Monday, February 22, 2016

Max McAlister | 6 years

Dear Max,
You should be incredibly proud of the person you're growing into.  You are thoughtful and fair.  Smart and responsible.  Tender-hearted and tend to be a little hard on yourself.  You're so worried about making mistakes, but we remind you that mistakes are proof that you're trying.  And that's the only thing your Dad and I want you to do -- try!   When you get discouraged or frustrated Sullivan always chimes in "Don't give up, Max. Murray's never give up."  A little something Sully must have picked up from noticing your Dad's perseverance which I admire so much aaaand probably from observing my general stubborn nature as well.  Either way...Murray's don't give up ;)  

Witnessing you learn leaves us speechless sometimes.  You went from struggling through the words in your reader books to reading EVERYTHING.  It seemed to happen overnight.  You picked up a note I had written and read it word for word the other day.  Your Dad and I just looked at each other with wide eyes.  You amaze us.  Teaching your little brothers the Spanish words you've learned, writing numbers to 200 with ease and explaining to me the science behind how airplanes fly...your capacity for knowledge is astonishing and exciting.

You recently wrote a note to your Dad and I which thanked us for sending you to your school.  And in it you wrote that your favorite parts were attending the all-school Mass each week and chess club. You have such a precious heart. 

When we first looked into your eyes six years ago we could never have imagined the fun and fear and laughter and love that you would introduce us to.  You changed our lives and we've never looked back.  We cannot wait to see what the future holds for you.
Our hearts forever,
Momma & Dad
Here's your new ViewFinder reel for the past year.  
You were chosen to present the gifts at the all-school Mass on Ash Wednesday.  You were SO proud :)
Your first tournament! I know zero about chess, but watching you think through each move was really cool. You won two out of three matches.  Is that what they're called??
There is nothing better than seeing your kid succeed at the things they work hard for. 
 You had a Scooby Doo themed party the day before your birthday since you didn't have school that day.  You invited all the boys from your class.
We had fun making these treat bags together.
You collected donations from your friends in lieu of gifts.  This is your sixth year delivering "wish list" items to the Ronald McDonald House.

On your real birthday you opened gifts in the morning.  The Scooby reader books were the favorite thing you received.
 You were also pretty excited about the Pie Face game and the fact that you got to go see Kung Fu Panda with Dad and Sully in the afternoon.
 In the evening we had some family over for pizza and cake.  You wanted this party to be Star Wars themed...even though you've never seen Star Wars ;)
It was so sweet of you to ask Fletcher to help you blow out the candles.
Another successful birthday in the books!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Happy Half, Sullivan Michael.

Just a few quick pics of Sully's "Happy Half"...our silly tradition of gathering at "their" spot on their half birthday and giving them some extra love.  

Over lunch we say things like, "Can you BELIEVE you're already halfway to your next birthday?!" and "Have we ever told you that we're SO glad you were born?".  The boys' responses are always "yes", "yes" and "Why don't I get cake?". So sentimental they are ;)  However, they did agree to continue doing our Happy Half celebrations even when they're grown-ups, so...I win.

Before we go on, can I just do this real quick? #flashback
Handsome little devil, isn't he?!
It's become tradition for Billy's Boulevard Wheat to make a cameo ;)
And a short highlight reel of the whirlwind, "Happy Half "fun:
the line-up continues to expand :)
We laughed so hard playing this game.  They were terrible, obviously.  Max said "I guess I'm not getting a drivers license anytime soon!".  Thank God. 
Max was super into the KU game.  It's already happening.
Cheers to you, Sully 4.5.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Milo // 5 Months

5 months old and life rushes on...
Dear Milo,
Even as the fast-paced world carries on around us, I take time to pause regularly in front of this mirror in your nursery.  Not only because you LOVE your reflection, but just to see us together.  To be on the outside looking in.  Who are we?  Who are we together?  What possibilities reside within you - currently tiny seeds - elements of who you're meant to be one day.  And what possibilities, small seeds yet to take root, are still inside of me?   I catch glimpses of the answers when we stop to search our reflection for what lies beneath the surface.  We're constantly changing and becoming.  One of us more noticeably than the other :)  Looking in the mirror removes the veil of the everyday rush.  It requires me to cease my constant motion for once.  And look.  Things become apparent that are not so obvious to the naked eye when hurrying through life.  In our reflection, for a moment, I can see clearly.
I see you, chubby and strong and happy. 
I see me, tired yet content.  
I see two lives with a lot left to do.
I see unwashed hair, spit-up stains and motherhood at its most ordinary.  
I see a baby at the beginning of his story, and I know without a doubt it's going to be a good one.
I see life as it is for now, but not for long.
I see what's important.
I see love.
Onward, my darling.  Next month is the bittersweet "6 Month" mark and I'm trying to be ok with that.
My whole heart,

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Vacation: From Anxiety to Adventure

Escaping to Mexico mid-January may seem like a dream, but the truth is leaving behind four kids is STRESSFUL! There's so much stuff.  So many lists.  So many schedules.  By the time everyone and everything was squared away I asked Billy if he even wanted to go on vacation with me anymore.  Ha!  (but, seriously)

The act of leaving our children is physically painful for me.  I cry and inevitably want to back out of every trip we've ever been on post-children. Billy convinces me I'll be fine once we get there, but that doesn't stop my mind from racing and my heart from beating anxiously all the way to the airport.  I'm positive I've neglected to do something. Oh well, too late now.  I hope my kids know I love them and that I'm coming back. What if they all get the stomach flu and infect our entire family (<--this one actually did happen unbeknownst to us during the vacation)

However, once we stepped off the plane and breathed in the warm air I was cured.  We needed this.  I changed into a sundress and flip flops in the airport restroom.  The sadness and guilt of leaving the kiddos melted away in the 80 degree sun as we waited for our driver.

When we got to our resort we did exactly n o t h i n g.  Nothing feels so awkward when you're very accustomed to doing all the things.

Nothing consisted of:  Reading.  Full books.  Books, PLURAL.  We ate and slept and ate and dozed in the sun and walked on the beach and listened to the waves for hours.  We played card games, connected and talked...and really listened.  At night we danced until my feet were so sore I had to walk back to the hotel barefooted (because good choices are made after a little tequila). We got massages on the beach -  $20 for 70 minutes?!   The price alone was a good enough excuse to get a massage daily. It was incredible.

The only day we actually did anything was on our last day when we decided the vacation needed a little adventure and we swam the underground rivers at Xcaret, which I highly recommend to anyone planning to visit the area.
Lots of dancing.  If you want a fun vacation I highly recommend you take Bill Murray :)
Early morning walks.
Although the resort we stayed at was technically a family resort we saw probably 3 children total during our stay. Everytime we saw a kid we were like "Hi!  We have kids.  Can we talk to your kid?  Is that a baby?  I might steal your baby..."  Kids on romantic vacations are super fun when you're not responsible for them ;)

Dear boys,
We missed you so much, but we take time away so we can give you the most important thing...a mom and dad who are happy and whole.  We are the center of our family and we want to be the strong foundation you deserve.  Being your parents is the best thing we've ever done.  By taking time away we are investing in us and in you.  Our future and our collective happiness.  Just a few days away to reconnect yields incredible results...I hope you remember that when you're married someday (and we'll watch your kids!! :)  I put these pictures from our trip on the blog because we want you to see who we are outside of being your parents.  We're real people (if you can believe that!) and we truly have fun together.

We love you so much, but we loved each other first.

Our whole hearts,
Momma & Dad
PS.  We cannot wait for our next FAMILY vacation!  Those are pretty awesome too :)