December 16, 2015

christmas photoshoot, 2015.


We kept procrastinating on getting these photos taken. I mean, they're for our Christmas card. And to me, that means we should be wearing, oh, I don't know, winter clothes. But y'all, it's been hot. Way too warm for December. A couple of weeks ago when the weather finally cooled back down to the sixties (eye roll, for sure), we were ready to go! Except the day we planned on going was so. gray. And cloudy. And we were yearning for that gorgeous golden light.

We'd pretty much decided that we'd hold off until a weekday, and if that didn't work, we'd set up a shoot inside. Inside, our hearts weren't feeling an interior shoot. And thankfully, the sun broke through right as the golden hour was showing up. We rushed the boys (and ourselves) to get dressed. We even had to wake Graham up from a nap. I grabbed some candy (we are not above bribes here!) and headed out the door.

While I'd love to tell you that everything went perfectly, it didn't. Graham was grumpy – even with candy. The older two didn't want to listen. Funny faces were the only thing they wanted to do. But we still managed to mostly keep our cool and in the end, got a ton of photos that we're thrilled with!

December 14, 2015

santa, 2015.

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Is it wrong to say that I'm disappointed that we didn't get a screaming photo of Graham? Because I slightly am. After all, we did get two years of screaming Sawyer. And a pretty decent one of Cayden. Maybe Graham's will just be delayed a year? Or maybe we did some excellent prep work on him? We showed him all the other photos of his brothers with Santa and have lovingly pointed out all the "ho, ho, ho's" around us.

Might I also add that examining all the Santa photos through the years gave Cayden reason to ask why the Santas weren't all the same. And Jeremy was a great daddy and just passed the question on to me. No worries! This mama had the perfect answer and both Cayden and Sawyer were happy with it, so we'll call it all good. At least for a little while. #wink #SantaEmoticonGoesHere

2014 (which just led me to realize I never shared last year's!) // 2013 // 2012 // 2011 // 2010 // 2009

December 7, 2015

testing light.


I asked our big boys to help me test out some lighting in our yard the other night. You know, that perfect hour of light right before sunset? Our yard has it. I had no idea it had it. And my children thought I was crazy running through the house between the front and back yard. But it was worth it. To know that if I needed to take any photos in our back yard, that I could and get some great light. I think this will only work for us in the fall/winter months – otherwise there will be too many leaves on the trees. It's tough to complain about that though; it'll keep the back yard cooler in those warmer months.

Originally I was testing all this out to see if we could take Christmas card photos in our back yard. And the answer? Yes! But we didn't. We went to a nearby trail. And the photos turned out awesome. I'll share more of those later this week!

Also, aren't Cayden and Sawyer just the most photogenic kids ever? Ha! At least they put up with their mama's antics. And mostly don't complain. Mostly.

December 1, 2015

cayden: first lost teeth.


The tooth fairy's been to our house. Twice now. A little over a week apart, maybe two? We didn't think Cayden was ever going to lose a tooth. About a month ago, he started complaining about his tooth hurting. At first Jeremy and I were a little concerned, then Jeremy had the brilliant idea to ask him if it was loose. And ta-da! Culprit for hurt tooth found! Not long after the first one started wiggling, it's neighbor decided to come loose too. Not surprising since those two little guys came in about the same exact time.

The first tooth came out on a Saturday morning. At 5:30. In the morning. Apparently Cayden and Sawyer thought it was the perfect time for a side-of-the-tub chat. Jeremy finally got up when they wouldn't quit talking to discover that Cayden's tooth was about to fall out. I think Cayden gave one good push with his tongue and it was out. Easy-peasy. Except that we weren't prepared for it to come out as fast as it did and Cayden swallowed some blood. Which then made him a little pukey...

... which led to the second tooth coming out a bit of a problem. The second little guy was ready to come out for a good few days, but we couldn't get Cayden to work on it. Even bribing him with money on top of what the tooth fairy would bring wasn't working. The problem? He was afraid of swallowing blood and getting sick again. After watching some videos of other boys pulling their teeth, Cayden decided he was ready. But we were going to do this one a little differently – tie a string around it, connect it to remote control car and yank it out! That's what the boys on the video did... But tying a string (floss) around an itty bitty tooth and hoping it would stay on was more of a problem than we thought it would be. I think we tried five or six times to get it to work when we finally gave up. Cayden worked on that tooth a little bit longer and it came out super-easy. And no sickies! So win!

November 30, 2015

christmas cards.


Now that Christmas is less than a month away (yikes!), I guess it's time to start thinking about cards. Wait, what's that? I should've done this some time last month? I'm sure you're going to tell me that I should have already had our photoshoot done with photos edited too, right? Hahaha... you guys are funny!

But in all seriousness, we are pretty much the worst at procrastinating when it comes to getting our Christmas cards done and out the door. Sure, we still have to take our photos, but I have at least already picked out our outfits. If someone could just communicate with the weather to cool off, that would be awesome. Because taking our photos in 75ยบ weather with winter garb on sounds less than thrilling. Thankfully the weather seems to be cooling off again this weekend, so we'll be heading out to do a shoot soon.

One thing we're not going to worry about this year? Designing our own cards. We've done it in years past, and while it is something we enjoy, knowing that Minted has excellent design choices makes it a simple decision for us. I'm crushing hard on the above designs! I also found myself falling in love with several other choices... so I think we'll see how the photos turn out to decide on a vertical or horizontal layout. I do have a thing for the foil designs, so you might see a little something sparkly in a mailbox near you at some point.

At this rate? It might be New Years though!

November 25, 2015

graham: first haircut.


Our littlest bit finally had his first haircut... only 19 months later! The mullet was starting to get a little out of control. And while the curls were super cute, this new big-boy 'do is adorable too. His first haircut also meant his first sucker. We couldn't get a cape on him, but he was completely happy to sit there with a sucker and let the lady cut away. No tears shed (on anyone's part), and even though I have no idea what I'll do with it, I did keep a clip of his first haircut. I mean, he has no baby book being third kid and all... Who am I kidding? The first two have one, but are they filled out? Hahahaha, nope. We do at least have these photos to mark the occasion, and that works for me.

November 20, 2015

one little indian.


Sawyer had his Thanksgiving feast at school today. The Indians (4k classes) and Pilgrims (3k classes) came together and had a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. You know, chicken nuggets, rolls and fruit. Ha! There was also corn, mac & cheese and green beans, but our nugget didn't touch them. There were also oreos to finish off the meal. Again, completely traditional.

I hadn't really made any plans to go to the feast, but Sawyer said, "Mommy, will you please come to my feast?," this morning and I just couldn't resist. So Graham and I made an effort to go watch Sawyer eat food. But y'all, the second I walked into his classroom and he saw me... the look in his eyes and the grin on his face made it all worth it. Even if all we did was watch him eat. ::wink::

November 17, 2015

eating better.


We try so hard to eat well at our home. And things go okay for several days and then we're out somewhere and buy dinner and things just spiral out of control from there. We're not exactly spring chickens anymore and the metabolism is slowing down. Way. Down.

So we're cleaning up our diet. And by diet, I mean just that. Not some "lose weight quick" diet. But changing the way we eat. Our nutrition. While we're no experts, we are trying to eat a little cleaner, less processed. Are we denying our urges? Not exactly. Just trying to redirect them I suppose. And the kids still get some processed food. What can I say? They love fruit snacks! I promise we do try to feed them real fruit too. Just kidding, they love real fruit and we always have it around the house. But they love fruit snacks too. All in moderation, right?

With all that said, we are definitely trying to clean up our over-processed cereal breakfast act. We made overnight oats last night, and four out of the five of us love them. It's a tie between Sawyer and Graham as to who loves them more. But since Graham wore them much better, I'm going to say he wins.

November 16, 2015

fall hiking, 2015.


It seems like it's every time of the year that we get the itch to take the boys hiking, and this year has been no different. Except that we went twice in one week. And have plans to go again next week when everyone is on Thanksgiving break. You see, our boys, like most boys, have a ton of energy. And hiking gives them a place to release that energy. And we all have fun. So it's really just a win all around.

We ventured out to Moss Rock this past weekend for the first time. And we're wondering why we've never been out there before. The trails offer enough of a challenge that it wears most of us out, but not too much of a challenge that Jeremy or I can't carry Graham without completely exhausting ourselves. And it's free. That's an important one.

Moss Rock offered waterfalls and rock climbing. And caves. For kiddos with big imaginations, this was the jackpot of hiking trails for us. I'm already looking forward to getting back out there and discovering the other trails we didn't get a chance to take.

November 13, 2015

greaser sawyer.


Sawyer has a Hippo Hop at school today... aka a 50s dance party. They're working on the letter H this week, so what better way to celebrate? Getting this child's hair to lay down is a challenge; I mean, he's known for some pretty crazy bedhead. And he's got cowlicks for days. Days! But somehow Jeremy managed to get it almost lay flat! And I think the greaser look is one that could work for Sawyer, right? Except for the tucked in shirt. We had an epic meltdown over that part... But no worries, as long as he's distracted with something else, he forgets about it. Also? When did my kid become a child model?

November 12, 2015

little superheroes.


Once upon a time there was a third brother who looked everything like his older brothers. Then he started getting older and looked like neither brother. And then he got a little older and decided to start being a chameleon – changing who he looked like depending on who he was around. (Truth!)

So here are the younger two playing together. Complete with same exact head tilt from the back. And same open-mouth profile when playing from the side. I couldn't have staged/photoshopped these photos any better. Because I didn't. It's real life. And our real life happens to be three adorable little boys that look so much alike sometimes that they look nothing alike. How's that for some confusion? You're welcome!

(Also, Cayden's third birthday party favors are the gift that keep on giving. These capes are working toward four years of hard work. Well, except for one of them. I found one last blue cape lingering in our closet when we moved and Graham has recently claimed it as his own. But I have a feeling it's going to get a lot of play too...)

November 10, 2015

the cove: living room


Because you can't really have a makeover post without some sort of before photo, right? So how 'bout three of them? You're welcome! As a side note, I've realized that I need to design some sort of floor plan for y'all to see. We've had several people come over and declare that the layout is nothing like they were thinking. And as a confessed nerd/dork, doing something like that sounds fun. Grab some graph paper and go... I'm thinking there's probably a digital site that'll do something like that for me fairly effortlessly though. Anyone got any ideas?


Enough rambling, right? The after photos kind of speak for themselves. We painted all the walls a fabulous light gray. And while the color is cooler during the day, when the lights come on a night, it's a really great warm color. So a win in the color department for sure. Which is a good thing because the color extends down the hallway. And will eventually go in our den too. Happy gray, happy life, right? No? Hmmm...

Anyway, as I've stated before, that feature wall was already here and yes, we still love it like crazy. This rooms boasts four windows and has amazing natural light – another huge selling point for us. We added white blinds to all of the windows to brighten things up, yet give us some privacy too. We've also added some artwork around the room to personalize the space. I still have plans for artwork over the desk area and coat hanging area. I know what I want to do, it just takes money to do it, and we're doing things as we save money.

Speaking of saving money, many people have asked if we purchased a new couch. The answer? No! We just bought a new slipcover – which was 100s of dollars less than buying a new couch. And it changed the entire feel of the room. I still love the look of the white cover, but the gray cover, and the texture it has, just seems to fit our point in life at the moment. We have saved the white cover, and at some point it may return. After a good washing and thorough bleaching, ha! We were also completely surprised that our sectional fit in this space. We thought for sure it wouldn't considering the size of our last living room was much larger. We love that it fit though, and it keeps the room cozy.

Overall, I'd say this room is probably 80% done? We still need to give the ceiling a fresh coat of (white) paint. The trim could all use a fresh coat of paint at some point too. And that fixture in the foyer is a big, fat nope in my book. We'd like to do a clear orb fixture of some sort possibly. I am crushing on this one. The fact that it's acrylic and not glass sounds like a brilliant idea in our home full of boys.

I have a couple of other updates to share. Just have to take the time to photograph them. One is the big boys' room. Which takes cleaning and styling... because no way would I show you what it looks like on a normal day!

October 28, 2015

this little sock monkey...


... is wondering why this blog hasn't been updated in over a month. Good question little sock monkey! The truth? Life. Life has been crazy busy and crazy good, so no complaints over here. But I'm feeling the itch to pick this little area back up. And what better week than Halloween and all the fun that comes with that? Also? The best thing about big brothers born in the same season as you? Being able to pass down costumes! Cayden and Sawyer both wore this uber-cute monkey costume, and it's still holding up well. Although I ::might:: need to wash it after this year. It's getting, um, a little funky.

September 22, 2015

a camping adventure


Back in the day (also known as "before children"), Jeremy and I would venture out on little camping trips. It's been a really long time since we've been, but we both still love that adventure. And we want to share it with the kiddos. But we also kind of want to make sure they're ready for what camping actually means. We're a backpack/tent/sleeping bag kind of camping family. In the woods. With no bathroom access.

So. With that said, we thought camping out in the backyard would be a great test run for this whole family camping thing. And no worries, we'll be buying a new tent before all of us go on an adventure together. Five of us in a two person tent sounds, well, miserable. Ha!

Saturday night was our first practice run. Jeremy was going to camp out in the yard with the two older boys. And me? I was going to camp out in our king-sized bed by myself. Win-win, right? Except see, there was this football game on Saturday night that didn't start until 8:15. Which is already a little past someone's bedtime. By the time the first quarter was over, Sawyer was passed out in my lap on the couch. So Jeremy took him to his bed to sleep. And then by the time half time was starting, Cayden had passed out on the couch. But we'd already taken time to set up the tent, so Jeremy decided to take Cayden outside to sleep.

And all would have been fine! Cayden woke up for a split second, looked around, and fell right back to sleep. Jeremy had his phone so that he could still watch the game, but also be outside for Cayden. Except Cayden started waking up about every 15 minutes, sitting up, looking around and then laying back down. By a little after midnight everyone was back inside in their own beds, sleeping soundly.

I think we need a few more test runs before we venture out to a remote location. But the camping that was had, was awesome. And a little humid from what I hear. So maybe cooler weather should make its way here too first?

September 17, 2015



Since Cayden has gone back to school this fall, the younger two Allens are bonding in a way they haven't been able to before. Is there fighting? Sure. But the sweet moments mostly outweigh the ugly ones. Sawyer's really getting to shine as a big brother and teach Graham lots of cool things. I'm sure there are a few things being taught that we could do without, but hey, that's how life goes, right?

Graham was too young to interact with Sawyer last year when Cayden was in school. And now that Sawyer is in school three days a week, Graham definitely misses his brothers when they're gone. But that also gives me time to bond with the youngest dude too. So really? No complaints!

September 16, 2015

a little taste of fall


The air has started to cool, the leaves have started to fall and the kids are covered in mosquito bites. Ah, fall, how we love you! We've never lived in a home with mature trees; our previous two homes were new builds. At first I was a little worried about buying an older home, but the longer we're here, the better it's getting. I actually saw a chipmunk scurry across our back patio this morning! It's the little things, people!

Anyway, with mature trees come lots of leaves. And while the amount of leaves in our back yard pales in comparison to many others, it's more than we've ever had. The boys loved scooping them into piles and sliding into them. Or just throwing them in the air. They even enjoyed using the rake and trying to put them in piles. We'll just keep making that a fun thing for them and they won't even know they're doing a job for us. Win-win!

We're already looking forward to the cooler evenings. The back yard even came with a fire pit, so we'll be putting it to good use this weekend to make some smores. The memories this yard is going to give us is awesome. So very awesome.

September 11, 2015

mr. independent


While Graham most definitely still relies on us for most things, he definitely has that third kid independence streak. He sees his brother do things and naturally, he can do them too. And for the most part, he can. Except jumping jacks. That? Is hilarious to watch him try. He also can't quite clear the threshold when walking out the front door. He thinks he can. And that is how you get a nice big abrasion on your forehead. I mean, concrete and foreheads are meant to be best friends, right?

September 10, 2015

the cove: laundry room


How's that for a before shot? (You're welcome for the photoshopped clean litter box!) And it's not even a true before shot. The true one would have shown the terrible square light as proven by the ceiling paint. And there were all sorts of nails and screws in the wall. And gouges. Those are shown here by all the lovely white spots. But I'm just so glad to have a before shot of some kind because this transformation makes me all sorts of giddy!

Also, you may (or may not?) be wondering why "the cove" usage. Our address has the word Cove in it and we love referring to our home as The Cove. I think it works. Or not. Oh, and photographing a laundry room with no natural light and is basically a walk-thru from the garage? Is challenging.


We went with a rich dark color (Sherwin Williams Riverway). We weren't concerned with the dark color in the small space because of our washer and dryer being white. And those popping against the dark color is perfect! We drew inspiration on our table/shelves from here and adjusted measurements and shelves to work the way we needed them to. Because we have a few cats, we needed to stack the washer and dryer to make room for litter boxes. I'm pretty sure I would stack them even if we didn't need to do that. This set up works well, gives us storage, a work space and something pretty to look at!

On the wall opposite our pretty shelves we hung up a utility clip rack. We couldn't find anything in a store that wasn't white or plastic. Or ugly for that matter. And that just wasn't going to cut it in this space! So we bought a 1x3 board, stained it the same color as our shelves, attached these awesome utility clips and hung it up on the wall. Functional can be pretty!


And we have eventual plans to install a barn door in the hallway. We removed the door that was originally there. With the door to the garage being in this space, it was entirely too many doors in a small area. We'll build the door ourselves and stain it to match all the other wood. And it'll give that hallway a great feature too! And please just ignore the light fixture in the hall. There's another one around the corner that needs to go too. All in good time...
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