December 23, 2016

the plague.


Christmas break started out awesome on Monday. We were able to get some great photos of the kids in their matching jams. The boys got to entertain themselves with play doh for a couple of hours. Jeremy took the boys shopping for me and left me with a quiet house. I started dinner when they got home. It was going so well.

So well! Until one little boy scream-yelled at us, "I needa poooke!"

Rush two year old to the bathroom where he does, indeed, puke. Strange. Brush it off as a one-time thing and sit down for dinner. When Graham didn't eat his dinner (which just happened to be a favorite of his – breakfast!), we started wondering if he was sick. And then that worry was solidified when he asked to go puke again. And continued to do so throughout the night.

At 3ish in the morning, I joined in with the puking. Great.

Thankfully, that one time was it for me (& good grief, I'm glad – it was violent!). But I felt terrible all day Tuesday. And Graham continued to puke until mid-afternoon. We thought it was all over; most people assured us this bug was a two day thing!

Woke up Wednesday morning and Graham was sporting a 101ยบ temp. Kept an eye on it and ibuprofen took care of that. Awesome! We beat the random fever! We even went to Nana's house to help her make cookies. We were confident we were done!

We were wrong. Cayden started puking Wednesday afternoon around 4ish. And continued through the night. Thankfully I felt pretty good again (minus a cold that showed up post-sick). Graham was no longer puking. Whew.

Thursday was looking pretty good! No throwing up! Christmas might not be a disaster after all!

And then this morning came. Cayden threw up again. And Graham has now thrown up twice today. Thankfully Jeremy, Sawyer and Tatum have missed out on the fun. And now I'm beginning to wonder if our little bit is ever going to get over this. No fun, y'all! But thankful for a toddler that knows what's about to happen and can (usually) make it to the bathroom.

Will everyone say a small prayer that this ends now? We really, really want to go see Jeremy's family in the morning. And we really, really want to see mine on Christmas night. The holidays just aren't quite right without our family in the mix. Amen.

December 22, 2016

christmas jams, 2016.


This is the first year in a while that we've documented some matching Christmas jams – in fact, it might have last happened when Sawyer was a toddler. This year might have a little something to do with that little one in pink, but mostly because all of our kiddos are adorable. And because Monday was the perfect light day to make it happen.

Also, let's go ahead and note that Tatum's eyes are turning dark... Cayden will be our only blue-eyed baby. Which makes me a little sad, but also happy that this green-eyed girl and dark-eyed husband were even able to have a blue-eyed baby!

The cool thing? After I got done taking the Allen Four's photos, the oldest three took turns for at least 30 minutes taking pictures of each other on their little camera. It was hilarious watching them come up with poses. And once I through out the term "art director," you should have heard them taking charge and giving direction. Hilarious!

Here's hoping you and your family enjoy the merriest of Christmases on Sunday

December 14, 2016

a small craft.

Pretty much every day, from the minute he wakes up until he falls asleep again, Graham is asking for food. As soon as he's done with breakfast, he's asking for a snack. And literally, the minute he's done with snack, he's asking for his lunch. Some days I'm able to ignore it, and others... not so much. When he'd asked for lunch one too many times one day last week, I decided he must be doing it out of boredom. To solve that boredom, I looked through our arts & crafts bucket, remembered that we had a ton of cotton balls and voila! craft (& problem) solved!

I think I can remember making something similar to this when I was younger. Graham couldn't have cared less about coloring Santa. If he'd had his way, the picture would've been a giant cotton ball, ha! It still kept him busy for about 15 minutes and distracted him long enough to postpone lunch for almost an hour. Whew!

It also led me to emailing Sawyer's old preschool to see if they had any openings for the 2k class in the spring semester. Thankfully? Yes, yes they do.

December 5, 2016

santa, 2016.


I think every year that we go visit Santa, there's always that split-second moment where you wonder if and which kid might start screaming their head off. And with four kiddos to sit with Santa now, the likelihood of that happening seems like it should be greater. Except... we somehow managed to get a photo without anyone crying this year! Tatum loves everyone right now though; she might be telling us all a different story next year. Graham has never once cried for Santa. He was a little unsure of him last year (and also wearing the same shirt apparently!), but no tears. This year he sparked up a conversation with Santa – so much so that we had a hard time getting him to look at the camera. Cayden and Sawyer are at their peak fake smile season; they almost literally need to be laughing to get a genuine smile these days. But it's all good – we're excited to add this one to our collection of Santa photos.

November 30, 2016

thanksgiving, 2016.


We spent our long holiday weekend in Gatlinburg. The very same Gatlinburg that was ravaged by wildfires just two days after we left. We went to bed Monday night wondering if the sights we had seen just days previously would still be there when we woke up Tuesday morning. Most places made it, but there were some that just... didn't. The landscape in Gatlinburg will definitely be different next time we visit, but while we were there, it was just like we remembered.

The last time we went to Gatlinburg, our nugget was just a tiny little baby in my belly and Cayden was about 18 months old. I think this trip left a bigger impression on them, ha! We drove up on Thanksgiving day and had an awesome feast at the Tennessee welcome center. When we got to our cabin later Thursday afternoon, we settled in while mom heated up the wonderful Thanksgiving dinner that she had prepared days in advance and watched some football. The time change messed us all up a little, but we tried to pretend that it hadn't changed... which equals to littles going to bed at 9, rather than the usual 8.

No worries though! They were still all up at 5 the next morning. Well, our kids were up. My sister's kids we most definitely awoken by ours (sorry, Rachel!). We have early risers. That somehow seem to be getting earlier. But I digress...

We hit up Ripley's Aquarium first thing before the crowds started rolling in. I've been several times, but this was definitely fun to experience through the kiddos eyes. A leisurely afternoon lunch surrounded by family was enjoyed. We headed back to the cabin afterwards and got in a few family photos before the daylight went away. And then, like crazy people, we decided to pack up and go to the local outlet mall. On Black Friday. In all honesty? It wasn't as bad as I was thinking. We lucked up and found a parking space almost immediately and were able to hit up all the stores we wanted to go in. My sister and her family definitely Black Friday shopped harder than we did – pretty sure they closed the place down (in all fairness, we only got there a couple of hours before they closed and the place is huge).

Saturday morning saw us heading up into the mountains. All of us were ready to trek to the top of Clingman's Dome... which was quickly put to bed when we got out of the car to realize it was way colder than any of us were dressed for and the wind could knock one of the smaller kiddos over. Fine! We'll just take a few photos of this view! Oh, the memory card is in the laptop back at the cabin from the day before. My sister was able to get in a few shots for everyone with her awesome phone though, so disaster saved.

On our way back down the mountain, we caught a glimpse of Chimney Tops burning – looking like true chimneys. We had no idea what was to come of that fire.

Another leisurely lunch in town, a quick walk to some of the shops and we found ourselves back at the cabin in time to watch most of the Iron Bowl. (Roll tide!) Slowly the kiddos put themselves to bed (no naps or rests will do that I suppose)!

We rounded out our trip with a breakfast stop at The Apple Barn in Pigeon Forge before heading home. What should have been a five hour trip ended up being close to eight hours for us. The traffic was terrible; we sat in Chattanooga for over an hour. Add in nursing stops and a potty-training toddler... and well, eight hours. But our kiddos were rockstars – absolutely amazing in the car. Only one child asked repeatedly when we'd be home, so out of four, I'll take it!

November 21, 2016

couch hangs.


Know what I love about our school system? We have the entire week of Thanksgiving off. Know what I don't love about our school system? We have the entire week of Thanksgiving off. I know, right?

But in all honesty, I do love that our kiddos have the entire week off. It's just, a little challenging to remember what to do with all four kids home by yourself. Tatum? She's easy. Make sure she's fed, naps and has a clean diaper. Generally, the boys require a little more effort. So today? Today we declared a jammie day. And an introduction to Harry Potter day. After watching the first movie this morning, they're happily playing a Harry Potter lego game. And we have been the epitome of lazy. But tomorrow? Tomorrow daddy's home and we've got things to do. Thank goodness for daddy.

Now that I think back to summer, I only had three kids at home. So this whole four kids at home during the holidays is a newer thing for me. And now I'm not feeling so bad relegating ourselves to jammies and tv today.

As a side note, I picked up the real camera to shoot these and couldn't figure out what lens was on it. Apparently it's one that I didn't like in the past (according to the husband) and now I'm all heart eyes over it. I'm thinking it might be the perfect lens for playing around this weekend.

November 16, 2016

outside homework.


One day last week, I had been struggling to get Tatum down for a nap. She finally fell asleep about ten minutes before Cayden and Sawyer were due home from school. No matter how many times I ask the boys to be quiet, they are just so wound up after school that it's almost futile – to no fault of their own! Knowing that Tatum needed to sleep and that the boys needed to be loud, I made the executive decision to march straight through the house to the back door and do homework outside.

And we've done it every day since! If Graham and Tatum are still napping, they join us when they wake. I think the change of scenery for homework is doing everyone some good. Once homework is done, it usually means playing outside for at least an hour – until it gets too chilly or too dark. Something so simple makes me wonder why I didn't think of this sooner...

November 14, 2016

tatum's baptism.


We had our sweet baby girl baptized yesterday on Sunday, November 13 at Riverchase United Methodist Church by Dr. Tyler Christiansen. She wore the baptism gown that my great-grandmother made for me while my mama was still pregnant! Y'all that's a 37 year old gown that still looks perfectly beautiful. My mom is going to have to teach me how to keep things looking good like that while being stored for sure.

But anyway, we've had all of our littles baptized in the same church, all at about the same age. All three boys did awesome – not a tear shed, but I'm pretty sure they spit up all over themselves at some point before walking in front of the crowd. Tatum was the exact opposite, ha! She kept her spit-up to herself, but definitely made sure the entire congregation could hear her lungs. It was a short cry though and a beautiful little moment during our church service.

November 9, 2016

tatum: three months old.


Our bitty baby is quickly approaching fourteen pounds! And is solidly in a size 2 diaper. She's also all smiles, unless she's extremely hungry. She'll let you know. And she's started really talking in the past week or so. Like full-on conversations. I remember when the boys started talking it was usually just one long sound. But not Tatum. Nope, she breaks up her sounds so that they could totally be words. It's so fun to see these little differences in our sweet girl and her older brothers.

Tatum still sleeps a solid 10-11 hours a night. She'd probably sleep longer in the mornings if her brothers weren't so loud! We haven't gotten into any kind of nap schedule yet. Some days she'll wake up, nurse and then go back to sleep for a few more hours. And then some days, she'll wake up, nurse and not go back to sleep for hours. Guess she's already keeping me on my toes that way, ha!

Tummy time is still not a favorite. And probably never will be since she hardly ever gets put on the floor. There are just too many little feet running around and the ground is not the safest place for baby girl. She seems to be learning to hold her head up fine on her own though. She might not ever learn to roll over, but doesn't that just mean she'll never learn to crawl and will therefore stay small forever? Whew, ok good!

We celebrated her first big holiday this month with Halloween. She completely slept through the whole trick-or-treating thing, but at least she was able to be with us – Graham's first Halloween was so cold and windy that I couldn't stay out with him. Alabama falls are like that though – you really never know what you're going to get from day to day.

We're looking forward to a fun holiday season with our four littles and can't wait to keep photographing these sweet little moments in their life.

November 1, 2016

halloween, 2016.


We have this tradition on Halloween. We load up in the car, head to my parents' neighborhood, trick-or-treat and then eat chicken enchilada soup and grilled cheeses on homemade sourdough bread. It's pretty much the awesomest. And I don't really feel guilty about traipsing through their neighborhood rather than our own because it used to be our 'hood too. And also? There are a ton of houses and the boys love it!

This year was no different! My sister's family comes over too and all the cousins go together. I think the cousins have been trick-or-treating together since Cayden came along... so this makes the seventh year. And this is the fourth year? perhaps fifth? we've done it at my parents house. Maybe longer? (I'm really bad at remembering these types of things.)

We have to set rules for the boys every year (the only girls are my almost 14 year old niece [who we rarely have with us on Halloween] and Tatum – so FIVE boys), and every year they get completely ignored. We did have improvement this year on not actually entering anyone's home, so I guess we'll call it good. Perhaps next year we can work on yelling at the door and peeking in windows when no one answers.

Everyone had a really good time. I think we walked a little further than we had planned; pretty sure it was close to a mile and a half round trip. The littlest never once complained though (ok, the smallest littlest slept the whole time, but the two and three year old were awesome!). This is definitely one of my favorite days every year. And despite it being warmer than it should be, that soup and grilled cheese were absolute perfection after all that walking.

October 24, 2016

pumpkin patch, 2016.


We haven't been to a pumpkin patch since before Graham was born. In fact, I think I was pregnant with Graham the last time we went to one! And unfortunately, the patch we used to go to completely shut down. Fortunately? We found a new one that's even better! Sawyer and I actually went to it last fall while he was in 4k and I completely forgot about it... we were glad to rediscover it this past weekend though.

And while it was only $10 a person, it was tough to choke down the total price of $50 for the five of us (Tatum's still free at least!). But y'all, it was worth every last penny! This place had tons of things to do: rock walls, hay mountains, giant tire slides, corn pits, bouncy houses, zip lines, hay rides and a corn maze! And pumpkins for all! Oh, and funnel cakes. We cannot forget the funnel cakes (not included in the price, but worth the extra cost)! The boys had an absolute blast. Jeremy and I are so glad that we spent the money and made the memories.

Speaking of memories, how is it that visiting pumpkin patches in the fall offers up so many wonderful photo opportunities? Gah, I love it! And we're looking forward to a new yearly tradition for our sweet little family!

October 17, 2016

saturday mornings.


Remember when we were small and there was such a thing as Saturday morning cartoons? So, whatever happened to that? I think there were a few cartoons that came on when Cayden was little, but even now most major stations only show news in the mornings. No bueno.

I mean, not that we let that stop our kids from watching some Saturday morning cartoons. Unless it's an early soccer game morning. Those don't mix too well with tv. But this past Saturday it was a later soccer game morning so when the requests came in while Jeremy and I barely had our eyes open, we welcomed a little Netflix time to give us just a few more minutes of quiet time.

And once we were finally all awake and I needed to leave the room for a minute, I put the Allen boys in charge of watching their little sister. When I walked back in the room and they were all cuddled up in the corner of the sectional? All the heart eyes!

October 12, 2016

two front teeth.


I think when Cayden started losing teeth last winter, one of the things I was looking forward to was his front teeth falling out. There's just something about that gap-toothed smile that is so adorable! It's also kind of bittersweet because as soon as those permanent teeth start coming in, I feel like the little boy smile we've gotten so used to is going to be replaced by young man smile. And I mean, I get it. It has to happen, but could it just... slow down a bit?

For now, we're going to enjoy the gappy smile. I don't think it'll last long – we were hoping a rendition of "All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth," would be appropriate. But I can already spy a young man tooth coming in on the right side. At least we get to go through this three more times? And maybe one of them will have them missing during the Christmas season?

October 7, 2016

chocolate chip cookies.


Can we talk about getting in a funk for a bit? Cause y'all, I've kind of been in one lately. Not a terrible mood or anything, but not feeling super good. The weather fluctuations are killing my sinuses? allergies? Something. Sawyer's sick for the third time since school started and for some reason I keep getting sick with him.

One day last week I was feeling pretty bad. And for some reason, I couldn't get a sick day around here (haha!). I had the urge to do... something. Sometimes that involves rearranging furniture, or a small project of some kind. But I didn't have a room to rearrange and no project that I wanted to tackle on my own, so I quickly searched the kitchen to see if I had ingredients to bake.

I was (over) excited when I discovered everything to make cookies from a recipe our old neighbor passed along. Sadly I think this is the first time I've ever baked anything with Graham as a "helper." (Sawyer's usually our kitchen assistant.) It went pretty smoothly except for his impatience with the cooking time. But I really don't blame him. I was just as impatient!

The wait was worth it though! Warm, gooey, homemade chocolate chip cookies. And you know what? They helped the mood for sure. Until we all had tummy aches from eating too many sweets. The end. Ha.

October 6, 2016

tatum: two months old


With Cayden and Sawyer, I was so good about doing monthly updates. And with Graham, I think I made it about five months in and things just got too busy. So I seriously doubt I'll remember to do monthly updates on Tatum. But I had this sweet photo of her and realized that yesterday was her two month birthday, so why not!

I mean, at two months there's still a lot of sleeping, eating and pooping going on. Her napping during the day is definitely slowing down a bit. From about 3 o'clock, it's definitely cat naps until bed. Some days I can get her to still take a longer nap after big brothers get home from school, but those are much less now too. But I suppose complaining about that isn't justified at all since she does lay down for bed between 8 and 9 and we have to wake her up at 7 to head out for school drop off.

Tatum also started voluntarily smiling in the last week or so. And it's pretty much my favorite. She also has a small dimple when she moves her mouth a certain way. It's not in a super common place, but it's adorable for sure. And she's working on finding her voice. She surprises herself more often than not and makes us all laugh.

Speaking of laughing... this girl, y'all, she's stinky and loud. She gives these burps that make us all start laughing. It's hard to imagine something so loud (and long) coming from something so small. We just presume she's practicing for when she gets older and will have to compete with her loud and stinky brothers.

Two months is such a short time, but it feels like she's always been a part of our family. Everyone is falling into their own little rhythm and the boys all still adore her. Cayden even got to help out with a bottle last night while I was at yoga.

So happy this sweet little thing has joined us and completed our family. We all think she's pretty awesome.

September 30, 2016

the cove: hallway bathroom


Check out that before photo! It might be hard to tell, but you can totally see where the previous owner tried to touch up paint; there are several big patches of paint that aren't the same color. I don't know if they tried to color match, or the paint they touched up with was old, but it just wasn't working. And y'all, that's how the whole house was. A big paint disaster.


This hallway bathroom is the kids bath. The room where there will eventually be four kids brushing teeth, showering, primping and wasting time. So this is kind of a mini-makeover if you will. Because let's face it, one sink? Is simply not going to cut it!

But for now, some brighter paint to lighten it all up helps a ton. There's no natural light in this bathroom (but hey, a really cool light fixture circa the mid 90s!), so bright colors was a must! A fun shower curtain helps too. One of the first things we did when we moved in was to replace the toilets. I can't even imagine how much water the toilet in this bathroom was using with each flush. The one we bought is much quieter and flushes a lot faster. And well, cleaner, ha!

Our plans in here are to eventually add a double sink, new light fixtures, new bathtub and tile, tile the floor and add a barn door. The way the door is currently positioned with where the toilet is located causes some hassle – you have to shut the door to get to the tub. And it's a little annoying to always have that door in the way. There's plenty of room in the hallway and should add some character to the space.

For the time being, we're happy with how the mini (and somewhat cheap) makeover went. We're slowly Dave Ramsey-ing our way out of debt and I think this room will be the first that gets a full gut when we're able to save some money.
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