I thought I'd follow up that last post and share these pictures of the boys with Peaches. We have actually claimed her as our own, but I'm just hoping shes not pregnant or I'll be out there midwifing the stray cat.

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The Reluctant Cat Lady

I texted Joey this picture the other day and just said, "who are we?'

Living out in the "country" it seems our area is a place to drop off unwanted cats. Our current count is 5, just this summer.  They are all looking a little worse for the wear, definitely using up their 9 lives. You have Peaches, who only has half a tail, and lived under our house all winter without us realizing it. Then there is Smoky, the gray cat (obv our kids and 10 year old neighbor are naming these :)) who looks like he's seen some things. Then in the back there is Rocket Racoon, who we are pretty sure we actually saw die and come back to life.

I called the Animal Shelter here, and they don't even take cats.
So, now you have me, the reluctant cat lady, hand washing their food bowls and feeding them on my porch.
I don't even like cats.

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Random Ramblings

Shep started school last week, and let me tell you this is a whole new world for us. We are worn out!
Between having to wake up a lot earlier to get ready and get him to school on time, and then having to leave in the middle of the day to get him, and the car line has taken an hour to get through no matter what time I've gotten there (and all 3 of them whine/cry the entire time)...its just been a long week. Major wakes up as soon as he hears Shep stir and Breaker hasn't been able to nap because we leave to get Shep during his nap time. I'm hoping next week when Major starts school we can get on a better schedule and Breaker can go back to napping. All summer Breaker has been taking a 4 hour nap in the middle of the day. It is amazing, then he still goes to bed around 8 and sleeps through the night, and still sleeps in later than his brothers. Part of it is that he is not actually sleeping, he just likes to lay in bed and play with his stuffed animals. I let him stay in bed as long as he wants, he just calls for me when he's ready to get out. The poor guy has been so tired all week.

I decided about a month before Shep started school that I wanted to take a social media break and just make sure I was focusing on him and enjoying my last month of summer with my kids before he started school. Well it was enlightening to just go cold turkey off Facebook and Instagram and I decided to just stay off it awhile longer. I'm sure I'll go back at some point, but I just felt such positive effects from not being on it, that I knew I'd be doing myself and my family a disservice to go back. I'm going to do another full post on this later.

I have three shows I'm loving right now:

First, a highlight of every summer is Big Brother. I used to refuse to watch it because I for some reason thought the premise was just like The Real World. (BTW I was thinking the other day that with all these tv show revivals they should bring that back.) Anyway, Big Brother is nothing like The Real World. It is a game and people get voted off every week and it is so good! I think the reason I like it so much is you can't look up spoilers ahead of time. The eviction takes place live every week. With shows like the Bachelor its so easy to get spoilers without even trying and that just ruins it for me. I like that this show you never know whats going to happen week to week.

Speaking of the Bachelor, Bachelor in Paradise is another summer highlight. I am surprisingly loving Jordan, the male model. I literally laugh out loud at him. #jordanforbachelor I also think Kevin seems like a really good guy and I love Kendall.

I've been saying forever that we need to watch this show, so this week Joey and I started binge watching Friday Night Lights. I know, I know, we are about a decade behind. One of my friends described it as "Parenthood with football" and there really couldn't be a better endorsement in my book. We are about 6 episodes in and loving it.

OK, super random but this just amazes me. I have all of these old baby dresses of mine and they are all stained. I looked it up and it doesn't matter that they were clean when my mom put them into storage, there is a protein in milk that breaks down over time and causes the yellow stains. I've noticed it when I get back out the boys baby clothes and I'm like I know these stains were not here when I put them away. Anyway, look how well they cleaned up! I get them wet then rub Fels Naptha on the stain, let it sit, then soak it overnight in Oxiclean, then wash it on delicate and let it lay flat to dry. I can't wait for Chapel to wear these :)

OH and next time you're at Walmart, get yourself some Fels Naptha. Its in the laundry aisle, bottom row, 97 cents. Its a handy little thing to have around for stains, especially baby poop stains!

Last, I love hearing what makeup other people use, especially compared to expensive brands. Laura Mercier Secret Concealer has always been my go to for under eyes. But I don't live close to a Sephora anymore and I never think to order it until I'm already out and desperate. This Wet n Wild concealer works just as well and it is so much cheaper! I actually think I like it better because its in a stick instead of a pot.

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Major's Prayers

This child. He has one volume: loud. He never stops talking, all day long. He goes hard from sun up to sun down. The slightest noise, the littlest bit of light, he is up for the day and he doesn't ever stop. He gets fully dressed, on his own, as soon as he wakes up, ready for whatever the day holds. His clothes never match and he changes his shirt 5x a day. He loves motorcycles and skateboard tricks and superheros. He has the biggest imagination of anyone I've ever met. He'll take inspiration from anywhere. He is a scuba diver, jumping off the couch into the ocean. He is a mean lion, hunting his next meal. "Mom, pretend I'm a police officer...a motorcycle man...a little baby." He weaves big tales and tells them with such attention to detail that you believe him. He calls Chapel his "Chapel Apple" and his "beautiful girl" and tells her shes the "cutest baby ever", every day. He asks Breaker and Shepherd for hugs, and asks if we can snuggle on the couch. He carries tadpoles in his pockets. He's a wild child, but more than that he is the sweetest. 
Every night he says his prayers and Joey and I just want to weep.

On the night before Shep started kindergarten, this was Major's prayer:
"Dear God and Jesus, please be with Shepherd tomorrow and let him know that I'm always by his side even when he can't see me 'cause he is far away at school. I hope his teacher is a nice lady. Please take care of us always and always take care of us, remember that. Amen."

The purest soul!!!

Some other prayers:

"Dear Jesus, Thanks for taking care of us, and loving us. Please let our future be as nice as it can be. Please let the world be as happy as it can be. Please let the flowers have blooms as big and beautiful as can be. Amen."

"Dear God, Thanks for letting me have a daddy and Shepherd and Breaker and the cutest baby, and Mommy, and hugs and kisses and loves and kisses and hugs and Daddy. Amen."

My prayer for him, is that he always has confidence. I think he is the coolest guy I've ever met, and I want him to have confidence in himself, so he can grow into the most vivid version of himself. The world needs him!!

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Dragonfly in Amber 2.0

I posted this a few years ago, here.
But I love it so much, I wanted to post it again with pictures of all my babies.

 Babies are soft. Anyone looking at them can see the tender, fragile skin and know it for the rose-leaf softness that invites a finger's touch.  But when you live with them, and love them, you feel the softness going inward, the round-cheeked flesh wobbly as custard, the boneless splay of the tiny hands.  Their joints are melted rubber, and even when you kiss them hard, in the passion of loving their existence, your lips sink down and seem never to find bone.  Holding them against you, they melt and mold, as though they might at any moment flow back into your body.

But from the very start, there is that small streak of steel within each child.  That things that says, "I am," and forms the core of personality.

In the second year, the bone hardens and the child stands upright, skull wide and solid, a helmet protecting the softness within.  And "I am" grows, too.  Looking at them, you can almost see it, sturdy as heartwood, flowing through the translucent flesh.

The bones of the face emerge at six, and the soul within is fixed at seven.  The process of encapsulation goes on, to reach its peak in the glossy shell of adolescence.  When all softness then is hidden under the nacreous layers of the multiple new personalities that teenagers try on to guard themselves.

In the next years, the hardening spreads from the center as one finds and fixes the facets of the soul, until "I am" is set, delicate and detailed as an insect in amber.

-Diana Gabaldon, Dragonfly in Amber

Chapel Raines: 5 months
Breaker Blue: 2 years
Major William: 4 years
Shepherd Nash: 6 years

Could you not just weep!?
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Shepherd's 1st Day of Kindergarten

We survived the first week of school! This is a whole new world to us. We are all adjusting to a new routine and waking up earlier. Then in a little over a week, we'll adjust again when Major starts preschool. Major has really been missing Shep while he's at school. I never realized how much Shep keeps my little busy bee Major occupied during the day. Whew I'm exhausted. That kid doesn't quit. 
Shep was a little teary on the first day, but after that he's been happy to go each day. He does tell me everyday that he won't be fully happy until I let him ride the bus. That car line is a beast so maybe I should consider it ;)

I asked Shep some questions, I think I'll try and ask each of them the same questions every year on the first day of school. 

How old are you?

Favorite color?

Favorite food?
Red apples, fruit pouches and cashews

Favorite TV show?

Favorite holiday?

Favorite movie?
The Polar Express

Favorite toy/stuffed animal?
Marshall to sleep with every night, Thomas minis

Favorite thing to do with Mom?

Favorite thing to do with Dad?
Play the shark game

Favorite thing to do with Maj?
Play outside

Favorite thing to do with Break?
Read him books

Favorite thing to do with Chapel?
Make her smile

What are you most excited about for school?
Having a locker, playing outside

What are you most nervous about?

What do you want to be when you grow up?
Train conductor and scientist
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Today my baby starts Kindergarten

Tomorrow Shepherd starts Kindergarten. I KNOW it is so cliche, but I remember it like it was yesterday, bringing home my tiny baby and how giant that crib seemed when we put him in it. 

I guess its because he's my first, but I so vividly remember every stage of his life. Waking up all throughout the night when he was a newborn, checking my What to Expect When You're Expecting app and reading the mom boards (it was a different time), texting my friend Lindsay at 3am because I knew she was up with her baby, too. Literally crawling on my hands and knees out of his room after laying him in his crib, because the slightest noise would wake him up. Sitting in his room, reading the same books over and over and over...."Clap your hands and make a sound, wiggle your fingers all around. Count your eyes, one and two. What color are they? Brown, green or blue?" Walks around the neighborhood, I was always nervous because he was a runner, and I never knew when he would just take off. When I drive past our old house, its like I can close my eyes and see my old self walking those sidewalks with my him, waiting for dad to get home. How good he was with Major, always laying on him and giving him kisses, bringing him a paci or toys if he cried. When his train obsession started. On a whim, Joey bought one of the Thomas mini blind bags and the rest is history. We own every single Thomas mini ever made and they are still Shepherd's favorite toy. I love those minis just as much as he does. Joey and I and our family members have stalked every Walmart when we were in the thick of the collecting, trying to get him new ones. We were the crazy people in the toy aisle, trying to hold the plastic bag up to the light to try and see which train was inside. Shepherd and I made a grand list of every train, checkmarked what we had, listed what we needed, then looked up on the internet to find what code would be marked on the back on the blind bags so we could all be on the look out. He was smitten when Breaker was born. He said he was his baby and to this day, he is. Shepherd absolutely coddles Breaker. Starting preschool, walking him in that first day. He started in January and I was nervous for him to come in, in the middle of the school year, but he did great. How much he loved "rolling down the hill" after I picked him up. He is such a ringleader. All of the kids in his class would talk about "rolling down the hill with Shepherd." I would literally overhear them asking their parents if they could as they were walking out of class. He totally made that a thing.

When I was pregnant with Shepherd, I so vividly remember laying on the bed in our guest room, bawling my eyes out because I didn't want to go back to work, I wanted to be with him. But I went back to work and cried, and couldn't wait for 4pm so I could rush across town and pick him up from his babysitter's house. I would go in and even though I still had to drive back across town to get home, I couldn't help myself but to squeeze him and love on him and just ooh and ahh over him before putting him in his carseat. I just missed him so much I didn't want to wait another 10 minutes to drive home before I did that.

My life's biggest blessing was losing my job, only a few weeks after I went back to work. I don't think I ever would have quit working because I wouldn't have thought we could afford it. But my job's grant didn't get renewed, and I had no choice but to be a stay at home mom and we figured it out. Honest to God I will never be more thankful for anything in my life. The past 6 years of being home with all of my babies, the gift of not being busy. My kids wake up when they want to wake up, they eat when they're hungry, they nap when they're tired. We're never rushed, we have freedom to do whatever we want with our days. I will never stop thanking God for that.
I hope and pray that I've given these years justice.
I would go back and do it all again.

For the next 13 years, he'll spend the majority of his day somewhere else. For the past 6 years, I've been his biggest influence. (Dear Jesus, I'm sorry he knows the F word.)
For the next 13 years, he'll be influenced, good or bad, by new kids and teachers. I have to give him up and I don't want to. But he was never really mine, and he never will be. He's a child of God, and I have to let go and let God.
I've prayed over this so much. For his school, for the friends he will make, the teachers he will be assigned. I've prayed for protection over him and his school. People are crazy. Please take care of him when I can't. Protection, protection, protection. Protect his mind, his heart, his body.
The things he will be exposed to because of what other kids have seen, and how they've been raised...oh it makes me terrified. Let go and let God. 

 Joey is dropping him off tomorrow on his own. I want to go, but 1. I know I will cry, and 2. I would have to bring the other three and it would just be a circus. I think he will do better with Joey anyway. Joey has a calming effect on people.
We are hoping for a great day...and I'll be first in the car rider line waiting for school to let out ;)

How did this happen so fast??

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Meme Monday

I just thought this was funny.

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Kentucky Down Under

For Christmas last year, one of the boys presents from my parents was tickets to go to Kentucky Down Under and see the kangaroos. We didn't even realize there was going to be a cave and that was so cool too. Also terrifying because we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into and Joey carried our infant through the whole thing while wearing flip flops and trying not to slip. In hindsight one of us should have sat the cave out and stayed with Chapel. Memories ;)

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Catching up!

I'm finally caught up on my month by month posts for Chapel, so I thought I'd post just some random pics of life lately. I just realized most of what I've posted about recently has been Chapel. I've done it for all of my boys, I can't leave her hanging!

Well lets see. Life lately...Shepherd starts Kindergarten next week (more on that later), and Major starts 4 day a week preschool in September.  Part of me could weep over it, and part of me is like YESSSSS. If I didn't have so many kids, I would homeschool...but Mama needs a break.
I'll only have 2 kids at home, and knock on wood, they both still nap!! Chapel, obviously, and Breaker is an amazing napper as of right now, so I'm praying it stays that way and maybe all the stars will align and they will both take a long nap at the same time while both the boys are at school and I'll have a few minutes to feel FREEEE!! *Crosses fingers*

We've done a ton of house projects this summer. Made a playground in the backyard, built a fence, painted the entire exterior of our house, landscaped the new fenced in area, landscaped and mulched the front yard. We weren't planning on landscaping the sides of the house, but Joey overestimated how much mulch we needed, and we have a ton leftover so we need to use it.

Chapel is an angel girl and has all of us wrapped around her finger. Her brothers looove her.

 Did I put on here that Joey got a new job and is working 10 minutes away from home now, versus the 30+ minute commute each way that he had before. That has been amazzzzzzing.

Here's more pictures I haven't shared yet!

 Going way back to my mom and Grandma staying with me right after Chapel was born.

How does Major look 15? This kid was just born cool.

Cute Breakie.

 2017 --> 2018
Added a little girl stroller in the back and next month Lindsay will add another little girl to this crew.

 Chapel's first girls night!

 Someone posted this and I took a screenshot...Tara and I right when we got to college!

Breaker and his hair goals. I'd pay a lot of money for those hightlights.

 Random dinner with just 2 kids, I can't remember why but Jen had the other two.

Goes to bed cute and wakes up cute!!

 An art gallery downtown asked kids to come in and decorate rocks to add to their garden, so we went down and made our contribution.

I'm so thankful that my kids love each other and get along so well (most of the time).

Little spot in my kitchen.

I don't remember what happened, but Joey for some reason told Breaker no about something, and this is the reaction he got. Absolutely pitiful. All of our kids were always like this...Joey can tell them no in the most gentle way possible and they completely break down like he had just screamed at them. And in contrast I can actually scream and they're like "HAHAHA no Mom."

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