We Have Aars http://wehaveaars.com You have your blog, we have Aars. Thu, 28 Aug 2014 15:17:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Road Trip Hacks for Toddlers http://wehaveaars.com/road-trip-hacks-toddlers/ http://wehaveaars.com/road-trip-hacks-toddlers/#comments Thu, 28 Aug 2014 14:43:09 +0000 http://wehaveaars.com/?p=5244 Only about a month late (slaps wrist) but I still wanted to share our road trip hacks from our recent trip to Colorado. Most of my ideas were focused around Isaiah because of his age (3.5). Lucky for us, Samuel is … Continued

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Only about a month late (slaps wrist) but I still wanted to share our road trip hacks from our recent trip to Colorado.

Most of my ideas were focused around Isaiah because of his age (3.5). Lucky for us, Samuel is still thrilled with anything that shines or jingles. ;)

I had several tricks up my sleeve, but here are the top five that helped salvage our sanity on our fourteen hour drive.

Road Trip Hacks for Toddlers

1. Behavior Bags: Before we left, I raided the local dollar store for little treats and trinkets that would fit into brown paper bags. I tried to make them activity based, to keep him busy. Then every so often, when Isaiah was “making good choices” (as we call it) he’d get a good behavior bag. It gave him something to look forward to, and gave us some bargaining chips to stop the “are we there yet’s”.

Road Trip Hacks For Toddlers

2. Suction Cup Caddy: I also picked up a small suction cup shower caddy to place on Isaiah’s window. He’s really into action figures right now. And I just knew I’d be constantly turning around to fetch any who “fell behind.” (See what I did there?) We placed the caddy right within his reach, and it worked like a charm. 

Road Trip Hacks For Toddlers

3. Dollar Store Tray: Y’all. This one might have been my very favorite. Even over the shower caddy. When I was in the dollar store, I spotted a junior sized party tray and I snagged it. I thought it would be perfect for containing snacks and meals on-the-go. But we used it for so much more. It helped hold the iPad for movie time, cards for card games, and so many other activities. (And yes, that’s play dough in the car. I was brave.) I loved it so much, I went back for another one once we got back into town. Gotta plan ahead for Samuel!

 Road Trip Hacks For Toddlers

4. Busy Binder: I’ve seen sweet little busy books before, and they are adorable. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized they wouldn’t hold Isaiah’s attention. So I made him his own busy binder. I did my best to make it into a “big boy binder” so it would be special to him. I filled it with ruled paper, stickers, crayons, and stamps. Although I think his favorite part was his very own Transformers notebook. ;) 

Road Trip Hacks For Toddlers

5. Sippy Cup Lasso: One thing I totally anticipated, was Isaiah dropping his sippy cup HALF A MILLION TIMES. So I got smart, and lassoed the cup to his car seat. I simply used an old piece of ribbon, and secured it to the base of his buckle strap. Did it stop the cup from falling? No. Did it stop this Momma from turning around a million times to retrieve it? Yes. And that was worth its weight in gold. 

There you have it. Hope these tricks help you half as much as they helped me! 

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To The Mom Who’s Pretty Sure She’s Screwing It All Up… http://wehaveaars.com/mom-whos-pretty-sure-shes-screwing/ http://wehaveaars.com/mom-whos-pretty-sure-shes-screwing/#comments Mon, 25 Aug 2014 19:52:21 +0000 http://wehaveaars.com/?p=5221 Isaiah loves art. He’s full of imagination and he LOVES to create. (The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.) The other day I complimented him…telling him what a good painter he was.  “Yeah. I am.” he replied. His response … Continued

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Isaiah loves art. He’s full of imagination and he LOVES to create. (The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.)

The other day I complimented him…telling him what a good painter he was. 

“Yeah. I am.” he replied.

His response tickled me. And then it made me think. If only we could all have that kind of confidence. If only we could share that same sort of self-assuredness out loud, and not feel any shame. 

There’s a quote floating around on Pinterest. Have you seen it?

It goes something like this…

To the Mom who's pretty sure she's screwing it all up...

The first time I saw it, I was all…how fast can I pin this?! A resounding YES came over me. It reassured me, and made me feel like my crazy was somewhat normal.

But the longer I thought about it, the more it started to bother me.

The “why” hit me the other day at lunch. We were all sitting around the table, when I realized I forgot to turn in some important school forms. 

“Ugh. Mom of the year.” I said out loud, sarcastically. (Because three-year-olds understand sarcasm, right?)

Minutes passed, and I still couldn’t let my “Mom fail” go. 

“I CANNOT believe I did that. I’m such a bad Mom.” I said, under my breath.

It wasn’t the first time those words had come out of my mouth. But this time, something wrestled with my heart.

I looked at Isaiah. My little sponge. Sitting there, eating his peanut butter and banana sandwich. Listening to every word I muttered, and sensing every bit of shame I was projecting onto myself. 

He understood it all. 

All of a sudden, the emotions came flooding. 

Our children are born with this inherent sense of confidence. And we worry, as we send them off to school or out into the world, that their confidence will be broken–that others will make them feel like less than they truly are. When really, it starts right in our very own homes. 

When we berate ourselves for “screwing it all up”…our kids are there. Watching. Listening. 

We’re teaching them to doubt themselves, before anyone else gets the chance to. We’re teaching them to break themselves down, in a world that is waiting to do that for them. 

The thought of my children learning to punish themselves for their mistakes, all by watching me? Heartbreaking.

So to the Mom, like me, who’s pretty sure she’s screwing it all up…

STOP. You aren’t. In fact, you are doing an amazing job. You are loving your children. You are tending to their needs. You are doing the best you can. Know that, and BELIEVE it. 

Let’s teach our children to believe in themselves, by believing in ourselves first.

Let’s show them how to love themselves, by loving ourselves…even when we mess up.

And most importantly, let’s model the importance of God’s grace, by showing ourselves a little every day.

Because I know I could use some. 

Couldn’t you?

Today, Isaiah and I did some painting. 

I told him I was a good painter, too. 

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The “Perfect” Vacation http://wehaveaars.com/perfect-vacation/ http://wehaveaars.com/perfect-vacation/#comments Wed, 13 Aug 2014 02:56:50 +0000 http://wehaveaars.com/?p=5199 We’re back from Colorado. And we’ve recovered. Mostly. We spent the past week in beautiful Estes Park, with wonderful and cherished friends. It couldn’t have been more amazing. And if you know anything about our trip, you might think I … Continued

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We’re back from Colorado. And we’ve recovered.

Mostly.

We spent the past week in beautiful Estes Park, with wonderful and cherished friends. It couldn’t have been more amazing.

And if you know anything about our trip, you might think I was crazy to say that.

We won’t talk about the “how” (because it might be the parenting FAIL of the century) but during our drive up, Sammy took about a four foot tumble–landing head first onto asphalt. We stopped right where we were and called our doctor, who advised us to stay put and watch him closely.

We did just that, in a nearby Barnes and Noble (which turned out to be the perfect place). And as soon as we were out of the woods for any real danger (Praise God) we got back on the road.

We arrived in Estes Park around 11pm (our fourteen hour road trip turned eighteen) and put the kids to bed. Then at 12:45pm sharp, I woke up to the most horrifying scream. You know the kind…where you leap straight out of bed, lump in your throat, running to get to your child before your eyes have even adjusted?

Poor Isaiah was sick. And since this was his first “stomach bug” experience, he was terrified. We did our best to calm him, but the episodes went on well into the morning.

Then I caught his bug, and well…by day 4 of our 7 day vacation, after visiting the Urgent Care in town, things finally started to normalize.

And if that wasn’t enough, I broke my toe on the last day there. No, not hiking. Kicking my suitcase while packing. (I think I should make up a better story, don’t you? How’s this: I got in a kickboxing fight. With a bear. )

With such an “eventful” trip…it would be easy to think we felt cheated. Right?

But the thing is, it truly was amazing.

Was our vacation perfect? No. But in my humble opinion, it was pretty darn close.

We had a terrifying accident on the way up, but were blessed with great doctors to see us through. The Barnes and Noble staff let us camp out on their floor, and turned the other cheek as our kids ripped apart the Children’s section (still sorry about that, B&N). The kindness they displayed to a Mother in tears was simply overwhelming.

When we were up all night with Isaiah, we woke up to dear friends taking care of us. They cooked us breakfast and offered to watch Samuel. They were the epitome of grace, even after we exposed their kids to our sickness (and us Mama Bears know how frustrating that is…on vacation no less).

Sure, we were pretty much house-bound for the first three days, but the views were spectacular. I mean, if you are going to be sick, by all means…do it near Rocky Mountain National Park!

And I broke my toe, yes. But on the very last night. No hiking in sight, just a two day car-ride ahead of us, and the perfect opportunity to “ice and elevate.”

Upon our return to Dallas, I learned of a family who was tragically killed on their way home from their own family vacation–not far from where we had been. A fatigued driver hit them head on. And they’ve been on my mind ever since.

So how was our vacation? Let me tell you. It was pretty amazing. We saw some beautiful sights, and spent wonderful time with friends. But more than that? My family is well, my foot is mending, and we are all home safe and sound. And we are blessed beyond measure. Rich in friendship and love.

Who could ask for anything more.

Thanks for the memories, Colorado. It honestly couldn’t have been any closer to “perfect.”

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Gone Fishing http://wehaveaars.com/gone-fishing/ http://wehaveaars.com/gone-fishing/#comments Tue, 05 Aug 2014 22:12:31 +0000 http://wehaveaars.com/?p=5196 Actually…gone hiking, climbing, sleeping, laughing, relaxing, and so much more. I’ll be away from the blog for a while, to enjoy some beautiful views with my little family (and some wonderful friends). I’ve been posting our adventures on Instagram (@alliaars) … Continued

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Actually…gone hiking, climbing, sleeping, laughing, relaxing, and so much more.

I’ll be away from the blog for a while, to enjoy some beautiful views with my little family (and some wonderful friends). I’ve been posting our adventures on Instagram (@alliaars) so you can keep up with us there if you like.

God is working on this Momma’s heart this week, in strange and exciting ways. So many thoughts that I can’t wait to share when I return.

Hope you are having a wonderful week, wherever you are!

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Sammy’s Sky Party http://wehaveaars.com/sammys-sky-party/ http://wehaveaars.com/sammys-sky-party/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 15:32:28 +0000 http://wehaveaars.com/?p=5165 So the posts have been lacking around here, all because we’ve been busy getting ready for THIS PARTY. It feels real now. We officially have a one-year-old. It always takes the party to prove it. ;) I’ve known since Sammy … Continued

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So the posts have been lacking around here, all because we’ve been busy getting ready for THIS PARTY.

It feels real now. We officially have a one-year-old. It always takes the party to prove it. ;)

I’ve known since Sammy was born that I wanted to throw him a “Sky Party.”

He’s my rainbow baby. And that is something so very special to me. So I wanted to honor the God-given gift that he is, and celebrate with an ode to the Heavens.

We had rainbows, clouds, planes, hot air balloons…you name it. The sky was the limit. (See what I did there?)

Here’s a few pics from the day…

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The ribbon bunting was my subtle nod to the rainbow–tutorial coming later this week. It’s literally the easiest tutorial ever, but still worth sharing.

And the cake. Oh, the cake. It just might be my favorite one I’ve ever made. The toppers just melt my heart. Each one made with love for my little man. I squealed out loud when I finished it. Ask Michael.

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And how amazing are these cookies?! A friend of mine made them. There is NO WAY I could ever tackle anything that daunting. I keep telling her she needs to start a business. I’m serious, Alice!

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Sammy's Sky Party

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One year pictures covering the mantel, courtesy of Alicia Skinner Photography.

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And ribbon bunting on our double door wreaths. I made these wreaths almost a year ago, and I still adore them. You can change the decor to match the season (or party, in this case). The How-To is here.

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The favors were little clothespin airplanes, complete with hand-drawn instructions.

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And what’s a party without a photo-booth, right?! Samuel had his very own Hot Air Balloon photo station.

We simply bought a large roll of white craft paper (4 feet wide), sketched out the balloon, and placed a large basket (World Market) in front of it. Big props (get it? I’m on a roll!) to Michael for helping me put this together. I was such a hit. And the pictures turned out just precious.

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It was such a perfect day. I truly loved every minute of celebrating my Sammy baby.

Now…time to start planning his 2nd. ;)

We love you, Samuel. We love you more than all the stars. And we hope you loved your party half as much as we loved throwing it for you.

Love,

Mommy and Daddy

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This. http://wehaveaars.com/this/ http://wehaveaars.com/this/#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 17:50:32 +0000 http://wehaveaars.com/?p=5162 This. This is why I can’t get to any of my planned posts lately. This is my every day. This is what gets me up early, and sends me to bed late. This is what is what makes my heart … Continued

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This.

This is why I can’t get to any of my planned posts lately.

This is my every day.

This is what gets me up early, and sends me to bed late.

This is what is what makes my heart sing and ache, all at the same time.

This is my life, my love, my struggle.

All summed up in a few pictures.

If you have yet to see this photography collection by Ken Heyman, you are missing out.

Motherhood, at it’s finest. And the best possible visual description of this beautifully chaotic season of life.

Happy Wednesday, Mammas.

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Sammy Baby http://wehaveaars.com/sammy-baby/ http://wehaveaars.com/sammy-baby/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 02:10:54 +0000 http://wehaveaars.com/?p=5150 I just couldn’t wait to share my Sammy Baby’s one-year pics. Alicia Skinner Photography for the win! She always seems to capture my babies’ personalities just perfectly. If you are in the Dallas area, definitely give her a shout. I … Continued

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I just couldn’t wait to share my Sammy Baby’s one-year pics. Alicia Skinner Photography for the win!

She always seems to capture my babies’ personalities just perfectly. If you are in the Dallas area, definitely give her a shout.

I had so many favorites, it was next to impossible to narrow it down.

So here’s my top 25…

Just kidding.

Thank you, Alicia. Your photos are magic, as always.

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And an outtake to grow on…

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Our Insta-Week http://wehaveaars.com/insta-week/ http://wehaveaars.com/insta-week/#comments Thu, 17 Jul 2014 14:28:02 +0000 http://wehaveaars.com/?p=5141 It’s been a week. And it’s not even over yet. Ever have one of those? Someone please tell me I’m not the only one. Because I have them often. I’m waist deep in party prep for Samuel’s first birthday party … Continued

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It’s been a week. And it’s not even over yet. Ever have one of those? Someone please tell me I’m not the only one. Because I have them often.

I’m waist deep in party prep for Samuel’s first birthday party this weekend. I’m usually on top of these things, making and creating months in advance. But this time? I left it all for the last week. I feel like I’m cramming for the big test.

I got this, I thought. As long as this week runs smoothly, I can get everything done right on schedule. 

Then the boys got sick. Then I got sick. Nothing drastic, just Summer colds. But it’s been enough to weigh us down and halt all productivity.

One of the worst parts of Stay-At-Home-Mommyhood is the lack of sick days, if you ask me. And even worse: working HARDER on your sick days, cause everyone around you is sick.

Our week has been filled with pajamas, pajamas, and more pajamas. It’s been movie-watching, party-planning, nap-taking, and tylenol-dosing.

And cuddles. It’s been filled with cuddles. One of the very BEST parts of Stay-At-Home-Mommyhood, if you ask me. Especially on the sick days.

We don’t have much to post about, because this has been our life. But we will share our Insta-week.

Are y’all on Instagram? PLEASE find me if you are (@alliaars). It is by far my favorite means of social media. I’m actually slightly addicted to it. I just love sharing snapshots of our life, and seeing snapshots of yours. I love that level of connection.

And quite frankly, I just love rooting other Mommies on…all over the world. We’re in this thing together, sick days or not, so why not experience it all together as well? I think it’s so important to what we do. We need to build each other up, support one another, and love each other from afar.

I’ll stop now. Because there’s babies to be fed and party work to do.

But not without our Insta-week. Let’s see…we’ve got Sammy riding his new firetruck, my DIY ribbon bunting, Isaiah watching old Goofy cartoons, us at the Lionel Richie concert (Hello?! Is it me you’re looking for???), and Sammy baby’s new favorite face. (Such the jokester, that one. I think he’s going to be class clown.)

Enjoy! And love to you all!

 

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Chutes and Ladders http://wehaveaars.com/chutes-ladders/ http://wehaveaars.com/chutes-ladders/#comments Mon, 14 Jul 2014 01:31:05 +0000 http://wehaveaars.com/?p=5138 We’ve been playing a lot of board games at our house lately. I’ve always been a fan of board games (LOVE me a game night) but we’ve yet to really play as a family–probably because most of them are “3 … Continued

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We’ve been playing a lot of board games at our house lately.

I’ve always been a fan of board games (LOVE me a game night) but we’ve yet to really play as a family–probably because most of them are “3 and up.”

But since Isaiah is 3.5 now, I decided it was time to introduce him.

We started with the basics…Candy Land, Go Fish, Memory, etc. And tonight, we broke out the “Chutes and Ladders.”

Now, brace yourself. But I never played Chutes and Ladders growing up. (Insert gasp here)

So this one was new to both of us.

Nevertheless, we forged on…learning the rules together (which turned out to take all of one minute).

And just in case you are unfamiliar with the game, like me…

The purpose is to move your player from the first space to the hundredth space–climbing ladders whenever you can in order to move ahead, and avoiding the “chutes” that take you backwards.

So we start to play, and pretty quickly Isaiah hits a ladder. Loads of fun. And then he hits a chute.

I’m bracing myself for a minor meltdown when he realizes he has to move all the way back to the beginning. But instead, he seems thrilled.

I’m thinking…he must not quite grasp this game yet.

We spin again. And sure enough, he hits another chute.

“This is fun!” he says.

So…it might take him a few times to get it, I think.

We spin again.

Another chute.

“Wheeeeeeeee!” he squeals.

Time for the teaching moment.

“Isaiah, honey. You don’t want to go down the chutes. You want to climb up the ladders. You want to get to the very top. You see?”

And without missing a beat, my little one says…

“But Mommy. That’s boring. But the falling, that’s fun. You can always get back up. You can always keep going. But you see more spaces when you fall.”

Out of the mouths of babes, I tell you. Out of the mouths of babes.

Sometimes I look back at my “falls” in life and see nothing but heartbreak, and precious time lost.  But when I look a little closer, my baby’s words ring so true.

Without those falls, life would have been so boring. Without those chutes taking me “backwards”…I wouldn’t be where I am today.  I wouldn’t be WHO I am today. And I most definitely wouldn’t have seen as many “spaces.”

To be honest, I’ve felt a little like I’m “falling” lately. Life is changing so quickly, and it seems I have no control over any of it. It’s scary.

But after tonight, I got a little twinge of excitement. Because sweet Isaiah reminded me that the more I fall, the more I learn. The more I grow. And the more I become who I was meant to be.

Thank you, sweet boy. Thank you.

And Lord, please grant me the ability to teach this boy just half as much as he teaches me.

If it’s possible…

 

 

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Samuel: ONE http://wehaveaars.com/samuel-one/ http://wehaveaars.com/samuel-one/#comments Tue, 08 Jul 2014 17:13:47 +0000 http://wehaveaars.com/?p=5110 Dear Samuel, Well…here we are, sweet boy. It’s been a whole year since you graced our lives with your presence. You came into this world with a bang, surprising us all four weeks early. I think I cried the entire … Continued

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Dear Samuel,

Well…here we are, sweet boy.

It’s been a whole year since you graced our lives with your presence. You came into this world with a bang, surprising us all four weeks early.

I think I cried the entire way to the hospital. In fact, I think I cried the entire time I was in labor. Not because of the pain (your labor was actually quite painless, unlike your brother’s). But because I was so scared to lose you.

Your Daddy and I aren’t strangers to loss. Or the fear of loss. Our two previous pregnancies can attest to that.

So I know the pain. And I was terrified to relive it.

As soon as you were in my arms, I thanked God for you. You were here, you were safe, and you were mine.

My rainbow baby.

The next hour or so was a blur. A crowded room, post-labor contractions, and a nurse swooping in to take you from me. I didn’t know we’d spend the next three weeks apart from one another. I didn’t know I was saying goodbye to my newborn.

We left the hospital without you, but visited you every day. Being with you was like air to me. We couldn’t hold you much, but we read you stories and kissed your brow as often as they’d let us.

I couldn’t wait to get you home.

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And the very day we did, I was re-admitted to the hospital without you. Unable to even receive your visits.

It would be another week until we were finally together.

I guess the reason I’m recapping is because I want you to know…

You were hard fought, baby. So very hard fought.

And in the weirdest way, it was such a gift.

I still struggle. Wondering about that time I lost. That magical first month gone…and I didn’t even know you.

I can never get that time back.

But oh…once I had you. It was like we were light years ahead.

We had a rough start, but we fought hard to be together.  And because of that bond, we’ve never taken a day or night for granted. Not even the sleepless ones.

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Sammy, this past year with you has been heaven.

Sure, we had our challenges. But the joy you’ve brought us outweighs it all.

I love to close my eyes and remember you…

The way you you grunted like and old man. How you squeaked like a cat when you cried. Your famous Mick Jagger impression.

The wrinkles on your forehead. Your wishy-washiness (I want the pacifier. I don’t. I want the swaddle. I don’t).

Your larger than life eyes, and your constant inquisitive look.

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 Your wealth of personality, and your love for big brother.

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 And how much fun you are to love. You make it so very easy, Samuel.

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You’re a firecracker, sweet boy. Everything about you.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for bringing your unique joy into our lives. For teaching us we are stronger than we ever thought we were. And that nothing worth having comes easy.

Thank you for always making us laugh, keeping us on our toes, and for being a living example of God’s redemptive love…even after heartbreak.

You. Are. Amazing. And we love you…you guessed it…more than all the stars.

Happy birthday, baby.

Love always,

Mommy

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