Who's 5 1/2?

We made a half birthday pilgrimage to Krispy Kreme tonight.

This time to celebrate a special day for our "itty bit."

She sorta dug it.

All smiles while we sang Happy Half-Birthday to You.

But then when the doughnuts came out of the box?

Well, that's when things got a little serious and her game face came on.

Eatin' doughnuts is serious business after all.

It was a whole family affair, complete with both grandmas.

And doughnuts.  Of course there were doughnuts.

My little Natalina Catalina,

You are the spicy gal we never knew we were missing.  You approach everything you do "all in" and that is one quality I adore about you, even if it occasionally frustrates me to no end.  One thing for sure, we never wonder what you are thinking.  The good news is that your darkest storm cloud moments are greatly outnumbered by your sunshine smiles.  Typically all I have to do is say that I see your sunshine and your "frus-ta-rated" frowns melt into a heap of giggles.  Shortly afterward you'll inform me that you love me again.     One of these days you'll learn that love doesn't actually stop just because you are angry, but for right now I'll take the sincere declarations of love found each time they wasn't too long ago that you didn't care for me at all.
At 5 1/2 you love skirts and dresses, the color pink, and anything sweet.  You are the shortest member of the family right now, but you embrace the larger than life mentality, especially when it comes to making sure you are not overlooked.  You frequently ask for Daddy and I to do a Natalie sandwich so you get the tightest hug possible.  Today I registered you for kindergarten in the fall and you asked if you could go to school tomorrow.  Mommy may not be ready, but you sure are...
I love you my sweet sassafras.  You add a new dynamic to the M family.  Thank you for letting us into your heart!  You had mine from the first time I saw a picture of you!

And no, just because you are the half birthday girl, you aren't getting an extra doughnut if you finish yours first!  We could see the gears turning in your head before you spoke...because you are always coming up with a "great idea."


8 1/2? How can it be?

Tonight we rushed through dinner, loaded up the van and headed to Krispy Kreme.

And in our family, a weeknight trip for doughnuts can only mean one thing...

...there's a half-birthday in the house!

Today our big boy passed the "halfway through age eight" mark.


8 1/2?

How in the world...


At 8 1/2 you are one of the most "out of the box" thinkers I know.  May life never weigh you fully down with practical reasoning, I pray you always have some of your ever so slightly wacky ideas.  You are one of the most fun spirited kids I know and you are always, always good for a laugh when the rest of us need one (and occasionally sometimes when we don't).  When you were just a tiny little guy I loved that your eyes disappeared when you really smiled and I'm thankful that today, even as you inch ever closer to "big guy" status, they still do.  You love to create fanciful vehicles with legos, run at top speed, keep us all in stitches with your antics and jokes, you're a number cruncher, and you've recently discovered a love for reading.  You have one of the few pure hearts in the world and are saddened by the injustice of global poverty.  While you like "your stuff," you'd gladly share what you have with those in need and you want for others to know about the love of Christ you continue to learn about.

I am proud of who you are now and can't wait to see who you become as you fully blossom into the young man God intends for you to be.

For the honor of the role of being your mommy, I am richly blessed.
I love you more with each passing day!


speaking of antics...
leave it to you to crack us up as you enjoy the gummy worm off your oreo dirt cake doughnut!


Halloween ~ the M7 + friends trick-or-treat posse

Continuing with the "better late than never" theme...

We moved from our previous city to our new location in October of 2008.  That first year we spent Halloween in Guangzhou with our "two time China traveling friends" (otherwise known as Darby and her family...we both expanded from families of three to parties of four that trip)

The following October we weren't sure where we were likely to score the best candy for trick-or-treating, so we called upon our Halloween buddies and spent the evening collecting treats with them.  

kylie, darby, henry and caleb
halloween 2009
excuse me while i sob just a is it possible that they were so tiny?
With that one candy foraging night, a tradition was born.

Five years later the original four are much bigger...for that matter, so is the party size!  We're still trick-or-treating with these guys, we just alternate at whose home we begin.  2014 was back in our 'hood and so we four adults spent the evening watching our seven kids collect more candy than we could consume.

The 2014 C4/M7 Trick-or-Treating posse.
The cuteness is almost overwhelming...
and the sugary sweetness of their haul IS overwhelming!

Henry (as his dad's "mini-me" ~ see picture below) and Caleb the "boy scout prepared with a head lamp wearin', angry bird pig totin', red Ninja.  China brothers and terrific friends.

Daniel the blue Ninja.
(wait, can you see him?)

Ky and Darbs, the giant hot dog.
After last year's two headed dragon, I can hardly wait to see what they come up with for this year.

Natalie the raked leaf pile.

DQ, otherwise known as Red from the animated flick Hoodwinked.

And us.
He is the practical, rule following Emmet to my impulsive, "let's go with it" Wyldstyle. 

together we make a pretty great team and with him by my side, everything is awesome
It was indeed an awesome night!


Wordless Wednesday {wheelbarrow rides anyone?}

*no children were harmed in this escapade despite several overturned wheelbarrows...#


Sunset Beach 2014 {back at the beach house}

Because of the amount of time our family spends on the beach itself, for years we splurged and went for either an oceanfront or second row house so we'd be as close as possible.  

But as our families grew the cost of a house big enough right on the water became more and more of an issue.  We began to explore our options and came up with the perfect solution...a house further back on a canal with our own dock.  

Before bed at night and in the quiet hours of the morning (when kids were up anticipating a new day in the ocean but parents will still trying to catch a few extra zzz's on vacation) many a card game was played.

We also brought along a few puzzles this year.

And if one round of YamSlam was played, I'll bet there were fifty...

Inside time at the house was good, but most of the time at the house the kids were on, or near, the dock.
On the rainy day they swam in the canal with the dads.

Games and swimming were enjoyed, but most waking hours at the house were spent fishing pole in hand.

So much so that bait became a line item in the vacation budget this year.

Ian and Adam spent many an hour down on the dock with the kids... the mornings while Traci and I assembled sandwiches and gathered snacks...

...and in the evenings while we got dinner going.  They served both as lifeguards and bait patrol.  Eventually though, even the girls were taking part in getting shrimp or squid on their hooks.

...with a little help from uncle ian...
The smiles on their faces each time a tug on the rod was rewarded with a (catch and release) fish were totally worth all the extra time on deck.

And not all of the fishing was done with a rod and reel.

Creative measures were taken to secure a few small crustaceans.

no worries little buddy, you won't meet the same fate as your distant relatives we consume at Joe's...
It may be a little walk from our canal houses to the beach, but when it means you've got your own fishing area?  Well, for our crew that means it's just perfect!


Sunset Beach 2014 {our nightlife}

I would say that of all the traditions our family holds, of all the things our kids expect from year to year, the ONE thing that they anticipate the most is our trip to Sunset beach with their cousins.

And when I say beach, I mean beach.  As in the sand and the surf.  Cause we are those people that pack sandwiches and more snacks that you can imagine and schlep tons of stuff down from the house around 10 and stay until the food is gone and bellies are rumbling.  

Every year we say that maybe this year we'll go see the USS North Carolina or that we'll check out that planetarium or go play putt putt.  And every year we spend our days soaking up the sun, building castles in the sand and surfing and swimming to our heart's content.  (this is what our days during beach week look like)

But eventually each day everyone is sanded and ready for a shower.  And then there is the question of what to do with the evening.

Typically that is answered by eating.

Either down in Calabash for dinner at Captain Nance's...

...or for ice cream at the creamery.

Occasionally we'll take a walk on the beach by moonlight,

and there is the annual trip to Callahan's of Calabash to pick out an oranament from St. Nick Nacks.

But usually leaving the beach house after showers means getting our Sunset slush on the island

or partaking in a bag of carefully selected salt water taffy from Wee R Sweets after our crab leg feast.

Or, on the best day of all, heading back down to the beach for foil packet dinners...

...what could be better than a great meal with a view?


Wordless Wednesday {library day reading buddies}

(yeah, they fight...almost daily.  but they love each other too!)