Day One- Our Cozy Nest

So here we are, day one of this writing adventure and I'm actually on time, even a little bit early!  I'm excited to get started, it's always hard to get this up and running, so forgive me if it takes a few posts to find my groove and figure out what to share.  I sort of have a loose schedule of posts, but I want to make some room for inspiration to strike too.  If I know myself, I know that I'll start strong and then at some point I'll be whining to Travis about why I ever committed to this publicly??  Here's hoping I make some progress in the follow-through department, right??  

Today I thought I'd give you the 411 on on this place we call home and a little bit about how we got here.  Since I'll be referring to it so often and sharing some of the highs and lows of our journey here, I thought you should have some context...

In the 10 years we've been married, our current home is our 4th.  When we first got married we had a classic, newlywed apartment.  We were in NC and Trav was in Seminary.  We left good jobs and everything we knew for a new life together and no money, ha!  The only pics I have from those days are not digital, but rather hard copies from my scrapbooks.  Thought you might want to see...
Our little love nest was perfect for that new season of life and we loved it.  We could barely turn around in it, but it was where we learned to live together and where we spent our first Christmas.  We didn't have a couch for the first 3 months, which was a hard pill to swallow for an interior designer, but we had everything we needed to make that place our home and I think back on those days with such fondness.  Also, some laughter!  I clearly remember getting in some kind of argument for one of the first times and in a protest to prove my point, I slammed the door to the bedroom and then quickly realized that I had just sealed my fate toward boredom.  The TV, food, and front door were in Trav's territory, all I had was the bed and the toilet and in those days we were employing tactics like "the great mexican standoff" in order to "win" the argument!  Oh the memories...we've come a long way in our disagreeing and now we have a TV in the bedroom too :)

After a few months in our apartment we took a giant leap of faith and started a brand new adventure on an acreage outside of Wake Forest.  We moved into a little 1940's cottage there and onto the property of a sweet family who welcomed us with open arms.
The scenario was charming, but the actual house was rustic to say the least, and by rustic I mean it was rough.  No one had lived in it for several years, it had no heat or a/c, and there was a dead snake in the back room on the day we moved in.  We invested lots of sweat equity into that home and I spent many nights in tears there for the first month we lived in it.  I was certain we had made a giant mistake and I did not remember signing up to "rough it" after we got married!
But with time and the freedom to make all kinds of creative decisions, that little cottage was transformed into a charming home.  I cut my teeth painting and decorating and season-ing in that little house and we hosted so many people we loved there.  It was seriously so adorable by the time we left and I mourned leaving that house like none other.  We also added to our family in that house when we brought Ryley home with us, the world's sweetest golden retriever puppy.
After two years of getting settled in, Travis withdrew from Seminary and accepted a job offer that took us out of beautiful NC and back to the midwest,  MN to be specific.  It was a bold move, it always is when you pack up all of your things and move halfway across the country.  But we were confident that the Lord had called us there and we moved into our first townhouse there, a welcome upgrade seeing as how it had both heat and a/c!
Really it was almost the only townhouse we could find that would take us and our giant Golden Retriever.  It was a good move and we quickly knew Minnesota was a place where we wanted to put our roots down. We adjusted to the major climate shock that first year and determined that we were ready to move out of the townhouse, in search of something quieter and closer to the Church.  Also, we didn't want to pay rent anymore and so we began the search for our first big purchase, our first home...

...Which leads us to today and the little nest we've lived in for the last six and a half years.  When we came here we had no kids (except our dog) and our plan was to stay for a few years and then look for somewhere bigger when we were ready to start a family.  But we bought at the peak of a very inflated market and like many, many others the crash that followed has not been good to us.  For years we've said that our plan must have been flawed and clearly we couldn't have predicted the future, but over time those refrains have grown stale. We struggled in different seasons with feeling like we must have made a bad decision or that the Lord was punishing us for some reason...and later realized that both of those conclusions are just flat-out untrue.  But as we've wrestled with our lot and accepted the place we're in, the Lord has done an amazing work in us (in me for sure) and I can honestly say today that I wouldn't have traded this struggle for the easy road.  It's been a struggle, and I've had to fight for contentment over and over but that's some of what I hope to share with you in these 31 days.
God is and has been faithful to us.  We love our home and we are grateful for a place to lay our heads and the provision to pay our bills.  Those are two things we shouldn't and don't take for granted.  Our nest is crowded these days and yet, it's a cozy sort of crowded that we love!  I'm learning to accept and believe that this life we have and all the details in it, aren't just an oversight that the Lord slipped up on or a mess that we've made, but actually part of his ordained plan for us.  We haven't missed out on his grace or his plan, it just looks a lot different than what we would have written.

So welcome to this journey I'm on, this intentional search for the evidences of God's grace through our home.  I'm so glad you stopped by for day one and I hope to see you again for more of this story on day two!

31 Days of Home: God's Gift of Grace For You

Welcome!  I'm so glad you landed here and I hope you will continue to stay with me for the next 31 days of this writing journey.  I haven't linked up with the nester for this 31 day experiment before, but I have been very choosy with my time this year in order to make more space for things like writing in my life.  I have been so busy for the last year, too busy in fact, and my soul has been craving the discipline of putting thoughts to "paper" or in this case, to keyboard and screen.  There is a real pouring out of inner places when I make the time to write, so I am really excited to journey through this next month with you and share some of the thoughts in my heart and on my mind.  I will warn you, this could be a real muddled mess! Writing for 31 days in a row is a daunting task and I would imagine that some days will be of interest to someone and other days...well, I'm just sure the "other days" will exist here too!  

The theme of my 31 days is simply this: 

I tend to express my love for family in the way that I feather, care for and manage our little nest, but what I often forget is that God also expresses His love for me in the countless ways He graces us with all that we need and so much more.  I am planning to share the stories and the heart of our nest with you for the next 31 days, but also some lessons I've learned from the Lord, while on this journey of building a Godly home.  I am no expert on the very broad topic of "HOME" but I am an expert on the subject of my home and I can't wait to tell you all about it!  

I found this beautiful quote that sums up my heart on this matter exactly...
So will you join me here each day for another post about our home and God's grace here?  I will add a link to this post every day, so you can always come back to this landing spot to find the next one.  Thank you for joining me here!  Grab a cup of coffee, settle in to your favorite chair and come on over to my house, I'm so happy you are here...

31 Days of  "HOME. God's Gift of Grace For You." 

Day 4: Under Construction
Day 5: Home is for Resting
Day 6: Home is for Friends to Gather
Day 7: The List
Day 8: Outside the Walls
Day 9: Our New Entry Way
Day 10: It Has to Get Worse
Day 11: Home is for Celebrating
Day 12: And Then it Gets Better
Day 13: In Our Own Backyard
Day 14: The Tale of the Carpet
Day 15: Living Room Secrets
Day 16: Porch Love
Day 17: Pumpkin Love
Day 18: Home if For Recovering
Day 19: Thankful Thursday
Day 20: Don't be Fooled
Day 21: The Kitchen (Part One)
Day 22: The Kitchen (Part Two)
Day 23: Home Away From Home
Day 24: {Weekending}
Day 25: Bathroom Makeovers (Part One)
Day 26: Bathroom Makeovers (Part Two)
Day 27: Working From Home
Day 28: The Great Tornado
Day 29: A Home to Season in
Day 30: Contentment


The Week That Was

I am taking a big collective sigh this morning, exhausted from a week that was full to the brim with life.  One thing after another had us working round the clock for the last few days and now here we are on Sunday morning, almost on the other side of it.  Almost.  All of our carpet gets replaced this week so yes, more crazy to come...

However, in the middle of our chaos, I got a little toy I've had my eye on for oh, a few years...  
Mama got a new camera, a serious upgrade from my last little point and shoot and my camera of late, my iphone.  And I love it!  Like really, really love it.  I can't stop taking pictures of anything or anyone who is a willing subject!  Last night I took three family photos of some friends at a wedding!  ha ha!  So in no particular order, here are some of the many pictures from our week.  If it seems random, that's because it is and in honor of that, welcome to our week and my disjointed brain!  We only had about 10 balls we were juggling so random seems perfectly appropriate!  
 This little guy.  
Oh man, he is growing up.  Don't tell my heart, but rumor has it he will turn 3 in about 12 days. 
 So those are our toilets and yes, they spent about 24 hours in our kids' room.  Normal?  As you'll see glimpses of a few pics below, we had some major remodel work done, in the way of new tile in both of our bathrooms and our entry way this week.  So therefore,  our house got turned upside down for several days and toilets ended up in our kids' room.  Makes perfect sense now, right??
 We found ourselves on the sidelines of two soccer games this did we get some amazing weather to enjoy! It has not grown old watching Travis and his team pray after the game with we've played this year.  Public, private, it hasn't mattered. They've invited the other teams to pray with them and they've all accepted.  What a blessing to proud of my husband and his leadership with these guys.  We pray that our reputation as a school is markedly different in the eyes of each team we play, but more than that we hope to point people to Jesus, even at a soccer game, the one who truly makes all the difference in the world.  
We lived with two bathrooms basically out of commission for several days this week.  Lots of blue tape and wet mud everywhere, but in the end, so worth it.
 We had two very nice men from the tile store working for us.  The kids were enamored with the part of the process that they got to see...especially Carter.  He took it all in, asked them questions, watched their every move!  And they were so sweet to him, answering those questions and playing along.  They did a great job but I won't lie, it's nice to have people out of my house for awhile least until Friday when the carpets get replaced! 
 Back to my new got a serious workout this week!  This might be my favorite picture of us this year.  With the kids at my parents for a few days so we could both work a wedding, we got a little time together to enjoy too.  Friday night we went to the Rehearsal Dinner and enjoyed a great place we'd never been and had the best time on the balcony with amazing weather.  Perfect.  And, I love him like crazy.  Watching him on the sidelines, watching him on the stage, or watching him at home...10 years later and my heart still skips a beat when he comes in the room.  
 We did enjoy (and need) the break so we could get our jobs done for the wedding and endure the tile being installed, but these two have our hearts and we missed them!  
 Those two soccer games this week?  We won both!  Trav's team is having a great season and this was a very good week for him.  Lots of tournament play coming up so we are hoping for more of the same! A sweet Mom was laughing at me on the sidelines when I took this...the play was unfolding down the field and everyone was watching near the goal, but clearly in my opinion all the action was right here.  I told her I came to photograph my favorite coach and maybe I'd get a few shots of the game, but mostly I just wanted him :) 
 I did my last wedding of the year and these gorgeous flowers came home with me to be arranged.  I'll share more photos about that wedding in another post, but I am thankful to have this one done because now I can truly relax for the rest of the year and take my florist hat off for awhile.  Although this was a fun one to end on, the colors were gorgeous and I'm very happy with how it all came together! 
It was picture day this week at preschool so when I told Ava I needed a picture before she left, her sidekick jumped in and wanted me to take his picture too.  Wonder how long this phase will last?  I am loving the sibling bond these days, preschool has created a little absence between them that is making the heart grow fonder I think!  
Oh Ava, you make my heart smile!

 After the kiddos went to my parents, we were left with the aftermath of the tile install.  Baseboards in my sink and sadly, that is still where they remain this morning.  Even though the tile is done, we haven't had a spare minute to clean up after them or put everything back together yet.  It's driving me crazy but I'll get to it soon.  I have to, we need our sinks back!  
 We got home from a long Wednesday night and installed a toilet at 11:30pm so we could go to the bathroom in our home again.  First time for both of us, after a marathon can imagine the fun we were having.  It's a glamourous life!  
 Meanwhile, I took pictures of basically everything I could this week in between the chaos...
 ...including the kitchen sink.  Just practicing and seeing what this camera can do!  Ha!  Also, this backsplash might be the best design decision I've ever made.  I cannot stop looking at it.  Or photographing it.  Or being amazed at how good it made my flowers look this weekend!
 See??  Perfect backdrop.  I ignored my desire to deep clean my house and instead put my florist apron on so I could crank out bouquets and arrangements!  Loved, loved, loved this color scheme!  So soft and romantic.
Cutest Pastor out there! 
 Such a sweet couple, we were honored to be a part of their big day!  We've known the groom since we first came to Grace, he was a student then, and we've known the bride for the last two years.  We've enjoyed them both as volunteers in junior high ministry with Trav and we just adore them.  We are excited for the adventure they have ahead of them and the ways the Lord will grow them and use their marriage to bring Him glory, in the marine corp world especially!  Aren't they darling? And to make a sweet day even better, the groom is an Iowa Hawkeye alum and our Hawks beat the Gophers yesterday!!!  Icing on the cake!  
The wedding was beautiful and so sweet, loved all that candlelight!  The room was glowing and gorgeous! 
 The younger version of us would have stayed long in to the night having fun on the dance floor, but after this week we made it through dinner and cake before we about fell asleep at our table!  We came home and collapsed into our bed.  
And also home to our freshly tiled (and not yet cleaned) entry way!  
 We've got two little people on our minds now who are waiting for me to pick them up from Grammy and Grampy's house!  
And after looking at their smiling faces on my camera, I can't wait to bring them back either!  
That my friends, is what you call one crazy, busy week!  So glad we survived...

Happy Sunday, friends! Here's to a day of rest and a day to worship King Jesus.  
My favorite kind of day!


Weekend Love

Ava and I were all smiles yesterday because the weekend is here! 

It's been a good week in our house but we are ready for a little daddy time and some much appreciated sunshine.  We have a soccer game this afternoon and a list of "things to do" that keeps growing by the minute, which is kind of a bummer for the weekend but also the reality of our life right now.  I have intentionally been holding off showing you some of our renovations around here because I wanted to wait until some big things were done AND I've been trying to figure out the best way to blog about all of it.  I'm happy to *finally* have some news in both areas to tell you!  

We have been waiting and waiting for two big dates to get on our calendar, the first being an installation date for our new tile floors and the second being an installation date for our new carpet!  As things typically go in our life, wouldn't you know that both of them finally got scheduled yesterday and in true form, they are both happening in the next two weeks...You know the next 2 weeks when we have a wedding that Travis is officiating, a wedding that I'm doing flowers for, 5 soccer games between now and then and a quick one-day trip to my parents house.  Not to mention work, church and preschool being thrown in the mix too.  No matter how hard we try to avoid it, we seem to attract chaos like a moth to a flame.  I've been waiting and waiting, twiddling my thumbs and trying to get these dates scheduled much earlier when life truly has been slower, but trying to get contractors to commit is like waiting for paint to dry.  It just happens when it happens and you can't rush it no matter how hard you try.  After all, it just wouldn't be right for us to land installation dates on a *quiet* week, now would it?  Where's the adventure in that??
While we will be up to our necks in work around here, we are extremely thankful and excited for these things to be happening.  I can't wait to be in our freshly painted, freshly carpeted, freshly tiled and freshly purged home in a few weeks :) Did I use the word *freshly* enough for you??  It is a blessing to get this work done and although I am tired of living with cans of paint, piles of clothes to donate, toys that need to be packed away, and the general chaos that comes with all of this, it will be worth it in the end.  At least I keep telling myself that when I want to get in my bed, curl up in the fetal position and cry over all I have to do!  

In addition to all of that, I'm equally as excited to share this journey with you in a blog series I'm participating in with The Nester.  It's a 31 days series in October and I am choosing to blog about our home and the many transformations happening here.  Truly the Lord has walked with us through this and has surprised us and provided for us in some of the craziest ways, I can't wait to tell you all the stories He has strung together in a way that only He can.  So after I survive the next two weeks (I'm believing by faith that we will actually survive this!)  I'll finally be able to give you a full tour, along with all the scoop and the ways God has shown up in big and little ways.  I can't wait!  

I'll give you all the details as they unfold for the series and you'll be able to see my 31 days button appear on here soon.  Praying your weekend is restful, even in the middle of activities and commitments and fun!  That is where we are having to be very intentional right now.  We have SO much to do, but we also need SO much to be still and know HE is God.  It's so easy to be overwhelmed, but I know He will see us through and give us just enough energy and strength to get through one day and one event at a time.  

Happy Weekend! 


In the Kitchen Lately

I thought I'd share some things I've been up to in the kitchen lately, but before I get into it, fair warning...there is no real unifying thread here.  It's a pretty random post but maybe there is a recipe or two you might add to your rotation?  Or just a picture to make you smile on this dreary Minnesota Wednesday.  
 I have an emotional tie to food, I don't think it's an unhealthy one, but I really love to cook and I love to serve meals to other people.  I'm like my Mom in that we both show love through cooking.  There's a creative element to it that fuels me, I like tweaking recipes and trying new things.  I'm a lover of cookbooks, cooking shows or someone who will stand in my kitchen (or theirs) and cook with me.  I love this picture above because it is so full of interest~beautiful fall color, various textures and amazing flavor!  When I was pregnant with Ava, I last made this.  Like days from delivering pregnant and looking for something spicy to get that little girl moving :) For no good reason at all, I haven't made this since??  But recently it came to mind and I knew I had blogged about it, so I tracked that post down here and pulled up the recipe again.  And then I got totally distracted reading old posts about waiting for Ava to be born, which led to tears as I re-read my first posts after her arrival and I re-lived all that sweetness again.  Are you starting to get why food is emotional for me??  All those memories are now tied to this dish forever and therefore it will go down as one of my all time favorites for that reason!  

But I digress... This is a Chicken Curry and Sweet Potato Dish with a Coconut Cream sauce.  It sounds fancy but really it's pretty basic with some toppings and rice.  When I say it is fabulous, I am not exaggerating.  Also?  It's a crock-pot meal which means it can fill your house with aroma all afternoon and it's truly something you can serve in minutes.  The original recipe is here, but I will tell you I made a few tweaks this time around.  Here are the additions I made, basically to cut the spice and make it a little sweeter for the little palates around our table: 
I used 1.5 C of OJ and after 5hrs on high when it was done, I took 1C of the broth out of the crockpot and set it aside. I made a roux (1T butter, 2T flour) then poured in the reserved broth. Let that simmer for a minute or two then pour in a 1/4 C or so of coconut milk. This made a great "sauce" to pour over everything. You could totally tweak it to fit your family! Enjoy! 
This summer I got hooked on this dish.  I could eat it for lunch, for dinner and anytime for a snack.  I've called it "girl food" but actually, Travis went for it and so did Ava!  Carter wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole, but I was pretty happy that 3 out of 4 us could agree on it.  I grew basil for the second summer in a row and I looked for many excuses to use it because it grew ten times more than I could ever use.  This little salad is simply tomatoes, mozarella, avacado, and basil with some dressing.  I enjoyed it with a balsamic vinegarette, a vinegar and olive oil vinegarette, and sometimes just olive oil with a little salt and pepper.  Either way it's light and fresh and feels like summer to me.  I regret that when we had a crazy heat wave last week I let my basil plant go and it's officially dead now.  But I got some great months out of it and I will definitely grow it again next summer!  
Now interestingly, if I served that same salad like this??  I'd be the only taker.  Little bites of tomato are the only way Travis will entertain them :) But this is my favorite way to eat them.  I can't tell you how many plates like this I think I consumed this summer. 
Travis and I also got on a major blueberry kick recently.  I blame Costco for that and their huge container of blueberries that is so reasonably priced.  It was always a no brainer to buy and in order to use them up I was throwing them in everything.  Granola and yogurt were my favorite pairings, and speaking of yogurt and Costco (this post is so random and you are kind to still be reading this!) we are in love with this new Greek yogurt.  Have you tried it?  It just might be the best yogurt I have ever tasted.  
It's also pricey so the kids are banned from it, ha ha!  But seriously, Carter is a total yogurt fiend, he'd eat it all day long if I'd let him, so I buy him the cheaper greek yogurt...Chobani.  Seriously. The kid is not suffering.  This yogurt with blueberries and granola??? To die for.  Really.  The real vanilla blended in it makes it so yummy.  We could eat this anytime for a snack, unless you're offering blueberry pancakes, because then it's a toss up.  As I told someone this weeked, I never met a carb I didn't love!   We are a little *obsessed* with making these, so much so that we might start turning blue soon.  Like the girl from Willy Wonka :) That's a mental picture, right??  
In an interesting plot twist, our kids also love blueberries and they love pancakes, but they WILL NOT TOUCH blueberry pancakes.  Baffling to me, but whatevs (somewhere a high school student just read my pathetic attempt at being relevant and they rolled their eyes.  Trust me, it happened.  I'm old, I'm a Mom now, I get it!!)  More for Travis and I!!  
The other kick I have been on recently is making PW's homemade pizza dough.  Have you tried it??  It's crazy good and so easy.  Plus, I feel very "June Cleaver-ish" when I make pizza from scratch.  Maybe even Betty Crocker like when I let the kids help me??  
My go-to combo for Trav and the kids is to use pizza sauce, mozarella and a little cheddar, with sauteed/diced onions and ham.  I always have ham and onions on hand and if I don't have pizza sauce I use spaghetti sauce.  If I'm feeling very fancy and energetic, I make myself my own little half of a pizza and my fave combo is basil-pesto sauce, sliced mozzarella, tomatoes, topped with arugala after it comes out of the oven.  It is so good.  I usually even convince Travis to try a piece, which he does, and then he says "it's not as bad as he expected it to be."  I never know how to feel after that statement!  
In reference to my dear PW, have you seen this?? Her newest cookbook releases in like October or something and I can't wait to get my hands on it.  Except that I've been warned not to, as it may be showing up in my pile of Christmas presents.  Not a bad carrot to dangle in front of me...
Side note, doesn't her hair and jewelry and that purple shirt look amazing on this cover??  Well done to her marketing peeps...Makes me wish I had red hair!  And a ranch, and her kitchen.  But I'll keep my own husband, although hers' seems lovely.  Same goes for my kids.  And hers.  I think I'll stop now as this is quickly getting weird.  And all because I love the cover of this cookbook :) 
Here's my last non-homemade tip in this incredible post.  That pineapple chili-lime marinade??  
It's perfect with chicken on the grill, for fajitas, or just by itself.  SO good.  One of my new favorite buys.  And it's only $3.19 at your local Target.  

That's all I've got on this Wednesday.  What's for dinner at the Armstrongs tonight?  Pizza!  Ham and onion for the kids and BBQ chicken and pineapple for Trav and I.  At like 10pm tonight, after Trav gets home from Church.  Duck Dynasty and BBQ chicken pizza at an unhealthy eating hour, sounds good to us!!  So what's cooking in your kitchen tonight??  


Here, There and Everywhere

It's hard to believe one week has come and gone since the big first day of preschool!  We are now officially "in the groove" and I'm starting to get the whole "my life is in my minivan" thing.  Good grief!  Maybe it's the half day component of preschool, but I swear I've spent more time driving in the last week than I have in the last month.  On Wednesday alone, I found myself at our Church 4 times throughout the day.  FOUR!  That's too many :) For anyone who cares to know, I figured out that I buckled and un-buckled kids from their car seats 12 times that day.  Yes, 12.  This Mom will be singing the Hallelujah Chorus on the day that my children learn to get in and out of the car on their own...
In addition to school starting, we had three soccer games last week and registration night for Awana.  A sweet Dad snapped this pic of the kids and I on a particularly windy night that left us all a little chilled.  We are having such a fun time on the sidelines, cheering for the soccer boys and having lots of adventures.  The weather has been perfect, but just this week it turned quite chilly and suddenly I'm having to throw extra blankets, sweatshirts and coats in the van so I'm prepared for all sorts of game day conditions!  
Last week I managed to just get us all where we needed to be, all the while figuring out what I need to do to maintain our new routine.  As I've gotten older, I've come to realize some personality driven preferences of mine that sometimes make me feel like the oddball that I must be.  I love people and I love to spend time with friends, but truly I am a homebody, an introvert even who loves quiet days at home with my people, in our cozy home.  I like slow mornings with coffee and jammies and lots of opportunity for playing.  When I was a nanny, I was an on-the-go gal, always looking for activities to do and places to go.  But now that I've become a Mom, I look for more activities to get out of and more reasons to be home!  Ha! I actually think that has to do with our life becoming more public and therefore a greater need for home to be our safe place.  Anyway, all that to say, three days of morning preschool has been a big shock to MY system.  A shock I know I need to get used to, seeing as how my children insist on growing up, but a shock nonetheless.  I'm adjusting but don't think I'm not mourning those quiet days gone by just a little bit....
Ava on the other hand, has really not missed a beat.  She is LOVING "sunshine preschool" and has taken all of this change in stride.  She is definitely more tired than normal, which has translated into some naps on school days, a welcome addition to our afternoons.  Soccer and preschool have been exciting activities on her social calendar and each day she wakes up to ask me, "What is it today and what do we do next??"  

With all the hustle and bustle of last week, Travis suggested we head out to our favorite little campground on Friday night for a little bonfire and park play.  We went to a pasta dinner with his team and then surprised the kids with a drive into the country.  They are growing to LOVE this little family activity and as we got closer to the campground, Ava told us "I'm so esscited!!! I love when we do this!"  If we had a backyard we would likely be doing this kind of thing at home, but since we share a yard with our condo friends, this 10 minute escape from home has become a little haven for all of us.  It's a quiet campground and we always seem to find an empty campsite near their favorite playground.  
It was one of those picture perfect Fall nights.  Warm, but chilly enough for a sweatshirt and a fire to keep us cozy.  Carter was all about helping his Daddy with the fire...
 ... as was his sister.  Just so no one panics over this picture, Travis was literally right beside Carter and I was only a few feet away too.  Safety first people, safety first!  
 Once we got our fire ready the kids did some playing with some other kids at the playground, and Carter did some golfing...
... and I made sure the smores were good enough to eat.  It was a burden, but someone had to test them out!
Ava approved.
As did Carter!
I managed to get a little knitting in as the sun went down.  Do you like my purple finger nail that matches my purple knitting needle??  I didn't pick up on that until I uploaded that photo :) 
 This was right after we played hide and seek tag, in the dark, with our giggling and screaming kiddos! They totally LOVED it and we were all doing some serious laughing by the time we were done.  It made me thankful that they will grow up with a youth Pastor Daddy and an arsenal of night games to enjoy.  I imagine we will host lots of late night parties at our house with their friends.  Ava and I will probably be in the house watching Carter and his friends do all sorts of dangerous things, worrying that someone will get hurt while Travis tells us that everything is fine :) 
I'm pretty certain that is exactly how that will go down!  
Such a terrible quailty pic, but a sweet moment to remember. 
 Love my babies and love these fun nights together.
 On Saturday we had another soccer game and then a surprise dinner date with my sister and brother in law!  They were in town to do a little shopping so we were able to meet up with them and enjoy some time together.  The kids were wild, especially Carter, which made for an entertaining/exhausting night.  The upside was being able to catch up a little with Dave and Jennie while also using a gift card we'd recently won.   My sister is expecting her first baby in February so we have lots of fun in store this year and next!  And Ava and Carter have the addition of a new cousin to look forward to!  
 Yesterday it was back to the grind of another week and this time I drove these two friends in our newly formed carpool.  I swear they skipped and giggled and held hands the whole way in to school!  
 Carter and I spent a morning out together running errands and enjoying a little Starbucks treat.  We made it through drop off and pick-up with no tears this week, just a repeated refrain of "NOW can we go get Ava, Mom??"  He definitely missed her but he's getting used to our new routine.  When we're out, it's honestly over so quickly!  There isn't a ton of time to get much done, but just enough for an errand or two with a quick stop at the park.  On Tuesdays I get to stay home and I can already tell I will love that so much!  Jammies and coffee here I come...

So there you go, one week down and a million more to go.  You can find us here, there and everywhere these days, but as often as I can help it, nowhere is the place I want to be.  I hope you are enjoying this amazing September weather in your neck of the woods.  It's a beautiful time of the year to behold the glory of God all around us... Enjoy your week!