Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Moms,


I interrupt the regular blogging schedule to bring a special announcement from...me.

I want to address something today that all of us know, but sometimes we just need to hear someone else say it...or read it or whatever. I am talking to my fellow moms today, but really this is for any parent or anyone who wants to be a parent someday.

Just a friendly little reminder. That's all.

I want to talk about what makes a great mom. I can tell you exactly what makes a great mom, because I am surrounded by great moms all of the time. Not a single one is perfect, but they are great.

I am encouraged by these awesome moms (and others) almost every day. I receive messages and comments and I run into them while I'm out and about, and I hear the sweetest words. Believe me, my love language is "words of affirmation" so those compliments mean the WORLD to me and fill me up. I'm also very aware that the main reason those comments come is because we share so much of our life here. People only know what we're up to, cause I tell you all so on a semi-regular basis. :) Everyone deserves to hear kind words every single day.

Since you're reading this today that means you've probably been here before, so let's clear up what doesn't make ME a great mom.

Taking my kids to Disney World...no.
Planning parties for my kids...no.
Going on outings with my kids...nope.
Being holiday crazy...not even a little bit.
Crafting with the kiddos...no.
Having fun dressing up my kids...no.
Baking with the kids...no.
Taking a gazillion photos...no.

These are all things that I DO, because I enjoy doing them. They are activities. They are not always awesome parenting, they are just...fun. And everyone has a different definition of fun. If I didn't enjoy it, I wouldn't do it. Quite honestly, there are times my kids look at me like I'm nutso when I want to do some of these things, and they are humoring ME by going along with it. :) (I'll be sharing more about that later this week, haha!)

Other parents will have lists that look different than mine. Playing instruments with their kids, hunting with their kids, riding with their kids, playing sports, planting, collecting, sewing, fishing, experimenting, exploring...whatever it is they are interested in. These are all great things, but on their own they don't define anyone as a great parent.

Let me tell you what makes a great mom.

Her heart.

Because no activity in the world means a thing without the right motive, and there is no greater motive in this world than love.

The wonderful, magical, mysterious thing about love is how much we crave it and how simple it can be to show. Acts of love are as easy and satisfying as pulling chocolate out of thin air. We don't have to put on an elaborate show when it comes to showing love to our kids (or anyone.) A kind word, a simple gesture, a touch, your attention, your help, your patience...things that often cost no money or require no plans. (Let's be real, I could work on the patient part!) These things make our kids feel safe and happy, and other than food, clothing, and shelter, those are the most important things of all.

I never want this blog where we share our family memories to discourage anyone, ever. I can't tell you how many times someone comes to me to talk about our activities or lately our trips to Disney, and they follow it up with a crestfallen, "It would be a LONG time before we'd get to go...." Their expression breaks my heart! Like, eee ahhh oooh rips my heart right out. My first reaction is always to say, "You'll get there!" but what I should always say is..."Seriously, take your kids to the playground and PLAY with them, and I promise you they will squeal with just as much delight." It's not a lie. (Ask my kids who could spend their entire trip to Disney on the playgrounds and be perfectly happy.) Even the "happiest place on earth" would be a miserable place if you were with people who weren't loving you while you were there.

But it's not just Disney, it's all of the things. It is always always about the motive, even more than the activity. Our plans don't always go right, but if the motive all along was love, then it doesn't really matter does it? Somehow everything works out and great memories are made anyway. It never really was about the activity. :)

Great moms have figured out that they don't have to do things to impress anyone. They don't have to be elaborate. They don't have to travel around the world or even outside of their own backyard to prove their love. And they know it is never...ever...fair to compare their "style" to someone else's. The kids don't care. (I repeat, the kids don't care.) They just want YOU.

There is one thing that is more important than any of it for me, and that is sharing the love of God with my kids. That's MY motive. I love because He first loved me. And you can bet your boots I remind my kids WHO is love and where our love comes from all the time. :) When I look back on my life years from now, many of the various things we've done will fade from my memory, but I want to rest in assurance that I shared the truth of the love of God with my kids.

What motivates you?

I hope it's love! Always. :) If you love your kids and are loving to your kids, you are a great mom! And certainly we lead by example. If we love, so will they. No matter if your house looks like an exploded pinterest board or is littered with plastic toys. Whether you go and do or stay and play. There is no "right" style. Your kids are going to look back on their childhood with a wonderful fondness if their house was full of love. Our memories are always tinted by how we felt while they were being made.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.         1 Corinthians 13:4-7

High-fives and hugs to all of the great, loving parents out there! And thank you, God for the gift of a mother's heart.

Love!

Monday, September 28, 2015

First Fall Weekend!

Parts of this weekend feel like a blur! Almost like they were weeks ago instead of just days ago. Eric is in Boston, and I pathetically miss him like crazy already. We were SO spoiled over these past few weeks to have him with us. Now it's like my brain has reset and I'm not used to having him away for long. And added to the sting is the fact that at one point we thought Charlotte and I might be accompanying him on this trip. We chose not to go when Eric's schedule turned out to be a little fuller than we expected. Boo.

It was homecoming weekend in our small town, a place that fits the stereotype of just about any small town USA location. So obviously, people take the homecoming football game pretty seriously here, haha. Even we Roberts join in on the festivities. It was also the weekend of Eric's 10 year high school reunion.

On Friday we popped in for part one of the reunion, which was near the football game. This was a get together intended to be the precursor to the "real" reunion, and the whole family was invited to attend. So we schlepped our crew to a very gracious hostess's home to say hello before heading over to the game. :)

Of course we being who we are, we made it to the field at half-time and enjoyed listening to the band while the kiddos danced around. I'm not sure there was much football viewing from us. But we did make a trip to the concession stand of course, which is really the highlight for the kids, haha. It was a fun evening of strolling around and running into people...in that small town sort of way, ya know. I'll miss this place when we move, for sure! (No, we are not moving super soon...I know I always confuse people, haha. Next year!)

Saturday was gorgeous, and once Eric came home from work we set out for an evening of food, friends, and fun! We grabbed dinner with Miss Charlotte in tow before dropping her off with my dad and heading to the local winery for Eric's reunion. Most of you know that Eric and I were not in the same class...I was two years ahead of him...but there are so many people in the class of 2005 that I just adore. New friends and old! So while I was only a honorary member, I still had a great time catching up!


I obviously wasn't hopping in a lot of photos since it wasn't my reunion, but we had to take this picture. It was just too funny.


Neither of us wanted to leave, but eventually we had to get going to pick up our kids. On our way home Eric said, "So...you may not like this but...."

I tensed up. After the summer we had I have come to DREAD those words. :D

"...I was wondering if maybe we took the kids home and tucked them in, then I could go back for a little while and hang out."

I had to laugh. What did he think I was going to say, no? Haha. Duh! Yes, go back! I didn't blame him for wanting to catch up a little more, and I am more than used to doing the bed time routine thing on my own. He ended up carousing until late into the night, so I assume he had a good time. :)

Also this weekend was a quaint fall festival a couple of towns over. Our family stopped in for a while to soak up some good fall vibes.





Grace met some new friends and insisted that she help them with their lemonade stand. This is all she wanted to do the entire time. We had to pry her away!




There were little games and craft stands and food and the typical festival kinds of things you would expect to find. We really enjoyed it!

I guess I can't wrap this one up without mentioning the blood moon solar eclipse event that everyone was buzzing about last night. I had kids running out of the house in their underwear to catch a glimpse around bed time. :) I did try to snap a few pictures, but like most of the world, mine didn't turn out the greatest, haha. It was kind of a cool ending to a very fun weekend!

Eric and I realized that the last time we went out together with NO kids whatsoever was last July at our friend AJ's wedding. Last July as in, 2014.  (Unless you count the occasional doctor's appointment!) This is why we would like to be done having children. ;) This nursing mother who cannot pump bottles is sooo ready to have her grown up life back. And I sure do love the fella I'm married to. I am looking forward to many more evenings out with him, and I'm super thankful to grandparents who kept our kids this weekend so we could enjoy some time together!

I cannot BELIEVE we are saying hello to October this week! Our favorite month of the year. Good times ahead!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Welcome Fall :)

Reagan helped me set up a little snack for us to enjoy after school yesterday, because...yay Fall! :)


We will celebrate you, because we love you. You are our best friend. 

We made pumpkin cookies and orange punch. It was a nice little surprise for the girls when they got home yesterday. You know, as their mother, I feel it my duty to instill a special fondness for this time of year. ;)



We even made some special orange ice cubes using a jello mold. (I think the cubes came out better than our jello did last year, haha.) This drink was just orange juice and ginger ale. Sort of a virgin mimosa. It was yummy! Next time I would add just a bit of red food coloring to the ice molds to make them stand out more. You can see a pumpkin popping out there. :)



The girls were definitely surprised. We had a really nice afternoon!

And our little red head says hello. She wishes she could eat pumpkin cookies, too. Next year, Charlotte Rose. :)





Good times!

We went inside after this so that I could show them a nifty gadget we picked up for this fall. It's just an apple peeler/corer but these children were AMAZED. We've been eating a lot of apples, haha.



Everyone had to take a turn of course.



Apples coming out of our ears! Gracie loves that this type of peeler makes "slinky apples." :) I like that apple crisps and pies will be a breeze from now on. Why didn't I get one of these things sooner? 

We hope that you all had a great day yesterday! Sending you our love and warm autumn wishes!


Haha

Monday, September 21, 2015

Weekend Wrap Up!

We have a couple more days until the start of the BEST season there is, but it sure does feel like Fall around here already. This weekend was full of activities that get my crunchy leaf, pumpkin, blue jean, campfire loving self into a tizzy. For those of you who join me in the "I've always loved Fall!" camp and not the bandwagon crazed group that's taken over the internet over the past couple of years (turning pumpkin into it's own food group), high five. The time has come. Our spirit season is soon to arrive. ;)

Friday night found us at the school for the annual Fun Fair. Eric and I did the parent thing...standing in lines for food...standing in lines for activities...chasing kids and standing in lines. What we do best.



Our girls get the biggest kick out of seeing mom and dad at their school. Kind of like the reverse of seeing a teacher outside of school when you're a child, haha. I'm pretty sure Grace said at one point, "What are you guys doing here??" Uh, we brought you here, kid. :)


Eric played hunter-gatherer, and we enjoyed our yearly chili, hotdog, and nachos dinner. (Hey, you people really showed up to eat this year! My mom said they easily served TWICE as much food as last year!) Eric looks like he's wearing a yamaka in this picture, which is kind of hilarious as he also looks like he's about to tear into a couple of hot dogs. ;) A little jewish irony to lighten your day.


The girls had too much fun playing on bouncy things....





Eric took the two younger ones for a stroll and disappeared at this point. I stood in those lines for what felt like forever wondering what the heck happened to my husband. Turns out he took Charlotte out of the stroller and she pooped all over him. So he had to book. :D Yay parenthood.

The girls always have to do the cake walk. If we're at any event and there is a cake walk, Evie and Grace will be the first to beeline. So they hopped right in and once the music stopped....



....Evie won first thing! The music started again, and what do you know...Gracie won the next round. I was thinking this was great, we were even. They both chose their cake and decided they wanted to keep playing. The music stopped and Evelyn won AGAIN. Third round in a row went to a Robert kid. It was at this point that I said, "Okay okay, I think we're done now." Haha. Our luck was hot, and we did not need that much cake! :)

Poopy Eric went through the DQ drive-through and picked up sundaes, which is how I eventually lured the girls out of the fun fair. It was a fun start to the weekend!

On Saturday I worked on continuing getting our lives back in order post-vacation while the girls went to a swim lesson and then to the Butterfly Festival with their grandma. They walked in the door that afternoon, hands filled with butterfly paraphernalia. Butterfly slinkies, butterfly fans, butterfly glasses, butterfly notebooks...there were butterflies on their faces. The theming here was clearly conveyed. :)

Chasing butterflies!

Eric and I had date night that evening where we ran the usual errands and I got my fall candle shopping on. We are ready, I'm telling you. The next day also found us running errands after church, because that is our life. There was an amazing deal on something Eric wanted, so we both came home with new gifts for ourselves. 


I would just like to note here the disparaging difference between his "toys" and mine. :D I kid, we've been needing another iPad for Eric to take on his travels for a while now. The kids sort of...ahem...claimed the other one.

While we were shopping the oldest three kiddos were soaking up some fun at their first trip to the local pumpkin patch for the season! They brought home some pumpkins to begin our annual collection. I can't WAIT to have a family day at the pumpkin patch next weekend! My favorite.

We were able to take a nice long walk with the setting sun, and then we came home for a movie night. It was perfect! All of this family time lately has been good for the soul. Eric and I promised each other that, to the best of our ability, we were going to make up for lost time this Fall. So far, so good! 


Friday, September 18, 2015

Disney 2015 - Part Four!

Oh, what a lazy day it is when we have to pack up and say goodbye to this happy place. No one ever wants to get out of bed. There are several reasons for this, haha. But mostly, the realization that we have to go back to the "real world" makes us linger just a little bit longer.

So that's what we do. We linger as long as we possibly can on our last day. I like to try to book one more experience for us before we leave so that there is something to look forward to. This year we were set to have brunch at 1900 Park Fare, a restaurant inside of the the Grand Floridian Resort.

The Grand Floridian is a deluxe resort, and it's the deluxe of the deluxe, ifyouknowwhatimean. In other words...we ain't ever staying here. :) But, we can visit! That's the great thing about staying on property at Disney. You can hop around to any resort you want to check things out, eat at the restaurants...it's great.

This also happens to be the resort that the Tanner family stayed in on those Full House episodes, and once we walked through the doors we had to find that piano that Uncle Jesse serenaded Becky with. ;)



As soon as Eric saw it he said, "Don't touch that!" Apparently he has more of an inkling of what this thing is worth. ;) So imagine the horror....

Whoopsy daisy, Mr. Reagan. Let's just step away from the Steinway....

This really is a beautiful resort, harkening back to the Victorian Era. During the holiday season, this is the place you can find the giant gingerbread house that is featured on the travel and food channels all the time. If we are ever here for Christmas, we will definitely make a special trip over to check that out!


But we weren't here just to take in the sites. We were ready for Mary Poppin's Supercalifragilistic Breakfast! (That is really what it's called. Ha!)



Antique carousel decor and a huge band organ continue the Victorian feel in the restaurant. It's sort of...upscale whimsical, if that's a thing! Of course everything at Disney is kid friendly. It was almost a comical contradiction when we were in these surroundings and then these guys started coming out!



At the Supercalifragilistic breakfast we met the Mad Hatter, Alice, Tigger, Winnie the Pooh, and of course, Miss Mary Poppins herself! Our kids had NO idea what to do with the Mad Hatter. He really is a goofy guy, and they were speechless. Look at Reagan, like...what? :D Who is this dude?

But soon a big cuddly guy came around the corner, and our kids definitely knew what to do then!


 Now look at that face!


Love!
And there is my child...with no shoes on...just keeping it classy. 

Next up was Alice, and our girls immediately jumped up and started talking her ear off. She easily matched wits with them, super friendly and bubbly!



But soon she noticed that someone in the corner was trying to hide from her. Reagan was being shy in the booth and wouldn't come out to say hello.

Evie: He's just not that interested in you.
Alice: He's not interested in me?!
Evie: He's just not into princesses.
Alice: But you see, I'm not a princess!

And she proceeded to crawl into the booth with him. We were DYING.


Shy he was, but clearly enjoying this attention.

Reagan went scurrying under the table, and then Alice said, "Well that's not fair! I can't fit under there!"


Never ever in any character meet have we had someone get that animated with our kids. We were laughing so hard! Thank goodness Alice is NOT a princess, because obviously she doesn't have to be nearly as proper as they do. This may be my favorite meet yet!


If I were ever able to be a Disney face character, I'd be Alice. (And it's about the only one I could be, cause I'm short. Haha.)

Pretty soon this big guy came bouncing around the corner. 


Reagan LOVED him once again! Tigger swiped Reagan's Mario doll that he had been carrying around all week, and he ran away with it. We got it on video. :) All of the characters here were so playful! 

Finally, Miss Poppins herself came over for a visit, which was practically perfect in every way. ;) No, but really...adored her! She was so sweet with the girls.


We were able to tell her that we were having a "jolly holiday!"

The food here was pretty standard american fare, which was totally fine with me. Like many character meals, it was a buffet. In the evening you can come back to this same restaurant, and instead of these British characters, you will find Cinderella, Prince Charming, the Evil Stepmother and Anastasia and Drisella. I definitely want to come back for dinner sometime! I hear those step sisters are a hoot!

Although the food was traditional, there was one item on the menu that this restaurant is known for, and we had to try it. Strawberry soup!


I thought it was very good, Eric thought it was just okay, but Reagan couldn't get enough of it! It was thick and sweet and very...strawberry-y. Haha, you'll just have to come here sometime and try it for yourself!

After brunch we had just one more stop to make before leaving Disney property. We always let the kids pick out their souvenirs from the trip towards the end, so we were headed back to Downtown Disney to let them do a little shopping.

I have to stop everything here to gab about something at Downtown Disney that was so ingenious to me, it practically was magical. The parking garage. I'll tell you what. 

I'm sure this exists in other places in the world, but I had never seen it before, so I'm giving Disney ALL the credit, haha. When you pull into a normal parking garage, you might have to search a while for a spot...go up and down the rows, maybe even up a level or two before you can find a space. But in a Disney parking garage it "magically" tells you where to park. There is a sensor on every single space in that entire garage that can tell if there is a car parked there or not. So as you drive in, there are screens that tell you how many available spaces are open on each level, and then...there are screens on each row that tell you how many available spaces there are in that line. There is literally no searching for a spot. It was amazing! I just couldn't get over it. :D 

Downtown Disney is much more manageable during the day than at night. It's not nearly as crowded. It is, however, HOT. Haha. At least at the beginning of September, it is! So we made our way straight to the World of Disney store.



It takes a long time for our kids to choose just the right thing. :)



This kid may just need that hat for Christmas, because I thought it was adorable, haha! Reagan had a very hard time choosing between a Lightning McQueen and Buzz Lightyear. He chose the Buzz...and then experienced his very first buyer's remorse on the way home and cried, "I want McQueen, I want McQueen!" It was a little sad, actually, and a little cute. I think he may be getting a McQueen for Christmas, too. :D Definitely made narrowing the list down easy!


The girls chose little animator doll sets. You know, anything with a bunch of tiny pieces is fabulous.



I love that so many of the people who work at this store look like they could be your grandpa. Some people "retire" and then go to work at Walmart. Then there are the brilliant people who "retire" to work at Disney. I'd choose that one. ;)

After this we made our way back to the magical parking garage and officially said our goodbyes. Oh, but wait! I almost forgot. That morning before we left our hotel, Eric called guest services and booked a little something that Disney calls a "bounce back offer." If you book your next trip before you leave your current one you can get a special deal. So.....

We are all set to come back next September! We're booked for free dining next year at Port Orleans Riverside (woot!) and because we actually know about this trip well advance, it's going to be one EPIC adventure at the World! :D Eeeee...I already can't wait, and practically have the whole thing planned already. So who's going to join us?? Haha!

So this year when we said, "See ya real soon!" we really meant it. Until next time!



Thank you so much for following along on our magical trip!


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