Before and After

Despite what Google may say, it is most obvious that the camera was invented by a woman.  "Why" you ask?  Because in her desire to remain sane, she needed proof that sometimes, sometimes she really did have it all together.  So she took a shower, got dressed and meticulously put her makeup on and took a picture to reminder herself that if she had time, she could look glamorous!  Then she scrubbed her house and removed all traces of life therein and took a picture to remind herself that if she had time (or no sweet children), her house would be spotless!  And then she took those pictures and put them somewhere special and would occasionally pull them out and admire them, reveling in those *brief moments whenever someone mistakenly told her she had it all together.  True story.

Thankfully that woman never knew me, because clearly, I really DO have it all together!  The fact that it has taken me over a year to finally get my "after" photos of our room makeovers (okay, the first two anyways) taken is purely a strange happenstance.  You are MORE than welcome to drop by and see my perfectly put together self in my perfectly put together home at ANY time!  As long as you give me 3 hours notice. ;)  But until then, the photos will have to do..

When we first moved into our home, brown was the name of the game.  Now don't get me wrong, I definitely think brown has it's place!  What would mud and human waste be without it right?  But on the floor, the walls, the windows & lights.. it tends to give that vibe that you're about 50 years older than you really are.  So against the will of every carpenter since the beginning of time, we (GASP!), PAINTED OVER THE WOOD.  I know what you're thinking.. poor beautiful tree.. but really, we just did it a favor.  Shine on bright tree, shine on! :)

Words.. what are the words??  That's a LOT of brown there folks!
Rip that sucker out boys!  ..entertainment shelves 18" off the floor for your pricey big screen TV with lots of littles to push it over?  No thank you.
It's beginning to look a lot like heaven!
Paint.  How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways..
Don't you just feel all warm and fuzzy inside??  I was VERY skeptical about painting the room blue.. would it give me a headache?  Would I tire of it too quick?  Well, it's been a year and I still LOVE it!  Hurray for taking risks! :)
Onto.. the kitchen!  Now I LOVE to cook, but I wasn't quite feeling inspired in here about food I'll be honest.  So what did we do you ask?  Well, a picture is worth a thousand words, (or so they say)..
This was a rather intense process, so thankfully we had some amazing family close by who let us bunk up with them for a few nights!  Migraine worthy fumes aren't good for anyone, let alone wet paint and toddlers..
Now for a little decorative glazing :)
My awesome husband installed the hardware and earned about 1,000 sexy points :)
...and now I cook with a smile on my face!
The moral of the story?  Paint is your friend.  Learn to love it and it will treat you well all the days of your life.  That and get a good camera.  Unless you have kids, then get a REALLY good camera.
On my to-do list is to get a collage of canvas prints up behind the coach where that large black frame is.. someday.. someday! ;)
Now repeat after me, "Wow! 6 kids AND a clean house?! How does she do it?? She must be amazing or something.."  Why yes, yes I am. (HA! *wink wink.. just please be sure to give me a call at least 3hrs in advance of wanting to "drop by" for a tour!)

*No children were harmed in the making of this post.  Forcing children to the outdoors is not abuse nor neglect if you have a fence and a great baby sitting dog to care for them..  There is a reason the woman who made the camera did not enable sound in still shots.  I'm sure she didn't invent side doorbells the kids can reach either.  Now stop gawking and join me in a Hershey bar.  Costco sells them in bulk.


Names & Blessings

Each of my kids has had a name carefully selected for them.  Their first names were just ones we liked, but their middle names are more meaningful.

Miss B has my middle name, Elizabeth.  Handsome H has his father's middle name, Glade.  Sir L has his Grandpa De Groot's middle name, Norris.  Princess P is named after my best friend from high school, who's nickname was Bre.  Charming C was born in Sao Paulo, so we gave him a Brazilian middle name, Luiz.  And Baby M was named after his daddy's brother, and has his middle name of Scott.

Originally we were going to stop naming our kids after someone (or something) after our first daughter and our first son, breaking the tradition with #3 Sir L, giving him the middle name Steel because I thought it sounded cool ;)  Then he unexpectedly came 3 weeks early on my dad's birthday and that changed everything, and I am SO glad it did!  It is such an amazing thing to be able to explain to our kids why we chose their name and have it go deeper than "we thought is sounded cool".  And so it was with our sweet Baby M.

With 4 boys in the house, I have seen some pretty tender brotherly moments.  As a woman I always figured the need to have a lifetime bond was more of a female trait, and put more emphasis on my girls and their sisterly relationship over my boys and theirs.  That all changed when we moved to Texas, 15 minutes down the road from my husband's brother, his sweet wife and their 6 children.  Seeing my husband with his brother, strengthening that bond that I don't think he ever realized he needed until now, has been such a rewarding thing to see.  They are as different as night and day (and not just in appearances!), but that doesn't  seem to matter at all!  It helped me realize that I need to encourage my boys to have strong bonds as well, and not just my girls.  Despite whatever differences may arise between them, the day will come when they are all wise enough to realize they can each benefit from one another, regardless of history or birth order.  And who better to help you reach your potential than your brother?  Hence, our sweet Marshall was given the middle name Scott, after his Uncle Brian Scott Hooley, in hopes that someday the story of his dad and his dad's brother, their relationship and individual as well as collective strength, will give him resolve to always stay close with his brothers.  I am so thankful that for his blessing, both his father and his Uncle were there and worthy to participate in this special and sacred day!
Baby M and Grandma R, the mother of the brothers :)
Having family close is made all the more fun with cousins to play with!
Even Bella has a playmate when we get together! :)
And when you've warn out your dad with sweet talk, there's always an Uncle you can try out.. ;)
These two are truly fantastic!  Texas just wouldn't be "home" without them!
Proof that I was there that day.. in all my awkwardness..
..but that runs in the family too it seems..
Despite the lack of sandy beaches, mountains and visual seasons, there is no doubt in my mind that we are where we need to be right now.  They say it takes a village to raise a child, and I have inherited a pretty great one!  And because of that, despite whatever this world throws at us, this little man (and ALL my children for that matter), are going to be just fine!



By living in Brazil for 2 years, we thought we were giving our kids experiences that would help to shape and mold them into culturally aware adults, and thereby give them a love and drive to explore all the wonderful places this world has to offer..  then we came back to the US.  I once thought we didn't have much in the way of deep rooted culture here.  Boy was I WRONG!  In order to re-experience what it means to truly be American, we took our kids to their first Texas Rangers game.  The entire drive over our kids shouted and bounced with excitement.  They were going to see a "real" baseball game!  As parents sometimes do, my husband and I exchanged loving glances and silent conversations applauding one another for what was bound to be a fun filled family evening!  And then it happened.  The 3 words that changed everything.  Three little words that made us realize what crummy American parents we really are.  "What IS baseball?"  The loving looks turned to stunned silence as we realized we were the shame of our country.  Americans who didn't know what baseball was.  That's a first!  So what's an American drop-out-parent to do??  Enroll your kids in Tball of course!  It's the only logical thing option..  

I'm not going to lie and say I dream about Yankee Stadium, would choose a to watch a game for anything other than social reasons, or even know 5 major leagues' names from any lineup, but THIS, watching my boys have a ball, (pun intended.. lol, I'm so funny.. ;)), this I could do all day! :)
Baseball.  It's serious business.. despite what little brothers may say.. ;)
The support section :)
Handsome H caught on very quickly!  Most often playing 1st and 3rd, and swinging like a pro, he was allll business out there!
Sir L was most often seen in outfield, his name being called countless times by coaches and assistants to be "baseball ready".  But his favorite part?  Crossing home plate.  In fact, he loved it so much he always managed to do it twice each time.  Such a talented boy! :) lol
With one great season under their belts, I think it's safe to say they are excited to play again very soon! :) And I'm happy to report that ALL of mu children know what baseball is.  Mission accomplished!
Of course we had to maintain balance, so Miss B started soccer this past season as well!  
Apparantly not many Americans know what soccer is because they enlisted my sweet husband to coach which is ironic because he's never played soccer a day in his life.  Americans were ok with this fact.  I think I just heard a Brazilian somewhere cry in agony of pain..
Attendance was poor so Miss B played on a co-ed team that consisted of many 4th grade boys.  She held her guns though and made mama proud!
It's WONDERFUL living close to family and having extra support for the kids!  It makes them feel like a million bucks! :)
..and it makes my photo sessions much easier having free hands! ;)
For his first coaching season, my man rocked it out!  The kids loved it and he received many requests to do it again next season.. we shall see ;)
I'm not going to lie - I miss the beaches terribly!  But Saturday games with the family is pretty sweet too! :)