Fourth of July 2015

    We were home this year for the 4th and gratefully, Travis was finally feeling back to normal. We had no grand plans for the day but we are lucky to have some great kid activities in our neighborhood that we were looking forward to doing together! 
Every year there is a kid's parade that lines up right in front of our house, complete with veterans leading the way! Sidenote, nothing makes me quite as teary on the 4th as veterans who carry the flag and pass on  their allegiance and service to country to the next generation. It's so moving that they come and do this for a group of parents and kids.  
The firemen come as well as some police officers too. That thrills the kids, mine included!
And then we jump in a sea of bikes and wagons and strollers, all sporting their red, white and blue while we walk through a few neighborhoods to our destination. 
Last year, Ava and Carter were at my parents' house and Trav and I enjoyed it all from the balcony with this teeny, tiny firecracker. 
 But not this year! We loaded up our big firecracker, got our colors on and joined the fun too! 
 Bikes, balloons and Walker's foot sticking up in their air, ha ha! 
 Ava waved like royalty to every neighbor who lined up to watch, she loved the whole thing. All those princesses and Disney park parades, means this girl knows how to work a parade route! 
 Walker, however,  took more of a "kick back and relax" approach...
 And Carter was never within range of my camera, he was just too busy and fast to lag behind with us! And of course Travis was a walking billboard for the Gospel  :) 
I love him.  He doesn't waste opportunities! 
 The cutest red, white and blue crew! 
 At the end of our ride is a neighborhood carnival with free food, bouncy houses, a petting zoo, face painting, magicians and lots and lots of people!
Ava was delighted to see so many friends from school and one of her teachers she adores. 
Carter also played with a neighbor and darted around to keep us on our toes, which is his usual mode of operation at these kind of things. 
 And Walker and I looked for shade and stayed cool.  Walker, I love you for that. The shade is my favorite and a baby is a great excuse to linger in it! 
Love these three!
 In the afternoon we went to a new swimming spot that we had heard about. 
 It's a great place for families and it features a man-made, filtered and chlorinated lake. Which was music to our ears after some of the bacteria scares in local lakes. We were sold immediately and it turned out to be a perfect day to be there. 

 Ava and Carter spent hours in the sand, digging and playing and running in and out of the water. 
 I, of course, attended these things as well but since I am the photographer and a mom in a swimsuit, I never made it into a photo. I'm not losing sleep over it! But listen kids, I was there! And I was the one packing, carrying, organizing and keeping track of allllll your junk, just so you know  :)  I also swam with you, so I'd appreciate some mom points for that someday! 
We knew these two would love it but we weren't so sure about Walker.
 Sand and swimming have never been his favorite things but he surprised us and happily played in both.
He even charmed the people behind us and "borrowed" their toy truck while he batted his big eyelashes at them! 
 And then we put our baby who screams at the top of his lungs over EVERY. SINGLE. BATH. into the sandy bottomed lake and because it just seemed right on a hot day and of course, he loved it! 
 Like really, truly LOVED IT! 
 Meanwhile, he has continued to scream at the top of his lungs for every bath since, but on this day he enjoyed a cold lake.  
 Oh Walker, there is no predicting you! You love to keep us on our toes  :) 
 Also, that face just kills us! 
 One of the other things that makes this lake so appealing for little ones is that the majority of it is only 3 feet deep and way in the back, behind the ropes, it's a whopping 6 feet. Perfect. 
Because he did so well, we spent the entire afternoon there and grabbed some take-out on our way home around dinner time. It was such a fun day and just a relaxing time together. It can be a little lonely around here with so many people gone to their cabins or enjoying family time, but the Lord gave us a sweet day and we needed it. Funny how He's good at that! 

When we got home, I hit a serious wall. I think the week of camp, Walker's first birthday and another week of running the ship while Travis was sick finally hit me. I love fireworks but at 7:45 I told Travis I absolutely could not stay awake and I had to go to bed! So Walker and I enjoyed an 8:00pm bedtime while Trav took the bigs to see fireworks with some neighbors. We are again blessed by our location because the city shoots their fireworks off at the lake behind Ava's school, at the end of the street. We have easy access and can walk over at the last minute. It was a fun day and I heard it was a fun fireworks show, too!  Thankfully I slept through the whole thing :) 

I would also be remiss if I didn't mention that the most exciting part of our day was our nephew Cooper making his grand entrance in the world! We woke to many texts and pictures of our newest family member from my sister Jennie and celebrated his precious life on a big day! He'll always have fireworks to celebrate another year! And so will our niece Emma, who was also born on this day last year! She turned one and it's been fun to see how she and Walker have hit so many milestones within days of each other. The 4th has become such a fun holiday for lots of reasons! 

Happy First Birthday, Walker!

On June 30th, this little guy woke up and turned one!!  
Hard to believe, but that first year just flew by and our baby is now a toddler. 
This sight has been a true delight and joy for Travis and I all year. Walker has added such blessing to our family and we just praise God for gifting us with each one of our kids!
And while it isn't always picture perfect around here, it's still pretty amazing that we have 3 kids! 
We planned a very low key celebration for Walker, largely due to the fact that Travis was still sick from his post-camp virus and our family fun plans for the week had to be postponed. I took the birthday boy to the grocery store to at least pick out his own balloon. We thought we'd do a family dinner together and then meet some friends for cupcakes in the park. 
Here's to leftover decorations from Carter's 2nd birthday! I love that I have a pile to pull from now after years of birthday dinners  :) 

Thanks to additions from Trav's Mom, Walker's stash was a good one! 

I made some ice-cream cone cupcakes to bring to the park. 
Which were sort of a fail as I filled them a little too full with batter and they dripped down the sides of the cones! 
Oh well! It was the best I could do by myself while juggling the kids and while poor Trav slept all day, feeling pretty miserable. I'm pretty sure all my kids saw was icing and sprinkles and the joy of knowing it was all coming their way soon! 
This guy sure didn't notice OR care! 
He wasn't too sure about that party hat however  :) 
But he sure looked cute in it! 
I've now put some kind of 1st birthday paraphernalia on three kids now! And each time I couldn't get over how big they had become or how darling they were in their party hat. I can say the same thing about Walker. How this year flew by in a blink is beyond me, but here we are celebrating a big milestone! For him and for Travis and I. 
It is true, the older you get as parents, the longer it takes to recover from everyday "fun!" It's been our most tiring year, for sure, but Walker you are SO worth it! 
And speaking of the bigs, they were THRILLED to be having a party for Walkie. They love a birthday like every other kid and they were pretty excited for him, although they couldn't understand why he didn't quite catch the same excitement, ha ha! 
Like the great Dad he is, Trav emerged for all the fun and rallied to participate  :) 
And my tired eyes and I jumped in there for a pic too! I sure love this one year old! I clearly remember having that same grin on my face while I held him last year, so fresh and darling in my arms. 
And these silly kids too!
Thankfully we had a beautiful June night to meet our friends for some fun!  We have been in a small group together with two other families, on and off for the last few years...on as life feels manageable and off when babies and changing seasons fill our plates, but friends always! 
We love them dearly and we are thankful that all of our kiddos are becoming great buddies, too.
Sweet Olivia, the daredevil with the scars to prove it! 
Eliza and Owen, the ninja warriors  :) 
Cute Isaiah, the most responsible 6 year old you'll ever meet  :) 
And Ariel the redhead!
And the birthday boy of course 

Walker will likely develop a love for thrill rides, due to his early exposure to risk and reward! 
Look at that face! What are his parents thinking??

Yep, getting the hang of it and maybe even loving it? 
Safe with his Daddy!
Have you ever seen such cutie pies???  Between our three families, we have 11 kids that are 6 and under!  You can only imagine the chaos that ensues when we are all together, right?  The BEST kind of chaos, I might add   :) 
And every single one of these faces are precious to us and loved by us!
Duke (pictured), Walker and Tagg (home sleeping) are the three youngest of this crew and I can only imagine the trouble they will cause as a threesome! They are the babies of each family and each one a big surprise and joy! Welcoming new babies into the world with friends is one of life's richest blessings. I should have taken a picture with the Moms, but these girls are some of my dearest friends and we've all been gifted with amazing husbands who are great Dads. We just love them and thank God for this sweet season of life, together! 
No one loves sugar like my Carter does!
The big kids of the group! Ava and sweet Eliza  :) The classic big sisters and the little mothers of the group! 
Owen and Carter are just 2 months apart and are 2 wild peas in a pod! Throw Isaiah in the mix and these three boys are a good time! 
That grin! She is precious and aptly named with that red hair!
And Miss Evie, darling as ever with the biggest brown eyes!
Walker was not to be denied the sugar or the mess on his big day!

And messy it was, but he loved it! 

Oh how we love this sweet boy! 
We saved his gifts for the next night at home, much to Ava and Carter's disappointment...they were like caged monkeys waiting for him to open everything.
He truly had no idea what the fuss or the gifts were all about. Next year however, he will also be like a caged monkey, I'm sure of it. 

I love the way he is looking at his Daddy! 
Scout is a much loved toy here and Walker was very happy to open his very own singing and talking dog! 

Clothes, books, a few was a good birthday for this little guy!
Of course the number one requested activity from Ava and Carter was that Walker smash his first cake!
We had high hopes as we sang to him...
...but he did not quite share the same level of excitement! In fact, he really shared no excitement! 
Just a tiny bit of curiosity...
...mixed with bouts of sobbing! 

A little bit of tasting...
....but there it is again, more crying! Ha ha! 
These two were thoroughly confused about what could possibly make someone cry over a cupcake with a mountain of icing, but if I remember correctly at least one of them also cried on their first birthday! They were disappointed at the lack of mess he made, but happy to have experienced a birthday with Walker! Thank you Lord for this special day and may we have many years of birthdays together!
We love you sweet boy!!  
Happy first birthday!