Tuesday, July 24, 2012

All grown up

It's been a big week around the Schell house...drum roll please....

We've got a ourselves a KINDERGARTNER!!!

It seems like just yesterday that my baby boy was just that...a baby. But today he is in elementary school. His first day of school was yesterday and using the word "excited" would be an understatement! It's all he's been talking about for the last couple of weeks...he's gotten new school clothes (courtesy of his amazing grandma) a new backpack and his school supplies. We even made sure to go and get him a fresh new haircut the day before he started.

Yesterday morning, he helped me pack up his backpack and we headed off for his first morning. (After a quick photo shoot in the backyard of course!) When we got to school we headed over to the kinder's section of the school and found his teacher and waited for the bell to ring...when it did he got into line to get ready to head into his classroom. BUT not before quickly running out of line to mommy for one last hug. He made me so proud...he was such a big boy, no tears...just a HUGE smile as he walked into school! (I made it to my car before letting any tears spill!)

When I picked him up and asked him about his day he told me about how awesome school was...he went on to say that his favorite parts of the day was getting to go to recess 2 times, getting to drink chocolate milk with lunch and that there was a "real library AT SCHOOL!" It's the little things folks...the little things that make the world go 'round!!

ps. I think our next BIG thing is going to be his first lost tooth! He came home from school and informed me that he has his first loose tooth! Maybe the tooth fairy will be visiting us before the end of the week!!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Hope For Ava

Below is a blog post that I also have put up on my Photography Business website:

Have you ever had the chance to meet someone that changes how you view life and the way that you live it? Earlier this year, I had the chance to meet someone that did just that...Cynthia Dawson. She is a mother, a wife, a daughter and a budding photographer...all of that along with being an amazingly strong, wonderful, inspiring woman. The kind of woman that I strive to be each and every day.

A snapshot that I took of Ava & Cynthia from this past weekend. We met up and took Ava & Caleb to paint pottery...the kiddos had a blast, as  you can tell from the HUGE smile on Ava's sweet face!

I met Cynthia in an online Facebook forum for photographers. She put up a post one day asking if anyone in the group lived in the Phoenix area. Me...well, being me...I piped up and replied to her post, friend requested her and pm'd her that night! Within a couple of weeks plans were made to meet at a local restaurant in person and when we did finally meet, we began talking about everything in our lives...our families, our husbands, her move to Arizona and about photography.

This is when I learned about WHY she had moved from Texas to Arizona...she and her family came here so that her daughter Ava could participate in a clinical trial at Phoenix Children's Hospital. You see, Ava was diagnosed early last December with a brain tumor...and not just any brain tumor, a special one called DIPG. This is a very rare and aggressive tumor. It can't be removed because of it's location, and while radiation is the standard method of treatment, the tumor will grow back and nothing can be done at that point except to make the child comfortable. 90% of children diagnosed with DIPG die within one year and the remaining children die within 3 years. (Source: Hope for Ava)

Ava is a fun-loving, sweet little 5 year old girl. She is just like any other 5 year old...she loves her mommy, daddy and little sister; she loves Scooby Doo and even named her own doggie Scooby; she loves anything pink & girlie, has tons of stuffed animals and loves to play with her Barbies and her Barbie Dream House; she loves art and coloring; and she is adorable and quick to smile.

At the end of June, because her disease has progressed, Ava and her family were given the devastating news that they were out of the clinical trial here in Arizona. They will be moving back home to Texas soon...but in the short time that I have known them, both Ava and Cynthia made an imprint on my heart.

Cynthia and Ava have changed me. Knowing them has made me slow down and take in the little moments and treasure them. Cynthia's strength and ability to smile in the midst of one the hardest trials that life could send her makes me strive for more...She makes me a better mother and a better wife and friend. She has inspired me to be more giving and less selfish. (Check out this blog post on giving back that she wrote.) I can honestly say that my life is better for knowing them and I thank God everyday that he brought them into my life.

To learn more about Ava and how you can help her and her family, please check out the blog DIPG - Hope for Ava. Cynthia is using this as a way to keep everyone updated on Ava, her disease and treatment, along with sharing special moments from their life. You can help them out by making a donation, leaving a kind word on a post or praying for their family. (You can also check out Ava's Facebook page here too!)

ps. I am participating in an online auction hosted by Morgan Kervin that went live this morning! All money raised in the auction will go directly to the Dawson family to help with the expenses of fighting Ava's brain tumor. I have donated a free mini-session, along with over 50 others that have donated items from across the United States. Please make sure to check it out and help out by bidding on an item if you can! 


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Progress Report

It’s been 4 weeks since I started making changes to my diet and being more active. I have to be honest…it hasn’t always been easy but I really feel so much better. I feel better about myself, my body and my health. I have more energy. AND the big drumroll….I’ve lost just over 14 pounds!! That number is definitely an incentive for me to keep going.

I’ve been faithfully logging my food intake and exercise for the past 30 days by using My Fitness Pal (both online and my iPhone App) and it has really, really helped. It has made me more aware of what I am putting into my body and it has helped me to make the calories that I do consume more worthwhile. If I can have some grilled chicken, steamed vegetables and brown rice and have it cost me the same amount of calories as a piece of cake. I will definitely have the chicken meal…especially because it doesn’t leave me hungry 1 hour later, unlike the empty calories that come from the cake or chips or ice cream.

And I started exercising. I dipped into our savings and invested in working with a personal trainer for 4 weeks. I am starting my third week with him tonight and I have already learned so much. I am learning about nutrition, correct form and the right combination of exercises and strength/weight training for maximum burn. I am so glad that I invested in this…if not I probably only would have been doing cardio and no weight training and wouldn’t have known any better. Weight training is key to weight loss and helping to maintain any weight loss. It is my goal to workout at the gym 4-5 days a week...and while I don't always make that goal, I have averaged 3 days a week. (Which is a HUGE improvement over my never, ever excising for the past 6 months or so!!)

So my promise as of today is that I will post at least once a week about my progress. I need help to stay more accountable to myself and to others…and I need any encouragement that you can give me! I really want to be healthy and I want to stay motivated! Will you help me?


Friday, June 1, 2012

The start of a GREAT summer...

The last week has been a full one and I am just now able to catch up on it! Whew...first week of summer break around here and we have already had some fun! 

First off was the long holiday weekend...3 days of fun (and a little work for me!) We worked a little in the backyard and in my little garden.

Or should I say my not-so-little-anymore garden. He's the munchkin with our first bounty of the season! Some jalapeños, strawberries and a big zucchini. Next up we hit up the park for some fun...

On Sunday we relaxed a little and took an early nap...or at least Roxy did!

I had to work a little on Sunday...

Ok, Ok...so it wasn't so much "work" as it was spending time cuddling with this adorable little 11 day old newbie, Jaxson! I just love it when I get to photograph newborns...they are just so sweet and cuddly and boy oh boy did I start to get baby fever after spending time with this sweetie! (just don't tell my hubby!)

On Monday I did a little grocery shopping, a little napping, a little swimming and we went to a a BBQ with some awesome friends! (Love me some Hatch's & Delorio's!)

As I mentioned in an earlier post Caleb is attending summer camp this year while on summer break and he is having so much fun so far! He gets to go on field trips 3 times a week and they have fun activities planned for the other 2. This week was a short one with Memorial day on Monday, so he only went on 2 field trips...first to the batting cages on Tuesday and then to the movies on Thursday. Needless to say...the boy is super excited to get to go everyday! 

So I think we've started out Summer out right, don't you? I can't wait for everything else this summer will bring...we've got some fun friends coming in this weekend and through the middle of next week (Holla Harding clan!) then my high school Bestest Bestie in the World Suzie and her family are coming for their yearly visit later in the month. (Check out the post from their visit last year...I want to top it this year. Think we can do it?) I think we may make a quick trip to Vegas or the PNW and definitely a trip up to the high country to get away from the ever-present 110+ heat. This summer is going to be one for the books I tell ya...yes it will be!!


Thursday, May 31, 2012

Edit Me Challenge

So,  from some prodding and reminding from my online friend Branson I remembered to enter the Edit Me Challenge this week....and I am so glad that I did! The subject matter of the image is one of my favorite things to take photographs of, an old barn. (My other fave's are old windows, doors and hardware!!) This week's image is provided by Sarah from the Stiles Files...thanks for the amazing image Sarah!

Here's my edit...what do you think?

This week I just went with a clean, color pop edit. I love the image as it is...just with a little photoshop pop!

1) I started off with cloning out the two power lines that were going through the middle of the image. 

2) Next up I sharpened the image.

3) Then I did a couple of curves layers to bring out the red on the barn, the green in the field and the blue in the sky.

4) I then added a little haze & tint to the image and did a little burning around the edges to add more focus to the barn in the middle.

ps. Head on over to the Edit Me Challenge to see all of the other amazing edits from this week!!

pps. Did I tell y'all that I won the last Edit Me Challenge that I entered?!? How awesome is that...I was so excited and I just got my prize in the mail yesterday and I LOVE it! I think that I will be buying something else from the shop for my office...Head on over to Etched & Sketched to check out their awesome prints!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

This summer is going to be hard on me...

I am struggling more now than ever before with having to be a working mom. My son is out of school for summer…and all that I want to do is be home with him. Having fun with him. Enjoying time with him while he still wants to do things with his old mom.

I’ve never had these feelings so bad before. I really, really want to be home. But it’s not in the cards for me right now. I have to work or the bills don’t get paid. I have to work or there will be no groceries to make dinner with. I have to work and all that I want to do is be home with my baby.

But I know that he is having fun this summer…he’s in a great summer camp program that has 3 field trips each week. He will get to go to the aquarium, the movies, the batting cages and the zoo. He will have fun…probably way more fun that staying home with me! And while that does make the feelings a little less strong, it doesn’t make them go away.

So, to all of the working mom’s I have a couple of questions for you…How do you handle the school breaks with your kiddo? Do you use family or enroll them in summer camp? Do you ever feel down when you see all the photos posted up on facebook & twitter by the other moms/dads showing all the fun that they are having? 


Thursday, May 24, 2012

I wonder where he get's it from...

With a mama that is a photographer and graphic designer my little one didn't stand a chance when it came to inheriting a creative gene...

ps. I shared this last week on my business website...but I couldn't help but put it here too! Sorry if you've already seen it!

Too many choices!!

Every end brings a new beginning...the school year is over here in AZ and we are now onto new challenges and we have finally picked a new school for Caleb for next year!

We have been in a weird predicament with him...and the choices for us have been so vast and varying...the school system down here in Arizona is so so different than what I am used to from small town, rural Washington state. 

First off, it's very competitive. Secondly the district that I live in has open enrollment...so you don't have to enroll your child in the school that you are within boundary for. Because of these two things there are so, so many options available for parents: we could put him in the classic school that we are within the boundary for; we could take get on the waiting list/lottery list for the many different charter schools around us; we could take him to the school that while it is not within our boundary it is the closest school to us; the list of choices goes on, and on, and on. 

When my husband and I thought that we finally had made our choice, putting him into the school that we are within boundary for, we were thrown for a last minute loop. The school was going to begin offering a charter school type program that teaches a full grade level higher...it was a new option for kids going into kinder and 1st grade at the school. The old "classic" style of school was still available at the school, but the new option is now available too...ugh. Just when we thought we had it settled! 

Well, at least we have settled on a school. Now, it's just a decision about what type of curriculum we want!!


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Week 1 - Clean eating

Since last week's big disclosure about the state of my weight and health (ha ha ha...like it wasn't known by anyone that knows me!) I made some big strides in how I was living my life! I decided to eat clean and exercise. I did really good on the eating clean part...but the exercise, well...not so much!

I started using My Fitness Pal (if you're using it too...find me one there. My user name is mamaschell1) and I began by tracking everything that I ate & doing my best to stay within my calorie goal of the day. I'm pretty proud of myself because I actually did a pretty darn good job at the tracking and the eating better! No fast food, no frying food, & making all around better choices. With that...

I'm happy to say that I lost...

6 pounds this week! Yay!!

So my goals for the next week are the same...more exercising and keeping up with the calorie counting and clean eating!


Monday, May 14, 2012

Hi... I'm fat

So in case you couldn't tell from my photos...I’m fat.

Not in the “I just ate a huge slice of cake and I feel fat kinda way”…but in the actual I’m 100 pounds overweight kinda way. In the I weigh what I did when I gave birth to my son 5 years ago kinda way. In a I wear the biggest size clothing ever kinda way. 

And if I continue on this track I'm afraid I won’t live to see my son grow to be the wonderful man that I know he will become. If I continue on this way I won’t live to meet my grandchildren or grow old with the love of my life. I'm also afraid if I don't fix this that my son is going to be made fun of in school because his mom's so fat. I don't want to be that person...I don't want to put my family through that kind of pain.

I need to change. I need to lose weight and inches off my body. I need to gain muscle and endurance. I need to wear smaller size clothing and I need to get off my butt and begin to take the steps to doing it.

So today I am starting. I signed up for My Fitness Pal and I’m going to begin tracking my calories. I am going to get out and walk everyday. I am going to attempt to do cardio 3x's a week. I also signed up to to do a relay with friends up in Oregon at the end of August.

As of today, I am taking a stand against myself. A stand against my bad habits. A stand against my addiction to sugar and carbs and deep fried foods.

I love my life but I’m afraid of losing it due to my unhealthy lifestyle. I want my outside to shine as brightly as I do inside and I am hoping that you will help me to be accountable. I need to be held accountable…it’s the only way that I can get through this journey. I need help because I’ve failed so many other times.

I’ve done just about every fad diet out there: HCG, Atkins, South Beach, Cabbage Soup. Heck I’ve even contemplated bulimia as a way to get skinny. But in the past I think that because my goal was only about “being skinny” I failed. I didn’t take the whole journey into account. I didn’t think about how I needed to change my entire life and view of food and exercise if I was going to change what size of clothing that I wear.

Today I begin my change. Today I will begin making small adjustments to the way that I eat…changes that I hope will become habits that will eventually lead to an entire new lifestyle, new body and a healthier Jenn.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Edit Me Challenge

It has been so, so, so long since I participated in one of these challenges! Last night when I was catching up on some blog reading (wowza was I behind...way, way behind. sorry friends!) I saw the preview post on my friend Branson's blog and I decided to try my hand at the image. Let me tell you this image was so inspirational...and I had so much fun with it! (Thanks for supplying the image & judging this week Andi!!)

My steps:
1) Sharpened the image
2) Curves layer to brighten the shadows up a bit
3) Got rid of what looked like bruises on the leg
4) Adjustment layer to pop the color on the dress & cute shoes
5) Added a little haze to give it a vintage look
6) Finally I added a texture layer and masked off the little sweetie so it wasn't on her. 

Isn't this just the sweetest photo?!? AHHH I LOVE it!

Make sure to head over to the Edit Me Challenge website to check out the other great edits and possibly do one yourself!! 


Monday, May 7, 2012

When competition isn't good

I’ve always loved a good competition. Whether it’s to be the first one to finish a race, a cheering for my favorite team during a great basketball game or just playing a board game with my family…I think it’s healthy. BUT there are times when competition isn’t good. Times when it isn’t healthy. And one of those times is competition within motherhood. I just don’t understand it. It doesn’t help anyone and instead just puts an invisible wall up around us.

There seems to be a constant battle of one-upping each other within motherhood. A battle of whose child is the most advanced or best dressed or emotionally stable. We argue about everything from the best car seats & how long to have a child rear facing to cloth diapering vs. disposable to breast feeding vs. formula feeding.

But what seems to be forgotten about in this competition is that we all strive to do the best with what we have. We all want to give our child the best, but what I might deem the best choice, might not be the same as what you might choose.

AND guess what??

That’s all right. It’s perfectly all right because we are all in this together.


We all LOVE our children and are doing our best. You don’t know me and I don’t know you or your personal circumstances or how you were raised or your belief system so I trust that you are doing what is best for your child. And all that I ask of you is that you trust me too. Trust that the choices that I make for my child are the best for us and for my household and for the man that I hope to raise my son to become.

And I ask that we all start supporting each other and our choices instead of competing with each other. Becoming a mother is hard. One of the hardest things that any one of us can do and instead of tearing each other down, why don’t we concentrate on building each other up instead?

So all that I ask of you today is to reach out to another mother and praise them about something that they are doing. Call up your friend and comment on something in their parenting style that you admire in them…whether it’s how little Johnny is doing in school or how amazing it is that little Suzie started walking this week or even just telling them they are doing a great job raising their children. Just do it. RIGHT NOW!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Friday, May 4, 2012

Living Life

What I've been doing while on my bloggy break:

reading, walking, working as a graphic designer, taking up running, hiking, going on picnics, flying kites, date nights, perfecting my margarita recipe, went to disneyland, easter egg hunts, going to the movies, watching soccer, learning, photographing my kiddo, swimming, bbqs, getting a new hairstyle, birthday parties, girls nights out, going to plays, working as a photographer, working on eating better & being more healthy, spending time with friends, tasting new wines, sitting at our fire pit teaching my son how to make s'mores, friday night happy hours with my neighbors, enrolled my son in kindergarten, enjoyed long drives, tried out new restaurants, made new friends, and more...so so so much more. 

I've been living life.

I've been enjoying my life and living it. And it's been wonderful.

This year I set a goal for myself to become more connected and I've spent the last 3 months reconnecting to my family and close friends and it's been amazing. I feel renewed and more confident in myself. I feel more at peace with my choices and more in love with my husband and son than ever before. I am happy with where I am in life and the last few months have shown me how lucky I am to be where I am. And I won't take it for granted ever again. 


Friday, March 16, 2012


Dedication is coaching your son's soccer team for the past 4 season's. It's having practice every Thursday night for an hour. It's going to games at 8:30am on a Saturday. Or 11:00 am. Or 2:30 pm. Dedication is making sure that every kid gets a goal each game and making sure that they walk away at the end of the season learning more about how to play the game AND making sure that they understand good sportsmanship. 

Dedication is taking a long lunch from work and coming to the game in a tie & dress shoes to coach 9 little 5 year olds for soccer.  Then going back to work for another 5 hours before coming home for dinner. 

I appreciate the dedication that my husband has to making my son's (and other little boys') experience with team sports something amazing. Thank you Chris for being such an amazing father!


Tuesday, March 6, 2012


My husband's favorite cookie is a Snickerdoodle. But I never make them for him because I always forget to buy cream of tartar and keep it stocked in my pantry.

BUT then I came across a recipe in an old cookbook. Yep, that same old wonderful (and VERY used) cookbook that my grandmother gave me before she passed away. Buried within the pages of the cookbook was yet another one of her wonderful handwritten recipe cards...a recipe card with an easy, delicious recipe for snickerdoodles. And the recipe did NOT call for cream of tartar. So I was intrigued...could it still taste like a snickerdoodle with that ingredient?

Yep...it still tasted as wonderful as snickerdoodles do...even without the cream of tartar! AND because I had all of the ingredients in my trusty old panty my husband got to eat his very favorite cookie that same day that I found the recipe! I hope that you enjoy these cookies as much as he did!! (And me...I can't hide the fact that I LOVED these too!)

Grandma's Snickerdoodles
  • 1/2 cup butter (room temperature)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar + 1 tablespoon cinnamon for dipping

1. Preheat oven to 375.
2. Cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Add egg and vanilla, mixing well until combined. (Approximately 2 minutes.)
3. In separate bowl sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon.
4. Slowly combine together wet & dry ingredients. Mix until dough comes together.
5. Add in 1 tablespoon of milk. (If you find that the dough is a bit crumbly, add milk 1 tablespoon at a time until it comes together.)
6. Refrigerate dough for 20-30 minutes.
7. While dough is in refrigerator, combine remaining sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.
8. Remove dough from fridge and roll into big 1 1/2 inch balls.
9. Dip in cinnamon sugar mixture and place on baking sheet. Lightly press down on dough to flatten it. 10. Bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes.

I'm linking up with the following: Take-A-Look Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays, Delicious Dishes, Tuesdays at the Table, Bake with BizzyTaking a Time Out Thursday, House of Hepworths, Full Plate ThursdayShow Me Your Stuff, Strut Your StuffIt's a Keeper Thursday,   

Friday, February 24, 2012

Isn't it HOT?

I get asked all the time the same question about living in Arizona: 
How can you handle living there...isn't it HOT?
Well...I always remind them that it's not ALWAYS hot here...just a couple of months out of the year it's hot, but we stay inside out of the heat and enjoy our air conditioned homes! (Or in my case...I spend a lot of time outside in the pool!!)

BUT one thing that I absolutely LOVE about living here is the weather the other 9 months of the year. While all of my other friends are complaining about the cold & rain & snow we are outside playing in the backyard or at the park. In flip-flops...and shirtless. (at least the boys are shirtless)

Because c'mon....who wouldn't love to be outside in February riding their bikes in 75 degrees?

daydreaming on his bike

cute little feet

Happy weekend!


Friday, February 10, 2012

Loving. Living. Enjoying.

This year is all about reconnecting for me. And the first people that I have been doing this with have been the two that I am closest to. We have been making many, many trips to the park. Going to movies and museums. Date nights. Movie nights. Going for walks around the block and riding bikes out in front of the house. Snuggling on the couch and playing board games. And just enjoying time with each other.

I feel so content with my life and where I am going. I’m making choices that are having amazingly positive impacts in my life. The closeness and love that is in our home is almost palpable. And it feels amazing.

So this Valentine’s Day I’m actually lucky enough to have two Valentine’s…and my heart is full. Full of love. Full of positivity and possibility. Full of life.

I hope that you all have a wonderful weekend. And I hope that you fill it with the people that you love. We will be having a family movie night tonight, date night tomorrow…a visit or two to the park and some bike riding. And most definitely there will be some snuggling and laughing and tickle fights. And love. Lots and lots of love.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Busy. Busy. Busy.

I have been so busy living my life that I haven’t had time to write about it on here! It has been a complete whirlwind for the last 2 weeks and I think that I finally have time to catch my breath!!

First off was a quick trip away with just my hubby and I to Laughlin, Nevada. It was the first time that I had ever been there and my husband hadn’t been there for almost 15 years, so neither of us were really sure what to expect. It definitely was NO Vegas…but there was some gambling & drinking, so we had a great time. AND it was really, really relaxing. Which was something that we both desperately needed. It was nice to get away by ourselves for a couple of days….just to enjoy each other, take our time doing things and feel no rushing or responsibilities for a couple of days. (And we walked away with all of our money, not losing one dollar to the casinos! Score!!)

The day that we got back from Laughlin, we had 3 hours to pick up our dog from the boarders, go grocery shopping, do laundry & get our house ready for house guests! A college friend of ours from up in Washington State came down with her family to go to her grandparent’s 60th anniversary party. Since we hadn’t seen each other in almost 3 years it was so nice to get to spend some time with each other…and the trip was made even better because our kiddos really got along and had fun with each other! (We even managed to squeeze in a fun four-generation family photo shoot with her family, her parents, aunts & uncles and grandparents! I LOVE being able to capture special moments like that!)

Finally…the trip that we had been planning for a couple of months came. The big trip to Disneyland! We had just 5 days between our house guests leaving and us leaving to go on our trip. So needless to say, I have been...


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Photo Shoot Giveaway!!

I just wanted to let you guys know that I am having a giveaway for a FREE photo session and print package over on my business website! Check it out here

The contest will run until February 4th with the winner announced no later than February 11th, 2012!

Head on over and enter!  Good luck!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


 Today my baby turns 5.

My baby boy is 5.

He. Is. Five.

It doesn’t matter how many times I say this out loud or to myself, it just doesn’t seem to be real. I seriously cannot believe how quickly time has passed. It seems like just yesterday that I was pregnant and waiting to finally meet him.

But the last 5 years have been filled with so many fun, amazing memories. And I couldn’t have asked for a better child! He is smart, funny, witty, caring and sweet. 
Man, I just love this kiddo. And I can't wait to get home to celebrate his birthday with him!!

 Happy Birthday Caleb!!!


Friday, January 6, 2012

My parenting list

My son's birthday is coming up. And it's his 5th. Over the next year he will start at a new school. He will continue to grow both emotionally & physically and become more mature. He will need me less and try more things on his own.

He is on his way to developing into the man that he eventually will become. Over the past few months I have been carefully watching my baby grow into a little boy. He has strong opinions and loves reading and learning. He is sweet and kind and loving...he is oh so very loving. Hearing his sweet voice from the backseat of the car say out of the blue "mommy, I wuv you." well...that just melts me and makes me want to freeze that moment to replay over and over again. Especially when I'm having a bad day. And I am proud of him...so very, very, proud.

Over the last few months, I have found myself writing little notes in my cell phone about things that I want to make sure that my son knows. Things that I want to make sure that he learns about...a list of things that I really believe that if he learns as a child will make him into an absolutely wonderful man when he's an adult. It's not a complete list by any means. And it's not the list that will fit every child. But it consists of things that I believe are important.

1) Getting dirty is ok. It's why god made showers and the washing machine. Plus it's one way that I know that you have had as much fun as possible doing something!
2) Don't be afraid to love or afraid to tell people that you love them. And your father and I hope to hear those words come from you in our direction often.

3) It's alright to show emotion. And it's alright to talk about how you feel. I will do my best to help you learn how to do this. Being a good communicator will help you go a long way when you are an adult. And your future spouse will thank me.

4) Hugging is good—actually it's expected in our home. I know that out in the real world that physical touch is not always acceptable, but when you care about someone one of the best ways to show them is by touch…and hugs are one of the best way to do that.

5) Asking why is always acceptable. And I will always do my best to answer with a "real" answer, not just a "because I say so." When I don't know the answer I will find it, with you right by my side.

6) Don't be afraid to be goofy or silly - There are times that we just need to dance to get the silly's out of our system!! (And I LOVE our dance party Sundays!!)

7) Helping mommy or daddy is always appreciated. It's how you will learn how to do things…like fixing things, building stuff, cooking, laundry and dishes. It's one of the things that will help you to be an amazing man and husband in the future.

8) I will always be your cheerleader. For your wins and your losses. I will keep scrapbooks of your life and show them to your prom date. I will brag about you to my friends and on my blog. I will post photos of you on Facebook and I will be there for you every step of the way…cheering you on in your life.

9) You will lose sometimes and it's not the end of the world. Regardless of what other people say, not everyone is a winner at everything. There will be times when you will lose, but your daddy and I will always be there for you. You won't be alone and we will always figure out how to learn from that loss and what to do better next time. And we will teach you to never give up. Never. Ever. Give. Up.

10) We will travel together and see this beautiful world. Your daddy and I will do our best to give you the chance to explore places, both near and far. We might not get to everywhere we want to, but the places that we will go too will help us to make special memories together. And travelling will open your eyes to what this amazing beautiful world has to offer.

11) Your father and I will always be your home base. We will be a solid rock on which you can always land. We will be there at your sporting events, will come to your class parties, we will be there when you call out for us.
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