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Raising Boys

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meet Raleigh James!

Join us as we welcome Raleigh James Micah Price into our family! We are truly so thankful for your prayers and support as we’ve gone through our adoption. Read more about what his name means and how we’ve fallen in love with this little guy!

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puppy love {Ridley's 2nd birthday party sweetness!}

IMG_0118 Our Ridley boy is two.

How this happened? I still don't know.

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Since his birthday is two days before Valentine's Day and he loves dogs, the theme for his party this year was "Puppy Love." I had so much fun planning the details and tried to keep everything very low key yet fun for the kids.

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The color pallete was simple - red, white, yellow, and dark brown.

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Ridley has this really cute John John with an appliqued puppy dog and we used that as inspiration for his party package which includes an invitation, banner, food labels, gift bag labels, and a coloring page.

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Our guest list for this party included our extended family and a few close friends who had children Ridley's age and older siblings for the girls to play with. We held the party in our playroom (pictures coming soon of this recent before-and-after project!) and the weather was so nice that guests could sit on the back patio too.

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Activities for the kids included a Valentine cookie decorating station, coloring pages, and a play puppy station. I had ordered some mini heart shaped balloons that the little kids had fun playing with and the big kids enjoyed getting to run around outside. Simple, simple, simple!

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For food, we had "hot dogs," "puppy chow," "dog biscuits," and I ordered Ridley a heart-shaped cookie cake with a puppy dog on it (he loves cookies and chocolate!). My mother-in-law also brought a dip. Have you ever tried cooking hot dogs in a crockpot? I tried it for this party and it cut down on mess in my kitchen. I just put the hot dogs in my crockpot four hours before the party and turned them once every hour. The dog biscuits were Scooby-Doo snacks that I bought at the grocery store and the puppy chow was offered as a salty Cheese Nip snack mix and a sweet Chex Mix blend. Here's the Chex Mix Puppy Chow recipe from The Recipe Critic:

Supplies:

5 oz. Almond bark or white chocolate chips

1/2 cup Powdered sugar

1 tsp Shortening

1 cup Strawberry cake mix

5 cups Chex cereal

5 0z Candy melts, red (I used one that had a peppermint flavor to it...yum!)

1/2 package Valentine's chocolate m & m's.

Make it:

Divide chex mix into two separate bowls. Melt half the white chocolate/almond bark and the shortening and pour into one bowl of Chex mix. Coat the Chex mix with the almond bark and then dump into a ziplock bag. Mix together have the powdered sugar and the strawberry cake mix together and then pour into the ziplock bag. Shake the Chex mix so it is covered with the sugar/cake mix. Next, melt the remainder chocolate bark with the candy melts and pour into second bowl of Chex mix. Coat the Chex mis with the melted chocoate and pour into a ziplock bag. Use the remainder of your powdered sugar to cover the Chex Mix. Pour half of both bags into bowl and sprinkle Valentine's m&m's on top. Munch and enjoy!

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I found cute paper products at Michael's for his party that went with our Valentine's theme and bought balloons and candles from TomKat studio. I bought a heart rug for the entry of my playroom and dog bowls to serve the food in at Target and had the Artist Tree make me a Valentine's Day door hanger.

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To get clever with the dog theme, we gave Ridley's guests bouncy balls that I found at The Dollar Tree with the saying, "We had a ball! Thanks for coming to Ridley's 2nd Birthday Party." It was super cute and a very inexpensive gift!

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Being Ridley's mom is such a treat and I really enjoyed getting to celebrate his second birthday with our family and friends. As a party planning mama, sometimes I let the details and the work of planning a party exhaust me. Keeping everything simple and the guest list minimal really helped me enjoy the party.

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Now that we have a two year old in our lives, he is communicating with his favorite words: "mama" "whoa!" "dog," "woof, woof," "no," and "tur-tle." He loves watching Ninja Turtles, chasing his sisters, and eating anything we put in front of him. He's transitioned recently into a toddler bed yet his faded blue blanket still follows him everywhere he goes. Ridley is also beginning to potty train and has started attending the same school as the girls. He's all boy but he sure does love his sisters. I can't help but let them tackle one another with hugs and kisses when it is time to pick them up. Ridley weighs 28.5 pounds and is 35 inches tall.

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Ridley is still my baby but he's growing into a little boy. I love his full-on kisses, high-pitched laugh, and white-blonde hair more than I ever thought possible. Even though I know the toddler years are going to be full of meltdowns and challenges, I'm trying my best to savor the sweet moments that make life with children so very special. Celebrating his birthday was one way for us to rejoice in the life of our boy and I'm so thankful for everyone that joined us.

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To see more party packages and printables, head on over to our Etsy shop.

You can also follow my "Fun Party Ideas" board on Pinterest for more inspiration!

Celebrating you,

Christen

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first day of kindergarten!

first day of kindergarten! Today, Adeline and Maralee begin kindergarten. I'm trying not to cry but Kleenex tissue lay wadded up in my lap. I'm realizing more than ever these days that time is precious and children are such a gift. Ridley started the tot class last week and I'm happy to report he is doing great!

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Ridley, 18 months old

I am so thankful to have such sweet people take care of my children while I work.

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I was reminded of this post I wrote when the girls began 3P and thought I'd share it with y'all today. May the Lord bless and keep our children as they begin a new school year!

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"Mommy, I scared," she quietly says to me.

It was my Maralee, the youngest of our twins, who looked at me with uncertainty in her big blue eyes. I pulled her close, kissed her head, and turned her to look at me."Baby girl, it's okay to be scared. That's why we are going to meet your teacher today before school begins. It will help your new school not feel so big and scary."

I tickle her after I say this and a big grin comes on her face. I let her pick out what outfit she wanted to wear. She chose her blue dress smocked with cows and pigs. "Perfect choice," I affirm her as we slip it on top of her big girl panties. "Mommy, I want to wear my blue shoes, too!" she exclaims. She is warming up to the idea of school.

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Downstairs, her sister chooses a purple romper to match her purple flower flip-flops that she has lived in this summer. Purple, always purple for Adeline. I've learned not to fight her on this and she has flourished in purple panties, pajamas, toothbrushes, and hair clips over the summer. Can't blame the girl for knowing what she likes.

We pick up Ganny and head to school. I think we are late but we are actually early, which is something I'm determined to work on as a mother of preschoolers. They can't miss a second!

We pass a hallway decorated with footballs and team spirit and find Mrs. Hollis' door at the end of the hall. She greets the girls on their level and shows them where the toys are in the classroom. We chat and discover she babysat my brother and I one summer when I was four. That's what I love about moving back to our hometown.

Adeline soon found the tu-tu's and she was hooked after that. Maralee recognizes some friends from her old class and soon she is off playing trains with the boys. They're going to be just fine, I thought to myself. 

Later that night, my husband and I went to orientation. We sat next to one of his oldest friends. It was all surreal that we were doing this. We ran into more old friends and new ones from church and town. It gave us the "This is right" feeling. Our girls were growing up, and even though many of their friends are new, they aren't really.

The first day of school came two days later. Raleigh helped get the girls dressed and they let him put bows in their hair (such daddy's girls). Maralee was excited, posing for multiple pictures. 

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But, this time it was Adeline that was sad. Her tummy hurt, reminding us of all the doctor's appointments we've had over the summer. A trip to the ENT and several to the asthma and allergy specialist still hasn't stopped the girls from coughing and has resulted in medicine that causes their tummy to hurt. We remind her to tell her teacher if she has to go potty. She finally smiles when mommy makes a silly face. 

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Daddy helps Adeline walk in and I hold Maralee's small hand. "Big girls walk to school," I tell them in the car. They nod their "Okay, Mom" nods.

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They are ready, I remind myself. We get to Mrs. Hollis' door and try for a picture. The transition from parents to teacher was a little too fast and this was the best we got:

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Mrs. Hollis takes our crying girls into the room and Raleigh tells me to go. I follow him outside but keep looking back. I know they are okay but still....

"They're okay," he tells me matter-of-factly. "It's just all the fuss we made with the camera." I shake my head, telling him I understand. We part ways to separate cars. I wait a minute longer, looking back one more time. "They're okay," I tell myself as I start the engine.

First DAys Collage

Driving off, the radio is playing Steven Curtis Chapman's "Cinderella." Really, Joy FM? Of course, I listen and think of my little girls, how much they've grown and how much more they will continue to grow. I couldn't help but remember how three years ago they were so tiny and fragile. Or, two years ago when they cried as I dropped them off to their first Mother's Morning Out and I couldn't decide if they were really old enough to be away from me just one day of the week. I thought about last year, how I made their first day of school outfits and they looked so growny with their first haircuts and how I had to drop them off on the same day I started work, all while Raleigh was in Montgomery. And, now, here we were with them starting K3. How they only have two more years after this and then 1st grade. Time, it truly does pass in the blink of an eye. 

Being a mom, I get scared of time, just like Maralee got scared about the first day of school. I'm scared I'm going to miss something, so I take a million pictures and stay up late to document our lives in this space. I'm scared of our girls always being sick, and us not knowing what the best solution is to make them feel better. I get scared about how the girls are treated as twins, that some kids might never really know the wonderful differences of Adeline and Maralee. I get scared thinking about them possibly not growing up in a neighborhood, and if they will love us or resent us for life in the country. I get scared about a million different things for my children. As their mom, on the first day of school, the only thing I know to do is pray. 

I pray that they will find real friends that will play at their house no matter where it is. I pray that they will always be best friends. I pray for the boys that they will date, the men that they might marry, the children that they could have one day. I pray for their teachers and I pray for people to love them individually and as a pair. I pray for their health and for us to keep them safe without living life in a shell. I pray for their gifts - both spiritually and naturally - and that we nurture them as they grow. I pray for these things, and so many others. 

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The first day of school marks the first day of letting go of fears. It is a day to celebrate, to be proud, to remember how far you've come. It is a day to declare, "You can do this, go and be brave." It's a day to promise that you will be there when it is over, to remind your young one that you will always come. 

We went and got ice cream once I picked them up from school. In between eating marshmallows and gummy bears, Maralee told me she played on the playground. Adeline said she sang new songs as she ate her rainbow ice cream (just like Daddy).  Gone were their fears and tummy aches. 

Question: How was your child's first day of school? 

Till next time, let your light shine!

Blessings, christen

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Because Kids Outgrow Diapers, Not Messes*

Since Ridley has turned one, he has slowly changed from baby to boy. Instead of his usual scoot-crawl, he began to pull up. Pulling up led to a few timid steps and a big smile once he reached my arms. Soon, his little body was able to stay upright and his feet got a little more courageous. Now, at fifteen months, he hangs with the big kids, walking and giggling up and down our halls like a pro.

With his new walking skills, he's gotten way more adventurous. He thinks the toilet paper in the bathroom is a means for an epic celebration and the sippy cups in the kitchen drawer need to be constantly re-arranged. He totters from this room to that, exploring and touching and smiling adorably every time he gets caught.

Another boy-like trait that he continues to develop is his love for food. Just this past Sunday, the child ate one and half corndogs at CovFest. And he wanted more!

Whatever we are eating, he wants a bite and when he finds something he likes, he does this bootie-scoot and laughs. Even though he can't talk, he is saying, "Mom, this is delicious!"

With him being the third child, he naturally goes where we all go. Whether it is the pool or the beach, gymnastics or church, he is right there with us, doing his thing. He is a mess and I find myself having to keep him clean, not only at home but also on-the-go. So, when I got a message that Huggies wanted me to try out their New and Improved Triple Clean Layers at Wal-Mart, I was in. What mom doesn't need wipes?

I like to use Huggies Natural Care wipes for our little man at home. When I went to purchase the wipes, I got some refills so I could have plenty of wipes and then the Pop-Up Tub to store the wipes that I use at his changing table. Then, I put some of the refills in this super cute Clutch 'n' Clean bag in my purse. I carry these with me everywhere!

When we are on-the-go, I usually try to carry diapers, wipes, snacks, and drinks to keep my kids clean and full. This summer, we are going to be all over the place - the beach, the pool, and the park - so I'm constantly keeping all the necessities on hand.

Just this past Monday, we went to the park with a friend and I used the wipes in my Clutch 'n' Clean to get the dirt off his hands before he ate, wipe the sweat off his face from playing in the heat, and also used the wipes to clean his sippy cup every time it fell to the ground as he chased his sisters on the playground.

Now that Ridley is walking, our family is even busier than we were before.With that busyness comes mess that has to be cleaned up. Whenever I get tired of cleaning or going or doing I just remind myself that this is the stage of life that we are in right now and getting overwhelmed with it all does nobody any good. Instead, I take a moment to pause and soak up everything I love about this season of life.

As I watch him chase his sisters in just a diaper after the rain, I am keenly aware that he is growing from baby to boy right in front of my eyes. Because kids outgrow diapers, and not messes*, I know that soon he is going to be digging up dirt, playing with trucks and going on even more adventures.

I know many of you are chasing little ones around the house too so I wanted to share with you these funny videos about being a mom. I'm sure you will relate! :)

Stay in the adventure

Ice Cream Fail

When Babies and Pasta Collide

How to Keep the Play, Not the Dirty 

Thank you to Huggies for sponsoring today’s post and inspiring me to try Huggies Wipes at Walmart!

Till next time, let your light shine!

Blessings, christen

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when time flies {happy 1st birthday Ridley!}

IMG_6361 So, yeah, my baby boy is not such a baby anymore.

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A little over a month ago, he turned one.

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Since then, he's gotten four new teeth and has discovered the awesomeness of toilet paper. He just laughs and looks at me like, "What? I can't help it if the paper keeps coming when I pull." Oh, and he's definitely got a sweet tooth. Just this past Sunday, he made all sorts of noises until I shared my Reese's egg with him. I'll give him credit though, I'd be making all sorts of funny noises if someone didn't share a Reese's egg with me too.

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Anyway, I can't believe he's already one. And I'm sad to say that I'm just now sharing this, almost two months later. But, he's the baby and life is always moving so I'm not going to feel guilty. Hope you enjoy! 

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Happy birthday, sweet Ridley boy.

You've made me understand this past year what the term "mama's boy" really means. I've always considered the term to be directed toward the child, how boys need their moms more than girls do. But ever since I heard you cry, you've been the child that I've loved in a way that my heart still can't put words toward. Maybe it's because you were born healthy or maybe it's because you might be the last child to ever leave my womb but all I know is I'm so grateful to God to be your mom.

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You have a way of making everyone else around you smile. That toothless grin appeared days after you were born and it's only gotten bigger and more full of teeth ever since. And your laugh, oh, that laugh! How can we not laugh right along with you? Thank you for making those around you feel so much better.

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I always wondered how we were going to do it, your dad and I, raising three kids under the age of five. Most people thought we were crazy and many asked if you were a surprise. You were planned and my pregnancy was perfectly timed by God but having you around has surprised me. I'm surprised by how much I love having another child, and how your dad was right. Sweet child, thank you for being the most relaxed baby I've ever met.

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Your sisters have surprised me too. They don't like it when you pull their hair but boy, do they love having you around. The other day, you were standing next to Adeline by the fireplace and I was reminded that you could not have two better big sisters. They are full of boisterous activity, make believe worlds and opinions and you enjoy joining in on their fun, even if it's just crawling around their room.  Thanks to them, you get to pull all the hair you want on their My Little Ponies and Barbie's. You've even claimed Adeline's red toothbrush and chase after Maralee every time she begins to run. I'm glad you've got not only big sisters but forever friends.

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When you went to daycare for the very first time, I didn't know if I could handle it. I've been through every single stage of mommy guilt but I've come to the conclusion that there is just no reason to compare your first year to the girls. They had completely different needs because of their prematurity and we were in a different season of life. It was a hard choice to be a working mom but I don't think you love me any less.

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Because you are the third child, you have had to go with the flow. You usually nap in your car seat and I still don't think we've fed you all your first fruits and vegetables.  But, you've gotten to go to Auburn football games and Disney World and trips to the beach! Your life of adventure has started early and I hope you always see the world with eyes of wonder, ready to explore.

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You aren't walking yet but you sure are close. I've always known this time would come but I have to admit I haven't rushed you into mobility. I like to hold you and already miss nursing you. I want to protect you and keep you close. One of the hardest parts of being your mom is letting go.

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Yep, you are this mama's boy. I'm going to kiss those cheeks for as long as you let me and love you forever. I'll be your biggest cheerleader and always feed you your favorite meal. I'm already praying for the girl you will love one day and for the times when your heart is going to break. I hope you enjoy growing up as a farm boy and enjoy superheros and Star Wars as much as your dad does. One day I'm sure you are going to outgrow your sisters but somehow I know you will always love them with brotherly affection. The world awaits you, Ridley, and I know God's got great plans for your life.

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May the Lord bless you and keep you and always make his face shine upon you.

Happy birthday, son.

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Till next time, let your light shine!

Blessings, christen

 

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