• Randomness

    I vaguely remember my mom telling me once that she used to play the accordion when she was younger. And I distinctly remember me thinking that was odd. The boys and I went to the library this last week to listen to a guy play his accordion and I sat in amazement watching him make music with his fascinating instrument. I am not going to say he was cool…in fact he was quite dorky but as I sang and danced with the kids, I realized how cool and different he was for pursuing a different passion than most. Don’t worry mom, I bought the cd so we can reminisce soon about your days of accordion playing.

    I love getting to see the different personalities my boys have. While we were at the library, Mr. Accordion man (who referred to himself as Uncle Mike), wanted us to sing and dance. Mcree was happy to show everyone his moves while Gress was happy to follow the instruction and sit and clap to the beat but not to do anything to draw attention to himself. I have to say I am more like Gress but slowly learning to just enjoy the moment and just have fun (no matter how silly I look).   

    Speaking of “Uncle Mike” (aka accordion man), I’m not sure I like my kids referring to him as uncle. Kind of gave me the heeeby jeeebies. Even if I did buy his cd at Gress’ request.

    The Harrell household loves music. Today while we were eating at a restaurant, they were loudly playing some kind of techno music you hear in a teeny bopper’s clothing store (wow I just realize how old that made me sound). Gress was eating his lunch while weaving to the music. I have to say it was quite impressive. The kid has crazy rhythm.   

    And speaking of rhythm, (you might want to sit down for this), I have started practicing my guitar. How many years has this been waiting to happen….6+ years. THANK YOU Radford for not selling it like you threatened to many many times. I hope my daydreams of us as a family sitting around singing and playing music comes true. Although I do giggle every time I think about rad playing the harmonica.

    But don’t worry Rad, I already think you are cool for so many other reasons….especially that you teach our kids how to build things. Boys and power tools just go together.

    Boys and being outside go together too. Gress and Mcree love to hide and often you can go in a room and see a pile of blankets and pillows and know Mcree is somewhere under that mess, not moving a muscle. He loves to hide his eyes and count…one, one, one, one, one, one, ready or not…and then he goes looking saying nooooo when he doesn’t find you, then looking somewhere else and saying noooooo. It’s really cute and can be a really long game!

  • Really?

    I remember I used to ask people how they were REALLY doing. And by REALLY doing I meant not just what I could observe on the outside but how their heart was fairing. The honesty that came from asking that question always started really great and deep conversations. If you asked me that question this last week, truth is, I’m not sure I would want to share all that was stirring in my own heart. Sure I can make excuses for my own laziness, for my procrastination, for my lack of discipline, and for lack of patience with the little people around me. I hate admitting my faults and my failures. Who doesn’t right? I hate being vulnerable and needy.

    I went to a woman’s study at our church this last week and they posed the question, “what was the hardest thing you ever had to surrender to?” The vulnerability of these woman to share their brokenness was overwhelming. The most inspiring part was God’s redeeming love shining so brightly in all of them. I keep asking myself am I FULLY surrendered to God? FULLY? What area or thing am I holding on to and not surrendering to Him?

    Digging through the ugliness in my own heart is painful but I am so thankful for a God that reminds me of who I am in Him. And I am so very thankful I can say I am sorry for my crabbiness to my 5 year old and he just hugs my neck and says, “it’s okay mom.” You better believe we went to the beach Friday and as I walked along the shore with the 2 boys I just smiled knowing God has great things in store for this heart of mine.

    (side note: we were the only car in the parking lot, perhaps because people don’t go to the beach prior to a hurricane)!

  • Just Mcree

    I had Mcree all to myself for a few hours on Sunday and it was oh so sweet. We read book after book, I let him splash in the bathtub all by himself and I just played whatever he wanted to play. It is not often that he is alone so I tried to cherish every moment of that time with him. Usually he is a sidekick to Gress and always has to sit while we read the books Gress wants to read.  It was a sweet time and one I may have to duplicate more often.

    And by sidekick I mean like the photo here….Mcree is always wanting to learn too…and luckily Gress is a good sport!

  • So much fun…

    Oh how my heart melts for these 2 sweet little boys. They are fun, they eat anything you put in front of them, they are tough, they smirk when they know you caught them being funny, they love to dress up and are not afraid to go in public in “character”, they say hi to everyone they meet and carry conversations with those around them, they have big hearts and aren’t afraid to cry when they are sad or hurt. They tell you when they are sad, even if they don’t want to. They are helpful, and loving, they pick flowers and put them in my hair, and these little guys are so much fun to be around.

  • The Honesty Behind the Outtakes

    When I look back at the photos I took of this particular moment, I somehow miss what the photos were really about. I don’t see the sweet smile, but remember the crazy flailing of my arms that produced that little one to smirk. When I look at the photo I don’t see the brotherly love but I remember the bribery with m&m’s that got them to stand that close for seconds enough to snap a few pictures. When I glance at the image, I don’t see the subject that stands out from the background, but I remember sucking Rad into my creative agenda to hang a 10ft backdrop in the front yard stat. When I see that crying face in front of the lens, I am thankful for my sweet sister who inspired this idea to happen, even if in the moment we were both about to give up. There is so much behind a photo. More than the eye can see. Many of my photos I took were just plain bad. And a few of them were perfectly imperfect. Dressing kids up is always funny. But we probably should have picked a time other than nap time.

  • Crack a Smile…

    Sometimes you just have to crack a smile….even when you know you need to have a serious face. Some of Gress’ funny saying lately:

    “Mom, I’m trying not to sleep so I can loose weight so I can try to fly.” Why do you want to fly Gress? “So I can get things I am not tall enough to reach. And I am going to wear a cape and maybe make some wings out of cardboard.”

    While we were cooking in the kitchen a christian song was playing (not a good one) and Gress looked at me funny and I asked him if he liked the song and he said, “No, but I still like God.”

    And just yesterday as we were walking out of the library past an army guy in his camo, gress says, “Mom, why is that army guy going to the library? I thought army men and woman fought during the day. Is he getting a book about fighting?”

    I am sure this stack of library books is adding to that great imagination.

  • Relish

    Squeezing life out of these warm fall days!

  • Homemade Goodness

    Growing up our cookie jar was ALWAYS full. The cookies were always different but my favorite hands down was my moms soft banana chocolate chip cookies. When I became an adult, every now and again, a box would arrive at my door with homemade cookies shipped from across the USA from my mom. I am almost embarrassed to say this but I am going to confess it anyway…Gressett used to think cookies only came from a grocery store shelf. And now I am pretty sure Mcree thinks the only reason we go to the grocery store is to get him a free cookie.

    My kids LOVE cookies..okay well really anything with sugar in it. We don’t always give them a sugar filled desert. We often have fruit…and call it desert but Gress knows the difference (and so do I buddy!). The first real cookie Gressett had was my moms and he looked amazed that anything so delicious even existed. I have to admit my mom set the bar pretty high. But somehow I didn’t get those genes. My sister got ALL the baking genes and more that were passed down in that category. It takes me complete silence, and reading the directions out loud just so I don’t miss a step. And often times, you can find me opening the oven mid cooking cycle to sprinkle the cookies with salt or baking soda because somehow I missed that step. (That doesn’t fix the mess up…but I am sure you guessed that, and I can’t believe I just confessed that considering the only person that knows that secret is my sister).

    Well, since I have been on a kick to bake this week (inspired by the pumpkin pies I made for Rad), I had left over pumpkin so I made some gluten free pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. Healthy right? Okay who am I kidding, even if I did sneak 2 for breakfast one morning. I have to say, seeing a homemade cookie (surprisingly by me) in Mcree’s hand was one of the sweetest things I witnessed this week. Melt my heart (and chocolate melted all over his little face).

    As much as I love homemade deserts in my house, I also (sadly) realize this can’t happen on a regular basis. Why? Because all we do is eat them..for snacks, and after meals, and when no one is looking. As much as I want that cookie jar full, I can’t have that mostly for my own lack of willpower for these homemade goodies but also I want my kids to appreciate the sweetness in a simpler healthy desert.

  • I LOVE…

    I LOVE… the way Gress “wink smirks” when he doesn’t know an answer to a question. I LOVE… the minute I mention snack I can pretty much get the boys to do anything. I LOVE… watching the way Gress does laundry. It involves him standing as far a way from the washer as possible and practicing his pitching while throwing each piece of laundry right into the hole. I LOVE… watching Gress give big hugs to an elderly lady we visited from our church. I LOVE… watching Gress learn, even if it involves much wiggling in his seat, extra time to remember the directions, and making war scenes out of his math counting toys. I LOVE seeing the kids artwork around the house and how excited Gress is each day to show his dad what he learned. I LOVE… hearing Gress’ excitement each morning when he sees how high his bean sprout has grown. I LOVE… that Gress wanted to end our week of learning about pumpkins by surprising his Dad with a homemade pumpkin pie.











  • Full Week

    Having my boys means more time being in the wilderness and exploring in the dirt. We  visited one of Gress’ favorite places as a toddler yesterday. As we walked the trails of the wildlife park, Oatland Island, it was neat to see all that Gress remembered from our many visits there when he was young. It was fun to watch Gress and Mcree and their 2 friends explore the trails and animals in this park. Mcree was fascinated watching all the animals and didn’t want to leave each exhibit. He would let out a big “ahhhhh” sigh when I told him it was time to move on. No doubt this will be a favorite ongoing adventure this next year.

    If you asked Gress his favorite thing from this week hands down it would be his time spent with our old neighbors the Colemans. Their 5 children adore my kids and are so very welcoming and sweet to the boys. We went over there monday and spent several hours there…Mcree and I actually went back home and Gress stayed the rest of the afternoon. For weeks, every time we drive by our old street he asks if we can stop and see them. They are a busy family with sports for every kid so it is rare that we get the chance to hang out much. It was oh so special.

    In between our park playing, and life, we have managed to squeeze in our school work too. This week we are learning about pumpkins, their life cycle, seeds, harvesting and having fun in between. We made tambourines, played pumpkin bingo and even made a popcorn sweet treat.

    As I write this post we are about to start another day. Mcree is busy “working” as he puts it while he plays with kids power tools and Gress is sorting insects and attaching the snakes to the drill (and pretty sure he hid the cockroaches in his pocket so he can hide them on my desk later).