first Marlin meet

At the end of last summer, Kylie approached us about swimming year round.  Based on how things "clicked" for her as an Amberjack on the neighborhood swim team, we decided to let her build her talent and check out the waters of being a (self proclaimed) "swimnast."  

Starting in late August she became a Marlin as she swam with a local year round club.  After weeks of practice, her first meet finally arrived.  Ian and I knew she was ready...the question of the day was, did she?

That first time on the blocks was met with just a little apprehension.

Thankfully her first event was a simple 25 free.  

She rocked it.

Placing first in her heat...and therefore winning a striped ducky... boosted her self confidence.

From there she was all about business.

Once she found her groove, she stayed in it,

placing either first or second in all but two of her heats.

 She had soaked in all Coach Cara had taught her...

...and raced like she meant it.

And she came home with an armful of rubber duckies and small stuffed animals for being a heat winner multiple times.

Of course I was proud of how well she placed in her very first year round meet.

But more than that, I was thrilled for her as we watched a new level of self-confidence unfold.  I'm not sure how long year round swimming is going to be part of our family rhythm, but for this season, we'll celebrate her newfound accomplishments in the water.  I love the self assurance that was born in my big, previously timid, girl this year!


Wordless Wednesday {FLASHBACK ~ sweetness of sisterhood}

self selected outfits ~ just to be alike
where did these babies go?


the call of the midway

According to the calendar, our night at the state fair was a mere six months ago.  

It feels a little more like a lifetime though.  And those baby faces back me up on that do they change so much in six months?!?!?!?

and good grief, the boys have both worn through another pair of sneakers since this photo.
why are boys so hard on shoes?

Following the tradition of the past four years, our family was accompanied to the fair by our beloved "Cousin Jor-deen" (though somehow no pictures of Jordan with the kids least in my records).

one of many, many rides of the evening
Breaking tradition though, this year we went all in and bought preview night ride bracelets for everybody...adults included.  This meant that Jordan, Ian and I went on more than our share of rides that spun us around until we could hardly walk.  All in the name of fun!

We rode.  We ate everything from BBQ sundaes (not as gross as it sounds...just BBQ shredded pork, baked beans and cole slaw layered in a parfait glass) to cotton candy to deep fried snicker bars to funnel cakes.  And then we decided riding may not be best on a full stomach, so we paid homage to the agricultural side of the fair.

We said "Aaaawww" over the baby chicks and the foal, took in a 4-H sheep showing contest, and giggled as we watched some "city slickers" pay to milk a cow.

And then we admired the impressive produce.  Daniel was in his happy place dreaming of taking the blue ribbon winning 258 pound watermelon home.

And of course there was the yearly "prize pumpkin patch" shot.
(See here to go back all the way to 2007 when there was only ONE M kid in the picture)

crazy that they are getting so big that the pumpkin is no longer quite as visible behind them...

Once we felt sure that our stomachs had settled...and my suburb dwelling youngsters declared themselves done with the scent of the barns...we headed back out to enjoy a few more rides.  By a few more what I really mean is a whole lot more.

Preview night at the fair is the best.

Finally, some seven hours after we arrived, we decided we had sufficiently enjoyed ourselves.  Or the fair was closes at midnight and it was a school night, so I'll never divulge.

But if you want to know, meet us there this October.  We'll show you how to get your money's worth with a ride bracelet at the State Fair.


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!