I think this is the only room in the house I haven’t done before & after pictures of, and I wanted to document this yet before we move! :)

The master bedroom seems to be the hardest room to pull together. Often it’s the most neglected room because it’s the least visible to guests, and so the focus goes to the room that are seen more easily.

But I wanted to make this room be a restful place, a room where we could walk into and feel that it’s a sanctuary. For us women, sometimes we tend to make it look a little too feminine, and I didn’t want my husband to feel uncomfortable in his own bedroom. :)

master bedroom in whites and blue

 

Living in an old house gives some great bones to work with. When we first started working in this room, it was covered with old 70′s paneling on the walls, and with sticky tiles on the ceiling. We were going to remove the sticky tiles and paint the wooden ceiling underneath it, but were going to leave the paneling behind and simply paint it. But after tearing out a small section to work on an area, Ben discovered beautiful old boards behind the paneling! So of course the paneling came down too.

Master, before:

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February 2010 036

So, we painted the ceiling a bright white, and I love it.

We painted the walls an off-white creamy color, and then sanded the walls to expose the grain.

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Isn’t it lovely?! Some people have asked if the walls are just primed and need to be painted, so perhaps it’s a little rustic for some people. Our furniture is a bit more traditional and formal though, so I think they work together well.

But taking down the paneling exposed this beautiful brick fireplace! It’s the backside of a fireplace in the music room, and was covered with chipping grey paint. Ben worked so hard to get the paint off of it and expose the original old brick.

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The wooden floors were sanded and restored, and then stained and sealed.

Master bedroom, after:

The sheer panel above our bed was part of our wedding service, as two banners that two boys ran down the center aisle during “Chariots of Fire” processional. I love having it in our room, remembering that special day.

master bedroom

The room is simply decorated, but I added a few personal touches, like framing our wedding invitation.

framed wedding invitation

master bedroom vignette a chair to catch it all

side table

monogrammed pillow

It was last year before I finally decided what to do with this blank space about the two doorways. I wanted something very special, something to do with marriage, but couldn’t decide what. I finally chose to write the traditional marriage vows on a long piece of luan wood, and I loved how it turned out. Marriage is such a beautiful thing, and I wanted the beautiful but practical reminder to love, until death parts us.

wedding vows in the master bedroom

for better or for worse

desk with decor

wooden wall, and candlestick holder for jewelry

 

This has quite possibly become one of my favorite rooms in the house. I love the clean feel it has, the hardwood floors, and the wooden walls and ceiling. It has so much texture, and I love that!

But mostly, I love that it feels like a retreat, a restful place. This room I try to keep the cleanest of all; no extras or  junk that can easily pile in other places of the house.

I’d love to hear from you! What is it that makes a master bedroom special to you all?

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We are entering a time of much transition and change in our little family. God is directing us, and we are following.  A big move is in the not-so-distant future, and we are saying goodbye to our little cottage and to the people who have made Georgia home for us.

There are so many bittersweet emotions I hardly know how to process them. We are sad about who we’re leaving, and we’re excited about what we’re moving to. But Southeast Georgia has been home for my husband nearly all his life, and home for me the past nine year – almost a third of my life!

morning coffee

I have reflected a lot on the past 9 years of my life (yikes, that makes me feel old when I think back 9 years!!), and realize what a gift I’ve been given in this time. What makes a place Home is not the house or the location as much as the people in your life. Relationships are what make life rich and meaningful, and without them, life is lonely.

When I moved to Georgia as a bride of one year, newly-wedded, I remember the pounding heart within me. I was scared to death because I knew no one. Ben (my husband) had some family who lived nearly, but I had only met them a few times and really didn’t know them at all. And other people I knew even less. I recognized a couple of faces, but that was it. I was terrified!!

It’s hard to sum up those first few years. I grew up as a northern girl, enjoying the city and classical music. When I moved south, it was small-town and country music. The differences were not wrong at all; as I learned while on a mission trip in my teens or early twenties, “Not good, not bad, just different!” However, I was not prepared for the cultural differences I would face. A culture that I’ve learned to love, and that I will miss tremendously. But I wasn’t expecting the United States to have such different cultures!

These nine years have brought an incredible amount of change. I arrived a young girl-bride: I’m leaving a woman, married ten years, and mother of three precious children. We purchased a cottage over five years ago and turned it into home, and in less than a week, it will no longer be ours.

Bittersweet emotions!! Whew.

mantel greens

But I’ve been reflecting on the people that I’ve learned to know here. People that have impacted my life, that have shown me community, that have taught me so much. I’m not going to name them because I could never give enough of credit to people, but I want to tell you some things about the people here. I’ve changed, and become a better person because of them.

I grew up in a family of three sisters and two brothers, and let me tell you – that is the BEST thing in the world! I feel so rich, and absolutely love my family!

But the move south took me almost a thousand miles from anyone in my family. And for someone who spent a lot of time with my sisters, that was a big adjustment. Like, HUGE. I’d ask my sisters’ advice on outfits, and we’d talk about anything, and we just did life together. And when I moved away, we’ve still kept in touch and only grown closer, but the reality is, you need people with skin on right where you are.

front porch boxwoods lovely boxwoods

confederate jasmine

And that’s when I began understanding more of the beauty of community, and experiencing it for myself. I didn’t have my  family close by; my community became my family. I didn’t have sisters to do things with; but my friends became like sisters.

I’ve learned so much from my friendships and community her, I think it would be impossible to sum it up and give due credit. But I want to tell you about some things that have made life rich for me. I don’t even know how to begin talking about this one. But friends have become family, and they mean so much to me.

We’ve picked strawberries together.
We’ve baked Christmas cookies together.
We’ve babysat each other kids while we gone on dates.
We help each other pack up when we move and help to paint.
We’ve done picnics at the park and beach days together.
We’ve done ladies’ nights out and howl with laughter at the stories we tell.
They brought me freezer meals because we’re moving and eveyrone knows that freezer meals are a mother’s love langue, and made me cry, because they know exactly what helps the most in a busy season.
When we have babies, we bring each other meals.
We love on each other’s kids almost like our own nieces and nephews.

There are ways they’ve cared for me, that have made me think, “Why haven’t I ever thought of that?!”

lilies and crystals

I’ve had friends who have brought me homemade cookies, fresh baked muffins, Frosty’s from Wendy’s, Strawberry Limeaid from Sonic, Blizzards from DQ.

Friends who have brought food, friends who have given gift cards for restaurants… Food isn’t just the way to a man’s heart; it’s also the way to a mama’s heart. :) (And especially to mine.).

I have a friend who have packed little travel bags for my kids when we had to travel north suddenly for a tragic funeral, and I was numb with pain and grief and couldn’t think to do anything myself.

I have a friend who, during a busy day of moving, offered to come get our bedding and wash it. That was five years ago and I still remember it clear as day, because it was SO thoughtful and helpful!

I have a friend who is extremely talented in photography, who has been so kind to me. She knows so much about photography, editing, and pretty much everything picture related. And she has answered questions, taken time to show me things on my camera, explained the edited program in great detail when I was completely lost… I credit so much of what I know about photography and editing to her, and to her kindness in teaching me, whether she realized it our not!

There are friends who are a few years older than I am, but that have taken the time to include me in their life. They have walked similar journeys but are ahead of me a bit in life, and I have loved learning from them, from their motherhood, from their walk with Jesus.

girls bedroom vignette

Some of them have been transplants from other communities, left their families and mamas and knew what it meant to say goodbye to all that they knew. It has meant to much to me to be able to learn from them, and to hear what helped them adjust and adapt. They are the ones who asked me “Are you okay?” when I first moved here, and when I burst into tears at the question because I was so not okay at the moment, they were not scared of my tears. And even hearing what has been hard for them is comforting, and been a safe place for me to sometimes shed some tears on their shoulders. I am so grateful for their friendship.

I have friends who are neighbors, who have involved me in community life, in things like amazing Christmas events such as Lauren’s gingerbread-house-decorating-party that has gone viral on Pinterest because it was just SO gorgeous. Friends who have invited me to local events and helped me to get to know people in the community, who invited me into their world, their circle of friendships, even though that took time and effort. I’ve so appreciated the way they have taught me more about the southern culture, about what is considered proper and culturally correct just by their gracious example.

ferns and panels

People ask me if I’m sad about leaving my house, this little cottage that we’ve spent a lot of time working on the past 5 years. And yes, I am sad about leaving my house, but it’s just a house. What I’m really sad about it leaving people. Leaving relationships that have been years in the making, that have so much richness, so many memories, such love and care and support. While I am anticipating what is ahead for us, the reality also is that leaving is hard. Saying goodbye is hard.

And so I want to say thank you to these people in South Georgia that have made this home for me. That have been patient even with my cultural blunders. That have laughed when I didn’t understand their southern drawl, and liked me anyway. That have accepted me and welcomed me into their world, and let me be a part of it. I am a rich person for knowing all of you, and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to live here with you to learn to know you beautiful souls. I will miss you so much.

And so it’s not goodbye, but an “until next time.”
I love you, South Georgia!

attic office

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  antique roses

Since the remodeling upstairs and adding the three dormers last fall, I’ve been wanting to do a before & after post of the outside of the Cottage, just to show the hard work that my husband has done!

This spring, with the fresh, bright-green growth of the trees:

cottage exterior

The dormers aren’t too visible in this picture, but I like that it shows the fence that we added soon after we moved here (after our one-year old gave us a terrible scare on the road), and the arbor Ben built that mirrors that design of the front porch.

But this is the house when we first bought it. Um, yes. It was sad. Very very sad.

Before: Winter, 2010

cottage exterior before

cottage side before

Having a husband who not only can do anything with wood and construction and is so gifted with working with his hands, but who enjoys it as well, is so wonderful. He has transformed this place into a beautiful cozy home.

After: Spring, 2015

cottage exterior  front view

cottage exterior and white picket fence

 

Changes we’ve made:

-Painted the entire exterior of the house
-Painted the metal roof
-Added wooden shutters
-Added three dormers (which look as thought they’ve always belonged here in the first place)
-Painted the front porch, pillars, and columns
-Added the picket fence and arbor
-Added landscape

cottage with the morning light

This little cottage has been a beautiful haven for us the past 5 years that we’ve lived here. It’s seen our daughter take her first steps, it’s seen us bring our son home from the hospital, it’s been filled with tears and laughter and memories and sentimental things we’ll remember forever. We’ve learned to know some of our neighbors, and some of them feel like family and I love them dearly! We’ve lived in the city, and I’ve absolutely loved it – we can walk to the coffee shop/ice cream shop, I’ve probably run a rut down the streets where I do my running loops, we are right across the street from the park and the pool… It’s been such a beautiful season, and a beautiful gift to live here.

I’ve alluded to it sometimes, but it really is true: we are moving from our beloved little Cottage at 341 South. The house sold quickly – the first people to look at it bought it – but I feel jealous over it, like no one else will ever be able to love it like we do. :) But the Lord is directing us to a different place, and so we’re following, with both sadness and anticipation. Sadness for what we’re leaving behind (the cottage, yes, but more importantly, relationships, which are far more valuable than a house), and also anticipation for what the Lord has ahead for us.

It’s been a time of much emotion for us as we do the “lasts” – last beach day, last ladies’ get together, last pool day, last….. We will be entering a different season for our family, and we ask for prayers as we transition. It’s been busy for the kids, and anyone with children knows that they do best on a very normal schedule. Ours have been anything but normal the past few months, so we’ve had some challenges with that and helping our kids walk through this time, while processing ourselves. I hope to pop in here a few more times in the next week or two, just so that I can document a few more things for ourselves, but we’ll see. :)

Happy Tuesday, Lovelies!

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If you ever come to my house and I don’t answer the front door, this is where you’ll find me:

Patio Complete 048

 

I never knew that an outdoor space could feel like another room in the house, but this area does. I think it’s the pergola that gives it a “room” feel, and even though there are no walls or privacy fences, I can still sit there and feel like I’m in my personal outdoor living room. I cannot even tell you all how much I love this space!!

A huge part of that loving comes because of how improved it is. If you’ve been following the Cottage blog for any period of time, you know we bought this house as a foreclosure, at a time when it needed a lot of work. The inside was our focus for the first couple of years, and finally last spring we started doing more outside projects. Our front porch was first, and then, on July 4th weekend a year ago, we started the back patio.

My husband is very careful to do things debt-free, and so we have not done some of the bigger projects around here until recently, after we were able to save up for them. So that makes the finished product even more exciting. When you wait for something, it becomes even more special! :)

This is what it looked like for the first 4 years we were here. Lovely in its time, but with many years of wear and tear the boards were rotting and falling in, and they gave many splinters to poor bare feet!

{Before, July 2014}

back porch before

deck - before

 

Soooo, the perks of having a husband who can do literally ANYTHING with wood are pretty awesome. He can envision something, and make it and built it. I can decorate it when it’s finished, but he’s been the vision behind most of what we’ve done here at the Cottage. He’s really great like that.

So, to give a little perspective of where this is (and there were some people who thought this is the front porch – no, it’s the back deck, off the back/side of the house :)) , this is the view from the front of the house.  The back deck is only slightly visible, so it gives a very private feel sitting back there.

 

cottage front view

First off: tear off the old deck, beginning on July 4th, 2014

tearing it down

The process of tear-out was quick and easy, and then the building took a bit longer because of working at it evenings and weekends for several weeks a month or two. The entire process from beginning to end, including staining the wood and all of that, wasn’t finished up until November. So! We don’t do everything super fast around here. ;)

The little man was so thrilled with his apprenticeship to construction.

little mancub daddys helper

And I even got out there with a drill - because my husband taught me to love that kind of thing too. :)

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And things slowly started taking shape…

learning that work is fun

backporch living

The first dinner on the patio – enjoying it even before it was completely finished because we were just THAT excited about it.

first dinner on the new deck
Art time – outside! When they find me outside in the mornings, sometimes they’ll bring their own things outside and we’ll all be together for a while.

mornings on the porch art on the porch

 

Break time.

taking a break

And adding the final touches  – finishing the pillars, putting lights on the pergola, staining the wood, planting ferns and shrubs in planters…

I love lots of whites indoors, but out here, I wanted lush green and full of color. It feels like my happy place.

Patio Complete 032 patio pillars

 

{And after, July, 2015}

Unless it’s raining, this is where you’ll find me, every morning. I’ll even wipe off the raindrops from the table and chairs if I need to, so that I can use this lovely spot. My Bible, a hot cup of coffee, and quiet time outside = the best way to begin a day!

My view from the kitchen door. I mean. I cannot even resist going out there. My love of running is even being affected because I just want to BE HERE.

the patio room

 

morning quiet time

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French-pressed café al fresco, anyone?

 

cafe al fresco

And these little cuties that sleepily join me after a while… ♥♥  Sometimes it all feels like a beautiful happy dream, these moments of my life, with my precious children.

morning risers

 

Sometimes I can hardly believe this is the same location; same outdoor furniture, same potted plants, but a whole new design.

Patio Complete 038

 

Friends and visitors are welcome! :)

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You all know by now how much I love my Plexus products. :) Because I’ve experienced such a complete health change, I cannot help but be so grateful! And when I daily hear stories of people being so helped by the products, I’m excited!

So I know there are some super healthy people out there and you don’t feel that you need Plexus, and that is just fine. I am so happy for you, that you are healthy and well!

But for those who are curious, who are looking for something to bring better health to their families, I just wanted to let you know about a special going on this weekend! This will be short and sweet! :)

Sooo, if you are…

1. Someone who wants to get healthy.
2. Someone who wants to lose 10 Ibs. or more.
3. Someone who wants stronger hair/nails.
4. Someone who needs help managing stress or getting focused.
5. Someone who eats cheat meals every now and then.
6. Someone who wants to get rid of a muffin top.
7. Someone who wants to be less anxious.
8. Someone who wants to build their immune system
9. Someone who needs to eat less sugar
10. Someone who loves to workout.
11. Someone who wants to sleep better at night
12. Someone with aches and pains
13. Someone who wants to drink more water.
14. Someone who wants more energy.
15. Someone who is tired of taking medication.
16. Someone who wants to reduce C-section scars.
17. Someone who wants to balance their hormones out or has thyroid issues. 

18. Someone who wants to be free of monthly cramps.
19. Someone who wants to increase their breast milk supply.
20. Someone who wants to experience less morning sickness.

… then you would love Plexus!!

And if you want a great deal on the products and want to get them at MY cost (wholesale pricing), then you’ll want to consider this 1/2 price membership special! This weekend only, from July 3-5th, anyone can join for $17.95. This gives you access to all the products at the best price possible.

The beauty of this is that there is also a business opportunity that comes with this deal! It comes with your own website so others can order  Plexus products through you. But, you do not have to sell products in order to become an ambassador! Many people join just for their own price benefits.

It doesn’t get any better than this! Here’s your chance to get ALL of your Plexus products at wholesale pricing for an entire year for just $17.76!!!

Whether you join to take advantage of the great discounts on products or for the incredible business opportunity, it’s a win/win! No tricks.

 

happy independence day from plexus
Do you like to hear other people’s stories and opinions? Me too!

Here’s a beautiful story to watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AIFzQZhAU1s

And if you’re curious about what the products do, here is a nutritionist that talks about them: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrZAwP2oE6A&feature=youtu.be

If this is something you’re interested in and have questions about, feel free to message me in the ‘contact’ tab on my blog.

Or if you’re ready to join, click on the ‘Plexus’ tab at the top of my blog, then ‘Join Plexus”! This will give you the sign-up steps. :)

And, if you’d like to be eligible to win a 7-day trial of the Plexus Slim, leave a comment with the numbers of 1-20 that apply to you in the “someone who” above. A winner will be chosen on Monday!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

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a peek in the room

 

So when the attic renovations were completed, and a bedroom was made upstairs for the little girls, a little boy suddenly had his own room. For the first time in his nearly-three years! We won’t really discuss whether or not he especially liked this idea, but we can mention that because of having only two bedrooms for all of his life, until now sleeping alone wasn’t an option for him. Now that it IS an option, I’ll venture to say that “fun” and “exciting” wouldn’t really be the vocabulary of choice to describe his feelings on sleeping alone, although he is so proud of his room. Perhaps he spends more time playing in this space than actually sleeping? Who knows. :)

Last fall I showed a few pictures of this room when all three kiddos were sharing. And now it’s a space just for Hudson. Yes, it is completely possible for three children to share a bedroom, AND to be organized [mostofthetime] meanwhile. However! I have been so amazed at how two extra bedrooms really do give so much breathing room, and how things can feel so much more organized!! And I’m all the more grateful now for the extra space, rather than just taking it for granted.

So this space for Hudson is simple, and I don’t have a lot of pictures.  I wanted a neutral and understated theme, with room on the floor for Legos and train tracks and those boy toys that we now have. :) I also wanted items that I could use in various ways in the future, not just “baby boy room” accessories.

Hudson’s bed was a toddler-size bed we found at an antique shop when Zoe was a baby, and it has been a treasure ever since! Why don’t they make things as awesome anymore, I have no idea.

It took a bit of effort to make it look boy-ish in that corner, but a few little touches and it came together.

  an antique toddler bed

the old bed

special friends

decor with oars

cross blanket

Opposite of the bed is a large wall map and a teepee - and yes, the kids play that they are Indians [just as I had hoped they would use their imagination]. But Hudson has been found to take naps in there as well, and it’s a fun little hide-out too.

 

teepees and big maps

the fireplace wall

a little teepee

teepees and big maps

teepee and map art
And a little pail of tennis rackets sits in the corner as well.

a collection of tennis rackets

And that’s our little boy’s room. Sometimes the most simple is the best of all. Or maybe it’s the more kids I have, the more I like things simple (i.e. less clutter)? Either way, there it is! :)

Happy Tuesday, friends!

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Sources:
Bed: antique store
Light fixture: yard sale
Swiss Cross Blanket: amazon
Black and White Aztec pillow: IKEA
Teepee: made by us
Black and White Wall Map: Urban Outfitters
Black and White Cross Rug: Urban Outfitters
Cardboard Deer Mount: Little Wanderers (out of stock) but similar found here

 

It has been a most precious month for me and my family!

First of all, last fall two of my sisters announced their pregnancies, and they happened to be due within a month of each other. :) And then my sister-in-law announced her pregnancy, right around the same time. I mean, seriously. It doesn’t get more fun than that!

There has been so much joy in anticipation of these little babies. I come from a long line of baby lovers, and there are few things are beautiful and precious and that bring such celebration as new little people entering the world!

Introducing: Canon Christopher, and Harrison Jude
(a.k.a. Most Handsome Little Babies on the Planet)

two baby boys

There was also so much prayer. Because of what happened to my sister’s first baby a year ago, we were reminded that life is such an amazing gift, and that we can take nothing for granted. Often we tend to think if a pregnancy goes past the first trimester then we can breathe a sigh of relief that everything is okay! But each new stage is such a precious gift, and each day is a gift to enjoy and bring life to the little one within.

I’m not even the mother of these new little babies, but I’ll be honest; it was a battle for me with trust vs. fear. We’ve walked through death of a little one with my sister and her husband’s baby, and realize that things do not always go as planned, or as expected. So even for me as a sister walking along with them, it was a constant choice I had to make to not live in fear of what could happen, but rather choose to trust and bring my fears to the Lord through prayer. There were no guarantees that these pregnancies would bring healthy babies full of life. There is never a guarantee in all of life! All we do know is that God is faithful, and that He can be trusted, no matter what we face. Even when what we face is death, and pain, and the deepest sorrow we can imagine.

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Zoe and Olivia with the babies

Watching my sisters walk through their pregnancies has been so amazing. I may be the older sister, but my younger sisters amaze me, and challenge me. Of course they had moments of fear and being afraid of the unknown. Absolutely. But they chose to not stay in that paralyzing grip of fear, even though the outcome was not known. There were times an extra checkup happened, just for peace of mind if a baby wasn’t moving as much as usual. There were times when they asked for prayer because of the fear they felt. When a death has happened so close to you, you don’t just assume everything will be fine. But neither do you need to live paralyzed by fear. Fear can actually be a tool used for deeper trust, for a chance for the tears to fall and the hands to open in an “I choose to trust you, Jesus, even though I don’t know what is going to happen.”

I feel like I have learned so much from my sisters, from their walk of faith and trust through this past year. It’s not every big sister that can say this, but I can: my sisters are some of my heroes. Not because they’re perfect - because not a one of us is! – but because of how they choose to live and not give way to emotions and fears that could be so tormenting. So a shout-out to you beautiful ladies. I’m so proud of you!

  such joy claudia is a mommy!

And there is something so amazing about pain. Never in a million years would we ever choose for Little Kenny to have left us so soon. We still miss him, someone we never met or knew in this life.

But pain has a way of teaching us about joy too. Because while a new baby in the family would have been precious and brought joy anytime, after a time of pain, the joy only increases. We are made so much more aware of the gifts we do have, of the gift life truly is. Our heart is stretched to receive joy, to feel the heights of joy, to remember the sacredness of life. I don’t think I’ve ever cried so much from happiness as I did when these two little baby boys were born, and all was well! And seeing my sisters as mothers, and their sacred but wild joy and love… It’s amazing. I can’t even describe it, but it feels like I’m walking on holy ground. The way God can work even in the middle of pain, even because of pain, is just amazing. Only God can do that – cause joy to become even deeper. I see it in my sisters eyes, even my sister who is not yet a mother. There is a deeper awe of the gifts we do have. A realization that life is precious, so so SO PRECIOUS.

they are a family! love is multiplied a little family

I’m going to cry in my little corner of Starbucks now, just as I started crying when I was edited these pictures. I cannot even tell you how PRECIOUS these little boys are. If a heart could explode from sheer joy and love, we would all be dead and gone. Because there is so much joy and blessings – two little boys who will be almost like twins (born two weeks apart), their mommies were best friends since forever ago (and they never fought: I’m their sister, and even our mother says they never fought. How is that even possible? I’m trying to get my two daughters to catch that memo). It’s just so much wonderful.

newborn Harrison dimple baby the little family

ervina and her baby

It was so special to see these two little boys within a few weeks after they were born, along with my husband’s little nephew, who was born within days of little Canon. His was a bit of a scare, coming more than a month early, and we are so grateful that everything is okay with little Benson. Yes, there are babies everywhere! It’s the most wonderful thing in the world! I only want ten more of my own now.

we love our nephews

Hudson meeting one of his little boy cousins.

  Hudson meets Harrison

And I never expected to have to fight compete with my own daughters about who gets to hold the babies. For real.

two baby boys 002

 I finally get to get to be Auntie Clarita! It is even more wonderful than I imagined.

my heart is bursting

 So many thanks to those of you who prayed and celebrated with us! What a beautiful thing the body of Christ is!

And now I just want to go kiss these little babies!!

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