October

October was a busy month in the Stone household. Rather than separating out each of the main events of the month into separate posts, I am saving time and energy with a bigger-than-normal update on the latest happenings!

On October 8th, our Samantha Bean turned 7 years old. We celebrated, just as she requested, by going to Carowinds. Of course, we were so busy having a blast at Carowinds, that I have zero pictures of the event. But I do have some other keepers of our precious girl opening presents at Grammom and Poppa’s and enjoying the Hello Kitty, Cinderella, and Pink balloons and streamers she requested (Thank you Grammom!) and a delicious cheesecake that only Poppa knows how to make exactly right (thank you, Poppa!!).  She had such a wonderful time, and in all the busyness, I got to forget for a little while how much my heart aches that these times go by so fast. 7 !!!

 

(Click a picture to see it full screen)

 

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Another main event of the month was this wonderful treat called Parents’ Observation Week at the Ballet School. When we signed Samantha up for ballet, we thought, for some reason, that we’d be able to see her do ballet any ol’ time we wanted! As it turns out, things are pretty serious, and when they get started, the door is shut, there is no window in said door, and we simply hope for the best! Needless to say, after a month and a half of weekly ballet classes and little to no information from our tired ballerina, we were SO excited to learn that we were being invited to stay for a whole class and watch everything they had learned so far. To try to accurately describe the amount of joy we got from this experience would do little justice to its true nature. Suffice it to say, we were proud beyond measure and moved beyond words. We loved every second of it.

 

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And to wrap up a very exciting month we had All Hallow’s Eve, when we celebrate the evening before All Saint’s Day. This year we went to our church’s Trunk or Treat, and then on the 31st, walked the neighborhood. The kids were very specific in their costume requests, and I did my best to produce. We all had lots of fun this year!

Here is St. George:

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St. Cecilia:

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And our Littlest Priest:

 

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Fr. Ingram was quite proud of our little man:

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And here is a little taste of the delightful chaos of Halloween wherein we had a ghost, Spiderman, and the Brave Lion (brave enough to run into traffic as often as possible):

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And just for fun, here is a smattering of photos that I just didn’t want to leave out:

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Samantha as “The Queen”

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The Walker

Only a couple weeks after his birthday and little Ronan is ready to show off a new skill! He was cautious in the beginning, just a step or two between furniture, but within just a few days, he was walking across the room! Then a few days after that, he said goodbye to crawling. There’s just nothing cuter than seeing a baby walking around!

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(He looks so much like Matt in this picture below!)

 

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Just in case this wasn’t a big enough milestone, we added his first big boy haircut into the mix. It’s not a dramatic difference, but his little curls are gone.

Here he is with his handsome new look:

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And just for fun, here’s a video of our new walker! (as always, ignore the messy house :))

Samantha the Ballerina

When sweet Samantha was 9 months old, she decided she was tired of just crawling around all the time. She was ready for something bigger and better. So she started walking. But this wasn’t enough– not for Samantha! So she started dancing. It wasn’t elaborate at first. Nothing too fancy- just a bob of the bottom up and down to the beat. But it didn’t matter the song, any one would do; as soon as that music started playing, she started dancing. She couldn’t even help it! Well, the dancing never stopped. Any time the music is on, even to this day, she loves to dance to it. It didn’t take much for us to realize that dance classes were in her future, and as a lover of all things ballet, I couldn’t wait for the day when she could start ballet classes. At four years old, she wanted to grow her hair nice and long and get rid of her bangs so that she could put her hair in a bun for ballet, and it’s been since then that she has known that she is waiting. Samantha has a knack for patience, and she has shown a peaceful sort of patience throughout. But when that day finally came, when the hour finally struck, it was pure, unadulterated excitement. And at that final moment, right before we opened that studio door, nothing could have made me happier than to hear Samantha gasp “I feel like I’ve been waiting my whole life for this moment!”

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There’s nothing better than seeing a child discover their passion. I’m so happy to get to be part of the joy. We love you, Samantha Bean!

Happy Birthday, Ronan!!!

There is a little boy, most often referred to as Rowdy, who just turned 1, and we couldn’t be prouder. He and the kids enjoyed a big celebration with Poppa and the gang:

 

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On his actual birthdate, he also got to enjoy all of his favorite things. As a one year old, his tastes are not sophisticated:

Climbing in the ottoman with siblings:

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Climbing the stairs:

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Eating a little cookie (notice the flour hand prints on the cabinet):

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Sitting on the couch:

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A helium balloon just for him:

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And lastly, he got to enjoy being adorable as a one year old:

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Happy birthday to the sweetest baby in the world!!!

 

Samantha Starts Second Grade

Can you believe it?? Our little Bean has started 2nd grade, and turning 7 is only a month away! Homeschooling is always a challenge, but this year has gotten off to a much better start than last. Of course, not being 9 months’ pregnant always helps. Here are some pictures of the fun we’ve been having over the last couple of weeks:

First Day of School

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They love to pack their backpacks and ride the imaginary school bus/school train that takes them from the office to the kitchen table :).

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And, of course, one of the many perks of homeschooling is being able to bring your sword to class (and your baby brother- AKA “the school baby.”)

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Sam’s handwriting

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So proud of the ‘C’ he wrote!

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Sometimes tents are required for the optimal learning environment.

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Science experiments gone crazy!

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He’s always so willing to help with the chores! If it weren’t for him, I would empty that dishwasher much slower!

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Sitting in his favorite spot (if he’s not on the shelf stuck next to the colander, that is).

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Fun with History!

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Watching them read never gets old!

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Science experiment: Go see what you can catch outside!

We found a juvenile Green Anole.

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While we were catching it, the baby enjoyed some unsupervised freedom. Woops!!

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Daddy read all about Anoles, among other reptiles of interest.

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And Cormac enjoyed saying goodbye. He was so proud: “I held him the right way, so he didn’t bite me!”

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A bonus of Rowdy- just for fun:

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And I don’t know why we didn’t do this sooner. The kids love reciting “The House Rules,” and no one questions the consequences for breaking them! Cormac is awfully fond of saying “It’s a house rule, Sister!”

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A Rowdy Celebration

So it’s obvious I don’t get the blog updated all that often, but every now and then, it hits me over the head that there is a NEED. Right now, that need is to tell the world just how amazing this little baby boy is over here- the one we affectionately refer to as Rowdy.

Ol’ Rowdy is 10 months old now, and his personality is really shining through. “Rowdy” is quite the ironic nickname, really, because he’s a calm and cautious kind of guy who loves snuggling with strangers at church when Mommy needs a hand with the older ones. He’s usually quite accommodating like that, and he never stops smiling. He’s got a knack for copying his brother and sister (already!), and he loves to swing on the swingset more than anything. He says Dada constantly, Momma on occasion (when Daddy convinces him to), and he’s just generally false-advertising for how delightful a baby can be. We love this baby boy with all our hearts, and just like his brother and sister, I could never imagine my life without him. He knows how to remind me when I need it most that I really do have the best job in the world.

Here are some pictures showcasing Ronan’s infectious smile, his favorite things, and the moments I don’t want to forget:

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And here are a few videos that capture some of us his loveable Rowdy essence.

 

We love you so much baby boy! Just do us a favor, and don’t grow up too fast.

 

To My Other Mother- A Tribute

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Each one of us has our own special set of obstacles to overcome in this vocation of parenthood. Some of us have to face difficult decisions about our finances, careers, and daycare. Some of us live away from family and have to parent without built-in support. And for many of us, our spouse’s family is just another one, and maybe even the biggest, obstacle of all. But for me, while I struggle each day to parent with love and patience, I know that I have all the support and love I could ever imagine from my in-laws. Each child that grows our family is another welcomed with open arms and pure, unconditional love. I know not everyone receives such a beautiful blessing, and I hope that I never take such a thing for granted. So in the spirit of my gratitude, I want to wish my mother-in-law the happiest of birthdays today. Thank you for being a wonderful mother to my husband, grandmother to our children, and for being a second mother to me! Thank you most of all for being you, just as you are!!

 

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We love you the most, Grammom!!!

An Advent to Remember

 

I am a parent, so consequently, my head is often fuzzy and my heart is often full. Sometimes, my fuzzy head leads to questioning my heart’s longing for children and the chaos they bring. Sometimes, my fuzzy head can only think of what hasn’t been done or how hard it is to maintain a train of thought when the much bigger constant-chatter-locomotive is blazing through. Sometimes, my fuzzy head is only focused on the mess, the tiredness, the discipline, or even the guilt or fear that love to sneak in at night when I’m not sleeping. But sometimes, like tonight, I see myself and my children through the lens of a camera and think, “when I look back on this moment, will I remember how dirty the house was tonight? Will I remember how tired I was? Or on this night, will I remember that Ronan exploded all over the floor instead of in his diaper, Cormac threw markers into the toilet, and I spilled milk all over the freshly bathed and dressed baby while trying to give him a bedtime bottle?” Well, maybe… But what I do know, is that I will remember how precious their faces are when they tell me they love me. I will remember how sweet each of their little baby heads smelled as I carried them in my arms. I will remember how full of faith and hope and love a child is. I will remember how life IS hard, and these times ARE tough, but God did not entrust me with these precious lives only to abandon me when times got tough. No, He is faithful, and He has blessed us with the greatest of His gifts.

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So let us rejoice as we await the coming of Our Lord!

Happy Advent!!

Life’s Celebrations

The last couple of weeks have been fraught with much emotion and difficulty. We have been completely depleted from the great loss of a beloved family member. Being forced to say our final goodbyes has amplified greatly each temporary goodbye as so many of our family members have come in and out of our lives over the last couple of weeks. Despite all of the heartache, stress, and general upheaval, I find myself marveling at the beauty of having children. Because even in the midst of weathering great storms such as these, they make the bright spots of God’s grace shine through so clearly. Each moment of tender love from my babies, and each milestone we reach is another moment of thanksgiving as we remember just how loving our God truly is.

Samantha is over halfway through her sixth year of life, and watching her grow in character and spirit is nothing but pure joy. She makes me incredibly proud, and after a whirlwind trip to Florida, she put in a tremendous amount of effort to finish up our kindergarten year with a flourish. For Samantha’s big graduation, we decided to create a little compilation of her newly acquired skills in the form of a “lapbook.” What makes me so proud is not only those academic skills that we can measure, but the tremendous amount of growth I’ve seen this year in her perseverance, determination, and sense of responsibility. School isn’t always enjoyable and enthusiasm naturally wanes, so there is nothing that makes me more proud than those times when Sam is not looking forward to her work at all or is daunted by the difficulty of it, but she pushes through to completion and does a great job as well. Her confidence has grown every day as she realizes just how much her hard work can pay off, and I couldn’t be more grateful to be able to be a part of this process.

I’m so very proud of you, Samantha Lynn, what a light you are in our lives!!

Look how much you’ve grown in one school year!!

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And here is our end of year creation! Click on any picture to make it bigger!

 

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Not only am I enjoying Samantha’s growth, but I’m also savoring the love that I get from my sweet boy. I treasure up each moment of affection from my baby, and there is nothing sweeter than his little voice. Every “Love you, Mommy,” eskimo kiss, and sweet little prayer is balm to my soul, and I am grateful beyond measure for this grace from God. What a gift my precious babies are.

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(Photo credit goes to Samantha for this one!)

One of the more intimate moments with my children that I treasure most especially is our bedtime singing. I hope I never forget the sound of their precious little voices full of such life! I tried to capture the essence of it with this voice memo (which is kind of long and unedited), in case there are others who might enjoy this little window into our lives: