Our Maple Tree

Keeping up with The Maples


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Farewell Summer

It’s hard to believe that summer is almost over and even though I am not sad to see it go (yay fall!), this summer will always be the one that I will remember. I am going to miss our laid back summer days on the porch, watching Ada jump around in her kiddie pool. I will miss the daily popsicles, the chalk drawing, the bubble blowing afternoons, and I am going to miss having Ada at this sweet age. This summer I watch Ada grow and change faster than I thought was possible. It seemed like as soon as she learned to walk, she went from my baby to my never-stop-moving toddler. It certainly is bittersweet watching your child grow up.

This past weekend, we gave summer a great send-off by enjoying our time as a family outside. We enjoyed the sunsets, grilled, blew bubbles, and went hiking. We stayed at our family’s lake house and it is the cutest cottage ever! I love how it is decorated and it has inspired me to try new things in my house.

Life with a toddler summed up in these three pictures – happy one second, sad the next, then happy again.

 

 

Summer, you have been great but we are ready of you fall!

 

 

 


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Ada’s 2nd Birthday Party

 

For the past couple of months, I have been planning and pinning ideas for Ada’s birthday party. At first, I thought Tea for Two would be so much fun. Then I got to thinking about the logistics of giving a tea party to several two year olds and promptly changed my mind. I started thinking about the things Ada loves most and that is how I came up with her party theme. So the Bunny Ice Cream party was born! I had so much fun putting this party together and I really hope that I can do one just like it again someday. And what better way to send off summer than with an ice cream party, am I right? 😉

The whole day was filled with all the things Ada loves – bunnies, ice cream, birthday cake, coloring, bubbles, and all her friends & family. Ada had an absolute blast and loved being the center of attention. So much so, that she gave us all a wonderful dance to her favorite song, “Animals”, by Maroon 5. I just love this silly girl of mine!

We had such a wonderful time hanging out with our friends & family, drinking spiked ice cream floats and taking pictures at the photo booth.

And of course, I think Ada’s favorite part of the day was eating birthday cake.

 

Well, I think it was all the kid’s most favorite part of the day. 😉

Opening presents with Ada this year was way better than last year! She got right into tearing up the paper and was so excited for all her new toys. Her enthusiasm was the sweetest thing ever!

The day was just so perfectly sweet! Having all our friends & family there to celebrate our darling girl was the sweetest and it meant the world to us. We are so incredibly blessed with loving friends & family. Thank you to all who came and making our little girl’s day so special.

Happy 2nd Birthday, my darling Ada Marie! You bring so much happiness and love to our family and we are so blessed to call you ours. We love you!

 

 

P.S. I plan on writing a post regarding all my party sources. Just stay tuned for all the party details! 😉 

 


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Ada Turns Two

My sweet baby girl turned two this week. Where did the time go? It seems like yesterday we were bringing her home for the first time. I have been looking through pictures of her and can’t believe how much she has grown & changed. I wanted to picked a few of my favorites to share (which was hard to do because I have so many favorites!).

Ada is full of personality – don’t let her pictures fool you. It’s all we can do to get her to smile for the camera and she always looks so melancholy. But in reality she is a firecracker. She can be all the way happy one moment and then the next, all the way mad. She certainly keeps us on our toes all the time. She is also the sweetest, silliest girls ever. She can be in her own little world and then she will hear a song that she likes and will drop everything to dance to it. And poor thing, has my dance moves. 😉 She loves to snuggle and will find any excuse for us to just hold her. She has already learned that if she snuggles with us she can pretty much get whatever she wants. Clever girl. She LOVES her stuffed bunnies – which she calls, Hop-Hops. She never goes anywhere without her Hop-Hop. They have so many wonderful adventures together. She also loves her sweets. Everyday she asks either for cake, popsicles, or ice cream.

She has grown and changed so much this past year; and I am so very proud of all her accomplishments. She talks nonstop and will break out in song often. Most of the time at the top of her lungs. She can count to 5, point out many letters from the alphabet, she knows all her shapes & colors, and can run circles around me all day long.

Ada brings so much joy and love to our lives. She certainly is our little sunshine and completes us so perfectly. We are all so excited to celebrate her with family & friends next weekend! Happy birthday Ada Marie, we love you more than you could ever know.


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Summer Adventures

This summer has been such a magical time for us. Watching Ada explore the world around her and discovering new things has been so fun to witness. Even though Ada took her sweet time to start walking, I am glad that it happened when it did. Ada has been encouraged to move and try new things this summer and it has made me so proud of her. She is still my little lamb, but I have seen her grow, learn, and show courage everyday this summer. It has been an absolute marvel to watch.

With all these extremely humid, hot days, we have been living in the water. This past week, I took Ada to the splash pad for the first time. She was a little afraid of it at first, but seemed to really enjoy it after a little while.

So funny story – on my way to the splash pad I realized that I packed everything but Ada’s swim suit. On the drive, I debated turning around to go back home to retrieve her swim suit (after I had driven about halfway) or just letting her run around in her swim diapers. After much consideration, I decided that I didn’t want to go all the way back home and that I didn’t want to get judged 6 ways to Sunday for letting my little girl run around without a swim suit. So I stopped at Target and picked up the last suit in a size 2T they had. Luckily, it was adorable and Ada was a hit running around in it. Everyone kept remarking how cute she was and how adorable her suit was. And I believe Ada loved her new suit as well, because all she did all day long was play with the tutu. Mom for the win…

Our days are full with water activities and our afternoons are full of hiding from the summer thunder storms. We have been building forts, playing in puddles (when it isn’t storming, of course) & having dance parties in the kitchen.

As I mentioned before, eating popsicles has been a staple here at the house – so has eating ice cream. Our favorite activity to do as a family this summer has been going to Kilwins, getting ice cream cones & walking around downtown. Have you seen a toddler devour an ice cream cone? It is the cutest, stickiest mess ever!

And this picture is on overload of cuteness – the pigtails, the bloomers, the cheeks – she just melts me!

I hope your summer has been as magical as ours! Long live summer – until fall gets here, because let’s be real here – fall is simply the best! 😉


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My Blueberry Girl

“Let her tell stories and dance in the rain, somersault, tumble and run, her joys must be high as her sorrows are deep, let her grow like a weed in the sun.”
― Neil Gaiman, Blueberry Girl

This is one of my favorite books to read to Ada. And it is perfectly fitting for our family because years before Ada was born, my dad created his blueberry patch. He planted over 1500 blueberry bushes on our family farm and he has worked tirelessly on this farm for many years. He has made this farm absolutely breathtaking and it is a place we love to visit and enjoy! When we found out that we were having Ada, my mom bought her Neil Gaiman’s, “Blueberry Girl.” So this past weekend, I was so excited to take Ada blueberry picking at Poppy’s Blueberry Patch.

Ada just loved carrying around a bucket and picking the blueberries off the bushes. The only problem was that she wanted to pick all the berries, including the green ones. I think she just loved listening to the berries hitting the bottom of the bucket. But once she discovered that the blue ones were delicious; she just sat her self down and starting going to town eating all the blue ones that she could find. (No worries, the blueberries are completely organic.)

I also took this opportunity to take our annual Father’s Day pictures. But Ada was having so much fun with the blueberries that she didn’t care to hold still or hold up the letters. So this is the best I could get. 😉

We all did what we could to help pick all the blueberries. They were ripening before our eyes and the birds were eating them all. So every chance we got, we picked. I think my favorite moment, a moment that I will remember forever, was when we were picking blueberries in the cool evening. The fireflies were coming out and the crickets and frogs were singing together. To help entertain Ada while we picked, my dad drove Ada around the farm in his gator. She loves riding in the gator and calls it a tractor. While I was picking, dad & Ada came around to say hi. As they drove away (because Ada wanted to ride some more and was yelling, “Tat-tor!”), Ada looked at me and said, “Bye-bye, mommy. Love you!” That right there, is something that I will never forget. And yes, it definitely made me cry… like a lot. 😉

If you haven’t read, “Blueberry Girl,” you definitely should. It is a sweet book, that tells what every parent wants for their baby girl. Happy first day of summer!

“Help her to help herself, help her to stand,
Help her to lose, and to find.
Teach her we’re only as big as our dreams,
show her that fortune is blind.

Truth is a thing she must find for herself,
precious, and rare as a pearl;
Give her all these, and a little bit more,
Gifts for a Blueberry Girl.” – Blueberry Girl

Dress / necklace / bow / shoes


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Mother’s Day Weekend

Happy late Mother’s Day ya’ll! Sorry this is so, so late… May is a busy month for us. I hope that you all had a wonderful weekend with the ones you love! Last year on Mother’s Day, Randy was traveling for work, so I went to stay with family because you know, it was my first Mother’s Day. 😉 Ada was almost 9 months old and did not sleep well anywhere but in her own crib at home. So I remember her waking up often and staying awake forever each time. I tried so many things to help her go back to sleep, but she wasn’t having it. And even though I was very sleep deprived, it was also a weekend I will always cherished. Because the night before Mother’s Day, was one of the last nights I breastfed Ada. At the time, I didn’t really think much about it (in fact, all I could think about was sleep), but looking back on it now, I see that it was such a sweet moment that I will never forget.

This Mother’s Day was very similar to last year. Randy was traveling for work and I went to stay with family. (Seeing a trend here?) And you guessed it, Ada did not sleep well at my parents’ house. So I had another sleep deprived Mother’s Day but again, it was a sweet time. This year Ada is running around and loving my parents’ front yard. Their yard if full of flowers, birds, butterflies, frogs, and a gorgeous waterfall. I had a wonderful weekend with my family and throughly enjoyed playing outside with my sweet, little girl.

I love how Ada is photo bombing in this picture! Haha!

But the best moment is when I taught Ada how to twirl. (Just click on the link for the video.) Isn’t she the cutest?!

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I am so very grateful for my little Ada – my gift from God; a wonderful, loving mother; a loving, fun family; and a husband who is the absolute best father to our daughter. Happy late Mother’s Day ya’ll!


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Our Weekend

Happy Monday friends! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend because we certainly did! Friday night we celebrated Cinco de Mayo with our dear friends. It was a fun night, watching our kids play, while we enjoyed some margaritas.

Saturday was a rainy, cold day. So we did what we could to entertain Ada when all she wanted was to play outside. But Sunday, the weather cleared and we ran outside before it decided to rain on us again. We took Ada to Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest. We have been dying to go for a few years now, so we made it happen yesterday.

For those of you who don’t know, Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest is a rare forest of old hardwoods. In fact, this forest is the largest old growth forest in the Eastern United States. Some of the trees are 100 feet tall and about 20 feet in circumference. They are magnificent trees that are about 450 years old! It truly is a beautiful forest, carpeted with moss, ferns and delicate flowers.

Ada loved hiking around, but the terrain was a bit rough for her. So she enjoyed most of the hike in her backpack carrier. I believe Ada has pretty bad allergies. She has had a constant runny nose and red, watery eyes this spring. I feel so bad for her! Any suggestions on how to help her out, besides locking her up inside all summer?

It was a beautiful hike! And yesterday was just a perfect day. We felt like we were exploring this old forest all by ourselves. We only ran into a few people and the forest was so very quiet. It was so peaceful and a nice change of pace for us. One that was definitely needed.

This forest is in memory of Joyce Kilmer, a journalist and a poet who was killed in service during World War I. He is known for his poem from 1913, “Trees.” I am ashamed to say that I have never seen this poem before, but find it really beautiful. My favorite part, “A tree that looks at God all day and lifts her leafy arms to pray.”

This girl never goes anywhere without her “Hop-Hop.” They have shared so many wonderful adventures together.

A Sunday well spent, brings a week of content. If this saying is true, then my week is going to be awesome! 😉 I hope you all had a wonderful weekend! And if the mountains are calling to you, check out Joyce Kilmer. It is definitely worth seeing! Happy Monday ya’ll!


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Our Easter Weekend

There is something so peaceful about waking up before everyone else in the house. Easter Sunday I was so excited to celebrate this holiday with Ada that I was up before anyone else. Therefore, I got to enjoy a beautiful Easter sunrise while I drank my coffee. The birds were singing, the sky was an array of colors, and I had a few minutes to myself to remember the importance of Easter.

I am pretty sure that I was more excited about giving Ada her Easter basket than anyone else in the house! It took me about two months to complete and I loved everything in there. Especially, the jewelry (necklace & bracelets).

I think Ada was pretty much in love with her basket this year, too. The jewelry was a huge hit and the bunny theme dinnerware was even bigger hit! Who knew, right? 😉

And of course, the bubbles were Ada’s absolute favorite! We will be keeping bubbles in stock for the rest of summer! We have gone outside for bubbles everyday since Easter – rain or shine.

We have had a lot of rain here lately, so we were lucky to squeeze in a quick family photo in between rain storms on Easter. And of course, Ada did not want to take any photos, evident by the tears still in her eyes. But I think we got a few good ones. 😉

I love how she holding onto Randy’s tie in these pictures. I just love these two!

As you can see, Ada does not go anywhere without her lovie – or as she calls it, Hop-Hop. I don’t mind, I think it is the cutest!

Ada’s dress is actually from her one year photo shoot. I was so glad that it still fit 8 months later. I bought this dress about a year ago from a consignment shop. I adore the details; embroidery, buttons, pleating, lace trim – what’s not to love?! Her hat was a another Kidizen find – I have found so many great deals on this app! At church, everyone knew that she was my daughter because of her hat. Wearing a hat on Sunday is kinda my thing. I am just thrilled that Ada loves them as much as I do!

We finished up the day with friends and a beautiful Easter dinner. I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend filled with friends, family, and good eats.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,” 1 Peter 3-4


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A Broken Home

I come from a broken home.

My parents are not divorced. I have been so very blessed to have been raised in a home with two loving parents and siblings. I couldn’t ask for a better family. The broken home that I am referring to, is my home church.

When I was a child, my family and I went to an amazing church. The church itself was nothing much to look at. No tall spires, gleaming towers, or bells. Just a simple brick church with a small white steeple and tiny stain glass windows. What made this church so great, was the people. I bet you never heard of a child begging to go to church every single Wednesday night and Sunday morning. But I did. I remember one Wednesday night a snow storm came in and my brother and I were begging – no crying for our parents to take us to church. Of course, my dad took us and church services were inevitable cancelled. We were devastated. That is because going to this church, was like coming home.

This church was my second home. It was the most comforting, most secure, and the most happiest place of my childhood. I instantly felt better the moment I walked through those doors. The people that made up this church were the most loving, genuine, supportive, God-loving people I have ever met. It was the one place I felt like I belonged. And to a middle school kid, that meant a lot. Because isn’t that what we all want in life? To belong?

In this church, we did have separate groups and classes arranged by age. But a lot of the time, we spent it together as a whole congregation. One of my fondest memories, was getting up before dawn for a Easter sunrise service. We all met at the top of the hill behind the church and watched the sun rise, while our pastor would give a short sermon about the resurrection of Christ. Afterwards, we all headed back down to the church for huge potluck breakfast. All 250 of us, crowded into the fellowship hall and enjoyed a warm meal together at long tables – family style.

The youth group that I was involved with, is what made this church so special to me. We were a group of about 80 kids, ages from 6th to 12th grade. I know you won’t believe me when I tell you, but this youth group did not have any cliques. Unheard of, with a bunch of teenagers, right? But we did not split up into a bunch of different groups – we were one group. Everyone truly loved one another, respected one another, and most importantly, had a passion for Christ. It didn’t matter where we came from, how we looked, or how we dressed – everyone accepted everybody for who they were.

Every year, the youth group would go on trips called, Youth Tours. Over the year, we would put together a drama, filled with dances, songs, and skits. It was quite the production. We had costumes, fog machines, black lights, strobe lights, and all kinds of props and backdrops. We would then all pile into church vans and travel around the country to perform for other churches. I always had an absolute blast on these tours. I could go on for hours telling you funny stories about these trips. But the one thing I think I remember the most, is how many lives we touched with our stories and how our own lives were forever changed.

The youth tours taught me a lot. They taught me how to be brave, how to work together with others, and most importantly, they gave me a different perspective on life. Going to different places in our country, helped me to become more aware of the world around me and it opened my eyes to see the world as it really is. And to be honest, the world is a pretty sad place. But the youth tours also gave me hope. Hope that the world can one day see the Light, as long as we can continue to be the Light for the world.

Everything sounds so perfect, right? And it was for a long time. But as you all know, humans are not perfect. Because of our imperfect natures, my church fell apart – just like so many others. I do not know all the details on what happened and to be honest, I do not want to know. All I know is that I watch my home, my sanctuary disappear right before my very own eyes. What was suppose to be a normal Wednesday night service, quickly dissolved into people arguing, pointing fingers, and discord. It was like watching parents argue – the argument that you know down in the pit of your stomach that this is it. This is the argument that will forever change my family and my life. And just like that, my home church was no more.

Going through that was very hard for me and thinking about it now, it is still hard for me. But I believe that God gave me my childhood church when I needed it most. At a time when I was still figuring out who I was and figuring out my faith. I am so thankful that God put people in my life, as a child, to help guide me and to help my faith grow. It is because of them that I now have a strong, passionate, unwavering faith. When I look back on all my memories from that church, I remember them with fondest. I imagine that heaven will be something similar to what I had at that church. A big, happy family – laughing together, crying together, eating together, learning & growing together – but most of all, praising & worshipping the Lord together.

I know this post is different from the norm. I don’t really enjoy sharing these intimate thoughts to the world. But this past week, the pastor of this wonderful church, was killed unexpectedly in a car accident. So here I am, grieving over the loss of a friend and mentor. All the while, I am reminded of the loss of my home and my family. I will never, ever forget the time I had at that church and I will especially; never forget the fire, the passion, and the love that my pastor had for his church and for Christ.

I didn’t write this post to point fingers or to cast blame. On the contrary, I wrote it to share the deep appreciation I have for my childhood church. To publicly thank all who helped make me the person I am today. And even though my home church is broken, I still carry it with me everyday. Everything that I am, everything that I believe – it all started in that little brick church.


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Our Holidays in Photos

Our holiday season was sweet and simple, filled with family, friends, and good eats! 😉 We enjoyed spending Christmas with our families and had special visits from old friends for New Years. Ada loved every minute of it and I am so sad to see Christmas end. Ada is already missing her Christmas lights in her room and the choo, choo train around the tree. I am going to have to think of something fun and festive for Valentine’s Day just so Ada (& I) can enjoy another celebration. 🙂

One of my favorite activities that we did this Christmas, was taking Ada to see Christmas Lights in Asheville. It is a spectacular light show that you drive through and all the lights are schronized to Christmas music on a dedicated radio channel. Ada loved it! She just talked and pointed at everything as we drove by. It was simply the best!

Ada and I spend two days making Christmas cookies for our family and neighbors. She had a blast getting covered in flour and eating cookie dough behind my back.

Afterwards, we all enjoyed some milk and cookies by the Christmas tree.

Freshly made Christmas cookies, ready to be delivered.

For New Year’s, we stayed at home and enjoyed playing with Ada and her new toys. Her favorite – the elephant ball popper! But we also enjoyed some cake, sparklers, and champagne (for mom and dad)!

I made us some mini party hats and was delightfully surprised when Ada loved having it on.

I adore this picture! Just look at that adorable, cheesy smile! 🙂

Clapping in the new year! Ada’s favorite word right now is, “Happy”; because of us saying, “Happy New Year!” So now she is running around the house saying, “Happy, happy, happy!” Yeah – it is pretty darn cute.

I hope your holiday season was filled with love, family, friends, and happiness! And may God’s peace and joy continue to bless you all through out the new year! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year ya’ll!