On Sibling Sweetness

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

In the first couple of days after we brought Charlie home from the hospital, I began to wonder if we’d messed our first kiddo up by introducing a sibling. Beckett, our ultra-calm, sweet, well-behaved boy, turned into an EVIL PERSON. Not kidding, he went from mellow to violent and - having never been through this - I was sure it was an irreversible tragedy. 

Luckily, the misery lasted only a couple of days. Beckett’s sweet personality returned, and his interest in this new creature grew quickly. 

Until tonight, I had actually forgotten about those terrifying days at the beginning. Watching them now, you’d never know they got off to such a rough start. These two ADORE each other. I love watching them play together, carry on tiny mini-human conversations, and bring their cars, little people, and action figures to life with the highest-pitched voices you’ve ever heard. Of course, they have their moments of rivalry, but in general, they LOVE being together. 

Beckett likes to help his little sister. He gets her snacks and fills her cup, calls for me when she needs help, and [usually] shares better than I’d expect a four-year old to. Charlie wants to know where her brother is at all times, follows his lead in just about anything, and flips out if she thinks we’re leaving him behind. She’ll tell you, in the most dramatic & forceful of ways, “I NEED BE-HETT!!”

Sometimes I worry because I’ve been told they’ll grow out of the sweetness. It’s so sad to think of them growing apart. But then I know sibling pairs who are the best of friends all throughout childhood and into adulthood. 

For now, I just pray fervently for the latter. And I remind myself to soak up all of these sweet moments! Any advice or encouragement from the mommas of pairs out there? What do I have to look forward to?

One Million Cousin Slumber Parties

Friday, January 26, 2018

Tonight marks the third slumber party this cousin crew has had in the last two. weeks. Talk about cousin love. And it's pretty much amazing.

They're at such a good age. With only stepping occasionally to referee or remind someone to be kind, the kids pretty much run and entertain themselves. HOLY. AWESOMENESS. Half of the time, the boys pair off and express themselves by jumping off of something, while the girls are off tending to their babies (which is super cute to eavesdrop on, by the way).

The rest of the time, they're running in a pack, riding bikes inside the house and making more noise than I generally care to have. But it's so fun to watch them grow and bond together and it makes us so grateful for the choice to be here.

Tonight they played for hours, then came together to make homemade pizzas, which they basically thought was the best thing ever.. Kids are so easy to entertain. LoL. They finished the evening with a move and crashed by 9:30. Nice.

Totally #WorthTheMove.

Hill Family Photos 2017

Monday, January 8, 2018

This year, both sets of parents got family photos as their Christmas gift from us. It's probably my favorite gift to give because we all get to enjoy them - forever! We did my family's photos while were in Dallas over Thanksgiving, and then over Christmas weekend, all of the Hill family was together so we got to capture these!!

Brian and I have been meaning to gift his parents with professional photos for years, but you know - life happens and it's really hard to get everyone together! This year, our sweet, perfect Parker came into the world, making our little extended family complete! We knew we definitely needed to document this season and definitely capture all of the grandkiddos together! Notice the same grandkid who gave us trouble in the last photo shoot is melting again. Help me. 

In her defense, we're even colder than we look. The previous weekend was 47 degrees and sunny (for you west coast and Florida folk, that's perfect). Of course, the weather wasn't cooperating, so we planned to wear layers and hope for the best! There was no snow in the forecast, but we woke up to a perfectly beautiful blanket of white. We considered cancelling, but look how amazing of a setting it made for! Never mind the painfully cold looks on our faces.

We started the shoot down in Fronteir Park down by the Missouri River, took a warm-up break in the visitor center, and then headed to Main Street in Saint Charles. I had forgotten how much I loved this area! I am personally a big fan of the cold, so I really enjoyed walking the quaint streets and soaking up the chilly air. Not all of the crew shares my affinity for winter, but they were awesome sports! 

This shot in the middle of the street took us twenty-seven billion attempts. Why do all the cars insist on driving down the road when we're trying to take pictures there?! (Kidding).  Our awesome photographer was persistent though, so we managed this cute op!

As always, the best part is just having the whole family together. I cherish these times so much! I wish that we could all live closer together!

Next time, we're definitely aiming for warmer weather, but I really am glad the snow hit us for this one! It made for some truly beautiful shots! To see the rest of the album, click here.

2017 in Review

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Ok, so I fell off the bloggy bandwagon. Again. But it's a new year, so here I am trying again! I love this blog so much. I spent last night perusing old posts and getting all sentimental about little things - which is the exact intention!

Since I've failed miserably at blogging throughout this year, I've decided to do a quick review of 2017! I've so enjoyed looking at pics from the last year and compiling them here! It's amazing how much we've done and even more amazing how much the kids have grown!

We celebrated the New Year in Michigan, but spent most of that evening in the bathroom with Charlie. Three out of four of us ended up with the that nasty stomach bug. Gross. Then the kids got to start at a new school (which I actually did blog about)!

In February we took an AMAZING trip with my baby brother and sister in law. Devin and Katie just called us up a couple months before and asked if we wanted to flit off to Paris for Valentine's Day! We spent 5 days in Paris and 2 in Brugge, Belgium. I started out documenting the trip and then fell off that bandwagon pretty quickly! Whooops. Here's what you need to know: While Paris was great, Brugge was the highlight of our trip! I would definitely go back. Those waffles?! HEAVENLY.

At the beginning of March, we welcomed our new nephew, Parker Brooks Hill!! Oh my goodness he is ADORABLE. We're smitten!! As I write this, nine months later, it feels like just yesterday. The kiddos love him - especially Charlie. She is baby obsessed!

We also took a trip to St. Louis this month AND I became a book lady! It was my official start with Usborne Books & More. I sincerely just signed up for the discount, and now I'm approaching my one-year mark and am SO THRILLED with how this journey has panned out!

April was a blast! If you don't know, Brian LOVES to come up with new ideas. He's an inventor and entrepreneur to the core. So in April, he auditioned for Shark Tank!! While he didn't make it through this time around, it was SO much fun to watch him work toward something he loves so much. This month, he also made his first investment into crypto-currency. He's spent all year learning and trading, and has done a FANTASTIC job! This guy keeps me on my toes, for sure!

April also included Easter festivities and a trip to the beach! It was both kids' first time seeing the ocean and was such a fun family get away!

In May, we celebrated our 6th anniversary with a trip to Chicago! Usually we take a big couples trip, but since we went to Paris in February, we decided to keep this one low key. We spent most of the week with the grandparents, but did get to squeeze in a quick getaway! We stayed in a cute hotel a couple towns over and recreated a "teen" date night. Went to Dave & Busters, a movie, and dinner at Ruth Chris! While in Chicago, we also visited with Grandad at Navy Pier and the kids attended their first fair with Nana and Papa!

In June, I got to attend my first convention with Usborne. It was a total blast and really confirmed how perfect this company and I fit together. Then, since we'd been in Tennessee for almost two years. DJ and crew decided it was time to come down for a visit! We spent the week playing and exploring together, and Avaya got her ears pierced!

We started July off with a bang! We took a road trip alll the way to Dallas (about 15 hours, one way, with kids) to meet our newest love, JACKSON!! Swooon. How are my baby siblings PARENTS?! It was so fun to be with Katie and Devin for the birth of baby Jack. I can't wait to meet number TWO (coming soon!).

We spent the rest of July traveling as well! It included a trip to Cincinnati to visit my bestie Katie's home and parents. Then my college roommates (Katie and Rachel) and I took a girls trip to Clearwater Beach, FL! It was a BLAST!

In August, Charlie turned two (read more about that here), Brian turned 33, and Nicole and Hector came for a week long visit!! What a fun month!

Also in August, we lost our dear Uncle Wally. So in September, we made the trip to St. Louis for his BEAUTIFUL Celebration of Life. Uncle Wally was BRILLIANT in the kitchen, very easy to talk to, and definitely the guy that you wanted on your trivia team! He loved the Cardinals, and of course, Uncle Darrell. The holidays were not the same without him. We miss you dearly Uncle Wall!

Later in September, we spent two weeks in Chicago for a flurry of big family events! My friend Krystle got married, we had an engagement party for Nicole & Hector, attended Alyssa's bridal shower, and participated in Jack's baptism! Have I mentioned I get to be his Godmother?! Melt. The whole crew was in town, so in between festivities, we also squeezed in a trip to the pumpkin patch and corn maze, and a day at the orchard!

In October, I got to plan a fun Nash Bash (Nashville getaway) for Brittany's big 3-0 celebration!! It was soooo much fun. I wanna go back tomorrow. 14 of us headed to Nashville for a weekend all about celebrating B! Also in October, my kiddos went trick or treating for the first time! Their faces we so fun to watch. This age is such a blast! So many new things to experience!

In November, we had our 6th annual Harvest of Talents, a fundraiser for world hunger that I've been able to be a part of since the beginning! We also took the kiddos to Disney on Ice that weekend! It was MAGICAL and made us decide it's definitely time to do a family Disney trip!! Also in November, Beckett turned four! We celebrated with a day all about him - including breakfast at IHOP, a trip to the store to pick out a toy, making our own pizzas, and of course, CAKE!

Later in the month, the whole family road tripped to Dallas to celebrate Thanksgiving! We stayed busy with parks, the zoo, an interactive aquarium, and more birthday celebration for Beckett! And of course a ginormous feast, care of Devin and Katie, the family chefs.

Since we were all together for the first time since Jack's arrival, we also decided it was a perfect chance to have family photos done! They turned out so beautiful! To catch the full story on that, as well as more awesome pics, click here. Soon, Devin, Katie, Jack, and baby boy #2 will be moving to the St. Charles area to be near the rest of us, and we'll be together like this aaaall the time!! We caaann't waaaiiit!

In the FIRST WEEK of December alone, we packed our entire house into pods, hosted a big company Christmas party, hauled to Kentucky for Alyssa's wedding, and made the final move to St. Charles. Four days later, my parents arrived and we celebrated our first of three Christmasses! It was a whirlwind but we managed to truly enjoy our Christmas season this year and look forward to being settled and unpacked soon! As much as we love Tennessee, we feel HOME being back here in St. Charles. It's so awesome being near both of our families, and we love watching the four cousins together. Now if we can only get the rest of the family (Brian's brother and my parents) here!

2017 was crazy-pants. We have big plans for 2018 as well, so say a prayer for us! We love this crazy life we live, and have so so so many things to be grateful for as we enter into a new year!

Happy New Year, friends!

Three Christmases | Part One | Denise's Family Christmas

Monday, December 18, 2017

In our family, we usually have at least three Christmases. I wouldn't have it any other way! I love the extended Christmas season with lots of excuses for drowning out the rest of the world and bunkering down with all of our favorite people.

This year had the potential to be a hot mess; the crazy, exhausting, stressful season that so many people deal with every year. However, we decided in advance that this year, we're going to ENJOY the Christmas season. I decided I wasn't going to let anything stress me out, including MOVING four. days. before our first Christmas weekend began.

Brian and I spent the first week of December simultaneously packing our house and preparing for the company Christmas party. On December 7, UPACK picked up our pods. On December 8, we had a fabulous Christmas party with all of the employees. That night, we finished packing up and we headed out bright and early December 9. That evening we pawned our kids and pups off with the Hollingsworths in Ghent, KY, then headed to Dry Ridge to celebrate Alyssa's wedding! On Sunday, December 10 we completed the final leg of the journey and returned to our home in St. Charles.

We spent Monday through Wednesday simultaneously unloading pods (with the help of our awesome family) and shopping and decorating for Christmas. My trees were a top priority. By the time Mom & Curt arrived on Thursday evening, we had successfully ordered Christmas gifts, decorated like woah, and hid all of the unpacked boxes in the garage. We were ready!

It was so so good to be home for Christmas this year!! Mom & Curt came down for the weekend. Devin, Katie, and Jack couldn't make it, so we weren't quite complete, but we're counting on all being together next year!

It was a whirlwind weekend! Friday, mom and I spent the day shopping for last minute gifts, groceries for the weekend, and a cute bonus: matching jammies for all of the adults! Bahahaa! As soon as the kids were out of school, the festivities began!

Friday night we bundled up and hauled out to Holiday in the Park at Six Flags! Brian and I are beside ourselves with giddiness (?) that the kids are old enough to enjoy this type of thing. Beckett rode his first roller coaster, we all saw Santa, took in the lights, and experienced a really neat Christmas Story musical. We finished the night with s'mores around a campfire. Perfection.

Saturday was a jam-packed day. We started the morning with presents, hauled out to a soccer game (that got cancelled), and then came back and changed into JAMMIES! The boys made deep fried something or other while the girls crafted with the kids (how cliche are we?!). We spent all afternoon relaxing and playing games. Then we put those dern kids to bed and finished the festivities with adult only time! A couple of years ago, we started having adults open their presents once the kids were sleeping. BRILLIANT. It's so much more fun this way! After opening our (awesome) gifts, we broke out the games! We played that silly mitten game that's been going around on Facebook and it was HILARIOUS! Then the girls spent the rest of the evening DOMINATING in Catch Phrase.

Sunday morning we finished our weekend off with breakfast together at IHOP! The weekend was quick, but super special. I love these people! 
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