Our Maple Tree

Keeping up with The Maples


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Christmas Cards

It is my favorite time of year again – Christmas card season! I love getting Christmas cards from everyone and look forward to the mail coming every day this time of year. I got our Christmas cards out a couple of weeks ago and love how we tried something a little different. This year, we used Randy’s drone to take our family photo. It was so much fun and I want to do it every year! But I think my favorite part was Ada singing at the top of her lungs while we got the cameras set up. It definitely got everyone’s attention at Jump Off Rock. But she didn’t care one bit and neither did I! I am so proud! ๐Ÿ˜‰

And of course; the only way to work on Christmas cards is by the fire, listening to Christmas music, while sipping on a festive drink! ๐Ÿ˜‰

I hope you all have a very merry Christmas! Happy Friday!


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Perfect Weekend

Snow truly is magical. When it snows the world around you seems to stop just so it can watch the snowflakes dance. The loud sounds of the hustle and bustle fade away. And you are left with the quiet, peaceful sound of snow falling. On snow days, it is perfectly acceptable to shrug off your responsibilities for the day and just enjoy the beauty of this new world. Because what makes it so special, is that it only lasts for a moment, so you better “carpe diem” this snow day while you can.

This past weekend was the greatest, most perfect weekend of all time. We felt like we were living in our own little snow globe. This snow was perfect for building snowmen, snowball fights, and building quinzees. And seeing the joy & wonderment through the eyes of child just makes it so much better. We were caught off guard a bit with this snow. The weatherman predicted just a few inches at the most for this storm. It ended being around a foot when it finished! Not that I am complaining! It was totally awesome! Luckily, I had enough food to get us through the weekend, so whew! But our diets mostly consisted of cookies and hot cocoa anyways, so turns out I didn’t need to worry about our meals. ๐Ÿ˜‰

It snowed non-stop on Saturday and continued for half the day on Sunday. Ada could barely contain her excitement so we were out in the snow before it really started to accumulate. But it was fun to dance with the snowflakes. Ada loved it and threw her head back & stuck out her tongue to catch the snow. At first, I wasn’t sure how she even knew to do that, then I recalled we have been reading books from the library about snow days. I have ordered Ada some gloves and boots for Christmas, this snow just came earlier than expected. Hence, the ginormous gloves. Although, I think she pulls them off!

I love how Ada thought that our chimenea was a snowman. She spent a long time trying to get these little gloves to stick into the snow. Meanwhile, Randy built a quinzee and I built a snowman. ๐Ÿ˜‰

After Ada went to sleep, Randy and I took our chance to play in the snow and in the quinzee.

We spent the weekend, playing in the snow, running back into the house to warm up with some hot chocolate, watching Christmas movies, then running back out to play some more. In our down time, we make our first gingerbread house/village. Both Randy and I have never made one before, at least, not that we remember. Ada was more into eating the gingerbread houses and candy then putting them together. I spent more time looking for candy she had thrown then putting together the houses. So Randy did most of the construction. ๐Ÿ˜‰

We are definitely missing the snow and we hope that it will come back soon. Around Christmas would be just perfect!


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A Perfect Parent

These past couple of weeks have been some of the hardest weeks of my life. I know that sounds a bit over dramatic… and maybe it is. But I have really, really struggled here lately. Parenting is hard. And as much as I love blogging, I simply haven’t had the time or energy.

I believe we have officially started the terrible twos and they truly are terrible. I thought we started them months ago, but that was a walk in the park compared to what we are facing now. Ada is usually the sweetest, the most easy going kid ever. But here lately, it is like my sweet little kid has been replaced with Jack Jack from The Incredibles.

One minute she is happily playing with her toys, the next minute she is screaming at me because she can’t get the play dough container opened. And of course, she is asking me to help her when I am busying putting her breakfast together, so when I ask her to wait a moment, all hell breaks loose. That’s when she starts throwing everything she can grab while screaming/crying at the top of her lungs. Then I ask her to not throw things and to not scream, then she starts wailing and falls to the floor. Or she gets angry with me because I don’t want her to grab butter knives out of the kitchen drawer or because I don’t want her walking in a parking lot without holding my hand or because I am trying to get her to eat a sandwich that she asked me to make for her. Stuff like this happens all. day. long.ย 

After several hours of this behavior is when I loose my calm, logical demeanor. It has then been replaced with a frustrated, overtired, overstressed mama – and let me tell you, it isn’t a pretty picture. At this time, my patience has been throw out the window and this is when I scream. I start yelling things like, “I don’t know what you want!” or “I can’t take this anymore!” or “Why are you not listening to me?”.

And about two seconds after I loose my temper, I get a nice punch in the gut from mom guilt. Because I know that how I respond to her tantrums and how I choose to discipline will forever shape her personality and behavior. Talk about feeling great at loosing it, right? So yeah, these past couple of weeks, I have pretty much failed at parenting. And that mom guilt, is real and it is disabling. I can’t tell you how many times I have just bursted into tears after yelling at my kid (or after she has yelled at me).

So why am I sharing my failures? Because this is real life… I am not perfect, as much as I wish I was. I am not the perfect parent. But there is one perfect parent and that is God. Can you imagine how difficult it must be for Him? I mean, we are His children and we are constantly and frustratingly disobedient. And yet, His response to us when we disobey is never sinful. He is slow to anger, His love for us overcomes His anger every time – showing us the right path. Talk about the ultimate example for us to look to when it comes to parenting (and everything else in life).

This really is a humbling thought and helps me put myself in my daughter’s shoes. Because I am just like her; rebellious and stubborn. ย I think it is important to teach our children that we are only human and that we are going to make mistakes. To be able to move our frustrations and anger aside and simply ask for forgiveness from our children is sometimes a Herculean task. At least it can be for me, because I suffer from pride and I want to be a perfect mom for Ada. But I need Ada to see me truthfully: as a flawed, sinful, imperfect human in need of God’s grace. This way, I can show her the way to God by walking the path to Him together.

So to all the parents out there, you are not alone, even though there are days that it sure feels that way. Not only are we imperfect people, we are imperfect parents. We are all in need of God’s grace, love, wisdom, and peace. It is ok that we don’t all have it together all the time. Because there is a perfect parent that does and He is there for you, to help you along on this wonderful journey called parenthood.


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First Family Vacation

Last week we took our very first family vacation. We rented a beach front condo off the gulf of Florida with our dear friends and had an absolute blast! This was the first beach experience for Ada and it was so precious to watch. She loved the beach! She couldn’t get enough of the water and loved chasing the waves. Every morning she would wake up saying, “Ocean girl! I ocean girl!” Which she then preceded to bring us her bathing suit saying, “Baby soup, baby soup.” Yeah, it was pretty darn cute, even though it was usually before sunrise.

We started every day chasing toddlers around the condo with sunscreen & swim diapers and at the beach by 8:30 am. We spent our mornings playing in the sand and our afternoons in the ocean.

Ada’s favorite thing to do at the beach was for us to hold her, walk about waist deep in the ocean, and jump the waves. She would scream in delight every time a wave hit us. It was so much fun! And being the klutz that I am, face planted the ocean from a surprisingly large wave in the back. Luckily, I wasn’t holding Ada and I didn’t lose my hat & sunglasses (silver lining). After that, I didn’t hold Ada in the ocean any more or venture in waist deep. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Theย Gathre leather mat was great for the beach, because the sand just falls right off it and there was no need to wash it. It just wipes clean! Great for toddlers & all their little adventures, fyi!

After nap time (for all of us), we would go back out and do all over again. We stayed out until sunset just about every day. It was so great to just unplug from everything, play outside all day, and enjoy the majestic display of God’s creation from morning to night.

We did, of course, leave the beach and explore Destin & Rosemary Beach. The Merchants of Rosemary Beach is so beautiful and I just loved the shops & restaurants. The green space is so beautifully manicured and the architecture is really unique with an old world vibe. My favorite was lunch (shocker!) at Wild Olives where we enjoyed a wonderful cheese platter & wine. But I believe Ada’s favorite was the ice cream shop, Sugar Shak. And just a little note, the people were not friendly and store was not kid friendly. There were all kinds of signs and rules against children in their shop (I mean, it is an ice cream and candy shop. There are going to be kids in there!) and the people were just happy to be alive (insert sarcasm here). But Ada was happy with the end result which was an ice cream cone.ย 

Taking a trip with your best friends is the greatest thing ever, especially when you have littles. Not only do the adults have fun together, but so do the little ones. And having four adults keeping an eye on the kids at the beach makes the day go so much smoother. Plus, you can trade off date nights! Which is what we did to celebrate our 8 year anniversary! We went to the sweetest, most romantic little restaurant ever! It was called, Beach Walk Cafe. We had dinner outside on their porch by candle light and listened to the waves crash in the distance. I felt like I was in a movie, more specifically, A Walk to Remember. The scene where he takes her out to dinner and they are eating outside by the beach… yeah, it was that romantic! I would love the chance to stay at their B&B for a romantic weekend away someday.

Overall, we had a fantastic time with our friends at the beach and can’t wait to go on another adventure with them. But I believe my most favorite thing on this trip was watching the wonder and excitement of my daughter meeting the beach for the first time. This trip will definitely be one that I will always remember. Thank you Florida for an awesome time… until next time.


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Sunday Funday: Visiting the Pumpkin Patch

To celebrate the first weekend of October, we went to Stepp’s Orchard to enjoy some fall festivities. We walked around the farm, enjoyed the sunflowers, picked out pumpkins, devoured pumpkin donuts, and ate excellent BBQ from a food truck (yay for food trucks!). The weather was perfect – sunny with beautiful blue skies. I just love fall’s blue skies!

The kids had so much fun; running around in large fields, picking flowers, and sitting on pumpkins. But I believe Ada’s favorite part of the day was eating pumpkin donuts!

Ada viewed the pumpkins from a comfortable distance and would eventually get up the courage to touch one with one finger. My poor, cautious girl!

 

I couldn’t imagine a better way to kick off October then visiting the pumpkin patch with our dear friends! I hope you are all enjoying all that fall has to offer. Happy October ya’ll!


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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? ๐Ÿ˜‰

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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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! ๐Ÿ˜‰ย 

 


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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. ๐Ÿ˜‰ 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 everythingย 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! ๐Ÿ˜‰


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My Blueberry Girl

โ€œLet 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.โ€
โ€• 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 toย the berries hitting the bottom of the bucket. But onceย 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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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