second of that tubing ride, I knew that he would remember that trip and that moment for the rest of his life. I saw him experiencing the same thrill I treasured from my youth and it filled me with gratitude. After about 10 minutes, one of the high schoolers jumped off so that I could ride with Isaiah. As I sat next to him, I could hear his happy screams, I could fully take in his huge smiles and I could treasure the looks he gave me. Looks that said, “I’m so glad we are doing this mom and I love that you are here doing this with me”.

 

We weren’t just having fun this summer, we were making memories. I think that is one of the most important things about parenthood. Yes, we are nourishing, protecting and teaching our kids, but we are also giving them opportunities to make memories that they will carry for the rest of their lives. That is a big deal to me and I want to  continue challenging myself to provide those opportunities to my kids. It doesn’t have to be big trips or exhausting days at amusement parks. Those are awesome and definitely big memories for kids, but I think the things that we enjoyed the most this summer were the little activities: having a book reading marathon one day (cuddling on the couch reading 25 library books at once), having a picnic dinner and then going swimming at night, having an outdoor movie night with our best friends, mini golfing, making cookies and delivering them to our neighbors, and walking to get ice cream after dinner, just like I did with my parents.

 

Will I always do a summer list of 50 activities? Probably not. But I always want to do all I can to capture the magic of summer for my kids and to be present with them, making memories that will hopefully, one day, impact how they parent their children.

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That being said, I was ready for school to start again and I am anxious for it to finally cool down and feel like fall. But before I break out the pumpkin scented candles, I want to recap our summer fun list briefly through pictures so that I can have a record of our 2013 summer activities. There are a couple I did not get pictures for, which I’m trying to not be too bummed out about :)

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Here we go:

 

1: water gun fight

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2: walk to get ice cream

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3: go to yosemite

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4: swim lessons

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5: join the summer reading club at the library

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6: book reading marathon

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7: go to the beach

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8: board game day

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9: have a picnic (we turned this into a dinner picnic by the pool followed by an evening swim)

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10: outdoor movie night

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11: get snowcones

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12: go to the fair (we ended up going to both the San Diego fair & the Orange County fair)

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13: play with water balloons

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14: make smores

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15: go to the zoo

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16: go to a Padres game

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17: vacation bible school

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18: make cookies for our neighbors

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19: go to the lego exhibit at the discovery science center with Aunt Lois

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20: get an ice cream from the ice cream man

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21: go to a museum

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22: make a star wars craft (out of a book we checked out from the library)

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23: go to a kids workshop at home depot- we ended up not doing this one because we couldn’t go on any of the days that they were held. Instead, we surprised the kids with their first trip to Legoland, thanks to generous friends who let us use their guest passes :)

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24: have a treasure hunt

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25: make homemade pizza

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26: go to a movie

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27: go camping

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28: watch fireworks

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29: play tag (my 5 year-old insisted this one should be on the list)

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30: go on a hike

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31: go to the lake

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32: science experiment day

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33: play mini golf

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34: have a sleepover with a friend

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35: make homemade ice cream

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36: craft day

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37: go to the pool (ours & grandma’s in Orange County)

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38: go to Ruby’s on the pier and get a milkshake

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39: do sidewalk chalk

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40: play baseball with friends

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41: make juice popsicles

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42: make a fort

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43: run in the sprinklers

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44: ride on a boat

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45: go bowling

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46: go to sea world

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47: make & play glow in the dark bowling

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48: make rocket straws

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49: go to the splash park

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50: ride the train at Old Poway Park