How a simple drink order completely wrecked my world.

By the time we settled in our seats the conversation had somehow made a dramatic flip and we found ourselves sitting with serious faces. We talked about depression, addiction and how suicide totally sucks for those left behind. We couldn’t decide if we were sad or mad that our dad hadn’t taken us into consideration before taking his own life but we could both agree that it’s wrecked our worlds. Her world was wrecked at the sweet young age of 12, mine at 36.

Candice Curry - W3

We decided on a breakfast date before our appointment and headed to the best pancake house in our city (shout out to Magnolia pancake Haus!). While we patiently waited for our table, we told each other the most immature jokes we knew and giggled like we were both 16. Toilet humor is our favorite and we each told our best potty jokes. I may or may not have spoken in a British accent half of the time.

Her phone buzzed, letting us know that our table was ready, and we both shot off the waiting bench and almost knocked each other down trying to get to the table the quickest. I won because I outweigh her by a million pounds and she’s easy to push out of my way.

By the time we settled in our seats the conversation had somehow made a dramatic flip and we found ourselves…

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I Thought My Son Was Safe In Our Car Until Britax Showed Up.

As a mom to 6 kids, I’ve seen my fair share of all things baby related. When our triplets were little we had three of every baby item, from bouncers to cribs to car seats. Our house has been filled with kid contraptions, jumpy things, and more for the last 16 years and our car has never been without at least one car seat.

I’m a resale girl so most of our stuff comes second-hand. I don’t really look for all the bells and whistles, I’m more of a price tag junkie. Give me a good deal! When it comes to toys, swings, and items like that, I always buy second-hand. When it comes to the car seats, the smart thing to do is always buy new.

That doesn’t mean that I would go to the big box baby store and grab the fanciest one, I always went middle of the road with a car seat that was simply a car seat and would keep my child buckled in. Sad to say, I never did much research, I just bought the one that look dependable.
Then I would go home, place it in the seat, dig my knee into it and pull the seat-belt and tightly as I possibly could. There was always a little wiggle to the seat but I just figured that was normal.

But then I was introduced to the Britax Advocate Clicktight ARB at an event for local moms held by Alamo City Moms Blog.

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Someone’s ready to break this box open and check out his new car seat.

 

On my way to the event I pulled into a car wash to vacuum out the Cheerios and crumbs from under my son’s car seat. I didn’t even have to unbuckle him, I just kind of tilted the car seat to the side a little and shoved the vacuum under his seat. Huge clue that he wasn’t exactly as safe as I had thought he was.

During the Britax event we were shown all the safety features and new technology that makes this new car seat the safest on the market. You can see all the amazing safety features here.

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Britax went above and beyond for us and removed our old car seats and replaced them with the new Britax Advocate Clicktight and I was seriously blown away at how secure the new seat is. Not only is it extremely easy to install, that thing doesn’t budge an inch and I didn’t even have to stand on top of it while pulling the seat belt. Once my son was buckled in I was amazed at how comfortable and snug he was. I almost can’t believe that I actually drove him around for two years in a car seat that wasn’t as safe as I thought it was.
When it comes to car seats, from now on, I will never sacrifice safety for price. When it comes to the safety of our children, the investment in the most safe car seat on the market is always worth it. This new car seat goes far beyond the standard or required safety features. Every detail has been carefully designed to make sure our children are as safe as the can possibly be. It can be used for your 5 pound infant or your 65 pound and is designed to be used rear facing and forward facing.

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Snug as a bug in a rug in his new Britax

My son was so excited about his car seat, almost as much as I was. Ever since we installed the Britax Advocate Clicktight, I have to announce the car seat like a game show host every time I go to buckle him in. “NEEEWWWWW CAR SEAT!”. I once made the mistake of simply opening the door and buckling him in and it led to an epic meltdown… until I did my game show voice introduction of the car seat. I wonder what the people in the Target parking lot thought about what was going on in my car.

A huge thanks to Britax for giving me peace of mind and a safe ride for my son and to Alamo City Moms Blog for hosting the wonderful luncheon.

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Your Blended Family Is Going To Fail.

Your Blended Family Is Going To Fail.

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Being a spouse can be difficult.
Being a parent can be hard.
Finding balance in family life and doing your best to get it right is rough and takes mountains of patience.

Even trickier than all of that is trying to pull it off in a blended family.

I tried to look up statistics on blended families and it became overwhelming. What it boils down to is that about 50% of American families are blended, meaning the adults in the family have children from previous relationships.

My family is blended. Well, my family is chopped, minced, and then blended. Even though we don’t use the terms step or half, the reality is that we have step parents, step kids, step siblings, half siblings and we even have my sister who we’re raising as our daughter.

We’re the poster family for blended families.

Being a blended family is tough work. You don’t just have to figure out how to make life inside your home work, you also have to figure out a way to make life between two or more homes work. Navigating co-parenting with another family is not for the faint of heart and is another post all together.

I’d like to say we get it right all the time and that love always trumps the hard times but I’d be lying.
I’d like to say grace is always given when we tread on bumpy terrain but I’d be lying.
I’d like to say that we never doubt the choices we’ve made but sometimes none of our choice make any sense at all and I wonder how the heck we got here in the first place.

Blending families takes more than most of us are equipped with and because of that the failure rate is through the roof.

The brutal reality of it all is that your blended family is going to fail and over and over again you’ll fail at trying to make it work.

You’ll fail at never having feelings of resentment.
You’ll fail at swallowing your pride.
You’ll fail at relinquishing some control and allowing another person discipline your child.
You’ll fail at showing compassion and grace.
You’ll fail at keeping jealousy under wraps.

You’re family will fail at not being territorial inside your own home.
You’re family will fail at making love completely equal between all its members.
You’re family will fail at pretending it’s easy.
You’re family will fail at wanting to make it work.

But through all the rough spots you’ll find immense beauty.

There will be the moments where the light shines through the cracks.
There will be the moments when the broken pieces will come together to make a stained glass window where others will look through and see nothing but beauty. They’ll see all the different colors, shapes and sizes and stare in awe at how it all came together so perfectly.

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There will be the times when you watch your spouse love on and parent your child as their own and it will bring up a love so deep you can’t even imagine how it contains itself inside your heart.

There will be a time when your spouse’s child kisses you and tells you that they love you and you’ll wonder how you ever lived your life without them.

There will be times when your children walk hand in hand with your spouse’s children and you’ll know that you are teaching them to love far beyond any boundaries.

Your blending family is going to fail.
They’re going to fail over and over but they’re also going to prove that love and grace can outshine any darkness.
They’re going to show others how broken things can be mended, maybe not back to the way they were but to a way that lets the light shine through the cracks and heal the hurts.

Number One Rule In Co-Parenting: Get Over Yourself.

Your job is to find a way to be kind and loving to the other parent, regardless of the other parents behavior. Don’t let someone else’s actions lower you to a level that hurts your child.
Bad mouthing the other parent, rolling your eyes at the mention of their name and trying to one up the other parent are easy ways to push your child in the opposite direction of where you want them to go. Never let your feelings towards the other parent outweigh your love for your child.

Candice Curry - W3

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To all parents and stepparents who are co-parenting impressionable and innocent children:

If you’re having issues with each other and struggling to make this co-parenting thing healthy, please keep it off social media. It stays here forever and your child will see it one day. If you’re being outright ugly then please understand that you’re not winning the battle, you’re poisoning your child. If you’re being passive aggressive, trying to take digs at the other parent while trying to look like the bigger person, it’s not working. That’s the most transparent way of toxic co-parenting. Your child is the one who will suffer and it keeps the cycle going instead of putting a stop to it. Allowing bitterness to rule your actions towards the other parent is fueling the fire, not helping to put it out.

Your job is to find a way to be kind and loving to…

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We must be aware and vigilant …. Hooters Girls are teaching our kids!!

I’m a Hooters girl!

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My Hooters tribe

Okay, I WAS a Hooters girl but we’re lifers, man.
I wore the panty hose, shorts, tank tops (that had to be tied up in the 90’s so your tummy would show) and tied a bandana around my waist (yes, it fit way back then). I was there for two years. I supported myself well, had a ton of fun and met amazing people. My customers there were far less inappropriate towards me than some of the customers I had at the “normal” chain restaurant where I worked for years. The men I worked with were more respectful than some of the men I worked with at my corporate sales job. My best and all time favorite customer was my 80 year old grandma who visited me once a week, always brought me a gift and had a plate full of mild wings. The managers were kind and caring and made sure we were always comfortable and respected.

I made solid friendships with some pretty amazing women who, at the time, were putting themselves through school, dating or married to super awesome men, mothers to the sweetest children and honest, loving friends to me which can be hard to find. Those same women are still my friends and are nurses (yes, they’re caring for you and your family members), teachers (yep, they’re out there educating your children),engineers,taxidermist (I know but she’s still cool), restaurant general managers, kick booty stay at home moms, business owners and so much more. They all have hearts of gold and always have. They’re all amazing women and always have been.

Parents/people are free to be offended by, well, everything these days and this post isn’t about them.

To the company and people who donated money and their time to an organization in an effort to do good and provide a great experience for a bunch of kids, a tip of the hat to you. To the women who spent their day off cheerfully doing projects with the kids (while wearing appropriate shorts, t-shirts, hoodies and hats), thank you for volunteering in your community and doing good in a time when we are seeing and hearing about so much hate and evil in the world. I’ll gladly read about your generosity over news about the lack of humanity and kindness that is spreading like wildfire around the world. Can’t we applaud the good for once. Hooters, you did a good thing and if I could squeeze my booty back into my uniform and cheer you on I would but come on, the shorts probably don’t fit over my ankle anymore. Good on you, Hooters, good on you.

The day I testified against my father in court and how I was taught to stand in the gap.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads! Praying that your day is filled with kisses and hugs, giggles and sweet voices, BBQ and cold beverages.
A special Happy Father’s Day and thank you to all the gap standers. Thank you, bless you, and happy day to all the stepdads, mom, grandfathers, uncles and brothers who stand in the gap. Praying your day is spilling over with blessings.
To the dads who don’t get to see their children today, my heart aches for you.
To the child who doesn’t get to be with their dad today, my prayers are for you.
To the mom who’s pulling double duty today, God bless you.
To the stepdads who are sometimes over looked today, I see you.
To all the gap standers, your value is beyond measure.
To my dad in heaven, thank you for what you left behind. What you failed at has turned into my biggest success. Because people stood in the gap for me, I will stand in the gap for whoever needs me. The ability to forgive everything allows me to love you today. I’ll see you in heaven.
To my stepdad in heaven, you’re the unsung hero. I pray that you can see how grateful I am for what you did in my life. Thank you for loving me when you didn’t have to. I love you.
To my heavenly Father, I owe it all to you. You are the ultimate gap stander. Today and everyday I am overwhelmed by your love.

Candice Curry - W3

“Mrs.Curry, isn’t it true that…”

I almost couldn’t believe that I was where I was. Sitting in the witness stand ,while my whole body shook violently, I calmly and honestly answered the question that my very own father presented to me in the middle of his custody hearing for my minor siblings. He represented himself in his custody case. Bad move.

The result of me being on the stand left my father with very little time with my siblings and every second of it supervised. I’m not happy about that but it had to be done. It was my responsiblity to protect them and they needed to be protected from our fathers mental and emotional abuse. It was one of the worst and best things I’ve ever done. After so many years of torture from my father, I was happy to take the chance away from him to do it…

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I’m never going to be your mama, but…….

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I know I’m never going to be your mama. I know I won’t be the one sitting on the edge of your bed and asking about your new boyfriend or helping you study for your big test. I know I won’t be there to press a cool wash cloth to your forehead when you have the flu. I know I’m not your first mama — the one you loved so much who died too early and too suddenly for some of you and the one who was just a little girl herself and couldn’t handle the pain after your daddy was murdered and so she ran away. I know I don’t look like you and we don’t share the same beautiful brown skin that you wear so well. I know we don’t even speak the same language —- you with the Ateso words that drip from your tongue and your new, broken and adorable English.

In short….I know I’m not enough. I’m not enough to heal up those gaping wounds or fill the gaps that make you gasp in pain. I know, baby girl. And yet here I stand — offering all that I am. I don’t understand it anymore than you do. I don’t understand how when I met you for the first time, you crawled into my soul. I don’t understand how out of the thousands of Ugandan children that I know how you 6 beautiful girls have somehow become mine. I don’t understand why I love you with a mama’s love. I don’t understand the tears that fall down my cheeks even now as I write about you. But it’s true. It’s real. It might not be much and certainly not enough, but I offer you my mama heart to love you all of your days.

6 girls. Ranging in age from 7 to 16. All motherless.

Many months ago  I stood in an auditorium full of adoptive and foster parents who were lifting their hands in worship before their God, many of them openly weeping for the hard journeys they have walked and I began to silently weep. I had just gotten back from Uganda where I had been wrecked all over again. Many of you have read about the day Beatrice crawled into my soul and broke my mama heart….but now other girls were being added. I dropped to my knees and pressed my forehead against the chair in front of me as I wept for these 6 precious girls – these motherless ones who had lost too much in their young lives. These girls who were considered the heads of their households at ages where kiddos should be complaining about school work and not worrying about feeding their siblings. I wept for each of them and told God I didn’t understand this love I had for them. Love for Ugandans….that I understood. There are 7,615 of them in the program I run and I love every one of them fiercely. But this was different. This was a mama’s love. But that couldn’t be. I was not their mother and adoption isn’t even an option for them. And yet the love and the tears (because my dear, doesn’t love come with tears) continued. In that still small space between my gasping cries while I tried to catch my breath, I heard Him “You are their mother, Brandi. You are. They don’t have a mama and you are here. Why do you run from it? Will you choose to be a mama in ways that don’t make sense here on earth? Will you accept the mantle of motherhood? For these girls and for many, many more in many, many ways. The motherless are waiting for mothers to step into the gap.” My breath caught in my throat once again and tears came afresh as I offered my hands and my heart up to
my God and croaked out a quiet, “yes.”

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You see, I wonder if motherhood is so much bigger than I’ve ever thought. I’ve seen it expanded over the years already, but I wonder if I’m just scratching the surface of how big and beautiful motherhood really is? I birthed my first child nearly 12 years ago and I thought I understood the heart of a mama. My second child came along 20 months later, expanding that vision just a bit. 18 months after that, I welcomed a 2.5 year old into my heart and my home from a war-torn country. “Oh now I really get motherhood,” I thought. Experiencing motherhood as an adoptive mama taught me how I could easily love children another woman had borne.

But this? This is a whole new concept that is blowing my mind. It’s motherhood from a kingdom perspective.

Because we all need to be mothered. There are motherless all around us just begging to be mothered. Children and adults alike who never had a mama who could really, really mother them for one reason or another, who crave the ministry of motherhood. I remember hearing a friend of mine who had grown up with tremendous abuse and trauma tell me once, “Even at 40 years old, I wish I could be adopted. I just want to have a mom and dad so deeply. Is that silly?” NO! That’s not silly! It’s how we are made!!! The motherless of all ages around the world are asking with no words, but from the deepest, loudest places of their souls to be mothered. And it’s time we let motherhood break out of some boxes and stepped up to the plate.

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For me, offering my mama heart to the world and accepting the mantle of motherhood is going to look like choosing to love and be mama to 6 precious girls who will never live in my house. It will mean skype conversations when I’m in the US and snuggles in a hotel room bed on the weeks I am in Africa. It will mean me knowing that while I cannot offer much and certainly not enough, I can offer what I have. I can offer to love them fiercely, pray for them devotedly and do all I can to provide for Beatrice, Rhoda, Leah, Auma, Anyait and Mary. It will also mean mothering people when I walk women through their deepest trauma memories here in the US. It will mean sitting on my couch with grown women who may even be older than me and holding them and speaking to and loving on the little girl inside of them who needs to be spoken sweetly to.

This is what it looks like for me….but it may look different for you. This post may have stirred up in you a deep longing to be mothered. Oh sweet one, I wish I was sitting next to you and could hold you tight and speak gentle words to those wounded places. I pray God will provide a friend who will mother those places in your soul. For others, this post may have stirred your mama heart. You may or may not be a physical mama here on earth, but your mama heart – the heart in you that is created to reflect the image of God as mama (because he is both mother and father and in Him both exist). I encourage you to offer that mama heart to a hurting world. I don’t know what that
will look like or who He will bring you to mother, but I trust that when you offer what you have even when it feels like not much, it will make a kingdom difference. It might look different from you ever imagined, you might mother friends who are your own age or teenagers from your neighborhood or you might pursue the courageous adventure of becoming a foster mama (!) —I don’t know! No matter what, I wonder if you will accept the mantle of motherhood and offer His mother heart to the world.

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I little bit about Brandi Lea

Brandi Lea is a single mama to 3 amazing humans – 1 adopted from Liberia + 2 biological. She is the founder / executive director of 3 non-profits: She’s Worth It (a campaign to fight human trafficking), SoulCare (pouring into non-profit leaders) and Beauty for Ashes Uganda (working with single mamas across the Teso region of Uganda). She is absolutely passionate about promoting justice and championing value. She spends her days raising money for mamas in Uganda, encouraging non-profit leaders and walking with dear women who find themselves healing from trauma — all from the comfort of her home in beautiful Southern Colorado. She loves healing and fighting for beauty and hopes you will do the same.

Instagram: @brandilea + @beautyforashesuganda FB: Brandi Lea + Beauty for Ashes Uganda beautyforashesuganda.org + brandilea.me + soulcareretreats.org

I’ve been called a lot of things but this one might be the most shocking.

My amazing friend, Amanda, was chosen as one of 50 photographers to shoot for a spread in Revived Beauty Magazine. She’s amazing and it was no surprise that she was chosen to display her talents.

The surprise was who was nominated to be her mom for the 50 Most Beautiful Mothers 2016.   I believe we all hold a special beauty and what makes us truly beautiful comes from within. I’m under no illusion that what I have to offer the world is more beautiful than any other person but this is a true honor. Along with 49 other moms, I will be in the 50 Most Beautiful Mothers 2016 edition of Revived Beauty.  I’m kind of giddy.

The real work here was done by Amanda and her amazing talent behind the camera. Having Dora there to do my makeup was very special and made me feel like the real deal. Thank you for making me feel beautiful. To those who nominated me for this honor, thank you for seeing the good in me, I hope I make you proud.

You can order the Mother’s Day edition magazine here in print or digitally here. Thanks for all the support.

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This is what social media and texting are doing to our “selfie” generation.

 

I want to say the duck face picture days are behind us but I’m not sure if that’s a safe statement yet. We still have the mouth wide open, peace sign pics but I haven’t seen a duck face pic in a while so I’m hopeful.

I’m not one for selfies. They actual freak me out and when I see my teenager take 75 selfies during the 3 minute ride to church, I completely lose my cool. She says she has to get it just perfect.
She once tried to get me in one of her selfies so I shot the camera the bird in an effort to make it unsendable (I know, I know, there’s no need for chastising comments) …it ended up being sent anyways and now she’s the kid who’s mom flipped off the camera.

Seriously.

Snapchat is nonstop in our house. We have two teenagers that use snapchat 26 hours a day.

What’s wrong with these kids?

How did we raise a generation of selfie taking narcissist who are constantly sending their friends pictures of themselves. I told my daughter to send something else instead of a selfie to her friends on snapchat and she looked at me like I had 2 heads. “Like what? What else would I send?”

I was speechless.

Last week one of our teens missed a week of school and ended up in the ER because she was so sick. I have no doubt that on Monday morning ,when her friends realized she wasn’t at school, they started snapchatting. I’m pretty sure they all got a selfie of my sick child with puffy eyes and pale face.

Oh my God, make it stop.

But then something strange started happening.

The first day she was home sick the doorbell rang mid-afternoon and it was one of her selfie taking friends with a milk shake for my daughter. She knew my daughter couldn’t eat because her throat was so sore so she brought her a milk shake. She drove to Sonic and spent her own money on a milkshake for my daughter. Even if it seems like the smallest act of kindness, it’s kind of huge in the teen world.

They next day the door bell rang and it was the delivery guy from Panera Bread. Her “oh my gosh mom, stop calling him my boyfriend, you’re so embarrassing” called in an order for her and had it delivered to our house. For real, this sweet young man placed a lunch order for my daughter and had it sent to our house. What? Who does that? I’m sure she snapchatted him a thank you. I called my husband to tell him he needed to step up his game because this kid just schooled him!

The following day the doorbell rang again and when I opened the door, there stood a pizza delivery guy. Her BFF (who doesn’t even live in our city) called in a pizza and had it delivered to my daughter. He handed me a personal pizza, fries and a drink and let me know that everything down to the gratuity was covered.

I called her mom later on in the day to tell her thank you and her mom had no idea that her daughter had sent mine lunch. There was no glory in it for her friend, she was simply and silently being kind.

The next day we landed in the ER and as she laid in the hospital bed I watched her phone go off nonstop with friends checking on her. I also watched her snapchat pictures of her IV, monitor, socks, and whatever else was in that room.

On the last day of the week, her “oh my gosh mom, stop calling him my boyfriend, you’re so embarrassing” and her best guy friend showed up to our house during their lunch hour with hamburgers from our favorite fast food joint. The three of them sat outside and had lunch together. They kept her company and gave her several reasons to smile after a long and isolated week.

 

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I have no explanation for the scrunchies in their hair or why he has the order number on his head. I can tell you that they’re the sweetest boys just being silly to make my daughter smile and that’s what matters.

 

 

These kids proved me wrong over and over all week-long. It was a humbling experience to say the least.  Maybe all this technology, snapchat, texting and selfies aren’t making them all crazy, self-centered bullies. It’s giving them access to each other in ways that we didn’t have growing up and maybe that’s not always a bad thing. I know that sometimes social media is abused and used in hateful ways but I’ve learned this week that sometimes it’s used in the sweetest, most generous ways.

When I was growing up and friend missed a week of school due to illness we really didn’t do much about it. We might have called them from our Swatch phone after dinner to see if they were okay and if we were really cool we added a friend to the conversation by using three-way calling. But other than that we kind of just let their parents handle it and waited for them to return to school.

The instant access these kids had to each other over the week gave them the ability to show compassion to my daughter in ways we couldn’t when we were their age. It gave them ways to love on her while she was home sick. It gave them the ability to show her that they cared and that she was not only loved but she was missed. I want to call each one of their parents and tell them thank you and well done.

We don’t give this generation enough credit. These are good kids doing their best to navigate through a world that has instant access to everything and every event the moment it happens. Their lives are being played out through social media in real-time right in front of all of our faces. Teenaging is hard stuff right now but they’re actually doing a pretty good job at making it work for them.

If you have little ones and are terrified of the teen years please let me tell you that the best is yet to come. These kids are the coolest and even through their struggle in trying to figure out who they are and where they fit in, they can be surprisingly awesome.  It’s so amazing watching these kids grow into compassionate and generous young adults, even if we have to see most of it via snapchat. .

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This is the most normal pic I could get them to take.

 

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Snapchat would have come in handy here. Next time they’ll let each other know what they’re wearing before he picks her up and they’re accidentally wearing matching outfits. I added this pic purely for my enjoyment and because it’s adorable. .

We are a society of over schedulers. Take it down a notch!

We’re celebrating our baby boy’s 2nd birthday today and reminding ourselves to slow down.
“Being busy doesn’t make us important. We’ve realized that our kids would rather be home hanging out with us than booked for all kinds of activities. Being a close, loving and relaxed family makes us important in our home.
Let’s all just slow down. Take it down a notch and enjoy the very simple things that we sacrifice when we try to keep ourselves so busy. Let’s just sit, breath and soak up every moment that we have with our families. Let’s be still.
Who are we trying to keep up with anyways?”

Candice Curry - W3

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Last night my husband and I were up in the middle of the night feeding our newborn baby boy. Ok, I was feeding but he gets up with me and sits with me while I feed the baby to “help and make it fair”…his words not mine, I promise.

We were talking about how much he seems to have grown in just over a week. Neither of us want him to grow up. Stay small baby boy, stay small!

When the triplets were infants we went into survival mode and didn’t really get the chance to sit and enjoy each moment. This time we want to do it differently.

The other day we went to mark the girls height on the door frame like we often do and get this…they grew! What. When did that happen. I didn’t even notice. It was just an inch or so but it took…

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